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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 24, 2014/ 23 Shevat, 5774

Government overreliance: The devil is in the details

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Constitution is powerless against Satan.

Earlier this month, the state of Oklahoma received a proposal from New York-based Satanists to build near the state Capitol a 7-foot-high statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed pagan idol. The Satanists' letter boasted that, "The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation."

Now, while the Satanists are real, there's a lot of fakery involved. It's a stunt -- a clever one -- exploiting the constitutional injunction against governmental favoritism towards religion. The Oklahoma Capitol has a statue of the Ten Commandments on its grounds, and that vexes atheist activists and Satanists alike. It's a version of the old rule about bringing candy to school. If you didn't bring enough for everyone, then no one can have any. If Christians and Jews can have a statue of the Ten Commandments on public property, so can everyone else. And if they can't, no one can.

It's doubtful that Oklahoman children will be sitting on Baphomet's stony lap any time soon, and that's more than fine with me. But that doesn't mean, at least as a matter of logic alone, that the Satanists don't have a point.

Indeed, if you want to argue that erecting a tribute to Lucifer on public property is a bad idea, the Constitution is pretty useless. That's no knock on the Constitution, mind you. Lots of wonderful things are of little utility in fighting Satan. Puppies, ice cream, the warranty on a Ford Pinto: These are as helpful in fighting Satan as a winning smile is in putting out a house fire.

The Satan statue controversy is of course absurd, but absurdities are often useful in illuminating more substantial issues.

America is becoming vastly more diverse -- ethnically, culturally, religiously and morally. In a great many ways that's a good thing. But in this life, no good thing comes without a downside.

Consider immigration, historically a boon to America. Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam (a liberal in good standing) found that increased immigration hurts "social trust," causing people to "hunker down" within their own bands of friends or alone in front of the TV. Everything from trust in political leaders and the political process -- both of which are at or near all-time lows, by the way -- to voting and carpooling drops precipitously as more strangers move into a community.

Conversely, people increasingly look more to government -- the police, local politicians and bureaucrats -- to solve problems that once could have been worked out in a neighborly conversation. This reliance on legal authority and entitlements further crowds out the charitable mechanisms and institutions of civil society, inviting yet more government intrusions.

By the way, Putnam explicitly rejects racism as the culprit here. Rather, the cause is a breakdown in shared norms, customs, language and the other often invisible and intangible but no less real sinews that bind a community together.

Family breakdown, the decline in good blue-collar jobs, the decline of organized religion, etc., are all equally good or better examples of things sapping the strength from social trust and cohesion and encouraging government to pick up the slack. In Europe, charitable giving and voluntarism are anemic because people think charity is what they pay taxes for. The churches are all subsidized but the pews are empty.

And when the connective tissues of an organic society are removed, all that is left is the bone of abstract principle. For conservatives, that mostly means invoking the Constitution -- which is rightly silent on how people should live. For liberals, that often means shrugging and saying, "Who are we to judge?"

Neither response offers much of an argument against giving equal time to devil worshippers.

For many liberals that's OK, because a strong civil society isn't a big priority. Indeed, they often talk about the state as if it's synonymous and overlapping with society. That's why ridiculous phrases like "government is just a word for the things we do together" are so popular with people such as president Obama.

But government isn't synonymous with civil society, nor is it a substitute for family, church or community. And if you mistake the state as a replacement for such things, you further weaken them.

The unraveling of the old cultural, moral and religious consensus has been a boon to individual freedom in myriad ways. But you can say this for the old civilizational confidence: It didn't lack for arguments against state-sponsored devil worship.

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