Saturday, December 30, 2006


Today, the penultimate day of 2006 is a good one for a short reflection on the events of the past year. The coincidence of the deaths of Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein cast the year in stark relief. While this column is generally concerned with national and world events there have been a few interesting things in North Carolina to be discussed later so please be patient.

The war in Iraq has been over for about three years, the occupation is still struggling to help some sort of civil society to emerge. This transformation might be a little more plausible with the death of Saddam Hussein. The die hard Sunnis must now recognize that their benefactor, at the expense of the Kurds and Shiites, will never again champion their interests. The Sunnis must now face the reality that to survive they must cooperate with their internal enemies. This will give the country a chance to retain its shape and character.

In the United States and the rest of the world the events in Iraq are seen from a different perspective. The Europeans have seen a cash cow gutted by the US invasion of Iraq, and they are understandably angry at the economic inconvenience they have experienced. There can be no doubt that European motivations are based on their own inability to influence events. Even the Pope has to get in the act.

In the United States the argument has boiled down to the childish. Ancient hippies and young wannabees “protest” and demonstrate their unhappiness with happy abandon. They are not to be taken seriously even when embraced by the hypocritical politicians who put them to use. The real problem with public opinion is that the “adults” who once supported the occupation have now turned away in disgust and sadness. The disgust is about the clear lack of interest on the part of Iraqis to build a country. The sadness is over the deaths of so many willing service personnel who have died in place of Iraqis. While these are generalizations the ideas are fairly accurate.

Global warming continued in 2006 much as it has done for the past 16,000 years. Species have been affected by this continuum in terms of reduced numbers and even extinction. New species have been discovered at a record rate; apparently the earth can take care of itself. The UN has now admitted that global warming is mostly attributable to natural events. There were no hurricanes in the United States this year. Mankind has such a short memory and such a weak collective IQ that only political considerations have a chance of making headway in this issue.

Liberty in the US has shrunk once again. Smokers are no longer given the choice about whether to enter a no smoking restaurant or to seek out one that permits smoking. Smoking in public places is generally prohibited. Food choices are also being restricted on the basis of consensus science rather than proven scientific facts (which might not exist in most cases). The sheep are being lead by unfriendly shepherds.

The terror attacks in the US and really most of the world seemed to be reduced for 2006 even though many politicians think that Israel is the sole cause of all the world’s problems. A former US President, Jimmy Carter, has said as much in speeches and a new book, reinforcing the popular view of him as the worst president ever.

In North Carolina reverse racism at the hands of a white district attorney has made the state’s justice system the laughing stock of the country if not the world. Mike Nifong should be disbarred for the damage he has done to the expectation of fair and impartial outcome for any defendants. For pure political gain Mr. Nifong deliberately mishandled the accusation of kidnapping and rape against members of the Duke Lacrosse team. The black leadership of the US and Durham, NC, missed a golden opportunity to build bridges across community divides as did 88 members of the Duke faculty who signed a statement condemning the accused prior to any trial. Instead these “leaders” chose the rhetoric of racial politics at its most disturbing. When they could have insisted on a clear, prompt, and just investigation; they demanded a legal lynching in retribution for crimes against blacks.

2007 is an unknown entity but some events will continue while new things will happen. I’m looking forward to finding out how it will be.

1 comment:

JAM said...

Each and every sentence in this entire post is just like a solidly landed punch. I have many of these thoughts bouncing around my head, but you put it all so succintly.

About Mr. Nifong and NC politics: I grew up in Louisiana where these types of shenanigans have been the rule, not the exception, for many decades. But what you say about the situation here is dead-on.