Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Clearing Up Misconceptions

Due to the fact that the traditional media in America is biased and selective about what news to cover and how to cover it, and most Americans are often too trusting, busy, or apathetic, there is no shortage of egregious misconceptions about varying issues. This article is an attempt to clear up some of these misapprehensions, and to briefly present an often-ignored point of view on them.

The first issue concerns taxes. Democrats have been repeating their tired mantra about tax cuts for so long that many people forfeit critical thinking and simply swallow the propaganda. Whenever tax cuts are discussed in Congress, the opponents always claim that we would be “taking from the poor and giving to the rich”, or that these cuts will “punish the poor, young, and elderly”. The top 5% to 10% of wage earners pay roughly 56% to 67% of the income tax. (Source: Internal Revenue Service, Statistics of Income Division, Unpublished Statistics, September 2002). Of course an income tax cut will benefit the affluent; they are paying the overwhelming burden in the first place! Why this concept eludes so many is befuddling.

Another related issue is the perception that the Republican Party is in bed with big business, and that it constitutes an elitist rich man’s club. Just as many Democrats are involved with big business, and are guilty of shenanigans. Reagan was criticized for having several millionaires in his cabinet- Clinton had more. What about Al Gore and his Buddhist contributors, or Hillary Clinton’s ability to magically transform $1,000 into $100,000? Care to discuss James Traficant or Bob Torricelli? I could go on and on and on.

Have you ever noticed that those who speak most passionately about “tolerance for others” are often the least tolerant? Look at the absurdity going on at Harvard University. There is a campus organization that actually wants to put limits on “insensitive” speech there! Tom Daschle recently complained about slander aimed at him, but listen to how he speaks of President Bush. The hypocrisy is stunning! Does anyone doubt that Trent Lott would have gotten a pass had he been a Democrat? Also, tolerance is not synonymous with acceptance.

Fox News is not a “conservative” network. It simply presents both sides. The left slant has persisted in the mainstream media for so long, that any unbiased presentation of the news appears to have a right slant. Sadly, we can hardly recognize fair and balanced news anymore. For further evidence of this, read Bias, by Bernard Goldberg.

Racism is not defined as white prejudice only, and a white person is not a racist for merely disagreeing with or criticizing a minority person. Webster’s Dictionary makes no reference to power in defining the word. Anyone is capable of being racist. Quite simply, affirmative action is institutionalized discrimination; the very thing that the proponents of it profess to despise so much. It should be based solely upon economic need, and not skin color.

Finally, the forefathers did not invent slavery nor did they begin it in this country. It was rampant all over the world (at a much crueler level), and existed here long before the time of the Founders. They were among some of the first who acknowledged its despicability and arranged for its eventual abolition - time and economics permitting. It still largely exists all over the world today. Frederick Douglass wrote that he preferred a union, even with the institution of slavery, to dissolution because he knew that the Constitution, despite its faults, laid the seeds for eventual emancipation and equality.
Today, it is often condemned as a racist document. We forget that it was the most democratic document of its time and granted more freedom to more people than any other in the history of the world. Founding Brothers, by Joseph J. Ellis, is the most realistic appraisal of this issue in recent years. Often times, those who accuse others of reading biased history are the true dupes of propaganda.

Incidentally, it is stunning how so few people realize that we live in a republic, and not a democracy. Well, the limits of space prevent further detail, but it does not prevent any of you from looking further into these points, if so inclined.

Politically Correct Snow White

I recently had the displeasure of seeing Return to Neverland, the sequel to Disney’s Peter Pan. In an effort to be more politically correct, the new film blatantly panders to little girls, and is basically the girl’s version of Peter Pan. The original movie, while more oriented toward boys (the Lost Boys, Indians, Pirates, etc.), appealed to both boys and girls largely due to the fact that it was a genuine movie that did not go out of its way to pander to anyone. How was the sequel you ask? Well, I went with four females and no one over the age of seven remained awake; and Peter Pan is my favorite Disney movie of all time! It is tragic how effectively political correctness sterilizes and spoils everything it is applied to. In any case, the experience inspired me to write a revised, politically correct version of the original Snow White in an effort to demonstrate the absurdity of this pseudo-philosophy yet again.

