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  • user warning: Table './conserva_drupal/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>SUZANNE FIELDS: September 6, 2019</p>\n<p>Saying goodbye is never easy. Every school child quotes &ldquo;Parting is such sweet sorrow&rdquo; from &ldquo;Romeo and Juliet,&rdquo; which has become a sentimental cliche. But the sentiment captures the memories that sustain my final column. I am saying goodbye to all my readers who stayed with me through these changing times and wrote lively letters with both appreciation and argument for my opinions. We&rsquo;ve had a rewarding give-and-take in these days of dogmatic pontification.<br />\n But the times they are a-changin&rsquo;.</p>\n<p> I WAS introduced as a conservative columnist in the Washington Times in 1984, writing from that famous intersection of politics and culture in the nation&rsquo;s capital, where I promised not to get run over in the heavy traffic.<br />\n I had just written an op-ed piece for the Washington Post saying that the sexual revolution had gone too far in eliminating many of the more intimate decencies between a man and a woman. While women were grateful for much of the liberation that flowed from it, the sexual revolution made it possible for many men to live out their sexual fantasies of promiscuity and irresponsibility at the expense of women&rsquo;s feelings.<br />\n That argument was controversial in the 1980s, but only recently, in discussing the changing values that led to the protection of sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, Lisa Miller observed in New York magazine, &ldquo;the sexual revolution gave the elites and the circles orbiting them intellectual permission to downgrade sexual violence to a matter of taste.&rdquo; It didn&rsquo;t take long for the acceptable definition of eros to degrade women and girls without significant distinctions between preferences, perversions and crimes. &nbsp;<br />\n Every revolution pushes a pendulum; we&rsquo;re unlikely to decide where the center ought to be until that pendulum has swung too far.<br />\n Lots of pendulums in politics and culture today have swung too far. In the summer of our discontent, conversations are dominated by the way the two political parties attack each other with nastiness and prejudice, snark and snide. While we should be plotting ways to improve education, eliminate lingering racism and confront the complexities of immigration, we exacerbate the problems with rancorous debate feeding ideological appetites.<br />\n Wesley Pruden, columnist and former editor-in-chief of The Washington Times, who was responsible for getting me into the business of &ldquo;columny,&rdquo; died in July. We often talked about the decline of journalism and appreciation for &ldquo;the facts, just the facts&rdquo; in news stories. Today, many news stories read like opinion columns, and language doesn&rsquo;t count for much unless it&rsquo;s shrill, vulgar and angry. He worried that the internet would destroy the printed word, but he was doing his best to hold the line. Now he&rsquo;s moved on to that Great Newsroom in the Sky reserved for dedicated editors, reporters and columnists, and that line is weaker.</p>\n<p> LIKE MY former editor, I&rsquo;ve been disheartened by the disregard for facts, civility and common sense in much that passes for serious debate, but I will now leave that good fight to others.<br />\n In my column, I&rsquo;ve been hard on radical feminists who &ldquo;pour new whine into old battles,&rdquo; alarmed by the &ldquo;snowflakes&rdquo; who pollute the groves of academe with politically correct politics and dismayed by the president&rsquo;s omniscient tweets that raise the temperature on almost every issue. The political divide has meshed with a sexual divide as conservative and liberal values are seen through the prism of acrimonious argument. But my favorite issues have focused on family, the importance of a mother and father, reviving memories of my parents.<br />\n My daddy came from Pinsk, the Russian city many Jews fled at the turn of the century, and I grew up in the kind of immigrant Jewish family you don&rsquo;t hear much about anymore. My grandparents and parents were thrilled to be Americans, to learn English and become citizens. They loved reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing &ldquo;The Star-Spangled Banner&rdquo; and listening to Kate Smith sing &ldquo;God Bless America.&rdquo; My daddy was a bookmaker and sports promoter whose amateur athletic prowess in sandlot ball was bequeathed to his great-grandson Alex Bregman, the third baseman for the Houston Astros, who fulfilled his American Dream.<br />\n When I write about the tragedy of fatherless families, I reflect on my good fortune in being able to see the complementary values and virtues of a father and a mother, and the loving sacrifices both make in different ways. It&rsquo;s no longer trendy to talk about sex differences in our &ldquo;gender-neutral&rdquo; culture, another pendulum that has swung too far.</p>\n<p> WE LIVE IN difficult times, and as my daddy used to say, &ldquo;Tough times make a monkey eat red pepper.&rdquo; Lots of people eat red pepper today. The forces of evil and terror wind deeply and destroy with enormous power. But my column has always meant to show how the darker forces ultimately have no power to destroy the human spirit.</p>\n<p> Write to Suzanne Fields at <a href=\"mailto:suzannefields2000@gmail.com\">suzannefields2000@gmail.com</a>. Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton&rsquo;s &ldquo;Paradise Lost.&rdquo;</p>\n<p> &nbsp;</p>\n', created = 1574391976, expire = 1574478376, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:1abd8c4b79c1ff2160e854ce1ce6504f' in /home/conserva/public_html/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './conserva_drupal/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>TECHNOLOGY: August 2, 2019</p>\n<p>&ldquo;Summertime/ and the livin&rsquo; is easy.&rdquo; George Gershwin&rsquo;s haunting melody and DuBose Heyward&rsquo;s tender lyrics once floated over the mood of summer, coaxing us all to reverie. But that was when vacationers lay on the beach under a lazy old sun, concentrating on important things, like grains of sand seeping through their toes, and watching the currents of salty waves ebb and flow before rippling back to the vast deep.<br />\n We luxuriated in those summers past; we left the cacophony of the city and the urgencies of work and school behind.</p>\n<p> BUT SUCH idealistic escapes, even if only partially accurate, are gone with the smartphone. I&rsquo;ve been watching people at play from a beach blanket on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Instead of tossing a beach ball or jumping over the waves, the kids are mesmerized by digital toys; the grown-ups check their texts and email for the 10th time that day; and everybody is taking selfies.<br />\n The selfie, that personal portrait clicked from a dozen angles, captures the heat of a moment, whether of personal significance or not, and is dispatched over thousands of miles in an instant. Few of us put script on paper or cards for friends and loved ones. The letters I exchanged with my daughter while she was at camp and college, which we laugh and reminisce over today, are relics of an antiquated means of communication as dead as the telegram or a conversation via a landline.<br />\n In the digital world where most of us live, detailed thoughts are reduced to acronyms on texts &mdash; &ldquo;lol&rdquo; (laugh out loud) or &ldquo;smh&rdquo; (shake my head). It&rsquo;s not all bad, of course, and instant communication has its rewards. But some of the reliance on fast messaging keeps at bay the slower, deeper insights and perceptions. Biographers complain that the reservoir of the written word is swiftly drying up on the shores of the electronic world, where Snapchats evaporate in 10 seconds and tweets disappear with the ease of a finger sliding up and down a tiny screen.</p>\n<p> THE INTELLECTUAL process for insight and observation may be changing, too. We increasingly rely on the instant digital exchange to excite the senses, whether personal or political. (Let&rsquo;s keep President Trump out of this for the moment.)<br />\n Just 22 years ago, Neal Gabler wrote a book called &ldquo;Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality.&rdquo; His point was that we have become both entertainer and audience in life&rsquo;s dramas, as the nervous system requires the excitement of different kinds of performances played for the self and others. Written before the ubiquity of the internet, Gabler&rsquo;s points of reference were movies and television, demonstrating how the media began to reduce distinctions separating art, entertainment and news. Instead of art imitating life, life began to imitate art &mdash; even pop art. Objects of everyday life, including people who were merely famous for being famous, were magnified to an importance they were never meant to have.<br />\n Even before the internet, where online amateurs become self-made pundits and attract an audience with nothing particular to say, showbiz techniques became the means and measurement for the presentation of professional news of politics, which satisfied an audience and raised ratings.<br />\n It was a short step from there to reality television, which makes real life an even larger (and cheaper) focus of amusement. Fictional narratives were designed to inspire pity and fear, with the understanding that &ldquo;there but for the grace of God go I.&rdquo; Reality television, like home videos, is life itself. Watching someone slip on a banana peel or be told &ldquo;You&rsquo;re fired!&rdquo; actually delivers real pain &mdash; just not ours. It&rsquo;s pain that doesn&rsquo;t touch us. We can laugh or be surprised without feeling empathy. Pity and fear are replaced by spectacle for the sake of entertainment.<br />\n Social critics point out how distraction has become more important than insight. Columnists who follow readers&rsquo; comments at the end of their work online are surprised by how readers are quickly distracted from the words at hand and begin arguing with and insulting each other.<br />\n Neil Postman, the media critic who wrote the 1985 book &ldquo;Amusing Ourselves to Death,&rdquo; foresaw danger when he wrote that &ldquo;facts push other facts into and then out of consciousness at speeds that neither permit nor require evaluation.&rdquo; He feared Aldous Huxley&rsquo;s future described in &ldquo;Brave New World,&rdquo; where people come &ldquo;to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.&rdquo;</p>\n<p> IT&rsquo;S EASY to attack Trump&rsquo;s personas as created in reality television without considering the responsibility of those who create them &mdash; those who select and sell distraction instead of serious news. With every revolutionary technology there is hope that it will be harnessed to make the world a better place. But that requires the long view, and we&rsquo;re not there yet. It&rsquo;s summertime, and the selfie is easy.</p>\n', created = 1574391976, expire = 1574478376, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:3e151e1ef5aa95e47efd71e578cce24b' in /home/conserva/public_html/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './conserva_drupal/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>POLITICS: July 12, 2019</p>\n<p>In the Age of Trump, a growth industry of commentators and critics is in search of a mythical image, a graphic insight, a metaphorical phrase to capture our fragmented politics and culture. &ldquo;Make America Great Again&rdquo; worked as a campaign slogan, but it&rsquo;s about process, not essence.<br />\n For self-glorification and euphemism, no one beat John F. Kennedy &amp; Family, who conducted the most effective public relations in our history. In his short time as president, the handsome young war hero from Massachusetts thrived in the glamour of the fictional Camelot. After the death of JFK and before the Vietnam War ruined Lyndon Johnson&rsquo;s chances, Johnson established a strong image as a leader capable of creating &ldquo;the Great Society.&rdquo; It didn&rsquo;t last.</p>\n<p> BARACK OBAMA, our first black president, offered a portrait to the world to show how America had truly changed since the Civil War. But his wings were clipped when the heir(ess) apparent couldn&rsquo;t sustain his promise of hope and change, and eight million disenchanted Obama voters helped send Donald Trump to the White House.<br />\n Political and cultural emblems and motifs often fail to survive into the next election cycle, and emblems and motifs are especially ephemeral today, when high-tech media messages race across television screens at the speed of light. Perceptions crash and burn in a single tweet. We&rsquo;re so eager to find new trends and update descriptions that historical context flies out the window.<br />\n Joe Biden, the bumbling &ldquo;nice guy&rdquo; who was Barack Obama&rsquo;s vice president, is tarred and feathered as a bad guy afflicted with blind spots, unwilling to recognize the pain he inflicted with his opinions on busing &mdash; opinions that eventually became the opinions of nearly everyone black or white &mdash; and the compromises he made with senators with whom he usually disagreed, only to get good things done. He has been accused of trying to polish a halo tarnished by the passage of time. The new girl(s) on the block, and even the remaining good ol&rsquo; boys of the Democratic Party, are complaining they don&rsquo;t want a grandfather figure in their future.<br />\n &ldquo;The past is never dead,&rdquo; Faulkner observed, because &ldquo;it&rsquo;s not even past,&rdquo; a sentiment to remind us that history, both political and personal, continues to influence the present. But the past as remembered can be manipulated to fit whatever opinions may be current and surging, which keeps the spinners busier than Rumpelstiltskin&rsquo;s daughter.<br />\n One conservative commentator of the contemporary drama, Peter Wehner, once a major figure behind the scenes as a smithy of words for George W. Bush, examines the current state of affairs in an incisive new book with his judgment in the title, &ldquo;The Death of Politics.&rdquo; He refers to the &ldquo;death-match mindset&rdquo; that characterizes politics today, cynical and fatalistic attacks on democratic virtues that will permanently damage the republic.</p>\n<p> SUSTAINED BY a religious vocabulary, Wehner draws on John Bunyan&rsquo;s &ldquo;Pilgrim&rsquo;s Progress&rdquo; and argues that we have fallen into the &ldquo;slough of Despond,&rdquo; the swamp of despair described in Bunyan&rsquo;s iconic 17th-century allegory of Christian faith.<br />\n In updated contemporary references, Wehner describes politics as a fallen profession composed of fallen people. As a conservative who doesn&rsquo;t particularly like the president, he argues that &ldquo;the slough of Despond&rdquo; didn&rsquo;t enter the political conversation with this president. Unruly and uncivil contributors came from the left long before the political ascent of Donald Trump. The president&rsquo;s crude and sometimes cruel rhetoric only deepened it.