At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Walter Jones vs. the Neocons: Is the Tide of GOP Politics Shifting?

posted by Jack Kerwick

On Tuesday, the overwhelmingly outspent ten-term North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones defeated his neoconservative, establishment-backed opponent and former Bush II official, Taylor Griffin.

Griffin was endorsed by Sarah Palin and heavily subsidized by Sheldon Adelson—but to no avail.

This is huge news, for it signals a potential change of the tides in both the GOP and the “conservative” movement.

Jones, you see, is very much a man of the old right, a conservative, not a neoconservative. 

Though a one-time supporter of the Iraq War, he has since become not only one of its staunchest critics; Jones has become an impassioned opponent of the entire missionary foreign policy vision that informed the decision to invade Iraq and for which the GOP became known—notorious—during George W. Bush’s tenure in office.

On Jones’ website, there appears a rapidly changing ticker calculating the costs of America’s wars since 2001.  Visitors are informed that to subsidize the 1.5 trillion dollars that have been spent on our foreign adventurism over the course of the last 13 years, American taxpayers pay on an hourly basis well over 10 million dollars!

Jones makes his position on this issue clear:

“Our Constitution, a document I have sworn to protect and defend, explicitly states that our nation does not go to war without Congressional approval.  I believe in our Constitution, and I will continue the fight to prevent the president from waging war unilaterally.”

Jones has taken President Obama to court for violating “the Constitution and the War Powers Clause” in launching “war against the Libyan regime without authorization from the U.S. Congress.”  He has also proposed legislation “expressing the sense of Congress that it is an impeachable offense for any president to wage offensive war without prior Congressional approval” (italics original).

In addition to the exorbitant costs of sophistically redefining the “national interest” to justify military activism anywhere on the globe, the newly re-elected incumbent identifies another fatal objection to this utopian enterprise: it is inimical to liberty.  Jones declares his intentions to “continue the fight to reign in the executive branch and restore power [liberty] to the citizens of our nation” (emphasis added).

Jones maintains that since our policy objectives in Afghanistan—the killing of Osama bin Laden and the dismantling of Al Qaeda—have long since been accomplished, it is a fool’s errand to keep American troops there.  He also vehemently opposed intervening in Syria, calling such action “unconstitutional.”

More recently, Jones has refused to endorse any foreign aid to the Ukraine, a position in keeping with his refusal to endorse any and all foreign aid that’s been proposed over the last 16 years.  “It makes no sense,” Jones states, “to borrow money from countries like China only to then transfer that money to other foreign countries and the United Nations (UN).”

It is doubtless his stance against all foreign aid—which, obviously, includes foreign aid to Israel—that invited the slur from his opponents that Jones is “anti-Israel.” Thankfully, however, the leftist smear tactics to which establishment Republican types routinely resort when going up against those to their right failed in this case.

Of 435 members of Congress, the pro-immigration enforcement organization, NumbersUSA, locates Jones among an elite group of ten—ten!—that can be trusted to combat illegal immigration.   Jones has co-sponsored legislation designed to eliminate birthright citizenship, “chain migration,” and promote English as America’s official language.

Yet Jones isn’t just an opponent of Unlimited Government now that his party is in the minority.  He as well voted against President Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, which Jones (rightly) refers to as a “federal takeover of our education system.”  Moreover, Jones would not support Bush’s “massive expansion of the entitlement system through the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill,” his “pork-filled Highway Bill that included the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’” and the former President’s “Wall Street bank bailout also known as ‘TARP.’”

Jones is also the sole member of the House of Representatives “to have voted against every single increase in the federal debt limit over the past nine years.”

Does Walter Jones’ victory portend a reversal of fortunes for the neoconservatives that have dominated the GOP for decades?  It’s anyone’s guess at this moment.  Yet that his establishment opponent lost despite having far bigger names (like Palin) and far bigger bucks (like those of Adelson) behind him, suggests that, at the very least, the neocon halcyon days of Bush II are far behind us.

