My compatriot Paul Zummo posts: Assertion Without Evidence.
Here find my reply.
Mr. Zummo writes:
“Show, don’t tell” is an admonition often given to writers. Usually it applies to fiction, but it works with non-fiction as well. If you make an assertion about someone’s beliefs, it is generally good form to provide evidence supporting your argument, at least if you want to be taken seriously. It is true that the blogopshere doesn’t necessarily allow for extended treatises, yet it’s still possible within the confines of a few hundred words or more to demonstrate credible evidence of your assertions.
When it comes to Paul Ryan and his evil Randian ways, however, such worries are cast aside.
The claim is that there is no evidence to support the assertion that Paul Ryan is “Randian.” That is, that he ascribes to the philosophy of Ayn Rand.
First, it is very clear that, in recent years, Paul Ryan was an avid supporter of what he called the “morality of capitalism” as defined specifically by Ayn Rand. (Video here.)
Secondly, when political blowback was clear, Ryan stated that the claims that he supports Ayn Rand are “urban legend.” The term “urban legend” is commonly understood to describe a myth. In other words, his reply was that the claims are “not true,” but we have the video, don’t we? Robert Costa added undue credibility to Ryan’s assertion:
These Rand-related slams, Ryan says, are inaccurate and part of an effort on the left to paint him as a cold-hearted Objectivist.
It is ironic that Ryan will not acknowledge that the poor are “due” assistance, even as he is given undue credibility by Costa and National Review. More troubling indeed is Costa’s assertion that the source of this “lie” is political opponents on the Left. This gives the impression that Ryan is a person of privilege who will be defended by National Review, which is heavily-staffed with Catholic columnists, even against true claims against him. In this way, the credibility of Catholic conservatives is eroded. That is something I certainly do not want to see.
Let it be noted that I have never claimed that Ryan is an Objectivist, per Costa’s article, but only that he is opposed to the preferential option for the poor. I would love to see any quote from Ryan claiming that the poor are “due” economic assistance from those who have more. Certainly, Rick Santorum would tell you that the poor are “due” assistance by virtue of the fact that they are poor. He would say it a thousand times without flinching, though he may disagree with some on the structures it takes to make that happen effectively. Ryan appears to have no belief that the poor are “due” assistance.
Finally, on the main point about whether Ryan is “Randian,” if we assume that he’s had a “conversion” from Rand, then a couple of things would be required to make it an actual conversion. First, you would have to convert “to” something else. Secondly, you would have to demonstrate somehow that you actually believe that philosophy that you’ve converted to.
Ryan claims that he follows St. Thomas Aquinas, not Ayn Rand.
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
If he follows Aquinas, as claimed, this would make him a proponent of Distributism. Try quoting Aquinas’ remarks on Distributism to any conservatives who have not read them before and ask them what it sounds like to them. I’ll be shocked if they don’t call it “socialism.”
As stated above (Article 1), in distributive justice something is given to a private individual, in so far as what belongs to the whole is due to the part, and in a quantity that is proportionate to the importance of the position of that part in respect of the whole. Consequently in distributive justice a person receives all the more of the common goods, according as he holds a more prominent position in the community. This prominence in an aristocratic community is gauged according to virtue, in an oligarchy according to wealth, in a democracy according to liberty, and in various ways according to various forms of community. Hence in distributive justice the mean is observed, not according to equality between thing and thing, but according to proportion between things and persons: in such a way that even as one person surpasses another, so that which is given to one person surpasses that which is allotted to another.
Aquinas goes on to say that it is the poor, as Jesus said, who are to be considered to have the more prominent position in the community. G.K. Chesterton was a proponent of Distributism. No heretic, he.
Several times today alone, I have shared the above quote from Aquinas with conservatives and have been told it is “redistribution of wealth,” the term frequently employed by conservatives to describe socialism. I would argue that most people would say the quote above describes Obama policy better than it describes Ryan policy. Herein lies the conundrum of ignorance which plagues us and foments division in the Church through political confusion. Not one among us who call ourselves conservative would let Barack Obama get away with saying that he follows Aquinas, but if Paul Ryan says it, no one bats an eyelash? Well, not me. Not me. And so, here I am before you asking you not to let any man get away with claiming he follows Aquinas when he does not, least of all a candidate for high office, and especially so when it is a candidate for high office who identifies as Catholic on the national stage.
Certainly, Ryan’s philosophy continues to more closely resemble the philosophy of Ayn Rand than of Aquinas. CLICK HERE to see why that is so dangerous to the Church in America, and yes, even to Western Civilization itself.
As for Mr. Zummo’s attempt to compare Paul Ryan to Rick Santorum, there is no comparison. They are vastly different, as stated above, but also considering the fact that Paul Ryan endorsed Mitt Romney, who is running on a solely economic platform, over his fellow Catholic Rick Santorum in Wisconsin. This action effectively knocked Rick Santorum out of the GOP presidential primary for good and certainly indicates strongly that the two are not at all on the same page economically. At the very least, it’s clear that Paul Ryan prefers Romney economics to Santorum economics. Mitt Romney believes those who work are “due” what they work for. Fine, fine, but Rick Santorum believes, in addition to that, that the poor are “due” assistance in some form. It’s a philosophy that is consistent with our Catholic Faith, whereas Ryan’s philosophy is not.
There was no “assertion without evidence.” To the contrary, there is a great deal of evidence, and we ignore it at our peril.
I am seeing this video for the first time tonight and believe it is important that all Catholics see it.
Are you curious about the direction of the Republican Party now that Mitt Romney is expected to be the nominee in the aftermath of Rick Santorum’s surprising victories in eleven states? Santorum is expected to meet with Mitt Romney on May 4 about just that, among other things.
At National Review’s The Corner, Robert Costa has some quotes from senior Santorum campaign strategist John Brabender on what he expects to be discussed at the meeting. “We’ve only taken one thing off of the table,” says Brabender. That one thing is discussion of Rick Santorum’s campaign debt.
From National Review’s The Corner:
On Friday, May 4, Rick Santorum will huddle with Mitt Romney. According to Santorum strategist John Brabender, the former rivals will discuss a variety of topics, including how Santorum could potentially work with Romney during the general-election campaign.
“It’s about more than moving toward an endorsement,” Brabender says. “It’s also about helping Rick and Governor Romney to get to know each other on a personal level. They’ve only talked in passing at the debates; they’ve never really gotten to know each other. Rick wants to sit down with Romney, one on one, and talk through some things.
Mitt Romney is running as a conservative now, but in the general, we can expect a flip-flop. It was made clear already by a top Romney campaign adviser saying he will erase his conservative views as with an “Etch-A-Sketch” once the general election comes around, if he is the nominee. Tonight, Romney’s Maryland campaign chair said that women will see Mitt Romney’s “real views” in the general election.
From CNN, transcript:
Piers Morgan: Obviously, Governor Romney’s got a problem in the polling with women, not entirely surprising given the social issue debates that have been raging in the Republican Party have been pretty negatively received. How does he rebuild trust in the female vote?Romney’s Maryland Campaign Chair, Bob Ehrlich: I think that’s more a function of the Santorum campaign, quite frankly, and the Democrats using some of Senator Santorum’s verbiage to their electoral advantage, to their partisan advantage. I think, when the general election, again, when you have one-on-one election, a general election, and they see again, are reminded of Governor Romney’s real views, that gender gap will dissipate rather quickly.
Why do people vote for this? Mass insanity, that’s why. People have rejected moral reasoning, and when you reject moral reasoning, you don’t think reasonably. Believe me, I know about this in living technicolor as I live with Bipolar Disorder. If I don’t find my identity in God’s truth, I will go quite literally crazy. Healthy brains can do the same thing when they reject moral reasoning.
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his day, observed that democracy in America had become possible and had worked because there existed a fundamental moral consensus which, transcending individual denominations, united everyone. Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk wherever its place, the place of moral reasoning, is taken by the purely instrumental rationality of which I spoke earlier. In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.
“Eclipse of reason.” “The very future of the world is at stake.” Is the Pope being “over the top” here? No. It is all plain as day to the faithful.
This is why I always say that we have to elect Rick Santorum because “the future of the world is at stake.” It really is. Either we embrace moral reasoning, or we sink into the abyss.
I’ve been saying since long before Rick Santorum decided to run for president that America is rejecting moral reasoning and that we are headed for a dark age if we don’t get our bearings back. Seeing people fall for the “Etch A Sketch” candidate and seeing the full weight of the Republican Party establishment out to destroy Rick Santorum’s hopes for the nomination is no surprise to me. America will elect Rick Santorum or it’s game over.
Catholics, particularly, who vote for Mitt Romney should be ashamed of themselves. The man stood on stage before a national audience and, in order to save his own political skin, told a blatant and horrific falsehood about the Catholic Church. He said that the Church voluntarily submitted to subsidizing child murder. He’s clearly a man who will say and do anything to gain power, even tell such a lie about the Church before a national audience, and yet…Catholics are voting for him. “Eclipse of reason.”
I’m ashamed of Catholic Republicans who are voting for this impostor, but then, the Church has been through worse. We’ll get through this as we have gotten through far worse things, albeit losing many souls along the way. God, help us.
Think I’m going overboard? I don’t have to win elections. I only have to remain close to Christ, because He is all. I don’t lose any sleep over the possibility that Rick Santorum may not win. As he told me tonight after losing in Maryland, Wisconsin and D.C., “God is good.” Indeed, God is good, and God will remain eternally good, even if America rejects Him. She will get what she deserves, but it is my hope that she works hard to deserve freedom by helping to elect a man of principle — Rick Santorum.
Rick Santorum is taking some heat in various places for some remarks he made about the failure of the Left to understand where our rights come from. In this case, as in so many other positions Santorum expounds on throughout his campaign, his views are informed by a belief about human nature that was shared by America’s Founding Fathers and by all who believe man was Created by a loving God. First, let’s listen to what Santorum said that he is being criticized for, in some circles. Then, I’ll explain the main disconnect between those who agree with the views Santorum is expressing here and those who disagree with them .
When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what’s left is the French Revolution. You are a bigot and a hater because there’s no rational reason. What’s left is a government that gives you rights. What’s left are no inalienable rights. What’s left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you’ll do, and when you’ll do it…and France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re a long way from that, but, if we do, and follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, that we are headed down that road.
The criticism is that Rick Santorum is using a “slippery slope fallacy” either to intentionally scare people or because of ignorance on his part. The slippery slope fallacy is also referred to as the Camel’s Nose:
When the camel’s nose enters the tent, can the rest of the camel be far behind?
In order for a slippery slope argument to be a fallacy, it must lack an argument for inevitability. Most people probably understand that the Camel’s Nose proverb is indeed a fallacy because most of us probably know that a camel may very well stick his nose into a tent without ever entering the tent. We might say it’s common sense. It does take some awareness of camel behavior to know whether or not this is a fallacy, and enough information is known by most people for them to recognize that the argument fails. The “nature of the camel” is something that one must know in order for the Camel’s Nose argument to be recognized as a fallacy. So it is with Rick Santorum’s argument about the HHS mandate. One must know something about human nature in order to understand that evil actions do set one’s feet on a path toward even more seriously evil actions.
If you do not have a good understanding of human nature, you will probably believe Rick Santorum’s argument is a fallacy. Naturally, you will come up with alternative explanations for his claim, such as that he is either ignorant or willfully scaring people. Logically speaking, if human nature is not at all what Rick Santorum believes it to be, then it would mean that he is ignorant. But if Rick Santorum is “ignorant” about human nature, then so is the Catholic Church and so are America’s Founding Fathers because his view is in keeping with both.
From the Declaration of Independence, we have a reference to human nature in the quote about Natural Law [Emphasis mine]:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
From the Catholic Church we can look to the Summa Theologica in which St. Thomas Aquinas explained that when man commits evil acts, he will develop a habit of evil, and when he practices virtuous things, he will develop virtuous habits. Certainly, we Catholics believe also that God’s grace is both necessary and available to us in this process, but most parents, Catholic or not, can tell you that letting a child get away with bad behavior will result in the child developing bad habits. So it is for each of us because we all have human nature. We should hope and pray that this is still common sense, because if it is not, America is in deep trouble.
As for Rick Santorum’s reference to the French Revolution, I have heard him make this case many times on the campaign trail. He underscores the difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution in the context of each country’s claim about where rights come from. As previously noted, the American Founders stated that our rights come from God by virtue of our being created by Him. Not so, with the French.
The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
It is the above principle that Rick Santorum claims, and rightly so, that the Left in America believes in, as opposed to the American Founders’ contention that the fact that we have rights (our sovereignty) resides in the fact that we were created by God and that no nation may legitimately usurp those rights.
The claim of the Left is that it is important for the Obama Administration to force the Catholic Church to pay (through healthcare coverage) for contraceptives, including abortifacients, as a matter of “fairness” to women. This is generally what the Left in America claims to be about: “Fairness”. In this, they are claiming that they are “fair” and the Catholic Church is “not fair.” As such, they are claiming that Catholic teaching is unjust. They believe that they decide what is “just” and what is “unjust” and have decreed that the Church is opposed to their view of justice. If such a precedent were allowed to remain in “good standing” in American law, that the Catholic Church is unjust and must be oppressed wherever the state determines it to be unjust, could the guillotine really be so far away as Rick Santorum claims? This would be my only criticism of Santorum’s claim, that we are “a long way” from the guillotine.
It is precisely because so many in America, and certainly Santorum’s political opponents, fail to understand human nature and apply their erroneous understanding to their positions on the law that he will face a challenge in making the argument to the American people that the Left is not about “fairness” at all. Rather, they are about deciding for us what our rights are even though they are incompetent on the matter of human nature which was so clearly understood by those who Founded our country and penned the Bill of Rights based on that understanding.
We really do have a choice now, in this election, to choose the Constitution and the reasoning behind the rights it delineates, or to choose a view of rights that history has already shown us will lead to the guillotine.
I choose Rick Santorum.
Leila Miller writes about subsidiarity:
Subsidiarity holds that decisions and policies should be made at the lowest level possible, and intervention by higher and bigger social organizations should only be undertaken when those lower levels truly need and desire a supporting (not usurping!) action.
The role of the family must not be usurped by communities and cities, the role of cities must not be usurped by states, and the role of states must not be usurped by the federal government. Worst of all is when the federal government overtakes a role proper to the family.
Generally speaking, this is true, but it cannot be applied strictly so. For instance, if a man is beating his wife, he may feel that he does not “need and desire” government intervention. In such a scenario, it is important for the state to protect her by having laws in place that will allow law enforcement to enter in and protect her. If the state refuses to pass such laws, it is then the responsibility of the federal government to pass laws that will protect her.
From Rerum Novarum:
Man precedes the State, and possesses, prior to the formation of any State, the right of providing for the substance of his body.
The rights of mankind always precede the State, prior to the formation of any State. This means that man’s rights automatically trump every level of government. That is an idea consistent with the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The Founders agree with the Church that the only purpose of civil government is to “secure” our “rights” which come from God.
Also from Rerum Novarum:
The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error. True, if a family finds itself in exceeding distress, utterly deprived of the counsel of friends, and without any prospect of extricating itself, it is right that extreme necessity be met by public aid, since each family is a part of the commonwealth. In like manner, if within the precincts of the household there occur grave disturbance of mutual rights, public authority should intervene to force each party to yield to the other its proper due; for this is not to deprive citizens of their rights, but justly and properly to safeguard and strengthen them.
This is why I say that it is illegitimate under Catholic teaching AND under the Declaration of Independence for any candidate for president to say that abortion is not within the purview of the federal government at all, and that it is only a matter for the individual states.
It is also why the Fourteenth Amendment,which was authored by the still-new Republican Party (founded by Christians who sought to end slavery) and enacted after the Civil War, is a legitimate protection:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Unfortunately, that very reasonable and basic protection has been abused by those who would rather not think in terms of the most basic rights of every human person but rather seek to divide us all into groups and drive wedges between us. If we were all merely considered “persons” and our rights were considered to be only those which are “inalienable” (God-given) then we would not have so many silly rules in our laws that drive wedges between people and build up resentments in society. The fact that this has happened for so many years and has created a government that has grown so very large does not give us license to “tweak” Catholic teaching and claim that lower levels of government have sole power to defend our rights. We must still defend the basic law of the land that is consistent with our Faith and never claim that any state may legitimately decide what our rights are. Those, as the Declaration says, come from God alone. They are not defined by vote in a state legislature.
