Friday, November 26, 2004
Some more recent pieces I've penned:
Dollfuss: An Austrian Patriot
I wrote the introduction to this marvellous short book on one of Hitler's first enemies, the great Englebert Dollfuss of Austria.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Anti-Semitism
Wherein I respond to Christopher Hitchen's drug-addled assertions that I am an anti-Semite.
The War for the Family
My review of Allan Carlson's surprising study of the New Deal... which shows how socially conservative it was.
The Simple Life
My interview with Eric Brende, a new-fangled anti-technology guru.
Dark Young Thoughts
My review of the recent adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies.
The President and the Pope
My essay comparing the prudence of the late President Reagan to the wisdom of the pope.
Pentecost: Because Fire is Cool!
My advice for celebrating the birthday of the Church
The Unbearable Reality of Love
Another, more theological and personal essay I wrote on Mel Gibson's movie.
Top 10 Things for Mediocre Catholics to Give Up for Lent
More bad religious advice.
Conservative Votes, Conservative Victory
My recent cover story for The American Conservative (pasted below, since they didn't put it on their site).
I HAVE SPENT the past year and a
half, along with many of this magazine's
writers, in increasingly sharp opposition
to the foreign and budgetary policies of
the Bush administration. I thought all
along that would make any victory by
the Republicans a bittersweet one. The
war in Iraq has done much to nurture
the growth of a thoughtful critical movement
among conservatives, one that set
itself against the policies of an administration
with a moral compass but little
prudence. The reasons for all this opposition
remain valid. But they're beginning
to seem beside the point. The election
did not swing on Iraq. As every
survey showed, Bush's victory was delivered
not by chickenhawks, but Christians.
Exit polling revealed that 22 percent
of voters cited moral values as the
"most important issue." The economy
motivated 20 percent, terrorism came
third at 19 percent, and Iraq was the top
concern of just 15 percent of voters.
Eleven states voted to preserve traditional
marriage--not launch 11 more
Fallujahs, and that is what really bothers
the Left. Atrocities and foreign-policy
disasters they can accept, even snigger
at. It's their fellow citizens they really
Reading the post-election press is
enough to convince an honest reader
that the radical cultural elite in the U.S.
is not merely wrongheaded but contemptuous
and fiercely intolerant of the
ethical concerns of the American majority.
Indeed, a single edition of the New
York Times op-ed page made this abundantly
The often judicious Thomas Friedman
proclaimed himself deeply depressed
by the election, which he said
had been swung by "by people who don't
just favor different policies than I do--
they favor a whole different kind of
America. We don't just disagree on what
America should be doing; we disagree
on what America is." Not quite true, Mr.
Friedman. In fact, we differ on how
America should be governed--by majority
votes in legislatures or the diktats of
unelected, unaccountable judges.
Maureen Dowd poured out her
patented petulance on the "devoted flock
of evangelicals, or 'values voters,'" who
favor "opposing abortion, suffocating stem
cell research and supporting a constitutional
amendment against gay marriage."
Bush won the election "by dividing the
country along fault lines of fear, intolerance,
ignorance and religious rule."
Just down the page, Garry Wills--a
man who has read enough St. Augustine
that he ought to know better--bemoaned
the apparent ignorance of his countrymen,
sniffing that "many more Americans
believe in the Virgin Birth than in
Darwin's theory of evolution." Wills,
author of Why I Am a Catholic... Why I
Am Also the Queen of Spain, compared
the voting majority of Americans to terrorists,
opining, "Where else do we find
fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity,
religious intolerance, fear of and hatred
for modernity? Not in France or Britain
or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it
in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in
Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists."
Well, I guess that makes things clear,
doesn't it? These people have really convinced
themselves that they live in
enemy-occupied territory, surrounded
by dangerous fanatics. And what convinced
them? The fact that Americans
rebelled against the decision of a panel
of appointed judges in Massachusetts to
rewrite by fiat the very institution of
marriage, just as in 1973, when another
bunch of lawyers decided to rewrite the
definition of human life.
Republican, representative government
is the only system America has
ever had--and the Left has become disgusted
with it. Having used judicial decisions
over the past 60 years to impose its
preferences upon a disgruntled majority,
leftists are now enraged that an effective
rebellion has finally been mounted. And
they are going to fight it tooth and nail.
Let’s be clear: this election was not
about gay marriage and abortion--it
was about who rules whom. Do Americans
rule themselves, within a broad
range of constitutional principles, or do
judges and lawyers rule us behind a
democratic façade? Pay no attention to
the judge behind the curtain.
Candidates who declare they support
Roe v. Wade are saying nothing more
than that they will protect voters from
themselves--defend people whom they
claim are “pro-choice” from the results
of... their own votes. These people really
do see Americans as a band of dangerous
children who have somehow gotten
hold of firearms (figuratively in the form
of the vote and literally in form of, well,
firearms), who must be coaxed into putting
down the pistol and handing it to
the nice judge over there, who will keep
Here is what I wish George W. Bush
had said in his debate with Senator
Kerry--and what I hope any judge he
appoints will tell his congressional
“I believe in democracy around the
world but especially here in the U.S. I
trust the American people. I trust their
wisdom over that of nine unelected
judges who serve for life. I trust the average
voter over the average lawyer. I’m in
favor of letting the people of the 50
states vote on their abortion laws. I trust
them to make these laws like all the
other laws. My opponents don't. They
claim to believe that Americans want
abortion to be legal for any reason at all,
up through the ninth month--but they
aren't smart enough to vote that way.
These elitists think that the voter is stupid
enough to pass laws he doesn't support.
So they intend to protect Americans from
themselves by making sure that they
never have the chance to vote on this
issue--or on so-called gay marriage.
These liberal elitists are so afraid of the
common man that they'll twist the Constitution
into a pretzel to make sure that the
voter can't make important decisions. I
have a different view. I think it's the view
on which this country was founded.”
This election, which even elite media
are now forced to admit was about
social issues and little else--people
having lost most of their faith in our Iraq
policy--should serve as a wake-up call
among Christian conservatives. We are
the wedge, the only real constituency in
the Republican Party. We should not
allow ourselves to be fobbed off with
meaningless concessions, ambiguous
court appointees, a slow acceptance of
social and moral revolution. There
should never again be another David
Souter or Anthony Kennedy appointed
by a Republican. Better a court with
empty seats. Better endless filibusters
and attendant hand wringing. Better
another Bork nomination--which this
time should be followed by the nomination
of someone farther to the Right, with
the promise that every successive
appointee will be still more conservative.
Filibuster Bork, we’ll give you another
Scalia. Reject him, you’ll get John Ashcroft.
Bork him, we’ll propose Alan Keyes.
And so on. We’re happy to have empty
seats on the court. In the best-case scenario,
there might be no one there at all.
We have to be clear: this election was
not about homosexuality or tolerance
or the secret (putative) desire of rednecks
to beat up choreographers. It was
about judicial tyranny, about the final
rejection of democracy by a selfappointed
cultural and legal elite that
despises the rest of us, feels a loyalty
not to America but to an international
social and opinion class, dreams of
transforming the U.S. into the image of
the EU--minus the fine architecture.
Not that they’re even a genuine elite;
every law professor will admit that Roe v.
Wade was a ludicrous decision, a parody
of constitutional reasoning like the
recent Massachusetts decision on gay
“marriage.” Real philosophers take these
disputes seriously. But the dilettantes
with power don’t have to think very
hard--since they hardly ever encounter
anyone who disagrees with them.
We should cast the issue clearly: are
you for judges making the rules--or citizens?
Should America be run by its law
schools or its voters? If Americans
decided by majority vote in various
states--or federally--to legalize abortion,
gay “marriage,” the cannibalistic
cloning of unborn children... well,
that's one thing. Should that happen,
then we would indeed be revealed as an
isolated minority, a remnant whose only
hope was to serve as a prophetic witness
to the truth amidst the general
decline. That is the position of Christians
in much of Europe. It would be
tragic but tolerable. To have these policies
foisted upon us by force and fraud
--that is something else entirely. It is a
cause for rage that we saw, thankfully,
take form in the voting this month.
We will soon know how seriously the
Bush administration takes the source of
its mandate--whether it intends to
reward its base or betray it. A band of
brave activists is leading the fight to
deny the aging pro-abortion activist
Arlen Specter the chair of the Judiciary
Committee, which he recently boasted
he would use to keep off judges who
threatened Roe v. Wade--that is, who
threatened America with democracy.
We must make it clear, now that our
influence is at its strongest, that we will
not accept Specter. Several of the senators
who will decide Specter’s fate have
quietly told Christian leaders that they
are troubled by his extremist, elitist
position. Several others on this committee
treasure presidential ambitions--I'm
thinking of Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel,
George Allen, Rick Santorum, and John
McCain. They must learn, and learn
quickly, that if they betray us now, we
will remember in two years when they
come to milk us for money, volunteers,
and votes. The millions of Christians
who turned out for President Bush
demand democracy--not dictatorship
with a different face.
posted by John 8:47 PM
Here are some new articles of mine:
The Transfiguration reminds us that God left the apostles with no excuse for doubt. The Father spelled things out, as if to ask, “What part of ‘THIS IS MY SON’ didn’t you understand?”
This Halloween recall the festival's sacred roots by dressing as your favorite soul in purgatory, and serving up these seven deadly courses.
Where you can get a real classical humanities education--and where you can't.
How to help your children gain a real liberal education. (My first piece in USA Today.)
posted by John 8:41 PM
Well, it has been about a year... About time I update this blog. In the meantime, the Blessed Karl has been beatified. Talk about a vindication for all things good and true! Blessed Emperor Karl, pray for us....
posted by John 8:41 PM
posted by John 8:33 PM