Monday, September 08, 2008

Sarah Palin and the role of government in a free society

Emes Ve-Emuna has a discussion of Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice President and her being a role model for morality among political leaders. This is a rare case where I disagree with most of what Rabbi Harry Maryles (the author of that blog) is saying. If I understand him correctly, he is advocating governmental action to enforce moral norms that I do not believe should concern the government in a free society. Since my comments are too lengthy for the comment section there, I am posting them here and referencing them there.

This is a rare instance where I must disagree with most of what R. Maryles wrote. First, besmirching the memory of President Kennedy . John F. Kennedy kept our country and the rest of the free world free when the Communists were hell-bent on destroying our way of life. We were blessed to have a man of his vision and courage in the White House, and to the best of my recollection, unlike Bill Clinton, he never charged his private sins to his public credit card. We did not know of his sexual indiscretions until well after his murder.

I believe in separation of church and state almost as a secular religion. Justice Frankfurter once said that we have staked the very existence of this country on the proposition that keeping religion separate from the state is best for religion and best for the state. It was the unique genius of our founding fathers, many of whom experienced persecution at the hands of the established Church of England. It is not the function of government to regulate how adults (as opposed to children in school) dress or what they watch on TV or see in theaters, or indeed whether they should own TVs or go to theaters. That is the individual's business, and his or hers alone, as long as it does not physically harm others. The only harm I suffer from women's immodest dress is in becoming jaded; visual stimuli that should be sexually arousing no longer are. I do not believe that this "harm" is sufficient to justify state action. I know that my summer running outfits offend some people; some people have said as much. But as long as no one is harmed, the police power of the state may not be brought to bear, as it is in unhappy lands like Saudi Arabia. Once we start down that slippery slope, it is but a small step to banning books that are out of harmony with the prevailing official ideology.

I intend to vote for John McCain, despite his being 72 years old and not in the best of health. If God takes him from us before four years are up, Sarah Palin must be ready to step into the Presidency. She has about as much experience in foreign affairs as Barack Obama, maybe less. She will be the leader not only of our country but of the entire free world, and she does not know the difference between science and belief. If she has her way, students in science classrooms will be taught a hash (kil'ayim) that does violence to both. This does not augur well for our global competitiveness. Finally, call me sexist but at this juncture in our history I do not think we can afford a woman President. We are in a war to the death with an implacable enemy who will stop at nothing to destroy us. Waging such a war requires a ruthlessness and cold-heartedness that I do not believe most women have. True, there are Golda Meirs and Joans of Arc, but they are few and far between, and Sarah Palin does not impress me as being one of them. The same testosterone that makes an alpha male fearless in battle also impels him to spread his sperm far and wide; see Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal (2006). Hence the sexual indiscretions that so often typify powerful men - and if the men are not Jewish and their paramours not married, it is doubtful whether such indiscretions are in any way assur. To err is human, to forgive divine.

Of course, all this is water over the dam, and in the absence of an option to vote for McCain and Biden we have to make the best of what we have. May McCain win and may God preserve him.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin must be a great candidate. After all, the secular Jewish community leadership in America apparently hates her and they're never right about anything!

Thu Sep 11, 06:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger ProfK said...

"Waging such a war requires a ruthlessness and cold-heartedness that I do not believe most women have." Threaten me and mine and you will discover a basic fact of nature: a lioness protecting her cubs is among the most ruthless of nature's creatures. And when she has finished dispatching those who threaten her children and existence she goes back to talking about how the world should be, a place of law and justice. Don't confuse the social fact that women serve as the tempering element to keep men from blowing up the world unnecessarily over things that could be handled better a different way with their being able to do what must be done when needs present themselves.

Mon Sep 15, 08:20:00 AM EDT  

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