Commentary on culture and politics from a radically new Christian perspective

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Published by David French -- Harvard Law grad, former lecturer at Cornell Law School, author of books no one reads, master of the three point shot, constant critic of Duke Basketball, Playstation2 addict, owner of a cool new Sony DCRTRV25 MiniDV Digital Handycam, father of two and husband of one extremely hot wife


The Culture Curve
Friday, May 03, 2002  
LAST ITEM ABOUT CLINTON (FOR NOW). Remember when African-American novelist (and Nobel prize-winner) Toni Morrison called Clinton "our first black president?" Here's what she said at the time: "Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."

I thought that Morrison's comment was stupid and offensive when she made it in 1998, and I think it is stupid and offensive now. The reality is (and this reality is only reinforced by the news of Clinton's talk show ambitions) is that Clinton was not our first black president. He was our first ghetto president.

The world of the ghetto (black, white, Hispanic, etc.) is often characterized by conscience-less sexual activity, near-complete self-absorption, bombastic swagger and bravado, and absolute hatred for anyone who disrespects ("disses") you or your family. Think about the Clinton days. Every element is there --serial sexual indiscretions, universally recognized narcissism, overwhelming ego (capped by his WWF-style entrance to the 2000 Democratic National Convention), and intense efforts to not just defeat political and personal opponents, but to destroy them.

No one can argue that Bill Clinton wasn't knowledgeable, or that he wasn't a talented (amazingly talented) politician, but he never grew up. He never supplemented his intelligence with wisdom. Even after eight years in the presidency, he was still -- at heart and in practice -- the boy who carpeted the bed of his El Camino with astroturf.

7:24 AM

MORE ON CLINTON: The Washington Post has an outstanding editorial on Clinton's possible foray into television. My favorite passage: "[Clinton], after all, is the man who turned all of American politics into a talk show, with his trademark town meetings, his fervid emoting, his scandals, his denials, his tears, the lower lip. The man who made all of American life a talk show, really, compelling schoolteachers and highly paid defense lawyers alike to discuss the sort of nitty-gritty questions ("Is it adultery if . . .?") usually heard only on MTV's "Loveline."

Sometimes, even the liberal media gets it right.

6:53 AM

I REALLY WANT TO SEE Bill Clinton host his own talk show. I see this as a perfect solution to the question that has bedeviled America ever since the Big He reluctantly left office approximately 15 months ago: What can Bill do now? He's so young. He's so talented. We can't live without his presence, can we?

Thank goodness for daytime television. Clinton is addicted to the spotlight, and a segment of America is addicted to Clinton (fortunately for Bill, a large percentage of his devotees just happen to be available to watch daytime TV). With an ex-presidential talk show, Clinton and his fans get their fix. The rest of America? Constant Clinton exposure will cause us to issue a daily, silent prayer of thanks that our wartime president is not the Ivy League Jerry Springer. It never hurts to be reminded of exactly how far we've come.

My favorite suggestion for a title to Clinton's new show: "Grope-rah." Special thanks to National Review's Corner for these and other Clinton show title thoughts.

6:49 AM

Thursday, May 02, 2002  
IF YOU DON'T THINK anti-semitism is alive and well in America, check out these pictures from one of our nation's finest institutions of higher education, the University of California at Berkeley. These images are racing across the internet after being noted by Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), Andrew Sullivan and National Review Online. I think it is important to add my small site to this list. It is critical that America learn the true motives of many who oppose Israel's recent acts of self-defense. In the words of their own posters, they want to "kill Jews."

It is really difficult to convey how thoroughly anti-semitism pollutes the Arab and Muslim world. Official Arab newspapers (government-run papers) publish ancient libels against the Jews, accusing them of using the blood of Gentile children in their various religious ceremonies. One of the best-selling books in the Palestinian Authority (and also within the British Muslim community) is Hitler's Mein Kampf. Arab political cartoons portray Jews as Nazis or perpetuate grotesque racial stereotypes. Arab leaders routinely deny or minimize the Holocaust. In fact, Palestinian leaders have always backed world and regional leaders who wanted to exterminate Jews -- including Hitler in World War II, Nasser during the Six Day War and Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War. Can anyone credibly argue that all the Palestinians want is an independent state -- that they will stop fighting Israel if only they had their own nation?

If you don't believe my statements regarding the race hatred in the Arab world, I recommend you link to the Middle East Media Research Institute. The Institute (also called MEMRI) translates Middle Eastern news reports from Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages and posts those reports on the web. Through MEMRI, you learn what the Arab Middle East says when it is not talking to Peter Jennings.

Note the following headline from the Tuesday, April 30, news summaries: "Chairman of the Arab Psychiatrists Association Offers Diagnoses: Bush Is Stupid; Perpetrating a Suicide/Martyrdom Attack is Life's Most Beautiful Moment; We'll Throw Israel Into the Sea."

Throw Israel into the sea? For the Arab world, an independent Palestine is only the first step to the extermination of the Jewish nation.

5:31 AM

Tuesday, April 30, 2002  
HYPOCRISY WATCH. The New York Times contains a heartwarming story about the university community's defense of academic freedom and free speech. In 1999, Dr. Harris Mirkin, the chairman of the political science department at the University of Missouri's Kansas City campus published an "an 18-page essay with 38 footnotes" in the Journal of Homosexuality. In the article, "Dr. Mirkin argued that the notion of the innocent child was a social construct, that all intergenerational sex should not be lumped into one ugly pile and that the panic over pedophilia fit a pattern of public response to female sexuality and homosexuality, both of which were once considered deviant."

Since the article was published, Dr. Mirkin has become not only the recipient of considerable criticism (big surprise) but also a "hero for academic freedom." The American Association of University Professors passed a resolution on his behalf -- as did the faculty senate of the University of Missouri. The chancellor of his school and the President of the University of Missouri system both issued strong statements supporting his right to speak.

As something of a First Amendment absolutist, I too believe that Dr. Mirkin had a right to express his depraved viewpoint. However, when I hear various educators wax eloquent about "the marketplace of ideas," I have to laugh. In the last three years alone, I have consulted with or represented Christian organizations at Grinnell College in Iowa, Tufts University in Massachusetts, Middlebury College in Vermont, Randolph-Macon Women's College in Virginia, Williams College in Massachusetts, Purdue University in Indiana, and the State University of New York, Oswego who have faced either direct administrative attacks or university threats against their right to speak and practice their religion. Christian fellowships at Grinnell, Tufts and Oswego have actually been de-recognized (banned). Their sin? Insisting that they have the right to select Christians to lead Christian groups.

Not once during those battles for religious freedom do I recall receiving a single statement of support from the American Association of University Professors or from a single faculty senate. In fact, the faculty members that did express opinions overwhelmingly favored silencing Christians. (For more on these struggles, see my new book.)

That's the modern academy in a nutshell -- speech approving of pedophilia is worth protecting, and pedophile apologists can become "heroes of academic freedom." Christians? They're too dangerous for free speech.

9:14 PM

A MAJOR BATTLE may be brewing in Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, the better part of two battalions of the 101st Airborne are moving to a region close to the Afghan-Pakistan border. In fact, we may have a fix on bin Laden himself. The Post, relying on an unnamed "senior defense official" states: "U.S. forces and their allies on both sides of the border are acting in part on recent unconfirmed intelligence reports that place Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader, and his top lieutenant in the tribal areas on the Pakistani side of the border not far from Khost [Afghanistan]."

The Post is even relaying predictions that the Afghan phase of the war may essentially end after this new operation. Relying again on the same "senior defense official," the Post reports: "There is a sense in the U.S. military that the new battle might be the last big fight in the Afghan war. 'I'm hopeful that we do find some folks here, and start bringing the Afghan piece to a conclusion,' the defense official said."

While the report sounds almost too good to be true, it is worth noting that -- in the nearly leak-proof Bush administration -- it would be rare for a truly "senior" member of the Department of Defense to speak so frankly without clearance from the absolute highest levels.

Watch the news closely. The article may be nothing but speculation and rumor, or it may truly herald the end of bin Laden. We shall see . . .

8:48 PM

IF YOU DON'T READ Victor Davis Hanson, National Review's resident military historian, then you should. His latest post is right on the money. His basic point: real peace and reconciliation can occur only after the Palestinian terrorists are decisively defeated. He uses as examples the American response to a few of history's other vicious nationalistic movements -- the defeat and reconstruction of the Confederacy, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

I think that if the current State Department ran the American diplomatic and military effort during World War II, their response to the largest suicide bombing offensive in human history (Japan's kamikaze attacks on American shipping off Okinawa) would be to wring their hands at the Japanese "culture of rage," offer to withdraw from Japanese territory and propose a series of conferences designed to "foster dialogue."

Sometimes, there's just no substitute for victory.

7:19 AM

THE LEFT'S ONGOING ATTEMPT to impose its cultural vision on America is like your grandmother's nightgown -- it covers everything. The New York Times is reporting that major revisions to the bankruptcy code are being delayed because -- of all things -- a debate over abortion rights. The Senate version of the bill, according to the Times, "would bar abortion opponents from declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying court-imposed fines or damages that result from violent protests at abortion clinics."

This proposal (if the Times is reporting it accurately) is truly stunning. To be perfectly clear, I am unequivocally opposed to violence of any kind in response to abortion and believe that those who engage in violent protests are behaving reprehensibly and should be punished. However, I can find no justification for singling out abortion protestors for special, punitive treatment. In my law practice, I have seen countless examples of individuals declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying "court-imposed fines or damages" that result from violence, negligence or other wrongful acts that often cause real physical harm. Defendants who are guilty of assault, arson, and even murder often declare bankruptcy in an effort to place their assets beyond the reach of their creditors.

While the proponents of the Senate bill argue that they are merely attempting to protect a lawful business, it is difficult to see how the Senate's proposal does anything other than place a further burden on abortion protestor's free speech rights. Are acts of self-defense in response to assaults from pro-choice counter-protestors (a not uncommon occurrence on the front lines of the abortion wars) "violence?" Is it an act of "violence" to cross a police line and lie down in front of a Planned Parenthood driveway? Which other conventional acts of civil disobedience would be considered "violent" as the term is defined in the bill?

Informed Christians and conservatives should have no doubts about the left's single-minded desire to remove dissent against abortion rights from the realm of protected expression. The left's willingness to use a bankruptcy bill as a vehicle for promoting abortion rights simply confirms what we already knew.

4:55 AM

INTERESTING COVER STORY in this week's U.S. News & World Report regarding the continuing -- and even increasing -- importance of religion in the lives of Americans. According to the U.S. News (which often contains quality reporting on religious issues), Americans are both religious and tolerant -- with a solid majority of Americans agreeing with the statement that most religions contain some element of truth.

This emphasis on American religious tolerance is reported with more than a hint of surprise -- as if it is somehow news that most religious individuals live in peace and harmony with their neighbors, even with neighbors of different religious faiths. To Christian readers, this "discovery" is hardly surprising. It simply reports the reality of the American Christian experience.

However, no article about religious trends is complete without the obligatory attack on evangelism. U.S. News reports that "growing [religious] diversity . . . has raised pressure on some groups to halt aggressive proselytizing." The magazine cites Southern Baptists' recent efforts to convert Hindus and Jews and quotes Gary Laderman, religion professor at Emory University as stating: "That doesn't sit well with many people who want to celebrate American religious freedom."

Aside from being a classic example of disguising your own argument behind the opinions of the undefined "many," Laderman's statement is simply stupid. Proselytization is not an attack on religious freedom; it is one of the foundations of religious freedom. An evangelist, when he approaches a person of another faith -- unless they are acting in a coercive manner -- is simply recognizing that individuals have a free choice. They can, in the words of Joshua, "choose this day" whom they will serve. The give and take of religious ideas that underlies almost every evangelistic exchange is the very essence of religious freedom in practice.

Does Professor Laderman believe that a Democrat's attempt to persuade a political independent -- or even a Republican -- to vote for a Democratic presidential candidate is an affront to those who want to celebrate our political freedoms? Evangelism is only a violation of personal freedom and autonomy when the method of evangelism is harassing or coercive or when evangelism is continued in the face of clear indications that it is unwelcome.

Thousands of Americans choose Christ every day. I wonder . . . when they make that decision, are they thankful that other Christians had the freedom to speak, or do they curse the violation of their alleged rights?

4:48 AM

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