Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Civility Mirror Crack'd

Via Instapundit, comes Scott at Power Line Blog's astute word-by word analysis of Jim Leach's Denver Post article about Civility. A good exercise in whether your BS meter is operating in top form is to read:
Lynch's article first,
then read the Power Line take on it,
then come back here and read mine.

Mine's longer. Mine also has a surprise at the end (no don't look yet!).

Jim Leach, head of the National Endowment for the Humanities and former Senator responsible for the catastrophic Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999 that repealed Glass Steagall and thus gave us "too big to fail" and directly caused the global financial crisis, wrote an article for the Denver Post on civility. Unfortunately, about half the article says things like this: "Civility means respect for others, regardless of their station in life, their beliefs or their religion." while the other half makes pronouncements like this: " appeals to the irrational fears of citizens can inflame hate and sometimes impel violence." and "Process is our most important product. This emphasis on process as opposed to outcome has never been more important."

How sad that Mr Leach did not see that his own name-calling, labeling, re-defining, stereotyping, and dismissal by tag-word speak loudly and firmly about his own refusal to respect points of view outside his own, no matter how ancient, peaceful, natural, common, necessary or rational they may be.

How pitiful that Mr Leach was unable to speak of understanding others until after erecting a full set of barriers that exclude the vast majority of the world's population who still find value in contests of strength, in competition in business, in the capacity to achieve an effective deterrence and a successful defense - all engaging the "violence and aggression" that Mr Leach arbitrarily and specifically declares "of course unacceptable" as though there has been some recently attained great consensus of 8 billion people to simultaneously deny their natural, normal, healthy and essential humanity in favor of this year's emergent etiquette fiction.

What might have been an engaging topic, had he sincerely wanted to listen, has instead been revealed as just another marketing campaign designed to drive specific behaviors, to appeal to targeted supportive constituencies, and intended to isolate and silence the very " nameless passengers clinging to flotsam in the water, calling for help" that he originally seemed to be reaching out to.

It is sad but clear eyes see the truth without disappointment - thinking for oneself not only prevents reliance on manufactured icons, but also recognizes them as such. Still, there is something to learn from every man, and from every encounter. And so I thank Mr Lynch, because his allusions prompted me to go to the source documents, and there I found riches indeed.

In quoting Abraham Lincoln's "A House Divided", I wonder if Mr Leach reviewed the full text of the great man's speech, and if he did, I wonder whether he was able to recognize that "Honest Abe's" words stood passionately against the work of activist judges and manipulated Congresses overruling legally adopted State Constitutions, denying each State's own citizens the right to choose not to accept legalization of that which they found unacceptable. Regardless where one stands on issues today, the parallels of process and necessity of focusing on outcome are interesting:

"We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease,
until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- North as well as South. Have we no tendency to the latter condition?

"Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination -- piece of machinery, so to speak -- compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider not only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted; but also, let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design, and concert of action, among its chief architects, from the beginning.

"The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half the States by State Constitutions, and from most of the national territory by Congressional prohibition. Four days later, commenced the struggle which ended in repealing that Congressional prohibition. This opened all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained.

"But, so far, Congress only had acted; and an indorsement by the people, real or apparent, was indispensable, to save the point already gained, and give chance for more.

"This necessity had not been overlooked; but had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of "squatter sovereignty," otherwise called "sacred right of self-government," which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if any one man choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object. That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in the language which follows: "It being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States." Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favor of "Squatter Sovereignty," and "sacred right of self-government." "But," said opposition members, "let us amend the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the Territory may exclude slavery." "Not we," said the friends of the measure; and down they voted the amendment."

"....Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould public opinion, at least Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted up. This shows exactly where we now are; and partially, also, whither we are tending.

"It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back, and run the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. The people were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitution." What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche, for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in, and declare the perfect freedom of the people to be just no freedom at all. Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people, voted down? Plainly enough now: the
adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision.

"Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends -- those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work -- who do care for the result. Two years ago the Republicans of the nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did this under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud and pampered enemy. Did we brave all then, to falter now? --now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail -- if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.


Time to wrap up. One last little thing. Last but not least, again going back to original sources, I must wonder if Mr Lynch opened his bible when writing his article, and read the passage from which our great Republican President Lincoln borrowed the Lord's own words:

Mark 3:22-27 (New International Version)

"And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He [Jesus] is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."

"So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.

"In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house."

1 comment:

  1. When a person judges another and tries to turn the mirror of public derision on them, they seldom see themselves in that mirror.



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