The New York Yankees just beat my adopted Texas Rangers, 6-2. That makes five victories in five games this year, with one game left to play. As much as I hate the Yankees, I cannot hate their star player, Derek Jeter. I want to hate him; I should hate him; I’ve tried to hate him. But I can’t. He plays the game properly; he’s a good sportsman; he has fire in his belly. I hate it that I can’t hate him.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Dishonesty comes in many forms. One form, which afflicts even (especially?) academics, is the misrepresentation of the beliefs, values, motives, principles, and arguments of one’s opponents. I could give many examples, but let me give just three. If you oppose affirmative action, it can only be because you’re a racist or a sexist. If you oppose homosexual marriage, it can only be because you’re a homophobe. If you oppose illegal immigration, it can only be because you’re a xenophobe. It’s clear why this sort of dishonesty exists: It pays. Nobody wants to be accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If it’s thought that there can be only one motive for opposing affirmative action, homosexual marriage, or illegal immigration, and that motive is disreputable, then many people will shy away from taking those positions, if only to avoid being stigmatized. It’s a not-so-subtle form of intimidation. I, for one, can’t be intimidated, as creeps such as Brian Leiter have learned to their everlasting chagrin. I oppose affirmative action, and I’m not a racist or a sexist. I oppose homosexual marriage, and I’m not a homophobe. I oppose illegal immigration, and I’m not a xenophobe. If you say or imply that my opposition to these things is rooted in bias or prejudice, I will deny it forthwith and direct attention immediately to your intellectual dishonesty. I hope others do this as well. Intellectual dishonesty will exist as long as it pays. Let’s work together to ensure that it doesn’t pay. Here, by the way, is a column about Americans’ attitudes toward illegal immigration.
The final issue concerns the fate of those who have finally rejected the good. Given that the traditional answer supported in this chapter is correct, that such persons have ceased to be persons capable of enjoying Heaven, what is their fate? The majority answer of Christian theologians down the centuries (though not one incorporated in the Catholic creeds, such as the Nicene Creed), is that they are subjected to endless physical pain in Hell. Now, no doubt the bad deserve much punishment. For God gave them life and opportunity of salvation but they ignored their creator, hurt his creatures, damaged his creation, and spent their lives seeking trivial pleasures for themselves. But for God to subject them to literally endless physical pain (poena sensus, in medieval terminology) does seem to me to be incompatible with the goodness of God. It seems to have the character of a barbarous vengeance; whatever the evil, a finite number of years of evil-doing does not deserve an infinite number of years of physical pain as punishment. The all-important punishment is to be deprived of eternal happiness (this is the poena damni in medieval terminology)—a fact which Augustine, a firm proponent of the doctrine of endless physical pain, himself pointed out. This deprivation, I have suggested in this chapter, is plausibly an inevitable fate of those who have finally rejected the good. It seems to me that the central point of New Testament teaching is that an eternal fate is sealed—at any rate for many—at death; a good fate for the good and a bad fate for the bad.
(Richard Swinburne, Faith and Reason [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], 171 [italics in original; footnote omitted])
How many of you like to cook? How many of you are good at it? I hate it and I’m no good at it. Maybe I hate it because I’m no good at it. Then again, maybe I’m no good at it because I hate it. Here is a New York Times story about cooking equipment. There is only one kitchen item I would not dispense with: my cast-iron frying pan. It allows me to make world-class fried rice. Here’s the recipe. First, put one cup of Uncle Ben’s rice into a bowl. I use margarine containers as bowls, but you should feel free to use ceramic, glass, or wood. Second, fill the bowl with hot water. Third, let the rice soften for several hours. Fourth, fire up the stove. Fifth, put the pan on the burner, which should be set to “6.” Sixth, put a gob of margarine in the pan. Seventh, drain the water from the rice, taking care not to lose any grains down the drain. Eighth, put the rice in the pan. Ninth, add chopped celery, green onions, canned or fresh mushrooms, and, after a while, two eggs from free-ranging, contented hens. Tenth, let the rice cook (stirring or flipping it all the while) until it’s black and crunchy. Eleventh, put the rice on a plate, smother it with salt and pepper, and eat it, preferably with bread and margarine. This has been my favorite meal for nearly three decades. It’s cheap, nutritious, and delicious—and it helps me stay single.
We live in a society of double, triple, and quadruple standards. Think about the various “hate crimes,” for example. What are they but conferrals of privilege on certain individuals as a result of their group membership? If it’s wrong to kill the innocent, why should it matter whether the innocent person is black, white, Asian, Hispanic, male, female, old, young, able-bodied, disabled, heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual? We’re starting to see double standards in abortion as well. If you abort a female fetus because you want a male child, you’re sexist. If you abort a fetus with Down syndrome because you want a normal, healthy child, you’re biased against the disabled. See here. Two things could happen. Either (1) we come to our senses and realize that it’s wrong to abort any fetus, for any reason, or (2) we continue with our multiple standards and allow only able-bodied (white?) male heterosexual fetuses to be aborted.
Remember Gary Hart? He withdrew from the 1988 presidential race 20 years ago yesterday. See here for my journal entry, in which I describe what happened. It’s quaint that journalists once protected politicians. I’ve heard it said that journalists knew about John F. Kennedy’s womanizing, but refrained from reporting it. Hart must have assumed that the same would be true of him. Ha! Something happened to journalism between the early 1960s and 1987. Was it Watergate? Did journalists reconceive their role? Did they go from being watchdogs to being attack dogs? If so, why? I’m genuinely interested in this question, but have no answer to it. By the way, once Hart refused to show contrition for his affair and began to attack the press, it was all over. Journalists ganged up on him. What’s the old saying: Don’t get into fights with people who buy ink by the barrel?
Addendum: Those of you who aren’t old enough to remember Gary Hart should read this.
To the Editor:
Nicholas D. Kristof expresses concern that an electoral victory by Hillary Rodham Clinton will mean that for possibly 28 years America will have been led by just two families. Why 20 years of such rule was acceptable remains unknown.
Equally confusing is why Mr. Kristof offers no such concern for the fact that all our presidents have been white or male or Christian. His message seems to be: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask whether your family has already done enough for America.
I am even more dumbfounded by his assertion that our early presidents did a superior job. The establishment of slavery in our Constitution, and enforcement of it through the first 90 years of our existence, is anything but a superior job.
The genocide committed against Native Americans was not a model of good government. And the creation of the Electoral College, which prevents Americans from directly voting for our leader, remains an abomination that continues to stain our democratic principles.
Allan D. Cooper
Westerville, Ohio, May 7, 2007
The writer is a professor of political science at Otterbein College.
Note from KBJ: Can you say “self-loathing”?