Friday, July 20, 2012

“Small Bites – Title IX, Law of the Sea Treaty, No Moment of Silence”

Sydney M. Williams

Thought of the Day
“Small Bites – Title IX, Law of the Sea Treaty, No Moment of Silence”
July 20, 2012

With little fanfare, the Obama Administration last month took another step toward governmental omnipresence. The Department of Education declared that, following the November elections, Title IX would be applied to math, science and engineering classes for any educational institution that accepts federal funding. Fomenting even more bureaucracy, accurate logs would have to be kept as to the make up of each class. A failure to comply will be dealt with “severely.” While women may not make up the majority of classes in math, science and engineering, a larger percentage of women high school graduates (46%) go to college than do men (36%.) Women also dominate certain careers that require math and science, like tax examiners (74%) and veterinarians (61%.)

Title IX legislation was passed in 1972 and has been tinkered with many times since. It strove for “gender equity” in every educational program that receives federal funding. So one can argue that government is in their right to make any demand they choose, regardless of how needless or stupid their demand may be.

What make this change so idiotic is that it is no longer necessary. When I was in high school, more than half a century ago, rules of this sort were needed. Girls in public schools, beginning in Junior High School, had to take home economics, while boys were required to take “shop.” Home economics taught young women the basics of being a good homemaker. In shop we learned wood working and how to change a carburetor, things I have never done since. While being handy and being a good mother are important to know, it is easy to see why they were categorized as sexist. The world is different today.

When my youngest son was a senior at Bucknell he captained their varsity crew team. The college had 26 varsity sports programs. At the end of his senior year he won an award as the best rower in the school, and he won the Chris Mathewson Award given to the top five athletes in the senior class. Shortly after he graduated men’s rowing was forced to give up their varsity status because of Title IX. How different his college experience would have been without the opportunity to win those awards as a varsity athlete!

One problem with government programs is that bureaucrats are incapable of saying, “Mission Accomplished.” Affirmative action is a perfect example. We have an African-American President and Attorney General It has been 15 years since a white male served as Secretary of State. Since then, there have been two women and two African Americans. The Supreme Court represents most segments of society. The Congressional Black Caucus is comprised of 44 Members, or roughly 10% of the House and Senate membership, slightly below the 13.1% that African-Americans represent of the population. About 60% of all college graduates today are women. Why do we still find it necessary to have affirmative action as official government policy? Isn’t it time we moved on to a system based solely on meritocracy?

The tentacles of an insidious government creeping into our daily lives can have long-lasting and unintended consequences. In the case of Title IX, one can conceive of a college math class with room for twenty students. Fifteen men and five women apply. The class may be reduced to ten, so that men will not outnumber women. How dumb is that! Rules of this nature will increasingly drive those who can afford it away from public institutions toward private schools, thereby driving deeper the wedge that divides our societal fabric.

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The President and Senate Democrats are determined to pass the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), something also favored by the US Chamber of Commerce and by environmentalists. Fortunately for all of us, Republicans are equally adamant about denying the passage. Defenders of the bill argue that the pact is key to maintaining peace and order in global hotspots like the Asian-Pacific region, while business groups claim it will help U.S. oil and gas companies explore and drill in deep water. While supporters like Senator Chuck Schumer and John Kerry speak of the benefits from an environmental perspective and its importance in helping poorer nations, guess who would be the principal financier? And guess who would have little say in how the money would be spent? According to the terms of the Treaty, in twelve years, 7% of U.S. government revenues collected from oil and gas companies operating off our shores would be provided to the International Seabed Authority to distribute as they see fit – to such liberal democratic nations as Sudan, Cuba, China and Zimbabwe. The amounts would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In determining how the money would be spent, the U.S. would have one vote out of 160.

Opponents also point out that the treaty does nothing to guarantee regional security and they fear an erosion of national sovereignty. They claim that ratification would effectively tie the hands of the U.S. Navy to conduct worldwide operations, because any mission would have to be reviewed and approved by the International Seabed Authority run out of Kingston, Jamaica.

Oceans and seas cover 70% of the earth’s surface. Over the decades and centuries to come, the seabed will become increasingly important as a source of raw materials, from oil and gas to rare metals. Ratifying the treaty will limit the options available to our grandchildren and their grandchildren. If we had a better experience with how the U.N. has handled funds we have provided over the decades, I might feel better about the U.S giving up control, but too many functions of the United Nations have everything to do with taking our money and little or nothing to do with encouraging freedom and human rights. Syria has been killing its people with impunity, in part because of the threat of a veto by China and Russia, in the Security Council, against any military or humanitarian retaliation. The inclusion of Venezuela and Iran on the Commission on Human Rights, for example, tells all one needs to know about the modus operandi of the UN. Subordinating our national sovereignty and interests to the authoritarian dictates of a world body would be akin to giving our executioner the bullets he needs to complete his job.

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The London Olympics marks the fortieth anniversary of the Munich Olympics during which PLO terrorists murdered eleven Israeli athletes. There has never been an effort to memorialize the victims during an Olympic ceremony. This year, families of the victims attempted to persuade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to honor the victims with a moment of silence – a gesture that seemingly would harm no one and should offend no one. Not so. The forty-six Arab and Muslim members of the IOC threatened to boycott the Olympics if such a moment of silence were observed.

The politically correct and cowardly governing body of the IOC acquiesced to the demands of the Muslims. Ankie Spitzer, widow of Andre Spitzer, a fencing master and coach of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team who was murdered that fateful September day, spearheaded the move to have a moment of silence observed at this summer’s Olympics in London. According to Mrs. Spitzer, Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, told her when they met, that “his hands were tied.” She responded, “My husband’s hands were tied, not yours.” There will be no moment of silence.

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Political correctness is undermining our values and culture, and not just “ours”, but those of all civilized societies. The consequences of ignoring them are unknowable. People cannot live in a vacuum of moral relativism. We learn new things; we visit far-off places; we meet new people, but there are universal truths about right and wrong that bind us as civilized people, and that keep us anchored to fundamental truths. We give them up at our peril.

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