Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Do You Mean, Banned?

I guess this must be Banned Books Week. When I went to Half Price Bookstore yesterday the Banned Books display was up. The usual books were there, like Huckleberry Finn and Brave New World, plus a several books that were unfamiliar to me. And there was Harry Potter, among the latest and most popular "banned" books. The one book I didn't see on the display was the Bible, the most banned book in history. Interesting omission, which got me to thinking. Do we use the term "banned" too loosely and too selectively? I think we do.

Off and on over the years I've heard about pitch battles between concerned parents and school officials over what kind of books should be available to public school children. Such battles usually involved shrill accusations of book banning and censorship, especially if the parents were conservative. But the charge of censorship never rang true to me.

If a book is removed from, say, an elementary school library but is still available in junior and senior high school libraries, public libraries, and bookstores, then that book really isn't banned. Removing a book from a certain audience but not from society as a whole isn't censorship, and if it is then we must ask why all the efforts to remove the Bible and other religious expression from the entire public square are rarely condemned as acts of censorship. It seems to me that the cry of "Book banning!" or "Censorship!" often doesn't reflect a principled commitment to free expression but is, rather, a weapon in the Left's war to discredit and extinguish conservative ideas and values. If the public can be convinced that conservatives are intolerant censors the easier it will be to, irony of ironies, censor them!

I don't think that everyone on the Left plays the censorship card as a means to suppress conservatives. I believe there are good people on both sides of the political aisle who sincerely oppose censorship and support freedom of expression as matters of principle. Such people need to lead the way in the fight to preserve our speech and press liberties. Then, freedom of expression will be defended for all and we won't waste time and effort fighting for "banned" books you can get at any library or bookstore.

If you can check it out or buy it without fear of the law, then it's not banned. Let's save Banned Books week for material that can get you jailed, or worse, if you have it. You know, like the Bible.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

If A Republican Said This...

...he'd be pilloried, condemned, denounced, and maybe even burned in effigy. But if a liberal says it, he gets a pass. What is "it"? Take a look.

While trying to explain the Democrats' loss of Anthony Weiner's 9th Congressional District seat in this week's special election, NY Representative Henry Waxman opined that Jews vote Republican "to protect their wealth." What?! Can you say, "anti-Semitic stereotype"? I knew you could. If a Republican said such a thing he'd be roundly and shrilly condemned as a rabid anti-Semite, particularly if he were in any way affiliated with the Tea Party. But a liberal Democrat can play on foul, age-old prejudices and the bigotry hunters just shrug.

Some might argue that Waxman's statement isn't anti-Semitic because Waxman himself is Jewish, but that just makes what he said all the more offensive. As a Jew Waxman had to have known the negative concepts of Jews he'd be conjuring up with his remark. Jews vote Republican to protect their wealth? Waxman might as well have shouted, "Those damn greedy Jews!". I mean, that is pretty much what he did say.

Now, to be fair to Waxman, the Congressman also claimed that "misunderstanding of Obama's [Middle East policies]" helped the heavily Jewish 9th District go Republican. No duh. I'd say Obama virtually selling out Israel was the reason 9th District Jews elected Republican Bob Turner. Trying to protect their wealth? How about trying to protect their lives by voting for the party that staunchly supports the survival of Israel and, hence, of Jews generally? Congressman Waxman, and all Democrats, need to wise up. The policies of their messiah lost the 9th District and will lose the nation in 2012. The Democrats need to face that hard truth and stop dredging up racist stereotypes to explain their defeat. Jews support those who support their survival. It's that simple. Congressman Waxman, of all people, should know that. Now, I think, he does.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remember What Happened

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks which struck America on September 11, 2001. Those attacks--two on the World Trade Center, one on the Pentagon, and one aimed for the White House that crashed in Pennsylvania--were the worst attacks on Americans ever. More of our national brethren were killed on 9/11 than at Pearl Harbor. It was a monumental tragedy.

Look at the picture above. It's the tragically iconic "Falling Man" photo. This is what 9/11 is all about. This is what happened that day. Human beings, whose only crime was to go to work, forced to make a tortuous choice: burn to death, or jump from windows more than 1000 feet above ground. Two hundred chose to jump. Over 2000 others at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon burned to death, suffocated, or were pulverized by falling debris. And in Pennsylvania, 40 American souls perished when their plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed after the passengers heroically tried to take it back from the terrorist filth who'd hijacked it. This is what happened on 9/11. This is what we must remember.

