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While pro-lifers were mourning this week in solemn remembrance, pro-abortionists were partying. One such party was held at the University of Texas, where some pro-life advocates listened in as the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America spoke. Here are some of their thoughts regarding the speech.
[Nancy Keenan] spent much of the talk arguing that allowing women to choose abortion was the moral thing for society. There was, in fact, a lot of moral posturing, including such statements as “It is the essence of our morality” to be pro-choice, that being pro-choice is the “fullest expression” of that morality. She noted that many people are “pro-choice but struggling.” In other words, they are politically pro-choice even while being morally pro-life. Her claim was that the pro-choice side had “ceded a lot of moral ground…which the pro-lifers never had.”On the positive side, abortions have been steadily decreasing since 1990, and are at the lowest levels since the mid-70's. This data combined with the graph below (and others just like it) indicates that the pro-life message has triumphed in the realm of ideas, but the war isn't over yet. President Bush has helped the pro-life movement make great strides in the last 8 years (partial birth abortion ban, parental notification laws, etc.), and for that we all owe him an immense debt of gratitude. He has stuck with us when it was not politically expedient (stem cells, cloning, etc.) and deserves much praise for that. But he could have done more (stopping the flow of federal funds for abortion would have been a good start). But merely winning over people to our point of view isn't enough... the laws must change. And while pro-life advocates must continue to show Christian love and support for women caught in very difficult circumstances, they must also push for the criminalization of abortion. As Susan B. Anthony once said,
Interspersed within her speech were various attacks upon those whom are often referred to her in abortion-friendly circles as “the enemies of choice.” At the top of this list was, of course, the Church, for her constant teaching against abortion... She did, in fact, spend some time talking about how more dialogue was needed—with the understood caveat being that the “dialogue” should be one-sidedly pro-choice.
The Church was not the only entity which she blasted during her talk. She had the usual antipathy towards crisis pregnancy centers for not referring people to abortion centers; of course, there is no such problem with the abortion mills never referring people to a crisis pregnancy center, or (for that matter) not providing information about or encouraging alternatives to abortion.
She closed with two interesting statements which are at odds with the previous pro-choice position. The first is that the “decision” should be up to “the woman, her family, her doctor, and her God,” as opposed to just the woman, or the woman and her doctor. This, in spite of her opposition to the Church’s involvement in anything other than a pro-abortion capacity, and her opposition to parental notification; one wonders how her family can be involved if they never find out about the pregnancy (let alone the abortion) to begin with. For that matter, she was opposed to crisis pregnancy centers which refused to refer women for abortions, so I was left to wonder if she really would leave it up to the doctor if he was pro-life; perhaps when she said “doctor,” she meant “abortionist.” Secondly, and perhaps even more surprising, was that she mentioned that men need to be more involved. After years of being told that I had no place in this issue, because, after all, I am a man, it was quite refreshing to hear Keenan actually state that “This is not a woman’s issue…it affects all of us [including men].” Though her call was for men to get behind abortion, the fact that she actually admitted that abortion does affect men was refreshing to hear—and a reversal of the last 40 years of pro-abortion rhetoric.
Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.May God be merciful as we continue the battle...
cunning men pass for wise." - Sir Francis Bacon
Mike Huckabee has been accused of running the dirtiest campaign of all the candidates this year. Which is interesting, considering that the governor claims to run only a positive, uplifting campaign; one that even Jesus would approve of. Well, let's look at the facts. His head campaign adviser said that "The negatives feel good. It's like being a boxer when you're young. To me, hitting somebody, knocking somebody down, is a great feeling. Firing out a negative ad just feels amazing." The adviser also said that he wants to kick Romney's teeth in. Gee, nice guy you got running your campaign, Huck.
Huckabee also pulled one of the scummiest political tricks I've ever seen, and then had the gall to claim innocent naiveté. Personally, I don't mind negative ads if they're true and not just political spin, but the stunt he pulled four weeks ago in Iowa goes beyond the limits by attempting to have his cake and eat it too. Does he think voters are that gullible? I guess Iowa voters were, but then again, they are from Iowa.
Poor Immigration Record
Governor Huckabee’s pattern was to ignore immigration laws, often in the name of Christianity... In 2001, Huckabee... pushed for legislation to provide driver’s licenses for illegals...So, in Huck's world, it is racist to believe in the rule of law, to support the LEGAL immigration of those people who want to have a better life, and oppose using taxpayer money to send illegal immigrants to college. And the whole "Jesus juice" comment leaves a bitter taste in my mouth; it's not something I think a Christian should say, belittling a fellow believer (and pastor) in public.
In 2001, Huckabee opposed a measure to require proof of citizenship to vote.
In 2005, Huckabee supported a bill that offered illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates and made them eligible for the same merit-based scholarships to Arkansas state colleges and universities as legal citizens. The bill would have violated federal law and was not enacted by the legislature.
In 2005, he opposed a bill that denied some state benefits to illegals and required proof of citizenship to vote... In this story, Huckabee called the measure “un-American... inflammatory... race-baiting and demagoguery.” He added that the bill “inflames those who are racist and bigots and makes them think there’s a real problem. But there’s not.” He then singled out State Senator Jim Holt, also an openly professing Christian, saying, “I drink a different kind of Jesus juice.”
"No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words 'no' and 'not' employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights." - Rev. Edmund A. Opitz
"Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it." - Woodrow WilsonI suppose some of you do not see any inherent harm in bigger, more powerful government nor see how, as Christians, we are called to fight for liberty of our fellow man. Yet many civilizations have crumbled throughout history because of the idea that a bigger government is always better and always benevolent to its denizens. In the Old Testament, this view helped cause the eventual collapse of the nation of Israel. The Israelites desired to have a king to protect them (instead of relying on God's sufficient protection); when in the end, it was the king who oppressed them and caused their downfall. Later, it happened with the Greeks and the Romans. Sir Edward Gibbon described the demise of freedom in ancient Greece quite eloquently,
In the end more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.So back to our subject... Governor Huckabee has consistently shown a willingness, nay, a desire to increase the size of government and to use it as a sort of "nanny" for the citizens.
During Huckabee’s term, Arkansas showed a net tax increase of $505 million, and the average Arkansan’s tax burden grew from $1,969 to $2,902. Governor Huckabee raised more taxes in 10 years in office than Bill Clinton did in his 12 years.Another pet of Huck's was his intention to promote a national ban on smoking. Now, federal rights versus state rights aside, that sounds all nice and good. After all, what non-smoker doesn't enjoy a night out without getting a whiff of cigarette smoke? I certainly find the smell disgusting. But it is an extremely slippery slope, one fraught with loss of liberty for the sake of the majority's tyranny. For example, some California cities are now banning smoking inside people's homes. First the government decided it would keep citizens from smoking in public government-owned areas, then it decided it could force private businesses (i.e. restaurants and bars) to ban smoking on their premises, next the nanny state took it upon itself to ban it in cars with children present, and now finally (or maybe not so final, as some cities are already moving to ban it from streets) they ban the populace from smoking within their own homes.
During Huckabee’s 10 years as governor, state spending more than doubled (from $6.6 billion to $16.1 billion), higher education and public schools got big increases, as did social services...
The conservative Cato Institute gave Huckabee an “F” for his final term as governor on its Fiscal Policy Report Card, saying, “Huckabee’s leadership has left taxpayers in Arkansas much worse off.” His grade was lower than 15 of the 21 Democrat Governors. His overall grade as governor was a D.
“[Huckabee] says he’s pro-family. If you’re raising taxes on the families of Arkansas, causing wives to go out and get jobs to make ends meet, that’s not pro-family.” - Former Republican Arkansas State Representative Randy Minton.
