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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Cynthia Strikes Again

(Reprinted from the issue of April 13, 2006)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo for Cynthia Strikes AgainWhen I heard that a black congresswoman had slugged a security guard and accused him of racism for asking her for identification, I immediately suspected it was — who else? — Cynthia McKinney, the firebrand Georgia Democrat.

I was right.

McKinney seems to be obsessed with the idea of racism, which she views as the explanation of every irritation that afflicts her. The Capitol’s chief of police, perhaps aware of her notorious temper, said the officer had acted properly. Even white people are supposed to show their identification before being let into the office building where the incident occurred. Or is the universal rule itself racist? In the name of security, we are all being harassed nowadays, but the harassment is strictly nondiscriminatory.

Since racial discrimination is now illegal, racial lynchings are relatively infrequent, and racial prejudice is decried on all sides, why are charges of racism more frequent now than ever before? Am I the only one who suspects that the victory of social justice over racism has been a little too lopsided? Isn’t that what McKinney’s serial tantrums suggest?

This may seem a little thing, but it’s surely a sign of the times. Certain hypersensitivities have been nourished by success. To hear McKinney squawk, you’d think this was the Golden Age of Racism.

Pummeling the Profs

Or is it the Golden Age of Anti-Semitism? Judging by the number of people who are accused of it, you’d think the Nazis were riding high these days.

Last week I wrote about the smear campaign against Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, who are being accused of you-know-what for their long article about the baneful effects of the Israel lobby on American foreign policy.

Now it would seem almost self-evident that different countries have different interests, that what is good for one country may sometimes be bad for another, and that a lobby working for Country A inside Country B may be detrimental to the interests of Country B. But these rather unexceptionable truths, when applied to Israel, suddenly become “anti-Semitic.” When you criticize Israel, you are persecuting Jews.

The latest neoconservative smear, as I write (and there is no reason to think it will be the last), is an op-ed piece in The Washington Post by Elliott Cohen subtly titled “Yes, It’s Anti-Semitic.” Cohen denies that the Israel lobby is unusual or especially powerful. Which must come as news to every staffer on Capitol Hill, where every elected representative quivers when the lobby growls.

Clearly, Mearsheimer and Walt have hit a nerve. The question is why Cohen and other neocons are so brazenly denying the obvious and indeed inescapable facts Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes 
them!about Israel and its lobby. Do they think they’re as powerful as Stalin, who really could utter sheer nonsense and make short work of anyone who dared to dissent? Things aren’t quite that bad yet!

But the neocons may figure it’s now or never. The American public is sick of Iraq and in no mood to attack the real neocon target, Iran. Bush’s poll ratings are still low, and the neocons themselves are in bad odor for the first time. Even most pro-Israel Jews are leery of the rabid neocons and their equally rabid Christian allies. If the United States can’t be goaded into aggressive action against Iran soon, the opportunity may never come again.

So to the neocons, this must seem the moment to gamble all that’s left of their shrinking influence. They have little choice. And a scholarly article, with academically prestigious credentials, exposing their influence and methods, is just what they don’t need right now. Their situation is desperate. They face the dreadful danger of peace.

In Time magazine, meanwhile, another leading neocon, Charles Krauthammer, explains why war on Iran is urgent. Containment worked with the mighty but relatively rational Soviet Union, he argues, but it won’t work with Iran. The Soviets didn’t want to die, but the Iranians do; they are suicidal fanatics who would welcome an apocalyptic showdown with the infidel, look forward to martyrdom, drool at the thought of all those virgins in Paradise, and so forth. In that case, one wonders, why do the Iranians seem rather anxious to avoid war right now?

Well, there is more than one kind of fanatic, and some are closer to home than Tehran.

Darwin’s Dilemma

The late David Stove, who died in 1994, was a noted Australian philosopher, an atheist, and a fearless thinker. His last book has just been republished by Encounter Books in New York. Its scathing wit has me howling with delighted laughter.

The book is Darwinian Fairytales. Stove treats Darwin himself with some respect, but he thinks the general Darwinian position is nonsense, especially as it has been presented by Darwin’s successors. He doesn’t even bother much with the scientific evidence; he just says its account of human nature is plainly false, indeed “a ridiculous slander on human beings.”

And you don’t need biology, the fossil record, or learned speculation to tell you this; just look around you!

A bloody competition for survival of the fittest? How much of our lives does this describe? Why does our species engage in so darned much cooperation? Why are there charities, hospitals, and laws against the kind of violence on which, Darwinism tells us, our existence depends? Why do people protect their own children, if life is a Hobbesian “war of every man against every man”? Has human nature changed? If so, just when did that happen? How could it happen, if man is what Darwinism says he is?

Do you know any people who resemble Darwinian Man? (Excluding in-laws and tax collectors, of course.)

Stove has great fun with “Darwin’s Dilemma” — the utter inconsistency between its theory of men as competing unto the death and the fact of real men as cooperating to preserve the “unfit” — the sick, the weak, the poor, the elderly. Some Darwinians even deplore these acts of mercy on grounds that they are eugenically destructive! If Nature wants to kill some people off, they ask, why should Grace get in her way? But they forget to ask how Grace got into the act in the first place. Darwinism has no room for Grace.

I can’t improve on Owen Harries’s comment on this book: “David Stove took no intellectual prisoners. A deadly serious (and hilariously funny) enemy of intellectual cant and the higher pretensions, he wrote to kill.”

If that makes him sound a bit like Darwinian Man, I can only say that he slays me. A thrilling writer and thinker.

”No use asking how FDR might have solved this or that problem. He was the problem.” — SOBRANS. If you have not seen my monthly newsletter yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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