Now for a look at the thoughts of a leftist intellectual.
Hold your nose. It’s a junk-pile of sentimentality, self-congratulation, pious do-goodery, elitist classical allusion, and heavy emotion.
They are the thoughts of Joe Klein, writing at Time online. He is criticizing President Obama for not doing his job of governing. But would the way Klein thinks that job should be done be any improvement on Obama’s doing nothing?
Klein starts by saying:
It’s time to stop running away from the nation’s troubles.
He means that’s what President Obama should do – stop running away. He doesn’t go so far as to say that Obama had a hand in causing the troubles.
The trouble he turns to is the case of the child immigrants streaming illegally into the US from Central America. He calls them “refugees”. He paints a touching scene of what’s going on at the border.
A woman named Libby Casanova brings her four children to volunteer every day. She is a pathologist in the real world but does intake at the center; she’s the first person the refugees encounter. “Many of them start to cry when they hear the applause,” she says. “They are so grateful.”
What applause? Who are they who applaud Lily Casanova and her four children when they arrive daily to tend to the “refugees”?*
In Klein’s mind – and probably in the mind of the charitable mother-of-four – the “refugees” are humble petitioners, overflowing with gratitude to their benefactors. It must make Klein feel good by proxy.
Never mind who applauds. Get the picture as Joe Klein sees it and would have his readers see it:
Casanova brought her children on the first day so they could see that not everyone was as fortunate as they are – and the kids insisted on coming back and volunteering every day.
Rosy-faced little Christian saints. Christian? Yes, a nun pops into the picture:
“This place is making the entire community stronger,” Sister Norma says. And there is an infectious spiritual joy in the air. As Sister Norma says, “Jesus did not say, ‘I was hungry and you asked for my papers.’ “
Pause to overcome nausea. Then on:
Barack Obama should see the Catholic Charities mission in McAllen. He should also have a town meeting with the Tea Party nativists who are so angry and threatened by the rush of refugees – 43,933 unaccompanied children alone since October – who began to appear from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
And here comes more criticism of Obama:
His job, after all, is to rise above the rancor and, well, lead. You don’t do this by making a speech to a favored audience. You do it by taking action, setting a personal example. All sorts of Protestant congregations are sending volunteers to Sacred Heart – perhaps he could encourage a Tea Party group to do the same. The President has gone to the scene of other human tragedies. He has acknowledged the suffering personally in the past.
What scenes of human tragedy has he gone to? Whose suffering has he acknowledged? Not the choking to death of Ambassador Chris Stevens. Osama bin Laden’s perhaps?
But not now, and you have to wonder why.
True political courage is near extinct. I saw the real thing for the first time on the night of April 4, 1968, when riots broke out across the country after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Senator Robert Kennedy decided to go into the heart of the Indianapolis ghetto – he was running for President at the time – and talk to the people. His aides and the local police pleaded with him not to do it. He was putting his life in danger, but he believed he had a responsibility to show up. He spoke for only five minutes, without a text – you can watch it on YouTube – and he calmed the crowd by quoting Aeschylus about the experience of excruciating pain that leads to deeper wisdom. Indianapolis was one of the few major cities that remained quiet that night.
There’s a lesson for us all. To calm a seething mob, quote Aeschylus at it. Calms it in minutes.
Nowadays politicians are swaddled by their media consultants, who determine whether it is “safe” to be “courageous”. But acts of courage don’t come with a money-back guarantee. They are courageous because they’re potentially dangerous or, more likely, embarrassing. Courage’s reward comes subtly, in the form of trust as the public learns that a politician is willing to take risks to tell the truth. Obama is currently wandering about the country, trying to meet average people, but the choreography is more stringent than the Bolshoi’s. He said he didn’t want to go to the border because it would only be a “photo op” … on the same day his office published a photo of the President and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper shooting pool. Who choreographed that? …
The last bit makes sense. Why is a photo of the President playing pool okay, but one of him looking into smelly warehouses where heaps of diseased teens are awaiting charity from church or state not okay?
These are precisely the sort of things that Obama doesn’t seem to do anymore. There has been a skein of stories indicating he’s thrown in the towel. He’s so tired of head-banging with Republicans that he has taken refuge in late-night dinners with celebrities and intellectuals.
“Refuge in late-night dinners with celebrities and intellectuals”? Refuge from Republicans! Phew! Ya gotta feel for the guy! He’s a refugee too. Perhaps Lily Casanova and her rosy kids could visit him and cast their love-light upon him. And Sister Norma. And delegates from Protestant congregations.
Robert Kennedy did a lot of that too. But Kennedy never gave the impression that politics was distasteful, beneath him, as Obama too frequently does. Kennedy was all about passion; Obama seems all about decorum.
We haven’t noticed the decorum. We think decorum might be quite a good thing in a president. Klein doesn’t. He prefers and recommends passion.
He needs to go to the border – on a lot of issues. If he’s going to accomplish anything in the last two years of his presidency, he’s going to have to change his style, which will be near impossible for a man as entrenched behind his flacks-in-jackets as the President is. He’s right about photo ops. Enough already. But there are other “ops” – study ops, passion ops, conversation ops. He needs to do something dramatic to win back the country.
Oh no! Please not “something dramatic”! No more floodlit speeches among fake temple columns. No more apologizing to Islam from a platform in Cairo. No more healing the planet, calming the seas, walking on water! Let him sleep. Let him play pool. And golf. Let him dine with celebrities and intellectuals deep into the small hours of the morning. Wish only that the remaining two and a half years of his presidency pass without the entire globe going up in flames while he dines and plays.
* Apparently “the entire staff” of the “processing center on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Church” applaud each “family” as it arrives. We missed that in his second paragraph. Because we didn’t read it. It was a tough read and we shirked some parts of it.
From time to time visitors to this website or our Facebook page query the idea – even the possibility – of there being such a thing as atheist conservatism. They are – almost always, as far as we can make out – Americans whose understanding is that the word “conservative” denotes Christian conservatism. To them, therefore, to speak of “atheist conservatism” is to commit a contradiction in terms. Some have called it an oxymoron.
In Europe too, conservatism has a Christian coloration. Conservative political parties usually declare themselves to be Christian – for example, the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) of Germany. But their support does not come only from Christians. And in Britain the established Church of England has been called “the Conservative Party at prayer”, but the party does not exclude members of other Christian denominations or other religions, or the non-religious.
Yet it is an American conservatism that we embrace. It is faithfulness to the Constitution, to the essential idea that the United States was intended to embody as a nation: the idea of individual liberty protected by the rule of law.
The shortest answer we give to those who accuse us of being self-contradictory is to tell them what our prime principles are:
- individual freedom
- a free market economy
- small government
- low taxes
- strong defense
And we point out that those are core principles of American conservatism. The Constitution – southern state critics please be reminded – does not require citizens to be Christian, or religious at all.
Just as often, perhaps even more often, we are told that we cannot be both conservative and libertarian: that the two traditions are separate and even inimical to each other, to the point of being mutually exclusive. Even if that were true (and we don’t think it is), we consider it unnecessary to take tradition into account. The issue needs to be looked at philosophically, not historically. Our conservatism, holding the firmly conservative principles we have listed, is manifestly a conservatism of liberty.
And we think it is now, more than ever before, that the libertarian view should direct the political agenda of conservatism. A heavy counterweight is needed to bring America back from its tipping over into collectivism by the Left. Individual freedom urgently needs to be saved.
What is stopping conservatives from accepting libertarianism as its future? The libertarians themselves. Frequently, their public statements reveal them to be inexcusably ignorant of world affairs. They often advocate naive isolationism. They seem to lack a sense of what matters. The legalization of drugs could be wise and necessary, but it is not worth making a hullabaloo about when jihad is being waged against us. A person should arguably be able to marry any other person or persons – or things – that they choose, but it is much more important that America should remain the world’s sole superpower.
John Hinderaker also thinks that this should be “the libertarian moment”. And he too reproaches libertarians with an underdeveloped sense of what matters to the existence, liberty, safety, and prosperity of the nation.
