Tuesday, May 31

Let Us Now Praise Compromise (Now That We're Losing, That Is)

Funny, I don't remember you telling these guys they should compromise

The Sunday Times Week in Review searches for the elusive Middle Ground, wonders Whatever Happened To Compromise, and notices that George Bush just might be a Lame Duck.

Dear me.

WaPo's David "the Dean" Broder was all over this last week, noting that John McCain, the only member of the Gang of 14 who's Presidential timber, y'know, had stolen a march of Bill Frist. The Dean blames the whole thing on, what else, Vietnam, lest anyone get the idea he's been dialing in the conventional wisdom for so long he still uses a rotary phone.

Ah, it must be Spring. The roses have started blooming, bees are buzzing, and major newspapers are telling us that the horseshit they've been peddling for the last five years is no longer ice cream. Oh, was that us thumping the WMD tub? What we meant to say was we need compromise. Those seemingly endless adoring love notes to Bush's "clear, unwavering vision, unaffected by nuance?" Must have been the moon. The paeans to Moral Values voters, who swung the election, that "conservative" mandate we may have mentioned in passing? Well, how were we supposed to know they'd fuck it up in two months?

My favorite, though, was Henry Fountain's piece "Does Science Trump All?", which struggled mightily to balance the history of religious hostility to every scientific advance from heliocentrism to stem cell research by playing the Nazi card:

...those promises run headlong into questions raised by a dark history of research. Take eugenics. According to Christine Rosen, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington and the author of "Preaching Eugenics," scientists who supported eugenics claimed that it could cure disease and end poverty - involuntary sterilizations were one result.

But the scientific underpinnings cited by early eugenics researchers were often wrong, Ms. Rosen said. "The heritability of certain diseases and eye colors were right, but broader claims they made as a result were incorrect," she said.

Many religious groups tried to stop eugenics, Ms. Rosen said, but they were called obstructionists.

"The only thing that stopped this," Ms. Rosen said, "was war and the lessons of Nazi Germany and improvements in science."

By the way:

The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) was established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues.

The particular Judeo-Christian moral tradition being upheld here is "telling part of the story". Eugenics found plenty of support from religious circles before the Second World War, as did the racist cultural milieu it thrived in. Yes, it was the Nazi Holocaust and improvements in science which eventually ended forced sterilizations and racial improvement schemes. Outside of the Catholic Church, religious organizations have no cause to portray themselves as heroic champions of the poor and downtrodden caught in the grip of Evil Science.

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