Have we reached a stage in our national development where seriousness on almost any subject is impossible? Examples abound.
Edward Snowden, who leaked National Security Agency surveillance projects to the British Guardian, said, “I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.” And he noted, “the public should decide, not the government.”
Washington is the home for rights promoters. Fads of the moment translate into rights with legal justification and a regulatory apparatus attached to them. This is the manner in which government expands without limit. Illustrations abound.
In 1967 Joey Bishop, the celebrated comedian and honorary member of Sinatra’s Rat Pack, starred in a film entitled “A Guide for the Married Man.” Although this is hardly a distinguished movie, one scene was worth the price of admission.
It was bound to happen. The professoriate has risen in opposition to on-line education. Philosophy professors at San Jose State University said they refuse to use material from an on-line course taught by Harvard professor, Michael Sandel, for fear administrators were angling to cut departmental expenses.
Rarely in the history of this republic has hypocrisy been a public policy position. As Rochfoucaud noted hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays virtue. But suppose virtue has nothing to do with it. Suppose hypocrisy becomes a way to deceive and deflect criticism.
Independence Day marked a major event in Israel’s history: A 65th Anniversary, a day of pomp, ceremony and remembrance. But it is also a day to take stock of Israel’s strategic position in the Middle East. Despite the relative calm, there are storm clouds on the horizon.
The two Boston bombers were born in Dagestan and despite their alleged grievance over the treatment of Chechens, never lived there. For law enforcement officials and counter-terror experts this radical view that inspired their heinous act is a conundrum. Even President Obama asked plaintively, “Why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country resort to such violence?”
For meta-historians who take the long view, e.g. Arnold Toynbee, there is the emergence of a “looming global peace” that is gaining acceptance in the corridors of Academe. It is predicated on the belief that we are nearing a point in history where war as we know it has disappeared. Presumably the world is becoming safe and secure with few violent conflicts. Moreover, the United States faces no plausible existential threats or great power rivalry. This is the unvarnished theme at its most basic level.
It is difficult to know if MOOC’s (Massive Open On-line Courses) are a conspiracy to undermine the Academy or mankind’s final redemption, a way to open the avenues of higher education. However one sees it, millions of people are already taking on-line courses. There is a revolution taking place driven by technology and cost controls. Where it will end up is anyone’s guess, but ultimately the success of this innovation will depend on measured competencies.