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.
What Muslims are doing to Christians is atrocious. The Muslims must tell themselves to stop it.
The hole in the political theory of libertarians is foreign policy. One of them is trying to fill it in. Senator Rand Paul has been speaking up for the Christians persecuted in Muslim lands, especially those in Syria. He’s still for non-intervention. But he’s showing that he’s not unconcerned about what’s going on out there in the dim and irrelevant Rest Of The World. He rightly analyses that what’s going on is – nasty. And he has advice for how that Muslim-on-Christian persecution problem should be fixed.
Cliff May reports and comments at Townhall:
Last month, at the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of conservative activists from around the country, Senator Rand Paul gave a speech [you can hear it all on this YouTube video] on what he called “a worldwide war on Christians by a fanatical element of Islam”.
The senator was careful [as almost all Western politicians always are] not to paint all Muslims with the brush of fanaticism. He stressed that only a minority of Muslims read Islamic scripture as mandating an armed struggle against Christians and other “unbelievers.”
How does he know that? If it were the case, it would mean that only a minority of Muslims read the Koran. Or that the majority of those that read it don’t take in what it says.
But because the global Muslim population is so large — more than 1.5 billion — even a relatively small percentage translates into tens of millions of jihad supporters.
Paul cited a few of the atrocities not making the evening news: a priest shot in the head in Zanzibar; churches bombed in Kenya; the beheading of three girls on their way to a Christian school in Indonesia; converts to Christianity murdered in Cameroon; churches burned and worshipers killed in Egypt; a pastor in Iran tortured and ordered to renounce his faith. …
All true. And he did not mention Nigeria, where thousands of Christians have been killed by a Muslim terrorist group calling itself Boko Haram (“book-learning is forbidden”), and where the random slaughter is on-going.* It is one of the few places where the Obama administration had something to say about the Muslim-on-Christian violence: it warned the Nigerian government, when it attempted to take military action against the Boko Haram terrorists, that it must not “violate their human rights”.
Syrian Christians, more properly called Syriacs, are widely believed to be pro-Assad. But that’s not quite accurate. A recent newsletter of the European Syriac Union states proudly that they were among those asking Assad for “their rights.” As a consequence, they have been seen as “the enemies” of the regime that continues to “attack, arrest, torture and imprison Syriac people.”
Syrian Christians have appealed to the U.S. government for assistance and … have been turned down. Paul argues: “We must work to ensure our country, our policies, our tax dollars, are on the side of ending this violence rather than encouraging those who perpetrate it.” But he never gets around to saying who or what he has in mind.
What he says instead: “How someone could believe that killing innocent people would further one’s cause is beyond me.” Is that really so hard to fathom? Both the Nazis and the Communists killed innocent people by the millions to further their causes. By now we should understand that totalitarianism is totalitarianism — whether [the ideology] is based on race, class, or religion.
It’s not entirely true that he didn’t say what might be done to discourage violence against Christians: he sensibly said that “not one dollar of US money” should go to any place where they burn the US flag, and no money should go to Pakistan where Christians are being held in jail – at least one of them on death row – for the offense of being Christian.
He also, interestingly enough considering the general pacifism of the libertarian movement, declared that “there are times when it is right to use military action”, for instance “after 9/11″. But he thinks (and we do too) that it would be wrong for the US to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war.
“Radical Islam will end only when Islam begins to police Islam,” Paul adds. Can you imagine Churchill saying Nazism will end only when Germans begin to police themselves? Can you imagine Reagan saying Communism will end only when Russians begin policing themselves?
Paul insists that “Islam needs to remember and recreate the good in their history.” But those waging jihad believe the best in their history was when there was an Islamic empire as extensive as Rome at its zenith, dominating, and often destroying, communities of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and other “infidels”.
The presumption of radical Islam, wrote Bernard Lewis (the world’s leading scholar of the Middle East before that field of study became extensively politicized and compromised), is that “the duty of jihad will continue, interrupted only by truces, until all the world either adopts the Muslim faith or submits to Muslim rule”.
Western politicians have been reluctant to acknowledge this reality and act on it by developing a strategy aimed at defeating revolutionary Islam in both its Sunni and its Shiite variants. The best President Bush could do was to declare a global War on Terrorism — as if we objected only to the jihadis’ weapon [method, tactic] of choice. President Obama insists we’re fighting “violent extremism,” a term so nebulous as to be meaningless.
Yes, but it enables him to dissolve events like the Boston marathon bombing in the general problem of violent extremism soon to be practiced his administration alleges – by the Tea Party and US army veterans. But while those potential terrorists are named and pre-shamed in DHS reports and military training guides, Islam goes unmentioned. If you were to accuse him of never saying anything against Islamic terrorism, he’ll get members of the press to point out that he has emphatically condemned “violent extremism”.
Senator Paul has yet to improve on these flawed conceptual frameworks. “The ultimate answer must come from Islam itself,” he told his audience. “They will never accept us through force of arms. …
We don’t want them to accept us. We want to be rid of them.
“Somehow, though, they must come to understand that they must police themselves, that they must root out and destroy the sadists and killers who distort and contort religion to justify killing civilians and children.”
So Rand Paul found out nothing about Islam before making this foreign-policy speech! It is no distortion or contortion of Islam, the killing of civilians and children. It’s what Islam does. It’s what the Koran – a military manual for ruthless conquerors and enslavers – requires Muslims to do. It’s what Islam is all about. He seems to think of “religion” as one big bundle with the golden rule and cheek-turning instructions tucked up inside it.
“Somehow, though, they must come to understand” is neither a policy nor a strategy. Senator Paul is to be commended for speaking out about the plight of Christians in Muslim-dominated lands at a time when so many other voices are silent. But if he would step back from the trees he’d see a deep and dark forest: attacks on Christians are battles in a “War against the West” being waged by the 21st century’s most lethal imperialists. If Paul seriously aspires to be a world leader, he would be well-advised to begin developing a response not based on retreat, passivity, and drift.
Another thing Rand Paul said was, ‘Make no mistake – this is about religion.” He’s right of course. Ever more human suffering because of religion. (But that was not what he meant.)
