Insubordinate Americans

Moral distortion

“We can’t refuse immigrants – that would be racist. We will just have to settle for implementing a police state to keep us safe from the consequences of mass immigration.”

I’ve heard Bill de Blasio, David Cameron and many other pro-immigration political figures from the West discussing why every consumer device needs a government backdoor installed into it to compromise its security so countries can deal with the social burden created by importing a third world underclass. Similar arguments are made for gun control. This line of logic makes sense when it’s granted that racism is the worst thing in the world, even worse than living in an Orwellian dystopia.

That’s an unnerving system of ideas to say the least. And thanks to my bizarre and recent habit of talking about Donald Trump with strangers at social events, I got to witness a genuine instance of “racism is insurmountably evil.”

I mention not hating Trump and the customary hush falls over the room, but some guy is willing to play ball and asks me why I don’t share the opinion of every basic DC bitch. I mention how he’s actually reliably anti-immigration, but how his most recent comments have alienated me, like when he mentioned that he wants to kill the families of terrorists. That’s eyerolly shit that neocons actually believe in their heart of hearts, a far cry from the funny-but-true, emperor-has-no-clothes type comments Trump is known and loved for.

Another recent Trump comment that I can’t get behind, I explain, is the total ban on Muslims entering. That’s stupid for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Shia, Ibadi and Ahmadiyya Muslims are pretty alright. But I point out that that comment isn’t really bad, in the grand scheme of things, since mainstream politicians talk about war and killing like it’s no big deal. War and killing is worse than mere discrimination, right? …Right!?

Wrong, apparently.

He mentions how that’s, like, racist and stuff. I mention how people in staying their original countries might be less than ideal, but it’s not as bad as killing. Noah Millman articulated it really well over at The American Conservative:

But why are these not more important hallmarks of an incipient American fascism than the fact that Trump regularly sounds like a more obnoxious and egotistical version of Archie Bunker? And why is saying “no Muslims should be allowed onto American soil until we’ve got a process for monitoring them” more outrageous than a threat to “find out if sand can glow in the dark” (Ted Cruz’s threat to nuke ISIS)? Why is threatening mass-murder less horrifying than threatening discrimination in immigration on the basis of religion?

I’m not saying that having a President – or even a major candidate – who spouts xenophobic rants is a good thing. It’s a bad thing. I’m just suggesting that we’ve long since gotten used to things that are much worse, and perhaps we should pay a bit more attention to that fact.

I point this out to the guy I am talking to, and then mentions how there’s people dying in Colombia. That’s obviously an exception that we’re not talking about, so he shows his hand as not having any interesting ideas and the conversation ends.

This kind of moral distortion that we’ve been expected to subscribe to is, for better or worse, probably part of the reason why Trump is so popular. People who live in most parts of the United States are fine with how they’ve lived and their assumptions – say, war being worse than racism – but are caught in disjunction between moral compass and that of political and intellectual elites.


Earth to liberal colleges: The World Ain’t Fair

Reprinted from the Press and Journal

Things sure have changed since the late Bill Buckley wrote his classic “God and Man at Yale.” Back when the National Review founder’s jeremiad against academia’s entrenched liberalism first hit the scene, the enemy was godless collectivism.

As a young graduate, Buckley penned his scathing work to reveal the leftist ideology taught at America’s third-oldest university. His goal was to awaken Yale alumni to the fact that their proud alma mater no longer taught the principles of Christianity and moral law.

Nearly a half-century later, Buckley has failed in his crusade. Yale is still a hotbed for Keynesian economics and secular humanism. But the Ivy League University has gone further than instilling students with a love of big government. It has reached the end point of liberalism, becoming a coddle factory for overly sensitive undergrads.

This past Halloween, the country was forced to witness an Ivy League-level temper tantrum in New Haven, CT. Yale students, upon being told to not be so uptight about offensive costumes, went into a frenzy that would make a pampered preschooler blush.


Front Porch Republic conference: October 3, feat. James Howard Kunstler and more

Front Porch Republic‘s annual conference is less than a month away, in Geneseo, New York. It’s shaping up to be a great program, and I hope to see some readers there. Please leave a comment if you plan to come. May have to start spamming some like-minded Northeastern bloggers to make sure they do too — Pittsford Perennialist, I’m looking at you!

From the press release:

Sustainable Localism: Sages, Prophets, and Jesters,” the fifth annual Front Porch Republic conference, will be held on Saturday, October 3 in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom at the State University College at Geneseo.

James Howard Kunstler, whose many books include The Geography of Nowhere, will deliver the keynote address: “Looking for Sustainability in All the Wrong Places.”

The conference will feature a special panel devoted to the life, thought, and legacy of Christopher Lasch, the late University of Rochester historian and social critic. Panelists will be Robb Westbrook, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, and Eric Miller.

Other conference speakers will include Catherine Tumber, Jeff Polet, Tim Tielman, Bill Kauffman, Abbot Gerard D’Souza-OCSO, Jason Peters, and Jeremy Beer.

The conference registration fee of $50 ($20 for students) includes lunch and light snacks. There will be plenty of opportunities for attendees to gather informally with one another and the speakers. The conference will run from 9 am-5 pm.

Sign up here, hope to see you!

See a flier here.

Sorry, Kim Davis should face some repercussion for not fulfilling her duties

Author note: While I find much to agree with in Mr. Church’s sentiment here, I can’t fully embrace ignoring the law without consequences. I guess traditionalists are right about Kant and his epistemological head games focused on non-contradiction: they rot the brain. Perhaps mine is rotten too. I’ll let the readers decide.

Much ink has been spilled on the ongoing plight of Kim Davies, the Kentucky county clerk who is currently incarcerated for refusing to issue marriage licenses.

