Sunday, April 16, 2006

Unbounded unreason

“Did you hear about President Clinton’s appearance before the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies? … Clinton regrets that — despite all his talents and all his efforts — our land is still imperfect.

“‘The idea that I live in a country I spent my lifetime trying to make better, but there’s still hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people, most of them people of color, who will die before their time, drop out of school, go to prison, never have a chance to live their dreams, is galling and painful to me.’

“Yes, and after all Clinton did! …

“He continued, ‘One of the great regrets of my public life is that for all the progress we made in so many areas, we are still losing so many of our young people of color, disproportionately African-American males.”

“You know, if he wants to do them a favor, he might start by calling them ‘men,’ instead of ‘males.’ …

“William J. Clinton’s narcissism, condescension and unreason know no bounds.

“But then, I spent the ‘90s saying that, and why am I back at it, in the Land of 2006?”

— Jay Nordlinger, writing on “Mr. Clinton regrets,” Thursday in National Review Online at

Faithful diversity

“America has a richer and more varied tradition of religious community-making than any other country on Earth. The Puritans, Quakers, Catholics, and other persecuted believers who first arrived on these shores came specifically to set up faithful societies denied to them elsewhere.

“Anabaptists, Shakers, Jews, Moravians, and many others followed them across the ocean so they could cohere with other worshippers in congregations, neighborhoods and towns. Then there were rafts of homegrown religious communities: pioneer Methodists, Christian Scientists, the Oneida Movement, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lubavitchers, Latter-Day Saints, and many others.

“‘Religion … is more needed in democratic republics than in any other,’ wrote Alexis de Tocqueville. The untrammelled individual autonomy fostered by U.S.-style governance needs to be balanced by a sense of responsibility and communal loyalty. Only when religious parameters discipline personal appetites and imbue citizens with authentic concern for others will a people be able to live entirely free, without despots over them, Tocqueville concludes.”

— Karl Zinsmeister, writing on “Faithful Community Life,” in the May issue of the American Enterprise

Before Columbus

“It is high time that someone synthesized the recent revelations in Native American studies, many of which have been achieved by bringing the latest scientific methods and models to bear on age-old questions. … For example: Scholars now estimate that more people probably lived in the Americas than in Europe in 1491. …

“[Charles C. Mann’s new book, ‘1491’] underscores how far the field of Native American studies has to go. …

“Native Americans prior to and after 1492, like other peoples across the globe, interacted in innovative, deliberate, and fascinating ways with each other and their environment. If we can transcend petty current politics long enough to investigate these discoveries with all the tools at our disposal, we may learn not only about them, but also from them.”

— Amy H. Sturgis, writing on “The Myth of the Passive Indian,” in the April issue of Reason

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