The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘attitude’

AWOL

It’s been about six months since my last post.  While some of my most loyal readers here locally have been pushing, poking and prodding me to once more tap out some posts, several readers out of state and out of country have written me to see if I had gravitated to a higher plane of existence.  I can assure you that I have neither gotten any more intelligent nor have I shrugged off this mortal coil.  There have been two separate distinct reasons for my recent lack of productivity.

The first of these is purely technical.  A while back, my laptop encountered its mandatory period of planned obsolescence and died, despite all efforts to resuscitate it.  Well, the Vista operating system which ran it was never considered one of Microsoft’s best efforts – but we had come to a rapprochement and were quite comfortable with each other.  The new laptop runs on the latest and greatest operating system, Windows 10 (or so we’re told so that we will purchase whatever is being touted as the latest and greatest as though we are mindless, unthinking and programmable laboratory rats – which many of us are).  Well, latest and greatest, in my experience, usually means, at the least, making many adjustments and at the worst means feeling as though one has a limited cerebral capacity caused by oxygen deprivation while in the womb.  I found my experience with Windows 10 to more closely approximate the second of those two alternatives.

Of course, the very lovely (Microsoft) blog program that I had been using for years is NO LONGER SUPPORTED in Windows 10.  So there was that as well – considering that the new SUPPORTED blogging program is glitchy and a pain in the neck to use with far fewer features and more hoops through which a person must jump.  This is what the left defines as “progress” – hence the misnomer, Progressivism.

It seems to me that complicating what should be something that is otherwise a simple thing to do is at the core of what Progressives consider their job creation plan.  After all, if a task can be accomplished easily by a single individual in a short period of time, how detrimental is that to the economy?  And how much better to so complicate the procedure that it can only be accomplished by involving three or four people, and then getting a questionable result only after a long period of time has elapsed?  That is why we are now teaching children how to do simple math problems involving the addition of two, two digit numbers and require a three page explanation of how this is to be done.  (Frankly, I am not surprised that school kids are in such despair at this convolution that they simply pull out their cell phones, go to the calculator function, input the numbers and get the correct result – never learning how to add those two numbers using only their brains).

Despite the amount of time I have devoted to the technical challenges I encountered which disincentivized my posting for this extended period, this actually was the lesser of the two reasons for my absence.  The greater one is all the blathering noise that we pass off as “news”.

I probably started twenty or more posts during the past six months – yet I never quite completed any of them.  In part that was owing to the technical difficulties enumerated above – but more significantly I attribute this to the fact that before I finished tackling one “news story,” another one of equal triviality diverted my attention from completing it.  And when I say, “trivial” that is my sense of most of what seems to occupy our interest.

We the people seem to be so occupied with identifying the trees that we ignore the fact that there is a massive forest in front of us.  And we have no better ally in this than the news and social media.

While I have no answer to the reason that our news sources act as they do and report as they will in a verbal and visual portrayal of the classic chicken/egg conundrum – that is to say do they shape the viewpoint of their viewers or do their viewers’ viewpoints determine their choice of content in search of ratings – it is remarkable that when any story breaks, the collective “news media” act like a school of piranhas attacking an unfortunate alpaca who is strayed into their feeding grounds.  And when they have finished gorging themselves, they all swim off in search of a new victim.

I can’t help remembering coming home from school after either struggling on a test or being the subject of a classmate’s insult and feeling sorry for myself, spilling my guts to my father and listening to his wise counsel (after he instructed me that if I only had studied harder I would have gotten a better result or explaining that people who made fun of other people were “very small kids” who would, in all likelihood wind up being “very small grownups” and then concluded his lecture with the statement, “What will it all matter in one hundred years.”  The same may be said of most of what we are exposed to and absorb as being “newsworthy”.

My realization that posting on subjects that were absolutely trivial, while it might entertain some, was probably beneath the intellectual level of my readers and would require a forced effort on my part as I find most of it to be exceptionally boring and unimportant.  So I took a sabbatical from which I have now returned.  But if I may express my viewpoint for this period, it might best be described in the first few lines of  John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale,” a poem that I recited for a high school senior public speaking event:

 MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk.

Well, I’ve promised myself that I am going to try to re-establish my former cheery, optimistic self.  But I know that if I am not fully successful, what will it all matter in one hundred years?

THE WAKING DREAD

Several days ago I mentioned the impact that 9/11/01 had on me psychologically.

It was inconceivable to me that a person could be so unfeeling to take an airliner filled with innocent people and crash it into a building filled with thousands of other innocent people.  And that sense of overwhelming despair only increased as we found out that it wasn’t one person but many.  And the death count mounted, as those whom they left behind hoped against hope that perhaps somehow, by some incredible miracle, their loved ones had escaped the devastation and the rubble.  But for most of them, their hopes would not come to fruition and they had to face the reality that they were gone forever.

The ennui that I felt I’m sure was shared by many Americans.  And if there were one thing that helped me through it that came in the person of two individuals.

The first was President George W. Bush, (not one of my favorite people).  But giving credit where it is due, when Bush went to New York, donned a first responder’s jacket and rallied the people of the city to press on, I believe that was one of the defining moments of his presidency and was a statement of his love for this country.

The second was Mayor Rudy Guilliani (one of my all time favorites).  The Mayor not only had the Herculean task of dealing with all the turmoil, the heartbreak and the aftermath of the destruction of two of New York’s landmarks but he did so without giving any indication of feeling the strain from this undertaking and, most importantly got the job done.

Both of these men fulfilled their duty and went above and beyond the call of rallying us out of our shell-shocked state and proved examples of how the American people can rise above tragedy and regroup and rebuild.  They were an inspiration – at least that’s how I viewed them.

One of the more popular current television programs is The Walking Dead.  I inadvertently ran across it as I was surfing channels in a desperate attempt to find something that would be entertaining and stimulating.  I had the show up for probably ten seconds when I saw a lineup of men, apparently kneeling and then systematically having their throats cut over a trough into which their blood ran.  I happened to catch this episode not too long after the iconic picture of some Syrian Christians wearing orange jump suits were similarly slaughtered by ISIS.

I quickly changed the channel.

Now movies about zombies are nothing new.  They’ve been around since I was a kid – although the preferred method of “zombie-ification” was normally caused by a spell or potion which the Haitian voodoo doctor had concocted.  Today, we have managed to advance beyond herbs and arcane rituals and have been able to harness the power of chemicals, germs and viruses with the intent of weaponizing them.  (Normally, the research is done under the much more noble guise of trying to figure out how to weaponize them so that if one of the “bad guys” weaponized them we would be prepared with an antidote – if you believe that story).

But what if, just what if, there were some virulent poison released on the general population which either decimated the population or transformed us into those flesh-eating zombies?  Would those of us who might be lucky enough to survive such an attack be able to rely on the resources and people who head up government – or would we have to go it alone?

Or what if a far more realistic possibility occurred and those JV terrorists knocked out the electric grid?  We’ve known that is a serious vulnerability and have known that for at least a decade.  What is more disturbing is that we also have a way to fix the problem so that it wouldn’t cascade into a national power outage but have failed even to take steps to begin to implement that protection.  And with all that knowledge, with all the money that Washington finds for pet projects, not one dime has been allocated to protect this vital resource which, if it were crippled, might result in the death of as much as ninety percent of the population.

