“Moral relativism is based on a refusal to call evil evil and a concomitant willingness to denigrate truth if truth requires you to notice evil.” –Caroline Glick
In the Weekly Standard, Yuval Levin describes the civil society contra government dependency and the atomized individual:
While I think the argument about dependency gets at a real problem—the ways in which the welfare state undermines personal responsibility—the term dependency and the concept it describes point us toward a radically individualist understanding of that problem that is mistaken in some important ways. We are all dependent on others. The question is whether we are dependent on people we know, and they on us—in ways that foster family and community, build habits of restraint and dignity, and instill in us responsibility and a sense of obligation—or we are dependent on distant, neutral, universal systems of benefits that help provide for our material wants without connecting us to any local and immediate nexus of care and obligation. It is not dependence per se, which is a universal fact of human life, but dependence without mutual obligation, that corrupts the soul. Such technocratic provision enables precisely the illusion of independence from the people around us and from the requirements of any moral code they might uphold. It is corrosive not because it instills a true sense of dependence but because it inspires a false sense of independence and so frees us from the sorts of moral habits of mutual obligation that alone can make us free.
Paul Ryan described this in what I thought was the best speech at last year’s RNC (read more about it here). Levin continues:
The problem with the “you didn’t build that” mindset, as becomes particularly clear if you read what the president said before and after that line, is not just that it denies the significance of individual initiative (though that’s an important part of the problem, and our culture of individual initiative, which is far from radical individualism, is a huge social achievement in America) but also that it denies the significance of any common efforts that are not political. The president took the pose of a critic of individualism, but in fact the position he described involves perhaps the most radical individualism of all, in which nothing but individuals and the state exists in society.
Cara Cannella of Biographile reviews Rod Dreher’s biography of his sister. Excerpt (hat tip Dreher):
Contemporary culture encourages us to make islands of ourselves for the sake of self-fulfillment, of career advancement, of entertainment, of diversion, and all the demands of the sovereign self. When suffering and death come for you — and it will — you want to be in a place where you know, and are known.
Consider video keno, which isolates the player in a tiny universe, where all that exists is the player, the machine, and the fleeting-though-intoxicating thrill of the game. The game is to be a commonplace in bars across Pennsylvania, and yet it is the antithesis of the organic social atmosphere of the bar; it is a temptation to recede from the world to a domain of private pleasures. In all of these respects—ubiquity, instant gratification, social alienation—video keno reminds one of nothing so much as internet pornography.
In the final National Gambling Research Study Commission (NGRSC) report to Congress, Las Vegas clinical psychologist and gambling specialist Robert Hunter is quoted as describing this type of gaming as “the distilled essence” and “the crack-cocaine of gambling.” According to Hunter, players “escape into the machine and make the world go away. It’s like a trip to the Twilight Zone.” In Pennsylvania’s biggest competitor for gambling dollars, West Virginia, video keno accounts for two-thirds of calls to the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia, whose representative explains: “Our callers often say they’re trying to forget about something negative in life. They’re in a zone when they play.”
This experience is not freedom; it is bondage masquerading as freedom. The proposal is more than that; it is the state exploiting this misapprehension, building a lucrative monopoly for itself upon the despair and escapism of its citizens. Make no mistake about it: The success of the program depends on enticing as many players as possible to that Twilight Zone where all that exists and matters is oneself and the screen glowing with possibility.
How dare I patronize the poor by suggesting that they lack agency? How dare I imply that I know better than another how one’s money should be spent?
Here, I ask for an honest engagement with reality. Unshackled liberty is not a resource that is evenly distributed in our society.
In introducing keno, the state sets up an alternative path to financial security—ultimately a teasing mirage—other than the dynamism of the market or the solidarity of the family and community. The game is a government monopoly that entices the economically vulnerable out of the market and onto the dole, increasing the demand for funds that keno was meant to fulfill to begin with. It is a vicious positive feedback loop.
And so not only does Gov. Corbett’s proposal reinforce cycles of privation and dependency that he and his party in theory despise, but more abstractly it is a significant expansion of the state’s imperial maneuvers against the institutions of civil society that limit its scope and power. Video keno targets those for whom the organic structures of society are most important, but for whom the allure of the state is most magnetic, and introduces yet another terribly appealing temptation to rend social bonds and embrace the state.
At FreedomWorks, Logan Albright cautions against paternalistic government:
It is not a stretch to accept that we can imagine some instances in which a paternalistic restriction would make someone’s life better. We have all known people who could really use a swift kick off their current path and into the right direction. The problem, however, is that government policies are not applied individually to the people that would, in fact, benefit from them—even if it were possible to identify such individuals, the administrative expense would be enormous—they are applied to everyone. Therefore, a policy that might have a benefit for a few isolated cases is instead imposed upon the population as a whole, invariably doing more harm than good in robbing people of their ability to make rational decisions to fulfill their goals.
At Catholic World Report, Anthony Esolen rips into “vampire schools”:
One day it struck John Taylor Gatto, Teacher of the Year for New York State in 1991 (and therefore, inevitably, disliked by his administrators), that our schools were not failing. Rather, they were succeeding fabulously at what they were constructed to do: to produce dull and compliant workers in a technocratic economy. School, he argued, instills in us a perpetual childish neediness. We need to toady for grades, because we need to get into the “best” schools, because we need to have a prestigious and well-remunerated job, because we need to buy a lot of stuff to pretend to fill the emptiness of our lives. Among that stuff will be the odd child or two, who will also need to toady for grades, to get into the “best” schools, and so on, world without end, Amen.
Here’s a selection from Gatto’s book, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling:
Schools are already a major cause of weak families and weak communities. They separate parents and children from vital interaction with each other and from true curiosity about each other’s lives. Schools stifle family originality by appropriating the critical time needed for any sound idea of family to develop—then they blame the family for its failure to be a family.
Esolen has been on fire lately. He concludes a long introspective on boyhood in Public Discourse with this (don’t miss the paraphrase of Romans 8:21):
Luke will know, if but intuitively, that his calling as a Christian, to leave his selfishness behind, to enter what Saint Paul calls the glorious liberty of the children of God, implies the just use of his sexual powers: to give, if God calls him, his body and his heart forever to the woman he loves. That won’t teach him how to pitch a tent in the woods. It might teach him how to build a home in a wasteland.
At the Weekly Standard, Mary Eberstadt also sees family and the state in opposition, but she’s optimistic:
A case can be made that the welfare state has competed with the family for primacy from the beginning. It’s a point exquisitely if unintentionally illustrated by the Obama reelection campaign’s infamous “Julia” website, which showed the beneficent state stepping in to do at every stage of life what used to be done by competent families: babysitting, educating, influencing romantic decisions, caring for someone in old age.
Raw propaganda aside, some serious thinkers have also remarked over the years on the zero-sum game that is the power struggle between family and state. Plato, for one, understood that the only sure way to make children reliable instruments of his Republic was to separate them from their families at an early age. British author Ferdinand Mount argued in a 1992 book that the family “is a subversive organization. ... Only the family has continued throughout history and still continues to undermine the ‘State.’” Tocqueville, Mount pointed out, also grasped this fundamental antagonism between family and state; witness the great Frenchman’s observation that “as long as family feeling is kept alive, the opponent of oppression is never alone.”
Looking away from theory and toward the public square, it’s also plainly true that the welfare state has interrupted the organic bonds of family in ways too numerous to count. As Milton Friedman once observed of Social Security, “The voluntary transfers [from young to old] strengthened the bonds of the family; the compulsory transfers weaken those bonds.” And certainly it’s the welfare state that has effectively bankrolled via many programs the expensive pan-Western fallout of the sexual revolution: the unprecedented levels of divorce, family breakup, out-of-wedlock births, and other trends that have turned the modern state into an inefficient but all-encompassing substitute for a man of the house.
In sum, statism has been an engine of family destruction—and vice versa. All of which leads to a contrarian thought: Might the dark ages of the welfare state end in a family renaissance?
At the American Thinker, Rick Moran reacts to a story of two middle-school girls being told in class to kiss:
School authorities don’t like the dominant culture and are seeking to supplant it by using schools as an assimilation lab to contradict what most parents are trying to teach their child. They are doing this at the expense of teaching children basic skills.
Schools exist apart from, not within, their communities. As I said about the RFID episode in San Antonio:
[Schools are] embassies of globalization in the second and third worlds of flesh-and-blood people devoted to their families and their communities.