Since when is it the government's right to criminalize vices? The only person harmed by smoking is the person doing it. The secondhand smoke-mongers would have you believe that the science proves that secondhand smoke is extremely dangerous and toxic. But this is not so; the studies showing health risks that supposedly "prove" this were conducted on people who were breathing the stuff all day, every day. An hour spent in a smoky bar on occasion isn't going to hurt you. Furthermore, why should the government be telling PRIVATE businesses how to run their business? I'm certain that most rural Minnesota bars have at least 70% of their patrons who are smokers, and those who go into that environment know what they're getting themselves into. As for how a Christian should view this issue... I never saw any indication that Jesus was for using the law to force someone to stop a bad habit or sinful act, but rather the person's own conscience and God's working in his or her heart. Free will is given us by our Creator, and we should do whatever we can to not take it away from others.
Okay, enough with that rabbit trail. In Huckabee's defense, he has recently seen the light on this issue, at least to some extent, and backed off of his support for a federal ban. However, methinks this is more due to political pressure than a thought-out understanding of the principles behind the matter, giving us one more example of how easily swayed the governor is.
Proponent of government-controlled education
The New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association (NEA) hasIn his defense, he was also endorsed by the national homeschool group, the HSLDA. But if he were to get an endorsement from Planned Parenthood, would we really forget that fact if MCCL also endorsed him? No, of course not. We would most likely say that Planned Parenthood is seeing something of which MCCL isn't aware. After all, most abortion lobby groups are extremely shrewd and will not associate with anyone who shows any interest in saving lives. Plus, the HSLDA is primarily concerned with homeschooling rights, and not so much into reform within the public school realm. So, while Huckabee has shown mixed support of homeschooling, he has shown almost no support for reforming the monstrosity that is the public school system.
endorsed Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee for the upcoming Primary elections. This is the first time in memory that they have recommended a Republican (in 2004 they endorsed Howard Dean). They likely chose Huckabee because... [he] has consistently opposed virtually all proposals for education reform, including school choice vouchers.
I suppose some may wonder what's wrong with populism? To some extent, nothing. But the root of populism is envy and covetousness, something we as Christians are to abhor. And the fruit of populism this century are best known by their other names: Soviet Socialism and National Socialism (Nazism). Appealing to the common man's base jealousy has wrought a lot of evil in this world, but rarely good. It stems from the idea that everyone has the RIGHT to be prosperous and that it isn't FAIR if someone does better than another. This is entirely false. Bill Gates' success didn't mean a bunch of people got poorer, but rather that many became wealthier. As Seán Lemass, the Irish Prime Minister in the early 20th century once said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." Our Declaration of Independence doesn't say that our inalienable rights include the right to not be poor, but instead the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It would behoove us as Americans to remember those words.
Support from all the wrong people
Lastly, I will touch on the surprising lack of support for Huckabee from many Christian leaders while secular liberals are singing his praises. Focus Action, a political advocacy group put together by Dr. Dobson, gave a less-than-glowing analysis of Huckabee. Many prominent Christian conservatives are backing other candidates, while editorial writers for the New York Times (you know, that bastion of pro-Christian rhetoric) have been praising Huckabee, even AFTER he called homosexuality an "abomination." Frank Rich has repeatedly heaped his blessing on Huckabee, perhaps because he knows Huck will be an easy target come the general election. Frank Rich, for those who don't know him, oozes hatred of Christ and His followers in almost every one of his columns. So why the sudden love of Huckabee?
Meanwhile, and perhaps the most telling, the Huck can't even get his own state to back him. In a University of Arkansas poll a couple months ago, among all Presidential candidates in both parties, only 8% of Arkansans said they were supporting Mike Huckabee. Only a third of the Republican Arkansas legislators are supporting him.
Well, that's all folks. Sorry it was so long, but what can I say? My third and last installment will be regarding my alternative to the Huck and some of my reasoning for that choice.
Just before Christmas, I promised a blog post on why I would NOT be voting for Mike Huckabee (at least in the primaries) and why I think other evangelical Christians should likewise abstain from the Huckster (though it appears that he is now assured of not being able to win the nomination, and will possibly not be around come caucus day in Minnesota).
Well, that post (or should I say, posts) has arrived at the station. Hopefully it has some semblance of clarity and order, since I am borrowing from different sources. For the sake of space, to get all the details, one will have to follow the links I have provided. Please understand this isn't intended as a personal attack on the man; for all I know, he is a very genuine believer and a nice guy. But "a nice guy" or "good Christian" doesn't necessarily make him the best candidate. And here's why:
Michael Huckabee is NOT a conservative.
Yes yes, I know Huckabee is a pretty solid abortion opponent, and supports almost all socially conservative positions. Yippee. Guess what? There are at least a couple other candidates of whom I can say the same. As the title of the reality show in the opening scene of the movie "The Stepford Wives" reads, I CAN DO BETTER!
This letter by an Arkansas man (and self-described "conservative, evangelical, politically-active father of four") lays out seven reasons why he will not again vote for his former governor. In his first reason, he says
It’s hard to go after Democrats with a conservative message when your Republican Governor is out front releasing violent criminals, providing state benefits to illegals, pushing tax increases, expanding government spending and programs, and constantly walking an ethical tight-rope.A column in the Wall Street Journal quotes Phyllis Schlafly, one of the premier conservative Christian pro-family voices in America, as saying that Huckabee "destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party in shambles." Betsy Hagan, a key backer of his early runs for office, was very disappointed with his record. "He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal," she says. "Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don't be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office."
“I think if they knew [his record] it would totally de-energize them... his policies are just wrong.” – Former Republican Arkansas State Senator Jim HoltJust what did he do to acquire the ire of these committed Christians? For one, he released a shocking amount of criminals.
"Over the course of his 10 and a half years as governor, Huckabee granted a staggering 1,033 clemencies... That was more than double the combined 507 that were granted during the 17 and a half years of his three predecessors: Bill Clinton, Frank White, and Jim Guy Tucker."Another paper reported this scary statistic:
Here are the figures for neighboring states since 1996, when Huckabee took office (and keep in mind the population of these states is nearly 20 times [Arkansas']):This disgusting disregard for the justice system and wanton abuse of power is exemplified in his handling of the Wayne Dumond case. For a fantastic write-up of the entire case, go here. Basically, Huckabee pressured a parole board into releasing a convicted rapist, who then went out and murdered two women. The apparent motive for his desire to release Dumond was that his victim was a distant relation to Bill Clinton, and thus Huckabee let his dislike of President Clinton overwhelm his common sense. What's worse, Huckabee has repeatedly LIED about his involvement in the Dumond case, claiming that he did not exert any pressure on the parole board, something FOUR members of the board contradict.
>> Louisiana – 213.
>> Mississippi – 24.
>> Missouri – 79.
>> Oklahoma – 178.
>> Tennessee – 32.
>> Texas – 98 (includes 36 inmates released because they were convicted on drug charges with planted evidence).
Total: 624 vs. Huckabee's 703.
And his proclivity for commuting sentences wasn't just from a naive willingness to believe in some inherent goodness in mankind (though I'm sure that's part of it). It also stemmed from Huckabee's easily-led nature:
A 2004 investigative article by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found that prisoners had a better chance of being granted clemency by Huckabee if they had a mutual acquaintance, labored at the governor’s mansion under a prisoner work program, or a minister intervened on their behalf. Prosecutors say Huckabee was more inclined to release or reduce the sentences of prisoners if he had direct contact with them or was lobbied by those close to him.What this says to me is that this is a man who abuses power, misunderstands the depth of deprivation in man, is a lamb easily led to slaughter, and is profoundly dishonest when caught (kinda reminds me of a different former governor of Arkansas). If he had merely made a mistake and had owned up to it immediately, then I might cut him some slack (though after reading the full story linked above, I don't think he deserves any leniency). But when he, a professing Christian, blatantly and continually lies about a decision that later cost two women their lives...
Next time, I will further discuss Governor Huckabee's less-than-stellar record on other issues, including immigration, taxes, his own corruption scandals, and education. Also, I will mention the utter lack of support from his own state. If you're thinking of supporting Huckabee, please reconsider! Remember, anti-Christs and false teachers don't come from without, but from within the body of believers... let me be clear, I'm not calling Huckabee an anti-Christ, but that if someone is going to politically fool Christians, it's going to be a professing Christian, am I right? So we have to show extra discernment of those in our midst.
For my third and last installment, I intend on giving my alternative candidate choice (now that Fred Thompson has left the building) and my reasons for choosing that person. Suffice it to say, I can do better!
I am getting really tired of this mantra. Now a "study" has come out that claims Bush and his administration made over 900 "false" statements leading up to the Iraq War. The annoying part about this is that while it is technically true that any statements about Iraq's possession of WMDs have turned out to be false, it is not true that Bush INTENTIONALLY LIED about them, as this article and others love to say. A very disgusting blurring of the lines between INCORRECT and DECEPTIVE is being made here to politically hurt the president. If I honestly believe that my neighbor is raising meth, based on his prior known use of meth and the hearsay of everyone of my neighbors, and I tell the police about it and I turn out to be wrong, I was NOT lying. I was incorrect and perhaps reckless in my judgment, but I wasn't being deceptive. It's interesting how many people don't seem to understand the difference between the two. It must say something about our postmodern culture, but I'm not sure what.
We know it is sick and irrational. We know that logically there are many things to admire about the Green Bay Packers franchise, how it is run, the mystique, blah blah blah. We know that last night, the... Better Half asked us to join her on the couch for overtime, instead of half-leaning on the loveseat arm. But see, we had been sitting on the loveseat arm when things had been going well for the Giants, the spot replacing the previously lucky (and uncomfortable) standing pose that was eliminated after the long GB touchdown that put the Packers ahead early. (But not for good. Ahhhhh.) We know we are sick and wrong to take such perverse pleasure in the misfortune of others. And we do not care. We take back what we said about wanting the Packers to reach the Super Bowl, where they could then lose to the Patriots. Because last night? Last night felt good. It felt VERY good. It felt like one of our 10 favorite games ever. We might have even shouted some expletives of joy. And we cannot stop smiling. That's how we know. OK, a few things about 23-20, OT, that need to be brought up before we get to our closing point.
1) The Giants were absolutely the better team on the field yesterday. It was not some fluke that they won; in fact, based on all the things they did to shoot themselves in the foot (the stupid penalty by Sam Madison on third down, the RW McButterfingers escapades, the missed field goals, on and on), they had to be considerably better than Green Bay was yesterday. And they were. That's not to say they're all-around a better team. But they were Sunday. Ah.
2) There was something strange in Brett Favre's eyes the moment you looked at him. He didn't look right yesterday. Not sure if it was the cold, the expectations or the schemes the Giants were running, but he did not have the eyes of a champion yesterday. Nor did he have the arm of a champion. He didn't even look like he was having fun out there. Ah.
3) Hey look! You can stop Ryan Grant. Pass some of the blame along to the coaching staff, however. Thirteen carries with the way Favre was playing? Not smart.
4) Plaxico Burress made Al Harris his [redacted], and it was beautiful. And that sideline catch by Amani Toomer was one of the prettiest grabs you will ever see.
5) What happened to Eli Manning? Is this really the same guy who handed 41-17 to the Vikings earlier this year?
6) Lawrence Tynes.
It all leads to this: Packers fans, you love to get high and mighty. Admit it, you do. You like to talk about the mystique and your brethren in the cult, your uncle Howie in Osh Kosh with the extensive collection of Packers beer steins and your place on the "waiting list." When you really want to try to twist in the knife, you start talking about the postseason, the Super Bowl and, if you're really cruel, 1998. Well, folks, what do we have here? An unbelievable regular season that seemingly came out of nowhere, led by an aging quarterback? The stars aligning to give you home field advantage in the NFC title game against a good opponent that is still a decided underdog? A game with so many ups and downs it's hard to remember them all? A gut-wrenching trip into overtime capped by the ultimate realization that the game is over and, inexplicably, everything magical has turned to ruins? Oh, Packers fans. Now you know what it's like. This is your 1998. Drink it in. Enjoy that bitter taste. It lasts a lifetime.