The Founders were fortunate enough that these “truths” were, as they said, “self-evident” to them. They were very clear and needed no explanation. In today’s times, due to man’s continual rejection of God, we are faced with a population in which “truths” are no longer “self-evident”. “Rights” are no longer understood. This failure to recognize “truth” has been explained by the Holy Father as an “eclipse of reason“.
“To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.”
As Catholics we each have the duty “to preserve” our “capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and true” and always forsake any notion that it might be legitimate to do otherwise for expediency’s sake because we are faced with problematic man-made boundaries in politics.
Subsidiarity is not so cut and dry. Our rights are very basic and always trump all forms of government, at all levels, according to the Catholic Church, according to the Founding Fathers, and according to the Fourteenth Amendment. If our government does not defend those very basic rights, then our government is operating in illegitimacy on the point, and if we defend that illegitimacy, our defense is illegitimate no matter how convincing we, or others, may think it to be.
Some argue that because our federal government is not defending the right to life, then the federal government is operating in illegitimacy and, therefore, it is necessary to usurp the authority of the federal government on the issue of abortion. But the authority of the federal government is found in the framework of the laws, not in the persons who are elected. The laws are clear. We can see this from the Declaration of Independence and from the Fourteenth Amendment. There is no mistake that our government is sound on this principle in considering the framework of laws. It is not the law that is the problem. It is the people who refuse to enforce those laws who must be voted out and replaced with people who will enforce those laws.
The explanation I have given above regarding the duties of all levels to defend our rights, which trump all government powers, means that the Republican Party has been from its beginning, in my view, the most Catholic political party there ever was. It is now under great threat as those who believe “states rights” trump inalienable rights — manifest primarily in the abortion issue — used to only have one candidate, but now seem to have several candidates in the field taking that wholly illegitimate position that “states” have “rights”.
States do not have rights. States have powers. Only people have rights.
The Republican Party’s current pro-life plank includes at least four phrases which fly in the face of the “states rights” position.
Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.
1. “Declaration of Independence” – As noted previously, it is in this founding document where “inalienable rights” are given as the reason for breaking away from tyranny. That is referred to as a “Natural Law” argument, which the Founders mention as “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. If you do not agree that Natural Law should be embraced in the reading of the Constitution, then you agree with Elena Kagan, who is by no means a Republican, and disagree with Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican. (See video here of Senator Coburn questioning Kagan about whether the right to bear arms is a “natural right”.)
2. “[F]undamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed” – Any attempt to deny that right is illegitimate. Hence, the claim that any level of government — whether local, state or federal — may, if they choose, deny that right is an illegitimate claim on its face.
3. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution” — This is an acknowledgment that states cannot legitimately allow abortion.
4. “Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children” — This specifically refers to the provision “nor shall any State deprive any person of life.”
Sadly, most people appear to be taking a postion on abortion for expediency’s sake. Ask any who believe in “states rights” on abortion if they believe states may ban guns, or if states may allow unreasonable searches by law enforcement. I assure you, they will either not respond to the question, or they will fundamentally fail to understand that it is only the Fourteenth Amendment which guarantees that individual states must not ever fail to uphold our natural rights. If there is some other explanation offered from a reading of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence for these candidates failing to call for “states rights” in regard to other “natural” rights, I would be most happy to hear the explanation.
I conclude, therefore, that only two candidates currently campaigning for the Republican nomination are genuine Republicans on this issue, are genuinely in keeping with the Founders and genuinely in keeping with the Church. Not surprisingly, they are both Catholic. I will let you do the research to find out who they are.
On the particular issue of abortion, we find solid defense of the unborn in the Republican Party’s most recent party platform. It should be expected, therefore, that members of the Republican Party would uphold the pro-life ethic in accordance with the principles outlined by their party. On the pages of the New York Times, however, efforts to enact these principles into law are characterized by “boy wonder” A. G. Sulzberger as an “agenda” of the “GOP“ that the courts are right to suppress. Sulzberger opines that such suppression offers “relief to Democrats”.
The court actions around the country have brought a measure of relief to Democrats who are hoping some of those cases will result in the courts’ overturning laws that they were unable to stop. And while Republican proponents are hoping to see these laws eventually pass muster, even failure would be instructive for legislation explicitly intended to push legal boundaries.
Virtually every bill before every legislature, regardless of the issue, is “explicitly intended to push legal boundaries”. Every change in law “pushes legal boundaries” since current “law” is a “legal boundary”. There would be no need for legislatures if “legal boundaries” could not rightly be “pushed”. The suggestion that “legal boundaries” denying the right to life cannot legitimately be “pushed” amounts to a claim that anti-life law is sacred dogma.
Writing in the context of the judiciary, Sulzberg is operating on the assumption that Roe v. Wade is sacred dogma to the Democratic Party. Roe is ostensibly an objective truth, the “boundary” that may never rightly be “pushed” in any way without causing pain to Democrats. “Relief for Democrats” comes when this sacred dogma is upheld by judges who agree with the Democratic Party that the Republicans’ claim that life has sanctity is somehow suspect.
Exactly how far does this dogma extend? According to the Democratic Party platform, the “right” to abortion absolutely includes taxpayer-funding. Sulzberger ends with a quote from a Planned Parenthood official offering the shocking claim that the legal battle to end taxpayer-funding of abortion is “wasting taxpayer dollars”.
