Monday, September 17, 2007

Support the Vikings! End Football!!

One slogan, among many signs carried on Saturday read "Support the troops. End the war." I shouted "Support the Vikings! End football!!" whenever someone passed by carrying that sign. I don't remember seeing the lights of comprehension go on. Several of the 'protesters' shouted at me, "We don't use that word anymore!". My sign read, "Anti-war is Anti-Victory". Which word don't they use any more, Victory...? Quite a number of others shouted, "What's victory?" The funniest moment? One passer by said to his fellow, "They were paid by the Republicans to be here." "What!?", I shouted, "You guys got paid?!! Where's my check?" Still no lights in their eyes. One girl,(yes, an 18-20 year nowadays is a girl, tart-look not withstanding), condescendingly said, "There's more of us than there are of you." Later in the day I thought, "Why then, if your numbers make ours insignificant, do you feel the urge to point that out to me?" No lights. No brass. No ammo. Someone who identified himself being from the blog lloydette asked the young man behind me with the "Osama says support the troops, Vote Democrat" sign to explain it to him. The young man, (probably not driving age yet) seemed to stumble a bit. I said to the questioner," In April of 2005, we intercepted a letter from Ayman al Zawahiri to Zarqawi. Zawahiri said their main goal was 'To drive the Americans from Iraq'. Since the Democrats have been saying, including all their Presidential nominees, that they will 'Get us out of Iraq', and Zawahiri and Osama are pals, of course Osama isn't going to vote for George". I believe I saw a triple AAA 1.2 volt lightbulb come on.

The brightest light of the morning came on when all the 'protesters' had passed. ( A note on etymology. The words testament and testify have at the root, the word testes. The Romans would swear oaths "By the testes", and even, I believe, grabbed hold of those bulbs while swearing the oath. As the suffix 'pro- ' means 'for' or 'in favor of', are the 'protesters' in favor of testicles? I wander.) Someone with another blog and a microphone was asking questions. I don't recall what he asked. In reply I asked, "Do you believe that human nature is perfectible?" He was bewildered and silent. "I don't understand." I asked this question, "Do you believe the human heart has a capacity to do evil?" More bewilderment. "It's a yes or no question" I said. "And it's not a trick question." "Let's say I do", he answered. "Well", I said, "Then we agree that human nature is not perfectible". He was less bewildered but still puzzled, and went to talk with Dave Thul of Foreign & Domestic blog.

So I come to my point, most easily stated through questions and imaginary dialogue with the pro-balls people.

"US off Iraqi soil!" they shouted. I ask, "If the death of innocents in a conflict obligates the US to withdraw it combatants from the fight, does the death of innocents similarly obligate Al queda?"

I must get ready for work. More anon. Stick around. I will update this with help from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and, of all people, Reinhold Neihbur. Oh, and St. Augustine.

Continuing: It's now Tuesday morning, the 18th. To my query above I expect my imaginary respondant to eventually repeat the "We brought it on ourselves" catechism. (I do not use the word catechism idly. The left has made a religion of their ideology. In this they are consistent with G.K Chesterton's words, " When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything". The left is in a crisis of faith as much as the Wahabists are, fortunately with much, much less bloodletting. The Wahabists have severe definitions of fun; it's Verboten! Thank God for the self-indulgence of another of the left's catechisms, 'Freedom is self-indulgence', and its various corollaries. Their idolatry, I think, explains much of their anger. Unlike Catholics, whose faith is backed up with the very reasoned Catechism of the Catholic Church, the left has unquestioned, and unquestionable assumptions. Ask the right questions, and the entire artifice will capsize. Anger is their defense mechanism. In deriving questions, one of my goals is to collapse their intellectual world upon itself.) To the 'We brought it on ourselves' trope I ask, "Are the Islamists entirely without free will? Are they only capable of reacting? Their ideolgy cannot answer no to this question; it is an article of faith that the west and the US are the sources of evil in the modern world. I want to know, then, how this comes to be? That is, how is it possible for creatures to exist in the world, some with free will and some without? Is every single Islamist, committing every single act of horror and perfidy only reacting like Pavlov's Moo-ahem Id? These poor victims of Bushitler foreign policy have no choice but to cut the heads off eight year old Iraqi girls? Why is the United States denied this freedom to similarly react? Trying to write about this tangle of mirrors tangles one up in it. I think this line of reasoning finally arrives at that question, what is the source of evil in the world. I think the human heart has the capacity for evil becauses we have free will. The left believes in the perfectability of human nature. So do the Islamists. The latter, like the Communists before them, and the Nazi's before them, and the Jacobins before them thought the paradise on earth could be brought about if only enough of the wrong sorts were killed.

Again, I must stop. Back tonight, or Wednesday morning. A quote from Niebuhr, replying to a pacifist of the time who claimed to "detest Hitlerism" but detested war even more as a sin "against the revealed righteousness of God".

"You are willing to slightly favor the Allies against Hitler, but you are unwilling to allow such discrimination to result in an action in favor or one side against the other. To allow such an action is to involve yourself in sin. Your difficulty is that you want to live in history without sinning. There is no such possibilty in history."

This quote, I think, explains the isolationism of the left perfectly, illustrates the corrupt essence of their arrogant pose of moral superiority. We simply do not have the freedom not to oppose evil, even though we must commit acts often horrifying to us to enforce that opposition.

Wednesday, Sept. 19th, 0435. "We simply do not have the freedom not to oppose evil..." Let me comment on my own words. We actually do have the freedom not to oppose evil; it is, however, an immoral position. Here is another very pertinent quote from Niebuhr (and qotes from the book Hard Call, Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People who made Them, by, John McCain & Mark Salter. I suspect Salter did most of the writing but the decisions and the people probably came through McCain). The book: "Americans who claimed a religious foundation for their pacifism and isolationists who expressed only a fear and contempt for the political turmoil of the old world demanded Roosevelt adhere to the Neutrality Act and avoid any action or statement that might appear to take sides in the coming war. Niebuhr denounced the act as a pernicious abdication of moral responsibioity. 'The protagonists of a political, rather than a religious pacifism end with the acceptance and justification of, and connivance in tyranny,' he wrote. 'They proclaim that slavery is better than war. I beg leave to doubt it and to challenge the whole system of sentimentalized Christianity which prompts good men to arrive at this perverse conclusion' ." Doesn't this perfectly describe those passing us by in the streets on Saturday, six years and four days after a pernicious tyranny incinerated 3000? Curiously enough, I agree with the religious pacifism of the Quakers we saw strolling with the sign carriers. They however, are not trying to impose their positions upon us all by political means. Their is an individual decision of a kind only an individual can impose upon himself. Really, they should have stood on the sidewalks with us. During the Vietnam protest era, when the draft ended, the protests collapsed, suggesting the opposition was motivated not by opposition to US violence but the draft, that is, to forced service. Now that all our soldiers and Marines and all are entirely volunteers, I wonder how the crowd can be in such opposition to the liberty of individuals to make personal choices. But then inconsistancy is the hobgoblin of little minds. And again the argument comes squarely to what I believe is the secular left's fatal flaw, more perfectly spoken by Niebuhr that written by me. They want to impose religious virtues by political means. Pacifism cannot be imposed collectively; not everyone has the moral strength, and courage to take that choice to its logical end, that is, accepting one's own death at the hands of a tyranny. I certainly do not. I would fight. Our soldiers to a woman and man choose to fight. The signs I wish had been carried by a few more on Saturday are these:

"Bring peace to the world. Do battle with evil." "Peace is better than war. War is preferable to tyranny."

Some postscripts: "Saddam was boxed in. We should never have gone there". (The left always knows what should have been done, never what ought to be done.) My question to this, "Do we have a moral responsibility to oppose injustice?" If the uses of violence in our cause damns it to immorality, what of our enemies in this causse? Do they get a pass because they hate George Bush with equal intensity? They are motivated by American Imperialism? We brought this upon ourselves...? Through what actions, and when, do they bring consequences upon themselves? (This question is really asking, "How many heads of children are they allowed to cut off before we're not to blame any longer?"

A few note about Niebuhr and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. From Hard Decisions: Reinhold Niebuhr, the eminent American theologian of the last century, recognized (the) contradictions about the nature of war and man at war. The former pacifist who offered the most astute, eloquent, and persuasive denunciation of pacifism argued that , in essence, there are worse things than war, and human beings have a moral responsibility to oppose those worse things, even by violence if necessary. A man who understood the paradoxes of war, he urged us to fight with all our strength but without hatred. (Emphasis mine.) That is easier said than done, of course, but Niebuhr knew that , too. 'To love our enemies cannot mean that we must connive with their injustice,' he wrote."

You must read more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer on your own. He studied at Union Theological Seminary when Niebuhr was a professor. When Hitler came to power (Hard Decisions, pp. 322-324) "Bonhoffer appealed to Niebuhr for help in finding refuge in the United States, and Niebuhr quickly secured a teaching position at Union for him. Bonhoffer stayed only a few months in New York before he decided to book passage on the last ship to sail for Germany before the outbreak of the war. He explained his reasons in a letter to Niebuhr that has not survived but that Niebuhr has paraphrased: 'I have come to the conclusion that I had made a mistake in coming to America. I must live throught this difficult period of our national history with the Christian people of Germany.' His decision was to cost him his life." (Skipping a bit.) " He came to believe that ethics could not be reduced to general principles. We cannot claim self-justification for our actions, nor can we know with certainty that we are right. We must accept the guilt and the necessity of our actions, which we are called to not by duty or ideology or moral certitude-those are God's to judge-but by Christs's example, which reconciled God to this sinful world. His example summons us to take responsibility for the needs of our neighbors, accept he guilt for any sin committed in the exercise of that respnsibility, and submit ourselves to God's mercy That is how we act in accordance with God's will: by taking responsible actions against injustice, against evil. To not act condones evil. And it is better to sin to oppose evil directly than to accept evil in the steadfast devotion to one's private virtue.

We must uses our free will, Bonhoeffer believed, to make exceptions to our ethical principles for the sake of coming to the aid of a neighbor in need. Those who believed that Christ's command to love thy neighbor enjoined them from taking necessarily coercive action to oppose an evil or who believed that evil in the world required them to withdraw from it as much as is possible were manipulated by that very evil. To be passive amid the suffering of others was a greater sin than using violence to oppose it. He believed Christ's selfless scrifice taught us that 'what is nearest to God is precisely the need of one's neighbor'. (From Bohnoeffer's book Ethics, Minneapolis: Augsberg Fortress, 2004.) And we must not refuse, out of the fear of sin or worldly consequences, to answer that need: 'No one who lives in this world can remain desentangled and morally pure and free of guilt'. (Dietrich Bonheoffer, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.) The reality of Christ reconciled the reality of the world, all its corruptions and evil. to the reality of god's infinite love and mercy."

Of course when the question of evil arises, discussion must turn to God. We are all tangled amongst the corruptions of the world. The question of Christ will frighten many; to believe demands a great deal. Bonhoeffer went to his death, as a prison doctor noted "...In almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God". I can hardly fault the left for what I believe is an immoral position. But I pray for Mercy for all of us.

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