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Global Insights

For those who do not live in the Athens of America, a few insights from Sunday's Boston Globe.The editorial proposes a concluding (hope springs eternal) unscientific postscript to the Cambridge dust-up:

Each man [Gates, Crowley, Obama], in his own way, has spent considerable time contemplating the kind of tensions that arose that day on Ware Street. If they talk past one another, its hardly shocking that the rest of society struggles with the same issues. At our worst, we are all long on surprise, and short on insight.

Jeff Jacoby, the Globe's token "conservative" columnist, uncovers rather odd bed fellows -- and hears the "echo of eugenics" in the statements of some prominent advocates of abortion.Finally, on a more up-lifting note, the wonderful Katherine Powers celebrates the power of irony in the stories of Nikolai Gogol:

The characters of Gogols Ukrainian stories, though villagers, live in a much larger world than city folk, especially the people of St. Petersburg, the capital city. For Gogols villagers, the world is huge and strange and unknowable, mostly because the membrane that separates the earthly realm from the supernatural one is permeable. These people believe that what they see could well be delusion, for the devil is always up to his tricks.Gogols townspeople are, in a way, more nave than their country brethren, for they live under the thrall of appearances, seldom questioning what exists behind, or other than, them. It lies all the time, this Nevsky Prospect, Gogol writes at the end of this great story of St Petersburg. But most of all at the time when night heaves its dense mass upon it and sets off the white and pale yellow walls of the houses, when the whole city turns into a rumbling and brilliance . . . and the devil himself lights the lamps only so as to show everything not as it really looks.

Come to think of it: isn't St Petersburg known as the Athens of Russia?

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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Some of us are quite certain that Providence is the Athens of America. I would concede that Boston might be considered the London of the North East.

While Justice Ginsburg's remarks about "populations that we dont want to have too many of" was startling and needs explaining, are liberal pro-choicers really expected to believe that conservative pro-lifers want to ban abortion because they want to see the birth rate among blacks double? Would a conservative pro-life candidate get any votes by arguing we are losing too many blacks to abortion? Black voters know who represents their interests better, and it is not conservative pro-lifers. It is irrelevant, in any case, what Nixon's opinion or Justice Ginsburg's opinion of abortion is. In the case of each individual abortion, there is one and only one person who ultimately makes the decision, and that is the pregnant mother. A black pregnant woman does not choose to have an abortion because her baby is black and she believe blacks are a population "we don't want to have too many of." The same is true of a mother carrying a fetus with genetic defects. The "abortion is eugenics" argument coming from conservatives is unpersuasive and utterly cynical.

Nicely observed! Margaret Sanger gave the prolifers some food for this meme a very long time ago and they inisist on flogging it for all its worth. Ideological bunkum that has nothing to do with the welfare of the living.Petersburg is a truly absorbing city, and the downside is that one forgets the rest of the world exists. Gogol's vision of the wider network, social and cosmic. that villagers know suddenly makes his rural tales sound more attractive.

David Nickol,You are right that pro-choicers are not advocating eugenics.However, there are some interesting links between the goals of the historical eugenics movement, and the outcomes of liberalized abortion.1. China now has too many men and not enough women among the younger generations.2. Sex selection abortion in the US has been proven among certain asian populations in the US.3. The poor and minorities in the US abort their babies at disproportionate rates to their percentage of the population.I know that #3 is mostly the result of racism, low wages, lack of social safety net, etc., rather than any eugenic impulse. However, it is the worst of all possible worlds to give people the abortion license and abandon them to a world of drugs, crime and poverty. Are we not saying to them, in effect, go ahead an eugenicize yourself?

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