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At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

When and Where “Women’s Rights” and “Black Lives” Don’t Matter

posted by Jack Kerwick

Feminists and other “progressives” in America cry oppression at the mere suggestion that taxpayers shouldn’t be made to subsidize abortion services.

Black (and non-black) American activists scream that “Black Lives Matter” whenever a black criminal suspect dies in an altercation with police.

In the meantime, there is scarcely a peep from either of these sectors when it comes to the unrelenting brutality suffered by women and black Africans in places under the thumb of the Islamic State.

When I noted this selective outrage to a left-leaning colleague of mine, he responded that the one issue didn’t have anything to do with the other. But this response misses the point for two reasons.

First, if it really is women’s rights and black lives, and not politics, that are the objects of concern, then the “pro-women” and “pro-black” forces should be screaming from the rooftops over the systematic degradation of women’s rights and black lives occurring in places like the Middle East and Africa.

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In short, ultimately, we are dealing with one problem: the problem of women’s rights and black lives.

Second, the notion that, in the year 2015, women and blacks in America suffer some sort of systemic oppression courtesy of white men is manifestly absurd. Still, even assuming that it is true, even the most vocal supporters of a mother’s right to kill her offspring on the taxpayer’s dime and the Michael Browns of the world couldn’t conceivably think that the plight of blacks and women in America can be spoken of in the same breath as that of women and blacks in hot spots like Africa and the Middle East.

This being so, the left’s silence on the topic of the latter is that much more deafening given its incessant wailing over the former.

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To say the least, this is a curious kind of phenomenon. It raises reasonable questions as to the rationality, values, and motivations of those who, in Jesus’ words, prefer to “strain out the gnat” while “letting in the camel.”

Actually, it is a Republican politician from California, Congressman Ed Royce, who is calling attention to the dehumanization of women and “black lives” occurring under Islamic militants of the ISIS and Boko Haram varieties.

Royce is the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. According to Open Doors, an organization that exists for the sake of serving persecuted Christians around the world, Royce explained that “violence against women is in fact a sinister and calculated strategy that goes to the heart of ISIS’s survival” (emphasis original).

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In “forcing local women to marry into ISIS,” Royce continued, “the group expands its demographic base while reducing the population of those diverse communities it seeks to eradicate and replace” (emphasis original).

Open Doors refers to an article published by the Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea. Shea writes that while the crucifixions and beheadings of Christian men have garnered much media attention, the return of “sex slavery” has disappeared from the public’s eye.

A United Nations report released on August 5, 2014, claimed that “some 1,500 Yazidi and Christian persons [in Iraq] may have been forced into sexual slavery.” There may be as many as 4,000 enslaved Yazidis.

Shea informs us of “an entire convent of Syrian Orthodox nuns” that were abducted in 2013 and held for ransom. Just this past March, 135 Christian women and children were abducted from 35 Christian villages in Syria and sold into sex slavery.

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“‘Their families,” Shea writes, “‘unable to afford the $23 million ransom demanded, were told by ISIS, ‘They belong to us now.’”

One particularly ominous, heart wrenching account of the kind of brutality that Koranic literalists routinely inflict upon their victims comes from “a young Yazidi woman” who managed to speak by phone with activists from Compassion4Kurdistan: “I’ve been raped thirty times and it’s not even lunchtime. I can’t go to the toilet. Please bomb us.”

Seventeen year-old girls have relayed accounts of how they, along with dozens of other kidnapped females as young as at least 12, were daily beaten, raped, and tormented by their captors—grown men as old as 50—who would refer to them as “war booty” and liken them to “goats bought at a market.”

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Others, Shea writes, relay how “girls were separated by eye color” and according to whether they were “pretty” or “ugly.” The “pretty” girls were then given to “high ranking ISIS members.”

Black lives in Africa are hardly doing any better. In Nigeria, the Islamic fundamentalists in Boko Haram are giving ISIS a run for its money in terms of ruthlessness and cruelty.

Open Doors shares “Mercy’s” experience. Mercy is a 24 year-old Christian and single mother whose town was taken over by Boko Haram. Mercy, her baby, and some others ran to the mountains to hide. Still, Mercy would sneak back to her home for food during the cover of darkness. Tragically, her luck ran out one morning and she was captured.

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The building into which she was lead contained several other young women and girls who had been there for some time. Regularly, their captors would drag men from the town before the females and “slaughter” them in order to “intimidate” the latter.

Mercy, thankfully, climbed over a barbwire fence one evening while her Muslim tormenters and their captives were in prayer and escaped.

Ladi Apagu, a 16 year-old, escaped with Mercy. Ladi had been held captive for four months. She had been given an Islamic name, but she often resisted saying Islamic prayer. Ladi had been kicked by an Imam when she told him that she couldn’t perform Muslim prayer rituals because she was menstruating.

Today she is has scars on her legs from the regular beatings that were visited upon her. Yet, even worse, Ladi is psychologically scarred. Particularly difficult for her to escape is the experience of having watched many decent men brutally murdered before her eyes for refusing to join Boko Haram.

The next time we hear the by now predictable lamentations over a lack of “women’s rights” in America, or chants to the effect that “black lives matter,” perhaps knowing all of this will help us to keep perspective.

 

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Cecil the Lion: A Story of Racial Oppression

posted by Jack Kerwick

Pace conservatives who are scratching their heads, the outrage—indeed, the hysteria—over the killing of Cecil the lion by American dentist, Walter Palmer, isn’t all that difficult to understand.

Given that Cecil was in a designated safe zone, most of us on the right have condemned the actions of the dentist responsible for killing him. However, unlike Palmer’s leftist detractors—those agents of tolerance and compassion—we have not called for the man’s death.

In spite of the cutesy name that human beings assigned to him, Cecil was, after all, a wild beast, a carnivore of the first order. If we are to maintain our belief in human dignity, then we must as well maintain the belief that the human being is fundamentally different in kind from all other living things.

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As soon as Cecil’s story began gaining the coverage that it did, I began to suspect that it actually had little, if anything at all, to do with Cecil—or lions, or animals.

It doesn’t even have much at all to do with Walter Palmer.

Like virtually every other issue in the universe of contemporary politics, it had to do with race.

And my suspicion was confirmed when a colleague shared with me a meme that had been making the rounds in the “Black Lives Matter” movement (a movement, incidentally, with which he sympathizes). The meme features a cartoon lion adorned with all of the stereotypical trappings of a black male from “the ‘hood.’” The caption reads: “What if Cecil the Lion were an African-American man?”

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To be sure, the left-wing moral imagination being what it is, the murderous rage being directed against Palmer stems from the fact that he is an affluent, white, Western man that hunted and killed an inhabitant from Africa.

Had Cecil’s hunter been, say, a black African, or even a black American, Cecil would be as unknown to the world today as he was unknown just a couple of weeks ago.

Moreover, had the animal in question killed not been an African animal; had it been, say, an American coyote or wolf or mountain lion, and maybe even one that lived in a conservatory, then even if it was killed by a rich white guy, odds are overwhelmingly better than not that this wouldn’t be the story that it is.

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Cecil is a proxy for the African blacks who were hunted, enslaved, and later colonized. And Palmer is proxy for the white, Western imperialists who hunted, enslaved, and later colonized them.

This is how leftists view this situation.

From the time of Plato and Aristotle on through the middle Ages, philosophers and theologians assumed that reality, or “being,” is hierarchical: Some beings have more “reality” and, hence, more “perfection” or “goodness” than others. This metaphysical scheme has been called “the Great Chain of Being.”

For example, the medieval thinkers placed God at the apex of the chain: God is both most real and most good. Angels are beneath God, humans are beneath angels, animals are beneath humans, and so forth. Near the bottom of the Great Chain is the Devil, and at the very bottom, or, more precisely, outside of it altogether, is nothingness, no being.

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Leftist ideology is a metaphysical, moral scheme with its own Great Chain of Being. Only here, non-whites are at the top, and among these, blacks occupy pride of place. Whites rank near the bottom, if they don’t fall off the chart entirely.

But when we get to whites, discriminations on gender, sexuality, and socio-economic grounds come into play (this really isn’t the case so much when it comes to non-whites): white women rank higher than men, white homosexuals higher than white heterosexuals, the white poor higher than the non-poor.

The lowest of the low are affluent, white heterosexual, masculine (Christian) men.

I don’t know whether Palmer is a Christian. He is definitely white, a man, and, given his practice in dentistry, affluent. Supposedly, he used a photograph of himself and a dead Cecil to impress a woman who he tried to woo. So he is a heterosexual.

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And the sheer fact that he not only hunted, but hunted big, dangerous game in “darkest” Africa for purposes of collecting trophies make him, to the left’s collective mind, the embodiment of raw evil: John Wayne come alive again!

The story of Cecil the lion is but another episode in the left’s narrative of perpetual White Oppression and Black Suffering, of the West’s “raping” of Africa.

Only if we understand this, can we understand the left’s response to the slaying of a lion thousands of miles away in Africa.

 

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Bi-Partisan Confusion Over the Planned Parenthood Scandal

posted by Jack Kerwick

As many (but not enough) people now know, for quite some time, Planned Parenthood has been designing their abortion services for purposes of harvesting and selling the organs of the human beings that they routinely kill.

It would appear that this has gotten folks from across the political divide pretty upset.

But the outrage raises questions.

Either abortion is morally reprehensible or it is not. If it is reprehensible, then it is so presumably because abortion is the unjustified killing of an innocent, defenseless human being. The fate of the corpse is either of no moral relevance or, at the very least, of far less moral significance than the fact that a corpse was produced to begin with.

If abortion is not morally reprehensible, then the fate of the aborted human being that’s been separated from its mother should no more concern us than should the fate of a wart, cyst, tumor, or a skin tag that’s been removed from a patient concern us.

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In both cases, the shock and indignation expressed by both Republicans and Democrats, “conservatives” and “liberals,” to the latest revelations regarding Planned Parenthood are morally confused.

Some Republicans, like presidential contender and Kentucky senator, Rand Paul, now advocate on behalf of defunding Planned Parenthood. They now call for this. Indeed, Planned Parenthood most definitely should be deprived of government monies. It’s a disgrace that taxpayers were ever forced to subsidize it.

But if Planned Parenthood should be defunded, it is because it has been routinely slaughtering the most vulnerable human beings for decades. Do Senator Paul and his cronies mean to suggest that it is only because of what Planned Parenthood does after it has killed a human that it deserves to be denied government funds? And since everyone has known that this organization has been killing human beings for years and years, are not Paul and his colleagues now implying that it is permissible to fund abortion services, as long as the corpses are disposed of, rather than harvested?

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The Republicans’ demand to defund Planned Parenthood is the right one. Yet given their timing, this sounds more like politics and less—much less—like sound, moral reasoning.

Of course, those Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, that now claim to be “disturbed” or “concerned” about this Planned Parenthood scandal also sound disingenuous.

The Democratic Party has been America’s official “pro-choice” party since the early 1970’s. According to the party line, mothers are morally entitled to kill their offspring—as long as their posterity remains in their wombs. This has been Democrats’ position, a position that they have spared no measure in defending.

Of course, Democrats never frame their view in quite these terms: They defend not “mothers’” rights, but “women’s” rights. And it certainly isn’t a right to “kill their offspring” that Democrats advocate, but the right to “choose,” or the right to “abort the pregnancy.

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All talk of a child or baby or even a human being is conspicuously—intentionally—absent from the vocabulary of the proponents of “choice.” Instead, there is the “fetus.”

Are we now expected to believe that these same Democrats are bothered to discover that agents of Planned Parenthood are selling the body parts of “aborted” “fetuses?”

Democrats can’t even bring themselves to refer to abortion as a form of killing at all. Thus, they insist upon speaking—and have been remarkably successful in convincing others to speak—of “abortion.” There is and can be no talk of “killing,” lest it become suspected that the object of abortion is human.

But this being so, on what grounds could any proponent of “choice” be troubled by the trading in body parts that’s occurring at Planned Parenthood?

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No one should be surprised that those who support the killing of human beings in the womb would be unperturbed by using their remains for ostensibly noble purposes—or any purposes: If it is permissible to extinguish “fetuses’” lives, then why should it matter, morally, what one does with the dead?

But neither should those who regard as a moral evil the killing of human beings in the womb be all that troubled by the purposes to which their remains are put, for the grave moral evil here is the killing of human beings in the womb.

Again, either abortion is immoral or it is not. In terms of moral relevance, whatever happens after the abortion comes in a distant second to the abortion—if it even registers at all.

 

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Trump: Rhetoric vs. Record

posted by Jack Kerwick

As much as GOP politicians and their apologists in the media despise it, Donald Trump is, deservedly, the GOP presidential frontrunner at the moment. To Trump’s eternal credit, he has made it acceptable (or at least somewhat less unacceptable) to openly discuss the scourge that is American immigration policy.