Jones’ victory also might serve as a wake-up call to the Republican Party that it is at its own peril that it refuses to recognize that a not insignificant segment of its base will no longer tolerate being ignored or mocked.

Condi, Rutgers, and Academia

posted by Jack Kerwick

Condi Rice will not be this year’s commencement speaker at Rutgers University after all.

Due to the controversy generated by some students and faculty over Rutgers’ decision to invite the former Secretary of State, Rice decided to back out, explaining that she didn’t want to be “a distraction” at a college graduation.

This whole ugly affair is revealing, not just of the atmosphere of this one institution of higher learning, but of the atmosphere of the contemporary academic world.

It’s true that President Robert Barchi did not succumb to the students’ and faculty’s demands that the school disinvite Rice due to her involvement in the Iraq War. But neither did he utter a syllable’s worth of condemnation of their tactics, proving that, as always, the lion’s share of grease always goes to the leftist squeaky wheel in the world of higher education.

Beyond this, Barchi passed the buck, and actually encouraged the notion that the anti-Rice forces were in the right.  Barchi insisted that he hadn’t “the power” to rescind the invitation to Rice—implying, of course, that had he the power, he would’ve done so. Only the Board of Governors, Barchi continued, has that power.  “If you want to discuss ways of how we can (choose a commencement speaker) going forward, where we can guarantee that the Board has more input when they arrive at the discussion,” he told protestors, then “I think we can do that.”

Translation: We won’t make the mistake of inviting a Republican ever again.

The notion that, as Barchi suggests, the controversy over Rice reveals that the Rutgers community welcomes a marketplace of ideas, a vigorous exchange over contentious issues, is more than a fiction; it is a lie. 

And that is the real scandal that the Rice affair unveils, the dirty secret that academia, the one place in American life where it should be possible to discuss, genuinely discuss, all manner of disputable topics, is nothing of the kind.

The faculty and students of Rutgers didn’t disagree with their school’s decision to invite Rice.  They refused it.  Between the one and the other lies the difference between civilization and barbarism.

There was no spirited discussion over the administration’s selection of Rice for commencement speaker. Rather, the invitee’s enemies employed the kinds of strong-arm tactics for which leftist student and faculty activists have become known.  To see that this is so, we need only consult those of Rutgers’ students who wanted for Rice to speak at Rutgers.

The Rutgers College Republicans, the Eagleton Undergraduate Associates, and Greek Life at Rutgers University were among those student groups that petitioned Barchi to denounce the anti-Rice forces for having engendered a “hostile campus environment” on campus.  Speaking on their behalf, Donald Coughlan, chairman of the New Jersey College Republicans, wrote that all it took was a “small minority of the student body and intolerant faculty members” to frustrate the desires of an “overwhelming” majority of students that had looked forward to hearing Rice speak.

Not only had Rice’s detractors “protested loudly” from the time that it was announced that she would be the commencement speaker.  Not only did dozens of them hold a “sit in” at Barchi’s office.  Disgruntled faculty fired off an email to all students urging them to participate in a “teach-in” to rally against Rice.

Coughlan notes that “most students…who do not share the opinions of” these professors and who know them well were “intimidated” by the emails.

A college education is, or is supposed to be, an education into the best of what students’ civilization has to offer, an inheritance, comprised as it is of millennia worth of achievements both intellectual and moral, at once encourages and requires for its appreciation the cultivation of the virtues of head and heart, mind and character.

As the situation at Rutgers clarifies for all with eyes to see, this civilizing mission has been radically turned on its head.  Coercion and intimidation, after all, are the tried and true methods of choice of the savage, the barbarian.  Infinitely worse, though, is that it is faculty—those entrusted with taming the beast that is the next generation—that have instructed their students in the art of wielding these weapons as they crusade for one cause after the other.

And university administrators cower.

This is the academic world today.

 

Why Should Anyone Vote Republican?

posted by Jack Kerwick

That self-avowed “conservative” Republicans pounced upon Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling no less tenaciously than did those on the left got me to wondering: Why should anyone, of any race, religion, or political orientation, vote for them?

Lest my intentions be misunderstood, it should be noted that not only am I a conservative, a Christian, and a traditional Republican voter.  I am all this and a philosophy professor to boot.  My point is that years spent in the belly of the leftist dominated beast of academia has not weakened—and has only strengthened—my conviction in the rational and moral superiority of conservatism over its competitors (my doctoral dissertation, defended at a militantly leftist institution, was a defense of the classical conservative tradition).

Still, readers of this column must see this that there is nothing particularly conservative about much of today’s conservative movement.  There’s even less conservatism to be found within the Republican Party.

If ever we needed proof of this, the hysteria with which “conservatives” raced to participate in the “Finger-Wagging Olympics,” as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar put it, supplies this proof in spades.

Traditionally, conservatives have favored what today is referred to as “limited government”—i.e. a decentralization of authority and a wide dispersal of power.  They have also endorsed the idea that, ultimately, the moral life fleshes itself out within the “little platoons”—the local communities—that shape the identity and sense of purpose of the individual.  Leftists, in glaring contrast, are seized with visions of utopia that are both cause and effect of their obsession with the creation of Omnipotent and Omniscient Government.

The point: “Racism,” or the campaign to end “racism,” to a far greater extent than any other pretext, has catapulted the left-wing vision to its present position of cultural dominance.

First, in the name of fighting “racism,” the American government has been “fundamentally transformed” (to use Barack Obama’s lingo) from the “limited,” self-divided set of institutions intended by our Founders into the largely monolithic Leviathan that currently exists today.  States’ rights, equality under the law, and individual liberty—the pillars of America’s Constitutional Republic—have been radically subverted for the sake of “Equality,” say, or “Social Justice”: i.e. for the purpose of combating “racism.”

Cliven Bundy has been in a fight with the federal government over land that his family had been using for a century.  Sean Hannity is among those who upheld the man as something of an emblem of the patriotic spirit that motivated the founding generation in its fight against oppressive government.  But as soon as Bundy was (unjustly) depicted as a “racist,” Hannity and other “conservatives” in the media and Congress who had just hours before lionized him dropped Bundy like a hot potato.  Worse, so as not to be outdone, Hannity stopped just short of calling Bundy evil, expressing more contempt for Bundy’s David than even Hannity has ever expressed for the Goliath of the federal government.

And all because Bundy wasn’t so articulate in echoing the standard GOP line that the Democratic Party, with its promotion of all things Big Government, has psychologically bound blacks to a new “plantation.”

All too predictably, for his efforts, Hannity, like every other Republican who screamed from the rooftops, was mocked even more loudly by the usual suspects on the left.

But the Donald Sterling brouhaha, possibly more so than any other event, gave the idolaters of Total Government everything for which they could’ve asked:

With Sterling, the line between the private and the public, thought and deed, is eradicated and the citizen, thus, is left utterly defenseless against the onslaught of All Mighty Government.

Yet “conservatives” and Republicans, if they are bothered by this at all—which, in most instances, it doesn’t appear that they are—aren’t nearly as bothered by it as they are the “racism” of Sterling.

Secondly, in legitimizing the left’s insinuation that “racism” is the most deadly of sins, the one unforgivable transgression that must be destroyed “by whichever means necessary,” the right advances the cause of Unlimited Government, it is true.  However, in doing so, it also abets the left in obliterating the local and the particular, “the little platoons” of which Edmund Burke wrote and by which moral character is formed.

Traditional morality—the only bulwark against tyrannical government—is made to give way to a faux morality rooted in Politically Correct policy prescriptions of the day.

And libertydies.

The left is fatal to liberty.  This we know.  But if the left succeeds, as it is now succeeding, the right will be to blame.

So, the question remains: As long as “conservatives” insist upon facilitating the left’s agenda, why should real conservatives and other patriots support them?

 

Don Sterling and “Conservatives”

posted by Jack Kerwick

The Don Sterling affair has given way to the “Finger Wagging Olympics,” as Kareem Abdul-Jabbarhas colorfully put it.  Given that those on the right have participated just as aggressively, if not more so, than those on the left, I urge them to bear the following considerations in mind.

First, Sterling had a private conversation, in his own car, with his girlfriend.  Unbeknownst to him, this conversation was recorded.  Yet scarcely anyone seems to be in the least bit concerned that the line between the private and the public has now been decisively obliterated—and all for the cause of outing, not a terrorist or gangster, but an old white “racist.”

Secondly, Sterling is being crucified in the court of public opinion, and by the National Basketball Association, for a thought-crime. Let’s be crystal clear about this.  Sterling hadn’t been caught on tape plotting to harm someone, much less actually harm anyone.  In fact, he neither hurled nor even uttered any racial epithets.

Sterling is being made to suffer a humiliating social death—a figurative crucifixion—not for what he did, but for what he is said to have thought.

Thirdly, in fueling the campaign against Sterling, the right has given the left a helping hand in rendering “racism” a limitless—and, thus, meaningless—concept.  Sterling supplies jobs—extremely lucrative jobs—for blacks, has a black girlfriend, and has been extraordinarily generous with his own resources vis-à-vis black causes.  In fact, such is Sterling’sphilanthropy that the NAACP was preparing to bestow upon him its distinguished “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

So, now, a white “racist” is one who avoids blacks and a white “racist” doesn’t avoid blacks.

A white “racist” dates blacks and a white “racist” doesn’t date blacks.

A white “racist” does what he can to keep blacks unemployed and a “white racist” goes to great lengths to employ blacks.

A white “racist” discriminates against blacks and a white “racist” discriminates in favor of blacks.

A white “racist” is one who seeks to keep “the black man down” and a white “racist” seeks to make millionaires out of blacks.

A white “racist” cares nothing about assisting the black underprivileged and a white “racist” is one who gives a small fortune of his own resources to helping blacks.

In any other setting, on any other topic, the foregoing contradictions would strike the most cognitively challenged among us with all of the force of a body blow.  Not so when it comes to the issue of white “racism,” however.

Sterling’s actions don’t matter, you see.For privately imploring his girlfriend not to publicly cohort with the black men who, presumably, he suspects she is spending her time with privately, Sterling is reduced by commentators on the right and left to the incarnation of evil.   Words now mean more—infinitely more, judging from this incident—than deeds. With one swift stroke, our topsy-turvy culture has spun the wisdom of generations on its head and made it possible to accuse and destroy any white person of “racism.”

Fourthly, by stretching and pulling the net of “racism” so widely that any white person at any time and in any place can get caught up in it, self-declared conservatives have aided and abetted the left in paving the way for the federal government to annex even more power to itself in the future.  The pretext of combating “racism,” doubtless more than any other, has served as the federal government’s Trojan horse in its efforts to transform itself from the handmaiden of the states envisioned by the Founders into the Leviathan that it is today.

Finally, though they wouldn’t dare to admit it, even to themselves, those on the right have joined in on the Sterling feeding frenzy for the sake of proving to the world that they are not the “racist” monsters—the Sterlings—that Democrats and leftists are forever making them out to be.  Yet they either don’t realize, or don’t care to realize, that in addition to engendering cowardice and cruelty, the strategy of joining a lynch mob for the sake of gaining moral credit in the eyes of your mortal enemies is self-defeating.

Average everyday folks—you know, those who don’t make their livelihoods publishing commentary or speaking on a microphone in front of cameras—simply don’t obsess over this kind of stuff. If their moral sensibilities are offended here, they are rocked by the treatment to which Sterling is now being subjected.  The “finger wagging Olympics” that every media figure and his (or her) mother is rushing to participate in strikes the average person not as a circus, but a circus freak show, something at once intriguing and revolting.

As for the left, it should go without saying that it will never spare a single resource to reinforce in the popular imagination the belief that the right is “racist” to the bone. And in doing their best to scream more loudly than anyone else, those on the right only render themselves more vulnerable to the charge that they “doth protest too much.”

 

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