The way in which the Obama administration has addressed every assignment thrown at it or which it has initiated does not inspire me with confidence.  The mantra of Hope and Change suckered enough of us to hear a chord of promise which turned into a cacophony of pretense.  And as I wake each morning with a sense of dread deep set in the recesses of my mind, I now cling to that campaign theme and hope that we make it through the next fourteen months and find a leader who will help us change back into a united country, strong in resolve and optimistically leading the world toward a new and brighter dawn.

REFUGEES – PART TWO

The UN Human Rights Commission agreement considered the best outcome for those who were displaced by war to be their repatriation to their homeland once hostilities had ceased.  Those who were able to escape in the course of the war become the legal responsibility of that country to which they first made their way.  In the case of the Syrian refugees, that burden has heavily fallen on Jordan.  But in the latest waves our NATO ally Turkey has become a migratory route.  For whatever reason it has acted less as a new host country than it has as a funnel for these refugees to reach western Europe.

Since it’s explicitly clear that neither western Europe nor the United States has a legal obligation to accept any of the Syrian refugees, the question of whether we should accept refugees comes down to a question of morality.  Should we as caring people accept these people and welcome their to our country?  Sadly, that question is not as clear cut as those who are advocates for bringing the Syrian refugees into America would have us believe.

Obama and the left offer a case intended to make any opposition to accepting Syrian refugees appear to emanate from people who have no hearts and no compassion.  But a truly compassionate and insightful president would have been aghast at the more than one quarter million Syrian civilians who have been killed by President Assad during the last three years and would have, once he had drawn his “red line,” actually taken action against that tyrant.  But he didn’t.  And in large measure, the current Syrian refugee crisis is a direct result of his lackluster “policy” which seems to be founded on the theory that if you don’t pay attention to a problem or give credence to it, it will ultimately go away – hopefully before your term of office expires – but, if not, it will be your successor’s problem.

But setting aside the root cause for the massive influx of immigrants from Syria, why should we believe that offering them safe heaven in the United States will actually benefit them?   According to HUD, there are nearly two million Americans who are homeless.  These people are citizens of the United States.  It is estimated that of this number more than fifty thousand are veterans of our military.  So if we are unable to care for our own people, why would we add additional people who in many cases do not have language skills that will enable them to fit into society and whose customs and culture is so different from our own?

The serious and real objection to the acceptance of Syrian refugees does not stem from hard-heartedness but a genuine fear that ISIS will implant some of its operatives in their number.  Obama pooh poohed this as an irrational fear, challenging Republicans as “cowards” for their fear of “widows and orphans”.  If the president’s passion were as great for destroying ISIS as it is for denigrating any who challenge his opinions this crisis might not have existed.  But even some staunchly partisan Democrats, notably Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) have advocated taking a pause before admitting any further Syrian refugees.

Of course, the president and his administration have claimed that there is a thorough vetting process to ensure that no terrorists will be admitted among those to whom we might give refuge.  Several days ago, the National Security Council’s advisor, Ben Rhodes, who holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing – which makes him an ideal spokesperson for the administration but might call into question his qualifications for making recommendations about national security – again put forth this notion that the vetting process would be both thorough and certain.  That is in direct contradiction to what the heads of both the FBI and the CIA who will share in the responsibility of vetting these prospective refugees have stated.  So who are we to believe?

Most of us who were raised within the Judaeo-Christian tradition believe that lying is always wrong.  The same cannot be said of Islam in even its most benign varieties.  Both the Quran and the hadiths permit a devout Muslim to lie to the infidel if his intentions are good and his goal is to spread the “true faith” which is their mission.  Muhammad signed a ten year truce with the Qurayash residents of Mecca and a year later, after he had built up his military, broke the truce and slaughtered them.  Yassir Arafat, apparently inspired by the prophet, signed the 1993 Oslo Accord, by his own words, strictly for the purpose of deception.

If we review the mis-statements and outright lies that Obama has spewed during these last gruesome seven years, perhaps his statement that, “There is no more beautiful sound than that of the Muslim call to prayer” may be the most, if not the only, truthful statement that he has made during his term in office.

CANDY IS DANDY BUT LET’S TALK MISANDRY

If you’re not familiar with the term “misogyny” you have probably missed the fact that the “feminist” movement started a few eons ago or you aren’t tuned in to Hillary Clinton’s campaign to overcome it in what she and others describe as the “War on Women”.  Misogyny is, of course, defined as a hatred of women.  What you probably don’t know (because you’ve likely never heard it) is that there is a male version of this term, “misandry”.  So, you may ask, what does all this have to do with the price of tea in China?  Fair question.

I decided on the title of this post because I just came across an old copy of Ogden Nash’s poetry which included his famous, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” poem.  And, of course, misandry rhymes far better with dandy than does mysogyny.  And I love introducing my readers to arcane and otherwise obscure bits of vocabulary.  But beyond all this, there is a method to my madness which has less to do with politics than it does with living in a civilized society.

It’s a good thing that mysogyny (and I guess misandry) exist – or at least are perceived to exist.  If it weren’t for them, those who talk the most about the subject(s) would be utterly tongue tied and have nothing to say.  As it is, they have, in my opinion very little to say – but they still insist on saying it at great length.  Thank goodness for freedom of speech.

But if misogyny exists is it, perhaps, inherent in our vocabulary itself?  Maybe this is the reason that the left considers one of their major objectives to refine, sanitize, delete and alter our language so that it conforms to their view of how the world should be, rather than the way it is.  I first noticed this “purification” process beinning about twenty years ago when I was watching the Kentucky Derby.  Suddenly, I was struck by the singing of Stephen Foster’s My Old Kentucky Home.

The original of Foster’s work read:

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home.
‘Tis summer, the darkies are gay.

One lawmaker in Kentucky found the words “darky and darkies” to be offensive and got a bill passed which altered the author’s original work to read “people”, replacing these two terms throughout the song.  On the surface, as attitudes and speech have changed since the mid-nineteenth century when the song was written, this might be more reflective of the way we think and speak today.  Although one can hardly imagine what the verbage of this song might look like if it fell in the hands of what we euphemistically describe as “rap artists”.  While they were at it, one can only wonder why they didn’t also alter the term “gay” to read straight and LGBTQ – but it’s hard to rhyme those terms I guess.

Unfortunately, like so many things that people who are self-described as “politically correct” missed is that they didn’t understand what motivated Foster to write this song.  Most people, on hearing My Old Kentucky Home envision a song about the idylic pre-bellum South with ladies twirling parasols as they are escorted on the family manse by the young beau who is courting them.  In fact, the song is a lament sung by a slave who has been sold from his Kentucky birthplace to a new master in the deep South who will make him work in the sugar cane fields and probably meet an early death.

