Wednesday, 5/7/14

    1. Is transparent bigotry better than veiled?
    2. Dude, you are sooo gonna hate yourself in the morning
    3. Separation of knowledge and metaphysics
    4. Why I’m not distraught at BHO
    5. Much more useful, but rather unlike theodicy
    6. Identity Politics Candidates
    7. 276 dark-skinned economic non-entities kidnapped. Yawn!

1

The United Nations committee that monitors compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment is being urged by several influential nongovernmental organizations to condemn the Vatican when the committee meets this week in Geneva. These groups, including … the Center for Reproductive Rights, claim that the Catholic Church’s … stand on birth control and abortion amount to violations of the Convention Against Torture.

(The Catholic Church and the Convention on Torture, emphasis added) I was going to suggest that this ploy might be motivated by loathing for the Roman Church’s opposition to birth control, but I guess the proponents of using the Torture Convention this way didn’t even try to hide it. The authors go on to discuss the perniciousness of the Center for Reproductive Rights’ position.

2

Meanwhile, the White House insouciantly approves procedures that any damnfool can see will escalate the hijacking of Title IX into a guaranty that no co-ed’s accusation of rape will be found unsubstantiated, no young man so accused go unpunished.

Be it noted that this will not only result in grave injustice to many falsely accused young men (including both lotharios who acted with consent and men who did nothing at all), but in the example-setting, before impressionable late-adolescent youth, that this is how to do justice properly in general.

3

The politicians and businessmen are not interested in saving souls, but they are interested in preserving a minimum of organization, for upon that depend their posts and their incomes. These leaders adopted the liberal’s solution to their problem. That was to let religion go but to replace it with education, which supposedly would exercise the same efficacy. The separation of education from religion, one of the proudest achievements of modernism, is but an extension of the separation of knowledge from metaphysics.

(Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences)

4

Despite pernicious stupidity about some things, there are reasons I can’t feel entirely distraught, considering the alternatives, that Barack Obama is President:

Asked in Manila how he answers critics who say his foreign policy appears to be one of “weakness,” the president, stung, replied:

Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force. And the question … I would have is, why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?

[M]ost of the foreign policy commentators that have questioned our policies would go headlong into a bunch of military adventures that the American people had no interest in participating in and would not advance our core security interests.

[M]any who were proponents of … a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven’t really learned the lesson of the last decade, and they keep on just playing the same note over and over again.

One senator Obama surely had in mind was Lindsey Graham, who told “Face the Nation” this weekend, “I would sanction the energy economy of Russia, the banking sector of Russia, and try to drive the Russian economy into the ground.”

(Pat Buchanan) Now if you want me to feel distraught that neither major party can field a candidate I really like, across-the-board, I suppose I could try that.

5

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has a natural ability, or a finely-honed skill, of actually seeing things:

… I thought it would be fitting today to talk about one of my hobbyhorses, which is the way people talk about theodicy, or the problem of squaring the presence of evil in the world with a good God.

It seems to me that we shouldn’t ask ourselves the question “Why does a good God let suffering and evil happen?”

I think we need to instead ask something like this question: “There is suffering and evil in the world–now what are you going to do about it?”

… Christianity is a salve for people who are broken down and beaten and despairing and crying out for justice. When we let suffering and evil become an obstacle to our Christianity rather than a reason for it, I think we might be entering into the realm of a bourgeois, natural religion, where everything is just fine in your life, and religion is a part of your life that’s over there, and a thing you do in order to placate the gods and check metaphysical boxes so that your bourgeois life can keep humming on its merry way, such that when suffering and evil happens it’s God who’s somehow to blame because he didn’t fulfill His end of the bargain.

Christianity is not an explanation for why things are. It is an encounter with the man on the Cross, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world …

(Emphasis added) I do think that talking about theodicy can be a bourgeois evasion of responsibility. But there’s one thing to be said in favor of it anyway: it’s actually talking about theodicy, whereas PEG’s more humane discussion isn’t:

“I should like balls infinitely better,” she replied, “if they were carried on in a different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process of such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day.”

“Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball.”

(Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)

6

Pete Spiliakos also has a natural ability, or a finely-honed skill, of seeing things, although things in the relatively boring realm of politics:

While reading The Party Decides by Marty Cohen and David Karol, it struck me that over the last thirty years we have seen a new kind of presidential candidacy that has no hope of actually winning the presidency. We have gone from favorite son candidates to identity politics candidacy.

Favorite sons have been replaced by a new kind of “not really running for president” candidates. They are the identity politics candidates. These candidates are able to get first-choice support from a minority of the party while being entirely unacceptable as presidential candidates to the majority.

Exhibit A: Jesse Jackson, followed closely by Mike Huckabee.

7

Of 276 girls abducted in Nigeria by Boko Haram:

Why isn’t this vicious act of terrorism better known? Perhaps because Nigeria is not a big trading partner with the US, where most of our media is based. Perhaps there is a racial element. Newspapers are still full of stories about the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann in 2007, but the disappearance of more than 200 Nigerian girls was regarded as just another dark episode in the Dark Continent.

Whatever the reason is, we in Western countries should pay far more attention to developments in Africa. With their resources, growing wealth, and burgeoning population, Nigeria and other countries will play a big role in the second half of this century. Whatever touches them will touch us, too. In the meantime, all we can do is pray that the Nigerian government gets its act together and delivers these innocent girls from their depraved captors.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.