Donald R. McClarey
Back in the seventies and eighties I read quite a few of the articles that appeared in The New Republic. Although always left of center, the magazine at that time had little use for liberal pieties and published fairly iconoclastic articles shattering many idols of the left. Alas those days are long ago, and The New Republic has fallen into the lock step ideological conformity that makes the portside of our politics such a gray place. However, apparently, not always. John Gray has a piece on Richard Dawkins, that must not be missed. How good it is may be gauged by the anguished bleats of the faithless in the comments section. I especially enjoyed this portion of Mr. Gray’s article:
Exactly how Dawkins became the anti-religious missionary with whom we are familiar will probably never be known. From what he writes here, I doubt he knows himself. Still, there are a few clues. He began his pilgrimage to unbelief at the age of nine, when he learned from his mother “that Christianity was one of many religions and they contradicted each other. They couldn’t all be right, so why believe the one in which, by sheer accident of birth, I happened to be brought up?” But he was not yet ready to embrace atheism, and curiously his teenage passion for Elvis Presley reinforced his vestigial Christianity. Listening to Elvis sing “I Believe,” Dawkins was amazed to discover that the rock star was religious. “I worshipped Elvis,” he recalls, “and I was a strong believer in a non-denominational creator god.” Dawkins confesses to being puzzled as to why he should have been so surprised that Elvis was religious: “He came from an uneducated working-class family in the American South. How could he not have been religious?” By the time he was sixteen, Dawkins had “shed my last vestige of theistic credulity.” As one might expect, the catalyst for his final conversion from theism was Darwinism. “I became increasingly aware that Darwinian evolution was a powerfully available alternative to my creator god as an explanation of the beauty and apparent design of life. … It wasn’t long then before I became strongly and militantly atheistic.”
What is striking is the commonplace quality of Dawkins’s rebellion against religion. In turning away from the milk-and-water Anglicanism in which he had been reared—after his conversion from theism, he “refused to kneel in chapel,” he writes proudly—he was doing what tens of thousands of Britain’s young people did at the time. Compulsory religious instruction of the kind that exists in British schools, it has often been observed, creates a fertile environment for atheism. Dawkins’s career illustrates the soundness of this truism. If there is anything remarkable in his adolescent rebellion, it is that he has remained stuck in it. At no point has Dawkins thrown off his Christian inheritance. Instead, emptying the faith he was taught of its transcendental content, he became a neo-Christian evangelist. A more inquiring mind would have noticed at some point that religion comes in a great many varieties, with belief in a creator god figuring in only a few of the world’s faiths and most having no interest in proselytizing. It is only against the background of a certain kind of monotheism that Dawkins’s evangelical atheism makes any sense.
Even more remarkable is Dawkins’s inveterate literal-mindedness. He tells us that “the Pauline belief that everybody is born in sin, inherited from Adam (whose embarrassing non-existence was unknown to St. Paul), is one of the very nastiest aspects of Christianity.” It is true that the idea of original sin has become one with a morbid preoccupation with sexuality, which has been part of Christianity throughout much of its history. Even so, it is an idea that contains a vital truth: evil is not error, a mistake of the mind, a failure of understanding that can be corrected by smarter thinking. It is something deeper and more constitutive of human life itself. The capacity and propensity for destruction goes with being human. One does not have to be religious to acknowledge this dark fact. With his myth or metaphor of the death instinct thanatos, Freud—a lifelong atheist—recognized that impulses of hatred and cruelty are integral to the human psyche. As an atheist myself, it is a view I find no difficulty in sharing.
Quite apart from the substance of the idea, there is no reason to suppose that the Genesis myth to which Dawkins refers was meant literally. Coarse and tendentious atheists of the Dawkins variety prefer to overlook the vast traditions of figurative and allegorical interpretations with which believers have read Scripture. Both Augustine and before him the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria explicitly cautioned against literalism in interpreting the biblical creation story. Later, in the twelfth century, Maimonides took a similar view. It was only around the time of the Reformation that the idea that the story was a factual account of events became widely held. When he maintains that Darwin’s account of evolution displaced the biblical story, Dawkins is assuming that both are explanatory theories—one primitive and erroneous, the other more advanced and literally true. In treating religion as a set of factual propositions, Dawkins is mimicking Christianity at its most fundamentalist. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
A new book has new details about the early life of Pope Francis, including a brief meeting with Eva Peron:
- Buenos Aires, September 26 – Pope Francis had a youthful brush with Evita Peron in Buenos Aires, according to a new book relating little-known details of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s life, especially two formative spells in the city of Cordoba. “I saw Eva on one occasion when I went with my brother into a ‘unidad basica’ (Peronist chapter) looking for booklets for a piece of work in school,” Francis told the authors of ‘Quel Francesco’ (That Francis), Javier Camara and Sebastian Pfaffen, who handed the pope a copy in the Vatican Thursday.
“She was there, she greeted us,” said the former archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The only time the young Bergoglio saw Evita’s husband Juan Peron, he says in the book, was “when I had to go as school rep to the Teatro Colon for a meeting about education”.
Quel Francesco delves into two times Francis lived in Cordoba and his encounters with various political groups, including “left-leaning” ones as well as Peronists. The first, when he was a novice of the Company of Jesus (the Jesuits), spans 1958-1960.
“In March 1958 he arrived from Buenos Aires accompanied by his parents to enter into the novitiate of the ‘Sagrada Familia'”, the book relates, telling of the young man’s expectations.
Later, the authors describe the future pope’s development – as well as “dark” patches – as a Jesuit priest between 1990 and 1992, before he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires.
On the political front, Francis reveals, “I have always been restless”.
“During my teen years I had made an incursion into left-leaning circles,” he says, revealing that he accompanied young people of various political inclinations, including “obviously also Peronists”.
But the pope stresses: “I never joined any party”. However, he cites similarities between “aspects of the Peronist doctrine and the Church’s social doctrine. “Those periods in Cordoba, to a certain extent, engendered spiritual solidity,” Francis reveals. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Hood’s movement north seemed to be working. On October 3, 1864 Sherman began his pursuit to protect his supply lines. Below is his account of this in his memoirs, in which he mentions a telegram to Grant in which he describes what he would ultimately do: leave Thomas to deal with Hood while he marchs with the forces under his command to the sea. However, Sherman would lose a month before Grant agreed to this plan.
Forrest having already made his appearance in Middle Tennessee, and Hood evidently edging off in that direction, satisfied me that the general movement against our roads had begun. I therefore determined to send General Thomas back to Chattanooga, with another division (Morgan’s, of the Fourteenth Corps), to meet the danger in Tennessee. General Thomas went up on the 29th, and Morgan’s division followed the same day, also by rail. And I telegraphed to General Halleck
I take it for granted that Forrest will cut our road, but think we can prevent him from making a serious lodgment. His cavalry will travel a hundred miles where ours will ten. I have sent two divisions up to Chattanooga and one to Rome, and General Thomas started to-day to drive Forrest out of Tennessee. Our roads should be watched from the rear, and I am glad that General Grant has ordered reserves to Nashville. I prefer for the future to make the movement on Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Hood now rests twenty-four miles south, on the Chattahoochee, with his right on the West Point road. He is removing the iron of the Macon road. I can whip his infantry, but his cavalry is to be feared.
There was great difficulty in obtaining correct information about Hood’s movements from Palmetto Station. I could not get spies to penetrate his camps, but on the 1st of October I was satisfied that the bulk of his infantry was at and across the Chattahoochee River, near Campbellton, and that his cavalry was on the west side, at Powder Springs. On that day I telegraphed to General Grant:
Hood is evidently across the Chattahoochee, below Sweetwater. If he tries to get on our road, this side of the Etowah, I shall attack him; but if he goes to the Selma & Talladega road, why will it not do to leave Tennessee to the forces which Thomas has, and the reserves soon to come to Nashville, and for me to destroy Atlanta and march across Georgia to Savannah or Charleston, breaking roads and doing irreparable damage? We cannot remain on the defensive. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Father Wilson Miscamble, a professor at Notre Dame, brings us this news, that, in morally saner times, would be regarded as a bad attempt at a joke:
Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees gathers on campus this week. Committee meetings will be held on Thursday, followed by the full board meeting on Friday, and then the much-anticipated football game against Stanford on Saturday. Not much is expected to emerge from the meetings themselves. It will be appear to be business as usual. But in fact, something deeply troubling will have happened.
