"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, April 13, 2007

Secular news I can't resist commenting on

Item #1: The complete exoneration of the Duke lacrosse players and the concomitant haling of Durham DA Michael Nifong before the state bar assocation on ethics charges.

I wrote about this case last January and, with these latest developments, have a major qualification to offer. I said the case was more about gender than about race and class. That wasn't quite right. The case was about how all three factors are so ideologized in our society that they can still be exploited easily for real or imagined political gain. Aside from the disgusting way in which Nifong demagogued the issue—with the eager cooperation of the local newspaper, be it noted—what most disgusted me was how the Duke administration and faculty handled it. Three of their own students, without any prior criminal record, were presumed guilty until proven innocent. That shows how virulent the disease of ideology—usually, secular-liberal ideology—is in academia.

The cure is to revive concern for Truth (yes, that's a capital 'T') among our intellectual and cultural élites, which is a very different thing from ideological commitment. Naturally knowable truth about God as lawgiver will play a central role in such a revival, if it occurs at all; yet it would still need to be leavened by the witness of those who accept the revelation in Jesus Christ. Until then, young men (I emphasize 'men') falsely accused of felonies, especially against women, will have only two options: the best lawyers money can buy, or jail. The three Duke lacrosse players came from the fortunate few families who can afford the former. We know where the rest end up.

Item #2: The fall (no doubt temporary) of Don Imus.

I first listened to Imus when I lived in New York a generation ago, before he went national. When too sick and bored to do anything else, I've listened occasionally since. His act has changed hardly at all: he says aloud, in terms sometimes inappropriate but usually entertaining, things that a great many white males think but are afraid to say. This week, he found out why they're afraid. Once again, a privileged white male has run smack up against the triple-whammy of race, gender, and class other than his own. Reid Seligman, meet Don Imus.

Mind you, calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed ho's" has nothing to commend it whether or not it's true. Indeed, its truth or falsity is irrelevant. It's just not the sort of thing that's worth saying, because it needlessly offends a lot of people who can't be blamed for finding it offensive. It's not just an offense against charity; worse, it's an imprudent offense against charity. (As Cardinal Merry del Val once said: "Faith, hope, and charity; and the greatest of these is prudence.") That's why, when a student, I didn't call my professors "pointy-headed peddlers of putrid nonsense," even though in many cases that was pretty close to the truth. I didn't want to earn a reputation as uncouth, or even to get a bad grade. But in his pride and relative impunity, Imus made a mistake of the kind most of us are, rightly, unwilling to risk. And when you run up against the triple whammy, even the advertisers start abandoning you, so you don't even have the excuse that you make money for the network. That's why Imus was fired.

He deserved it. But his penance will almost certainly be short. Geez, if Howard Stern can get on satellite radio, why can't Imus?

Item #3: The row about the sacked U.S. attorneys.

This has got to be the among the silliest episodes of political kerfuffle that I've seen in my four decades of following the DC follies. Backed by the White House, the Attorney General has tried to hide the fact, obvious to everybody, that the firings were politically motivated. The Democrat-controlled Congress is well on the road to provoking a constitutional crisis in its effort to get the Administration to admit its real motives by means of sworn testimony from high officials. But isn't that Congressional effort just as politically motivated as what the Administration did? And isn't the Congress's self-righteous effort to divert attention from that fact just as deceptive in intent, but transparent in practice, as the inept Administriation coverup has been from the start?

They like to say inside the Beltway: "It's not the crime, it's the coverup." In this case, there was no crime other than politics as usual. So, playing politics as usual, they're trying to turn the coverup into the crime. And they wonder why most Americans think life is more real outside the Beltway. Only a political junkie could take this thing seriously. Get a religion other than politics, guys. It would give you a bit of perspective.

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