Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

As I write this, it has been nearly 24 hours since the President has denied making his “s-hole” comment regarding countries with shockingly low quality of life.  Indeed, the only person in a room full of several people who claims to have heard the President make this remark is a Democrat, Dick Durban, who has a demonstrated track record of lying for political purposes.

Still, let’s assume that Trump did in fact make the remark attributed to him.  Would he have been wrong?

Below are ten questions that I posed to those who have spared no occasion over the last two days to showcase their moral outrage over “S-hole-gate.”  To his credit, one leftist acquaintance of mine, to whom I will refer simply as “Chris,” tried answering them.  The responses are revealing.

(1)Why do you think legions of people from those “s-hole” countries risk life and limb to flee their homelands and come to Western countries, like America?

 “The President’s critics aren’t disagreeing with the horrid state of these countries. Their criticism stems from acknowledging this horrid state while questioning his comment: “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

 In other words, insofar as his critics acknowledge the “horrid” state of the countries under discussion, they agree with the President that Haiti and the other countries to which he referred are, as he said, “s-holes.”

They agree with the substance of his judgement—even if they disagree with his choice of words.

Of course, this is true.Now, the reasons for the condition of these countries are debatable. But there is no debating that at least some of the residents of those countries are responsible for the conditions of their homes.  As for Haiti and Haitians specifically, more will be said about this shortly.

(2)Do you think that their actions reveal their agreement or disagreement with the President?

See above.

I think what Chris is saying here is that while those legions of human beings who are risking their lives (and those of their children) to come to America and other Western societies do essentially agree with the President’s assessment regarding the situation of their native countries, they disagree with the notion that they should be denied entry into the United States.

Well of course they wouldn’t agree that they should be denied entrance into the United States!  Self-interest precludes it.

(3)Unless these countries fit Trump’s description of them, do you think that immigration enthusiasts and activists in the US (and the rest of the West) would be tirelessly trying to guilt Westerners into letting folks from these countries into their own by telling us that they are only trying to provide better lives for their families?

 Into “their own?” By your definition, then, a Haitian who came here, say, in 1992, and became an American citizen, is now demarcated from a Haitian who is trying, legitimately, to do the same?

Admittedly, I’m not sure what Chris is trying to suggest here. For decades, politicians of both national parties have labored diligently to pass what they always call “comprehensive immigration reform,” and what the rest of us always recognize as amnesty. Poll after poll consistently reveals that most Americans hold views on immigration policy that are even more America-First than those espoused by President Trump.

So, these politicians (and other Americans-LAST immigration proponents) repeatedly try to convince—to guilt—Americans into allowing the tired, poor, huddled masses of immigrants from the Third World into their home (how can the tired, the oppressed, the poor, the huddled possibly come from places that aren’t “s-holes?!”).

Americans, and only Americans, get to decide who will and who will not be permitted to cross our borders and for whatever reasons.

And if Americans decide that they want a stop to all immigration that too is their prerogative.  They no more need to justify themselves on this score than a homeowner need justify his decision to bar strangers from his home.

The burden is on those who insist on immigration to prove their case.

Yet the point here is that these tireless appeals to sympathy, pity, and compassion in connection with more immigration from precisely the countries to which Trump allegedly referred as “s-holes” logically presuppose that the countries are, in fact, in the state that Trump described.

(4)Unless these countries were as POTUS described them, do you think that his critics would have spent decades siphoning from Western taxpayers their hard-earned dollars, money that is then given to these very countries as “foreign aid?”

 A tad disingenuous at best; many of these efforts (just recently the Haitian earthquake relief) were not the result of oppressive power structures. A nautical weather incident doesn’t make a country a “shithole.” 

 This response is what’s disingenuous.  So-called “foreign aid” to Haiti and beyond is most definitely not supplied only episodically, in response to natural disasters.  The “foreign aid” that America and other Western states have been providing to these countries has been a relentless, decades-long enterprise.

(5)Why the perpetual need for aid if things are so desirable in these countries?

 Your fourth and fifth questions are too broad, far too broad.

 This is a dodge.  The question was straight forward: Why must those of us living in America and throughout the West part with our dollars so as to provide unrelenting relief to people in Haiti and other countries to which Trump alludes if things have been going so swimmingly there?

