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Chapter 7: The Best Schools Beyond the Judicial Filibuster

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Perfect Storm in Atlanta

by Christopher Chantrill
March 19, 2005 at 3:20 am


SUPPOSE you were a liberal still deeply afflicted by PEST (post-election selection trauma), reeling from the Iraq election and now deeply disturbed by the Cedar Revolution in Beirut. What would finally put you on the train for Canada?

Imagine a story about a middle-class African American man accused of rape. The 210-pound athlete breaks away from his 5’-0” jailer, a 51 year-old grandmother, kills a bunch of people including a judge, and after an extended manhunt is persuaded to give himself up by a blonde young Bible-quoting widowed mother. It’s a perfect storm.

So, you say, what’s the big deal? Don’t forget that today you are not allowed to show African Americans in a negative light. You are not allowed even to think that there are some jobs that a woman can’t do as well as a man. You should avoid depicting murder and mayhem directed at the nation’s judges, who are in the middle of discovering there is “no rational purpose” to banning gay marriage. And of course, you can’t show a mere amateur talking a dangerous fugitive into giving himself up. Everyone knows that it takes trained psychologists, hostage negotiators, and intervention experts assisted by the full panoply of SWAT teams and their cool gear if you want to talk a dangerous murderer into surrender.

But then Brian Nichols and Ashley Smith broke through the wall of liberal denial like a tsunami. Accused rapist Brian Nichols was a good middle-class kid. On the other hand, maybe not. Back in his college days he was accused of assault after an incident in the dining hall. He played football at two colleges, but was kicked off a team for stealing from the locker room. He’d been in a long-term relationship with the woman he was accused of raping, but she rather went off him after he got another woman pregnant.

So he overpowered his grandmotherly guard, shot a few people, and ended up kidnapping 24 year-old widowed mother Ashley Smith at a convenience store at 2 am on Saturday morning.

News reports about Ashley Smith describe a rather purposeful young woman who, immediately after being kidnapped, started to do something about it. Pretty soon, she was reading the Bible to her captor, and then offered to read from the book she had in her bedroom. It was The Purpose-driven Life “The #1 New York Times Bestseller” by megachurch pastor Rick Warren.

They read Chapter 33 together. For those of you without your own copy to refer to, Chapter 33 is titled “How Real Servants Act.” The epigraph reads: “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.” Warren writes about how we talk a lot these days about leadership and very little about “servantship,” and that the real purpose to life is to become a good servant. The Point to Ponder at the end of the chapter is “I serve God by serving others.”

Having softened Nichols up with the Word of God and what we may, with pardonable hyperbole, call the modern version of Erasmus’s #1 bestseller Enchiridion, Smith talked to Nichols about her little daughter. If he were to kill her then her daughter, already without a father, would be an orphan, without father or mother. Nichols released her and she immediately called 911.

You can see why the Nichols-Smith saga would never pass the liberal censor. It is full of all the wrong messages. It sets up an over-indulged young Icarus who’s spent his life getting his wings burned against a young woman who is deadly serious about giving her life a purpose. It shows the liberal culture of individual self-indulgence and positive self-esteem up against conservative rules and purpose.

Our liberal friends are proud to claim their commitment to Reason. While they represent the progressive advance of Reason, conservatives are standpatters wedded to superstition. A California Superior Court judge just ruled in favor of gay marriage on the grounds that there was “no rational purpose” to oppose it.

Well, he has a point. But he could argue anything that way. He could also argue that there is “no rational purpose” to preventing a 51-year-old grandmother from guarding an accused rapist who has already been detected with makeshift weapons. There is “no rational purpose” to the idea that women cannot do any job a man can do. The only objection is common sense.

Liberals that hang their hats on Reason don’t know what they are talking about. They are turning back the clock to an exploded Enlightenment myth that thoughtful people regard as a comical superstition. In the twentieth century, the warrant for knowledge is that Reason, or theory, must check out against the facts. And better still, knowledge should, as Karl Popper proposed, be “falsifiable,” unlike the orthodoxy of the established Church of Positive Self-Esteem and the doctrine that sexual differences are nothing but social construction.

Against the orthodoxy of Reason, conservatives champion the warrant of common sense. And a good thing too.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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