A Man with a Flashlight

Bruce Bawser puts his finger on it
May 23, 2007, 9:10 am
Filed under: The West

Andrew Sullivan gets it. In an interview:

BILL MOYERS: You describe so well the values of democracy, pluralism, tolerance and sexual equality that took root in modern Europe. Why aren’t they powerful enough to absorb and assimilate and mitigate these tribal customs?

BRUCE BAWER: I think that for one, I think that European leaders in many cases have lost confidence in the values of their own society. They’ve placed multi-culturism above democracy and freedom.

I sensed a similar attitude among many of my friends in the young left in America who were and are active in anti-globalization politics. I might not use the word muliticulturism, but there is a widespread devaluation of freedoms that are too hard-won to be treated with indifference. In this day and age it’s considered bad form to say we are better than anyone else – not in general, but even in any particular way. The irony, as Bawer points out, is that this hurts not only ourselves, but also the powerless within other countries and cultures who would be protected most by Western freedoms.

Pretty pretty
May 12, 2007, 11:50 am
Filed under: The West

The animated Bayeux Tapestry.

The Virginia Tech murders
May 5, 2007, 3:21 am
Filed under: The West

A thoughtful comic strip response.

Goodbye and God bless
April 13, 2007, 2:01 am
Filed under: The West

Kurt Vonnegut leaves us for Tralfamador. I started on Vonnegut with The Sirens of Titan, I can’t have been older than twelve and I can’t have understood much of it. It was science fiction and that was good enough for me. Little did I know the wisdom that was flying in under my radar.

His books were as uneven as life – he once claimed he never re-read his work – and veined with a bitter sadness. His theme was what you get for looking around your life with open eyes: pain, sorrow, and regret, leavened with occasional moments of gratuitous wonder and fierce joy. From Breakfast of Champions:

To be
the eyes
and ears
and conscience
of the Creator of the Universe,
you fool.

-Kilgore Trout’s unwritten reply to the question “What is the purpose of life?”

Rest in peace, Kurt.


…and now the bad news
April 8, 2007, 11:06 am
Filed under: The West

As society as a whole murders less, more soldiers at war are willing to kill, according to this book by Dave Grossman. From 15-25% in World War 1, to 50% in Korea, to 90% in Vietnam.

So it’s an arms race in the human mind. On one side, the forward push of civilization – on the other, the backward suck of army training.

Civilization is working
April 8, 2007, 10:58 am
Filed under: The West

That seems to be the message of this essay by psychologist Steven Pinker. Deaths by genocide and war, murder rates, and barbaric tortures have all dropped in the West over the past thousand and more years. Why isn’t this talked about? Pinker’s explanation rings true to me:

Partly, it’s an intellectual culture that is loath to admit that there could be anything good about the institutions of civilization and Western society.

I would expect at least a mention of the Holocaust though, yes?