You might want to ignore this Guide

You probably already knew that the oddly-named Southern Poverty Center is just an SJW tool, but did you know that Steve Scalise’s shooter was a fan?  Not surprising.

Also not surprising is that another organization which claimed to be neutral has been taken over by Far-Leftists.  GuideStar (which I’d not heard of til now) was supposed to give folks wishing to make charitable donations a way to judge the worthiness of various organizations.  Considering the amount of mail I get from worthy-sounding causes begging for money, it sounds like a nice idea in theory, providing a way to easily verify that apparent worthiness.  But sadly GuideStar has gone the way of Snopes and CNN et al, pretending to be “neutral” while actually going full-SJW.  If this trend continues, “neutral” and “unbiased” are just going to be code words for SJW.

The Southern Poverty Law Center was too intolerant for the U.S. Army. Too controversial for the FBI. And too inflammatory for the Obama Justice Department. But despite SPLC’s baggage — which includes connections to two liberal gunmen — the extremists seem to have found a home at one of America’s leading charity indexes. After a fan of SPLC’s shot five people at last week’s congressional baseball practice, most people couldn’t distance themselves from the discredited group fast enough. Not GuideStar.

At a time when even the mainstream media is questioning SPLC, the charity index is rushing to embrace the “hate labeling” that inspired Floyd Corkins to walk into our lobby with the goal of killing as many people as possible. Now, just days after the shooting of House Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is also branded an extremist on SPLC’s website, most people are shocked that GuideStar — whose calling card is its neutrality — would use the liberal organization as a resource. But justify it they have. Now, when potential donors search at least 46 conservative organizations, they’ll be greeted by a big red banner, alerting them that these charities were labeled “hate groups” by the SPLC, presumably to steer them away from contributing.

This sudden shift is less surprising when you consider the politics of GuideStar CEO Jacob Harold. A former employee of Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network, Harold isn’t exactly the poster child of objectivity. His social media accounts leave no doubt where his allegiance lies. According to our friends at Liberty Counsel, who are also victims of this smear campaign, “Harold was a host for a NARAL Pro-Choice D.C. men’s event in 2014, and he blogged for Huffington Post. He also donated to the Obama campaign in 2011 before joining GuideStar in 2012. His wife is also a pro-abortion advocate. Harold tweeted a picture of himself at the so-called “Women’s March” in January 2017, holding a protest sign obviously directed against President Donald Trump.” The message? “It turns out that facts matter.”

Well, Mr. Harold, they matter here too. That’s why 41 conservative groups and individuals are demanding that GuideStar remove the hate banners from their listings and return to their claimed position of neutrality that Americans expect.  In a letter protesting the move, the signers write:

“Your designations are based on determinations made by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a hard-Left activist organization. As such, SPLC’s aggressive political agenda pervades the construction of its ‘hate group’ listings.”

“The SPLC has no bona fides to make such determinations. It is not a governmental organization using rigorous criteria to create its lists, and it is not a scientifically-oriented organization. The SPLC is merely another ‘progressive’ political organization… The ‘hate group’ list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people it deems to be its political enemies. The list is ad hoc, partisan, and agenda-driven. The SPLC doesn’t even pretend to identify groups on the political Left that engage in ‘hate.’ Mosques or Islamist groups that promote radical speech inciting anti-Semitism and actual violence are not listed by the SPLC even though many have been publicly identified after terrorist attacks.”

If anyone’s guilty of hate, it’s the organization defining it! SPLC’s own Mark Potok made no bones about the group’s ultimate agenda, saying, “Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on…. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.” And they think Christians are the threat? What’s worse, SPLC is quite open about the fact that their labels are completely arbitrary. “Our criteria for a ‘hate group,’ first of all, have nothing to do with criminality or violence… It’s strictly ideological.”

Way to go GuideStar!  This is just a great group to use as guidance in labeling charities.

Because Islam

Terrorism, Islam, and Immigration:

Whenever a new terrorist attack is reported, I’m reminded of that LifeLock commercial about a bank robbery. After a group of masked robbers smash into the bank, the uniformed officer on duty explains to frightened customers that he’s not a security guard, only a security monitor. He notifies people if there’s a robbery, but he doesn’t do anything to stop it.

Over in Europe, people are beginning to understand that their local and federal governments aren’t going to do anything about the terrorist problem. Oh, sure, the authorities will investigate the latest attack, identify the perpetrator, and, if they’re lucky, break up the cell to which he belonged. But on the most basic level, nothing changes, nothing is ever done.

What are the basics that are being ignored?

Well, in the first place, it would be helpful to recognize that these acts of terror are committed by Muslims, not by Methodists or Mormons. Moreover, the higher the concentration of Muslims in a given society, the more likely that terrorist attacks will occur. In Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic which have strict immigration laws and few Muslims, there have been no major terror attacks. In Germany, Belgium, France, and England, which have liberal immigration laws and large Muslim populations, terror attacks have become an almost weekly occurrence.

One of the primary ways to prevent terrorist attacks is to put a halt to Muslim immigration or else to curtail it sharply. But Europe’s governing class is committed to open borders. They’re also committed to the narrative that all cultures are created equal. So if Muslims are acting up, it can’t, by their reckoning, have anything to do with Islamic culture; it must be because of racial hatred or intolerance on the part of the natives. Like the security monitor in the LifeLock commercial, European authorities witness the invasion of their territory, but they don’t do anything to stop it. Indeed, many deny that terrorism has any connection to immigration.

***

There’s a lesson to be learned here, but for Europeans the lesson comes late in the game. Once the Muslim population of a country grows beyond a certain point, it becomes very difficult to control the terror problem. Yes, of course, not every Muslim is a terrorist. But it’s become something like a mathematical certainty that a certain percentage are. Thus, as the Muslim population grows, so does the number of terrorists and potential terrorists. You can belatedly close the borders, but if you wait too long the damage will already have been done. It’s not a matter of closing the barn door after the horses have escaped, but of closing it after the war horses and Trojan horses have gotten inside.

It’s a different matter for the U.S. In America it’s not too late to tighten up the borders, to curtail Muslim immigration, and to develop sophisticated vetting procedures. It’s not too late to put Muslim communities on notice that they need to do more to purge the terrorists from their midst, and to eliminate from their culture those elements that foster radicalization. None of this will happen, of course, without a radical change of mind—a realization that we are not just fighting ISIS or lone wolves, but that we are also engaged in a do-or-die culture war with people who are determined, either by violence or by stealth, to replace our culture with theirs.

Across the Atlantic, the substitution of one culture for another is well under way, and the Europeans don’t quite know what to do about it. It’s difficult to know what to do when the enemy is already within your borders and when he is practically indistinguishable from the non-violent practitioners of his faith. Because of years of inaction, many parts of Europe are now in a place where all the options are terrible to contemplate.

The lesson for us is that we can’t afford to let the Muslim immigration problem grow to the point where—as in large parts of Europe—it is nearly impossible to deal with the consequences. Because, beyond a certain point, no amount of concrete barriers and bomb-sniffing dogs will be able to stem the terrorist tide.

Why is the Left so intolerant?

Maybe because they started down the road of relativism long ago.

Relativism which might sound like a benign “you think what you want and I’ll think what I want — and we’ll all get along” has proved to be not so harmless.  More than a decade ago Pope Benedict had this to say:

“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”

He’s been proved correct.  The “dictatorship” has been increasing.  The intolerance of any opposing perspectives or opinions has increased to the point of people wanting to throw those who disagree in jail (Bill Nye on “climate deniers”) or ruining the livelihoods of those with the “wrong” ideas (Christian bakers, florists, etc.).  It has even gotten to the point that physical violence is justified against “wrong think” (“punch a Nazi” or Berkeley riots).

Benedict, as then Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote in his book Without Roots:

“In recent years I find myself noting, how the more relativism becomes the generally accepted way of thinking, the more it tends toward intolerance. Political correctness … seeks to establish the domain of a single way of thinking and speaking. Its relativism creates the illusion that it has reached greater heights than the loftiest philosophical achievements of the past. It presents itself as the only way to think and speak — if, that is, one wishes to stay in fashion. … I think it is vital that we oppose this imposition of a new pseudo-enlightenment, which threatens freedom of thought as well as freedom of religion.”

In 2013, Benjamin Wiker wrote Benedict vs. the Dictatorship of Relativism and accurately identified where this was headed: the destruction of our civilization and the persecution of Christians.

That last point is key. While appearing to be the very essence of neutrality and equity — “all views are equal and equally valid” — it actually undermines both the freedom of thought and the freedom of religion. As to the latter, it does so (ironically) as a new religion itself, “a new ‘denomination’ that places restrictions on religious convictions and seeks to subordinate all religions to the super-dogma of relativism.”

As Cardinal Ratzinger noted in his Truth and Tolerance, “relativism … in certain respects has become the real religion of modern man.” It has become, especially in Europe, but now increasingly in America, the religion that stands at the heart of modern secular civilization in the way that Christianity defined the heart of Christendom.

It is the religion, Pope Benedict insists, which the Church must combat in the third millennium for the sake of civilization itself. A civilization built upon dogmatic relativism is one that ensures its own destruction. It is also a civilization in which Christianity — challenging dogmatic relativism with the proclamation that Jesus Christ himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life — must be persecuted.

Manchester: it’s about culture

I wasn’t consistently interested in politics until a year or so ago when things started to get a lot more interesting and to give hints of something other than the stale status quo, possibly even of hints of hope.  Politics had seemed a hopeless mess, but now what we’re witnessing on a national and international level (for many places) isn’t just about politics; it’s about culture.  Sounds like the oft quoted “politics is downstream from culture” really does apply.  It is culture, history, people and their stories and times that are fascinating. The reason I care so much now about current events and politics is because it’s about the survival of a culture and people and of what’s left of Western Civilization — or perhaps about its death, hopefully followed by the reemergence of something to replace it.

We are cursed to live in interesting times and to perhaps witness the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, a turning point.  These are times that would be griping to read about from a more distant perspective, but difficult to live through.  Life, if you’re paying attention, is more interesting than any novel.  And more scary.

There have been lots of PC hand wringing, calls of “solidarity!” and “not all Muslims!” hashtags in response to the recent Manchester terror attack. There have also been quite a few not-PC, and thus more true, responses. One by John Paul Meenan focuses right in on the cultural problem.

There’s only one real way to resist Islamic terrorism: is the apathetic West up to the task?

Yes, we must respond, and this is a ‘war’ of sorts, the first principle of which, as Sun Tzu says, is ‘know thy enemy.’ One aspect of that, in turn, is seeing ourselves as our enemies might see us… There is a method to the madness of ISIS, and they choose their targets with aforethought. To such ‘men’ who have their women dress, if dress is the right word, in what amount to full-body shrouds, one can see how someone like Grande and her troops of teenage imitators would make them froth and foam at the mouth.

Ah, yes, the clash of cultures, which our politicians and their followers, which includes most people, just do not get. At the heart of any society is its religion, whether that religion be supernatural or not, what God or gods they worship, what founds their laws and customs, where they put their time and energy, how they raise their children and govern their families, towns, societies. Islam has a very different idea of how all of this is to be done than what was once the Christian land of ‘Britain,’ but the hollowness of an increasingly agnostic and apathetic British culture, along with the rest of the West, is weak and prone against the onslaught of a resurgent Islam.

When these tragedies strike at the heart of our own culture…, I wonder why? Not in the sense of why Islam spreads its religion and gains converts by violence, for that has been the case since its founding by Mohammed, but, rather, that Islam has already, in a deep and real sense, won the war, without the necessity of such violence…

Furthermore, sheer demographic numbers, by births and immigration, ensure that Britain, along with many other European countries, will be more or less Islamic enclaves within a generation or two, and under such a regime, there will not be many, if any, concerts like Ariana Grande’s. I suppose the a priori violence signifies some level of impatience, so that they might hurry things along, or frustration, or just to prove who’s really in charge. As ISIS has already implied by their social media response, there is more of this to come.

No one knows how many potential terrorists there are in Britain, which has over 3 million Muslims, with more or less untrammeled immigration still continuing. Most of these are law-abiding citizens, one may presume, but some, even if it be a small number, are not only prone to such mayhem but actively planning further bloodshed, and it does not take many to bring a numerically more dominant culture to its knees.

Yes, we must resist, and do what we can by police and military intervention, but how do you stop people who are willing to kill and die in the process, seeing this is a glorious ‘worship offered to God’? How many police officers, gates, cameras, barriers, security? Do we hole up in reinforced walled communities, fearful to go out the door? To face such an enemy requires primarily a resistance that is cultural, which ultimately means religious, something we have by and large lost.

As we reflect and pray, Brits and all the rest of us have a lot of soul searching to do, to ask who we are, what it really means to be ‘British,’ or ‘Canadian’ or ‘American.’  For if we know not who we are, how can we know who is the enemy?

And this is why so many people are searching for identity, why there are so many resurgences of populism, civic nationalism, the alt-right, people focusing on racial identity.  Everyone is searching to find their “tribe” and to ensure its survival.  On some level, people realize that this is about the survival of a way of life, maybe even the survival of their own lives.  Some non-religious people are waking up to the fact that actually Christianity wasn’t such a bad thing and did make the good of Western Civilization possible.  When the barbarians are at the gate, maybe it’s time to get religion.  Unfortunately, it’s probably going to have to get a lot worse before most Westerners wake up.

 

Are things really quite so grim?

Jonathon Van Maren thinks so.  His recent blog post is entitled “Grim poll: Conservatives are losing catastrophically on every single issue…except this one”

If certain enthusiastic public figures are to be believed, there is a wave of iconoclastic and libertarian youth who are fed up with political correctness and ready to turn the Left on its head. When I attended a campus event featuring the recently disgraced and even more recently resurgent Milo Yiannopoulos last fall, he made the claim loudly and boldly: “I might be the only one who has noticed this trend, but young people hate the Left. I have thirteen-year-olds emailing me. I even have children attending my campus events.”

Ignoring for a moment the obvious problem with a child attending an event put on by the self-described “Dangerous Faggot,” this sort of optimism is entirely unwarranted—unless, as is obviously the case with Milo, you do not see moral issues as indicative of national health overall. On that front, Americans continue to shift to the left, and continue to abandon Judeo-Christian values—if they even know what those are anymore. Gallup recently released new polling data for their annual Values and Beliefs poll, and the results were very sobering.

He goes on to talk about all the “sobering” data points covering views on marriage, sexuality, the family, etc. — all with predictable and completely unsurprising revelations. None of this is news.  How did Van Maren miss that we were no longer living in a Christian society, that we had long since passed into a pagan one?  That traditional Christian morality is not the standard by which most people live shouldn’t be surprising or discouraging.

He notes that the polls didn’t show a large increase in support of abortion, which he believes is due to massive efforts of pro-lifers to educate people:

On every moral issue, social conservatives are losing ground—except for abortion.

Looking at the raw data, it’s hard to see where someone like Milo Yiannopoulos gets his optimism from. He may not care about most moral issues—his relaunch party, after all, featured male and female strippers—but even on free speech and free markets, the numbers look grim. Millennials are embracing socialism, rejecting the fundamental idea that freedom of speech and freedom of expression are bedrock values in a democracy, and turning university campuses into totalitarian safe spaces that exclude any idea they find threatening to their fragile progressive worldviews.

The truth is that an entire generation has grown up more or less disconnected from the Christian past of the West, and that activists must fight tooth and nail to educate the public on each and every issue. We see what happens when massive educational efforts are undertaken: On abortion, we are not losing ground—and even under the most pro-abortion president in American history, over 300 laws were passed on the state level. Pornography, while still prevalent, is now attracting the ire of government bodies across the West who are recognizing it for the public health crisis it is. Social conservatism as a worldview may be on the fringe, but there are many, many opportunities to change that.

Here Van Maren recognizes that kids have grown up in a non-Christian world; so why the surprise at the poll results?  His faith in the “raw data” of the poll is misplaced. Polling isn’t exactly a hard or perfect science (anyone remember 2016?).  Who’s to say we really should trust a poll’s conclusions over our own observations or the anecdotal evidence presented by someone else?  Then he talks about millennials, but Milo isn’t talking about millennials; he’s talking about the next, even younger generation. It can also be noted that Milo specially said he didn’t have any proof, any hard data for his hopeful statement, but that it came from his experience of meeting and talking to, and receiving messages from young people.  Milo isn’t the only person who has noted this trend of the younger generation leaning more conservative.

Even the one place where Van Maren strikes a hopeful, positive tone, he’s probably at least partly wrong.  You can understand why, being part of the pro-life movement, he would be quick to attribute the lessening support for abortion to the efforts of the prolifers.  I hope he’s right that all those efforts have helped, that education does help. But there’s something else powerful that is influencing young people to turn conservative: they have seen and felt the consequences of their parents and others leading a life without conservative morals or standards.  They may be the unwanted children of selfish parents, the products of divorce or homes where they never had two parents to begin with.  They may have seen older siblings or relatives or friends make terrible choices and suffer for them.  Those with eyes to see can see the wreckage caused by abandoning traditional morals.  And the liberals, feeling assured of victory, have turned up the heat too fast; things they are pushing for are so obviously against nature that people with will to think for themselves can see we are headed in the wrong direction.  But cultural trends do not reverse directions overnight.  The problems we are seeing today began long before Van Maren was born.  Some would argue they began even before his parents were born.

Van Maren himself is a contradiction to this poll.  He’s young, conservative, Catholic, pro-life and fighting for it.  And surely he works alongside other young people.

Other than being overly pessimistic and incorrect in his interpretation how we are losing the culture war — rather we have already lost, but perhaps have hope of rebuilding from the ashes — he is wrong about Milo.  Previously, I had noticed that he was particularly critical of Milo (and the Alt-Right) as unacceptable for Christians to follow.  He objects to Milo’s lifestyle, vulgar humor, and that he isn’t very nice to people.  Van Maren also tends to exaggerate Milo’s behavior (can you believe that’s possible?!): Milo’s re-launch party, as aired on youtube (surely Van Maren didn’t have an invitation?), did not have “male and female strippers.”  Milo calls them “models” for his photo shoot, and they are scantily, and one might say tastelessly, clad (and waving prop guns around), but they do not strip any clothes off which I think would be the definition of “stripper.”  They might be strippers elsewhere, I don’t know, but at Milo’s party they were just eye candy — which is problematic in its own way, but let’s not over-exaggerate things.

I was surprised to see Van Maren had actually attended a Milo speech so I read what he had to say about it.  It was the same old attitude so many on the Right have towards those they deem impure.  They are like Pharisees who don’t want to associate with sinners for fear of contaminating themselves.  Milo is definitely a sinner, but Jesus frequently ate with and talked to sinners.  Jesus did not worry about being made unclean.  God often uses sinners and unlikely people to carry out His work, sometimes even people who do not know Him.

It doesn’t matter to Milo’s critics on the Right if he is effective or that we really need to reach people where they are — and where they are isn’t necessarily ready to listen to Christian moralizing or preaching.  Milo has a point about reaching people with humor and fun (even if he does take it a bit too far at times); humor and fun are attractive, especially to young people.  Free speech, for which Milo has made himself a standard bearer, is an important battle.  If Christians are silenced completely, there will be no chance of educating people or changing hearts and minds through dialogue.  Milo is an ally in that battle, even if he is a public sinner.

Good Books for Civilizational Greatness

Coming from a family with a long history of loving books and valuing true education (not necessarily having anything to do with “school”), I found this essay by William Edmund Fahey interesting.  He writes about great and good books and the effect and importance they have on culture and education:

Our own disorders spring from so much neglect of the real soil of culture: the widely shared canon of good literature and the widely affirmed understanding that there must be goodness in literature, and that such literature should be read aloud within families and by each and every person who dares call himself civilized—before, during, and after their formal education.  Goodness is the soil of greatness.

I do not mean by goodness in literature and good literature that all characters should be plaster statues without depth or real complexity.  No, I mean literature which elicits a clear understanding of what is true, good, and beautiful, because what is light is seen nearby to what is dark.  Enchantment will not work in an imbalanced world of goody-goody mannequins.  The enchantment offered by good literature works because those reading or listening to a tale already know first-hand that life is complex.  We need go no further than Squirrel Nutkin to understand how this very real balance is achieved even in a children’s literature.  Nutkin is, at once, morally flawed and attractive.  No one who encounters Squirrel Nutkin—even one of five years—can fail to miss his conceit, fail to anticipate his demise, or fail to recognize his own fallenness in the impertinent will-to-power of Nutkin.

I will go so far as to say that a reader who has not had his experience nurtured and refined by the likes of Squirrel Nutkin is unlikely to comprehend Thucydides, St. Augustine, or Nietzsche.

Do the Great Books Sustain Wonder and Lead to Morality?

Over the last century, “great books” programs and colleges have fought a valiant battle to keep up the high standard of what it means to be human and civilized.  Sadly, most of the progenitors of these programs neglected or gave little time to thinking about the supporting culture—especially as it touched upon family life and social customs.  Worse still, some of the “great books” proponents thought that by rubbing up against Milton’s Areopagita, or joining in a seminar discussion of Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, leaders would be born who would create, leaven, and sustain a good society.  Somehow the idea has held steady for decades that an almost sacred encounter with great literature between the ages of 17 and 22 could transcend a hollow and malnourished family life, where little song was heard and none sung.

Yet the great books demand a supporting culture—both before and after and throughout.

Would we place our trust in a man who was well-versed in Nichomachus’s Introduction to Arithmetic or Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, but who could not complete a line of nursery rhyme, who had never slept under the stars with Jim Hawkins, never wanted to rescue the likes of Princess Flavia, never shrunk in horror at the witches of Macbeth, never wept at the death of a bull dog named Jack or sorrowed over the sins of Kristen Lavransdatter?  The one thing a liberal arts or great books education will not do is create a moral imagination where there is none.  Yet somehow many educators believe that reading advanced works and chatting about them will lead to a good society.  It may lead to a well-read society, but that need not be a good one or a happy one.

Fahey goes on to quote John Senior’s article, “The Thousand Good Books:”

The “Great Books” movement of the last generation has not failed so much as fizzled, not because of any defect in the books—“the best that has been thought and said,” in Matthew Arnold’s phrase—but like good champagne in plastic bottles they went flat.  To change the figure, the seeds are good but the cultural soil has been depleted; the seminal ideas of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, only properly grow in an imaginative ground saturated with fables, fairy tales, stories, rhymes, adventures, which have developed into the thousand books of Grimm, Andersen, Stevenson, Dickens, Scott, Dumas and the rest. Western tradition, taking all that was best of the Greco-Roman world into herself has given us the thousand good books as a preparation for the great ones and for all the studies in the arts and sciences, without which such studies are inhumane.

Read the rest here, including a list of recommended good books for different ages to read.

(The list looks interesting and makes me feel not nearly well-read enough!)

Offense Taking is Immature

I’m not sure I understand exactly what our obligation to “not give offense” is when everyone is hair-trigger offended all the time.  But the rest is interesting.

“Being offended is a sign of immaturity because it’s an unwillingness to acknowledge and live in the truth”

“To choose to be offended is to choose to be a victim”