The part of his speech with which we thoroughly disagree, and strongly object to, is an extended eulogy (as routine for politicians, when they make any criticism of Islam, as proclaiming that most Muslims are peaceful persons full of goodwill towards the infidel) on a purely mythical Medieval Islam, a beacon of cultural light; caliphates bristling with scientists and mathematicians, steeped in Greek and Latin learning, irreproachably tolerant.** Either he was only repeating this nonsense because he felt the politician’s need to do so, or he has really swallowed all that deceitful Muslim propaganda. He makes the case that as such an Islam existed once, it could exist again. Which would be a persuasive argument, if it were not untrue that it had ever existed at all.
* We have posted a number of articles on the murder of Christians by Boko Haram, the Muslim terrorist group in Nigeria. See for instance: More acts of religion in Nigeria, January 19, 2012; More Christians burnt to death by Muslims, July 11,2012; Another murderous act of religion in Nigeria, May 10, 2013; More Christians slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria, September 30, 2013.
**There is a large body of literature refuting the Muslim claim to an enlightened Islamic Civilization in the Middle Ages. Some of the best articles are: The Real Islamic ‘Golden Age’ by John O’Neill, who also wrote a book on the subject titled Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Culture; Who Is Really Being Dishonest About Islam? By Robert Spencer; ‘Islamic Civilization’ – The Biggest Lie Known to Man by Ali Hassan. On the intolerance of Islam throughout its rule over Christians and Jews the leading authority is Bat Ye’or. Among her magisterial books on the subject are: The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, 1980; Islam and Dhimmitude, 1984; The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, 1996. This great historian was chiefly responsible for making the word “dhimmi” known to the West.
Crush ‘em 11
We do not think that Obama wants to appease the Muslim Brotherhood. We think he wants to encourage and promote that evil organization. Wants to, and does. He admits its members as advisers into US government departments. He continues to try to restore them to power in Egypt when clearly a majority of Egyptians want them gone. He had helped them get into power there in the first place.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the creator of Hamas, so no doubt he wants Hamas to be victorious too – and that means against Israel. It is also the parent of al-Qaeda, and Obama is helping al-Quaeda “rebels” win in Syria by arming them. Sure he finally let bin Laden get bumped off. Sure he lets drones kill other al-Qaeda leaders. Doing all that is excellent cover for pursuing his chosen mission – helping the Muslim Brotherhood win worldwide.
But the Muslim Brotherhood must not win. It would be an excellent thing if the Egyptian military were to crush the Brotherhood there where the monster was born, destroy it utterly, once and for all.
On this we are of one mind with Daniel Greenfield, who writes at Front Page:
Like all terrorist organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood has only one commodity to trade in. Blood.
In the war of ideas for the future of Egypt, the Brotherhood had nothing to offer but the blood of its followers and victims. It has no new ideas. It has no record of accomplishments. It has no vision for the future …
The outcome of any interaction with the Brotherhood could have been predicted from its motto; “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
In the streets of Egyptian cities, Muslim Brotherhood activists achieved their highest hope. They died in their Jihad against the liberal opposition and the military, fighting against human rights for women and Christians, against multi-party rule, freedom of speech, museums, libraries and the future in the way that the armies of Allah have died for over a thousand years.
Some died trying to kill Egyptian soldiers and police officers. Others were killed by their own people in order to maximize the death toll and spread shock and horror through the international community. …
An old Arab tactic that – exploiting the conscience of others. And it goes on working!
For the wealthy titans of the Brotherhood, their followers are pawns to be disposed of, human shields for their political ambitions. The Muslim Brotherhood spent their blood generously during the clashes with Egyptian police the same way that Hamas and Hezbollah spill the blood of their own people.
What it bought with their blood is the outrage of the world. Terrorist organizations are one-trick ponies. They unleash horrifying violence, blame it on the brutality of the authorities and wait for the world to step in and apply pressure on whatever government they are trying to overthrow. …
The Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders followed the oldest traditions of Islam by offering their followers paradise and atonement in exchange for unleashing their darkest passions. That the unleashing should have ended in hundreds of deaths is not at all unprecedented in the many wars and conflicts of Islam.
What any normal person would consider a massacre, the Muslim Brotherhood considers an opportunity.
The Muslim Brotherhood used the blood of its followers as currency to buy international outrage that will be used to pressure Egypt into releasing Brotherhood leaders like Morsi and and Khairat el-Shater. It wanted the clashes to be as ugly and bloody as possible. It wanted to outrage the world because it knew that was the speediest way of getting its leaders out of their prison cells and back into power.
These murderous tactics would be useless if the United States and Europe weren’t full of useful idiots and fellow travelers, in and out of the media, gasping at the carnage and demanding an immediate halt to the violence.
There is only one way to halt the violence and that is to crush the Muslim Brotherhood. …
The calls for Brotherhood participation in an Egyptian government are senseless insanity. Is there room for a movement that seeks nothing but death in the ranks of any government? Should murderous madness on such a scale really be the currency that purchases power? …
Western governments fear escalation in Egypt. And that fear is the secret weapon of every terrorist group. The terrorist groups always escalate, spending their currency of blood cheaply to break the will of their enemies. The only way to break that cycle is to out-escalate them by showing that their currency of blood is worthless because the people and governments they are terrorizing will not be bent under its terrible weight.
Wars aren’t won through de-escalation, but through escalation. America lost in Afghanistan because it wasn’t willing to fight harder and bloodier than the Taliban. The Egyptian government has shown that it is willing to match the Muslim Brotherhood’s ruthlessness without backing down.
To reward the courage of the Egyptian soldiers and police who fought the Muslim Brotherhood in the streets by forcing their government to stand down and surrender to the terrorists who nearly turned Egypt into a second Iran is an unmitigated crime.
Fortunately, it is unlikely that the Muslim Brotherhood will be restored to power in Egypt. We hope it will become impossible.
The Left is the side of the emotions. Leftism is the politics of feeling. Is there anything collectivists dread so much as reason? Anything they avoid so frantically, so acrobatically, as fact?