Nevermind that the earth hasn't been warming for six years now. That's right, statistically 2007 was the same temperature as 2001-2006. Oh well, don't expect the Goracle to tell you that.
Best Books of 2007
1. Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass (by Theodore Dalrymple)- Dalrymple's flowery writing, combined with his amazingly astute observations of the culture in which we live, made this book of essays the best one I read all year. The author's personal anecdotes from his work in the slums significantly added to the book and made it nearly impossible to put down.
2. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (by D.A. Carson)- I also read The Truth War by John MacArthur, but Carson's book is much more gracious to the Emerging church movement, which is a necessity when dealing with brothers in Christ who are in error. Carson deftly analyzes the writings and words of the EC leaders (primarily McLaren) and holds them up to the "light" of the Bible. He spends some time praising the positives of the EC church prior to critiquing its weaknesses. Be warned: as with Dalrymple's book, bring a dictionary or an impressive vocabulary, for neither of these authors writes in the vernacular.
3. America Alone (by Mark Steyn)- As anyone with even a limited knowledge of this blog knows, I tend to link to Mark Steyn's writing A LOT. All that started about the time I read this book. It is quite possibly the most important book of the year, detailing how it appears likely that America will have to go it "alone" in the present fight for the Western world (and culture). Europe is likely to soon cede their continent to radical Islam, mostly by means of birth rates. Most European countries are at the lowest of low birth rates, meaning that they will never recover. In other words, Italians will be a thing of the past in another 100 years. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia isn't just exporting oil, but also radicals and babies. Steyn is probably the wittiest writer I've ever come across, and his use of the English language for word gymnastics is utterly enjoyable. So, while the subject of his book is pretty dour, Steyn's brilliant puns and humor keep the reader smiling.
4. Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses (by Theodore Dalrymple)- Another outstanding anthological compilation of Dalrymple's best essays, it is in the same vein as Life at the Bottom. He uses his astounding knowledge of all things (particularly literary works, art, and culture) to analyze the works of authors and artists; both past and present. This review does justice to the book like I could never do.
5. Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (by Bjorn Lomborg)- An eye-opening and extremely important book as it addresses the current hysteria of climate change. Lomborg affirms that the earth is unnaturally warming due to humans (something of which I am quite skeptical), but doesn't agree that it is a crisis. For example, more people will survive what otherwise would be death attributable to cold than will die from the increased heat. Also, warmer temps will cause more rain and better growing seasons in parts of the world, which will ameliorate the problems caused by droughts elsewhere.
6. In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas (by Theodore Dalrymple)- I've recently posted a review of this book, but suffice it to say that it is excellent.
7. The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception (by John MacArthur)- As mentioned above, I thought this book was perhaps a little too one-sided against the Emerging church. However, MacArthur's defense of truth is sorely needed in today's Christian church.
Best Movies of 20071. Bella (rated PG-13 for subject matter)
- Amazing pro-life movie that avoids any form of preachiness or detachment from the realities of child-rearing while strongly promoting the sacredness of life. Everyone MUST see this movie.2. No Country for Old Men (rated R for graphic violence and a little language)
- A Coen brother masterpiece, but not for the faint of heart. Javier Bardem is one of the scariest villains I've seen in a movie for a long time. Brilliantly directed and acted, with the only issue (besides some unnecessary gore) being an imperfect ending. Very different from past Coen films. Engrossing like no other movie that I saw last year.3. Gone Baby Gone (rated R for minor violence but very strong language)
- I really wish this movie hadn't been chock full of cursing, cause it is a powerful and thought-provoking film. It makes the viewer think about morality and absolute right and wrong (though it does tend to be a bit ambiguous on what final message the director wants to convey).4. Rescue Dawn (rated PG-13 for war violence)
- Amazing true Vietnam POW story. Again, Bale delivers like few actors can.5. Pan's Labyrinth (rated R for surprisingly graphic violence)
- Moving tale of a girl caught in the middle of war-torn 1940's Spain who dreams up a fantasy world to escape the trouble around her. For some reason, the director felt it necessary to make the real-world violence pretty graphic. Otherwise, one of the best movies of the year.6. 3:10 to Yuma (rated R for moderate violence)
- Solid Western film, with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale at their best. Ending leaves a lot to be desired.
