Monday, January 31, 2011

Chick-fil-A: Next up in the homosexual cross hairs

Again, I'm becoming convinced that the gay rights movement is the emergent Left's primary hammer with which to bludgeon the right not to conform to the emergent Left.  In this little story, we see that gay rights advocates are incensed that Chick-fil-A supports beliefs systems that don't conform to the dogmas of gay rights.  A couple things jumped out at me.  First, apparently a Muslim and Hindu employee filed a lawsuit against the company for overtly practicing Christianity.  The fact that it was settled made me wonder at what point will this stop.  If I work for a Hindu restaurant or Muslim bakery that flaunts its religion can I sue?
Second, how utterly predictable this is.  I'm one who believes all of those lofty promises of the post-War liberal movements were just bunk.  Either lies, or the result of arrogance and naïveté.  In any event, the notions of a pluralistic, tolerant, open minded, and diverse society are quickly going the way of the butter churn.  And it's doing so in exactly the same intolerant, close minded way that once was condemned by those who promoted such things as gay rights.

This particular sentence struck me:

“It literally leaves a bad taste because I know the people who are putting this food in my mouth actively loathe me,” he said. “I’m all for freedom of religion, it’s just that I know where I want my money to go and I don’t want my money to go.”
That was by Douglas Quint, operator of The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.   What hit me about this was the utter stupidity of it.  After all, weren't we once told how stupid, intolerant and prejudiced people used to be because they wouldn't buy a product from someone of a different religion, or ethic group, or similar distinction?  Remember those days?  Remember when it was a sign of unenlightened neanderthal culture to refuse to eat at a place just because someone was different that you, thought different than you, believed different than you?  Why, that was strictly Archie Bunker, straight out of the Middle Ages.

Well, I give you the Middle Ages - hip, sophisticated, enlightenment, LGBT style.  And if the emergent Left has anything to say about it, I'm sure it's not the last we've heard.

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck?

Get your university degree in Beatles Studies!

Thirty or forty years ago, such a thing would speak volumes about the Beatles and their talent.  Today, where you can take courses in comic books, Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, Harry Potter, and any one of a thousand pop culture subjects, it speaks more of the level of academic sophistication in the 21st century.  Just like J.R.R. Tolkien.  Was a time when a university that offered even part of a course studying something like The Lord of the Rings was a badge of prestige for that work.  Today, it's just slipped between classes in Reality TV on one side, and Pornography 101 on the other. 

Drug smugglers: Is there anything they won't try?

The mental image this story conjured up made me laugh. 

Europeans tell the Muslim world to stop persecuting Christians

Fair enough.  Of course, it would be nice if Secular Europe stopped, too.  And thankfully, some at the Council of Europe said as much.  Of course, there isn't outright brutality and violence in Europe.  Yet.  But laws and legal stances taken by quote/unquote "Liberal" nations in recent years have certainly made it clear that if you are going to be Christian, you're going to behave or else.  This is consistent with the growing intolerance of the secular Left, which has far more influence in various European nations than it does in America.  In Europe, individuals like Richard Dawkins or Sir Elton John can come out and say if it were up to them, they would gladly make it a crime to be religious in general, and Christian in particular.  And they are lauded, celebrated, and given all manner of awards for their troubles. 

That, of course, is the first step.  Throughout Islamic history, being a non-Muslim has been an up and down affair.  Sometimes it wasn't so bad, sometimes it could be very bad.  The same was true, of course, for Europe regarding various groups.  But in recent years, being Christian in the world of the Religion of Peace has come at a price.  In some cases merely a legal, or even social price.  But in recent years, that naturally has migrated into the next logical phase, and that's outright persecution.  So we'll see where it goes.  Not just in the Middle East, where we are already to Phase 3 of religious persecution.  But where it will go in Europe, that has been flirting with Phase 2 for many decades now.

What explosives at a Michigan Mosque?

M-80 Fireworks
Explosives?  Read the story here.  Unless there was something in addition to what was mentioned, and the police asked the reporter not to report it, I'm missing the 'explosives' that could destroy the Mosque.  Class C fireworks are consumer type, those sold to individuals as opposed to fireworks sold to companies that put on neighborhood and city displays.  Nor do I consider M-80s an 'explosive'.  Oh, they can cause harm alright.  And I'm not saying the fellow shouldn't have been arrested, wasn't trying to cause harm, or was not aiming his intents at the Mosque.  Of course he's innocent until proven guilty.  But again, unless there were devices not mentioned in the story, I wouldn't consider an 'undisclosed' amount of M-80 firecrackers to be what you call an explosive.  When we think explosives, let's face it, we think of Oklahoma City.  We think of cars or trucks loaded and ready to wipe out a city block.  M-80s could certainly harm people, and do a significant amount of property damage.  For that reason alone, it is a serious story and needs to be looked into.  But 'explosives'?  Couldn't they simply have said ''Man arrested with quantities of illegal fireworks?"  That would have been more accurate.

Now for the analysis.  Why the headline?  Did the copy editor not know what M-80s are? Perhaps.  They are illegal after all.  But perhaps the individual writing the headline thought 'explosives' was, well, more explosive.  It evokes.  It conjures up a notion.  My first mental picture was of a vehicle rigged to detonate outside of a Mosque, drums of explosive liquids connected to a fuse.  And I can't help but wonder if that's exactly what the headline writer wanted me to think.

Why?  Why would someone - if I'm reading this correctly - want me to think of Oklahoma City or, less likely, the various attempts by Muslim citizens to destroy larges swaths of lower Manhattan?  Assuming I'm right, that there was a method to the headline writer's madness, I think the answer comes from The Joker.  The Dark Knight has been running for the last few weekends on a host of cable channels.  I've had the chance to revisit the film, Christopher Nolan's talent for a good yarn, the various actors and characters with which we are so familiar, and of course, the late, great Heath Ledger's penultimate performance as the clown prince of crime himself.

At the end of the movie, the Joker is disappointed in the failure of Gotham City's residents to turn on one another.  Having put two boatloads of residents and criminals at the mercy of one another, he apparently imagined that one of them would destroy the ferry carrying the others in an attempt to save themselves from certain death.  Well, not to spoil the movie if you haven't seen it (STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN"T) -

But it doesn't work.  Turns out, both the citizens and the boat full of criminals are not willing to slaughter hundreds of people they don't know, even if it means losing their own lives.  Of course, the Joker has one more card up his sleeve, but you'll have to watch the movie to see what happens next.  The point is, he was trying to show that the people of Gotham, when push came to shove, were as ready to sink to his level, to kill indiscriminately.  And they didn't.

And that brings me back to firecrackers and mosques and media reports and whether pigs have wings.  In case you haven't noticed, and many on the Left side of the ideological aisle - and not a few Catholic apologists - haven't, the tendency in America is to see everything about our country in the worst possible light.  The glass isn't half empty, it's empty.  The lens is cracked and darkened.  Ours is a sad nation of racism, imperialism, butchery and slaughter.  We massacred Indians by the billions, owned slaves by the billions, dropped atomic bombs on babies by the billions.  We don't do, think, or say anything about our country what that we must remind ourselves forever about the unforgivable sins of our fathers.

So naturally, when the 9/11 attacks occurred, our Pavlovian response was, "That was horrible!  What did we do to make them hate us that much?"  From there, we immediately feared what this country, founded on, and perpetuated in, racism, bigotry, ignorance, and brutality, would do to our Muslim neighbors.  For weeks and months we heard discussions about how we must show restraint.  How we must avoid lashing out and butchering those who may be Arab, or Muslim, or anything not like us.  We feared that the Bush administration would react like Roosevelt, and round up Muslim citizens by the millions, shipping them off to secret concentration camps in the Nevada deserts.  We imagined hordes of mindless rednecks, shambling about like so many extras just eloped from the set of The Walking Dead, going from door to door, seeking out hapless residents of Middle East descent.  In short, we imagined that those horrible stories we've told ourselves about America and its past were not only true, but inevitable.

And yet, almost ten years later, there has been almost no backlash against Muslims, Arabs, or anyone of Middle Eastern descent.  I'm not saying there was none.  There was, especially in the days and weeks after 9/11: vandalism, threats, some off color verbal assaults.  There were even a few cases of threats of violence and assaults.  But as of now, not one Muslim has been killed because he or she was a Muslim.  Not one that I'm aware of.  Out of 300 million Americans, said to be racist, ignorant, bigoted thugs descended from a nation of bigotry, not one of millions of Muslims has been killed solely on the basis of being Muslim.

Now, Muslims since 9/11 have killed other Americans.  And multiple attempts by Muslims to kill many more have been thwarted.  But despite story after story of Muslims cowering in back alleys in fear of their lives, despite story after story telling us that crimes against Muslims are exploding all over our country (without actual examples), and despite the fact that we are continually reminded of our sad history and inevitable violent attitudes toward minorities, Muslims remain safer here than in the nations of the Islamic world.  In short, the death camps and endless mobs that were to fall upon the American Muslim community never happened.