These are extracts from an article in Canada Free Press, by the excellent Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh, on the Left’s campaign to keep rising generations uncontaminated by knowledge, and safe from the vice of reasoning. (Our only significant difference of opinion with her is over religion. We think, unlike the author, that education should not include religion – except as history and literature – so among the passages we omit are some where she touches on that issue.)
Few parents actually know what Common Core Education is. Teachers who are finding out do not seem to care, let the state fight it out. For teachers, it is a means to an end; the end translates into keeping their jobs and a paycheck coming in this tough economy which the current administration celebrates as a “recovery” from a self-induced coma.
Although touted as a means to improve education standards, the Brookings Institution said, “The empirical evidence suggests that the Common Core will have little effect on American students’ achievement. The nation will have to look elsewhere for ways to improve its schools.” …
The Department of Education at the federal and state levels had developed many experimental programs that promised to be breakthroughs in education but were discarded later as giant wastes of time and taxpayer dollars while the achievement levels had continuously declined.
Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, described Core Standards as an important tool for international competitiveness, access to high quality education, and a way to prepare “all students for college, work and citizenship. These standards are an important foundation for our collective work.” I emphasized “collective” because that is what Common Core is about, indoctrination into the “collective” mindset.
In spite of the fact that we have different brains, IQs, learning styles, and … talents, Common Core standards insist that “all children can and should learn to high achievement standards based on a “universal design for learning.”
This would be achieved by having different sets of standards based on race, ethnic background, socio-economic background, and disability, a type of “separate and unequal” education.
All students will receive the same diploma but for “unequal” work in mathematics and reading and for “unequal” achievement.
Furthermore, a video surfaced that shows that wrong answers in math are acceptable under Common Core standards as long as students can explain how they got the wrong answer and feel good about it.
We had to read that sentence twice before we could stop saying “Incredible!” and say instead, “Absurd enough to be true of this administration!”
The states who adopted the Common Core Standards were excused from the detested No Child Left Behind Act which set the standards too high for low achievers and low motivators who are not really interested in education. It is criminal and sad to see semi-literate individuals receive diplomas when they cannot actually read or write, cursive or otherwise, very well and are glorified by the MSM for speaking Ebonics.
“Beginning this fall, Alabama public schools will be under a new state-created academic accountability system that sets different goals for students in math and reading, based on their race, economic status, ability to speak English and disabilities.”
The English Arts Curriculum textbooks used in Utah, called Voices, Literature and Writing, emphasize the Democracy Plan, preparing students for community organizing. …
The Utahans Against Common Core has mounted an opposition. A short video shows the first grade textbook, Voices, Literature, and Writing, that teaches nothing about literature or writing. Instead, “In the Voices of Democracy theme, students use their voices to advocate solutions to social problems that they care deeply about. They are engaged in learning the following theme-related social knowledge and skills: social role models, social advocacy, and respect for each other. They learn to develop a Democracy Plan in which they develop ways to help people in need.” …
This [the Democracy Plan] is community organizing; this is communism, not literature and writing.
Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh has lived under communism in Romania, so she has no trouble recognizing it.
In the same series of books, educators are directed to teach first graders about emotional words of anger and fear in order to accomplish their social justice goals. The workbook gives the following example, “My mom_____ (tells) (nags) me to clean my room.” Students are supposed to choose “nags” because it is an emotional word of anger. If a student chooses “tells” the answer is incorrect.
Students are taught about feelings instead of logical thinking and parents are marginalized as some annoying individuals who nag their children. Would the collectivist village take over the rearing of our children?
Homework activities include practicing being upset and angry because “feelings cause people to act”. Is there any wonder that we have the Occupy Wall Street mobs, angry mobs, flash mobs, and people talking over each other? Liberals are taught to be ruled by feelings and not by logic.
Are these curriculum materials limited to first grade? No, all grades have the same theme, the Democracy Plan. By third grade teachers must “measure attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions,” making specific notes on the Student Observation Form whether “growth and change in individual student’s behavior and attitudes is observed”. One rubric asks, “Does the student use the plural ‘we’ and ‘our’ to advocate ways to solve social problems?” In other words, I and my, individualism, are frowned upon. …
Is this what we are trying to do with Common Core standards? Force every student into a government-dictated and enforced mold, dumbing down the curriculum so much that everyone appears equally intelligent, equally capable, equally trained, equally able?
The focus will no longer be education, the classics, language, government, mathematics, science, history, chemistry and individual achievement in those fields but social justice, activism, and community organizing for the socialist collective?
Yes. Because a childishly emotional population, living in a state of primitive dread, unable to reason and armed neither with guns nor education will be easy for a tyrannous government to control.
Continuing our series on contemporary Gnosticism, here is the second essay under the title The Darkness of This World. The first can be found here.
The Darkness of This World
Our Gnostic Age
The Gnostic in ancient, medieval, and modern times, rejects “this world”.
To the Gnostic of the early centuries C.E., “this world” was the physical earth and everything on it, all created by an inferior god. He knew that somewhere, elsewhere, there was something immeasurably better, purely good, because he had a minute spark within him – gifted to him by a higher source of existence who was Goodness itself – which informed him through his intuition that it was so. This inner spark was his Gnosis (Knowledge). Having it, he was on to the scam that nature and the ignorant mass of mankind tried to put over on him. So he fought against the world, a saintly warrior for the Good. He fought against nature by defying it – refusing to beget children; and against civilization by reversing its values – declaring everything commonly believed good to be evil, and everything commonly believed evil to be good. His reward lay beyond and above this world. 
To the Gnostic of the Middle Ages, “this world” was not only this earth but also the Catholic (Universal) Church. Informed by that same Gnosis which guided the Gnostic of antiquity from within, he fought against Catholic doctrine and practice with the same refusals and reversals. To him everything the Church believed and did was evil; its priests were the servants of Hell. The Church would sniff him out, hunt him down, destroy his body with fire, but he would rise after death to the realm of the Good. 
To the Gnostic of our era, “this world” is the political-economic system of the Western nation-state. As a warrior for a never-yet-realized reign of the Good on this earth, he fights against the established order in theory and practice. He holds the values honored by custom and defended by law to be evil; the values they abhor to be good. He does not want to reform or improve the system; he wants it wholly overthrown. He is a revolutionary. He feels passionately that “this world” needs to be transformed.
Recently commentators have been writing about traditional Western values being inverted.
We live in a backwards world in which the decent are regarded as indecent, defenders of western institutions are considered as terrorists, correct naming is derogated and often prosecuted as slander and “hate speech”, violence is justified if committed by our enemies, unseasonable cold weather is interpreted as an infallible sign of global warming … It is a world in which Iran chairs the UN Conference on Disarmament; and Syria  was recently a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. … We have, for the most part, colluded in an agreement that upside-down down is right-side-up, backwards is forwards, and madness is sanity … 
In the essay quoted, David Solway cites a book by Melanie Phillips (whom I much admire for her courageous and percipient defense of many a just cause). It is titled The World Turned Upside Down.  She believes that the topsy-turviness – which she deplores – results from a loss of faith in “God” and detachment from the West’s “Judeo-Christian roots”. I have no doubt that Europe is becoming less religious. But I do not think Christianity (which is what is generally meant by “Judeo-Christian roots”) was good for the West, or its values ideal. Nor are they the values that are being inverted. The values that the Gnostic revolutionary scorns are those of the Enlightenment.
Enlightenment thinking was rational, skeptical, and humane. Gnostic ideology is emotional, dogmatic, and cruel.
Daniel Greenfield – the editor and writer chiefly responsible for the sustained excellence of Front Page Magazine – comments on a Time Magazine article typical of topsy-turvy thinking among media pundits:
News coverage has nothing to do with reality. Instead it is a deliberate inversion of reality in which the murderers are the heroes and the greatest threat comes from their victims. The bad guys are the good guys. The good guys are the bad guys. The slavery of Islam is freedom. The freedom of America and Israel is slavery because it has to be defended against the slavery of Islam. 
Such defiance of civilized values arose as a significant historical factor with the Romantic movement around the middle of the 18th century. The Romantics hated the Industrial Revolution, its “dark satanic mills”, its noise and ugliness. They did not care if it made life better for most people – which it did, however ugly and squalid living conditions were at first for the workers in the industrial cities. The Romantic movement was a backlash against the Enlightenment, against scientific and technological advance, against capitalism, against reality. Romantics dreamt of utopias: beautiful societies consisting of ideal human beings who would live for the happiness of their fellow creatures and share all material goods. And all they had to do to win such a world was, they believed, to destroy the world they lived in. Merciless brutality to living people would be justified by the creation of a heaven on earth inhabited by imaginary angelic beings.
Socialism, Communism, Nazism, Alinskyism, Environmentalism … all revolutionary ideologies spawned by the Romantic rebellion against the Enlightenment.
How do the revolutionaries know that after vast destruction their beautiful new world will be born? They know it. They are the Gnostics of the modern age.
They made revolutions in the twentieth century, whether by constitutional process or by violence. They took the reins of power and set about creating their new worlds, which lasted for years here and decades there; and wherever their utopias were, and in the name of whichever ideology they were governed, they stand out as exceptionally marked by terror, pain, cruelty, despair and death.
But the idealists learnt no lesson from the failure of their terrible experiments. The dreamers did not lose their faith. Instead of fading away, withered by disgust and contempt, the faith spread, and is becoming so prevalent that some observers – I among them – see it now as characterizing the West.
The Gnostics who dream on of destroying our civilization should not be ignored. What have they said and done? What are they saying now? We must pay attention. They mean it.
Jillian Becker July 14, 2013
1.These are the essays on ancient Gnostic sects in the The Atheist Conservative: How a rich shipowner affected Christianity, January 2, 2010 (on Marcion); Erotic religion, January 24, 2010 (on Carpocrates and Epiphanes); The father of all heresy, February 23, 2010 (on Simon Magus and Menander); Mani and Manicheism, May 9, 2010; Valentinus, February 14, 2011; Holy snakes, March 24, 2013 (on the Ophites); The sinning Jesus, the laughing Christ, and the Big Bang of Basilides, April 6, 2013. See also Gnosticism: what is it?, March 3, 2013.
2. These are the essays on Gnosticism in the Middle Ages: Hot in the land of Hum, October 14, 2010 (on the Bugomils); The heretics of Languedoc, May 1, 2011 (on the Cathars). In the Bugomils’ case, their resistance was maintained against both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
3. Iran is working to become a nuclear-armed power, and has threatened Israel with total destruction.
4. The Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, like his father before him, is notorious for the oppression, torture, and mass killing of tens of thousands of his own people.
5. David Solway, Living in a Backwards World, frontpagemag.com, July 2, 2013.
6. The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth and Power, by Melanie Phillips, Encounter Books, New York, 2010.
7. Daniel Greenfield, Time Mag: Muslim Terror No, Buddhist Terror Yes, in The Point, frontpagemag.com, July 11, 2013.
The Left, as a whole, in the Western World, has become far more extreme in this century than it was in the last. The Socialist and “Conservative” parties of Europe, the Democratic Party of America, the universities everywhere, the media and the film industries, book publishers, song writers, judiciaries, and a slightly varying half of the voters in almost all Western countries, are predominantly of one opinion, consciously or semi-consciously, articulately or silently, that Marx and Lenin, and even (though their names may be spoken a shade more sotto voce) Stalin and Mao, were right.
This is from Front Page, by Vladimir Tismaneanu:
It has become fashionable among leftist circles to invoke a return to Lenin, to radicalism, to utopia. Among those who advocate such imperatives to “retest the communist hypothesis” one can count French philosopher Alain Badiou, a former admirer of the Khmer Rouge, and Slovene thinker, Slavoj Zizek, the new idol of Western university campuses, subject of documentary hagiographic movies, and prophet of a new phantasmagoric world revolution.
To know more about Slavoj Zizek, see our post Red alert, January 21, 2009. And to get the flavor of the man, watch the video at the foot of this post.
Did the partisans of such positions ever stop to think how it would sound a call for “retesting the Nazi hypothesis”? One must be totally oblivious to history, an incurable cynic, in order to ignore the fact that Leninism, just like National-Socialism, means political terrorism, the apotheosis of fanatical partisanship, the boundless cult of violence and nihilism, etc. In short, Leninism presupposes … the destruction of the inner man. Leninism is theoretical and practical anti-humanism.
‘The inner man” in this context means the individual for himself alone, not as a unit of “society”.
There have been conferences and symposia where Lenin is presented, in an academic context and without any trace of compassion for the millions of victims of “the great experiment”, as the philosopher of the break with an order putatively condemned by history.
The “order putatively condemned by history” is of course capitalism, or the free market. Those who condemn it and praise “the great [Communist] experiment” have not noticed that the free market has brought widespread prosperity wherever it has been allowed to, or that Lenin’s experiment, the miserable Soviet Union, failed and fell and lost the Cold War.
All in all, it is unsurprising that the prophets of violence worship Lenin. What is surprising is that intellectuals, who should have learnt from the catastrophes of the 20th century, are engaged in an endeavor driven by programmatic irresponsibility. It is simply shocking that in countries where the Leninist model was implemented, one can still read and hear hymns honoring the architect of a criminal system.
Should we be amazed by all this? What could one expect from the epigones of Georg Lukacs, the Marxist philosopher who declared … that he preferred the worst form of socialism to the best incarnation of capitalism. …
Georg Lukacs was the Hungarian Commissar, and philosopher of drama and art, on whom Jillian Becker’s character L is based in her novel L: A Novel History.
Real history does not matter for such sectarians. What does matter is the dogma to which they are faithful in total disregard of reality. … It is quite telltale that one of Hugo Chavez’s intellectual heroes was Istvan Meszaros, one of Lukacs’s former students who … has remained a flaming Marxist, faithful to the dialectical sophistries of his mentor.
An excellent example of such world-view is a recent memoir by a Romanian Marxist intellectual, Ion Ianosi, who happened to be deeply involved for long stretches of time in the ideologization of the country’s culture during communism. The volume’s title is My International. Some critics glorify the book as testimony of heartfelt sincerity. What is missing in those more than 800 pages is an honest analysis of Bolshevism as justification of social genocide. Ion Ianosi seemingly excels on topics such as “Marx and Art”, “Lenin and Art”, pretty much the same fields for which his expertise was called upon during his activity within the Romanian communist party’s Agitprop. But Ianosi shies away from trying his expert pen on topics such as the crimes against humanity inspired by the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Even before the Bolsheviks’ coming into power, it was clear that Lenin was a fanatical propagandist, a utopian ideologue fixated on social purity and purification, an heir to Robespierre and St. Just, but no philosopher. Philosophy implies doubt and Lenin was the man without doubts. …
Lenin was the practitioner of a simplistic, partisan, and exclusivist philosophy. He rejected emphatically any possibility for a middle path, of a tertium datur between what he called “bourgeois ideology” and the “proletarian” one.
We at TAC are all for “bourgeois ideology”, if the bourgeoisie as such – the successful middle class – can be said to have such a dusty thing as an ideology. We value the middle class, anyway, above the others, because out of it has come almost every one of those men (and handful of women) who have advanced our civilization and augmented the glory of our culture in the last five hundred years. (Though also most of those who’ve done our civilization the worst harm, such as Marx, Lenin, Lukacs …)
Lenin’s Manichaeism [bourgeois bad, proletarian good] was inexorable. For Lenin and his followers, ideas were (are) always the manifestation of class interests. … This is the meaning of a notion essential for the Leninist conception about ideas, ideologies and philosophical consciousness: partiinost – partisanship, class position, militant commitment, total and abject subordination to the party line.
Leninism is a revolutionary doctrine that sanctifies political violence and condemns entire social categories to state-engineered extinction. It is … rooted in the visceral contempt for the rule of law, legality, and the universality of human rights. “Back to Lenin” means a return to barbarism, blindness, and murder.
We are not enamored of the phrase “human rights”. We prefer to speak of human freedom, which we suppose is what Professor Tismaneanu, who has lived under Communism in Romania, probably means.
Now here’s Slavoj Zizek. He starts at about the 2 minute mark. Don’t expect to be rewarded for over 15 minutes of paying attention with any impressive ideas. He says nothing much, but with strong emphasis, and what he does say is notably wrong. For instance, that Norway is intolerant of immigrants! (Go here to test this notion, and to any other of Bruce Bawer’s numerous articles on the same subject.) He thinks the major political groupings in Europe are now the “capitalist anti-immigrants” on one side and the [Islamic] immigrants on the other. (Would it were so! ) He calls himself a Leftist, though oddly declaring that in America there is “an excess of anti-capitalism”; calls Fox News “the enemy”; and implies that the worst problem facing mankind is … you guessed it … global-warming.
Jillian Becker comments: “There are few writers in the world whose appreciation of a political book is as worth having as Daniel Greenfield’s. Those who regularly read Front Page and his daily essay at his own website, will know this to be true.”
Imagine the UK Without Thatcher
With the recent death of Margaret Thatcher, one novel takes a look at a UK without Thatcher. L: A Novel History by Jillian Becker, the author of, Hitler’s Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang, is a modern 1984 taking place in an England fallen to the left. A country where the atrocities and horrors perpetrated in the east found their way to the west.
1984 showed us tyranny from the perspective of an ordinary man coping with the tyranny of an omnipresent Big Brother, while L takes us into the mind of Big Brother.
Becker’s L is a child of the modern left, attracted to the violent spectacle of revolution, feeding on blood and pain, gorging on the emotional spillage of the disgruntled, perpetrating riots, terrorist attacks and finally the mass starvation of the United Kingdom.
1984 takes place in the fragments of a lost history, but L develops its history out of the recent past. L doesn’t emerge out of a vacuum. He is the child of privilege, the student of leftist academics and the tyrant who rises out of the class warfare struggles of the burgeoning welfare state.
L abandons his name, going by a single letter, dabbling in dehumanizing Marxist theory while developing a cult of followers, the L-ites, who become the core of a movement that takes over the United Kingdom. L: A Novel History is as much about L, piecing together his inner thoughts from diary entries and newspaper articles, as it is about the milieu of the period and the more moderate figures on the left who hand over power to him and allow him to perpetrate his acts of terror.