But returning to misogyny for a moment in view of the dedication of some to expurgate our language so that only permitted terms can be uttered (and I suspect their theory is that if we can’t say it we won’t think it), a recent sad event occurred which seems to have gone under the radar of the “Thought Police”.  That tragedy was the shooting of NYC police officer Randolph Holder and remarks made by film actor and director Quentin Tarentino’s comments at what might be best described as an anti-cop rally held in NYC a few days after the officer’s murder.

Police departments and associations throughout the country called for a boycott of Tarentino’s forthcoming movie and any further projects in which he might be involved.  I happen to be vaguely unfamiliar with Tarentino’s works.  The last one that I saw was Pulp Fiction which was released in 1994.  When I say that I saw the movie it would be far more accurate to say that I saw a bit less than one half hour of it before I walked out.  Some friends dragged me to the movie but I found the language and violence to be way over the top – so I left.  Fortunately, there was a bar across the street so I enjoyed a few single malt Scotches until the movie let out and my friends joined me.

Now we return to political correctness.  While I thoroughly support the police in their effort to show their displeasure by withholding their hard earned dollars from flowing directly into the coffers of a director who obviously has high disregard for them and the job they do, isn’t their effort in organizing a “boycott” inherently misogynistic?  Why isn’t it called a “girlcott” or the more inclusive “peoplecott”?

As most of those on the left are hoping that they can change the world into what I view as a miasmic fantasyland, I think I’ll just call it an Epcott.

THE NEXT ITERATION OF THE “PROGRESSIVE” MANUAL?

A Modest Proposal

For Preventing the Children of Poor People
in Ireland, from Being a Burden on Their Parents
or Country, and for Making Them
Beneficial to the Public

By Jonathan Swift

(Edited to conform to modern American English spelling)


It is a melancholy Object to those, who walk through this great Town, or travel in the Country, when they see the Streets, the Roads, and Cabin-Doors, crowded with Beggars of the female Sex, followed by three, four, or six Children, all in Rags, and importuning every Passenger for an Alms. These Mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in Strolling, to beg Sustenance for their helpless Infants, who, as they grow up either turn Thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native Country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbados.

I think it is agreed by all Parties, that this prodigious number of Children, in the Arms, or on the Backs, or at the heels of their Mothers, and frequently of their Fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the Kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these Children sound and useful Members of the common-wealth would deserve so well of the public, as to have his Statue set up for a preserver of the Nation.

But my Intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the Children of professed beggars, it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of Infants at a certain Age, who are born of Parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our Charity in the Streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many Years, upon this important Subject, and maturely weighed the several Schemes of other Projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true a Child, just dropped from it’s Dam, may be supported by her Milk, for a Solar year with little other Nourishment, at most not above the Value of two Shillings, which the Mother may certainly get, or the Value in Scraps, by her lawful Occupation of begging, and it is exactly at one year Old that I propose to provide for them, in such a manner, as, instead of being a Charge upon their Parents, or the Parish, or wanting Food and Raiment for the rest of their Lives, they shall, on the Contrary, contribute to the Feeding and partly to the Clothing of many Thousands.

There is likewise another great Advantage in my Scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary Abortions, and that horrid practice of Women murdering their Bastard Children, alas! too frequent among us, Sacrificing the poor innocent Babes, I doubt, more to avoid the Expense, than the Shame, which would move Tears and Pity in the most Savage and inhuman breast.

The number of Souls in this Kingdom being usually reckoned one Million and a half, Of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand Couple whose Wives are breeders, from which number I Subtract thirty Thousand Couples, who are able to maintain their own Children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the Kingdom, but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand Breeders. I again Subtract fifty Thousand for those Women who miscarry, or whose Children die by accident, or disease within the Year. There only remain an hundred and twenty thousand Children of poor Parents annually born: The question therefore is, How this number shall be reared, and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present Situation of Affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed, for we can neither employ them in Handicraft, or Agriculture; we neither build Houses, (I mean in the Country) nor cultivate Land: they can very seldom pick up a Livelihood by Stealing until they arrive at six years Old, except where they are of towardly parts, although, I confess they learn the Rudiments much earlier; during which time they can however be properly looked upon only as Probationers, as I have been informed by a principal Gentleman in the County of Cavan, who protested to me, that he never knew above one or two Instances under the Age of six, even in a part of the Kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that Art.

I am assured by our Merchants, that a Boy or Girl, before twelve years Old, is no saleable Commodity, and even when they come to this Age, they will not yield above three Pounds, or three Pounds and half a Crown at most on the Exchange, which cannot turn to Account either to the Parents or the Kingdom, the Charge of Nutriments and Rags having been at least four times that Value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least Objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy Child well Nursed is at a year Old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome Food, whether Stewed, Roasted, Baked, or Boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a Fricassee, or Ragouts.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration, that of the hundred and twenty thousand Children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for Breed, whereof only one fourth part to be Males, which is more than we allow to Sheep, black Cattle, or Swine, and my reason is, that these Children are seldom the Fruits of Marriage, a Circumstance not much regarded by our Savages, therefore, one Male will be sufficient to serve four Females. That the remaining hundred thousand may at a year Old be offered in Sale to the persons of Quality, and Fortune, through the Kingdom, always advising the Mother to let them Suck plentifully in the last Month, so as to render them Plump, and Fat for a good Table. A Child will make two Dishes at an Entertainment for Friends, and when the Family dines alone, the fore or hind Quarter will make a reasonable Dish, and seasoned with a little Pepper or Salt will be very good Boiled on the fourth Day, especially in Winter.

I have reckoned upon a Medium, that a Child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar Year if tolerably nursed increase to 28 Pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children.

Infant’s flesh will be in Season throughout the Year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave Author an eminent French physician, that Fish being a prolific Diet, there are more Children born in Roman Catholic Countries about nine Months after Lent, than at any other Season, therefore reckoning a Year after Lent, the Markets will be more glutted than usual, because the Number of Popish Infants, is at least three to one in this Kingdom, and therefore it will have one other Collateral advantage by lessening the Number of Papists among us.

I have already computed the Charge of nursing a Beggars Child (in which list I reckon all Cottagers, Laborers, and four fifths of the Farmers) to be about two Shillings per Annum, Rags included; and I believe no Gentleman would repine to give Ten Shillings for the Carcass of a good fat Child, which, as I have said will make four Dishes of excellent Nutritive Meat, when he hath only some particular friend, or his own Family to Dine with him. Thus the Squire will learn to be a good Landlord, and grow popular among his Tenants, the Mother will have Eight Shillings neat profit, and be fit for Work till she produce another Child.

Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the Times require) may flay the Carcass; the Skin of which, Artificially dressed, will make admirable Gloves for Ladies, and Summer Boots for fine Gentlemen.

As to our City of Dublin, Shambles may be appointed for this purpose, in the most convenient parts of it, and Butchers we may be assured will not be wanting, although I rather recommend buying the Children alive, and dressing them hot from the Knife, as we do roasting Pigs.

