When all the news is depressing or fearful, it’s great to have a good laugh. Even if the laugh is a trifle hysterical.
We laughed that sort of laugh at this story from the Washington Free Beacon:
The National Science Foundation has committed $10 million to build robots that will act as “personal trainers” for children, in an effort to influence their behavior and eating habits.
The government has spent $2.15 million so far for the five-year project, which is being led by Yale University. The project, “Robots Helping Kids,” will ultimately “deploy” robots into homes and schools to teach English as a second language, and encourage kids to exercise.
The project will develop a “new breed of sophisticated socially assistive’ robots, designed to help children learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises”, according to a news release by Yale University …
“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study. “What we want to do is move these robots out of the laboratory and into schools and homes and clinics, places where we can directly help children on a day-to-day basis,” he said. …
“The need for this technology is driven by critical societal problems that require sustained, personalized support that supplements the efforts of educators, parents, and clinicians,” the [NSA providers of] the grant said.
Scassellati envisions the robots influencing nearly every aspect of children’s lives.
“We want them to help children learn language, we want to help them learn better eating habits, we want them to learn new social or cognitive skills through their interactions with these robots,” he said. …
Social skills with robots. Interaction with robots who must therefore, presumably, also have social skills. This truly is a brave new world!
Of course kids will probably love having a robot as a pet and companion. Better than a doll or a stuffed bear!
But will the robot be sending info back to a mad professor or the state? We guess so. “He didn’t eat his salad today.” “She quarreled with a classmate.”
The kids will be in the constant presence of a spy. Nurturing a serpent in their little bosoms.
The project is seeking to create robots that could be personal companions to children for up to a year. Scassellati said he wants to “build a healthy relationship of trust and respect between the child and the robot.”
Respectful robots! They may spy on you, but they’ll do it respectfully.
“At the end of five years we’d like to have robots that can guide a child toward long-term educational goals, be customized for the particular needs of that child, and basically grow and develop with the child,” he said. “We want the robot to be the equivalent of a good personal trainer.”
The NSF has allotted $10 million for the study through 2017. The grant is one of the highest amounts the agency dispenses.
The University of Southern California, MIT, Stanford, and Tufts University are listed as partners for the project. Willow Garage, a personal robotics company, is also participating in the research. …
We bet they are. Most lucratively.
Scassellati said the robots would “not replace” humans, but provide additional attention and guidance for children. The research is focusing on both “regularly developing children and those with social or cognitive deficits.” Some of Scassellati’s prior research has focused on how robots can help kids with Autism.
Did you think the do-good factor, the “help” because “we care” factor would be missing? The state always exercises totalitarian control only for your own good.
“If we’re successful in this, we think we can make a real difference in the lives of children,” he said.
We don’t doubt it for a moment. The personal robot scheme will serve the government’s indoctrination purposes much better even than compulsory pre-kindergarten schooling could. Now the state will be with you 24/7. You’ll have no secrets from it. It’ll be in bed with you, at the table with you, in the bathroom with you, at school with you. And it will be fun! This is how you’ll come to love Big Brother.
“And we think that we can produce some of the most interesting, the most engaging, and the most competent social robots that we’ve ever seen.”
You could make them pretty too, Brian. The things could have the look of this or that Hollywood star, for instance.
Considering the official prurience of the state these days, they will very likely be programmed to teach the kids practical sex. No holds barred, of course. (Sado-masochism is strongly advised by state-supported institutions right now.)
Loads of fun for the next generation coming up! Who said that the age of American vision ended with the close of its space exploration?
And – parents – note that the interesting, engaging, competent companion of your kid will not need feeding. It won’t consume the teeniest bite of the arugula, kale, broccoli, coarse bread and dandelion tea that it will prescribe for you and yours.
Brace yourselves for its constant (respectful) criticism though. It will be there to keep you in line too. Can’t risk your preferences or bad influence of any sort undoing its good work.
Here is some interesting information about the 1775 Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, which may not be well known. It comes from an article at Townhall by Chuck Norris:
Most everyone knows about America’s 1776 Declaration of Independence. But did you know that on July 6 a year earlier, Congress initiated a Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms?
It’s true. … On July 6, 1775, just a day after our Founding Fathers issued their Olive Branch Petition to King George III, Congress gave just reason for taking up arms against Great Britain. In the declaration, they wrote they would “die freemen rather than live slaves”. …
The lengthier name is A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms.
It was primarily the work of Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson; the former penned the first draft, and the latter produced the final draft. …
Known as the “Penman of the Revolution,” Dickinson was referred to by Jefferson as being “among the first of the advocates for the rights of his country when assailed by Great Britain.” His name, Jefferson said, “will be consecrated in history as one of the great worthies of the revolution.”
