REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM
- "It's hard to know where the propaganda ends . . . and the reality begins," commented Dan Rather, of all people, as the Geneva talks began. And neither apparently does the eminent Duke University Sovietologist Jerry Hough: "That Gorbachev shows [his wife], and that she seems chic, is part of the symbolism that the Soviet people are going to enter a new age in which they conduct themselves more by norms of Western civilization." (Los Angeles Times, November 19, 1985)
- The Claremont Review's nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, The Prince of Darkness (a.k.a. Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle) did not make it, despite the alleged pro-Western bias of the Nobel Prize Committee. "The Nobel Peace Prize, once ignored in Moscow and denigrated as an imperialist provocation, was hailed [in Moscow] after it was awarded to [International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War] whose co-founder is a prominent Soviet physician and deputy health minister " (Los Angeles Times, October 12, 1985). As Wall Street Journal reporter James M. Perry presciently observed a month before, "With the possible exception of Moscow's Lenin Peace Prize, there is nothing quite like the Nobel peace award." (September 19, 1985)
- The Soviet mentality, I:
. . . A Soviet magazine correspondent told police that he was attacked by two well-dressed men as he tried to interview pickets on strike against an eastern Kentucky coal company. . . . "They kept screaming something about ‘You bloody Russian!'" Iona Andronov said in an interview. "They were dressed well," he said, and "just didn't have working-class faces." (Los Angeles Times, September 26, 1985, p. 19)
- The Soviet mentality, II. Soviet defectors who subsequently returned-Vitaly S. Yurchenko, Svetlana Alliluyevna, and Oleg G. Bitov-warn Mikhail (Ferrous Fangs) Gorbachev of the wicked West:
"Dear Misha," they began, and went on to warn Mr. Gorbachev of American agents who "kidnap innocent people (ballerinas, chess masters, journalists and shepherds), drug them into submission, force them to accept huge sums of money and at gunpoint make them appear on the 'Today' show." (New York Times, November 20, 1985)
- The capitalist mentality. Roger B. Smith, Chairman and CEO of General Motors ("What's good for General Motors. . . ."):
Adam Smith's monumental "The Wealth of Nations" is the business book that has had the most profound and far-reaching influence on me. . . . However, Richard Bach's "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" serves as a perfect companion to Smith's work. (New York Times Book Review, October 20, 1985)
- Walter H. Capps, chairman of the California Council on the Humanities and the National Federation of State Councils for the Humanities, calls the humanities "miscellany." Proud of having protected the California Council from "the Falwellites," he maintains of the "New Right":
It also does not have a very compelling religious base. There's not as much Christianity as ought to be there. I think its racist and I think it's anti-Semitic, or always in danger of breaking out that way. (Los Angeles Times, October 20, 1985)
- New York Times headline: "'Star Wars' Battle: Moscow and Congress Increase the Pressure on Reagan" (September 26, 1985).
- A division in the ranks. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan recently maintained "recognition of full equality for women . . . ensures that gender has no bearing on claims to human dignity." Yet, contrast the approach of California State Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird:
Defendant Jezebel's [bar] argues that "Ladies' Night" encourages more women to attend the bar, thereby promoting more interaction of the sexes. This it deems to be a "socially desirable goal" of the state. However, the "social" policy on which Jezebel's relies . . . is a far cry from the social policies which have justified other exceptions to the Unruh [Civil Rights] Act. For example, the compelling societal interest in ensuring adequate treatment based on age cannot be compared to the goal of attracting young women to a bar. . . .
There may also be instances where public policy warrants differential treatment for men and women, for example, some sex-segregated facilities, such as public restrooms, may be justified by the constitutional right to personal privacy. (Dennis Koire v. Metro Car Wash et al., October 17, 1985)
- Mikhail Gorbachev reflects on the achievements of the Geneva meeting at a "press conference":
. . . I do believe that we could release tremendous resources by stopping the arms race to provide better assistance to developing countries. In America today, there are tremendous numbers of people who are suffering famine, where 50 percent of the kids are not getting enough to eat. If we were to cut back on arms 5 to 10 percent, we should be in a position to do a tremendous amount to alleviate such problems. (New York Times, November 22, 1985)
- Finally, we close "Reductio ad Absurdum" with a last word from First Party Secretary Gorbachev, responding to a French newsman who asked if there were "4 million political prisoners in the Soviet Union."
"That's absurd," said Gorbachev. "That's just propaganda. I mean that's absurd, and I must say that I'm very disappointed, and I even object that you, sir, could pose such a question, a modern man, a contemporary man, well-educated, well-read. I mean it's absurd; it's just absurd." (Los Angeles Times, October 6, 1985)