A very worthy Person, a true Lover of his Country, and whose Virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased, in discoursing on this matter, to offer a refinement upon my Scheme. He said, that many Gentlemen of this Kingdom, having of late destroyed their Deer, he conceived that the want of Venison might be well supplied by the Bodies of young Lads and Maidens, not exceeding fourteen Years of Age, nor under twelve; so great a Number of both Sexes in every County being now ready to Starve, for want of Work and Service: And these to be disposed of by their Parents if alive, or otherwise by their nearest Relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend, and so deserving a Patriot, I cannot be altogether in his Sentiments, for as to the Males, my American acquaintance assured me from frequent Experience, that their flesh was generally Tough and Lean, like that of our School-boys, by continual exercise, and their Taste disagreeable, and to Fatten them would not answer the Charge. Then as to the Females, it would, I think, with humble Submission, be a loss to the Public, because they soon would become Breeders themselves: And besides it is not improbable that some scrupulous People might be apt to Censure such a Practice, (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering upon Cruelty, which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any Project, how well so ever intended.

But in order to justify my friend, he confessed, that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Sallmanaazor, a Native of the Island Formosa, who came from thence to London, above twenty Years ago, and in Conversation told my friend, that in his Country when any young Person happened to be put to Death, the Executioner sold the Carcass to Persons of Quality, as a prime Dainty, and that, in his Time, the Body of a plump Girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to Poison the Emperor, was sold to his Imperial Majesty’s prime Minister of State, and other great Mandarins of the Court, in Joints from the Gibbet, at four hundred Crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young Girls in this Town, who, without one single Groat to their Fortunes, cannot stir abroad without a Chair, and appear at a Play-House, and Assemblies in Foreign fineries, which they never will Pay for; the Kingdom would not be the worse.

Some Persons of a desponding Spirit are in great concern about that vast Number of poor People, who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what Course may be taken, to ease the Nation of so grievous an Encumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known, that they are every Day dying, and rotting, by cold, and famine, and filth, and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the younger Laborers they are now in almost as hopeful a Condition. They cannot get Work, and consequently pine away from want of Nourishment, to a degree, that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common Labor, they have not strength to perform it, and thus the Country and themselves are happily delivered from the Evils to come.

I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the Proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.

For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the Number of Papists, with whom we are Yearly over-run, being the principal Breeders of the Nation, as well as our most dangerous Enemies, and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the Kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their Advantage by the absence of so many good Protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their Country, than stay at home, and pay Tithes against their Conscience, to an idolatrous Episcopal Curate.

Secondly, the poorer Tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by Law may be made liable to Distress, and help to pay their Landlord’s Rent, their Corn and Cattle being already seized, and Money a thing unknown.

Thirdly, Whereas the Maintenance of an hundred thousand Children, from two Years old, and upwards, cannot be computed at less than Ten Shillings a piece per Annum, the Nation’s Stock will be thereby increased fifty thousand pounds per Annum, besides the profit of a new Dish, introduced to the Tables of all Gentlemen of Fortune in the Kingdom, who have any refinement in Taste, and the Money will circulate among our selves, the Goods being entirely of our own Growth and Manufacture.

Fourthly, The constant Breeders, besides the gain of Eight Shillings Sterling per Annum, by the Sale of their Children, will be rid of the Charge of maintaining them after the first Year.

Fifthly, this food would likewise bring great Custom to Taverns, where the Vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their Houses frequented by all the fine Gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good Eating, and a skillful Cook, who understands how to oblige his Guests will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.

Sixthly, This would be a great Inducement to Marriage, which all wise Nations have either encouraged by Rewards, or enforced by Laws and Penalties. It would increase the care and tenderness of Mothers towards their Children, when they were sure of a Settlement for Life, to the poor Babes, provided in some sort by the Public to their Annual profit instead of Expense, we should soon see an honest Emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest Child to the Market, Men would become as fond of their Wives, during the Time of their Pregnancy, as they are now of their Mares in Foal, their Cows in Calf, or Sows when they are ready to Farrow, nor offer to Beat or Kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a Miscarriage.

Many other advantages might be enumerated: For Instance, the addition of some thousand Carcasses in our exportation of Barreled Beef. The Propagation of Swine’s Flesh, and Improvement in the Art of making good Bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of Pigs, too frequent at our Tables, which are no way comparable in Taste, or Magnificence to a well grown, fat Yearling Child, which Roasted whole will make a considerable Figure at a Lord Mayor’s Feast, or any other Public Entertainment. But this, and many others I omit being studious of Brevity.

Supposing that one thousand Families in this City, would be constant Customers for Infants’ Flesh, besides others who might have it at Merry-meetings, particularly at Weddings and Christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off Annually about twenty thousand Carcasses, and the rest of the Kingdom (where probably they will be Sold somewhat Cheaper) the remaining eighty thousand.

I can think of no one Objection, that will possibly be raised against this Proposal, unless it should be urged, that the Number of People will be thereby much lessened in the Kingdom. This I freely own, and it was indeed one Principal design in offering it to the World. I desire the Reader will observe, that I Calculate my Remedy for this one individual Kingdom of IRELAND, and for no other that ever was, is, or, I think, ever can be upon Earth. Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our Absentees at five Shillings a pound: Of using neither Clothes, nor household Furniture, except what is of our own Growth and Manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the Materials and Instruments that promote Foreign Luxury: Of curing the Expensiveness of Pride, Vanity, Idleness, and Gaming in our Women: Of introducing a Vein of Parsimony, Prudence and Temperance: Of learning to Love our Country, wherein we differ even from LAPLANDERS, and the Inhabitants of TOPINAMBOO: Of quitting our Animosities, and Factions, nor Act any longer like the Jews, who were Murdering one another at the very moment their City was taken: Of being a little Cautious not to Sell our Country and Consciences for nothing: Of teaching Landlords to have at least one degree of Mercy towards their Tenants. Lastly of putting a Spirit of Honesty, Industry and Skill into our Shop-keepers, who, if a Resolution could now be taken to Buy only our Native Goods, would immediately unite to Cheat and Exact upon us in the Price, the Measure, and the Goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair Proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.

Therefore I repeat, let no Man talk to me of these and the like Expedients, till he hath at least a Glimpse of Hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into Practice.

But as to my self, having been wearied out for many Years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of Success, I fortunately fell upon this Proposal, which as it is wholly new, so it hath something Solid and Real, of no Expense and little Trouble, full in our own Power, and whereby we can incur no Danger in disobliging England. For this kind of Commodity will not bear Exportation, the Flesh being of too tender a Consistence, to admit a long continuance in Salt, although perhaps I could name a Country, which would be glad to Eat up our whole Nation without it.

After all I am not so violently bent upon my own Opinion, as to reject any Offer, proposed by wise Men, which shall be found equally Innocent, Cheap, Easy and Effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in Contradiction to my Scheme, and offering a better, I desire the Author, or Authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, As things now stand, how they will be able to find Food and Raiment for a hundred thousand useless Mouths and Backs. And Secondly, there being a round Million of Creatures in humane Figure, throughout this Kingdom, whose whole Subsistence put into a common Stock, would leave them in Debt two Millions of Pounds Sterling adding those, who are Beggars by Profession, to the Bulk of Farmers, Cottagers and Laborers with their Wives and Children, who are Beggars in Effect; I desire those Politicians, who dislike my Overture, and may perhaps be so bold to attempt an Answer, that they will first ask the Parents of these Mortals, whether they would not at this Day think it a great Happiness to have been sold for Food at a year Old, in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual Scene of Misfortunes, as they have since gone through, by the oppression of Landlords, the Impossibility of paying Rent without Money or Trade, the want of common Sustenance, with neither House nor Clothes to cover them from Inclemencies of Weather, and the most inevitable Prospect of entailing the like, or greater Miseries upon their Breed for ever.

