Today we post under Pages (listed at the top of our margin) the next essay in the series by Jillian Becker titled The Darkness of This World (Part Two).
The title of the new essay is The French Pandemonium (One).
It continues a discussion of the Romantic movement which – the series argues – arises from the same need in the human psyche that requires religion. In France, the most influential poets, novelists, essayists and philosophers have been those who have cultivated rebellion against what they call “bourgeois society”. Some of the most eminent of them bluntly declare that their rebellion is a choice of Evil.
Of course not all the French writers of the post-Enlightenment centuries have been Romantics or conscious advocates of Evil. But those who “chose Evil” stoked the fires of destructive rebellion in generations of European intellectuals and have had by far the greater effect on history. In the twentieth century they became so popular and powerful that they helped create the New Left; incited seasons of violent protest demonstrations on city streets throughout Europe and even on other continents; inspired the formation of European terrorist gangs; and implanted their anti-civilization ideology as a new dogma in schools and academies throughout the Western world, including America. As the series continues it will explain how the anti-Americanism of the Left, even in America itself, springs from the European intellectual movement against our civilization.
Here is the first part of the essay:
A pandemonium is a gathering of all the demons or devils. Devils are expected to be noisy, so the word has come to mean a deafening cacophony of shrieking voices.
What the voices of this pandemonium clamor for, is “Evil”. It is not an insult to call them demons; it is an acknowledgment of their choice. They choose Evil, they call for Evil, they acclaim Evil, they are for Evil.
And what are they against? They are against What Is. They are against our civilization. They are against the bourgeois, whom they hold responsible for everything that’s wrong with our civilization: free enterprise industrialization; liberal democracy; parliamentarianism; conservatism.
It was in France that the clamor was loudest among certain poets and novelists and philosophers to épater le bourgeois – shock the bourgeois – in the nineteenth century, reaching a crescendo between the world wars of the twentieth century, rising again after the end of the second. A racket of foaming hate; a literary hue and cry after the middle-class citizen.
As you may have noticed, the bourgeoisie is, in fact, the all-achieving class. Almost everything of value since the Enlightenment, including the Enlightenment itself, has issued from the middle-class; every invention, every discovery, every advance, with so few exceptions they can be counted on a few of your fingers. But to the demons of poetry and philosophy and revolution, the bourgeois was everything that was wrong with Life: the bourgeois with his politesse, his prudence, his order and cleanliness, his comfortable house, his good-quality clothes, his well-stocked larder, his prosperity, his faithfulness to duty, his thrifty habits … “No, no,” the scornful voices yell, interrupting me. “Its not just that, it’s … it’s … it’s his complacency, his bad taste, his narrow-mindedness, his privilege, his exploitation of underdogs, his obsession with material things – and his stupid sexual inhibition. Those, don’t you see, are the unbearable traits that make him a worthy target of our artistic fury. He does not, cannot feel as we do. Down with him! Grind him into the dust! ”
But it is the againstness itself that characterizes the demons. If every one of those despicable things about the bourgeois were overcome or destroyed (as every one of them was in Communist Russia), and civilization wholly laid to waste, the urge would rage on, its hunger unappeased, hunting its everlasting prey: What Is. To them, as to the Gnostics of old, everything that is here is bad; the good lies beyond.
Whatever words have been used to describe the Paris fashions in scorn – modernism, post-modernism, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction – they are all expressions of rebellion. To be a rebel is to be heroic. Despised and rejected by the bourgeois herd, the rebel is a martyr to his deep passion for art, his higher vision of a better world.
To protest against the bourgeois idea of what is good, the demons advocated doing whatever the bourgeois considered evil. They placed themselves in a French counter-tradition, a line that runs from Rousseau with his belief in the primacy of feeling and sentiment, through Robespierre with his Terror, the Marquis de Sade with his penchant for sexual torture, the nineteenth century poets Charles Baudelaire with his Flowers of Evil and Arthur Rimbaud with his Season in Hell, and on through the intellectual trend-setters – whom we will come to – of twentieth century French literature and their continuing effects. There are still reigning French demons in the twenty-first century. It is a dynasty of the defiant. …
You can find all of it here.
… is not the same for the Coalition gander.
General Dempsey reported on Israel’s extraordinary efforts to avoid harming civilians.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told an audience in New York that he believed the Israel Defense Force went to “extraordinary lengths” to limit civilian casualties in this past summer’s military conflict in Gaza.
The military leader was speaking to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
In addition to praising the IDF’s efforts to limit civilian casualties, Dempsey also said that the Pentagon sent a team to Israel to see what lessons could be learned from the IDF’s expertise during Operation Protective Edge. This included observing the measures taken by the IDF to prevent civilian casualties and the way in which the Israeli military dealt with the terror tunnels.
The reason this is such extraordinary news is that Israel was criticized harshly and repeatedly for failing to prevent the heavy loss of civilian life during the conflict, which saw more than a thousand Gazans die, including many civilians and children. Various human rights entities accused and continue to accuse Israel of committing war crimes. Even the White House and State Department repeatedly claimed Israel failed to do enough to prevent civilian casualties.
But when asked to address the alleged “callous indifference” by Israel to the extensive damage and civilian deaths, Dempsey told the audience that he thought the IDF “did what they could” to avoid civilian casualties.
“I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties,” Dempsey told the group. “In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties,” he added.
Dempsey said Hamas had turned Gaza into “very nearly a subterranean society” with tunneling throughout the coastal enclave.
“That caused the IDF some significant challenges. But they did some extraordinary things to try and limit civilian casualties,” Dempsey said, which included “making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure,” Dempsey said.
In addition to dropping warning leaflets, Dempsey said, the IDF developed a technique called “roof-knocking.” This involves dropping a low-yield explosive or non-explosive device on a rooftop. This “knocking” is a warning to residents to leave the building before it is shelled. Of course, even this effort to limit civilian casualties was criticized for not being gentle enough.
Dempsey said civilian casualties during the summer’s conflict were “tragic, but I think the IDF did what they could” to avoid them.
“The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties. They’re interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel,” Dempsey said.
(It should also be remembered that Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, used civilians – children in particular – as human shields, often forcing them to remain in the very buildings they had been warned were to be bombed.)
Whatever lessons the team from the Pentagon learnt from the IDF’s expertise at taking measures to prevent civilian casualties, were apparently not applied by the US when the Air Force bombed IS/ISIS/ISIL in Iraq.
US bombing kills children in Iraq.
Iraq’s prime minister on Wednesday ordered his first major shakeup of his military since taking office three months ago, relieving 26 army officers of their commands and retiring 10 others as a monitoring group said airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group and other extremists in neighboring Syria have killed more than 860 people, including civilians, since they began in September. …
On Wednesday, three bombings in and around the Iraqi capital killed at least 17 people and wounded nearly 40, police and hospital officials said. …
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that at least 50 civilians, including eight children and five women, also have been killed in the airstrikes, the group said.
The mainstream media do not feature these deaths. The TV news screens of the West are not filled with images of these dead children. They are of less concern than the dead children of Gaza. Because the hearts of the hardboiled media bleed only when the Israelis are doing the bombing.
What did the Obama administration have to say about all this?
When Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to stop the flood of rockets being launched at its cities, and particularly when it mounted a short ground operation to locate and destroy infiltration tunnels under the border, there was the predictable response from the UN, the NGOs and Israel’s usual critics that it was causing ‘disproportionate’ civilian casualties in Gaza. Surprisingly (or not), the Obama Administration and State Department joined the chorus.
You probably recall John Kerry’s sarcastic remark that Israel had carried out a “hell of a pinpoint operation”. And you may remember that back in July, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that “there’s more that could be done [by Israel]” to reduce civilian casualties. There are also reports of a particularly “combative” phone call from President Obama to PM Netanyahu during the war.
So [on November 8], the intrepid Matt Lee of the AP asked Psaki whether the Chairman of the JCS knew what he was talking about:
QUESTION: Yesterday, the ICC made its decision that there was no case to prosecute for war crimes in Gaza. But also yesterday – and you spoke about that very briefly here. But also yesterday, General Dempsey, who is no slouch when it comes to military things, told an audience in New York that the Israelis went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage during the Gaza war.
And I’m puzzled, because I thought it was the position of the Administration – or maybe it was just the position of the State Department and the White House – that Israel was not doing enough to live up to its – what you called its own high standards. Back on August 3rd, there was the statement you put out after the UNRWA school incident, saying that the U.S. “is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling’. And that was some pretty fierce criticism.
How do you reconcile these two apparent divergent points of view? When this statement came out, the United States was appalled? Did that just mean the State Department was appalled?
- PSAKI: No, that is the position of the Administration; it remains the position of the Administration. As we made clear throughout the summer’s conflict, we supported Israel’s right to self-defense and strongly condemned Hamas’s rocket attacks that deliberately targeted civilians, and the use of tunnels, of course, of attacks into Israel. However, we also expressed deep concern and heartbreak for the civilian death toll in Gaza and made clear, as you noted in the statement you pointed to, that we believed that Israel could have done more to prevent civilian casualties, and it was important that they held their selves to a high standard. So that remains our view and position about this summer’s events.
QUESTION: Okay. But I’m still confused as to how you can reconcile the fact that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – who knows a bit about how military operations work, I would venture to guess; I don’t know him, but I assume that he wouldn’t be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if he was – if he didn’t —
- PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: — says that the Israelis essentially did the best that they could and lived up to – by extension lived up to their high standards by taking – by going to, quote, “extraordinary lengths” to limit the collateral damage.
- PSAKI: Well, I would point you to the chairman’s team for his – more specifics on his comments. But it remains the broad view of the entire Administration that they could have done more and they should have taken more – all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties.
But the Coalition is not required to do the same? Apparently not.
So is there an element of special treatment for Israelis? Do anti-Semitic Europe and anti-Israel pro-Islam Obama set the moral bar higher for Israelis than for any others – or for themselves?
To borrow a saying: We report, you decide.
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’. – Ronald Reagan
All conservatives are painfully aware that liberal activists and publicists have successfully weaponized compassion. “I am a liberal,” public radio host Garrison Keillor wrote in 2004, “and liberalism is the politics of kindness.” Last year  President Obama said, “Kindness covers all of my political beliefs. When I think about what I’m fighting for, what gets me up every single day, that captures it just about as much as anything. Kindness; empathy—that sense that I have a stake in your success; that I’m going to make sure, just because [my daughters] are doing well, that’s not enough — I want your kids to do well also.” Empathetic kindness is “what binds us together, and . . . how we’ve always moved forward, based on the idea that we have a stake in each other’s success”.
Well, if liberalism is the politics of kindness, it follows that its adversary, conservatism, is the politics of cruelty, greed, and callousness. Liberals have never been reluctant to connect those dots. In 1936 Franklin Roosevelt said, “Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” In 1984 the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, “Tip” O’Neill, called President Reagan an “evil” man “who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations . . . . He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood”. A 2013 Paul Krugman column accused conservatives of taking “positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable”. They were, he wrote, “infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness . . . . If you’re an American, and you’re down on your luck, these people don’t want to help; they want to give you an extra kick.” …
Voegeli goes on to discuss, not how wrong this hugely mistaken and antagonistic view of conservatism is, but why liberalism fails; why government “kindness” is never enough to achieve its ends; why it is self-defeating.
He finds the root cause of its failure in a contradiction: that while the politician of kindness claims to be altruistic, his real motivation is self-gratification.
He recalls the words of a man who was a chief inspirer of the French Revolution:
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Emile, “When the strength of an expansive soul makes me identify myself with my fellow, and I feel that I am, so to speak, in him, it is in order not to suffer that I do not want him to suffer. I am interested in him for love of myself.” …
We can see the problem. The whole point of compassion is for empathizers to feel better when awareness of another’s suffering provokes unease. But this ultimate purpose does not guarantee that empathizees will fare better. Barbara Oakley, co-editor of the volume Pathological Altruism, defines its subject as “altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm.” Surprises and accidents happen, of course. The pathology of pathological altruism is not the failure to salve every wound. It is, rather, the indifference — blithe, heedless, smug, or solipsistic — to the fact and consequences of those failures, just as long as the empathizer is accruing compassion points that he and others will admire. As philosophy professor David Schmidtz has said, “If you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, it isn’t.”
Indeed, if you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, the failure of government programs to alleviate suffering is not only an acceptable outcome but in many ways the preferred one. Sometimes empathizers, such as those in the “helping professions” acquire a vested interest in the study, management, and perpetuation — as opposed to the solution and resulting disappearance — of sufferers’ problems. This is why so many government programs initiated to conquer a problem end up, instead, colonizing it by building sprawling settlements where the helpers and the helped are endlessly, increasingly co-dependent. Even where there are no material benefits to addressing, without ever reducing, other people’s suffering, there are vital psychic benefits for those who regard their own compassion as the central virtue that makes them good, decent, and admirable people — people whose sensitivity readily distinguishes them from mean-spirited conservatives. “Pity is about how deeply I can feel,” wrote the late political theorist Jean Bethke Elshtain. “And in order to feel this way, to experience the rush of my own pious reaction, I need victims the way an addict needs drugs.”
It follows, then, that the answer to the question of how liberals who profess to be anguished about other people’s suffering can be so weirdly complacent regarding wasteful, misdirected, and above all ineffective government programs created to relieve that suffering — is that liberals care about helping much less than they care about caring. Because compassion gives me a self-regarding reason to care about your suffering, it’s more important for me to do something than to accomplish something. Once I’ve voted for, given a speech about, written an editorial endorsing, or held forth at a dinner party on the salutary generosity of some program to “address” your problem, my work is done, and I can feel the rush of my own pious reaction. There’s no need to stick around for the complex, frustrating, mundane work of making sure the program that made me feel better, just by being established and praised, has actually alleviated your suffering.
This assessment also provides an answer to the question of why liberals always want a bigger welfare state. It’s because the politics of kindness is about validating oneself rather than helping others, which means the proper response to suffering is always, “We need to do more,” and never, “We need to do what we’re already doing better and smarter.” That is, liberals react to an objective reality in a distinctively perverse way. The reality is … that public expenditures to alleviate poverty, insecurity, and suffering amount to $3 trillion, or some $10,000 per American, much of it spent on the many millions of Americans who are nowhere near being impoverished, insecure, or suffering. If the point of liberalism were to alleviate suffering, as opposed to preening about one’s abhorrence of suffering and proud support for government programs designed to reduce it, liberals would get up every morning determined to reduce the proportion of that $3 trillion outlay that ought to be helping the poor but is instead being squandered in some way, including by being showered on people who aren’t poor. But since the real point of liberalism is to alleviate the suffering of those distressed by others’ suffering, the hard work of making our $3 trillion welfare state machine work optimally is much less attractive — less gratifying — than demanding that we expand it, and condemning those who are skeptical about that expansion for their greed and cruelty.
We do not dispute Voegeli’s point that the motivation behind the “politics of kindness ” is self-gratification.
But is he saying that’s all that’s wrong with them? He wants liberals to be less satisfied with their incomplete efforts and “stick around” and “make sure” the program has actually worked. Which means that he thinks that socialism – to give the “politics of kindness” its real name – could “actually alleviate suffering”. Nowhere in this essay does he explicitly point out that it could not and should not attempt to. In fact, he considers the possibility, and while he says he does not reject the evidence for these “possibilities”, he prefers to believe it is the superficiality of the liberals who try to legislate benevolently that makes it all go wrong.
The problem with liberalism may be that no one knows how to get the government to do the benevolent things liberals want it to do. … It may also be, as conservatives have long argued, that achieving liberal goals, no matter how humane they sound, requires kinds and degrees of government coercion fundamentally incompatible with a government created to secure citizens’ inalienable rights, and deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.
I don’t reject any of those possibilities, or deny the evidence and logic adduced in support of each. But my assessment of how the liberal project has been justified in words, and rendered in deeds, leads me to a different explanation for why, under the auspices of liberal government, things have a way of turning out so badly. I conclude that the machinery created by the politics of kindness doesn’t work very well — in the sense of being economical, adaptable, and above all effective — because the liberals who build, operate, defend, and seek to expand this machine don’t really care whether it works very well and are, on balance, happier when it fails than when it succeeds.
Which leaves open the possibility that a different set of liberals might be more sincere, work harder, and succeed where none has succeeded before. They might do it more economically and effectively.
Finally, as if nagged by a doubt that his explanation for the failures of liberalism is not sufficient after all, he mentions “beliefs that have sustained America’s republic”, and “those moral virtues and political principles necessary to sustain it further”, without saying what they are:
Those of us accused of being greedy and cruel, for standing athwart the advance of liberalism and expansion of the welfare state, do have things to say, then, in response to the empathy crusaders. Compassion really is important. … But compassion is neither all-important nor supremely important in morals and, especially, politics. It is nice, all things being equal, to have government officials who feel our pain rather than ones who, like imperious monarchs, cannot comprehend or do not deign to notice it. Much more than our rulers’ compassion, however, we deserve their respect — for us; our rights; our capacity and responsibility to feel and heal our own pains without their ministrations; and for America’s carefully constructed and heroically sustained experiment in constitutional self-government, which errs on the side of caution and republicanism by denying even the most compassionate official a monarch’s plenary powers.
Kindness … doesn’t begin to cover all the beliefs that have sustained America’s republic, however. Nor does it amount to a safe substitute for those moral virtues and political principles necessary to sustain it further.
The principles he does not name are the ingredients of the constitution of liberty. And they are incompatible with – in fact, totally exclude – the “moral virtues” and principles of socialism.
No government should take from you what you have earned and give it to others as socialism requires. To do so is not only unkind but unjust. Who is being kind when a government takes from you what you have earned and gives it to someone else? It is not kindness but tyranny.
It has been proved amply over the last hundred years that the more government interferes in the lives of the people “for their own good”, ever expanding as it seizes ever more power, the more miserable and impoverished the people become. Or to put it succinctly, as a hard rule: The fatter the government, the thinner the people.
Obama’s record alone is enough to prove this rule.
Those who claim to know better than you do what is good for you, will impose that “good” on you whether you like it or not. What they want is the power to control you, not your happiness.
The truly good government protects you with the law from being harmed by others, but leaves you free to do yourself good or harm.
The saying of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that Voegeli quotes is honest-sounding, and on the surface of it, strong advocacy for the politics of “kindness”. But what happened in reality when the Fellow Man rejected the good that was being thrust upon him by the Rousseau-inspired re-organizers of society? He had to be forced to accept it. Dissent and disobedience had to be punished with death. Rousseau, through his ardent admirer Robespierre, was also the chief inspirer of the Terror which immediately followed the revolution. The guillotine became the most effective instrument of what our contemporary American organizers of society like to think of as the Politics of Kindness.
How deeply has the Democratic Party sunk into immorality and lawlessness?
Out of many possible examples of its descent into both, this is one.
We quote part of an article by Heather Mac Donald at the Wall Street Journal:
The Rev. Al Sharpton once epitomized New York’s bad old days of the 1980s, when the then-corpulent, gold-medallion-bedecked tub thumper inflamed racial hatred and courted violence. Today, against all expectations and at least 100 pounds lighter, he has been rehabilitated into the Democratic Party’s civil-rights leader of choice. Has Mr. Sharpton changed or simply outlasted his critics?
President Obama ’s embrace of Mr. Sharpton has been particularly intense this year. On Monday he called Mr. Sharpton’s radio show to discuss the Nov. 4 elections. In April the president appeared at a political rally organized by Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network. Mr. Obama’s closest adviser, Valerie Jarrett, conferred with Mr. Sharpton in August about the police killing of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., as Mr. Sharpton led protests against the Ferguson police.
The Democratic establishment is just as obsequious. It turned out in force earlier this month to celebrate Mr. Sharpton’s 60th birthday party at New York’s tony Four Seasons restaurant. Hillary Clinton phoned in with best wishes. Barack and Michelle Obama sent a congratulatory letter. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gushed: “He’s the nation’s Rev. Sharpton—and the nation is better for it.” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman , Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand , and Reps. Charles Rangel and Jerry Nadler rushed to pay their respects.
Obeisance to this louse, from the most powerful in the land! Such is the character of these Democrats.
Worrying as it might be for America to see Mr. Sharpton catapulted into the national limelight, that is nothing compared with the alarm felt by many New Yorkers now witnessing his emergence as a political power in their city.
When New Yorkers elected Bill de Blasio as mayor last year, they knew they were getting a self-styled “progressive” who pledged to soak the rich and shackle the New York Police Department. What they didn’t know was that they were also voting to bring Al Sharpton and his influence into the very heart of City Hall. The mayor’s alliance with the racial provocateur is now creating the biggest crisis of his mayoralty.
So far Mr. de Blasio is pretending not to notice. As the crisis escalated, involving a former Sharpton aide now working for the mayor’s wife, Mr. de Blasio ladled on the praise at the Four Seasons. “Al Sharpton has been a blessing for this city,” the mayor enthused. “He’s been a blessing for this nation. And the more people criticize him, the more I want to hang out with him. Because a lot of times, just look who’s doing the criticizing and the way they’re saying it—it makes you realize the Rev must be doing something right. You know, sometimes, your enemies are the best endorsers of the righteousness of your actions.”
Where to start in evaluating what a “blessing” Al Sharpton has been to New York and America? …
Heather Mac Donald recalls some of the worst instances of Al Sharpton’s supporting, condoning, inciting and personally directing criminal acts, from false accusations of rape to anti-Semitic riots in which people were beaten and burnt to death.
For a full history of Al Sharpton ‘s iniquitous career of race hustling, defying court orders, and generally flouting the law and getting away with it, go here.
In 2008 the Associated Press reported that Mr. Sharpton and his business entities owed nearly $1.5 million in taxes and penalties, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in fines for unpaid workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. By this year Mr. Sharpton’s tax liabilities had ballooned to $4.7 million, according to the New York Post. He still owes the Federal Election Commission $208,000 for the improper use of campaign money during his 2004 presidential bid.
Not relevant, apparently, to Mr. Sharpton’s increasing reach into Democratic circles. Mr. Sharpton believes that New York’s mayor owes him his job — a belief shared, it seems, by Mr. de Blasio himself. Mr. Sharpton pointedly declined to endorse the sole black candidate in the Democratic primary last year. That left the field open for a late-surging Mr. de Blasio, who had run a demagogic campaign against the New York Police Department, denouncing its stop-question-and-frisk policies as racist. Candidate de Blasio also pandered to black voters by prominently featuring his biracial son in campaign ads. “We won the election,” Mr. Sharpton later told CBS New York.
Mr. de Blasio’s first offering of thanks was to hire Mr. Sharpton’s longtime public-relations adviser as his wife’s $170,000-a-year chief of staff. Such a position was unprecedented, but the choice of Rachel Noerdlinger to fill it was even more startling. It put an Al Sharpton confidante at the center of city power.
Next, Mayor de Blasio implied that Mr. Sharpton was a major player in police affairs. In late July the mayor convened a meeting of “community advocates” to discuss the death of a black man following the man’s arrest for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. Mr. Sharpton’s inevitable protests against the NYPD had blamed the death on the enforcement of public-order laws, including the ban on selling loose cigarettes. Such enforcement is key to “broken windows” policing—stopping minor crimes as a way of preventing major ones.
Mr. Sharpton was led in to the mayor’s community meeting by his former aide, Ms. Noerdlinger, and seated on Mr. de Blasio’s left, with Police Commissioner William Bratton, serving his second tour as New York’s top law officer, on the mayor’s right. The symbolism was lost on no one, least of all police officers. The next day, a mock NYPD identification card circulated through police headquarters showing Mr. Sharpton as commissioner.
By the time of the Four Seasons birthday blowout, the mayor’s Noerdlinger-Sharpton connection was turning toxic. As the local press reported, the 43-year-old single mother had failed to disclose in her City Hall background check that she was living with an unemployed ex-convict who had served time for fatally shooting a man over a jacket and for drug dealing. The boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan, had referred to the police as “pigs” on his now-vanished Facebook page.
Ms. Noerdlinger had received a waiver of the city’s residency requirement by citing her teenage son’s need to continue a physical-therapy regime in New Jersey following a traffic accident. She didn’t mention that he was fit enough to play linebacker on his high-school football team. Like Mr. McFarlan, that son has referred to the police as “pigs” on social media, and he has tweeted: “I’m convinced all white people are the devil.”
Ms. Noerdlinger has a federal tax lien against her, typical of the Sharpton inner circle, but failed to report it to the city’s conflict of interest board. She has been involved to varying degrees in McFarlan-related dust-ups with the law, including hundreds of dollars in unpaid traffic tickets issued to her Mercedes-Benz since her City Hall job began.
Mayor de Blasio has refused to discuss the implications for his administration of these and other revelations. Nor has he disciplined Ms. Noerdlinger for her multiple omissions on city background checks.
Police morale is plummeting, given the mayor’s stubborn allegiance to a former Sharpton aide and the seeming elevation of Mr. Sharpton to near-parity with Police Commissioner Bratton. Cops in certain high-crime precincts have all but abandoned pedestrian stops, which candidate de Blasio had so fiercely criticized.
As for Mr. Sharpton, he portrays the Noerdlinger fiasco as a conspiracy to bring down the de Blasio mayoralty and Mr. Sharpton’s connection to it. After leading a few rounds of “no justice, no peace” on a recent Saturday at his National Action Network headquarters — still little more than a shabby storefront despite the millions shoveled into it by supplicant corporate donors — Mr. Sharpton told his supporters: “They will keep trying to prevent [the mayor] from transforming this city, whether it’s Rachel”—Ms. Noerdlinger—“or it’s someone else. When Mayor de Blasio and his wife reached out and said they wanted Rachel to come, I said: ‘Don’t think that they won’t put a target on your back. They’ll find something. They gonna think I cut some deal.’ ”
The longer Mayor de Blasio sticks by Ms. Noerdlinger, the more it will appear that the mayor did cut a deal. But firing her would invite Mr. Sharpton’s wrath, jeopardizing Mr. de Blasio’s hopes for a second term. Worse, Mr. Sharpton is demanding an end to broken-windows policing, while Commissioner Bratton has vowed to continue it. Mayor de Blasio cannot satisfy both men.
Despite Mr. Sharpton’s current mainstream patina … he still peddles the dangerous lie that police officers are the greatest threat facing young black men and that racial discrimination is the main force holding blacks back.
In fact, it is other young black men who are responsible for the high homicide risk faced by black teens, and it is proactive policing that has dramatically reduced that risk, saving thousands of young lives in places like New York City.
Mr. Sharpton’s longevity as a public figure rests on the enduring power of racial grievance to elevate those politicians who accede to it, while distracting attention from the family and social breakdown afflicting the black community.
Al Sharpton embodies the spirit of the Democratic Party. So does Mayor de Blasio, for whose sleazy political biography go here.
We dearly love an article we can enjoy examining critically. Best of all we like an opinion that we partly agree with and partly do not.
This article is by Star Parker, whose columns at Townhall on political issues we generally like. And here again we have no quarrel with her political views. It is her conviction that religion is necessary and good that sparks our opposition.
A new Pew Research Center survey of opinion about the importance of religion in American life shows an interesting picture.
Over the last 12 years, the percentage of Americans that think religion is losing influence in American life has increased dramatically. In 2002, 52 percent of those surveyed said religion is losing influence. In 2014, 72 percent of Americans said religion is losing influence.
To us, of course, that’s good news.
However, while increasing numbers of Americans feel religion is losing influence, most feel this is a bad thing.
Fifty-six percent say that the waning influence of religion is a bad thing compared to 12 percent that say it is a good thing.
In a survey done by Pew in 2012, 58 percent of Americans said religion is “very important” and only 18 percent said it is not “too important” or “not important at all”.
This raises some interesting questions.
One clear one is why, when Americans think religion is very important, has the percentage of Americans who think religion is losing influence in American life increased almost 40 percent over the last 14 years?
Another one is what are the political implications? Certainly, in the Republican Party, there is an increasingly vocal libertarian leaning faction that sees religion as costly political baggage.
Yes – and that is one of the libertarian views with which we are in strong sympathy.
I attribute why almost three fourths of Americans feel that religion is losing influence in American life, while most feel this is a bad thing, to the law of unintended consequences.
She goes on to describe the disaster of welfare policies. We too think they have been – and continue to be – disastrous.
Many Americans have been unwittingly supporting policies for more than a half-century that they thought were good ideas and consistent with their values which have been neither. Now more Americans are beginning to appreciate the damage that has been done and how far the nation has strayed from their own sense of right and wrong.
Take the example of welfare.
When Aid to Families with Dependent Children program was dramatically expanded in the 1960s, it seemed morally correct for government to get more aggressive in the lives of the poor, particularly poor black women. … Massive increases of government in the lives of low-income black families were accompanied by a tripling of single parent households and out-of wedlock births, laying the groundwork for intergenerational poverty.
Right. Those have been and are the causes of “intergenerational poverty”.
But we omitted a sentence. It was this:
Who appreciated that the program would undermine the very religious, traditional values that keep families intact, essential for the work ethic that leads people out poverty?
It may well have been the case that Church-taught values contributed to a belief that children should be born to married parents. Many held that belief also because it is plainly best for children to be raised by a mother and a father. The principle is good whether endorsed or not by a religion.
We contend that it is because the state took over the responsibility of providing for children that men could so easily opt out of the traditional role of bread-winner to their families. It was government incursion into private life that did the damage to believers and non-believers alike. Their religion or lack of it had nothing to do with the “unintended consequences” of welfarism.
Now it’s happening in the whole country. As we’ve gotten more government telling Americans how to save for retirement, how to deal with their health care, how to educate their children – American families have been damaged and out-of-wedlock births have increased six-fold from 1960 to 42 percent today. Government has displaced family.
Some say today we have competing views about the role of government.
Conservatives and progressives do have different views about the role of government. That is not a matter of opinion, but a fact.
I would say we have competing views about what life is about.
Yes. We think life can be “about” anything that free individuals want to make it. Star Parker thinks that life was created, and the creator had a purpose, and that purpose, though impossible to define, is somehow helped along by this or that set of religious doctrines. About which set of doctrines in particular, there are “competing views” among the multitude of religions, each of which claims to teach “the truth”.
One view – a decidedly secular, materialistic view – sees no mystery in life.
We have a decidedly secular view – materialistic too in that we see the need to sustain our physical existence as well and as pleasantly as we possibly can. But we do not think there is no mystery. On the contrary, we are aware that humankind knows very little. To learn more, to explore what we do not know about our universe and ourselves is the most exciting adventure of our conscious lives, and discovery is the engine of all progress.
Pretending to know that there is a purpose to life known only to a supernatural being who created it but chooses to keep his purpose secret, is to opt out of the great adventure.
The left wing version, which dominates the Democratic Party, says government can solve all of life’s problems.
Or most of them. And it’s a wrong and dangerous belief.
The hard-core libertarian version, found among some Republicans — says just leave everybody alone — you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you — and everything will work out for the best.
That is an absurd encapsulation of the libertarian view. No intelligent libertarian thinks that if people are left to make their own choices, if they are self-reliant, “everything will work out for the best”. Every individual will make his own successes and failures – and take responsibility for them. He knows that government cannot solve “all life’s problems” – and, what’s more, does a pretty poor job of solving the one problem it exists to solve: how best to protect liberty.
The other view maintains that you can’t have a free society that is not also a virtuous society.
A free society starts off with the virtue of being a free society. Freedom needs to be protected by law, and, if it is, crime will be punished, foreign enemies will be kept away, and the people can prosper. How good they are in their private lives remains forever dependent on individual character and choice.
It was what George Washington meant when he said in his farewell address that “of all the dispensations and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports”.
We are sorry we can only partially agree with George Washington on this. Morality, yes. Religion? What religion has a history that can withstand moral criticism? Some – Christianity and Islam in particular – have a history of carnage and cruelty. That Christianity preaches against both make its actual record all the worse.
It is my sense that more Americans are beginning to wake up to the unintended, damaging consequences of the often well-intended government policies they have been supporting for many years.
More Americans are beginning to appreciate that we can’t separate our fiscal and economic problems from our moral problems and that if we want to recapture our freedom and prosperity, we must recapture our virtue.
Certainly. But we won’t do that by returning into the mental darkness of religion. We can do it by limiting the powers of government and recovering the idea of liberty as the highest value. That is political and moral virtue.
An interesting video, worth the hour it takes to watch it.
Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim of Pakistani descent, talks about how and why he changed from being fiercely anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, to being an admirer of Israel and a defender of Zionism.
A US security team in Benghazi was held back from immediately responding to the attack on the American diplomatic mission on orders of the top CIA officer there, three of those involved told Fox News Bret Baier.
The three men – Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen – were ready to go but told more than once not to go. The Obama administration, endlessly trying to excuse its moral turpitude, insists that no order to “stand down” was ever given. Maybe, but “do not go” is an order to stand down.
They finally ignored orders and went – but got there too late to save Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith.
We quote from Scared Monkeys:
Their account gives a dramatic new turn to what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an “old story” – the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Speaking out publicly for the first time, the three were security operators at the secret CIA annex in Benghazi – in effect, the first-responders to any attack on the diplomatic compound.
Based on the new book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team, the special sets aside the political spin that has freighted the Benghazi issue for the last two years, presenting a vivid, compelling narrative of events from the perspective of the men who wore the “boots on the ground”.
Now, looking back, the security team said they believed that if they had not been delayed for nearly half an hour, or if the air support had come, things might have turned out differently.
“Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Paronto said.
Tiegen concurred: “I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today.”
See the video of the interview here.
President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, must be held responsible for those deaths.
We’re delighted by every sign that the Obama henchmen – and henchwomen – are scared of what Fox News is discovering and broadcasting about Benghazi, where the regime allowed the US ambassador and three other Americans to be killed by Libyan terrorists. Fox News has found more and more evidence that the administration refused to send help, and that they’ve been trying to cover up their guilt ever since. Now Greta van Susteren reveals yet another effort to stop the truth emerging.
Daily one hears and reads American conservatives insisting that America, our civilization, our might, our freedom, our prosperity, are owing to “our Judeo-Christian values”. (For one of today’s examples, see here.)
There are no such things as “Judeo-Christian values”.
Unless you count a few of the “10 commandments” – that it’s wrong to kill, to steal, to bear false witness (which realization in any case long pre-dates Mosaic law) – the two religions diverge sharply on the question of values. In fact what each holds as its highest value is in direct contradiction to the other. The highest value in Jewish teaching was Justice. For Christianity as invented by St. Paul, it was Love.
Christianity preaches that a person can be separated from his deeds: “Hate the sin but love the sinner”. There is no place for justice where a wrong-doer is not to be held responsible for what he does. The Christian gospels stress that evil should not be resisted. (“Resist not evil” the putative Christ is reported as preaching in his “Sermon on the Mount”.) The Christian message also stressed unconditional forgiveness. It all adds up to a morality that excludes justice: an unjust morality.
What Judaism and Christianity could be said to have in common – which the parrots of “Judeo-Christian values” would not care to admit – is a devaluing of reason. Neither respects reason above faith.
The values we ideally live by were not the product of Judaism or Christianity, but of the Enlightenment. It was only when, in the 18th century, Reason usurped the power of the Churches, that individual freedom became a supreme value. Only then, for the first time since the glory days of classical Greece, people were encouraged to think for themselves, to obey no orthodoxy. Freedom of conscience and freedom of speech began for us then – in an intellectual revolution against religious dogma.
The greatness of the West, and especially of the United States of America, is the result of the revolution which is rightly called the Enlightenment. Freedom to doubt, to leave room for all ideas to be expressed and heard, and so to learn and discover and experiment, has brought us prosperity and power. The world-dominating success of our civilization began with the triumph of reason over religion.
A return to theocracy would be a return to darkness.
Afterword. Reason triumphs yet again.
From the Washington Post:
[An] experimental drug pressed into emergency use in the West African Ebola epidemic cured a group of 18 monkeys of the deadly disease, including some who didn’t receive the treatment until five days after they were injected with the virus, researchers reported Friday.
The finding raises new hope for use of the cocktail of monoclonal antibodies, called ZMapp, against Ebola, which has no known cure or vaccine. It has been fatal to more than half the people who have contracted the virus in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
During the current outbreak, more than 1,500 people have died and 3,069 people have become infected in five countries, the latest of them Senegal, according to the World Health Organization. The current epidemic is worse than all previous Ebola outbreaks combined. A small number of cases, believed to be a separate outbreak, have surfaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo. …
The fact that ZMapp has worked on monkeys “strongly supports” the possibility that it will work on people, “but it’s not proven” – as yet.
It soon will be.
A writer by the name of Enza Ferreri has written an article against Reason. She probably doesn’t see that that is what she’s done. But that is what she’s done. She writes:
It’s all very simple. We can’t fight Islam in the West without fighting the enablers of Islam in the West, namely the Leftists.
So far, so good.
And, since the Left has many different and separate aspects, we have to fight against each one of them. Secularism, environmentalism, global warming alarmism, homosexualism, militant feminism, sexual relativism, multiculturalism, anti-Christianity, Islamophilia, post-nationalism, internationalism are just as important targets to attack as Marxist economics, the expropriation of the capitalist class (or, in its modern reincarnation, redistribution of wealth), and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The words we have put in bold mark the issues we dispute with Enza Ferreri.
We don’t know what “homosexualism” is, or “sexual relativism”.
We consider sexual choices to be private matters (unless they involve children). They are certainly not dangerous threats to the survival of the West.
But while we agree with the author on her other “targets”, we emphatically disagree with her when it comes to secularism and anti-Christianity.
Secularism is not the same as Leftism. Between the founding of the United States of America and the dawning in the 1960s of this Leftist age, there was a very long stretch of secularism, liberty, and prosperity.
But in those times and those countries where a church (in the widest sense) has been the ruling power, there has always been tyranny. What greater tyranny can there be than the imposition of an orthodoxy on every mind?
Communism and Nazism also impose orthodoxy, and punish dissent as cruelly as a theocracy. That is one of the reasons why we class these ideologies as religions. Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China were not secular states; they were orthodoxies, as tyrannous as the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, or the newly declared Islamic State now.
The secular state, and only the secular state, is a free state. Secularism is freedom. Freedom is only possible in the secular state.
In a free, secular society, people are free to be Christians. But people are equally free to criticize Christianity.
Neglecting any of these fronts is like fighting a war leaving a battleground to the enemy, like fighting on the Western front and leaving totally undefended the Eastern one.
Secularism and atheism are certainly the first lines of important wars.
So she contends that the prime enemy in her war is freedom. That being so, she has no case to make against Islam or Marxism.
For all that she seems to be speaking for tolerance (being against Islamophilia) and reason (being against environmentalism, global warming alarmism, “militant feminism”); and against Islam (aka multiculturalism) and Marxism (redistribution etc.), she is actually speaking for her own choice of intolerant, irrational, orthodox tyranny.
A secularist West will always lose to Islam, because it will have enough compassion, tolerance and self-restraint from violence that are the remnants of its Christian heritage, but it will have lost the ideals, the passion and certainty of fighting for a just cause that were once part of Christianity and have disappeared with its erosion.
Her assumptions are arrogant to an extreme. Compassion, tolerance and self-restraint from violence are not the legacies of “a Christian heritage” but of enlightened reason.
It is pointless to try and fight one irrational belief, such as Islam or Marxism, by setting up another irrational belief, such as Christianity, in opposition to it. There is no better reason to believe in the Trinity than in Allah or the inevitability of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Two quotes here serve as epigrams. Robert Spencer wrote in his great work Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t: “People who are ashamed of their own culture will not defend it.” And Dennis Prager said during one of his radio broadcasts, “Only good religion can counter bad religion.”
We admire much that Robert Spencer and Denis Prager write. And we think Spencer makes a point here worth thinking about. But to Prager’s assertion we say, nonsense!
Some people claim that there won’t be a religious revival in Europe because we are past believing in God. That this is not true can be seen by the high – and increasing – number of Westerners who convert to Islam. Many of them give as a reason for their conversion the need for absolutes, boundaries and well-defined status. A journalist writing for The Spectator on this subject explained why she is Catholic:
But above all, I like the moral certainties. I don’t mind the dogma one bit. I would rather dogma and impossible ideals than confusion and compromise. In that sense, I do identify with those who choose Islam over the way of no faith, or a seemingly uncertain faith, like the woolly old C of E.
Confusion and compromise is inescapable. How can dogma – which is to say being incurably wrong – and “impossible ideals” be better than admitting the truth of scio nescio: I know that I do not know? It is as if the culture on which such persons as the quoted Catholic and the author of the article have been raised was never affected by Socratean doubt, the Enlightenment, the assumption of ignorance upon which all true science proceeds.
William Kilpatrick, in Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West – a book I thoroughly recommend reading -, writes: Brian Young’s friends said he was troubled by the decadence of Western society. David Courtrailler’s lawyer said, “For David, Islam ordered his life.” These are the sorts of reasons ordinary converts to Islam give. A common refrain from converts is that Islam provides a complete plan for life in contrast to the ruleless and clueless life offered by secular society. As Mary Fallot, a young French convert, explains, “Islam demands a closeness to God. Islam is simpler, more rigorous, and it’s easier because it is explicit. I was looking for a framework; man needs rules and behavior to follow. Christianity did not give me the same reference points.” If you look at the convert testimonials on Muslim websites, they echo this refrain: Islam brings “peace”, “order”, “discipline”, and a way of life that Christianity and other religions fail to offer.
Islam brings peace! He – and she – can say that with a straight face? While IS (ISIS, ISIL) is rampaging through Syria and Iraq mass-slaughtering, impaling, crucifying, decapitating, raping, enslaving; while Hamas is firing thousands of rockets into Israel; while civil war rages in Syria; while Yezidis, Kurds, Baha’is, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, other Muslims are being daily killed and constantly persecuted by Muslims?
Astonishing that some women crave the “order” and “discipline” of subjugation; when the “discipline” is exerted by enslavement, beatings, whippings, stonings, legal discrimination.
Human beings will never be past the need for believing in something bigger than themselves, because that need is part of the human mind.
Where are there human beings who do not know that natural forces are “bigger than themselves”? Who among us does not know that we are mortal?
She continues in the same vein. We’ll not irritate our readers with all of it. She is a true believer. And what she believes is that Christianity is good and true.
We will skip to what she quotes as wisdom from a Catholic primate:
A clear direction was given by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Archbishop of Bologna, Italy. As early as 30 September 2000, before 9/11, when very few in the West even thought of worrying about Islam, he delivered a very forward-looking speech, which included this premonition:
… Either Europe will become Christian again or it will become Muslim. What I see without future is the “culture of nothing”, of freedom without limits and without content, of skepticism boasted as intellectual achievement, which seems to be the attitude largely dominant among European peoples, all more or less rich of means and poor of truths. This “culture of nothingness” (sustained by hedonism and libertarian insatiability) will not be able to withstand the ideological onslaught of Islam, which will not be missing: only the rediscovery of the Christian event as the only salvation for man – and therefore only a strong resurrection of the ancient soul of Europe – will offer a different outcome to this inevitable confrontation.
The culture of reason is not a “culture of nothing”. It is a culture of rational humility; of admitting ignorance and trying to find the truth, even if one can never be certain one has found it. Skepticism is the only engine of discovery.
“Freedom without limits”? Freedom of action always has a limit. In a free society, everyone’s freedom is limited by everyone else’s under the rule of law. But indeed the freedom of the mind has no limits, nor should it have any.
Notice the snide swipe at riches and “hedonism”. Do you think that he, as a cardinal, pigs it in some hovel?
By “truths” he means the patent absurdities of Christian theological belief.
“Libertarian insatiability”. What the heck does that mean?
If the Western culture of reason, secularism, liberty, skepticism, science, cannot withstand the onslaught of Islam, it will be because that culture has been abandoned by people like Enza Ferreri.
She goes on to blame shrinking birthrates on secularism. Then she ends with this:
Militant atheists à la Richard Dawkins have not really given enough thought to the long-term consequences of their ideas, which we are beginning to see.
And of which we are reminded whenever, for example, we read in the news of doctors and missionaries who die of Ebola while assisting affected patients for Christian charities. Not many atheist charities are involved in that work.
How many cures for diseases have been found by scientists among whom atheists are in a huge majority? The medical researchers who eliminated smallpox; those who found how to detect the beginnings of cancer and treat it before it becomes lethal, and how to restore wholeness to lepers and replace a faulty heart or kidney …. the list could run on for hours … cure more people than all the martyrdom-seeking self-righteous preachy Christians out to save their imaginary souls by “assisting affected patients” have ever done or could do in a thousand years.
As a reminder to readers who have a strong stomach of what happened when the Christian Churches provided “order” and “discipline” to Europe and wherever else they could reach, we recommend The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual by Jonathan Kirsch, and our own post Calvin: a chapter in the terrible history of Christianity by Jillian Becker, April 25, 2010. (Put the title in our search slot.)
Nothing IS (ISIS, ISIL) is doing now in the name of Islam is worse in type or degree than what those Christians did in the name of Christianity.
The world needs saving from religion.