Last week's Orient contained the best treatments to date of the discussion on political diversity among Bowdoin faculty. Students with conservative (or libertarian) views would do well to heed Professor Rael and Mr. Washburn and rededicate themselves to studying and thinking?thinking about the problems individuals in society face and about how best to approach them in the context of a Bowdoin education.
The Bush administration's raison d'?tre is war in the Middle East in order to protect America from terrorism and to insure its oil supply. This approach wasn't suddenly formed in response to September 11, or United Nations grappling with Saddam Hussein. The neo-conservatives who are currently in control have long held plans for regime changes in several countries, and for years they have been attacking the moral, constitutional, and legal arguments for less aggressive foreign policy. According to the long-published writings of the neo-cons, Middle East war is needed to protect Israel and preserve a holy Pax Americana. Senior policymakers also hold a blind faith in the idea, embraced first by FDR and adopted by every administration since, that military force is an effective tool for securing foreign sources of petroleum.
Before the movement on behalf of "civil rights" began last century, "discriminate" meant nothing more than to make a clear distinction. Since then, the word has developed a new connotation that has all but eliminated the old; it now refers to distinction-making on the basis of class or category without regard to personal merit. Nowadays, those who speak broadly of "discrimination" are normally referring only to discrimination against those who belong to the Left's victimological pantheon, including blacks, women, Hispanics, American Indians, immigrants, homosexuals, and the disabled.
I'm not a member of the Bowdoin Film Society, so it might seem presumptuous of me to opine on how it should conduct its affairs. But I don't believe it's unreasonable for me to suggest that a film society should concern itself purely with film. If it were my decision, the film society would focus on the "classics," particularly those that are not standard fare on American television and in American theaters?here I'm thinking of Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa, and the like.
The Orient sent out a plea recently for more conservative editorialists. I was tempted to answer the call this week and the Democratic convention would have provided plenty to criticize. But in accepting the Orient's invitation I would have been nourishing an anemic political discourse that seems to nourish only two ideologies, both of which are bankrupt. With (social democratic) liberals and (neo)conservatives directing the conversation one is quickly corralled into a decision of Republican or Democrat. Right or Left. Red state or blue state. Pick-up truck or Volvo. You must choose immediately and only between these two; there are no other options.
Natural disasters and high gas prices are two things guaranteed to make pundits and policy makers shout about price gouging, and the last few weeks were no exception. Bush and many state governors have been giving the free market a rhetorical pounding, decrying (to quote Maine governor John Baldacci) "profiteering, unfair trade practices, or collusion in gas and oil markets." Bill O'Reilly insisted recently that the government should coerce oil companies into cutting their profits by 20 percent "to spare Americans pain."
Among politicians and commentators now sorting out the New Orleans disaster, discussion seems to be focused on the current administration. While the contribution of the war-crazed Right is to continue to ignore the nakedness of the emperor, the Left utilizes the catalogue of administration gaffs to argue its agenda?which mainly consists of "elect us." Yet while debate rages seemingly in earnest, the politicians and the media are taking their cues from an ancient script that reads thus: tainted public officials will be fired (so long, Mike Brown), levees will be fixed, funding for some key government programs will be increased, and new ones may even be started. Then, satisfied with our "progress," we will join hands and celebrate a government fully prepared to prevent the catastrophe that happened two weeks ago. Meanwhile I am endlessly puzzled; how can the state use a disaster it created to persuade people to place their faith in the state?