Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Ron Paul will not get his party’s presidential nomination.  This much is now for certain.  The prize will go to that candidate—Massachusettsliberal Mitt Romney—for whom the GOP leadership and its surrogates in the so-called “conservative” media have been rooting the entire time.

Yet it is doubtful that it is primarily the presidency on which Congressman Paul has had his sights.  Unlike his rivals, from the outset Paul has been interested first and foremost in gaining an ever broader hearing for his ideas.  While his supporters are doubtless disappointed that their man will not be President, they would be well served to consider that from Paul’s campaign, liberty lovers have reaped—and continue to reap—much fruit.

There is no shortage of politicians who do not pay lip service to the United States Constitution.  In fact, there are very few Americans, whether politicians or otherwise, who do not allude to the Constitution when it serves their purposes to do so.  But it is not at all difficult to recognize this rhetorical grandstanding for what it is.

In the case of Ron Paul, things are otherwise.  He is a rare find among contemporary national figures in that, whether one agrees with his reading of the Constitution or not, it is obvious to all that Paul has actually read this hallowed document.  Moreover, it is just as obvious that he actually believes in it. 

And this is what makes all of the difference.

The Constitution, with its innumerable “checks and balances” was intended to safeguard our liberty.  The Constitution codifies into law the decentralization of power and authority to which Americans had grown accustomed before America achieved its independence.

Of all of the presidential contestants, no one was more eligible to remind the American voter that the key to the liberty that we enjoy is the Constitution.  And no one was better positioned to call to their attention the state of neglect to which this hallowed document has been relegated by both major political parties.

This is one enormous benefit that we have gained from Paul’s campaign. 

Yet there are others.

The Texas Congressman is the incarnation of the Republican Party plank of “limited government,” “individual liberty,” “fiscal restraint,” “national security,” and all of the rest of the GOP boilerplate.  There is no one among his colleagues in this race who comes remotely as close as Paul to embodying these ideas.  In glaring contrast to his fellow Republicans, Paul talks the talk and walks the walk, and he does so even when he is not running for an election

In short, Paul’s very presence effortlessly exposes the inconsistencies and outright hypocrisies of his own party.

It isn’t just his fellow politicians, though, upon whom he sheds light. 

Self-styled “conservatives” in the so-called “alternative media” have labored long and hard crafting a particular image of themselves.  Paul’s candidacy has revealed that image for the house of straw that it is.

In other words, given their unconscionable treatment of Paul, talk radio hosts and Fox News personalities who have depicted themselves as “independent minded ‘conservatives’” and the like have betrayed their role as Republican Party chatter boxes.  The “conservative values” that they routinely espouse are a smokescreen under the cover of which they advance the GOP in its struggle to either regain or preserve its power.

This is quite an achievement in its own right. 

Faux conservatives are perhaps as large, if not larger, a threat to American liberty as are their leftist counterparts.  The reason for this is simple: the leftist has put us on notice as to who he is and what he plans to do.  The faux conservative, on the other hand, is no friend to Constitutional liberty, but he would have us believe that he is. 

It isn’t necessarily that the faux conservative sets out to deceive the rest of us as to his true intentions; chances are better than not that if he deceives anyone, it is himself.  Yet his true intentions aside, the fact of the matter remains that in effect, the faux conservative imperils liberty to at least as great an extent as does the leftist.

Paul’s campaign has heightened awareness of the dubious character of “the conservative media.”   

There is a third benefit to Paul’s campaign.      

Paul has made it clear that “the conservative movement” or the Republican Party or whatever name we choose to give it is not nearly as monolithic as its most visible and vocal champions would have us think.  Furthermore, Paul exposes the fissures with which it is riddled, for he gives expression to a “libertarian” strain that it has not yet succeeded in extracting from itself.

Fourthly, Paul has done something that no Republican since Reagan, if then, has managed to do: he has not only reached large numbers of American youth; he has energized them.  Few people, including Paul supporters, have grasped the significance of this.

The proponents of Big Government have to do very little to appeal to people—especially when those people are young people.  After all, the bigger the government, the more power its custodians possess to distribute goodies.  People of all ages find the promise of something for nothing difficult to resist.  Yet when those people are barely beyond adolescence, it becomes virtually impossible not to embrace it.  The old truism, “Nothing is free,” is a truism because it is, well, true.  But this is readily ignored. It is ignored because while present goodies do indeed come at a cost, when that cost is the gradual loss of something as intangible as freedom, the desire for immediate gratification is likely to prevail.  And considering that the time horizons of the young are far narrower than those of any other age set, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the young will not only welcome Big Government; they will assume that any political-moral philosophy that denies Big Government is impoverished.