I Profess in the sincerity of my Heart that I have not the least personal Interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary Work having no other Motive than the public Good of my Country, by advancing our Trade, providing for Infants, relieving the Poor, and giving some Pleasure to the Rich. I have no Children, by which I can propose to get a single Penny; the youngest being nine Years old, and my Wife past Child-bearing.


SCRUPLES

There I was in the bulk food section of the supermarket I shop most frequently.  I was in the market to buy some dried cranberries but thought that the $9.99 per pound price was a bit high.  I’ve seen them on sale for half of that.  But as I lingered near the small bins of dried fruit, I happened to notice that the store also carried dried blueberries.  I seldom see them on the market, even at Whole Foods which has a far larger bulk section.  I understood why when I checked the price.  They were $17.99 per pound.  (By contrast I had just seen fresh blueberries on sale for less than $2.00 per pound).

As I pondered, a young woman whom I took to be a part of the Millenial Generation based not only on her apparent age but the fact that her left arm was completely obscured by a swath of tattoos and she had several noticeable facial piercings including a large stud that protruded from inside her mouth into both her cheeks, walked over to the dried blueberry bin and began scooping its contents out and into the plastic bag she had opened to hold them.

I couldn’t help make the comment, “Well, you must be the winner of the latest Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes.  Those berries are really pricey.”

Without hesitating she said, “Oh, well I have a system.  See I just mark them with the code for the raisins which are $3.29 per pound and then I use the self-checkout so that none of the store employees even looks at them.”

I was stunned at this response.  Not because she admitted to me that she was stealing, but in the fact that she showed neither conscience or regret at what she was about to do – and apparently had done in the past.

Momentarily, I thought about engaging her in a conversation about her theft.  But as I thought about it, I doubted that no matter how brilliant a sermon I delivered in less than thirty seconds I would have an impact on a woman who was in her mid to late twenties and who already should know what I would say.  But I did feel that I had to say something, so I told her, “Well, if I were you I don’t think I would put up any reference to your ‘system’ on your Facebook page.  You know that’s out there forever and one day might come back to haunt you.”

She responded, “Oh, you’re soooo right.  That’s really good advice.  Thanks.”

And with that she went off to complete her theft.

I remember taking a five cent candy store from the corner store when I was a kid.  I intended to pay for it – in fact I had the money – but Max who was one of the owners was in the back of the store, there were a lot of customers in the place and I was afraid to leave my nickel on the counter where anyone could have picked it up.  So I left the store without paying.  (I was in a hurry to get to my piano lesson).

Not only did I leave with the Baby Ruth – I left with a guilty conscience, feeling that I had stolen something even though I had the full intention of paying for it.  I wasn’t concerned that I would be caught on video since that technology had not yet been invented.  So I got to my lesson which went poorly because I couldn’t concentrate on either Chopin or Debussy.  All I could think about was the candy bar which had made its way out of the wrapper and into my stomach on my walk to my lesson.

My lesson ran from six to seven and the corner store closed at seven.  But I practically ran the half mile to see if they might have stayed open a little later than usual.  But when I got there they were closed.

I remember having a terrible night.  I was unable to concentrate on my homework and I barely remember what we had for dinner.  My sleep was disturbed by my guilty conscience.  I know I woke up several times in the course of the night which was very unusual for me as I could generally sleep through the loudest noises.  But not that night.

The next morning, tired from what was a very poor night’s rest, I got ready for school extra early.  Breakfast was at the usual time but I needed a few minutes extra because I had to stop at the corner store, pay for my candy bar and get the horrible monkey of theft off my back.

I remember bolting my breakfast down to my mother’s consternation.  I told her I had to get to school a little early.  And as soon as I had devoured the last crumb of toast I grabbed my school books, my poorly prepared homework and left the apartment.

When I got to the corner store, Max’s partner Fred was working.  There were a couple of customers in the store waiting to check out with their items who were ahead of me and I didn’t have a lot of time or I would be late for school.  Naturally, one of the customers had a question about a pen that he was considering purchasing and I remember feeling frustrated that this man was going to make me late for first period.  For a moment I thought about leaving and coming back after school was over.  But I knew that if I didn’t clear this up before school I wouldn’t be able to concentrate all day long – and we had a history test that day.

Finally, it was my turn.  I explained that I had taken the candy bar the day before and that Max was in the back looking for something for a customer, that I was afraid to leave the nickel on the counter with other people in the store and that I was running late for my lesson.  So I paid him the five cents and the thing I most remember was the smile he gave me.  Fred thanked me for my honesty and said not to worry about it.

I always liked both Max and Fred and would never do anything to hurt them.  And I think that they knew that.  It was hard not to like Max because he was the spitting image of Kukla on “Kukla, Fran and Ollie”.  And Fred was about six feet four and looked a lot like Fred Gwynne.

A few days later I went into the corner store to buy another candy bar.  Max was manning the fort.  As soon as I walked up to the counter with my purchase he said, “Well, here’s the little person who tried to bankrupt us.”  I was mortified – until I realized that he was joking.  And then he said, “Fred told me what happened.  Just so you know, if I’m ever in the back and Fred’s not working, just take what you want and come back to pay for it later.  We both trust you.”  That statement has stayed with me over all these years – and may well be the finest compliment I have received in my entire life.

It’s hard to explain why people do the things they do.  I can certainly attribute my sense that I need to be honest as something that my family drilled into me both in words and through their own example.  I like to think that I’m fortunate that somehow it sunk in.  My folks were both scrupulously honest and it was with a sense of trepidation that I mentioned this incident to them.  It was a few days later at dinner and I was waiting for an appropriate lull in the conversation to bring it up.

They listened to my account and my father who stopped in the store almost every day said, “Yes, I heard about it from both Max and Fred last week.  And I hope that you learned from this.  You should always allow yourself some extra time in the event something comes up which might make you late for an appointment.”

Mom’s take was different.  She said, “You know you shouldn’t be eating candy bars late in the afternoon.  They will spoil your dinner.”  Apparently my father had already told her about his conversation with the two store owners.  And that was the end of that traumatic episode in my life.  .

In the absence of good parental guidance, I guess it’s not surprising that far too many of our younger members of society don’t see things in quite the same way as many in my generation.  Perhaps science, the new god that we believe will solve all our ills can come to our rescue and develop a pill that instills scruples in the person who swallows it.

I guess the only question is, would there be any demand for the product?

BUNNIES, BUSINESS AND BABIES

My first experience as an “animal rights activist,” although there was no such term at the time, came several weeks into my sophomore year in high school.  It was biology class and Mr. Donovan told us that the following week we were going to do a frog dissection.  I remember hearing that announcement and feeling that I was going to vomit.  The thought of dissecting a frog or anything else did not sit well with me.