<br />\n Making matters worse is the &ldquo;silo-ization&rdquo; of news sources, the partisan news flowing from cable channels, blogs, the internet and social media, which convince us &ldquo;that we&rsquo;re right and righteous and the other side is not only wrong but criminal or evil.&rdquo;<br />\n In the 1960s, Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase &ldquo;the medium is the message,&rdquo; the way we get information, the mode of transmission being as important as content. That analysis is more telling today as news sources create and reinforce ideological polarization and dogmatism, contributing to government gridlock and a rigid formula for talking about ideas.<br />\n When Peter Wehner brings his inner Christian into dialogue with his inner optimist, he still believes that politics is a necessary activity but can also rise to a noble calling &ldquo;to advance justice and human flourishing.&rdquo; But that can only happen if we bring back respect for the &ldquo;craft of governing&rdquo; and &ldquo;the virtue of compromise.&rdquo;</p>\n<p> HE RECALLS the words of the late philosopher-columnist Charles Krauthammer: &ldquo;Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians. Fail to keep them at bay, and everything burns.&rdquo; Such insight lacks the romance of Camelot and the illusory promise of &ldquo;the Great Society,&rdquo; but it may be the motto and myth for our time.</p>\n', created = 1574391976, expire = 1574478376, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:384fbe2b5bf7c37006b17ef0e5adcb01' in /home/conserva/public_html/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './conserva_drupal/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>POLITICS: July 5, 2019</p>\n<p>Summer is the time for conversation, at the beach or in the mountains, on the front porch or a park bench, wherever we find the change of pace that pleases. It&rsquo;s a time for stretching and refreshing body and mind, for looking at things with a fresh focus. At least that&rsquo;s how it used to be when friends and family gathered together for lively talk after jumping waves, hiking new trails or climbing the stairs of an old lighthouse.</p>\n<p> THE SEASONAL regrouping encourages us to enjoy and challenge the familiar, an opening to expand perspectives for our daily lives.<br />\n But conversation these days is of a different order than it used to be, even on a dreamy Carolina seashore. Political debates dominate the social as well as the intellectual landscape as we try to grasp the kind of country we have become and how we want it to be. The leaders we choose in the next election will both reflect and influence how we think of ourselves.<br />\n The Democratic debates could help open our eyes to different possibilities from different candidates, if we measure what we hear against what we know. But it&rsquo;s important to cut through the spin that attempts to persuade by endless and empty repetition.<br />\n It&rsquo;s particularly important to avoid the &ldquo;shape-shifters,&rdquo; those who rearrange an image to suit the politically correct attitude of the moment, who distort time past to fit into time present. That hardly inspires trust or confidence. Those of a certain age recall the authoritative voice of Walter Cronkite, who anchored the CBS Nightly News between 1962 and 1981. He was both soothing and serious in reporting facts. That kind of figure has vanished with the ascent of the internet and cable television.<br />\n We now watch and listen to talking heads that dispense the news with biases paraded as badges of honor, whose angry &ldquo;insights&rdquo; are swiftly repeated on Twitter and Instagram by sympathetic supporters and outraged antagonists. The president&rsquo;s tweets usually don&rsquo;t add clarity to the confusion of these infomercial marathons that reduce argument to exhortation.<br />\n Donald Trump dominates the conversation, but in our Babel of polarities we suffer broken conversations of anger and arrogance. Fragments of ideas flit across screens like liberated stink bugs that are quickly (but warily) squashed or flicked away. The Procrustian bed of identity politics squeezes issues into narrow categories of thought, reinforcing prejudices.</p>\n<p> THIS SHOULD be an exhilarating time of year, with sun, showers and lively discussions, but instead conversation often veers toward the arrogant and acrimonious. Ideas are often offered to feed ideological appetites rather than stimulate creative thinking. Few do the history homework to examine complexity in the context of another time.<br />\n Democrats eager to damage former Vice President Joe Biden, to reduce his lead in the public opinion polls, were thrilled by Sen. Kamala Harris&rsquo; cheap shots at him recalling her personal experience with busing. As if by magic, T-shirts of her as a little girl in braids suddenly appeared online for $30 each. She was our new Dorothy, having escaped from Oz, and the applause failed to note that she was born to privilege. Her father was a professor at Stanford, her mother a medical researcher.