More on the banned Down syndrome video

Boy_with_Down_SyndromeWe blogged about that video showing happy Down Syndrome children that was banned by the French government on the grounds that it might “disturb the conscience” of women who have had abortions.  (You can see the video at the link.)

George Will, who has a Down son, weighs in on the issue, explaining the origin of the video (which was made to reassure new parents) and making the point that this is a case of extending the concept of protection from being disturbed associated with college campuses to the general public.  He closes with a strong pro-life message.

Notice also in this account of banning factual information who is being “post-truth.”

[Read more…]

Killing Reagan’s reputation

Bill O’Reilly is considered a conservative, but he is challenging one of American conservatism’s biggest icons.  In his bestselling book Killing Reagan, O’Reilly maintains that the assassination attempt 69 days into his presidency caused Reagan to be mentally impaired for the rest of his terms in office.  O’Reilly describes the president being in a state of semi-dementia, with only moments of lucidity, to the point that his staff considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office on the grounds of being unable to perform the powers and duties of his office.

These charges have provoked an out-and-out shouting feud between O’Reilly and columnist George Will, who attacks O’Reilly’s research, says that the memo he used as evidence has been discredited, and says that actual historians and Reagan intimates (including his wife, a Reagan staffer) never witnessed any kind of impairment in the Great Communicator. [Read more…]

God as merely an explanation

The “low voltage atheist” George Will defends public prayer, and in doing so offers an interesting definition of Deism, one that might apply to many people who consider themselves Christians.  He says that for the Deist, God is just an explanation, on the order of believing in the Big Bang, which is not the same as being truly religious. [Read more…]

Two conservative atheists

Being a Christian is not the same as being a conservative, and being a conservative is not the same as being a Christian.  Two prominent conservative columnist, George Will and Charles Krauthammer, have come out as atheists, though of the sort that “respect religion and religious people.” [Read more…]

Good quotations

George Will is among the most learned of today’s pundits, and he has the habit of lacing his columns with big words, arcane references, and scholarly quotations.  I urge you to read his latest column, a trenchant criticism of President Barack Obama, linked below.  But what I’d like to draw your attention to are some really good, widely-applicable quotations that the column contains.  I will cherry pick them for your edification:

“It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know he is not a great man.”— Calvin Coolidge

“To remain silent is the most useful service that a mediocre speaker can render to the public good.”–Alexis de Tocqueville:

’Tis said two things not worth running after are a bus or an economic panacea, because another will come along soon.

“For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that’s an earthquake.”–Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman  [Actually, this was a character commenting about Willy Loman, not Willy Loman himself, but we’ll give Mr. Will a pass out of gratitude for the Calvin Coolidge quote.]

via George Will: Obama’s empty, strident campaign – The Washington Post.

 

Individualism vs. collectivism

Here is how George Will answers Elizabeth Warren’s statement that we posted yesterday:

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.

The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.

Warren’s statement is a footnote to modern liberalism’s more comprehensive disparagement of individualism and the reality of individual autonomy. A particular liberalism, partly incubated at Harvard, intimates the impossibility, for most people, of self-government — of the ability to govern one’s self. This liberalism postulates that, in the modern social context, only a special few people can literally make up their own minds. . . .

Many members of the liberal intelligentsia, that herd of independent minds, agree that other Americans comprise a malleable, hence vulnerable, herd whose “false consciousness” is imposed by corporate America. Therefore the herd needs kindly, paternal supervision by a cohort of protective herders. This means subordination of the bovine many to a regulatory government staffed by people drawn from the clever minority not manipulated into false consciousness.

Because such tutelary government must presume the public’s incompetence, it owes minimal deference to people’s preferences. These preferences are not really “theirs,” because the preferences derive from false, meaning imposed, consciousness. This convenient theory licenses the enlightened vanguard, the political class, to exercise maximum discretion in wielding the powers of the regulatory state.

Warren’s emphatic assertion of the unremarkable — that the individual depends on cooperative behaviors by others — misses this point: It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity.

Society — hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily — is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation. Government facilitates this cooperation with roads, schools, police, etc. — and by getting out of its way. This is a sensible, dynamic, prosperous society’s “underlying social contract.”

via Elizabeth Warren and liberalism, twisting the ‘social contract’ – The Washington Post.

The choices are individualism or collectivism.  Or is there something in between?