Civil liberties versus national security 5

The Washington Post reports:

Senators left Capitol Hill early Saturday morning without taking action to extend or replace a controversial surveillance program set to expire at month’s end, paralyzed by a debate over the proper balance between civil liberties and national security.

Our tentative answer to the dilemma: As there’s an administration in power that believes government should control our lives, we would vote for civil liberties over national security; if there were an administration that knows it’s first duty is to protect our freedom, we would trust it not to overstep the mark, so we would vote for national security.

And yet …

Trouble is,  even if we were so lucky as to get a reasonably trustworthy administration, it could all too easily be replaced by another statist gang such as we have at present.

Readers are invited to give their own views on this difficult conundrum.

Posted under Commentary, government, Law, Leftism, liberty, Terrorism, Totalitarianism, tyranny, United States, US Constitution by Jillian Becker on Saturday, May 23, 2015

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Magna Carta, the rule of law, and the American Republic 2

This year, June 19 will be the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

The chief significance of the document is that it established that nobody, not even the King, is above the law.

In England until then, and in all other kingdoms, the monarch was the law. One man (or woman) had total power over every other person in the realm. The monarch was the only free individual.

The Magna Carta also curbed the power of authorities throughout the land, bringing the first protection of individuals from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment –  not all individuals, only the barons whose rebellion against King John had brought him to make concessions to them. In so doing, it paved the way for habeas corpus, which ensures early and open trial for everyone who is taken into custody, though it only became law centuries later in 1679.

The idea that people could live in an ordered society ruled not by a person but by the rule of law, had been conceived and put into practice by the ancient Greeks in their city-states, and in pre-imperial Rome, but had been lost to Europe through the long dark Christian centuries. It meant that peoples of different origins, from nations and tribes of varying customs and traditions, could live together as fellow citizens. It did not matter what country they came from, as long as they would obey the same laws. Or as it has often been put: ius not rus (law not land). It was an idea that made monarchs essentially redundant.

And it was the idea that underlay the creation of the Republic of the United States of America.

And continued to influence American constitutional law.

We quote the first paragraph of an essay by H. D. Hazeltine: The Influence of Magna Carta on American Constitutional Development (1917).

For seven [now eight] centuries Magna Carta has exerted a powerful influence upon constitutional and legal development. During the first four centuries after 1215 this influence was confined to England and the British Isles. With the growth of the British Empire during the last three hundred years, the principles of the Charter have spread to many of the political communities which have derived their constitutional and legal systems from England, and which have owed in the past, or which still owe, allegiance to the mother-country. The earliest, and perhaps the most important phase of this imperial history of Magna Carta is its effect upon the constitutions and laws of the American colonies and of the Federal Union that was established after their War of Independence.

The essay concludes:

The history of Magna Carta in America has a meaning far deeper than the influence of a single constitutional document; for Magna Carta typifies those ideals of law and government which have spread to America and to many other political communities that lie beyond the four seas encircling the island-realm itself. The world-wide diffusion of those ideals of liberty and justice deserves to be studied in its entirety, as a vast historical process which had its beginnings far back in the middle ages, and which has shaped and is still shaping in modern times the institutions of all the political commonwealths that owe their spiritual inheritance to England. The history of the Charter’s influence upon American constitutional development, as one phase of that vaster process, should be illuminating alike to subjects of the Crown and citizens of the Republic. Above all it teaches them that English political and legal ideals lie at the basis of much that is best in American institutions. Those ideals, jealously preserved and guarded by Americans throughout their whole history, still form the vital force in political thought and activity within the Union. As the Americans adapt their institutions to the ever-changing conditions of national and international life, those ideals of liberty and justice, founded upon the Great Charter, will continue to inspire and guide them. The Charter has a future as well as a past in the American commonwealth, for its spirit is inherent in the aspirations of the race.

We can interpret “the race” to mean “the human race” – even if that was not exactly what Mr. Hazeltine himself meant by it.

But are the ideals of liberty and justice still continuing to inspire and guide the people of the United States of America?

Tragically, there are now many reasons to doubt it. At present America has a leader, Barack Obama, who manifests no acceptance of the idea that the law is above him. An attorney general, Eric Holder, has blatantly refused to apply the law equally to people of different ethnicities. Individuals protected by the administration have acted in the interests of the ruling party (Lois Lerner of the IRS – see here and here) or in their own interest (Hillary Clinton – see here), arrogantly defying the law with impunity.

It would take much more than a great document now to restore the Union to the republic of its founders’ intentions.

Liberty 6

Rick Roderick expounds John Stuart Mill:

Further to stress the supreme importance of liberty and reason, here is our summary of excellent points made in an article by Jeffrey Tayler, a contributing editor at the Atlantic.

Astonishingly, the article was published by the far-left periodical Salon. It is quite long, but it is good, and may be read in its entirety here.

Last week’s assault on the “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest that Pamela Geller hosted in Texas proves the jihad against freedom of expression has opened a front in the United States. She and those with her came close to being murdered, yet some in the media blamed her for the gunmen’s attack.

Acceptance of the fraudulent term “Islamophobia” contributes to the generalized befuddlement on the left about the faith in question and whether negative talk about it constitutes some sort of racism. It patently does not. Unlike skin color, faith is not inherited and is susceptible to change. As with any other ideology, it should be subject to unfettered discussion, which may include satire, ridicule and even derision. The First Amendment protects our right to practice the religion of our choosing or no religion at all, and our right to speak freely, even offensively, about it. From a rationalist’s perspective, any ideology that mandates belief without evidence is a priori dangerous and liable to abuse.

The “Prophet” Muhammad transformed the Despot on High into an even more menacing, wrathful ogre, whose gory punishments meted out to hapless souls after death fill many a Koranic verse. Muhammad was a triumphant warlord leading military campaigns that spread Islam throughout Arabia. He preceded his invasions by demands that populations either convert or face the sword. Verses sanctifying violence against “infidels” abound in the Koran, and warn that Hellfire awaits those worshipping anything besides Allah. The real meaning of the word “Islam” is surrender — to Allah. Surrendering denotes groveling and humiliation.

We should proudly espouse, as alternatives to blind obedience to ancient texts, reason, progress, and the wonderful panoply of other Enlightenment ideals underpinning our Constitution and the liberties characterizing Western countries. We cannot wimp out and blame the victims for drawing cartoons, writing novels, or making movies. The media need to begin showing Muhammad cartoons. We must stop traducing reason by branding people “Islamophobes”, and start celebrating our secularism, remembering that only it offers true freedom for the religious and non-religious alike. And we should reaffirm our humanistic values, in our conviction that we have only one life, and need to make the most of it. There is nothing else.

This is not a battle we have chosen; the battle has chosen us. It’s time to fight back, and hard.

Our only quibble would be with this in the original article: “…some in the media on the right and the center-right have essentially blamed [Pamela Geller] for the gunmen’s attacks … ”

While it is true that Greta van Susteren of Fox News did that, and Bill O’Reilly did it too (only to be forcefully and brilliantly contradicted by Megyn Kelly), most of the “blame Geller” opinion is to be found in the left-slanted Islam-supporting media, notably the New York Times. Which is why it is astonishing that Jeffrey Tayler’s article – defending Geller, free speech, and the secular values of the Enlightenment – appeared in Salon.

The Islam-coddling Left blames the victim of Islamic terrorism 3

First Pamela Geller was attacked by terrorists for holding a free speech event. Then she was attacked by the media for the same reason.

Ezra Levant of TheRebel.media looks at the media’s twisted treatment of Geller after the foiled shooting in Garland, Texas.

The left-slanted media want sharia enforced in America rather than US constitutional law.

And not only the left-slanted media. Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham, and Greta van Susteren of Fox News have also blamed Pamela Geller for exercising her free speech rights. Dhimmis all.

However, also on Fox News, the excellent Megyn Kelly argued with Bill O’Reilly and decisively showed him to be wrong – though he still didn’t seem to understand that he was.

Kelly told O’Reilly … the point [Pamela Geller and her organization] were making about free speech was a solid one. The First Amendment, she said, isn’t meant to protect popular speech; it’s meant to protect “the most outrageous, offensive, incendiary speech”. 

O’Reilly countered, “It’s always cause and effect… This is what happens when you light the fuse, you get violence.” Kelly was surprised to hear that, telling O’Reilly he sounds like he’s “attacking the event itself”.

When O’Reilly said he would “do it another way,” Kelly got really fired up and said this:

“You know what else the jihadis don’t like? They hate Jews. Should we get rid of all Jews? That’s the path we’re gonna go down if we don’t stop catering to the jihadis.”

Watch the video here.

Speaking of free speech 5

We learn from Scott Johnson at PowerLine:

On April 15 the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale inaugurated its annual Disinvitation Dinner. … Keynote speaker was George Will … took up the subject of the parlous state of free speech. … This is a timely speech on an important subject as liberal fascism continues its march through the institutions.

Scott Johnson selects this extract:

Free speech has never been, in the history of our republic, more comprehensively, aggressively and dangerously threatened than it is now. The Alien and Sedition Acts arose from a temporary, transitory fever and were in any case sunsetted and disappeared. The fevers after and during the First World War and in the early culture war era also were eruptions of distemper rooted in local conditions and local issues bound to disappear, which they did.

Today’s attack is different. It’s an attack on the theory of freedom of speech. It is an attack on the desirability of free speech and indeed if listened to carefully and plumbed fully, what we have today is an attack on the very possibility of free speech. The belief is that the First Amendment is a mistake. . . .

Yesterday the Democratic Party, the oldest political party in the world, the party that guided this country through two world wars and is more responsible than any other for the shape of the modern American state — the Democratic Party’s leading and prohibitively favored frontrunner candidate for the presidential nomination announced four goals for her public life going forward, one of which is to amend the Bill of Rights to make it less protective. It’s an astonishing event. She said that she wants to change the First Amendment in order to further empower the political class to regulate the quantity, content and timing of political speech about the political class — and so far as I can tell there’s not a ripple of commentary about this on the stagnant waters of the American journalistic community.

There is also a video of George Will delivering his entire speech. We cannot import it but we hope our readers will treat themselves to it. It is all meat. We assure you the hour passes very quickly.

The principles of politics 4

This quotation from the Dear Leader has just caught our eye:

“Consistency is the hobgoblin of narrow minds.”

Obama expressed this opinion yesterday – April 11, 2015.

Now under our recent post An informed choice (April 10, 2015), a commenter who names himself/herself “Non-ideologue” recommends that each separate political issue should be considered on its own merits.

But consistency is absolutely vital. A politics that is not consistent is simply unprincipled.

If one values freedom, one will judge policies in the light of whether they preserve or abridge freedom. One will judge the agendas of political parties according to those criteria too.

Political parties are formed round, or arise out of, shared interests and aims. Their values are embodied in their principles, and their principles guide their policies.

If one puts security above liberty, or thinks justice is the same thing as economic equality, then one is a socialist, whether one sticks the word on one’s forehead or not. The only way there can be that sort of equality (entirely different from equality under the law) is for a central agency with a monopoly of force – ie. a government – to impose it. Government alone can force those who have property to give it up, can forcibly divide it, and forcibly bestow it as it chooses. That is one big powerful government. It  can bestow benefits on you – and it can withhold them. It has power over every aspect of your life. Its thousands of government-obedient bureaucrats will decide what is good for you, regardless of what you want for yourself. It is also called statism, and collectivism. It is plainly tyranny. If you are a voter, it is necessary to recognize that the party in the US which stands for these values and so will enact such policies as are consistent with them, is the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party, disappointing as it is, at least in theory stands now for the great idea on which the United States of America was founded. At present there are Republicans who would like to make the Party live up to its principles. Those principles are individual freedom, small government, low taxes, a free market economy – all CONSISTENT with each other. If those are your principles, you will prefer the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. You will try to keep the Republicans true to their values and principles. And you will be right to call yourself a conservative. (The fact that there are conservatives who hold the same principles and are also religious, makes no difference to your adherence to them if you are not religious. No compelling logic sticks religion on to them.)

Obama often makes statements that contradict each other or are contradicted by his actions. He says you can keep your doctor under Obamacare, when you cannot. He says his administration will be the most transparent in history, when in fact it is the least transparent in history. He says that Iran must not be allowed to have nukes, and then he makes it easy for Iran to have nukes. There are many more examples we could give, but those will do to prove the case. He may see this as “inconsistency” and think only hobgoblin-haunted minds can object to it.  But in fact it is lying and deception. His entire presidency is a lie and a deception. He is ostensibly the leader of the US; leader of a government whose first duty is to protect Americans from tyranny at home and enemies abroad. In fact his agenda has been and continues ever more blatantly to be against the interests of this country.

Obama is not unprincipled, it’s just that his principles are opposed to those which have inspired and sustained the United States of America. He is not inconsistent; he is misleading. Throughout his presidency, no matter what he has said, he has consistently advanced the subversive agenda of the far Left, and the savage interests of Islam.

America decaying 21

We usually agree with Dennis Prager on political issues.

We never agree with him about religion.

Today he writes at Townhall:

As one who loves America – not only because I am American, but even more so because I know (not believe, know) that the American experiment in forming a decent society has been the most successful in history – I write the following words in sadness: With few exceptions, every aspect of American life is in decline.

“Decay” is the word.

He writes of the “decline of the family”, with figures to prove it; and the “decline of education”, with a short list of examples of poor education that could be extended to a great length.

He goes on  to assert that –

Most universities have become seminaries for the dissemination of Leftism. Moreover, aside from indoctrination, students usually learn little. One can earn a BA in English at UCLA, for example, without having read a single Shakespeare play.

Yes. Oh, but we have misquoted him in order to say yes, he is right.

What he actually writes is –

Most universities have become secular seminaries for the dissemination of Leftism. …

Why did he put in the word “secular”? Most of the universities of the West are powerhouses pumping out Leftists who will do all they can to destroy the civilization that sustains them. Their fault is not that they are “secular” but that they are Leftist, statist, collectivist. Their being secular, and not teaching some system of dogma that may not be questioned, would be the one thing about them that is good, were it not for the fact that Leftism too is a system of dogma that may not be questioned.

He continues in indignation – which we share – to deplore what the academies teach:

To the extent that American history is taught, beginning in high school and often earlier, American history is presented as the history of an immoral nation characterized by slavery, racism, colonialism, imperialism, economic exploitation, and militarism — not of a country that, more than any other, has been the beacon of freedom to mankind, and the country that has spent more treasure and spilled more blood to liberate other peoples than any other nation.

The End of Male and Female: Whatever one’s position on same-sex marriage, one must acknowledge that at the core of the argument for this redefinition of marriage is that gender doesn’t matter. Marriage is marriage, and gender means nothing, the argument goes. So, too, whether children are raised by mother and father or two mothers or two fathers doesn’t matter. A father has nothing unique to offer a child that a mother can’t provide and vice versa.

Why? Because – for the first time in recorded history – gender is regarded as meaningless. Indeed, increasingly gender doesn’t even exist; it’s merely a social construct imposed on children by parents and society based on the biological happenstance of their genitalia. When signing up for Facebook, one is offered nearly 60 options under “gender.” In various high schools across the country, boys are elected homecoming queen. A woman was recently kicked out of Planet Fitness for objecting to a man in the women’s locker room. She was accused of intolerance because the man said he felt that he was a woman.

Then he comes to –

The End of Right and Wrong: At least two generations of American young people have been taught that moral categories are nothing more than personal (or societal) preferences. Recently, an incredulous professor of philosophy wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times titled “Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts.” In it he noted, “Without fail, every value claim is labeled an opinion” (italics in original). This extends to assessing the most glaring of evils.

And he gives Nazism as an example of “glaring evil” – which it was and is.

And that brings him to his dogma:

The End of Religion: There are no moral truths because there is no longer a religious basis for morality.

What is “a religious basis for morality”?

Christian love? Love everyone regardless of what they do? Hate the sin but reward the sinner with love and do not hold him responsible for his sin? ? Forgive everything and anything? “Resist not evil” (as Jesus Christ is reported to have said in his “Sermon on the Mount”)? And – through many centuries – a religion that burnt people to death who questioned the dogma?

Judaism’s expectation of divine vengeance? “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me”? That as part of the revered “Ten Commandments” of the moral law in a religion that holds justice to be its highest value? And – for many centuries – a religion that punished people with pain and even death if they disobeyed the commandments in the dogma?

Islam’s “Kill the Infidel”? Keep women subjugated to the will of men? Burn people, stone them, amputate their limbs, and enslave them? And – to this very day – kill people who question the dogma?

Is it necessary to remind those who think religion is necessary to a moral life that there are – to this day – faiths which command that people’s lives be sacrificed to propitiate imaginary beings?

How is passionately believed religion helping the peoples of Africa? In Uganda, South Sudan, and the Congo where the fanatically Christian “Lord’s Resistance Army” feeds the earth with human blood? The Central African Republic where Muslims in the North recently slaughtered untold numbers of Christians, and now Christians from the South are slaughtering as many Muslims as they can? In Somalia, where aid workers trying to bring medicine and food to masses of sick and starving people are imprisoned and killed by devout Muslims? In Libya, where al-Qaeda is killing and maiming in the name of Allah? Under the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) in Syria and Iraq? In Iran ruled by pious old men? That list too could be continued to become very long.

More than the Enlightenment, it was the Bible – especially the Hebrew Bible (which was one reason America’s Christians were different from most European Christians) that guided the Founders’ and other Americans’ values. Not anymore …

No. Our firm understanding is that the Enlightenment gave birth to the United States of America. If some of the Founders cited the bible (whether the Jewish bible as Prager likes to believe, or the Christian which came round tentatively to tacking the Jewish bible on to its own canon), that in no way changes the historical fact that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are supremely documents of the Enightenment; which is to say of reason. Reason, all on its own, without anyone claiming to have heard a god speaking the idea to someone long ago, established a state on the foundation of individual freedom of both thought and action.

Prager concludes:

If you acknowledge that American society is in decay, it is your obligation to fight to undo it. If you can’t acknowledge that American society is in decay, you are providing proof that it is.

America is in decay. Leftism, the secular form of Christianity, is the name of the rot that is destroying it.

Posted under Christianity, Commentary, education, Islam, Judaism, Leftism, Religion general, United States, US Constitution by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, April 7, 2015

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Libertarianism the wave of the future? 9

The Left likes to believe – as Obama and Harry Reid often iterate – that it is “on the side of history”.

Is history then stuck with those stale and failed ideas of a Marxian stamp propagated by the likes of Kenneth Galbraith, John Maynard Keynes, or the bone-headed strategies of Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Priven?

Or tending back to the Dark Ages with a resurgence of Islam?

Surely not. A civilization that has put a man on the moon; has invented the computer, the internet, the driverless car; that watches the expansion of the universe; that can replace a faulty human heart with a new one; that has used liberty to become rich, knowledgable, and ever more inventive, is not going to go back to communism or the law of the seventh century desert?

Quo vadis then?

The maliciously lefty and deeply nasty New York Times notices a rise in libertarian opinion in America.

Libertarianism has been touted as the wave of America’s political future for many years, generally with more enthusiasm than evidence. But there are some tangible signs that Americans’ attitudes are in fact moving in that direction.

The NYT goes on to substantiate its claim with figures and a chart.

It defines a libertarian, fairly enough, as “someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least”.

There have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand, to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand, that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.

The Tea Party movement also has some lineage in libertarian thinking. Although polls suggest that many people who participate in the Tea Party movement have quite socially conservative views, the movement spends little time emphasizing those positions, as compared with economic issues.

The perception that the Tea Party – whose chief issue is the need for fiscal responsibility – has “some lineage in libertarian thinking” is remarkable for that newspaper. It seldom removes its red blindfold long enough to replace it for a short time with blinders. For it to see something that is actually there but not obvious is a lucky moment of illumination worth a cheer or two. The author of the article is Nate Silver. Perhaps he found some cunning way to let that uncongenial revelation slip past editorial oversight.

Or perhaps he and his editors think that libertarian thinking is bad anyway. If we didn’t know that to be the case already, there’s a hint of it in what comes later.

The libertarian opinions, revealed by a CNN poll and quoted in the article, are these:

Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008.

The author, apparently not happy to accept what the poll reveals, comments:

Whether people are as libertarian-minded in practice as they might believe themselves to be when they answer survey questions is another matter. Still, there have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand …”

So a tolerance with which he has sympathy …

 … to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand …

So a skepticism he condemns  …

 … that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.

How confusing for Nate Silver! Libertarians like some of the things he likes. But they also dislike things that he holds dear.

Well, actually, that is the case with us too.

We welcome the spread of libertarian sentiment.

We too see no reason why marijuana should be illegal.

As for same-sex marriage, we think it is an hilarious farce, but would on no account oppose it. A 12-year old boy once defined marriage for us as “a legal union between two or more things”.  Why not  more than two? Why not things or beasts as well as humans?  If – as the argument goes – they love each other? (Well, we said it’s a farce.)

Where we are strongly with libertarians is on the issue of economic freedom. As our contributing commenter Don L often recommends: accept that the Austrian School is right and allow no government interference whatsoever in economic activity – and abolish the Fed. We also advocate keeping taxes (flat-rated) very low. So low that they cannot sustain a government that does much more than it absolutely has to do – protect the liberty of the people, from outside enemies, and domestic criminals. And enforce the law of contract.

But we too have some quarrels with libertarians.

There are those among them who outrageously condone the corruption of children, even the use of them for pornography “as long as they are willing and are paid for their services”!*

Quite a large number of libertarians are historical revisionists, and some who ridiculously and with evil intent deny that the Holocaust ever happened.**

And most libertarians want America to take no notice of what’s going on in the world beyond its borders, except for trade and vacations. As if ignorance is a protection from a world full of expansionist tyrannies and ideologies.

No. None of that.

But a libertarianism that holds individual freedom as the highest value, and knows that it is only possible under the rule of law; and at the same time is committed to preserving the best of everything America has achieved in the past, is a libertarianism that we can – and do – embrace.

 

NOTES:

* We cannot link to articles that discuss this. Access to them is “forbidden”.

**Although the article we link to here does endorse what we say that some libertarians deny  the Holocaust, it goes too far in criticizing Reason and its sponsors.

Islam must be destroyed – by words and laughter 11

The weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo laughed at all religions. It mocked religion as such, mercilessly. It dared to mock the nastiest religion of them all, Islam, defying its vengefulness. It was doing a great job for civilization.

Because of the killing of the journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo yesterday in Paris, we repeat part of our post, Religion and the crippling of the mind – an existential threat (January 2, 2013):

Human survival depends on progress, and progress depends on the criticism of ideas.

Religions are the most dangerous sets of ideas because they are the most dogmatic. Dogma chains and cripples the mind. It denies knowledge and prevents discovery and innovation. The only possible form of argument between opposing dogmas is violence. Religions must be questioned.

Any idea that requires a law to protect it from criticism is ipso facto a bad idea.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation [formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference], the United Nations, and the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are actively engaged in trying to silence criticism of Islam. If their campaign succeeds it will greatly advance Islam’s jihad, its war to impose universal Islamic rule.

The victory of Islam would put humanity under a death sentence.  

And this is also a good time to repeat an even earlier post, The need to knock Islam (September 3, 2011):

The greatness of the West began with doubting. The idea that every belief, every assumption, should be critically examined started the might of Europe. When those old Greek thinkers who founded our civilization learnt and taught that no one has a monopoly of truth or ever will have, they launched the intellectual adventure that has carried the human race – not without a long interval in the doldrums – literally to the skies.

Socrates taught the utility of suspicion. He is reputed to have said, “The highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others.” He was not, however, the first to use doubt for discovery. Thales of Miletos, who was born 155 years before Socrates, dared to doubt that religion’s explanatory tales about how the world came to be as it is were to be trusted, and he began exploring natural phenomena in a way that we recognize as scientific. He is often called the Father of Science. With him and his contemporary, Anaximander, who argued with him by advancing alternative ideas, came the notion – for the first time as far as we know – that reason could fathom and describe how the universe worked.

Science is one of the main achievements of the West, but it is not the only product of constructive doubt that made for its greatness. Doubt as a habit of mind or tradition of thinking meant that new, foreign, even counter-intuitive ideas were not dismissed. Europe, before and after it stagnated in the doldrums of the long Catholic Christian night (and even to some extent during those dark centuries), was hospitable to ideas wherever they came from.

Totally opposed to this intellectual openness were the churches with their dogma. Those who claim that the achievements of our civilization are to be credited to Christianity (or in the currently fashionable phrase to “the Judeo-Christian tradition”) have a hard case to make. It was the rediscovery of the Greek legacy in the Renaissance in the teeth of Christian dogmatism, and the new freedom from religious persecution exploited by the philosophers of the Enlightenment that re-launched the West on its intellectual progress, to become the world’s nursery of innovation and its chief factory of ideas.

Our civilization cannot survive without this openness. Critical examination is the breath that keeps it alive. But it is in danger of suffocation. It is more threatened now than it has been for the last four hundred years by dogmatisms: Marxism, environmentalism, religion – above all Islam which absolutely forbids criticism.

The Founding Fathers of the United States perfectly understood the necessity for an open market of ideas. Every citizen of the republic, they laid down, must be free to declare his beliefs, to argue his case, to speak his mind, to examine ideas as publicly as he chose without fear of being silenced.

Islam is now the major threat to the West. Its ideas are the very opposite of those on which the USA was founded. It is an ideology of intolerance and cruelty. It forbids the free expression of thought. By its very nature, even if it were not now on a mission of world conquest (which it is), it is the enemy of the West.

The best way to defeat it is by criticizing it, constantly and persistently, in speech and writing, on the big screen and the small screen, in the schools and academies, in all the media of information and comment, in national and international assemblies.

If the weapon of words is forbidden, the only alternative will be guns. 

Why we matter 2

Here’s one of the most important reasons why The Atheist Conservative needs to exist. Why what we have to say is important. Why we must make ourselves heard.

From Fox News comes this story of an atheist of the left. In everything except his atheism, he couldn’t be more wrong.

If you sign up for Denver college professor Charles Angeletti’s American Civilization class, be forewarned that you’re going to have to recite his invective-filled “New Pledge” – and according to some of his students, also be ready to swallow a big helping of his politics.

Angeletti, who teaches at Metropolitan State University of Denver, has students learn an anti-American spoof of the Pledge of Allegiance that denounces the U.S. as a Republican-controlled bastion of injustice, all while spewing his own far-left brand of politics, according to current and former students.

The professor hands out this “pledge” on a flier to his students and demands that they repeat it.

I pledge allegiance to and wrap myself in the flag of the United States Against Anything Un-American. And to the Republicans for which it stands, two nations, under Jesus, rich against poor, with curtailed liberty and justice for all except blacks, homosexuals, women who want abortions, Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis, illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, and you, if you don’t watch your step.

The anti-U.S. recitation, first reported by higher education blog Campus Reform, was a satirical pledge aimed at getting students to question their nation’s leadership, Angeletti said. The self-proclaimed atheist and socialist told the site that he has been distributing the pledge in his classes for nearly 20 years as part of his lesson plan.

“We’re very racist, we’re very repressive, we’re very Christian oriented, we don’t tolerate other kinds of thinking in this country,” Angeletti told Campus Reform. “I could go on and on – and do, in my classes, for hours about things that we need to do to make this a better country.”

Could anything be further from the truth?

Consider that a majority of voters twice elected a black man (though he was completely unqualified for high office) to the presidency, many of them just to prove they were not racist. But see how America has again become over race-conscious as a result. President Obama and his attorney-general Eric Holder  are race-hustlers, working with others of their kidney; most prominently Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Malik Zulu Shabazz (head of the New Black Panther Party). Racism is now mostly expressed by black politicians, black trade union bosses,  black politicians  and “community organizers”.

The  voices calling loudly for repression in the US are those of politically-correct lefties.

We too dislike Christianity, and we exist to prove that one can be conservative, a defender of the Constitution, a free marketeer, an advocate for states’ rights, and a patriot without believing in the supernatural, or bible literalism, or creationism, or that “Jesus” is a god or a part of a god, or in that rump of a godthing they call “intelligent design”. Our existence alone disproves his caricature of conservative thought.

And equally that one can be an atheist without being – yes – “Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis”;  or politically-correct progressives, Alinskyite community organizers, whitewashers of Islam, collectivists, redistributionists and America-hating racists.  

As for “not tolerating other kinds of thinking”, the US is the one country in the world which really does protect freedom of speech. The Left of course would change that if it could.

Academia is dominated by lefties like this professor, and – what is more and worse – his comrades are at present occupying the commanding heights of power.

 A student from Angeletti’s class told Campus Reform that the flier was handed out to the entire class and all students were required to recite it.

“This was an attempt to propagandize an entire classroom of young adults,” Steven Farr, a freshman majoring in meteorology, told the blog site.

Officials at Metropolitan State University of Denver did not immediately return requests for comment. The 24,000-student school has the second-highest undergraduate enrollment in the state and has several notable Division II sports programs. It also bills itself as a top choice for active-duty military and veterans to pursue higher education, and has several notable Division II sports programs.

We wonder what the active-duty soldiers and the vets think of Professor Charles Angeletti’s ravings.

Ah! – Fox tells us:

“This is typical elite, progressive, post-modernist garbage,” said Pete Hegseth, a Fox News contributor and CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “I hope and believe that vets in his class will challenge this professor. We have seen this time and time again. Lessons like this stack the deck against veterans and basically tell them, you fought for nothing,” Hegseth added. “You fought for a lie.”

 

(Hat-tip to our Facebook reader and commenter, Joe Compton. He rightly believes that to counter the lies of ill-informed, malicious, anti-America atheists like this, is why The Atheist Conservative exists.)

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