Some people are broadened by travel and some are not. We've all known people who traveled heavily and returned home each time amazingly narrower-minded and less-informed than when they left. An editorial writer on a trip to England once found himself in the company of people who'd made the trans-Atlantic trip only to shop. Cathedrals? Castles? Houses of Parliament? Who cares, when there's a good buy on sweaters.
An article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about international travel by the Arkansas congressional delegation is instructive. Rep. Vic Snyder, acknowledged as the deepest thinker of the bunch, made not a single international trip in 2009. At the other extreme, Rep. John Boozman visited 14 countries, including such places as Djibouti and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet the peripatetic Boozman is not considered expert in foreign affairs. Far from it. “He's a little behind,” Republican leaders say privately. “Even for one of us.” (Perhaps a little ahead, though, of former Rep. Bill Alexander, who came back from Africa brandishing a spear at people and shouting what some heard as “Sambo, Sambo!” Alexander insisted it was “Jambo, Jambo!” Either way, the incident didn't help his reputation.) Boozman didn't spend all his time in the bush. Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, France, Austria and Germany were on his itinerary too. If he found French wines inferior to those produced in his congressional district, he'll surely tell us.
Secret civil righters are coming out of their closets, motivated by support for stricter abortion laws and looser gun laws. The struggles for equal education, equal employment and voting rights didn't move them to declare their sympathies.
Anti-abortionists long insistent that a woman's body is community property now say they're not so much anti-woman as pro-minority. Abortion is only a ruse to lessen the number of minority births, they claim. They do not promise to help care for an increased number of unwanted minority babies, however. Probably fearful of spreading themselves too thin.
Similarly, people who've sat out the civil rights war heretofore are taking up arms openly in defense of black people's right to take up arms openly. Research has shown, according to gun lovers, that Arkansas laws against open toting were aimed at the black population by the gun lovers' forefathers.
The enlightened descendants of those bigoted forefathers call for repeal of the laws. A piece on every hip, they say. In Arkansas, 80 percent of the hips are white, 15 percent black. Were the percentages reversed, some of these new civil rights champions would pipe down, we suspect. Way down.