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Mark Steyn: Why progressive Westerners never understood John Paul II
The Telegraph (U.K.) ^ | 04/05/05 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 04/04/2005 2:08:39 PM PDT by Pokey78

If I were Pope - and no, don't worry, I'm not planning a mid-life career change - but, if I were, I'd be a little irked at the secular media's inability to discuss religion except through the prism of their moral relativism. That's why last weekend's grand old man - James Callaghan - got a more sympathetic send-off than this weekend's. The Guardian's headline writer billed Sunny Jim as a man "whose consensus politics were washed away in the late 1970s". Is it possible to have any meaningful "consensus" between, on the one hand, closed-shop council manual workers demanding a 40 per cent pay rise and, on the other, rational human beings? What would the middle ground between the real world and Planet Zongo look like? A 30 per cent pay rise, rising to 40 per cent over 18 months or the next strike, whichever comes sooner?

By contrast, the Guardian thought Karol Wojtyla was "a doctrinaire, authoritarian pontiff". That "doctrinaire" at least suggests the inflexible authoritarian derived his inflexibility from some ancient operating manual - he was dogmatic about his dogma - unlike the New York Times and the Washington Post, which came close to implying that John Paul II had taken against abortion and gay marriage off the top of his head, principally to irk "liberal Catholics". The assumption is always that there's some middle ground that a less "doctrinaire" pope might have staked out: he might have supported abortion in the first trimester, say, or reciprocal partner benefits for gays in committed relationships.

The root of the Pope's thinking - that there are eternal truths no one can change even if one wanted to - is completely incomprehensible to the progressivist mindset. There are no absolute truths, everything's in play, and by "consensus" all we're really arguing is the rate of concession to the inevitable: abortion's here to stay, gay marriage will be here any day now, in a year or two it'll be something else - it's all gonna happen anyway, man, so why be the last squaresville daddy-o on the block?

We live in a present-tense culture where novelty is its own virtue: the Guardian, for example, has already been touting the Nigerian Francis Arinze as "candidate for first black pope". This would be news to Pope St Victor, an African and pontiff from 189 to 199. Among his legacies: the celebration of Easter on a Sunday.

That's not what the Guardian had in mind, of course: it meant "the first black pope since the death of Elvis" - or however far back our societal memory now goes. But, if you hold an office first held by St Peter, you can say "been there, done that" about pretty much everything the Guardian throws your way. John Paul's papacy was founded on what he called - in the title of his encyclical - Veritatis Splendor, and when you seek to find consensus between truth and lies you tarnish that splendour.

Der Spiegel this week published a selection from the creepy suck-up letters Gerhard Schröder wrote to the East German totalitarian leaders when he was a West German pol on the make in the 1980s. As he wrote to Honecker's deputy, Egon Krenz: "I will certainly need the endurance you have wished me in this busy election year. But you will certainly also need great strength and good health for your People's Chamber election." The only difference being that, on one side of the border, the election result was not in doubt.

When a free man enjoying the blessings of a free society promotes an equivalence between real democracy and a sham, he's colluding in the great lie being perpetrated by the prison state. Too many Western politicians of a generation ago - Schmidt, Trudeau, Mitterrand - failed to see what John Paul saw so clearly. It requires tremendous will to cling to the splendour of truth when the default mode of the era is to blur and evade.

The question now is whether His Holiness was as right about us as he was about the Communists. The secularists, for example, can't forgive him for his opposition to condoms in the context of Aids in Africa. The Dark Continent gets darker every year: millions are dying, male life expectancy is collapsing and such civil infrastructure as there is seems likely to follow.

But the most effective weapon against the disease has not been the Aids lobby's 20-year promotion of condom culture in Africa, but Uganda's campaign to change behaviour and to emphasise abstinence and fidelity - i.e., the Pope's position. You don't have to be a Catholic or a "homophobe" to think that the spread of Aids is telling us something basic - that nature is not sympathetic to sexual promiscuity. If it weren't Aids, it would be something else, as it has been for most of human history.

What should be the Christian response? To accept that we're merely the captives of our appetites, like a dog in heat? Or to ask us to rise to the rank God gave us - "a little lower than the angels" but above "the beasts of the field"? In Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), the Pope wrote: "Sexuality too is depersonalised and exploited: it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts. Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated."

Had the Pope signed on to condom distribution in Africa, he would have done nothing to reduce the spread of Aids, but he would have done a lot to advance the further artificial separation of sex, in Africa and beyond. Indeed, if you look at the New York Times's list of complaints against the Pope - "Among liberal Catholics, he was criticised for his strong opposition to abortion, homosexuality and contraception" - they all boil down to what he called sex as self-assertion.

Thoughtful atheists ought to be able to recognise that, whatever one's tastes in these areas, the Pope was on to something - that abortion et al, in separating the "two meanings" of sex and leaving us free to indulge in one while ignoring the other, have severed us almost entirely and possibly irreparably from traditional impulses, such as societal survival. John Paul II championed the "splendour of truth" not because he was rigid and inflexible, but because he understood the alternative was a dead end in every sense.

If his beloved Europe survives in any form, it will one day acknowledge that.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Germany; News/Current Events; Russia; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: africa; austria; belarus; belgium; bosnia; britain; bulgaria; canada; cary; catholic; catholicism; contraception; croatia; czechrepublic; denmark; eastgermany; england; estonia; eu; eurabia; eurocrats; europe; europeanunion; euros; finalnd; france; gerhardschroeder; germany; greatbritain; greece; holland; holyfather; hungary; johnpaulii; latvia; lithuania; luxembourg; malta; marcedonia; marksteyn; moralclarity; morality; netherlands; nigeria; norway; poland; pope; popejohnpaulii; portugal; progressives; romancatholic; romancatholicism; romania; russia; schroeder; scotland; serbia; slovakia; slovenia; spain; steyn; swede; switzerland; thewest; uk; ukguardian; ukraine; unitedkingdom; unitedstates; usa; vaticanii; wales; west
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1 posted on 04/04/2005 2:08:39 PM PDT by Pokey78
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To: Howlin; riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2; ...

Steyn ping!


2 posted on 04/04/2005 2:10:00 PM PDT by Pokey78 (‘FREE [INSERT YOUR FETID TOTALITARIAN BASKET-CASE HERE]’)
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To: Pokey78

Steyn bump!


3 posted on 04/04/2005 2:12:24 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: Pokey78
The root of the Pope's thinking - that there are eternal truths no one can change even if one wanted to - is completely incomprehensible to the progressivist mindset. There are no absolute truths, everything's in play, and by "consensus" all we're really arguing is the rate of concession to the inevitable: abortion's here to stay, gay marriage will be here any day now, in a year or two it'll be something else - it's all gonna happen anyway, man, so why be the last squaresville daddy-o on the block?

*************

Steyn never disappoints.

4 posted on 04/04/2005 2:13:41 PM PDT by trisham
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To: Pokey78

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1377306/posts


5 posted on 04/04/2005 2:15:40 PM PDT by MEG33 (GOD BLESS OUR ARMED FORCES)
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To: Pokey78; ArrogantBustard; drstevej; BlackElk; CAtholic Family Association; GirlShortstop; ...

Thanks, Pokey!

Bump for delightful and rational column!


6 posted on 04/04/2005 2:15:54 PM PDT by ninenot (Minister of Membership, TomasTorquemadaGentlemen'sClub)
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To: Pokey78

Mark Steyn:

"It requires tremendous will to cling to the splendour of truth when the default mode of the era is to blur and evade."

Excellent turn of phrase.

The Late Pope:

"Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated."

Worth remembering and repeating.


7 posted on 04/04/2005 2:17:02 PM PDT by stylin_geek (Liberalism: comparable to a chicken with its head cut off, but with more spastic motions)
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To: Pokey78
If his beloved Europe survives in any form, it will one day acknowledge that.

If any society expects to survive, it will first acknowledge that.

8 posted on 04/04/2005 2:21:58 PM PDT by stevem
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To: Pokey78
"Progressive" is a phrase to hide a meaning. To be "progressive" really means to move as far away from the rules of God as possible. They want a world that follows the darkest side of man's desires. They would love to see a Pope elected that shares their vision. They want a pope that isn't afraid to get a little mud on himself. Maybe, to help "progressives" realize their wettest dream, we can find an atheist Pope.
9 posted on 04/04/2005 2:25:15 PM PDT by whereasandsoforth (Stamp out liberals with the big boot of truth)
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To: MEG33

Ugh...a quidnunc Steyn post.

Bump for Pokey78 Steyn posts!


10 posted on 04/04/2005 2:25:40 PM PDT by hattend (Liberals! Beware the Perfect Rovian Storm [All Hail the Evil War Monkey King, Chimpus Khan!])
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To: Pokey78

bookmark


11 posted on 04/04/2005 2:25:47 PM PDT by federal
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To: hattend; Pokey78

Yes!!


12 posted on 04/04/2005 2:36:26 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (This tagline no longer operative....floated away in the flood of 2005 ,)
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To: federal

ping


13 posted on 04/04/2005 2:38:48 PM PDT by MrEdd
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To: Pokey78
You know, I can remember when Pope Paul VI released his encyclical against artificial birth control. I was in my early 20's and very much a liberal. I can remember thinking how ridiculous the Pope's position was...birth control would lead to infidelity, divorce, pre-marital sex, abortion, and a general denegration of women.

Well, the Pope was right in many aspects. We were on a slippery slope then and didn't know it.

I have not read any of Pope John Paul's writings, but I mean to make a concerted effort to do so. I have neglected reading works that might shine some truth on the human condition.

And Steyn is right, as usual.

14 posted on 04/04/2005 2:48:16 PM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: Pokey78
Steyn always gets it.
Thanks.
15 posted on 04/04/2005 2:48:43 PM PDT by metesky (If ya can't take the cyber heat, stay out of the freakin' cyber kitchen!)
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bump


16 posted on 04/04/2005 2:50:29 PM PDT by eureka! (It will not be safe to vote Democrat for a long, long, time...)
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To: whereasandsoforth
The below from Groliers online @ the following link:

http://ap.grolier.com/article?assetid=0236650-0&templatename=/article/article.html

definitions of Progressive (as regards politics) come in 3 different flavors/eras: 1912, 1924 & 1948. Of the three, 2 distinctly united with leftist/socialist/communist factions.

Excerpts:

In 1924 the Committee of 48, custodians of the Progressive party label, united with the Socialist party, the railroad unions, and the American Federation of Labor behind the independent candidacy of Robert M. La Follette... ;

and...

In 1947-48 the cold-war policies of President Harry S. Truman caused a major break within the left wing of the Democratic party. The defectors, who favored more cooperative relations with the USSR, organized as the Progressive party and nominated Henry A. Wallace for president in 1948. The party advocated such programs as repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act and the reestablishment of price controls and won the endorsement of the U.S. Communist party. Wallace insisted that prosperity required peace and the tacit recognition of respective spheres of influence.

As the old Marvel Comics bon mot goes; " 'nuff said ".

17 posted on 04/04/2005 3:02:34 PM PDT by CGVet58 (God has granted us Liberty, and we owe Him Courage in return)
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To: Pokey78; cyborg; Petronski; Lady In Blue; onyx; Miss Behave
Steyn ping!

...I'd be a little irked at the secular media's inability to discuss religion except through the prism of their moral relativism.

I've got to remember this. It says it all.

18 posted on 04/04/2005 3:06:57 PM PDT by fortunecookie
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To: Pokey78

Thank for "Steyning" my Monday!


19 posted on 04/04/2005 3:08:14 PM PDT by bubman
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To: fortunecookie


It surely does!
BTW, thanks for making "JP" look so smart here. :)


20 posted on 04/04/2005 3:08:47 PM PDT by onyx (Robert Frost "Good fences make good neighbors." Build the fence, Mr. President and Congress.)
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To: onyx

Beam! ;-) I'm like the 'chick' behind the curtain.


21 posted on 04/04/2005 3:11:10 PM PDT by fortunecookie
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To: ninenot

Many thanks for the ping!


22 posted on 04/04/2005 3:11:17 PM PDT by Siobhan († John Paul the Great, Apostle of the Gospel of Life, pray for us. †)
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To: Maeve; Domestic Church; AKA Elena; ELS

Ping!


23 posted on 04/04/2005 3:12:04 PM PDT by Siobhan († John Paul the Great, Apostle of the Gospel of Life, pray for us. †)
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To: stylin_geek

Is he saying never use contraception? I can't abide.


24 posted on 04/04/2005 3:22:55 PM PDT by Huck (Unauthorized mp3 file sharing is THEFT.)
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To: Pokey78
When a free man enjoying the blessings of a free society promotes an equivalence between real democracy and a sham, he's colluding in the great lie being perpetrated by the prison state.

Worthy of an essay in itself - heck, a whole book.

Many - not all - of the defenders of such enthusiasms as abortion and gay marriage have as their ideological underpinning a religious belief in the inevitable direction of history, which is why "progressives" tend only to view progress in one dimension. This is one of several "gifts" to current political culture from one Karl Marx.

In point of simple fact, no one was more progressive in terms of being a causative agent of change in the 80's and early 90's than the late Pope unless his name was Ronald Reagan. This has contemporary progressives grinding their molars to a powder but it happens to be a fact. Much of the venom we are seeing at the moment from the unclean pens of the Guardian and the NY Times is a result of a political class certain that it was the future watching the real future marching off in an unexpected and decidedly unapproved direction. It's a bitterness with which I find it impossible to sympathize.

25 posted on 04/04/2005 3:23:25 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Freee-dame
Another important excerpt:

Thoughtful atheists ought to be able to recognise that, whatever one's tastes in these areas, the Pope was on to something - that abortion et al, in separating the "two meanings" of sex and leaving us free to indulge in one while ignoring the other, have severed us almost entirely and possibly irreparably from traditional impulses, such as societal survival. John Paul II championed the "splendour of truth" not because he was rigid and inflexible, but because he understood the alternative was a dead end in every sense.

#####

An argument that cannot be refuted.

26 posted on 04/04/2005 3:24:29 PM PDT by maica
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To: Pokey78

BTTT


27 posted on 04/04/2005 3:39:00 PM PDT by spodefly (This is my tag line. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: Pokey78

Dead on, as usual.

You don't even have to agree with John Paul II on everything to see the wisdom in his writings and statements.


28 posted on 04/04/2005 3:42:25 PM PDT by Lorianne
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To: Pokey78
You da man Pokey.

FMCDH(BITS)

29 posted on 04/04/2005 3:53:42 PM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: Pokey78

Steyn is magic.


30 posted on 04/04/2005 3:56:14 PM PDT by chatham
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To: Pokey78

Thanks for this post.

A priest I know is from Croatia. After talking with him and other Catholics from Eastern Europe, I believe that we as Americans really have a different perspective.

Folks from Eastern Europe say that the Pope along with President Reagan helped to "set them free" (one person used that phrase). Those people will always remember what the Pope and President Reagan (among others) did for them.


31 posted on 04/04/2005 4:06:55 PM PDT by Fury
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To: Pokey78
...man, so why be the last squaresville daddy-o on the block?

Hey! That's me!

FMCDH(BITS)

32 posted on 04/04/2005 4:07:52 PM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: Pokey78
"...the Guardian, for example, has already been touting the Nigerian Francis Arinze as "candidate for first black pope". This would be news to Pope St Victor, an African and pontiff from 189 to 199."

Well, to nitpick, being African doesn't make one a black necessarily. I'd be willing to bet that Pope St Victor was not black.

33 posted on 04/04/2005 4:10:06 PM PDT by Jabba the Nutt (Jabba the Hutt's bigger, meaner, uglier brother.)
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To: Miss Marple

PJP II's encyclicals are almost all outstanding. I'd especially recommend Veritatis Splendor as an antidote to the assumptions of our relativist world.

He was a serious theologian and philosopher, among other accomplishments. The encyclicals are groundbreaking but also heavily based on the Bible and biblical texts, which I should make them accessible to Protestants.


34 posted on 04/04/2005 4:12:40 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: maica

well China has its one child per family policy as a matter of "societal survival" which means having to allow birth control and abortion

much as there is to abhor about the Communist government, for many reasons, would it be better to allow millions of Chinese to starve instead? in the name of "principle"

sometimes principle and reality clash


35 posted on 04/04/2005 4:14:15 PM PDT by llama hunter
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To: Jabba the Nutt

Also amusing is that The Guardian must not know much about Cardinal Arinze, or they would never have plugged him like this. If anything, he's more conservative than PJP II.


36 posted on 04/04/2005 4:14:56 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Pokey78

This guys genius is not questionable.

Man, to be able to write like this...


37 posted on 04/04/2005 4:15:57 PM PDT by Guillermo (Vote for Pedro)
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To: whereasandsoforth

sure would make it interesting

the first thing to go is the celibacy only rule for priests, those priests who wish to marry, may, and the rift between the Roman and Orthodox traditions could be finally healed

I did hear this was one of the Pope's greatest disappointments that he was unable to heal the rift

once you allow married priests, the recruitment problem should be solved, the pedophilia problem may be reduced or at least the coverup forgiven and the word of the Church may flourish, a husband and wife team can be more effective in any event



38 posted on 04/04/2005 4:20:30 PM PDT by llama hunter
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To: Pokey78
Yikes, Mark at his best!

Thanks for the post!!
39 posted on 04/04/2005 4:28:49 PM PDT by e5man_r_u? (A Man's mission: Build, Protect, Provide)
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To: Pokey78
John Paul II championed the "splendour of truth" not because he was rigid and inflexible, but because he understood the alternative was a dead end in every sense.

I love Steyn's work because he's funny. But sometimes, he's just right.

40 posted on 04/04/2005 4:59:01 PM PDT by irv
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To: Pokey78
"If his beloved Europe survives in any form...." I go to Poland twice a year. Poland will survive with its European culture, because most there hold the same values John Paul II held. Western Europe is another matter entirely. It has embraced the culture of death.
41 posted on 04/04/2005 5:19:24 PM PDT by Malesherbes
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To: Pokey78
VERITATIS SPLENDOR (The Splendor of Truth) Pope John Paul II
42 posted on 04/04/2005 5:24:03 PM PDT by Fred
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To: llama hunter

Should the Catholic Church then allow DIVORCED PRIESTS??? SAME SEX MARRIAGE PRIESTS???


43 posted on 04/04/2005 5:26:21 PM PDT by Fred
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To: Pokey78
"Why progressive Westerners never understood John Paul Ii."

There should be an addition to that saying, " ...and why they never will. "

44 posted on 04/04/2005 5:29:59 PM PDT by Tench_Coxe
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To: llama hunter
once you allow married priests, the recruitment problem should be solved, the pedophilia problem may be reduced...

I do not think marriage is a remedy for pedophilia.

45 posted on 04/04/2005 6:25:24 PM PDT by GraceCoolidge
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To: Pokey78
The Pope's legacy will outlast the impatient trendiness of liberal secularists. What's cool today is a dud tomorrow and so forth. I don't expect secular societies to survive more than a generation. Mark Steyn's right; the late Pope will have the last laugh. Absolute standards and eternal values matter because they last forever.

(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
46 posted on 04/04/2005 6:48:44 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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bump for later read


47 posted on 04/04/2005 7:12:44 PM PDT by prairiebreeze (Does my American flag offend you? Dial 1-800-LEAVE THE USA!)
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To: llama hunter

A very serious unintended consequence of China's one child policy is a nation with a serious shortage of marriageable age women and a serious surplus of men who need wives. That does not encourage a stable future for China, and does encourage enormous emigration of Chinese men to other countries. It could also be argued that this surplus of men might make it easier for China to think in terms of war, if the leaders should want to annex more territory.


48 posted on 04/04/2005 7:20:00 PM PDT by maica
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To: Pokey78

Steyn Rules!!


49 posted on 04/04/2005 7:30:13 PM PDT by Clock King
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To: Pokey78

Thanks for the ping, Pokey! Once again, Steyn gets to the heart of the matter in a succinct and brilliant way.


50 posted on 04/04/2005 7:39:16 PM PDT by alwaysconservative (March 31, 2005: Tears and heartbreak for those who believed in America's goodness.)
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