Sadly, at Notre Dame – as indeed at many other Catholic universities – many board members are essentially passive bystanders selected mainly for their “giving potential,” as it is delicately put, rather than for their qualifications to fulfill the serious responsibility mandated for them in Ex Corde Ecclesiaeto maintain and strengthen the Catholic identity of the university.
Board members are usually not deeply familiar with Catholic higher education. They are easily “guided” by the administration to desired decisions. Whatever their limitations, however, many are no doubt committed Catholics who genuinely want Notre Dame to be an authentically Catholic institution. And most trustees have not damaged Notre Dame’s mission as a Catholic university.
This is about to change at the October meeting, when Ms. Katie Washington will take her “junior trustee” position on the board, to which she was elected last May. Ms. Washington was Notre Dame’s 2010 valedictorian and is now enrolled at Johns Hopkins Medical School.
In 2012, she joined several of her medical school colleagues in authoring an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun criticizing the Catholic Church’s position on the Obamacare contraception/abortifacient mandate. She revealed her belief that all religious employers should be required by law to provide contraception and abortifacient coverage whatever their religiously grounded objections.
Her op-ed singled out “national Catholic leaders” for reproach, and specifically criticized then Cardinal-designate Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore. Her animosity to the Church’s position – the very one which Notre Dame has embraced in its lawsuit against the Obama administration – was clear. She has not subsequently qualified or retracted her statement.
She presumably favors the continued federal coercion of those like the Little Sisters of the Poor whose conscience forbids them to agree to morally objectionable Obamacare provisions. Nonetheless, this supporter of the Obama Administration’s assault on the religious liberty of institutions like Notre Dame has gained appointment to the governing board of the university.
Regrettably, this appointment was made upon the initiative of University President Fr. John Jenkins and by vote of the twelve-member Board of Fellows, made up of six Holy Cross priests and six laypersons. It happened, however, without their being briefed on Ms. Washington’s hostility to religious liberty and Notre Dame’s claim of conscience. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
By 1864 the Confederacy was running short on everything, including salt. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Union targeted the major Confederate saltworks located at the aptly name town of Saltville in southwestern Virginia. On October 2, 1864 some 2500 Confederates under Brigadier General Alfred E. “Mudwall” Jackson repulsed at Saltville a Union force of some 5,000 Union troops under Major General Stephen G. Burbridge. The Union attacks were uncoordinated, Burbridge exercising poor command control. Some Union black troops who were captured were murdered after the battle. Just how many has been a subject of controversy. Go here to read about it. Below are two reports of the battle written by General Burbridge. They are fine examples of fairly meretricious reports, not uncommon in the Civil War, attempting to transform a defeat into an almost victory. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Father Z examines the strange removal by the post of Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano:
Keep in mind that while the Supreme Pontiff exercises full jurisdiction in the Church and that his decisions have no appeal, should the Supreme Pontiff want there to be sound rule of law through the Church at every level, he, too, will observe the laws of which he is the Legislator. So, the removal of bishops by the Pope should have some canonical basis. It doesn’t have to, technically, but it really should.
Let’s have a look:
Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, [Argentinian, by the way, and Opus Dei] who was removed from his post in Paraguay, has issued a bitter complaint, charging that other bishops conspired against him [which is plausible] and saying that Pope Francis “must answer to God” for his removal. [Which is true. We all must answer to God for all that we do or fail to do that we ought.]
The deposed bishop, in a letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, said that he was being “persecuted” for his orthodoxy, [!] and complained that he had not been given an opportunity to defend himself.
The bishop’s letter, which was leaked to the media in Paraguay, [who knows by whom] said that the action against him was “unfounded and arbitrary.” He angrily charged that although Pope Francis has spoken often about “dialogue, mercy, openness, decentralization, and respect for authority of the local churches,” he did not give Bishop Livieres a chance to “clarify any doubts” about his ministry. [In my discussions with Argentinians recently, I have come to learned, from explanations made by the same Argentinians, that their dialogue tends to be blunt even to the point of rancorous.]
Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, observed that the bishop’s letter was “a very violent reaction.” He remarked to reporters: “Maybe it is easier to understand why there was a problem.” [No. That actually doesn't help at all. "Blunt speech" and "voicing an opinion" are not a canonical basis for removal from office unless the opinion is obviously heresy.]
Father Lombardi had earlier said that Bishop Livieres had been removed from office because of his discordant relations with the other bishops of Paraguay. [Again, how is "not getting along with others" a canonical basis for removal from office?] Most observers have agreed that the case pivoted on the bishop’s decision to promote a priest who had been characterized by an American diocese (Scranton, Pennsylvania) as a danger to children. [And yet Fr. Lombardi clarified the other day that the case of the Vicar General was not a major element in the decision! So, which is it? By the way, that choice for VG was really a bad move. No question. What was he thinking?]
I am left with some questions, but it is unlikely that we will get answers. I am not sure we need answers. However, since some answers that don’t add up are being offered, I am left scratching my head.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with the removal of bishops who are a disaster. It may be that removal of this bishop was surely founded on canonical grounds and for good reasons. But when the reasons given publicly don’t add up very well, I start to wonder what’s really going on. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Wow! Is there something in Argentina that seems to bring out the crazy?
Argentinian opposition politicians have accused the country’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of being “completely out of touch with reality” after she gave a rambling televised address in which she claimed the US may be behind a plot to overthrow her government and possibly even assassinate her.
“If something should happen to me, don’t look to the Middle East, look to the North,” Fernández said during the address on Tuesday night, in which she alluded to an alleged plot against her by local bankers and businessmen “with foreign help”.
Fernández had previously claimed to have received death threats from Islamic State (Isis) because of her friendship with Pope Francis. In last night’s speech, however, she seemed to suggest the threats against her, received in three emails to Argentinian security officials, had come from the US. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Apparently some of the young, in addition to not reading, can’t even be bothered to watch a classic film, even when they purport to have an interest in films. John Nolte at Breitbart gives us the grim details:
Monday we learned that a 25 year-old taking graduate-level journalism classes at New York University had no idea what an editorial was. Today we learn that “most” of the students taking a film class at Georgetown University have never seen “Gone with the Wind.”
[W]hen I asked 13 students in a Georgetown University film class if they’d seen it, most either hadn’t seen the film or had seen only parts of it. These students are serious about movies. But a lot of them sided with Mike Minahan, 20, who said when it comes to Gone with the Wind — frankly, he doesn’t give a damn.
“Everything I’ve seen about it says it, like, glorifies the slave era … and I dunno, what’s the point of that? I don’t see that as a good time in history … like, oh, sweet, a love story of people who own slaves.”
What a relief it is to know that the next generation of film reviewers, writers, and makers will be politically correct, uneducated, narrow-minded provincials completely out of touch with the real world. You know, just like the current crop of film reviewers, writers and makers.
Not only are these close-minded students missing one of the grandest pieces of entertainment ever released in any medium, but a piece of cinema history that will live on long past any of us. In 1939, GWTW was an epic technical achievement. Seventy-five years later, in this age of CGI, producer David O. Selznick’s masterpiece is even more impressive.
Moreover, the idea that GWTW glorifies rape is laughable. Leftists are supposed to be Captains of Nuance and yet they seem incapable of understanding that this so-called rape is in reality the end result of a complicated dance of seduction between Rhett and Scarlett. As far as the film’s backwards portrayal of slaves and blacks, if you’re going to discount and dismiss any art based on current mores and values, you’re nothing more than a modern day Production Code. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
A guest post from commenter Nate Winchester:
For those who don’t know, my title comes from a common internet joke whereby somebody posts a segment from a piece of media that ranges from offensive to outright bizarre with the accompanying punchline (golden and silver age comics are a VERY popular choice for this). Now as I said, the emphasis on this is as a joke with the humor coming from the reader’s mind trying to figure out what the context is. Sadly, we seem to live in an age where such has become the standard method for delivering news and informing others (exhibit A: The Daily Show). In these cases context seems to be for the weak-minded who might think thoughts that aren’t allowed.
Enter Mark Shea who, while rightly arguing for grasping context when it comes to religious and older writers, apparently finds it to be too much trouble to grant modern authors. Disclosure: I read Shea for awhile based upon recommendations by John C Wright and David Griffey, at least until Shea started going a bit loopy and ban-happy towards conservatives on his blog. Now I just check it now and then to see if he’s taken another step towards sanity or craziness.
