OxBlog

Sunday, June 09, 2002

# Posted 1:37 PM by Daniel  

AMERICAN EXCESS. In a thought-provoking piece for the LA Times Magazine (free registration required), Patrick J. Kiger discusses the role of excess in Southern California, but uses it to tell a story about America in general. His overall point: America loves things large. He's right: I find the portions at British restaurants woefully inadequate. A French Anthropologist says the desire for excess comes from the earliest, most primitive structures in our mental evolution: the reptilian brain. "The reptilian wants to grab as much food as possible, to be as big and powerful as possible, because it's focused on survival. When it comes to a choice between the intellect and the reptilian, the reptilian always wins." This does not explain why it is a uniquely American phenomenon. Near the end of the piece, Kiger quotes Benjamin Barber, who said, "One of the reasons America's in trouble now...is that we're perceived as materialists and secular." Really? Our materialism explains global anger toward us? Why, then, does Mullah Omar drive a Limited Edition Toyota Land Cruiser with a CD player, despite the Taliban's prohibition of music?
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Saturday, June 08, 2002

# Posted 1:29 PM by Daniel  

JAMES BENNET WRITES a revealing piece about a failed Palestinian homicide bomber in a hospital bed a few rooms away from wounded Israeli soldiers. Zaydan Zaydan said he had "sought to kill soldiers." To put it mildly, I find that hard to believe. An Israeli Sergeant captures the clear moral distinction between the two sides when he notes, "He's also a human being, despite all of this. That's the difference between us and them, at least in our thoughts." Could you imagine what would have happened if Palestinians had caught in Israeli in the West Bank or Gaza? Another interesting point: while the international community villified Israel for its West Bank incursions, these raids did serve their purpose, which was to disrupt and prevent terrorist attacks. Only after the Jenin raid ended could Zaydan (I'm not calling him Mr.) get in contact with members of Islamic Jihad. But....the fact that Zaydan found the checkpoints so easy to to evade highlights another problem--as long as Palestinians have access to Israel, the terror attacks will continue, and the incursions will only serve as short term solutions. Unfortunately, a viable long term solution cannot involve Arafat, despite Mubarak's pleas to "give this man a chance." He had his chance at Camp David and Taba, it's time for him to go. We need to reach out to newer Palestinian leaders.
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Thursday, June 06, 2002

# Posted 6:17 PM by Daniel  

Nicholas Kistof and Mark Steyn discuss racial profiling and political correctness. Where do we draw the line? Kristof criticizes the Bush administration for "widespread detentions of Muslims, twisting the law to keep them behind bars while denying that civil liberties have been abused....the administration has wallowed in precisely the kind of hysterical wartime infringement of civil liberties that history always ends up judging harshly." A few lines later, he acknowledges that "young Arab men are more likely to ram planes into nuclear power plants than are little old ladies, and as such they should be more vigorously searched." So it's okay to detain Arabs but not Muslims? Kristof states that "we who care about civil liberties need to realign balances between security and freedom." Where do Ashcroft's proposed rules for foreign visitors fit into this new realignment?
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