Dickinson was a militia officer during the Revolution, a member of the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, president of Delaware, and president of Pennsylvania. …
The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms [asserts]:
The legislature of Great-Britain, stimulated by an inordinate passion for a power not only unjustifiable, but which they know to be peculiarly reprobated by the very constitution of that kingdom, and desperate of success in any mode of contest where regard should be had to truth, law, or right, have at length, deserting those, attempted to effect their cruel and impolitic purpose of enslaving these colonies by violence, and have thereby rendered it necessary for us to close with their last appeal from reason to arms.
Is it any surprise that when creating our Constitution, our founders would include as prominent the need for a free people to bear arms? The Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Chuck Norris is a devout Christian, and his article includes passages about “the Creator” and the Ten Commandments. We have of course cut those out. But we like what we have quoted. The need for Americans to be armed is greater than ever now that a tyrannical and would-be totalitarian administration is hellbent on nudging the entire population of the US into lockstep obedience to its command.
A reassuringly secular view of the founding of the USA is offered at IBD by politics professor Thomas Krannawitter:
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Declaration of Independence, which was approved on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress, is the mere fact that it exists.
Nowhere, ever, had a people offered to the world an open moral defense of their revolutionary, law-breaking intentions, at a moment when their actions on the battlefield appeared more suicidal than hopeful.
And nowhere, ever, before or after, has the cause of freedom been presented more perfectly, poetically or beautifully.
All the men who signed the Declaration knew they were possibly signing away their lives and everything else dear to them. What was “revolution” for them was treason from the English Crown’s point of view …
The macabre seriousness of the occasion was forever memorialized in the closing line of the Declaration, as the signers pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.” Their pledge remains somewhat famous. But often people forget to whom the pledge was made: They pledged all they had not to God and not to the citizenry at large. Their pledge was to one another.
They knew well that if any betrayed the trust among them, the revolution would fail and freedom would have to wait for another time, another place. But their loyalty to each other and to the cause of freedom was unbreakable. And we today are the beneficiaries of their mutual loyalty.
The moral and political premise of the Declaration of Independence was a simple yet radical idea: Every human being — regardless of the time or place of birth, or gender, or the color of one’s skin, or the language one speaks, or the gods one worships — possesses by nature a body that houses a free mind. In this way, all men truly are equal. That’s the simple part.
From this simple observation flow radical implications: If a body is home to a free mind, then that mind is the only truly rightful governor of that body. Self-government is right because it is woven into the fabric of human nature.
Any form of slavery or tyranny — any attempt of the mind of one person to own, control or abuse the body of another — is therefore wrong. Every moral wrong between human beings is a testament to the rightness of human equality.
Further, if a free mind directs the body it governs to create something, invent something, produce something useful, then the fruit of that labor belongs solely to the mind that made it. It belongs to no one else. Here we see that the idea of property is … emphatically moral.
No one has a right to any property or any wealth that has been produced or earned by someone else. The inventions of some people are never the rights of others.
Consider: No one knows what future products or services technology might invent. But we know that no one has a right to them. You’re free to work and earn and save in order to buy them, of course. But you have no right to them. If you did, then others would have an obligation now to invent them. Who has such an obligation? Answer: no one. And therefore no one has a right to anything that might be invented or produced by others, now or later.
From all this, a radical new vision of government arose in America: The purpose of government would be limited to protecting the natural freedoms, natural rights and property of those who mutually and voluntarily consent to form a government.
A government of limited purpose should be a government of limited power, which is precisely why the U.S. Constitution was written and ratified — to enumerate the few powers We The People grant to the government we created, and to make clear that government may not rightfully do anything else. Period.
More: Citizens have good reason to trust one another, because none has any legal authority to take anything away from or harm others. But government is different. Every law, every regulation, every rule and order and decree issued from government is ultimately backed up by the barrel of a gun. Government is a monopoly of force.
So while government may always be necessary, it’s also always dangerous.
A people who are wise and expect to remain free might extend civic trust to one another, but they should bind their government officials by the chains of the Constitution.
And if ever government exercises unjust and unauthorized powers, and we have no peaceful remedy available to us, we always reserve the natural right to choose revolution once again, just like we did on July 4, 1776. That’s what freedom looks like. And that’s what Independence Day is all about.
So let us celebrate this Fourth of July, 2014. As you enjoy the fireworks after sunset, let them be a reminder of the explosive fighting and dying required to establish the freedom you enjoy today. Remember how they fought, that for which they fought, and why we all are better off for it.
Stirring and true.
But yes, there is a discomforting irony in the implication that the only rightful owner of a person’s body is that person himself, while the signatories to the Declaration of Independence were slave-owners.
But the greatness of the Idea that America was to be a free nation whose government would be the servant not the master of the people, is not diminished by the temporary historical reality of slavery.
And now that America has a government that wants to nudge the nation into obedience to its tyrannical will, it is of the utmost importance that the Idea be remembered, celebrated, and reasserted.
