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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
A faithful reader from the Chicago area has written to The Lofty to stress a parallel situation to that of my comments on the situation in the Mideast concerning the media and the Catholic Church scandals. In his letter he urges a full understanding of the true nature of the Church instead of the distorted image of the Church that has been projected by today's media. Though I have not yet commented on the current Church problems, it is an issue worth following.
Here now, are his comments:
Recently there has been an epidemic in the Catholic Church. In the past few months the Church has seen Priest after Priest accused of sexual misconduct. If these Priests are guilty, they have clearly sinned and have likewise shamed the church, ruining it's reputation. But what has most upset me about this ordeal is that the involved people have publicized a false spirit and the media has reveled in it. The true spirit of the Church is not one over coverups, mistrust, and abuse. It is instead one of faith, education, political action, and charity. I truly believe that the Priests involved in
these happenings as well as the news media have publicized a false spirit.
For those of you who would like to get a sense of what the Catholic Church is really about, I would recommend Father Andrew Greeley's article "Why I'm Still A Catholic." Andrew Greeley is an Irish Catholic Priest with a PHD in sociology. He has written extensively on Catholicism in America and has also written several popular novels. Greeley has been somewhat of a controversial Priest within the Church, voicing opinions that many disagree with, but he has always appealed to the popular spirit of the Church, especially in Chicago. Greeley is blunt, funny, insulting, and not a typical Priest, but he feels the same way many do. Apart from this article, his website is very good and I encourage you to check it out. Check out his site.
Maybe the most reliable resource for Catholic News in America is the weekly magazine "America". This magazine also captures what the Catholic Church is really about. For example, in the March 5, 2001 volume, such article titles can be found as "Church, Social Workers Seek to End Child Labor in Pakistan", "Palestinian Melkite Priest Wins Peace Prize", "Bishop Asks Bush for U.S. Support of East Timorese", and "U.S. Help Needed for El Salvador". Also in the volume can be found and article called "Saying No to Israel", a very good commentary concerning the U.S. funding of the Israeli Armed Forces. "America" captures the Catholic Church's politcal side. It shows how much effort the Church puts into improving world conditions for the poor and for those who have suffered human rights abuses.
If you would like to see the true spirit of the Church, not tainted by sinning Priests or by the media, I encourage you to check out Father Greeley's website as well as "America". "America" can be found in stores or at www.americapress.com."
Here's an article that suggests what should be next in the argument about Affirmative Action. Now that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has gone and affirmed the outdated, and wrong in the first place, 1979 Bakke case that allowed "diversity" to be a "plus" that could be taken into consideration in admissions, the U.S. Supreme Court needs to rule on Affirmative Action again. As this article points out, there is a "conflict in the circuits," that the Supreme Court should straighten out. Four of the Appeal Courts have ruled on Affirmative Action and they haven't all gone the same way. This should yield an acceptance of such a case by the Supreme Court, yet it hasn't. Clearly, the Court is avoiding the issue. The Court might be worried about making it a political issue (not that they don't have any experience in that with the 2000 election), but they should know better. The Supreme Court was designed so that it is immune from political battles. The Court should ignore the social controversy surrounding Affirmative Action and make a decision that will produce continuity in the lower courts.
Hopefully, the Court will see that the 6th Circuit was wrong and will lay out a uniform policy ending Affirmative Action. It's outdated, and has become more of a hinderance than a beneficial tool of social and educational equality.
A commentary in the Washington Times, of all places, has come to my attention which points out how correct Former President Jimmy Carter was when he called for democratic reforms and an end to the embargo in Cuba. Unlike President Bush's speech today about how crucial the Cuban embargo is and how repressive Castro is, Carter had the right idea. Letting democracy and capitalism infest the island nation is a far better plan than holding on to an ineffective policy of sanctions. The only reason Bush holds on to such a policy is the Cuban-American community in Florida, the state he won (but did he really though?) by a tilted Supreme Court decision in 2000. Also, his brother, Governor Jeb Bush, needs the Cuban-American community to carry him when he runs for reelection later this year.
Way to go Florida. You've single handedly held U.S. policy in check at the expense of your own family members that are still stuck in terrible conditions in Cuba.
Here's a great opinion peice that bring to light the issue of a handgun ban. Attorney General Ashcroft has, instead of interpreting the 2nd Amendment more as it literally says, has decided that the Amendment goes beyond legitimatizing "militias," and also includes the individual's right to have a gun. Ashcroft wrote to the NRA to say, "Let me state unequivocally my view that the text and original intention of the Second Amendment clearly protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms." Where does he get this from? As the columnist points out, the Founding Fathers were thinking about protecting the nation from redcoats. They also lived in a time when cities were tiny and much of the nation was rural and guns were more of a necessity than a hobby as they are now. Ashcroft has gone the wrong way on his interpretation. First, it's not his interpretation to make, it's the Supreme Court's, but regardless, it's the wrong one for this country.
What the U.S. needs is not a vision of guns that imagines an individual right to own any gun, but instead, a ban on handguns. Handguns have no use other than against other people. Who hunts with a handgun? No one, that's who. A ban on handguns would be enormously beneficial to society. It would produce a dramatic drop in crime, and would move our criminal justice system closer towards the far superior European model. The problem, as this article points out, is that the NRA is not putting out the true facts about what a handgun ban would really mean, and therefore guns have become a political issue that has taken Democrats out of contention in many rural and southern states, simply because of this one issue.
"There is nothing to be done about the 200 million guns already here and Democrats should learn to love gun-owners -- who have been brainwashed by the NRA to think a handgun ban would mean the confiscation of their hunting rifles. No one seems able to convince them that even the mouthiest Massachusetts liberal has no designs on long guns."
One step at a time. But let's make sure that the one step is towards progress and not towards Ashcroft's vision of an armed society with handgun toting city-dwellers.