In his post nro-writer-hang-women-who-have-had-abortions, from Sept 29th, Shea claims that “this is why people hate [conservatives]“ while linking to… a leftist hit piece at the Addicting Info blog. (One wonders how he would react if someone wrote, “Dear Catholics, this is why people hate you” with a link to a piece by a ranting atheist; oh wait.) He then doubles down on it in the comments with several like:
Williamson is one of the best things to happen to Planned Parenthood in years.
Now let’s look at the original article and compare it with what was actually said.
“Recently, conservative writer Kevin D. Williamson penned a piece for the National Review which argued, among other things, that liberals and 20-somethings (who stubbornly tend to lean to the left) are “too dumb to vote.”
“The real action in deciding what happens to the fate of a nation occurs not at the ballot box, but with political involvement (or lack thereof) by the citizenry at much lower grassroots (and non-political) levels of culture and family life. That’s not to say voting is meaningless. Far from it. It is intensely meaningful. But *what* it means is not primarily about how my puny vote will affect the outcome of an election involving millions of other people. It is, rather, how my puny vote will change me.”
Wait, I’m sorry. That was Mark Shea: mark-shea/a-reader-asks-about-the-act-of-voting‘. Here’s what Kevin actually said: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa, gives his assessment of the Cupich appointment:
September 30, 2014 – While still reeling from the news of the imminent removal of Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the more conservative and traditional Catholicism of the United States – and historically the more “papist” – has been dealt another blow with the appointment of the new archbishop of Chicago.
Francis’ selection of Blase J. Cupich ( in the photo) as the new pastor of the third-ranking diocese in the U.S. has plunged this particularly dynamic component of American Catholicism into a profound depression, almost to the edge of a nervous breakdown. It is enough to scan the reactions of the websites and bloggers of this area to grasp the embarrassment and disappointment over the appointment.
On the contrary, the more progressive segment of American Catholicism, historically hypercritical of the recent pontificates, has celebrated with enthusiasm the arrival of Cupich, called a “moderate” by the secular press, a description typically used in the United States to indicate a “liberal” who may not be radicalized, but is still a “liberal.”
“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.”
George has always been highly critical of the secular tendency in the legislative field established under the presidency of Barack Obama, whom he has known well since he was a senator for Illinois. But it is difficult to imagine that his prophecy will come true, at least for his immediate successor.
His first episcopal see was Rapid City, where he succeeded the conservative Charles J. Chaput. And it was in this tiny diocese of South Dakota that in 2002 he became noteworthy for prohibiting a traditionalist Catholic community from celebrating the Easter Triduum according to the ancient Roman rite, which was later liberalized in 2007 by Benedict XVI with the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum.”
Conservative Catholics also remember that during the clash between the bishops of the United States and the White House over health care reform, Cupich was one of the very few prelates, fewer than a dozen, who said not even one word against it, even though the criticism of Obamacare was not a position of some “extremist” bishops or “culture warriors,” as they are often called in a disparaging sense, but the official position of the episcopate.
After being made bishop of Spokane in 2010, the following year Cupich prohibited his priests and deacons from taking part in prayers in front of abortion clinics. A ban in stark contrast with the “mainstream” of the Church in the United States. The Rosary is in fact recited in front of these clinics in almost all the dioceses of the United States. And dozens of bishops participate in them, including, for example, the “moderate” cardinal of Washington, Donald Wuerl, and the current president of the episcopal conference, Louisville archbishop Joseph Kurtz.
Cupich’s voice – as noted both by conservative Catholics, with distress, and by progressives, with satisfaction – always rings out loud and clear when the talk is of immigration or the death penalty, but he seems to get laryngitis every time there is a discussion of abortion, euthanasia, and religious freedom, or criticism of the Obama administration over health care reform.
Significant in this regard is the fact that Cupich decided to expand the scope of the “Respect Life” office in the diocese of Spokane, to give the fight against the death penalty the same weight as the fight against abortion.
So Cupich seems to be bringing Chicago back to the heyday of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, George’s predecessor, a champion of “liberal” Catholicism in the United States and the creator of the mountainous bureaucratic machine of the episcopal conference, of which he was president from 1974 to 1977 and “dominus” until his death in 1996.