First Things editor R.R. Reno praises her resoluteness to “quietly following the dictates of her conscience.” Author Luma Simms also celebrates Davis “acting in accordance with God’s moral law which is now written on her heart as a convert” to Christianity. National Review’s Charlie Cooke is adamant that Davis breaking the law and intones that “[she]does not have a leg to stand on.” Rod Dreher blogs, “even though my heart is with Kim Davis, my head says principle matters” and that “if we grant individuals the right to defy any law they like without consequence, as long as they claim religious liberty, the rule of law ceases to exist. “

The liberal media is having a field day over impugning Davis’ intransigence against complying with the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. Back when California outlawed same-sex marriage, the Grey Lady herself endorsed government officials defying the law. But let’s forget about the hypocrisy of the liberal media for a moment. The question at hand for Christians is this: What’s the proper role of civil disobedience in the face of a hostile government?

I love a good poke in the eye of authority as much as the next guy. But, like Dreher and Cooke, I see that the law must have consequences. I’ve praised the defiance of some Southern counties refusing to issue marriage licenses altogether. That movement, small as it is, represents a dropping out of public requirement. But like Kim Davis, the perpetrators have to face the consequences of their choice. And for the Kentucky county of Rowan, the chickens are coming home to roost.


Did Catholicism become ‘compatible with the American experiment’ before or after the pope-burning stopped?

The author believes the answer to the question posed in the headline, “Is Catholicism compatible with the American experiment?” is yes. I also suspect he and most people would say the answer to the question, “Was Catholicism compatible with British colonial America?” is no, since it was officially suppressed in most colonies.

So: When did this country become ‘compatible’ with Catholicism? 1776? 1783, when the yoke of a protestant empire that had used anti-catholicism as a political glue was thrown off? Or was it 1868, when the last protestant test oath for public office was revoked? The United States have nothing comparable to, say, the baptism of Clovis.

Brendan McConville, among others, has supposed that the three defining qualities of British colonial identity were attachments to a capitalist economy, protestantism, and the monarchy. Our revolution only got rid of one of them.

The appeal to religious toleration as a Catholic (or Catholic-‘compatible’) principle rooted in the Enlightenment is the least convincing thing in Gregg’s piece, because religious liberty was not embraced by a pope until 1965. And with good reason, because programs of “toleration” often went hand in hand with efforts to check the power of the church. In British North America, toleration was never understood to extend to Catholics, that was a later thing — right up until the revolution the pope was burned in effigy yearly. This was a key civic ritual that helped cement their identity as citizens of the British Empire, and anti-catholicism was one of the few things dissenters and Anglicans had in common.

The Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom reflects the same compromise between the state church and dissenters. “[T]he impetus provided by this Enlightenment concern,” for religious liberty is really rather vague, and there’s a strong case that the Statute is only remotely a philosophical document. Religious toleration in Virginia was necessary because an embattled Anglican oligarchy needed the support of religious dissenters, reconciling the secular-minded ruling class and the anarchic revivalism taking root at the time. The concept of religious liberty prior to the revolution, in both Massachusetts and Virginia, meant hostility to Catholics and bishops of any kind.

Jefferson’s new law arose from an earlier debate during which he and James Madison conspired to quash religious education, something, again, dissenting protestants and a mostly secular-minded gentry could agree on. It also led directly to the only instance in American history of church land being systematically confiscated by the state in the Glebe Acts. The Statute on Religious Freedom is not a victory for religion, it’s close to the opposite.

Since conservatives are out of power, today they are the ones begging for “toleration” where it once was baptists, congregationalists, and so on, the leftists of their day. Gregg seems convinced that a lefty could be persuaded to support religious liberty with a pitch along the lines of, “see, as a person whose intellectual genealogy goes back to the Enlightenment, you should believe in religious toleration too.”

I also don’t get his coldness to David Hume, he extols the Scottish Enlightenment but seems to strongly dislike the most interesting part of it. He finds Hume too “irreligious” but won’t say an ill word of the man who cut up a Bible, wrote the anti-religious Statute, and banned Hume’s History of England from UVA on account of its alleged Tory bias.

Edit: Justin Logan points out that Conor Cruise O’Brien thought it was McCarthy and Kennedy:

McCarthyism was an engine for the social promotion of the Catholics in America and the promotion of Irish Catholics in particular. McCarthy backed Spellman, conveyed to millions of non-Catholic anti-Communist Americans the novel idea that Catholics were a specially reliable and especially tough breed of anti-Communists … Before the McCarthy-Kennedy breakthrough of 1950-60 American Catholics had their tents pitched in the temple of the holy nation. After that breakthrough there is a Catholic altar in the temple itself.

(For far more erudite criticism of Actonians, I refer you to Opus Publicum)

Rise of the stoics

I tie Walker Percy, Harper Lee, gay marriage, and southern resistance all together in my latest Taki’s Mag piece. An excerpt:

Percy was careful to separate Southern stoicism from Christianity. Where the Stoic watched carefully over the rights of the underclass, he did so not out of love for human dignity but to retain heritage and tradition passed down from before. Christianity actually welcomed integration of public schools. “The Christian is optimistic precisely where the Stoic is pessimistic,” Percy wrote. With the forcing of same-sex marriage on the nation, it appears now that even Christian Southerners are forced to push back on federal overreach.

Nonparticipation is one of the few remedies left to take in a country where majoritarian impulses rule. As public life becomes secularized, faith is forced into private life. As much as I admire the social cohesion that defines a country and its people, it’s becoming increasingly clear that in America, anyone with a conservative Christian mind-set is no longer welcome to express their views. The only course of action left to take is a retreat in the form of opting out.

Read the rest here, before the Southern Poverty Law Center demands it be disappeared.

Image source