And I get the feeling sometimes that the media - one of the prime proponents of the 'America Sucks' mentality - has yet to get over that.  Having seen the carnage of 9/11, and reflected on its dire appraisal of the American nation, they thought, 'And here we go!' And they waited, and waited, and waited, and waited - to no avail. Their worst nightmares never happened.  No murders, butchery, slaughter - nothing. So each and every time something happens, each and every time a Muslim makes an accusation, each time a Muslim group says it fears for its life, each time someone is caught doing anything to anyone that is Muslim, the national media is there.  Not only is it there to give the story more attention than it will for anything short of the Super Bowl, but I can't help but think it's there to fluff the stories a little.  To make them sing, if you will.  Sing of racists and bigots, of angry mobs and violence. 

Therefore a man who, if reports are true, is obviously off the deep end and obviously needs arrested, just isn't enough.  It's not enough that the worst this nation of imperialists, Islamaphobes, homophobes, anti-Semites, racists, and sexists can muster is a vehicle filled with firecrackers.  Nope.  It has to be more.  It has to be 'explosives'.  For if we aren't continually shown the errors of our ways, if our sins are not forever before us, we might someday stop and say, "You know, considering 9/11 and everything since, we Americans have done pretty darn good, haven't we?  And that might mean some of those things upon which our country was founded weren't that bad after all."  For people who want nothing more than to burn down the foundations of our country, such a revelation could be disastrous.

Again, I realize that there could be more.  Maybe there were drums of gasoline or other hazardous chemicals in his vehicle.  Maybe there were crates of TNT.  Maybe the media isn't saying this because we all know how restrained the media can be when it comes to holding back on stories in case of copy-cats.  But if not, then the above theory is the one I'm going with unless I am shown a reasonable alternative.

I hate being right all the time

It may take me years, but I am usually persistent enough to make sure I win an argument, no matter what!  This will mean absolutely nothing to everyone else on the planet, but for the sake of one person, it is more than worth the post.  The sweet, sweet feeling of being right.  The post will be pulled once the point is made.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Souvenir condoms for royal wedding?

Please.  If anything else will be a more appropriate future epitaph for England, I can't imagine what it would be.

Friday, January 28, 2011

For the Challenger Seven

Francis "Dick" Scobee
Ellison Onizuka
Christa McAuliffe
Gregory Jarvis
Judith Resnik
Michael J. Smith
Ronald McNair

God grant His peace to them and their loved ones

Blogging will be sparse

Owing to family issues and a host of other priorities, blogging will be light today and probably continue to be until next week.  I'll see what's happening, and if anything is worth saying.  Right now, I leave you with this link.  It's actually a story about the upcoming SyFy movie Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.  That's right, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.  The strange thing is, the story takes the project somewhat seriously, giving loads of doubt benefits to its stars, former 80s pop queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.  Debbie Gibson?  Tiffany?  Mega Python vs. Gatoroid?  I don't think I can write anything that will top that.  So enjoy the review.  If you have time, make sure you catch the movie.  I'm sure it will be worth your time.  I'll be back in force next week, unless something else comes up that really catches my attention or boils my blood. 

Oh, and please pray for my family, as many things are happening right now and it's almost impossible to imagine what things will look like two months from now.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

400 Rabbis demand censorship in the name of Holocaust Remembrance

I'm no Glenn Beck fan.   Like most people who have a perpetual microphone in our cable news universe, he doesn't let a little thing like solid scholarship or sound reasoning get in the way of his agendas.  Though when I watch scholars interviewed for outlets like the History Channel, I can't say there's much room to pick at Beck, or Olbermann, or others who make a mockery of historical research.  Still, it's bothersome that a generation of such self-proclaimed enlightened intellectually sophisticated consumers care so little about what's actually true when it comes to advancing agendas.

With that said, my stomach almost fell out my butt when I read this story, that 400 rabbis are doing nothing less than demanding censorship of Glenn Beck.  Why?  Because he keeps invoking the Holocaust in ways they don't like, and attacks George Soros, who happens to be a Holocaust survivor. 

Now quick, what's wrong with this picture?  Well, first, so what if he uses the Holocaust?  How are we supposed to remember it and learn from it if we don't use it an apply it?  And where were they for all those years that Republicans and Conservatives have been called Nazis, that everything America ever did was compared to the Holocaust, that our treatment of minorities has been repeatedly compared to the Nazi treatment of Jews, and every time someone over the decades has advanced a liberal agenda by comparing their opponents to Nazis?  Or when some rabbis actually insisted that the traditional Christian Gospel was inherently anti-Semitic?  I know a few exceptionally egregious times some rabbis spoke out.  But I can't remember any calling for censorship.

Second thing that bothers me is the idea that since Soros is a Holocaust survivor, he is somehow immune.  I could care less if he is a Holocaust survivor.  A man who spends billions on advertisements doing the very thing that the rabbis are suddenly concerned about deserves the criticism he gets.  If a holocaust survivor axe murders children, is he immune?  Come on.  That's about as cheap and cowardly as you get.

Third, I'm growing tired of being told that "Hitler and the Nazis were evil and killed 6 million Jews" as if that is all that can be said, studied, or read about.  Any and every other grotesque inhumanity of history is debated, denied, argued about, and discussed - providing they haven't just been forgotten about.  While there was something particularly sinister about the Nazis using everything that science, technology, industry, and the latest political and scientific theories about humanity to such horrible ends, it wasn't the only horrible thing of the last century. Or any century for that matter.  Learning from the Holocaust means learning from, and doing so to avoid future holocausts, not simply bemoaning the past for the sake of bemoaning the past.  Certainly not for the sake of advancing political or social agendas.

Fourth, sorry, but growing tired of Jews in the name of the Holocaust turning to good old fashioned intimidation, bigotry, censorship, and a host of other things that were the stuff of what led to the holocaust.  When Mel Gibson produced his film The Passion, I was gobsmacked at how many Jewish commentators called for it to be banned.  Banned?  Would we like to have some book burnings, too?  Again, remembering the Holocaust means learning from it to prevent it from happening again - to anyone.  Not just Jews.  And certainly not happening to anyone because of Jews willing to exploit the holocaust for their own agendas.

So shame on these rabbis.  They can complain about Beck all they want.  That is their right. But censorship?  Come on.  That suggests despite a lifetime of obsessing over the Holocaust, these rabbis have apparenlty learned nothing from it.  And that would be a shame on this Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Religious cleansing of Christians

Yep.  That's about right.  Largely because we, in the West, have focused on the sins of Christianity so long, I doubt most care.  Even some Christians.  Many former colleagues from more liberal denominations had no problem jumping on the 'Christianity is the most evil belief in human history' bandwagon.  When people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens maintain the everlasting admiration of our media culture, it's not hard to see why no one particularly cares that Christians are being targeted for extermination.  If it were some other group, maybe.  If it were some Christian based culture going after a non-Western, non-Christian culture, you better believe we would be pitching hissy-fits right now.  But it isn't. It's just Christians who are beginning to be targeted. For years we've heard folks tell Christians to stop bellyaching about being hated, loathed, mocked, ridiculed, and verbally attacked.  Now they are being physically attacked and I"m still not seeing a turn around from those who once said there was nothing to worry about.  I'm starting to wonder if it's not because they don't care, but because they do, and are firmly on the side of those doing the persecuting.  Maybe not, but it's enough to make me wonder.

Randy Sly likes "The Rite"

I'll see.  But his review suggests it might be worth seeing.  I don't go to movies that much anymore.  I will if there's something my boys might want to see.  Otherwise, I'm happy to wait for DVDs.  I also don't look for too many devotional films that will uplift my soul.  Hollywood is usually as good at deep and thoughtful religious reflection as it is promoting historical accuracy.  Worse with Hollywood takes on religion is the nuances involved.  It can play fast and loose with historical facts if it has to, in order to make an obvious point.  That's fair (as long as folks keep that in mind).  But with religion, the problem can be those slight shimmies of doctrine, or digressions from the truth.  It can seem like something that is awash in Christian teaching, but along the way an ever-so-subtle non-Christian (if not anti-Christian) viewpoint enters in.  I'm not saying that happens in The Rite.  I've not seen it, and am willing to give the benefit of the doubt.  But doubt is just what I have whenever I see any television show or film approach the topic of religious truth. 

Christians converting to Islam out of fear

Turns out, some Christians are doing in Pakistan what has happened in Islamic civilization from the beginning.  They are converting to Islam because they are afraid.  This isn't really anything new.  Except that it still happens, when many people are shocked as if this has never happened before.  Since its foundations, Islam has often made it more beneficial to become Muslim, one way or another.

The reason this might be shocking to some folks is the tendency we've had for the last few generations of focusing on the sins of the Christian West and ignoring the sins of anyone else.  Of course, history is fluid like that, and what we focus on and how we interpret things often says more about the historian than the historical topic at hand.  In our zeal to undo ages of European contempt for other cultures, and in the interest of validating a removal of traditional Western values from the table, we've tended to downplay, if not downright ignore, the sins of various cultures.

We've had no problem emphasizing, over and over and over and over again, the sins of Christian Europe.  We know all about the Crusades, the atrocities committed therein, persecution of Jews, wars against other religious minorities, persecution of heretical sects, the Inquisition - why the list goes on and on.  But when it comes to other cultures and civilizations, we have more or less been given a positive, vague 'it was a very good place' take.  Even when the facts of how Muslims treated non-Muslims throughout history are mentioned, they are downplayed, or qualified by 'It wasn't always like that everywhere in the Muslim world!'  Of course, it wasn't always like that in the Christian West either, but that's usually not what we hear.

So when folks today hear that Christians are converting in Pakistan out of stark raving fear, some seem shocked.  Others have the faintest reaction as if to say, "Somewhere deep in my mind something tells me I shouldn't be shocked, I just don't know why."  If we were honest about history, and applied even a tenth of the harsh and merciless standards against other cultures that we have, for decades, applied to our own heritage, we wouldn't have to wonder.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Christopher Hitchens doesn't like The King's Speech

Turns out, the film doesn't spend enough time trashing the royals for their Nazi sympathies.  Despite the headline of the article, the primary source of anger appears to come from the man who lives in perpetual hatred and anger every day - Christopher Hitchens. Yeah, that Christopher Hitchens.  The one whose approach to historical accuracy makes Glen Beck look reputable*.  The one who, like most radical Leftists, sees everything in Western History as negatively as possible, thereby validating the need to burn every traditional foundation to the ground.  From there, of course, a glorious new world will be raised, based on a militarily enforced secularism and rabid neo-Marxist Leftism that models itself loosely on how the Soviet Union should have been - had it not foolishly treated Communism as a religion which, in Hitchens' and many modern athists' demented minds, is the primary cause of evil in the world.  Of course his own Nazi-like hatred for all religion and religious people is missed by him, as he chicken pecks those in history he can use to attack any root to the problem of religion.  And even though such hatred and loathing would, in most cases, be shunned by the media, its own impotence and secular blindness allows Hitchens to continue to be the darling of the secular left, giving a brief glimpse into what the world may look like if they ever assume control.

Anyway, I hadn't planned on seeing The King's Speech.  Just not the type of movie that appeals to me, where a historical person or moment is loosely used around which to build a story.  It can be done, but is seldom done well (the movie Amadeus being a glaring example of being done well).  Nonetheless, with anti-religious bigots and radical liberal publications like The New Republic trashing it, I'm almost to the point of signing up for a couple tickets. 

*My favorite Hitchensism came in an interview on MSNBC, when he was asked about the Founding Fathers.  He declared the ones who mattered were really atheists, but had to hide their true atheism because of the hordes of religious fanatics apparently prowling the countryside and burning such free thinkers at the stake.  Of course it never happened.  By the late 18th century such things were absent in the American Colonies, and there's absolutely no evidence at all that the Founding Fathers were atheists scared to death of dying for their unbelief.  But anyone whose basic world view is based on the hatred of a group of people, a little thing like facts won't matter. I doubt he even invokes conspiracy theory.  He's content with ignoring factual objections and continuing on with his sad, slow, decent into madness and whatever eternity awaits him.  I pray that he pulls out in time.

The land of guilt-free abortions

Most Americans, having that divine spark within them, get a little queasy when defending the right to abort a baby.  As a general rule, much of the fighting has been about protecting our right to not think about it.  If you stop and reflect, you'll notice that we go through a great amount of turmoil to make sure nobody has to learn more about abortions than they want to.  If I go to the doctor and ask for a hangnail to be removed, I have to jump through so many loops it isn't funny.  When I had surgery about ten years ago, I had to fill out more paperwork than I did when I bought my house.  And forget insurance.  If it isn't proven to be based on medical necessity, it ain't covered.

Except for abortions.  Which seem to be easy to get, quick and painless in terms of being informed about what is happening, and a sort of 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil' approach by the providers.  I'm sure not all are the same.  But if they aren't, it's not because of some crack government agency monitoring every nook and cranny of the abortion industry.  Far from it, for it seems that whenever some story of unspeakable horrors emerges, we find out that there were no inspections, no questions, no investigation of the clinic since the age of glaciers.  And this around a procedure that already sports fewer restrictions on it than your average trip to a plastic surgeon.

Diplomacy: A game for all seasons

James Maliszewski at Grognardia reflects on the game Diplomacy.  As usual, he knows more about the nuts and bolts and origins of these things than I would ever care to learn.  Still, I post this as I admit it's a fun game, good for stretching the old cerebellum and teaching basic human interaction skills.  It's adaptable to online playing, or playing by email (which I did once, many years ago).  But in today's society where folks are increasingly immersed in the world of human interaction via electronic medium, a good old fashioned board game version of Diplomacy might do the trick.  Be warned, as James points out, it requires at least five to do well and yes, tempers can often turn quite cutthroat.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Culture of death equals dead culture

While American teens are fighting for the right to watch their peers engaged in sex, drugs, and drinking on MTV's latest foray into Maladomini, and American adults are apparently fighting for the right to watch American teens indulge in simulated sex, drugs, and drinking, and oft repeated defense for the show is 'you should see Britain's version!'  Which strikes me as weird.  If I wanted to start my own professional football team, I would not model my new endeavor after the Cleveland Browns, much as my family's heritage demands a certain brand loyalty. 

Looking to Britain, like looking to most of Europe, for inspiration is a little bit the same thing.  We are talking about a civilization that is already past the September of its years.  A civilization that tossed aside the last vestiges of its religious and moral heritage only to plunge into the most disastrously murderous century of all time.  From the ashes of the carnage, it decided the best thing to do was not care.  Just have lots of sex, drugs, and stop with the whole 'things matter' rubbish.  Yet to that end, it still managed to maintain hold of several stellar philosophies from the days of yore, particularly those centered around reducing the human person to a commodity to be harvested at best, exterminated at worst. 

Somehow it all links together, that the parts of Europe Americans, particularly American progressives, are all ga-ga over, continually produce this type of wonderful testimonial to its high moral principles.  Again, once Europe has been swallowed up by the expanding Islamic civilization, those generations lucky enough to make it to birth will be scratching their heads and wondering what the hell went wrong.  Stories like the aforementioned will be all they need to know.

Catholic yoga?

I dunno.  I wonder what great Catholic traditions the Hindus are borrowing.  The thing about this is it seems almost evangelistic.  As if somehow the Catholic meditative tradition isn't enough, we need to find The Better Way.  I know many folks insist that yoga can be as religious-neutral as checkers, but I'm having a hard time buying it.  A good place to start would be here, with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  There's enough red flags and warning signs for me to think there has to be a way less fraught with the danger of slipping and sliding into the modern melting pot of religious relativism.

Homosexuality or Abortion

Which will be the blade used to slice apart the Bill of Rights?  There is such a growing impatience by many on the Left to allow rights for folks who refuse to obey the gospel of progressivism, it's hard to say.  The idea that anyone in the medical community could be forced to treat abortions despite religious misgivings has potential.  But I sort of like the good old 'shouldn't anyone who speaks out against homosexuality be punished for doing so?' mantra that many gay rights advocates are promoting.  It's a toss up.  I would say, given this is heading into Super Bowl season and all, I'm going with Banning opposition to Homosexual rights by 14 points.

Eurabia: The northernmost domain of the Islamic world

As Mark Shea so glibly points out, in another generation the grandchildren of post-Christian secular Europe won't be saying, "God is dead!"  They will be saying, "Allahu Akbar!"

Monday, January 24, 2011

The West's fading interest in human rights

Is documented here.  Sure, there are rebuttals.  And on its own, we could all just stay calm and not overreact.  But taken with the growing trend of the West, particularly the post-modern progressive West, to look unkindly on these tired old notions like free speech and freedom of religion, it's part of a disturbing trend.

P.Z. Myers scares me

And this is why.  The difference between the emergent post-modern secular Left, and Europe at the turn of the 20th century, is one of numbers.  At least Europeans at the beginning of the last century had developed the idea that since all humans were nothing but animals, only some were of little value.  At least they said there were some humans who transcended the trappings of animal identity, and therefore had some worth.  At least they said, "There are two types of people - our kind of people and those others that are nothing but sub-human."  Myers, and other like him, take the same startling lack of concern for human life that was once applied to some human beings, and apply it to everyone.  Well, perhaps not to themselves or people like themselves.  But otherwise, it is a cold, heartless, soulless movement that deals with hatred, mockery, contempt, loathing, and disgust for any belief system that doesn't share its contempt for the bulk of humanity as anything other than worthless slabs of meat.  Yet since its ethical system promotes narcissism and hedonism, sexual debauchery and decadence, it does snare many young people who are blind to the evil undercurrents of the philosophy of death that is being sold them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why Roe v. Wade is wrong

Because it makes it easy to choose the wide path that leads to destruction.  These handsome young fellows are why we're so happy that it was never even an option (only two of them were planned.  Which ones?  We'll never tell!):

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Left upset to hear tactics used by gay rights groups suddenly used against abortion

One of the great pseudo-knowledge coups of our age has been to equate sexual orientation with race.  It worked.  Now it's more or less accepted within our cultural bloodstream that opposing homosexuality is no different than hating Jews or Blacks.  They love to say that if you think two people of the same gender shouldn't be married, it's no different than the same attitude behind saying a Black American can't use the same drinking fountain.

