Blog Archive


Monday, February 25, 2008
The eyes of someone you kill are immortal, if they face you at the fatal instant. They have a terrible black color. They shake you more than the streams of blood and the death rattles, even in a great turmoil of dying. The eyes of the killed, for the killer, are his calamity if he looks into them. They are the blame of the person he kills. - Pancrace Hakizamungili
The above words of a Hutu murderer from Rwanda come from the book I just finished last weekend, Jean Hatzfeld's Machete Season: The Killers of Rwanda Speak. It is an amazing book, consisting primarily of in-person interviews (conducted by Hatzfeld) of a group of Hutu men in prison for their crimes during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. During the hundred early summer days that the genocide raged, over half a million Tutsis were slaughtered, mostly with the use of machetes and knives.

In Machete Season (the follow-up book to Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak), Hatzfeld has divided the interviews into different chapter subjects. For example, the quote that begins this post comes from the chapter entitled "The First Time," which is comprised by the killers' recollections of their first murder. Another chapter is "And God in All This?", which contains the killers' response to the question of rationalizing religion (Rwanda, colonized by the French, is primarily a Roman Catholic country, so many of the killers attended mass with their victims) and genocide.

Though not particularly gruesome or bloody in its details, the book does not hide any of the awfulness of the genocide and is not a read for the weak of heart. Neighbor cut neighbor, best friend stabbed best friend, doctor murdered patient, child killed child. What struck me most was the ability of these people to mercilessly butcher former friends, soccer teammates, and choir members with rarely a sign of compunction, and what little regret there was mostly became evident only AFTER the killers were brought to justice.

Another thing that stands out are the motives for the killing. While there were plenty of socio-political "reasons" for genocide in the political and intellectual arena (Hatzfeld makes mention of how the Hutu intelligentsia spurred on the idea of genocide for years prior to 1994, drawing striking parallels with 1930's Germany), the typical poor Hutu farmer who did most of the killing cared little for those motives. Instead, what drove them to wipe out the Tutsis was primarily a sense of entitlement, a deep-rooted spirit of envy, and an attitude of covetousness entrenched in the population. Hutus are mostly crop farmers, while Tutsis are known for their ability to raise cattle. Hutus don't know how to raise cattle, and the Tutsi herds would sometimes trample their crops. Furthermore, even though Tutsis are mostly indistinguishable from their Hutu neighbors in physical appearance, they were generally thought of as the taller, more handsome ethnic group. From what I understand, Tutsis were, at least in the eyes of Hutus, a more prosperous people, so they were quite envious of the Tutsi wealth. So when the killing started, each morning almost every Hutu man would go out into the forests and marshes to hunt and kill Tutsis while their wives and children would loot the abandoned Tutsi homes. When the men came home in the evening, they would all eat freshly slaughtered beef for supper. They all became extravagantly rich and stopped tending to their crops during the hundred days of killing.

The killing was not only left to the men. Women joined in at times, and even children were shown how to kill Tutsis. While some of the wives were disgusted by what was going on, they were by no means a more merciful group. As one killer's wife astutely put it, "there were also men who proved more charitable toward the Tutsis than their wives, even with their machetes in hand. A person's wickendness depends on the heart, not the sex."

There was significant pressure to kill, but usually not via deadly threats. If a Hutu didn't want to get his hands "dirty," he could pay a fine every day so that he didn't have to go out into the marshes. And if he couldn't pay the fine, he probably could hang back from the front lines of genocide and conceal his disinterest and moral qualms. While some Hutus were killed for showing mercy to Tutsis, generally the worst punishment a Hutu could expect for not partaking in the killing was a smaller share of the loot, a stiff fine, and the daily scorn of his Hutu neighbors. However, the interviewed killers said there were very few who attempted to keep their hands (and consciences) clean.

Eventually the reader asks if there were ANY Hutus who stood up for truth and right. Hatzfeld tells us that there were a few, but only a few. "In Search of the Just" is his chapter on just that: the handful of Hutus who stood up against the genocidal evil. Most of them were killed, which leads the reader to believe that it was truly a kill or be killed situation. That is only partially true, and ignores the role of the years building up to that point. Hutus everywhere freely joked on the radio, in pubs, at school, etc. about how they would someday kill all the cockroaches. The time to snuff out that genocidal hatred was NOT in the spring of 1994, but before that whenever an ethnic joke or a Tutsi slur reared its ugly head. The Rwandan genocide gives credence to the belief that ideas do indeed have consequences and words mean something.

Lastly, as a Christian, I was struck by something wholly unintended by the author: God's divine forbearance. It amazes me how God can be so patient with humanity, and I am left in further awe of His ABOUNDING forbearance, mercy, and righteousness.

"What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory..."

Romans 9:22-23
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I found this excellent column on this week regarding the attempts of the Christian Left (Rick Warren, Jim Wallis, Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren) to redefine conservative evangelicalism into a political platform with only two planks: abortion and marriage.
The Religious Left is successfully redefining what it means to be a conservative evangelical by misrepresenting what it means to be a conservative evangelical. In a recent conference call hosted by Faith in Public Life, one of the emerging voices of the Religious Left, Dr. Joel Hunter, said:
There’s also a change in the voices that are defining what is conservative now, and what is evangelical. In the past couple of decades you’ve had some very loud voices on both sides – hard right, hard left – and when those were the only choices, then of course many evangelicals are going to go with the hard right because, well, that’s kind of where we mostly are. Now there are many more voices that are expanding the agenda, and so those people that have always had kind of a holistic approach, rather than just a one or two issue approach, are now feeling permission and given permission to be more nuanced and more sophisticated in their approach, rather than just going in a very bifurcated system. And so, what you’re hearing now is that the old voices that appointed themselves as the definers of what was evangelical or what was conservative are not holding sway with the majority of evangelicals anymore.
By convincing America that conservative evangelicals are concerned only with two issues, stopping abortion and preserving traditional marriage, these new voices of evangelicalism are effectively making the case that conservative evangelicals ignore poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment. The history of evangelicalism tells a different story.

Evangelicals have set the standard throughout history for social action which continues into the present through numerous humanitarian relief organizations.
One of the largest humanitarian relief organizations in the world is the Salvation Army. It defines its commitment to social services as “…an outward visible expression of the Army's strong religious principles.” Those social services include disaster relief, services for the aging, AIDS education, medical facilities, and shelters for battered women. The Salvation Army impacts 30 million people a year in the United States alone. The founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, was a Methodist minister. On its website the Salvation Army defines itself as an “evangelical group.”

To these readily recognizable evangelical organizations add the innumerable evangelical churches across America that in very quiet and unrecognized ways minister to the needs of the poor and suffering every day. In my own community a local evangelical church runs the oldest and largest homeless shelter in our county. Grace Gospel Fellowship in Pontiac, Michigan serves 127,000 meals a year, provides rehabilitation services and housing for drug addicts and single mothers, and creates jobs. It accomplishes its mission without one dime of government funding, and is “dedicated to recovery through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The Religious Left’s appeal for the Religious Right to “broaden its agenda” to include poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment ignores the fact that conservative evangelicals have always had a strong commitment to these issues. So if conservative evangelicals are already leading the efforts to relieve poverty and disease, what’s behind the call to “broaden the agenda”? Another agenda altogether.

What’s really happening here is an attempt by the Left to define evangelicalism down by moving it away from its emphasis on the power of the gospel to change lives. The church’s ability to affect social and cultural change, bringing relief to the poor and suffering, is rooted first and foremost in its commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and what the gospel says about the condition of man in sin which results in the symptoms of poverty and disease.

The Religious Left invalidates the conservative evangelical commitment to humanitarian relief because we are achieving our ends in the name of Jesus Christ through the gospel, without the assistance of government funding. The fundamental tenant of modern liberalism is that a government program funded by redistributed wealth is the preferred method of humanitarian relief rather than what the church is accomplishing by faith through compassionate hearts.

The new voices of the Religious Left – Rick Warren, Joel Hunter, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, et al – are defining down what it means to be an evangelical by making the symptoms of man’s sin (poverty, disease, etc.) a priority rather than addressing the cause of those symptoms (sin) and the cure found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The argument for this reprioritizing is a convincing one, suggesting the new priorities for evangelicals ought to be determined by asking, “How would Jesus respond to (fill in your favorite social cause here)?” The implied answer is that Jesus would be more concerned about the treatment of the poor (especially illegal immigrants) and, at best, neutral on the questions of abortion and homosexual marriage because Jesus never spoke against abortion or homosexual marriage.
The new voices of evangelicalism sound eerily similar to the old voices of the social gospel movement who moved their churches away from the priority of the gospel in the early 20th Century, focusing instead on positive thinking and welfare as a solution to social ills. The result was empty pews and even emptier hearts. I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution, take a bow for the new revolution, then I’ll get down on my knees and pray we don’t get fooled again (with apologies to Pete Townshend).
Friday, February 22, 2008
Wonderful quote by Dostoevsky from The Brothers Karamazov:
I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; and it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.
It's incredible to consider that God has something so amazing planned that all the suffering in this world until then will be justified. For if mankind had not suffered through droughts, diseases, genocides, earthquakes, and all sorts of evil, would heaven be all that glorious?

These photographs were taken during a study in Germany of children watching TV. Their blank looks and emotion-starved faces stem from the fact that they're watching television while being photographed. Interesting...

I don't mention illegal immigration much on here, since I'm not particularly passionate about the subject. However, when four kids on a school were killed this week by a woman in southern Minnesota who is here illegally and can't drive (didn't even know how to shift an automatic) and isn't licensed to do so, it lit a bit of a fire under me. Parents lost their children (including two brothers) because of this unemployed, unlicensed driving, illegal immigrant woman who had no legal right to be in this country in the first place and even had a run-in with authorities previously where they didn't adhere to federal immigration laws and deport her. Liberals whine about how it's immoral to deport people who are here illegally, potentially splitting up families and removing the opportunity at a better life. What is truly immoral is not applying the rule of law to those who flaunt it and kill innocent children in the process. Every week in this country there is a story of someone killed by an illegal immigrant. Furthermore, what does it say to the immigrants who use the LEGAL channels to get to this country? When will our legislators figure it out? People are really tired of waking up each morning and reading about the most recent vehicular homicide at the hands of an illegal immigrant.

McCain, the blood of four children from Cottonwood, Minnesota screams for justice. Say NO to amnesty!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The logical conclusion to global warming hysteria...
When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless your heart

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the
heart of worship
And it's all about You, Jesus...

At my college, each Sunday night during the school year, about 60-100 students would gather at the little ol' on-campus chapel for "Prayer & Praise." The name is pretty self-explanatory; we would sing for about 45 minutes and then pray for another 15 minutes or so before closing with some more singing. Four or five students led the singing with a couple of guitars and the occasional bongo drum, playing a mixture of contemporary praise songs and traditional hymns. Almost without exception, those 60+ minutes of worship were the highlight of my week, and involved a "closeness" to God that I've found difficult to reproduce in another setting since then. Part of that is rightly due to the contemplative atmosphere that P&P offered, one which you could just walk into wearing shorts and sandals and immediately praise God with little contact with other people (while being encouraged and uplifted by our corporate praise) and no pressure to assume any particular "style" of worship (I recall some of us would kneel, lie face down, sit with bowed head, raise hands, you name it). Worship has always been the method by which I've felt closest to God.

And yet, a part of the appeal of (and cause of the replicative difficulty in the years since) those evenings was undoubtedly the "music" portion. That is, why can't I find as much spiritual closeness by, say, chanting out the Psalms as I do when a lyrically modern song plays supported by a full set of instruments? Am I merely getting an emotional high from the music, and not so much of a spiritual high? Do I prefer certain types of worship music merely for the good feelings they give? Do I truly come back to the "heart of worship" every Sunday (or every time I vocally praise God)?

That leads me to this excellent post by Greg Gilbert, who discusses this matter further.

I’ve been amazed since becoming an elder in a local church just how dependent many Christians are on a certain style of music, or certain level of excellence in music. How many times have you heard someone say, for example, “I just can’t worship in that church.”? Or “I just don’t feel like I’m connecting with God there.”

Of course there can be a lot going on there, but I think that many times if you press in on statements like that, what you find behind it all is not very far removed from “I don’t like the music there.” People don’t put it that starkly, mainly because if you do it sounds silly. But I think that’s a lot of what people mean when they say, “I can’t worship there.” The reality is that a single flat-back piano just doesn’t gig their emotions as much as a full electric band does. They don’t get that “transcendent feeling,” so they get discouraged and end up saying they “can’t worship.”

I wonder if the whole “excellence in praise and worship music” phenomenon we’ve seen over the past few years—for all the good it’s done—hasn’t also had some less-than-desirable effects on young Christians. I wonder if it hasn’t created a generation of functional mystics who gauge their relationship with God by emotional experience rather than the objective reality of redemption.

When I was... in college, I went to a few of the Passion conferences when they were held in Texas... And the music was excellent—truly wonderful in every way. We sang loud, hands in the air, eyes closed and full of tears sometimes, and I believe I worshipped God through it all.

But then I went back to New Haven, Connecticut. The praise bands were gone, I didn’t have a group of people who’d gone with me and shared that experience, and the churches had a piano and thirty people singing Isaac Watts hymns. That forced me to learn how to stoke the fires of worship with truths and words, and not just with excellent music. I’ve learned how to be emotionally affected by the excellent words of hymns whether they’re played and sung “excellently” or not.

There’s a whole generation of young people out there now, though, who aren’t emotionally affected by words, whose fires are only stoked when those words are accompanied by great rhythms, skilled instrumentation, and a certain well-recognizable mood that typically accompanies Christian “praise-and-worship.” And the result is that you have young people church-hopping around town, and one of the main criteria of their shopping is “the worship,” by which more often than not they mean “the music.” You have young Christians feeling discouraged because—despite the fact that they sit under faithful preaching of the word Sunday after Sunday—they say they haven’t “felt close to God” in so long. Maybe there’s something important going on there. But there’s also a good chance, I’d argue, that they just haven’t had a good endorphin rush since the last conference they attended.

I am really afraid that we’ve managed to create a generation of anemic Christians who are spiritually dependent on excellent music. Their sense of spiritual well-being is based on feeling “close to God,” their feeling close to God is based on their “ability to worship,” and being able to worship depends on big crowds singing great music.
The bottom line, I suppose, is that it would do every Christian well to do some honest heart-searching about what makes them feel “close to God.” Can you feel close to God just by reading or saying the words, “In Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”? Would you be able to function in a church that’s great in every way except the music? If not, you probably need to give some thought to whether your spiritual life is dependent on something it should not be dependent on.
Here is an interesting assortment of evolution/intelligent design links for anyone interested.
Here is a great explanation on why it MATTERS who the president is on the issue of abortion.
What if I told you the only significant influence the President has on the economy is in selecting the Chairman of the Federal Reserve?

While the role of the president in "managing the economy" is often overstated, most serious voters would rightly dismiss such a narrow claim as absurd. Yet how often do we hear the similarly daft assertion that the only significant role the president plays in advancing the pro-life agenda is nominating Supreme Court justices?

The fact is that the president has a limited but substantial and broad-based role in protecting life and defending the most vulnerable in society. Here are five examples of why it matters that the president is pro-life:

1. Preserving the Pro-Life Riders -- Each year pro-life provisions or "riders" are attached to the annual appropriations bills which prevent public funds from supporting abortions, abortion providers, or abortion promoters. The pro-life riders are attached to funding legislation and typically come up in the appropriations process or Department of Defense reauthorizations
Examples of pro-life riders include:

- The Dickey-Wicker provision which prohibits federal funding for research that harms or destroys human embryos.

- The Kemp-Kasten Amendment which prevents funding from going to those who support or participate in a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

- The Hyde-Weldon provision which offers conscience protections for health care entities that refuse to provide or encourage abortions. It requires federal funds to be withheld from any state that discriminates against a hospital, insurance provider, or individual doctors and nurses for refusing to participate in abortion.

- The Mexico City Policy, first enacted by Ronald Reagan and later reinstituted by George W. Bush, which prohibits USAID (foreign aid) money from going to any organizations that promote or perform abortions.

- Other provisions that are more specific include bans on funding for: abortions for federal prisoners, abortion in the District of Columbia, abortions through the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, abortions through Peace Corp, and abortion through the international HIV/AIDS bill.

2. Filing of amicus briefs in cases before the judiciary -- Where a case may have broader implications, amicus curiae briefs are a way to introduce those concerns, so that the possibly broad legal effects of court decisions will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case. Both John Roberts, as a Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney General, and Samuel Alito, as Assistant to the Solicitor General, submitted briefs defending the pro-life cause. Reagan's Solicitor General Charles Fried also called for Roe to be reversed in a brief. While the briefs themselves rarely decide the outcome of a particular case, they are useful in limiting the scope of a particular legal change or interpretation.

3. Issuance of executive orders -- Executive orders help direct the operation of officers within the executive branch. They also have the force of law when made in pursuance of certain Acts of Congress, when those acts give the President discretionary powers. For example, on the 4th day of the Clinton presidency, Jan. 23, the 20th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Bill Clinton signed, in a televised Oval Office ceremony, a series of executive orders undoing the pro-life policies of the Reagan-Bush era. The orders repealed the Mexico City policy, repealed prohibition on federally-funded clinics referring for abortion, lifted the ban on military abortions, and lifted the ban on fetal tissue research.

4. Selection of political appointments -- The President fills many political appointments that have a direct and significant impact on the pro-life cause. Examples include Health and Human Services (responsible for enforcing the Hyde Amendment, etc.), the FDA (e.g., approval and regulation of abortifacients), and the State Department (which sends multiple delegates to UN conferences like CEDAW and Population and Development, where the international battle for human dignity is waged).

5. Using the "bully pulpit" -- The term "bully pulpit" comes from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a wonderful platform (Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb) from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. As Reagan showed, there is simply no better single platform for advocating the pro-life cause than from within the Oval Office.

Christians have an obligation to the most vulnerable members of our society to elect politicians who have both a robust view of human dignity and the temerity to govern accordingly. We betray this duty when we downplay the role the executive branch in advancing the pro-life cause. Judges and legislators matter; but presidents matter too.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Mark Steyn explains why one should be alarmed over the spread of Sharia law and why fools like the Archbishop of Canterbury need to open their eyes.
"Maclean's published an alarmist screed by Mr. Steyn . . ." (The Economist)

"While the book may be alarmist . . ." (CFRB)

"Steyn's argument is indeed alarmist . . ." (The Guardian)
Okay, enough already. I get the picture: alarmist, alarmist, alarmist. My book's thesis — that most of the Western world is on course to become at least semi-Islamic in its political and cultural disposition within a very short time — is "alarmist."

The question then arises: fair enough, guys, what would it take to alarm you? The other day, in a characteristically clotted speech followed by a rather more careless BBC interview, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that it was dangerous to have one law for everyone and that the introduction of sharia — Islamic law — to the United Kingdom was "inevitable." No alarm bells going off yet? Can't say I blame you. After all, de facto creeping sharia is well established in the Western world. Last week, the British and Ontario governments confirmed within days of each other that thousands of polygamous men in their jurisdictions receive welfare payments for each of their wives. Still no alarm bells? I see female Muslim medical students in British hospitals are refusing to comply with hygiene procedures on the grounds that scrubbing requires them to bare their arms, which is un-Islamic. Would it be alarmist to bring that up — say, the day before your operation?

Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in Toronto? Yawn. Nothing to see here. True, if you'd suggested such things on Sept. 10, 2001, most Britons and Canadians would have said you were nuts. But a few years on and it doesn't seem such a big deal, and nor will the next concession, and the one after that. It's hard to deliver a wake-up call for a civilization so determined to smother the alarm clock in the soft fluffy pillow of multiculturalism and sleep in for another 10 years. The folks who call my book "alarmist" accept that the Western world is growing more Muslim (Canada's Muslim population has doubled in the last 10 years), but they deny that this population trend has any significant societal consequences. Sharia mortgages? Sure. Polygamy? Whatever. Honour killings? Well, okay, but only a few. The assumption that you can hop on the Sharia Express and just ride a couple of stops is one almighty leap of faith. More to the point, who are you relying on to "hold the line"? Influential figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury? The bureaucrats at Ontario Social Services? The Western world is not run by fellows noted for their line-holding: look at what they're conceding now and then try to figure out what they'll be conceding in five years' time.
Our heroes pursue phantoms as the world transforms. Is sharia, polygamy, routine first-cousin marriage in the interests of Canada or Britain or Europe? Oh, dear, even to raise the subject is to tiptoe into all kinds of uncomfortable terrain for the multicultural mindset... Nobody wants to be unpleasant, or judgmental, do they? What was it they said in the Cold War? Better dead than red. We're not like that anymore. Better screwed than rude.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Here is a good critique of Jim Wallis' recent interview with the Boston Globe.
No matter how you slice it, Wallis is dodging the fundamental moral issue at the bottom of the abortion debate—that a person can kill an innocent human being with the protection of the law at any point during gestation. Wallis’s rhetoric indicates that he thinks he has staked out some “middle place” between the Democrats and the Republicans. In reality, he hasn’t. His position in this interview is no different from the hackneyed line made famous by former President Clinton—that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”

Calling on the Democrats to press for a “reduction” in abortions is just plain silly in light of what’s at stake. If abortion really is the taking of innocent human life, does it make any moral sense simply to call for a “reduction” in abortions while keeping it protected in law? It makes about as much sense as calling for a reduction in pedophilia while keeping pedophilia protected in law. The point is that if abortion is an affront to human dignity, then the laws (or Supreme Court decisions) that protect it are immoral and should be overturned. The only moral position is the one that seeks to protect the unborn in law, but apparently Wallis thinks this to be an “extreme” position.

What is perhaps even more astonishing is the fact that Wallis speaks of what “most Americans” want as if it provided some kind of norm. It may be true that most Americans don’t want to outlaw abortion, but it also may be true that most Americans are wrong. It is precisely for this reason that most Americans need to hear a clear word about the moral status of abortion. In other words, they need a prophetic word from Christians about what God thinks about abortion. Does Wallis seriously believe that God occupies the “middle place” on this question?

One thing is certain. God is not indifferent about the slaughter of the innocents. If that is not clear to people now, it will be on the Great Day. Shouldn’t faithful evangelicals be about making this truth plain in advance of that day? If Wallis wants to have a “prophetic voice,” he’ll have to do much better than this. This kind of talk is shamefully anything but prophetic.
Monday, February 18, 2008
I'm sure I am not the only one who notices that almost every survey, registration form, or government application now asks for one's ethnicity. A few weeks ago, Theodore Dalrymple discussed this issue and the related topic of taking quick offense to racist jokes or insults in society.
It is strange, is it not, how the more strenuously we deny the importance of race in human affairs, the more obsessed with it and the touchier on the subject we grow. Casual insults are turned into major incidents; people are, or claim to be, traumatised by less and less. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that they almost enjoy victimisation.

Far be it from me to sit in judgement on the question of whether or not the Indian cricketer really did recently call the only non-white member of the Australian team a monkey: an incident, or alleged incident, that almost brought a great sporting contest to a premature end.
The question of whether the Australians are themselves completely without racial prejudice, that is to say have been completely cleansed in mind and spirit by a few years of political correctness, is strictly irrelevant.

What struck me most forcibly about the affair was the way grown men, sportsmen at that, ran immediately to the authorities, as a child runs to his mother when his brother has pinched him or appropriated his toy. Good god, I thought, I've been called a lot worse things in my career, and (what is most galling) sometimes with justification. But a fragile ego maketh a glad authority.

Not long ago I received a letter from the General Medical Council asking me to tell them my ethnicity. The letter said that the GMC had this information on 30 per cent of doctors, but not on me. It was trying to increase the percentage.

My first inclination on receiving this outrageous and disgraceful enquiry (which would not be the less outrageous and disgraceful because of the good intentions of those who sent it) was to write a letter of protest. However, by now I could fill a pretty large volume with letters of complaint that I had never written, and of course my fury lapsed.

If I had written that letter, however, I would have pointed out that one of the reasons so high a proportion of Dutch Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust was because the Dutch kept such good records of people's religions. And one of the reasons the genocide in Rwanda was carried out so efficiently was that every citizen was forced to carry an identity card stating his ethnic group.

Of course, I do not wish to imply that the GMC has anything like this in mind.
But since prudence and an awareness of the worst that can happen seems to be the beginning of political wisdom, it seems to me that, at the very least, the collection of ethnic data should serve an extremely important end that might possibly offset the perils. What could these extremely important ends be?

The supposed purpose of ethnic monitoring is to bring about perfect racial equity in the division of society's spoils (if I may put it like that). This is to assume, of course, that the only possible explanation of differences in outcome between racial or any other groups is the operation of prejudice against some and in favour of others: in other words, that all tastes, ambitions, abilities and so forth are equally distributed among different groups. This is wildly improbable, indeed so wildly improbably that I doubt whether any of the organisations that have asked me for my ethnicity believe it themselves. The worthwhile end of ethnic monitoring must therefore be sought elsewhere.
I think one is forced to conclude that the most important end that weighs against the dangers of ethnic monitoring is the employment of people who do the ethnic monitoring. That is to say, ethnic monitoring is Keynesian demand management.

It is here that one sees the advantage to the government of inflamed sensitivities such as that displayed by the Australian cricketer. It needs the intervention of officialdom to calm them. The more such inflamed sensitivity there is in society, the greater the locus standi of those who seek, at least ostensibly, to assuage it.

The more complaints there are from the people whom administrators administer, the more there is for them to do and the greater their power over those people. That is why, in many public services, the definition of a racial incident is an incident that one party perceives (however unreasonably) to be racial, and bullying occurs whenever anyone feels bullied. It can be a full-time job sorting out these complaints.

I hasten to add, lest I be taken as being in favour of racial and other forms of abuse, that I prefer politeness to rudeness and good sportsmanship to bad. Politeness is a virtue that I myself practice with intermittent success; but the attempt to produce a virtuous population by administrative means appears to me to be destined to fail. And if we go running to the authorities every time someone calls us a name, it will in the end be our own freedom that we undermine. It is our social duty, within reason, to grin and bear insult.
I just happened across this incredible video snippet from (I think) a recent episode of ER. I'm amazed that something this brutally honest would be shown on network television.
Friday, February 15, 2008
The complaint about (and appeal of, I dare say) Barack Hussein Obama is that he only speaks in vacuous platitudes and rarely gives specifics on any of his policies. Well, here is a bill that he sponsored, which is currently getting fast tracked through the Senate.
A nice-sounding bill called the "Global Poverty Act," sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama, is up for a Senate vote on Thursday and could result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States. The bill, which has the support of many liberal religious groups, makes levels of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations.

Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has not endorsed either Senator Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. But on Thursday, February 14, he is trying to rush Obama’s “Global Poverty Act” (S.2433) through his committee. The legislation would commit the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid, which amounts to a phenomenal 13-year total of $845 billion over and above what the U.S. already spends.
In addition to seeking to eradicate poverty, that declaration commits nations to banning “small arms and light weapons” and ratifying a series of treaties, including the International Criminal Court Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol (global warming treaty), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
I just read a column yesterday in the City Journal about the Millenium Project, which is the idea behind this Senate bill. The piece describes in detail how bad the "paternalistic" ideology is for the world.
Paternalism was supposed to be finished. The belief that grown men and women are childlike creatures who can thrive in the world only if they submit to the guardianship of benevolent mandarins underlay more than a century’s worth of welfare-state social policy, beginning with Otto von Bismarck’s first Wohlfahrtsstaat experiments in nineteenth-century Germany. But paternalism’s centrally directed systems of subsidies failed to raise up submerged classes, and by the end of the twentieth century even many liberals, surveying the cultural wreckage left behind by the Great Society, had abandoned their faith in the welfare state.

Yet in one area, foreign aid, the paternalist spirit is far from dead. A new generation of economists and activists is calling for a “big push” in Africa to expand programs that in practice institutionalize poverty rather than end it. The Africrats’ enthusiasm for the failed policies of the past threatens to turn a struggling continent into a permanent ghetto—and to block the progress of ideas that really can liberate Africa’s oppressed populations.
Paternalism persists as a psychology precisely because it satisfies the cravings of vanity in a way that real reform doesn’t. (Where people have learned to save themselves, they do not need saviors.) So potent are paternalism’s pleasures that it has beguiled even those who theoretically oppose it.
Paternalism’s most astute defenders have always worked to disguise its coercive qualities by framing their efforts as an attempt to save the little people—as yet unspoiled by the cruel ethos of capitalism—from the evils of freedom. Some paternalists, like the socialists of the 1920s and 1930s, romanticized alienated proletarians and made a fetish of their innocence; others, like the “radical chic” philanthropists whom Tom Wolfe satirized in the 1960s, found their noble savages in the urban ghetto. Like their predecessors, the Africrats, too, romanticize their exotic pets. In doing so, they have worked out a new bucolic aesthetic to justify their disillusionment with capitalism, even as they promote policies that promise to keep their wards in a Rousseauian state of primitive innocence.

If the prosperous nations really want to help Africa, they need to resist the seductions of paternalism. They need to promote, not policies that will ensure that the continent remains a collection of fiefdoms dependent on subsidies and celebrity pity, but wealth-generating entrepreneurial efforts. They need to export, not a dated philosophy of mandarinism, but ideas that really can lift peoples and nations out of the lower depths—the ideas of Bacon, Hayek, de Soto, and The Wealth of Nations.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Regarding the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments, a blogger has written a witty little poem in the vein of Chaucer. Enjoy.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Last week, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, gave a lecture in which he stated his belief that it seems likely that English law will have to incorporate some parts of Islamic sharia law in the near future. The maelstrom that has followed those comments has been quite fierce, with many people demanding the Archbishop's resignation. Christopher Hitchens replied sharply yesterday:
Picture the life of a young Urdu-speaking woman brought to Yorkshire from Pakistan to marry a man... whom she has never met. He takes her dowry, beats her, and abuses the children he forces her to bear. She is not allowed to leave the house unless in the company of a male relative and unless she is submissively covered from head to toe. Suppose that she is able to contact one of the few support groups that now exist for the many women in Britain who share her plight. What she ought to be able to say is, "I need the police, and I need the law to be enforced." But what she will often be told is, "Your problem is better handled within the community." And those words, almost a death sentence, have now been endorsed and underwritten—and even advocated—by the country's official spiritual authority.
And just look at how casually this sheep-faced English cleric throws away the work of centuries of civilization:
[A]n approach to law which simply said "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts"—I think that's a bit of a danger.
In the midst of this dismal verbiage and euphemism, the plain statement—"There's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said"—still stands out like a diamond in a dunghill. It stands out precisely because it is said simply, and because its essential grandeur is intelligible to everybody. Its principles ought to be just as intelligible and accessible to those who don't yet speak English, in just the same way as the great Lord Mansfield once ruled that, wherever someone might have been born, and whatever he had been through, he could not be subject to slavery once he had set foot on English soil. Simple enough? For the women who are the principal prey of the sharia system, it is often only when they are shipped or flown to Britain that their true miseries begin. This modern disgrace is deepened and extended by a fatuous cleric who, presiding over an increasingly emaciated and schismatic and irrelevant church, nonetheless maintains that any faith is better than none at all.
I should point out that the Urdu-speaking woman example above is not some rare occurence or abstract idea; rather, as this report on Sunday revealed, tens of thousands of women in Britain are abused each year in "honor"-related violence. Even in this country, honor killings are becoming more common. Theodore Dalrymple also chimed in yesterday on the Archbishop's idea.
British intellectual life has long harbored a strain of militantly self-satisfied foolishness, and the present archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is a perfect exemplar of the tendency.
Rarely does philosophical inanity dovetail so neatly into total ignorance of concrete social realities: it is as though the archbishop were the product of the coupling of Goldilocks and Neville Chamberlain. Those more charitably inclined point out that the archbishop is an erudite man, a professor of theology who reads in eight languages and who was addressing a highly sophisticated audience, employing nuanced, subtle, caveat-laden arguments. He was not speaking in newspaper headlines, nor did he expect to make any headlines with his remarks.

Charity is a virtue, of course, but so is clarity: and it is the latter virtue that the archbishop so signally lacks. He assumes that the benevolence of his manner will disguise the weakness of his thought, and that his opacity will be mistaken for profundity. Here is a telling passage from the lecture:
Perhaps it helps to see the universalist vision of law as guaranteeing equal accountability and access primarily in a negative rather than a positive sense—that is, to see it as a mechanism whereby any human participant in a society is protected against the loss of certain elementary liberties of self-determination and guaranteed the freedom to demand reasons for any actions on the part of others for actions and policies that infringe self-determination.
Reading or hearing this, one wants to pull one’s hair out. Charity surely requires compassion not for Williams, but for the audience obliged to listen to him. The archbishop goes on for pages and pages in this vein:
Earlier on, I proposed that the criterion for recognising and collaborating with communal religious discipline should be connected with whether a communal jurisdiction actively interfered with liberties guaranteed by the wider society in such a way as definitively to block access to the exercise of those liberties; clearly the refusal of a religious believer to act upon the legal recognition of a right is not, given the plural character of society, a denial to anyone inside or outside the community of access to that right.
There is only one word for a society in which such discourse can pass for intellectual subtlety and sophistication, and lead to career advancement: decadent.
So it appears that the likely Democratic nominee esteems Che Guevara. Isn't that nice, our (possibly) next president thinks highly of a murderous tyrant.

Thursday, February 07, 2008
Tonight I wrote the following email to a friend of mine who generally supports Democrats. The email I've posted below is in response to her reply to my original question asking how she reconciles the Democratic Party's pro-abortion platform with her Christian faith. I asked this in as gracious of a tone as I could, and she gave an honest reply. In a nutshell, she said that while she thinks abortion is not necessarily right, she didn't feel it was the government's business to limit personal freedom, since it could lead to the loss of other freedoms, some of which we Christians hold dear. I've X'ed out her name, but would like any feedback you have as to other things I could say to her (or other Christian Democrats) to help convince her of the evil of abortion. And if I haven't been gracious somewhere in this response, please point it out.
Thanks for the candid response, XXX. I understand what you're saying, but would like to play the devil's advocate, if I may. :)
I agree that government should limit itself with regard to infringement on personal freedom. I just don't think murder is a "freedom." But if we assume for the sake of the argument that abortion is a human right, what makes it a right and where should government draw the line, if it should at all? For example, why is it legally okay to kill a child/baby/fetus in the womb yet not okay to kill it right after it is born? After all, the only difference between the two is location. Why can't mothers be allowed to kill their children if they become a hardship later in life or the mother changes her mind about wanting them? Why isn't that a "personal freedom?"

Now, obviously, we have to draw the line somewhere. So let's start with viability/survivability of the baby. A baby as early as 23 weeks (less than 6 months along) has survived premature birth. And as science and technology improve, smaller and smaller babies will be able to survive premature births. So making viability the "line" seems pretty arbitrary and subject to the whims and advances of science. So perhaps the ability to feel pain should be the line. However, we don't really know when that particular sense shows up in a fetus. Testing has shown that it is likely that babies can feel pain very early on in a pregnancy. So that's also probably not a good determining factor for when abortion is right.

So it would seem that we need a "line" that is not going to change as science improves and informs us that we were wrong before. That line is conception. If that isn't the line, then post-birth infanticide should be legal as well.

Now you mentioned that you think that abortion (even in the case of rape) is wrong (or at least you are not sure that it is right). I agree. But, as I understand you, you don't believe the government should be in the business of limiting freedoms because it's a slippery slope that could lead to other freedoms being lost. Besides my opinion that this isn't a slippery slope, I guess I am wondering which freedoms are so important to us that 49 million babies had to die to keep them. I could definitely put up with some persecution if that meant that over a million babies each year were allowed to live.

Furthermore, government limits freedoms all the time, and they aren't all slippery slopes to religious persecution. Government limits our freedom to shoplift. It limits our freedom to drive wherever we want to. It also limits our freedom to kill whomever we want. Yet I think you and I both agree that those are good limitations on our freedom. If those limits didn't exist, we would have chaos. So why can't it limit our freedom to kill the most precious and innocent members of our society? Because they can't speak up for themselves?

You are right when you perceive a slippery slope with this issue, but it's slanted in the other direction. The ability to kill those who can't defend themselves has led to cases like Terri Schaivo, where a husband (and a complicit government) was able to kill a woman based solely on his word, nothing even in writing from Terri saying that it was her will to die. We can't even open up a bank account without a signature, but we can kill an unwanted woman with hearsay???? Wait, I take that back, she WAS wanted. Her parents offered to take care of her and the expenses. That is the slippery slope that Roe v Wade has wrought.

Ok, sorry about the length, but as you can probably tell, I'm pretty passionate about this issue. I'm not judging you in the least, but merely hoping I can help change your mind. We can use all the help we can get in the battle for the lives of the unborn!
Without further delay, here is Romney's concession speech at CPAC today. We will see you at the next election, Mitt.

(HT: Joe K.)

To all of you, thank you for caring enough about the future of America to show up, stand up and speak up for conservative principles.

As I said to you last year, conservative principles are needed now more than ever. We face a new generation of challenges, challenges which threaten our prosperity, our security and our future. I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st century-still a great nation, but no longer the leader of the world, no longer the superpower. And to me, that is unthinkable. Simon Peres, in a visit to Boston, was asked what he thought about the war in Iraq. "First," he said, "I must put something in context. America is unique in the history of the world. In the history of the world, whenever there has been conflict, the nation that wins takes land from the nation that loses. One nation in history, and this during the last century, laid down hundreds of thousands of lives and took no land. No land from Germany, no land from Japan, no land from Korea. America is unique in the sacrifice it has made for liberty, for itself and for freedom loving people around the world." The best ally peace has ever known, and will ever know, is a strong America!

And that is why we must rise to the occasion, as we have always done before, to confront the challenges ahead. Perhaps the most fundamental of these is the attack on the American culture.

Over the years, my business has taken me to many countries. I have been struck by the enormous differences in the wealth and well-being of people of different nations. I have read a number of scholarly explanations for the disparities. I found the most convincing was that written by David Landes, a professor emeritus from Harvard University. I presume he's a liberal--I guess that's redundant. His work traces the coming and going of great civilizations throughout history. After hundreds of pages of analysis, he concludes with this:
If we learn anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.

What is it about American culture that has led us to become the most powerful nation in the history of the world? We believe in hard work and education. We love opportunity: almost all of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants who came here for opportunity-opportunity is in our DNA. Americans love God, and those who don't have faith, typically believe in something greater than themselves-a "Purpose Driven Life." And we sacrifice everything we have, even our lives, for our families, our freedoms and our country. The values and beliefs of the free American people are the source of our nation's strength and they always will be!

The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960's welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven't given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and to remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug-we have got to fight it like the poison it is!

The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography-even celebration of it-and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today's grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out-of-wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children, and 25% of White children. How much harder it is for these children to succeed in school-and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.

The development of a child is enhanced by having a mother and father. Such a family is the ideal for the future of the child and for the strength of a nation. I wonder how it is that unelected judges, like some in my state of Massachusetts, are so unaware of this reality, so oblivious to the millennia of recorded history. It is time for the people of America to fortify marriage through constitutional amendment, so that liberal judges cannot continue to attack it!

Europe is facing a demographic disaster. That is the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life and eroded morality. Some reason that culture is merely an accessory to America's vitality; we know that it is the source of our strength. And we are not dissuaded by the snickers and knowing glances when we stand up for family values, and morality, and culture. We will always be honored to stand on principle and to stand for principle.
Even though we face an uphill fight, I know that many in this room are fully behind my campaign." You are with me all the way to the convention. Fight on, just like Ronald Reagan did in 1976. But there is an important difference from 1976: today... we are a nation at war.

And Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child's play. About this, I have no doubt.
If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters... many of you right here in this room... have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.

I will continue to stand for conservative principles; I will fight alongside you for all the things we believe in. And one of those things is that we cannot allow the next President of the United States to retreat in the face evil extremism!!

It is the common task of each generation-and the burden of liberty-to preserve this country, expand its freedoms and renew its spirit so that its noble past is prologue to its glorious future.

To this task... accepting this burden... we are all dedicated, and I firmly believe, by the providence of the Almighty, that we will succeed beyond our fondest hope. America must remain, as it has always been, the hope of the earth.

Thank you, and God bless America.
This is what the cultural aspect of the War on Terror is all about... unfortunately, rather than the West slowly overtaking Islamic intolerance, it's the reverse in most European countries, where sharia law is now tolerated as legitimate by many European courts. That is what happens when tolerance and post-modernism rule the day.
Now that Romney has "suspended" his campaign after Tuesday's poor showing (except in Minnesota, where he Romped), and Huckabee's Southern-only popularity, John McCain has become the de facto Republican nominee. One might rightly ask how it came to this point? How did the man who, over the last two decades, single-handedly undercut conservative principle after conservative principle (in doing so, ceded the debate to liberals) come to be the Republican nominee? Unfortunately, I think party pragmatism won out. As Ann Coulter said today in her column, "nominating McCain is the gesture of a desperate party." And "as the expression goes, given a choice between a Democrat and a Democrat, voters will always choose the Democrat." So what are principled pro-life conservatives supposed to do (besides hope that Ronald Reagan rises from the grave and runs as an independent)? Well, I'll tell ya. One, prepare for the political wasteland. Two, either stay home or, as Coulter makes the case, vote for the Democratic candidate.
On the litmus test issues of our time, only partially excluding Iraq, McCain is a liberal.

-- He excoriated Samuel Alito as too "conservative."

-- He promoted amnesty for 20 million illegal immigrants.

-- He abridged citizens' free speech (in favor of the media) with McCain-Feingold.

-- He hysterically opposes waterboarding terrorists and wants to shut down Guantanamo.

Can I take a breath now?

-- He denounced the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

-- He opposes ANWR and supports the global warming cult, even posturing with fellow mountebank Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of solar panels.

The only site that would have been more appropriate for Schwarzenegger in endorsing McCain would have been in front of an abortion clinic.

Although McCain has the minimum pro-life record demanded by the voters of Arizona, in 2006, McCain voted in favor of using taxpayer funds to harvest stem cells from human embryos. He opposes a constitutional amendment to protect human life. And he frets that if Roe v. Wade were overruled, women's lives would be "endangered." This is the same John McCain who chides Mitt Romney today for "flip-flopping" on abortion. At least Romney flips and stays there.
I should point out here that McCain was endorsed yesterday by Republicans for Choice (as it refers to abortion, not paper or plastic OR salad dressings).
Of course the most important issue for pro-lifers is the Supreme Court. As long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, it doesn't matter how many hearts and minds we've changed. So it's not insignificant that McCain has called Justice Samuel Alito too conservative.

We ended up with David Hackett Souter when a Republican president was actually looking for an Alito. Imagine how bad it will be when the "Republican" president isn't even trying.

McCain uses the boilerplate language of all Republicans in saying he will appoint "strict constructionists." This is supposed to end all discussion of the courts. But if he's picking strict constructionists, he will have to appoint judges who will commit to overturning McCain-Feingold.

That could be our litmus test: Will you hold President McCain's signature legislation restricting speech unconstitutional?

In 2004, McCain criticized the federal marriage amendment, saying, it was "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." Really? Preventing the redefinition of a 10,000-year-old institution -- marriage, that is, not John McCain -- is part of the core philosophy of being a Republican? I had no idea.

I'm not a lawyer -- oh wait, yes, I am -- but Republicans were proposing to amend the Constitution, a process the Constitution specifically describes.

It's like saying it's antithetical to the core philosophy of Republicans to require presidents to be at least 35 years old. It's in the Constitution! And Republicans -- other than the ones who voted for McCain-Feingold -- support the Constitution. You might say it's part of our core philosophy.

Of course, back in 2004, McCain was considering running on a presidential ticket with John Kerry. Realizing that this would not help his chances to run as a Republican in 2008, when he would be a mere 120 years old, McCain quickly withdrew his interest in being on Kerry's ticket.

But he defended Kerry from the Bush campaign's suggestion that Kerry was not tip-top on national security, saying on the "Today" show: "No, I do not believe that he is, quote, weak on defense." So that was helpful.

McCain also explained to an admiring press corps why he wouldn't want to be anyone's vice president, not even a national defense champion like Kerry, citing the meager constitutional duties of the vice president as: (1) to assume the presidency if the president is incapacitated and (2) "to break a tie vote in the Senate." (At which point several members of the fawning horde were heard to remark, "What is this 'Constitution' you speak of, Senator?")

But McCain conveniently forgot the second of these constitutional duties just a year later when Vice President Cheney was required "to break a tie vote in the Senate" on a matter of utmost importance to liberals: federal judges.

Just one year after McCain had correctly identified one of two jobs of the vice president, he was indignant that a Republican vice president might actually exercise one of them. Better to let a gaggle of 14 Senate malcontents pick the president's judges for him.

As part of the "Gang of 14," McCain hysterically opposed allowing the vice president to break a tie on judicial nominations. Following the Constitution with regard to the role of the vice president, McCain said, "would be a terrible precedent." Yes, if members of Congress actually read the Constitution, they might realize McCain-Feingold is unconstitutional.

If Hillary is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with Republicans ferociously opposing her, followed by Republicans zooming back into power, as we did in 1980 and 1994, and 2000. (I also predict more Oval Office incidents with female interns.)

If McCain is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with the Republicans in Congress co-opted by "our" president, followed by 30 years of Democratic rule.

There's your choice, America.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
On the City Journal website this week, John Leo gives an update on liberalism and diversity in our society and courts. It's not pretty.
“In order to enhance diversity, it was necessary to suppress it,” Walter Olson writes at, referring to a transgendered Californian who is suing a Catholic hospital for refusing to perform a breast augmentation procedure.
The hospital, Seton Medical Center in Daly City, has not clearly explained its position, but it apparently views breast enlargement in this case as part of a sex-change process that it objects to on moral grounds. In a written statement, a spokeswoman said that the hospital “does not perform surgical procedures contrary to Catholic teaching, for example, abortion, direct euthanasia surgery or any of its related components.” The procedure is elective and surely not an emergency, and there is no shortage of hospitals in the San Francisco area willing to increase the plaintiff’s hormone-assisted breast size. Yet the case is likely to be framed as a bias violation, with little attention paid to the right of voluntary service institutions to operate by their own moral rules.

The 2006 controversy over gay adoptions in Massachusetts is the classic example of how antidiscrimination law is used against religious institutions. In the conventional liberal narrative, the refusal of Boston Catholic Charities to approve gay adoptions was a simple issue of discrimination. Generally absent from the discussion was this question: Under what conditions can the state force churches and religious agencies either to violate their own principles or to quit providing social services altogether?

In effect, Massachusetts used its licensing power to bring the Church to heel—no gay adoptions, no license to conduct any adoptions. Acting on traditional social principles—that one father and one mother are best for children—became bias. Rather than capitulate, Catholic Charities retired from the adoption field after 103 years, leaving other agencies in the state with an enormous new caseload. Catholic Charities had shouldered 31 percent of the state’s special-needs adoptions—children who were abused, neglected, disturbed, or handicapped—almost entirely at its own cost. Very little was at stake for gays wishing to adopt, since all other agencies in the state approved gay adoptions. All gays lost was access to adoption through a Catholic agency.

John Garvey, dean of the Boston College Law School, argues that the most pressing concern should have been religious freedom, not who was right about gay families. “When freedom is at stake, the issue is never whether the claimant is right,” he writes, any more than freedom of the press requires publishers to guarantee that everything they print is true. “Freedom of religion is above all else a protection for ways of life the society views with skepticism or distaste.”

Pressure is increasing on churches and believers to accept dominant secular norms. The pressure includes laws requiring Catholic institutions to provide medical plans offering “morning after” pills to female employees, attempts to force religious hospitals to approve abortions and abortion training, and campus efforts to force Christian evangelical groups to allow sexually active gays into leadership positions.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor of social and political ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, calls this establishment pressure “liberal monism.” She means that those who talk the most about diversity and pluralism are often the most willing to mandate that all private and religious institutions conform to one ideological framework. Liberals, she says, are eradicating the differences needed to make tolerance a viable practice. In order to enhance diversity, it is necessary to suppress it.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Well, a lot has changed since I wrote the first of this three-part series. Huckabee is still in the race, but for what reason, no one knows. Supposedly, he's trying to get a VP nod from McCain, but that's ludicrous, since Minnesota Governor Pawlenty has that spot wrapped up with his non-stop campaigning for McCain. Right now, Huck is merely a spoiler, giving the election to McCain. But then again, who isn't giving the election to McCain? Well, besides Republican voters, that is. The media has all but crowned the 72-year-old J-Mac as the party nominee based on a mere handful of state primaries. Never mind that a bunch of those states had Democrats and Independents voting in the Republican primaries. For example, in Florida, Romney beat McCain among REPUBLICANS. Yet he lost the primary because of the independent votes. Meanwhile, a New York paper tried to claim that Romney has a chance of losing his own state of Massachusetts, altogether ignoring the polls that put him up by 20-30 percentage points over McCain.

How did we get to a point where the likely November matchup is Hillary versus McCain? After all the talk of getting rid of the establishment and going for fresh voices and faces, how is it that we end up with the epitome of the establishment; a first lady - who, if elected, will make the Bush-Clinton reign last for a total of 28 straight years - against a career senator who's been in office since I was three. Plus, as Chuck Norris once said, if the elderly McCain (4 years older than Reagan when Ronny won) wins, it is quite possible that the VP will serve out the end of McCain's term. [I guess the silver lining is the VP will be Pawlenty, and I wouldn't mind a President Pawlenty.]

As Mark Steyn said in his "A McClinton Consensus" column this past Sunday,
President McCain? Or Queen Hillary? Henry Kissinger said about the Iran/Iraq war that it's a shame they both can't lose. Conservatives have a slightly different problem: It's a shame that neither of them will lose — that, regardless of who takes the oath come January '09, the harmonious McCain-Clinton consensus policies on illegal immigration and Big Government solutions to global warming will prevail. Where's Neither-Of-The-Above when you need him?
All this begs the question, who would Darius prefer to see in November? Well, I'm glad you asked. The strikes against McCain are myriad, but in case it isn't obvious why he is such a deplorable candidate, here are a few problems with him. One, McCain-Feingold. Two, McCain-Kennedy. Both are utter pieces of legislative trash; the first a campaign "reform" bill that is so unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has been stripping it piece-by-piece, the latter an immigration bill that, besides having Ted Kennedy's name on it, was so anti-rule of law, it was laughed out of the building by all true conservatives. Furthermore, he graded an F on the Second Amendment, his voting record recently has put him in the "most liberal" category of Republican senators, and on abortion, he said that "in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade." He also said that he thinks Alito is TOO conservative. In other words, he values being a moderate and being liked more than being right. Plus, he lies about Romney all day long and then has the gall to claim that Romney is the dirty campaigner.

Now, on the other side of the aisle, I actually would prefer Clinton to win the nomination, since I believe she is relatively easy to defeat in the general election. However, I will not, as Ann Coulter half-seriously suggested she will do, campaign for Hillary if McCain wins today. But why not just leave McCain on the side of the political road right now, Super Tuesday? Why can't conservatives rally behind the man who has been endorsed by the MAJORITY of Christian leaders? Christians such as Rick Santorum (while he was a senator, he led the fight for social conservatism, and his "yes" was always yes), Dr. James Dobson, Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter, Wayne Grudem, Thomas Sowell, and Bob Jones (who would have ever thought that possible?) have all endorsed Willard "Mitt" Romney as their candidate.

Now for those who aren't convinced Romney's conversion to conservatism isn't legit... neither am I. However, as Coulter pointed out recently,
Romney's first race was against Sen. Teddy Kennedy -- whom he came closer to beating than any Republican ever had. If Romney needed to quote "The Communist Manifesto" to take out that corpulent drunk, all men of good will would owe him a debt of gratitude.
In a way, she's right, winning on conservative values is IMPOSSIBLE in Massachusetts. So Romney did what he had to do to get into power, then turned on the liberals.
After his term as governor, NARAL Pro-Choice America assailed Romney, saying: "(A)s governor he initially expressed pro-choice beliefs but had a generally anti-choice record. His position on choice has changed. His position is now anti-choice."
Plus, as a political analyst said the other day, Romney has painted himself into such a political corner that he could not switch back to moderate liberalism without completely ruining his political career. As I heard Santorum say on the radio last week, Romney had an authentic conversion on the issue of life. Most of his other supposedly "liberal" positions were much more moderate than Massachusetts was accustomed to in the past. I don't think it is fair to punish a political candidate for "seeing the light" when we wouldn't do that in our own private lives. We would welcome them with open arms. Why are Christians not so gracious with political "conversions?"

And when you hear Romney speak, he says mostly the right things, something you can't fake as long as he's been in the race. Eventually, a man's true convictions come to the top. Yet, Mitt's been spot on (except for a couple issues regarding government's role in health care and people's lives). His speech on the role of religion in public life was very powerful and, as Dr. Dobson referred to it, "magnificent." He is a man who lives his religious convictions, having been married to the same woman, his high school sweetheart, for 38 years, joining her in wedlock shortly after returning from a 2 1/2 year mission trip to France.

So, tonight, as the Minnesota Caucus gathers, I plan to vote for Mitt Romney. Those Huckabee supporters out there... consider carefully that your vote is in essence a vote for McCain.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Liberal theology, without the gospel, proves to be the smell of death rather than of life. - J.I. Packer

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »