The Week

Rahm Emanuel (Roman Genn)


This issue includes the conclusion of a debate over same-sex marriage in which our managing editor, Jason Lee Steorts, argues first that the government’s treatment of the emotional union of adults can and should be separated from its treatment of relationships that involve children, and second that in respect of the emotional quality of a relationship there is no essential difference between same-sex and opposite-sex partners. Sherif Girgis, making the case for marriage as the union of husband and wife, has to our mind the better of the argument — although we applaud, as we assume Girgis would, Steorts’s humanitarian motives. We add only that in practice a public policy that gently steers people who are so inclined to form the comprehensive union that traditional marriage is supposed to be is most likely to serve the public interest in ensuring that children are reared in circumstances conducive to their flourishing. We doubt that any legal regime governing the treatment of children after they have been produced can reliably serve this interest, let alone with as little intrusion into properly private matters. We join (again presumably) both debaters in favoring a tightening of divorce laws and the public and private encouragement of marriage as the context in which children should be reared; and commend both for discussing the issue with a degree of civility and intelligence that has too often been absent from the public conversation.

The House passed an amendment, authored by Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, to deny family-planning funds to organizations that commit abortions. His proposal is being described colloquially as “the defund Planned Parenthood bill.” It is also being described, by liberals, as a “war on family planning” or simply “on women.” They claim that its result would be to deny women access to contraception, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and other non-abortion-related services. But the law offers Planned Parenthood and its fans two ways to solve this problem if they consider it so dire: Either stop providing abortion in order to provide those other services with federal help, or continue to abort without that help. The organization has no legal or moral entitlement not to have to make that choice.

Days before their scheduled expiration, President Obama quietly signed a three-month reauthorization of three Patriot Act provisions. Weeks earlier, several new House Republicans stunned their leadership by banding with left-wing Democrats to deny the votes needed to pass the reauthorization in a streamlined procedure requiring a two-thirds majority. But with the clock winding down, the measure passed decisively (275€’144) and moved quickly through the Senate. The provisions permit roving wiretaps against foreign operatives, the inspection of business records relevant to terrorist activity, and investigations of “lone wolf” terrorists. While there is certainly a case for addressing federal overreach, national security is not the context for it. These Patriot precautions do not unduly burden Americans and have been essential to protecting the nation from a reprise of 9/11.

Another day, another Saudi jihadist on a student visa caught plotting a terrorist spree. Khalid Aldawsari, 20, was arrested in Texas after buying components to build chemical bombs and scoping out such targets as reservoirs, nuclear plants, the residences of U.S. soldiers who had served in Iraq, and the home of George W. Bush. It was the Bush State Department that responded to 9/11 (in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis) by dramatically increasing the number of Saudi student visas. Aldawsari was thus welcomed to study English as a second language before pursuing a chemical-engineering degree at Texas Tech. He then transferred to South Plains College in Lubbock — his classes and living expenses still paid for by a Saudi-based corporation. This scholarship, he wrote in his journal, “will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad. . . . And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.” Thanks to a chemical supply company that became suspicious and alerted police about the shipments, there was no jihad . . . this time.

March 21, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 5

Books, Arts & Manners
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .