Playing the Indian Card

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Our Lady of Lebanon Beheaded

Macdonald Down

Yesterday a mob pulled down the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Montreal.

I am pleased to see that most online reactions condemn this. We are perhaps not fully mad yet. Premier Legault immediately said the statue must go back up. Jason Kenney said if Montreal does not want it, Edmonton does, for the provincial legislature. Erin O’Toole showed his bona fides by condemning it, praising Macdonald, and saying politicians need some spine.

Someone, however, posted a link to this justification for the action. It is interesting to see how mad at least some Canadians have become.

Let’s look at some of the points:

“The myth of Macdonald as the pillar of Canadian nationhood and a paragon of integrity seems rock-solid.”

It has never been common to see Macdonald as a paragon of integrity. More common are tales of his drinking, and of his wheeling and dealing.

Nevertheless, his accomplishment of uniting Canada, extending it across half a continent, from sea to sea to sea, then binding it with a railroad over muskeg and mountains, is worthy of commemoration. To topple Macdonald’s statue is an attack by proxy on the very idea of Canada itself.

“The Empire’s vast colonial projects were aimed at assimilating subject Indigenous populations (generally non-white) and, of course, exploiting their natural resources. This was argued to be something beneficial to the ‘civilizing’ of such ‘inferior’ peoples; in short, the racist notion of the ‘White Man’s Burden.’

This institutionalized racism underlay the all-White immigration policy of South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand which spanned the last six or seven decades of the nineteenth century extending well into the twentieth century.”

The author contradicts himself. If the British Empire was about assimilating indigenous populations, how is this accomplished by an all-white immigration policy?

In fact, the British Empire was strikingly disinclined to assimilate indigenous populations. Compare India to Goa, Macao to Hong Kong, the US to Mexico. Other nations assimilated. The British simply ruled. Assimilating the small indigenous population of Canada could only have been a minor consideration in any case. Most federal policies seemed to prevent such assimilation: hiving them off on reserves. Of course, “exploiting” Canada’s natural resources, or those of other parts of the British Empire, was part of the plan: people are inclined to make a living. Refuse to exploit your natural resources, and you will probably freeze to death before you die of thirst.

European empires generally were intended to civilize the people subjugated—in other words, to improve their lives, by introducing the benefits of European technology. This does not look venal, and it does not obviously look misguided. At least, a contrary case must be made. Would the Canadian Indians be better off without wheels, or houses, or electricity?

Canada did not have an “all-white immigration policy” during the last six or seven decades of the nineteenth century. Canada actually had an open door policy until 1885. In that year, restrictions were placed on Chinese immigration. The 1910 Immigration Act later allowed the government to restrict immigration of groups that might find the climate unsuitable. In terms of racial discrimination in immigration, that’s about it.

The climate concern may look racist to us today, but it does have a scientific basis. We are genetically adapted to our environment. People coming from generations living in tropical countries face some health issues in Canada. The recent COVID crisis revealed one: blacks and Hispanics are far more likely to die from it in the US, because with their darker skin they are almost always deficient in vitamin D. And, as I can personally vouch, and as the Brits all used to know well in the days of Empire, pale-skinned Europeans face health issues in the tropics. This may seem relatively trivial now, but people were more sensitive to this when medical science was not so advanced.

As to the restrictions on Chinese immigration, this was at the insistence of B.C. workers and trade unions, who felt they could not compete with them as cheap labour. Perhaps ungenerous, perhaps not, when you are poor and barely getting by; but not racist.

“Although the subject of limiting Chinese immigration to Canada has been covered, few Canadians know of the $500 ‘Head-Tax’ levied on would-be Chinese immigrants via the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885.”

The head tax imposed in 1885 was $50. It was raised to $500 some years later.

“Macdonald had made it clear that Chinese immigration was necessary for the building of the national railway. However, he considered the Chinese a ‘foreign race’ that ‘could not be expected to assimilate with our Aryan population.’

Hitler, no less an admirer of Aryan purity than Macdonald, would make a similar statement regarding Jews some four decades later.”

Macdonald used the term Aryan. Hitler used the term Aryan. Therefore, Macdonald was a Nazi.

When Macdonald used it, “Aryan” was a neutral scientific term. It is still used in linguistics.

Macdonald was being sensible; Chinese culture is different from European culture. Chinese do not assimilate well abroad. They tend to form “Chinatowns” and keep to themselves for generations.

“In 1923, Canada put in place laws meant to limit immigration from eastern Europe.”

The only immigration legislation passed in 1923 was a new Chinese Immigration Act. Canada was actively promoting immigration to the Prairies from Eastern Europe at this time.

Although there were no restrictions on others, Canadian governments always actively promoted immigration from the United Kingdom. This stands to reason: just as current Canadian governments tend to be more concerned with the welfare of Canadians than of foreigners. Canada was part of the British Empire.

“The flagship of Canadian institutionalized racism was, and remains, The Indian Act (1876) adopted in 1876 and amended several times since.”

Agreed. But the Canadian government is not responsible. The essential features of the Act were forced on Canada by the requirements of the Indian Treaties. Canada tried to abolish the Act in 1969. Our treaty partners, the Indian bands, refused. It is at their insistence that it remains in force.

“Canada was built on the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Indigenous populations.”

If ethnic cleansing was intended, it was a historic failure. There are far more treaty Indians in Canada today than at Confederation, and they are among the fastest-growing segments of the population.

Nor have they been dispossessed. Eighty-nine percent of Canada is still Crown land, and, by treaty, the aboriginal people still have a right to hunt and scavenge there at will. Should any really want to, they could continue their life just as it was before the first Europeans arrived. The rest of Canadian lands, they have usually ceded for an agreed compensation. Ceded, in effect, to themselves, as Canadian citizens.

“Macdonald started Residential Schools, the odious and dehumanizing institution to which Indigenous children, torn away from their families, were sent to be assimilated and brutalized, to be ‘civilized’ in the White European way.”

The residential schools were demanded by the Indians by treaty, not the federal government. The federal government would no doubt have preferred to spend less money by sending Indians to the regular schools, or by simply leaving them to their families to educate. Moreover, if the intent were to turn Indians into “civilized Europeans,” the way to do this would again have been to send them to the regular schools, to learn the same things European children learned, along with them. The residential schools, misguided as they might have been, were an expensive way to preserve a distinct Indian culture.

“In 1873, Macdonald created the North West Mounted Police, today the RCMP, whose mission was to harass and control Indigenous peoples in the Prairies.”

The impetus behind the founding of the NWMP was the Cypress Hills massacre of 1873, in which twenty Assiniboine Indians were murdered by American traders and bison hunters. In other words, the primary mission of the NWMP, certainly in the popular mind, was to protect Indians. Secondarily, it was to establish Canadian sovereignty and forestall American incursion.

“Macdonald subsequently undertook a policy of starving the Métis and First Nations out of the Prairies. This was done to build a railway through their dispossessed lands – by killing off their principal source of food, the bison, much as the Americans were doing in the United States to Indigenous peoples there.”

Even if Macdonald had wanted to kill off the bison, he did not have anything like the manpower on the Prairies to do so. There are claims that some American authorities had this idea, but if so, they too probably could not have done so. And Macdonald had no control over them. The buffalo were depleted by overhunting—and probably overhunting primarily by the Indians, now that they had rifles and horses.

