- Saint Teddy’s Russian quid pro quo
- The Heroin surge in context
- Valorizing victims, shaming oppressors, denying reality
- Arguing without quarreling
- Classic Learning Test
Golly, schadenfreude can be delicious!
[Ted] Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend [Yuri] Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”
Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.
First he offered to visit Moscow. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.” Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.
Then he offered to make it possible for Andropov to sit down for a few interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. … If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”
Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time–and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism.
(Peter Robinson in Forbes, August 2009, emphasis added; H/T Jon Miltimore) Remember, O ye of short memory or few years: this was when the Soviet Union was full-on, unabashedly Communist and our arch-foe in superpower affairs.
A heroin scourge in America’s housing projects coincided with a wave of heroin-addicted soldiers brought back from Vietnam, with a cost peaking between 1973 and 1975 at 1.5 overdose deaths per 100,000. The Nixon White House panicked. Curtis Mayfield wrote his soul ballad “Freddie’s Dead.” The crack epidemic of the mid- to late 1980s was worse, with a death rate reaching almost two per 100,000. George H. W. Bush declared war on drugs. The present opioid epidemic is killing 10.3 people per 100,000, and that is without the fentanyl-impacted statistics from 2016. In some states it is far worse: over thirty per 100,000 in New Hampshire and over forty in West Virginia.
(Christopher Caldwell via Rod Dreher) The Article at the First Things website says “March 2017,” but I’m almost possible this is in the newly-arrived April issue.
There are sincere Christians who don’t get it: the end of what one might call “Christian Privilege” and subsequent stigmatization (or worse) toward conservative Christian principles.
[H]istorian Edward Watts, in his 2015 book The Final Pagan Generation, writes of how prominent Romans pagans in the tumultuous fourth century didn’t see the end of their own world coming either. Even after the Empire became officially Christian, they could not wrap their minds around the fact that the world they had known, and their position in it, was about to end.
(Rod Dreher) History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.
And then there’s Rachel Held Evans, who facilely dismisses the Benedict Option because she thinks (a) that it’s about Christians escaping persecution persecution and (b) that persecution of Christians in the U.S. is an absurd myth:
[F]rom what I can tell of [Rachel Held Evans’] thinking and her influence, I think she may be a more acute symptom of cultural breakdown within the Christian church than Trump. Why? Because with her Church Of What’s Happening Now-style progressivism, she represents the hollowing-out of Christianity by Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. I wonder if there’s a single major point on which her theological and moral views clash with the opinions held by secular progressives.
The statistics she quoted in the beginning of her tweetstorm are all but meaningless. Everybody knows that most Americans identify as Christians. So what? Evans indicates that nine out of ten Congressmen identify as Christian — as if that meant anything important about the reality of cultural power in this country.
If you want to read a really intelligent critique of the Ben Op from the perspective of a liberal believer, ignore RHE’s trite tweets and be sure to check out Russell Arben Fox’s review essay on Front Porch Republic.
I’m not worried about what Rachel Held Evans has to say about The Benedict Option, though if she actually reads it one day, it would be interesting to see if she still stands by her erroneous prejudices. No, what I’m worried about is that far in the future, should the police come looking for dissident orthodox Christians hiding out from state persecution, the Rachel Held Evanses of the world will point helpfully and patriotically, and say, “They’re in the basement, officer.”
(Dreher) Exactly. We orthodox are damnable heretics against Evans’s religion, and though it’s a complete absurdity to believe that we will suffer a single thing, boy, do we deserve what we’re going to get!
As I’ve said in the past, progressives (Christians or otherwise) need to deny that orthodox Christians are experiencing any hardship in the west. When your entire moral worldview is about valorizing victims and shaming oppressors, it suddenly becomes very important that the people you dislike and oppose can’t possibly belong to a victim class. The result is an obstinate denial of the lived experiences of orthodox Christians even when the same denial, were it applied to other groups, would be unthinkable from a progressive worldview.
Joseph Pearce epigrammatically quotes G.K. Chesterton …
I am glad to think that through all those years we never stopped arguing; and we never once quarreled
—G.K. Chesterton, on his relationship with his brother, Cecil.
… and then quotes his own “recent exchange with a journalist from England, who has worked for the BBC and with two of the UK’s national newspapers, The Guardian and The Independent”:
In a country that is well aware of its Christian past, does one have to keep repeating the Christian element of the story or can one not take this as given and explore other resonances?
Of which country are you speaking which is well aware of its Christian past? Surely you can’t mean the U.K.? If you mean that people are vaguely aware that a belief that is known as Christianity (of which they know nothing) was a factor in British history (of which they also know nothing), then you might have a point. The much bigger point is, however, that people know nothing of Christianity because anti-Christians have airbrushed it out of the culture, and nothing about history because those who take their lead from the zeitgeist believe that the past is irrelevant so should also be airbrushed out of the culture. The rationale is that you need to bury the old man (historic man) so that the New Man (zeitgeist man) can rise from the ashes. The New Man must therefore be ignorant of everything that might prejudice him against the ideology of the social engineers. In this sense, as Winston Smith understood, the past sets us free from the tyranny of the present.
I like that a lot. Pearce then pans Steven Bannon (ignore the stuff about Trump, to whom there’s too little intellectual and Christianish substance to pay any heed), leveling a surprising criticism considering how other press have portrayed Bannon as something of a Roman Catholic insurgent-from-the-right:
Is Donald Trump Christian? Is Stephen Bannon Christian? — in the sense you are, or that you applaud, I mean.
Don’t be silly. Christianity in its fullest form is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (of which I presume President Trump and Mr. Bannon know nothing) and is the fruit of millennia of learning and accumulated wisdom. If you must ascribe names to Christianity, you should mention precursors such as the Hebrew prophets, Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the living Tradition from the time of Christ in theology, philosophy, literature, the visual arts, architecture, music and the physical sciences (in which Christian scientists have played a major part). As a historian, you are only making my case when you endeavor to reduce such a living Tradition to the reductio ad absurdum of an ad hominem argument of this sort.
[S]ince President Trump took office, one starts to get a sense that Mr. Bannon and those of, let us say, an Ayn Rand tendancy, and neo-Nietzscheans, and purveyors of Big Data, have started talking about collusions of interest—a new amity with Russia, say, or new trans-national corporatism—that sounds very much like World Government or, to take the tang of public sector out of it, a world enterprise that dehumanises the rest of us and may amount to the same thing.
You might just agree. A little?
I suspect that we mean radically different things by “Western” and “liberalism/” I see “Western” as being rooted in the Church, and that the “West” begins to lose its way when it severs itself from its roots and follows the path of relativism. I believe in the “West” but it’s not the same “West” that others believe in. G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc could call themselves “Liberals” a century ago but would be uncomfortable doing so today, which means that what is known as “Liberalism” is not the same thing that it was and, no doubt, is becoming something else as we speak. It is, therefore, difficult to pin one’s colours to something which changes shape and substance with the passage of time.
Mr. Bannon’s Weltanschauung appears to be almost Spenglerian in some ways and, as such, is very much a product of Enlightenment thinking, i.e. he is at radical variance with a truly Christian understanding of history. As for President Trump, I doubt that he has a Weltanschauung and doubt that he knows what a Weltanschauung is!
President Trump scares me. He’s the devil we don’t know. Hillary Clinton appalls me. She’s the devil we know. The most optimistic thing I can say about President Trump is that the devil you don’t know might not be the devil at all. Wishful thinking perhaps, but I can’t help being relieved that Secretary Clinton is not in the White House. (I had much more sympathy with Bernie Sanders, though his doctrinaire carte blanche of abortion would have made him unacceptable to many Christian voters.)
Hillsdale College has just announced that it will officially accept the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative standardized entrance test to the SAT and ACT for future student admissions …
To a large extent, CLT is a defensive effort to preserve a liberal-arts educational alternative outside of the homogenizing political orientation and science-tech-engineering-math (STEM) focus favored by the Common Core. Essentially, SAT is now working to force students into the Common Core mold.
CLT is an important first step, but other companies testing on other areas are needed to truly break the stranglehold of the College Board on American education.
(Stanley Kurtz at National Review) May this tribe increase.
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“The truth is that the thing most present to the mind of man is not the economic machinery necessary to his existence; but rather that existence itself; the world which he sees when he wakes every morning and the nature of his general position in it. There is something that is nearer to him than livelihood, and that is life.” (G.K. Chesterton)