When I Hate Being Right: Global Safety Deteriorates

I’ll write as little today as necessary to get the idea across, because I don’t like using this space to post political commentary. But recent events are snapping my last nerve.

The oligarchy that tyrannizes millions of human beings in Communist China has been busy over the past few weeks. Chinese troops are now swarming along India’s Bhutanese border and spoiling for a fight (news is that they’ve already launched a mortar shell or two). As usual, the Chinese grind out a bunch of claptrap about only taking defensive action: paranoid lunatics always take only defensive actions. But I don’t even know that this regime deserves the excuse of insanity. They’ve prosecuted their “we’re Number One” economic jingoism for so long, forging ahead with an environmentally ruinous industrialization adrift from any sort of market force, that their economy is actually in shambles. To conceal the fact, they have to keep pillaging natural resources from the rest of Asia and—increasingly—Africa. Naturally, this is bringing them into conflict with numerous sovereign nations that don’t like being invaded or steamrolled… so the PRC’s government cranks up the estercola-mill and announces that it has to defend itself.

I can only reiterate that this is a scary, scary bunch of megalomaniac plutocrats, who are nowadays wielding a communist ideology with the self-serving cynicism of a jihadi who sends out boys to suicide-bomb while he rakes in generous contributions. Of course, the PRC elite have done absolutely nothing to put Kim Jong Un back on his leash. Through his rabid yapping, they have satisfied themselves that Donald Trump is highly unlikely to push any red buttons. That’s just what they wanted to find out.

And now, thanks to quarreling “bigly” with the broadcast media (speaking of mad dogs), Trump is afraid to forge any kind of alliance with Russia, a move which would be essential to containing the truly ravenous imperialism of Red China. Though he condemned Congress’s sanctions against Russia as ill-considered, Trump signed them into law, anyway, lest anyone accuse him of delivering on a sub rosa election promise to Vladimir. I have never been a Trumpista, but I would indeed have respected him in a new way if he had vetoed the sanctions and chosen, instead, to pursue some sort of rapprochement with Putin. That would have demonstrated true independence, and also a genuine concern for our national welfare. Now we’re merely hanging out the European Union’s wash for some reason—another statist oligarchy that doesn’t execute dissenters left and right, it’s true, but has ceased being a friend to free speech, liberal values, and the Christian faith. And by the way, Mr. Trump… sticking your thumb in Vlad’s eye is not going to improve your press coverage!

If I thought our talking heads contained anything by way of gray matter, I would suspect them of being on the Chinese payroll. Our foreign policy has now been so disastrously hamstrung by Russophobia that the new administration has already committed major strategic gaffes and also shown the world that it is hostage to the kingmakers at CNN. Kim Jong Un is free to slaver and bite, the PRC imperial government to appropriate and exploit… but, by gum, we’re going to hound Trump out of office! Yeah!

No, our media are not in league with the PRC. They’re what Lenin called “useful idiots”. Why should you pay some fool to go on the attack who starts to salivate every time you ring a bell?

 

The Unending Christian Dispute Over Islam

Over the past few days, I’ve had several sustained exchanges with friends and acquaintances about Islam. The most ardent and influential of these correspondents insisted that my effort to distinguish between Islam and Islamism is a waste of time. He made the following points:

1) Islam itself is the problem. Its objective is not to disseminate a religious vision, but to enforce a body of law upon the rest of the world.

2) Its scriptures are replete not with descriptions of historical violence, but with “how to” varieties of “instructional violence”.

3) Its exhortation to follow Mohammed’s example (even before Koranic teaching, so my friend argues), drives such behaviors as the merciless execution of enemies and the marrying of child-brides.

4) ISIS, Al Qaeda, et al. are merely following Islam to the letter; civil, peaceful, amiable Muslims (of which my friend concedes there are many) are in fact far less true to their faith than the terrorist is.

5) Islam continues to spread unrest of the most sanguinary sort around the world, and has done so without respite throughout its history: e.g., Boko Haram’s predations in Nigeria, which doesn’t “take their oil or support Israel or any of that crap.”

I can’t maintain that I have ever found reading the Koran particularly uplifting—or, I should say, that the uplifting parts seem to me sufficient motive to brush away the disturbing parts. And I will quickly add that parts of the Old Testament have always deeply troubled me, from Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son to the programs of genocide in the books of Samuel. But I rarely hear those sections of the Bible recommended in Christian culture as paradigms for how we should conduct ourselves in daily life or how our nation should construct a foreign policy. Another friend made the oft-repeated point to me that this resistance to ignoring certain bellicose sections of the Koran—or this acquiescence to the decisions of leaders not to ignore them—is a major stumbling block to those of us who would reach across the barriers of traditional practice.

I mentioned Zuhdi Jasser to my most vocal contact. He revealed that he had actually worked with Jasser and found him completely sincere… but that the good doctor’s humane secularism was doomed to failure in the broader Islamic world.

Honesty compels me to say that I can’t disagree with most of the points made in these exchanges. I suppose one of my reservations would qualify as pragmatic. It’s this: I don’t know where moderate Muslims like Jasser and Qanta Ahmed are to turn if we say, “You’re lovely people… but your diabolical faith must either devour you or transform you. Your one chance is to cross entirely over to our side.” Isn’t that an ideal strategy for pushing all of the moderates over to the other side?

I have one more objection, which is not at all pragmatic but has a much stronger grip upon me. As a Christian, I am fully persuaded that God is not morally inscrutable to us, but rather that He speaks very comprehensibly of basic right and wrong to every ear that listens. Nevertheless, I cannot tell a Muslim, “Your god is too distant, too arbitrary and morally unmoored from humanity”—not when it is we who practice wholesale abortion and insist that mainstream culture admit one deviant sexual practice after another. I am ashamed of Christendom, on the whole. Perhaps so many Muslims are convinced that Christianity is not the answer because they see how self-styled Christian populations behave on TV, at the movies, through the medium of pop music, and even in legislative decisions.

Marrying a child-bride is pretty awful. Slipping off on weekend junkets from Frisco or Seattle to Thailand so you can wallow through fields of child-prostitutes… well, I think I’m okay with beheading in those instances.

The Most Dangerous Nation on Earth

I’m sorry that I use this space for so much griping, but… maybe that’s how I retain what little sanity I have.

Throughout my life, I have been what you might call a Sinophobe. Communist China scares me stiff. Even in early adolescence, I knew that the PRC was feeding arms to the Vietcong, and I had a feeling that I would end up face down in a rice paddy like so many of those just a little older than I… all because Red China couldn’t desist from fomenting unrest and bloodshed all around the world. The Chinese had ginned up the Korean conflict just a bit before my time; and the Korean War, as you all know, has never officially ended, and indeed could go nuclear almost any day now. No one can convince me that the PRC’s ruling elite couldn’t pull the rug out from under that sadistic, megalomaniac butterball, Kim Jong Un, any time they wanted to. Instead, they have actually decided to increase trade and aid to this lunatic as the rest of the world tries to isolate him—this while, at the same time, they assure our diplomats that they’ve played every card in their hand.

Meanwhile, China continues to bully Taiwan. (My own guess is that the PRC oligarchs are stoking Kim’s dreams of nuclear holocaust in hopes of backing us away from our support of the Taiwanese, at which point they will simply invade and take over. It’s how they think.) Japan, Vietnam, and even India are also being menaced by Chinese saber-rattling. The PRC has grossly mismanaged its vast economy, through a combination of state-mandated projects that create temporary jobs but appeal to no market and rampant corruption in top-heavy local bureaucracies. The response of the oligarchs—again fully typical—is not to learn from mistakes and clean up their act, but to execute a few of the more public grafters, brush other errors under the rug, and seek to prop up the economic numbers by raping vulnerable spots around the globe of their very limited resources.

Africa has been especially hard-hit, because her own struggling economies cannot resist the kind of short-term wealth that China dangles before them. A Chinese conglomerate will move in and construct a soccer stadium or lavish government buildings (using only Chinese workmen) in return for local mineral rights, then leave the country with rare rainforests razed from the face of the earth and none of the locals knowing how to operate or maintain all the great new “free” stuff… which falls apart within ten years.

People who speak out… vanish. Editors and publishers take mysterious, unannounced “vacations” from Hong Kong and may or may not be heard from again. Internationally visible advocates of freedom are invited for a “cup of tea” at the local police station… and may return a week or a month later, with guards thenceforward posted around their home to watch their every move. Others simply rot away in prison. Liu Xiao Bo, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is going to die unnecessarily of cancer because his captors won’t allow him to have treatment in the West; and though one would suppose that Liu would have global visibility, the rest of the world is beginning to prefer blindness. Maybe we’re supposed to reason that everyone dies of cancer in China, anyway, free or jailed. The air, water, and food are so polluted that sometimes even the oligarchs can’t be assured of a non-toxic environment.

Yes, China’s government scares the crap out of me. It always has. Churchill and FDR winked at Stalin’s massacres in their zeal to depose Hitler and armed China’s communist resistance to the Japanese as if, war ended, we would have sweetness and light in perpetuity. We have lived since under the shadow of a mushroom cloud; and I’ll even say—take a deep breadth—that dropping the bombs and demanding Japan’s unconditional surrender was a big, big blunder, insofar as it left the door wide open for Mao. Look at the numbers. Mao murdered, directly and indirectly, more innocent human beings than Hitler and Stalin combined.

So why is it—remind me again, please—that Russia is our “primary geopolitical enemy,” as I just heard one National Review editor opine? Shouldn’t we, rather, be luring Russia to our side as China lengthens Kim’s leash and sends her cruisers arrogantly through neutral waters throughout Southeast Asia? Shouldn’t we even be pondering how to make Iran more of a thorn in the PRC’s side?

But no, I have a better idea: let’s defeat some of China’s enemies for her, emasculate others, and turn still others into her allies! Because we just can’t have those stinking Ruskies giving presidential candidates confidential dirt about each other. That red line… you gotta draw it somewhere, you know.

Concerning Nixon…

Since mentioning Richard Nixon last time (in whose administration Pat Buchanan worked), I’ve been wanting to get a few things off my chest. I came of age during the Watergate years, and I think the picture that young people are painted of that most unfortunate time—by their teachers, their textbooks, and popular culture—is an utter travesty.

I distinctly recall reading (though I read it only once or twice; the media feeding frenzy quickly obscured such fine details in froth and body parts) that Nixon suspected McGovern of communicating with Fidel Castro. This may seem of no account to most of you now; but if you retained anything from your history books about the early Sixties, you remember that the Cuban Missile Crisis is rated as having had the potential to begin of World War III.   Now, I put it to you: if Castro was such a desperate character that Kennedy’s facing him and Khrushchev down saved the human race from extermination, as is popularly let out, then why should he have been considered a pussy cat a mere decade later?

Or if Trump’s colluding with Putin to steal our last election is a scenario whose mere specter should put all other business on indefinite hold, then why would credible intelligence that a presidential candidate had covertly communicated with a despot eager to nuke our shores not warrant looking into?

Nixon, of course, was loathed by the Left since the days when he successfully prosecuted Alger Hiss, a Soviet spy deeply secreted in D.C.’s corridors of power. Younger Americans will have been told that no threat from the Soviets (except the Cuban Missile Crisis) ever existed, and that the hunt for spies on our shores and within our government, especially, was an indefensible witch hunt. The idiotic word “McCarthyism” has now entered the parlance of both sides of the aisle—as if poor Joe McCarthy, a war hero and a simple man of the people, had any “-ism” behind his clumsy attempt to weed out traitors from his nation’s most sensitive sources of power and influence. Nixon’s star rose as McCarthy’s plunged into flaming descent.

McCarthy, to be sure, stirred up a deal of hysteria. Why wouldn’t he have? The nation’s children were being drilled in their schools for an all-out nuclear attack during these years. Nixon, likewise, was no black belt in public relations. His homely mug, his sanctimonious style, his irrepressible persecution complex, his self-consciousness about his humble origins… a walking target, he was, for all the bullies on the playground. And then there was his vanity. If only he had burned all the damn tapes, as William F. Buckley urged him to do in print, the nation would have been spared a lot of misery. They were his private property—he could legally have done whatever he wanted to with them. As his “legacy”, however, they were sacrosanct… and he dragged himself and the country through disgrace that the record of his years in office might be preserved.

Sad. But not deserving of the caricature which has been visited upon the man. Meanwhile, Lyndon Johnson, having left a couple of bodies in his wake (I do not speak figuratively) during his climb to power in South Texas, is remembered as the compassionate architect of the Great Society.

Try, just try, to remember that you know less than nothing about the historical personages presented to you by textbooks and movies; for the lies with which we have been programmed are worse than utter, abject ignorance.

 

How Many Millions of Lives Could the “Purists” Cost Us?

I used to be a Pat Buchanan fan. His willingness to question received orthodoxy and to advance conclusions that made sense, even though they set everyone on edge, impressed me. As wicked as Hitler surely was, how could his tally of carnage be said to rival Stalin’s or Mao’s? Were the tens of millions of additional victims claimed by the latter two to be excused because communists always “have their hearts in the right place”? And in any case (another Buchanan proposition), why could we not have left Hitler and Stalin to duke it out rather than so quickly and decisively siding with Papa Joe? Was Churchill really so admirable for selling out Eastern Europe at Yalta in his monomaniacal loathing of Hitler? (Stalin, he would explain in Chamberlainesque terms, had to be “appeased”.)

Where Pat and I suffered a definitive parting of the ways was over his “demography is destiny” comments. The notion that our genetic material determines the kind of citizens and neighbors we will be flies in the face of American idealism, Christian ethics, and indeed any operative concept of human free will. In an age when the word is so grossly abused as to be practically senseless, this notion is genuinely racist: it renders us prisoners of our DNA.

Yet I remain willing to accept Buchanan’s testimony about certain historical events in which he played a part or had a ring-side seat. In a column about a month ago, he detailed how Nixon’s preoccupation with the Watergate scandal so weakened America’s hand internationally that the Viet Cong recovered their flagging spirits and eventually (under Ford) forced our disorderly retreat. There followed such slaughter of innocents as no Westerner can imagine… ah, but Tricky Dick the Tyrant had been deposed, and journalists and the political Left generally were in such a celebratory mood that, if “high fives” had existed in the early Seventies, ER’s would have overflowed with sprained wrists.

Hundreds of thousands of people were butchered… but the American intelligentsia had bagged its “tyrant”!

Now we are witnessing both Russia and North Korea ramp up tensions as our crusading, utopian Fourth Estate again seeks to topple a “tyrant” by whatever means possible, ignoring real news while sensationalizing one nugatory gaffe or out-of-context utterance after another. We may be plunged into World War III—the inhabitants of Seoul may be obliterated and Japan may grow so soaked in nuclear fallout that Hiroshima will look like a stubbed toe; but the important thing is to “get Trump” at all costs, regardless of how much this may incite a genocidal psychopath like Kim Jong Un.

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump and am not a member of his marching band… but there comes a point when the greater good demands a closing of the ranks. If the slavering hounds chasing after that thin but expensive red brush get their trophy only as radioactive ruins glow in the distance, I hope they will live to realize that their obsession has spoiled the planet a helluva lot more than climate change on steroids could have done.

 

The Fanatical Cultists Among Us

There’s a good chance that people aspiring to murder those who disagree with them about politics are, among other things, fanatical cultists. We tend not to view them as such because they espouse no traditional religion, and indeed often profess atheism; but an immovable conviction in the existence of a universe that bears no resemblance to the realities before us isn’t just metaphysical in nature, but fanatically so.

If you believe that everyone deserves state-of-the-art health care and that politicians who stand in that initiative’s way should be executed as murderers, then you’re a fanatical cultist. What you desire is a real-world impossibility. We must all die in the flesh of something someday, and most of us—alas—will be ill on many days along the way to our last one. It’s the human condition. Miracle drugs may come along occasionally, but they are so expensive to concoct in their early stages that not everyone can afford them. A triage of some sort is inevitable. Maybe it shouldn’t be based on degree of wealth… but should it be based on degree of poverty? Maybe the young should go first—but is it not more sane to appeal to the community for charitable donations that a child might be saved than to legislate that the older guy has to get the ticket to the next world?

You’re not living in any world possible within our given dimensions if you refuse to weigh any of these questions, plug your ears, and keep droning, “All for everyone! All for everyone!”

If you believe that anyone who opposes the complete disarming of society is an accomplice to every murder that occurs and hence deserves execution himself, then you are a fanatical cultist. If only cops have guns, then Black Bart can drop a brick on a bypassing cop, steal his revolver, and inaugurate an irresistible crime wave. If you disarm even the cops, then the brick itself becomes a highly effective assault weapon… or a pitchfork or baseball bat or steak knife. A 98-pound female can currently chase off a 250-pound male just by waving her Smith and Wesson. Once we return to the Stone Age, her assailant will not need any weapon at all to do with her as he pleases. Your insistence that things would not degenerate to this point is childish and, beyond a certain point, lunatic. A responsible adult has no right to walk around with a kindergartener’s estimate of human nature. Your lunacy is probably attributable to a cultic belief system… which makes you yourself a potentially dangerous quantity in any society that allows you to vote.

If you say that anyone who obstructs the complete dissolution of national borders is impeding beleaguered people from finding food, shelter, and freedom and hence deserves to be executed as a passive mass-murderer, then consider yourself a fanatical cultist. Among other things, we must consider what diseases an alien population might introduce among us if not screened. Particularly in societies that offer an extensive net of social services, we must realize that thousands will rush our cities to gain access to free food, free police protection, free education, free medical attention, and so forth. Such resources are not inexhaustible; on the contrary, they must be doled out very carefully to those most in need and in a manner that encourages eventual self-sufficiency. Along with the poor and oppressed, as well, a criminal element will be sure to cross any unenforced border to a wealthier community. The situation is a goldmine for evil-doers: gather loot where it proliferates, then skip back across to another territory that will not pursue criminal acts committed “over there”.

If, in spite of all these liabilities, you really believe that we can and must exist as one big happy family in one great house—and that naysayers should be shot like mad dogs because of the obstacle they pose to “real progress”—then you are seriously delusional and a menace to yourself and others. You are a fanatical cultist who has no use for the world as it was made and must ever be.

How many of these are out there, I wonder? And why are we preoccupied with ISIS when our own society is nourishing a variety of fanaticism at least as dangerous and—now, it seems—homicidal?

 

Why I Cannot Be Catholic (In a Nutshell)

I had another topic on my mind… but, after hearing a remark made on Greg Gutfeld’s show last night, I lost my original train of thought. This is more important to me.

Gutfeld had assembled three representatives of major world faiths on his cozy stage: a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, and an Islamic imam. The segment was more shtick than discussion—more SNL than Firing Line. (Actually, I recall now that my original intent was to explain why I just can’t adapt myself to “tweeting”—the electronic trail of splattered bodily fluids left after careless collisions. The Gutfeld Show is to William F. Buckley what Twitter is to The Critique of Pure Reason.) In a dangerously close approach to seriousness, Gutfeld dared to inquire of the priest if Pope Francis were… um, maybe just a shade… um, naïve. The prelate (whose name I cannot recover from the Internet, for some odd reason) responded, “Well, what’s so bad about that? What’s wrong with being a little naïve? Would you rather he be bitter and cynical? Isn’t it a good thing to have a world spiritual leader who believes in the possibility of peace?”

I paraphrase, but the response was of this nature. I wanted to tear my hair out.

No, Father! It’s not a good thing! Naiveté is not productive or benign! It’s unbecoming in an older man of any station in life; but in an international leader—and especially a spiritual leader—it is grotesque and potentially lethal on a massive scale. Gandhi was with some justice faulted in certain quarters for staging “peaceful” demonstrations in places and at moments when he ought to have known that a match would ignite the whole ammunition dump. Fools who naively “believe in peace” have a pronounced tendency to draw us into war. They underestimate the duplicity of the Machiavellian tyrants with whom they negotiate. They exhort their followers to overlook alarming signs of imminent hostility in deference to “keeping the faith”. They may even end up offering themselves (and a host of others) to the slaughterhouse in a conviction that their martyrdom will blaze future trails to conflict resolution.

At some point, such reckless gambling with innocent lives and insouciance to the dark side of human nature becomes a squalid ego trip. “Sure, you have your martyrdom, Holy Father. Great. I wish I had my two sons back that were killed in the invasion you declined to notice as it massed on our borders.” I can imagine many a believing Catholic having some such thought at key moments throughout history.

I almost became a Catholic myself in my youth. I worked at two different Catholic schools (one Jesuit and one Benedictine). I was disturbed at how the bad actors on campus were always able to shift into confessional mode and convince a priest that they were just little lost lambs… but I was naïve myself at the time, and I would psychically smack the back of my hand for having bad thoughts.

What really bothers me about the Gutfeld interview is not the Pope’s personal naiveté, but its public and energetic defense by a prominent member of his clergy. The Catholic equation of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses with spiritual elevation is a potential life-ruiner. How does it differ, may I ask, from lighting up a joint or having a lobotomy? Or permitting a chip to be inserted into one’s brain with CorrectThink Update 3.4? For that matter, as we approach a world where lasting peace might really come to pass—because we will all be computer hybrids, and our programming will preclude violent behavior (as defined by the programmer)—how will the Catholic braintrust resist that Nirvana? For doesn’t it offer everything that the rose-tinted glasses foresaw?

The first words out of the mouth of Sophocles’ Teiresias when he appears on stage are, “What a frightful thing is thinking, when thoughts are of no profit!” And Oedipus does indeed pay a fearful price for his pursuit of truth… but Sophocles eventually celebrates him as a hero, I believe, precisely because he chooses the anguishing misery of full truth over the flattering delusions of ignorance. Doesn’t God demand such dedication to truth of us?

Final word: yes, I know that the Protestant denominations have mucked up their glasses and decided to call the color “rose” in much the same way as has Catholicism. There’s nothing much to separate them any more. The name of the only real church is in your heart, not in your checkbook.