Thursday, August 11, 2005

Various notes: Nazis, 'South Park,' Lincoln, etc.

Dobson under fire: Dr. James Dobson has received plenty of criticism for his on-air remarks comparing embryonic stem cell research to Nazi practices, which I did as well. In a WSJ piece, David Gelernter makes a fool of himself by ripping Dobson (though he also rips Dobson's critics).

Gelernter claims that Dobson "proved that he lacks sufficient control to be pitching in the major leagues of public discussion and ought to be sent back to the minors." Why is this so? Gelernter first cites some morally trivial differences between Nazi research and ESCR (which was Dobson's point: The differences are morally trivial, which is why the comparison is valid). His more central point is that Nazi "doctors" and ESC researchers have vastly different motives (incidentally, another morally trivial difference).

With regard to today's ESCR supporters, Gelernter writes, "Is Dr. Dobson so small-hearted that he can't cut such people a little slack? Can't concede that they are acting out of love, even if their conclusions are wrong?"

What?! Who says Dobson can't concede the good motivations of those pressing for ESCR? (Helping sick people...their stated motives are quite obviously good.) Give me a break. In reality, Dobson wasn't comparing motives. He was comparing practices, and saying they're morally equivalent - which they are.

But I don't want to be too hard on this op-ed. David Gelernter's analysis "shows incomprehension, not malice." But he has proven that he needs to "be sent back to the minors" - and off the WSJ editorial page.

'South Park Conservatives' and the faith of Ann Coulter: Marvin Olasky writes about "South Park" conservatism vs. a biblical approach. While Olasky acknowledges that the tough, often sarcastic and satirical talk of the "South Park" people can be necessary to successfully communicate the truth, we should remember that God himself combines absolutely perfect justice with amazing grace. "South Park" conservatives can go too far. Christian conservatives need to be tempered by an awareness of God's grace and combine their conviction with compassion.

Olasky quotes two outspoken conservatives not known for their diplomacy, yet who, with these words, seem to back away from "South Park"-viciousness by acknowledging Christ:

Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world. -
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Christ died for my sins, and nothing else matters. - Ann Coulter

Admittedly, such a statement from Coulter is a bit surprising. I don't l
ike all her methods, and she's not afraid to use profanity. I found the Time cover story on her a few months ago disappointing. And everyone wonders whether some of what she does is an act.

But her statement about Christ is encouraging, and her rough, hilarious tactics can be powerful and necessary. Indeed, I love most of what she says and writes. If she can temper her steadfast conviction with compassion, she'll be golden. And she won't be a vulgar, "South Park" type.

America: Flawed but still beautiful:
Thomas Sowell debunks criticisms of Abe Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. A glance at the circumstances, Sowell says, shows that Lincoln shrewdly did what he must to advance the cause of freedom most effectively, and he ought to be praised.

I'd also like to plug this fun new book on American History - a book that actually tells it like it was. (I've heard great things about this book as well.)

On the Bush presidency: Peggy Noonan writes about how the Republican base continues to stand by President Bush - despite his failure to adhere to certain conservative principles.

As Noonan puts it, "Among conservatives there is rising frustration over immigration, government spending, and the gradual, slow-mo, day-by-day redefining of what modern conservatism is and what the Republican Party stands for that has taken place during the Bush presidency. That is in fact the big, largely unspoken fact of the Bush presidency."

Thus, "Republicans are on the verge of a great struggle." And yet, "the president continues to be supported and appreciated among the Republican base."

Why? Because he's done a lot of things right. Because he's our war president; because he's a regular guy; because he's a "real" man; and because he stands for what he believes in. Despite his mistakes, we love the guy. I for one definitely wish the president would do some things differently, but (especially compared to possible alternatives) he's a great man and a great American leader. (And I think Noonan is right in surmising that his leadership following 9/11 and the lack of any further terrorist attacks on American soil is the number one reason for the support he has.)

Update: Still, the GOP has been spending like drunken sailors, as everyone likes to put it, and that's upsetting. And with a GOP-controlled Congress passing through all this pork, our GOP president just isn't willing to reject any of it. That's a shame.

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