It is almost a foregone conclusion that the young will embrace Big Government. 

Ron Paul’s campaign has shown what can happen when someone who truly believes in and understands liberty takes the time to explain it to the young.  This is no mean feat.  Paul does not draw youthful voters to his campaign by promising to pay for their medical insurance or their college tuition.  He does not pledge to extend their unemployment benefits, and the assertions of his critics to the contrary notwithstanding, nor does he attract them by promising to legalize drugs. 

Through a style all his own, Paul wins over young adults by doing nothing more or less than treat them as adults. 

And this means simply and solely that he commits to allowing them to live as free men and women. 

The verdict is clear: Ron Paul has executed what may perhaps be among the most successful campaigns of all time.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American 

 

 

Barack Obama’s election to the presidency was supposed to usher in a “post-racial” era in American life.  This, at any rate, is what the former Senator and his supporters in the media tried to sell us. 

It was nothing short of a lie.

The President never had the slightest intention of using the visibility of his office to improve race relations between whites and blacks.  Moreover, if an improvement in race relations is what we were after, then there couldn’t have been a worse person for us to have elected than Obama.

The reason for this is simpler than one may think: Obama is a “Blackist,” an adherent of “Blackism.”

Blackism is a racial ideology.  In this respect, it is differs sharply from black culture. It also has little to do with mere skin color, biology, or genetics.

Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, a black right leaning commentator, once told Sean Hannity in no uncertain terms that there are absolutely no substantive differences whatsoever between Obama, on the one hand, and such notorious race baiters as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and Jeremiah Wright, on the other.  They are all of one mind when it comes to their view of “white America” and the place of blacks within it.  More specifically, they regard America as a bastion of “white racist oppression” and perpetual black suffering. Their commitment, first and foremost, is to extracting reparations of one form or another from whites to give to blacks.

Peterson was correct.  Obama’s ever growing list of alliances and appointees—from Wright, Farakhan, and Harvard professor Derrek Bell, to Van Jones and Attorney General Eric Holder—reads like a rogue’s gallery of white America’s enemies. 

And it is hostility toward whites that we should expect from any proponent of Blackism.

An ideology invariably consists in a small number of abstract concepts systematically linked. Through these few ideas, the ideologue filters every conceivable aspect of reality.  An ideology isn’t just a theory, mind you. Theories spring from consideration of this or that subject matter.  Ideologies, in contrast, are comprehensive.  The ideologue lives by his ideology alone.  There is nothing to which he will not bring it to bear.

Now, Blackism is an ideology.  The Blackist sees the entire world, from “the beginning,” so to speak, to the present, in terms of racial categories, yes, but, more importantly, from the perspective of black deprivation.  Race is the organizing principle of his schemata, but “Blackness” is the category to which he ascribes most significance; all others are subordinated to it.

Yet we would be gravely mistaken if we assumed that it is with mere color that the Blackist is preoccupied.  Not unlike any other concept, that of Blackness is not self-interpreting.  For the Blackist, membership in the Negroid race is a necessary condition of Blackness, though it is far from sufficient.  Blackness signifies commitment to the advancement—“by whichever means necessary,” as the Blackist par excellence, Malcolm X, famously stated it—of the ideology of Blackism. 

In his book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Obama references Malcolm X numerous times.  There is no person who appears to have more influenced his thinking. 

Again, the ideology of Blackism is not to be confused with black culture.  This, though, isn’t to suggest that there is no relationship between the two.  There is: the former is a caricature or abridgment of the latter.  That is, like any other ideology, the ideology of Blackism is an abstraction from a complex, concrete, historically-specific tradition.  In this case, the tradition in question is that of what we call black culture.

Blackism, like any other ideology, supplies for its adherents a method, a relatively few basic principles or rules to which any black person living in any place and at any time can subscribe.  To put it more clearly, unlike so-called black culture, Blackism doesn’t require immersion in a traditional form of life.  Fluency in a culture is like fluency in a language; it is a hard won achievement that can be had only after much practice and over an extended period of time.  Mastery of an ideology, in glaring contrast, is something that can be gotten within no time, for the rules or principles of an ideology are propositions that readily lend themselves to memory. 

The difference between learning a culture and learning the ideology that is abstracted from it is the difference between, say, devoting time to the study of a literary classic, on the one hand, and, on the other, reading the cliff notes on it.  The difference between culture and ideology is the difference between a living faith and a static creed. 

Those who have mastered a tradition engage in it effortlessly.  Whether it is dancing, a martial art, or cooking, the professional dancer, the martial artist, and the chef seem to ply their respective crafts with all of the unselfconsciousness of a bird in flight.

Things are otherwise, however, with those who aspire toward a connoisseurship in these areas (or any areas).  The aspiring chef relies upon a cookbook (his “ideology”) and the aspiring martial artist and dancer too may very well consult books delineating “step-by-step” lessons accompanied by photos and illustrations. 

The cooking student is to the chef what the Blackist is to the black person who was reared in black culture. The cookbook was written for the amateur cook; the chef has no need of it.  Similarly, the ideology of Blackism was written for those blacks, and only those blacks, for whom black culture is an alien entity. 

Blacks like Barack Obama are most in need of Blackism.  Obama was raised by whites a world away from America’s ghettos.  Most of his friends growing up were his white classmates from the prestigious, private institutions that he attended.

The ideology of Blackism was made for people like the President. And he has unapologetically embraced it.

Obama may be only half-black.  But he is 100% Blackist.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Derbyshire has spent many years writing for National Review.  Within the last few days, his tenure for the “conservative” magazine came to an abrupt halt.

Derbyshire, you see, was fired for having published (at another publication) an article—“The Talk: Nonblack Version”—that his editor, Rich Lowry, found both “nasty and indefensible.” 

Derbyshire’s essay is a distillation of the cautionary notes regarding groups of young black males that he has conveyed to his teenage children over the span of their young lives.  

Many commentators and readers have jumped to Derbyshire’s defense.  For the time being, though, rather than argue for or against the truth of the remarks of either the offending author or Lowry, we should instead ask: if Derbyshire’s comments are “nasty and indefensible,” then what makes them so?  Since Lowry never offers an explanation for his verdict, we are left to fall back upon our own resources to find the answer to this question. 

It is possible that Lowry thinks his judgment is self-justifying in the way that the statement, “All bodies are extended beings,” is self-justifying.  Yet when we give this just a moment’s consideration, we are forced to rule this out.  The latter statement, you see, is what is called an analytic proposition.  Analytic propositions are true by definition.  In an analytic statement, the meanings of the subject and predicate terms are identical.  An analytic statement can be denied only upon pain of contradiction.

Clearly, “Parental warnings to avoid large groups of young black males are ‘nasty and indefensible’ things” is a fundamentally different type of statement than “All bodies are extended beings,” “Green unicorns are colored entities,” and so forth.

Lowry’s judgment is emphatically not analytic.   

However, some statements may be “self-evident,” even though they aren’t true by definition.  “Every effect has a cause,” “I am really typing out this analysis of Rich Lowry’s judgment of John Derbyshire and not just dreaming that I am typing it out,” would be propositions of this latter sort.  Perhaps Lowry thinks that the nastiness and indefensibility of Derbyshire’s advice to his children is self-evident in this way. Perhaps he thinks that it is self-evident in the way in which the wrongness of torturing little children for the fun of it is self-evident.

Neither does this account do, for we treat these phenomena as self-evident because no one thinks to seriously question them.  In stark contrast, a good number of people take issue with Lowry’s characterization of Derbyshire’s remarks as “nasty and indefensible.”

To act “nasty” is to act in an uncivil, and possibly even cruel, way.  The person who acts nasty seeks to hurt people with his words, and maybe his actions.  Thus, though a person’s words, because they are judged inaccurate or unpleasant or whatever, may be hard to hear, whether they are “nasty’ or not depends solely upon the intentions or motives of the person who utters them.  Does Lowry think that Derbyshire sought to injure others with his words?  If so, for whom was he gunning? 

Considering that, originally, it was to and for his children that Derbyshire imparted his now notorious advice, he certainly couldn’t have intended to harm them. And how, we are left wondering, could words—wrong though they may be—that spring from the lips of a loving and concerned parent and are relayed by that same parent to others be intended to injure anyone?   

Does Lowry mean to suggest that Derbyshire doesn’t really believe in what he told his own children?  Does he think that Derbyshire didn’t really tell his children this stuff at all, that he was just making this up in order to offend and hurt his own readers?  Neither option sounds very believable.  At any rate, to ascribe to Derbyshire’s words a “nasty” character means that it is incumbent upon Lowry to answer these questions.

Next, we may ask of Lowry in which respect(s) Derbyshire’s remarks are “indefensible.”

Lowry condemns Derbyshire’s remarks.  But Derbyshire doesn’t just make assertions, it is crucial to bear in mind.  What assertions he makes Derbyshire then proceeds to substantiate with evidence.  Again, whether he succeeds in so doing is neither here nor there; the fact remains that he does indeed argue for his claims. 

Evidently, Lowry thinks that such arguments are so worthless as to be beyond mentioning. Yet, ordinarily, when a disagreement arises between two interlocutors—especially when they are colleagues, like Lowry and Derbyshire, who have worked alongside one another for years—each seeks to identify the deficiencies of the other’s position.  In this case, though, Lowry didn’t so much as attempt to expose the illegitimacy in Derbyshire’s reasoning.

So, we are left wondering: why does Lowry insist on condemning Derbyshire’s advice to the latter’s children as “nasty and indefensible?” 

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. 

 

 

 

On Wednesday April 4, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell remarked that while Judaism and Christianity are thousands of years in the making, Mormonism, in stark contrast, is a mere 182 years old.  Mormonism was “created” in 1830 “by a guy in upstate New York” who got “caught having sex” with his “maid” and then “explained to his wife that God told him do it.”  Alluding to Mormonism’s historically polygamous character, O’Donnell made sure to mention that Joseph Smith—the man who “invented” Mormonism—eventually went on to accumulate 48 wives.  

This isn’t the first time that O’Donnell has sought to discredit Mitt Romney by assailing the former Massachusetts Governor’s faith.  In 2007, he charged Mormonism with being a “racist faith.”  O’Donnell states: “As of 1978 it was an officially racist faith, and for political convenience in 1978, it switched.” 

Those Republicans who suspect that President Obama and his legions of supporters in the media are going to attack Romney by attacking his faith are correct.  Yet it is crucial that they know exactly why this will be their strategy of choice. 

For whatever reasons (we needn’t get into them here), Republicans and establishment “conservatives” refuse—adamantly, steadfastly, refuse—to acknowledge two facts about their rivals.  First, they refuse to concede how Democratic leftists think. Second, they refuse to recognize that unless they make this first concession, they will lose.

If Romney, the GOP nominee, wasn’t a Mormon, Democrats wouldn’t dream of making this campaign about religion.  Republicans must grasp this. They must reckon with the truth that Mormonism, from the leftist’s perspective, is more vulnerable a target than any and every other belief system save for, say, Neo-Nazism.  

O’Donnell forecasts the lines along which the left is going to come after Romney.

That Joseph Smith was a polygamist, and that the logic of Mormon theology implies the need for polygamy, permit leftists to depict Mormonism as an incorrigibly “sexist faith.  And that blacks had long been denied, not membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but access to its priesthood, exposes it to the left’s charge of “racism.”

Shortly after the presidential election, Californians successfully voted against the legalization of so-called “gay marriage.”  In response, leftists launched a full frontal assault against (white) Mormons—though, unsurprisingly, not against the blacks and Hispanics without whom the referendum would have crashed in defeat.

Rest assured, this incident will be among those upon which Romney’s critics will seize in depicting his faith as “homophobic.”

So Romney will effortlessly be portrayed by Obama and company as a “racist, sexist, homophobe.”  But this is not all. 

For all of the leftist’s railing against “stereotypes,” there is no one who trades in stereotypes more so than he.  To the last detail, Romney fits, or can be made to fit, the worst of the leftist’s stereotypes: Romney’s fabulous wealth and wholesome looking family renders him the poster boy for the pre-1960’s bourgeoisie, a ruling class ridden with hypocrisy, self-centeredness, and a cruel indifference to the suffering of blacks, women, and other minorities. 

In the leftist’s imagination, Americawas a cauldron of racial and gender oppression up until the Enlightenment of the 1960’s.  This explains why he despises “1950’s America,” the United Statesas it is portrayed in such television classics as Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and Leave it to Beaver.  Such shows offer an idealized presentation of the all-American family.  Yet given that this ideal co-existed with and, from the leftist’s point of view, actually facilitated “McCarthyism” and other forms of oppression, the ideal deconstructs under its own weight.  And in so doing, the white, heterosexual, bourgeoisie 1950’s family is revealed to be the Enemy of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful—i.e. the Politically Correct. 

Romney’s is the face of the Enemy.  Because of his membership in a little understood and unpopular church, there is no Republican candidate who is more legible for this distinction.  Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are Roman Catholics, and if ever there was a faith that lends itself to being interpreted by the left as “sexist” and “homophobic,” it is Catholicism; but too many American voters are Roman Catholic.  Similarly, Ron Paul is a Protestant, but the denomination to which he belongs, though posing a similar threat to the leftist’s sacred cows, is nevertheless a mainline Christian faith.        

Republicans had better prepare for this line of attack, for it is already under way.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

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