The attacks on the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and the hijacking of Flight 93 were NOT the work of the US government. They weren't a so-called Black Ops operation. They weren't engineered by Jews. The World Trade Center towers weren't blown up from the inside. The Pentagon wasn't hit by a missile. Islamic terrorists committed the atrocities of 9/11. Muslims, acting on their religion's command to wage jihad, or holy war, on "infidels", hijacked passenger planes and used them as bombs to kill thousands of innocent people. That is what happened on 9/11. That is what we must remember.

The attacks on 9/11 were, together, an act of war, not a crime. The proper response to them was--and remains--to wage war on the jihadis who perpetrated the atrocity and remain committed to our destruction to this day. That is what we must remember.

9/11 wasn't just about horror, tragedy, and death. It was a day of heroism, patriotism, and extraordinary courage. It was a day when Americans were united like we'd never been since World War II. On that day, people risked their lives to save strangers, and gave their lives to save their country from further assault. On that day, and in the days after, it didn't matter what race, religion, class, or gender you were. On that day, there were no Republicans or Democrats, no conservatives or liberals. On 9/11 we were all Americans. Period. That, too, is what we must remember.

Look at the picture above once again. Look at it and let it stir up in you all the emotions, in all their intensity, that you felt that awful day. Feel the rage, fear, horror, shock, and grief, but also feel the courage, the patriotism, the brotherhood, the can-do spirit, the determination to save and be saved. Feel the best of America that burst forth that day, and make a resolution to live that spirit in your every day life as much as you can. For it was that spirit, more than our buildings, that the terrorists really wanted to destroy.

So, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, let us remember our lost loved ones and the brave first responders who sacrificed their lives so others could live. And let us resolve that while our buildings may have been broken, our hearts never will be. The terrorists will never win because the American spirit will never be quenched. That is what 9/11 is all about. That is what we must remember.

God bless America.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

I did something at work a couple of days ago that got me to thinking. What did I do? I got some paper out of my supervisor's trash can, took it home and used it for printer paper. How did I come to do that, and why?

I was helping my supervisor on her side of the warehouse. On the way to put up some product, I walked past her trash can and noticed some paper in there. I knew that paper was clean because I'd just seen it on my super's desk a few minutes before, so I reached in and got it. The paper was printed on only one side so it immediately occurred to me that I could use it for my own printing needs. And that's what I did. When I got home that day I put the paper in my printer and used it to print out a few pictures from the net. Although the paper I "recycled" from my job seemed to be of a lesser weight than what I buy, it worked fine. And that got me to thinking, what about all the paper that I missed? What should be done about wasting all that perfectly usable "trash"?

Paper isn't the only thing that's wasted at my job. I work in a warehouse so we use lots of wooden pallets. Sometimes pieces of these pallets break off and, of course, we throw them away. What a waste. I'm not sure what those pieces of wood could be used for but I'm sure they're good for something. Maybe they could be used by people who do woodworking as a hobby. I bet those pallet slats could be turned into very useful and beautiful things by some talented hobbyists. Sadly, we'll never get to know because the broken pallet slats are thrown away.

When I saw that paper in my supervisor's trash can, I thought about ALL the unnecessary waste that's piling up all over the warehouse, our country, and even the world. I wondered what can be done about it, and I think the answer lies in changing our understanding of what "resources" are and rediscovering the Biblical concept of stewardship.

I suspect most Americans and other wealthy Westerners think of resources as only the raw materials taken from nature. We don't think of the things made from those raw materials as resources, but they are. A piece of paper printed on only one side is a resource; it can be used again. A wood slat broken off a pallet is a resource; it can be used again. The cardboard rolls that packing tape is wrapped around are resources; they can be used for other purposes once the tape is gone. We've got to change the way we think about resources. Using something for its stated purpose is not the same thing as using it up. It makes no sense to toss out things that are totally reusable.

We live in economically and environmentally challenging times. Everything that we can save and reuse means less money going out of our personal, business, and national pockets and less damaging mining of the earth for raw materials. That's what Biblical stewardship is, wisely using and REusing the resources God has given us. The sage old maxim, "Waste not, want not", is a succinct expression of Biblical stewardship. We are suffering economically because we abandoned that principle and instead tried to build lasting wealth and economic security on extravagant consumption. It didn't work. So why not give Scripture's advice another try? Our forefathers did, and they created the richest nation the world has ever seen. Let's be their true heirs and start once again to diligently apply the Godly principles that undergirded their success. After all, if we "waste not", what do we have to lose?