- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

Emotional vs. moral

“[‘Munich’] makes a show of having its hero, Avner (Eric Bana), conclude that what he has done in killing terrorists … is wrong. It constitutes vengeance and a perpetuation of the cycle of violence. … Avner comes to this conclusion after he has suffered the agonies of conscience that are supposed to show his superiority to the Arab terrorists — who are themselves represented as ‘rejoicing’ after the commission of one of their atrocities. At this point Avner tells his Mossad handler, Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush), that ‘We should have brought them back to Israel for trial, like Eichmann.’ Now it is true that this is not an assertion of moral equivalence. Rather the opposite. But neither is it a practical proposition militarily, diplomatically, or legally. By proposing as an alternative to what he has done something that could not have been done, as a palliative for his conscience, he in effect ratifies [director Steven] Spielberg’s own emphasis on emotional over moral truth. What matters to [Mr. Spielberg] … is not what has been done, or even what he thinks should have been done, but his feelings about what has been done, which are so bad that they may be thought to excuse what otherwise could not be excused.”

— James Bowman, writing on “Seeming Actuality,” Wednesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Campus cadres

“Many professors seem to find it necessary to make speeches against the Bush administration in classes whose subject matter is not American presidents, the administration of George Bush, or the war in Iraq. During the last election season these violations of academic freedom became epidemic, yet I am not aware of a single case where a university administration has stepped in to correct these abuses or even to re-state the academic freedom policy of the university itself. …

“Here is a comment taken from an interview we conducted with a Temple [University] student: ‘The Chairman of the History Department, who is my adviser, told me during advising that “If Bush gets re-elected we will have a fascist country.” He [told me] he will be scared for his survival and will consider possibly moving to Canada. That’s scary coming from a history professor.’

“It is also entirely unprofessional. … This particular student also observed in the interview: ‘All the professors had Kerry [election] signs on their [office] door. — Every single door to the offices, all the professors had a Kerry sign.’”

— David Horowitz, testifying about academic freedom Wednesday before a Pennsylvania

legislative committee

Twain’s legacy

“Mark Twain … didn’t just speak in an unmistakably American argot; he simultaneously conceptualized and criticized our national character and experience — and took for granted that they should be his grand subject matter. Whether memorializing the Mississippi River, traveling to the Holy Land, or introducing ‘Yankee ingenuity’ to King Arthur’s court, Twain was constantly measuring, defining, and questioning what it meant to be American as the U.S. grew in power, prestige, and influence throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. …

“Twain … was a bundle of discrepant impulses that somehow helped him rather than hindered him on his way to becoming the representative American of his age. Like another major 19th-century chronicler of America, Walt Whitman, Twain not only contained multitudes but contradicted himself.”

— Nick Gillespie, writing “Mark Twain vs. Tom Sawyer,” in the February issue of Reason

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