"Pope Benedict would like this photo [of a] cat with the dome of St. Peter's as background -- perfect :)" blogs Gerald Augustinus of The Cafeteria is Closed. We're still dreaming of a photo or two of the Holy Father himself cat whispering. Anybody out there know of any?
"There seems to me a sort of broad national diminution of common sense in our country that we don't notice in the day-to-day but that becomes obvious after a story like this," wrote Peggy Noonan in the wake of last week's "school shooting." While everyone with a soapbox -- ourselves included -- had something all-important to read into the entrails, two primal All-American stories rose to the surface after a decent interval:
1. The wounded student, trained in Boy Scout survival techniques, who prevented himself from bleeding to death by tourniqueting his own leg.
2. The beloved, venerable Holocaust survivor professor who put himself between the killer and his own students to save them, even as he lost his own life.
Both were heart-stopping examples of not only the American spirit -- the shining city upon a hill -- but more deeply the long-lost survival skills that are our species' evolutionary birthright: recognizing danger and acting to avert death -- of oneself and/or those in one's care. As we said in Laura Lee's comments:
I'm thinking that guns or not, we should be requiring our students -- and ourselves -- to take at least one scout-like survival course that attunes them/us to clues in the environment and develops defensive skills. No cell phones allowed!
Then there are our fellow Americans on the left side of the aisle who continue to wonder why we can't all just get along, even as they -- like "Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, the Muslim Brotherhood cleric who has gone on the record many times supporting jihad, suicide bombing, and especially the murder of Jews" [via Little Green Footballs] -- attempt to get themselves off the hook by blaming America/George Bush/Israel for all the evil in the world. The Sheik, in a fascinatingly all-about-me Friday sermon aired on Qatar TV, DOES have a way with words:
The thing I detest most is unjustified bloodshed. I even felt great pain at what happened in America. An armed student killed 33 fellow students. What is this? This is the philosophy of violence, the outcome of violent films, the outcome of the violence used by America. America has made force the decisive factor in everything, and it uses its power to force peoples to do as it wishes. [Projection happens.] This philosophy has left its mark. We see in the schools of America . . . Even in high schools and junior high schools, we see youth who kill their fellow students. In that university, we saw that someone killed all those fellow students of his -- and for no comprehensible reason. What is this? It is the philosophy of violence, which was instilled in these people. This philosophy of materialism and permissiveness does not instill in them religion, faith, moral values, compassion, or brotherhood. Instead, it instills in them selfishness and violence, and makes the rifle or the machine-gun rule supreme. This is the philosophy of American civilization, which it bequeaths to its sons.
But even as the forces of darkness close in, a glimmer of light from a most unexpected corner of academia: "One wonders if it might be the seemingly decrepit old Church that will once more guide the fate of the West," writes a strange-new-respect Alex Copulsky of Harvard Political Review, admitting his belated discovery of the Pope who loves cats and Mozart and found common cause with firebrand atheist Oriana Fallaci:
The columnist Andrew Sullivan wrote that Benedict XVI is "immune from reasoned inquiry." He could not have been more wrong. Benedict XVI is best understood as an "Enlightenment Pope" in an era in which reason has few defenders. The Pope is acutely aware of the oppression brought about by irrationality: In his childhood, it was Nazism; until the collapse of the Soviet Union it was Communism; today it is, as he puts it, the "dictatorship of relativism," the rejection of absolute norms, and radical Islam.
I happened to pick up the New York Times Sunday Magazine and found myself totally absorbed in the cover piece about Pope Benedict and his simultaneously deeply religious and utterly secular attempt to position the church to deal with the question of Islam. Pope Benedict has a barbarians-at-the-gate mentality that seems preposterous and alarmist at first, but begins to sound more and more rational.
We've been saying the very same thing re Papa Ratzi for ages, 'course. Nice to see it echoed in both the Times and the Harvard Political Review for a change. Best quotation of the day comes from Christopher Hitchens's must-read City Journal "Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates." You're a better man than I am, Rudyard Kipling:
We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!
Honor/shame is where it's at, from the most cut-throat, corrupt Barbary Coast pasha to our own business-as-usual corrupt American Congressmen of today. Arrrgggghhhh!