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.
It is high time to assert the political will to impeach a rogue president.
Failure to do so is tantamount to the existential impeachment of a nation in the court of authentic justice.
So David Solway writes at PJ Media.
We agree with him. But if the House of Representatives were to impeach Barack Obama, the Senate would refuse to do its part and try him. We can only hope that if the Senate falls to the Republicans in November, impeachment and trial will soon follow.
There are grounds aplenty, as David Solway says in his article (worth reading in full).
Here’s our choice of highlights from it:
It has been persuasively argued that President Obama is impeachable on many grounds.
Having joked that he could do anything he wants, Obama is guilty of running roughshod over the Constitution, bypassing Congress and governing by executive decree, stuffing his administration with Muslim Brotherhood operatives, making common cause with America’s enemies and betraying its allies, promoting the global warming scam at enormous cost to the taxpayer, accepting illicit campaign donations, failing to defend U.S. soil against illegal border crossings (in direct contravention of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution), being in contempt of federal court for his oil-drilling moratorium in the Gulf, allowing the IRS to target conservative nonprofits seeking tax-exempt status, approving via his attorney general Operation Fast and Furious, concocting the Benghazi cover-up, and constantly and illegally rewriting the rules of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, at least 29 times to date. A more comprehensive record of Obama’s ethical violations and misdemeanors lists 51 reasons for impeachment, some of which may be comparatively borderline, others flagrant. …
Much has been and continues to be written about what is probably the most mendacious administration in American political history. The fact that so many of Obama’s vital records are sealed or problematic should have raised alarm bells and disqualified his candidacy in the years before he assumed office — or at least have alerted a sentient electorate to the ethical and political travesty his presidency would become. …
When one follows the trajectory of Obama’s career, one knows that one is dealing with a man who is a liar from the egg, a man for whom suppressing the truth or lying outright is the daily fare of his existence …
The incongruities in his personal narrative are so vast as to provoke the conviction that Obama is little more than an embodied fiction — unless one assumes that a man born four years before his parents presumably met in Selma in 1965 is some sort of miracle worker or godsend. Aside from autobiographical disparities and obscurities, the empirical lies and political abuses continue to pile up. Senator Ted Cruz is in process of issuing a series of reports on the Obama administration’s abuses of power, having enumerated 76 instances of such constitutional dereliction at the hands of an imperial presidency …
One notes that there is also an aspect of feckless ineptitude in the man … After the fiasco of Obama’s disappearing “red lines” over Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and Syria’s use of chemical weapons, and his “there will be consequences” for Russia if it entered Ukraine — threats that die on the teleprompter — America’s enemies know they are dealing with a buffoon who has, wittingly or unwittingly, become a reliable ally.
This is a president who skips a National Security meeting about the Ukrainian emergency and emails out a smilingly inane selfie marking a White House film festival on the same day that Russian troops push into Crimea.
This is a man who, without consulting Congress, releases five Taliban terrorists with blood on their hands for an American Army deserter. …
Charles Krauthammer finds Obama’s foreign policy “puzzling” … “Would Putin have lunged for Ukraine,” he asks rhetorically, “if he didn’t have such a clueless adversary?” Krauthammer is being overly discreet. Nothing Obama does is puzzling. There may well be an element of Biden-like doltishness in his behavior, but the evidence strongly suggests that he is being politically and ideologically consistent in undermining American power and security on the world stage.
There is no contradiction in a man being both stone stupid and insidiously crafty at the same time, which explains the Ruritanian politics and social japery he has managed to get away with up to now.
And should be stopped from getting away with as soon as his removal from office becomes possible.
But wait … !
What would the nation be left with?
Joe Biden. A plain dolt without the craftiness.
That’s why some have said that Obama chose Biden for his Vice President – as insurance against his own impeachment. But we doubt he had such foresight.
And his arrogance would hardly have allowed him to anticipate that pesky Congress would ever have the audacity to impeach him.
What will everyday life be like – for those who are allowed to live at all – in the Utopia towards which the Left is dragging us?
Actually, about half the voters of America are not being dragged; they are striding voluntarily into that future. Why? How do they imagine it will be? In what ways will it be better than it had been until the dictatorship by this Leftist elite began?
Dr Ileana Johnson Paugh, who has experienced life in an oppressed collectivized country, watches with dismay as the America she came to in order to find freedom, changes into the sort of country she fled from.
She writes at Canada Free Press:
There are days when I watch in a daze the slow motion transformation of America into the country I left 36 years ago.
Change is good for America, I am told by those who decided in their ignorant collectivist minds that they know what’s best for the rest of the country, for the rest of the world.
