Did The Left Cause 9/11?
Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative critic and Hoover Institute fellow, has a new book out, and it's generating plenty of its own publicity. In "The Enemy at Home," D'Souza identifies more than 100 people and organizations as part of a "domestic insurgency" that is "working in tandem with [Osama] bin Laden to defeat Bush." But his most controversial assertion is that "the cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11."
According to his Web site, D'Souza contends that the cultural left is responsible for 9/11 in two ways. They fostered "a decadent and depraved American culture that angers and repulses other societies — especially traditional and religious ones — and by promoting, at home and abroad, an anti-American attitude that blames America for all the problems of the world."
In his book, D'Souza explains his thesis further: "I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world."
But the "cultural left," or at least liberal bloggers, are not buying it and have taken to their keyboards to blog their disgust.
Kathy at Liberty Street analyses D'Souza's theories and concludes his "arguments are shallow, uninformed, and unconvincing. The right's standards for intellectualism are laughably low."
"D'Souza is also wrong in principle. If extremists and jihadists despise our culture and are using violence and threats to try and compel us to change, isn't it the grossest kind of cowardice to throw up our hands and say 'they're right, we need to align our culture with that of our enemies?' " PZ Meyers writes at Pharyngula. "That's basically what D'Souza is suggesting ..."
Others say D'Souza's message is historically inaccurate. "I can't help thinking that he makes a fundamental flaw," Alberto Testudo writes at The Ark and the Dove. "And that's assuming that there's only one cause. A common historical fallacy is to argue over 'the cause.' But in reality decisions usually come about because of the convergence of several factors. Analysis becomes all the more complicated the more people you have to deal with."
"If people are calling him on a clumsily articulated, overreaching, and dishonest argument, he's got only himself to blame," a blogger at Vanity Press adds.
Still, D'Souza has a loyal following online as well. A blogger at Worcester Right calls it an "excellent read."
Bloggers Discover Gay Sheep
When a scientist set out to understand sheep sexual orientation — so that others could determine which rams are likeliest to breed — it set off a firestorm in the blogosphere, the New York Times notes.
The heated controversy began, the newspaper reports, after the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaigned against and publicized Dr. Charles Roselli's research.
That sparked more criticism from animal rights activists and gay advocates who said the study would lead to sexual eugenics. Part of the criticism was misinformed, based on an article in the Sunday Times in London, which incorrectly stated that Dr. Roselli tried to "cure" homosexual rants and the work could lead to devising ways to "breed out homosexuality in humans."
Dr. Roselli told the New York Times he is as repulsed as his critics by the thought of sexual eugenics in humans. But word had already spread online. As the New York Times described it: "The story of the gay sheep became a textbook example of the distortion and vituperation that can result when science meets the global news cycle."
While some bloggers have corrected their posts, many stand by their notion that the research hurts animals, and perhaps people.
"In addition to being forced to endure invasive surgical procedures — only to be killed and then have their brains dissected — the sheep are kept in solitary confinement for up to nine days," PETA's Research Associate Shalin Gala blogs at The PETA Files.
Many say the speed at which this story spread raises interesting questions about the worth of the "global news cycle." Cerblogus blogs that it's "the same news cycle that I believe is willfully misused by political parties to spread misinformation about their opponents."
Coerulus offers a solution. "Universities ought to send the 'prominent' bloggers e-mails to tell them where they're wrong — something the article points out was done in this case — but don't wait more than a day to do so or else it'll be out of the news-cycle and may not be picked up," she writes.
But many say the frenzy to bash Dr. Roselli is unwarranted and misdirected. "The majority of the public reaction was based upon mis-information and media frenzy. As scientists are ever more pushed to justify their research for the good of humanity, society..whatever...we are checking them into boxes they just can't find their way out of," Anna blogs at InkyCircus.
"What can be known, will be known. What science does with the information is where we need to be vigilant," Joe writes at Joe.My.God in what is unlikely to be the last word.
An "Ic" Heard Around The Blogosphere
When President Bush delivered his State of the Union address last week, he left out a small suffix that had a big consequence to many bloggers. After honoring Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Bush said, "I congratulate the Democrat majority," he said, dropping the last two letters from "Democratic."
According to the prepared text of the speech, which the White House sent out, Mr. Bush was supposed to say, "Some in this Chamber are new to the House and Senate — and I congratulate the Democratic majority."
So was the slip on purpose or merely a grammatical accident, many continue to ask. The president said it was merely an oversight, that he wasn't trying to disparage the party now running Congress. But many liberal bloggers are not convinced.
"For all of Bush's talk tonight about crossing party lines to work with the new Democratic Congress, it is the missing two letters that may offer the clearest indication of whether partisan tensions are really like to fade in the waning years of Bush's presidency," a blogger at Dem Bloggers writes.
"Dropping the 'i' and the 'c' at the end of the Democrat Party's preferred pronunciation and spelling, as Democratic, is an old Republican Party move. It riles the Dems something fierce--who seem to think they have a special right to be considered small 'd' democratic...," Dick Stanley notes at The Texas Scribbler.
Some conservative bloggers, however, point out that people have poked fun at Mr. Bush's speaking abilities for years. "Understand, that these are the same people who have mocked Bush for 7 years about his mangling of the English language," a blogger at Crazy Politico's Rantings writes.
Others say the Democrats are just being petty. "Of all the things to get upset about," Rick Moore at HolyCoast blogs.
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By Melissa McNamara