But Peter B. Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, was upset despite the early legal victories.
“I find it irresponsible,” Mr. Brownlie said, “that publicly elected officials are passing legislation that they should know is illegal and wasting taxpayer dollars going to court to defend things that are not defensible.”
Defense of life might currently be characterized as a “GOP agenda” if the Republican Party platform’s comparison to the Democratic Party platform is any indication. It would be a travesty, however, if this remains the case. Defense of life is not something that should be confined to the realm of any party’s ideology. The paramount right to life should be defended at every time, and in every place, by everyone, regardless of party affiliation.
Though political ideologies, movements and parties may come and go, the dignity of all human life is a constant and objective reality that should be defended by all. Any movement which does not uphold the dignity of the human person is operating in illegitimacy on the point. Without the right to life, all other rights are meaningless.
Perhaps because most people still understand this basic truth, both of the major political parties in America lay claim, on some level, to defense of human dignity, but only one of these — the Republican Party — currently defends the unborn in an official capacity. Democrats would do well to embrace and promote the principle of the sanctity of life so that defense of life might be considered an American “agenda” rather than an “agenda of the GOP“.
Today is the Feast Day of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. I honor her today as a convert to Catholicism who, after finding Jesus in the Catholic Church, was eager to find people in the Church who were good models for me in these troubling times that we live in. Back then, in 1991, good models of Christian virtue were easy to find in Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.
It was Mother Teresa who taught me what authentic social justice is. Get up. Do something. Work for those who have need. Stand up and do something yourself. Be active yourself. No matter who you are, reach out to those around you in need and help. Open the door for the elderly woman. Help the poor mother struggling to care for her children. Wipe the brow of the dying man.
Mother Teresa lived a dark night.
The Dark Night. Throughout 1946 and 1947, Mother Teresa experienced a profound union with Christ. But soon after she left the convent and began her work among the destitute and dying on the street, the visions and locutions ceased, and she experienced a spiritual darkness that would remain with her until her death.
Many of us experience dark nights. I have myself. I am in awe of what she did with her life while enduring this dark night for so many years.
For weeks, there has been a “holy war” being waged against Rick Santorum by “gay rights” activists. No one is spared from this onslaught. It should be noted that Michele Bachmann is also being attacked for her Christianity…even to the point of pirating and editing videos with lies painting her as a bigot.
Anti-Christian bigotry is afoot…and apparently…there are no rules.
1. the state or quality of being decent.
2. conformity to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc.
There is nothing decent about the “gay rights” movement. Nothing.
Earlier, I wrote about The ‘Gay Rights’ Community’s Jihad Against Rick Santorum. The ‘jihad’ comment was rather a joking matter that allowed me to describe the main point which is Rick Santorum’s defense of Natural Law. Political candidates should be given leeway on the use of hyperbole and also should expect to be at the red hot center of verbal attacks from opponents. In my report today, however, the jihadist activity of ‘gay rights’ activists is not a joking matter at all. It is very real.
My friend Stacy Trasancos, a fellow Catholic mom who is concerned about the world her children have to grow up in, is under attack from the ‘gay rights’ community for daring to write what she thinks about public displays of affection. She’s received death threats, which she has reported to law enforcement, and is naturally questioning whether or not she should continue to simply speak publicly about her beliefs.
I believe it is important at this time for the Catholic blogosphere to come to her aid by offering support in the form of encouragement and in the form of condemning the tactics of the ‘gay rights’ movement against people of faith who simply would like to take their kids to the park without having to risk exposure to depravity, not to mention who would simply like to write what they think about things on a blog.
It’s time to stand in defense of our sister Stacy Trasancos. Read: You duped me, O Lord…and leave a note of encouragement.
UPDATE: I recommend we all turn to the Blessed Mother for help and not to engage in fruitless arguments, but only mature and serious discussion on this important subject.
UPDATE: Comments are now closed.
Rick Santorum joked that the ‘gay rights’ community has launched a jihad against him for explaining on the campaign trail that marriage is only for one man and one woman and cannot be changed even if attempts are made to redefine it. On Top Magazine says Santorum is “playing the victim card” for pointing out what really is something of a social media “holy war” on the part of “gay rights” activists. They are currently engaged not in debate but rather in a campaign to smear the good name of Rick Santorum because he refuses to uphold the “sanctity” of “gay marriage”.
The “jihad” comment has very little to do with the substance of what Rick Santorum said in the speech in question. Watch the video below. I’ll have a transcript excerpt and my own commentary afterward.
I should note that the video above has been heavily edited by “gay rights” activists who are apparently following Rick Santorum around and recording him because of the threat he poses to their movement. I would recommend to the Santorum camp that they have every speech videotaped in full and uploaded to Rick Santorum’s YouTube account as soon as possible. I’ll post every one on my blog if they will do that. Other Republican candidates should do the same as they come under attack from various groups.
What the “gay rights” community is doing to Rick Santorum by launching a smear campaign against him on Twitter and on their blogs is comparable to jihad because of its complete intolerance for Christianity. Rick Santorum is a Catholic. What he believes as a Catholic is what his conscience tells him is right and true. What these activists do not seem to understand is that it is not Santorum’s Catholicism that makes it important for him to defend traditional marriage as a presidential candidate. Rather, Santorum’s obligation to defend traditional marriage as a candidate comes from his reason and from his courage. All who understand what America really is, whether Catholic, protestant, Jewish, or even non-religious, should be standing with Rick Santorum to defend traditional marriage in America’s public square.
Here’s the quote we should be paying the closest attention to in the video.
Marriage is what marriage is. It existed before there was the English language or a State. It is something that was given to us from the very beginning of time. It is something universal in every culture, and it has been remarkably consistent in every culture. Why? Because it reflects Nature and Nature’s God.
“Nature and Nature’s God” is a quote from the Declaration of Independence.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
When we deny Natural Law, we deny the very foundation of America. Actively campaigning for our government to enshrine as a “right” something so contradictory to Natural Law as “gay marriage” is to actively campaign for tyranny on behalf of a government that tramples the rights we are entitled to by virtue of our creation as human beings made in the image of God.
Again, from the Declaration of Independence:
[...][A]ll men are created equal [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights[...]
If Natural Law no longer counts in America’s laws, then there is no longer such a thing as unalienable Rights which trump the Powers of the State. “Rights” are now, apparently, based not on what we are endowed with by our Creator, but rather are based on moral relativism. If authentic rights are now meaningless, then America has essentially become nothing more than a barbaric democracy that is barely held together by the seams of a Republic established by the Founding Fathers of our nation.
Many are saying that the economy is the most important issue today. Truly, it is the issue that most immediately affects the vast majority of Americans. I would argue that the problems with our economy are merely the latest symptom of a country virtually destroyed by moral decay and failure to live up to the values upon which America was founded in the first place. It could be that our economic woes are the last gasp of a dying America. I would submit that those candidates who are running primarily on economic issues and who fail to stand for the Declaration of Independence can only ultimately provide, as President, a band-aid for a country that is suffering from internal hemorrhage.
May God help America in this time of need.
My colleague Paul Zummo wrote recently here at TAC responding to presidential candidate Herman Cain’s recent remarks about mosques: The Constitution Isn’t a Suicide Pact. It is not my intention to either defend or criticize Herman Cain, nor to talk about radical Islam, per se, but Zummo’s article touches on a topic that is too frequently ignored. Whether we are talking about abortion, terror-supporting mosques, so-called ‘gay marriage’, pornography, or any other topics where issues of morality come up in politics, we should recognize that people of faith are always going to be butting heads in the public sphere with those who claim that the Constitution gives us the freedom to do evil. Does the Constitution give us the freedom to do evil? No. It doesn’t.
Does the Constitution give religions the freedom to preach terror? I would argue that the answer to that is no. This is what I’m sure Herman Cain was referring to, and I agree with him on the point, however ineloquent he may have been.
The Constitution must not be read in a vacuum. It was authored by people of faith, for people of faith. It proceeded from the Declaration of Independence and has foundation in the Declaration’s principle that all men are created equal by the one Creator recognized by Jews and Christians universally. The Founders were certainly aware of Islam, but I doubt they would have thought that Americans would stand for allowing Islamists to put our lives at risk under the guise of ‘freedom of religion’.
Jews and Christians to this day continue in their shared acknowledgment that we owe our rights to the same Creator. This is why we say that America is a Judeo-Christian state. Even so, we should welcome those of other faiths, provided that they live in the same respect for human dignity that is inherent in the Judeo-Christian ethic.
Because the vast majority of Americans – whether Jew or Christian – understood from the beginning that our rights come from God alone, it was understood universally, as well, that we do not have freedom to do evil. Instead, we are all bound to be what we believe the Creator has called us to be. The first Americans understood this clearly, whereas today, the Constitution is frequently held up as a document that protects the freedom to do evil. As of late, the call is for evil to be enshrined as good, and for good to be condemned because it challenges evil. The latest clear example is the recent ‘gay marriage’ law passed in New York.
The primary example of this enshrinement was the 1973 Roe v Wade decision which legalized abortion. Slavery might have been similarly enshrined as a Constitutional “right” by the Dred Scott decision had people of good will not risen up to correct the wrong. As more and more people rise up to correct the wrong which was the Constitutional enshrinement of abortion, a new movement seeks to enshrine another evil: “gay marriage”.
Let us not make the mistake of enshrining evil as good, be it in giving radical Islam protected status as “religion” or in giving gay marriage protected status as if it were a legitimate union for the good of society.
Much is at stake in our time. Let’s pay attention and not throw any babies out with the bathwater.
According to Three Fingers of Politics, you have to have been “living under a rock” not to know who Mila Kunis is. I had actually never heard of her until I read an article at Pajamas Media about her by my friend and former editor, Dave Swindle. The fact that Kunis is a very well-known movie actress who makes this claim about promiscuity and communism — in one breath, no less — is enough to get this Catholic’s attention:
GQ: Your new movie is called Friends with Benefits. Ever been in one of those relationships?
Mila Kunis: Oy. I haven’t, but I can give you my stance on it: It’s like communism—good in theory, in execution it fails. Friends of mine have done it, and it never ends well. Why do people put themselves through that torture?
It’s certainly refreshing to hear someone of notable fame expressing good judgment in regard to what we Catholics (and many others alongside us) recognize as two great evils: communism and promiscuity.
Swindle, who is himself a member of Generation Y, writes:
Don’t expect the trend of a rebellious youth culture to continue indefinitely.
That is certainly good news, if he is right. Still, he makes the argument from a perspective that is based on reason alone. I don’t think Swindle holds exclusively to the “reason only” philosophy, but since he uses reason only in his argument, I’d like to address that.
Swindle makes the point that it’s not conducive to self-preservation for one to be “sticking one’s privates in a blender“. Is this what Kunis was referring to when she said “torture”? I’m not sure. Maybe she was talking about the torture of hell. Would it be too presumptuous of me to suggest that? I have to ask because I don’t know anything else about her. Whatever her intention may be, those who base arguments on reason alone do have an easier time convincing people of their arguments than we Catholics do, I suppose, as we have to argue for “moral reasoning”, not just “reasoning”. Making the argument against promiscuity based on health consequences, or perhaps even sociological arguments regarding the practical benefits of bonding, is something we Catholics are charged with, too, but we are charged with the further burden of explaining the moral dimension that is bound to reason. Unfortunately, that part scares some people away…and always has.
Consider this history lesson from Fides et Ratio:
With the rise of the first universities, theology came more directly into contact with other forms of learning and scientific research. Although they insisted upon the organic link between theology and philosophy, Saint Albert the Great and Saint Thomas were the first to recognize the autonomy which philosophy and the sciences needed if they were to perform well in their respective fields of research. From the late Medieval period onwards, however, the legitimate distinction between the two forms of learning became more and more a fateful separation. As a result of the exaggerated rationalism of certain thinkers, positions grew more radical and there emerged eventually a philosophy which was separate from and absolutely independent of the contents of faith. Another of the many consequences of this separation was an ever deeper mistrust with regard to reason itself. In a spirit both sceptical and agnostic, some began to voice a general mistrust, which led some to focus more on faith and others to deny its rationality altogether.
In short, what for Patristic and Medieval thought was in both theory and practice a profound unity, producing knowledge capable of reaching the highest forms of speculation, was destroyed by systems which espoused the cause of rational knowledge sundered from faith and meant to take the place of faith.
Man’s own propensity toward self-interest (e.g., avoiding promiscuous behavior to preserve bodily integrity) works against him, in the end, because mistrust of religion becomes inherent in the way he observes facts. Reason inevitably becomes less important to him than self-interest. An example of this is Planned Parenthood’s rejection of science to promote an abortion agenda, something they would themselves have characterized as unthinkable a few decades ago.
I happen to know that Swindle believes, as we Catholics do, that man has a fallen nature, but I’m not sure he defines “fallen nature” the way we Catholics do.
Human nature since the fall of Adam. It is a nature that lacks the right balance it had originally. It is a wounded but not perverted nature. Since the fall, man has a built-in bias away from what is morally good and toward what is wrong. He is weakened in his ability to know the truth and to want the truly good. With the help of grace, however, he can overcome these natural tendencies and become sanctified in the process.
Let’s take a look at the particular subject: bad health consequences due to promiscuity. Certainly, even animals which possess perishable souls and no moral reasoning will avoid things that they believe are dangerous to their health and safety. Often, too, animals have long-term mates with whom they form a bond. But animals do, overall, engage in rampant “promiscuity” while not suffering from disease as a result. Imagine that. God has, by and large, reserved these consequences (“tortures”) first and foremost for humanity. Faith tells us “why”. Science may only tell us “how”.
Back to the “living under a rock” point. Personally and subjectively, I tend to think that “living under a rock” would be an appropriate term for those who actually know who people like Mila Kunis are…but then, I’m with the Catholic Church on the dignity of the human person…not Hollywood. Perhaps it’s understandable that Hollywood seems like a place “under a rock” to me. A dark and lifeless place. “Glitter” is not “life“. I take no offense at the suggestion, however, that I live “under a rock” because I didn’t know of this woman until she said something notably moral.
Fortunately, I know that Swindle knows that I love him, respect him and appreciate him. We are friends, so he won’t take our difference of perspective on “why Kunis’ comments are good” as a personal slam. In fact, we both agree they’re good for the same reason…but mine has a moral dimension, too. An important point, though, is that we both know and understand her remarks to be a good thing. I find comfort in knowing that Swindle and I (and perhaps Kunis?) will almost certainly vote for the same person in the general presidential election because we are both disgusted by the socialist philosophy, as well as any government policies that would directly promote promiscuity, not to mention any number of other ills in government that we both believe to be pulling our country into an abyss, economically and otherwise.
Isn’t that comforting? It is comforting to me.
On second thought, there is one troubling point he makes about Generation Y, on page 2:
And yes, after multiple generations that exploded the divorce rate in this country, you’ve got plenty of young people who are taking the institution of marriage a bit more seriously. (But don’t expect this to necessarily translate to being against gay marriage.)
Maybe Generation Y should look to the animal world for guidance on that one?
At least, here’s hoping that all of us who are generally opposed to the pro-promiscuity Left, socialism, etc., will eventually vote for the same person. I think we will…but then, there’s always a write-in option if the Republican supports gay marriage.
Prof. Dr. Richard Russell, a former CIA analyst who is a convert to the Catholic Faith, a man who describes himself as a “student of war”, recently delivered an address in The Netherlands about the messages of Our Lady of All Nations. All I can say about this is that is truly fascinating, and I strongly recommend a listen.
It’s Wonderful – with a capital ‘W’ – to be able to write an article like this, thanking a bishop for doing the right thing.
Thomas J. Allio Jr., retired senior director of the Cleveland Diocesan Social Action Office, has penned an op-ed that appears today in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that is probably intended to raise some eyebrows. The op-ed is highly critical of Bishop Richard Lennon for his decision to forbid all parishes from participating in meetings of the Greater Cleveland Congregations.
Mr. Allio writes:
To date, there has been no public explanation regarding the lack of diocesan support.
Hmmm. Well, Mr. Allio, I cannot speak for any bishop, but this article from earlier this month in the Cleveland Plain Dealer offers a whole boatload of clues. I’ll excerpt the biggest red flag, but do read the whole thing. I mean, my goodness.
Ari Lipman, a longtime community organizer, has helped start similar groups around the country through his work with the Industrial Areas Foundation.
Industrial Areas Foundation? Well, there’s your main problem right there, Mr. Allio.
I recommend …..
The IAF founder’s admiration of Lucifer (Satan) should be a red flag plenty big enough to see, but there’s far more, as you can see for yourself.
Clue for Catholics: Satan’s way is the bad way. The way of the Church is the way of Christ…not of Satan. Got it?
Thank you, Bishop Lennon, for understanding the dangers that such things pose for your flock and for advising them appropriately to steer clear of these groups. Perhaps other (non-Catholic) pastors in Cleveland will be encouraged by your example and do the same. I trust that they, like we Catholics, are far more interested in God than in Lucifer, right?!?! Of course they are!
Oh, look! It appears to me that Bishop Lennon has come up with a better way for Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland to address social ills. If I were in Bishop Lennon’s diocese and wanted to explore social justice ministry, I would definitely be looking into the “Rooted in Faith, Forward in Hope” program. That sounds exciting! I, for one, am rejoicing.
God bless Bishop Richard Lennon and all the Catholics of Cleveland.
Yesterday, I was having a discussion with some of my fellow Catholics about the presidential election, and there arose a brief debate about the concept of libertarianism. It never ceases to amaze me when I see committed Catholics embracing libertarianism…but then, I remember, most of them probably were not catechized very well. Also, we should take into consideration that for years many of us have been rightly troubled by a far-reaching government engaged in what the Catholic faithful invariably see as injustice. I suppose I can understand why many Catholics might think that libertarianism is a legitimate way to put that unjust government in check. Though well-intentioned, they have fallen into a snare.
Stephen Metcalf writes at Slate today about what he calls ‘The Liberty Scam’. His article is essentially a rebuke of libertarianism, at least as he believes it was defined by Robert Nozik. David Boaz at CATO Institute takes issue with him on that point.
It’s interesting that Boaz makes a couple of arguments against Metcalf’s article that I’ve grown accustomed to hearing from libertarians in response to criticisms of their ideology. In a nutshell, first, we who are opposed to libertarianism are apparently not allowed to claim that one of their heroes can be said to have defined it with any certainty. We find this in Boaz’s seeming annoyance with those who believe they have “grappled with libertarian ideas” if they have read Nozik. Secondly, if we disagree with the libertarian ideas set forth, it automatically means that we are misunderstanding it, hence Boaz’s headline ‘Misunderstanding Nozik, Again‘.
Unfortunately, again, the libertarian runs up against the wall of reality and finds himself stunned.
As for Metcalf’s final complaint that advocates of a more expansive state have been “hectored into silence” by the vast libertarian power structure, well, I am, if not hectored, at least stunned into silence.
Libertarians frequently cannot see the forest because the trees get in their way. How dare we think that libertarians have a shared value system that results in any kind of society that has power! Hence we see a self-refuting principle in libertarianism. Human beings are “social animals”, if you will. They will, invariably, join together with like-minded people to bring about political change that reflects their views of justice. All such associations are “societies”, whether or not they are governmental or political. One need look no further than one of the infamous episodes of astro-turfing for Ron Paul in straw polls and the various Campaign for Liberty rallies to see a libertarian act of “social justice”, per se. The very act of joining a campaign is an act of joining a power structure to bring about one’s sense of “justice”. Granted, libertarian “social justice” is nothing like the Left’s “social justice”, but that is neither here nor there.
Metcalf paraphrases Nozik, the libertarian who apparently either doesn’t speak for libertarianism or is misunderstood?:
To the entire left, Nozick, in effect, said: Your social justice comes at an unacceptable cost, namely, to my personal liberty…
This is, to be sure, the libertarians’ basic argument. Ironically, the libertarian movement’s social justice is similarly problematic in that it so frequently promotes license over liberty. As Mortimer Adler has written:
Herein lies the distinction between liberty and license. Liberty is freedom exercised under the restraints of justice so that its exercise results in injury to no one. In contrast license is freedom exempt from the restraints of justice and. therefore, injurious to others in infringing their freedom as well as violating other rights. When no distinction is made between liberty and license, the freedom of the strong an destroy the freedom of the weak.
Most Catholics still understand on some level that abortion and same-sex “marriage” are opposed to true justice. As such, they are opposed to authentic liberty. Just as we know that the word “choice” is misused in the abortion debate to preserve a license to kill, we should also understand that the word “liberty” is used by libertarians to preserve license on any number of issues, including abortion and the re-definition of marriage.
If you take nothing else away from this article, know this. There is a libertarian movement. It exists. It has arisen as its own society, a social group being made up of individuals who share a common definition of “justice”. Their common view of “justice” is the act of joining together in a society to oppose those who would seek to bring about “social justice” which they view as a monster because the Left’s version of “social justice” is, in fact, a monster. In other words, the libertarians have engaged themselves in an exercise in hypocrisy.
What’s a Catholic to do? Well, we can begin by helping people to understand what authentic social justice is. (Sorry, libertarian Catholics, but that’s the way it is.) Certainly, all Americans are able to make a decision to either be complacent (that is, to be the “sleeping giant”) or to actively work through the political process to bring about a society that reflects our view of justice. Catholics are not free to be complacent. We each have a duty to be politically involved….to enter into associations with others to work for authentic social justice. It is my hope and prayer that we can do so as One Body. The more we talk about these issues in peace with each other, the better.