<br />\n Her personal anecdote was aimed at black voters, whose support for her was weak and who were spared thinking about why mandatory busing lost its popularity among both blacks and whites as neighborhoods were broken and disrupted. Children were dispatched to schools great distances from where they lived. Both blacks and whites at the time polled heavily against the arbitrary boundaries for busing, coldly drawn by government bureaucrats to meet quotas of desegregation determined by politics, not the values of the community where people actually lived. &nbsp;<br />\n &ldquo;The discussion in this race today shouldn&rsquo;t be about the past,&rdquo; Biden said. &ldquo;We should be talking about how we can do better. How we can move forward.&rdquo; Who could argue with that?<br />\n The problems of the past as perceived in the present tense create a schism in the Democratic Party that is the result of both ideology and social media. This growing schism, says Michael Tomasky in the New York Review of Books, is the conflict between &ldquo;the younger, urban and more left-leaning people who carry out a daily and often pestiferous political dialogue on Twitter, and the older and more traditionally liberal-to-moderate people who make up the actual backbone of the party across America.&rdquo;</p>\n<p> YOU DON&rsquo;T have to be a Democrat, Republican or independent looking for workable solutions to agree with his conclusion: &ldquo;If there is a division within the party that will bring it to ruin in 2020, this is it.&rdquo; This is the conversation Democrats need if they&rsquo;re serious about taking on Donald Trump. And if the rest of us listen, we might learn a thing or two as well.</p>\n', created = 1574391976, expire = 1574478376, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:7c5ce1ca87ab8fccd438ace3cb0bca10' in /home/conserva/public_html/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './conserva_drupal/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>TRANSGENDERS: June 28, 2019</p>\n<p>Love is bustin&rsquo; out all over. It&rsquo;s summer, and June is the favorite month of brides. Or it used to be. Nothing is what it used to be, including brides. Sex, if not necessarily love to die for, gets weirder and weirder.<br />\n A nine-year-old boy named &ldquo;Keegan&rdquo; is a drag queen in Houston and regularly performs in gay clubs when he can get away from his third-grade studies. He was celebrated by a Houston television station the other day for &ldquo;spreading a message of love,&rdquo; though one viewer objected that &ldquo;dancing onstage as adult men throw money at him is not &lsquo;spreading a message of love;&rsquo; it&rsquo;s child exploitation.&rdquo;</p>\n<p> ANOTHER little boy in drag, perhaps more mature at 10, has become something of an LGBTQ icon in Manhattan clubs. He calls himself an &ldquo;activist and advocate,&rdquo; having marched in gay pride parades since he was six. A Canadian drag queen, also 10, performs as &ldquo;Queen Lactacia,&rdquo; who may not be old enough yet to get the joke.<br />\n Wiser heads in the LGBTQ community say the pre-puberty drag queens are not &ldquo;appropriate,&rdquo; but it&rsquo;s hard to know what the warped culture deems &ldquo;appropriate.&rdquo; Warped as it is, the culture decrees that only the narrow-minded, the religious nuts and out-and-out bigots find anything inappropriate.<br />\n Bustin&rsquo; out or not, love gets complicated when you get past 13. Karen Blair, an assistant professor of psychology at St. Francis Xavier University who studies dating customs, finds that nearly all participants in her poll of many &ldquo;genders&rdquo; have no interest in dating trans women, women who were once men. She and her colleagues asked a thousand straight men and women (the &ldquo;cisgender&rdquo; folks) whether they would be interested in dating transgender folks.<br />\n &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not an inconsequential question,&rdquo; she writes of her findings in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. &ldquo;For many of my trans friends the question of whether someone will date them after they transition or &lsquo;come out&rsquo; often weighs heavily on their minds.&rdquo; We should hope so. It&rsquo;s a tragic choice and difficult, if not impossible, to change once made.<br />\n Human relationships are obviously crucial sources of social support. The government can try to be a substitute, as we have seen, but even at great public expense it cannot effectively replace a friend, spouse or lover. Professor Blair cites statistics that show that the success of relationships is a better predictor of long life than smoking or obesity. The dating pool can seem small enough to singles -- much smaller for those who are transgender.</p>\n<p> LOOKING MORE closely at the patterns of responses to her survey, Professor Blair says it became clear that curious straight men with a yen for the ladies were still not likely to go for psychologically and physically altered men. You hardly need a learned study to figure out why. But issues of tolerance have stretched to the bizarre, rendering satire moot.