Still, intellectual honesty demands that we contend with Trump’s record, as opposed to his rhetoric.

If “Romneycare” divested Mitt Romney of the moral capital that a GOP presidential candidate needed in 2012 to defeat Barack Obama and Obamacare, then how much worse does Trump promise to fare if he has to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton—who he’s supported over the years?

That’s right: Hillary Clinton is among the many Democratic politicians who Trump has supported over a period of decades.

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However, as Jonathan S. Tobin, a writer for Commentary, notes, Trump wasn’t just “a major donor to” Clinton’s “campaigns for the Senate.” He as well “gave $100,000 to the thinly-disguised political slush fund that is the Clinton Family Foundation [.]”

Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry are some other notable Democrats to whose coffers Trump contributed.

In 1990, Trump told Playboy that if he ever ran for office, he “would do better as a Democrat than as a Republican.” Admittedly, Trump immediately qualified this judgment by stressing that he was a “conservative,” and that it was only because “the working guy would elect me” that he would be more successful running as a Democrat.

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But this idea—the idea that “the working guy” votes for Democrats—is itself a Democrat’s prejudice.

Years later, in 2004, he gave Wolf Blitzer a different reason for why he is more sympathetic toward Democrats: “In many cases, I probably identify more as a Democrat.” Trump explained: “It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.”

Throughout the last 26 years, when we adjust for inflation, Trump has contributed $1.4 million to politicians. Overall, about one-third of this money has gone to Democrats. But it has only been within the last five years that the lion’s share of his donations has gone to Republicans.

In 1999, Trump described Republicans as “too crazy right.”

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Trump is now claiming that his support of Democrats like Hillary Clinton was purely “transactional,” that as a “businessman,” he needed to have leverage when dealing with such big wig politicians. “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” Trump says that he “need[s] that.”

This may very well be the only reason that Trump lent enormous sums of money to the task of insuring that the Clintons and Kennedys would maintain and increase their power. However, there are two reasons why this explanation fails to clear him.

In fact, the explanation for having contributed to Democrats and their causes reflects far worse on Trump than the fact that he made these contributions in the first place.

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First, if Trump is telling the truth and he gave roughly $500,000 to Democrats over a span of decades, and until fairly recently, for the sole purpose of advancing his own material interests, then doesn’t he reveal himself to be a narcissist extraordinaire? Presumably, he recognized that the Democratic Party was destructive of the well-being of the country—this, after all, is why his relations with Democrats was purely “transactional.” Yet he put his own purposes above those of his compatriots who he supposedly knew were suffering under Democrat Party policies.

So, even if Trump persuades us that he is sincere in what he says on this score, he wins by losing, for few people (if they think about this) will want a person like this in the White House.

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On the other hand, Trump may not be sincere at all. Why not think that he is just faking it now in order to get something else, like greater power, fame, etc. that he thinks will serve his own interests?

Either way, by his own words, he stands convicted.

Trump has also supported an assault rifle ban and a single-payer health system. He has never been pro-life. Actually, in supporting Democrats, he has strengthened the cause of abortion.

And perhaps most telling of all, given the popularity that he’s enjoyed as of late over his comments on immigration, Trump has very recently suggested that he favors essentially the same kind of “comprehensive immigration reform”—i.e. amnesty—favored by every other Republican and Democratic candidate.

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Trump said that he supported an immigration system that would rid the country of the “bad” illegal immigrants while arranging for the “good” illegal immigrants to remain.

As a result, Americans for Legal Immigration Pac (ALIPAC) added Trump to their “Cantor List”—a list, named after Eric Cantor, comprised of “amnesty supporters.”

Numbers USA now gives Trump an overall grade of “C” on immigration. For their “Amnesty Rating,” Trump receives a “Harmful.” As far as “Reducing Legal Immigration” is concerned, Trump received an “Unhelpful.”

It’s a blast watching Trump shake things up, for sure. And it’s far from obvious that he is any worse than any other Republican candidate (of whom more will be said at a later time).

But anyone who thinks that Trump is either a conservative or a libertarian is willfully blind to his record.

The record goes so far as to suggest that he isn’t even a GOP loyalist.

He is, rather, a crass political mercenary.

 

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