Thursday, May 02, 2002

AlterNet -- With Liberty and Justice for All

This would be an interesting article about the history of the Pledge of Allegiance, if the author wasn't so clearly opposed to the pledge itself. He sneers at the idea of a pledge serving a positive purpose in uniting citizens, instead claiming that any show of patriotism is actually contrary to the pursuit of liberty.

This quote (about the Supreme Court overturning the mandatory pledge in schools) sums up his feelings towards the pledge itself:

"Why? Perhaps the Court realized that at the height of a war against totalitarian regimes, a central feature of which was a slavish devotion to national symbols, compelling devotion to our flag was inappropriate. It contradicted the very spirit of the pledge, 'With liberty and justice for all.'"

Can someone explain to me why liberals are so opposed to outward shows of patriotism? My friends from the liberal slant cringe when they hear a patriotic song, or flag-waving of any kind. They consider all that stuff "fake patriotism". It seems like their motto is "if you can see or hear it, it's not patriotism."

It just seems like more America-hating, and I just don't get it.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

AlterNet -- Roe v. Wade v. Ashcroft

This LA Weekly article says: "It's hard to imagine a politician with a more steadfastly anti-abortion record than John Ashcroft."

For all my other problems with John Ashcroft, that sounds like a vote of confidence to me. Of course, the author meant it as a slur.

In fact, his opposition to abortion makes him the equivalent of the Taliban, in the opinion of the LA Weekly.

Fun with Pandora's Box : California and Slave Reparations

Gov. Gray Davis is apparently seeking to further distinguish himself as, well, who knows? It's certainly not as one of the young century's great intellects. Not only is Davis pondering slave reparations, a lousy and unconstitutional idea in and of itself for reasons which will be discussed in a moment, but he is considering not giving money to descendants of slaves, but to minority political groups such as Jessie Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. Pray tell how was the Rainbow Coalition adversely affected by slavery?

However, before that question is asked one must first address the validity of slave reparations in the first place. No slaves or slave owners are alive today so which individuals would pay which individuals? Certainly companies and individuals proffited from slavery but it is probably not a stretch to say that any financially solid family or corporation that proffited from that evil institution has had to wisely manage money for the past 137 years to be where they are today.

And why only punish those who have turned a profit over those 137 years. Are not the families and companies who lost their fortunes over that time equally to blame. But the stickiest situations have yet to be discussed. A lot of people have procreated during the last 137 years irrespective of race and status. Shoud I receive reparations if I 1/4 of my ancestors were persecuted by 1/16 of my ancestors and 1/32 of my ancestors weren't even in the U.S. until 1903? And what if an individual is 1/2 the offspring of freemen before 1800 and 1/2 of slaves until 1865? Should she receive only half the reparation she would normally receive because part of her ancestors were freed well before the Civil War?

Clearly there are many other scenarios, none of them good. The fact of the matter is that unless people are able to move on from the mistakes of generations past they are condemned to live as the Israelis and Palestenians. Each side always seeking to redress grievances from times past and thus making the present unlivable.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Three-minute book review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Genre: Classics Recommended: Yes

Synopsis: The romances, scandals, and social interactions of English gentry in the early 1800s.

Opinion: I became a Jane Austen fan against my will, and almost through osmosis. My wife watched the BBC/A&E series "Pride and Prejudice" about a thousand times, and eventually I found myself asking "What has that Wickam done now?" or "What did Lizzy say?" Finally I had to admit that I had fallen in love with the characters and language of Jane Austen.

After watching the basket full of recent Austen movies (and they're all wonderful), I found my way to Austen's books. Pride and Prejudice was first for me, and next Mansfield Park.

The official literary analysis of the book says that Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice were from two distinct stages of Jane Austen's writing. P&P has the lighthearted wit of a young girlish writer, while Mansfield Park is the more austere, serious work of a lady ten years older.

Believe it or not, the official literary analysis is pretty close to right. The moralistic Fanny Price would not look kindly on the tart tongue of Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennett. But personally I can't hold that against Fanny. The author presents her quick mind and sound judgement as things of beauty, and rightly so. She could hardly be called a prig simply because she sees through the facade of Mary and Mr. Crawford, who have all the wit of Elizabeth Bennett with none of the respectability.

Whew, enough analysis for one day. For lovers of language and wit, Jane Austen is for you. She wrote her novels with a wink and a nod to the reader. Her characters take themselves terribly seriously, but she never allows the reader to.

All in all, another "classic" that certainly deserves its acclaim.

Why should I read it? If you love good writing, you've got to read Jane Austen.

Check out these Jane Austen movies: Pride and Prejudice, Emma (BBC version), Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion