In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 26, 2009 / 1 Nisan 5769

The first temptation

By Paul Greenberg

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | MIRANDA:

O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures
are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in't!


'Tis new to thee.
        —The Tempest

How did Dr. Clark know? In my sophomore year at Centenary College, when I still knew everything, I signed up for his course in Modern English Lit, which had Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" on the reading list.

As dystopias go, I thought it a poor choice compared to my favorite, George Orwell's "1984." I was already an Orwell cultist by then, which was the 1950s. That decade seems tranquil now only in retrospect, for another totalitarian threat was on the march, The Bomb was always there looming over everything, Jim Crow's days were numbered, the draft awaited, and things were real, things were earnest.

Why had Dr. Clark, that old fuddy-duddy, chosen some sci-fi fantasy like "Brave New World" — with its embryo farms, genetic predetermination, a drugged populace and all the rest — instead of a book about the real world? So as my first class paper I chose to compare Huxley's "Brave New World" with Orwell's "1984," much to "1984's" advantage. That would teach Dr. Clark.

Now the Soviet Union has imploded, a consummation devoutly to be wished but once almost impossible to imagine. And we are in the midst of a brave new world after the discovery of the double helix, clones, abortions-a-million at one end of life and euthanasia at the other. We are even offered the promise that research on human embryos will cure everything from cancer to the common cold, and our new president, no fuddy-duddy he, has signed on to that bright, shiny idea.

Never mind that it is the other kind of stem-cell research — on lines derived from adult cells — that has achieved the cures and offers the most promise for the future. Or that recent scientific progress may have made experimenting on embryonic stem cells unnecessary in order to achieve the same or better results.

But all of that was irrelevant as the president, surrounded by suits sporting grins, proudly signed the executive order putting the U.S. government's seal of approval on experimenting with human life in embryo. I kept looking for Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein himself, among the celebrants pictured at the White House.

Science, or at least Scientism, marched forward, unstoppable, as surely as man reached for the apple in the Garden.

These days it is "1984" that is dated, almost quaint, while "Brave New World" is proving prophetic. How did Dr. Clark know? What moved him to have us read Aldous Huxley's futurist novel? How could he have foreseen that 1984 would come and go on the calendar while man's oldest temptation, recorded in the Book of Genesis, would become more relevant than ever: Ye shall be as gods!

Maybe it was all those years the old man had spent teaching Shakespeare and Old Testament to sophomores. Study those old texts line by line, semester after semester, again and again, and there would be nothing in the human gallery new to you. Politics passes, human nature remains the same.

Or does it? Must we always be at the mercy of these unruly passions, these rushes of uncontrolled awe at the beauty and terror of the night sky, this fruitless search for virtue, this confusion between good and evil?

Why not change our nature itself, and usher in a brave new world where only an occasional savage, as in Huxley's vision of the future, would intrude to remind us of a barbaric past? Let us tear down these artificial barriers and free Science at last — and so free ourselves from the human condition.

As our new president, a true man of the age, put it the other day as he signed his executive order opening the gates to an unbounded future: "Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values." Instead we can have both!

This is a favorite formulation of our leader's. Call it the Obama Dialectic. It consists of presenting both sides of an issue, even an issue of life and death, as offering a false choice that really needn't be made. Instead there is an utterly reasonable middle ground: his own.

If his choice is a little vague around the edges, or the ethics of it more than a little fuzzy, No Fear. We have experts to decide such things now: the Scientific Community and its special sub-branch, the Ethicists. They'll figure it all out, devise the appropriate Protocols for life and death, and we the people will never have to bother our pretty little heads thinking about it. The Experts Know.

Strangely enough, in almost the next breath, our pragmatist-in-chief drew a bright ethical line just a little farther down the slippery slope than the one his predecessor in the Oval Office had drawn earlier. His new policy, President Obama assured anybody who might be worried about its ethical ramifications, "never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction." Because that would be "dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society or any society."

How come? Couldn't some clones be just fine, indeed perfect? Why not produce them and discard only the imperfect ones? The way the least promising human embryos are discarded in the process of in vitro fertilization? The Experts are trusted to make that choice, too. They know. Isn't this a false choice President Obama has made between sound science and moral values — the kind of false choice he'd just blamed his predecessor in the White House for making?

Besides, he must know that once he's opened the door to cloning for, ahem, research purposes, there's bound to be some scientist somewhere curious enough, and some potential parents narcissistic enough, and some Madoffian investor eager enough to make a bundle, to go into the business of custom-designing our progeny.

Whether for research or reproduction, the cloning process is much the same. Cloning is cloning, parts is parts. Once the door is open, and now it is, those embryo farms out of "Brave New World" await. Full of such goodly creatures!

Why would our sophisticated young president scruple at the inescapable consequences of his own executive order? A masterful politician, he must know that there is something in people — and voters — which understands, instinctively, that a market for designer babies would be wrong, wrong, wrong. Call it the wisdom of repugnance. That kind of thing should have "no place in our society or any society." In his soothing voice, he assures us that it'll never come to that.

Is he just doing the politic thing? But that would be too cynical a judgment. Maybe even Mr. Cool still has some primitive reverence for life, for Nature and Nature's Laws, and knows — in his soul — that some line must be drawn that man dare not cross. Maybe something of the savage in "Brave New World," with all his archaic Thou Shalt Nots, still lurks in him, too.

For the first time during his presentation, I felt a rush of fellow feeling. I think old Dr. Clark would recognize this president's dilemma, and consider that last choice of his — to draw the line somewhere — not false at all.

Fellow Savage

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

Paul Greenberg Archives

© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.