I had spent many summers in Shandaken, NY with my grandmother.  Most of that time was consumed by playing in the Esopus River.  And a fair amount of that time was trying to catch bull frogs who were more elusive than I would have thought and watching their tadpole offspring swim near the shore.  Although I caught any number of frogs I never brought them back to our cabin.  After all, to my way of thinking, they had their tadpole kids to take care of.

After Mr. Donovan dropped this bomb in class, I debated what to do.  I knew that what I was not going to do was the dissection.  But before I did anything, I wanted to discuss this matter with my folks.  That was the subject of that evening’s dinner.  My parents advised me to speak with Mr. Donovan and explain my feelings, which I did.

Mr. Donovan was an MIT grad and a wonderful teacher.  He was an extremely heavyset man who was able to perspire on the coldest winter day but that never impeded his sense of humor or his attitude that making his subject “fun” would enable his students to become more interested in it.  And he was kind enough to listen to me and to excuse me from this exercise with the proviso that he would assign me as a “lab partner” to one of the other students and I would have to observe their dissection.  That seemed a reasonable compromise and I accepted his offer with gratitude.

When I finished college, one day an envelope was in my mailbox from an organization called, NAVS – the National Anti-Vivisection Society.  I read with a mixture of interest and horror about the experiments that were routinely conducted on laboratory animals.  Typically mice, rats and rabbits were the subjects of a variety of experiments, all of which were justified in the name of science and improving the lives of humans by developing new drugs which could combat human disease.  After reading the NAVS letter, I decided to become a Life Member but had to set the letter aside long enough for me to save up the hundred dollars to join at that level.

One of the tests which was routinely used was known as the LD-50.  “LD” stood for Lethal Dose – and the 50 referred to the concentration of a specific drug which, when administered to the animal subjects, resulted in only fifty percent of the subjects dying from the dosage.  That impressed me as barbarism at its fundamental level – irrespective of the purported good which these experiments were supposedly going to bring to humanity.

Other tests, primarily conducted on rabbits, involved putting drops in their eyes which typically would cause blindness.  There was no greater reason for the administration of these drugs than the development of cosmetics.  Somehow, blinding hundreds of thousands of bunnies so that we could develop new eye liners or blush was construed by those in the vanity business of cosmetics as sufficient justification for these acts of torture.  Thinking about this made me nauseous.

One of the basic premises of animal experimentation by researchers is that there is a trans-special relevance to the results that are obtained.  In other words, if there is “X” effect in rabbits there will be “X” effect in humans.  One of the drugs that was deemed safe was Thalidomide – manufactured by a West German pharmaceutical company.  It was extensively tested on rabbits and since it was virtually impossible to obtain the LD-50 level, it was deemed safe for humans.  Typically, it was prescribed for pregnant women to reduce the effects of morning sickness and as a mild sedative.

Thalidomide has since been described as “the worst disaster in pharmaceutical research.”  More than 10,000 children worldwide were born with serious birth defects including missing limbs as a result of their mothers’ taking this “safe” drug.  That was back in the late ‘50’s and early 60’s.  Subsequently, the FDA pulled its approval of the drug for use by pregnant women.

Thanks to high schools and medical schools there is a market for animal specimens.  For a mere $140 you can buy a preserved dog from Carolina Biological Supply Company (shipping included).  Presumably this will benefit those who go into veterinary medicine.  Notwithstanding, the photo below from the company’s list of products is disturbing to me.  In fact it makes my high school experience with frog dissection pale in comparison.

 

That there is a huge market for animal subjects for research is an undeniable fact.  And with the recent exposure of two separate Planned Parenthood’s doctors discussing how much it would cost for human fetal organs – well, should we be surprised?  But what should amaze is that when Hollywooders like Brad Pitt come out opposing the horrible conditions under which factory farm laying hens are kept they haven’t said a peep about PPF’s sale of human tissue.  And the silence is similarly deafening by those on the left who have no use whatever for business executives who make beaucoup bucks, hundreds or thousands of times the amount that the average Jane makes working for the same operation.

Enter Cecile Richards, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood.  Up until a few days ago you might not have heard of her.  But she has made the news by responding to the two videos of the undercover interviews with two of her staff doctors.  In essence, Ms. Richards claimed in response to the first video, that the fees for human body parts which Dr. Deborah Nucatola was discussing were merely “reimbursements” for the cost of shipping those specimens.  The second video suggests that narrative may lack some credibility.

What has yet to be brought up is that Ms. Richards received compensation for Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year ending June, 2013 in the amount of $523,616 according to IRS Form 990 which this “Not For Profit” organization filed.  So much for the glass ceiling to which American women are subjected.  And the year before, Ms. Richards earned $583,323.  Why the pay reduction?  That’s because Ms. Richards took time off from her duties at PP to campaign for President Obama’s re-election.

During the latter fiscal year, Planned Parenthood performed 333,369 reported abortions as part of their service to their female clients.  That represents nearly thirty percent  of all abortions performed in the United States.  Or to put it another way, each abortion performed by Planned Parenthood resulted in $1.57 per head (yes, I used that term purposely) in the way of compensation to Ms. Richards.

When I was a kid I often heard that if you were to take a fully grown human and reduce that person’s body to the base elements and chemicals of which it was composed, the value of those would amount to $.98.  So I guess that if you take an unborn 18 or 20 week old baby and slice and dice it up for a couple of hundred dollars – well I guess we’ll just attribute that to inflation – and lack of conscience.

BAKED IN THE CAKE

Under the heading of Fire Prevention and Safety, Clark County, NV has an ordinance which requires a business owner to post the following sign above their entrance:

“THIS DOOR TO REMAIN UNLOCKED DURING BUSINESS HOURS”

Obviously, the business is not required merely to post the sign but to comply with its meaning.  That seems somewhat laughable since, if you own a business, locking out the public from access would tend to discourage people from entering your premises and buying your product.  And I have never had an experience where I walked into a business and a guard locked the door behind me refusing to allow me to leave until I had purchased something.  Nonetheless, I’m sure that the rule, if not thought through completely, was enacted with the best of intentions.

Of course, we have many laws on the books which were enacted with the best of intentions but whose unintended consequences were so problematic that they had to be amended or repealed entirely.  The Constitutional amendment beginning Prohibition is one example which comes to mind.

Oregon has a law which prohibits a business from discriminating against a wide array of protected “classes,” one of which is homosexuals.  An administrative law judge found bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein guilty of violating that law and infringing on the rights of two lesbian women who wanted to place an order with them to bake a wedding cake to celebrate their nuptials.  The Kleins declined to do so because they have religious beliefs that they believe would be compromised by participating in a gay wedding.  The two women brought suit and were awarded $135,000 under their claim of having experienced 88 different forms of “mental-rape” as a result of the Kleins’ refusal to provide their cake.

