Seth Mandel writes at Commentary online:
The fact that the Supreme Court will hear a religious freedom-based challenge to the ObamaCare contraception mandate is the kind of story that possesses significance likely beyond any volume of coverage it will receive. Indeed, while liberal activists will repeatedly try to cast this in the mold of the fictional “war on women,” their own arguments reveal just how far-reaching a definitive ruling on this would be for American religious and political practice. …
Liberals have a curious definition of rights. Last night … the birth-control activist Sandra Fluke [said] on MSNBC …
There’s an attack on allowing employers to be required to provide this insurance coverage on insurance that employees pay for, at the same time that there’s an attack on public availability through clinics.
One more time: [Fluke reckons that] there’s an attack on allowing employers to be required to provide this insurance.
To the left, there is no freedom without government coercion. … That’s the argument the left is running with: they want you to be forced to provide the funding for even their most private activities; only then will you be truly free.
But Fluke isn’t the only one making this argument. … [In] an MSNBC roundtable on the issue … the panelists are panicked at the thought of affording Americans full religious liberty because, essentially, it’s then a slippery slope to protecting all constitutional rights. And then – mayhem, or something:
“This is another reason why we should have moved toward a single payer system of health coverage, because we’re just going to end up with one challenge after another – whether it’s in the courts or outside of the courts – and I just don’t see an end to this,” [Bob] Herbert submitted.“We’re already on the slippery slope of corporate personhood,” he continued. “Where does it end?”
“Where does it end” is the attention-getter in that comment, but I think Herbert’s plea for single-payer health insurance is just as telling. Put the government in charge of the country’s health care, Herbert argues, because then it will be much more difficult for Americans to “challenge” the government’s infringement on their freedom. It’s not just legal challenges either. Herbert says those challenges can be brought “in the courts or outside of the courts,” the latter perhaps an allusion to the shady world of participatory democracy.
So this is much more than a fight over birth control, or even health insurance. It’s about two fundamentally different views on American constitutional freedoms. Conservatives want those freedoms to be expansive and protected, as the Founders did. Liberals want those freedoms to be curtailed lest … the democratic process imperil the state’s coercive powers.
Thus far we agree with Seth Mandel. We are for individual freedom: the Left (whether it calls itself liberal or progressive or socialist) is not.
Free people can say what they like and do what they like (short of interfering with anyone’s else’s freedom), and that means they can believe anything they like, worship anything they like or nothing at all, make and follow any self-imposed rules they like. They only mustn’t impose their rules on anyone else, or if they’re in a group on anyone outside it.
If the government pays for everyone’s health care, it will claim the right to dictate how everyone must live in order to stay healthy. Paying for health care is the quickest way for a government to become a dictatorship. That is why government should not be the paymaster for health care.
But now the article changes from making good sense to arguing a spurious case for religion as a brake on government power:
The Founders saw religious freedom as elemental to personal liberty in America. But they were not alone in thinking that unimpeded religious worship was a guard against an overly ambitious or arrogant national government. As Michael Burleigh writes about the role of religion in post-French Revolution European politics, with a supporting quote from Edmund Burke:
The political function of religion was not simply to keep the lower orders quiescent, as has been tiresomely argued by generations of Marxists, but also to impress upon those who had power that they were here today and gone tomorrow, and responsible to those below and Him above: “All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust, and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society.”
Guarding against ambitious and arrogant government was not at all the point of allowing religious freedom in America. Allowing freedom and establishing participatory democracy set limits on government power, but the idea that the unleashing of all religions was done to ensure some sort of cumulative force for restraint is absurd.
Edmund Burke was an important philosopher of Conservatism. But that assertion of his does not stand up to examination. Were the popes and primates of the Catholic Church ever restrained in the way they exercised their nearly totalitarian power by remembering that they were “here today and gone tomorrow”? That they would have to “account for their conduct” to their Master, Author or whatever else they called their god? No, they were not. Nor did their actions ever suggest that they thought they “ought to be”. They carried on, and expected their successors to carry on, in the well-established tradition of compulsion by terror.
Mandel goes on:
Religion was not the “opiate of the people,” intended to keep them in line. It was, rather, to keep the government in line. This was not a revolutionary idea; it predated the American Constitution, certainly. As Francis Fukuyama writes in The Origins of Political Order: “The existence of a separate religious authority accustomed rulers to the idea that they were not the ultimate source of the law. The assertion of Frederic Maitland that no English king ever believed that he was above the law could not be said of any Chinese emperor, who recognized no law other than those he himself made.”
The medieval Church kept everyone in line, monarchs and people alike, as firmly as it could. It did exercise a brake on the powers of the secular rulers. (One famous example: King Henry II of England felt that he had to submit to the humiliating punishment imposed on him by Pope Alexander III for letting his knights murder Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170.) But it is also true that the secular rulers exercised a brake on the power of the Church. There was a long sustained secular-papal power struggle (manifested notably, for instance, between the Pope-supporting Guelphs and the Emperor-supporting Ghibellines in Italy, a struggle that lasted from the 12th to the 15th centuries).
The Church or the belief in a Heavenly Judge had nothing whatever to do with English kings accepting that the law was above them. Magna Carta held them to it, and it was issued by King John in 1215 without any help from the Church.
Mandel seems to be trying to build a case – which he touches on by mentioning the Founders, but then wanders off it – that the liberty-enshrining Constitution of the United States was a product of the religiousness of those who framed it. The Constitution itself said no such thing. Individuals among the framers may have thought they were carrying out their God’s will when they wrote it – who can know? But what is certain is that they were inspired by the secular ideas of the Enlightenment – ideas which broke the power of the Churches forever. With all due respect to Edmund Burke – it was especially in post-French Revolution European and American politics that religion had no significant role.
If rulers are to be restrained by anything, it must be by the people they rule: by the democratic process that Mandel himself refers to.
“God” is superfluous to democracy, to justice, and to freedom. In his – ie the Church’s – long reign over Europe, there was no democracy, no justice, and no freedom. And wherever else religion dominates to this day, there is only oppression, injustice, subjugation and fear.
It seems tragically probable that the Left has won. Socialism – or call it statism, or collectivism – has won. All over the Western world it has won. There are no political parties in Europe or the New World that have any chance of coming to power that are not socialist. Those parties that call themselves conservative are no more likely to dismantle the welfare state that every Western nation has become than are the self-declared collectivist parties.
The Left, we repeat, has won throughout the West. And having allied itself with Islam, it is helping that savage force to replace our civilization and its outposts and defenders throughout the whole world.
It is too late to reverse the accumulating consequences of its victory. Sentiment has defeated Reason by achieving political power and using it to coerce conformity.
For all its claims to be rational, Socialism is the political expression of sentiment: the sentiment of egalitarianism, to appease the base emotion of envy.
In its claims to act in the name of compassion; in its determination to humble the more gifted and more accomplished; in its vision of a High Government as lord, father, judge, director, enforcer, provider, punisher; in its mystical doctrine of an ideal existence somewhere in the hereafter that will justify suffering and sacrifice; in its striving for total control; in all this Socialism closely resembles Christianity. Socialism can fairly be called “secular Christianity”.
Though the Enlightenment destroyed the power of the Christian Churches, and to a large extent drained Europe of religious belief, Christianity has its revenge. It has crept back through the romantic idealism of Marxism and its daughter, the welfare state, until once again popes and primates – the ideology’s elite – command obedience. The punishments they will inflict on you for not conforming are not now the rack, the wheel, or the stake. (Or not yet.) Rather, they will tax away your wealth. They will actively seek ways to incriminate and imprison you. They will surreptitiously deny you your rights under the law.
In America, agencies of oppression are now most notoriously the IRS, the EPA, the TSA (see here, here, and here.). Among the government departments which have arrogantly assumed dictatorial powers are those of Justice, Health, and Education. We have been told by a source we have no cause to doubt that law-enforcement agencies throughout the country have been instructed by the socialist administration to investigate, humiliate, accuse, and whenever possible condemn and imprison “the Rich”, and – it seems from some cases we know of – to fine them to the limit of the law. Rich or not , you will find that there’s no aspect of your life that the long fingers of despotism cannot or will not probe and re-direct.
For this calamitous system a growing majority, it seems, will cast their votes time and time again. Democracy itself has brought the one country which was founded on the idea of personal liberty to this condition.
The Left has won in America; it has won in Europe; it has won throughout the West. It prevails in the schools and academies where dissent is discouraged and even penalized. It is enthusiastically supported by the mass media. And those who should oppose it, the Republicans, far from standing for liberty, talk passionately about trivial issues, apparently seeing its mission as a holy crusade to keep people from making their own choices in matters of personal – especially sexual – relations. They would have us all conform to busy-body moral rules laid down by Christians. For in America the old Christianity still holds the minds of millions in thrall. The sacerdotal Christianity of the puritan Right will not be liberty’s champion against the secular Christianity of the tyrannous Left.
The Left thinks in terms of achieving an ideal society. It has ends and goals. The leftist government steers the nation towards a vague vision. The people must be carried on forever towards it, whether they like it or not, while every effort is made to persuade them that the end, the goal, the destination is a paradise. But history tells us that socialism leads only to impoverishment at best and unmitigated hell at worst.
Governments should not have “ends”. They should only have functions. Or rather, one function: to protect the liberty of the people. Government should serve us, not reign over us. With the only other political party likely to gain power in America too feeble to fight, is there no other force that we can look to for taking up the cause of liberty?
The answer ought to be the libertarian movement. If the libertarian movement were genuinely for liberty above all else, for defeating the Left by upholding the Constitution, shrinking government, keeping the state from interfering in the economy, and defending the nation, there would be hope for a future victory of Reason and Freedom.
But the libertarian movement is not a force bringing hope.
Derek Hunter writes at Townhall on The Problem With Libertarians:
There was a time I called myself a Libertarian. And there was a time I was a Libertarian. I just wanted to get government to leave me alone, to leave people alone and to go all crazy and limit itself to doing only that which is spelled out clearly in the Constitution. That was what a Libertarian was. But it’s not anymore.
The word no longer has any meaning, no definition or parameters, certainly no coherent philosophy to speak of. And there’s no one to blame for that except Libertarians themselves.
So what happened?
By not even loosely defining the parameters of a set of beliefs, Libertarians allowed their brand – as it was – to be hijacked by anyone willing to wear the label. They went from the movement for individual responsibility, small government and free markets to a gaggle of misfits who want pot and prostitution legalized and a total non-interventionist foreign policy. …
We have no objection to pot and prostitution being legalized. Why were they ever illegalized? But we hear libertarians defending child pornography; preaching historical revisionism; pretending liberty can dispense with the rule of law. And we object to all that. As for their non-interventionist foreign policy, they seem to think that we need not stir ourselves in our own defense unless America is invaded militarily by a hostile power. It makes us wonder if such libertarians are at all aware of what’s going on in the outer world. Do they think about what it will mean for us when Iran becomes a nuclear power – which it soon will? Have they thought what will happen to this country if there is nuclear war anywhere on the globe? We doubt it.
The great Reason magazine is a wonderful publication filled with great articles, solid journalism you won’t find elsewhere … and a voice that does little more than complain.
Reason is great at highlighting abuses by every level of government, stories ignored by other media outlets. But you won’t find much in the way of philosophy or solutions. …
I love the Cato Institute and have a lot of good friends who work there, and they do offer some good solutions. They just refuse to do anything about them. Cato has a deserved reputation for refusing to play nice with anyone else. When was the last legislative “victory” spearheaded or introduced by Cato? …
On election night 2008, I was at a Reason/America’s Future Foundation (another Libertarian group) election night party in a Chinatown bar in DC. The results of the election were a forgone conclusion, so what better way to mark the night than with a few drinks and friends. Hell, the band played as the Titanic sank, so why not imbibe a bit as the nation hit the iceberg?
It’s not like anyone was thrilled to vote for John McCain that day. But as bad as McCain was (and still is), he was better than Barack Obama. At least that’s a conclusion you’d expect anyone who supported liberty to draw.
Yet that night, as each state was declared for Obama, cheers rose from the crowd. When Obama won Ohio, you would’ve thought you were in a bar in Green Bay and the Packers had just won the Super Bowl. High-fives and laughter filled the room.
It wasn’t as though these self-described Libertarians wanted Obama to win. Well, actually, many of them did. But the majority of them wanted McCain to lose. They wanted Republicans to lose. Their victory was to let the country lose, to get that smug sense of self-satisfaction they were feeling. …
Libertarians have devolved from the pro-liberty wing of the right side of the ledger to the annoying kid who, when he doesn’t get 100 percent of what he wants, takes his ball and goes home. The team he agrees with more than half the time loses to the team he barely agrees with at all, and he cheers …
David Horowitz, writing at the National Review, argues for a united front to be formed against the Left; all factions of Republicans, libertarians, conservatives, coming together under the banner of liberty. But he does not expect the idea to win instant favor.
Naturally, the first reaction of conservatives to this advice will be to reject it. Conservatives do not want to behave like leftists, who see politics and government as a means for transforming the world and the people in it. Temperamentally, conservatives are cautious because they know that the problems the world faces are caused by human beings, not by the social institutions that progressives plan to change. …
Fortunately, the objections of conservatives are not an obstacle to getting behind a unifying idea. The conservative cause already has a moral core; it is just not currently a political theme, the way equality is for Democrats and progressives. But it can be made into one.
Conservatism … is about protecting the constitutional system created by the Founders. But the creation of this constitutional arrangement was a revolutionary act. It provided a political framework to maximize individual freedom and allow citizens to exercise their talents and enjoy the best possible lives.
What conservatism is about is freedom, and this is its natural unifying idea.
Individual freedom and ordered liberty made possible by the imposition of limits on government is the idea that unites conservatives and Republicans, and should be their rallying cry. The idea is fundamentally opposed to the “equality” that is the goal of progressives and Democrats. …
The equality proposed by progressives and Democrats is a declaration of war on individual freedom, and therefore on the American constitutional framework. The steady erosion of that freedom is the consequence of progressives’ political successes. This is the war that divides Left and Right. Conservatives must recognize that it is a war, and prosecute it as a war to defend individual freedom. That should be the unifying idea of the conservative cause. …
The very struggle that inspired the Right in the Cold War era — the battle between tyranny and freedom — is once again staring us in the face, but we are reluctant to name it. We have gone almost silent instead. The silence must end. It is time to connect the battle for individual freedom at home and the defense of our free society abroad, and to make them one. That is the way to advance the conservative message and unify the political forces on which the future of our nation depends.
If conservatives continue to ignore the fact that their opponents approach politics as a religious war, if they fail to organize their own resistance as a moral cause, they will eventually lose the war and everything that depends on it.
Eventually? We fear “eventually” is now.
“Liberal” is a misnomer for the American mainstream Left. The Democratic Party has become a socialist party, and socialists are not liberal in the plain meaning of the word. Democrats are not for liberty, they are against liberty. They are for government control of the people. They hate Republicans, conservatives, the Tea-Party and anybody who believes in individual freedom and a government that serves rather than masters the people, and their hatred inspires and motivates them. They reflexively blame the Right for everything that goes wrong. Every time there is a terrorist attack in America the leftist MSM declares that the Right must be to blame. In almost all instances it turns out that their allies, Muslim jihadis, are actually the perpetrators. (The few exceptions have almost all been lunatics.) The growth of illiberality among the so-called liberals dates back at least five decades, when the Left did its utmost to blame the Right for the assassination of President Kennedy. The fact that the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was a creature of the Left was …
… an inconvenient fact [which] had to be expunged. So, 24 months after the assassination, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the Kennedys’ kept historian, published a thousand-page history of the thousand-day presidency without mentioning the assassin.
So George Will writes at Investor’s Business Daily. He goes on:
The afternoon of the assassination, Chief Justice Earl Warren ascribed Kennedy’s “martyrdom” to “the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.” The next day, New York Times luminary James Reston wrote in a front-page story that Kennedy was a victim of “a streak of violence in the American character”, but especially of “the violence of the extremists on the right”.
Never mind that adjacent to Reston’s article was a Times report on Oswald’s communist convictions and associations. …
Three days after the assassination, a Times editorial, Spiral of Hate, identified Kennedy’s killer as a “spirit”: The Times deplored “the shame all America must bear for the spirit of madness and hate that struck down” Kennedy. The editorialists were, presumably, immune to this spirit. The new liberalism-as-paternalism would be about correcting others’ defects.
Hitherto a doctrine of American celebration and optimism, liberalism would now become a scowling indictment: Kennedy was killed by America’s social climate whose sickness required “punitive liberalism”.
That phrase is from the Manhattan Institute’s James Piereson, whose 2007 book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism is a profound meditation on the reverberations of the rifle shots in Dealey Plaza.
The bullets of Nov. 22, 1963, altered the nation’s trajectory less by killing a president than by giving birth to a destructive narrative about America.
In George Will’s view, however, this meant the beginning of liberalism’s own decline in America.
Fittingly, the narrative was most injurious to the narrators. Their recasting of the tragedy to validate their curdled conception of the nation marked a ruinous turn for liberalism, beginning its decline from political dominance.
Punitive liberalism preached the necessity of national repentance for a history of crimes and misdeeds that had produced a present so poisonous that it murdered a president.
To be a liberal would mean being a scold. Liberalism would become the doctrine of grievance groups owed redress for cumulative inherited injuries inflicted by the nation’s tawdry history, toxic present and ominous future.
Kennedy’s posthumous reputation — Americans often place him, absurdly, atop the presidential rankings — reflects regrets about might-have-beens. …
But the Kennedys were not the stuff great leaders are made of. JFK was not on course to take American power, prosperity and prestige to new heights. Rather, “the Kennedys pioneered the presidency-as-entertainment”.
Under Kennedy, liberalism began to become more stylistic than programmatic. After him — [and] after his successor, Lyndon Johnson, a child of the New Deal, drove to enactment the Civil Rights Acts, Medicare and Medicaid — liberalism became less concerned with material well-being than with lifestyle and issues such as feminism, abortion and sexual freedom.
Sexual freedom being the only freedom liberals now manifestly approve of. More – they promote it with enthusiasm.
The bullets fired on Nov. 22, 1963, could shatter the social consensus that characterized the 1950s only because powerful new forces of an adversarial culture were about to erupt through society’s crust. Foremost among these was the college-bound population bulge — baby boomers with their sense of entitlement and moral superiority, vanities encouraged by an intelligentsia bored by peace and prosperity and hungry for heroic politics.
It is a devastating thought, that people can become bored by peace and prosperity. An appetite for heroic politics is an even worse phenomenon, a romantic phenomenon. It’s what motivated millions of Germans passionately to support the Nazi Party in the 1930s. And, as George Will implies, it is a desire that drives many into the collectivist Left – the Left that anti-liberal “liberalism” has become in America.
Liberalism’s disarray during the late 1960s, combined with Americans’ recoil from liberal hectoring, catalyzed the revival of conservatism in the 1970s. As Piereson writes, the retreat of liberalism from a doctrine of American affirmation left a void that would be filled by Ronald Reagan 17 years after the assassination.
But since Reagan the illiberal Left has risen again. And its season in power this time has been as disastrous for America – and for the world – as were the years of President Franklin Delaney Roosevelt (who helped to defeat Nazism, but allowed Communism to spread in Eastern Europe, and fathered the New Deal.) What it is doing now is probably even worse.
Are the Christian churches doing anything about the bloody, growing, relentless persecution of Christians in Arab and other Islamic countries?
The Archbishop of Canterbury?
Some at least of the innumerable Christian denominations in America?
The primates of the Russian Orthodox Church?
Are priests and parsons at least preaching against it from their pulpits?
No report or even a rumor of any such sermon has reached our ears.
Why not, we wonder. And then we recall that Christians make a virtue out of being persecuted. But of retribution, judgment of the persecutors, stopping the evil – nothing. Maybe because their man-god, in a sermon on a mountain or a plain, reputedly enjoined them not to resist evil. Thus giving evil a completely free hand.
Surely the United States is doing something about it? At least objecting to it verbally?
What about diplomats and churchmen in the countries where the persecution is happening?
Never! No Western diplomat would risk being caught criticizing anything Muslims do. And Middle Eastern churchmen, who cannot help noticing the dwindling numbers of their flocks and even hear cries in the endless night of their consciences, have found ingenious ways to blame Israel – ie the Jews. It’s an old tradition that they’re comfortable with.
Try Googling the subject. Dig hard and you’ll find some crumbs.
You’ll find Pakistani Christians have protested recently over the massacre of some 85 of their number, killed coming out of church by a couple of Muslim suicide bombers. Some of the protestors have since been beaten up by their Muslim neighbors for daring to complain.
And you can, if you search, find reports of thousands of Nigerian Christians being killed by Muslims in regular weekend raids – and on some week days too. The Muslims – who are passionately against literacy – cut up their victims with machetes and throw small children on to fires. (See also our posts: Christians murdered by Muslims, March 9, 2010; Muhammad’s command, March 30, 2010; Suffering children, May 11, 2011; Victims of religion, October 16, 2011; Acts of religion in Nigeria revisited, October 16, 2011; Christians slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria, October 17, 2011; Boko Haram, the Muslim terrorists of Nigeria, November 10, 2011; More acts of religion in Nigeria, January 19, 2012; More Christians burnt to death by Muslims, July 11, 2013.)
What about those great humanitarians, the Communists, who fill Western universities and run a few countries? After all, the professed essence of their creed is concern for the underdog. But no, the butchery, the torture, the abduction of children – none of it bothers them. To their way of thinking, Christians can never be authentic underdogs. But all Muslims are, however rich and powerful many of them may be.
What about the media? At least the Christian media surely …?
Here’s a fine example from a Christian website. It starts off promisingly, but soon gets round to denying that the persecutions are due only to religious intolerance and explaining that the police who should protect Christians are unfortunately otherwise engaged; then seems to criticize Western Churches for find a Christian bright side to look on – the mistaken idea that converts can be won from among observers of the tortures and killings – but drops suddenly into pious reflections of its own.
I have been surprised that the media has actually covered many of the church burnings that have taken place. The reason that I am surprised is because in most of the uprisings and protests that have taken place throughout the Middle East, church burning and persecution of Christians has taken place without the media reporting on it. In Egypt’s case, the Muslim Brotherhood has used the crackdown on the protests as an opportunity to loot and burn churches and Christian businesses. The Daily Star, Lebanon’s English language newspaper said attacks on churches coincided with assaults on police stations, leaving most police “pinned down to defend their stations or reinforcing others rather than rushing to the rescue of Christians under attack”.
The reality is that the persecution in Egypt is just the most popular of a long list of these things happening currently all over the world. Statistics show that this year alone 163,000 people will die because of their faith. It is estimated that by 2025 that number could rise to 210,000 per year.
So they’re expecting a further increase in the productivity of this appalling industry? Is this an example of pessimism or optimism?
There is any number of reasons for persecution, and it is not just because of religious differences, although that usually plays a major role. Other reasons include politics, finances, anti-Western bias, and racism. Many times all of these issues are rolled up into one that supports the persecution taking place. There is also a disturbing myth among Western Christians that persecution causes the church to grow. In fact, since persecution in the country of Turkey began the percentage of Christians has dropped from 32% to 0.2%. Syria has seen a drop from 40% to 10%. Iran saw a drop of 15% to 2%. Persecution is something that will always be with the church and will even ramp up as the Great Commission comes to completion, but it is not good. Persecution is the result of a fallen world and a real enemy that must be fought against. This enemy is not flesh and blood, though, so our fight must take place in the heavenly realm through prayer.
Yeah, good idea. That always helps.
The atrocities that we are seeing on television should prompt us to fight the spiritual battle. We must first pray that God would be glorified. God is not surprised by what is taking place in Egypt. We need to pray that the believers and Christian workers there would have faith and use this as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with others. We also need to use this as motivation for ourselves individually to get better informed and learn about the persecuted church so that we would know how to pray. Lastly, I would challenge you to consider going to these places. There is nothing quite like a real, physical hug to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. It could be your visit and encouraging words that gives strength to the church to continue fighting the good fight.
So if prayer fails, a hug may do it.
There are a few honorable exceptions among journalists. Raymond Ibrahim, the Front Page Magazine columnist, and himself a Copt from Egypt, is keeping the record and writing regularly and fully about the subject. His articles are well worth reading.
And an atheist, Nat Hentoff, writes:
Largely absent from nearly all our sources of news and commentary is deep, continuing coverage, if any, of the horrifying massacres of Christians in Egypt and especially Syria and the burning down of their churches.
The world’s most prominent Christian, Pope Francis, has denounced the violence, but our media has mostly ignored him [on this subject] …
One of the few penetrating protesters of this violence is Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review:
For the first time in 1,600 years, they didn’t pray this past Sunday at the Virgin Mary and Anba Abraam monastery in a village in southern Egypt. Islamists firebombed and looted the monastery, which dates back to the fifth century. For good measure, they destroyed a church inside. They then announced that they would be converting the monastery into a mosque. (Egypt’s Anti-Christian Pogrom, Lowry, National Review, Aug. 20).
… And as for our president: “In his remarks after the bloodshed began in Egypt, President Barack Obama relegated his concern over the anti-Christian attacks to a three-word dependent clause at the end of one sentence.”
As for daily life in Egypt, Morning Star News reported that earlier this month, “a Coptic Christian girl walking home from a Bible class at her church was shot and killed … in Cairo by an unidentified gunman, human rights activists said.” The girl’s uncle, a church pastor, said “he didn’t know for sure if the shooting was religiously motivated but quickly added that violence against Christians ‘seems to be normal’ in Egypt now” (Coptic Christian Girl Shot Dead in Egypt, Morning Star News, Aug. 9).
Meanwhile in Syria, “the nation’s 2 million-plus Christians are caught in the middle of a Muslim war. Jihadist rebels threaten and kidnap them while coercing others to become Muslims. Government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad order them to fight the opposition or face death” (Christians are in the crosshairs of bloody Muslim wars in Mideast, Rowan Scarborough, the Washington Times, Aug. 1).
But in spite of all this, says John Hayward of Human Events, “the international community never seems terribly exercised about the persecution of Christian minorities. … The same advanced democracies that had agonized internal discussions about whether freedom of speech should be curtailed, in order to avoid offending Muslims, don’t seem particularly angry about the destruction of Coptic churches, and other Christian property. Egyptian mobs are targeting Christian property for destruction by writing Islamist graffiti on the walls.”
But, thankfully, there are still those who are angry and vocal about this violence toward Christians. One of these media commentators who persistently denounce the absence of sustained American outrage at this merciless pogrom is Michael Savage, host of the Cumulus Radio program “The Savage Nation”.
Meanwhile, in this democratic country, will our Congress’s cold indifference continue? And will the nation’s religious leaders and activists – not just Christians – be confronted by those they lead? Will they say something and try to save what’s left of those Christian minorities in Egypt and Syria? …
As for the rest of us, are there any street demonstrations coming in front of the United Nations? Or does the very idea of insistent involvement from the U.N. – its reason for being – provoke anything but sardonic laughter at the prospect that its members will do anything lasting at all?
Our reader Dale Jensen, commenting on our post Feminists submit to Muslim male domination (August 24, 2013 – about Swedish women putting on hijabs in mistaken solidarity with Muslim women) made these points which we extract from the full comment:
Cultural Marxism sees everything through the lens of oppression. In the deluded mind of Leftists, whites and indeed all of Euro culture is built on the oppression of non-whites; i.e. the legacy of imperialism. Whites must therefore pay for their past sins. Islam is seen as noble while anything associated with the West is seen as evil. That is why “we see a glorification of Islam on the part of many Leftists”. …
The Left are also pathological altruists. … This is the legacy of post-Kantian philosophy. Kant was trying to save Christian ethics from the skepticism which characterized much Enlightenment thought (he wasn’t wrong about that). His Categorical Imperative basically destroys self-interest as acting from “inclination” is always outside the realm of morality (it becomes amoral) and acting from “duty” is the only path to virtue. Kant would go on to advocate an extreme form of altruism where duty to the “other” is basically the only way to be moral. The moral philosophers that followed him would expand this. Auguste Comte would argue that Christian ethics was too selfish because it focused on the salvation of the individual soul. The legacy of this is that today genuine self-interested action, at an individual or national level, is considered outside the realm of morality (or immoral) whereas only duty-oriented action to the “other” is moral. The Other has become the standard of morality. Now you package that with egalitarianism and you see that you must sacrifice for the cultural other. …
According to the dictates of Leftist egalitarianism, the more non-Western or non-White the “other” is, the more you must appease or surrender to them. This combines Leftist egalitarianism and Post-Kantian altruism to get the modern spectacle. So Islam being the most non-Western and evil of our enemies must be appeased. What better way to offer sacrifices to our Islamic enemy than to give them White, Western women. It is the sign of a culture (Euro-White) sacrificing itself pure and simple; all on the altar of egalitarianism and white guilt. …
Female biological need for male psycho-sexual strength – this is also important. Leftism (and feminism in particular) has gelded and castrated the modern male. To use Nietzschean terminology, it has turned most men into some version of the “Last Man”; a video game playing, pro-sports team worshiping, overweight, feminized Last Man. Feminism has undermined male strength and male authority. Women crave this on a deep psychological level. Male dominance is something that makes a woman feel feminine. Without it, a woman is never fulfilled. I’m not saying that dominance needs to be malevolent. I think the dominance men wielded prior to the 1960s was actually benevolent, especially compared to the rest of the world. But it was undermined. Now we are seeing some women seek out that order and that dominance from Islam and Muslim men who are not wussified by feminism and Leftism. These women in the name of modern liberalism are turning themselves into basically Chattel Slaves of Muslim Men. It could make you want to cry or spit. …
The West is committing suicide. We are seeing this in many ways. But the way Western women are behaving is a leading indicator. To watch this knowing what is coming at the end of the tunnel is heart breaking. On my darker days I wonder if the entire liberal / libertarian project is inherently flawed, and only a strict Conservative regime can work. I’m uncertain about that last though.
We are not sure what a “strict” Conservative regime would be, but we do think the liberal project is entirely flawed, and the libertarian project has flaws in it.
There are many points in the comment worth discussion and we invite further comment on any or all of them.
Christopher Swindell is a professor of Journalism at Marshall University in West Virginia. He writes this in the Charleston Gazette (May 30, 2013):
Watching the celebration at the NRA [National Rifle Association] convention over the defeat of background checks was the most nauseating experience of the day.
I am not a New York gun control liberal, either. I support a shotgun for home defense, a handgun for limited conceal/carry, and an assortment of hunting rifles to balance West Virginia’s exploding deer population (as evidenced by hourly collisions with cars). So, I am hardly out of the mainstream.
But, the gun safety debate is B.S. This foaming at the mouth, Obamar is coming for the guns, Nanny Bloomberg is a bad billionaire, and most despicable of all, those survivors and victims are pawns in the liberal agenda is knuckle-dragging Cretan talk.
Is Obama not coming for the guns? Is Bloomberg not behaving like a nanny when he rules on how much soda people may buy in one cup “for their own good”? Are all Americans not pawns in the liberal – ie Obama administration’s – agenda?
And no matter how many times Sen. Joe Manchin tries to explain his compromise (a decent attempt thwarted by extremists), the hard right lies and foams. The repeated lies now seem like the truth, what with the likes of Sen. Kelly Ayotte telling them.
Apparently he only has to say the name of Senator Kelly Ayotte (for whose position on gun control see here) to conjure up a set of connotations at which his fellow liberals (though not those of the “New York gun control” type who are apparently too extreme for Mr Swindell) to nod in harmonious disdain.
Probably the most serious miscalculation opponents make is the guest list for the NRA speaker’s podium. To let the half-wit half-term quitter Sarah Palin have a microphone is to alienate the very people Republicans need to work with on future legislation. To say nothing of the other speakers.
Sarah Palin is an extraordinary (and beautiful) woman. She hunts and fishes to put food on her family’s table. She and her husband built their own house. She was an able governor of Alaska. Chosen by the lackluster John McCain to be his running-mate for the presidency in 2008, she energized his campaign and drew the eyes of the nation to her as the star she is. When Obamacare was no more than a dark nebulous menace, she spotted that it would inevitably set up the “death panels” which it does. But because they do not agree with her; because she did not go to an ivy-league university; because she is not one of that class of intellectual snobs aptly called by Thomas Sowell the “self-anointed”, she is treated by them not only with most illiberal scorn, but is actively persecuted, bullied, maligned, libeled. The snobs have even sunk so low as to malign and libel her children. Every brave, moral, decent thing she does – such as deciding not to have an abortion when she knew her child would be born with Down Syndrome – is mocked and spat upon by those arbiters and models of good taste, refined sensibility, superior breeding and costly education. They confuse intelligence with the acquisition of university degrees. She did not go to Harvard, so she is a “half-wit”. As for her being a quitter – meaning that she left the governorship because a campaign of frivolous and cruel litigation was mounted against her – the critics should consider how little time Barack Obama devoted to anything in his life before he became president.
And how does choosing a white, rich old man with an offensive degrading speech about the war of “Northern Aggression” as NRA president forward a sense of reasonableness? History lesson: It was an awful Civil War won decisively some 150 years ago. Over slavery. The Confederacy wanted to keep African-Americans in chains and President Lincoln didn’t.
Ah yes, to be white is eternally unforgiveable (unless you are on the Left). To be rich is so nasty it ought to be criminalized (unless you are on the Left - or believe in nanny government like billionaire Mayor Bloomberg).
The Civil War was indeed “awful”. Some 620,000 people lost their lives in it. It was fought to keep the Union together. Whether rightly or wrongly is still a subject of dispute, while nobody now supports slavery except Islam.
Sure, there were states’ rights issues, but nullification, secession, and treason were settled at Appomattox Courthouse. Sure, Reconstruction left a bad taste. But, resurrecting these same things, the way South Carolina is as we speak, is to invite a return to the whole concept of a Union.
Here it is. The NRA advocates armed rebellion against the duly elected government of the United States of America.
We did not hear and have not found NRA speeches advocating “armed rebellion against the duly elected government”. But if they were made, we doubt that the speakers meant now. If they meant that one of the reasons citizens should freely own guns is to defend themselves against a tyrannical government, they were surely right. And the trend of the Obama government is ever more towards dictatorship and tyranny.
That’s treason, and it’s worthy of the firing squad. The B.S. needs a serious gut check. We are not a tin pot banana republic where machine gun toting rebel groups storm the palace and depose the dictator.
We put the president in the White House.
A part of the electorate put this one there, making the biggest mistake in US history.
To support the new NRA president’s agenda of arming the populace for confrontation with the government is bloody treason. And many invite it gladly as if the African-American president we voted for is somehow infringing on their Constitutional rights.
There we go. Mentioning that he is “African-American” is the hint that all who are against him are motivated by race prejudice.
And that is followed by a threat of overwhelming fire-power in defense of their immaculate values:
Normally, I am a peaceable man, but in this case, I am willing to answer the call to defend the country. From them.
To turn the song lyric they so love to quote [?] back on them, “We’ll put a boot in your —, it’s the American way.”
Except it won’t be a boot. It’ll be an M1A Abrams tank, supported by an F22 Raptor squadron with Hellfire missiles. Try treason on for size. See how that suits. And their assault arsenal and RPGs won’t do them any good.
So, to return to reality, all of us. Let’s make common sense gun safety a deciding issue for 2014 and beyond. The NRA certainly has. Let’s push back. We the People. The 85 percent who support more robust background checks. And when the next domestic terrorist with an assault rifle comes along, we can blame the leaders and fringe of the NRA for arming them.
So this whole rant was over less or more “robust background checks”. And whether less or more, if a mass murderer comes along with an assault rifle, the great thing is that the Left can blame the NRA for arming him. You only get reasoning like that among the brilliant self-anointed.
“For all their assumption of independence, girls of that class are used to the feeling of being specially protected, as, in fact, they are. This feeling accounts for nine tenths of their audacious gestures. …
“She had acquired all the appropriate gestures of revolutionary convictions – the gestures of pity, of anger, of indignation against the anti-humanitarian vices of the social class to which she belonged herself . …
“She was displaying very strikingly the usual signs of severe enthusiasm, and had already written many sentimental articles with ferocious conclusions.”
- Joseph Conrad (The Informer)
Quotations from the MailOnline:
Katherine Russell, the widow of Boston bomb suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was “an all-American girl who was brainwashed” by her extremist husband according to one schoolfriend. … At high school her personal motto was ‘Do something about it or stop complaining’. She dreamed of going to college and joining the Peace Corps. …
Instead she met Tsarneav, 26, a disenfranchised man who came to America from his troubled homeland of Chechnya who rapidly had her in his thrall. By the time she was 21 she had married him and borne his child, Zahara, now three. She had converted to Islam …
It would be hard to imagine a childhood more rooted in America’s pilgrim heritage than Katherine’s. It is in there in the names of the towns – Plymouth, Dorset, Greenwich – where many of her friends still live and writ large in the wholesome values of the one-time Honors student’s home life. …
The eldest of three daughters, to emergency physician Dr Warren Russell and nurse Judith, hers is a background steeped in the values of family and education.
She attended Daisyville Middle School, North Kingstown. As a sixth grader she is pictured smiling from the pages of the 2001-2002 yearbook dedicated to The North Kingstown Police and Fire Departments in the wake of 9/11 – a date, the opening dedication reads, “forever in our minds”.
An historical event of mass murder by Muslims, noted with all the right sentiments by this nice all-American girl, but without the least understanding.
Quotations from the Washington Post:
Three American civilians and three U.S. troops were killed in two attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, including a powerful blast that struck officials traveling to a school to donate books. Among the dead was the first State Department diplomat to be killed in the country since the war began. The bloodshed Saturday, the deadliest day this year for Americans in Afghanistan, underscored how dangerous the country remains as the United States proceeds with the withdrawal of its remaining troops over the next 20 months, leaving security in the hands of Afghanistan’s fledgling army. …
The American diplomat killed Saturday was identified as Anne Smedinghoff by her parents. Smedinghoff was recently tasked with assisting Secretary of State John F. Kerry on his trip to Kabul.
Four other State Department officials who were with her, traveling to a school in the southern province of Zabul, were injured in the same bombing, one critically, Kerry said in a statement. “She was everything a Foreign Service Officer should be: smart, capable, eager to serve, and deeply committed to our country and the difference she was making for the Afghan people,” Kerry said. “She tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future.” …
In a somber address to State Department employees in Istanbul, Kerry paid tribute to Smedinghoff.
There is no greater contradiction, Kerry said, between Smedinghoff’s zeal to “change the world” and help others and a bomber who he said drove a car into their vehicle. …
A contradiction? No. A symbiosis.
[Ann Smedinghoff's] parents, Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff … live in the Chicago area … “She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help to make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war,” they said. “We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world.” …
Tom Smedinghoff said his daughter died in the pursuit of a career she loved. “The world lost a truly beautiful soul today,” he said. “She was such a wonderful woman – strong, intelligent, independent, and loving.”
In fact, she did not die in a car. She was walking to the school bearing a gift of books, when an Afghan came close to her and exploded himself.
Quotations from the Weekly Standard:
State Department employee Anne Smedinghoff was killed in Afghanistan last weekend. At first reports suggested the young diplomat was part of an armed convoy that was bombed, but new reports say that she was actually on foot. And that the group she was with got lost on its way to deliver books. …
The security officials said there was an initial car bomb detonated by a remote device. Then a suicide bomber wearing a suicide vest appeared and caused more casualties.
What difference did Anne Smedinghoff really make to Afghanistan?
What difference can be made by any American, or any number of Americans, to Afghanistan?
What has America bought with the thousands of lives lost in this longest war in its history?
[Stanley Ann] Dunham gravitated toward an intellectual clique. According to former classmate Chip Wall, she caught foreign films at Seattle’s only art-house theater, the Ridgemont, and trekked to University District coffee shops like the Encore to talk about jazz, the value of learning from other cultures and the “very dull Eisenhower-ness of our parents.”
“We were critiquing America in those days in the same way we are today: The press is dumbed down, education is dumbed down, people don’t know anything about geography or the rest of the world,” said Wall … ”She was not a standard-issue girl. … ”
Obama describes his mother [Stanley Ann Dunham] arguing with her second husband, Lolo Soetoro. Soetoro had become an Indonesian oil company manager and wanted Ann to accompany him to various social functions with American oil company personnel. Ann refused arguing, “Those are not my people.” …
As with Obama, his mother’s generation of these pseudo-intellectual leftist high schoolers found a way to think of themselves as superior. … Dunham thrived in the environment … As much as a high-school student can, she’d question anything: “What’s so good about democracy? What’s so good about capitalism? What’s wrong with communism? What’s good about communism?” …
Starting in the 1930s the Communist Party promoted opportunities for “inter-racial” relationships among its members. The Seattle Times describes Ann Dunham’s attitude towards dating at all-white Mercer Island High School: “Dunham hadn’t had a boyfriend in high school, according to Maxine Box, her best friend at the time. So Box and others were stunned when Dunham wrote them to say she’d married the University of Hawaii’s first African student, a Kenyan named Barack Obama.”
A bookish outsider and only child, she was plunked down in Hawaii the year after it became a state by her restless father and her resolute mother. In her first months as a college freshman, at 17 years old, she got pregnant by her first boyfriend, an older student from Kenya named Barack Hussein Obama, who married her but left her when the baby was 11 months old. Twice, she married men from different cultures and races, then divorced them. With the help of her parents, she raised two biracial children as a single mother on the Pacific islands of two nations, got degrees in math and anthropology, spent years in peasant villages studying Javanese cottage industries, and pieced together grants and development work to make money and provide for her children’s education. …
Quotations from Godlike Productions (condensed from other sources):
In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote a dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java …
“She felt that somehow, wandering through uncharted territory, we might stumble upon something that will, in an instant, seem to represent who we are at the core,” said Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s half sister. “That was very much her philosophy of life – to not be limited by fear or narrow definitions, to not build walls around ourselves and to do our best to find kinship and beauty in unexpected places.”…
“She was a very, very big thinker,” said Nancy Barry, a former president of Women’s World Banking, an international network of microfinance providers, where Soetoro worked in New York City in the 1990s. …
In a Russian class at the University of Hawaii, she met the college’s first African student, Barack Obama. They married and had a son in August 1961, in an era when interracial marriage was rare in the United States. Her parents were upset, Obama learned years later from his mother, but they adapted.
The marriage was brief. In 1963, Obama left for Harvard University, leaving his wife and child. She then married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian student. …
Those choices were not entirely surprising, said several high school friends of Soetoro, whom they remembered as unusually intelligent, curious and open. She never dated “the crew-cut white boys,” said one friend, Susan Blake: “She had a worldview, even as a young girl. It was embracing the different, rather than that ethnocentric thing of shunning the different. That was where her mind took her.”
Her second marriage faded, too, in the 1970s. …
“She gave us a very broad understanding of the world,” her daughter said. “She hated bigotry. She was very determined to be remembered for a life of service and thought that service was really the true measure of a life.”
All three good, broad-minded, liberal girls. Two of them married men of another culture to prove it. One walked among enemies to show how friendly she was. All of them wanted to be noble.
At least two of them were academically smart.
Joseph Conrad saw such Western, educated, gently-reared, idealistic girls as belonging to a certain class of which he wrote:
“Its own life being all a matter of pose and gesture, it is unable to realize the power and the danger of a real movement and of words that have no sham meaning. It is all fun and sentiment.”
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, March 14, 2012, two potential leaders of the Republican Party described their visions of the Party’s future. (Videos of their speeches in full here.)
We quote from a report /opinion column in Time magazine:
The back-to-back pairing of Rubio and Rand was seen as the most significant matchup of the annual conference, pitting two likely 2016 Republican contenders before the party’s conservative base. The result pointed to the growing schism in the Republican Party between resurgent libertarians and more traditional Republicans.
The two men – Paul age 50, Rubio just 41 – laid out divergent visions of an inclusive Republican Party. Rubio called for a focus on economic opportunity and a muscular role overseas. Paul called for a reduction in the size of the U.S. government … [and for] the Republican Party to shift away from neoconservative foreign policy.
Actually, Paul did not “call for the Republican Party to shift away from neoconservative policy”. At least, not on this occasion. “Neoconservative foreign policy” means “the US acting in the world at large, including militarily”. The phrase also implies criticism of President Bush’s foreign policy which some libertarians and the Left believe was unduly influenced by “neoconservatives”. Time’s use of the word may convey, as some libertarians have intended it to convey, a flicker of antisemitism (though Rand Paul would almost certainly deny that he ever intends any such thing).
With almost all of what Rand Paul said we agree:
He warned that the Republican Party is “encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom”.
“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered — I don’t think we need to name any names, do we?” he said, though the target, Sen. John McCain, was clear.
‘The new GOP,” Paul said advocating for … a smaller government …, “will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we’re going to have a Republican Party that can win, liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP.”
He pledged to introduce a budget in the coming weeks to balance the budget in five years that would also slash the income tax in half, and create a flat tax at 17 percent.
The contrast between the pair couldn’t be more obvious or consequential for the party struggling to remake itself after two straight presidential defeats.
On foreign policy we agree with Marco Rubio. In general we like Rand Paul’s ideas.
An unavoidable question is: could a more libertarian Republican Party still be the party of conservatism?
Roger L. Simon, writing at PJ Media, considers the question.
He starts on a personal note:
Last month my ninth-grade daughter attended a conference for the Junior State of America. Almost none of the high school students, she told me, caucused with the Republicans. A throng went to the libertarians.
He makes the same criticism of libertarians as we do:
I can’t totally identify as a libertarian, since I find some of their more extreme views silly. (Someone does have to pay for the interstate highway system. And Islamic jihadists are quite serious about a world caliphate. Declaring ourselves the purest of free marketers and rolling up the gangplank will not deter them in the slightest. In fact, it will only encourage them.)
All this is the long way around to saying that the problems creating the current dissension [among conservatives] stem in part from the word “conservative” itself. It seems mired in the past — even when it is not. …
Young people particularly (and even some older folks like myself) like to see themselves as oriented toward the future. …
What should conservatives do? Declare themselves to be “classical liberals,” which many are? That seems a bit academic.
Whatever the case, new terminology should and must be found. And whatever it is, it should be forward looking. …
Conservatives and libertarians — whatever they are now called — should market themselves as the party of the future. Respecting the Constitution is important, but something more than that is necessary.
We don’t think the word “conservative” needs to be replaced. Not in America. The United States was founded on the ideal of liberty. It is supremely important that it stays that way. An American conservative is someone who believes in liberty and will act to keep his country and everyone in it free. (A point implied by Marco Rubio in his speech.)
Respecting and defending the Constitution is vital to that end. If more is needed, it is in pruning away dead wood rather than tacking on “something more”.
Conservatives who drag in extraneous ideas – religion and stuffy views on sex, marriage, and drug control – are the element needing to be changed.
It is up to a new generation of Republican conservatives to effect the change.
There has been criticism of this year’s CPAC which we think is justified:
This is a condensation (which we quote from our own Facebook page) of an article by Robert Spencer, the indispensable expert on Islam. Read the article itself here for the author’s full explanation of why he is and yet is not a conservative.
I am generally considered to be a conservative. It is a label I have used myself, as a way of distinguishing my position from that of the liberals and Leftists who have generally sold out to the jihad, so blind in their hatred of Western civilization and the United States of America that they eagerly cast their lot with the foremost enemies of both. Nonetheless, for all that, I am not a conservative. Mitt Romney is a conservative. He called for the creation of a Palestinian state and said that “jihadism” has nothing to do with Islam. Grover Norquist is even more of a conservative than Mitt Romney. His conservative bona fides are impeccable as the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, but he also has extensive ties to Islamic supremacists, supporters of Hamas and other terrorist organizations that are sworn enemies of the United States and our ally Israel. So I must not be a conservative. Then what am I? I am an advocate of freedom: of the freedom of speech, of the equal treatment of all people under the law. Consequently, I am a foe of the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, which are enemies of both those principles. I know that there are many others like me, but neither party seems interested in us right now, and neither does the conservative movement, such as it is. It is time for a new movement, a genuine movement of freedom, one that is not compromised, not beholden, and not corrupted. Are there enough free Americans left to mount such a movement? That I do not know. But I do know that if there aren’t, all is lost, and the denouement will come quickly – more quickly than most people expect.
We sympathize with Robert Spencer’s position. We are equally exasperated by Romney’s and (far worse) Norquist’s position vis-a-vis Islam and jihad.
But why should they be allowed to define what conservatism is?
We define it as loyalty to the Constitution; to five core principles; and above all to the ideal of freedom on which the USA was founded.
The five core principles of our conservatism are: individual freedom, small government, low taxes, the free market, strong defense.
Islam is the enemy waging a war of conquest against America. How conservative can Americans be who do not even acknowledge that that is the case?
It’s past time for real conservatives to fight back with passion against its enemies: Islam, and the pro-Islam anti-America Left which managed to get one of its own elected to the presidency.
Daniel Greenfield – one of the writers we most respect, and on most issues agree with – argues against Rand Paul’s position on drones and the government’s possible threat to lives on American soil. (See our post Death or due process? March 7, two days ago.)
Rand Paul is anti-war, like his libertarian father Ron Paul. His views on America’s conduct of foreign affairs are like his father’s.
It is chiefly on the issues of foreign policy and war that we part company with most libertarians.
So on these issues we are as critical of both father and son as Daniel Greenfield is. But we do not agree with all he says.
There are Conservative sites that are positively giddy about Rand Paul getting positive mentions from John Cusack [Hollywood leftist critic of the use of drones] and [Maoist Communist] Van Jones. [Feminist pacifist] Code Pink’s endorsement is being treated like some kind of victory.
Are we really getting worked up about getting a pat on the head from the left? …
Even saner heads are calling Rand Paul’s filibuster a political victory. The only place that it’s a victory is in the echo chambers of a victory-starved party. And to Code Pink and Van Jones who are happy to see the Republican Party adopting their views.
The “brilliant victory” was that some Republicans tried to go further on the left than Obama on National Defense. Maybe next they can try to go further left than him on Immigration, Gay Marriage and Abortion.
And if that doesn’t work, Rand Paul and Jon Huntsman can get together on ending the War on Drugs.
On the issues of gay marriage and the war on drugs we too take a libertarian view. We don’t think that what people do in their private lives is the state’s business. (We notice that marriage is a fading institution, and so anticipate that all unions, whether heterosexual or homosexual, will become civil contracts of the same kind – leaving the religions to decide for themselves who may be married by their rites.)
On abortion our position is not conventionally conservative or libertarian. We think it should be rare and early. The law should speak on the matter only to set a time limit.
We cannot be for uncontrolled immigration as long as the host country is a welfare state.
Daniel Greenfield continues on the subject of drones, which, he says, was a smokescreen obscuring Rand Paul’s real cause:
Most Americans support using drones to kill Al Qaeda terrorists. Most Americans don’t know about the filibuster or care. Most Americans want political and economic reforms, not conspiracy theories.
The Paul filibuster was about drone strikes on American soil, the way that Obama ‘only’ wants to ban assault rifles.
This isn’t about using drones to kill Americans on American soil. That’s a fake claim being used by Rand Paul as a wedge issue to dismantle the War on Terror. Now that he’s manipulated conservative support for that, he can begin moving forward with his real agenda.
Rand Paul is on record as opposing Guantanamo Bay and supports releasing the terrorists. He’s on record opposing drone strikes against Al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, saying, “A perpetual drone war in Pakistan makes those people more angry and not less angry.”
This position is no different than that of his father. The only difference is that Rand Paul is better at sticking statements like these into the middle of some conservative rhetoric.
To which we say, endorsing Greenfield’s view: the belief, held by the far left and the libertarian movement, that countries hostile to the United States have been provoked to spiteful bellicose fury by American policies and actions, is wrong. It is ill-informed. America is resented for what it is – free, prosperous, successful, and above all powerful – not (unless in particular temporary instances) for anything it has done or is doing. Obama sympathizes with the resentment, and is doing his best to make the country he presides over less free, less prosperous, less successful, and much less powerful.
That the “war on terror” (ridiculous phrase but referring to something real) is not America’s fault, is the point on which we are in entire agreement with Daniel Greenfield. It is al-Qaeda, he says, which has turned the whole world into a battlefield, not America. And he is right.
Here, in the middle of Rand Paul’s drone rant is what he really stands for and against.
“It’s one thing to say yeah, these people are going to probably come and attack us, which to tell you the truth is probably not always true. There are people fighting a civil war in Yemen who probably have no conception of ever coming to America.”
The people fighting that “civil war” are tied in with Al Qaeda, including the Al-Awlaki clan, whose scion, Anwar Al-Awlaki helped organize terrorist attacks against America and was linked to 9/11.
“… We do know the U.S. drones are targeting people who have never pledged to carry out attacks in the United States, so we’re talking about noncombatants who have never pledged to carry out attacks are being attacked overseas. Think about it, if that’s going to be the standard at home, people who have never really truly been involved with combat against us. Take Pakistan where the CIA kills some people without even knowing their identities. … Think about it. If it were your family member and they have been killed and they were innocent or you believe them to be innocent, it’s going to – is it going to make you more or less likely to become involved with attacking the United States?”
This isn’t about stopping Obama from killing Americans. This is straight-line anti-war garbage.
“You know, or how much – if there’s an al-Qaida presence there trying to organize and come and attack us. Maybe there is. But maybe there’s also people who are just fighting their local government. How about Mali? I’m not sure in Mali they’re probably worried more about trying to get the next day’s food than coming over here to attack us.”
And a politician reciting Michael Mooreisms like these is supposed to stand for a “Conservative Victory”?
“I think that’s a good way of putting it, because when you think about it, obviously they’re killing some bad people. This is war. There’s been some short-term good. The question is, does the short-term good outweigh the long term cost, not only just in dollars but the long-term cost of whether or not we’re encouraging a next generation of terrorists?”
Is this the new conservative position now? That killing Al Qaeda terrorists only encourages more terrorism?
Are we all Paultards now? …
“Ultimately we as a country need to figure out how to end war. We’ve had the war in Afghanistan for 12 years now. The war basically has authorized a worldwide war.”
Not just to end the Afghan war (which should have been ended eleven or so years ago), but to end war as such. Absurd. And Rand Paul thinks that if America does not go to war, there will be no (international) wars. That belief is naive to an extreme.
And Paul’s statement that America’s going to war in Afghanistan “authorized a worldwide war” is totally false. Islam is at war with the rest of the world doctrinally. The attack by al-Qaeda on America on 9/11/2001 was an act of aggressive, not defensive war, and it was in pursuit of religous ends.
We will quote a little more from the Greenfield article, because his argument is about more than Rand Paul’s position on foreign policy, war, and drones; it is about Conservatism and the Republican Party.
This is Rand Paul’s position. It’s the position of anti-war protesters in 2002. It’s Barack Obama’s original position before he discovered that war wasn’t so easy to end.
If you stand with Rand, this is what you stand with.
Everyone can do what they please, but if you’re going to stand with Rand, then let’s be clear about his positions and agenda. And be clear about whether you share them or not.
No more dressing this up in “Rand Paul is standing up for the Constitution.” That’s the same dishonest claim his father made for years. And none of the even more dishonest, “Drone strikes on Americans in cafes” nonsense.
That’s not what this is about.
1. Do you think that the United States is murdering innocent Muslims and inspiring terrorist attacks?
2. Do you think that if we just leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone?
3. If you think all those things, then wasn’t the left, which has been saying all these things since before September 11, right all along?
Is Van Jones agreeing with you… or are you agreeing with Van Jones? …
The Left believes those things because they are on the side of America’s enemies and want them to win. Rand Paul believes them because he knows nothing about the world beyond the borders of his own country and mentalities beyond the limits of his own imagination.
The lesson that the Republican Party refuses to learn is that you don’t win by abandoning conservative values.
• You don’t win by going liberal on immigration.
• You don’t win by going liberal on government spending.
• You don’t win by going liberal on social values.
• And you don’t win by going liberal on national defense.
You either have a conservative agenda or a mixed bag. And Rand Paul is the most mixed bag of all, because the only area that he is conservative on is limited government.
If the new Republican position is open borders, pro-terror and anti-values, then what makes the Republican Party conservative?
Reducing conservatism to cutting the size of government eliminates it and replaces it with libertarianism. It transforms the Republican Party into the party of drugs, abortion, illegal immigration, terrorism… and spending cuts. And the latter is never going to coexist with a society based on the former. …
If Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party… then the party has no future. …
I don’t believe that we can win through political expediency that destroys principles.
We tried that in two elections and we lost. Watering down what we stand for until we stand for nothing at all except the distant promise of budget cuts is how we walked into the disaster of 2012.
John McCain in 2008. Mitt Romney in 2012. Rand Paul in 2016. And what will be left?
To be reborn, the Republican Party does not need to go to the left. It doesn’t need to stumble briefly to the right on a few issues that it doesn’t really believe in. It needs to be of the right. It needs to be comprehensively conservative in the way that our opposition now is comprehensively of the left.
If we can’t do that then we will lose. America will be over. It’ll be a name that has as much in common with this country, as modern Egypt does with ancient Egypt or as Rome of today does with the Rome of the imperial days.
We agree that “to be reborn, the Republican Party does not need to go to the left.” And we agree that Rand Paul is wrong about foreign policy and the world-wide war.
But we do not agree that libertarianism is a creed of the Left. How can it be? The Left stands essentially for state control and collectivism – viewing human beings sociologically, as units of a herd.
The American conservative Right stands for freedom of the individual above all. The Republican Party stands for freedom of the individual, therefore small government, low taxes and the free market; for property rights, therefore low taxes and the free market; for the protection of freedom, therefore the rule of law and strong defense. That is the logic of freedom. Those are the values of conservatism and the Republican Party. They are our values.
We certainly do not want illegal immigration and terrorism. Nor to “go liberal on government spending”.
But we do think the Republican Party should bend further toward libertarianism. Not leftwards, but rightwards. Individual freedom must mean that individuals make their own choices, even if those choices are harmful to themselves. What they smoke and whom they bed with are obviously matters of personal choice – while government spending, immigration, and terrorism are matters for the state.
There is a new generation of young Republicans who are conservative in their thinking about freedom under the rule of law, but frustrated by stale authoritarian attitudes towards drugs and homosexuality. They are conservative in their loyalty to the Constitution, but impatient with the religiosity of most conservatives.
Some of them are forming themselves into a new caucus. They name themselves the Republican Reason Caucus. Read about them here.
We think they may, and hope they will, restore vitality to the thoroughly demoralized Republican Party.
Rush Limbaugh weighed in recently on the Republicans’ on-going debate about what went wrong in November. Elaborating on his earlier comment that he was “[for the first time in my life] ashamed of America,” Limbaugh said, “The Left has beaten us. They have created far more low-information, unaware, uneducated people than we’ve been able to keep up with . . . He added that the Democrats “control the education system . . . pop culture, movies, TV and books” and use that control to create “dependency” among voters.
These are extracts from an article by Bruce Thornton at Front Page. He endorses Rush Limbaugh’s lament. Both of them seem to think that not only has the Left “beaten us” in the present (“us” being Republicans, conservatives, anti-socialists generally), but that the Left’s victory is probably irreversible:
Some may think this is a dog-bites-man observation, but it’s worth looking more closely at the most important item in Limbaugh’s list - the educational system. Everything else Limbaugh mentions is made possible because of the deep corruption in public education from kindergarten to university.
We often focus on the ideological biases of the university, where the more lunatic examples of political correctness get the most attention. But in education as in economics, there is a trickle-down effect. The grandees at the elite universities train the PhD’s who go on to second and third tier institutions, where they in turn train the students who get high school and grade school teaching credentials. They also write most of the textbooks that end up in K-12 classrooms. Thus the progressive ideology metastasizes throughout the educational system, determining the curriculum, the textbooks, and the point of view of the teachers. At that level the ideas may be garbled, half-baked, incoherent, and a collection of clichés and slogans. But they are still toxic and effective at transmitting a world-view to impressionable minds.
When my kids were in public school I witnessed this process over and over. Questionable leftist ideas I had to sit through in graduate seminars turned up regularly in my kids’ English and history courses and textbooks. In the Marxist interpretation of history, for example, traditional historical narratives reflect the “false consciousness” of capitalism’s academic publicists justifying and “mystifying” a history marked by oppression and atrocities in service to a dehumanizing capitalist ideology.
The founding of the United States, then, was not about things like freedom and inalienable rights, but instead reflected the economic interests and power of wealthy white property-owners. The civil war wasn’t about freeing the slaves or preserving the union, but about economic competition between the industrial north and the plantation south. The settling of the West was not an epic saga of hardships endured to create a civilization in a wilderness, but genocide of the Indians whose lands and resources were stolen to serve capitalist exploitation. Inherent in this sort of history were the assumptions of Marxist economic determinism and the primacy of material causes over the camouflage of ideals and principles.
In the 60’s this narrative was married to identity politics: the defining of ethnic minorities and Third World peoples on the basis of their status as victims of this capitalist hegemony and it imperialist and colonialist mechanisms, which justified the plundering, oppression, and exploitation of the non-white “others” with racist notions of their natural inferiority. Various strains of postmodernism added a cultural relativism that put out of bounds any judgments of a culture’s values, since all such standards reflect the economic needs of the dominant power. Soon feminism added women to the list of victims sacrificed to the white-male power structure. …
Generations of credential students have sat in these courses and then gone on to teach in high schools and grade schools, and to write the textbooks and curricula that propagate this ideology. The result is a student population ignorant of the basic facts of history, the vacuum filled with melodramas of victimization, racism, oppression, and violence that cast the United States as a global villain guilty of crimes against humanity. …
So too with the movies, books, television shows, and popular music Limbaugh identifies as vectors of this disease. They merely reflect what their creators absorbed in school and what their audiences have been programmed to uncritically accept as true. Having been schooled in the evil designs of oppressive, greedy corporations that abuse workers and rape the planet, these cultural consumers are natural audiences for the plots of movies and television shows that recycle these dull clichés. Having been taught the evils of free-market capitalism that enriches the few at the expense of the many, they are natural constituents of a class-envy politics demanding the rich “pay their fair share,” which is nothing more than property redistribution useful for creating a class of political clients dependent on the federal government. Having spent years being indoctrinated with romantic environmentalism and Disneyfied visions of nature, they are susceptible to an anti-carbon politics that retards development of American oil resources in the name of “protecting the planet” from an apocalyptic rise in global temperatures caused by human and corporate misbehavior, a notion that barely qualifies as a hypothesis, let alone a scientific fact. But how could most products of our dysfunctional educational system tell the difference?
No surprise, then, that last year Obama won the 18-44 demographic––46% of the electorate––by about 15 points. This is the age group that has spent its whole educational career in schools that fail at teaching fundamental skills and basic information, but succeed at transmitting the progressive ideology perfect for creating conformist dependents …
Thornton acknowledges that some children “escape this warping influence “, which, he says, “is a testimony to parents and independent-minded teachers who are careful to counter this ideology”.
He concludes with a reminder of the Jesuit educational maxim: “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”. And he observes, “Today’s progressives get children until they are 18 and sometimes 21. That kind of influence is hard to match.”
And now the Obama gang want to start the indoctrination even earlier, with free pre-school education for all children.
Have Republican policy-makers thought about how to cure the Left’s corruption of the school and university curricula? Is any Republican leader or conservative organization likely to think about it? Is there a solution short of abolishing all state-financed and state-aided education (which Republicans are extremely unlikely ever to think of doing)?
If the answer to all those questions is no, then is Rush Limbaugh right that “we are beaten”?
Our hopes lie with the invincible liberating selfishness of human nature; with the “natural order of liberty” – which was Adam Smith’s phrase for what Marx called “capitalism”; and with the knowledge derived form both thinking and noting the history of the last hundred years that socialism cannot work so it will not work.
The Left’s victory – like the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia – may last as much as a few decades, to the extreme detriment of America, but it will fail eventually because its teachings are untrue, as all religious doctrines always are.