And the Bernardin era seems to be coming back thanks to a move of Pope Francis, who has taken by surprise and wrongfooted an episcopate, like that of the United States, today widely characterized by appointments made by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
That it was a surprise can be noted from the fact that a few days before the appointment the newspaper “Our Sunday Visitor,” the most official of the American Catholic periodicals – its president is the journalist Greg Erlandson, a member of the commission for the reorganization of the Vatican media that met in Rome for the first time last week – in listing eight names of possible successors to Cardinal George did not present the one selected by pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio, that of Cupich.
The fact that the appointment wrongfooted the U.S. episcopate is evident from the results of the elections of the current president and vice-president of the episcopal conference that were held less than a year ago, in November of 2013.
At that electoral cycle, in fact, the ten candidates included Cupich. And his was considered by his colleagues the most distinctly “progressive,” ecclesiasticaly speaking, of the candidacies presented.
So then, at the first round of voting, which saw the immediate election as president of the outgoing vice-president, Archbishop Kurtz, with 125 votes out of 236, Cupich was back in seventh place with only 10 votes.
More ballots went to Houston cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo (25), Philadelphia archbishop Chaput (20), archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez and of Baltimore William E. Lori (15 votes each), and New Orleans archbishop Gregory M Aymond (14).
In the two rounds of voting for the vice-presidency, Cupich was far from being elected, coming in fifth (out of nine) both at the first round, with 24 votes out of 236, and at the second, with 17 votes out of 235.
For Chicago, then, Pope Francis did not take the outlook of the local episcopate into account, unlike for example what he did in Spain, where in Madrid he promoted Carlos Osoro Sierra, who as archbishop of Valencia was elected vice-president of the episcopal conference in the first round last March, with 46 votes out of 79.
Nor does it seem that the pope took account of the recommendations of Cardinal George, who is believed to have asked for a priest of his diocese as coadjutor. Unlike what happened in Sydney, where instead on September 18 Francis appointed the Dominican Anthony Colin Fisher, the protégé of the outgoing archbishop, conservative cardinal George Pell, whom the pope has called to Rome as the “czar” of the Vatican economic-financial apparatus. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
We condemn bigots who inject class, racial and religious prejudice into public and political matters. Bigotry is un-American and a danger to the Republic.
We deplore the duplicity and insincerity of the Party in power in racial and religious matters. Although they have been in office as a Majority Party for many years, they have not kept nor do they intend to keep their promises.
The Republican Party will not mislead, exploit or attempt to confuse minority groups for political purposes. All American citizens are entitled to full, impartial enforcement of Federal laws relating to their civil rights.
We believe that it is the primary responsibility of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions, and this power, reserved to the states, is essential to the maintenance of our Federal Republic. However, we believe that the Federal Government should take supplemental action within its constitutional jurisdiction to oppose discrimination against race, religion or national origin.
We will prove our good faith by:
Appointing qualified persons, without distinction of race, religion or national origin, to responsible positions in the Government.
Federal action toward the elimination of lynching.
Federal action toward the elimination of poll taxes as a prerequisite to voting.
Appropriate action to end segregation in the District of Columbia.
Enacting Federal legislation to further just and equitable treatment in the area of discriminatory employment practices. Federal action should not duplicate state efforts to end such practices; should not set up another huge bureaucracy.
Republican Party Platform on Civil Rights, 1952, when Eisenhower cracked the Solid South
One political party for over a century and a half has routinely used appeals based on race to win elections. The other party, throughout its history, has stood for civil rights for all Americans and denied that government policy should be based on racial discrimination. The first party is the Democrat Party and the second party is the Republican party. To get around this simple fact of American political history, some Democrats, especially in election years when the polls are against them, routinely attempt to portray Republicans as racists, in an Alice in Wonderland inversion of the truth. The latest hilarious example of this mendacious and bold faced attempt to rewrite history is on display at Politico in an article entitled Race and the Modern GOP. This recycles the claim of an evil Republican strategy to appeal to white racists in the South who switched en masse to become Republicans.