As might be expected, the ALJ’s decision was trumpeted both by the left and the members of the BGLQT community (I’ve re-ordered LGBTQ alphabetically so that there is no implication that one subcomponent is more important than any other) as a triumph for fairness, and on the right was predictably denounced as an attack on Christian faith.  In the final analysis, I suspect that both sides on this issue may prove to be wrong.  What may be at risk in decisions like this is the ability, for whatever reason, for people to hold an opinion and to act on it which is in contradiction to that held by the vocal minority.  What is in jeopardy is not freedom of thought or freedom of speech but freedom itself, at its most essential level.

I respect the Kleins standing on their principles.  Personally, as a Christian, I do not feel that their providing a cake for a gay wedding would have been a tacit endorsement of gay marriage.   But in any “anything goes” world it is unusual to find people who still try to conduct their lives based on principle.

Every business owner has to balance morality with profitability.  The left portrays business people as being greedy,  only mindful of profits at the expense of their employees who are generally categorized by them as being overworked and underpaid.  The fact that the Kleins would decline to bake a wedding cake for this lesbian wedding undermines that theory.  If business owners are strictly and solely motivated by profit then turning down a profitable order makes absolutely no sense.  It is for that reason that we should give weight to their stated belief that in their view, participating in the ceremony by baking a wedding cake was something that they could not do in conscience.

But there is another reason the Kleins, their views on homosexuality being openly known, might have made a wise business decision, one not based on their religious faith.

Let’s take the case of a family restaurant owned by a Mormon family.  One evening, a man staggers through the door.  His breath reeks of alcohol and he clings to the hostess station near the door to try to stabilize himself.  By anyone’s standards he is obviously drunk.

The owner of the restaurant comes over to him but before he can say anything, the drunken patron starts yelling that he wants coffee and he wants to eat.

The owner explains that he is a Mormon and based on his religious beliefs does not serve coffee in his establishment.  The man again shouts out that he wants coffee and food.  By now, the families in the restaurant have stopped eating and everyone is watching this encounter near the front door.

The owner politely suggests that the patron does not appear to be sober and out of concern for him offers to call him a taxi so that he can get home safely.  But instead of following this kindly advice, he sees an empty seat at a table where a husband and wife and three children are eating and he staggers over to the table and flops into the vacant chair, reiterating his demand for coffee and food.  In frustration, the owner calls the police who arrive swiftly and arrest the patron for being drunk and disorderly and remove him from the restaurant in handcuffs.

Now if most people were empaneled on a jury and these facts were presented in evidence as the state’s case why this man should be punished for his disruptive behavior, I suspect they would vote to convict.  The fact that Mormons don’t consume alcohol or coffee would have played no factor in the evidentiary presentation.

But let’s replay that same scenario with only one change.  The drunk patron comes into the restaurant and he is wearing a T-shirt that has a Rainbow Flag on it and above and below are written the words GAY PRIDE.

Several weeks go by and suddenly a man shows up at the restaurant with a summons which he delivers to the owner.  The patron who was removed from the restaurant has filed suit because he claims that he was refused service for the sole reason that he was a gay male.

In some respect, filing a law suit to “bring about social change” is the ultimate and easily accessed methodology for those whose lives are otherwise too mundane to warrant their very own “reality TV show”.  And the potential to score a big payday while having to pay nothing out of pocket for your contingency case – well, that’s just icing on the cake.

It costs just as much to defend yourself if you’re innocent or guilty.  Filing a law suit is, in the view of many, the path to riches more than it is a path to justice.  Given the current mania of juries awarding ridiculous punitive damages, perhaps hoping they will set a precedent if one day they should be the plaintiff in a similar case, it’s hard to know how a jury would decide the case.

Returning to the Kleins who were and are candid on their view of homosexuality, I would think that one of the things that should concern them in the future is, that even if they were to modify their view that providing a wedding cake for a gay wedding is an endorsement of gay marriage, they should take caution.  Returning to my premise that people sue other people whether or not there is a basis in fact, let’s consider the following scenario.

Another gay couple asks the Kleins to bake them a cake for their nuptials.  The Kleins have decided to be guided by the synoptic Gospel advice to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”.  So they agree to prepare the cake the couple selects.

On the appointed day they deliver a beautiful cake.  The ceremony ends and the guests retire to the banquet.  But the couple is dissatisfied with the cake they ordered.  So they file suit, claiming that the cake didn’t meet their expectations and that the Kleins purposely sabotaged their happy day because despite recanting on their views, they found a way to ruin the happy couple’s celebration by preparing a cake that was not up to standards.

Is this an unlikely scenario – a right wing conspiracy theory?  Well, possibly so.  Or perhaps, given today’s PC climate and verdicts that emanate from jury nullification, maybe it’s the kind of case whose outcome is already baked in the cake.

HYPOCRITICAL HIPPOCRATS

“With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.”

– The original Hippocratic Oath – third paragraph.

Teddy Papadopoulos and I met during Orientation Week at the University of Chicago.  He was one of the few students among us who was a native Chicagoan.  A lifelong resident of the university’s Hyde Park community, he was brilliant and was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics.  In any event, we met over what passed for a typical dormitory dinner and both of us had equally unkind comments about the cafeteria’s culinary output.  Naturally, we hit it off and became very good friends – a relationship that exists still today.

Nikos Papadopoulos, Teddy’s father, was an extremely congenial man who was one of the partners in Café Hellas, one of the many restaurants on Halsted Street that comprised Chicago’s Greek Town neighborhood.  He could be seen there six days and nights a week greeting and seating the busy restaurant’s customers, treating regulars and newcomers with the same obvious joy that they had decided to patronize his establishment.

Nikos was an immigrant from Thessalonika who came to the United States when he was eight years old.  He met his wife Diana here.  She was the daughter of a green grocer, one of seven children, six girls and one boy.  They married when he was thirty and she was twenty-six.  Besides Teddy, they had two other boys.  Teddy, by the way, was named for Theodore Roosevelt.  Nikos admired the former president as a person who said what he meant and meant what he said..

Diana was typical of many women in Chicago’s Greek community.  She was, to use an out of date phrase, a homemaker whose enjoyment came from keeping the house neat as a pin and making dinner for her children and on Sunday for her husband when he wasn’t at the restaurant.  She made sure that the kids all looked their best for the lengthy Sunday services at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral which they attended.  She was a warm and very loving person who enjoyed nothing more than giving everyone a hug and if they were short enough like her, a kiss on the cheek.  Although it was never official, I thought of her as a foster mother.

During my third year in school, Diana was hospitalized.  She was in her late forties.  She was, I think more concerned about being away from her family than she was for her own condition.  But she tried to wear a happy face and joked about getting out of the hospital so that she could cook her family dinner.  “By now I’m sure the house is not fit for pigs to live in,” she said on one of my visits.  That was the visit when she got the news.

Teddy and I were in her room when a specialist whom she had not seen before came in.  He had the results of the tests and the lab work that had been conducted over the previous ten days – and had an analysis.  His name was Dr. M., an oncologist.

Without so much as a, “Hi, how are you,” he introduced himself.  Perhaps you’ve heard of bedside manner.  Well, Dr. M. had obviously cut that class.

“I have reviewed your tests and your lab work and I need to tell you that you have cancer of the pancreas.  It’s inoperable and there’s no treatment.  Based on the progression of the cancer I estimate that you have at most four to five months to live.  I’m sorry.”

