Monday, April 25, 2005

Wisdom of the Day

1. Jay Nordlinger, naturally. From an interview of Roger Ailes by Jeff Greenfield:

“Freedom of press didn’t invent democracy; democracy allowed freedom of the press to flourish. We need to defend democracy.”


2. Nordlinger, again. NYU apparently selected Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman as commencement speaker. Apparently this didn't sit well with some NYU'ers (have no idea what their mascot is, they are inconsequential in any sport) and the student newspaper editorialized:

"the student newspaper editorialized, “Instead of being honored by the presence of Maya Angelou, Jon Stewart, or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the class of 2005 will be receiving Shirley Tilghman..."

Shirley Tilghman must be losing sleep being compared adversely to Jon Stewart. Marquez, by the way, is a major Castro apologist.

3. Nordlinger, thrice. This contrasts nicely to the boorish behavior of many celebrities:

Here in Las Vegas, we know all about Andre [Agassi] as a class act. But a personal story.

A local charity has a Magical Forest at Christmas, with Santa for the kids. I am normally Santa on opening night — Thanksgiving. It is a tradition for many families to get their family Christmas-card photo with Santa on this night, because the whole family has gathered for Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving 2002, Andre and Steffi [Graf] brought their infant son and WAITED in line for an hour to get pictures. Andre and Steffi do not have to wait in line in Las Vegas. Jaden refused to sit on Santa’s lap and the wait was in vain. Andre agreed to pose with Santa so the charity could use the shot for publicity. I call that class.

P.S. Jaden was still afraid of Santa in 2003, but finally ran up eagerly in 2004 to tell Santa what he wanted, and his parents were able to get the pictures they wanted.

I include this in part because I always root for Agassi and the Monk is an admirer or Steffi's.

4. Why multiculturalism and liberal democracy don't mix. When push comes to shove the principles liberalism must take precedence over multiculturalism. And most 'liberals' can't bear to to that. [Part of an excellent article on post-modernism and the multicultural infection in Great Britain.]

...some of these cultures and multiculturalism itself were incompatible with liberalism. Multiculturalism holds that all cultures are equal; liberalism is the doctrine that all human beings have equal rights; so if a culture holds that some human beings, (e.g., women) have fewer rights than others, then liberalism has to confront that culture and reject the multiculturalism sheltering it. [emphasis added] On some issues liberal society can reach a modus vivendi with other cultures — for instance, by designing school uniforms that conform to Muslim views of female modesty. On really important questions such as "honor killings," however, liberal society has to impose its own values without apology, if necessary in condign ways.

5. Ned Rice has a nice piece on Catholicism, the Constitution and fallacy of a 'living, breathing document':

In either case, at issue here is the notion of a fixed set of standards versus the ebb and flow of public opinion over the course of time: Which should have a greater role in determining public (or church) policy? In other words, are the Ten Commandments a living, breathing document that must constantly evolve in order to remain relevant in an ever-changing world? Or to put it another way, where is it written that we all the right to speech, religion, a free press, assembly, and gun ownership, among other things? Well, O.K., I mean besides the Constitution?

The Founding Fathers knew that mores and customs come and go like fashion, and that a new legislature was bound to enact any number of bad laws guided by nothing more than the shifting winds of public opinion. Especially with a nutcake like John Adams in Congress. So they created a standard — the Constitution — with which all new laws would have to be compatible or else they couldn’t become laws.

Among the many things the Founding Fathers wisely anticipated was that they couldn’t anticipate everything. So they also built in a mechanism for amending the Constitution so it could be fixed and rigid, yet still capable of evolving. Which came in pretty handy when we finally figured out that women and non-white people have rights, that slavery is immoral, that alcohol is evil, that no alcohol is worse, and so on. They purposefully made it much harder to amend the Constitution than to just pass a law, though, which is why the Family and Medical Leave Act is something most people either laugh at or just ignore and not a God-given right.

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