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WaPo Updates 2/17/13

Today’s paper presents a few developments in issues I’ve recently written on.

First, as to the football team’s R-word (see here and here), the local affairs columnist Robert McCartney addresses the argument that Native Americans exist who do not care about the issue. He gives the argument fairer treatment than it deserves, quoting some leaders on both sides, but making it clear that the great majority want the name to go. He also properly says, as against the implication of the team’s management, that the issue is not that the team intends no harm, but that the affected populace feels harm. He concludes that

Sometimes being politically correct is just plain correct.

(Emphasis added) This prompts me to the following primer on “politically correct”: The phrase has its origins in a satirical take on the pop-Marxism of the early 1970s, which demanded that “the correct line” be followed. However, its negation has principally been touted by the Heritage Foundation (e.g., here), in a thinly disguised effort to make racist and sexist speech seem respectable. Thus I would replace Mr. McCartney’s slogan with:

Usually being “politically incorrect” is just plain incorrect.

Second, Liberal #2, who wrote about Papa Ratzi’s heritage last Sunday, has a piece arguing that the best pope would be a nun. His arguments include: that among church people he and others have encountered, the church women are the more sensitive; that it would be more theologically consistent with the point that the mother of Jesus was a woman; and that a woman would best understand the issue of abortion.

I leave it to you, dear reader, to evaluate these arguments, because I really don’t care. Apart from the fact that L2’s proposal has no chance of coming to fruition, the Catholic Church is so reactionary an institution that I don’t see how a mere gender change at the top can reform it.

(BTW, the phrase “Papa Ratzi” has nothing to do with fatherhood: “papa” is the Italian word dor “pope.”)

Finally, the paper has selected three letters to publish on Fox Guest’s screed against the electric car, also covered here. I can’t find links to them, but in the print edition the first is from David Crane, the CEO of the electric vehicle development group NRG Energy, who says that the test that the columnist holds up to ridicule involving an inter-city trip by a particular model was ill-conceived because the model was not suited for such travel, and that, further, there is plenty of intra-city need for a vehicle where the electric one would do nicely. The second letter takes the columnist’s assertion that electric cars will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly to task, on the grounds that his data are simply wrong.

The third letter is a satire which “commend[s] Charles Lane for his excellent commentary pointing out the folly of those investing in these frivolous, new horseless-carriage businesses,” and continues in a similar vein, to bring out the fact that most of FG’s arguments were applicable to the invention of the automobile itself over a century ago.

In fact, one can go back further than that. In that Op-Ed FG also criticizes outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s “technocratic hubris” for trying to develop a microbe that would use a more efficient process than photosynthesis to produce fuel. This puts the columnist in the same bag as those of the ancients who thought that Zeus was quite proper in punishing Prometheus in the myth for bringing fire to humans. “Don’t touch that log with the flame from the gods sending lightning, Oog, we won’t get burned if we keep eating our food raw, and the gods won’t punish us for stealing their business.”

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E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall