Monday, August 11, 2014

The Conservative Mind

Social and political philosophies have tremendous impact on one's world view. One's role in society (should individuality or community have priority), the belief of the purpose of government (to protect our borders or to help people) and the opinions about the healthiest way of life for society (based on freedom to make our own decisions or based on a sense of fairness and equality) are of such fundamental importance that they influence many decisions we make every day. There are two other presumptions even more basic and far reaching than these: the belief of sovereignty of the universe (God or nature), the opinion of the nature of humanity (are we basically good or selfish).

Possibly even more basic that these five aspects of one's paradigm and even more powerful is one's emotional disposition. Emotional baggage can cloud any mind and make a person unsusceptible to reason and fact. Together, these six aspects of one's paradigm impact probably every decision one ever makes.

I propose every belief, every decision and every reaction to life we have can be traced back to one or more of these fundamental suppositions. These beliefs are not usually taken lightly. In fact, we typically have a heavy emotional investment in deeply rooted beliefs. Emotion seems to have a greater impact on our world view than does reason, which suggests we are more emotional creatures than we are rational. Political propaganda demonstrates this emotional component of paradigm quite easily.

We often decide when something is true or untrue simply by our emotional reaction to it even if we have no idea what is going on. On many controversial issues caricatures are invented to represent opponents or opposing ideas, and those caricatures are often criticized or demonized under the pretense the real thing is being destroyed. A cursory look at modern American politics presents one clear picture: Democrats are good and Republicans are bad. Or we might phrase it as liberals are compassionate and conservatives are greedy. Neither of these pictures are actually true but the caricatures presented to us are widely accepted as fact without having to actually know anything about the reality behind them.

Conservatism acknowledges life is fundamentally though tragically unfair. This observation is based on the natural selfishness of human kind - even when poverty or greed or religion or crime are not factors, people still often do selfish things. A desire for security in this environment moves us to the next logical step, that to survive in this unfair world we must protect ourselves. But optimism works simultaneously with the need for security, as proven by our belief that some degree of security can be attained, and this is necessary for the attempt to build our own lives. The optimistic belief that building a life is even possible in an unfair world is the foundation of individual self interest.

Additionally, our social natures lead us to live in groups, often surrounding ourselves with family and friends. The development of civilization has lead us to gather in even larger groups such as towns and cities. But family and friends exacerbate the need to protect ourselves (now including those we love), especially knowing that life is unfair. This increased desire for security moves us beyond a primitive desire to reciprocate harm to an even stronger desire to prevent harm in the first place. This brings us to the necessity for law and the means to enforce it, which we call government.

The desire to survive in this world with family and friends and the means to protect them is grounded in the assumption that one must take initiative in all these aspects of life, which is the seminal American precept of freedom. Religion, when not abused, is often a means of smoothing interactions with others (providing moral and ethical codes) and of retaining a more realistic perspective (we are not the most powerful force in the universe and there are some things our limited intellects may never comprehend). This has undoubtedly contributed to the self-sustainability of society. These observations and assumptions make up the basis of the conservative mentality.

With this frame of mind it is easy to conclude there are things worth believing in and things worth fighting for. The conservative uses several virtues to aid in a productive and secure life. We can frame each virtue has having two sides: freedom and responsibility; self reliance and community living; discipline and compassion; self interest and helping others; self improvement and acknowledging our limitations; faith and tolerance; justice and forgiveness; honor and integrity; competition and cooperation. Experience and history have shown us any aspect of life can be abused, but that such abuse does not automatically negate the value such things bring. Family, individuality, religion, private property and freedom to make one's own decisions are generally all valued by conservatives. This conservative ideal recognizes the unpleasant realities of life while also striving for something better with the realization that good also exists in the world and that good is worth pursuing.

