Sunday, January 15, 2006


Root Causes and Miss Manners

Actually I have no connection between the two other than I read them both in the newspaper on the same day. Over the weekend I drove to Knoxville to visit my father who continues to somewhat successfully recover from having fell and hit his head. My father is now in the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center which is an excellent place to be if you need rehab.

While visiting I read portions of the Knoxville News-Sentinel including the editorial section. I first began reading the editorial section of the newspaper in the eighth grade. One of my early ambitions was to be an editorial columnist. Then I discovered that most newspaper writers don't make much money. I then found a different area in which not to make much money but continued to read the editorial section.

In recent years I have read newspapers less and depended more in the Internet for my news. Newspapers have one definite advantage however, you can scan the pages quickly and pick out the stuff that interests you much more quickly than on the Internet. During my scanning of the letters to the editor I came upon a letter discussing the need to find the "root causes" of terrorism in order to eliminate it. Ah, the old root causes argument. I am actually dismayed that some still think that we can find the root causes and thus embark on a course that will ameliorate the problem and eliminate terrorism, poverty, hatred, etc.

I'm sure there are plenty of root causes of terrorism such as hatred going back into Biblical times, terrorists teaching kids to be terrorists beginning at infancy, etc. I'm sure certain actions of the U.S and other western nations exacerbate the problem of terrorism. But I'm not sure if we can actually analyze the situation adequately and use that information to implement a course of action that will actually work. I simply like the "talk softly and carry a big stick" approach.

Although, I do like the idea of helping people of other nations achieve as high a standard of living as possible. The more you have to lose the less likely you are to take a course of action, such as terrorism, that will lead to its loss. Yet, with the corruption and totalitarian control of many of the governments of terrorist based countries, helping these people is a virtually impossible task. Plus, if one of terrorism's root causes, why isn't terrorism much more rampant in Central and South America?

Maybe some of the root causes have more to do with the beliefs of the terrorists themselves or is it a strange coincidence that the overwhelming majority of terrorists share a common belief. I don't know what you can do to change this belief system. No one seems to have had any significant success so far.

In December, 2004, The American Spectator wrote about root causes.
Root causes are the rationalizations liberals give -- usually after the fact -- for their immoral actions or for the immoral actions of others. The paradox at the heart of the root-causes fraud is that causal theoretical explanations are invoked only after bad deeds have been committed. Good deeds have no need of mitigating circumstances.
The article includes a focus on terrorism.
Western Liberal "intellectuals," not Jihadists, are behind the root-causes theory of terrorism. Ask any Islamic terrorist why he desires to kill Americans and Israelis, including innocent civilians, and he'll reply with candor and conviction. The Islamic criminal, unlike the common criminal that inhabits Western jails, lacks psychological savvy, a fact that increases his believability. He hasn't yet imbibed the teachings of Western progressive psychotherapists, eager to help him excavate the "root causes" of his depraved deeds.

On to Miss Manners.

Miss Manners' column today focused on vulgarity. The kind of vulgarity she discussed was not the cursing, vile kind but the conspicuous consumption kind. She starts out:
Is vulgarity a criminal offense?

It would seem so. When rich people are in trouble and stories about their wild spending habits come out in court, you know they are headed for the slammer. This involves some unseemly chortling about how people who have been living soft lives will fare in prison.
I love this:
You can't be too careful about exposing your children to what is otherwise touted as the national dream -- cornering the market in superfluous and ludicrously priced dry goods.
Almost everybody hates the rich although almost everybody dreams of being one of the rich. Her final paragraph reads:
It all looks ugly when it comes out in court. What Miss Manners wants to know is why the public doesn't regard the same behavior in law-abiding citizens as tasteless and silly.
Good thought. It seems the American public can't get enough of the infinitely boring Paris Hilton and other insipid rich celebrities but are always eager to see the Martha Stewarts and Leona Helmsleys go to jail on trumped up charges.

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