- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2007

Politics and honor

“Politics is about what makes you angry, not so much about what you want. … In our democracy politics is motivated especially by the sense that you are not being treated equally. The civil rights movement, the women’s movement are obvious recent examples. They were initiated not for the sake of gaining benefits but to receive equal honor and respect. We do not worry so much about the wants of the rich and their desire for inequality. …

“You can tell who is in charge of a society by noticing who is allowed to get angry and for what cause. … Power is too vague a term when separated from honor; when we say that people are ‘empowered,’ that means they have the power that goes with honor. Those not empowered are dissed, a word invented by blacks to designate the feeling of being disrespected.

“The two honor-seeking movements I mentioned have been generalized in the concept of identity politics, illustrating the tendency of political science to perform abstractions and to avoid proper names. For how can you have a politics of identity or of meaning without using the names that go with identity and meaning? Lyle Lovett has a song ‘You’re not from Texas’ that ends like this: ‘That’s right you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.’ Lyle teaches us the central problem of multiculturalism: if it’s so important to come from Texas, how can Texas want you if you’re not? Those of us not from Texas have to live with the shame of it. … For with honor goes the shame of dishonor.”

— Harvey Mansfield, in Tuesday’s Jefferson Lecture for the National Endowment for the Humanities

Pizza plot

“[Federal officials say terrorists] had planned to ambush a military facility with automatic weapons. They weighed Fort Monmouth Army Base and Dover Air Force Base before settling on Fort Dix, where one of the suspects allegedly had access as a pizza delivery guy. …

“Reports say the suspects are radicals from former Yugoslavia, Jordan and Turkey. Three are illegal aliens. The border-as-security-issue topic will get a lot of attention this week from the second-tier Republican candidates who will bash the front-runners’ ‘comprehensive’ plans, and from pundits who want to push the Republican front-runners into harder-core stances.”

— Mary Katharine Ham, writing Tuesday on “Fort Dix Terror Plot Busted,” in her blog at TownHall.com

Disconnect

“The non-thinkers really don’t mean it. Take, for example, the 9/11 un-Truthers. …

“In the case of the un-Truthers, it boils down to a lazy mental pacifier used to medicate the pain of defeat at the polls. They don’t mean a word of it, deep down. People who really believed this … would do something more concrete than, say, posting hit and run anonymous comments on blogs. I mean, if you really believed the Chimpy McBushitlerburton Regime blew up the [World Trade Center], you wouldn’t shrug and go home every night to watch ‘Futurama’ reruns on [the Cartoon Network’s] ‘Adult Swim.’ Not very Founding-Fatherish, when it comes down to it.

“Ditto climate change alarmism. If Sheryl Crow were as terrified of global warming as she claims, she wouldn’t travel with a retinue that would make an Ottoman Sultan pull up short.

“Selfish hedonism solves itself in the medium term. People who are too busy surfing for the latest [online pornography] are not going to be movers and shakers on the political scene.”

— Dale Price, writing on “A Republic, If You Can Keep It,” on Tuesday at the Dyspeptic Mutterings blog (dprice.blogspot.com)

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