Friday, August 7, 2009

Be Wary of Relativism

After being introduced as a “global citizen” at the Delhi University last month, Secretary of State Clinton went on to make this peculiar remark:

“We are in this together. We may have profound differences, but I am often reminded that as we learn more from science about the human genome, we recognize that we are 99.9 percent the same. As you look at our DNA, you don’t see religion or race; you see humanity. And no place represents that future more profoundly than this great country.”

Certainly, her comments could be framed in a benign manner, as a poignant reflection pointing out the commonalities between people of every corner of the earth. But in the context of her role as Secretary of State, this statement reveals a dangerously na├»ve approach to international relations, rooted in the misguided doctrine of relativism that seems to have become a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.

Relativism asserts that no idea or principle is of greater value than any other, no moral code more justifiable than another. Essentially, it promotes the concept that our differences are insignificant, mere semantics, as it were. Relativism apologists back up their beliefs by pointing to our shared experiences as humans, or as Clinton put it, the fact that we are genetically “99.9 percent the same.” This worldview that we are all the same and our differences are “relative” runs counter to the uniqueness of each human individual, a fundamental component of the liberal democracies philosophical underpinnings.

Allusions to this impractical worldview have been a reoccurring theme of the current administration’s first few months in power. Clinton’s recent address to the Council on Foreign Relations ran rampant with relativism and was described as a “see-no-evil-hear-no-evil speech,” in which she seemed to indicate the U.S. was simply a mere member of the global community, as opposed to the lone international hegemon it currently is.

An adherence to relativism can also explain the Administration’s apparent disdain for championing freedom and human-rights abroad.. Obama’s foreign policy has all but abandoned promoting democracy, and the president himself has suggested that democratic processes are “mere form.” Clinton, when asked, about the vast ideological differences between the United States and communist Cuba, stated, “Let’s put ideology aside; that is so yesterday.”

However, despite Mrs. Clinton’s suggestions to the contrary, the world is made up of parties who believe ideological differences are highly relevant, and who reject her assertion that “we are in this together.” The vast disparity between American values and those of Islamic extremists, for example, will not be mitigated by acknowledging that we are made of the same stuff. Some of our differences are certainly bridgeable, but down-playing those that are while ignoring those that aren’t in favor of a “global community” worldview does the U.S. no favors. Any call for global solidarity needs to be grounded in the shared value of certain ideas and principles, not merely the sequence of our DNA.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Belmont Abbey to defend truth against EEOC threat

According to an article in the Gaston Gazette, Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC has been deemed guilty, by the EEOC, of gender discrimination and of mistreatment of faculty. The background: Upon realizing in 2007 that the health coverage provided to employees of the College covered contraceptive benefits, BAC's president Bill Thierfelder quickly moved to eliminate that provision, understanding its incompatibility with ethical and moral norms. As a private, Catholic institution, the College has the right to deny such coverage and theoretically should have faced no difficulty. Some of the faculty, however, expressed extreme discontent, and submitted a complaint against the College to the EEOC. The verdict: The decision made by Belmont Abbey to refuse coverage of contraceptive benefits only affects women, and since it has no immediate effect on men, who cannot be prescribed contraceptives, it is therefore a case of gender discrimination. Furthermore, Belmont Abbey "retaliated" against those supposedly poor, enfeebled, wronged employees who brought forth the complaint because the letter sent by the administration to faculty and staff explaining the issue listed the names of said plaintiffs.

"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes," but let's hope Belmont Abbey will not have to fight against it alone. The issue should be close to the hearts of all interested in the preservation of morality, ethics, and the whole of society.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fun Photo

Found this fun photo via Rakes of Mallow , an ND sports blog, who got it via Bulldog Vintage.

On the left is Babe Ruth, repping the Notre Dame Fighting Irish circa 1927. Lou Gehrig apparently made the unfortunate choice of supporting the University of Southern California Trojans.

FYI, the Irish won the 1927 game at Soldier Field in Chicago 7-6 coached by Knute Rockne in front of an estimated 120,000 fans (one of the most watched games in NCAA College Football history).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Importance of Satire

From Jonathan Swift and Voltaire to Stanley Kubrick and Saturday Night Live, satire has been an important way to look from the outside at government, culture, and thought.

Here'a a little satire on the 'Cash for Clunkers' program and health care reform.

h/t to Michelle Malkin.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Health Care, Catholicism, and Conservatism

Before I begin, these are my views, they are not shared by all Catholics, by all Notre Dame students, by all members of the Irish Rover, or even by everyone in my family.

You might have heard about health care reform - it's been around the news a bit when the media hasn't been too busy talking about Beer Summits or Car Sales. So I feel that as a member of and writer for Notre Dame's largest (and only) conservative, Catholic newspaper, I, or we as a staff, need to address this topic.

On the one hand, as a conservative (n.b. not a Republican necessarily), I support private solutions for their efficiency. I support smaller governments and the idea that capitalism and equality provide the best opportunity for people to succeed either in the job market or in getting adequate health care.

On the other hand, as a Catholic, I realize that the capitalist system does have its failings. Equality is a difficult thing to achieve in reality and the government is in the best position to assist those who 'fall through the cracks'.

With those two viewpoints in mind, here are some keys for healthcare:

1. Efficiency. Health care should be efficient and quality. It's no good having universal health care, if I can't get the the proper service I need when I need it. Can government-run health care provide it?

2. Transperancy. The government, both in its dealings in designing the bill and in its implementation, should be transperant. All aspects, including cost, of the bill should be debated and analyzed. It shouldn't be rushed - but honestly debated (that goes to both sides). We are talking about reforming a significant sector of the economy (over 15%) and one that affects each and every person in this country.

3. Ethics. Besides the obvious lobbying and loopholes, the new health care plan should be ethically strong. This is important not only in the legislative push to get the bill enacted, but also in the guidelines it establishes. Abortion, euthansia, etc. are all important elements to consider regarding health care, how will they be handled? Will they go hand-in-hand with being transperant and efficient?

4. Impact. What will be the economic and societal impact be with the new plan? How many jobs lost/gained? How many people will get cover that they need? Who will benefit? Who will be hurt? Where will the money go? How will new medical research be done? How will it affect doctors, hospitals, nurses, etc.? There are many things to be considered and too few are actually being examined. I understand the importance of using momentum to push through legislation (see Patriot Act 2001/2002). This is not a minor thing, how will it affect our nation?

I see those 4 as the major things to be considered. Obviously, 'Ethics' is a distinctly Catholic aspect of health-care, but it should not be slighted.