First of all, we have to change her name. Snow White has racist connotations, and may cause minorities to feel alienated. Some alternatives could be Snow Blank, Snow Rainbow, or Snow Flower. Then there are the seven dwarfs, or rather, the seven height challenged individuals. In the original movie they are all white males. Well, this will not do! We must have a token female, black, and Hispanic; we’ll leave out Asians the same way Harry Potter did until people from that continent do more to join the ranks of the begrudged minorities, and make more waves in the civil rights arena in this country. The names of the vertically challenged individuals must change as well. Dopey is too derogatory and hurtful. The simple or minimally exceptional, height challenged individual is much better. We’ll make Doc female so as to break the awful, sexist stereotype that says women aren’t as smart or as likely to be physicians as boys are. As part of the same theme, we’ll make the villain male. Rather than a witch, he’ll be the evil wizard or warlock. I thought of giving him a magical television set that he would talk to instead of a mirror, but men can be just as vain as women, right? Sleepy’s part can be extended in this new version. Here’s a great opportunity to draw attention to a newly discovered disease (i.e. narcolepsy). Oh sure, we’ve all heard of narcolepsy, but has it really been described as a disease the way it should be? Alcoholism, PMDD, and obesity are considered diseases, so why can’t narcolepsy be one also? Now those who are late for everything have an avenue by which to avoid responsibility for their shortcomings.

Grumpy, my favorite character (obviously), will be portrayed as a staunch conservative. In the liberal entertainment business, particularly the movies, it is very common and perfectly acceptable to show conservatives in a derogatory and ridiculing way. We have to understand the context behind the abhorrent acts committed by despicable people such as Andrea Yates or the S.O.B.’s that attacked us on 9-11, but conservatives get no such slack. I draw your attention once again to Berkeley University where, quite recently, members of the Hispanic organization MEChA verbally and physically attacked a Republican group on campus as they were trying to hand out fliers, and, once again, tried to steal those fliers. Anyway, I digress! The last two differently tall people, Bashful and Happy, can be an openly gay couple. This will go over well in the Novato school district, and others, where they teach grammar school kids explicitly about the homosexual lifestyle and the indoctrination, sorry, acceptance thereof. Perhaps we can add a musical number vis-à-vis a gay pride parade in which Bashful and Happy can openly display their sexuality in public for all to see as so many homosexuals feel so manically compelled to do. Also, all of the forest animals will be referred to as animal companions. Have I left out any special interests?

Some scenes will have to either be rewritten or completely cut out. For instance, the “whistle while you work” scene shows Snow White doing all of the cleaning- another sexist stereotype. Those vertically challenged people can clean their own place. This scene also ends with Sneezy letting lose a volatile sneeze resulting in everyone laughing at him. Well, that’s not nice. It sets a bad example for children watching the film who may think it is okay to laugh at people with serious medical afflictions. Also, in keeping with the popularity of the modern Hip-Hop culture, we could change the “Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho” song to “Yo-Yo, Yo-Yo”, a rap song. In the beginning of the film, Snow White sings “Someday My Prince Will Come”. Women do not need to wait around for a man to rescue and support them! What kind of message are we sending to our little girls; I’m sorry- young women? The new title could be, “I Don’t Care If My Prince Ever Comes Or Not Because I Can Support Myself Just Fine”, or how about, “Someday My Princess Will Come”?

So, there it is. I imagine that this movie would do just about as well as any other politically corrected piece of claptrap that Hollywood periodically tries to run by us. One has to wonder if they will ever realize that most Americans do not, and never will, buy into this ridiculous new age pseudo-philosophy.

The Beauty Of Life

Spring is here at last! It symbolizes new life and new beginnings. We are all well aware of the overabundance of ugliness that runs rampant all over the world today; however, from time to time, we must remind ourselves of the beauty inherent in this existence of ours and pay tribute to those things which make life worth living.