The problem with this is that it is a liberal fable. It didn’t happen that way. The first breach in the solid South was by Eisenhower who ran on a platform of vigorous support for Civil Rights for blacks. Segregationists retained complete control of the Democrat parties in the South and enjoyed electoral success throughout the period in question. The South changing to Republican had to do with the rise of the cultural issues, an influx of northern Republicans following wide spread use of air conditioning and the rapid economic development of the South, and the anti-military hysteria and isolationism that seized control of the Democrats in the wake of Vietnam.
My co-blogger Paul Zummo had an excellent post on this subject :
Along these same lines, Trende postulates that if any real realignment occurred, it took place during the Eisenhower administration. The Eisenhower coalition, as he puts it, pushed the GOP to decisive victories in seven of nine presidential elections. Moreover, the solid Democratic south began shifting towards the Republican party at this point. In fact the south’s gradual shift towards the GOP had begun as early as the 1920s, but the Depression halted Republican advances here. Once the New Deal had ramped up, the Republicans again began making inroads. Republicans began being truly competitive in presidential elections during the 1950s, then started making inroads in Congressional races in the 1970s and 80s, and are finally now the dominant party on the local level.
Trende’s thesis effectively destroys the notion that Republicans only began being competitive in the south once Nixon deployed the “southern strategy” to woo racist southerners after the Civil Rights Act. As already mentioned, the GOP vote share in the south had been incrementally creeping up in the 1930s, with GOP vote shares moving out of the 15-20% range and inching up towards parity slowly and surely. In fact the GOP vote share in the south did not noticeably increase during the 1960s, but instead crept up in the same incremental 1-2% annual range. Where Republicans really started making dents were with younger southern voters, as older southerners continued to cling to the Democratic party even though the national party’s values no longer matched their own. Considering that younger voters tended to have much more liberal racial views, the transformation of the south into a Republican stronghold has to be explained by something other than racial matters.
Even though Trende doesn’t come right out and say this, if anything the changing electoral map can just as easily be explained by the Democrats pursuing a northern strategy. As the Democrats began appealing to elite northern voters by pushing a more liberal agenda, this drove southerners and midwesterners away from the party. This trend would continue until Bill Clinton pursued a much different strategy, crafting his agenda to appeal to suburbanites and middle income whites. Clinton and the New Democrats were able to rip into Republican strongholds by advancing a more moderate platform. The end of the Cold War, as well as the rise of the Evangelical right, fractured the Eisenhower coalition, allowing the Democrats to win presidential elections. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Popewatch has always believed that one of the keys to understanding Pope Francis is that he is a Jesuit. Here is his speech commemorating the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Jesuits in 1814:
Dear brothers and friends in the Lord,
The Society under the name of Jesus has lived difficult times of persecution. During the leadership of Fr Lorenzo Ricci, “enemies of the Church succeeded in obtaining the suppression of the Society” (John Paul II, Message to Fr Kolvenbach, July 31, 1990) by my predecessor Clement XIV. Today, remembering its restoration, we are called to recover our memory, calling to mind the benefits received and the particular gifts (cf. Spiritual Exercises, 234). Today, I want to do that here with you.
In times of trial and tribulation, dust clouds of doubt and suffering are always raised and it is not easy to move forward, to continue the journey. Many temptations come, especially in difficult times and in crises: to stop to discuss ideas, to allow oneself to be carried away by the desolation, to focus on the fact of being persecuted, and not to see the other. Reading the letters of Fr Ricci, one thing struck me: his ability to avoid being harnessed by these temptations and to propose to the Jesuits, in a time of trouble, a vision of the things that rooted them even more in the spirituality of the Society.
Father General Ricci, who wrote to the Jesuits at the time, watching the clouds thickening on the horizon, strengthened them in their membership in the body of the Society and its mission. Here it is: in a time of confusion and turmoil he discerned. He did not waste time discussing ideas and complaining, but he took on the charge of the vocation of the Society.
And this attitude led the Jesuits to experience the death and resurrection of the Lord. Faced with the loss of everything, even of their public identity, they did not resist the will of God, they did not resist the conflict, trying to save themselves. The Society – and this is beautiful – lived the conflict to the end, without minimizing it. It lived humiliation along with the humiliated Christ; it obeyed. You never save yourself from conflict with cunning and with strategies of resistance. In the confusion and humiliation, the Society preferred to live the discernment of God’s will, without seeking a way out of the conflict in a seemingly quiet manner. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
One of the more colorful episodes in the siege of Petersburg, the Great Beefsteak Raid of September 14-17 helped cement Major General Wade Hampton III as a worthy successor to Jeb Stuart in command of the Army of Northern Virginia. Learning that a large herd of cattle were being grazed by the Union at Edmund Ruffin’s plantation on Coggin’s Point on the James River, Hampton decided to launch a raid behind enemy lines with 3,000 troopers, capture the cattle and drive them back into Confederate lines to feed the Army of Northern Virginia that was on starvation rations.
Hampton and his men seized the herd on September 16, and got 2,468 of them back into Confederate lines on September 17. Along with the cattle he brought back 304 Union prisoners, having suffered 61 Confederate casualties during the course of the raid. President Lincoln referred to it as “the slickest piece of cattle stealing” he had ever heard of. An exasperated Grant, when a reporter after the raid asked him when he expected to defeat Lee, snapped, “Never, if our armies continue to supply him with beef cattle.”
In 1966 a heavily fictionalized film on the beefsteak raid, Alavarez Kelly, was released. Here is Hampton’s report on the raid: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
(I originally posted this in 2010. I think I will begin posting it on each September 29, the feast of the Archangels.)
In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before.
“I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.
“Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: ‘Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?’ He answered: ‘Nothing, nothing.’ About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell.”
Cardinal Giovanni Batista Nassalli Rocca di Corneiliano wrote in his Pastoral Letters on Lent: “the sentence ‘The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls’ has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day.”
The Prayer written by the Pope is of course the famous prayer to Saint Michael:
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.
Amen. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Government fails in its elementary duty to protect kids at a government school where it forbade its citizens from possessing weapons for self defense. Kids are slaughtered. The government solution: regulate home schoolers!
Under a new law proposed this week by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, every homeschooling parent with a child who has been labeled with a behavioral or emotional problem would be forced to submit to a host of strict, burdensome regulations.
School officials could then decree whether parents may continue to educate their own children, reports the Connecticut Post. Administrators could pull the plug on any parents’ homeschooling by declaring that the child failed to make “adequate progress.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Have you noticed that as government becomes more of a ponzi scheme where it takes in huge amounts of money and doles out some of it to a large number of recipients in the body politic it has taken on the hectoring privileges of a parent paying out allowances to wayward brats? The late Kenneth Minogue did. From 2010:
My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents. Ministers of state have been known to instruct us in elementary matters, such as the importance of reading stories to our children. Again, many of us have unsound views about people of other races, cultures, or religions, and the distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.
No philosopher can contemplate this interesting situation without beginning to reflect on what it can mean. The gap between political realities and their public face is so great that the term “paradox” tends to crop up from sentence to sentence. Our rulers are theoretically “our” representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up. The business of governments, one might think, is to supply the framework of law within which we may pursue happiness on our own account. Instead, we are constantly being summoned to reform ourselves. Debt, intemperance, and incompetence in rearing our children are no doubt regrettable, but they are vices, and left alone, they will soon lead to the pain that corrects. Life is a better teacher of virtue than politicians, and most sensible governments in the past left moral faults to the churches. But democratic citizenship in the twenty-first century means receiving a stream of improving “messages” from politicians. Some may forgive these intrusions because they are so well intentioned. Who would defend prejudice, debt, or excessive drinking? The point, however, is that our rulers have no business telling us how to live. They are tiresome enough in their exercise of authority—they are intolerable when they mount the pulpit. Nor should we be in any doubt that nationalizing the moral life is the first step towards totalitarianism.
We might perhaps be more tolerant of rulers turning preachers if they were moral giants. But what citizen looks at the government today thinking how wise and virtuous it is? Public respect for politicians has long been declining, even as the population at large has been seduced into demanding political solutions to social problems. To demand help from officials we rather despise argues for a notable lack of logic in the demos. The statesmen of eras past have been replaced by a set of barely competent social workers eager to take over the risks of our everyday life. The electorates of earlier times would have responded to politicians seeking to bribe us with such promises with derision. Today, the demos votes for them. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading