Culture: June 2004 Archives

"Credo", a teacher in a Catholic school in Australia, recounts a lively discussion about what was the greatest cause of death in the 20th century. His top student identified Stalin's purges, but when Credo asked them to consider a "non-event", the same student suggested abortion was the 20th century's greatest killer. He goes on to describe the discussion in the following class -- what he presented, and the debate that occurred between the students. His goal was to lead a substantive discussion about abortion, focusing on documented science, rather than theological perspectives, and to look at the social and historical factors involved in abortion's prevalence.

He goes on to describe the verbal pummeling he suffered from the mother of a student who defended abortion in that class session:

She spoke firmly but calmly at first, but escalated into fist-shaking and cursing (and I don't mean $%^*!, I mean she actually cursed me). She felt that it was inappropriate for me to have discussed the topic with the students given that it was a history class. I tried to explain my reasoning, and I - genuinely - apologised if she felt that her student had been disadvantaged by my decision to tailor the curriculum to my class's interests....

By this stage I was stunned. The other teachers in the room were all paying attention and one of them was shaking in fright. The mother had now left her seat and was standing in front of me, waving her fist.

I was tempted to ask her why she chose a Catholic school to educate her daughter, but thought better of it. Her voice got higher and she bellowed at me - "You're a man, you don't get a say, what would you know?" At that point, I lowered my voice and attempted to answer by giving my own personal experiences with abortion (sadly).

She cut me off with a statement that I will take to the end of my days:

"The world would be a better place if you had been aborted."

Start there, read that whole entry, then keep reading as he responds to comments from readers. In a more recent entry, Credo has photos and an excerpt from a BBC article -- amazing and precious images of babies in the womb using 4D ultrasound imaging -- kicking, eye-opening, toesucking, smiling, yawning, patting.

Hat tip to Swamphopper at the Rough Woodsman for the link.

David Gelernter writes in Opinion Journal about the fulsome praise being heaped by the leftist media on World War II veterans. He says the vets deserve better than the repetition of a trite phrase: "If we cared about that war, the men who won it and the ideas it suggests, we would teach our children (at least) four topics." The four topics are "the major battles of the war, ... the bestiality of the Japanese, ... the attitude of American intellectuals, ... [and] the veterans' neglected voice." Names like Corregidor and Anzio should mean something to our children. The stories of those who fought should be as readily available as the memoirs of those who reported on the war. Regarding the intellectuals Gelernter writes:

Before Pearl Harbor but long after the character of Hitlerism was clear--after the Nuremberg laws, the Kristallnacht pogrom, the establishment of Dachau and the Gestapo--American intellectuals tended to be dead against the U.S. joining Britain's war on Hitler.

Today's students learn (sometimes) about right-wing isolationists like Charles Lindbergh and the America Firsters. They are less likely to read documents like this, which appeared in Partisan Review (the U.S. intelligentsia's No. 1 favorite mag) in fall 1939, signed by John Dewey, William Carlos Williams, Meyer Schapiro and many more of the era's leading lights. "The last war showed only too clearly that we can have no faith in imperialist crusades to bring freedom to any people. Our entry into the war, under the slogan of 'Stop Hitler!' would actually result in the immediate introduction of totalitarianism over here. . . . The American masses can best help [the German people] by fighting at home to keep their own liberties." The intelligentsia acted on its convictions. "By one means or another," Diana Trilling later wrote of this period, "most of the intellectuals of our acquaintance evaded the draft."

Why rake up these Profiles in Disgrace? Because in the Iraq War era they have a painfully familiar ring.

Dewey, of course, is the father of modern American public education.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has answered the call by telling the story of the Battle of Midway and the brave men of Torpedo Squadron 8, all but one of whom flew to their deaths that day.

Signing abortion

| | TrackBacks (1)

After Abortion links to this visual dictionary of American Sign Language, which uses little QuickTime films to illustrate words. Near the top of the index are the words "abort" and "abortion". The signs are described respectively as "One hand grabs something from the other hand and throws it away," and "The hand takes a hold of something and then throws it off to the side." In both signs the hand goes from flat to balled, as if wadding up something to discard it. One commenter describes it as "a clawed ripping away and tossing."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from June 2004.

Culture: May 2004 is the previous archive.

Culture: July 2004 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]