Benjamin Brophy reviews Mad Men for the American Spectator:
There is no doubt that Don Draper looks the part. His character radiates stoicism and a cool calm that any man would love to have. Indeed, the women love him and the men want to be him. However, he is not indicative of what the archetype for manhood was in the 1960s. Middle-aged, family men were expected to provide for their families, work hard and not step out on their wives. Did this generation of men live up to those standards at all times? Of course not, but culturally they valued them.
Now we see a generation of men who love Mad Men because it looks the part. It creates a sense of nostalgia for a time period they never lived in (and indeed had many social problems). They are missing what it meant to be a man in our fathers’ and grandfathers’ younger years. Don Draper is a horrible father, but young men today idolize him because they are so desperate to find a pattern of masculinity to imitate that they will take it from a popular television show. It’s a shame that many men could not find a respectable pattern closer to home.
Mad Men takes places in the early ’60s, which preceded the political and moral tumult, and is thus congruent with the ’50s. Were the ’50s really so bad? Michael Bresciani asks at American Thinker:
In the ’50s, women didn’t think they were in a war with conservatives; they knew they were in a war only with overeager young men. Those young men usually lost, which in turn produced a situation where there was no need for an abortion. Yeah, we’ll take those days.
When I learn all she wants is to screw, I lose motivation. She falls in my eyes to a means to an end, an object to be mounted and conquered, an interactive, three-dimensional pornographic image.
There is a time-tested way to avoid this: sexual exclusivity. From “Sex object”:
Her demands of stability and fidelity combined with his impulse for sexual congress provide[s] the alchemy for a miraculous change in his sexual character. His urgent lust transform[s] into enduring love.
In other words, she becomes more than an object of gratification, and his appreciation of her as a person cows his juvenile cravings for sexual variety.
The stigma against female promiscuity is strong because female chastity as a civilizing force is more important than male chastity. That arises out of a basic understanding of sexual nature. On the men’s side, in the arena of work, the stigma against male underachievement is stronger than female underachievement. He knows his social and sexual worth as a man is tied up in his ability to contribute in the marketplace. Read “Sexual vitality.”
Would the world be better off without stigmas against female promiscuity and male underachievement? I suspect not. The stigmas are implicit declarations of deep social truths, which we avoid to our detriment.
“As much as liberalism and modernity and the sexual revolution have reshaped human relations, they have not — or not yet, pending the Singularity — alchemized human nature into something entirely different. A glance at post-1960s trends will demonstrate that the birth control pill did not actually sever sex from pregnancy and childbearing.” –Ross Douthat
War on women puff piece alert! “Harvard women freed from urinal 50 years after first female MBA”:
At Harvard Business School 15 years ago, Nancy Koehn remembers waiting in line to use the “women’s restroom,” which still contained urinals and a dearth of toilet stalls for female students and faculty.
“The changes here have been hard won,” said Koehn, now a tenured professor at HBS. “The urinals were still there in our main classroom building in 1998 because it took a while to renovate what had been a men’s bathroom.”
As HBS celebrates the 50th anniversary of admitting women MBA students, the gender gap at the elite business school has narrowed significantly. Forty percent of the class of 2014 is female, up from 25 percent in 1985. Yet, students still spend most of their time studying how men manage businesses, with just 8 percent of the school’s case studies focused on women leaders.
“They don’t need marriage as much,” says Stephanie Coontz, who teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. “They’re likely to be pickier, and they’re likely to delay marriage.” Coontz dismisses the notion that successful single women intimidate men and can’t find husbands. They just marry later in life, she says.
“One day, I'll get married and have kids. But I’m in no rush,” says Rebecca Loveridge, 27, a Washington, D.C., magazine marketing director who also writes a restaurant blog. She likes dining out, attending concerts and checking out art galleries with her friends. “Now is the time to be single,” she says.
Clarification: They don’t think they need marriage as much. When the ironically named Loveridge does make up her mind to settle down, and she surveys the romantic landscape then, how she will regret wasting her peak years of sexual capital.
Robert Tracinski on sex in the university:
College students’ induction into the lifestyle and worldview of the left hits them in their formative years, and this has an effect that goes well beyond the actual number of votes cast by college students. It is not just that they lean left but that they identify themselves as being on the left by virtue of having gone to college. The ideas of the left are so dominant among college students that they become associated with youthful idealism and with being educated and (supposedly) sophisticated, as opposed to those unenlightened bumpkins who stayed back home and became plumbers instead. By this process, leftism becomes part of the cultural class identity of college-educated people—which is the only real class distinction that this country has.
Dennis Prager riffs:
Another feminist message to women was that just as a woman can have sex like a man, she can also find career as fulfilling as men do. Therefore, pursuing an “M-R-S” at college is just another residue of patriarchy. Women should be as interested in a career as men are. Any hint of the notion that women want, more than anything else, to marry and make a family is sexist, demeaning, and untrue.
One result is that instead of trying to find a potential husband, young women are under feminist pressure to show that they couldn't care less about forming an exclusive, let alone permanent, relationship with a man. And this provides another reason for her to engage in non-emotional, commitment-free sex.
The third reason for the hookup culture is the radical secularization of the college campus. The concept of the holy is dead at American campuses, and without the notion of the holy it is very difficult to make the case for minimizing, let alone avoiding, non-marital sex. Sex, which every great religion seeks to channel into marriage, has no such role in secular thinking. The only issues for students to be aware of when it comes to sex are health and consent. Beyond those two issues, there is not a single reason not to have sex with many people.
That’s why colleges – secular temples that they are – throughout America reinforce the centrality and importance of sex as a mechanical act. There are “sex weeks” at many of our institutions of higher learning that feature demonstrations of sex toys, S&M seminars, porn stars coming to speak, etc.
Feminist teaching about male-female sameness; feminist teaching that women will derive their greatest meaning from career, not from marriage and family; and the complete removal of religious values and teaching from the college campus are, indeed, “leaving a generation unhappy, sexually unfulfilled [certainly most of the women] and confused about intimacy.”
The book that occasioned this response, which Prager quotes in the final paragraph of that excerpt, is The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy by Donna Freitas.
Laura Mitchell looks at cohabitation before marriage in economic terms for First Things:
What happens when a couple lives together before they get married? These transaction costs are magnified to such an extent that it’s nearly impossible just to walk away. Doubts about the relationship are swept aside because to address them would mean to look on Craigslist for a new apartment and furniture.
Then the wedding bells ring, and suddenly a couple who would probably have broken up if they hadn’t lived together is married. Later, when several years have agitated all of the problems that were present to begin with to a point they can no longer take, they divorce. By moving in together before they were married, the couple put the weight of their lifetime decision more on that preliminary step than on the wedding itself.
One of my friends was engaged to his girlfriend of 6 years and broke it off less than a month before the wedding. The decision had to be an extremely tough one, even though they didn’t live together. The bleak prospect of starting over after spending all your 20s with one girl you thought you would spend the rest of your life with had to eat at him as he mulled over calling off the wedding.
Before I change gears, on a lighter, but no less disappointing note: prostitution, the new empowerment:
The survey found an overall 58 percent increase in 2012 of members who are college students.
SeekingArrangement.com, which calls itself the “elite Sugar Daddy” dating site, connects attractive, cash-strapped younger women with successful men who will give them money and gifts in exchange for “companionship.”
The survey noted that the average monthly compensation for a “Sugar Baby” is $3,000 per month.
From inside the cover of Jen Kirkman’s I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids:
It’s hard enough to be an adult. You have to dress yourself and pay bills and remember to buy birthday gifts. You have to drive and get annual physicals and tip for good service. Some adults take on the added burden of caring for a tiny human being with no language skills or bladder control. Parenthood can be very rewarding, but let’s face it, so are margaritas at the adults-only pool.
Who’s she trying to convince?
Marta H. Mossburg writes feminist theories are cold comfort at 40 (Kirkman is 38):
I’ve been thinking about the [Susan Patton] letter a lot recently because of separate visits with three dear friends who are highly educated, very attractive and approaching 40 or over the mark, and want to marry and have children as much or more than the lucrative careers they worked so hard to achieve.
They probably would have laughed at Patton in their 20s, as I would have, but today they often feel alone more than successful and stand at a biological crossroads shattering their sense of self.
One of [my] friends, a tax accountant at a large law firm, found out recently that she would most likely not be able to save her eggs for future use. She is devastated by the news. She grew up in the deep South, has a younger sister with three children, and never confronted life without a family, until the hard truth of biology set in. She can’t raise the topic without crying.
I wonder if a larger share of the highly educated in this group choose not to marry because they will not be bound by conviction or tradition to do so. That would be bad for many of them, who will find out that freedom often stems from a partner’s unconditional love, not the ability to move out at month’s end or sneak out before dawn after hooking up.
Even as manufacturing jobs have steadily decreased, total manufacturing output has steadily grown. Since World War II, manufacturing output in the US has risen over 700%. While rising productivity is often demonized as a job killer, in truth, it is a very powerful force for good in the modern economy.
The time and creativity that productivity growth frees—and it’s been happening since the Industrial Revolution—is responsible for every modern invention from healthcare to high tech, smartphones to non-invasive surgery. If humans hadn’t started using machines to do some things for us, most would still be working in the fields with few moments to spare pondering economic theory, let alone inventing new technologies.
One argument says that this time is different because soon robots will be able to do everything a human does. But it’s misguided to assume we can forecast what humans “will do.” What that statement really means is, “In the future, robots will do everything humans do today.” But what exactly it is that humans will do in the future is anyone’s guess—and few, if any, have ever successfully predicted it.
Matthew Block of First Things summarizes vocation:
Every situation of life is part of vocation. And all these vocations are callings from God through which “we love and serve our neighbours.” That perspective—seeing vocation as service to other people—can help us not get caught up in seeking some divine secret calling for our lives. We serve God best by letting Him serve others through us where we are now. We don’t need to get bent out of shape looking for an extraordinary calling from God; He works regularly through down to earth, ordinary means—through farmers raising crops, doctors mending broken bones, children loving their parents, friends comforting friends.
At the American Thinker, J.R. Dunn ruminates on the false sense of security leading up to the Boston Marathon bombing:
Eager for a return to normality in the midst of a seemingly endless war, Americans allowed themselves to be fooled. Many – probably most – yearned for the pre-9/11 world with a longing that was constant and heartfelt. They truly wanted a return to the Clintonian 90s, the “holiday from history,” when we could ignore things like WTC ’93, the Khobar Towers, the Dar es Salaam and Nairobi embassies, and the USS Cole, pushing aside the fact these atrocities were the milestones leading to our current predicament.
Who knows – if Obama and his handpicked enablers hadn’t gone to such efforts to dissemble, somebody in Boston might have noticed the Tsarnaevs acting oddly, walking away from their dumped shoulder bags, or even wondered about the abandoned bags themselves, lying at the exact spots where they’d do the most damage. (Israelis are conditioned to do this with abandoned bags and packages, and succeed quite well at it. Such means do not make up a large element of Palestinian terror.)
This last evokes a piece I wrote for Red Pill Report. Excerpt:
Jeff Bauman saw Tamerlan Tsarnaev drop his bag, and he said nothing. How easy would it have been to say, “Hey, you dropped your bag”? Imagine the perpetrator’s dismay when the bomb he is about to detonate is handed back to him by a smiling stranger. Who knows, he may have aborted the whole mission right then.
Let this be a lesson to the rest of us. Walking on crowded city streets, we are confronted with thousands of stimuli. A common reaction is to tune it out, to avoid embarrassing entanglements with homeless and street vendors and the like.
Secretary of State John Kerry ingratiates himself to Turkey by empathizing with lives lost in Israel’s 2009 flotilla raid. Not smart.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) on Monday berated John Kerry for comments in which the US secretary of state likened the families of the Mavi Marmara flotilla casualties to those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings last week.
“It is never helpful when a moral equivalency is made confusing terrorists with their victims,” Danon told The Times of Israel. “As our American friends were made all too aware once again last week, the only way to deal with the evils of terrorism it to wage an unrelenting war against its perpetrators wherever they may be,” he said.
Reminds me of the incident when a State Department official told Chinese negotiators America had human rights abuses it had to deal with, too. Hey, China, we know it’s hard to stop murdering and imprisoning Tibetans; we have the same problem with Arizona profiling illegal immigrants!
Daniel Horowitz has been the best resource on the “Gang of 8” immigration bill:
So they are going to immediately grant legal status before there is a parallel commitment and demonstration of enforcement from the administration. It doesn’t matter if you back up the citizenship another two years or another fifty years; as long as they are immediately granted legal status before the fence and visa tracking system are in place, we will continue repeating the same cycle for years to come. The path to benefits and citizenship will obviously be sped up as political pressure mounts every subsequent year.
“Comprehensive” immigration reform — as distinguished from securing the border before doing anything else — serves the interests of politicians of both parties.
A “comprehensive” immigration bill means that they can vote for something that mollifies those Americans who are concerned about the uncontrolled influx of foreigners, while winning support from those who want more foreigners admitted and made citizens. Starting the amnesty track immediately, while promising border security in the future, means that an irreversible benefit is conferred up front, while only time will tell whether the promise of border security will be kept — as it has not been thus far.
Ask yourself why people who have been living illegally in this country for years cannot wait a couple of more years until the border is secured before the question of their legal status can be studied and debated in Congress and among the public at large.
Ask yourself why the American people must continue to be played for suckers by such games as letting foreign pregnant women drop in to have their babies here, who automatically become American citizens, opening the door for other members of their families to come in later. These are called “anchor babies.”
John Hayward in Red State:
One aspect of my growing skepticism about the immigration reform proposals advanced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and his Gang of Eight partners is that our immigration system did not break by accident. It was mangled, deformed, defanged, and abused on purpose, by both government and private interests. Rubio’s earnest enthusiasm would be appropriate for someone cleaning up after a natural disaster, but he’s dealing with something closer to sabotage.
That’s why all those promises about border security “triggers” ring so hollow. The elements of the Administration that would be responsible for enforcing those triggers are almost hilariously straightforward about saying they won’t even seriously attempt to measure border security progress. Rubio is looking for good-faith assurances from people who have little good faith to offer.
“The executive cannot remove 11 million people,” said a Justice Department lawyer. “The executive has authority to exercise its discretion.” We’re always hearing that tired old song. Immigration enforcement is too hard for the people who say they can manage our entire health-care system. We’ll have tens of thousands of new IRS agents and helpful “navigators” to assist us with ObamaCare paperwork, but we can’t possibly spare anyone to enforce our immigration laws.
Americans are a generous people who take in more immigrants than any other nation in the world. So the sticking point in the current debate over “immigration reform” is not necessarily the granting of residency per se – given that most Americans are willing to consider a pathway to citizenship for even those who initially broke immigration law but have since not been arrested, have avoided public assistance, and have tried to learn the language and customs of their newly adopted country.
The problem is what to do with those who have not done all that.
Unless the government can assure the public that it is now enforcing immigration laws already on the books, that foreign nationals must at least avoid arrest and public assistance, and that it is disinclined to grant asylum to “refugees” from war-torn Islamic regions and then allow them periodically to go back and forth from their supposedly hostile homelands, there will be little support for the current immigration bill.
On marriage, Samuel Goldman of the American Conservative writes:
A majority of Americans now approve of gay marriage for two fairly simple reasons. First, most Americans understand marriage as symbolic affirmation of a dissolvable commitment between consenting adults for purposes of emotional gratification. Second, an increasing number of Americans have come to know gay people in their own lives as beloved relatives, respected colleagues, or honored authorities rather than icons of flamboyance or specters of perversion. If you understand marriage in this sense, which has been socially dominant for decades, there is no plausible argument for denying it to gay individuals one loves and respects.
“The progressive project is always political. It sees a problem: The pre-political institutions and traditions of society are violating rights and creating inequalities. Then it reaches for the ready tool for redress and correction, which is almost always the power of government—coercive force.” –R.R. Reno
Is it always wrong to discriminate?
We have to admit that discrimination is part of daily life. Most of our decisions involve discriminating choices—from the food we eat, to the shops we patronize, to the movies we watch. A loving mother who forbids her children from watching certain television shows discriminates against those shows. A concerned father who refuses to let his daughter date certain shiftless young men discriminates against those men. Discrimination is a daily exercise that can serve us well if practiced well.
Jonathan Rauch on prejudice (hat tip Rod Dreher):
“Eradicating prejudice” is so vague a proposition as to be meaningless. Distinguishing prejudice reliably and nonpolitically from non-prejudice, or even defining it crisply, is quite hopeless. We all feel we know prejudice when we see it. But do we? At the University of Michigan, a student said in a classroom discussion that he considered homosexuality a disease treatable with therapy. He was summoned to a formal disciplinary hearing for violating the school’s policy against speech that “victimizes” people based on “sexual orientation.” Now, the evidence is abundant that this particular hypothesis is wrong, and any American homosexual can attest to the harm that the student’s hypothesis has inflicted on many real people. But was it a statement of prejudice or of misguided belief? Hate speech or hypothesis? Many Americans who do not regard themselves as bigots or haters believe that homosexuality is a treatable disease. They may be wrong, but are they all bigots? I am unwilling to say so, and if you are willing, beware. The line between a prejudiced belief and a merely controversial one is elusive, and the harder you look the more elusive it becomes. “God hates homosexuals” is a statement of fact, not of bias, to those who believe it; “American criminals are disproportionately black” is a statement of bias, not of fact, to those who disbelieve it.
Gay kids can’t have adult role models who aren’t gay. That’s the implication of Doug Gibson’s second objection to the Boy Scouts’ “evolution” on gays in its organization:
It tells gay Scouts that their lifestyle is so morally unfit that there can be no adult gay role models in Scouting for them.
The columnist H.L. Mencken defined American puritanism as the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time.” Political correctness, as the new puritanism, harbors the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is holding a Christian thought. Broussard, if he wishes to continue his career in sports journalism, will have to undergo PC-style reparative therapy and adopt a more appropriate level of enthusiasm when future canonizations of homosexual athletes occur.
The media prides itself on the total lack of skepticism when stories like this one break, giving them a Pravda-style rollout. All the propaganda pieces fell into place perfectly, all duly reported by the media: the presidential phone call, a supportive pat on the back from the First Lady, the praise of Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton, and America’s other moral giants, an adulatory “Good Morning America” interview.
Broussard spoiled the festivities by bringing up God, whose celebrity continues to dim. The ruminations of rappers and reality stars now count for more than passages from the Bible.
Wall Street is roaring, yet wealth and employment haven’t trickled down to the middle and lower classes. Jack Kelly explains why at Real Clear Politics:
Wall Street has been the foremost beneficiary of the vast expansion of the money supply engineered by the Federal Reserve Board. The Fed has increased its balance sheet by more than 600 percent since March of 2000, David Stockman noted in an article last Sunday in The New York Times magazine. It's on pace to add $1 trillion this year.
The Fed runs the printing presses day and night to try to stimulate the economy. It hasn't worked. Since March of 2000, the gross domestic product has grown by a meager average of 1.7 percent a year; real business investment by less than a percent a year; jobs by just a tenth of a percent a year, noted Mr. Stockman, who was budget director during the Reagan administration.
The “liquidity” it was creating would cause banks to lend and corporations to spend, the Fed hoped. But concerns about debt and federal economic policies – chiefly Obamacare – have kept the extra dollars on Wall Street, boosting stock prices, but little else. Citigroup’s share price has risen 85 percent since last June “despite scant evidence that the company has turned itself around,” notes Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital.
Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute rips down the austerity myth:
All PIIGGS have two things in common. First of all, government spending grew dramatically — from an average of 43.2% of GDP in 2007 to 52.6% by 2010.
Spending was modestly trimmed by 2012 in a few cases, yet the ratio of spending to GDP still remained 3 to 6 percentage points higher than it had been in 2007.
Jindal’s plan exploded because it was zero sum. It cut taxes on the rich and raised them on the poor. It had to be zero sum because states have to balance their budgets.
Chait could substitute “people who produce the most value in the economy” for “the rich,” but that would defeat the bias he wants to engender. By the way, taxing consumption (sales taxes) is less damaging to economic activity than taxing production (income taxes).
But the federal budget doesn’t have to balance, and this fact underpins the entire Republican policy strategy over the last three decades. Before Ronald Reagan, Republicans cared a great deal about controlling the budget deficit and very little about cutting taxes for the rich. In an environment where every dollar into one account had to come from another, giving a lot of the dollars to a tiny number of people is almost invariably unpopular.
Not taking from the rich is “giving.” Gotcha.