Nature is the first thing that comes to mind. It was not until I moved to St. Louis that I was able to appreciate the changing of the seasons; it really is remarkable. The anticipation of moving from one season to the next is unlike that of anything I have ever felt before. Driving 2400 miles to and back from home has also provided me the opportunity of seeing a great deal of the magnificence of this land. Ice crystals hanging from the trees and mountain sides, frozen lakes, the powdery appearance of the ground once it is covered by a faint layer of flakes, and the pure color of white after a snow storm are only a few examples of things which I previously had not had the opportunity to witness. Then there is the beauty of the Gulf Coast back home. Sunsets and sunrises so colorful that it takes your breath away, clear starry nights, and the incessant, soothing sound of the waves crashing upon the shore are only a few examples. No words exist that can adequately describe the feelings one is overcome by when taken back by the beauty of nature. Forest Park is a very special place as well. One of my fondest memories is of an unforgettable day I spent there picnicking, canoeing, reading under a shady tree, and just relaxing.

Music is another one of the life’s treasures, and is, by far, the single greatest accomplishment and invention humankind has ever made. Different people have varying opinions about what good music is, but we all appreciate one form or another. Music has the ability to provide a temporary means of escape from the drudgery of life, and allows us to center ourselves in a way that nothing else can. I cannot imagine life without music; it is my source of spirituality. Artists like Claude de Bussy, Mozart, Miles Davis, Herb Albert, Prince, Enya, Sarah Brightman, Vangelis, and many more, have given their listeners more joy than they could ever realize.

Along these same lines is art. Taking Cultural Heritage with Dr. Finucaine renewed my appreciation of the abilities of man. Some examples of man’s genius include Greek sculptures, Roman arcs, Gothic cathedrals, Egyptian monuments and pyramids, the Sistine Chapel, the Parthenon, and the list goes on. Artists like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Salvador Dali, Picasso, Monet, Van Gough, etc., were able to stir up emotions in people using nothing more than paint, something to paint on, and sheer genius. The same goes for great poets like Boudelaire, philosophers like Voltaire, writers like Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, inventors like Edison, scientists like Tesla, dancers like Barishnikov, athletes like Michael Johnson, and even martial artists like Bruce Lee who was able to perform physical feats so amazing that it left onlookers speechless. People of this caliber demonstrate the human potential and make me proud to be a member of the human race.

Perhaps the most universal thing that makes life worth living is love. Not just romantic love, but also love for family, friends, pets, nature, and life in general. Love is what we live for. Love is what inspires the creation of much music, poetry, art, etc. It has been the focus of countless philosophers, poets, writers, musicians, and others who have attempted to describe it. It is the strongest emotion a human can feel and it is the most passionate subject of all time. As biological organisms, we can live without love, but what would the point be? In one form or another we all feel love for something and as long as it exists, then life will continue to exist.

Now I realize there is the down side to these things that I have mentioned. Nature can be very destructful and extremely lethal. People’s behavior can also be very disappointing and foolish. There is hateful and harmful music out there. Today they call certain things “art”, but most of it is real trash. Love can also be extremely injurious and tragic. I will not be delving into these aspects of the subjects mentioned. For now, let’s just enjoy the positive side of these treasures of life.

The Lost Art Of Civility

Twice already this semester, that I am aware of, a student has either written, or emailed, a derogatory and vulgar note to an instructor, and this is just in one class! I often wonder what goes through the minds of fatuitous people like this. Do they think ticking off the instructor is going to help make things better? This behavior is more appropriate for a correctional facility full of social deviants rather than at an institution of higher learning. Civility, in all aspects of daily life, is becoming harder to find than an open-minded clergyman.

One could argue that it is merely a matter of immaturity, but I tend to think that there is more to it than that. If someone is not raised to have certain values, nor taught to practice the proper etiquette of specific social situations, then they will act uncivilly regardless of their age. Try working retail if you do not believe that. Any retail job involves dealing with the common public. What you will find is that the majority of people you run into whether they be young or old, male or female, are rude, impatient, uncouth, loud, vain, and just plain mean. Sadly, the problem seems to be a function of time; it just continues to get worse.

If you are still unconvinced and feel as though I am exaggerating, then try to think of how often you have experienced civility lately. Students are constantly drowning out the instructor with incessant talking, annoying giggling, and irremissibly loud bodily noises such as sneezing, or coughing, on a daily basis. Try to remember how frequently you hear these phrases: ‘pardon me’, ‘thank you’, ‘how do you do, ‘how may I help you, ‘please, after you’, ‘I’m sorry to interrupt you, but may I ask you a question’, ‘it was a pleasure to meet you’, ‘may I sit here’. Do students seem polite to instructors? Are your customers polite to you? Do cashiers smile at you when you go through their line? Do drivers seem patient and courteous on the road?

I am, once again, generalizing, of course. There are some very classy people out there who periodically restore hope in humanity. These are the people who altruistically help others, even strangers. They are polite and courteous. Above all, they remember one very simple yet critical principle. This existence of ours is not solipsistic. As members of a ‘society’ it is our obligation to practice symbiosis. If we do not, then the deleterious effects could be disastrous.

A Word On Conservative Sources

As an editorialist, the question frequently arises as to what sources are read from which these opinions are derived. Often, interest is expressed as to where one can read about certain issues in an effort to learn more regarding conservative views, edify oneself, and broaden one’s horizons. More often, the respective source is requested so that an investigation can be made for purposes of verification, critical appraisal, or rebuke.

What’s So Great About America?, by Dinesh D’Souza, is one of the best books to come to market in years. The author is a native born Indian (not American Indian) who became a U.S. citizen in 1991. As a member of a minority group, he has a unique outlook on American culture and values, and his comparison of America to other countries is intriguing. He also delves into a vast range of other areas including world history, colonization, education, multiculturalism, philosophy, and economics- to name just a few. It would be a challenge for anyone to read this book, and refute any of the premises made and conclusions formed. D’Souza has also written several other outstanding books such as Illiberal Education and The End of Racism. Other excellent books that cover this country’s inception, describes its values, and place the mentality of the forefathers in correct context are Vindicating the Founders by Thomas G. West, Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity, and especially Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis.

Another excellent minority columnist is Michelle Malkin who, in her first book, Invasion, discusses the mass illegal immigration presently underway against America that jeopardizes our national security and very survival. Like D’Souza, Malkin’s immigrant origins provide her a unique perspective, and her reasoned analysis and logical examination of our nation’s immigration policy reveals that liberal laws governing immigration have actually aided and abetted terrorists groups seeking to destroy our way of life. Her conclusions are practically impervious to the emotional tirades of her ideological opponents, and, just like D’Souza, her references are impeccable. More outstanding books by minority writers include: Losing the Race and Authentically Black by John McWhorter who discusses the “self-sabotage in black America”, Black Lies, White Lies by Tony Brown, An Unlikely Conservative by Linda Chavez, Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality, by Thomas Sowell, and Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America, by Larry Elder who analyzes the biases dominating campus teaching.

There was a time when it was unpardonable for a non-minority person to raise such discussions in the media. Thankfully, our nation has begun to turn the corner on this matter, and an authentic national dialogue on issues vital to the future of our nation is once again becoming possible. That is, of course, with the exception of many elite college campuses, where liberal thinking stifles the very freedom of speech once so strongly defended by our forefathers. It is ironic that so many institutions of higher learning are no longer open to freethinking or debate. Fortunately for us, StLCOP engages in no such paradox.

There are also a plethora of great science and philosophy books that are highly enlightening as well. The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan is an amazing book that examines the relationship between science and religion. It’s stunning insightfulness makes it one of the most intellectual and deeply philosophical books of modern times. Even while writing fiction, such as Contact, Dr. Sagan touches upon this subject with an awe-inspiring adeptness. Isaac Asimov is another stunningly brilliant writer of science and philosophy. A fascinating book that pertains to medicine is PC, M.D. by Sally Satel, M.D. who clearly and caustically illustrates how political correctness is affecting the medical establishment in this country.
If you are not a book reader, and prefer articles, then try John Leo, who is arguably the best columnist in America today. His subtle use of the Socratic method of reasoning would impress Socrates himself. All of the book authors previously mentioned write weekly articles as well. If you prefer movies, then examine The Dead Poets Society, The Emperor’s Club, Braveheart, Black Hawk Down, We Were Soldiers, and Glory. These are films that grapple with issues of great consequence and touch upon the vital themes relevant to our time. Seldom do films of this caliber find their way out of Hollywood.

I would like to close with a few words regarding the recent Columbia disaster. I know that I speak for the general collective when I say that our hearts go out to the families of those brave men and women who were lost on 2/1/03. They have our deepest regret and sorrow. Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Rick Husband, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon represent the true meaning of heroism and spirit of this nation. Their loss pierces us all, and they will be missed dearly. Moreover, we must remember that those who follow in their footsteps will be…no less heroic.