“In 1882, Macdonald confirmed his policy of genocide against Indigenous peoples by way of starvation in Canada’s House of Commons:

‘I have reason to believe that the agents as a whole … are doing all they can, by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.’

David Mills, a Liberal MP, followed Macdonald’s ode to genocide with the complaint that they were not being starved enough:

‘No doubt the Indians will bear a great degree of starvation before they will work, and so long as they are certain the Government will come to their aid they will not do much for themselves.’”

The quotes disprove what they claim to prove. Macdonald, despite political pressures, would not let the Indians starve.

Some context is in order. In the latter half of the 19th century, the Indians of the Northwest faced general starvation. This was not primarily due to the decline of the buffalo, either. It was because of the decline of the beaver. The Indians had been making a good living by selling pelts to the Hudson’s Bay and Northwest Companies. Through over-exploitation, the beaver population had gone into severe decline—a process seen in eastern Canada centuries earlier. Having lost the greater part of their livelihood, the Indians might have gone back to hunting and scavenging; but that way of life always involved periodic mass starvation.

Accordingly, the government plan was to settle them on reserves with basic agricultural supplies, and show them how to farm. This may or may not have been done inefficiently and with supplies gone missing—this was government, and in a remote area.

The Indians, on the other hand, had the idea that, with transfer of sovereignty in the treaties to their “Great Mother,” the government had taken responsibility for their welfare as if a parent. This came up often at the treaty negotiations: “if there is famine, will the government feed us?” Although they took care not to put anything in the treaties, the federal negotiators, tended to reply that, if there was a general famine, the government would of course do what it could. They could not let the Indians starve.

So, many Indians calculated that they did not need to farm or otherwise work any longer.

In a time when there was no sort of welfare for the general population, the resultant need to support the Indians, while their neighbours needed to farm their land, did not sit well with government or public.

This Indian assumption more or less prevails into the present. The Indians have been trapped in poverty by it ever since.

“Riel was demonized by the English-Canadian press while Macdonald was credited with being a saviour of the nation.”

This, by careful omission, is the opposite of the truth. Riel was lionized by the French-Canadian press. While there was a strong lobby against him personally in English Canada, the Metis uprising was also widely romanticized, as it still is today. It became the subject of popular novels, in which the heroes were always Metis. Macdonald lost a great deal of popularity by allowing the hanging of Riel. Some say his Conservative Party has never recovered.

“In 1885, concerning the execution of Louis Riel for treason, Macdonald states, confirming his contempt for the Métis and French Quebec: ‘He shall die though every dog in Quebec bark in his favour.’ Macdonald’s reference to ‘dogs in Quebec’ did not have anything to do with our four-footed canine friends. The racism is explicit.”

This reveals how popular Riel was in Quebec. If there was any racism in Macdonald’s famous comment, it was only implicit. Quebecois are not dogs—the present author shockingly asserts that they literally are. They are also not of a different race than Macdonald.

The obvious interpretation of the word “dog” is that the word “dog” means “dog.” Any other interpretation is on this author, not Macdonald.

“Again, in 1885 … Macdonald hanged eight Cree warriors who had dared to resist the destruction of their way of life”

The eight were hanged for murder, explicitly unconnected to any military objective. Even if their rebellion was not treasonous, they were war criminals.

“In 1885 Macdonald also passed The Electoral Franchise Act which limited the rights of Blacks, First Nations and other visible minorities to vote.”

Macdonald proposed in 1885 to extend the vote to both treaty Indians and unmarried women. He was, sadly, too far ahead of his time, and parliament refused this. However, the act they passed still had no restrictions on voting by blacks. It did not introduce any new restrictions on the franchise.

Why would someone write such a series of falsehoods? I do not think incompetence is sufficient to explain it. Rather, this is the fruit of postmodernism. Truth has no value: one simply constructs the “narrative” one prefers.

And any great man is vulnerable to the envy of others.

A Leftist Reviews the Two Conventions

My leftist buddy Xerxes has reviewed the two American conventions, and declared the Democrats the winners based on having the right rhetoric. They, after all, kept using the keywords “respect, dignity, compassion… equality and justice.” 

This reinforces the general impression that leftist politics is fundamentally dishonest: all it cares about is the right rhetoric. Say you are for respect, and you can treat anyone you want disrespectfully, call them deplorable, call them racist, call them fascist; say you are for choice, and you can limit everyone’s choices everywhere; say you are compassionate, and you can kill babies; say you are anti-fascist, and you can be fascist; say you are for peace, and you can start wars, or smash and burn in the streets.

In short, current leftist politics is a con job.

While all politicians play with the truth, Republicans seem to resist such verbal tricks. When George W. Bush peddled the slogan “compassionate conservatism,” he got blowback from his party. One chooses one’s policy because one believes it is compassionate. That should go without saying. Anything more is deceit.

So too, obviously, with phrases like “I give you my word.” Xerxes is impressed that Biden is ready to give his word. If this does not go without saying, he is not an honest man. To be fair, Trump often uses a similar verbal trick, “Frankly…” As a good general rule, whenever anyone starts a sentence with either of these terms, you can assume they are lying, and accustomed to lying.

Of the Republican clambake, Xerxes writes:

“Everyone touted ‘law and order’ -- even as a law-and-order representative shot a black man in the back, seven times.”

This is a good example of a rhetorical trick. Or several. A non sequitur, and then a cherry-picking of details. The man was “shot in the back seven times,” true, but while resisting arrest, at the scene of the crime, struggling with police, carrying a knife that he refused to drop when repeatedly ordered to do so, and lunging into his car as if to grab something. He had already been tasered twice, without apparent effect. There is also the completely unsubstantiated implication here that he was shot because he was black. Otherwise why mention it?

In any case, our civic duty is to await a formal investigation before drawing any conclusions on the incident. Anything else is, literally, prejudice. Our shared rights and our community life depend on this; due process is of the essence of liberal democracy. Lynch mobs are not a moral option.

Xerxes writes, dismissively,

“Republicans see America as being under attack. By socialism. By vandals and looters. By pro-abortion lobbies. By mail-ballot fraud.

‘Don’t let them steal this election from you,’ Trump warned.

And, of course, under attack by fake or false news on the mass media.”

All this is true. Since Republicans believe it, and they account for fifty percent or so of the US population, it seems to me the perception needs to be addressed. What is the counter-argument? To simply assume no obligation to disprove the statement seems like profound arrogance. “Of course we’re here to take your guns.”

Rather than disagree with the Republican claim, Xerxes accuses Trump of lying in general, citing a Washington Post tally of “disprovable assumptions.” He ignores the obvious possibility that the Washington Post might be lying—other than from prejudice, why implicitly trust one witness, and not the other? One needs further evidence.

All politicians lie. Surely no adult can think otherwise. The obvious lie is that this is somehow peculiar to Trump. Trump actually stands out from that crowd for his relative truthfulness; perhaps because he is not a career politician. He has made a genuine effort, for example, to keep campaign promises; and a foundation of his appeal to his supporters all along is that he is inclined to say just what he thinks. The things the left exaggerates into “lies” are generally only exaggerations, matters of showmanship or salesmanship with no intent to deceive or likelihood of deceiving.

Xerxes cites as particularly impressive Biden’s promise to “listen to the science.” As if this distinguishes him from Trump, or any other politician. Science is our modern religion. Saying science is on your side is like saying God is on your side in older times. Everyone will do so as a matter of course, unless they’re honest. The claim is meaningless on several levels: first, because “science” actually asserts nothing; second, because anyone can claim anything to be “scientific”—Freud, Marx, Lysenko, or L. Ron Hubbard; third, because this is an appeal to authority, at best weak evidence, often an outright fallacy; and fourth, because any claim of “scientific consensus” is the ad populum fallacy. Scientists disagree.

That said, the Democrats and Biden clearly do not respect scientific consensus when it does not suit their agenda. They do not accept that a human embryo is both alive and human; they do not accept that there are biological differences, even at the cellular level, between men and women. They believe it is vital to wear masks and keep social distance at any Republican meeting, but not if you are demonstrating against the police.

Xerxes goes on, more absurdly, to claim Trump is against science, as if anyone is in modern times. Scientists are “Exactly the people Trump doesn’t listen to. Especially if they disagree with him on injecting oneself with household bleach or taking medications that delay COVID-19 recovery.”

Here are a couple of good examples of outright political lies. Not original to Xerxes; he is probably just another victim. Trump has never advised anyone to inject themselves with household bleach. Trump has never advised anyone to take a medication that delays COVID recovery.

I presume Xerxes means here his reference to using UV light as an internal disinfectant, something currently being studied by scientists. And to hydroxychloroquine, which, according to the most recent study, the largest yet, even when used alone reduces COVID-19 mortality by over 33 percent.

The definitive study on hydroxychloroquine, it is true, has for some reason not yet been done. Until it is, it is certainly at a minimum premature to say it delays COVID-19 recovery. That amounts to a falsehood.

Xerxes is impressed, as others have been, but Biden’s acceptance speech:

“Joe Biden’s acceptance speech at the end of the Democratic convention proved he could put together a series of sentences with a coherent message. Donald Trump’s two acceptance speeches, on the first day of the Republican convention and the last evening, proved that he couldn’t.”

Again, this seems an example of the left seeing only appearances, and not caring for substance. All that either speech demonstrated for certain was that the candidates are both capable of reading from a teleprompter. The rest may very well be up to the speechwriter.

Yet Trump is here again an exception. Unlike almost all other modern politicians, Trump is actually inclined to speak, at his rallies, if not here, extemporaneously, and at length. This proves him considerably more verbally adept than any other active politician you could name, let alone Joe Biden. His extemporaneous speeches turn out to be extremely funny; which is why people come out to hear them in such numbers. He is, in fact, a talented stand-up improvisational speaker, with an utterly distinctive style. His phrasing is well-crafted to be memorable and quotable: “fake news”—like everyone else, Xerxes picked up that one himself. “Crooked Hillary.” “Little Marco.” “Low-energy Jeb.” “Little rocket man.” “Make America Great Again.” These have been devastatingly effective.

Xerxes especially liked Biden’s closing: “love is more powerful than hate, hope is more powerful than fear, and light is more powerful than dark.”

He might have noticed, but didn’t, that Biden or his speechwriter cribbed it from Jack Layton.

Not the first time Biden has been caught plagiarizing.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Wargaming the Second American Civil War

While I would have scoffed at the idea a few years ago, the logic of the current situation in the US seems to raise the possibility of civil war. This idea does not originate with me; a lot of people are saying it on YouTube. The left has decided to deny and shut down public discourse. They have decided to impose their will by force. Those disadvantaged or oppressed by the demands of the left are then obliged to respond with force in turn.

This seems to have begun to happen with the current rioting. Guns and counter-demonstrators seem to have emerged.

The insistence by the left on untried mail-in balloting means that, unless one side or the other wins by a compelling margin, half the country will not see the results as legitimate. Again, if confidence in voting is subverted, violence will look like the only resort.

It seems to me the left is most likely to lose a civil conflict. They have thoroughly alienated police everywhere, surely, by scapegoating them and demanding they be defunded. Even assuming they succeed in dissolving or defanging police everywhere, they are still going to have a cadre of ex-policemen, trained and probably privately armed, with few warm feelings towards them.

Their power base is their control of the media and of education. But their control of the media is rapidly slipping, thanks to everyone now effectively having a video camera and a printing press. Their control of education is also vulnerable to the new technologies.

The brawling and rioting in the streets can go one of three ways: either it gets crushed by the authorities or the counter-protestors; or it overthrows the government; or it settles into a civil war. In the USA, with its traditions, and with an armed population, an undemocratic overthrow of the government does not seem possible without a prolonged civil war against it.

For a civil war, we need some geographical separation of sides. The left forms no natural contiguous territory: they are divided, on both coasts. Should both coasts rise in arms, they would not be able to coordinate. The right, naturally holding the central position, could pick off either in turn, able to shift their forces as needed. The right would also be sitting on the energy and the food supplies. The left, if it took the government, would still probably only hold sway in the cities. The situation would be like that of the Paris commune: they might nominally be in occupation of the government institutions, but they could be cut off from power, food, and communications.

Given these factors, I would have predicted that the left would not want to risk letting things come to blows. Yet they seem to be the side pushing hard to do so—the side that has begun to be violent. I can account for this only as a suicidal tendency. They are seeing their power slipping—they have lost their control over the media, and are perhaps in danger of losing their control over education. Not getting their will, they are throwing a self-destructive tantrum.

All that is necessary then for the good to succeed is that leaders on the right stay resolute, and not be frightened into appeasing without a fight. Sadly, this is looking like too high a bar for them.

Ave Maria at the White House

Friday, August 28, 2020

Which Side are You On?

The War in Heaven

It is shocking to think it, let alone say it, but at some point it becomes moral cowardice not to. Watching the Republican Convention alongside parallel images of the widespread rioting compellingly illustrates that the current American presidential election is a stark choice between good and evil.

We want to believe everything can be worked out by reasoned discussion. But one side will not permit reasoned discussion. They want to censor, to shout down, to compel. The situation is the situation at the Munich Conference of 1938: compromise is impossible. There are no shared values any longer, and no shared goals.

One side wants to tear it all down; one side denies there is such a thing as truth, or good. This is, simply, Satanic.

The speakers at the Republican Convention, by contrast, kept referring to religion, to God, to the right to life. Truth and Good are at least acknowledged here.

Like it or not, Trump is on God’s side.

This may come as some surprise. Donald Trump is not someone most would pick as a role model for their children. I would never have picked him for president. He shows little familiarity with theology, the Bible, or the way the religious talk. Nevertheless, as noted here before, this is just the sort of person Yahweh picks. He is a God of miracles.

Hallelujah at the White House

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Jerry Falwell Jr.

Jesus and the woman taken in adultery

I am upset to see so many people, including fellow Christians, pile on in condemning Jerry Falwell Jr.

It upsets to have to look into this, in order to respond. Because it is all gossip, calumny, and detraction.

Falwell is accused of an odd sexual interest—enjoying watching his wife have sex with another man. He denies it. We are obliged to assume his innocence, in the first place. But even if he is guilty, guilty of what? Not of doing harm to any other human being. Nobody needs to be warned. Everything was consensual. Not of committing adultery. If his wife had sex with another man, he is the victim, not the perpetrator. Is he guilty of something if he knew about it, and forgave her, even covered it up? If he broke a commandment, which one?

And even if he did sin in some unspecified way, so what? If he were in our presence, and we thought he was unrepentant, it would be our fraternal duty to point this out. He is not in our presence. This also means he cannot defend himself against our accusations. And we are surely acting hypocritically; who among us is without some sexual sin? What did Jesus say about casting the first stone? Would we like others to be prying into our sexual lives in public?

This is all a matter between Falwell, his wife, and God.

New Belgian Study

Suggests that hydroxychloroquine indeed does work.

Dr. Campbell is nonplussed by the fact that other studies finding hydroxychloroquine NOT to work used a non-standard dosage.

Why? Why did it take so long to get a study using the standard recommended dosage? Why did none of the studies use the combination first reported to work, hydroxychloroquine combined with zinc and azithromycin, administered early in the course of the disease?

I think Dr. Campbell hints at it without saying: the problem is that hydroxychloroquine is readily available and cheap. Drug companies can't make much money on it, and if it works, it reduces the market for any new proprietary treatment, like remdezavir, that they come up with.

In other news, a British study finds another possible treatment: an extract of eucalyptus readily found in insect repellants.

Even if it's a miracle cure, God knows how long it will take to get that approved...

O'Toole's First Test

Derek Sloan

Only a day after Erin O’Toole won it, the Liberals and the media have sprung a snare for him that may well destroy his leadership of the Canadian Conservative Party.

They are demanding he throw one of his competitors in that race, Derek Sloan, out of caucus.

We will see, from how he handles this, whether O’Toole is a leader. The demand is outrageous on its face. His only good options are “no” or “hell no.” But either will take some spine.

The media and the Liberals want Sloan out primarily because, during his campaign, he put out a video saying Trudeau was botching his handling of the coronavirus, and asking whether Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Theresa Tam, was working for Canada or for China. 

See it for yourself:

This is declared “racist,” because Tam was born in Hong Kong. The charge is obviously absurd: had you not known Tam was born in Hong Kong, would you learn it from Sloan’s video? His argument is substantive. If you object to it, you need to object to the points he makes. He is accusing her of toeing the line from the WHO, and the WHO of being in China’s pocket. Another Canadian doctor, Bruce Aylward, a WHO official, has also been accused of this. Nobody has declared that racist; Aylward is not ethnically Chinese.

It is racist to exempt Tam from such criticism on the basis of her place of origin or skin colour. This is what Sloan’s critics, and O’Toole’s, are demanding. They are the racists, and O’Toole ought to call them out.

Had Sloan raised the issue of her place of origin, that too would have been legitimate. It ought not to be assumed that an immigrant has divided loyalty, but it is fair to suspect it. I know several fellow Canadians who have taken American citizenship. They reliably tell me and other Canadians that their true allegiance has not changed, they did so only for practical reasons.

It is discriminatory and absurd to suppose that Chinese-Canadians are peculiarly immune to such considerations. Indeed, I know Chinese-Canadians personally who are not.

If O’Toole attempts to remove Sloan from caucus for raising legitimate concerns and saying things that are objectively true, it will have dire consequences for Canadian liberties and Canadian democracy. It will also be a dire strategic error: pay that first bribe, and the Danes know where to come for more. You are not going to win anyone over.

To win the leadership, O’Toole made a direct appeal to social conservatives, promising them a place in his party. Their support—the support of Sloan’s voters—went to him on the final ballot as a result. He owes them. If he now turns on them, it will be a historic double-cross rivalling Peter MacKay’s cynical betrayal of David Orchard’s followers. Some people, like me, will never forget or forgive something like that.

Sloan also won 15% of the vote on the first ballot. A rookie MP, his personal following probably added nothing to that. Moreover, he was splitting the social conservative vote with another candidate, Leslyn Lewis. If O’Toole turns on Sloan, he alienates a large portion of his own party. So much for party unity.

And the social conservatives have an alternative. If O’Toole or the PCs push Sloan out of caucus, why wouldn’t he declare himself a member of Maxime Bernier’s PPC? Suddenly they have a voice in parliament, and Bernier has a high-profile Ontario lieutenant.

O’Tooke should respond to the attacks with “The Conservative Party, unlike the Liberals, is the party of free and open discussion. The leader does not even have the power to eject a member from caucus. We welcome a diversity of views. We are diverse as Canada is diverse. We are a home to all Canadians, and we listen to all. If you are in favour of honest discussion, you will find a home here too.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Trump Agenda

Donald Trump has released his agenda for a second term. It is worth looking at, since Trump, unlike other politicians, really tries to keep his promises.

He promises a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of 2020, and a “return to normal” in 2021. This sounds plausible. Following fast on Russia’s “Sputnik V,” India has now announced they expect to have a vaccine available in 70 days—in early November. Competing companies are now talking about how much they will charge for their vaccine. Things do seem to be converging on the year-end.

In the meantime, for whatever reason, the actual rate of death from COVID has plummeted, even in places where infections have been rising. Dr. John Campbell suggests this may be up to social distancing, face masks, and so forth. Or it may be because we are actually approaching herd immunity of some sort, or it may be that the virus is mutating into something less dangerous. The fact is, viruses tend to die away regularly, without our understanding why.

Trump comes down strongly for law and order. The Democrats have chosen to make this a campaign issue; I think it works heavily in Trump’s favour. Amid cries to “defund the police,” Trump says “defend the police.” “Fully fund and hire more police and law enforcement officers.” “Increase criminal penalties for assaults on law enforcement officers.” I am astounded that anyone ever thought defunding the police in the face of widespread rioting was a good idea. But as the rioting goes on and on, surely most people are getting fed up.

The Democrats have also, I think, been foolish enough to cede the pacifist position to Trump. They did this by freezing out and disowning Tulsi Gabbard on her strongly pacifist platform during the primaries. Now they cannot pretend to be the peace party. Trump wisely exploits this. After decades of war, Americans are weary. “Stop endless wars and bring our troops home.”

But the strongest part of the platform is education: a pledge to “provide school choice for every child in America,” and to “teach American exceptionalism.” This would at a stroke vastly improve America’s future. I hope, if America does this, that the pressure for Canadian politicians to do as much would be irresistible.

It is hard, it is true, to see how the federal government will actually be able to do this. Education is a state and local responsibility. The No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, however, attempted to impose national standards by tying federal funding to compliance; the same might be tried here.

This may also help Trump's re-election chances by shaking black voters away from the Democrats. This seems to be his strategy. Scott Adams is no doubt right to say that the public schools are the cause of all anti-black racism in the US, and of black disadvantage. Because schools are funded locally, schools in poor areas get fewer resources, making it harder for poor students to get ahead. These poor students are disproportionately black. With a voucher system, students would no longer be obliged to go to the bad local school.

Aside from that, competition and consumer choice is bound to improve performance for everyone. And a soviet-style school system is not good for passing on democratic values.

To avoid sectarianism, in an increasingly diverse society, the public schools end up teaching no values at all, other than the values inherent in a socialized system: Marxist values. The results are predictably disastrous. We have been seeing them lately in the streets.

School choice would allow parents to select instead a school that teaches the values they believe in.

It is a good and, on the whole, a realistic agenda.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

O'Toole for the Win

Erin O’Toole is the new leader of the Canadian Conservative Party.

Not a stunningly good choice; but then, neither was Stephen Harper in his day. I think O’Toole was the best choice in the available field. The larger issue is that the contest looked rigged from the beginning to be a coronation for Peter MacKay. Other prominent candidates backed off from a run, as if either bribed or threatened. It looked as though O’Toole was allowed to run only for the semblance of a race; a mid-tier candidate, not thought to be a serious challenger, just plausible enough. Like the Washington Generals. So it looks like a deserved kick back against the party corruption to have given him the win. And against the contest’s organizers, and against the other candidates who backed out of the race.

O’Toole was the grassroots’ way to resist the party elite.

And even if he was not top-tier, O’Toole was a better pick than MacKay; and a better pick than the other two, inexperienced candidates. MacKay has no principles; he won the old PC leadership by cutting a backroom deal, then double-crossing his benefactor within two months. He also seemed to knife Andrew Scheer in the back; somebody showed up at a Scheer event during the last election campaign with a MacKay sign. That did not feel like a voice from the crowd; MacKay had been out of politics for a while, and nobody was hankering for him to come back. It looked like a paid political stunt. And an act of disloyalty during a campaign.

After the election, MacKay sank Scheer in a press interview by saying he had “failed to score on an open net” and that his views on gay marriage and abortion “hung around his neck like a stinking albatross.” Those images are too vivid not to have been carefully scripted; and not by MacKay himself, who does not have any way with words. It looked like calculated political assassination. And not over any disagreement on policy; it looked like pure personal ambition.

Such behavior, and such politicians, ought not to be rewarded with office.

Had MacKay won, party unity would also have been hard to achieve. Scheer loyalists would have reason to hate him; and so would social conservatives, whose views he had described as “stinking.” The entire right wing of the party might rightly be alienated, as he ran as an unabashed “Red Tory.” Quebec would have been disaffected, given his lack of interest in learning French.

I can at least imagine O’Toole as prime minister; I could never imagine Scheer in the role. And the thought of MacKay in the office was disturbing. O’Toole at least has the mein of a fighter, and a military background that suits that persona. If he’s no Trump, perhaps he’s not a low card either.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

I Was Afraid of This

Chora Church in Istanbul has been converted into a mosque. This is one of the most historic churches in Christendom.

Conservative Leadership--Last Minute Prediction

The Favourite.

None of the candidates is what the times call for. What we need is a Canadian Trump, which means a Ralph Klein, a Jean Chretien, or a John Crosbie, a “common man” who comes across as a blunt straight shooter. And who speaks French as well as English. I don’t see anyone like that in the current race, or even in the wider party.

It is impossible to predict what is going to happen, because the balloting system makes polling meaningless. I think MacKay, O’Toole, and Lewis all have a chance of winning.

If MacKay wins, he probably wins on the first count. As the front-runner, he probably has all his natural support already. Anyone not voting for him first likely has some specific reason not to back him.

If he falls short, Sloan’s second-place votes probably go mostly to Lewis.

If this is not enough to give Lewis a win on the second count, and it seems unlikely to be, it’s a roll of the dice who will be in third place. Whoever is will be dropped from the next count.

If MacKay is in third, I expect his votes to go mostly to O’Toole, on electability. O’Toole wins.

If Lewis is in third, I expect most of her votes to go to O’Toole, and O’Toole wins.

If O’Toole is in third, his support might split evenly between MacKay and Lewis. He is ideologically between the two, and MacKay will get some support on electability. Tossup then between MacKay and Lewis.

Based on this simple calculation, I think O’Toole has, by a slim margin, the best chance to win.

We will see—perhaps before you get to read this.

The plucky challenger.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

I'm a Leftist

Just for interest's sake, I once again recently took the "Political Compass" test online.

While I doubt the validity of some questions, it puts me just about where, on the political spectrum, I would put myself: moderately left-libertarian.

Of course, in the current insane political climate, I would probably be accused of being right-wing and authoritarian. But that is because what is currently called "left" is simply and accurately "insanity."

Your Political Compass

Economic Left/Right: -1.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.67

personalised chart

I Feel Pretty

A student sent this clip; she is planning to use it with her own students in her English class.

It is the climax of the movie “I Feel Pretty” designed to hit the audience over the head with the uplifting moral.

Unfortunately, it is a bad moral. It illustrates how far we, as a society, or at least Hollywood, has strayed from the path of good sense.

“When we're little girls, we have all the confidence in the world. We let our bellies hang out, and... And we just dance and play and pick our wedgies.”

“And then these things happen that just... They make us question ourselves. Somebody says something mean to you on the playground, and then we grow up, and you doubt yourself over and over again until you lose all that confidence. All that self-esteem, all that faith you started with is gone.”

A fair description of the experience of most girls, no doubt. But, “things happen”? Denial. What things? What exactly happens between childhood and adulthood? It is not that somebody says something mean to you on the playground. It’s the coming of the age of reason, and the realization that you might actually have done something immoral, as opposed to someone simply being mean for pointing it out. And it is the coming of puberty.

Girls are spoiled in childhood. Increasingly, with the “self-esteem” movement, all children probably are. They are told they are wonderful, no matter what they do, and nothing is expected of them.

To anyone who has been spoiled, coming to the age of reason, and puberty and sexual awakening, must be difficult. Now it is not possible to do whatever you want and still be good and wonderful. Even if you have no sexual morality, and see no issue with aborting unwanted children, you still suddenly have the need to attract members of the opposite sex to satisfy your desires. You must please others.

A spoiled child has no idea how to do so.

Moreover, she has no concept of morality. People who do not give her what she wants must only be being “mean.”

At this point, if she persists in the narcissism to which she has been trained, all other people are now her enemies. She is wonderful, and they are failing to acknowledge it. They need to smarten up.

This film advocates narcissism.

“What if when someone tells us that we aren't good or thin or pretty enough, we have strength and the wisdom to say what I am is better than all of that? Because what I am is me!”

Denial causes her to bury the issue—being good—but this is the real problem. The only way out is to discover morality. Her concern over being “pretty” is a matter of self-delusion, to avoid the real issue.

This is why so many young women are obsessive over being thin. It is not to attract men. Men often prefer women who are curvaceous, “zoftig.” Look at classical painting, or Playboy centrefolds. The obsession with being thin, sometimes to the point of anorexia or even suicide by starvation, is to reverse puberty, to get rid of those suggestive curves, in order to return to childhood, before one had discovered guilt.

Chasing after male attention and more sex is only going to make the underlying sense of guilt worse, and sharpen your hatred of the world and of men in particular.

The real problem here is raising girls, and children, with too much self-esteem, and no moral instruction. It is soul-destroying.

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Final Lap

They are of course hedging their bets, but it looks from this news story as though the EU is betting on England's Oxford group being first out with an effective vaccine.

Meantime, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are putting in for early supplies of the Russian Sputnik V. This feels less significant. Given their cash reserves and small population, a bad bet it less risky for them.

On Turning the Other Cheek

The second Biblical quote commonly used like a dagger by non-Christians against Christians is “turn the other cheek.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.”

This seems unambiguous.

Yet here again, Jesus apparently does not follow his own commandment. Luke 22:35:

“He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without purse, and wallet, and shoes, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘Nothing.’ Then he said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet. Whoever has none, let him sell his cloak, and buy a sword.’”

This is clearly preparing for resistance.

The passages are perhaps reconciled by the fact that striking a social inferior on the cheek was apparently a standard way at the time of asserting dominance; the demand for one’s coat is described as the result of a lawsuit, with the authority of the court behind it; and compelling someone to carry freight for a mile was a privilege held by the Roman soldiery over the local population.

In other words, these all seem to refer to situations in which the persecutor has the backing of social authority.

In such a situation, open physical resistance seems likely to lead to dire consequences for the victim. Resorting to shaming instead seems wise advice for purely strategic, not necessarily moral, reasons.

