Dude, where’s my brain?

by Jay Stevens

I have to say, Jonah Goldberg’s latest column in the LATimes sure is a head-scratcher, in which he compares Obama’s call for national service to…hold on!…slavery!

There’s a weird irony at work when Sen. Barack Obama, the black presidential candidate who will allegedly scrub the stain of racism from the nation, vows to run afoul of the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery.


Maybe in the schools Jonah Goldberg attended, they didn’t require things like homework, or attendance, or reading, or math. It would explain a lot. (The idea that he wasn’t asked to work his way through all those analogies in preparation for the SATs alone would probably explain most of the “arguments” in Liberal Fascism.)

Seriously, Goldberg’s argument resembles nothing so much as one of those idiotic, pot-addled, late-night conversations in a college dorm room. “Dude…national service is slavery, dude!”

There’s nothing of merit to discuss in relation to this particular column (or his book), except to point out how low the LA Times (and the NY Times with Kristol) need to stoop to present a contemporary conservative viewpoint. Or are there good conservative writers out there?


  1. Homework, attendance, reading, and such are INDIVIDUAL tasks that one undertakes. “National service” is aimed at making students serve OTHERS and inculcating in them the notion that service to others is both good and required.

    Mandatory service to others — um, that does sound a bit like slavery, doesn’t it?

  2. Uhhm, just if one is goofy enough to think that service to others doesn’t serve oneself.

    It’s not slavery, dude, unless you’d like to argue for your own slavery to public will via military service, Just sayin …

  3. First time I ever heard from a conservative that hard work doesn’t improve the character of an individual. I’m also betting you’re one of those folks that thinks welfare recipients should work. You’re okay with making poor folks work, but when it comes to requiring that the frat boys do a little community service, that’s when we start tossing “slavery” around, eh?

  4. Um…yes, in fact. I don’t know too much about how the welfare system works, but asking a person to perform some work in exchange for compensation seems reasonable to me.

    But what does the “frat boy” reference have to do with the argument?

  5. Check out Obama’s national service plan.

    The only mandatory service is for high school students. 50 hours. One presumes it’s part of their education, like homework, or test-taking. You could argue that it’s a small return for the state’s investment.

    Another service option is 100 hours for a college rebate of $4K. Thus, the frat boy shot.

    The rest of his plan is basically expansion of existing service programs, like the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps.

    Now…how is this slavery?

  6. Quick, David, better tell your friends on the right: service is mandatory for almost all Jewish citizens–young men and women–in the Israeli Defense Forces. Conservatives better drop their support for Israel too, unless they want to be perceived as supporting this kind of service “slavery”.

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