Well, yeah it is.  But if you want comparisons, you could do worse than Rick Santorum's observation that the same basic 'it depends on how you define human life' principle used to validate abortion is not unlike the same 'depends on how you define a human being' argument used to validate slavery.  It's true  It sure is a heck of a lot closer to truth than the more popular idea that looking at the stats behind the gay lifestyle and concluding it might not be the best choice for human living is akin to wearing swastikas or lynching Blacks in the Old South. 

Of course, Santorum missed the crucial rule here.  He mentioned Barack Obama as a Black man.  That is verboten.  Well, it isn't when it comes to mentioning President Obama as a Black Man in the sense of First Black President.  Or, some celebratory mention of the Black side of his ethnic heritage.  And of course there's nothing wrong with people saying that there are two types of people in America: those who support President Obama and racists.  From Jimmy Carter to Tavis Smiley, there is no end to the pundits who make it clear that failure to support President Obama is a factor of racism.  And they get away with it.  Well, most of the time.  People did sort of jump ship when Carter said folks opposed Obama's healthcare plan because they were racists.  He had to rescind that and say only most of them were racist, not all.  A big step.

But on the whole, the fact isn't that Santorum's argument isn't sound.  It is.  It sure is more sound than the more politically correct notion that questioning homosexuality is the same as having segregated lunch counters.  But he also forgot the cardinal rule: race belongs to the Left to use as it pleases.  Only those on the Left may invoke it, use it, or exploit it.  Should anyone on the Right even notice that President Obama looks slightly less than Swedish, and you can bet your bottom dollar there will be protests tonight.

A sweet story that any parent could appreciate

A young and tragically ill boy loves his local sports team - Albany River Rats - but they relocate.  What do the parents do?  What any loving parent would do who had to watch their boy possibly lose this one thing he loves in a lifetime of so many heartaches and struggles: sell the house and move with the team!  Bravo parents, and keep on rooting along Zach!  You're of the stuff that motivates us all.

On the other hand

Pro-lifers may want to begin examining the links to the Philadelphia abortion crime scene and our modern culture of death.  Over at the Huffington Post (I couldn't resist), several commenters were quick to explain that the real culprits in all of this are, of course, right wing anti-choice types and people who still obsess over the notion that a fetus is a person.  Yep, you read right:

"Many anti-abort­ion advocates are against contracept­ion. Besides, contracept­ion is not fool-proof­."
Because abortion is all about women who have been raped or might die from child birth, don't ya know.

The horrific story of the house of murder in a Philadelphia abortion clinic

Is sickening to read about.  Caution, details can be quite disturbing.  That he was an abortion doctor who killed babies after they were born suggests to many pro-lifers that this is the logical conclusion of a philosophy of the human person that goes something like 'human beings are a festering malignant blight upon the world that have no intrinsic worth unless we say so and find them convenient.'  That much could be true.  But before we go into saying 'abortion leads to psycho-killers', we should pause and remember we weren't too thrilled with 'celebacy leads to priests raping children.' 

I'm not saying there isn't anything wrong with the foundational attitudes that allow for our abortion generation.  There are.  We basically have used the same philosophies that have been around for a hundred years that have led to various 'some humans deserve life more than others' programs in the name of modern, enlightened thinking.  Our modern tolerance for redefining human life also can't help but bring with it a general callousness toward that same human life, or life in general.  I think there are a million reasons why abortion is not healthy for a country's soul.  I can think of a million more reasons why it could explain a great many emotional and psychological problems in our age, including the growing notion that life and everything else sucks, so who cares?

And I'm not saying a lifetime spent guided by this stellar philosophy didn't cause him to bolt and commit murder.  But, we don't know that this was behind these murders...yet.  Why don't we wait and see if a lifetime immersed in the culture of unrestricted abortion rights just caused a man to snap, or if there were other reasons behind this horrifying story.  Then we can use the facts alongside other arguments as to why, if not in this case (or if, as the case may be), the price we have paid in human dignity to allow for the right to abort babies is higher than even this terrible case could ever demonstrate. 

Vatican talks with leading Islamic scholars look promising

From a Muslim point of view.  I know, not all Muslims are terrorists.  My gut feeling?  Most Muslims are like most people throughout time.  Some good. Some bad.  Most just trying to get by.  Still, there is something about Islam that is shaking things up a bit right now in our post-Multi-Cultural insistence that the Christian West is the cause of all suffering and the Muslim world is no doubt peopled with sincere peace loving folks who just want to have fun. 

So the continued tale of Egypt getting pissed at Pope Benedict, for daring to suggest letting Christians be murdered isn't a good thing, suggests a different side of the debate is worth examining.  Not that we will, but it would be interesting to see thing from different angles, not just the angle of perpetual guilt and repentance by which the West sees most things in the world today.

Governor Robert Bentley and the end of the Bill of Rights as we've known it

I especially liked this story and headline from Britain's Mail Online: Alabama Governor forced to apologize (emphasis mine).  Because that's about what it was.  In our increasingly intolerant, close minded, and conformist culture that is dumb enough to think that more drugs and sex on TV means enlightened liberalism, another line has been crossed.  A step that was pushed by many groups, including the increasingly bizarre Anti-Defamation League and its notion of more censorship in the name of Holocaust remembrance.

What we have here was a step, small but significant, toward the growing impatience to redefine the Bill of Rights as values  based: if you don't believe in the right values, you don't get the same rights.  Some would argue that rights have always been values based.  Perhaps.  But the hallmark of post-war liberalism was always that they shouldn't.  Under the mantra that there is no such thing as absolute knowledge, absolute truth, or absolute morals, it was ludicrous to accept the proposition that a country could demand conformity to any universal values system.

Of course at the same time, shrewd observers couldn't help but notice the emerging feminist movement, civil rights movement, and gay rights movement - among others - invoking notions of self evident truths and universal principals.  But since most of these, under the umbrella of 'equality', 'fairness', and 'justice' were pretty acceptable to the general public, not much was said or done to stand in their way.

But now it's almost impossible not to miss the sudden shift back to a time when there was such a thing as absolute truth, absolute knowledge of this absolute truth, and a demand for absolute conformity to this truth.  And we saw the next bold step in this movement in what happened to Governor Bentley. 

Now I don't care if his beliefs are right or wrong.  Wasn't too long ago that suggesting a person's religion was wrong was anathema.  Along with many other things, that has gone the way of the horse and buggy.  Nowadays it's quite vogue to declare various religious beliefs to be unacceptable.  And now, not only are they unacceptable, but they are not allowed.  Not if you want to enjoy the same right to public office as all Americans

Because now not only can you not practice your faith in a public setting or in an official capacity in, say, the State House, you also cannot practice it in a church of your faith tradition.  For the longest time, we were told that religion needed to stay out of the public forum. Sure, you could believe anything you wanted, no matter how stupid.  But keep it in your home and your church or place of worship.  See the shift?  Now, it's OK in some cases.  It's OK in long as it isn't something that offends this or that special interest group.  But we can no longer allow for such intolerant notions as allowing a person of obviously bigoted religious beliefs to practice his religion while being an elected official.  As even Glen Beck noted, if he wants to do so, fine.  He has a right.  But he has no business being an elected official. 

Take note, and take pictures.  Because centuries from now, as historians chronicle the decline and fall of American civilization, this will be one of those pieces in the puzzle that will help them understand how the land of the free so willingly gave up that gift of freedom for a bowl of stew.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Britain to unwanted thinking: we don't serve your kind

Because as Simon Jenkins pointed out, Britain enjoys the power to giveth and taketh away rights.  Of course if the United States did any such thing, the international community would be outraged.  But this is Any Country But America, which is perfectly capable of doing the same things it would turn around and blast the United States for doing.

It's Edgar Allan Poe's Birthday!

As if the man's writings weren't strange and atmospheric enough, even his grave now has a mystery covered with melancholy surrounding it.  It figures.  In any event, happy birthday E.A. Poe!  Your works continue to amaze and entertain.
"[A]t length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher... I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building. Its principal feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity. The discoloration of ages had been great. Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves. Yet all this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation. No portion of the masonry had fallen ; and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual stones. In this there was much that reminded me of the specious totality of old wood-work which has rotted for long years in some neglected vault, with no disturbance from the breath of the external air. Beyond this indication of extensive decay, however, the fabric gave little token of instability. Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn."
From The Fall of the House of Usher

Why the Irish abuse letter concerns me

It's not that I haven't seen it before.  A document from anywhere over the last two thousand years is released, and the press heralds it as 'Smoking Gun Proves Cover Up of Abusive Priests!'  Like many things so released, there can be defenses made, as they are being made here, and over here is a good example from Jimmy Akin.

My problem is, yeah, from a very legalistic viewpoint, from a very 'assume innocence until beyond a reasonable doubt' perspective, this just might be more much ado about nothing.  But defense of this, and so many other examples of 'stunning evidence' over the last few years, involves a certain 'hey, it may look bad, but if you look at it from the Church following every jot and tittle of canon law, then it's not that bad.  It's just the way the Church does things the way it does them.'  The problem is, this is all happening while thousands of lives are being irreparably damaged, while entire faiths are being destroyed, and lives altered forever.  While it's going on. 

This doesn't prove that the Church is evil, this doesn't prove that the Church was even wrong.  What it does prove, and what it aids, is that classic Protestant scree against the Church that Catholicism is where the heart and soul of the Gospel of Christ gets entangled in the eternal arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or the demand that the holy and sacred copy machine not be placed along the south wall.  Sure, lives may be at stake, but we must do diligence at all cost, and if that means some lives slip through the cracks while we run the numbers, so be it.

I'm not saying that was the attitude of those involved.  I'm not saying there is guilt or innocence.  I don't know.  I just know that when things look stinky, they stink.  A picture of a pile of manure has about the same impact as actually standing next to a real pile of manure if you think about it.  Impressions are impressions. 

All of this is to say that there may well be a need for the Church to rethink its current strategies for bureaucratic administering of the Faith.  As charming as it is to imagine the Church as just a bunch of lovable Ents who get around to things when they get around to them, it's not so charming when we remember the all important dignity of the individual that the Church is constantly reminding every other government and nation in the world about on a constant basis.  Even one child so harmed should be enough to shake the systems and structures of the bureaucratic institution to its core.  At best, this shows a marked lack of anything but doing diligence at all costs, even if the rusty wheels turning slowly means a few lives ruined in the process.  That's the best you can say about many of the defenses over the years.

Let's hope it doesn't get any worse. 

Pope to Egypt: Please protect your Christians

Egypt to Pope: Screw you! Of course in the fluid world of diplomatic unspeak, this may just be a little sabre rattling between friends.  But it still amazes me that the first reaction to the Pope's pleas for Christian lives in Egypt was a giant middle finger.  And we know the only problem in the world is radical terrorists who have nothing to do with Islam because Islam is like our brothers who just want peace!  No doubt many are like our brothers and do want peace.  But in between them and folks who fly jets into skyscrapers appears to be quite the potpourri of opinions and ideas about just what Islamic and Christian and Western relations should look like.

So I mosey on over to the Huffington Post

And decide to comment on the uproar over Governor Bentley's decision to proclaim a Christian message in a Christian church on the Holy Day of St. King.  Well, I post my initial thoughts, and am immediately hit with about a dozen responses.  A couple are actually thoughtful and engaging, and I can understand their objections - though I obviously disagree.  I always enjoy a good counter punch to my opinions when done thoughtfully and with respect (and without the notion that I better pack my bags or else). 

But a startling, and frightening, number of the comments espouse the increasingly Leftist view that this old Bill of Rights isn't big enough for the both of us.   You want to be an elected official in this country, then by jiminy you will keep it quiet, keep it secret.  Separation of Church and State no longer means just keep your religion in your home and church.  It means keep it in your home, and if you want it in your church, then you had best darn well kiss off having the same rights to public office as those who do have stars on their bellies.  You can read it all here.  

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

Expresses his Christian understanding of community, and sparks outrage in our pluralistic, diverse, and tolerant society.  Once again, we have that not-so-subtle agenda undercurrent of thought  that wants to say any Christian anyone who is 'too religious' just can't be allowed to take up the mantle of leadership, now can they?

Notice, by the way, the prime source of the outrage, at least as far as the article is concerned, is the Anti-Defamation League.  I don't know if that means anything, but I noticed it nonetheless. My question is the 'church crowd' part of the statement.  Was he addressing the church crowd itself, as part of his own evangelical witness to a shared faith community?  From the scant quote I'm given, paraphrased by the reporter, it sounds as if he was trying to explain to a Christian faith community that he was brother of all believers, regardless of race, and was calling upon all of those present to accept the faith - a common practice in evangelical Protestantism. 

Of course ,in our pluralistic, tolerance, and diverse society, such statements of belief will not be accepted. 

Michael Moore says stupid

Why should thinking people have a hard time accepting Leftists perspectives?  Michael Moore demonstrates.  This is from his interview on Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC.  It's the whole thing, so you may want to fast forward to around the 5 minute mark.  You can, of course, watch the whole interview and hear some of what Mr. Moore has to say.  But the slam dunk dumb comesafter 5:00.  Basically, Moore is asking the right question: why is there such violence in America with guns, when other countries don't have such violence.  Not just in terms of gun laws (which he is, obviously, in favor of having more), but as a society, what's the difference?  A good, fair question.  One that needs asked about this and a great many other issues.

He then points out that most people who own the guns live in safe neighborhoods, rural communities, suburbs.  He mentions that doctors and others have guns, and live where the crime rate is relatively low.  Now a thinking person could be forgiven for concluding that the reason for the low crime rates could be because of knowledge of widespread gun ownership.  That having all these guns must therefore be a deterrent, since Mr. Moore admits that both are true.  That doesn't mean it's a fact, and more information would be needed.  But you could be forgiven for leaping to the conclusion that if areas with the most gun ownership have the lowest crime rates, there could be a connection?

But is this the connection he makes?  Heck no.  He decides this is because gun owners are more or less a bunch of racists.  Since there really isn't crime, why do they own guns?  Because they are afraid of black people, that's why.  I know, it makes your head spin that something like this would pass for serious debate.  It is on MSNBC after all.  But still, it says something about the world view of the modern Leftist.  When I see this, how everything is based on skin color by the very side of the aisle that insists we worship and venerate Martin Luther King, Jr., I can't help but catch the irony.  More and more I'm convinced that MLK is just a Peter Pan character that those on the Left use to make themselves feel good, and as a shield to push forth the idea that they by default occupy the moral high ground.  Yet look and listen, and that's a conclusion at which that nobody should arrive. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Peter Kreeft hits home run

File under 'a heck of a lot better than I could have said it'.  Tons to take in, but well worth the read.

Need information on King Charles II of England?

Not to worry.  Just the type of history lesson we post-moderns crave:

Fun stuff.  Though my fear is this is about as deep into history our 'most informed generation in history' will ever get.

Bill Maher insults Tea Party members

That's about as shocking as hearing that Joseph McCarthy doesn't like Communists.  Basically, Maher, like many in the pop-debate culture, is long on insults and prepubescent humor, and short on apparent knowledge of the facts.  That the Founding Fathers encompassed a vast array of leaders, many of whom in their day wielded as much influence as those whose names have passed down into common parlance, seems to have escaped him.  Of course he rests most of his insults on the Master Race motif that dominates much of the emergent secular Left.  Basically, it goes something like this: we are so right that anyone who disagrees with us must be a lower form of human.  The idea that Tea Partiers are against philosophy or science (FWIW, I would love to know if Maher has studied Plato), is of course just bigotry.  A classic tactic: take an old anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, or some other type of bigoted rant, remove the word Jew (or Black, or whatever), and insert your favorite group you hate, and there's bound to be cheers from those who want to be assured that, no matter what, they truly are superior.  Why did the Master Race BS appeal to so many?  Because it's in our genes to love to hear someone tell us how vastly superior we are to those over there whose putrid guts we hated all along.   That's why.

Spike Lee says stupid

The hilarious thing about this clip is that he begins by warning that artists like himself must be careful since anything they do goes out into the universe.  Then he caps it off with the keeper quote: America is the most violent nation in the history of civilization. 

I know, anyone who made it past 6th grade world history can probably rattle off a few examples that contradict him.  Yet I wonder.  My wife and I caught a brief clip on a cable news show over the weekend in which a young tech fellow was boasting that today's youth assimilate more information that anyone in history.  I'm not so sure.  Give that the news continues its 'there was no evidence that the Arizona shootings had anything to do with our current rhetorical tone, but didn't that have something to do with it' mantra, given that people like Mr. Lee can say utterly ridiculous things and find a willing audience, and given that we continue to push for things such as 'Safe Sex' when the evidence shows it has more to do with other variables than simply pushing condoms or not, suggests we are not the most informed generation in history.  We may be the generation exposed to more information than anyone in history.  But perhaps the end result is we have simply grown tired of trying to assimilate it, and have settled into a passive 'just tell me what I want to hear, who cares if it's true' mode of thought process.  It has to be something, since I'm seeing more and more idiotic statements such as this in recent years, from all sides of the ideological spectrum.

Natalie Portman teaches us

That a philosophy that reduces human beings to mere slabs of meat for our own hedonistic fulfillment is still a philosophy that reduces human beings to mere slabs of meat for our own hedonistic fulfillment, no matter how you dress it up.  With movies like this, and the upcoming MTV series Skins, you can almost see the strategic decision making.  Afraid that, in the wake of America's dawning realization that we are a dying nation, some youngsters might begin to question our half century long love affair with ourselves, and wonder if a life of narcissism expressed through the sacraments of hedonism and debauchery is really all that and a bag of chips, our architects of dehumanization are scrambling to reign in the doubters through a whirlwind of images meant to peddle all that is best in Baalish paganism.  The idea that kids could wake up and throw off the shackles of complete selfishness and self-worship is no doubt terrifying, so these crack commandos of crap throw together what amounts to a Triumph of the Will for our sex obsessed generation.  Images and visuals meant to coax our youth back into a stupor of decadence will abound, enough to make our pop culture institutions wealthy, while allowing the last vestiges of American and Christian culture to slip into the abyss, to be replaced by whatever Napoleon-like swine are set to assume control. 

Sure, it might just be lazy and shallow writers who have not a lick of talent or insight into the world, and who are simply exploiting our young people no matter what damage may happen to them just so they can make a buck.  But the first theory, while being much cooler, is also hardly far from implausible.

Welcome to Jurassic Park

The nice thing about this century is how we refuse to learn any lessons from the last century.  Despite a century whose primary atrocities were almost completely divorced from any religious motivations, we emerge from the ashes to conclude that religion is the main culprit in history.  Despite the legacy of nations rejecting their roots in a Christian/Jewish moral universe, and the pandemic disasters that came from it - such as AIDS - we insist that a secularized, post-Christian ethic is the way to go.  And despite the legacy of mechanized warfare, gas chambers, and mushroom clouds, we turn to science with almost worshipful obedience and trust to solve all of our problems, completely blind to any ill results that could occur because of scientific progress. 

So, despite the Frankenstein like cautionary tale that was the book Jurassic Park, the very book and movie that brought not only cloning, but the warnings of what cloning could entail for humanity, to the mainstream, we have researchers in Japan insisting that they will be cloning a good old Woolly Mammoth in five years.  As neat as that sounds, I can't help think this will be the sort of thing that the latest, hippest thinkers of 2211 will be looking back at and saying, "How could they be so stupid?" 

America as beached whale devoured by scavenging birds

That's what I think of the more I see stories like this.  A young Mexican boy was tragically shot and killed by US patrols along the Mexican border.  Our agents say he was attacking them with rocks.  The boy's family's attorney says he was doing nothing of the sort.  He points to a grainy video that he says shows everything - except whether or not the boy was pelting the agents with rocks.  The lawsuit is for 25 million dollars, just to get justice.  The president of Mexico has condemned the shootings.

And that last part is what caught my attention.  Anyone from Mexico condemning anything in America?  Are you kidding me?  Almost 30,000 people have died in the last several years in Mexico from the drug wars alone.  Mexico's laws toward immigrants are almost draconian compared to those in the US.  And poverty and government corruption continues to be a hallmark of almost anything to do with Mexico. 

I know, a lot of folks will point to America.  It's our fault because we have the drug problem.  It's our fault because we have the guns that are used.  It's our fault because America fought this war, took that land, or worked with other Evil European types to suppress the indigenous peoples of the land.  Each of those accusations could well be true.  But it doesn't take away from the culpability of Mexico for the nightmare tragedy that is Mexico here, now. 

Like Japan with the atomic bombs, I get the feeling much of the outrage and condemnation by Mexico is meant, at least in some part, to take attention away from the train wreck that is its own disastrous cultural meltdown.  And in keeping with a sympathetic media, a progressive movement that can't get enough of seeing America die (so that it can rebuild a New America in its place), and of course cheered on by a host of other countries and cultures that are more than happy to kick a lazy giant when it's down, it isn't hard to see why story after story has headlines like this, or that another American has been kidnapped, or another condemnation for any one of a thousand things from countries who at their best days have yet to equal America at its worst.  After all, they can tell a weak, helpless, and dying civilization when they see it.

The power of modern conformity

So Paul LePage, governor of Maine, announced he would not be attending a worship service breakfast in commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. day.  This failure to conform and venerate the absolute values of modern Righthink brought the expected attacks and criticisms.  For younger folks, that might have seemed a bit over the top.  Of course they probably forget that this holiday was initiated pretty much with a foot on the neck of our culture, with threats of protest and walk outs and boycotts accompanying any who didn't freely choose to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. 

Governor LePage's reaction was, well, stunning.  He basically said that critics, including those in the NAACP, could - and I quote - "kiss [his] butt."  Wow.  Not only failing to venerate Dr. King as all Americans are compelled asked to do, but then such a brutal response to the usual criticism?  Well, that lasted as long as you might expect in our day and age.  Turns out he went to the breakfast after all.  He didn't speak, but with tail planted firmly between legs, he demonstrated the truth about our modern rhetoric.  It isn't just that it can get nasty.  It's that it is no longer used to persuade people.  Rather, it is used to force people into conformity of an absolute values system that refuses to admit it is an absolute values system.  And that will get a reaction every time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr., and the problems with our country

OK, so I've been a bit snarky about how we worship Dr. King as a god in our country.  I've pointed out that the entire Holy Day of St. King is the only national day of sacred observation left.  I've pointed out that this is rather strange for someone my age, who can remember the old time liberals tearing down our heroes of old by lampooning as uncouth and hayseed any nation that spends its time venerating as gods old, dead guys.  I've basically said why I admire Dr. King, but don't buy into the god worship and conformity to group think that celebrating his legacy has become.  All of this is the stuff of opinion, and others are free to share in their own.

But I think this does show one thing that demonstrates why our nation seems so nasty, so tension filled, so over the top when it comes to stress and strain.  Why we know that, in years past, passions have always run high and people have often gotten their blood to a boil when debating this or that issue, yet we feel somehow that it's different now. 

The reason is how the holiday came to be.  Anyone my age remembers that this was not a holiday that Americans across the land rose up and said, "By golly, we want a national holiday commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!"  Nor was there a simple congressional "Let's have a day for Martin Luther King, Jr.", with the subsequent vote of yeas and nays. 

Rather, this holiday came like a storm, drawing resistance and support across the country.  The NAACP and other civil rights groups, naturally, were completely behind the holiday becoming not just a recognition of the man, but a full blown national holiday.  Some who admired him thought that was going a bit far.  Others who didn't share in the admiration didn't like it at all. 

It didn't matter, the holiday was eventually ratified.  Any attempts to refuse were met with threats of walk outs or boycotts.  Schools that didn't have room for a new holiday were told to drop presidents day (after all, by then we were focusing almost exclusively on the seedier legacy of slavery, racism, and imperialism of those old cronies, with the accompanying 'only uncouth nations venerate old, dead guys').   Any state that balked faced the wrath of popular culture, accusations of racism, and threats again of boycotts and anything else to damage their infrastructures. 

And so the holiday became law.  And each year the worship and glorification of Dr. King has grown.  From a day kids got off of school, to a day in which we were called to remember his legacy, to a day in which a growing number of special events and programs accompanied it, to a day in which a month of activities in schools revolved, to a day in which we are called to invoked the spirit of Dr. King to improve our lives and our world,  to a day in which, well, anyone who doesn't join the chorus is immediately shunned at best, punished at worse.

And this is the problem.  Dr. King took a direct approach to the problems of his day.  A history of rank racism had left African Americans, particularly in the south, treated as nothing short of second rate.  A generation of Americans, those who stormed the beaches at Normandy and Okinawa, came back to see this glaring blight upon our culture.  They compared it to the horrors they had witnessed abroad. Already, a decade before Martin Luther King was known, forces for equality were brewing.  Dr. King simply took the decisive step and emerged as the figurehead of this movement. 

Even then, some questioned his motives, his tactics.  Radicals like Malcolm X would have been happy with a more 'direct' approach to revolution.  Many whites felt King was a trouble maker and upstart. But he did what he did the way he did it because of his Christian roots, mixed with a realization that things could not continue as they were, and changes must happen immediately.  This was not something that you could sit back and wait for the inevitable tide of history to sweep aside old injustices and right old wrongs.  For the sake of everyone, changes had to happen immediately.

Problem is, that became the framework for everything anyone has wanted to change since.  Doesn't matter what.  Gay rights.  Women's rights.  What words we are allowed to say.  How we should be able to dress.  What we can smoke.  What we can drive.  How much gasoline we can use.  What religious beliefs should and shouldn't be able to be expressed publicly.  What political ideologies are acceptable and what ideologies aren't.  All of these, an millions more, are treated with these same demands.  A demand that our country change - now - and not only must everyone conform, but a pox upon those who fail to do so.  And if we have to get laws changed to accommodate the conformity and punish resistance, so be it. 

All of this makes for an increasingly volatile and stress filled nation where it seems on a daily basis that someone, somewhere is saying this or that is wrong, and our entire nation had better change now. And it had better demand everyone else change, now.  And not only must laws reflect that change, but anyone who even dares to resist the basis for that change - say they continue to feel that homosexuality is wrong even if all laws eventually acknowledge it - must be put into their right minds.  Sure, people have always done it.  But with a sympathetic ear in the media, or the Internet  culture, the chances of such forced changes become more likely with each passing day.

Just an observation on this MLK day.  Despite what some young'uns might think, it was not a holiday graciously and unanimously lifted up by American culture.  For various reasons, some did and some didn't want it.  And all manner of hostility, threats, yelling, and accusations accompanied the legalizing of the holiday.  Why not?  It took the same to see civil rights achieved, correct?  Why not see the holiday commemorating the icon of that era undergo the same treatment to get what was wanted to celebrate him?  Baascially tell America that you are going to commemerate this man of peace's birthday...or else! The problem is, that is now how anyone and everyone who wants anything conducts himself today.  There's when a country changes, and when it is forced to change.  Any change can be troubling for those resisting it.  But when it is forced, when people are told change will happen and they will stand out of the way or else, expect it to get nasty. And that is why I have a feeling the tension and vitriol we see today.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Because the Huffington Post loves censorship

I must post this comment on my own blog.  It is in response to a Huffpost article by Simon Jenkins, of the Guardian and London Sunday Times.  That's right, two leftist publications in an already secular, post-modern, and increasingly theophobic nation.  A nation whose lust for trashing and thrashing its own history is surpassed only by its love for doing anything to beat America into the dust.  So exploiting the recent shooting deaths in Arizona, Mr. Jenkins takes pen in hand and basically reminds us why the shootings are the same old, same old, and how most people in the world expect no better from us lowly American types.  He then goes onto explain how in England, they know you can't just swing the door open with such lofty notions as 'freedom of speech' without some barriers, some limits.  And so I took keyboard in hand and penned the following disallowed post:

"All of this boils down to 'because Britain reserves the right to taketh away rights and freedoms when it so chooses.'  The NYT was right a year or so ago to express concern that there is a growing impatience with freedom of speech in our world.  I have too many friends from other countries to just willy-nilly say we are better than them.  But I have too many friends from other countries to think they are any better than us.  One of the reasons America is dying is because so many Americans have been told our country is so lousy, it just isn't worth saving.  America a second rate country?  Why would anyone be surprised?  Self esteem is important for our kids?  It's important for a country as well.  And meanwhile, folks from other countries yuck it up, when their countries usually have nothing to show for it.  Europe?  Does anyone even believe Europe will even exist a hundred years from now?  And we're supposed to care what Europe thinks?  A civilization that boasts a relative ease with limiting freedoms and has only its own collapsing infrastructure to show for it?  Sorry, but unpack the sins and failings of any country with such a critical eye, and you soon realize it's like the pot calling the kettle black every time.  The single act of a lunatic shouldn't condemn America, unless we can do the same to others based on the actions of a single citizen." 
Now HP is usually pretty skittish about letting folks criticize its editorial contributors.  They will allow dissent, but you have to lay it between the lines, to quote Peter, Paul and Mary.  I guess I didn't, so once again I found my contribution to the dialogue banished to the outer darkness of our Big Politically Correct Brother.  A shame, since so many were allowed to comment on how Americans do truly suck, are stupid and evil, and it's about damn time we get over this whole freedom and liberty garbage for folks who insist on refusing to convert to liberalism.

Another long weekend

Due in part to Martin Luther King day, well due entirely to Martin Luther King day, we all have Monday off.  That means we have an extra day to get things done around the house, and then hopefully have time to play and goof off (all while my oldest gets ready for his first round of midterm exams).  Therefore, blogging will be light.  I have a few things I'm ready to throw out there, but will hold off until Tuesday.  I've been spending some time back at ye olde Huffington Post, just to remind myself why the post-modern Left scares the pants off of me.  But then, I'm beginning to realize it isn't the Left part that's the problem as much as it is this post-modern world in which we live.  That seems to be a big problem across the board, if you can agree on just what post-modern means.  In a nutshell, a time in history when everything revolves around me, and I don't let little things like facts and data get in the way of a narrative that is supposed to give me what I want.  I've noticed not a few who call themselves Conservative also seem to fall under that spell.  So we'll look at all kinds of neat stuff when I come back next week.  Tuesday, same bat time, same bat channel.  Till then, TTFN.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Liberal dreams and stranger things

So a new panel, Military Leadership Diversity Commission, has recommended that women be allowed to be in combat units.  That means it will happen.  Is that good for our military?  For our country?  Could it spell disaster and horrible death for the women?  Doesn't matter.  In Liberal-speak, equality of opportunity for minorities and right to do what I want is more important that anything.  If we lose wars - which Americans are doing now better than anyone - so be it.  What matters is this or that special interest group getting what it wants, all other considerations be damned.  The fact that the Pentagon will look into it is more or less wasting of time.

Charlotte Schools blaspheme God

Known in some parts of our country by the name Martin Luther King, Jr.  As I've said before, I have no problem with MLK.  He did great things.  He stood up against gross injustices, and did so in a way that resulted in at least the elimination of the legal barriers to equality that existed then.  And he did it in a way consistent with the finer parts of the Christian ethical tradition.  Since he was assassinated, we'll never know if he might have been able to help avoid the decent into cultural hell that has followed so much of the American black community since the Civil Rights era.  I would like to think so.  But we know so little of the man right now since any and all studies must be exercises in celebration.  When my boys were in elementary school, they began at the beginning of January drawing posters, making signs, singing songs, learning lessons, composing bulletin boards, and having specials all focused on MLK.  They celebrated him like I never celebrated anything in school, apart from Christmastime in the earliest years of my memory.  For a liberal movement that once mocked an unenlightened and unhip nation's tendency to obsess over old, dead, guys, they have since pole vaulted over anything we have ever done for any other person in our history in terms of outright veneration, if not downright god-worship.  In the words of the immortal film Spaceballs, when it comes to how we treat Martin Luther King, Jr., we've gone to plaid. The idea that the most important thing in our nation right now is our kids' education, up until it interferes with the only sacred and purely holy day of the American calendar, is a good example of what I mean.

To our forgotten victims

The shooting in Arizona, like all such tragedies, shocked us.  We were enraged.  We were saddened.  We mourned those who died so senselessly.  We wept for the little girl, that flower of hope and promise, whose life was so brutally ended.  We rejoiced in the heroism.  In the news that those who survived may indeed be able to continue on with their lives; though I am sure it will never, ever leave their memories.  We watched as our nation's leader and other dignitaries set aside all other business to come to Arizona and share in our grief, and our celebration of the good we witnessed. 

And yet, that's how it works, isn't it.  We're often told that history is written by the winners.  That's been a gnat-hole through which many modern historians have shoved a camel of biased interpretations and academic agendas.  Yet there is a core of truth to it.  We really don't know much about the average Roman citizen, or Medieval Peasant, or Ming laborer, except that which was written for, or by, the ruling elites. The winners.

We know all about William the Conqueror, but scant little about the soldiers who filled his army's ranks.  We know almost nothing to nothing at all about individual soldiers.  Most of what we can do in terms of history is paint with broad brushstrokes.  We can say this is the way the Medieval peasant lived, or that is how a 10th  century Islamic peasant got on in life.  There is no comprehension of individuals.  When the Mongols sweep into Eastern Europe, and put entire cities to the sword, that's how it's written - an entire city is put to the sword.  We can tell who the leaders are and what they were doing.  We learn about the powers that be and how they react to this or that event, like having a city razed by invading hordes.  But the individuals are typically reduced to 'entire city put to the sword', or perhaps a statistic: 27,000 died that day (with numbers rounded off due to lack of specific data).

Well, how have things changed?  They really haven't, have they.  Yes, I was stunned by the news of the Tuscon shootings.  I was appalled at the flagrant exploitation of the suffering and the dead for the purpose of ideological and political agendas.  I was moved that our leaders took such time to help a grieving country.  I was gladdened by the raising of the 9/11 flag at young Christina Taylor Green's funeral. 

But then it hit me.  I realize that because this involved elected leaders, it has ramifications for how we, as a society, conduct ourselves.  But we are aware of the fact that such tragedies have happened before.  We've had mass shootings with far more casualties that didn't rate a presidential visit.  We have smaller crimes and shootings every day.  All around the world, people are killed, sometimes brutally, sometimes mercilessly. 

Today, soldiers still die overseas.  I don't know why, but except for locally, we don't hear about it much any more.  But behind each death is a devastated family.  Behind each murder victim is a child or parent or sibling whose life will never be the same again.  Many of those same individuals no doubt watched the coverage, watched the memorial, will watch the funerals, will follow the glad news of recovering wounded.  But I can't help but feel that somewhere deep down, they will wonder where all the cameras were when they buried their little girl.  Where was the president when their mother was murdered during a break in.  Where was the government shut down or flags flying at half staff when their son died in service to the country.  They are left with their grief, and their loneliness. 

None of this is to say that this is wrong or right.  Based on the history of humanity, it appears that this is just the way it is.  We have famous people, celebrities, and rulers who capture our attention and receive our documentation.  A thousand years from now, historians will or won't know about Christina Taylor Green.  They will know about Barack Obama, either as a chapter heading or a footnote.  They may or may not remember this period in time we call 2011.  But I know one thing.  They won't have a clue about all the people who suffered, mourned, and grieved outside of the light of cameras and videos and media attention; outside of the pages of our reporters.  At best, they will be part of some vague statistic some narrow focused scholar will study.  And that's about it.

So knowing that things haven't changed, and in likelihood won't change, I thought I would send one out to all of those who have suffered and wept over their own personal losses.  Out to all of those who suffered the way we have witnessed this week, but outside of the attention of the media, and thus outside of our awareness.  Not to diminish the pain and heartfelt compassion we have for the victims of the Tuscon shooting, but to include those that neither our scribes and chroniclers today, nor historians of tomorrow, will notice or remember.

Andrei Sitov, Russian reporter, points to America's darker side

That's like MSNBC calling Rush Limbaugh biased.  Russia.  OK, let's break it down a bit.  A nation with a history of violence that makes America's history look almost Amish by comparison.  A country whose revolutions killed about as many as soldiers were killed in WWII.  A country whose reign of terror for the last century wracked up the second worst body count in human history (and hint, Nazi Germany isn't number one).  A country that even now is cracking down on such pesky freedoms as Americans take for granted, assuming - I suppose - that because they have a hot, young spy we won't notice.  A country where journalists and other dissenters turn up dead for some strange reason or another.  That Russia.  And here, a Russian journalist, Andrei Sitov, tries to do what other countries and cultures have been doing to America and Europe for about fifty years: he tries to say 'doesn't the speck in your eye demand your concession that those logs hanging out of our eyes are no worse?'  Mr Gibbs, well done

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm a Protestant Clergy Convert to Catholicism

With nowhere to hang my hat!  So I hope Deacon Keith Fournier is correct.  I hope the ordination of Anglican priests into the Catholic home is the first baby step in a movement to embrace folks from other non-Anglican traditions.  Of course if it is, knowing the speed with which the Catholic Church moves, this should probably help my great grandchild's kids.  Still, at least it's something.  If nothing else, it might turn attention back to the 'Protestant Clergy Convert Movement' that seemed so promising through the 80s and 90s.  I know, I know, there are still those of us coming into the Church even today. But it isn't what it was, that's for sure.  The numbers are still spliced and parsed to make it look good, but there is no real forward momentum to keep adding to the attitude of welcome and acceptance and utilization for those who came in.  Certainly not to counter the numbers of those leaving the Church in various parts of Europe and America. Things are, at their best, about the way they were when Scott Hahn came into the Church.  Some might argue they've slipped back a notch.  And that seems to go for Protestant laymen as much as clergy.  At least here in America.  So maybe this indicates change is in the air.  We'll have to see I guess.

British Embassy urges caution in defending Christians in Muslim world

I don't know what to make of this.  Is this normal?  Do we often say things like this?  I get what he's saying, sort of 'let's not make Christianity look too Western or that will just piss them off.'  But that's sort of the problem isn't it?  I mean, Muslims around the world continually say things like 'stop calling Islam violent or Muslims will kill more nuns.'  What does that mean?  But it works, because you can bet your bottom dollar that folks in "The West" will fall on each other to keep anymore talk about violence in the Muslim world from happening.  So while some of this sounds OK, sort of 'let's not do things to make it worse', I can't help but get the feeling it's because we are just wimps about it, and the Islamic world has the serious upper hand in things right now.  Instead of 'at all costs we've got to protect Christians who are being butchered in the Muslim world', it's 'let's not be hasty.'  I wonder if we say that when it comes to protecting women's rights, or gay rights, or other endeavors of the Western human rights emphasis? 

Richard Winters, Huffington Post, and Modern Rhetoric

As I reflect on all the hubbub about what caused the shooter to kill six people and wound 13 others in Tuscon on Saturday, I can't help but feel the problems in our society are deeper than mere 'it's the rhetoric stupid!'  Certainly it's more than just 'it's Right Wing rhetoric stupid!'  Anyone should be able to see that.  Yet they don't.  Last night, I watched Katie Couric on CBS Evening News interview a small round of folks about the shooting and everything that went with it.  Now, I admit I didn't see the whole segment.  There were two individuals there I never heard talk.  But of the ones I did hear, the message was clear:

  1. We need to tone down our rhetoric (even though not only is there no evidence linking the shooter to any modern rhetoric, but the emerging evidence suggests that the shooter had no connection to so much of this strange, ambiguous rhetoric we hear so much about) 
  2. We need to admit that there is no evidence connecting the shooter to any rhetoric...but let's face it, the Right is pretty much to blame for the ill tone of our modern discourse.
  3. We need to make sure Florida doesn't follow Arizona in immigration reform, since the children of elected officials are afraid that could lead to their parents being murdered.

The last was a particularly nauseating interjection of politics, exploiting not only the deaths of innocent victims, but also children and emotional manipulation as well. 

So there you have it  Even though a common sense appraisal of the situation, with a few minutes access to the Internet, shows that both sides are equal in their vitriol and demagoguery and demonizing of opponents, CBS, and pretty darn much every other news outlet save FOX (natch), have continued on with the narrative that it's the [Right Wing] rhetoric, stupid! 

Why?  Are they just lying?  Do they hope that we are so divided that those on their side of the political ideological aisle don't care if they are lying, as long as they can score points against the baddies?  Or are they even aware of their own bias?  For the sake of charity and graciousness, I would like to think the latter.  I would like to believe all of this talk of liberal values, open mindedness, tolerance, and diversity were ever and always bunk, and that people have a innate tendency to imagine their truths are the only acceptable truths, that they are absolutely right about these absolute truths, and that they naturally expect that a society demands conformity to these absolute values and truths. 

And because they can't imagine a world apart from one guided by these truths, they are as stone blind to alternate understandings of the world, alternate value systems, alternate viewpoints, as any Medieval inquisitor. This hit me when, just for a laugh, I went over to see what the Huffington Post had to say about the death of Richard Winters.  I realize he was not necessarily a household name.  But even in the midst of the Arizona Shooting, most Web News pages found some space to have at least a little about the man who was the primary focal point of the hit book and miniseries Band of Brothers.  After all, the Huffpost has room for everything from what sunglasses Lady GaGa is wearing, to what Sting's sex life is like, to what the name is of the latest porn star Charlie Sheen is dating.  Certainly they would be able to include a small obituary. 

Wrong!  Sorry, your answer is incorrect.  Nothing.   The name didn't even come up in the searches.  And that got me to thinking.  There are plenty of folks who know what Band of Brothers was, know who Richard Winters was, and what this was all about.  It was mentioned on some news stations, and again the AP and most online news sources had stories.  How could the Huffpost miss this?  Not even a paragraph?   Because the Huffpost is about a singular world view, that's why.  A dogmatic understanding of morals, values, truths.  It sees the world the way it sees the world.  Those who reject its world view are obviously the bad guys.  Either stupid, or evil, or both.  Typical fundamentalist talk.  Those who aren't about this or that issue, especially in today's religion of choice - politics - simply aren't on the radar screen.  An old WWII hero from a bygone day that represented the better side of America during the pre-sixties era?  Nope.  Not even close. 

Do I think they deliberately censored any stories because they don't want America to look good?  I don't know.  But I'm willing to bet it wasn't that.  I'll bet it was just not part of their world, the way they see reality.  It was off the radar screen plain and simple.  It just didn't compute into the way they saw things.  It was as off the table as dirty language was always seen as being outside the comprehension of old time religious fundamentalists.  Remember how we were always told that folks like that were completely ignorant of the reality of various sex and drug references because such things were just over their heads, due to their tiny little ways of seeing the world?  Well, I give you today's fundamentalists.  Folks likely so immersed in their own dogmatic pronouncements, that things outside of their value systems simply don't register.

Hence, the ongoing drumbeat that despite no evidence, this proves that it the Right Wing rhetoric is the villain, might simply be the result of immersion in a dogmatic, narrow understanding of the world.  An approach of absolute assurance of absolute knowledge of absolute truth that demands absolute conformity.  That a man could simply be insane, or worse - evil - is not part of it.  That the Right, the force that actively opposes these absolute truths, may not be to blame is simply beyond comprehension.  After all, the Right, the traditional Christian Western Tradition, Conservatism, Religious Right Extremists of the Christian variety, are the mischief in everything else in the world.  Certainly it has to be true in this.

Yes, it might be lies and lies to liars that is driving it.  It could be deliberate manipulation.  Huffpost may want to stay hell and away from someone who might tear down their "Non-Liberal America Sucks" mantra, and other news agencies may count on our rank divisions in the hopes that folks don't care if things are lies or truth as long as it advances our personal agendas.  That could be true.  But if it isn't, about the only other solution I can come up with is that those folks are so enamored by their dogmas, so immersed in the Super-Narrative of their choosing, that they've forgotten the world of options that exists outside their own front doors.