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May 04, 2006

Superb Peggy Noonan Piece On Moussaoui Enlightenment Cowardice

Perfect:

Excuse me, I'm sorry, and I beg your pardon, but the jury's decision on Moussaoui gives me a very bad feeling. What we witnessed here was not the higher compassion but a dizzy failure of nerve.

From the moment the decision was announced yesterday, everyone, all the parties involved--the cable jockeys, the legal analysts, the politicians, the victim representatives--showed an elaborate and jarring politesse. "We thank the jury." "I accept the verdict of course." "We can't question their hard work." "I know they did their best." "We thank the media for their hard work in covering this trial." "I don't want to second-guess the jury."

How removed from our base passions we've become. Or hope to seem.

It is as if we've become sophisticated beyond our intelligence, savvy beyond wisdom. Some might say we are showing a great and careful generosity, as befits a great nation. But maybe we're just, or also, rolling in our high-mindedness like a puppy in the grass. Maybe we are losing some crude old grit. Maybe it's not good we lose it.

...

I have the sense that many good people in our country, normal modest folk who used to be forced to endure being patronized and instructed by the elites of all spheres--the academy and law and the media--have sort of given up and cut to the chase. They don't wait to be instructed in the higher virtues by the professional class now. They immediately incorporate and reflect the correct wisdom before they're lectured.

I'm not sure this is progress. It feels not like the higher compassion but the lower evasion. It feels dainty in a way that speaks not of gentleness but fear.

In 1988, Michael Dukakis pretty much lost the election when he offered a bloodless, technocratic response to a question about what penalty he would like as a personal matter were his wife to be raped and murdered.

That's sort of a nasty question, isn't it? But still: His failure to say emphatically that, even if opposing the death penalty as policy matter, he would, as a human being, want the murderer of his wife to be killed -- and not necessarily through the orderly procedures of state-administered justice -- separated him from most of America, who had no question at all what sort of justice they'd want for someone who stole away a loved one.

But that was 1988.

Today, America would apparently agree with him.

We have lost something. We have a simple confidence in our own humanity, and our own right to exist. We now have to apologize for that right, and show "nuance" and "sophistication" in any effort to vindicate that right.


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posted by Ace at 01:28 AM

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