Cella's Review
Politics, Culture, the Public Square

“. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Monday, May 07, 2007  

What's Wrong with the World

Some months ago my friend Josh Trevino closed up shop on another blog of his, Enchiridion Militis. Because of the generosity of a reader, who offered to host and maintain us, a successor site has been launched. The phrase enchiridion militis refers to book by Erasmus which, translated, still captures our purpose: A Handbook for the Christian Soldier.

The new site takes its name from the title of a small bold by G. K. Chesterton: What's Wrong with the World. Its statement of purpose begins: "What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: The Jihad and Liberalism."

Please come by and have a look if the subject interests you. As a taste of what you can expect there, consider this fine interpretation of Neoconservatism by my friend and contributor Jeff Martin.

Thank you for your attention.

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posted by Paul Cella | 8:49 AM |

Tuesday, April 10, 2007  

Well, well, well. Another sign of the Apocalypse of Toleration, which is the latest crisis of Liberalism: “Teachers drop the Holocaust to avoid offending Muslims.” This in the UK, a once proud nation of hardy men, now sadly reduced to a tocsin of warning for the rest of us.

It was once thought, with some justice, that what is called the Holocaust but which in truth can have no name, was the very height of evil. Good Liberals thought this, and swore to us all that they would teach this lesson to all mankind. Already they have failed, for they have abandoned this their most precious vow: abandoned it because their political philosophy, always inclined to chase after fashion, has now added to fashion the impetus of bone-chilling fear. The fashion is Tolerance as a kind of political god, and the fear of Islam is evident.

Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government-backed study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

What need be added to this? Only this:

Our governments, friends and patriots and men of the West, will become our enemies in this war before it is over, so long as they answer to the call of Tolerance. This doctrine must be repudiated. The material might of the West will be of no account, or may even be added to the enemy’s side of the ledger, if we choose to disarm ourselves intellectually. And make no mistake, the choice is being made every day: the Liberals are choosing dishonor over defeat. The Socialist mayor of London, where the Jihad struck less than two years ago, sides with the Jihad. The feminists silence their shrill vituperation in the presence of Muslims. The progressives hang their fellows toiling under Islam out to dry. Who can fail to perceive this?

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posted by Paul Cella | 10:47 AM |

Among the foundational Conservative values is simple appreciation. Gratitude for the good that he, somehow, through no merit of his own, is able to enjoy and recollect, will always be at the very heart of what animates the Conservative. It will not do for us to forget this, and accept the pretense that Conservatism is just another variety of political activism, always exercised by discontent and annoyance. This is the pretense of the professional political operatives, whose livelihood depends upon the continued agitation of segments of the population. Their business is not the happiness of man, but his unhappiness. Political operatives we will always have with us; yet the Conservative at least knows their place. And knowing the place of things is a fine formulation for wisdom.

Conservatism has given pride of place to gratitude. This is the ground of its politics.

Few have elucidated this teaching with greater care (some might even say pedantry) than the English political philosopher Michael Oakeshott, as when he wrote, “The disposition to be conservative is, then, warm and positive in respect of enjoyment, and correspondingly cool and critical in respect of change and innovation”; for change “appears always, in the first place, as deprivation.” The conservative disposition appears when “what is sought is present enjoyment and not profit, a reward, a prize or a result in addition to the experience itself.” The Conservative is grateful for the good things he enjoys, and wants to preserve them. These good things, moreover, are only occasionally associated with political things, and very rarely with exclusively political things. They happen mostly in private life: in the fellowship of good friends, in solitude with the beauty of Creation, in corporate worship of the Creator. The Conservative therefore understands much of his political duty to be the restraining of politics from encroaching on the private good that he and his countrymen enjoy. It might even be fruitful to think of Conservatism as gratitude organized into a political movement. It appears whenever a people feels its dearest things menaced by the machinations of its political class.

Now it is important to briefly note two things: (1) that this principle of appreciation, and the prudence by which it is implemented, precedes the Conservative’s judgment of the proper role of the State; and (2) that it need not be moved to action only by the actions of the State. The natural commotion of the free market might just as easily threaten something held dear by many men, and thereby call to life a Conservative resistance. If, for instance, the Conservative senses that political enthusiasm for free enterprise (a system he generally approves of) is issuing in a deadening reductionism that makes economic calculation the measure of all things, he will not hesitate to oppose it; for he will see in it a threat to some incommensurable goods. On this point the Conservative must part ways with his occasional allies the Libertarian and the Capitalist.

It is true, of course, that long experience has taught the Conservative a deep distrust of the modern State. But the Conservative, knowing his history, also knows that the modern unitary State, with its tendrils reaching into almost everything, is a consequence of a revolution made in human politics: a leveling of the older social order, with its rich tapestry of authority, distinction, and variety, and its independent sources of power. The power available to the modern State, which rushed in to fill this vacuum produced by this revolution, is beyond anything ever conceived by the most ambitious despots of the older tradition; and thus the despotisms of the modern age, as wise men like Burke foresaw, have exceeded anything ever before seen. To borrow a phrase from Evelyn Waugh, what Burke saw in Revolutionary France was the modern age in arms, a proto-totalitarian state where politics is all there is.

So the Conservative’s view of the State is ambiguous and skeptical — skeptical not only of the claims of statists, but even of the claims of anti-statists. The modern State is available for manipulation, and it is an instrument of terrible power. But it is not always in the interest of sheltering what is dear to him to effect a weakening the State. To sweep aside all laws against indecency, obscenity, or blasphemy, for instance, may indeed momentarily diminish the power of the State; and concomitantly diminish the capacity for ordered liberty. Here the Conservative may, upon examination, find that he is grateful for the mild application of legal sanction against the obscene or indecent, which would pollute the public life of his community and poison the minds of his own children. It is not true, always and everywhere, that to reduce the role or size of the State is to enlarge liberty. For off at the end, the obliteration of all those apparently trivial or even petty laws against vice may issue in a vicious people; and a vicious people, ruled by mere whim and appetite, will either be governed by a firm despot or not governed at all. Anarchy or despotism will be the lot of such a people; or worse, both at once. It does not require a great insight into the nature of things to see that men who will not govern their own appetites, and who throw up elaborate legal sophistries to protect their license, are unlikely make for a free, as in self-governing, people.

But the Conservative discovers, often to his acute regret, that his opponents are usually malcontents of some variety — “energumens,” in a term favored by Russell Kirk: men possessed. What so exercises them against the settled things of their society will always remain something of a mystery to him. But that this agitation issues in a habit of mind inimical to what the Preamble of the Constitution refers to as “domestic tranquility” is not so mysterious. The language of discontent positively permeates our politics. Senators sound more like generals when they talk of the necessity that Supreme Court nominees be prepared to “fight for women’s rights.” Our leaders conceive of new “wars” on social blights every other year. We hear talk of our country rent into “two Americas”; of the great and unending “struggle” against discrimination and prejudice; and so on. In this idiom there seems little to enjoy in the world, little to be grateful for, and much to be incensed about. Oakeshott again:

To some people, “government” appears as a vast reservoir of power which inspires them to dream of what use might be made of it. They have favourite projects, of various dimensions, which they sincerely believe are for the benefit of mankind, and to capture this source of power, if necessary to increase it, and to use it for imposing their favourite projects upon their fellows is what they understand as the adventure of governing men. They are, thus, disposed to recognize government as an instrument of passion; the art of politics is to inflame and direct desire.

This sort of politics — politics as “an instrument of passion” — fills the Conservative with alarm. It begins in some vaunted dream of a better world; it ends in cataclysm.

It is not that the Conservative is inclined to dismiss the long train of abuses, crimes, usurpations, perfidies, frauds, deceits, pillages, despoliations and betrayals that characterize so much of human history. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But the Conservative is certainly inclined to dismiss the malcontent’s delusion that only these things constitute reality, while the good things of life are mere chimeras. This bitter frame of mind, so ubiquitous in our politics, which would have various factions and constituencies provoked to unreason by the ceaseless threats to what they have so laboriously achieved, and their quietude broken by manufactured alarm — such a frame of mind the Conservative regards as dreary and pernicious heresy.

The irony is, of course, that Conservatives are often lamented as incorrigible pessimists, as crabbed and bitter old men whose only solace in a crumbling world is to wail against the iniquities of their age, like the prophets of old. It is a mistake for the observer to suppose this. Sure, there have been and still are some of these sad and romantic figures; but they are rare even in Conservative ranks. In truth most Conservatives are grateful men; and the misjudgment of them (when it is not borne of simple mistrust and malice) derives from an overestimate of the importance of politics. The Conservative often has, admittedly, a low opinion of politics, especially modern politics with its feverish Rationalism; but only with men whose estimate of the importance of politics is wildly inflated could this admission lead naturally to the conclusion that the Conservative has a low opinion of life. The Conservative, in other words, may indeed be deeply pessimistic about politics, may indeed be given to the suspicion that politics in a democracy often resolves itself into authorized plunder and choreographed vandalism; but he is certainly not so morbid an optimist as to imagine that politics is life.

The Conservative, it must be remembered, does not despise but rather honors and cherishes tradition, custom, habit, even prejudice — all constituents of, if you will, non-political life. He has not forgotten Chesterton’s aphorism that tradition is the “democracy of the dead,” which gives votes to “the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors” and “refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who just happen to be walking about.” He is firmly opposed to the strange modern compulsion to drag every principle or institution we have inherited before the tribunal of a narrow rationalism and lay out an indictment against it. But unfortunately, it is this compulsion that has become the primary preoccupation of modern politics; and thus for the Conservative politics appears all too often as an anarchic but determined assault on those things most dear and venerable to him.

Some examples:

¶ Over the last fifty years and more, the opponents of Conservatism, a motley and vigorous lot, have regularly been seen celebrating and advancing what is referred to as “the separation of church and state.” Now the Conservative generally has no problem with the principle (from which this catchphrase derives) of religious freedom as it was understood by the Framers and articulated in our founding documents: Contrary to received opinion, there have been very few theocrats within the ranks of modern Conservatives. Liberty of conscience is indeed dear to us. But when the Conservative learns that, according to the Ninth Circuit Court, the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is a violation of religious freedom, but having public school students recite Muslim prayers, adopt Muslim names, and perform Muslim customs, is not, the Conservative suspects that a fine political principle has been conquered and transformed by the politics of the malcontents and must be regarded, in most cases, as an instrument of the enemy. Such a peculiar contortion of the constitutional principle could only be accomplished by abrogating the force of tradition and prescription. Despite the ineradicable fact that America’s heritage is Christian, something evident to all until about 1970, it is asserted that Islam, atheism and Christianity must be approached from a position of rigid rational equality, with even a certain favoritism extended to the minority. For such ahistorical mania the Conservative has little patience. To a man grateful that he may worship his Maker in peace, his conscience protected, though never imagining that error should be given equal stature as truth, it can only be a drab and degrading nightmare for irreligion to make religious liberty its instrument of usurpation.

¶ Over a similar range of time, the brazen celebration of sexual deviancy — which is increasingly the mark of our popular culture — and the concomitant denigration of normalcy, has filled the Conservative with dismay and revulsion. Having few illusions about the power of the sexual impulse in human beings, the Conservative sees this also as a poisonous anarchy of discontent. The spectacle of confused men and women actually making a formal political identification of themselves by their sexual proclivities, this dreary politicization of the intimate, is yet more evidence of the sickness of our politics. And on this point the Conservative emphatically breaks ranks with the Capitalist, for nothing is more certain than that our Capitalists have joined the madness, are exploiting and profiting by it.

¶ The transformation of patriotism into ideology is another trend that the Conservative views with apprehension. Patriotism, rightly understood, is a quintessentially Conservative sentiment, for it is rooted in gratitude, and is activated by the feeling that something precious is threatened. For most normal men, patriotism is as natural as filial piety, love and affectation for one’s kindred; and since a normal man hardly needs a carefully-reasoned treatise to discover that he loves his father, neither (in the view of the Conservative) does he need an elaborate ideology in order to love his country. Patriotism is resistant to precise articulation, and does not in any way require precise articulation to carry its power. Grown men do not grow teary-eyed at the chords of “America the Beautiful” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” because they have been argued into a love of their country. It is obvious (or should be) that patriotism is not itself a virtue, but rather the effect of a prior virtue, which we might label piety or loyalty. The Conservative worries that only an impious age would attempt to replace instinctual loyalty with abstracted intellectual conviction. For if to love one’s country means endorsing an ideology — the ideology, say, of democracy and the rights of man — then what meaning have we given to treason: no longer active disloyalty and treachery but mere disagreement?

When the Conservative looks outward upon his world, he sees a great deal to love and cherish. Much is dear to him, and his contentment is often very evident. His world is not shattered by the revelation that men are, more often than not, rapacious and deceitful. He feels deep indignation at injustice, but he does not expect true justice from man, much less from the politics of men. What he expects are approximations of justice; and he perceives that, certainly in our day, most classes of injustice lie not in some obstinate clinging to poor approximations, but in impatient betrayals of good ones. His objection to Progress is usually just an objection to decay and obscurantism masquerading as progress. History is really not replete with aspiring tyrants or fatal visionaries who safely advertised their calamitous ideas as awful, oppressive, sanguinary Decline, thus allowing good men to thwart them. Quite the contrary. Oakeshott gave us a fine phrase for the proper politics of Conservatism: the “politics of repair.” Not merely, as should be immediately apparent, repair of the good things undone by the malcontents, but also repair of those good things that have grown frail or exhausted: the reform of what ought to be preserved but will not survive the impatient intrigues of our impatient times.

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posted by Paul Cella | 8:32 AM |

Monday, February 19, 2007  

Reviewing a recent book called American Islam in the last weekend’s Wall Street Journal (subscription only for the full article), Shawn Macomber begins with a real head-scratcher of a paragraph:

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, most Americans recognize that there is no Islamist fifth column in the U.S. If even a small fraction of the four to six million Muslims in America were part of such an enterprise, the color-coded terrorist-threat levels would consist only of several shades of red and the Council on American-Islamic Relations would have more pressing concerns than the latest season of “24.”

If you've ever wondered how much confusion can be packed into a couple sentences, the above two should at least provide a benchmark. The first, aside from being singularly infelicitous of composition, is bereft of any functional meaning at all: the relation of its first clause to its second is either fantastically obscure or positively perverse. And the second sentence, while perhaps less obscure in meaning, is even more superficial in meaning. The paragraph is, in short, cut-rate sophistry. It tries to pawn off a very dubious assumption by means of some very awkward sleight-of-hand.

Later we read of one Osama Siblani of Dearborn, a man who, from humble beginnings, founded a newspaper that has become influential in local and regional politics. “From pauper to kingmaker,” comments Macomber; “truly the best of America.” Soon, however, we learn that this example of the best of America is on record supporting “the Iraqi resistance against American forces,” and publishes in his newspapers such fare as “U.S., U.K., and Israel: The Real Axis of Evil.” Sedition: the best of America.

Macomber notes several examples of Muslim outrage at American sexual license. According to the book under review, two thirds of American Muslims regard America as “immoral” on these grounds. Macomber’s gloss on this is as follows:

Yes, America is the Land of Opportunity. It’s also, famously, the home of “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.” It’s true enough that American citizens need to show cultural sensitivity to diverse newcomers; but sensitivity is a two-way street. A pluralistic, affluent society needs to be understood on its own terms, too: It is a great place to escape repression and economic stagnation, but it is most certainly not fertile ground for suburban caliphates based on seventh-century mores.

Now this is an arresting summary for at least two reasons. First, because it implies that American identity is found in pluralism and affluence, the former exemplified by the fact that, as he states elsewhere, “women here dress and behave as they please,” and latter by the fact that much of our wealth is tied up in the success of fabricated depictions of depravity and decadence, like the above-mentioned television shows. And second, because it implies that opposition to this identity can only be the product of “seventh-century mores.” America the Decadent, love it or leave it.

This is how a right-wing newspaper and an up-and-coming right-wing writer handle the complicated problem of Islam in America. On the one hand by simply assuming, in a particularly clumsy and unpersuasive way, that there is no “fifth column” threat from Muslims in this country; and on the other hand by formulating the character of American identity is emphatically Liberal terms.

The most concise way to sum all this up is to say that Mr. Macomber, sadly like so many on the Right, has made two grievous errors: he has erred in his estimate of the enemy, and he has erred in his estimate of us.

Since September 11 there have in fact been quite a number of razzias, launched against Americans by jihadists in our midst. Most of them have been forgotten — precisely because remembering them is too distressing. The assumption that there is no fifth column must be maintained: and so these jihadist raids are forgotten. The DC snipers. The El Al ticket counter shooting at LAX. The Seattle Jewish center shooting. The hit-and-run attack by an Iranian student at the University of North Carolina. The grenade attack by a Muslim soldier on the eve of the Iraq war. Razzias, each of them — and perpetrated by members of American Muslim communities. That the press, both right and left, for the most part resolutely refuses to make the connection between these crimes and the doctrine of jihad, does not mean there is no connection, or that it is not evident to the discerning mind. It means only that something prevents the operation of critical intelligence upon this matter. It means only that men cling more tightly to their ideological assumptions than they do to their patriotism. It means only that it is more important to them to think proper thoughts about a sensitive topic, than to think truly. It means, in fine, that they have disabled their reason, in order to accord properly with the prejudices of the age.

The second error is a problem outside the scope of my brief essay here. I will content myself with noting how really remarkable it is to observe soi disant conservatives rendering the identity of America purely in Liberal terms. Material advancement — “from pauper to kingmaker” — and a “pluralism” which abjures all moral censure on sexual matters: these, according to the right-wing scribes of today, are what define America. They have taken for granted the left-wing argument of a generation ago. They are conserving Liberalism.

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posted by Paul Cella | 10:49 AM |

Friday, February 16, 2007  


“I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas.” That, reportedly, is what Karl Rove pronounced recently as a defense of his boss’s immigration policy. Mark Kirkorian answers it well here. Mr. Kirkorian bemoans the fact that it is now necessary “to explain why this is an obscene statement”; I agree with him. The Republican Party, under the leadership of George W. Bush and Karl Rove, has come to believe and teach that some work really is beneath us, that the lawyer or financial analyst really is “somehow better than the parking-lot attendant.” It is difficult to imagine an uglier trend in our politics than this.