The Modern Liberal appears at odds with each of these tenets of the conservative ideal. We should distinguish between a more traditional liberalism, which actually values individual liberty and other things, and the Modern Liberal. It seems in the paradigm of Modern Liberalism the world can be made fair. The means of accomplishing this universal fairness seems to be the elimination of anything that could cause people to view themselves as different from anyone else. In the leftist worldview disagreement leads to arguing or distrust and, in turn, these things lead to an "us versus them" mentality. In this Modern Liberal mindset, as long as people distinguish themselves from others society will be plagued by poverty, crime, war and injustice. And so the ultimate aim of Modern Liberalism is to destroy anything that a person might call truth so that there is nothing left to cause disagreement, and subsequently any of the social ails that damage society.

Challenges to religion, the concept of family, private ownership of anything, individual liberty, individuality and even the value of human life culminate into a modern, elitist arrogance that rejects anything which conflicts with the ultimate aim of a completely egalitarian society.

Rational thought and the ability to make good decisions are considered a danger to this leftist aim. If you try to distinguish between something that is healthy or unhealthy (i.e., life styles) they call you judgmental or bigoted. If you try to plan ahead and improve the quality of life for those you love they call you uncompassionate. If you take the initiative to create something that benefits others but also try to benefit yourself from it you are called greedy. As long as people are permitted to make their own choices the ideal leftist world-community can never be. And so their conclusion is not that their ideal may be flawed but that anything which detracts from achieving their aims must be destroyed.

Modern Liberalism preaches life is not inherently unfair but is made so by the greedy and selfish - and that the accumulation of wealth is evidence for these societal poisons. This belief assumes people are not naturally selfish but instead are naturally good. The Modern Liberal does not believe fairness is subjective but an innate desire of all - and of course the leftist definition of "fair" is the only one permitted. He/she will gladly embrace the fact that achieving their aim of an egalitarian society requires causing great harm to a great many people because eliminating inequality in the world is inherently good. The pretentious concept of the "greater good" outweighs even common sense solutions to real problems. Any improvement in the quality of life for one person distinguishes him/her from others, which damages the group mentality. And so wealth must be denigrated along with the concept of truth.

The subtle attempts to achieve an egalitarian society begin with tearing down what conservatives believe in (such as portraying the United States as no better than any oppressive country in history) and building up that which conservatives reject (a "terrorist" is really a freedom fighter, an insurgent, or something else more benign sounding - and the only reason we fear them is because of a lack of understanding). The Modern Liberal does these things with a sincere belief that a sense of community can be built with such reach and depth that war, crime, poverty and injustice can eventually and totally be eliminated, that life can be made fair. To achieve this utopia the people of the world must be persuaded to reject any belief that conflicts with this worldview, and in essence reject anything worth believing in.

The not-so-subtle attempts to build this egalitarian society were made famous by the likes Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Adolph Hitler of Nazi Germany, Mao Zedong of communist China, and others. The sophisticated efforts to build an egalitarian society, often concealed or disguised so as to avoid the stigma of labels such as socialism or communism, are necessarily averse to individual freedom and naturally lead to the oppressive regimes of past communist and socialist governments.

It is not difficult to find evidence in support of these observations. Because conservatives see the world through a perspective that there are things worth valuing we often end up seeing problems with Liberal opinions. Because of these problems we often oppose left wing public policy, from the minimum wage (an attempt to redistribute wealth more in line with a left wing worldview) to welfare (an attempt supposedly to help the poor, but which usually ends up trapping people in a cycle of poverty and family brokenness).

I don't know of anyone who actually opposes helping people. Most of us want to make the world a better place. But what "works" for improving society is also a subjective concept. Conservatives do not accept the naive notion that good intentions must necessarily result in good outcomes. The law of unintended consequences leads conservatives to insist any attempt to help people should result in actually helping them, not harming them, and that efforts must be made to avoid causing harm. To blindly follow the desire to help with little or no effort made to avoid causing harm almost inevitably results in harm.

John Lennon's "Imagine" is a good example of the left wing paradigm. It shows a glimpse of the Modern Liberal's idea of how society should be. As long as one avoids critical thought about what is said in the song the lyrics sounds good. But if one insists on thinking about the song problems arise. Conservatives usually have a different reaction to "Imagine" than do Modern Liberals. Let's take a closer look. On the one hand is Lennon's vision of utopia, and on the other is a common reaction of conservatives.

Original lyrics by John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

What conservatives hear

Imagine there's no God,
the material universe is all that exists
imagine we are the highest intelligence
enjoying yourself is the only thing worth doing

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

Imagine there's no government, individual ideals, marriage, family or religion
there's nothing worth caring about more than yourself
imagine there is no disagreement on anything
so there's no need to protect yourself

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Never mind this utopia can only be achieved by oppression
Marx and Engels never saw their ideas put into practice
anarchy is the best way to live
under one world order nothing is really worth believing in

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

Smart people don't dig property rights
if you can survive without a community hand out you are greedy and evil
I call you friend or brother while I take whatever you have
I can do what I want when fairness is forced upon you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Never mind this utopia can only be achieved by oppression
Marx and Engels never saw their ideas put into practice
anarchy is the best way to live
under one world order nothing is really worth believing in

It is doubtful anyone embraces the conservative paradigm 100% as I have described it here. Likewise it is unlikely any Modern Liberal objects to 100%. In fact, we may all borrow to some degree from both or perhaps different world views. Seldom does anyone completely meet the expectations of an ideal to which they subscribe. But the fact remains that patterns emerge in philosophical thought. Large groups tend to form based on certain ideological tenets they share. In American culture the two largest groups are called "right wing" and "left wing," among other labels. Both sides of this battle claim to be working for the improvement of society, which also turns out to be a subjective goal. For conservatives this means protecting the right of the people to make their own decisions as much as possible. This one aim affects countless other decisions, from compulsory government aid and taxes to what should be taught in schools. History shows forcing fairness on the people results is mass misery and in many cases mass murder.

We do not all possess the same desires, talents, ambition, goals or assumptions. We do not all choose to use each day in the same way. No government leader knows what is best for you better than you. Even in an unfair world people can be taught respect and compassion and wisdom and other virtues without an overbearing government forcing upon us a counterproductive one-size-fits-all solution to every problem. Because of the unfair realities of life we have learned to value that which is good. This, again, is subjective but history and experience have taught us the balance between social order and freedom works best when the pendulum sways toward the power of the individual, not toward the power of government.

This is why America's founders took a unique approach in creating the United States government - our constitution does not define each right the citizen enjoys, it establishes the powers and limits of the government. The defacto position of the men who invented the United States was that the people have the right to do what they please as long as they do not cause harm to others. The U.S. government does not have constitutional authority to do what ever it deems necessary for benevolent goals. Our government has a limited purview which is frequently violated in this modern nanny-state environment.

There are admittedly many problems in the world. But conservatives have faith that people who work together are more likely to establish good and just goals and achieve them if only they are allowed to do so. The natural self-interest to survive and live well can produce a productive community of such abundance that prosperity over flows, as evidenced by American capitalism. Government involvement often hinders such aims and even pushes society in the opposite direction. It is true that religion and other organizations can be abused and produce undesirable results. But government suffers from this problem as well. It makes no sense to believe abandoning religion and running to the government for guidance will have any better results.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

You want a plan? Regulate Hollywood!

After the Newtown school shooting, many celebrities put together a PSA calling for more gun control. Their "Demand a Plan" campaign urges you, the American people, to demand our government do something. As is common with celebrity endorsed PSAs, there is also a video mocking the PSA. In this case, a video mash up of violent or firearm scenes from movies is interwoven with PSA comments made by the same actors who we see on screen toting and/or using the weapons. (see that story here). And what do these well meaning actors want our leaders to do? Well, of course, they want our government to impose more gun laws on the nation. And they are not alone. Piers Morgan threatened to leave the United States if government didn't pass more gun laws. Al Sharpton wants to extend the anti-gun movement to control knives as well. Do you notice a pattern here? For some reason, though the thought of having limits on what qualifies as marriage is an anathema to the ultra-left, the idea of placing further limits on your right to defend yourself seems perfectly acceptable. And there are plenty more examples of the ultra-left wanting to regulate every other aspect of our lives as long as it doesn't involve sex. Liberal radio show host Thom Hartmann wants to make it illegal for people to possess a certain amount of money - further regulation of peoples lives. In example after example, we see progressives promoting ever bolder government action in regulating life. So what should we expect if the left wing proposal of more guns laws and regulations is realized? Should we expect everyone to obey these new laws? David Gregory of NBC can't manage to obey gun laws even while promoting them. Gregory violated D.C. gun laws using a gun magazine on air while in the act of promoting more gun laws. Somehow we are supposed to expect criminals, who by definition break the law, to obey more gun laws while a journalist defies laws already on the books. Did you hear about that White Plains, New York paper The Journal News, that published in an online map the names and addresses of some gun permit holders? This so called prank seems more like an attempt promote more gun control laws via bully tactics. As backlash, another paper published the names and home addresses of staff at The Journal News who pulled this "prank". If you haven't heard of this yet, you'll probably never guess what The Journal News did in response to the backlash: they hired armed guards for two of their facilities. Employing more guns while promoting efforts to reduce guns hardly seems consistent. We see high profile progressives who on one hand promote legislation to reduce the influence if not the number of guns in the country, while on the other hand find it comforting to have armed security protecting their loved ones. The same David Gregory who brandished a gun clip on air, mocked the NRA's suggestion of putting armed police officers in public schools. Yet, Gregory puts his own kids in the same high security private school (with police officers) that President Obama's daughters attend. So why the unrelenting push for more gun control? A gun-free nation sounds great, right? Well, not so much. According to law enforcement officials gun-free zones have seen an increase in gun violence, and actually attract mass murderers because these zones prove an easy target. Let's ask a different question. Have more gun laws reduced crime rates in general, if not necessarily in gun-free zones? Other countries have already gone further than the United States in its gun control efforts, and reached closer to what American progressives want to do. What happened in those countries? Apparently more gun laws haven't had the desired results. What about the areas of the United States with the highest degree of gun control? Do they have the lowest violent crime rates in the nation? No. So one might ask: do Americans really care about the results of well intended, but poorly considered laws? According to progressives, practical, if admittedly undesirable solutions (such as putting armed police officers in schools) are not a viable course of action. Instead, progressives believe legislation will solve this problem, as they usually do. However, if constitutional rights are valuable to you, perhaps you should keep your eye on progressives in general. For example, one Democrat member of the House of Representatives thinks the US Constitution should be amended to allow for control of speech. Of course, he puts a benevolent spin on the matter, so as to make his appeal sound reasonable. But many, many forces are at work with any piece of legislation, especially on the national level. What possible reason is there to believe that once that door is opened it won't be exploited by anyone and everyone with enough influence or money to exploit it?

Where progressive voices are given opportunity to shine, we should all remember the Constitution is an impediment to the progressive agenda, and therefore that document should be abandoned so progressives can make the world a perfect place. Just ask Professor Louis Michael Seidman of Georgetown University, who suggests this very thing. And what's his expertise you might ask? Constitutional law, of course.

So, actors who think you're helping the nation by producing a video promoting gun control laws, you might want to think before your next PSA. Do you really want to promote more government regulation as the solution to all of life's problems? How long do you think it will be before this mighty pen of our socially responsible leaders turns to impose more regulation on what you do for a living? If one amendment (such as the second one) can be so blatantly disregarded, so can another (such as the first one). And, as Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has expressed (as linked above), even the free speech you progressive actors presumably value can be targeted by well meaning social tinkerers.

You may approve of violating the constitution when it happens to gun rights, but don't kid yourselves into thinking the rights you value are impervious to progressive social engineering. You who mock the Second Amendment and ridicule those who fight to protect it are building the groundwork for dismantling other constitutional rights. Trying to persuade the American people to provide the rope to hang themselves with is not the way to protect your livelihood. You wealthy actors may not value the freedoms the rest of us are losing, but you probably care about your own industry. When new laws against violence in movies and TV are being debated and implemented, don't bother crying to the American people about censorship and oppression. We won't be able to do anything about it. That is your legacy: promoting violence in the culture, getting stinking rich from it, then asking the government to rob us of our basic rights so you can feel better about it. All the while promoting further control of our lives that has nothing to do with actually protecting people from mass murderers.

Hmm, so do I spend an increasingly outrageous amount of money for movie tickets tonight, or do I go buy some ammo? Oh, right, I might not be able to buy ammo later, at least not legally.

children, constitution, crisis, culture, Democrats, first amendment, free speech, freedom, government, gun rights, ideology, indoctrination, law, left wing, legislature, liberalism, nanny state, news media, oppression, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, propaganda, public policy, regulation, tragedy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fetuses are people?

This absurd pic has been circulated around the internet of late. Under the guise of being ironic there are some ridiculous assertions made here.

First, are there any laws in the United States preventing gay people from voting or from paying taxes? Of course not. Are there any laws in this country preventing gay people from having a ceremony or from associating with each other, or from living together? None that I know of.

I'm not quite sure when the United States government ever prevented anyone from paying taxes but the comment about voting is obviously meant to make us think gays are being treated as blacks were treated for quite some time in America's past (ironically, by Democrats, not by Republicans). And that is the absurdity here: that gays are trying to force everyone to accept the idea that marriage has always meant anyone can marry anyone. The fact is there has never been a time in American history where this was true, and I'd like to see an example of any time any where in which it was.

Every civilized society has rules about what marriage means and what it doesn't mean. In some societies a man can marry more than one woman; this is not the case in America - if you are married you do not have a right to marry another. There are some societies where a 50-something year old man can marry (and consummate the marriage with) a 9 year old girl; but that is not American society. There are some societies where one person can be legally forced to marry another, against their will; but not here. The concept of marriage is one of the fundamentals of civilization, and there are limits on it. These limits are necessary to help sustain a peaceable society. Another very common limitation is that marriage can occur only between a man and a woman.

Gay activists do not like this latter limitation. But to better promote their agenda we are told gays are "born that way" just as people of dark skin color are "born that way." Numerous studies have been conducted to prove this assertion about gays, and failed. But we are not supposed to mention this - we are supposed to "know" each premise of the gay agenda is perfectly reliable when in fact no one knows anything of the kind. We are not supposed to question anything the gay agenda says or fails to say. We are not supposed to think for ourselves about the alleged connections between gay activism and the civil rights movement. The proper thing for us to do is turn of our minds in the name of open mindedness. To avoid being called ignorant we are to avoid thinking through the argument at all. In our modern progressive culture tolerance no longer means tolerance; it means acceptance. We are to allow convictions to substitute for facts.

There are others who ignorantly suggest hypocrisy on the part of those who challenge the idea of "gay marriage." It seems fairly clear that short lived celebrity marriages, adultery, rampant divorce, and other things are in fact significantly contributing to ever increasing strife in our society. Most people who oppose changing the currently accepted definition of marriage typically also acknowledge the harm these other foolish and/or selfish acts inflict upon civilization.

But, just like marriage, there are limits on tolerance and open mindedness (and honesty). Anyone who understands the necessity of limitations on marriage are not to be tolerated. Hate speech against those who recognize those limitations is regarded as compassion. The situation is not to be acknowledged as an attempt to change marriage, only as a denial of rights. The tragic situation of dysfunctional personal relationships and broken families (which is evidence that dishonoring marriage actually does inflict harm on society) are perversely used as further justification of the gay agenda. Another irony is that gay activists are entitled to see the situation as they wish, but no one who may disagree in the slightest degree is entitled to an opinion the matter.

Another absurd suggestion from the above photo is that gay people are denied their very humanity, just as it was for a time denied that blacks were people at all. There is actually another group of people who currently are legally denied their very humanity. The law of the land denies this group are people at all, so that they have no rights. If any contemporary group can legitimately be compared to slavery or to the civil rights movement it is not gays, but a different group entirely.
If our society really valued justice and despised hate and discrimination it would be infinitely more indignant about the abuse of children in the womb. If discrimination really harms society (which in many cases it does) so too does abortion. If you agree, please feel free to share this photo.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Do we want to get rid of racism?

It is a most curious thing to see conservatism so often associated with bigotry, of various forms. I mean "associated" only rhetorically, as it is discussed in political and cultural circles. In my experience it is not conservatives who actually practice such bigotry, but they usually get the blame for it.

Given the history of the political left it is quite absurd to blame Republicans and conservatives for the racial sins of America's past. Let me bring a few facts to light:
  • who, by and large, supported and defended slavery while it was still legal in the U.S.?
  • who created the KKK?
  • who made, supported, and enforced Jim Crow laws?
In case you haven't guessed yet, and it seems many Americans would guess incorrectly, it was not Republicans who did these things - it was Democrats. This is why Martin Luther King and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both Repulbicans. And yet American culture seems to unquestioningly accept the idea that Republicans are responsible for these despicable episodes of America's past.

Ironically, for any on the political or social right to mention or do anything even closely related to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. they can be criticized for it. After all, it is not Republicans who have a reprehensible history with racial issues to make up for.

But there is a popular, though once again largely unchallenged, assertion that the Democrat party was controlled by "conservatives" back then, and today they are not. It is the Republican party who is dominated by conservatives today, so the racial sins of America should therefore belong not to Democrats, but to conservatives - who constitute the political right. Instead of blindly accepting this idea, as we are so encouraged, let us actually look at it.

The notion that "conservatives" wanted to keep slavery legal is a non-sequitur. That absurdity is what leftists tell themselves and the rest of society. But that is not what conservatism is about. At its core, conservatism holds that those with power over others aught to be reluctant to use it, because power corrupts and easily devolves into oppression. For this reason the political right prefers small government. It is also the reason the conservatives of the early Republican party opposed slavery, which showed their concerns to be valid. After all, if the government has the power to decide who is a person and who is not, shouldn't we expect there to be a people group who are denied their humanity (and by extension everything that goes with it)? It is also the reason conservatives are often reluctant to embrace change. Despite the fact that the political right was the main force for change when slavery was legal (they fought to change the law of the land so as to ban slavery) today the force for change by and large promotes more power concentrated into the hands of an ever increasing government. So while a people group are oppressed and legally robbed of their humanity (the American slaves were denied personhood itself) conservatives fight for change. But when the force for change seeks to increase government control over the people's daily decisions (such as forcing us to purchase a product or service) they oppose it. Conservatives seek to avoid oppression, not to preserve the status quo.

But acknowledging this fact casts suspicion back to Democrats. Was the Democrat party dominated by conservatives when slavery was legal in America? Does that mean there were conservatives on the right battling against slavery, and conservatives on the left fighting to defend it? Of course not. Because the Democrats on the left were fighting to maintain the status quo, in order to maintain power over others - the antithesis of what conservatives do. Conservatives resist power over others; they favor an individual's power over him/herself.

This is one reason conservatives oppose both abortion and attempts to redefine marriage. According to the primary tenet of conservatism, denying a group of people their very personhood so as to deprive them all rights (including the right to live) is oppression. Likewise, redefining marriage so as to force us all to accept an idea that alters one of the fundamentals of civilization has profound and unknown implications - change that may be good or bad. While there are many people who oppose changing the definition of marriage, I see no one supporting any law that would prevent a gay man from marrying a woman who would consent. Those on the political right who would support alternatives (such as the civil union concept) are given little recognition for it, if any. No one is preventing anyone from holding a ceremony or from associating with whom ever they wish. Yet, the dominant narrative on both of these issues is the Democrat narrative. Gays are denied the right to force the rest of us to believe something, but we are not to look at denying children in the womb all rights in the same terms. No, for abortion, we are only supposed to look this issue in terms of the rights of women. Once again, the basic human rights of one group (children in the womb) are denied in the name of the constitutional rights of another group (women). If the civil rights movement can legitimately be compared to one of these two contemporary groups, it is children in the womb - who are denied their very humanity, just as were the slaves. A woman should have control over her own body we are told, and we should pretend we know for a fact the child in her womb is not a person at all, therefore has no rights society is bound to respect.

Oppressors of all political stripes desire to maintain their power. This desire is "preservative" not "conservative". To conserve, by definition, is to minimize the use of something. In an environmental context conservationists are "conservative" are they not? They desire to conserve on energy and resources. Being "conservative" in a political context means to minimize the use of power over the people - to minimize the oppression of forcing people to do or believe something. But if we are to accept the idea that a desire to maintain power is conservative, then by this reasoning we are all conservatives. The Soviets certainly wished to maintain their power; shall we call them conservative? The Democrat Party wishes to maintain its influence in American politics; shall we call them conservative? Planned Parenthood wants to maintain its influence in American society; shall we call them conservative? What ever definition is used to label the pro-slavery Democrats of the past as conservative is so broad as to include everyone.

In the same light that the Republican party opposed slavery and opposed Jim Crow, it also opposes racial laws today. It is conservatives who seek a racially color blind society. It is conservatives who, just like the Rev. King, seek a world where the color of one's skin is entirely ignored, where race is treated as irrelevant.

It makes sense that Democrats so strongly support affirmative action: favorable special treatment for minorities, rather than the negative special treatment they would suffer by discrimination. And, as mentioned before, Democrats have much to make up for. But special treatment is not equal treatment. And affirmative action does not move us toward a racially color blind mentality. Neither does contemporary political discourse.

If one listens to the self-proclaimed defenders of civil rights today what do we see? We see incitement of racial animosity. We don't see the political left promoting an attitude of brotherhood among all races. We see them fomenting racial strife. After all, when one gets paid to find racism it becomes very easy to see it, even when it isn't there. The same can be said of other politicians, political pundits, commentators, activists, et al. Those insinuating the Republican Party is the party of racism are themselves not trying to eliminate racism. It is only conservatives who are trying to rid society of this evil; it is conservatives who promote the only method by which this endeavor can succeed - ignoring race, and treating individuals as individuals, not as members of a meaningless factional division. In an enlightened society skin color should have no meaning. It is not conservatives who treat skin color as though it matters, it is merely conservatives who get accused of such. So the question remains, do we really want to end racism? I can see that conservatives do. What about you?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is it a war on children?

Imagine, if you will, a war is going on. It's happening in some other country, so you don't have to see it for yourself. But you do hear news stories about it, describing the horrors of the fighting and the tragedies suffered by those involved. Now imagine there is a law in place requiring you to join the military, so you can be shipped off to that war and take your place in it.

What do you do? For those educated in public schools, let me tell you this is not a hypothetical scenario. A situation like this actually happened as recently as the 1960s. Let's take a look at it.

During the Vietnam war there were many who dodged the draft under the auspices of "conscientious objection". As the idea goes, some felt the war was unjust and therefore a violation of their conscience to be required to participate. Others thought it unjust to force a free people to engage in a government action, as the draft forced young men to join the military. Others simply didn't want to go to war regardless of other considerations, because killing violated their individual commitment to peace. Do you notice a pattern here?

Apparently the freedom of conscience was a big deal to many in the 60s and 70s. We even hear talk about this today, with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) calling for a new military draft and the controversy still generated by the idea.

What exactly is this freedom of conscience? To put it simply, it is the freedom to abstain from something (even something required by law) because participating or contributing to it would violate one's conscience. But there are evidently some limits on this freedom.

In contemporary political discourse there is another issue in which freedom of conscience plays a role. It plays the same role as it did with anti-war protesters of the past when the draft was still in place. But now the issue is of a more domestic nature.

In October of 2011 MSNBC's Martin Bashir displayed a perfect example of oppression and the violation of the freedom of conscience. NewsBuster's Matthew Balan covered the incident in his Oct. 13 articled titled MSNBC's Bashir: 'Misogynist' GOP Wants to 'Let Women Die'.

On the issue of what is ironically called "abortion rights" Bashir takes an openly partisan stance on what remains a very controversial cultural divide. With the quoted material he presents and the guest speaker invited to join the discussion there is no question remaining as to Bashir's position on the issue. Having an opinion is one thing, and promoting it is another.

Throughout the segment on the October 13 show Bashir and his guest promoted the idea that women's rights were placed in danger by the newly proposed Protect Life Act, legislation offered by congressional Republicans. Advocates of the bill are portrayed by Bashir and his comrades as being uncompassionate while the issue is portrayed has having only one legitimate viewpoint: the right of women to choose. One might notice the conspicuous absence of any meaning for the "right to choose" when this phrase is used. "The right to choose what?" one might ask.

But in this unabashedly biased display we do not see Bashir ignoring the freedom of conscience as he does the meaning of a right to choose. Quite the opposite, in fact. Bashir attacks the freedom of conscience directly:
The bill would go as far as to protect the right of a hospital to deny a woman a termination under any circumstances (sic), even in life-threatening situations. Hardly surprising, then, that the provision has earned the moniker the 'let women die act' from its opponents.
Imagine the freedom of conscience (the idea of individual freedom) being portrayed as anti-American during the Vietnam war. But here the very same freedom is portrayed as a great social evil, even an anti-American violation of women's constitutional rights (don't bother asking if men have reproductive rights). And Bashir demonstrates only one example that the freedom of conscience has only selective value to the political left, the supposed champions of individual liberty. Now the endeavor to protect the right to an opinion (in this case one differing from a progressive paradigm) is portrayed as a "war on women".

In regard to war, primarily U.S. involvement in war, conscientious objection is still touted as sacrosanct. If that is the cultural standard now in place in our society, so too should it be in the abortion controversy. What is anti-American here is the bullying of those who do not subscribe to a progressive point of view. This could easily be viewed as a war on children - as if Bashir were suggesting we ignore the constitution for some rights, and that the right to kill unborn children must be protected at all costs.

If you find Martin Bashir's treatment of this issue troublesome (or worse) I urge you to contribute to your local prolife/right to life organization. In my area, a group called Sav-A-Life is hosting its first annual banquet, on November 7 at 6:30pm. This will be held at Circlewood Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, AL. This event functions as a fund raiser and as an effort to spread the message that there are good alternatives to abortion. This first banquet will feature Kirk Walden, who often speaks to pregnancy care centers and helps them raise funds for their admirable and vital work. You can find out more about Sav-A-Life at their website.

The Right to Life deserves protection and support as much as any other right of human kind. For Americans, this right is even explicitly mentioned in our founding documents (unlike the right to kill babies). Local right to life groups need your support. You can volunteer your time, donate funds to their cause, or contribute other material aid to your local groups.

If you can attend sporting events or concerts you can also spare just a fraction of that time or cost in support of the right to live. Please donate today.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What happened to separation between church and state?

If the United States of America is supposed to be a secular democracy why do we keep promoting Jesus' command of helping the needy and giving to the poor to justify talk about raising taxes and redistributing wealth but ridicule religion and warn against theocracy when anyone recommends voting for someone who actually believes Jesus is the Son of God? Jesus did not say we should let the government take care of people so we don't have to do it ourselves. Why do we so often pontificate about compassion but work so hard to abdicate our own personal responsibility? Could it be because we don't like religion when we might have to change our own lives but we like it a lot when we can force someone to do what we think is best?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ace of Diamonds

George Washington
Farewell Address
September 19, 1796

George Washington (PatriƦ Pater), 1824 painting by Rembrandt Peale
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness – these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.

Find more in the new card game Quint: Early America Edition. Quint is a 5-suit deck of playing cards. The "Early America Edition" features numerous quotations, with original source references, from America's founders and more.

Reading American history is one thing. Being able to recall facts and events in the middle of a discussion is quite another. This "Early America Edition" Quint game is designed to strengthen memory while also proving a fun reminder of America's invaluable patriotic history. For others, it's an education.