Andrew Ferguson examines
the feelgood concept of "national service", both the current enthusiasm
for new, new, new programs to (once again) encourage it, and its history
over recent decades. He points out the Orwellian nature of the state
spending a lot of money and resources in getting people to "volunteer."
He also notes the irony of a recent forum on "national service" being held at Columbia University, which forbids both ROTC and military recruiters to sully its campus. To adapt another Orwellian saying: at Columbia, some services are more equal than others.
That Columbia forum was also remarked upon by Jonah Goldberg
at (appropriately enough) his Liberal Fascism blog.
He makes much of Obama's remarks:
And when I think of 9/11, I think of that spirit after the tragedy had occurred, how the outpouring of patriotism, emotion, volunteerism, the desire for service was in the minds of everyone.
And that was also a moment when the petty bickering and partisanship that comes to characterize our public life was set aside. And so the question is, how do we recreate that spirit, not just during times of tragedy, not just during 9/11, but how do we honor those who died, those who sacrificed, the firefighters, the police officers, how do we honor them everyday?
How does it reflect itself in our government? How does it reflect ourselves in how we conduct our own civic life? And my sense is that the country yearns for that. It’s hungry for it. And what has been missing is a president in the White House that taps into that yearning in a serious way.
I will go ahead and brazenly quote most of Jonah's spot-on reaction to what he calls Obama's "moral equivalent of war argument":In short, he wants to recreate the spirit after 9/11 — just without 9/11. He wants Americans to act like they did when we felt we were under attack and at war, but just without war.
1) This is the century old American progressive project, pure and simple. Create a climate where everyone joins in a collective, state-run or directed, effort without the external threat of actual war. This Jamesian vision was the galvanizing principle behind progressivism and fascism alike, and they endure today — and we call them noble.
2) It can't be done. You cannot sustain a civil society war footing without a war (or natural disaster) for long before people (rightly) return to their own lives.
McCain's remarks are also included in the transcript,
and they're marginally better than Obama's.
WOODRUFF: Senator, do you — what are there — what are the obligations of citizenship, other than paying taxes? Should there be — do you see service connected to what you’re talking about in Washington and should there be something compulsory?
MCCAIN: I don’t think so, Judy. I don’t think — because I think when you compel someone to do something, then you basically are in contradictions to the fundamental principle of having people wanting to serve and willing and eager to serve.
Americans are still eager to serve. Americans, when we look at all of the programs that we made available, almost all of them, in fact, all of them are oversubscribed by people who are volunteering.
That's pretty good. In fact it's a more spirited defense of individual liberty than I've heard McCain make before. It probably would have been ungracious for him to have questioned the underlying purpose of the forum any more than that.
But on a totally unrelated note, I've watched this four times
now, and laughed each time. Boston Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey
asks teammate David Ortiz for his favorite five movies of all time:
I love that. If you don't recognize Papi's number two pick—I'm pretty sure Casey didn't—I think it's this one.