Morning Report, September 15th: In the Falling Tower, Poor Sports, Medium is Message, Farewell to Swayze, Rock>Megan Fox’s Brain, Child Brides, Racist Babies, and Changing the Culture of Death
One Christian’s perspective on the day’s news:
1. INSIDE THE TOWERS. I neglected to mention this on the anniversary of 9/11. But here is a gripping, astonishing account of one person’s experience inside (and getting out of) one of the World Trade Center towers on that horrible day. This included many aspects of what went on inside the buildings–such as fireballs rolling down elevator shafts and blasting out the bottom–that I had not been aware of. Amazing stuff.
Speaking of 9/11, there are indications that the plot that may have been foiled by the searches in Queens over the past few days may have been on the same scale. It looks like the major suspect, who trained with al Qaeda, was apprehended too soon, because the NYPD bungled the job.
2. POOR SPORTS. Seems to be a recent spate of athletes making fools of themselves, from Serena Williams’ outburst threatening a line judge who had called her on a foot fault (she has apologized), to Roger Federer (of all people) cussing out a judge, to Michael Jordan’s recent extremely ungracious reception speech for the Hall of Fame. ScriptoriumDaily reflects on the differences between arrogant and thankful athletes. An example of the latter is David Robinson, the basketball great for the San Antonio Spurs. His acceptance speech can be seen here:
Robinson was a devout believer. As the author writes:
It takes a man who knows that all the worlds’ accolades are nothing, and that we are broken and sick like lepers who need the great physician. It takes a man to know that he is 7’2” of weakness who desperately needs the strength of the Christ to unflinchingly share his desire that all are healed like he has been because of the love of God. Arrogance is done away with by a clear conception of your person in relation to God’s holiness. May David Robinson be an example for all of us of what true greatness is all about.
Another thing I found from the same author there is a piece on “Freshman Follies and How to Avoid Them.” If you’re new to college (it’s that time of year) this could be worth your time.
3. MESSAGE AND MEDIUM. Evangelical Outpost has a great feature on a forthcoming book entitled Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith. Some outside-the-box ideas. Also worth reading: a summons for conservative Christians to be culture makers, not merely participants in the culture wars.
4. CELEBRITY MATTERS. May Patrick Swayze rest in peace; he was much beloved; everyone seemed to like him as a person. It was rough to watch his deterioration. But he soldiered on with courage and strength. Kanye West apologized for his ghastly behavior at the MTV Video Music Awards, in a sometimes-awkward discussion with Jay Leno on Leno’s new show last night. I’ve gotta say: it looked like Kanye was genuinely sorry, and genuinely emotional when Jay asked him what his mother would think of his behavior. Also, Kanye presumably idolizes Barack Obama, so it’s got to hurt to hear that the President called him a “jack***” (audio here).
Megan Fox, who once said that she wished that an evil robot bent on destroying the earth would agree instead just to destroy all those hillbilly redneck Bible thumping Christians, is getting ripped to shreds by the crew of the two Transformers movies. After she compared the director to Hitler, the crew posted a letter claiming she was dumb as a rock, an awful actress, a hated diva on the set–and, by the way, “we don’t think she knows who Hitler is.” Yikes. After she slandered half of the country that has made her fabulously rich for no clear skills she possesses or work she has performed, is it wrong to take pleasure in seeing her slandered, just a little? Yes. Do I take some pleasure in it. The answer again is in the affirmative.
5. DISMANTLING MARRIAGE. Congressman Jerrold Nadler put forward proposed legislation today to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. The bill will put Obama on the spot; he has favored repealing DOMA in theory, yet his Justice department defended DOMA. This is not a battle Obama wants to fight right now, and I surely don’t blame him.
Also in the House: a resolution passed condemning Joe Wilson for his infamous “You Lie!” outburst. The White House and even Pelosi did not want to do it, but the measure was introduced, voted on, and passed. Important stuff.
6. TOY WIVES. A Yemeni girl, formerly a child bride, dies at 12 in the midst of a painful childbirth. I know we’re wary of the “cultural imperialism” of imposing our values on other nations, but…well, perhaps there’s a time and place for it. This is sick, and needs to stop.
7. A new Newsweek story with Po Bronson (I just can’t get enough of that name: Po Bronson) suggests that babies learn to discriminate by skin color by the age of six months. I am skeptical of the value of this data, but it does seem that racial prejudice has been a pretty universal problem everywhere and always. Skin color is one of the most obvious differentiators of people, and if one notices differences in behavior between the whites one knows and the blacks (or browns) one knows, then I suppose it’s natural to make generalizations on the basis of skin color. In fighting racism we’re fighting against a natural tendency, to generalize on the basis of observed differences, and reminding ourselves not to judge groups by the actions or failings or individuals.
8. OWNED IN CHINA. Bad news: China owns us. Don’t get me wrong. They need us as much as we need them, since so much of their economy depends on exports to the US. But being so much in thrall to China is not good policy, economically or politically. What foreign policy options will we have to take off the table because we fear upsetting our Chinese shareholders? China will push back and test Obama on his protectionist moves. In a trade war, it’s not clear right now who would win.
9. GOVERNMENT, M.D. A study out today from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that 63% of physicians would choose “proposals to expand health care coverage that include both public and private insurance options.” Only 27.3% would choose “a new program that does not include a public option and instead provides subsidies for low-income people to purchase private insurance,” and only 9.6% would choose a single-payer system.
Those who object to a public option should examine why doctors would prefer to have one.
10. PULLING THE PLUG. Evan Thomas of Newsweek says: maybe we should be thinking about pulling the plug on grandma. He’s not the only one to make this argument. Given the vast sums of money that are spent in the final months and weeks of life, perhaps we really should start spending less on those who are dying. Conservatives would say: it doesn’t take long to go from this point of view to legislating that we spend less. Liberals might say: we’re not talking about forcing anyone, but about changing the culture. We’ll see. The fact that NYC is about to outlaw smoking outdoors doesn’t inspire much confidence that people can hold back from legislating their way to their goals.
11. Yesterday I objected to characterizations of those who are protesting reform as racist, ignorant, irrational bigots. One friend and reader objected to my objection, pointing to photographic evidence, I will address this in a later post.
I’ll try to get tomorrow’s “Morning Report” actually done in the morning! Imagine that.