Wednesday, 8/30/17

  1. Evangelizing the Alt-Right
  2. Man, Woman, Mayor
  3. Always folly
  4. Black America’s climb, fall

1

I first came into contact with Alt-Right circles in 2012—long before anyone (least of all me) knew or cared who they were. As now, they were predominantly well-educated, middle-class Millennials. And I studied them closely, because I sensed they were going to grow much, much larger. It was inevitable.

Why? Because they’re cut from the same cloth as the collegiate Leftists they so despise. They were reared in the exact same classrooms, by the exact same teachers, who taught them that race is indeed the foundation of culture. They’re two sides of the same coin.

I was taught in those classrooms, too, by the way. It would’ve been easy enough for me to have wound up on either the Alt-Right or the New Left. Why didn’t I? Well, at an early age (and by God’s grace) I happened across some of the books interdicted by the academic establishment. T.S. Eliot, Paul Elmer More, Roger Scruton…

From them, I learned the Christian heresy—the traditionalist refutation of both the Alt-Right and New Left’s common materialism. Culture can’t be fundamentally racial, they explained, because man isn’t fundamentally racial. These materialists can’t fully understand culture, because man isn’t a material creature. He’s a religious being, a soul as well as a body.

If the Alt-Right took the time to study these [Western Christian and atheist] artworks in greater detail, they’d realize that “Western civilization” wasn’t some monolith staggering through the millennia before it was waylaid by multiculturalism. True: multiculturalism hasn’t helped. But the rot set in when white supremacism was still the default in Europe and America, and when their empires dominated three-quarters of the globe.

In other words, everything they hate about the decay of our civilization is a product of white ideologues: the aesthetes, utilitarians, pragmatists, existentialists, structuralists, deconstructionists… They made the idea of truth ridiculous, scorned morality, sabotaged form, ravaged beauty, and demonized history. They laughingly took their hammers and pick-axes to God, the fundament of our culture, and the whole artifice came tumbling down.

None of which is to say the entire Alt-Right should run out and immediately convert to Christianity. That would be wonderful, but unreasonable. Yet, if and when they do take a closer look at the artefacts of Western civilization, I think they’ll find that what they love about it has nothing to do with race …

So, I challenge any Alt-Rightist who’s brave enough to meet the loving gaze of Botticelli’s Venus—to listen, in the quiet of your mind, for the angels who went singing through Mozart’s—to deny your own body, like Waugh, for the satisfaction of your soul. Go to the Christian heart of Western civilization. Then tell me if you can explain everything you see with skull measurements and melanin levels.

(Michael Warren Davis, Evangelizing the Alt-Right)

Racism requires a modern scientific worldview: we are our DNA. Again, the liberalism of my youth was a robust moral-political outlook that sort of sat comfortably with the scientific outlook. Increasingly, we have a scientific outlook that is materialist in its orientation [and] has been undermining liberalism’s commitment to human dignity, making it more and more difficult for us to say what is the scientific basis of our liberal culture.

And then you get these Nietzschean hard-right people that are saying “Look: we’re the people who are really true to science. Might makes right.” and that’s kind of evolutionary theory: whoever can out-compete wins …

At that Charlottesville protest and counter-protest, I’m willing to bet a substantial sum that the percent of participants that went to church is in the single-digits. So this is a very post-Christian phenomenon we’re seeing.

And this worries me that when you’ve got a post-Christian society, you have identitarian politics become stronger and also the vitriol and the hatred that is manifest on both sides is quite stunning … So you have both sides describing the other as “filth.”

Welcome to post-Christian society. Christianity does not underwrite speaking of any person as “filth.”

(R.R. Reno extemporizing in the First Things podcast for August 25 – starting around the 16:00 mark.)

I had not thought about the scientific pretensions of the new white racism, but it does rather echo eugenic strains in Nazi thought.

Nor had it occurred to me that white nationalism is informed by the same identity politics that has come to dominate the Democrat party in many ways — as Reno quipped, “KKK meets Judith Butler.”

2

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood apparently convened in Nashville and hammered out a statement on sexuality. They called it The Nashville Statement, which is hardly novel or offensive.

The statement itself is a largely anodyne affirmation of Christian standards on sexuality with explicit denial of their putative opposites.

Nashville’s Mayor, however, thought they’d transgressed a trademark or something and repudiated the statement:

She may not know the First Amendment (it is not the job of government officials to repudiate religious statements), but I gather she knows her voters, or at least her Twitter followers, as response to her Tweet is overwhelmingly favorable to her virtue signaling and overwhelmingly hostile to the statement (in sloganeering generalities that strongly suggest bigoted refusal to even begin engage the statement’s details).

In Nashville. Tennessee. Buckle of the Bible Belt. Rod Dreher:

Oh dear me, the State didn’t waste any time denouncing the Church. Get used to it, Christians.

Dreher followed up hours later with his version of Why The Nashville Statement Is Needed. Rod has greater confidence (at least momentarily) than I do that Nashville means Evangelicals will hang tough.

The most controversial part of the Statement seems to be Article 10, which condemns condoning. In other words, it says there’s no legitimate room for differences of opinion about homosexuality or, the new kid on the block, transgenderism.

Despite Articles 5-7, I don’t know with sufficient confidence just what it means to condone “transgenderism.” I’ve read some non-Evangelicals enthusing “count me in!,” and I have some “count me out” opinion pieces awaiting reading, but for now, the most I can affirm is that the Nashville Statement drove a stake in the ground in the right general neighborhood. But I’m unwilling to sign onto it as if it were of creedal dignity and precision.

3

Having read a Rod Dreher blog about transgender indoctrination of young schoolchildren, Lydia McGrew ups the ante:

It was always folly to send your child to a secular school and just tell the teachers to let your child opt out of certain topics. Schools teach a worldview. What is important to the educators will be woven into the atmosphere and the curriculum of the school at multiple points. It won’t be modular.

Parents have the wrong model here. They think they can put certain topics in a box and treat teachers as technicians who just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic in a way that doesn’t intersect with worldview issues and issues of sexuality.

Perhaps that is how it could work if you were talking about teaching Algebra I to a high school or college student. It is emphatically not how all-day (or even all morning) education works for younger children.

Unless the subject matter you want taught is itself modular, the worldview issues you don’t want will not be modular relative to that subject matter. Do you want your children to be with a teacher for many hours on end? Do you want them to be taught to be good citizens? Do you want them to be taught about how the world works? Do you want them to be part of a community? Do you want them taught history, literature, and science? Then sorry, folks: The question of whether boys can turn into girls is going to come up if the teachers in question believe that boys can turn into girls. The question of what marriage is is going to come up. The question of what men and women are is going to come up. The question of whether God exists is probably going to come up as well. The question of whether fornication is right is also probably going to come up.

What would really be good would be if parents would stop thinking they can send their young children to be partially raised (which is what all-day school is) by those who believe things diametrically opposed to what the parents believe while just having some kind of agreement to keep “these subjects” from coming up.

(Worldviews aren’t modular)

4

Between 1890 and 1940, for example, black marriage rates in the U.S. where higher than white marriage rates. In the 1940s and ’50s, black labor-participation rates exceeded those of whites; black incomes grew much faster than white incomes; and the black poverty rate fell by 40 percentage points. Between 1940 and 1970—that is, during Jim Crow and prior to the era of affirmative action—the number of blacks in middle-class professions quadrupled. In other words, racial gaps were narrowing. Steady progress was being made. Blacks today hear plenty about what they can’t achieve due to the legacy of slavery and not enough about what they did in fact achieve notwithstanding hundreds of years in bondage followed by decades of legal segregation.

In the post-’60s era, these positive trends would slow, stall, or in some cases even reverse course. The homicide rate for black men fell by 18% in the 1940s and by another 22% in the 1950s. But in the 1960s all of those gains would vanish as the homicide rate for black males rose by nearly 90%. Are today’s black violent-crime rates a legacy of slavery and Jim Crow or of something else? Unfortunately, that’s a question few people on the left will even entertain.

(Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal)

[I had four more items, but they felt cheap and gossipy in comparison to my first four. You’re welcome.]

* * * * *

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

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