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|Needless Commentary from Small-Town America|
The Weblog at The View from the Core - Saturday, November 30, 2002
"Virtue is freedom's handmaiden"
By Elizabeth Nickson in The National Post.
Happily, a reader has called my attention to this magnificent essay (despite the occasional inexplicable placement of a comma), Nov. 29:
.... Canadians believed that low taxes and limited government, both more so even than their neighbours to the south, were a good thing. Charity and compassion were left to the individual, the community, business, the church. The state was meant to protect the citizen from government, and provide limited services.
In 2002, 31% of all federal tax dollars, or $140-billion, will go to welfare and related programs. The next largest expenditure? Seventy-seven billion dollars for health care. The results?
The theory that society is the source of sin, has undermined individual responsibility for bad behaviour. The cultural affirmation of the infantile urge towards pleasure at any cost, has produced child pornography, serial killers, the flagrant abasement and dependency of native Canadians, the wholesale abandonment of their families by half a generation of men, drug gangs running entire streets of some cities, the constant high-C screech of casual sex selling product, half of all older teenagers with an STD, middle-class families taxed to the point that they have negative disposable income ... is this why our ancestors practised sobriety, modesty, thrift and industry? Every leading cultural indicator is bad. Drug addiction, alcoholism, births to unmarried teenage girls, rape, the battery of women and children, violent teenage death and crime, all are far more severe than they were a century ago. The effort to reform human nature, crush evil and create God's kingdom on earth, through income redistribution, has failed -- despite, in our country, the annual expenditure of $140-billion....
This is beginning to change. Slowly, people are beginning to realize that civic disengagement and cultural breakdown began with the Just Society in Canada and the War on Poverty in the States, and are starting to ask why. Already, some observers are saying that a partial restoration of traditional society, is happening. Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert William Fogel, makes a convincing case that we are in the midst of the Fourth Great Awakening, which is less narrowly religious than broadly spiritual, taking place primarily at the individual level. Gertrude Himmelfarb says that "young people who will shape the culture of the future" are reacting against the "dominant ethos" of moral permissiveness. These young people are questioning the morality and efficacy of the vast administrative state we have created over the past 30 years, and leaning towards the rebuilding of the true institutions of civil society -- families, churches, and schools, so as to rebuild the moral character of our country.
Edmund Burke called civil society "little platoons." Civic responsibility encourages moral character, that is the restraint of private passion, in the service of good. Only when you are smack up against someone dying, someone drug-addled, children hungry, people almost beyond help, can you recognize how valuable life is, and how much it needs to be protected. And that the only way to protect our culture is through virtuous action. Only then, are you fully adult and fully human. And free.
5 Israelis Who Were Detained After 9/11 To Sue New Jersey Poet
A press release from IMRA, Nov. 25:
FIVE ISRAELIS DETAINED AFTER 9/11 TO SUE NEW JERSEY POET AND STATE OVER "BLOOD LIBEL" POEM
Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has written to New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey demanding that he fire the State's poet laureate, Amiri Bakara [sic], or she will initiate legal proceedings against his office. The Tel-Aviv lawyer, who heads Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center, represents five young Israelis who were detained by Federal authorities for visa violations after the 9/11 attack. The five allege that the New Jersey poet's controversial poem, "Somebody Blew Up America" implies that they knew in advance that the World Trade Center would be attacked and has grievously defamed their reputation.
Attorney Darshan-Leitner has written that she is preparing to bring a civil action in the amount of $25 million against both Baraka and the State of New Jersey over the poem. She contends that the State is liable, as Baraka was a New Jersey official who was acting within the scope of his employment when he libeled her clients.
Baraka's poem recently sparked off condemnations and drew allegations of anti-Semitism from Jewish groups who believe the piece blames the 9/11 attack on Jews. The poem implies that Israel carried out the Twin Tower tragedy to cast blame on the Arabs. This conspiracy theory has become prevalent in the media of many Middle Eastern nations and has been widely circulated by opponents of Israel on the internet.
Baraka's poem includes a stanza which specifically refers to the five Israelis and, when read in the context of the earlier verses, implies that they played a role in the terror attack: "Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion, And cracking they sides at the notion." Courts will look to the innuendo created by a written work in determining whether plaintiffs have been defamed.
"Baraka's poem is nothing less than a vicious blood libel against my clients and every other Israeli," stated attorney Darshan-Leitner, "It implies that Israel perpetrated the 9/11 terror attack in order to frame the Muslims and that my clients were in the know. I am demanding that Baraka and his employer, the State of New Jersey, pay my clients $25 million for the serious harm he has caused to their reputations."
She is calling upon the Governor McGreevey and the State legislature to immediately terminate Baraka's employment "before his racist utterances make New Jersey taxpayers liable for additional financial damages."
The "poem" is here.
I'm all for free speech. But I must say and, because of free speech, I may say that I take some delight no, I take great delight because this kind of racism, anti-Semitism, and (yes) anti-Americanism spilled over into an implication towards identifiable individuals and a lawyer thinks it may be actionable. (Sounds reasonable to me, but I ain't no lawyer.) I do hope she gets a chance to grill Jones... er... Baraka real toasty.
P.S. I see that Dylan has an interesting blog about LeRoi... er... Amiri today.
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