Why must we destroy everything in order to satisfy the wishes of the ruling elite, the oligarchs in power, who are busy re-writing all our laws, inviting in corruption, lawlessness, and deceit? …
Why are Americans dissatisfied with their abundant lifestyle, their top-notch medical care, and generous welfare system, abundance of food, outstanding opportunity for education, advancement, promotion, and freedom of mobility?
What do they imagine that resides behind the tall green fence of egalitarian utopia …? …
Do Americans long for the adobe-style village dwellings made of mud bricks and without electricity where I spent the first seven years of my life?
Perhaps they enjoy standing in line for hours to get basic ingredients of food while fighting for the last loaf of fresh bread or kilo of flour? What a fine opportunity to get to know your entire neighborhood while waiting in food lines and engage in some competitive shoving.
Maybe they like it when shelves are empty and the pharmacies never have the drugs they need because they are in short supply and are delivered first to the regime’s oligarchs. It might scale back the collective drug dependency.
Maybe they don’t mind the lines to get toilet paper, lines that wrap around for many blocks. Who needs toilet paper when nature has plenty of leaves?
Surely they must be envying the equality of low paying salaries and forced job assignments as far away from home as possible. Nobody should have to come home but once a week. Dormitories at the place of employment are just fine. Think about all the gas and electricity saved and the carbon credits earned.
Maybe they enjoy being spied upon for their own safety by the elites, and moved into crowded, densely populated, dirty, and noisy government-run apartments. They can build such a diverse community of like-minded neighbors who “meditate” together.
Are they envying the fuzzy feeling of equality and of saving nature [for what?], … while walking miles to the grocery store, work, the market, or the doctor?
Maybe they are envying the equality of waiting for hours to see a doctor and being told to come back the next day because the doctor has filled his government-quota of patients for the day.
Perhaps they are daring and wish to have their teeth extracted or drilled without anesthetics because they have not been delivered to doctors in years. Nobody needs toxic substances in their bodies.
Maybe they welcome the communist indoctrination in schools and the rounding up of parents weekly to be humiliated in front of the entire parent body because their children are not marching obediently enough in lock-step with the “dictatura” of the regime.
Conceivably they must enjoy gawking at the one-sausage hanging in the window while the elites shop at their own stores and visit their own hospitals.
Possibly they enjoy staying at home, waiting for the government check and other unearned “entitlements” to arrive, hopefully on time, and the coupons for food rationing …
Conceivably they may enjoy staying in the dark on a regular basis when power is cut off, shivering when heat does not reach their apartments, and sweltering in summer because air conditioning is not allowed or too expensive.
Americans may learn to enjoy the freedom of not bathing because water is rationed. Who needs to smell good or wash clothes when it is so much easier to go dirty and with matted hair? Shampoo and soap are overrated, we are told by Europeans, we bathe too much and our skin dries out. Think how soft and smooth your skin will be from lack of bathing. We would be saving Mother Nature. We are not sure what we would be saving the planet for, but we are saving it to thrive back to wilderness. That would make environmentalists really happy. …
The Democratic Party is seeking this transformational change with dizzying speed … But we are not transforming fast enough into the “social justice” “environmental justice” and “coexist” Tower of Babel heaven they’ve promised their American followers and constituents. We must be nudged. A suggestion has been floated that they should change their name to the Communist Party since they are so neatly aligned with Marxism.
I can hardly wait for this American majority and the illegal aliens they support to attain the communist utopia they so richly deserve. …
We understand her bitterness. To witness the misery of the blind fools who voted for that utopia would be bitterly gratifying.
But what of those who never voted for it – who knew what it would be like and dreaded it? What will it take in effort and time for those who survive to restore the America they lost?
The Left is intensely immoral, as unabashedly unscrupulous as a wild beast. It will shamelessly blacken the name of anybody it perceives as a danger to it with baseless lies. Example: Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, publicly announced that the Republican candidate for the presidency in 2008, Mitt Romney, had not paid his taxes.
The Left will sacrifice any number of people, destroy their hopes, their health, their lives, if in their calculation doing so might give them an advantage. Example: Far-left President Obama is drawing tens of thousands of children over the Mexican border – to become, he hopes, future voters for his Party – by announcing that children who are in the US as illegal aliens will not be deported. All the children suffer. Many are ill. Some die.
The Left will deprive a law-abiding citizen, with armed force, of everything he has striven for in the name of some new oppressive regulation it has suddenly launched with a dim ideological end in view such as “environmental protection”. Example: A man who made a pond is being fined $75,000 a day by the EPA for doing just that, on the absurd grounds that the little stretch of water on his property is contaminating a river miles away.
These are just three examples, picked at random from the top of our composite editorial head, of present-day Leftist immorality in America. (How to choose from among the misdemeanors of the Clintons? An embarrasment of riches!) ) The theme of the Left’s iniquity is so vast that volumes could be written about it, and have been. In other countries, Leftist powers have committed mass-murder on an unimaginable scale by poison-gas, firing-squad, torture, overwork, and deliberate starvation.