<br />\n &ldquo;As a transgender woman,&rdquo; writes Janelle Villapando, 22, an aspiring fashion designer writing in the online fashion magazine Flare, &ldquo;my relationship with online dating is complicated to say the least. I am searching for Mr. Right as a transgender woman. I was born male, but I identify and &lsquo;present&rsquo; as female, which adds a whole new dimension to digital dating.&rdquo;<br />\n Since transitioning in 2014, she says, &ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t reacted positively to guys who hit on me in person because I haven&rsquo;t mastered the art of telling them that we have &lsquo;the same parts.&rsquo;&rdquo; She&rsquo;s wise to work on that &ldquo;art&rdquo; because such a revelation is not the surprise straight men look forward to on the wedding night.<br />\n Miss Vallapando finds three different kinds of men among those whom she has dated: Men who fetishize trans women, men who are curious but cautious, and those who haven&rsquo;t read her profile online. &ldquo;I usually get very forward messages from guys who just want me for my body,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They view me as exotic, a kink, something new to try.&rdquo;<br />\n Such prospective beaus &ldquo;want to chill somewhere less public or exclusively at their place so they won&rsquo;t be seen with me.&rdquo; One man kept checking his apartment hallway to make sure his neighbors wouldn&rsquo;t see her leave.<br />\n No matter how we try to twist human nature into our new politically correct attitudes, sexual psychology may not be so malleable. In the generalized, nonjudgmental rhetoric of political correctness, no one wants to confront the sad, tragic experiences found in reality.</p>\n<p> THE ENDURANCE of those who are transgender is the inevitable collateral damage wrought by the open-ended sexual revolution. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s one thing to make space for diverse gender identities within our workplaces, washrooms and public spaces,&rdquo; says Professor Blair, &ldquo;but it is another to fully include and accept gender diversity within our families and romantic relationships.&rdquo; She doesn&rsquo;t have the solution to the heartbreak, and neither do I.</p>\n', created = 1574391976, expire = 1574478376, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:ff17c3134ca75017d136c424fa640f34' in /home/conserva/public_html/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './conserva_drupal/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>OBERLIN: June 21, 2019</p>\n<p>Identity politics is having an identity crisis.<br />\n Parading as a noble cause to elevate only one side of the hyphenated American, identity politics has always cultivated a mean streak, a vulnerable underbelly of hatred for the &ldquo;other&rdquo; it indiscriminately blames for prejudice against African Americans, Native Americans and any other culture perceived to be at the mercy of the white man.</p>\n<p> NO ONE disputes that prejudice based on race and religion is a terrible thing, but it&rsquo;s a simple truth that truth should not be sacrificed in looking for it. While identity politics seeks to liberate the victim of prejudice by asserting pride and punishment, it has sometimes pursued punishment with moral arrogance, encouraging people to play loosely with facts.<br />\n That&rsquo;s what happened at Oberlin College, a bastion of super liberal teaching and social activism in the grove of academe. Oberlin was once the preserve of abolitionists and presided over by Charles G. Finney, a 19th-century abolitionist and fiery Presbyterian evangelist of the Second Great Awakening. But now Oberlin has lost a major lawsuit for abetting what might be described as &ldquo;a collective hate-crime hoax,&rdquo; and the case could be a tipping point against political correctness. A petty shoplifting incident involving Oberlin students grew into a vicious protest against innocent parties. The innocent parties sued and won.<br />\n On first hearing the superficial facts of Gibson Bros. vs. Oberlin College, it&rsquo;s easy to see how easy it can be, in the current cultural climate, to draw erroneous conclusions based on knee-jerk assumptions of racial prejudice. A black student walked into a white family-run market, and Allyn Gibson, grandson of the owner of Gibson&rsquo;s Market, was working. Gibson not only inspected the student&rsquo;s ID card and found it suspicious but also suspected that the student intended to steal wine. The student ran out of the shop, and Gibson, who is white, collared him. It&rsquo;s obvious the clerk was motivated by racism, right? Not quite.<br />\n It turns out the ID was indeed fake. Two shoplifted bottles fell out of the student&rsquo;s shirt. He and two friends who ran to his rescue, all black, pleaded guilty to &ldquo;attempted theft and aggravated trespass&rdquo; and conceded that Gibson&rsquo;s Market &ldquo;was not engaging in racial profiling.&rdquo; But at Oberlin, a white guy chasing a black guy can be proof of guilt. A mob mentality was loosed on the Oberlin campus. Staff and students boycotted Gibson&rsquo;s Market, persuaded the college to suspend a contract with Gibson&rsquo;s. The Gibson family was branded racist.</p>\n<p> THE FAMILY sued and won steep damages for libel, business interference and emotional distress. The jurors heard testimony about not only the damage done to the Gibsons and their store but also how the nominal adults in charge at Oberlin pushed a false narrative and gave in to student demands based on it. Oberlin&rsquo;s dean of students handed out a handbill accusing the market of a &ldquo;long account of racial profiling and discrimination.&rdquo; Over five years, of the 40 arrested for shoplifting at Gibson&rsquo;s Bakery, only six were black.<br />\n After a trial that lasted more than six weeks, the jury awarded Gibson&rsquo;s&nbsp; $11.2 million in compensatory damages, and later, $33.2 million was awarded for punitive damages. Gibson&rsquo;s Food Mart and Bakery, a fifth-generation family business that had contributed to Oberlin and the community for more than 130 years, was vindicated.&nbsp;<br />\n The Legal Insurrection blog, which followed the case when few media outlets paid much, if any, attention, calls it a &ldquo;victory of the ordinary men and women of Gibson&rsquo;s Bakery over the smug, dismissive, arrogant higher-ed bureaucrats and their social justice warrior troops.&rdquo;<br />\n Some legal analysts call the court decision a threat to free speech and onerous for universities, but others cite the psychological and economic damage inflicted on innocent people. College and university officials would know better, it seems to me, if they were as wise and intelligent as they say they are.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />\n &ldquo;This historic ruling confirms that no institution, no matter how powerful, may baselessly smear individuals or businesses in pursuit of their political or social agenda, and even a college as influential as Oberlin may be held accountable for its actions in a court of law,&rdquo; says Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson.<br />\n While Oberlin College is the oldest co-educational liberal arts college in the United States and was one of the first to admit women and African Americans, it has become a caricature of campus &ldquo;snowflakes,&rdquo; a cartoon of political correctness in reckless pursuit of piety on display.</p>\n<p> FREE SPEECH is a priceless protection for freedom, but Oberlin is learning at considerable cost that justice is not blind to bullying and libel, even on a campus where self-righteousness is highly prized. Oberlin&rsquo;s students are getting an expensive teaching moment.</p>\n', created = 1574391976, expire = 1574478376, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:0de97ca3fc105001ac57a930768c53fe' in /home/conserva/public_html/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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Suzanne Fields

09/08/2019 - 8:21pm
SUZANNE FIELDS: September 6, 2019 Saying goodbye is never easy. Every school child quotes “Parting is such sweet sorrow” from “Romeo and Juliet,” which has become a sentimental cliche. But the sentiment captures the memories that sustain my final column. I am saying goodbye to all my readers who stayed with me through these changing times and wrote lively letters with both...
08/02/2019 - 5:45pm
TECHNOLOGY: August 2, 2019 “Summertime/ and the livin’ is easy.” George Gershwin’s haunting melody and DuBose Heyward’s tender lyrics once floated over the mood of summer, coaxing us all to reverie. But that was when vacationers lay on the beach under a lazy old sun, concentrating on important things, like grains of...
07/12/2019 - 7:28pm
POLITICS: July 12, 2019 In the Age of Trump, a growth industry of commentators and critics is in search of a mythical image, a graphic insight, a metaphorical phrase to capture our fragmented politics and culture. “Make America Great Again” worked as a campaign slogan, but it’s about process, not essence. For self-glorification...
07/05/2019 - 8:27pm
POLITICS: July 5, 2019 Summer is the time for conversation, at the beach or in the mountains, on the front porch or a park bench, wherever we find the change of pace that pleases. It’s a time for stretching and refreshing body and mind, for looking at things with a fresh focus. At least that’s how it used to be when friends and family...
06/28/2019 - 11:02am
TRANSGENDERS: June 28, 2019 Love is bustin’ out all over. It’s summer, and June is the favorite month of brides. Or it used to be. Nothing is what it used to be, including brides. Sex, if not necessarily love to die for, gets weirder and weirder. A nine-year-old boy named “Keegan” is a drag queen in Houston and regularly...
06/23/2019 - 6:07pm
OBERLIN: June 21, 2019 Identity politics is having an identity crisis. Parading as a noble cause to elevate only one side of the hyphenated American, identity politics has always cultivated a mean streak, a vulnerable underbelly of hatred for the “other” it indiscriminately blames for prejudice against African Americans, Native...
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