This Is The USA Calling Civilization…

An awesome piece from Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker.

We live, let’s imagine, in a city where children are dying of a ravaging  infection. The good news is that its cause is well understood and its cure, an  antibiotic, easily at hand. The bad news is that our city council has been taken  over by a faith-healing cult that will go to any lengths to keep the antibiotic  from the kids. Some citizens would doubtless point out meekly that faith healing  has an ancient history in our city, and we must regard the faith healers with  respect—to do otherwise would show a lack of respect for their freedom to  faith-heal. (The faith healers’ proposition is that if there were a faith healer  praying in every kindergarten the kids wouldn’t get infections in the first  place.) A few Tartuffes would see the children writhe and heave in pain and then  wring their hands in self-congratulatory piety and wonder why a good God would  send such a terrible affliction on the innocent—surely he must have a plan! Most  of us—every sane person in the city, actually—would tell the faith healers to go  to hell, put off worrying about the Problem of Evil till Friday or Saturday or  Sunday, and do everything we could to get as much penicillin to the kids as  quickly we could.

We do live in such a city. Five thousand seven hundred and forty children and  teens died from gunfire in the United States, just in 2008 and 2009. Twenty  more, including Olivia Engel, who was seven, and Jesse Lewis, who was six, were  killed just last week. Some reports say their bodies weren’t shown to their  grief-stricken parents to identify them; just their pictures. The overwhelming  majority of those children would have been saved with effective gun control. We  know that this is so, because, in societies that have effective gun  control, children rarely, rarely, rarely die of gunshots. Let’s worry tomorrow  about the problem of Evil. Let’s worry more about making sure that when the  Problem of Evil appears in a first-grade classroom, it is armed with a  penknife.

Read the whole thing.

I’ll leave the commentary to “Sir Socks”, the Twitter persona of Sir Christopher Meyer, former British ambassador to the US.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

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  • Liberal Keynesian Capitalist Paul Krugman regularly uses the analogy of blood-letting to cure our anemic economic patient. “The patient is still weak, let more blood!”

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