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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Memorial and Amnesia

(Reprinted from the issue of June 28, 2007)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo 
for Memorial and AmnesiaAt long last, Washington has a memorial to the countless victims of Communism, whose actual numbers can only be estimated: 100 million deaths is a reasonable figure, though it hardly begins to suggest the myriad forms of suffering the hellish system imposed over the last century (and is still imposing here and there). Most of the credit for this too-modest monument goes to my old friend Lee Edwards, who has worked passionately for decades to add it to the monument-surfeited capital.

Unfortunately, President Bush, speaking at its dedication, took the occasion to draw an absurd parallel between the most deadly form of tyranny in human history and the relatively minuscule evil of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, which has yet to rival a single Communist state, let alone create the “totalitarian” system he accused it of aspiring to.

He implied that he is leading a heroic struggle against a gigantic evil; as if Saddam Hussein (whom he didn’t mention by name) had been any more than a nominal Muslim anyway, let alone a menace to Western civilization. Was he trying to insult our intelligence? He succeeded only in insulting the memory of those the memorial is meant to honor.

President Who?

The Washington Post has run a front-page story on Ron Paul, who continues to win enormous Internet support from conservatives and libertarians who are fed up with what one wag calls “Rudy McRomney.”

Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes them!Meanwhile, the allegedly conservative Washington Times, as far as I can tell, hasn’t even acknowledged that Paul is in the race.

If Paul is elected president on a third-party ticket, will the Times even cover the inauguration? Probably not. The Times would never feature any news item that might hurt the Republican Party.

Sin of the Times

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the celebrity couple, who already have one natural child (plus three adopted from the Third World), have announced that they are refusing to tie the knot legally until gay people are allowed to marry too.

How’s that for self-abnegation? Not to mention humility! They will continue to live together, of course; all they are asking is that civilization redefine its most basic institution to suit them.

Hey kids! Try not to let fame and fortune go to your heads! Actually, Brad is a middle-aged man, though maybe not a terribly mature one, and Angelina is featured in the current Reader’s Digest for her humanitarian activities — namely, saving Third World children from the awful fate of growing up without parents like Brad and Angelina. (Headline: “Angelina Jolie: Saving the world one child at a time.”)

I’m waiting for some other Hollywood couple to announce that they too will refuse to marry until society recognizes polygamy. Would that be too much to ask? Why are we singling out sodomy for such tender consideration? Tolerance is nice, up to a point, but if one may inject a note of candor into this discussion, I really doubt that many parents would be overjoyed to learn they had a homosexual son.

I mean, it’s not exactly something you’d wish on your child. You might, after learning of it, forgive, excuse, ignore, or downplay it, but I doubt you’d exclaim, “Just what I was hoping for!”

I am old enough to remember when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were Tinseltown’s most scandalous couple, their adulterous romps during the filming of Cleopatra covered by all the gossip tabloids and deplored in L’Osservatore Romano. By today’s standards, Liz and Dick seem like Ozzie and Harriet. The Vatican press doesn’t seem to bother about Brad and Angelina.

The only thing that is hard to figure out is why Brad isn’t seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

A Sense of Proportion

The United States is often said to be the most religious country in the Western world. Maybe so. How do our news media reflect this fact?

Well, I read several newspapers daily. Every day they have whole sections devoted to business, the arts, entertainment, and sports; once a week they have sections on health, food, science, and other specialties, with more specialized sections on weekends.

And religion? On Saturdays they bury all the religious news on a single page, or half-page, or less. They give more coverage to games like chess and bridge. The Washington Post regularly hides religion somewhere in the Metro section, near the weather and the obituaries. Good luck finding it. I usually forget it’s there.

And what counts as religious news? Topics like anti-Semitism, environmentalist clergy, homosexuals in the churches, and Muslim groups’ complaints of discrimination. In other words, religion seems to be of interest only insofar as it is entangled with current political interests and fashions.

If you’re looking for bias in the press, don’t bother with details of partisan slanting or inaccurate reporting. The deepest bias is the huge omission of the sacred. The Good News is no news.

How can you possibly report on religion adequately if you don’t even take the idea of revealed truth seriously? Religion is reduced by journalism to a sort of inexplicable private hobby.

The “Right” of Suicide

Dr. Jack Kevorkian has finally finished his prison sentence and is free on parole as long as he doesn’t resume his specialty of assisted suicide. He has been the subject of another totally one-sided and admiring profile on 60 Minutes.

As it happens, I have two dear friends, both devout Catholics but prone to sadness, whose fathers killed themselves. One found his father’s body hanging in their home.

There are no words for this. Suicide is a horribly cruel thing to do to your family, to everyone who loves you. I can’t judge those who do succumb to a temptation so alien to me; their despair is unfathomable to me, who have always been blessed with a pretty cheerful disposition. Even in my darkest times, my friends have always been able to shake a laugh out of me, as today.

I can almost forgive this apostate world for normalizing so many other abnormal things when I think of this one, which has drawn so many young people into its torment. Suicide a “right”? How can you consider these kids without weeping? And my heart bursts with gratitude for Brother Tobias, a family friend who has made it his mission to rescue boys like ours from despair.

I’m not quite sure how a Darwinian would explain the role of men like Brother Tobias in terms of the ruthless struggle for survival. Actually, he strikes me as a pretty tough hombre for such a soft touch, but life is full of paradoxes. He just seems to pop up when someone is suffering and needs consoling. May Jesus reward him a thousand times.

“Our Lord enjoins us to love our enemies. He doesn’t ask us to pretend we don’t have any. It may help us forgive them if we can begin by identifying them.” Regime Change Begins at Home — a new selection of my Confessions of a Reactionary Utopian — is culled from my most recent lucid moments. We’ll send you a free copy if you subscribe to SOBRANS for one year (at $44.95) or two ($85). 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. 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 © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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