As Becker notes in her introduction, there are historical precedents for L, for his associates and the fascist opposition that eventually allies with him. What she has done is transpose the history of various Communist atrocities from Russia and Eastern Europe into an England on the wavering end of the Cold War.
As a fictional history, L: A Novel History assembles painstakingly an entire alternate history in a metafictional narrative composed of newspaper articles, diary entries and historical speculation that combines the perspectives of L, his followers, the L-ites, his opponents, both genuine and disingenuous, and the people of England who react with bewilderment and then horror as the stores are emptied, the food vanishes and they are put through a brutal and degrading process meant to break their spirit.
L’s great obsession is the cultivation of empathy. Like most sociopaths, he is incapable of genuinely empathizing with others, but has a narcissistic obsession with the experience of emotion as spectacle.
Embodying the privileged empathy of the left, L promises to raise up the people, but instead degrades them, robbing them of their dignity, their humanity and finally their lives, in order to force them to identify with the sufferings of the less well off.
L is Big Brother given form, substance and motive. His resentments and narcissism represent all too well the modern left. Obsessed with image, L is driven to be a cult figure and succeeds in achieving true cult status at the expense of millions for his grand experiment in enforced empathy.
The UK has a long literary tradition of dystopias which imagine a descent into fascism, even as in real life it has continued a descent into Socialism. Jillian Becker’s L: A Novel History challenges that fictional narrative with a meta-fictional narrative that warns of what might have been and what may yet be.
May yet be in America …
This is from Canada Free Press, by the excellent researcher and writer Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh, who has herself lived under communism:
Liberal education has been very successful in this country because nobody challenged the progressive educators and their agenda. We are waking up to the unraveling of our society caused by this liberal education and wondering, what happened. Could it be too late to reverse the damage?
Conservative news outlets are pointing out the obvious — our children have been indoctrinated into socialism for 33-40 years and this indoctrination is finally bearing fruit. We have bred a nation of young, entitled citizens who do not like to work, do not like to read or study anything too involved or complicated that exceeds Twitter’s 140 words, do not take responsibility for their actions, exhibit righteous indignation if their demands are not met, claim racism and hate speech if others disagree with them, and are afraid of their shadows.
Students no longer explore and discuss the history of America even in the History Department of the local college — it has long been replaced by courses that praise and promote “sexual, racial and ethnic differences”, instead of highlighting our common American heritage, what made America great and an exceptional nation that has contributed to the betterment of mankind. Socialist professors admire, teach, and laud the history of non-western cultures as superior to our own culture.
She cites Bowdoin College, the subject of a recent report (see our post immediately below), as an example of what’s gone wrong in higher education. And she gives examples of courses taught there – to the exclusion of teaching critical thinking skills, and ignoring “scientists, men of letters, philosophers and orators who contributed to western thought and civilization”. Instead, there’s this sort of thing on offer:
Beyond Pocahontas: Native American Stereotypes
Sexual Life of Colonialism
Modern Western Prostitutes
But the greater part of her article is devoted to providing information on IB World Schools. We learn the following:
IB stands for International Baccalaureate.
Most parents have no idea what IB is. IB programs are devoted to the “radical transformation of America’s classrooms.”
The rot taught in American schools like Bowdoin is taught world wide in the IB schools, which are here, there, and spreading everywhere. “There are over 2,000 IB World Schools in the US.” Of those, 74 are in Virginia.
An IB World School is a private or public school that has agreed to offer the IB (International Baccalaureate) program run and coordinated by IBO, a non-profit socialist Swiss Foundation in Geneva … in partnership with UNESCO …
In fact -
Since 1970, IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) has been an official NGO (non-governmental organization) of UNESCO.
They know they’re doing something sneaky, something most American parents would not like.
As a parent, in order to discover what the secret curriculum is, one has to be approved [by] an IB teacher, with a password that accesses the curriculum.
IB schools are a part of Agenda 21. (To find out more about it, use our search slot).
Dr. Paugh is our main source of information about this UN resolution that aims to preserve and restore the wilderness at the expense of human populations; destroy the suburbs; herd people into urban collectivities with single “living units” allotted to them instead of homes shared with their families; deprive them of private cars; control their heating and cooling and other uses of energy. In sum, monitor their whole lives and prescribe how they should live them. And worse, though you might think there could be no worse -
An international baccalaureate world school is another arm of U.N. Agenda 21. [It's aim is the] indoctrination of our children into “global citizenship, social justice, intercultural understanding and respect,” submission to one-world socialist government, using American taxpayer dollars.
She refers to a description of IB education by Justin Pough, who attended an IB school:
No more learning about U.S. Presidenst, good values, no American history … Teachers have to wear the light blue colors of the United Nations. Students are indoctrinated into becoming “citizens of the world” instead of citizens of the country they were born in, preoccupied with “moral, ethical, social, economic, and environmental implications of global production and consumption.”
The student’s version of Agenda 21 is called the Rescue Mission Planet Earth.
The founder of IB, Therese Maurette, describes her educational philosophy that runs against our Founding Fathers’ ideas of what American education should be … The concept of “nationality” must be minimized in order to encourage students to develop a picture of the whole world. “History should not be taught until well into adolescence because, for the younger student, it inevitably consists of a series of stories and myths glorifying violence and misrepresenting events by giving them a nationalistic bias.”
To shape students into pawns of international change, IB programs use “pedagogical methods that are intended to effect the fundamental transformation of America’s classrooms.” Schools that adopt the IB program must also adopt the international moral and ethical values. Whose values are these? They are the diverse values of different cultures as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. They are not our American values, they are values that encourage social change in which “the rights of individuals are linked to those of the collectives:”
By “linked to the values of the collective” they mean, of course, “replaced by ”.
The whole of Dr. Paugh’s article is a must-read.
Here are a few more revolting UN/IB ideas that she gathered from various (named) sources:
There is no right or wrong, only conditioned responses.
The collective good is more important than the individual.
Consensus is more important than principle.
Flexibility is more important than accomplishment.
Nothing is permanent except change.
All ethics are situational; there are no moral absolutes.
