Committee Work Quotes

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No,” I start, hesitantly. “Well, we have to end apartheid for one. And slow down the nuclear arms race, stop terrorism and world hunger. Ensure a strong national defense, prevent the spread of communism in Central America, work for a Middle East peace settlement, prevent U.S. military involvement overseas. We have to ensure that America is a respected world power. Now that’s not to belittle our domestic problems, which are equally important, if not more. Better and more affordable long-term care for the elderly, control and find a cure for the AIDS epidemic, clean up environmental damage from toxic waste and pollution, improve the quality of primary and secondary education, strengthen laws to crack down on crime and illegal drugs. We also have to ensure that college education is affordable for the middle class and protect Social Security for senior citizens plus conserve natural resources and wilderness areas and reduce the influence of political action committees.” The table stares at me uncomfortably, even Stash, but I’m on a roll.
Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho (Vintage Contemporaries))
That a work of the imagination has to be “really” about some problem is, again, an heir of Socialist Realism. To write a story for the sake of storytelling is frivolous, not to say reactionary. The demand that stories must be “about” something is from Communist thinking and, further back, from religious thinking, with its desire for self-improvement books as simple-minded as the messages on samplers. The phrase “political correctness” was born as Communism was collapsing. I do not think this was chance. I am not suggesting that the torch of Communism has been handed on to the political correctors. I am suggesting that habits of mind have been absorbed, often without knowing it. There is obviously something very attractive about telling other people what to do: I am putting it in this nursery way rather than in more intellectual language because I see it as nursery behavior. Art — the arts generally — are always unpredictable, maverick, and tend to be, at their best, uncomfortable. Literature, in particular, has always inspired the House committees, the Zhdanovs, the fits of moralizing, but, at worst, persecution. It troubles me that political correctness does not seem to know what its exemplars and predecessors are; it troubles me more that it may know and does not care. Does political correctness have a good side? Yes, it does, for it makes us re-examine attitudes, and that is always useful. The trouble is that, with all popular movements, the lunatic fringe so quickly ceases to be a fringe; the tail begins to wag the dog. For every woman or man who is quietly and sensibly using the idea to examine our assumptions, there are 20 rabble-rousers whose real motive is desire for power over others, no less rabble-rousers because they see themselves as anti-racists or feminists or whatever.
Doris Lessing
An important United Nations environmental conference went past 6:00 in the evening when the interpreters' contracted working conditions said they could leave. They left, abandoning the delegates unable to talk to each other in their native languages. The French head of the committee, who had insisted on speaking only in French throughout the week suddenly demonstrated the ability to speak excellent English with English-speaking delegates.
Daniel Yergin (The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World)