June 6, 2019
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
D-Day Seventy-Five Years After, and Essays by Jack Kerwick and Paul Gottfried
Prior to beginning this installment, I take a moment to remember what happened on this date, June 6, seventy-five years ago on the beaches of Normandy, France. My father, who passed away in 1999 (a few days shy of his 91st birthday), came to those shores a few months later, after the beaches and hedgerows were cleared. He and my mother returned to France thirty years after the event, and recounted to me the incredible effect that visit had, the emotion it stirred in them.
I visited those sites, as well, a few years later when I was in university in Europe.
Like, I think, most of you, I have seen the classic film The Longest Day—I saw it with my father when it first came out; and like another classic, Battle of Britain, it has helped shape my imagination and my vision of what things may have been like as only Hollywood can.
Viewing the thousands of crosses marking those who will never come back is sobering and stirring: I can understand, at least a little how my father felt. And, even more, I can fathom just a bit how those remaining few, now in their nineties, must feel on returning to those shores. This, in all likelihood, will be their last visit to Omaha or Utah beach.
For their service and their sacrifice, we honor them and their devotion to duty, and we trust that their memory and their accomplishments will resound through the ages.
Some of you may have attended the annual Confederate Flag Day commemoration event earlier this year (March 2) at the North Carolina State Capitol where you would have heard a fine address by Dr. Jack Kerwick. On occasion I have featured in these columns some of Dr. Kerwick’s writings, all of which are engaging and probing.
Once again today, I feature a published essay by him; it’s on the logic of what we might call “monument moving,” but actually deals with the deeper issue of what is currently occurring in both the United States and in Europe: the displacement of one culture and one civilization—traditional Western Christian culture, and its replacement by another, far less humane, far less civilized which would completely pervert and demolish what twenty-plus centuries have taken to construct.
Jack is a philosopher and a logician, subjects he teaches to his college students. And, using the framework of logic he demonstrates the undeniable and inevitable results of the current hysteria to remove, to take down, to demolish the monuments not only commemorating Confederate veterans, but also in any way honoring the founders of this country.
It is all part and parcel of a much broader plan, a program fully announced and publicized by the frenzied social justice warriors online and in the mainstream media, in our entertainment, and by all Democratic politicians. Yet, those who we would think would oppose this lunacy—the “conservative establishment,” the national GOP, most of Fox News—not only sit idly by while the deconstruction happens, in many cases they vacillate or rationalize it (e.g. Ben Shapiro, National Review, Rich Lowry, Victor Davis Hanson, etc.), and finally legitimize the transformation.
As the old saw goes: with “friends” like these, who needs enemies?
In any case, I pass on Jack’s fine piece, AND I follow that with another essay, this one a review by Dr. Paul Gottfried of a new book by Robert Reilly, which explores one more facet of this campaign to normalize (mainly by “conservatives”) what was only five or ten years ago considered taboo, and thus, in a more concrete manner, continue the process of dissolving Western Christian civilization. As he points out, his article won’t get him any points from the establishment Neoconservatives and won’t get him invited to write for National Review or to speak at the Heritage Foundation. But Paul has never let that stop him from writing what he sees and what he sees clearly.
By Jack Kerwick June 3, 2019
While on Hugh Hewitt’s nationally syndicated radio show recently, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg admitted that he favored removing Thomas Jefferson’s name from events. Buttigieg was specifically asked about the removal of the names of Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson from the Democratic Party’s annual dinner events. He responded that it “was the right thing to do,” for both men were purveyors of “racism,” an evil that “isn’t some curiosity out of the past” but which is “alive,” “well,” and “hurting people [.]” Buttigieg said that “one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse harms” produced by racism and slavery.
There are a few critical points that must be made.
First, it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention to American politics and who has the will and ability to do just the slightest bit of critical thinking that mainstream Democrats are now objecting to monuments to such American Founders as Jefferson. The 20 century conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott wrote in his memorable essay, “Rationalism in Politics,” that, our self-delusions aside, political-morality does not consist of the “ ” of eternal, immutable, premeditated “ ” to “problems” presented by ever-changing social circumstances. Rather, it is that always “ ” possibilities for its development.
Consider it like this: The life of a society at any given moment is comprised of practices and modes of thinking—“trends,” we can call them for our purposes—that point more strongly in some directions than in others.
This being the case, we should now be able to discern that once Americans tolerated attacks on such American stalwarts as Robert E. Lee, they implicitly put the anti-American cultural cleansers on notice that they would tolerate as well attacks on America’s Founders.
If such white Southern secessionists as Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Jefferson Davis deserve to be vilified for having promoted “racism,” then that much more deserving of vilification are such white Southern secessionists as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. By any objective measure, these three American presidents—Washington, the Father of our country; Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence; and Madison, the author of the United States Constitution—were significantly more “racist” than Lee, Jackson, and Davis.
Washington owned well over 300 slaves by the time that he died. Jefferson is speculated to have owned over 600 throughout his life, and he didn’t free any of his slaves even in his death. Madison owned over 100 slaves.
The most vocal apologists for the Founders—who are almost always one and the same people as those who either tolerate or contribute to attacks on Confederate heroes—can be counted upon to defend the Founders by noting that they did in fact recognize slavery as an evil. This, supposedly, essentially gets them off of the hook and renders them worthy as objects of reverence.
Yet the heroes of the Confederacy like Lee, Jackson, and Davis also condemned slavery in the harshest of terms. They too blasted it as an evil. However, they are treated with no such leniency.
The point is this: Americans, particularly self-proclaimed “conservatives,” who insist upon acquiescing to attacks on the Southern secessionists of the second half of the 19 century have no one but themselves to blame for the attacks that are now being launched against the Southern secessionists of the last quarter of the 18 century. And because the attacks on the Confederacy never had anything to do with the Confederacy, because they have always been Ground Zero in the left’s larger campaign to “fundamentally transform”—to destroy—America, we should expect that once Confederate monuments were safely disposed of, the cultural cleansers would turn their attention to previously untouchable targets, like America’s Founders.
Second, to know exactly the mindset of the anti-American virtue-signaler we should pose to him the following question:
This question hurls the Buttigiegs of the world onto the horns of a dilemma—and there is no slipping between these horns.
On the one hand, if the virtue-signaler attempts to identify one of these people’s experience as worse than that of the other two, he would run the very real risk of being depicted as racially insensitive or outright “racist” toward the other two.
On the other hand, in saying something to the effect that each of these events is , etc. the Buttigiegs reveal that, from their perspective, the men who settled and founded America are morally no different than Adolf Hitler and his Nazis.
And if the men and women who settled and founded America are no different than Hitler and his Nazis, then neither are like you and I who continue to celebrate the men and women who settled and founded America any different from Nazis.
This, in turn, brings us to the final point.
Third, the American Flag is the moral equivalent (or worse) of the Swastika. As such, it deserves to be treated with the contempt owed to the latter.
And consider: If the Stars and Bars needed to be removed from the public square because the Confederate Flag flew over the institution of slavery for , then the Stars and Stripes, which flew atop slave ships and over a country where slavery persisted for an exponentially longer period of time, should be set aflame. Yet it isn’t just the flag that needs to be retired: The very name of should be as well.
After all, America is named after the Italian explorer—the Italian explorer—Amerigo Vespucci, a contemporary of Christopher Columbus. What’s worse, it was a German Christian cleric—a German Christian cleric—named Waldseemuller who honored Vespucci’s accomplishments by naming the New World after him.
Since, though, America is, as another Democratic presidential candidate put it, a “crime scene” inasmuch as its the place in which Africans were enslaved and those formerly known as American Indians were “exterminated,” it would seem that racial justice requires that the country relinquish its name, which can’t but serve as a perpetual reminder to blacks and reds of the unrelenting oppression to which they’ve been subjected for hundreds of years.
We could continue endlessly in this same vein. The point, ultimately, is that by the logic of the contemporary leftist, like Pete Buttigieg, there can be no principled justification for resisting the foregoing proposals.
It’s time that the self-styled enemies of monuments to the Confederacy be forced to reckon with the inescapable implications of their anti-American ideology.
Jack Kerwick [send him mail] received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture.
Taking on Hard Questions
by (June 2019)
Allow me to make this confession for those who may not understand where I’m coming from. My stomach becomes queasy every time that I’m around danger-averse “cultural conservatives.” I judge conservatives by their willingness to take on hard questions in a way that may cause them to take hits. Further, I suspect that those who confine their “conservative views” to innocuous matters are being deliberately evasive. I am above all annoyed by endless babble about “permanent things” by those who don’t want to stick their necks out on such delicate subjects as transgendered restrooms, gay marriage and immigration. Such authors and commentators are working hard to build conservative reputations on the cheap.
Mind you I am not against conservatives telling us about such arcane matters as references made by a particular thinker to the theology of Flannery O’Connor or about how many times that week someone attended a Latin Mass. For the record, I have written several books on the history of the conservative movement, and I am as willing as the next fellow to learn more about a subject that I have researched for decades. What I’m talking about are vague appeals to the past combined with testimonials to one’s religious orthodoxy as a substitute for telling us where one stands on burning social issues. Sometimes I find even tributes to the past a bit suspect, for example when the writer exaggerates the progressiveness of the views attributed to a safely dead subject.
I am therefore enormously impressed by an author who does exactly what a principled conservative is supposed to do—that is, present a well-argued position on a controversial question. That person in this case is , the author of Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything (Ignatius Press, 2015). A man of variegated talents, who has written inter alia a study of classical music, Reilly has also worked for the Secretary of Defense and once directed the Voice of America. On the gay issue, he pulls no punches in examining the power and PR campaigns launched by the gay lobby. He explains how in a period of about twenty years same-sex marriage went from being a weird, off-putting idea for most Americans to an honored, constitutionally protected institution in the US. We might also note that largely under American cultural influence the change that Reilly documents has occurred in every Western country. This has happened to the extent that countries that do not feature a wide assortment of special programs and legal protections for gays, lesbians and (now) transgendered are depicted as brutal reactionary places. In this process the American media, including soi-disant conservatives, have led the way.
I wish I could say that I was shocked but I most certainly was not when the New York Post extolled the Muslim mayor of London for working overtime to accommodate the LGBT lobby. This Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, as a model of good judgment for the less enlightened Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota (God save us from both!), who apparently has offended LGBT activists as well as Zionists. Please note that the Post is an integral part of the Murdoch press empire, and its writers and editors hold an honored place at the table of Conservatism, Inc. The impression that a reader might easily take away from this egregious but for the culturally left-leaning Post hardly unusual advocacy piece, by a professed “atheist Muslim,” is that serving the LGBT lobby is essential to American conservatism. It is no longer unusual to hear Martha MacCallum or Bret Baier on Fox-news announce that one of their associates is a proud gay who adores the GOP or a proud gay about to marry another gay. Gayness and transgenderism seem to have joined other good things in the value package of media conservatives.
Reilly exhaustively details the conversionary efforts engaged in by those “rationalizing” and ultimately glorifying homosexual behavior and the efforts made by the educational establishment, the media, Hollywood and bullying pressure groups to normalize what had previously been regarded as aberrant sexual practices. He also doesn’t hold back in listing the pathologies connected to gay activities and the connection of these activities (which the media has deftly hidden) to pedophilia. Gay advocacy groups state openly that “attracting young people” represents the “next stage of the movement,” and Reilly shows why presidential candidate Clinton was inventing her own truth when she denied that “gays recruit others to become gays.”
Finally Reilly shreds the reasoning of Justice Kennedy in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision in 2015, which legalized homosexual marriage for the entire country. Not only, according to Reilly, did the majority read some wild things into the Fourteenth Amendment in order to render their majority decision, they also had to revise drastically the only meaning for the institution of marriage that had existed in the world up until a few years ago. The court would also insist that how it described the union of two gays is the way every citizen in the US would be required to speak of this arrangement in the future, under pain of being punished as a lawbreaker. In a dissent, Justice Alito correctly predicted that the majority decision “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” Just ask the criminalized and financially ruined Christian baker in Colorado about “non-traditional marriage” and about what happened to his business after he refused to make a cake for a gay wedding.
Reilly is also on target when he observes that Kennedy and other justices who found a mandate for gay marriage in the Fourteenth Amendment that nobody before had noticed were treating the Constitution as “psychological therapy.” The Constitution had to yield a justification for gay marriage; otherwise those who sought such a legalized relationship would be “impermissibly disparaged” and made to suffer “pain and humiliation.” By the same reasoning the Constitution should permit someone to marry his grandson or his mother (perhaps both) lest that person be made to feel “impermissibly disparaged.” Why should the Supreme Court, moreover, limit its therapy to gay unions or to the union of just two people? Why shouldn’t it allow more than just two humans to be legally married to each other, if that arrangement causes the recipients of this judicial favor to feel less “demeaned”? At that point we’ll have to arrest Christian bakers as criminals for not plying their trade for group weddings.
Reilly makes an observation in his Afterword that deserves to be quoted in full: “Those who think that the homosexual movement will relax its militancy because it seems to have achieved its principal objective are very much mistaken. The inner dynamic of the ‘rationalization’ process necessitates the most aggressive application of the new civil right of homosexual ’marriage.’ One must keep in mind that the ultimate objective was never same sex marriage but the absolute security of the rationalization for homosexual behave, which can be attained only with the enforcement of its universalization.” Reilly’s statement of what the gay lobby wants, which is universal compliance with its sexual preference and the steady, resounding affirmation of its life choice, is entirely correct, judging by the behavior of its advocates and the manner in which they and the administrative state treat dissenters.
But the reason is not the one that Reilly suggests in his remarks about “moral relativism.” The gay lobby, like the feminists and anti-white Left, are in no way telling us that morals are relative. They are taking a very definite moral position, which they relentlessly pursue. It consists of turning traditional social mores and biblical morality on their head, in the name of accommodating selective victim groups and punishing those who resist “social justice.” Reilly and I might detest this morality, but those who profess it seem very much committed to it and are eager to make “bigots” pay to whatever degree the state will oblige.
We are now facing a situation that the great German social theorist Max Weber characterized as an “epochal struggle over values.” With the breakdown of traditional social and moral authorities, there has arisen a contest over exactly whose values are to be legitimated. In this contest there are certainly powerful actors, but Robert Reilly and I are not among them. Significantly, the gay lobby has some of these key actors on its side, the administration state, the educational establishment, the princes of social media, and the mainstream and neoconservative media. That is why this lobby that represents a counter-morality is rolling over its opposition. Needless to say, those who exercise the levers of power are not winning because of their superior arguments since, as Reilly easily proves, most of what they trade in are fallacies or outright lies. But what seems undeniable is that those in positions of power, for whatever reasons, have no interest in upholding a traditional moral order.