Nevertheless, there is a moral argument to be made as well. Even if the social authority is evil, or allowing evil, upsetting social authority leads to chaos, and allowing evil a genuinely free rein. It would mean everyone going about doing whatever they want. Accordingly, civil disobedience is a grave act requiring special justification.

When the apostles return having managed to purchase only two swords, Jesus declares that this is enough. Then, as Jesus is seized by the authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter cuts off a soldier’s ear. Jesus tells him to stand down.

This seems to confirm the interpretation suggested: so long as the assault is individual, one has the right to resist with violence. If it involves the use of more than a couple of swords, it probably has social repercussions that outweigh the injustice to the individual victim.

In sum, Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi, or Daniel O’Connell, had the commandment right: not that one is accept evil in silence and obedience, but that one should not oppose the social power, if evil, with violence. The wisest and best course is to attempt to shame them.

It is perhaps also worth noticing that this requirement to turn the other cheek is one of a list of commandments that seem hyperbolic. If you look at a woman with lust, you have committed adultery; if you call someone stupid, you have murdered them; if you make a solemn promise, you have lied.

The string ends with the phrase:

… Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

In other words, if you keep these commandments, you are godlike, perfect.

It is necessarily impossible for any of us to be perfect. It is gravely blasphemous to suppose so. The point of the list, then, is to cite legitimate moral goods that are beyond the human capacity to achieve. The point is not to feel self-justified.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

On Making Moral Judgments

Salome and the head of John the Baptist.

“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!”

The quote from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, has given us the common saying, “even the Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.” It is profoundly true—the Pharisees quote scripture against Jesus in the Bible itself. Every bad person has a few handy Biblical quotes they can use to bludgeon good people.

Chief among them are “turn the other cheek,” and “judge not, lest ye be judged.” They are useful for telling good people to shut up and let bad people go about their business.

But they only work their diabolical magic if taken out of context.

“Judge not, lest ye be judged.” If this is a commandment not to judge others, Jesus himself clearly and regularly breaks it. He accuses the scribes and Pharisees of sinfulness repeatedly. At the end of time, he will come again and judge everyone, the living and the dead.

Ah, you might say, but that is for God alone. God knows; we ought not to so presume.

Very well; consider then John the Baptist. He similarly loudly condemns the sinfulness of the Sadducees and Pharisees, and does so in Jesus’s presence.

“But when John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his place of baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?’” (Matthew 3)

He is beheaded for persistently accusing Herod and Herodias of sin.

Rather than condemn him for this behaviour, Jesus declares him the greatest of men.

“Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).

In this, the Baptist was simply fulfilling the standard role of the prophets: calling out the people and the government for sins. Deny the legitimacy of doing so, and you deny the legitimacy of half the Bible.

On assuming the throne, Solomon prayed:

“Give your servant … an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil.”

And God responded:

“Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have you asked for riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice; behold, I have done according to your word. Behold, I have given you a wise and understanding heart; so that there has been no one like you before you, and after you none will arise like you. I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you for all your days. If you will walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

It very much sounds as though God approved of his choice. He wants us to exercise judgement, and to judge right and wrong. It is what we are here for; it is why we are given free will.

Now let’s look again at the original quote, in its full context:

“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you tell your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ and behold, the beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7; WEB)

It ends with Jesus recommending that you judge. And that to do so is a kindness, like removing a speck from your brother’s eye.

Sin is a spiritual illness, that if untreated leads to spiritual death. In plain terms, you go to hell. You morally owe it to another to point out their sin. It would be callous or insane not to.

The warning is specifically against hypocrisy, against judging others by a harsher standard than yourself.

This is indeed a common failing. Bad people think they can absolve themselves of sins by accusing others of them.

For example, look no further than the present Democratic convention. Bill Clinton a couple of nights ago accused Donald Trump specifically of not behaving with the proper decorum in the Oval Office. Clinton had sex with interns in that office. Last night, Obama launched an attack on Trump with “I did expect Donald Trump to show some interest in taking the job seriously … for close to four years now, he has shown no interest in putting in the work."

This is probably the most common accusation against Obama: that he did not seem to take the job seriously, seemed disengaged.

"Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job," Obama continued.

This sounds ironic from a younger man of an older man.

Finally, making the pitch for Biden and Harris over Trump and Pence, he opines “They understand that political opponents aren't unAmerican just because they disagree with you.” He actually blames the right for identity politics and “cancel culture.”

Of course, it is also always the sort who tells others to “judge not” who are first to hurl such accusations, as likely as not unfounded.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness; A Voice Crying in a Crowded Theatre

The film previews are finished, and the movie theater is quiet as everyone waits for the feature film to appear. However, the stillness is suddenly broken by a noise. The audience hears a sniffle. The sniffle soon turns to a cry, then a wail. There is an uncomfortable, or perhaps unhappy, toddler sitting in the movie theater. People start shuffling uncomfortably in their seats as they wait for what will happen next. Will the child be taken out of the theater, or will the parent pretend that everything is ok? Scenarios like these happen regularly. Bystanders wonder what the parent or caretaker will do. The action, of course, often depends on the parenting styles that adults use with their children. The two extremes are the lenient (laissez-faire) parent and the disciplinarian parent. Lenient parents often focus on their child's having fun and enjoying "being a kid.” If a child does something careless like break a glass, lenient parents will not become angry or scream. They know that the child is probably experimenting and meant no harm. Likewise, they may even explain to the child that it was an accident and the child should not be upset or cry. In addition, lenient parents may not be too concerned about time-based activities and schedules. They will allow their children to stay up late and experience new things. The motto "You're only a kid once!" ring true to these free spirits. This type of parent sees themselves as guides for their children, which cannot be said about the second parenting group: the disciplinarians. Disciplinarian parents consider themselves role models for their children. Unlike laissez-faire parents, their main priorities are safety and protection of their children! In essence, children are monitored very carefully and may not be allowed to play outside, interact with animals, or rough-house in general. A child who experiences this upbringing may be encouraged to focus on his studies instead of making friends. In addition, interaction may be limited to only close family members. Children who are raised in highly-disciplined environments are likely to do very well in school.

In the end, no parents are truly 100 percent lenient or 100 percent strict when it comes to raising their child. Most fall somewhere in the middle depending on the child, the environment, and the particular situation. Society knows that both child-rearing styles have advantages and disadvantages, but the more interesting question is this: Which style will these children choose when the time comes for them to become parents?

The passage appears as a model essay in a current composition textbook. It illustrates the problem in our culture. It deals with childrearing with no mention of the issue of teaching morality.

Consider the opening scenario: a child is wailing in the theatre. Apparently, whether the parents silence the child, or let them wail, is here merely a matter of their “parenting style.” No acknowledgement that wailing, or allowing a child to wail, in a crowded theatre is a violation of the rights of others.

Again, the second example, of a child breaking a glass: the essayist represents all such incidents as equal. There is no moral distinction made between genuine carelessness and mere childish clumsiness. The only distinction is “parenting style.” It is okay, then, to blame children for things over which they have no control—the very definition of moral abuse.

In discussing “disciplinarian” parents, there is no acknowledgement that the purpose of discipline is to develop moral behavior. Instead, the only possible aim is “safety and protection.” No doubt that was what Hector and Lysander were striving for.

Given the literal meaning of “discipline,” “The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior” (Oxford), this looks like deliberate suppression of the idea of ethics or morality.

In our textbooks. In our schools. Taught to our children.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Torrent of Good News

... on COVID-19.

Apocalypse Now?

The mysterious case of hydroxychloroquine seems to illustrate a grave problem in our current world. It may or may not work to cure COVID-19. But how is it that we still do not know? First reports of it being effective are almost as old as first reports of the virus. How is it that, six months in, nobody has conducted a proper trial? While prominent authorities, without good evidence, keep declaring that it does not work, or is dangerous.

And there have been no proper trials despite the outlay of huge amounts of public funds to try all possibilities.

There seem to be two problems here: first, that Trump was an early advocate, so that if it works, it makes him look good. That is intolerable to the professional class in general. Second, that the drugs used for the hydroxychloroquine treatment are out of patent and readily available, so that nobody can make much profit if they work. Moreover, if they work, they remove the opportunity of making large profits on some other drug.

Why would this affect even public funding? Milton Friedman long ago explained. Governments must rely on those with expertise to regulate professions and industries. That means industries regulate industries, and professions regulate professions. Public money gets allocated as advised by the big drug companies.

We evidently cannot rely on either public-spiritedness or morality. Those in charge are letting vast numbers of people die rather than prejudice their own interests. Power may or may not corrupt; but the people in power now are corrupt.

Just as something has to be going on with hydroxychloroquine, something has to be going on with Jeffrey Epstein, his island empire and his death; and with the fact that we have heard so little since about it. Something has to be going on with the Durham probe, the apparent attempt to subvert the government through false claims of Russian collusion; and the fact that we have heard so little since about it. Something was going on with Cardinal Archbishop McCarrick, and the resistance in the Vatican to looking any further into it. These are not conspiracy theories; these are proven conspiracies. Nor is this just a problem with the US civil service, the “Deep State.” The Vatican is not part of that. Nor is this a problem with “capitalism.” Professions and unions are at least as corrupt as businesses, it seems, and government as corrupt as private funding. Nor is this corruption just at the top; the same rot is seen as mobs burning and looting in America’s streets. There is the same lack of any sense of responsibility to one’s neighbours or one’s polis. Everyone grabs what they can get.

Probably all of us have seen, too, in our own jobs and our professions, how pervasive corruption has become. Journalism is perhaps the most visible example, operating as it does in the public eye. Nowadays the news itself is grossly biased, often fake, little more than clickbait, published in utter disregard of stated journalistic ethics. TV anchors say things on air they must know are untrue.

Was the world ever thus? Is it just that, with better communication, it is more visible?

Perhaps in part. But major outlets like the Economist, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, really did hold themselves to real standards even a few years ago. There was a distinction between news and editorial pieces. Facts were checked, and both sides quoted. Headlines resembled what was in the story. I am not imagining this; I have done such fact-checking professionally myself. You can go back and read past issues in various places online.

Comparable decay seems evident everywhere. It is as apparent in the arts. The high-tech sector used to be a moral place, leaving aside Microsoft, and Google used to use the motto “do no evil.” Now all the tech giants are deeply political, and seem to be alarmingly interested in power. I am equally aware of the rapid decay in academics, another long-term home. Marks are no longer awarded for merit; academic subjects are often content-free, or the content is completely different from what the fields advertise it to be. Nobody seems to be in it for the sake of human knowledge or pursuit of truth. Only out of self-interest and class interest.

And it is not at all hard to understand why. Postmodernism; it began in the academies. Unfortunately, all other fields have, over time, channeled their initiates through the academies. It was a perfect environment for the virus to spread. It all began 140 years ago, with Nietzsche declaring God was dead. This was picked up quickly enough by intellectuals, and his influence has only grown since.

Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!"---As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?---Thus they yelled and laughed. 
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his stare. "Where is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him---you and I. … Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. 
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. …. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"
Nietszche advises,
When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident… Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole.
The intellectuals, the scribes and Pharisees, pulled the plug seven generations ago. Seven generations to move through the grad schools, then the colleges, then the public schools. All else follows. Beginning with Fascism, a kind of vanguard movement.

Yeats saw it in 1937:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Our civilization is in moral decline. This is how cultures and civilizations end. Ibn Khaldun mapped it all 600 years ago. Lack of morality is like rust in the gears of everything, that will sooner or later bring it all to a crashing halt. Perhaps we are finally seeing it happen now.

And now the wheels of heaven stop
You feel the devil's riding crop
Get ready for the future: It is murder.
With no God, at least no God we took seriously, we stopped teaching morality to the young. We stopped caring about the young. We started killing the young. We progressed, a progressive lot, to declaring that morality did not exist, it was only something we agreed upon among ourselves in small groups. Love became to us only sexual gratification. Then we moved to declaring all morality oppressive, and grew hostile to any hint of right or wrong. Things were simply “appropriate.”

Next, we rape and eat one another.

Is it over? I hold some hope for salvation from the East: Christianity, and so Judeo-Christian ethics, is actually growing worldwide, especially in East Asia and in Africa. This could include China, the moment its present government fell and the floodgates were opened. Here there is vitality and optimism, and perhaps social cohesion. Christianity has also been reviving in Eastern Europe.

And there is another possibility.

Apparently, forty years ago, an odd American, deeply devout, living near Rome, had a mad vision, a vision at least as mad as that of Nietzsche’s madman. I take no responsibility for it; I merely report. He believed that a man had already been born who had been chosen by Providence to lead his homeland, the United States, back to God. It was an improbable choice; but then, God’s choices are always improbable. Moses was a stuttering murderer, David was a mere shepherd, a murderer and adulterer. Jesus was an ordinary carpenter, and Peter an uneducated fisherman. Augustine was a narcissist and, he says, a sex addict. Saul aggressively persecuted Christians.

The man he thought he had been told of? A celebrity playboy. A man named Donald Trump. 

Trump Derangement Syndrome

Diogenes looking for an honest man.

What causes Trump Derangement Syndrome? The left declares every Republican candidate for the presidency to be worse than Hitler as a matter of course; but something more is going on with Trump, something that really looks like a mental illness—a disconnect from reality.

Some even say that Trump is able to, or should, use this to further his aims. If he declares himself in support of something, he can count on the left to oppose it. If he is for peace, they are for war. If he is for ending illegal immigration, they are for ending all border controls. He could put an end to all his opposition at a stroke, by saying he was against jumping off cliffs.

It is not as if Trump’s policies and positions are ideologically extreme. They are a mixed bag, mostly moderate. Ideological disagreement cannot account for this reaction.

What is maddening about Trump, what is past all bearing, is that he tells the truth.

The telltale proof is that the most common complaint against him is that he lies.

Trump does not lie. He exaggerates for effect. A lie requires intent to mislead.

Those who support him often support him because he regularly says plainly what he thinks: his unfiltered Tweeting, his bluntness, and his refusal to pay any heed to the demands of “political correctness.” We always know where he stands. That, and, increasingly, his honesty in genuinely attempting to fulfill his campaign promises.

Nothing is more alarming to a liar than a man who insists on telling the truth. They beheaded John the Baptist for it. They crucified Jesus for it. They persecuted all the prophets for it.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

A lot of people have done a lot of evil.

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Canaanite Woman

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

(Matthew 15: 21-28).

This, yesterday's gospel, is a difficult reading. It seems to contradict the clear message of the Gospel that Jesus came not just for the Jews, but for all mankind—or rather, for all good people. St. Paul says “there is no Jew nor Greek in Christ.” The parable of the Good Samaritan opposes considerations of ethnicity. Note that, elsewhere in the Gospel, Jesus has no problems with healing a Gadarene demoniac, or the physically ill daughter of a Roman Centurion, despite their not being Jews.

We must conclude that ethnicity is not the issue.

Consider that what the Bible calls being “tormented by a demon” is surely what we today call “mental illness.” And that the primary cause of mental illness is parental abuse, or emotional betrayal by a parent. This is the current conclusion of psychiatry, and it seems to be the traditional understanding.

So the natural assumption when a parent comes to ask for her child to be freed from a demon is that she herself is its cause. Accordingly, were Jesus to say “let it be done for you as you wish,” were he to answer her prayer, the ultimate effect would be to confirm her authority and to make the child’s situation worse.

Now consider too that the Canaanites were, according to the Bible, to contemporary Greek reports, and to archeological evidence, practitioners of child sacrifice. To those Jews observing at the time, even if the charges are not true, “Canaanite” automatically implied “bad parent.”

Jesus might have been omniscient, and might have known that the mother’s request was sincere. Nevertheless, the crowd would not know. To acknowledge her authority over her daughter in this way would have been to publicly endorse bad parenting and dysfunctional families. It would be publicly absolving her of guilt, and abetting the abuse.

Consider in this light his stated objection: ““It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.” “The children” may not here refer to Jews, but, more simply and literally, mean children generally. Jesus is here for abused children, not for their parents, who are morally equivalent to dogs.

This is a worse insult, in the Middle East, than the reader may imagine.

Who then are “the lost sheep of the house of Israel”? He actually cannot be referring to the Jews. If they are good Jews, they are not lost. If they are not good Jews, they are not sheep, but goats. “Sheep,” as Jesus uses the term, means those obedient to God. To be a sheep yet to be lost implies someone who is obedient to God, but without proper guidance, the unchurched. John 10: 16: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

This might apply to the Canaanite woman. It is significant that the disciples ask Jesus to drive her away, and he does not. Instead, he says “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And lets her stay. Being Canaanite, then, does not disqualify her.

When he calls her a dog, she accepts the grievous insult. This is the critical act, that shows she is a sheep, that she is spiritually of the house of Israel, of Jacob. She thereby shows she is not a narcissist, not a goat. Moreover, she accepts this insult in hopes of helping her daughter, showing true paternal devotion.

It is this that allows Jesus to perform the miracle before the crowd.

Like much of the Bible, the passage is about dysfunctional families.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

A Letter to Dr. Fauci

The Words of the Prophet

Leonard Cohen was a true prophet, and foresaw the current social collapse in the US back in 1992. He sang about it in “The Future.”

“Give me absolute control
Over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby
That's an order.”
Over every living soul And lie beside me, baby That's an order.”

Here, he is speaking from the Nazi/postmodern viewpoint. Seen already in the Weimar Republic's sexual license

“Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that's left
And stuff it up the hole
In your culture.”

It sounds like a plea for ecological awareness, right? Wrong. He seems to be saying instead that a preoccupation with trees shows a deficit in the culture. The environmental movement, the glorification of the “natural,” has dangerous moral implications. It suggests we ought to act on pure impulse, like animals. Animals kill and eat one another. The Nazis were great environmentalists.

“Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St. Paul
I've seen the future, brother
It is murder”

Why would he want the Berlin Wall? The point is the clear distinction between good and evil, Stalin and St. Paul, the free world and the evil empire. It is an image of choosing sides. It is vital to preserve the distinction between right and wrong, or murder breaks loose.

Cohen betrays on which side of the Berlin Wall he stands, with Stalin or with St. Paul, with the phrase “I’ve seen the future.” It was famously applied to the early Soviet Union, by Lincoln Steffens in 1919: “I’ve seen the future, and it works.” Cohen clearly differs: it is murder.

"Won’t be nothing… you can measure any more.
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it has overturned
The order of the soul"

This is the essence of the problem: the order of the soul has been overturned. The blizzard is an image of disorder. There is nothing we can measure any more, when we dispense with truth or right and wrong. These are the measures of all things.

You don't know me from the wind
You never will, you never did
I'm the little Jew
Who wrote the Bibl

Getting explicit, surely; we have lost touch with the Bible and our Judeo-Christian roots.

There'll be the breaking of the ancient western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There'll be phantoms
There'll be fires on the road
And the white man dancing

Isn't this a remarkably clear image of what is happening now? Nothing in your past is private any longer; anything can be dug up with a Google search. And has been, on anyone targeted for political reasons. We see news photos of "white" people kneeling before "blacks." We see black-clad phantoms setting fires in the streets.

Was this visionary, or was it all so predictable?

Destroy another fetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby
It is murder

This is not the only or the first time Cohen has sung against abortion. He seemed to see it, as I do, as a key issue.

When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant

And this, improbable and difficult as it seems, is the only solution: repentance. Cohen repeats the chorus relentlessly.

Cohen did; but can we hope for this for the world as a whole?

The Gathering Storm

Self-actualization: Mussolini's face on the Fascist Party headquarters, surrounded by the word "Si"--"Yes." 

Is there anything more pernicious, more sinister, than the popular interpretation of Godwin’s Law: that if you compare anyone or anything else to Hitler or the Nazis, you have lost the argument? It is the perfect way to usher in the next Hitler; it almost looks calculated. 

The idea that Hitler and Nazism was a unique phenomenon is obviously wrong. We have seen the same script acted again and again: Stalin and the Holomodor, Mao and the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot and the Killing Fields, Rwanda, Bosnia, the Armenian genocide under the Young Turks.

Rather than being a one-off, that we managed with brave determination to purge from the Earth, the philosophy we call Nazism has actually been steadily gaining adherents and influence over the years, without significant interruptions. Marcuse was big in the 1960s; same philosophy. Nazism is the doctrine we now usually call “postmodernism.” You can trace it back through “modernism” to Darwin and Nietzsche. I am only too familiar with it from graduate school. Even then, in the 1970s, it was pervasive. I remember checking myself at one point and thinking—“wait a minute. Isn’t that just what Mussolini said?” And then brushing off the thought. Couldn’t be. Fascism was something uniquely horrible, right?

It is at base simply the doctrine that there is no truth, no right or wrong, and all that matters is the imposition of one’s will. Nazism and Fascism never had any more to them than that. And, Nietzsche advised us, this is what is left when you turn away from God.

This necessarily proceeds to mass murder: you will want to murder anyone you think might be able to murder you.

We see the stormtroopers in the streets of the USA today, calling themselves “Antifa” or “Black Lives Matter.” We see how easily they bend the majority to their will, just as the brownshirts and blackshirts did. The majority seems to be on their side.

How will it end? If you accept the premise that a foetus is a human being, we already have a Holocaust underway, far worse than Hitler’s. Nazism did immense havoc when it took government in a second-tier power, Germany. It is already in power in China. What will happen if it takes power in the USA?

Will it be in power if Biden is voted in? We do not know who is behind him; might it be a situation like that of the aged Hindenberg, or Petain--a reassuringly familiar old face, a trembling hand easy to guide? Why did the Democratic Party establishment so suddenly and solidly unite behind him, when other candidates still looked viable?

It is Trump, of course, that everyone is casting as Hitler. They did the same with Churchill.

Can it be stopped? Perhaps only by God. Perhaps that is what the pandemic is for. It is, at least, exposing what has been hiding in dark corners.