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T H E   G I V E N   O R D E R
Mortarboards, Veils, and Dunce Caps 
October 2001

Can you even spell reality?

In his recent speech at a tercentennial event, former President Clinton planted a particularly offensive morsel among the expected nostrums. He said that at the heart of the conflict between America and terrorists is a fundamental disagreement on the nature of truth.  Usama bin Laden, the former President said gravely, believes that he has the truth.  In America, we make no such claims.  The former President continued to say that we realize that the university itself is based on the notion that no one has access to absolute truth.  

Aside from the fact that this is patently not the basis of the university—look to the Puritan founders of Yale College, or the Catholic organizers of the medieval university—it opens the door for a subversive idea. If the fundamental agreement is between a group that thinks it knows the truth (the terrorists) and a group that makes no absolute truth claims (America, apparently), only those with a claim to truth have a reason to fight. Without a definite vision of the good, one cannot act.  Certainly, Americans make some truth claims. Otherwise, we would have no reason to fight the terrorists.  Men may die for a cause, but for a non-cause?  

Knee-length hegemony

In an October 5 article, the New York Times extolled the respect given by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to the Sultan of Oman. The Times was particularly impressed by the formal dress of Rumsfeld and his delegation:  “There was no air-conditioning [in the Sultan’s tent], but the Americans were careful to keep on their suit jackets in deference to the sultan even through they were soaked with sweat.” But the Times failed to note the cultural insensitivity of one member of Rumsfeld’s delegation.

The AP photo of the group shows one of the women of the group in a knee-length skirt—acceptable business dress for the United States. But this style of dress is unacceptable in a traditional Muslim society such as Oman. It is comparable to a member of the San tribe of African Bushmen appearing before the Queen of England in traditional loincloth. 

Since this attack, American multiculturalists have been urging America to stop our cultural hegemony and start respecting Islamic culture. So why didn’t the Times take Rumsfeld’s staffer to task for her insensitivity? And why couldn’t she have put on at least a calf-length skirt and have worn a hat? 

The Chattering Ass

The liberal media establishment was up in arms against the Taliban when its members destroyed ancient Buddhist statues hewn out of the face of an Afghani cliff.  ABC titled a firmly disapproving report on the event, “Taliban Deprives World of Ancient Statues.”

That very same network’s Canadian pretty boy, Peter Jennings, has urged us to understand bin Laden’s world, and has exhibited a tepid stance toward America’s uprightness in this crisis. Depriving the world of a few hunks of rock is one thing—depriving the world of several thousand human beings is quite another.  

The Yale Free Press is published by students ofYale University. 
Yale University is not responsible for its 
contents. By the same
token, The Yale Free Press is not responsible for the contents of Yale



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