Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


The Limits of Ideology

The hearing never established what it might have taken to repel the Sept. 11 attack on the compound in Benghazi that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans” (The New York Times, Oct. 11, 2012). “[Abigail] Fisher’s lawyer, Bert Rein, told the court Fisher suffered “constitutional injury” because of her denial to the college of her first choice” (New York Daily News, Oct. 11, 2012).

I admire those who hold strong views, defend them vigorously, and listen to others who disagree. It is the third piece that is missing these days, and two of yesterday’s big news stories reveal how badly we have become derailed. It is not just that we can’t have a civil conversation with our foes. We can’t even appear to waffle among ourselves, lest that give aid to the enemy.

Something went terribly wrong in Benghazi the night that Chris Stevens and three others were killed. It is important to know what happened, how it happened and how it can be prevented from happening again. Sometimes adversarial hearings can help get there, but not, as yesterday, when their purpose is to score political points, where one side simply attacks and the other cannot admit mistakes. Have we reached the point where we can no longer say, let’s work together to get to the bottom of this?

It is the same with affirmative action. I wish my children had known they had suffered “constitutional injury” during the awful process of college admissions. They didn’t even know they had a constitutional right at stake.

The whole concept of affirmative action demands open and honest discussion. What does it mean in a nation with as much diversity, at both the societal and the individual level, as America? I believe that affirmative has done great good and its job is not yet finished. But does that mean it will never be finished, that it is not a process toward justice but an entitlement?

These are critical questions for all of us to ask. But I wonder at times if anyone is listening?

The Bipartisan Fable