There are no perpetrators, only victims.
“Dialectical thinking” is a required component of IB.
Social justice is taught under the rubric of critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy is the political arm of liberation theology and cultural Marxism/political correctness. The ultimate goal is to bring about social transformation at the collective level through indoctrination of our students. (This last statement ascribed to President Obama’s terrorist associate, Bill Ayres.)
What this all means is that the Left’s New World Order is being established under our noses.
Which, we wonder, will be the first to win the power to impose its control world-wide – the Left or Islam?
At present they are allies. But that will have to change. They must come to blows with each other eventually. The victory of either would be a calamity.
Will anyone fight for liberty?
Obama did not hide his intention to transform America. He stated that he would. What he did not say is what he would transform it into. But even a superficial acquaintance with his upbringing among dedicated Communists, education by Marxist professors, chosen affiliations to revolutionary and even terrorist Leftists, and activity as a “community organizer” could have told anyone paying attention in what direction he would try to move the country if he was elected to the presidency. He clearly intended to transform, if he could, a free capitalist country into an unfree socialist country. (What could not have been foreseen, but has become starkly clear, is that he also favors the advance of Islam in the US and the world.)
How a radical Leftist activist, once in power, might set about transforming America into a socialist country was blueprinted by Saul Alinsky - initiator of “community organizing” – in his Rules for Radicals. And Saul Alinsky had a blueprint in the works of Antonio Gramsci.
There’s an excellent survey of the life and works of Antonio Gramsci at Discover the Networks. Here’s an extract:
Antonio Gramsci was born in Sardinia on January 22, 1891. After graduating from the Dettori Lyceum in Cagliari, he won a scholarship to the University of Turin in 1911; by this point in his life, he was ideologically a socialist.
Four years later he became an active member of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and began a journalistic career that saw him develop into one of Italy’s most influential writers. In the Turin edition of Avanti! (PSI’s official organ), Gramsci wrote a regular column on various aspects of the city’s social and political life.
Also active in educating and organizing Turin’s workers, Gramsci in 1916 began speaking periodically at workers’ study-circles on such topics as the French and Italian revolutions and the writings of Karl Marx.
When Russia’s Bolshevik revolution broke out in 1917, Gramsci embraced the goal of spreading socialist transformation throughout the capitalist world.
In the spring of 1919, Gramsci co-founded L’Ordine Nuovo: Rassegna Settimanale di Cultura Socialista (The New Order: A Weekly Review of Socialist Culture), which became an influential periodical among Italy’s radical and revolutionary Left. Meanwhile he continued to devote much of his time and energy to the development of the factory council movement, which sought to advance the cause of a proletarian revolution in Italy.
In January 1921 Gramsci aligned himself with the Communist minority within PSI at the Party’s Livorno Congress, and soon thereafter he became a central committee member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI).
From May 1922 to November 1923, Gramsci lived in Moscow as an Italian delegate to the Communist International. In 1924 he relocated to Rome and was named general secretary of PCI. He also began organizing the launch of PCI’s official newspaper, L’Unità (Unity).
In 1926, Italy’s Fascist government enacted a host of “Exceptional Laws for State Security,” designed to suppress political opposition. On November 8th of that year, Gramsci was arrested in Rome and was sentenced to 5 years in confinement on the island of Ustica. In June 1928, his prison sentence was increased to more than 20 years, including a stint in solitary confinement. …
He died, still under guard, in a Rome hospital in 1937.
During his years as a prisoner, Gramsci filled 32 notebooks (containing almost 3,000 pages) with his political and philosophical meditations on how Marxist theory could be applied practically to the conditions of advanced capitalism. …
Gramsci accepted Marx’s assertion that perpetual struggle between the ruling class and the subordinate working class was the driving mechanism that ultimately made social progress possible. But he rejected the notion that direct physical coercion by police and armies was the method of choice for achieving and maintaining victory in that struggle. Rather, Gramsci held that if a population at large could, for a period of time, be properly indoctrinated with a new “ideology”—specifically, a set of values, beliefs, and worldviews consistent with Marxist principles — a Marxist system could be sustained indefinitely and without coercion or force. In short, Gramsci held that Marxists needed to focus their efforts on gaining “hegemony” (i.e., control or dominion) over the core beliefs of non-Marxist societies; to change the population’s understanding of what constitutes basic “common sense.”
Such a development, said Gramsci, would never occur naturally as a result of some inexorable, unseen, “historical laws” that Marx had accepted as axiomatic. Rather, Gramsci asserted that Marxism’s potential for transforming society was wholly dependent upon the willful initiative of activists committed to using a “reversal strategy” designed to establish a “counter hegemony”—i.e., an alternative dominant worldview—in opposition to the existing capitalist framework.
Specifically, Gramsci called for Marxists to spread their ideology in a gradual, incremental, stealth manner, by infiltrating all existing societal institutions and embedding it, largely without being noticed, in the popular mind. This, he emphasized, was to be an evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary, process that, over a period of decades, would cause an ever-increasing number of people to embrace Marxist thought, until at last it achieved hegemony. Gramsci described this approach as a “long march through the institutions”.
Among the key institutions that would need to be infiltrated were the cinema and theater, the schools and universities, the seminaries and churches, the media, the courts, the labor unions, and at least one major political party. According to Gramsci, these institutions constituted society’s “superstructure,” which, if captured and reshaped by Marxists, could lead the masses to abandon capitalism of their own volition, entirely without resistance or objection.
Gramsci’s formula was followed by Marxists throughout the Western world. “The long march through the institutions” was doggedly pursued. From the 1960s on, they began to achieve success, perhaps beyond their own optimistic expectations. And in 2008 their efforts were crowned by the election of Barack Obama to the most politically powerful position in the world.
Socialism (or “Communism” – even in the USSR the two words were used interchangeably) is an economic dream-system that cannot succeed. So it will not succeed. But it takes time for a socialist state to fail completely, and in the meantime it does ruinous and painful harm.
In Europe the failure of socialism is gathering pace as calamities crowd to a fall.
In America the harm is only just beginning.