7. Eastern Promises (rated R for graphic violence and nudity)
- Gripping story of a nurse searching for the family of a dead girl and her newborn baby. Excessive male/female nudity and extremely graphic violence hurts an otherwise well-made and engrossing film.8. 300 (rated R for violence and brief partial nudity)
- The graphic novel put to film, it depicts the story of the Battle of Thermopylae between the Spartans and the Persians. Glamorization of the violence mars an otherwise solid film about honor and duty.9. World Trade Center (rated PG-13 for subject matter)
- Surprisingly apolitical, touching, and fair retelling of the events of 9/11 by Oliver Stone.10. Transformers
11. Live Free or Die Hard
12. Bourne Ultimatum
14. American Gangster
15. Bridge to Terabithia
16. Rocky Balboa
17. World's Fastest Indian
In Praise of Prejudice, the latest volume from the superb essayist Theodore Dalrymple, is a delightful addition to his oeuvre. It's a quick read that makes an essential point in Dalrymple's inimitable prose: prejudice is necessary for humans.
This is hardly a popular position. As the author notes, "I very much doubt whether anyone, at least in polite company, would admit to a prejudice about anything." He then sardonically draws out the implications: To judge by self-report, we have never lived in such unprejudiced times, with so many people in complete control of their own opinions, which are, as a result, wholly sane, rational, and benevolent. Nobody judges anything, any person or any question, except by the light of the evidence and his own reason."
As we all know, this description is hardly accurate. People continue, as they have always done, to think and act on habit, desire, authority and other unexamined grounds. People are simply incapable of functioning in a fully rational manner, and given the finite nature of human knowledge and reason, most of what is "known" is, and always will be, accepted on authority for most people.
Why then is there such a hue and cry against prejudice itself, then? Why not simply declare that the old prejudices against, say, giving birth out of wedlock were bad, but that the new prejudice against smoking is good? The answer, Dalrymple believes, is found in the uses skepticism is put to today. It isn't used to strip away until we finally locate a firm first principle (a la Descartes). Rather, it is "to cast doubt on everything, and thereby increase the scope of personal license, by destroying in advance any philosophical basis for the limitation of our own appetites." People are not skeptics about electrical theory, or the arrangement of the solar system, but "a ferocious and insatiable spirit of inquiry overtakes them, however, the moment they perceive that their interests are at stake--their interests here being their freedom, of license, to act upon their whims."
The breakdown of old prejudices may ease the social pressures to conform to standards of behavior, but the consequences are grim. The small graces of life fall by the wayside, as say, commuters are no longer willing to give up seats to the elderly and pregnant women. Worse, entire lives are plunged into vicious circumstances; the rate of illegitimacy among Britain’s underclass is similar to that of America’s inner-city black population, with similar results.
Furthermore, the elimination of social prejudices necessarily leads to a more authoritarian state, as people refuse to recognize any authority between themselves and the law. The restraint that people formerly exercised because they had internalized the standards of community, family, church, and the like, must now be externally applied by government force.
Visiting my fiancé at her law school, I noticed an empty Miller Lite can sitting in the snow outside a nearby apartment. Considering it, I knew that I wouldn’t leave it around, not because of anti-littering laws, or reasoning about the economic or ecological impact of leaving empty beer cans about, but because I was raised to consider such tasteless, crude, and something that is just not done. And, if nothing else, if I were to leave the remnants of a celebratory drinking spree lying about, I’d be sure to want it to be something classier than Miller Lite. It’s pure prejudice, but it keeps me from throwing my trash about.
In this excellent book, Dalrymple demonstrates how such prejudices are essential to civilized life.