Friday, March 13, 2015

Odds and ends 3/13/2015

“One criterion by which a culture’s civilizational attainments are often assessed has been the extent to which it gives scope to man’s capacity for reason. National Socialism’s Nietzschean glorification of an untrammeled Will of the Volk and the State, not to mention the regime’s efforts to exterminate entire categories of people, reflected a thoroughgoing irrationality; thus the absurdity of the Third Reich’s claims to be promoting European civilization. Less appreciated, however, is the extent to which a society’s capacity to embrace full-bodied conceptions of reason depends heavily upon the dominant understanding of the Divine prevailing in that community. In that regard, modern Western civilization may be more at risk of cultural decline than many presently realize.” –Samuel Gregg

Tolerance is the buzz word nowadays. What it means now is not what it meant 300 years ago, when scumbags like Dan Savage didn’t set terms. Jeremy Neill writes at Public Discourse:

For John Rawls, a representative political liberal, toleration is a trait of citizens who are accepting of each other and who are willing to cooperate amicably with each other in conditions of reasonable pluralism. It involves an effort to refrain from an untoward interference in the lifestyles of others. Usually, it is also manifested in the willingness of the citizens to allow each other to pursue their comprehensive conceptions of the good without the threat of discrimination or coercion.

For Rawls, the free exercise of reason generates a variety of different comprehensive doctrines. Since it is not possible—in Rawls’s view—for persons to achieve agreement on these comprehensive doctrines in conditions of freedom, they must tolerate each other. Rawlsian toleration is thus, at most, undertaken for the sake of fair terms of social cooperation.


Early modern theologians—thinkers in the era between John Calvin and Roger Williams—saw the laws of the state as protecting persons from the most egregious vices, and as placing them in a position to succeed in the heavenly kingdom. But they also believed that faith is ultimately a matter of internal conviction, and thus is non-coercible. Thus they believed that the different ways in which persons pursue God ought to be tolerated.

The purpose of early modern Christian toleration was to free persons to rise, via religious aspiration, to a more exalted level of flourishing. Its animating force was the Christian worldview and the belief that spiritual truth is achievable in one kingdom in a way that is simply outside the authority of the other.

Human sacrifices have been abhorrent to God since Abraham almost burned Isaac to God. Liberals have regressed 4,000 years.

The SAE chapter was closed and kicked off campus this week after a student group published a video depicting some of the frat’s members participating in a racist chant. Two of its members were also expelled for what university president David Boren called their “leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant.”


The university responded severely to the racist video. SAE students had two days to remove their belongings from the now-closed SAE house on campus this week. “We don’t provide student services for bigots,” Boren declared.

It will be interesting to watch how far OU and SAE go towards cleansing their memberships of thoughtcrime, and how swiftly their memberships dwindle as a result.

Catholic schoolteacher fails the religious test:

Patricia Januzzi, the teacher in question, recently posted some remarks on same-sex marriage and homosexuality on her publicly accessible Facebook page. After remarking on the dubious proposition that protection of gays and lesbians as a class can be brought within the ambit of the Fourteenth Amendment, Januzzi wrote: “In other words they [advocates of same-sex marriage] want to reeingineer western civ into a slow extinction. We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!!!!”

Of course—of course—a firestorm erupted over this. Even (whatever happened to) Susan Sarandon weighed in with self-righteous condemnation (it seems her nephew once attended Immaculata). The principal of the school told Januzzi to take down her public Facebook page, which she did, and the school issued a statement a couple of days ago assuring the public that its “investigation” had “determined that the information posted on this social media page has not been reflected in the curriculum content of the classes [Januzzi] teaches.” Then followed the rote recitation of the gospel of “respect and sensitivity.” As stilted and impenetrable as all this was—Januzzi had not posted “information” but opinion, and what, after all, was the school telling us was not “reflected” in the classes it offers?—at least it seemed for one brief shining moment that this little flap would go away.

No such luck. Now it is reliably reported that Patricia Januzzi is under pressure to resign, and threatened with dismissal if she utters a peep about the matter. This is rapidly becoming an outrageous assault against a person whose worst offense was to speak with what some (but by no means all) would call an intemperate passion, in favor of the Church’s teaching.

This phony posturing surely is the work of the father of lies.

“We are centralizing power in practice because we are erasing the alternatives from our minds. We have forgotten that the regulation of human societies can come from communities, from states, and from civil society—and so, increasingly, it can’t. The world of the Affordable Care Act begins in our own conceptions. The growing centralization of American political power is a product of our decision to forget. Can we sustain federalism and a robust civil society if no one notices they exist?” –Chris Bray

At VDARE, James Kirkpatrick goes after the libertarian Students for Liberty:

The truth is that the libertarianism—especially the “millennial libertarianism” or “second wave libertarianism” that Students for Liberty is determined to promote—privileges cultural liberalism above restricting the state. You can’t take concepts like Leftist buzzwords like “privilege” and “normativity” seriously and still defend limited government. Once you accept these kinds of concepts, the inevitable performance gaps between racial groups, nations, and sexes become evidence of “oppression” rather than of objectively existing inequalities.

Of course, libertarians like Murray Rothbard recognized this, which is why he openly defended concepts like racial differences in average intelligence. Whatever name-dropping contemporary libertarians practice, it’s doubtful that the author of Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature would even be allowed on the stage at something like Students for Liberty.

I find this quote from the increasingly unstable vice president synchronous with the above:

What happened is not only did we move toward freeing black Americans but also the conscience of white Americans.

What a revelation! Emancipation’s goal was to cleanse white guilt, same as the progressive income tax. As if anything but the blood of the Son of God in the flesh could do that.

