Monday, 4/18/14

    1. What does it take to admit tragedy?
    2. Speak aright of human rights
    3. Changing times: Single, religious, educated, female
    4. Voter ID Fraud
    5. The return of dhimmitude
    6. Garry Wills: stylish writing, muddled thinking


Hysterical optimism will prevail until the world again admits the existence of tragedy, and it cannot admit the existence of tragedy until it again distinguishes between good and evil.

(Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences) I guess I’ve distinguished good and evil, huh?


Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry faults the way Christians so often speak of human rights. He’s right, though his treatment is too brief. Of course, this is even briefer.


Meanwhile, Carissa Mulder at Public Discourse pleads for more intentionality about single, religious, educated women:

The overall cultural sense is that women are gaining and men are falling behind, as Hanna Rosin argues in The End of Men. Women regularly take to the internet either to bemoan the lack of marriageable men or to tut-tut at women who weren’t smart enough to marry early (see Princeton Mom and Camille Paglia). Furthermore, as described in Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, the state of marriage among the non-college-educated is even more dire than among the college-educated, so these women probably would not have found a spouse even if they had decided not to pursue higher education.

Conservatives don’t know what to do with single women in these circumstances, other than to counsel patience and expect them to marry eventually. In the less-charitable corners of the conservative world, there is an implicit embrace of what Rachel Lu calls the  “Tolstoyan ideal” of the wife and mother. This attitude implies that women who do not wholeheartedly embrace maternity as their primary role deserve to wind up sad and alone.

Neither the Tolstoyan ideal nor the Princeton-and-Paglia approach gets it right.


I had started to buy the line that voter ID laws were calculated to depress turnout among likely Democrat voters, but (apart from the oddity of Democrats saying “many of our voters can’t be bothered with trifles like ID cards) I may have been misled:

If the available evidence suggests that the amount of voter fraud is understated, the evidence that voter-ID laws suppress voting is nonexistent. In elections held after new voter-ID laws were enacted in Georgia and Tennessee, for instance, minority turnout either was stable or increased. In Tennessee, the turnout among Hispanics of voting age rose to 34.7% in 2012 from 19.2% in 2008, according to surveys by the U.S. Census Bureau, even though a strict new photo ID law was in effect in 2012. Turnout among blacks of voting age declined slightly, to 57.4% in 2012 from 58.1% in 2008, but this was within the Census survey’s margin of error. In both years, black turnout was around 4% higher than the comparable white turnout.

When it comes to the subject of voter suppression, it is revealing that Mr. Obama avoided statistics earlier this month and relied entirely on conditional verbs: voters “could be turned away from the polls . . . may suddenly be told they can no longer vote . . . may learn that without a document like a passport or a birth certificate, they can’t register.”

The president’s speech may have been red meat for his base and good for fundraising. But it failed to engage the serious issues relating to election integrity. The coming months don’t promise an improvement.


I’m a little late passing these on, but frank and explicit dhimmitude has returned in at least a few corners of the middle east.

Recently, an Islamist group in the Syrian opposition, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), captured the town of Raqqa and imposed on its Christian inhabitants thedhimma, the notional contract that governs relations with Christians in classical Islamic law. The dhimma allows Christian communities to reside in Muslim society in exchange for payment of a poll tax called the jizya and submission to social and legal restrictions. In Raqqa, for example, Christians have “agreed,” among other things, to pay ISIL a tax of $500 per person twice a year—poorer Christians can pay less—and to forgo public religious displays.

(Mark Movesian)


Cited solely for style and fury:

I fear that the president declared a premature victory for the Affordable Care Act when he said that its initial goals were met, it was time to move on to other matters, and the idea of repealing it is no longer feasible. He made the mistake of thinking that facts matter when a cult is involved. Obamacare is now, for many, haloed with hate, to be fought against with all one’s life. Retaining certitude about its essential evil is a matter of self-respect, honor for one’s allies in the cause, and loathing for one’s opponents. It is a religious commitment.

(Garry Wills, Obamacare: The Hate Can’t Be Cured) As for the rest of the article, Wills seems to think cognitive dissonance is a conservative and religious exclusive. This is the Garry Wills who, while remaining notionally Roman Catholic, argues for abolition of the priesthood.

Forget cognitive dissonance; has anyone done straight-up congitive testing on Garry Wills lately?

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.