We must, we just must, help the people of these lands by subsidizing them while they are in their own countries and by aiding and abetting their plans to flee their own countries and make their home here, among us. This has been the message.

Why are these poor souls always, constantly, in need of help and by whichever means necessary?  Presumably, it is because their own countries are undesirable places to live well and raise families.  Why else?

(6)If Trump is “racist” for recognizing that the quality of life in countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and in much of the continent of Africa is abysmally, scandalously, outrageously poor, then isn’t every person in America—black as well as non-black—”racist” for recognizing the disgraceful, life-inhibiting quality of life in America’s ghettoes?

 No, because the worst of America is not prescriptive.

 Uh-oh: So Chris concedes that black neighborhoods and cities are “the worst of America?” “Racist!”  No. Chris is not “racist” (whatever this means) but a realist—at least in this regard. America’s ghettoes are indeed the worst places in the country.

At any rate, his response is irrelevant.  It sidesteps the question by misunderstanding the relevant underlying principle, and the principle is that places—any place, whether a continent, country, state, city, or neighborhood—with an abysmally, scandalously, outrageously poor quality of life, places from which people flee and that are in inexhaustible need of support from others are what your plain-spoken average person, of any race, could describe as a “s-hole.”

(7)The rate of “black flight” (of blacks, ala George Jefferson, “movin’ on up”) from black neighborhoods and cities exceeded in the late 70s, 80s, and 90s that of the “white flight” that transpired in the 50s and 60s.  Isn’t this confirmation that all Americans who avoid these areas recognize them as “s-holes?”

 Read up a bit more on gentrification and let’s discuss further.

I responded to Chris by informing him that I was well aware of the argument from gentrification that some leftist activists have used to account for the deplorable conditions of most predominantly black, lower and underclass areas.  There are, however, two other replies in the coming.

First, I don’t for a second buy this. When whites moved out of the neighborhoods into which blacks moved, they were blamed for the deteriorating quality of life in what became black communities (So too, to be fair, were middle and upper-class blacks, “sell-outs,” blamed).

Now, though, when whites move back into these areas it’s called “gentrification” and they’re blamed again for their quality of life.

Whites are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

Second, Chris confuses cause for effect. The point here is that regardless of how the ghetto came to be, actions speak far louder than words.  That everyone, including and particularly those who live or have lived in the ghetto, recognize the latter as a very bad place, proves that they think of it as, to borrow the President’s alleged descriptor, a “s-hole.”

(8)Isn’t it the case that every person who has ever referred to America as “AmeriKKKa, “racist,” “white supremacist,” “patriarchal,” “sexist,” “Islamophobic,” “xenophobic,” “homophobic,” etc. has, in effect, condemned America as a “s-hole?”

Freedom of speech enables this criticism to occur.  If Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again” suggests that America is NOT great, isn’t he implying the same about America?

First of all, I am not challenging anyone’s right to condemn America as, well, a “s-hole.” My point is that when the left blasts the America in these terms, they are, in essence, accusing America of being rotten to the core.

It isn’t just that it’s dishonest for a person to simultaneously call America “AmeriKKKA” and the rest while affirming its beauty and goodness.  It’s logically impossible to do this. “Racism” is the worst of unpardonable transgressions from the standpoint of those who decry America along these lines.

Thus, America can only, by their lights, be viewed as, well, a “s-hole.”

Secondly, in expressing resolve to make America great again, Trump remains in a fundamentally different league than that in which his most ardent critics reside.  The President affirms both his belief in the greatness of America considered historically as well as faith in her potential to restore her greatness.

There is nothing anti-American in criticizing America. We all have our share of criticisms of it.  However, there is a difference in kind between criticizing aspects of a thing—a spouse, a child, one’s friend, one’s country—and repudiating it altogether.  The hard left falls into the latter category.

(9)After all, a country that dehumanizes, objectifies, and, as Ta Neshi Coates says, disposes of “black bodies” as if they were trash, is, at the very least, a “s-hole,” is it not?

 Coates is a born American, and would be here no less comparable to any of Trump’s critiques about America, no?

 No. Again, the undergirding principle that is the focus here is that whether a person chooses to use Trump’s descriptor or not, to evaluate a place as negatively as Americans-Last immigration and amnesty activists evaluate the “horrid” conditions from which they tell us we must emancipate, one way or the other, those from certain countries, or to evaluate it as negatively as leftists like Coates evaluate America with her alleged disposal of “black bodies” is to judge it, in short, a “s-hole.”

(10) And if Trump harbors animosity against non-white peoples for referring to some of these countries as “shitholes,” isn’t it the case that everyone who has ever characterized America in any of the foregoing terms harbors animosity toward Americans? Isn’t it the case they are in fact guilty, as many of us have said for quite some time, of being…ANTI-AMERICAN or, perhaps more accurately, ANTI-AMERICANS?

 Why does your if-condition here find Trump harboring animosity towards non-white peoples for referring to some of these non-white countries as “s-holes?” They didn’t refer to them as such; he did.

 Chris may have misread the question.  I don’t see how he goes any distance toward answering it. I’ll only say that the reader only need read my responses to (8) and (9) to recognize that the answer to (10) is a resounding, inescapable: Yes!

Chris, along with other full-time Trump critics, made a deal out of the President’s alleged remark indicating a preference for immigrants from Norway over those from places like Haiti and El Salvador.  Unsurprisingly, he suggested that this betrays on Trump’s part—what else?—“racism.”

It’s at this juncture that I should have just checked out.  I’ve got an obsession with truth, though, and so….

Besides the fact that “racism” is a rhetorical tool that partisans use to bludgeon one another while circumventing argument, if we are going to have immigration to the United States at all—and remember, no country has to allow any foreigners—then it would make eminently good sense for  an American First immigration policy to favor those from Norway.

The United Nations Human Development Index—as one writer correctly described it, “the most widely accepted metric” for ranking the world’s countries in terms of their quality of life—places guess which country at the top of its list?

Yep, Norway is number one.

As for El Salvador and Haiti, the two other countries to which the President allegedly referred as “s-holes?”

They rank at 117th and 163rd, respectively.

There’s only 25 countries that rank lower than Haiti, and with the exceptions of Afghanistan and Yemen, they are all in Africa.

 Yeah.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the rate of welfare use among immigrants from Central America (places like El Salvador) and Mexico is an astronomical 73%.  Among immigrants from the Caribbean (where Haiti is located), it is 51%, and immigrants from Africa it is 48%.

Those hailing from Europe tend to rely upon welfare at a much lower rate (26%).

To put this into the perspective of the present context, the average immigrant from El Salvador is three times more likely than one from Norway to be on welfare.

America-First or Americans-Last: These are the only two kinds of immigration policy at our disposal.

 

 

 

 

 

Although the President denies it, as of Thursday night, it was reported that while in talks with Congressional representatives over our country’s immigration mess, Donald Trump referred to places like Haiti, El Salvador, and at least some of Africa as “s-hole” countries.

All too predictably, his nemeses in the media went ballistic, charging the President—again, all too predictably—with harboring animosity toward “people of color,” “racism,” and so forth.

Admittedly, I have no doubts that this orgy of outrage, like that to which viewers were subjected this past Sunday night by Hollywood at its Golden Globes ceremony, is but another exhibition of Fake Virtue.  The hand-wringing is counterfeit, the product either of crass political opportunism or, perhaps, a genuine unwillingness to think through the President’s alleged comment.

The truth is that in many instances, it is doubtless a combination of the two.

At any rate, here are some questions for the outraged:

(1)Why do you think legions of people from those “s-hole” countries risk life and limb to flee their homelands and come to Western countries, like America?

(2)Do you think that their actions reveal their agreement or disagreement with the President?

(3)Unless these countries fit Trump’s description of them, do you think that immigration enthusiasts and activists in the US (and the rest of the West) would be tirelessly trying to guilt Westerners into letting folks from these countries into their own by telling us that they are only trying to provide better lives for their families?

(4)Unless these countries were as POTUS described them, do you think that his critics would have spent decades siphoning from Western taxpayers their hard-earned dollars, money that is then given to these very countries as “foreign aid?”

(5)Why the perpetual need for aid if things are so desirable in these countries?

(6)If Trump is “racist” for recognizing that the quality of life in countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and in much of the continent of Africa is abysmally, scandalously, outrageously poor, then isn’t every person in America—black as well as non-black—”racist” for recognizing the disgraceful, life-inhibiting quality of life in America’s ghettoes?

(7)The rate of “black flight” (of blacks, ala George Jefferson, “movin’ on up”) from black neighborhoods and cities exceeded in the late 70s, 80s, and 90s that of the “white flight” that transpired in the 50s and 60s.  Isn’t this confirmation that all Americans who avoid these areas recognize them as “s-holes?”

(8)Isn’t it the case that every person who has ever referred to America as “AmeriKKKa, “racist,” “white supremacist,” “patriarchal,” “sexist,” “Islamophobic,” “xenophobic,” “homophobic,” etc. has, in effect, condemned America as a “s-hole?”

(9)After all, a country that dehumanizes, objectifies, and, as Ta Neshi Coates says, disposes of “black bodies” as if they were trash, is, at the very least, a “s-hole,” is it not?

(10) And if Trump harbors animosity against non-white peoples for referring to some of these countries as “shitholes,” isn’t it the case that everyone who has ever characterized America in any of the foregoing terms harbors animosity toward Americans? Isn’t it the case they are in fact guilty, as many of us have said for quite some time, of being…ANTI-AMERICAN?

(11) If these countries are not as Trump was said to have described them, then whey is no one, including and especially his most vociferous critics, not moving to them?  In fact, they aren’t spending anytime there at all.  Why?

While one can perhaps take exception to the President’s choice, or alleged choice, of words, this is an entirely different matter than taking exception to the substance of his judgement.

Some parting questions:

If, as Trump’s foes—i.e. the left—have been telling us for longer than I’ve been alive, America, or “AmeriKKKa,” as they not so affectionately call it, is a bastion of “white supremacy,” then why is it that the conflict in AmeriKKKa has nothing to do with keeping people in, but keeping them out? 

 Moreover, why is it that the overwhelming majority of human beings who are breaking laws and sacrificing everything to live in White Supremacist AmeriKKKa people of color?  Even The New York Times, 13 years ago, reported that between 1990 and 2005—a mere 15 year period—more Africans immigrated to the United States than ever came to our shores on slave ships during the entire duration of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

If America is really AmeriKKKa, then wouldn’t anti-racists be morally required to insure that no non-whites enter this oasis of White Supremacy?  What better way to shield them than to help them remain within their own racially homogenous, non-white countries?

The truth of the matter is this:

The whole leftist, PC, “progressive” narrative is a castle of contradictions.

And, to repeat, the outrage over what the President was reported to have said is the function of either political opportunism or, what Hannah Arendt referred to as “the curious, but quite inauthentic, inability to think.”

 

 

 

 

 

Mercifully, the Golden Globes have come and gone.

And it was a perhaps the most ostentatious display of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, dishonesty, and moral cowardice that our generation has supplied to date. At a time when moral exhibitionism has become as common as the air that we breathe, particularly in Hollywood, this is really saying something.

If the cheap virtue that is especially prevalent in the den of iniquity that is Tinsel Town was ever in doubt, Sunday night’s program, which featured attendees clad in black, should have dispelled it once and forever.

The black attire designed to symbolize Hollywood’s awareness of the sexual scandals of the Harvey Weinstein era was but the latest example of the moral symbolism for which Hollywood celebrities are infamous.  The black suits and dresses are the moral equivalent of a hashtag, like the silly, useless, substance-less hashtag that Michelle Obama fired off some years back in response to Boko Haram’s abduction of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls.

Let’s be clear: These same fakes and frauds, like Oprah Winfrey, who are now waxing indignant about female victimization and male oppression share in the culpability of Harvey Weinstein and others who utilized the casting couch.

They are Harvey.

I recall my father telling me when I was an adolescent that if I laid down with dogs, I was bound to get fleas. Some variation or other of this pearl of wisdom has been around for ages.  Goethe said: “Tell me with whom thou art found, and I will tell thee who thou art.” John Ruskin made essentially the same point: “Tell me what you like, and I’ll tell you what you are.”

Weinstein was a Hollywood powerhouse, a mover and shaker, a maker and breaker of careers. To everyone in the know his sexual exploits were all but self-evident.  Oprah, Meryl Streep, and everyone who is anyone in the entertainment industry not only said nothing; they ran cover for Harvey by lavishing praise upon him.

Not one person in that room at the Golden Globes or anywhere in Harvey’s orbit is a hero. Not a one.  Their readiness to befriend, work with, reward, and otherwise treat Harvey as “God,” as the queen fraud, Meryl Streep, not all that long ago referred to him, renders them nothing more or less than Weinstein’s accomplices, his colluders.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

The Hollywood bigwigs who now expect for us to believe that they are shocked—“Shocked!”—by the revelations concerning Weinstein (and his legions of imitators) are among the most resourceful human beings that have ever walked the Earth.  Their money, visibility, and influence insure that with the greatest of ease, whatever they say will be heard by the country.

They refused to use their resources when they could have done so.

If scores of young, impressionable women were being preyed upon by “powerful men,” to use Oprah’s term, then real virtue—costly, not cheap, virtue—would’ve led these world-famous stars to go public with that information years ago.  The truth is hard, Friedrich Nietzsche memorably remarked.  Well, it would’ve been before the #MeToo (another hashtag) campaign became trendy.  This is why Hollywood preferred to wait until they had a bandwagon to jump upon so that they could courageously wear black to their latest exhibition of self-congratulations.

No, there are no heroes to come out of the Weinstein-era.  In fact, while there are doubtless some victims, only the naïve and/or the dishonest will accept that there are nearly as many victims as Oprah and her ideological ilk would have us think there are.  The celebrities and aspiring celebrities who now claim that they were sexually used and abused on the old casting couch were hardly babes-in-the-woods. The Harveys of Hollywood used them, yes; but they too used these powerful men to advance their careers.

And then they continued to think only about themselves in remaining silent, thereby endangering who knows how many other women as unsuspecting as they allegedly once were themselves.

Those in the entertainment industry more than anyone else have labored tirelessly to normalize sexual promiscuity.  The hypersexualized, “hook-up” culture that they created demands that people objectify or “use” one another.  When human beings are regarded as assemblages of body parts to be used for purposes of gratification and commitment is written off as an instrument of Christian, bourgeois repression, then sex is let loose and all sex, consensual as well as non-consensual, consists in people using themselves and one another for pleasure.

What is most shameful and most infuriating about Sunday night’s spectacle is that even though those in attendance were thicker than thieves with Weinstein (Oprah has been photographed hugging and kissing him!), and even though they were as essential to producing this Hollywood culture of sexual scandal as anyone, they not only refuse to assume any responsibility for their part.

They not only blatantly lie about having been, somehow, blissfully unaware of Hollywood’s underbelly.

These frauds, cowards, and hypocrites have the audacity to now present themselves as virtuous.

To see just how morally reprehensible this is, consider a hypothetical analogy.

Suppose that I knew the identities of the perpetrators of not just one, but numerous violent crimes.  I also knew that these gangsters, being the predatory beasts that they are, would surely victimize others in the future.

Yet I stayed silent for years as these gangsters continued to destroy lives.  They didn’t bother me personally and, let’s say, they even provided for me.

Now, however, the gang is busted, weakened, and publically disgraced.

Though it is common knowledge that I had to have known what had been transpiring all of this time, rather than admit it, I lie by professing my ignorance.

Maybe, instead, I admit that I knew but insist that I was fearful of coming forward, or maybe I claim to have been too humiliated to come forward after having already remained silent for a lengthy period. So it is fear for my well-being and/or the fear of humiliation that kept me quiet.

In other words, I make myself into a victim.

Or perhaps I spin my apathy, cowardice, and selfishness so as to make myself, somehow, into a hero for speaking out now that everyone despises the criminals and they have been rendered powerless to harm me, now that I no longer have anything to fear losing and only my face to save.

Suppose I stand before the press and the real victims of these vermin and say to the imprisoned or dead gangsters: “Your time is up!”

What would people think of me?  The question is rhetorical.

Yet this is the exact same position in which Oprah, Meryl, and their adorers in Hollywood have placed themselves.

Decent folks should hold them in the contempt that they so richly deserve.

 

 

In response to my recent article, “Capital Punishment: A Defense of Justice,” I elicited the following objection:

It is contradictory for those (like me) who claim to believe in “limited government” to grant government the power to execute its own citizens, for (presumably) a government with such power is Big Government, and the latter, being abusive and incompetent, is all too likely to execute innocents.    

Nonsense.

First, only an historical-illiterate would suppose that a “limited” government of the kind delineated in the U.S. Constitution is incompatible with the death penalty. The Founding Fathers believed in capital punishment and made allowance for it within the Constitution.

Second, fundamentally, governments exist for the sake of conserving the law.  More specifically, a civil association, i.e. the kind of association that the United States Constitution describes, is in its very essence a legal association: It is a system of laws.

Thus, it is the principal function of governments, particularly our government, to punish those who would siphon from our body politic its blood and guts, its laws.

Due to optical considerations, this point is seldom made publically, least of all by politicians and their propagandists in the media.  It’s not pretty.  Whether it is said that governments exist to “serve the People,” “promote the common good,” or “protect human rights,” most people prefer to trade in euphemisms, in deceptive drivel, rather than reckon with reality.

Unless a government has the will and the resources to punish those within its jurisdiction who undermine its laws—who attack the civil association that it governs—then it isn’t a government at all.  It may be a Manager, a Therapist, an Educator, or an agent of Social Justice, but it is not a government, a custodian and enforcer of laws.

As for capital punishment, it is arguably more essential to the system of punishment that belongs to a civil association than any other form of punishment.  It is the cornerstone, so to speak, the apex of the system, of the association.  By way of the ultimate penalty, the Law makes it clear in no uncertain terms that it is supreme, that it unequivocally affirms both the agency of those that it binds as well as the justice for all under its jurisdiction for the sake of which it exists.

Third, if capital punishment should be abolished because government agents could make a mistake and execute an innocent person, then so too should war be abolished—however powerful the evidence may be that a preemptive attack could be the only way to prevent the deaths of untold numbers of innocent lives.  After all, government officers can and have made catastrophic, lethal mistakes in this area too.

In other words, if the executioner must be relegated to the dustbin of history, then so too must the soldier.

Moreover, if the moral community known as the civil association must refrain from using capital violence against those that have been convicted only after having passed through the Law’s battery of procedures, then there is that much more reason for it to refrain from ever going to war against anyone for any reason ever again.

To see that this is so, ask yourselves these questions: Would it be easier to have to raise just one child or tens and hundreds of millions of children?  The question is a no-brainer.  It is easier to raise one child than to raise even two.

Which is easier, to teach and grade ten students or 200 students?  Again, the answer is so obvious as to render the question rhetorical.

Similarly, it is vastly more difficult to make a mistake in punishing one innocent person than it is to mistakenly kill many innocents in a mass lethal attack.

Actually, these analogies understate the magnitude of the disparity in risk between capital punishment and war, for in the case of the former, the Law has ample opportunity to become intimately familiar with the circumstances of one its own.  In dramatic contrast, in the case of war, the government has to reckon with what are alleged to be the circumstances of a foreign people.

Joseph de Maistre, a 19th century French Catholic in the conservative, reactionary tradition of thought, made these points.  In speaking of “the executioner” and “the soldier,” de Maistre wrote:

“The one kills the guilty, convicted and condemned, and his executions are happily so rare that one of these ministers of death suffices in a province. As for the soldiers, there are never enough of them. They must kill without limit, and always honest men [men who are as committed to fighting for their homelands as are their enemies].”

De Maistre asks us to imagine that a “traveling genius,” a stranger to the Earth, was told that of these two killers, “one is very honored and always has been among all the nations of the world; the other is equally regarded as infamous.” If he were asked, “Which of these men would be the one who was honored?” de Maistre is certain that the stranger “would not hesitate a moment [to] bestow all praise on the executioner.”

The impartial foreign genius would answer: “He [the executioner] is a subtle being…he is the cornerstone of society…take away the executioner and all order disappears with him.” Moreover, the executioner is a man possessed of “greatness of soul” and “noble disinterestedness,” for he “devotes himself to such respectable functions [.]”

The soldier, though, is a different matter altogether. The soldier is “a minister of cruelty and injustice.” The genius asks: “How many individual injustices, horrors and useless atrocities does he commit?”

De Maistre concludes by noting that for as thankless is the job of the executioner, it nevertheless remains the case that “all grandeur, all power, all subordination, rest on” him; “he is the horror and the tie of the human association.  Take away this incomprehensible agent and at that moment, order will give way to chaos, thrones will fall and society will disappear.”

There remains much truth to de Maistre’s insights.  Capital punishment, more than any other law, affirms the supremacy of the rule of law and reminds a people that they are “a nation of laws.”

The executioner deserves as much as anyone to be thanked for his service.