March 01, 2008

Conservative caught plagiarizing

Special Assistant to the President Timothy Goeglein must be about the 100th Bush administration official caught in a lie, scandal, or crime. But what's interesting here is the material he plagiarized.

White House Aide Plagiarizes in Newspaper Column

Here's an excerpt:It can scarcely be challenged that the United States is part of the narrative of European history. It owes little or nothing to Confucius or Laotse or to Chief Shaka or to the Aztecs. At the margin it owes a bit to the American Indians, but not a great deal—corn, tobacco, some legendary material. But Europe is overwhelmingly the source. And some parts of Europe more than others: Our language, legal tradition, political arrangements derive, and demonstrably so, from England.

There have been many ways of answering the question, “What is Europe?” But a handy way to think of the matter is the paradigm of “Athens” and “Jerusalem.” In this paradigm, those terms designate both the two cities we have all heard of, and also two kinds of mind.

The tradition designated “Athens” is associated with philosophy and with critical exercise of mind. The tradition associated with “Jerusalem” is associated with monotheism.
Comment:  According to Jeffrey Hart, who wrote the original piece, our culture is primarily British. As evidence of this, Hart cites Athens and Jerusalem. Neither city is British and Jerusalem isn't even European (Western).

If both cities had been European, then what? Is Hart saying no one except Europeans could think philosophically or critically? Or that monotheism was somehow required for the founding of the United States? The first statement is demonstrably false and the second is worthless speculation.

And what's the relevance of thinking critically or believing in one god to our language, legal system, or political institutions? Nothing, judging by Hart's essay. He fails to make the connection between Jerusalem and Athens (or any other pair of cities) and Britain.

Britain was a monarchy when the colonists rebelled against it, so that's one huge "political arrangement" they didn't emulate. In fact, the nascent Americans derived many of their political and philosophical attitudes from Indians. Foremost among these were our beliefs in liberty and equality, neither of which was widespread in Europe.

Any questions? For more on the roots of Western civilization, see Multicultural Origins of Civilization and Greek Lies, Historic Truth. For more on how Indians influenced America, see Indians Gave Us Enlightenment and America's Cultural Roots.

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