At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Ferguson and Racial Irrationality on the Right

posted by Jack Kerwick

Thomas Sowell once noted that few topics so tap the irrational excesses of a person’s intellect as that of race.  At the very least, contemporary race-related discussions are almost invariably ridden with irrationality.

The issue of Ferguson, Missouri is but the latest exhibition of this all too pervasive phenomenon.

Yet, to be sure, it isn’t just the usual suspects on the recognizable left—the obvious racialist and socialist ideologues—that have revealed just how dangerously shallow, both intellectually and morally, they can be on this racially-charged front.  Some neoconservative and libertarian commentators are also guilty on this score.

First, in order to sound “objective”—and, truth be told, not all that politically incorrect—neoconservative commentators continually caution against judging hastily: Since we weren’t there, they say, we should remain agnostic on the question regarding the guilt or innocence of Officer Darren Wilson (the officer who the black rioters in Ferguson and their apologists in the media say murdered Michael Brown).

In taking this line, however, these same commentators actually legitimize the notion that, in 2014, there are white police officers who routinely patrol the streets in search of young black teenagers to gun down in cold blood.

Give me a break.

We know enough now—if we didn’t know enough when word of this story first broke—that, at a minimum, there was no murder that took place here.

Second, we’re hearing quite a bit about “the militarization” of the police in Ferguson, and how it is this, and not the riotous conduct of the black citizens of that city and the incendiary rhetoric of their self-avowed “leaders, that is responsible, or largely responsible, for the undermining of civilization that is transpiring there.

National Review writer Kevin Williamson is one person busily advancing this line.  Some libertarian writers at Lewrockwell.com are (predictably) doing so as well.

It’s rubbish, but another transparent, and transparently pathetic, attempt to excavate some “root cause” to account for black dysfunction. The idea that the presence of “militarized” police is somehow responsible for the exhibitions of barbarism that have unfolded in Ferguson is of a logical piece with the old, tired mantra that poverty causes crime.  But as Walter E. Williams once remarked, while there certainly is a causal relation between poverty and crime, it runs in exactly the opposite direction of that imagined by the conventional wisdom: crime causes poverty.

Similarly, the police in Ferguson are “militarized” precisely because of the legions of merciless black rioters with whom they have to contend.

Yet there’s another consideration that gives up the lie that the police in Ferguson have provoked the black violence there: Sixty-seven percent black Ferguson, like heavily populated black areas throughout the country, was ridden with crime and violence long before anyone ever heard of Michael Brown.  Most of this criminality, though, consists of black-on-black attacks.

Is the militarization of the Ferguson police responsible for the obscene rates and grisly nature of the crime that has been everyday life in Ferguson for years?  Is it this that explains why blacks are murdering, raping, beating, and pillaging other blacks?

Is the “militarization” of police in Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Camden, Newark, the Bronx, Los Angeles and black cities throughout the nation the cause of the truly scandalous degree of violence and vice that’s become a permanent fixture of daily existence for the residents of these areas?

At long last, let’s be truthful: Police officers in high crime areas—which, today, is virtually synonymous with high black areas—must be armed to the teeth to protect themselves as well as the law-abiding citizens of these areas who are routinely victimized by the predators in their midst.

Rand Paul—who, at one time, I was strongly disposed to support—has recently made shameful comments concerning the shameful goings-on in Ferguson. “Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system,” Paul said, “it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.”

To judge from this sentence, one could be forgiven for thinking that “the government” arbitrarily arrests, tries, convicts, and sentences (or executes) a wildly disproportionate number of blacks over whites (and Hispanics, and Indians, and Asians, etc.).  Again, what we witness in this piece of unreason is causal confusion run amok: There is a stronger “government” (police) presence in black communities because blacks are wildly overrepresented among criminals.

Or, if you will, “the government”—the police—is doing exactly what it should be doing in “targeting,” not “African-Americans,” but criminals—many, all too many, of whom are black.

Let’s see: For six years, we’ve had a black president, a person, remember, who blacks and whites, Democrats and some Republicans, assured us was going to usher in a post-racial era.  We also have a black Attorney General.  The government at the most powerful levels, in other words, is run by black men.

And yet, according to Rand Paul, it is reasonable for blacks to suspect that their government is targeting them?

Sowell has never been more right: nothing screams “irrational” like contemporary talk over race relations.

A Critical Review of D’ Souza’s “America: Imagine a World Without Her”

posted by Jack Kerwick

Its friends in the media would have us think that Dinesh D’ Souza’s latest cinematic work, America: Imagine a World Without Her, is worth seeing because of the effectiveness with which D’ Souza demolishes the standard leftist charges leveled against the United States.  I come away from this film with a dramatically different response.

While D’ Souza is to be commended for establishing, by way of quite a few tidbits that promise to be news to most viewers, America hardly has a monopoly on “oppression,” what he gives with one hand D’ Souza takes with the other: D’ Souza not only endorses his leftist targets’ position that America has mistreated its racial minorities, particularly those of African descent; he actually—but, doubtless, inadvertently—underscores this interpretation.

D’ Souza stresses that America is not unlike any other country or society that’s ever existed inasmuch as it is spawned from the same set of circumstances—slavery, war, conquest—comprehensively, oppression—from which all other historical societies spring.  In one and the same breath, though, he insists that America is an idea.

But if America is an idea—a proposition, a principle, an ideal—then it is most emphatically not a historical society.  Ideas are abstract and impersonal; the stuff of history consists of concrete actors, individual persons and the communities that they compose.  And since America is allegedly not just an idea, but the idea of human equality—equality of rights, or something to this effect—then America is exponentially more guilty of the crimes with which D’ Souza’s left-wing targets charge it.

Consider: If America is alone among the nations of the world in purporting to be the idea (ideal) of (say) “unalienable rights” incarnate, as D’ Souza maintains, then, at the very least, it alone among the nations of the world has the least excuse—no excuse—for resembling the nations of the world in engaging in oppression.

So, to the list of grievances filed by his leftist foes against America we can now, courtesy of D’ Souza, add those of rank hypocrisy and invincible hubris: hypocrisy for claiming to be the world’s messiah while falling miserably short of the ideal that it claims to embody, and hubris for, well, purporting to be the world’s messiah.

Of course, D’ Souza contends that while America is not unique in practicing the most egregious form of oppression—slavery—it is unique in that it waged a “civil war.”

Not being a historian, I will put to one side the inconvenient fact that there is no small number of remarkably accomplished historians that reject this grossly oversimplified account of the War Between the States. Familiar as I am with some rudimentary logic, however, I will simply make the following observation.

If D’ Souza’s narrative is correct and Americans, or the bearers of “the idea” that is America, had to slaughter one another in numbers eclipsing those produced in any of our wars with foreigners in order to abolish slavery, then this reveals that Americans are “exceptional,” yes, but exceptionally corrupt! As the black libertarian Walter Williams, among many others, has amply shown time and time again, many societies have ended slavery, but all—with the sole exception of the United States—have done so peacefully. 

D’ Souza’s narrative actually paints a most unflattering picture of America, for it distinguishes Americans as the only people ever that, in spite of having dedicated their collective being to an abstraction, nevertheless had to savage each other to stop themselves from savaging Africans and others.

D’ Souza’s position that America is an “idea”—to an even greater extent than most ideological fictions—is a recipe for all manner of disaster.  Those protesting against the unmitigated mess that is our southern border have made signs that read: “Honk if you think the U.S. should have borders.”  If these protestors are remotely as interested in preserving the canons of logical consistency as they are interested in preserving the territorial integrity of America, then they must reject the D’ Souza doctrine.  The reason is basic enough:

Ideas do not have borders.

Once love of country—patriotism—is defined to mean devotion to an abstract, inherently universal idea or principle, then geography is rendered morally irrelevant, and maybe even obscene: since anyone and everyone, regardless of where or when they live, can affirm the idea, all who do so are Americans.

There can be no moral justification for denying American citizenship to anyone willing to affirm the idea that is America.

D’ Souza and his supporters may have given the left the biggest present of all with America: Imagine a World Without Her.

 

 

 

 

 

The Neoconservative Ideology and the Mess in Iraq

posted by Jack Kerwick

That the vast majority of Republicans remain as committed as ever to a strong American military presence in Iraq has everything to do with the neoconservative ideology that dominates their party.

Unlike traditional conservatives, neoconservatives subordinate the contingencies of history and culture to such abstract universal “principles” as “human rights” and/or “Liberty”—principles in which they locate America’s unique, supra-historical origins.  The latter, in turn, endows America with it special, indeed, messianic, mission to protect “Liberty”—to promote what neoconservatives call, “liberal democracy”—for peoples everywhere.

It is this ideological creed of theirs that accounts for why neoconservatives have always favored an American presence in Iraq.

And it is this creed that explains why neoconservatives favor the presence of the American military, not just in those places where “liberal democracy” is absent; but even in those places—like Japan, Germany, and South Korea—where it has been present for decades but is, presumably, insufficiently stable and in dire need of American soldiers to prop it up.

Let’s see how this ideology plays out in the current discussion over the disaster that is Iraq.

When President Obama declared that the war in Iraq was “over” in 2011, his neoconservative critics blasted him.  Obama, being as much of an ideologue as anyone, had his own reasons for making this declaration: it was a pretext that gave him cover for making the politically advantageous decision to begin withdrawing American soldiers.  Neoconservatives opposed Obama’s call, contending that there wasn’t any basis for his claim.

But now, it is they who insist that the war really was over, even if neoconservatives instead choose to speak of the war as having been “won” prior to the troop withdrawal.  This semantics trickery, though, is unconvincing, for if victory had been achieved in Iraq, as we are now being told, then Obama was correct and the war was over.

However, if the war in Iraq had been won, then what would be the point in continuing to deploy more American lives and treasure to that region?  To this, the neoconservative can respond easily enough: We remain in Iraq for the same reason that we’ve remained in Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc.:  To insure that our victory is not lost.

Let’s us now spell out the implications of the neoconservative ideology.

First, the neoconservative is theoretically committed to expending American resources in blood, time, and treasure all around the globe and until the end of time.  The belief that America exists for the sake of promoting and defending, not the liberties of Americans, but the abstraction of “Liberty,” the “Liberty” of Earthlings, necessarily leads to this conclusion.

Secondly, though he routinely rails against “Big Government,” the neoconservative is just as much a friend to it as are his enemies to his left.  In fact, it is arguable that neoconservatives are actually more wedded to Big Government. The neoconservative vision, after all, requires an American military possessed of potentially limitless power.  The military is government, and big military is Big Government.

Indeed, without the military, the (national) government would be but the proverbial paper tiger.

Thirdly, insofar as neoconservatives believe that “America” ought to fight for “Liberty” wherever around the globe it happens to be threatened, they believe that the American taxpayer—you and I—have a duty to work extra hours, to part with our hard earned dollars, to say nothing of parting with the lives of our sons and daughters, to defend the “Liberty” of non-Americans throughout the Earth.

The American citizen, the neoconservative would have us think, exists to sacrifice life, limb, and treasure for the citizens of the world.

But it’s critical to grasp that neoconservatives aren’t just telling Americans that this is what they ought to do.

Since the mission to fight for “Liberty” is a government enterprise that, like all other government exploits, is subsidized by citizens, neoconservatives are saying that this is what Americans must be compelled to do.

Finally, as long as “victory” requires a perpetual American military presence in the lands of those who the United States “defeated,” then there is no victory.  Think about it: Suppose someone razes your old house and builds you a new one in its stead.  Would you consider the job completed, a success, if the only way to keep your new house from collapsing is for the builder or his team of construction workers to move in with you and indefinitely prop it up?  And wouldn’t it be that much more horrible of a deal if you knew that you would have to continue to pay them to live in and sustain your home?

This is the neoconservative ideology that underwrote the war in Iraq.

 

 

 

 

Neocons, “Isolationism,” and Martin Luther King, Jr.

posted by Jack Kerwick

As the mess in Iraq—a mess predicted by the likes of such “isolationists” as Patrick J. Buchanan and Ilana Mercer a dozen years ago—deepens, it is with renewed gusto that the Iraq War’s most impassioned neoconservative supporters argue for a robust “interventionist” American foreign policy.

At the same time, they never waver in heaping praise upon praise upon Martin Luther King, Jr.

But when rhetorical exhibitionism collides with ideological fervor, the inconsistency promises to be explosive.

King, you see, is every bit as much of an “isolationist” as are any of the so-called “isolationists” who neoconservatives have lambasted.

On April 30, 1967 King gave a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church titled, “It’s A Dark Day in Our Nation.”  He cautioned his audience against being deceived into thinking that “God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world.”  Just the opposite, in fact, is the case.  King said that he “can hear God saying to America, ‘You’re too arrogant!  And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name.”

King, obviously, was no fan of “American Exceptionalism.”

He continued, referring to the war in Vietnam not just as “unjust,” but as “futile” and “evil.

Had King been alive to make these remarks today about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it goes without saying that their neoconservative supporters in the GOP, talk radio, and Fox News would have eviscerated him for both his lack of “moral clarity” as well as his disregard—and perhaps even disdain—for “the troops” and their families.

In the first place, King would be convicted of either characteristic left-wing moral idiocy or characteristic libertarian “amorality” for charging, not the “Islamists” (or communist North Vietnamese) with evil doing, but America, the only superpower ever willing to fight the globe over for “liberty.”

And for his description of the war as “evil,” King would render himself vulnerable to the allegation that he is contemptuous of “the troops,” for there would be no evil war if not for the evil-doing soldiers waging it.

Yet King would also be accused of being disrespectful of “the troops” and their families for claiming that the war(s) were “futile.”  How dare he suggest that American soldiers sacrificed life and limb “in vain?”

Of course, if the neoconservative opponents of “isolationism” were consistent, then they should be saying these things of King now for his comments then.  After all, the Red Menace of North Vietnam was much more formidable a force for evil than anything with which we’ve had to reckon in Iraq or Afghanistan, and exponentially more Americans lost their lives fighting in Vietnam than have lost their lives fighting in the Middle East.

There is the additional consideration that, to the present day, neoconservatives continue to blame “the left” for having lost Vietnam, being particularly relentless in their criticism of that emblem of left-wing “anti-Americanism,” Jane Fonda.

Yet MLK was every bit as outspoken a critic of the war in Vietnam as was Fonda.

For all of the resources invested in it, King characterized the Vietnam War as a “demonic, destructive suction tube” (emphasis mine).  The war entailed “cruel manipulation of the poor” and made America into “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” a country mired in its own “deadly arrogance,” hubris “that has poisoned the international situation for all of these years.”  America, King declared, tried “to sabotage the Geneva Accord.”

But it gets even worse, as King starts to sound like John Kerry sounded when he testified in 1971 to the evils allegedly perpetrated by American soldiers in Vietnam.  Not only are Americans guilty of placing Vietnamese in “concentration camps;” not only do Americans “poison their water” and “kill a million acres of their crops.”  The Vietnamese see their children “degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.” America, King insists, “destroyed” the “two most cherished institutions” of the Vietnamese: “the family and the village.”

The Vietnam War embodies “the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation [.]”

Whether King was correct in his analysis is neither here nor there.  The point is that if, as neoconservatives insist, “isolationism” is an intellectually and morally impoverished position, then King deserves not the reverence that they show him, but unqualified condemnation, for King was an “isolationist.” Worse, King—a Nobel Peace Prize winner and world figure—did far more, by neoconservatives’ reasoning, to undermine America’s cause during war than anything of which a Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan could be said to be guilty.  In fact, given his stature, King was even more harmful than “Hanoi Jane.”

Conclusion: Disdain for “isolationism” is radically incompatible with praise for Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Previous Posts

Ferguson and Racial Irrationality on the Right
Thomas Sowell once noted that few topics so tap the irrational excesses of a person’s intellect as that of race.  At the very least, contemporary race-related discussions are almost invariably ridden with irrationality. The issue of Ferguson, Missouri is but the latest exhibition of this all t

posted 1:57:11pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

A Critical Review of D' Souza's "America: Imagine a World Without Her"
Its friends in the media would have us think that Dinesh D’ Souza’s latest cinematic work, America: Imagine a World Without Her, is worth seeing because of the effectiveness with which D’ Souza demolishes the standard leftist charges leveled against the United States.  I come away from this f

posted 1:44:50pm Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

The Neoconservative Ideology and the Mess in Iraq
That the vast majority of Republicans remain as committed as ever to a strong American military presence in Iraq has everything to do with the neoconservative ideology that dominates their party. Unlike traditional conservatives, neoconservatives subordinate the contingencies of history and cultu

posted 6:45:39pm Jun. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Neocons, "Isolationism," and Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the mess in Iraq—a mess predicted by the likes of such “isolationists” as Patrick J. Buchanan and Ilana Mercer a dozen years ago—deepens, it is with renewed gusto that the Iraq War’s most impassioned neoconservative supporters argue for a robust “interventionist” American foreign po

posted 8:14:38pm Jun. 22, 2014 | read full post »

The Neocon Left: The "Deputized" Right
What is commonly referred to as “the right” by the so-called “mainstream media” is actually what I prefer to call “the Deputized Right”—a faux right-wing that takes its marching orders from the left. More specifically, the Deputized Right is actually nothing other than the neoconser

posted 9:58:27pm Jun. 13, 2014 | read full post »


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