Karl Rove is not alone in his expression of this trend. We have heard its like many times. It is rather horrifying to see this brazen appeal to class interests; and the horror is only magnified by the denigration of some category of honest work. A rather provocative way to state the problem is that the Republican Party, under its current leadership, is advancing a plutocratic theory of politics: an aristocracy of wealth. But even this does not capture the full ugliness of the thing, for in a true plutocracy, no form of wealth is derided. That a man made his fortune by, let us, “picking tomatoes” or “making beds,” does not bar him from entry into power. But here it is indicated that some occupations are dishonorable by nature, and that even success at them is contemptible.

It is noteworthy to me that this position flips the whole “jobs American won’t do” argument on its head. It’s not that there are jobs Americans won’t do: it’s that there are jobs we shouldn’t, because we are better that. Some are born to be served; and some are born to serve.

This sort of arrogance and elitsim, I submit, positively permeates the immigration enthusiast position among political strategists. There are those who are immigration enthusiasts out of a misplaced idealism, an overconfidence in a culture that has lost its nerve, compounded by a complacency with the sedition in the street and treachery in the administration of our laws. But the idealists have a strong and influential ally in the calculators and sophisters, who do not share their admirable idealism. For this latter faction, I do not hesitate to use words like “betrayal,” “treachery,” and even “treason.” They have betrayed the ideals of their party; and the effect of their machinations is to subvert the ideals which are integral to the American political tradition.

I suspect that the betrayal derives from despair or resignation. These men are realists, by and large: they are not possessed of any illusions about the mettle of American culture; they are well aware that the assimilationist ethic has been overthrown; they have seen the failure of such eminently mild things as removing bilingual education, and have read the writing on the wall. Except this writing is not the doom of God’s judgment, but of Mammon’s. They want to get ahead of the wave of the future; plutocracy, servitude, balkanization, the dissolution of the Republic and the dispossession of our inheritance as Americans.

We may not, in the end, be able to defeat their contrivances; but God help us if we join them. If we are to lose this struggle, let us leave a monument for our descendents that, should it survive the scrubbing of history contemplated by the coming regime (a scrubbing already perceptible in our public schools, in our new myths and legends, in the falsification of history our academics peddle), will teach those who care to know that not everyone was lost to despair and false hopes when the Republic was imperiled.


posted by Paul Cella | 1:19 PM |

Last Fall, ISI released yet another college guide. But this one is different, and worthy of particular attention. It’s editor is John Zmirak, author of Wilhelm Röpke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist and The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living. I recently interviewed him via email.

Paul Cella: Mr. Zmirak, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. First, if you would, tell us briefly how All-American Colleges differs from all the other college guides out there.

John Zmirak: There are several ways in which our guide sets itself apart. First of all, it is based on a solid vision of what education ought to be, against which we are able to judge the institutions we consider. That vision is the same one most eloquently described by John Henry Newman in his The Idea of a University: A place which is not primarily concerned either with research or political activism, but rather with passing along the great body of knowledge that has accumulated (and continues to accumulate) in various disciplines. This should happen first through the medium of a solid core curriculum which introduces students to the history, culture, institutions, arts and literature of the civilization which “hosts” that educational institution. In China, such a curriculum ought to be Confucian (though nowadays it will still be infused with that toxic Western export, Marxism). In the Germany, it ought to focus on German culture, and in the U.S. it ought to stress Anglo-American institutions and history.

Second, building on that core, students’ specializations should be serious, foundational, and grounded in the real historic development of each discipline; what is more, the course work should be structured, with prerequisites such as highly informative survey courses mandated before students are permitted to delve into the sort of arcana which professors like to study — because it complements their research.

Third, a school should be focused on teaching, and should reward faculty members at least as much for serving their paying customers and intellectual wards — the students — as for contributing ever more recondite articles to the stacks of unreadable academic journals that litter our libraries.

Finally, a school should provide a wholesome, civil, safe and decent environment — where parents can be confident that their children will at least have the opportunity (although they cannot be compelled) to practice the virtues and carry on the beliefs which the parents strove to inculcate in their young.

We have chosen some 50 schools, out of many worthy candidates, where we believe that many or most of the above ideals are realized.

PC: In your Introduction, you elegantly define “true liberty” as “the capacity and inclination to choose the good.” How has the average established American university departed from this ideal of liberal education? Is this departure reversible?

JZ: The old ideal of American education was always progressive in a genuine sense; teachers and administrators strove, in our newly democratic environment, to provide the children of farmers, workers, recent immigrants, et cetera, who had the talent to learn, with the best fruits of the Western heritage which (as we remembered back then) were what made a liberal society possible. In the 1940s and 50s, even closeted Marxist professors saw the extraordinary value of teaching the classics, of trying to raise the sons of the working class to the cultural level previously only available to the aristocracy. Historically black colleges undertook the same task for the descendants of slaves. In the 1960s, the radicalism of the New Left abandoned the goal of elevating America’s poor — a grim task, which had previous generations of leftists working with coal miners to organize labor unions — and embraced exotic ideologies, hedonism, grossly lowered academic standards, and cheaply acquired “virtue” attained by shrugging off the heritage of centuries’ struggle for liberty, order, and prosperity. As timorous administrators gave into their demands, education descended into the welter of polemic, grievance-based indoctrination, and utter mediocrity which characterizes most universities today — with isolated exceptions of good, old-fashioned teachers who hold out against the odds in various academic departments at otherwise compromised colleges. In our other guide, we try to give the names of some of these holdovers from better days, and lay out the best courses students can take even if they find themselves at a bad school.

PC: In a recent article, Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College (one of the schools examined in All-American Colleges) refers to a Draft Report out of President Bush’s Department of Education, which “does not mention religion, God or morality. It does not mention history as a subject of study. It does not mention the Constitution, either for what it commands or allows, or as a subject of study. Although busy governing, the Report does not mention government as a subject of study. Philosophy, literature, happiness, goodness, beauty are not to be seen.” This sort of rootless, sterile, technocratic document has become standard for education experts of both parties. Do you see any reasonable hope for restoration from the political world?

JZ: The only hope I would hold out for a restoration of education from political sources would come in the form of funding cuts to the humanities. In most public and elite universities, these fields are hopelessly compromised, almost entirely in the hands of tenured radicals who cannot be removed, and who vote to choose their future colleagues and successors. I would be loath to see the federal government try ham-handedly to impose educational goals and political fairness on such departments; such an attempt would probably work about as well as “No Child Left Behind,” Title IX, affirmative action laws, and our futile attempt to turn Iraq into Switzerland by making the rubble bounce. A large-scale withdrawal of federal and state funds from university programs — except those in math, the sciences, and foreign languages which have some relevance to national security — would force universities to cut back on programs which exist mainly to transfer leftist ideology to impressionable young minds, and to seek funding from donors (such as parents and alumni) who are much more effective at exerting positive pressure on college administrators than political hacks who work for legislators.


posted by Paul Cella | 1:08 PM |

Wednesday, January 31, 2007  

With the promulgation of A Reactionary’s Shorter Catechism — and despite its probable deficiencies, beginning even in its questionable character as, indeed, a catechism — we hoped to provoke a conversation. Conversations, after all, are what republics are all about. As distinguished from democracies where the exercise of will is not delayed by a deliberative institution, a republic filters its sovereignty through representative assembles whose primary purpose is to talk. These deliberative assemblies are instituted in order to represent the people, in whom rests the final sovereignty — in the idiom of the Federalist, it rests in “the people themselves” — and therefore the debate inside these institutions is expected to reflect a larger debate outside them, that is, out there in the republic.

One of the clear points of contention in the conversation that ensued upon the promulgation of the dubious Catechism, concerned the status of what was called the “Liberal pact.” This pact is probably best described as of Lockean providence; and it signifies that quintessential “functional atheism” of modern political philosophy. Man is conjectured, at least for political purposes, as driven primarily by his acquisitive passions. He is defined by his desires. He is through and through a material being. Thus politics becomes an enterprise of peace-making in the midst of what would otherwise be a ruthless pursuit of these things, a “war of all against all.” The peace-maker is accepted by all men, in their emergence from this brutish “state-of-nature,” and this contract is the foundation of the State. In the darker visions, where a solid sense of the Fall endures, the State becomes Leviathan. In the brighter versions, it becomes a mere adjudicator of competing rights-claims. But in all versions, the permanent questions of God and Man — or, if you like, of the nature and destiny of man — are, as my co-author put it, “bracketed” and removed to the private realm.

Much of our conversation concerned the status of this theory — another common phrase for it is “social contractarian” — in the American political tradition. Is America, or is she not, a nation founded upon a strict social contract model of politics?

Now let us not underestimate the importance of this question. A great deal hangs upon it; and until we dispel the confusion that surrounds it — one need only look at the long and convoluted comments discussing it to realize that there is considerable confusion indeed — the progress of our conversation (which, to repeat, is what republics are all about) will be hindered. For instance, if the pact is in force, if it enjoys constitutional status, then our Liberals are quite right to fear and loathe the encroachment of religion upon politics; for these encroachments, even when they have no official state sanction, augur a dangerous usurpation of the contract from whence comes the very legitimacy of the state. In constituting ourselves a people we deliberately set aside such questions; our first act as a nation was to “bracket” questions of the nature and destiny of man. Nor is that all: for not only is religion a usurpation, or at any rate an aspiring one — so, also, is justice, or at least justice defined as anything other than the fulfilling of contracts. As one of the Republic’s great writers put it, “This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation” — except that the statement was true, not merely when Justice Scalia wrote it, in a dissent to a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, but from the moment when the American Republic began. Morals legislation means laws designed to, as it were, interfere in even private contracts for no other reason than that the moral sense of the community is offended by them. Morals legislation, strictly speaking, does not speculate that the activity to be proscribed is physically harmful (though it may occasionally call upon physical harm as an ancillary argument), and thus, in the social contractarian view, it cannot be justified, because only physical harm, a threatened reprise of the “war of all against all,” can rouse Leviathan. Quite apart from its validity — a question which the Peace-maker State remains pristinely agnostic about — the Peace-maker State is not in the business of enforcing the morality of the community.

Nor is that all: the acceptance of the social contract model as fundamental to our political tradition means that the Libertarian view of Free Speech is unassailable. It is obvious that the peaceful adjudication of competing desires requires a free interchange of ideas and expression. It is clear, moreover, that only physical violence may rouse Leviathan. Therefore, a sort of Free Speech absolutism must reign. Exceptions from this orthodoxy (and even the strictest Libertarian must recognize some exceptions) will be afforded only the most grudging of acknowledgements, and even then only by various legal devices of dubious character. Again, the point to emphasize is that the Liberal pact will not allow the exercise of the moral sense of the community to operate through legislation.

I do not flatter myself that this debate can be ended here and now. My more humble purpose is to merely advance the conversation. With that in mind, I will offer a few brief sketches of the sort of solid evidence that this theory must contend with in order to be persuasive. In short, I aim to offer counterpoints to the argument that the Liberal pact is at back of the American political tradition.

(a) The Preamble to the United States Constitution. In a word, it is not the sort of prefatory note one would expect from strict social contractarians. It sets out six purposes toward which “We the People” aspire; and several of them do not fit the bill of the Liberal pact at all. One of our purposes is Union or unity. Another is the establishment of Justice. Yet another embraces not merely “ourselves” but also “our Posterity,” thus unmistakably expanding the supposed contract to men and women not yet even alive, and therefore quite unable to assert their desires.

(b) Self-government. One of the most crucial phrases in the Federalist is this one: “the deliberate sense of the community.” Both Hamilton and Madison use it, and moreover use it will sweeping implications. Madison (No. 63): “the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers . . .” Hamilton (No. 71) “The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs . . .” Now this sounds suspiciously like an endorsement of moral legislation. If the deliberate sense of the community on obscenity, on sedition, on deceptive advertising, or on a dozen other things, is to be thwarted by the social contract at back of our tradition — why, then, according to Publius both “free government” and “the republican principle” is frustrated by the very document by which we made ourselves a republic under a free government. In other words, the Liberal pact stands in opposition to self-government; indeed it prevents self-government on some matters touching on things, judging by the intensity of the debate on them, of deep importance to a great many people. We are, according to this theory, a republic that thwarts the republican principle; and a government that by design stands in contrast to “all free governments.”

(c) Lincoln and purpose. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In this most famous of all sentences in American oratory, Abraham Lincoln actually sets forth four propositions. (1) “Our fathers brought forth . . . a new nation.” (2) It was “conceived in Liberty.” (3) It was “dedicated” to a “proposition.” (4) This proposition was “that all men are created equal.” All but one (the first) of these propositions is in tension with the Liberal pact. Lincoln may be espousing a contractarian theory of sorts, but it is emphatically not one defined by the adjudication of material desires. Proposition 3 alone seems quite irreconcilable with the Liberal pact. The new nation is “dedicated” to a higher purpose, which is something much more than mere procedural neutrality. If equality — so high a purpose as to require the bloody butcher’s bill commemorated by Lincoln in his brief oration — is conceived as nothing more than the neutrality of the state in the peaceful pursuit of acquisition, well, then I’m a donut.

(d) The Declaration of Independence. In American literature there is also a most famous of all passages — the one to which Lincoln hearkened back. Usually its later clauses are emphasized, but it seems to me that the ringing phrase with which it opens deserves more careful attention: “we hold these truths.” Our fathers brought forth a new nation, and they set its foundation upon truths held in common: shared beliefs about, if I may be so bold in rounding out my argument, the nature and destiny of man. To fancy that these shared truths extend only to the neutral character of the state, and the desire for peace in the midst of competition is, I’m afraid, to render much of the power and nobility of the American tradition absurd. It is a strange and almost pathetic man who, “with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” pledges his Life, his Fortune and his sacred Honor to the cause of procedural neutrality in the service of acquisition.

Those who set the Liberal pact at back of the American tradition have some tangles indeed to unravel.

posted by Paul Cella | 2:24 PM |

With this — “There is no place in our society for discrimination. That’s why I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple.” — Tony Blair has proclaimed the constitution of Liberal society. Of course, even in this, there is mendacity, for what the British Prime Minister is actually supporting is not any “right” but a piece of coercion. His Government will provide no exemption from its supreme principle of non-discrimination for the Catholic Church; the latter will be coerced into compliance, or she will cease to facilitate the adoption of children. “There can be no exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies offering public funded services from regulations that prevent discrimination.”

Britain has enthroned Nondiscrimination as its King; and he is a jealous monarch indeed. But he is quite feeble. He can tyrannize his own but he cannot protect them. He commands no respect, but rather provokes contempt. It is said by many terrorism experts that London is the most dangerous city in the world. Well over a dozen countries have suffered terror attacks perpetrated by residents of that city: London, the very cradle of liberal democracy. One would be hard-pressed to discover a more resounding refutation of the idea of democracy as an antidote to the Jihad than this.

There is no place for discrimination in Great Britain, says Tony Blair; but there is a place for the soldiers and propagandists of the Jihad. Logically, there must be, because Britons, by law, cannot discriminate against them. Even the “moderate” mosques preach sedition, and are protected in this by the titles and honors awarded by this new King. This is liberal democracy, pursued to its logical ends. Discrimination implies inequality, while equality is the very mark of democracy.

The vital thing to understand is that the correction for this madness cannot come from within Liberalism itself. It cannot. The principle of nondiscrimination is unassailable on Liberal theory. “There can be no exemptions.” To check the madness one must look elsewhere.

A number of American Conservatives have cultivated an understandable affection for Tony Blair. They remember that he stood with us in our hour of need. They remember his friendship to America. Understandable this may be (I feel it myself); tenable it is no longer. Tony Blair’s Britain is but a shadow of the Empire. He has overseen the construction of the perfect Liberal State, feeble, licentious, despotic, haven for terrorists but inhospitable for Christians. He is truly the minister of the King.

posted by Paul Cella | 2:22 PM |

In an age when so much of what is called conservatism seems to consist of a tenacious defense of the structures of thought which have ushered in our decline — when, in short, conservatives make their boldest efforts to conserve the Liberalism that paralyzes us — there is just cause in adopting the label “reactionary.” It is, after all, only sane to react against madness. “Reaction,” averred Paul Elmer More, “it is essentially to answer action with action, to oppose to the welter of circumstance the force of discrimination and selection, to direct the aimless tide of change by reference to the co-existing law of immutable fact, to carry the experience of the past into the diverse impulses of the present, and so to move forward in an orderly progression.” More was a man of uncommon insight and learning. That he is forgotten, even by his direct descendents on the American Right, is only a mark against them. Below is A Reactionary’s Shorter Catechism, hammered out by myself and long-time Redstate reader Maximos, with input from many others. It is offered in the spirit of More’s further remarks: “If any young man, feeling now within himself the power of accomplishment, hesitates to be called a reactionary . . . let him take courage. The world is not contradicted with impunity, and he who sets himself against the world’s belief will have need of all a man’s endurance and all a man’s strength.” Herewith, we contradict the world:

¶ Human nature is not elastic, but rather constant; and the corrupt aspects will always be with us.

¶ Man is indeed a reasoning being, but often he is moved by nonrational factors. These latter do not bear an intrinsic mark of censure.

¶ There is great peril in the reckless use reason to pry into the nonrational aspects of our history and traditions: like Noah’s son looking upon his nakedness, the brazenness of reason my issue in ruin.*

¶ If progress occurs at all, it is slow, unsteady and often obscure.

¶ The misuse of the label progress has concealed some of the most terrible political calamities in history; the very word has been rendered untrustworthy.

¶ The institution of the State emanates from the nature of man, who is a political animal, organizing collectively to shelter his tradition and community.

¶ Man always expresses the sociality of his nature; the only differences are those of degree. Pure “state-of-nature” individualism is an illusion or a willed act of renunciation.

¶ Prudence, the “the cause, root, mother, measure, precept, guide, and prototype of all ethical virtues,”† is fundamental in politics. It represents a man’s vital connection with things as they are, without which any action is futile. A man must sit in silence before what is before he can act rightly.

¶ The political realm is the expression of a people’s will-to-survive, and their desire to perpetuate themselves and their culture; it is not an expedient by which the accumulation of wealth is to be made as free of obstacles as rationally conceivable.

¶ No right is more vital to the liberty of a people than the right of private property. A business corporation is but a derivative of private property, and its standing in law should reflect this fact.

¶ Bereft of order, liberty cannot exist. A functional order is the sine qua non of a legitimate state. Moreover, a beneficent civil order is a precious and fragile thing, and requires public vigilance and private virtue to maintain.

¶ There is a presumption in favor of Free Speech, but it is hardly absolute. Few clauses of the Philadelphia Constitution have been more abused, and twisted from their original meaning, than the First Amendment.

¶ Disloyalty is a permanent political problem, and historically has been a particularly ruinous one. There is no facile solution to it. Excesses on either side of it have issued in catastrophe.

¶ A State may legitimately claim the loyalty of its citizens or subjects. This claim, however, is far from absolute.

¶ There no presumption of protection for political discourse ranging over questions of the violent replacement of the Constitution, as the latter not a suicide pact. Sedition is a crime and ought to remain one.

¶ A healthy polity will have a majority population and culture; contemporary orthodoxy on diversity tends towards anarchy and strife.

¶ The right of a community to maintain its identity, autonomy, and independence is among the first principles of a free polity.

¶ A government may become destructive of these ends, calling forth resistance from the community. Revolt, like war, should be analyzed through the two-tier method of traditional Just War doctrine: jus ad bellum and jus in bello. A just cause for revolt may be dishonored by its conduct; and even an unjust cause may be conducted honorably.

¶ The variety of human life is most vivid in the organic development of traditional life. Its deepest wellsprings are in patterns of thought and custom, in mores and liturgy, not superficial qualities. To delight in it is natural; to crush it unnatural and tyrannical; to shelter its natural limits one of the basic duties of the state.

¶ Tradition and custom need not constantly explain or justify themselves as practice or policy. The presumption is in their favor. To drag them before the bar of a rigid rationalism is profound impiety.

¶ Men, and societies of men, are ultimately more apt to maintain loyalties among those who are like them. This is natural and not to be either deplored or extirpated, but rather disciplined by civic virtue.

¶ Cultures and civilizations vary widely and profoundly, not only in customs, but in terms of mindsets, ways of seeing the world, and potential for humane achievements.

¶ Indiscriminate blending of cultures is thus undesirable, and more often than not an at least implicit act of aggression against the existing majority culture.

¶ The Liberal compact, by which questions of ultimate existential import are bracketed, and questions of temporal prosperity and the adjudication of rights-claims pursued, is an act of violence against human nature, a displacement that occasions the rise of messianic political doctrines.

¶ Economics is a tool, which answers to other masters. We cannot use economics to articulate our picture of the good life any more than we can use biology to tell us why human life is sacred, or chemistry why a glass of beer after a hard day’s work is such a great pleasure, or physics why men look to the heavens with such awe.

¶ Science, like economics, must learn its place — subordinate to the higher values of civilization, and not master of them.

¶ The traditional family — mother, father and children — must be privileged in law and in society; no other relationship is permitted to assert equality or parity with it.

¶ Freedom is impossible without virtue. Republican self-government is impossible without private self-control. The discipline of self-denial is a prerequisite of public liberty.

¶ Voting is not a right but a privilege. Its abuse is rampant, and to contain it is a valid object of public policy. More damaging to a republic than corrupt politicians are corrupt voters.

¶ In a republic, the Legislative Branch of government, being at once most representative and most deliberate, must be, if not supreme, at least primary over the other branches. This principle was built into the very fabric of our Constitution, and can be seen clearly in the veto-override, the impeachment power, the Necessary and Proper clause, and other devices.

¶ The American traditions of federalism, states’ rights, and localism deserve the deepest respect and cultivation: for in them is the truest protection of liberty.

* Burke: “we have consecrated the state . . . that no man should approach to look into its defects or corruptions but with due caution; that he should never dream of beginning its reformation by its subversion; that he should approach to the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with pious awe and trembling solicitude. By this wise prejudice we are taught to look with horror on those children of their country who are prompt rashly to hack that aged parent in pieces, and put him into the kettle of magicians, in hopes that by their poisonous weeds, and wild incantations, they may regenerate the paternal constitution, and renovate their father’s life.”

† Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues.

posted by Paul Cella | 2:19 PM |

Wednesday, January 24, 2007  

GKC, "Three Acres & a Cow"

It is by now almost a truism to say that a society’s celebration of “diversity” appears to be inversely related to its actual respect for it. America under the tyranny of political correctness has become a place of deadening uniformity, coerced at times, but more often than not chosen individually under the pressure of convention. People actually prefer to annihilate the variety that is in them. I work with a considerable number of bright young women, blessed with that wonderful accent of the American South, who outlay large amounts of time and money to obliterate it — through speech classes and the like. It is a deliberate dispossession in the service of stultifying sameness.

One thing that will immediately strike anyone who takes the time (and it will be time well-spent) to engage the older literature of American Conservatism, is the marvelous variety of these characters. Here you will find real diversity. Here, if you are a person of sensitive and critical intellect, you may be purged of the unthinking prejudice of our age, which tells you that diversity consists in the superficial — in matter and not in mind.

Old Russell Kirk wore a cloak, was a masterful teller of ghost stories, repudiated the automobile (a “mechanical Jacobin”) and the television, and quietly opened his home to young journalists, refugees and the homeless. Willmoore Kendall, son of a blind itinerant preacher, was so savage a debater that he stands still today (so they say) as the only Ivy League professor whose contract was bought out in order to rid the place of his devastating polemics of reaction. He could drink most people under the table, upon conversion secured from the Vatican two simultaneous annulments (which may be another first), and finished his career with brilliant treatises which discovered in the American founding a restatement of classical Natural Law. Frank Meyer, author of the doctrine of “fusionism” between Conservatives and Libertarians, was an incorrigible night owl and chain-smoker, commencing interminable arguments and discussions over the phone into the wee hours of the morning. A pugnacious atheist for his whole career, he converted to Rome on his deathbed. Anyone who has seen William F. Buckley on television will discern instantly what a character he must be. Whitaker Chambers was a haunted man, having gone “off the grid” for a decade as an agent of Communism — before discerning, in an flash of grace and insight, that God is real and thus Communism is madness and treason. He found Hope, but never what is called optimism. He became a farmer. The “auxiliaries of Conservatism,” Chesterton and Belloc, were men of extraordinary verve and personality. You can hardly read a line of verse or prose from them without realizing you are in the presence of a real character.

My point is that these men were examples of the real practical variety of human life that the ideologues of Diversity would annihilate. Kirk even made variety one of his Six Canons: Conservatives affirm an “affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.” Sometimes this comes down to something so simple as being able to hold two complex thoughts in mind at the same time; for example, that a regime which countenances or even embraces a great evil like slavery or abortion, may yet produce good and admirable men. Or that even soldiers fighting for wicked men and wicked causes are capable of valor and gallantry.

This variety, which in my view is one of the glories of the Conservative tradition, is also partly explains the difficulty of holding such people together in a political movement. Why are Conservatives so bad at political machination? Why do they tend toward factionalism? Because their interests and passions and personalities are so marvelously varied. Very few of them really care for the exercise of political power; even fewer care for the grasping and clawing that attends the approach toward political power; almost all of them chafe unbearably under the shackles of bureaucracies. They do not live and breathe politics. Official Washington repels them. Unless they are natives, they rarely have a high opinion of New York City. They love their homes in distant cow-towns. They are Westerners, or Southerners, or lovers of the Great Plains. Kendall’s Conservatism, he often said, was an “Appalachia to the Rockies” sort of philosophy. The entry of these people into politics is usually reluctant, spurred on by a perception of a threat to their homes.

America — or America for most of her history at any rate — was careful to shelter these people. Long after the war was over General Lee was still admired, even in the North, for his principled stand with his country, which was, of course, the Commonwealth of Virginia. And even down in the Deep South, after defeat and subjugation, schoolchildren were asked to memorize a short speech by an Illinois frontier lawyer, delivered almost as an afterthought at the little college town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. America was a magnanimous place; a place of variety and an expansive spirit.

What is left of this after the long march of centralization and regimentation is difficult to say. American variety is not yet lost, but it is dying. We might mark the stages of its death by observing the ascendance of the ideology of Diversity. King Diversity will suffer no rivals to his lonely throne.

Capitalism is as much to blame for this as Socialism. It is Capitalism, after all, that inflicts upon us all a mass culture that is fundamentally pornographic and often simply vile. During last Sunday’s football games, there had to be at least a half dozen lucid commercials for these preposterous horror films — films, I’m told, that are among the most reliably profitable of any genre — that made me grateful my girls were playing in the other room. In short it is not government; it is not Leftism; it is Capitalism that has made even a football broadcast untrustworthy. It is Capitalism as well that insists upon the dispossession of our culture for cheap labor. It is, in other words, Capitalism that lubricates the skids toward a centralized uniformity. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried a fascinating article about the preparations being made among the captains of industry for conformity to climate change orthodoxy. Now I don’t have a strong opinion about climate change, but from the article it seems pretty clear that what is coming is yet another demonstration of the difference between Capitalism and Free Enterprise. The former is not inherently hostile to State intervention, much less to centralization; it is concerned foremost with insuring that the intervention can be made profitable.

Conservatism is a sense can be understood as a defense of normalcy against deviancy. But this formulation, whatever its merits, seems to shortchange the enormous variety contained in “normal.” The confusion and disorder in our age can be seen in our romance of the deviant and our derision of the normal. It can also be seen in the truth of Chesterton’s remark that asserting any of the cardinal virtues today “has all the exhilaration of vice”; or in his admonition: “Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal, and that you are a paralytic.”

We have forgotten the adventure of the normal life of virtue. We have forgotten that evil is banal and goodness vital and lively. That “Appalachia to the Rockies” Conservatism, its great and lively figures who would indeed be shocked at what we are accustomed to, can teach us again what we once knew well. Down with King Diversity; he is a tyrant and a usurper. Let us have back our freedom and our variety.

posted by Paul Cella | 1:50 PM |

Monday, January 22, 2007  

I have said that Jihad is a wicked doctrine. I have said this because I believe it. But I have not said that Islam is a wicked religion. Nor have I said that Arabs are a wicked people. The bewilderment attendant to this issue is so great as to make repetition of these distinctions necessary. But there is a curiosity here. For at least two years following September 11, 2001 (the date when my education in Islam really began), I was prevented from arriving at this judgment of the wickedness of Jihad by two things; the first was ignorance of Islam, and the second an ideological assumption that religious doctrines cannot be fundamentally evil.

The curiosity is that the correction of the former forced a reassessment of the latter; and reassessment exposed the astonishing feebleness of latter. Once acknowledge that religious doctrines can be wicked, and it does not take much intensive study to discover that Jihad must be named among the most wicked. The natural reason of every ethical man revolts against a doctrine which bestows upon things like unprovoked conquest, subjugation, plunder, expropriation, and massacre the radiance of piety. This point was carefully (but still controversially) made recently by none other than the Bishop of Rome. Not enough was made of his appeal, in good Thomist fashion, to the natural reason of all men. For it is natural reason, rightly ordered, which discloses that such a doctrine as this is incompatible with justice or charity, and thus incompatible with God. The almost touching faith of the Pope in reason is the sort of thing that ought to shake the hubris of the New Atheists, but it may be doubted whether these apostles of Reason have a real comprehension on their idol. In any case it was this faculty to which he appealed.

But there is more to it than mere rationalism. It includes sentiment: it might be called a union of reason and passion. This faculty — in American terms what we might call, with Publius, the “deliberate sense” of the people — is where I aim my condemnatory appeal against the doctrine of jihad as well. Another way to look at it is through the older tradition of Christian moral philosophy, in which prudence is called the “mother” of the other virtues. Josef Pieper put it vividly: “prudence is the cause, root, mother, measure, precept, guide, and prototype of all ethical virtues.” This statement seems almost bizarre to our ears because the word prudence has been debased by misuse. But in this context prudence is understood to mean our vital connection with objective reality, our “realization of the good.” Our capacity for other virtues depends upon our right perception of things as they are. It is the virtue of prudence which shows us, again in Pieper’s words, that “so-called ‘good intention’ and so-called ‘meaning well’ by no means suffice.” Our good intention must be linked to an accurate perception of the world if we are ever to do good. We must cultivate, with patient care and discipline, the virtue of prudence if we are ever to act rightly.

The urgency with which I make my arguments against the Jihad thus stems primarily from a belief in the misestimate of reality by our political leadership. Good intention will not suffice. Unless they — and also we, because We the People are sovereign of this republic — come around to a truer estimation of what Jihad is, they (and we) will labor in vain. We must “realize the good” of the Jihad, which in this case means a kind of final negative against it. It has no good in it.

It would also be fair to say that my arguments exhibit urgency because I believe the situation is urgent. We do not understand our enemy with anything approaching sufficiency. The urgency — which, to repeat, I believe is justified by reality of the situation — also explains the rhetorical strategy I have employed, which strikes many readers as unduly provocative. No doubt I have failed in this strategy as much as I have succeeded — for instance, I think now that an article some weeks ago on Assimilation began with two sentences that were indeed unduly provocative — but I think the overall strategy is sound. There is a lassitude of spirit which afflicts this republic, and a cold precision of reason will not alone break it. In technical language, dialectic only is inadequate. I do not hide my rhetorical purpose, for as Richard Weaver put it:

The most obvious truth about rhetoric is that its object is the whole man. It presents its arguments first to the rational part of man, because rhetorical discourses, if they are honestly conceived, always have a basis in reasoning. . . . Yet it is the very characterizing feature of rhetoric that it goes beyond this and appeals to other parts of man's constitution, especially to his nature as a pathetic being, that is, a being feeling and suffering.

I am of the opinion, with Weaver, that there is more to man than his rational part. I am further of the opinion that, while certainly our misestimate of the Jihad has its rationalistic aspects, its primary cause is not rational. It lies in a spiritual lethargy which attacks our prudence and induces us to self-deception. To awaken us from this lethargy is a job for stronger elixirs than cold reason alone.

Some of the character of this lethargy can perhaps be grasped by consideration of an observable drift of comment to my recent article, “Make them give us battle.” I was quite amazed (and driven to some annoyance) by the number of commenters whose primary argument consisted of the assertion, or argument from apparent authority, that my purpose of “making them give us battle,” was impossible. Not just difficult, as I myself readily admitted, but impossible. The conjecture is that the “newness” of our guerilla enemy, his cunning and determination, forces us to admit no weakness in fighting men for glory and hotheadedness. The rabble of Falluja are too wily to be brought out in a fury. This assertion’s innocence of the historical character of the warrior class of men, even when organized into mere guerilla bands, is quite a thing to behold. In fact that class is most famous for its vulnerability to being provoked to irresponsible aggression. Consider the decisive handful of years in the latter half of the 16th century, when a shaky alliance of Christian powers succeeded in checking Turkish command of the Mediterranean. It was the provocation of the Knights of Malta that drove the Sultan to launch a bold and ultimately unsuccessful invasion of that island; and it was, in part, the provocation of the Knights successful defense of the island, that caused the Sultan to give battle to the great fleet of the Holy League at Lepanto, when a policy of evasion, patience and intrigue would likely have taxed the already tenuous alliance of Italians and Spaniards beyond the breaking point, making battle quite unnecessary.

Now of course the agents of Jihad today are not world-conquerors like the Turks, but treacherous saboteurs and terrorists. That they still consider themselves soldiers, however, cannot be doubted. That they are warlike in mentality and outlook, and as such susceptible to the weaknesses inherent in that mentality, cannot be doubted. Their tradition of war-making is very different than ours (for them the question of justice hinges on the whether the enemy is an infidel, for example: if he is, everything is permitted), but it is still a warrior tradition. And it is not invulnerable to exploitation.

Aristotle defined rhetoric as the discipline of discerning the available means of persuasion. Reason alone may be insufficient, and usually is — precisely because man is, as Weaver put it, a “pathetic being.” In my judgment, there is nothing more pressing for the patriots of this republic than persuading our countrymen of nature of the Jihad: its essential depravity, its permanent menace, its organic emanation from the Islamic tradition, its principles, limitations, expositions, applications, and especially its vulnerabilities. The deliberate sense of the American people must be made to compass this doctrine and policy of our enemy — compass it with that freedom of examination and expression that is our birthrate. We cannot shrink from this. It is highly probable that in the course of this compass, we will hear more voices, ranging from the cool and plausible to the shrill and intimidating, calling for silence. Indeed we have heard these already. The latest example of this obscurantism consists of the argument that by talking critically about Islam we will encourage the recruitment of the enemy. Even conceding arguendo that this speculation is accurate — that a sustained discussion of the Islamic doctrine of Jihad will alienate some Muslims, driving them into open sympathy for it — it hardly follows that this should cause us to quiet our critical faculties. What sort of people attempts to make war without giving offense? What sort of people fears to even talk about making war, lest they give offense? Only a servile people, I fear.

Americans have not often been called servile, and I am confident that this newest counsel of servility will be rebuffed. What must continue, instead, and even in the teeth of this sort of folly, is the pain-staking work of self-education. We must cultivate our prudence. We must achieve a realization of what Jihad is. We must cultivate a proper war-rhetoric with which to approach it. And we must do this in defiance of the whole panoply of tired orthodoxies which would bully us into silence.

posted by Paul Cella | 12:52 PM |

Thursday, January 18, 2007  

The appalling fact is that a very considerable portion of the American Left hates the prospect of a vigorous, determined and self-assured America, steeled to wage real war against her enemies, far more than it hates our enemies themselves. The real question is whether a considerable portion of the American Right does too. I think it does. But the self-loathing Left has one advantage at least over its counterpart on the Right, and that is this: it has a clearer picture of what a vigorous, confident, and self-assured nation looks like. Such nations — and we have the reliable instinct of the Left as solid evidence of this — look like something hateful to Liberalism.

They disdain abstract equality. They discriminate. Very often they oppress, as that word is bandied about by Liberals. They make good on their claims of the loyalty of their subjects or citizens. They punish what seems sacred to Liberals: the opinions of men. They announce intolerance of some opinions, and take resolute steps to enforce it. More than that: they take these steps in the knowledge that not all will work out as planned, that some mistakes will be made, some injustices perpetrated. But this does not deter them. If they are made of magnanimous people, these nations answer injustice with contrition and attempts to make good; but they do not concomitantly dismantle the policies which reflect their determination to crush the enemy.

In short, they repudiate a certain thin-skinned strain of Liberalism which might subcategorize as Civil Libertarianism.

Now, I am not a Liberal, much less a Civil Libertarian. In my judgment none of the above-mentioned measures are objectively unjust. A state may rightly move to insure loyalty among its subjects and punish disloyalty. We owe no special protection, in law, to wicked opinions, and it is permissible to punish opinions judged sufficiently wicked or seditious. I do believe that great care should be taken in this sort of endeavor; that it ought to be approached with trepidation and assiduity. Great dangers await the reckless. But I do also think our crisis today demands that we risk these dangers.

So I am not a Liberal. Neither, in my judgment, is the American political tradition Liberal. There is a rich history, attendant upon the political life of this country from the very beginning, of reacting to domestic disloyalty with a firm hand. Seditious movements in American history have been treated roughly, and few before about 1960 cared a fig about it. But note this: they have been treated roughly, but not (for the most part) cruelly. Seditionists have been arrested, tried by a jury of peers, and imprisoned; in times of declared war, yes, the methods have been harsher. But mostly this history consists of famous trials. Consider Mr. Geoffrey Stone’s book Perilous Times, a fine catalogue of the travails of Americans judged by their peers to be seditionists, provocateurs, anarchists, Jacobins, Communists, revolutionists, etc. Stone takes a position quite at odds with mine, of course, but his book had the effect in me of only strengthening my pride in my country’s political tradition.

We have had our share of revolutionary movements, alright, hurling their bitterness and monomanias against what is, in fact, one of the finest of all political settlements in human history, but we have had mercifully little of the sort of sanguinary episodes that usually follow the emergence of such movements in history. We have done nothing, really, that even approaches the brutality of Rome or the British Empire against insurrections (the latter much less brutal than the former), both of which powers we are regularly compared to. Our dhimmia against a subject minority was terrible indeed, but it lasted eighty years, not eight centuries. There is nothing in our history comparable with the savagery of the Spanish against the Moors, or the Spanish against the Calvinists, or the Turks against the Orthodox, or the Communists against Christians and, well, almost everyone else, in Eastern Europe.

The problem of disloyalty is an eternal feature of human politics; and there is no easy solution. It will ever be a part of the political troubles of man, until the crack of doom. It is, indeed, a problem from both sides: that is, a problem from the perspective of the individual, who must in the end depend upon his prudence to determine how much his country merits his loyalty; and a problem from that of the state, which must always weigh the application of coercive force to enforce order against the dangers of its use. And I say that on this political problem, there is ample reason for gratification in what we Americans have at once accomplished and avoided.

But all this, to get back to my original point, is an analysis outside the lineaments of Liberalism. Even talking about it, I imagine, will make many men, some of whom may assent to Liberalism more than they know, uneasy and alarmed. A vigorous, determined and self-assured America is an America that will enforce loyalty and punish disloyalty, and moreover recognize these things as vital aspects of a war launched against us in a colossal act of treachery. This sort of America — which, to repeat myself, is an America operating well within her admirable political tradition of suppressing disloyalty — is perhaps the most awful of all things to segments of the Left. Against it they will fight, and their success will cripple us. More: this sort of America is indeed an awful thing to some (much smaller, but hardly insignificant) portions of the Right. Against it, they too will fight; and the baleful irony is that some of them, in other moments, will pine for the very thing they resist when it appears. They want an America which has recovered her will; but they hate the application of that will. They have fallen into C. S. Lewis’s “ghastly simplicity” of demanding the function while removing the organ. They too may cripple us.

posted by Paul Cella | 1:40 PM |

Wednesday, January 17, 2007  


At the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, in late June of 1862, John B. Hood’s Texas Brigade delivered a blow against a strong Federal line that provoked from Stonewall Jackson this elegiac tribute, when he came to behold the carnage it required of the victors: “The men who carried this position were soldiers indeed.”

They were soldiers indeed because these men marched across a swamp under savage fire with their weapons unreadied. Their casualties were staggering, yet they never staggered; and the force of their boldness, when finally combined with a great volley of musketry at short range, broke the Union line. It was Lee’s first victory. They were to distinguish themselves again in battle, many times, not the least of which was the charge they made on the second day at Gettysburg against the Federal far left, down in the Round Tops and the aptly-named Devil’s Den — a charge that, in the end, could not hold its ground gained, but earned its way into memory by way of the courage it demanded of these men.

What is it in men that gives them the power to accomplish such deeds? It is one of the things that, despite all the terrors of war, forbids us to condemn it utterly. It is the virtue of fortitude. It is courage.

Among recent films — and I daresay film is the best medium for depicting fortitude — the final episode of The Lord of the Rings delivers an unforgettable depiction. Arriving near the gates of the White City, and in rear of the great host of Mordor’s Orc army, the Riders of Rohan, the Rohirrim, make their Ride. Horns sound to announce their arrival, the enemy turns in some disarray to receive their charge, and streaks of sunshine gleam over their shoulders. The king’s words are minimal: he does not really need to inspire these cavalry-men, for they know well what awaits them.

“Arise! Arise! Riders of Théoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword-day! A red day, ere the sun rises!”

As the charge begins, the men shout Death! They do not fear it, and many of them will meet in here today. This gallantry is felt — profoundly felt, I thought, for the scene is masterfully rendered — and the viewer is taught again that valuable lesson, which if he was lucky he learned long ago, that not everything in war need be evil.

We do not, as a rule, teach military history in this country. We teach that wars happened, that they were terrible, what they accomplished, or failed to accomplish, or inflicted; but we really do not teach how they were fought, or who fought them and why. This fact probably goes a long way to explaining why our young men are so historically ignorant. The one sort of history that will reliably move boys to that excitement with learning which is alone capable of inspiring them, has been removed from our curricula.

Meanwhile, in the public media, our soldiers in the field have become mere types in the Liberal caricature of Victimization. The stories we tell of them all, or at any rate most of the stories, ring with despondency and helplessness; or with mere stale partisanship. In film the trend is almost worse: American soldiers are regularly portrayed as madmen, dupes, degenerates, or heartless criminals. And alongside this spiritual degradation, we strive ever more eagerly to turn our military institutions into playgrounds for social experiments. The educational neglect makes the fighting man incomprehensible; the rendering of him through the ideological lens of victim makes him contemptible; and the social innovation imposed on his tradition undermines his virtue.

There are, in every society, men who actually like to fight, and who will excel at nothing else. War must be recognized as their vocation. This is a fact. Judge it how you like, it must acknowledged. It is one of those most ancient of political problems that such men cannot be destroyed, transformed, or ignored for long; but they may be disciplined into useful and honorable service; and it is a measure of the character of that society how well this is done. For the pitfalls are countless, usually reducing to an alternative of either (a) effective military power and systematic cruelty, or (b) feebleness and foreign subjugation. Fortitude is exalted, and the other virtues are abolished; or fortitude is abolished, and the others rendered impossible. But fortitude can be harnessed. We might almost say it can be baptized. There have been soldier-saints.

It is a joy to learn how successfully Americans have avoided the many pitfalls of this martial instinct in men. We have not come close to perfection, but we have for the most part avoided calamity; and we are excelled by almost no other society. What a glory of our tradition that our fighting men have been so honorable in victory and defeat! The tragedy of the Civil War, for example, was in the wickedness that made it unavoidable, not in the wickedness with which it was conducted; for by and large it was conducted justly and even magnanimously. Of how many other civil wars can the same be said?

This noble American achievement is being steadily undermined. The sappers have been at their grim work for some time now. That our military has endured as long as it has, is a testament to the tradition upon which it stands, and to the men it has trained up to continue that tradition. But it is the meanest of follies to assume that what is precious is also indestructible.

It is tempting argue, at this point in a sketch like this, that the problem is the Feminization of the military. But this is too facile. The failure here lies primarily with men: men who allow their sons to be treated like girls; men who fail to honor women, and thereby teach no honor in their descendents; men who will send their wives and sisters to war to satisfy their itch for abstract equality. I would like to ask those who here who have made their peace with women in combat (which is our de facto policy today, considering the absence of any true “front line”) if they really think the history of human warfare is conspicuous for its respect for women. Think hard on that. That it is conspicuous for rather the reverse should give some indication of how profound our achievement is: the fruit of the long, pain-staking, patient, to be sure imperfect, but noble work of our ancestors stretching back over centuries upon centuries. The honor code that made the American fighting man one of the few exceptions from the rule of pillage and rapine as a concomitant of war, is the same code that stands in implacable opposition to abstract gender equality. Erode it with incessant innovations and you may unshackle a monster.

In the event of such a catastrophe as the final loss of the Western code of jus in bello, will there be an accounting for the innovators whose ministrations robbed our fighting men of their virtue? Doubtful, for there is none for the innovators who, for instance, robbed our inner cities of the tenuous order once achieved and enforced, now lost, perhaps forever; or for those who emancipated pornography and now wail and gnash their teeth at its rotten fruit at, i. e., Abu Ghraib.

Our armed forces still produce Stonewall’s “soldiers indeed.” Our own Jeff Emanuel has documented some, and there are many, many more. But it is to be doubted how long this will remain true if we cannot muster a fortitude of our own sufficient to stop and reverse the depredations inflicted on our martial tradition.

posted by Paul Cella | 2:16 PM |

Thursday, January 11, 2007  

What prevents me from supporting President Bush amounts to this: I do not trust his judgment. Put another way, a man whose judgment has been demonstrated to be so suspect cannot claim my trust.

The most resounding evidence against his judgment is his administration’s intolerable negligence of domestic security. How a politician whose government reacts to a kind of citizens’ arrest in the sky of a troop of Jihadist provocateurs, by ordering a new round of sensitivity training for security officers, can possibly hope to retain the trust of the patriots of this republic, is a matter for our soothsayers to explicate. For me, is a matter, piled on top of a dozen others and more, for disgust and disappointment. Is it possible that the President and his close advisers do not realize the demoralization they cause when, to take another example, they take no notice of brigandage on our southern border? This banditry is probably perpetrated by the sort of increasingly globalized criminal gangs which would have no qualms about alliance with the Jihad. The Jihad, its roots in oil-rich nations, has money after all. Is all this obscure to them? Or is it obscure to them that their studied ignorance of the whole menace of the Jihad domestically undermines the trust they draw on for political support?

It is hard not conclude, alas, that the President simply doesn’t care about domestic security outside the narrow focus of law enforcement. It is hard not to conclude, what is more worrisome: that the President has no real grasp of the lineaments of this war. If he cannot see the danger that is caused when, in the face of agitation from sympathizers of the enemy, his administration folds like paper doll — why, then we just cannot trust him.

This Presidency’s political lifeblood is draining out of it: it is losing the support of the Right. You can hardly escape it if you are attentive to those sectors where Conservative voices are prominent. On talk radio, hardly a segment goes by without a caller, once supportive of Bush, now hostile. Old Left rags like The Nation are able to somewhat plausibly write about the “growing anti-war movement in the military.” On the blogs, disillusionment is everywhere. When the Democrats say they have a majority of the people behind them in opposition to the war, they are probably not perpetrating an illusion. That party has finally fumbled upon a slogan that may actually resonate beyond Washington and New York: the slogan that Iraq is the responsibility of Iraqis, we cannot do it for them. There is undoubtedly some cynicism in this rhetoric — everywhere else we look, Democrats are urging that we “do” something for somebody — but is has a core of truth. In stark terms, it means this: if the Iraqi people do not want democracy and liberty, we cannot give it to them.

These were the hurdles President Bush faced when he went on the airwaves last night. They may have been from the outset insurmountable. As a politician who rested on the trust of the people, the loss of that alone may put his presidency beyond recovery. Moreover, his second fundamental source of political capital — the treachery and madness of the Left — while unquestionably profiting him, also, like gold for the Spanish and oil for the Saudis, corrupted him. George W. Bush won reelection in 2004 against an insufferable and unlikable opponent only by the narrowest of margins; and he has retained sympathy throughout his time in office largely by virtue of his personal appeal (though this has always mystified his adversaries) and the unceasing tissue of abuse and invective launched against him. But none of these assets will avail him in the teeth of a loss of trust among his core supporters on the Right. Conservatives represent the largest constituency ordered around philosophical principle in the country; no right-wing candidate can survive their disillusionment.

Thus the only hope, I believe, for retrieval of domestic political support, which is of course a prerequisite for any renewed vigor in Iraq, is the patient work of earning again the trust of the people who once supported him. The easiest way to do this would be to talk and act like there is indeed a war on — a war which began for us, not with a shock somewhere in foreign lands, but with perfidy and massacre by agents of the Jihad who had penetrated our security apparatus and struck us at home. To lose sight of this stolid and stark fact, is to lose sight of what this all about.

posted by Paul Cella | 2:36 PM |

During the Cold War there was a phenomenon known infelicitously as anti-anti-Communism; it consisted primarily of Liberals who, though cool on Communism, reserved their greatest alarm and antipathy for Communism’s determined opponents. They felt they had more to fear from their own countrymen, in whose judgment the Communist enterprise was, indeed, an evil empire, than they did from the Imperialists of the Marxist State. We can see the remnants of this persuasion in some tendentious histories, like the one someone gave me years back which nonchalantly presented Sen. Joe McCarthy as the leader of a nascent American Fascism.

The problem with anti-anti-Communism is quite simple: it was wrong. Stupendously wrong. The point can, I think, be illustrated easily enough: imagine what we would think today of a political movement of the 1930s animated by antipathy for opponents of National Socialism. Indeed, the point is even stronger when we consider that by the time anti-anti-Communism had reached its full flower in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, Communism itself was a form of National Socialism, Stalin having made full use of the proud nationalism of the people of Russia. A just historical estimate, therefore, must render a severe censure against the judgment and reasoning of the anti-anti-Communists.

I begin with this rehearsal of some recent history because a parallel is emerging today. It lineaments can be guessed at well enough. For some, the opponents of the Jihad are greater cause for alarm than the Jihad itself. Here is an Israeli academic, one Fania Oz-Salzberger, who says that, at a European Coalition for Israel conference last fall, “The tone was belligerent, the linkage crude: ‘The enemies of Israel are also a threat to Europe,’ delegates were told. And also: ‘In only two generations, most parts of Europe will be under Islamic law.’ Other self-declared friends grimly speak of Londonistan and augur the coming of the European Caliphate.” What an abominable horror that men might react to the massacre of civilians on commuter rails and bus with belligerent tones! She magnanimously allows that these statements “may reflect genuine concern” — again because, one supposes, “concern” is an acceptable emotion provoked to feel when confronted with treacherous acts of war — but goes on to aver that the statements “are disconcerting when made on European soil.” But only a couple sentences earlier, there was not even this allowance for “concern”: “These new pro-Israel voices base a love of Jews upon the hatred of Muslims.” Later, the clever sneer: “Beware of Islamophobes bearing gifts.”

The only evidence registered against these European Friends of Israel is the “tone” of their “belligerence” and the “crudity” of their rhetorical “linkages.” For the rest the author relies on what can only be described as racial guilt. Since Europeans made these statements, they are suspect — not because of what the actual Europeans in question have done, but because of what their ancestors once did: “Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be threatening the existence of Israel today, but no Muslim power has ever dealt the Jews such calamities as brought upon them by Europe.” (A particular irony, in this context, is the fact that a British Jew, Melanie Phillips, may be credited with giving the term “Londonistan” its currency.)

Ms. Oz-Salzberger’s column may be fairly described as tame compared to the deranged vitriol of Col. Ralph Peters some months ago. But the effect of it is the same: It lays down a dogma of quietism. There can be no use of rhetoric, and emphatically none that might be labeled “war rhetoric,” which impinges directly, or even by implication, upon the Islamic religion. The civilization and creed which incubates our enemies — the sort of men whose piety embraces the butchery of innocents — may not be criticized with anything but the most detached academic discourse. Islam shall be protected from severe criticism. It shall, moreover, be protected by the formidable of shield of political correctness, and all the thuggery implied by it. Its methods, as usual, consist of insinuation and intimidation. Opponents of the Jihad hate Muslims: bigots and xenophobes, all. Like the anti-anti-Communists before them — who assured us that Communism was no real threat, and whose public discourse urged coexistence with a wicked doctrine — these latter-day scolds urge acceptance for wickedness. Their monomania weakens our resolve. Somewhere a clever writer and global content provider is penning another elegant and amusing exhortation to the West to recover its “will”; and looking over his shoulder with mistrust for his own countrymen is the ever-watchful censor, his mind alert for some breach of his monomaniacal code of propriety. If a man, reflecting upon the day when the Jihad came to Lower Manhatten, or the day it came to London, or the day it nearly came to Germany, begins to speak with a bit of fire in his belly, the dutiful censors will move to silence him. If another man, pondering the contemporary surfeit of references to Winston Churchill’s war rhetoric, avows his agreement with the great man’s comparison of the Koran to Mein Kampf — a manual of “faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message” — he will be rebuked for the impropriety. What are we, really, to make of this: that while war is being made against us by men animated by an Islamic doctrine, we are harassed and abused for the “belligerence” of our rhetoric? To repeat: for some, the opponents of the Jihad are greater cause for alarm than the Jihad itself; while the latter has incinerated thousands of Americans, and hundreds of Israelis and Europeans, the former have committed a graver crime still: they have uttered hard words about Islam.

In this predicament, we must — for of course I count myself among those prepared to violate the sham propriety that shields Islam from criticism — do three things. First, if the anti-anti-Islamists ever get around to making their accusations to our face, of actually asking us, “are you are hater?” — we should answer, “Yes, sir, I do hate some things. Like the devil and all his works; and the doctrine of Jihad is of the devil. I do indeed hate it.” Second, we should calmly remind our antagonists, every once in a while, that a doctrine is not a man; that we believe we owe no charity to doctrines; and that no amount of rhetorical bullying will dislodge this elementary principle from our minds. Third, and above all, we should avoid being dragged into a paralyzing debate over these matters. Reason will probably have little effect on this monomania, and our time can be better spent talking past these tormented souls. They are entangled in their own web of euphemism and platitude; and it cannot be our duty to disentangle them.

— Because we have much larger duties to attend to: duties that will require, I am afraid, a belligerent tone and even some crudity of linkage. The duty, namely, of preparing this republic for the hard work of deliverance from the very real and very pressing threat of the Jihad. Our troops have shown their valor time and again. But that will be of little consequence if our people cannot discover in themselves the qualities of fortitude and defiance. Fortitude to endure the inevitable setbacks of war, and defiance to escape the monomania of our chattering-classes, including this new faction of anti-anti-Islamists.

posted by Paul Cella | 2:32 PM |
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