And what compounds the evil and swells the monstrousness of it all is that they do it in the name of compassion. Their aim, they claim, is to better the lot of the the underdog. They will make the poor richer by taking riches from the rich and giving them to the poor until all are materially and socially equal. They do not want the only form of equality that is just – equality before the law. It offends them, they say (even the richest among them, and most of them are rich) to see inequality between the richest and the poorest.
With them, equality is not a moral principle but an aesthetic one.
They call the ideal of it “social justice“.
Justice has always been understood in our tradition as justice for the individual, qua individual. When a person goes to court, either in a criminal or a civil case, our system strives to provide him with a result that is fair given what he has done or failed to do. This is what we understand justice to be. Thus, when we say that justice should be blind, we mean that it should be rendered without regard to a person’s social status and without regard to the demands of this or that social agenda.
If justice is an individual-centric concept, then there is no room for the concept of social justice. The pursuit of social justice may lead to action that is consistent with justice, for example a non-discrimination statute. But the concept of “social justice” isn’t required to justify such a law; nor is it invoked to do so, since arguments for simple justice are always more persuasive (for example, the sponsors of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 took pains to assure the nation, probably disingenuously in some cases, that the law would preclude racial preferences).
The pursuit of social justice may also lead to action that is inconsistent with justice, such as granting racial preferences or expropriating someone’s property for “the greater good”. Such action is not justice, but rather justice’s antithesis. Thus, we should object when it is marketed as “social justice”.
In sum, the concept of social justice has no value. In the first scenario, it is superfluous; in the second, it is false advertising.
[Peter] Wehner argues that “any society that fails to dispense some measure of sympathy and solicitude to others, particularly those living in the shadows and who are most vulnerable to injustice, cannot really be a good society”. I agree. But vulnerability to injustice can be countered by the rigorous pursuit of simple justice. And sympathy and solicitude can be dispensed under these labels, rather than as a form of justice.
Wehner recognizes this when he concludes: “Whether this effort travels under the banner of social justice or some other name, to do justice and to love mercy is what is required of us, as individuals and as a society”. But the banner under which the charitable project travels matters.
When it travels under the banner of social justice, it gains extra moral authority that it does not deserve. The genuine tension between our desire to do justice (as commonly understood) and to be merciful is elided because justice is subsumed under mercy.
The result will be confusion and mischief, such as the aforementioned racial preferences and expropriation of property for “the greater good”. If rationalized as “social justice”, such components of the redistributionist project become entitlements, not favors to be granted, if at all, in small doses and under limited circumstances.
As [Friedrich] Hayek, who (as Wehner notes) deplored the concept of social justice, understood, therein lies the road to serfdom.
Besides, we cannot believe that devotees of the Left (once grown out of the ignorant idealism of adolescence) give a fig for “sympathy”, “solicitude”, or “mercy”. If they did they would take pains to find out what economic system really does better the lot of the poor (namely, the free market); and they wouldn’t repeat as they do that “the end justifies the means” – their excuse for sacrificing any number of their fellow human beings.
In fact many of them have dropped even the pretense of sympathizing with human beings. The victims of their “compassion” were first the proletarians. Then, as the proletarians in the Western world became too prosperous (because they had a degree of freedom) to qualify as pretexts for vast destruction, they focused on the lumpenproletariat. That class also became too well-off to care about. So then they moaned about the lot of “women” – by which they meant feminists – and people of unconventional sexual preferences. Many of them moved on to animals. But their ever-restless avant-garde did not stop there. They are now working to sacrifice more people than ever before on the grounds that it will be good for the wilderness, for rocks and stones, and even the vast, spinning, molten-cored planet - the ultimate victim of “social injustice”. (See our post, Fresh wild raw uninhabited world, January 2, 2012.)
It would be enormously laughable as a theory, if it wasn’t colossally tragic as historical and contemporary reality.
As usual, Pat Condell speaks the truth – this time about Sweden.
And this is from the New American, by Selwyn Duke:
You’re free in Sweden to be critical of immigration, those in power, or people identifying as “LBGT” [not lettuce, bacon, gunge and tomato as in a British commercial sandwich, but lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender - ed] – at least within the confines of your mind. But dare express those views, even on the Internet, and you can now be more easily prosecuted under a new law …
The crime of ‘insult’ will be prosecuted … for giving offense to immigrants, LGBTQ persons or authorities … immigration in particular enjoying sanctified status in Sweden.
As CBN reported earlier this month in a piece entitled “Soviet Sweden? Model Nation Sliding to Third World”:
Sweden’s leftist establishment and media believe a cornerstone of their perfect society is multiculturalism — large-scale immigration from some of the poorest, most backward nations on Earth — and Swedes who disagree with that plan risk being labeled racist, fascist, even Nazi. …
This is despite the fact, say critics, that wide-scale Third World immigration is threatening Sweden’s future.
