Day By Day

Monday, February 13, 2006

Maryland Politics -- Steele Slips Up

In these hypersensitive days every public figure has to walk a tightrope lest he say or do something that some organized group somewhere might find offensive. Michael Steele got hammered last week when he made a remark that compared embryonic stem cell research to Nazi medical experiments. The analogy is a common one in pro-life circles based on the perception that both show a stunningly callous disregard for the sanctity of human life, but it stirred up protest from feminists and from Jewish ethnic spokesmen who felt the remarks constituted an inappropriate Holocaust reference [despite the fact that Steele never once mentioned the Holocaust.

Steele has apologized to anyone and everyone in every possible forum, but the Dems scent blood and will push this as far as they can.

The irony here is that Steele is one of those few public officials who is actively trying to move beyond the identity politics that has poisoned our common culture for the past half century.

The cynical organized protest by Jewish ethnic spokesmen [excuse me, "spokespersons"] bears a certain resemblance to the Islamic protest against the Danish cartoons, and literally millions of attempts throughout Western culture to limit speech to "politically correct" categories of expression. Of course this time there are no threats of beheading, but the basic dynamic is the same -- an attempt to use organized outrage to shut off areas of cultural and political expression.

Whether wielded by race hustlers, interest group spokesmen, petty tyrants like university or government bureaucrats, cynical politicians, newspaper editors and owners, or Islamist radical regimes, the aim is the same -- to impoverish and control the course of discussion.

I wonder where the Islamists got the silly idea that free people could be intimidated into shutting up and making ritual abasement when confronted with organized outrage.

Perhaps the overwhelming revulsion spreading throughout the West at Islamist attempts to impose their restrictive cultural values on free societies will make some of these petty tyrants and extortionists uncomfortable enough to have second thoughts about the politics of outrage.

Nahhhh..., probably not.

Read about Steele's problems here.

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