Libertarians lose their minds in defending the zeitgeist. Not only does Stephanie Slade misrepresent what Ben Carson said to Chris Cuomo, she claims the truth escapes the peons who didn’t go to college.

Ben Carson, the apparent 2016 hopeful, thinks being gay is “absolutely” a choice. He made that clear in an appearance on CNN last week. That may or may not be enough to disqualify him from being president, as some commentators have suggested. It certainly led to a lot of facepalming from election watchers inside the Beltway, myself included. But it’s always worth being reminded that things sometimes look different outside the confines of Washington, D.C.

A report from Pew, released on Friday, shows that Americans as a whole are as likely to think that being gay or lesbian “is just the way some people choose to live” (42 percent) as they are to think that “people are born gay or lesbian” (41 percent). Admittedly, the percent agreeing with Lady Gaga that gay people were born that way has doubled over the last three decades—but it’s still nowhere near a majority.

The even divide among all Americans masks a noteworthy trend, however: The more educated a person, the less likely she is to think homosexuality is a choice. Individuals with postgraduate degrees are twice as likely to say gay people are born that way than to say it’s simply how they choose to live. Meanwhile, those with a high school diploma or less see homosexuality as a choice by a 13 percentage point margin.

Sexuality isn’t fixed. It’s not genetic, it’s behavioral. Given those two options, I’d say it’s a choice, too.

Is there a political actor more obtuse than the cool, reactionary libertarian?

Carl R. Trueman summarizes the tyranny of sexual identity:

There are surely grounds for congratulating folks at Wesleyan on their consistent honesty in the cause of sexual liberation. Liberation, that is, of sex from any intrinsic moral significance. As Luther said to Erasmus in very different circumstances: You and you alone have placed your finger on the hinge on which everything turns.

If very few of the sexual acts of today’s identity politics are procreative, that has certainly not inhibited their proponents’ impressive ability to give birth to endless categories of sexual preference. This is the result of more than a mere lack of conceptual contraception. It also indicates the loss of any sense that sex in itself might carry some kind of larger moral significance. Indeed, the plethora of sexual identities now available witness to the fact that there is no longer any basis for rejecting any kind of sexual act, considered in itself, as intrinsically wrong. The multiplication of such categories is part of rendering sex amoral: When everything is legitimate, then nothing has particular moral significance.

This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing.

David T. Koyzis considers the Supreme Court precedent that set in motion the madness:

However, I would contend that the principal issue raised by this and similar rulings in both of our countries’ supreme courts is whether the quest for personal autonomy is a feasible goal for either legislatures or courts to advance. Does justice consist of giving everyone the maximum ability to fulfill their desires, whatever they might be? Do constraints on the ability to choose constitute oppression? Is it the task of our political institutions to liberate us from such constraints?

This would appear to be the accepted orthodoxy in this latest stage in the centuries-long development of liberalism, as I have described elsewhere. The U.S. Supreme Court’s judgment in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) claims to grant citizens an impossibly expansive right to autonomy in this oft-quoted passage: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Here the human will seems to be sacrosanct and is limited only by the requirement not to inflict harm on others. Yet attempts to flesh out the legal implications of this statement can only run aground because it ascribes to mere human beings godlike powers, which is, of course, the spurious promise given to our first parents. No society can long endure whose members think themselves gods, no matter how many courts rule differently.

Commenter “DN” at the American Conservative is strangely optimistic:

I personally see plenty of room for a reversal of this trend. The LGBT movement has been quite effective in shifting the narrative of sexuality from one of actions/behavior to personal identity. Most Americans are decent people, and when the question is posed of whether to condemn a person or not, we choose not to do so.

Most LGBT never really believed the “born this way” narrative, and some even found it offensive that they had no control over their sexual behavior. However, the narrative reached sufficient consensus to be used as a rhetorical and legal strategy for a few decades. Dividing people into discrete groups of “sexual orientation” and declaring these to be immutable was an important basis for a civil rights claim. At one point, progressives argued that Science proved a genetic predisposition for gayness, but this line was eventually dropped.

What’s happening now, even in advance of a SCOTUS ruling, is that the sexual libertarians are feeling more confident to abandon the “born this way” narrative, and embrace fluidity of sexual expression. This is much more aligned with the overall philosophical basis and actual personal experiences, and it allows people who embrace other taboo forms of sexuality to join the coalition. The sadist who declares, “I was born to inflict pain on others” strains credulity, but he will be right at home in an ethic of pure sexual libertarianism.

It remains to be seen how Americans will react once the personal identity narrative is supplanted by the notion of sexual fluidity and liberation.

Investor’s Business Daily lets world citizen Obama have it:

Obama had plenty of compliments for Islam Wednesday at his “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism,” even declaring, “Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding,” and noting that the first American mosque was in, of all places, North Dakota.

But two days earlier, he wouldn’t support Egyptian and Emirates’ airstrikes against Islamist militias in Libya in retaliation for the videotaped beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. How about some support for our Islamic friends as they bomb our Islamic enemies?


“They are not religious leaders” but “have perverted Islam,” Obama claims. It’s like Franklin D. Roosevelt saying the Nazis gave German expansionism a bad name.


But the worst moment in Obama’s speech was when he evoked memories of Jimmy Carter confiding that he got advice on nuclear weaponry from his 12-year-old daughter, Amy. “I’m thinking of a little girl named Sabrina, who last month sent me a Valentine’s Day card in the shape of a heart,” Obama said. The 11-year-old Muslim told the president, “If some Muslims do bad things, that doesn't mean all of them do.”

“That’s how we discredit violent ideologies, by making sure her voice is lifted up,” Obama said, adding, “There will be a military component to this.” No kidding.

“Doing our part to reject the narratives of violent extremists” won’t defeat Islamist terrorism. And neither will denying their religious nature.

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