As CBN also reported:
Sweden’s immigration model is failing miserably … test scores in Swedish schools are plummeting … [and] crime in some areas has skyrocketed. Immigrants burned the Stockholm suburb of Husby for over a week last year.
Many Jews now live in fear of attacks by Muslim immigrants and are leaving. Amun Abdullahi, a journalist for Swedish radio, left last year and returned to her native Somalia after she was attacked in the Swedish media over her news report about radical Muslim immigrants in Sweden. She told Swedish television that Mogadishu was safer than immigrant areas in Stockholm.
Frontpage Mag’s Daniel Greenfield … provides even more perspective:
Sweden’s population grew from 9 million to 9.5 million in the years 2004-2012, mainly due to immigration from ‘countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.’ 16 percent of all newborns have mothers born in non-Western countries. Employment rate among immigrants: 54 percent. Sweden now has the second highest number of rapes in the world, after South Africa, which at 53.2 per 100,000 is six times higher than the United States.
Note that 77 percent of these rapes are perpetrated by “foreigners”, most of whom are Muslim, while their victims primarily are native Swedes. And these figures may very well be artificially low estimates, as the government would prefer to make the headlines go away.
And Western governments have long aimed to make politically incorrect criticism go away with tyrannical hate-speech laws.
For example, LifeSiteNews.com reports:
Chapter 15, Section 8 of Sweden’s criminal code prohibits the expression of ‘disrespect’ towards favoured minority groups. The law carries a penalty of up to four years of imprisonment. It requires no evidence of incitement to violence and lacks any objective standard for identifying ‘disrespect’.”
… Sweden’s new law [is] designed to target näthatare, which, I understand, translates into “net haters.” Yet … “Sweden’s Free-Speech Charade,” hate is whatever the Swedish thought police say it is — at the particular moment in question. Here’s one example he provides:
In January 2002 … a district court sentenced neo-Nazi Fredrik Sandberg to six months in prison for publishing a Third-Reich-era pamphlet (“The Jewish Question”). But four years later, the official who initiated that case (Swedish Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz) discontinued an investigation into the Stockholm Central Mosque regarding its distribution of tapes that encouraged Muslims to kill Jews, described therein as “the brothers of apes and pigs.” His legal justification? “[Such statements] should be judged differently — and therefore be regarded as permissible — because they were used by one side in an ongoing and far-reaching conflict where calls to arms and insults are part of the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this conflict.”
So what is an aspiring hater to conclude? If you’re going to hate, make sure it’s habitual? Or is it something else? It appears, critics might say, that some haters are more equal than others.
David Horowitz was a “red-diaper baby”. In his own words:
I was a leftist as early as I can remember. Raised in a Communist family and surrounded by radicals my entire childhood, I could hardly be anything else”.
A friend of mine named Betty Van Platter was murdered by the Black Panthers in 1974. … I was forced to question my most basic beliefs, and that began my long and difficult journey to sanity.”
We’ve just received a booklet from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, titled Rush Limbaugh’s Conversation with David Horowitz. (The whole of the conversation, which took place six months ago in November, 2013, can be read here.)
The following are extracts from it:
Horowitz: … According to a Pew poll, 49% percent of young Americans have a favorable view of socialism. What is socialism? It is a system that leads to mass misery, mass impoverization, and human slaughter. That’s what it means. Yet almost half of the young think it’s benign …
RUSH: … I look at so-called conservative commentators in Washington who seem to be content to commentate, but they don’t have any interest in beating this back. I don’t want to mention names, but most of them are that way. Same thing with the Republican Party. You come from the left. You’re one of the founders of the New Left. You’ve emerged; you were in the inner circle. You’ve spent much of your career trying to explain who these people are, the destructive, vicious malice that they have.
RUSH: And you don’t think — this is astounding to me — you don’t think that the Republicans or conservatives really yet comprehend the seriousness of the threat.
HOROWITZ: No. Otherwise they wouldn’t be squabbling among themselves so much. There’s another thing going on, and that is that the left controls the language. Our universities, our schools, our mainstream media are gone [into the hands of the left] — so if you pick a real fight with the left, you get tarred and feathered, as you know all too well. Conservatives are brought up in a healthy way; they mind their reputations, they don’t want to be bloodied, they don’t want to be looked at as kooks and extremists, which are the terms of abuse that are used.
RUSH: That’s true.
HOROWITZ: Obama is a compulsive, habitual liar. He makes Bill Clinton look like a Boy Scout. Clinton spun things and he did lie about something very personal and embarrassing to him, but Obama lies about everything, and all the time. And yet it’s taken five years for people to start saying this. Including conservatives. Take so-called single payer health care. Why do we use phrases like “single payer?” It’s communism! If the state controls your access to health care, which is what this is about, they control you.This is a fundamental battle for individual freedom, which is what conservatives are about, or should be. But who’s saying this about Obama’s plan to organize health care along communist lines?
RUSH: Let’s talk about persuasion a second. I’ve got true believers in my audience, and I’ve also got elements of the low-information or the swing-voter segment, and then a few leftists who listen. One thing I have discovered over the course of my career is that whenever I’ve used the word “communism” to describe, say, typical modern-day liberals, people say, “Oh, come on, Rush! They’re not communists!” It ends up being counterproductive, because I have found people don’t want to believe that about somebody like Obama. How do we go about persuading people that it is what it is?
HOROWITZ: That’s a very good question. … I think the language problem is a very serious one. I once tried to launch the word “neo-communist.” We talk about neo-fascists, so how about neo-communists? But that doesn’t work. People look at you as a relic if you use the term. But you have to at least say what their agenda is, and their agenda is controlling, is destroying individual freedom. That’s the way I would do it. By continually reminding people of what their agenda is. It’s anti-individual freedom. You can’t talk about the national debt just as an accounting problem. It’s taking away the freedom of future generations. It means that you have to work for the government instead of yourself. Currently we work something like half our lives for the state. Every other day we’re working for the government instead of for ourselves. What Obama is doing is diminishing the realm of freedom. Conservatives need to keep bringing that up all the time. …
RUSH: You pointed out that Democrats are always in lockstep, in contrast to Republicans, who are all over the place rhetorically and strategically. You said, and I’m quoting here, “The result is that a morally bankrupt, politically tyrannical, economically destructive [Democrat] Party is able to set the course of an entire nation and put it on the road to disaster.” David, people always ask, my callers ask me, “Why don’t the Republicans do ‘x’? Why don’t they do this? Why don’t they do that?” So let me ask you why. Aside from what you’ve said, that there’s a fear of being castigated by the media, mischaracterized. … Republicans simply don’t want to have mean things said about them. They want to be liked by the people who run Washington, D.C. But I don’t even see any pushback from the Republican Party. They’ll go after Ted Cruz and they’ll go after Sarah Palin and they’ll go after Mike Lee, but they won’t go after Obama.
HOROWITZ: Exactly. I have never seen Republicans conduct such bloody warfare as they do against conservatives. They don’t do that to Democrats, ever. And I think it’s great that all the people that you mentioned, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, are people, finally, who don’t care what The Washington Post says, don’t care what The New York Times says, and don’t care what the Republican establishment says. That’s the way it has to be done. I will tell you that the big difference between the left and the right that I saw when I came into the conservative movement 30 years ago was that the right had no ground army. I watched as the Democratic Party was pushed to the left by the activists in the streets — the MoveOn.org people, the Netroots — until it’s now just a left-wing Party. It was Howard Dean, a 60s leftover, who launched the anti-Iraq war campaign that shifted the whole Democratic Party. But on the Republican side, there was nobody pushing from the right. There was no ground war, no force pushing on Republicans from the grassroots. Now we have the Tea Party.
RUSH: You come from the belly of the beast. … You lived this stuff. You were a leader of the left in your youth. Talk about MoveOn.org — these are average Americans. They may make $50,000 a year. The Netroots, they’re a bunch of people in their pajamas, sitting there blogging and posting. What do they think is in it for them? They are not people Obama is prospering.
HOROWITZ: What’s in it for them is the fact that progressivism is a religion, or a crypto-religion. Like religious people, they believe the world is a fallen place. But they also believe that they can be its saviors. Salvation and redemption are … going to come … from the movement they are part of, from the organized left. What they get out of this is the consolation of religion. They get a sense of personal worth; they get a meaning to their lives. That’s what drives them. It’s not money. It’s much more powerful. When Whittaker Chambers left communism, he said, “I’ve left the winning side for the losing side.” Why did he think that? Because communists have ideas they’re willing to die for, and conservatives don’t. Conservatives have to get that idea. They have to understand that their freedom will be lost if we don’t stop the left.
RUSH: About stopping them. … Can the right triumph ever again?