He writes at PowerLine:
Every major strand of American conservatism includes a strong libertarian streak, because the value of liberty is fundamental to just about all conservative thought. But today, especially, is said to be the libertarians’ moment. What once was a fringe movement, politically speaking, has moved front and center in our political life.
And yet, in my view, libertarians of both the capital L and small l varieties punch below their weight. They have not contributed as much as they should to the conservative movement. This is partly because libertarians tend to founder on foreign policy, where many are merely modern-day isolationists. But it is also because they have tended to focus on secondary, or tertiary, issues of domestic policy.
A couple of years ago I was invited to a gathering on behalf of Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who then was a libertarian candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. I was well disposed toward him, but when he started talking, his first subject was legalization of drugs. Now he is the CEO of a marijuana company. Rand Paul is probably the leading libertarian at the moment; he purports to take seriously the threat that someone drinking coffee in an American cafe will be struck by a drone-fired missile.
American liberty is indeed under attack, and a libertarian movement is needed more than ever. But the threat to freedom is not drug laws or drone attacks.
The principal threat is the administrative state, which increasingly hems in everything we do and depends hardly at all on the will of voters. …
Calvin Coolidge, who knew the Progressives well and understood how antithetical their vision of government is to America’s founding principles [said]:
It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter [the Constitution]. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
Today we labor under an administrative state that has metastasized far beyond anything Coolidge could have imagined. It constrains our freedoms, it lays waste to our economy, it has largely rendered Congress irrelevant, and it threatens to make just about anyone a criminal, since no one can possibly keep track of all of the myriad regulations with which we are encumbered. And let’s not forget that the administrative state is run by liberals, for liberals.
Despite the fact that it is antithetical to the Constitution and to American traditions, there is little opposition to the administrative state as such. Conventional politicians suggest that regulations can be made less irrational and less burdensome – a good idea, certainly – but hardly anyone questions the fundamental concept of Congress delegating its powers to unelected and mostly unaccountable agencies that are charged with managing just about every aspect of our lives. Nearly everyone considers the administrative state, as such, to be inevitable. …
Why don’t libertarians stake out a “radical” position on domestic policy? Why not argue, not just for a moderation in the inevitable drift toward a more and more powerful administrative state, but for a return to the Constitution’s central principle – the very first words of Article I – that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…”, a Congress that is accountable to the people.
A battle is being fought for the liberties of the American people and, frankly, it isn’t going well. The fight has little or nothing to do with drugs and drones. If libertarians are serious about preserving and expanding liberty, they should join the fight that matters. A libertarian movement that focuses on a rollback of the administrative state would be “radical,” but it also would put libertarians in the vanguard, not on the fringe, of American conservatism.
Crisis Magazine is a Catholic site.
William Kilpatrick makes some points there that we agree with, among some that we do not. We quote:
Question: What does Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist organization, have in common with Western educators? Answer: Both think that Western education is sinful. Fortunately, Western educators will not burn down your church or school with you inside as Boko Haram does to those who persist in their Western ways. Unfortunately, the type of education provided by Western educators will leave you totally unprepared for the likes of Boko Haram.
Roughly translated, “Boko Haram” means “Western education is sinful”. So there’s little doubt about where it stands. But in what way can it be said that Western educators believe the same thing? I don’t know if any educators have actually declared that Western education is sinful, but it’s not unfair to say that contemporary educational theory in the West is built upon a rejection of traditional Western education. Beginning with Rousseau’s Emile (1762), Western intellectuals began to challenge the Judeo-Christian view of the child and along with it traditional ideas about how children should be educated.
He describes what he thinks of as Christian education approvingly:
According to the earlier conception, one which still endures in some corners of our society, the child is born in original sin and, therefore, a good part of his education should be devoted to helping him overcome his natural tendencies to laziness, selfishness and pleasure-seeking. The goal of such education was the transmission of hard-learned cultural lessons through the study of history, literature, scripture and science.
All good subjects (though about scripture, see our last paragraph).