Determined violent killers who cannot get guns will not refrain from killing; they’ll use less efficient weapons, such as knives or clubs, and so in all probability make the killing slower and more painful.
The answer to anti-gun fever is that it isn’t the gun that kills but the person who shoots with it.
Here the case is well argued by Daniel Greenfield writing at his website Sultan Knish:
Every day another one of the stories comes in. A teacher panicked by a plastic gun, an army man on a cupcake, a t-shirt, a pop tart chewed into the shape of a gun or a finger gun hits the panic button. Supensions and lectures quickly follow as the latest threat to the gun-free zone, usually in the form of a little boy, is tackled to the ground and lectured to within an inch of his life.
There are some very stupid people in charge of schools!
Tellingly these incidents rarely take place in the inner city schools where teenage gang members walk through metal detectors at the start of the day. The safety officers in those schools, big weary men with eyes that look everywhere at once, don’t waste their time on toys. Not unless those toys are full-size, painted black and filed down to look like real guns.
It’s usually the schools where a shooting is wholly unlikely; where gun violence is not a daily reality, but an unlikely convergence of horror, that institutional vigilance hits an irrational peak as every school imagines that it could be the next Columbine or the next Sandy Hook.
The NRA’s initial proposal of armed school guards was met with an irrational chorus of protests. More guns aren’t the answer, was the cry. And the leading crier was the White House’s expert skeet shooter. … The problem was not the man, it was the gun. Get rid of the guns and you stop the killing. Schools across the country are banning not [only] the gun, but the idea of the gun. It is a conceptual prohibition that is meant to push away the threat of gun violence by eliminating any mention of the G word. Gun-free zones mean places where guns cannot be mentioned, depicted or even symbolized as if the refusal to concede the existence of a firearm will eliminate the threat of it being used on the premises.
This isn’t a precautionary attitude, but a pacifist one. Gun horror is not a productive emotion, but learned helplessness disguised as moral superiority. Rather than teaching children to hate killers, schools are instead teaching them to hate guns. And reducing murders to instruments rather than morals, children are left with no sense of right and wrong, only an instinctive horror of violence.
Pacifists have always demonized armies rather than invaders. … By dealing with the object rather than the subject, they are able to avoid the question of moral responsibility. Rather than hold the Nazis, Communists or Islamists accountable for their actions, they extended a blanket condemnation over the weapons-wielders. …
While the left likes to indulge in stereotypes of gun-toting rednecks and bomb-brandishing generals, the only people who judge the worth of a man by his weapon are the pacifists, the gun-fearers and gun-hiders who mythologize weapons as black agents of evil.
To believe that there is no such thing as constructive violence is to reject free will. Without accepting the necessity of constructive violence, there is no good and evil, only armed men and unarmed men. Without constructive violence, two boys playing cops and robbers in the schoolyard are not acting out a childish morality play, they are becoming desensitized to murder …
If there is no such thing as constructive violence, then the police officer is not the solution to crime, he is part of the cycle of violence. And if that cycle of violence does not begin with a man choosing to use a gun for good or evil, then it must begin with the gun. The man becomes the object and the gun becomes the subject. American ICBMs become just as bad as Russian ballistic missiles. An Israeli soldier killing a suicide bomber is just as bad as the terrorist. There are no good guys with guns. To have a gun is to be the bad guy.
For decades the gun-control lobby has brandished assault rifles at press conferences and spent more time describing their killing power than their manufacturers have. The rifle has been upgraded to the assault rifle and now, in the latest Orwellian vernacular used by the White House and the entire media pyramid beneath it, weapons of war. …
Shootings in America are not caused by guns, they are caused by crime. Guns really do not walk off store shelves and go on killing sprees. That’s what criminals are for. But the trouble with that discussion is that it takes us into moral territory. … We have to ask the difficult question of what does kill people.
It’s a bigger question than just Adam Lanza pulling the trigger in a classroom full of children. It is a big question that encompasses the Nazi gas chambers and the Soviet gulags, the Rape of Nanking and September 11. It is a question as big as all of human history.
Pacifists once used to be able to address such questions, but they have become obsessed with the technology of violence … ,[which] is largely beside the point. Guns do not motivate people to kill. …
Some of history’s worst massacres happened long before firearms became useful for more than scaring off peasants. The heavily armed Americans of the 50s had lower per capita murder rates than medieval London. It isn’t the gun that makes the killer. It’s not the hand that kills, but the mind.
The gun-free society has little interest in individuals. Its technocratic philosopher-kings want big and comprehensive solutions. Their answer to gun violence is to feed a horror of guns. Their answer to obesity is to ban sodas. Their solutions invariably miss the point by treating people like objects and objects like people.
In the Middle Ages, rats were put on trial for eating crops. Today we put guns on trial for killing people.
The left has tried to reduce people to economics, to class and then race, gender and sexual orientation. It has done its best to reduce people to the sum of their parts and then to tinker with those parts and it has failed badly. The best testimony of its … failure is that the worst pockets of gun violence are in urban areas that have been under the influence of their sociologists, urban planners, psychologists, social justice activists, community organizers and political rope-pullers for generations. And what have those areas brought forth except malaise, despair, blight and murder?
Banning guns will do as much for those areas as banning drugs did. …
The gun-control activists drew the wrong lesson from [the murder of children at Sandy Hook school in] Newtown as they drew the wrong lessons from WW2 and September 11. The lesson is not that weapons are bad, the lesson is that people in the grip of evil ideas are capable of unimaginable horrors regardless of the tools at their disposal. A single man can kill a classroom full of children with a gun and a few men can kill thousands with a few box cutters. It isn’t the tool that matters. It’s the man.
Unwishing the gun brings us back to the sword. Unwishing the sword brings us back to the spear. Unwishing the spear brings us back to the stone club. And what then? When every weapon that ever existed or will exist is undone, all that remains is the deadliest weapon of all. The mind of man.
The gun, the sword, the spear and the club took countless lives and saved countless lives. Civilization has always balanced on a future made possible by little boys playing cops and robbers and playing with little green army men. They can either grow up to be the protectors of the future or the frightened men who will stand aside and do nothing when they hear the screams begin to come because they have been told that all violence is evil.