|The Pope's Challenge to Conservatives||At the Turn of the Cycle|
by Christopher Chantrill
April 30, 2008 at 11:40 am
LIBERALS are right about the Right-wing Noise Machine. It really is a wonder to behold, and last week it was performing like a well-tuned NASCAR race car. They say that liberals are all prepared for the inevitable swift-boating of Barack Obama. Look behind you, liberals. It already happened and, like last time, it was an own-goal scored by liberals.
This time its Bill Moyers fault. Why, oh why, Bill, did you decide that you had to put Reverend Wright up Bill Moyers Journal on April 25, 2008 so that we could all hear his side of the story? You must know that the sooner Reverend Wright is rusticated to his $1.5 million house in a gated suburban Chicago development and never heard from again the better.
So when Reverend Wright indicated on Bill Moyers show that his sermons had been taken out of context the eevil right-wing talk-show host Hugh Hewitt saw his opening. He put the whole of Reverend Wrights post 9/11 sermon and his post Iraqi Freedom sermon up on his website and ran them on his show in drive time.
I imagine that there wasnt a single bitter god-and-guns right-wing knuckle-dragging conservative who didnt have to stop the car to let the red mist of rage dissipate.
In his sermons Reverend Wright thoughtfully rehearses to an appreciative audience every humiliation ever suffered by African Americans in North America as though it had happened yesterday. He does not even forget to include the constitutions relegation of slaves to the status of three-fifths of a person. Government lies! he thunders again and again. Just to be sure that nobody misses the point the able rhetorician directs each congregant to turn to the person next to her and say: Government lies!
The purpose of such a sermon is obvious. It is to raise the consciousness of Reverend Wrights congregants to fever pitch, to forge them into unity against their elected government, to prepare them for the moral equivalent of war.
It comes as a blow to the solar plexus to confront the fact that in urban African American communities all across America a frank racist hate-filled rhetoric is not merely condoned but actually celebrated. We white conservatives have been taught for the last generation to button our lips and never to give utterance to a racist thought. We thought that we were parties to a bargain: that if we shut up and truckled to the liberal race bullies sooner or later we would emerge from the post civil-rights era and its hypocrisies of affirmative action and diversity and we would ascend to the sunny green uplands of post-racism.
Now we hear the ravings of Reverend Wright and realize that we have been had. While we were buttoning our lips and attending compulsory diversity seminars liberals were not holding up their end of the deal and neutralizing the Reverend Wrights of America and their vicious racist bile. On the contrary, liberals were pumping them up! We used to wonder how it could be that blacks voted 90 percent for Democrats. How could this be, we wondered, when you can never get more that 60 percent of the rest of America to take sides on anything?
We instinctively felt that it had to take something extraordinary to create such unity in the African American community. Now we know what it is. It is not just a few loose cannons like Reverends Jackson and Sharpton. It is, you might say, institutional.
I dont think we yet realize what a watershed moment this is in American politics. All of a sudden the veil has been ripped away from a sacred mystery and a horror revealed to an innocent world.
We know why this systemic and shameful horror has been allowed to pollute America. The day that blacks stop voting 90-10 for Democrats is the day before the day that liberals will be out of a job.
Some things are just more important than peace, justice, and racial harmony in America.
But there is more to the Wright story than that.
It took me several days to realize what was wrong with the Reverend Wrights sermonizingapart from its general meanness and its hatred of America. Finally, the penny dropped.
Reverend Wright: didnt you get the message? The civil-rights struggle is over. African Americans won. You won perhaps the noblest, most stunning victory in all history. Why do you daub its shimmering white marble monument with filth and bile?
A word to the wise, Reverend. Winston Churchill said it best: In defeat, defiance. In victory, magnanimity.
After your army has won a great victory you change the rhetoric. You stop the resentment and the defiance. Instead you inaugurate a new rhetoric that celebrates the glorious victory and memorializes the Fallen as eternal heroes. Even our liberal friends do this when they go on and on about how wonderful liberals passed wage and hour legislation, worker rights, Social Security, civil rights, womens rights, gay and lesbian rights.
Reverend Wright, why dont you preach a sermon each week for the rest of your life about the glorious victories of the civil-rights era? At the end of each sermon tell each parishioner to turn to her neighbor and say: You aint seen nothing yet!
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, 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
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
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
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