Two comments. One: “original sin” was disobedience followed by lust - not laziness, selfishness and (oh, dear!) pleasure-seeking. Two: For a thousand years, most children in Christendom were taught Christianity but not literacy. Once Christianity descended darkly over Europe, replacing the Roman Empire with the Catholic Church, most children received no education at all except the Christian myth along with the fear of Hell.
But what the writer says next is right on:
According to the Romantic tradition which began with Rousseau and which by the late 1960s had become the dominant philosophy in American education, the child is born in a state of original innocence with trustworthy impulses that should be followed, not denied. Romantic thinkers believed in nature with an almost religious fervor; in their view, man had fallen not from a state of grace but from the state of nature. Sin was a product of civilization, and if there were such a thing as evil, it lay in placing unnatural constraints on the child’s natural spontaneity and wisdom.
The Romantic emphasis on the child’s inner wisdom led to a corresponding de-emphasis on the acquisition of factual knowledge. Learning was thought to be a natural process and the child could therefore be trusted to learn what he needed to know by following his natural instincts. Consequently, book-learning came to be looked upon by Romantic poets and philosophers as an unnatural imposition on the child’s natural development. Take Wordsworth’s poem, The Tables Turned:
Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
The third stanza extends the anti-book argument a bit further:
Books! ‘tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
In short, why bother with books [boko haram? - ed]) when you can find all you need to know in the book of nature? That is the [we would say "one of the"] basic principle[s] of Romanticism. For a very long time, most educators ignored this highly unrealistic approach to education. Wordsworth, Emerson, Whitman and other Romantics were taught in schools, but they were celebrated for the beauty of their poetry and prose, not for their anti-bookish prescriptions. Eventually, however, these ideas about natural learning came to exert a powerful influence on the imagination of educators — particularly those of the American variety. By the 1930’s, under the name “progressive education”, the Romantic theory had spread to teacher’s colleges throughout the U.S. By the late 1960’s, it was the dominant philosophy in American classrooms.
The triumph of natural schooling theories did result in significant change — for the worse. SAT scores began a long decline and the U.S. students soon ranked near the bottom of developed countries on international assessment tests. The progressive movement did, however, produce a number of catchy slogans such as “holistic learning”, “child-centered schooling”, “at their own pace”, “self-esteem”, and “critical thinking skills”. Those were the terms of approbation. On the other hand, teachers were warned to avoid “memorization”, “rote-learning”, “mere facts”, “textbook-learning”, and “culturally biased curriculums”.
The progressives failed to realize, however, that you can’t think critically unless you have something to think about. But, having been deprived of “mere facts”, students have very little material with which to “construct knowledge” (another popular piece of educational jargon). How, for example, can students think critically about World War II if they’ve never heard of Roosevelt, Churchill or Stalin or if they have no idea where Germany, Japan, Poland and France are located?
What, you may ask, does this have to do with Boko Haram? Just this. Boko Haram is one of the more violent manifestations of the global resurgence of Islam in our times. Although it is marginally more brutal than other jihadist groups, it is not untypical. There are dozens of such groups all over the world that seek by force to restore Islam to its former dominance. The problem is, today’s anti-knowledge curriculums do not prepare students to think critically about what is happening in the Islamic world and what it means for the rest of us.
The disparagement of “mere facts” ensures that today’s graduates will know very little about the history of Islam. And the Romantic elevation of non-Western traditions means that they will know even less about the bloody nature of that history. Although American students will hear a great deal about Western imperialism, they are not likely to realize that Islam was one of the great imperial powers of all time. At one time, the Islamic Empire stretched from Spain, across North Africa, and all the way to India. The Empire was created by conquest, but high school and college texts tend to avoid that word in favor of euphemisms such as “the spread of Islam” or the “expansion of Islam.” And how was this expansion accomplished? According to one widely used high school history text, “The persecuted people often welcomed the [Muslim] invaders and chose to accept Islam. They were attracted by the appeal of the message of Islam which offered equality and hope in this world.” …
- A lie constantly repeated by Muslim propagandists.
Indeed, many accounts of Islamic history in American textbooks look like they could have been written by the Saudi Ministry for Propaganda and Whitewash. Many world history textbooks, for instance, take great pains to inform readers that jihad has little to do with holy war but rather is best understood as “overcoming immorality,” “a personal inner struggle to achieve spiritual peace”, or a “striving … to achieve personal betterment”. Moreover, in line with the Western habit of romanticizing non-Western cultures, textbooks present a highly romanticized (some would say, largely fictitious) portrait of Islam’s “Golden Age” in Spain and Baghdad. According to one widely-used college text, “The Muslims created [in Baghdad and Cordoba] a brilliant urban culture” where libraries abounded and where “judges, merchants, and government officials, rather than warriors, were regarded as the ideal citizens”. Meanwhile, over in the Christian Carolingian Empire, “Both gluttony and drunkenness were vices shared by many people…. Everyone in Carolingian society, including abbots and monks, drank heavily and often to excess.” …
It is necessary to remember that Christians burnt piles of volumes from the great library of Alexandria centuries before the Muslims came and destroyed it utterly. (It was ravaged by Christians in 391 CE, and completely destroyed by Muslims in 642 CE.)
There is nothing romantic about Boko Haram, and the facts concerning it don’t fit into the rose-colored narrative that is fed to our students about gentle Islamic expansion, interior spiritual struggles, and a library on every corner. … Absent knowledge of Islam’s 1400-year history of jihad, the Boko Haram campaign to exterminate Nigerian Christians must seem like an aberration — something completely unrepresentative of the true Islam. And so will the attacks on Christians in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Kenya, and elsewhere. They will be perceived as discrete, disconnected events that have “nothing to do with Islam” because American citizens are largely unfamiliar with the historical pattern that would help to make sense of these supposedly senseless actions.
What does that pattern look like? Islam scholar Raymond Ibrahim provides this brief description of the European experience with Islam:
Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order): Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.
It seems well past time to wake up from the romantic dream and reacquaint ourselves with that once-familiar, now forgotten pattern.
We agree of course with his abhorrence of Islam, and with his objections to Romanticism.
We see Romanticism as the (admittedly godless but nevertheless mystical) religion that replaced Christianity when the Enlightenment broke the power of the Churches and brought Christianity into open question.
We see it as the enemy of Reason, scorning proper education, and science, technological innovation, the nation state, free trade, the free market, capitalism, individual freedom, the productive middle-class, prosperity, rule of law, civilization. Also skepticism. And humor.
At present Romanticism is hammering the Western world with two dogmas that are in an improbable alliance, that of Leftism and that of Islam.
Some Catholics, it seems, can share this understanding with us to an extent, though they would no doubt want the Church to rule again, and the irrationalities of Christianity to replace those of Socialism and Mohammedanism.
We agree with William Kilpatrick that our Western culture should be handed down. That means teaching facts, as he says – and critical examination of all opinion.
We want education to be secular.
The Jewish and Christian scriptures should be taught as literature, and religion in history classes, because they have had a huge effect on our culture. But (as our frequent commenter Frank has urged inspirationally) they should be taught only by atheists.
Debate is out. Sooo 2008. No longer will an idea be discussed from several points of view with reasoned argument weighing pros and cons among listeners open to persuasion.
Instead there are to be “feelings” contests. Whoever can prove “I feel more intensely about this or that than you do”, will be the winner.
“I am more emotional than thou,” is the implied motto of the exercise.
Contestants who can shout loudest and cry longest stand the best chance of winning.
A good name for this new kind of competition would be “a Howl“. The contestants might be called “Howlers“. The graphic on their logo might be a wolf howling at the moon.
The object of the participants is to arrive at “the new truth”. (It is not entirely new: there is precedent in religion, and in the doctrine of Wagnerian/Nazi ideology, that “truth is what you feel”.)
The object for the audience is not to consider points of view and arrive at an opinion. The object is catharsis. Leave drained, and you’ve had a good night out.
The Atlantic reports - rather sympathetically – on a recent bout:
On March 24, 2014 at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Championships at Indiana University, two Towson University students, Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson, became the first African-American women to win a national college debate tournament, for which the resolution asked whether the U.S. president’s war powers should be restricted. Rather than address the resolution straight on, Ruffin and Johnson, along with other teams of African-Americans, attacked its premise. The more pressing issue, they argued, is how the U.S. government is at war with poor black communities.
This US government? The Obama administration? With Eric Holder heading the Department of Justice and refusing to prosecute New Panthers who intimidated voters at a polling station, on the grounds that they are “his people”? Yep, that’s the one.
In the final round, Ruffin and Johnson squared off against Rashid Campbell and George Lee from the University of Oklahoma, two highly accomplished African-American debaters with distinctive dreadlocks and dashikis. Over four hours, the two teams engaged in a heated discussion of concepts like “nigga authenticity” and performed hip-hop and spoken-word poetry in the traditional timed format. At one point during Lee’s rebuttal, the clock ran out but he refused to yield the floor. “Fuck the time!” he yelled. His partner Campbell, who won the top speaker award at the National Debate Tournament two weeks later, had been unfairly targeted by the police at the debate venue just days before, and cited this personal trauma as evidence for his case against the government’s treatment of poor African-Americans.
This year wasn’t the first time this had happened. In the 2013 championship, two men from Emporia State University, Ryan Walsh and Elijah Smith, employed a similar style and became the first African-Americans to win two national debate tournaments. Many of their arguments, based on personal memoir and rap music, completely ignored the stated resolution, and instead asserted that the framework of collegiate debate has historically privileged straight, white, middle-class students.
Tournament participants from all backgrounds say they have found some of these debate strategies offensive. Even so, the new style has received mainstream acceptance, sympathy, and awards.
Joe Leeson Schatz, Director of Speech and Debate at Binghamton University, is encouraged by the changes in debate style and community. “Finally, there’s a recognition in the academic space that the way argument has taken place in the past privileges certain types of people over others,” he said.
Such as those who can think rationally and express their thoughts cogently.
“Arguments don’t necessarily have to be backed up by professors or written papers. They can come from lived experience.”
And my pain is greater than your pain, so there – I win.
One thing is clear: In a community accustomed to hashing out every possible argument, this debate will continue. The uncontested benefit of the debate format is that everyone receives equal time to speak …
Wai-ait a mo! Isn’t timing to be fucked?
Answer: Now that’s just the sort of thing that must not be allowed. Demands for consistency will exclude whole classes of people. Not everyone can be consistent, you know? But everyone can feel …
So although timing is to be fucked, it’s a cool thing to hold on to …
… something that drew many minority students to debate in the first place, said Korey Johnson. “No matter how people feel about my argument, they have to listen to me for all of my speeches, everything I have to say, they can’t make me stop speaking,” she said.
Dennis Prager sees more clearly that there is extreme racism in all this. He writes at Townhall:
When Americans over the age of, let us say, 45, look at any of the iconic paintings of America’s Founders – the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the signing of the Constitution, George Washington crossing the Delaware, any of the individual portraits of the Founders – what do they see? They see great men founding a great country….
Increasingly only conservatives see pictures of greatness. More and more Americans – that includes the entire left and many universities attendees who were indoctrinated by left-wing professors – now see rich, white, self-interested males.
The left-wing trinity of race, gender and class has prevailed. The new dividing lines are no longer good and bad or excellent and mediocre, but white and non-white, male and female, and rich and poor. Instead of seeing great human beings in those paintings of the Founders, Americans have been taught to see rich, white, (meaning – by definition – selfish, bigoted, racist, sexist) males.
In colleges throughout America, students are taught to have disdain for the white race. I know this sounds incredible, or at least exaggerated. It is neither.
For example, from the day they enter college, many students are taught about white privilege – how innately advantaged white students (and all other whites are). Last week, the president of Western Washington University posed the question on the university’s website: “How do we make sure that in future years we are not as white as we are today?” …
Inner city young blacks who work hard in school are routinely chastised by other black youth for “acting white”.
Regarding white privilege, last year, three academics at the University of Rhode Island wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
The American Psychological Association’s educational goals for the psychology major include sociocultural and international awareness, with learning outcomes regarding mastery of concepts related to power and privilege. Other professional organizations, including the American Sociological Association, have developed similar learning goals for teaching in higher education. Instructors have been charged with teaching their white students to understand their own privileged positions in society relative to those of marginalized groups.
And be heartily ashamed of it. They should spend the rest of their student days repenting.
The key point here is that the word “values” never appears. Instead of asking what values made America’s Founders great, the left asks what race, gender and class privileges enabled those men to found America. Instead of asking what values does the white majority (or, for that matter, on some campuses, the Asian majority) live by in order to succeed, and how can we help inculcate those values among more less successful people of all racial and ethnic groups, the left asks what privileges do whites have that enable them to get into colleges and graduate at a higher rate than blacks and Latinos.
The undermining of the very concept of values was starkly made clear last month at a national inter-college debate tournament. ..
And he goes on to relate what happened at the March 24 CEDA Championships at Indiana University, quoting The Atlantic report, and comments:
In a national intercollegiate debate contest, a black debating team won by transforming the topic of the debate, one that had nothing to do with race, into a race question.
But to object to this, or to argue that a team might be disqualified for yelling “f— the time” when told it had gone over the time limit, or to ask what performing hip-hop has to do with the topic “whether the U.S. president’s war powers should be restricted” – is now deemed to act white.
This is another victory for the left. And another defeat for standards, for truth and for the values embodied by the men in the paintings of the Founders.
Well, we’d all better get used to it. If you want to go to a university, if you want to get a degree, remember: reason, logic, intellect are OUT. They are too white and male.
Howling is IN.
For regularly participating Howlers, training in opera singing is advised and might even become compulsory.
Scientists, mathematicians, logicians, engineers, lawyers, doctors, businessmen are advised to stay away.
If you’re placing bets, expect women to win more often than men – especially if the team is feminist, as complaining is their schtick.
Expect Leftists to beat Rightists invariably.
This is the way the world ends, not with a whimper but a howl.
Brandeis University was being true to its despicable self after all when it treated Ayaan Hirsi Ali disgracefully.
It was where Herbert Marcuse, one of the most prominent apologists for the violently destructive New Left, indoctrinated students and wrote his staggeringly idiotic books.
This is from PowerLine, by Paul Mirengoff:
BRANDEIS’S “REPRESSIVE TOLERANCE”
Like me, Michael Leeden finds that “if there’s anything really new about Brandeis’ disinvitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it’s that they invited her at all”. While many seem surprised that Brandeis, founded by Jews in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, would align itself with Islamists and their apologists, Ledeen finds no underlying inconsistency.
Brandeis was the home of professor Herbert Marcuse, the iconic leftist philosopher of the 1960s. Marcuse dedicated his book Repressive Tolerance to his Brandeis students. He summarized its thesis this way:
The … realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed. In other words, today tolerance appears again as what it was in its origins, at the beginning of the modern period – a partisan goal, a subversive liberating notion and practice. Conversely, what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today, is in many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression. . . .
The restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions. …
Marcuse gave the student rebels and the terrorists of the West European New Left “a justification for their aggression. He told them that they were quite as subjugated as those who lived in the totalitarian states on the other side of the Berlin Wall – by being forced to endure the tolerable and rewarding and comfortable, to suffer food and clothing and lodging beyond bare necessity, to have many varieties of luxury foisted on them, and to be conned into the illusion that they were free”. (Quotation from Hitler’s Children by Jillian Becker.)
Paul Mirengoff concludes:
Herbert Marcuse would be proud of his old University.
Yes. Brandeis has been disgraceful for at least fifty years. But its treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali adds cold-blooded viciousness to its record.
Why did the West fail to claim an ideological or moral victory at the apparent end of the Cold War?
Did the West really even win the Cold War?
Diana West asks these questions. She goes on:
If we go back in time and listen, we hear no consensus click over signs that an unalloyed US-led triumph over communist ideology had taken place; nor do we find a sense of national thanksgiving for the forces of good – or, at least, for the forces of better – in their triumph over the forces of a non-abstract evil as manifested in Gulag or KGB or famine or purge history. “Mustn’t gloat” was about as joyous as the White House of Bush No. 41 ever got.
The inability to proclaim victory loud and clear derives from the Christian injunction to be humble.
Almost everything that handicaps our civilization comes from its Christian legacy; and everything that drives it forward to discover and innovate, to attain greater prosperity, longer life – whatever general conditions are needed for such happiness as we may individually be capable of – is the legacy of the Enlightenment, the awakening from the long dark nightmare of “God’s” reign, the rise of reason. It only happened to the West. Reason and its children Science, Freedom, and the United States of America, made the West great; not, as those lovers of the darkness, the god-worshipers, like to intone, the “Judeo-Christian” tradition.
All religions are the ideological enemies of the West. But yes, the Red ones, Communism and its conjoined twin Environmentalism, are the most dangerous at present. They suffuse and weaken our culture and our civilization.
They are the New Christianities.
Diana West is right to diagnose Communism as the transforming blight.
Was the official non-reaction due to that “crisis of confidence” we always hear about — specifically, that “politically correct” failure to believe in the worth of the West? I used to think exactly that and no more. The self-loathing West, failing to see anything of value in itself, was simply unable to take satisfaction, let alone pride, in the demise of its mass-murdering nemesis. “After all,” the PC catechism goes, “Who’s to say the Western system is ‘better’ than any other?”
But there is far more to it. At a certain point, it becomes clear that what we are looking at isn’t a West that fails to appreciate itself anymore, but rather a West that isn’t itself anymore.
Decades of subversion by communist infiltrators and American traitors, collaborators and “useful idiots” have helped make sure of that. So, even if the military enemy went away after the dissolution of the USSR on Christmas Day 1991, our ideological enemy never even had to break step.
Cold Warriors might have prevailed abroad, but America lost the ideological Cold War at home.
This helps explain why our college campuses are outposts of Marx, our centralizing government is increasingly invasive and dictatorial, and our culture is one of metastasizing decadence …
President Obama’s recent speech in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, reveals the chasm between what we have become and what we are supposed to be. Wearing his “Leader of the Free World” hat, Obama made the case against Russia’s annexation of Crimea by conjuring a Manichaean split between free societies and dictatorships. But does it fit?
According to the president, there are free societies where “each of us has the right to live as we choose,” and there are dictatorships where the rule is “ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs.” Americans confronting government-mandated health insurance would do well to wonder exactly which society they live in.
Obama continued: “In many ways, the history of Europe in the 20th century represented the ongoing clash of these two sets of ideas.” That contest, he explained, swerving wildly away from historical fact, was won “not by tanks or missiles, but because our ideals stirred the hearts” of Eastern Bloc anti-communists.
Omitted was the fact that these revolts were mainly crushed without US aid. Omitted also was the decisive role that President Reagan’s “tanks and missiles” – and missile defense – played in the military contest.
In this post-World War II era, Obama declared, “America joined with Europe to reject the darker forces of the past and build a new architecture of peace.”
Russia’s annexation of Crimea, in sum, is an attack on that “architecture,” and, as such, is bad.
On closer examination, however, that same US-EU “architecture” doesn’t support the free-society paradigm so much as what the president calls the “more traditional view of power” – the one that sees “ordinary men and women (as) too small-minded to govern their own affairs.”
This latter view aptly describes the “soft” tyranny of the EU nanny state, whose early lights, after all, were Belgian Socialists and Nazi sympathizers with visions of a unified pan-European welfare state. In Brussels, their political progeny – unelected bureaucrats – increasingly dictate political and social norms across a “United States of Europe”.
In the US, the medical totalitarianism of Obamacare – not to mention Obama’s serial usurpations of power (not enforcing legislation he doesn’t like, making up and enforcing legislation he does like) – makes it all too clear that this president has a dictatorial temperament.
This is unsurprising when you consider that his political baby, his engine of transformative change – state-mandated health care – happens also to have been an early program of the Bolsheviks, and had as one of its earliest US boosters a noted Stalinist named Henry Sigerist. This seems like as good a moment as any to remind readers that the UN and the IMF, those leading institutions of globalist infrastructure, were fostered into post-World War II existence by a pair of notorious American Soviet agents – Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White.
Truly, it’s a Red, Red world.
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?