Category Archives: Western Civilization

Wonderland: Missouri and Paris

Heading for moral disaster.
Daniel Henninger. WSJ – 11/19/2015
We are back where we came in. After 9/11, 98 U.S. senators voted to pass the USA Patriot Act. In time, the political and moral solidarity of that moment dissolved. The words “Patriot Act” became anathema on the global left—a moral affront. How long will the solidarity of Paris last?

Before Islamic terrorists murdered 132 people in Paris last Friday, the biggest news story in the U.S. was the bonfire of the academy. Protesters at the University of Missouri forced the resignation of the president of the 35,000-student campus. They said his efforts to reduce racism were “inadequate.” University officials at other campuses expressed solidarity with the Missouri protesters’ goals.

Missouri and Paris have something important in common. Both represent the inability of primary social institutions to defend themselves. American institutions of higher learning are beset by an intellectual anarchy that is eroding their reason for being. In the Middle East, unchecked anarchy has caused millions of refugees to flow into a Europe incapable of handling that crisis and now reeling from its vulnerability to terrorist attacks on normal life.

How has this happened?

Institutions survive for many reasons, but one is that they operate inside a common moral order—a foundation built over a long period of time.

In universities, the basis of that order for centuries has been free inquiry. In the U.S. the country’s founders gave constitutional protection to freedom of speech. They knew that the moral claim for free speech is that it protects the common good.

Since President Tim Wolfe’s resignation at Missouri and since the video of a shouting match between a Yale student and administrator over the university as “a place of comfort,” many articles have described the decline of free speech as a common value on American campuses. One recent student posting said simply, “Hostile speech is not free speech.” That statement describes the revision of a moral title that has been under way in academia a long time.

For years, the liberal academy shunned conservative teachers. Progressive students extended the logic: Failure to shout down certain views, they say, is itself immoral. Now these students organize themselves into mini-mobs—recently at Missouri, Yale and Dartmouth—to silence anyone on campus who they imagine disagrees with them. Once it is established that “hostile speech is not free speech,” they can do anything they want to their targets, because the opposition is . . . no good.

The pace at which university presidents—and boards of trustees, if you can call them that—are acquiescing to this alternative moral order is astonishing. Their broader institutions are left undefended, and their pained restatements of commitment to free-speech are crocodile tears. Freedom of speech is dying on the ivy vines in the U.S.

Some will say that Socialist French President François Hollande’s forceful, eloquent opposition to Islamic terror suggests the European left can still see clearly on the moral imperative of protecting a nation. I doubt it. Their support for him will wane over time, as after 2001.

Through the pitched battles over the Patriot Act, Edward Snowden’s releases of the U.S.’s antiterror surveillance software, and the controversies over interrogations of captured terrorists, the progressive- liberal opposition pressed the idea that these initiatives were not only illegal or unconstitutional but that they were self-evidently immoral.

The war on terror itself became morally distasteful to the global left. On Oct. 29, weeks before the undetected Paris rampage, the European Parliament passed a resolution that all member states should “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden.” On Wednesday, FBI head James Comey said Islamic State’s encryptions were thwarting investigations of terror recruits.

The French may indeed be austere in these matters. Their neighbors are not, and Barack Obama and John Kerry are not. Secretary Kerry expressed Tuesday his ambiguities over the Charlie Hebdo murders. A European version of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which played to cheering progressive audiences in New York, will arrive in time.

President Obama, like a campus protester, has repeatedly expressed in public his moral disdain for the antiterror policies of the previous eight years (even as he quietly continued many of them, notably for surveillance). In fact, Mr. Obama was merely aligning himself with a quarter century of Western progressivism’s moral ambivalence, at best, about national security. The terrorists kill-riding their way across Paris interrupted that long reverie, for now.

Moralistic trumping afflicts both the left and right; witness the right’s embrace of Edward Snowden’s betrayals, led by Sen. Rand Paul. But progressivized liberals run most of America’s universities, and the left presides over national security for the U.S., which means the world.

Imposing an alternative moral order on crucial institutions may be the fruit of political victory, but at some point the imposers should be held to account for the consequences of their morality in a world of practical life.

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That New-Time Religion

A link from my son, who warns that the piece is long, but worth the read. I agree.

“…America’s more recent secular faith is far less coherent, organizationally and intellectually. What abideth is the disdain of the redeemed for the unredeemed, and especially for the unrepentant. The post-Protestants, whom Bottum also calls “the elect,” have rejected “benevolent toleration,” the “broad-shouldered acceptance of the fact that other people hold strong views we think are mistaken.” Instead, they prefer to “sneer at those who hold strongly particular views” rooted in religious faith, and revel in the “superiority of the spiritually enlightened to those still lost in darkness.” …


Exterminating Christians in the Middle East

And where is the USA?????
By Robert R. Reilly
WSJ Aug. 20, 2015 7:19 p.m.

Recently I saw a riveting new play, “My Report to the World: The Story of Jan Karski.” In 1943 Karski, a member of the Polish Catholic underground, was the first eyewitness to the Warsaw ghetto and a Nazi concentration camp to reach the U.S. He sought to convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter that Judaism was being systematically wiped out by the Nazis. Frankfurter told Karski he couldn’t believe it because the horror was unfathomable.

A similar story is playing out again, as Christians are being wiped out in the Middle East. On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis said, “Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus.” He continued: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place.”

Middle Eastern Christians are being exterminated by Islamic State, or ISIS, simply because they are Christians. As Jews were forced to wear the yellow Star of David, Christian homes are marked with the Arabic letter “N” for Nazarene. Iraqi Sister Diana Momeka testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May that “ISIS’s plan is to evacuate the land of Christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed.”

There is another grisly similarity: In the 1940s Jewish refugees were turned away by the U.S. and other countries. Karski recalled in a 1995 interview: “The Jews were abandoned by all governments.”

Today’s persecuted Christians also have nowhere to go. The Rev. Emanuel Youkhana, the head of Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, told the New York Times in July that the West comes up with visas for “a few hundred people. What about a few hundred thousand?”

The Catholic News Agency reported on Aug. 5 that “since October 2014, 906 Muslim refugees from Syria were granted U.S. visas, while only 28 of Syria’s estimated 700,000 displaced Christians were given the same. Even when accounting for population percentages (Christians account for 10% of the religious makeup of Syria), the numbers of visas granted seems widely disproportional.” In response, Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said at a press conference this month that “our people are asking these questions: how come we apply for the American visa and are denied?”

After 1948, when the Jews were purged from the Arab Middle East, they could at least go to Israel. There is no equivalent for Middle Eastern Christians. Furthermore, the world is no longer forced to rely on a single pair of eyes as in Karski’s day. The forced conversions, the beheadings, the slaughter of Copts on a Mediterranean beach—these horrors are all available on YouTube.

Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, the international director of the nonprofit aid group the Barnabas Fund, told the London Telegraph in July that the situation was evolving into a genocide. “So many British Christians have been in contact with us to tell us that they have a spare room or even a second home in which they want to welcome Syrian and Iraqi Christians,” he said. “Yet our government seems determined to turn its back on some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”

Here’s an illustration of what such organizations can accomplish: The Barnabas Fund’s Operation Safe Havens program has pressed governments to issue visas to persecuted Christians, on condition that the organization will foot their expenses. Poland, Karski’s homeland, is granting visas for an initial several hundred families. Barnabas is joining with a Polish nongovernmental organization, known in English as the Esther Foundation, to help the refugees integrate into society.

Refugees are being connected to local Polish church congregations—from Warsaw and Katowice to Gdańsk and Koszalin. The total cost to rescue one individual is a modest $3,000, including airfare and a year’s basic support.

In June some 60 Polish nongovernmental organizations reminded their government of their people’s historic commitment to solidarity. The leaders wrote in an open letter: “If we are to call Poland ‘the cradle of Solidarity,’ if we declare that we hold freedom and human rights dear, we should commit to providing assistance and support to those who cannot return to their home countries.”

So why can’t the U.S. do something similar? Knowing without doubt the evil and death unleashed on Christians, shouldn’t we let in as many refugees as we can? Americans are renowned for personal generosity toward the afflicted. Private charities, churches and individual citizens should challenge the government to provide visas for Christian refugees whose funding and care private Americans would guarantee.

Before his execution by the Nazis in 1945, the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned against the West’s moral failures toward tyranny, and his words still apply: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil,” he said. “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Mr. Reilly is the director of the Westminster Institute in McLean, Va.


Magna Carta

Not a surprise that the New York Times has this as their Quote of the Day. History being re-interpreted to their liking. The West is Bad.
The myth of Magna Carta lies at the whole origin of our perception of who we are as an English-speaking people, freedom-loving people who’ve lived with a degree of liberty and under a rule of law for 800 years. It’s a load of tripe, of course. But it’s a very useful myth.

NICHOLAS VINCENT, a professor at the University of East Anglia and author of a book on the document.