Saturday, April 24, 2010

John Lukacs discusses conservatism, ideology and progress with Bill Moyers

The conservative is the "opposite of an ideologue." He is "profoundly aware" of human sinfulness, including among his own country and people, historian John Lukacs says in this interview:


"Patriotism is essentially defensive. Nationalism is aggressive. And our conservatives are nationalists, not patriots."

A reactionary is "somebody who thinks the clock has to be put back sometimes."

"American conservatism is now more enamoured with progress, and technical progress, than liberals and progressives were two generations ago."

"What the world needs is not growth, but stability."

Regarding President Nixon's comment that the USA is #1, Lukacs warns:

"When somebody has to say he's number one, it means he is not sure of himself."

"It is much more difficult to recover prestige than it is to recover power."

He suggests the modern idea of Progress is about improving the world according to our desires, and not about improving our desires to better accommodate human limitation and frailty.

His view that progressivism is a product of determinism appears counter-intuitive. How can a movement so devoted to the self-realization of human will possibly adhere to a philosophy subjects the will to forces beyond its control?

But some progressivisms put forward a certain type of human will, a will that is (or should be) unbound by "artificial" traditional institutions precisely because it is pre-formed and pre-determined.

For the progressive, this kind of human will is the authentic one. It should not and cannot be reformed, and therefore the world must be instead.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to take your monkey through airline security

The Transportation Security Administration has a helpful guide on service animals:
When a monkey is being transported in a carrier, the monkey must be removed from the carrier by the handler prior to screening,

The monkey must be controlled by the handler throughout the screening process.

The monkey handler should carry the monkey through the WTMD while the monkey remains on a leash.

When the handler and monkey go through the WTMD and the WTMD alarms, both the handler and the monkey must undergo additional screening.

Since monkeys may likely draw attention, the handler will be escorted to the physical inspection area where a table is available for the monkey to sit on. Only the handler will touch or interact with the monkey.

TSOs have been trained to not touch the monkey during the screening process.

TSOs will conduct a visual inspection on the monkey and will coach the handler on how to hold the monkey during the visual inspection.

The inspection process may require that the handler take off the monkey’s diaper as part of the visual inspection.

The absurdity of the situation recalls the old SNL Sprockets sketches in which the surreal Dieter asks his guests if they would like to touch his monkey.

But it is disturbing to see the complacency of Americans before the demands of a government bureaucracy seemingly more effective in securing airplanes from bashful passengers than securing the borders from terrorist infiltration.

There have been few hints of concern for modesty in the proposals for full body scans for passengers. As Andrew McCarthy notes, only a few religious leaders have spoken out.

Even the Pope's supposed condemnation of body scans is hard to verify, as he never actually mentioned the scanners and we know the press is notorious for imagining that tangential papal comments fit their storylines.

Nakedness can trigger moral prurience and vicious curiosity. But it also has iconic significance: Christ showed God's total love by being crucified naked.

Lamentable is the silence of the clergy and other Christians in the face of another violation of modesty and another degradation of the religious sense.

TSA officers can strip you with technology, and they can strip you physically. But they'll not touch you, so long as you're a monkey.