HOROWITZ: I remain an optimist, which brings me to the second problem with conservatives. In addition to their decency and their not wanting to make enemies and not wanting to turn politics into war, they’re fatalists. If you think you’re going to lose, you can’t win. That’s very basic. I believe there’s a lot of hope. The ideas of the left are bankrupt. They don’t work. We’re seeing this now with Obamacare. Ludwig von Mises wrote a book in 1922, titled: Socialism. He explained that you can’t centrally plan a large economy, and he showed why. 1922. That’s almost 100 years ago, yet the Democratic Party rammed through Obamacare, ignoring what the last 100 years has proved. They’re going to organize the health care of 300 million Americans with their computers. It’s lunacy. Yet it’s the policy of the whole Democratic Party. They’ve staked their political future on this. … To sell Obamacare, they claimed — lied — that it’s to cover the uninsured. But it doesn’t even do that. Everything they said about Obamacare is a lie. Why? Because their real agenda is not health care. It’s to create a socialist state. To do that they need comprehensive control over people’s lives. I never thought I’d be saying this, because I didn’t see it even in a remote future, but we’re on the brink of a one-party state if they were to succeed. If you are ready to use the IRS politically, if you have access to every individual’s financial and health care information, and if your spy agency can monitor all communications, you don’t need a secret police to destroy your opponents. Anybody you want to destroy, you’ve got enough information on them and control to stop them. That’s how close we are to a totalitarian state. They want to control your life — for your own good of course — even to the point of whether you can buy Big Gulps. That’s not incidental.
RUSH: No, it’s not. Now when this kind of thing happens … I wonder about the average American, somebody who’s not an activist like you or me. Do they not see this, and if they don’t, how can they be made to see it?
HOROWITZ: I don’t think they see it. Most people are averse to politics and don’t pay that much attention. However, Obamacare is going to make them pay attention because his plan affects so many people. You have to start using moral language against these people. I want to hear our guys saying, “This is a threat to individual freedom. You are attacking the freedom of every American when you run up the debt like this. You are attacking the freedom of every American when you put them all in a government-controlled program like this. Government should not have this information.” … Every time they have a program that hurts individual liberty, we need to stop talking about it as though it was just about money. The money figures are so big, trillions, nobody can even grasp them, unless they’re very involved in the economy and understand it — and then they probably are Republicans. …
RUSH: … Freedom requires personal responsibility. …
HOROWITZ: … We need to use a moral language. Notice when the left attacks, it’s always using moral language. Racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever. These attacks sting. We don’t use language like that. We need to. It’s they who are racist. … Why are we letting them get away with their destruction of inner-city minority communities? Detroit, Chicago: why weren’t the disasters Democrats have visited on these cities huge in the Republican campaign last time? Democrats control these cities, they’ve controlled them for half a century and more. They’re ruining, destroying the lives of young black and Hispanic kids in these cities, and poor whites there as well. They’re 100 percent responsible for that, yet we never mention it. It is beyond me. … They don’t want to be at war, and particularly a moral war, with other Americans. But that is the reality. The left has already made it that. Republicans are treated as though they’re of the Party of Satan. That goes with the religious nature of leftist beliefs. Progressives believe that they are creating the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and that people who oppose them are the Party of the Devil. That’s the way they fight. We have to use that kind of language. Fight fire with fire.
RUSH: You’re nailing it. You came up with something … that I think is worth repeating, and to me it’s brilliant. I would never have seen it had you not pointed it out. You write that the fall of soviet communism had the unforeseen effect of freeing leftists from the burden of defending failed Marxist states, which in turn allowed them to emerge as a major force in American life. That’s so right on. The failure of communism, ironically, led to a rebirth of it in this country. We wipe it out in the Soviet Union, and a shining example of its atrocities goes away, and it becomes a tougher sell to educate people what it is.
HOROWITZ: Exactly, and leftists saw that at the time. That’s the first thing they said about it. … That’s why connecting them to the communists is very important. It’s part of the battle. Republicans, and conservatives as well, have let the foreign policy issue, national security, slip off the political radar. Barack Obama is a supporter of the Islamofascists. He’s supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that wants to … destroy America. Obama and Hillary have supported them. Their Administration is infiltrated by Islamist agents. That’s why Benghazi is so important, and why I’m really encouraged that Republicans haven’t let it totally disappear. …
If conservatives and Republicans do learn at last to “fight fire with fire”, can America’s leftward slide be stopped? Can America be restored to a country that values and protects the freedom of the individual? Rush asks Horowitz if the rule of the left – of the Democratic Party – will “implode”.
HOROWITZ: I think they’re going to go down in flames in the coming election. I’m hoping for that, and I can’t see how that won’t happen.
So David Horowitz, at this point, is optimistic.
We would like to share his optimism. But we have one difference of opinion with him which makes us less sanguine that a Republican victory - even if led by a person such as Ted Cruz who understands the urgency of the need to recover from the leftward slide – is almost certain.
He says, in the same conversation, “we need morality, religion, laws”. Morality and laws, yes, we need them. But religion? He means a religion with a god – to oppose the communist religion which has no god. He observes with wonder the inability of the left to learn from the horrible history of their religion that it only creates widespread misery and sheds lots of blood. Yet he fails to learn from the much longer horrible history of god-worshipping religions that they created widespread misery and shed lots of blood.
We immensely admire the great work David Horowitz has done, and continues to do, teaching Americans the awful truth of the left’s ideology, and actively combating it.
But if the right insists on sticking “God” into its political platform, the left is much less likely to “go down in flames”.
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.