That’s why the GOP’s makeover into a more plutocratic party occurred simultaneously with its abandonment of old-fashioned fiscal conservatism. Lower taxes for the rich can work politically only if you obscure the fact that eventually the money has to come from somewhere else.
Not giving to the poor with others’ money is “taking.” What an ethos!
Rod Dreher comments on journalists and unbelief:
If you don’t have some sort of conviction that there is an unseen order of some sort, and a belief in the fallibility of human knowledge and human endeavor — which is what the great religions teach — then you will struggle as a journalist to see what’s in front of your nose, and to judge it wisely. I do not believe a professional skeptic like [Richard] Dawkins is any more free from confirmation bias than a professing Muslim, Christian, or Jew. It’s all about where you draw the lines. I have worked in my career with people who disdain religious believers as chumps, but who were themselves plainly willing to believe nonsense that suited their prejudices, and to disbelieve things that did not.
At the Catholic Thing, Robert Royal reflects on Catholic popes and how they deal with Marxism:
Papa Wojtyla was the perfect man to throw a wrench into the Enlightenment contraption we call Marxism. Not only did he help throttle it, but he also made clear why that version of Enlightenment materialism by its very nature had to produce high body counts. It had a mistaken notion of human nature. And when ideology clashed with real human beings, the latter had to be eliminated in the name of “progress.”
But it was Joseph Ratzinger, both before and after being elected pope, who understood at great depth the larger cultural distortion of which the sexual element is only the most prominent feature. In the modern view, the cosmos is chaos and reason only a late and weak tool to help satisfy our desires. Such a view denies without even considering, the Logos, the creative Word that produces and orders all things, including human life. Any order or meanings that exist come from us, not nature or nature’s God.
I pray for the Catholic Church, because I see them as allies in shining the light of God’s truth around the world. George Weigel tells Catholic Review:
Traditionalist Catholicism seems to me incapable of challenging, much less converting, the nihilistic culture of the West, which isn’t going to find its way to God through old-fashioned apologetics, or simplified Q&A catechesis, or lace surplices, maniples, and other forms of liturgical preciousness. We need new forms of apologetics, a far more biblically and sacramentally serious catechetics, and a beautiful – but not prissy – liturgy to invite post-moderns out of the sandbox of self-absorption.
A Catholic chaplain at George Washington University is being persecuted for his beliefs. Kieran Raval (of neighboring Georgetown) writes at the Institute of Religion & Democracy:
Much is at stake in this situation: the place of religious freedom and freedom of speech in the academy and the wider culture, the future of GW’s vibrant Catholic chaplaincy, and the rights of Catholics and any Christians or religious groups that espouse views not in line with the prevailing tenants of secular progressivism. Perhaps most importantly, this situation will demonstrate whether the gay lobby has achieved a victory arguably more important than anything being argued in the Supreme Court: the ability to completely and nearly effortlessly silence anyone who would dare to challenge their cultural orthodoxy by putting forward any moral teaching on homosexuality. Those driving the radical liberal agenda in American have made it very clear that supposed “rights” of sexual license must trump the rights of free speech and religious freedom that hitherto have been fundamental cornerstones of the American political, social, and legal landscape.
There’s a scene in The Delta Force where a Catholic priest volunteers to be taken hostage with Jews. I’d like to see other Christian denominations on the GW campus stand with the Catholic chaplain. Maybe some of the foolish students would see what they are really contending for when they see the spectrum of Christianity opposite them.
The Episcopal Church continues to fracture, largely due to its “evolving” moral commitments to keep up with modernity. Commenter “Michael PS” at First Things writes:
Lord Macnaghten framed the question that usually arises very well in the leading case of Bannatyne v Overtoun ( AC 515), “The question really at issue was, not is it competent for a Church to change its Constitution, but is it competent and lawful for it to change its Constitution under which it holds certain trusts, and not only claim retention of those trusts, but deprive a minority, who conscientiously hold to the unchanged Constitution, of all participation in the trusts which go with it?”
There is something curious in the notion of a church that can change its doctrines at will. It suggests what Sir William Smith called, in the Irish Case of Dill v Watson ( 2 Jo Ex Ir 48.) “a church without a religion.”
Sounds like breach of contract.
In closing, a line from the progressive catechism:
“Do no harm to a student’s sense of identity. Everyone should feel welcome.” –Maureen Costello, SPLC