And he turned on his heel and left the room.

Diana burst into tears and Teddy rushed to his mother’s bed, sat down and put his arms around her.  I was so shocked, my mouth wide open at the ruthless way in which this physician had delivered his news that I didn’t know what to do.  But in a few second my shock turned into serious anger.  I have only been really angry three times in my life – and this was one of them.  I rushed from the room to find the doctor, half intent on slugging him.

When I caught up with him I grabbed his arm and said, “Excuse me.”   By now my blood pressure was returning to only twice its normal range.  “I can’t believe that you as a trained medical practitioner who is supposed to try to help people could have told that poor woman her prognosis in such a cold and uncaring manner.  You should be ashamed of yourself.”

He replied, “Why?  She’s a dead woman.  If I waste my time on her I might be putting someone at risk whom I could actually help.”  And he walked off.

I remember standing there for a few minutes, totally numb, completely shocked and feeling the tears run down both my cheeks.  And then I returned to Diana’s room.

Well, Dr. M. was fairly correct.  But Diana lived seven months from that date and the outpouring of love and grief from her friends and members of the closely knit Greek community was amazing.  There were well over four hundred people who attended her funeral that September.

“Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.”

– The original Hippocratic Oath – fourth paragraph.

The original Oath has been changed many times.  Obviously, were the above portion of it still in effect there would be no abortions performed by any physicians who swore to it nor would we have things such as the “morning after” pill.

This week a pro life group released an undercover video in which Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Deborah Nucatolo discusses in a very off handed, dismissive and clinical manner the method of performing abortions so as to “extract the most tissue which can then be furnished for research.”  The link to the video and a CNN piece on what has become a very controversial issue can be found below.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/15/health/planned-parenthood-undercover-video/

One of the counter attacks by those who are Pro Abortion is that the video was edited.  So is every movie that is released by Hollywood and every news story that appears in print.  Many years ago I had two separate three hour conversations with a Wall Street Journal staff writer and when the piece on which she was working, appeared in the paper she had reduced our conversation to two lines.  Editing is not the issue.  Nor is the motivation of the group that produced it – so long as the facts presented are actually the facts.

What really is the issue, something about which people who are both Pro Abortion and Pro Life should be concerned, is the level of ethics – both in our society generally and by extension among our medical practitioners.  In a self-centered, self-absorbed society that is a serious question.

Presumably, most of us would have no question about returning a guilty verdict in the case of a mother who suffocated her three  year old Downs Syndrome child because she couldn’t handle the stress of dealing with a youngster with this disability.  So why then would we applaud the woman for aborting that child as a fetus if it were clear the child would be born with this genetic defect?  Or for that matter, a child who would be born with Cystic Fibrosis?  Or for that matter, a child who was a female when the parents wanted a boy?  Or a child whose hair color would be red when they wanted a blond?

Today, whatever your philosophy, this is a choice that is purportedly left to the parent.  But those who press most strongly for further government entrenchment in our lives may not fully perceive where their efforts, if successful, may lead.

Because the truth is that government might one day decide that the right to reproduce is not a right but a privilege and it is they, (in the interest of the greater good) who should determine to whom that privilege should be granted and to whom it should be denied.

After all, the right to have children is not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, that venerable document that receives as little attention from those on the left as some members of the medical community pay to the original Hippocratic Oath.

WHITE PRIVILEGE AND THE WHITE MAN’S BURDEN

Back in the days when grammar schools taught history and geography I remember having to memorize the names of the countries of Africa.  In the forty some odd years since the map below was drawn, things had changed – and they have continued to change on that continent.  Names that were once familiar to us students no longer exist and boundaries have been redrawn many times with many countries now being called by names based on their indigenous residents’ native languages rather than by names imposed on them by the western European countries that had formerly included them as part of their global empires.

 

If you were to ask the average student, young adult or, I suspect your typical American thirty or forty year old, which countries had claim to empires in the twentieth century or earlier, I believe you would get a rather blank stare as a response. How many of those you interviewed, were you to ask what countries Portugal had under their crown’s control would be able to tell you that Brazil was once part of that nation’s global empire? Or that Pope Alexander VI divided the entire continent of South America between the Spanish and the Portuguese in 1493? History does have implications.

Now if you were to ask those same people about the question of “White Privilege” you might do a little better.  Although this currently voguish PC catch phrase gets bandied about regularly, I am still waiting to hear, other than it’s being a veiled attempt to conjure up guilt that should be shared by all white Americans because of their skin color, exactly what it is.  But the nice thing about PCspeak is that what you say doesn’t have to follow the dictionary rules of providing an exact definition but can be morphed into whatever the speaker wants at any given moment in time.  This technique, of course, makes any real debate on this subject virtually impossible, which is fine as far as those who employ the term are concerned, because debate requires presenting purported facts that can be discussed and possibly debunked.

As to the term, “White Man’s Burden” which we learned was theoretically a motivating factor in European expansion throughout the world (beside the obvious that England, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and others had ships and as long as you have ships you might as well use tem to go places), I doubt that most of those who throw about “White Privilege” know what the “Burden” term means.

Simply put, it was a quasi religious/sociological term that suggested that whites, (by virtue of their skin color) were superior to people whose skin color was darker and that as a result of that inherent superiority it was their responsibility to care for those less fortunate and to impart (as much as they might be capable of comprehending) the culture, religion and knowledge which whites had been gifted to receive from the Creator.  In essence, the white man was the farmer and people of color were the farm animals who were given to him to care for and nurture.

That philosophy seemed to serve most Europeans rather well until Hitler came along and decided that even among whites, some were clearly better than others and that it was the imperative of the Aryan race to do away with those pseudo-whites like Jews and Slavs.  Fortunately Hitler was defeated.  But one can only imagine if he had succeeded in his first effort to “purify” humanity, how he would have dealt with the black and yellow and red inhabitants of the world.  I can’t imagine that would have been a pretty picture.

It would be not only fair but accurate to describe the term “White Man’s Burden” as a racist concept.  But then, so is the term “White Privilege”.  Any term which begins by using race as a descriptor is a racist term.  “White Power” and the “Black Congressional Caucus” are both racist by their self-styled names.  And anyone who refers to “White Privilege”, whatever that person’s own race, is in fact using a racist term and perhaps exhibiting their own racist views.

Today we would view the colonial concept of the “White Man’s Burden” as primitive and exhibitive of racial prejudice.  The idea that whites are inherently superior to those of other races – well that’s nearly antediluvian by most peoples’ standards.  Or is it?

The only real difference between the “White Man’s Burden” and “White Privilege” is the attribution of guilt in the second of these terms.  If you question this you have no further to look than at the percentage of the American black community that receives government assistance (largely paid for by the white American population) because they are obviously, like the colonial farm animals, unable to fend for themselves.  And who are those who constantly search for new ways to find more programs to fund these underprivileged souls?  None other than they who scream “White Privilege” the loudest.

I guess that goes to their point that “racism” is alive and well in America.  Perhaps before levying their next charge, they might want to consult a mirror.

Tag Cloud