- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

‘Not negotiable’

“The paradox of the relationship between religious and political institutions is that conservative religious teachings and the liberal political ideology share an unwavering principle that requires their leaders and followers to never negotiate the tenets of their orthodoxy. Too many Republicans and conservatives are willing to bargain away their core beliefs to avoid criticism by their liberal counterparts.

“Last month Pope Benedict XVI … wrote in a document called the ‘Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Love)’ that ‘Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter. … It is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman. … These values are not negotiable.’ …

“It is little wonder that religious conservatives tend to espouse conservative political beliefs. Political conservatism is similar to religious conservative doctrine in that its central tenets are non-negotiable.”

— Matt Carrothers, writing on “Conservatism Needs That Old-Time Religion,” Monday for the North Star Writers Group at www.northstarwriters.com

Heavy brains

“Exceptional intelligence is not enough to explain exceptional accomplishment. Qualities such as imagination, ambition, perseverance, and curiosity are decisive in separating the merely smart from the highly productive. The role of intelligence is nicely expressed in an analogy suggested to me years ago by the sociologist Steven Goldberg: intelligence plays the same role in an intellectually demanding task that weight plays in the performance of NFL offensive tackles. The heaviest offensive tackle is not necessarily the best. Indeed, the correlation between weight and performance among NFL offensive tackles is probably quite low. But they all weigh more than 300 pounds.

“So with intelligence. The other things count, but you must be very smart to have even a chance of achieving great work.”

— Charles Murray, writing on “Jewish Genius,” in the April issue of Commentary

Scarves and signals

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria has sparked controversy, not just because it is in defiance of White House foreign policy but because of her decision to wear a head scarf and abaya while visiting a mosque. …

“[Wearing] the head scarf as a deference to the host’s culture is a proper sign of respect for a guest. … Laura Bush, Condi Rice, and others have made the same gesture.

“Much more problematic, however, is the Speaker of the House contravening American foreign policy by legitimating a hostile government. While the president does not have plenary power over foreign affairs, he both constitutionally and traditionally sets the agenda. …

“The United States withdrew its ambassador two years ago to protest the Assad government’s role in murdering former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Meeting with [Syrian President Bashar] Assad under these circumstances, without the blessing of the president, weakens our negotiating stance and sends the message that the United States government does not speak with a single voice in foreign affairs. That is a dangerous signal.”

— James Joyner, writing on “Nancy Pelosi’s Syria Head Scarf Controversy,” Wednesday at OutsidetheBeltway.com

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