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Wondering about Wilson

June 09, 2007

Re "James Q. Wilson's moral sense," Opinion, June 3

James Q. Wilson is undoubtedly a bright, accomplished man. But when he claims that alleged "liberal views" of journalists have undermined the Iraq war and American foreign policy, he sounds, well, insane.

Journalists didn't launch an unprovoked war on Iraq, or fail to properly plan for a lengthy occupation, or disband the Iraqi army, or fail to quell the outbreak of a multi-sectarian civil war, or oversee the unexplained disappearance of billions of reconstruction dollars, or operate Abu Ghraib, or legalize torture, or illegally eavesdrop on millions of Americans. No, the Bush administration did all that on its own. Of course, without journalists, we wouldn't know about it. Perhaps that's what Wilson prefers. The news about Iraq is mostly bad. For that, he blames those who report it. I thought he was better than that.


Los Angeles


Wilson's understanding of culture and history is far off the mark. His comments about marriage equality ignores that most cultural norms evolve over time. By his reasoning, because women and children were seen as property for most of history, it was a mistake to adopt child-labor laws and give women the vote. Indeed, U.S. history, if not world history, has been a matter of the expansion of rights and the evolution of cultural patterns. Plus, he is simply wrong about marriage in every culture being about the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of exclusive sex and creating children. Has he ever read any anthropology? If he is a leading commentator on public morality, then we are in sad shape.



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