Don’t sweat the small stuff

The rap on liberals is that they love humanity but are not so crazy about people; they won’t act morally unless everyone else is also forced to be virtuous.

This is, of course, a smear, albeit one with legs. Its resonance is precisely why those whose words and deeds seem to give truth to the stereotype must be called out. Which brings us to Professor Drew Westen of Emory University, a strong advocate for liberal causes who is regularly given prime real estate in the New York Times. Last Sunday he called for campaign finance reform by regurgitating the line that politicians don’t act in the people’s interest (i.e. what he wants) because they are corrupted by special interest money.

To “prove” his point, he asserts that “no one” has been “held accountable” for the causing the mortgage meltdown (“the greatest financial crime on the American people since the events leading up to the Great Depression”) or the BP oil spill.  One could write a book contesting that claim but what interests me here is the personal note that follows. “In April, I spent a week with my family on a beautiful stretch of beach we’d visited many times during the kids’ spring break, except this time I watched as preschoolers made sand castles with sludge-colored sand and wondered about the unknown health effects on their young bodies.”

I’m all for wondering but sometimes you’ve got to act. If it were my kids frolicking in the dunes of doom, I’d yell, “Hey, get away, the sand is poisoned.” I’d give them ice cream and plop them in front of the idiot box while I plotted our getaway from our getaway.

If the tiny tots are someone else’s, I would have asked their parents if they noticed anything funky about the sand – “is it supposed to be gooey?” – and refer to studies suggesting links between sludge and illness (people like studies).

But Westen had bigger fish to fry. Evidently, when you’re bent on holding corporate monsters accountable, you don’t have time to exercise a little personal responsibility.

1 Comment

  1. Oh for heaven’s sake, Westen did use his experience to illustrate his commentary (perhaps to ill effect), but he didn’t give any other information about the encounter to suggest that he might have acted untoward in the matter of children playing with toxic sand.

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