The Corner

A Menu of Ills

In Impromptus today, I have some notes on a visit to Oklahoma City. One of the things I say is that I noticed a banner on the YWCA: “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women.” My comment: “You can eliminate racism? Lessening and mitigating would be ambition enough . . .”

A reader writes to say, “That’s their national slogan, not just a local one.” He thinks that “‘Empowering Women’ is a fine defining goal for the YWCA.” But why a second one, and why the “particular social evil” of racism? “Why not ‘Relieving Poverty,’ or ‘Fighting Crime,’ or ‘Dispelling Ignorance,’ or ‘Curing Sickness’?” I would add, “Why not ‘Eliminating Envy,’ or dishonesty, or adultery, and on we go?”

More and more, I’ve become aware of the destructive power of envy, a power that can turn genocidal, at the extreme: Think of Germany or Cambodia.

Anyway, it’s interesting that every society, in every age, picks its categories. (At least I imagine this is the case.) A society decides what is important. In our time and place, race is No. 1. (“Gender” used to be No. 2, but I think that homosexuality has replaced it. Class is farther down on the list, which is a minor blessing.) Think once more about that YWCA slogan: Race is first, women, and their “empowerment,” second.

While I have you on the line, so to speak, I wanted to express gratitude for Charlie Cooke’s piece today on the “shopping sprees” at Louisiana Walmarts. Owing to a technical malfunction, welfare recipients could buy as much as they wanted. When I read about this yesterday, I thought, “Will no one say that this is just plain theft? That this is stealing from one’s neighbor,” i.e., the taxpayer? And Charlie has said it with the usual clear-mindedness and gusto.

Now, like you, I trust, I’ll read the rest of NRO. Have a good one.

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