At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

The “Reagan Revolution”: A Myth Exploded

posted by Jack Kerwick

As “the conservative movement” seeks to regain its bearings following Barack Obama’s reelection, its adherents should recognize, first of all, that its name doesn’t do justice to its true character.

That is, the conservative movement is actually a neoconservative movement.

With rare exception, virtually every “star” in the movement is a neoconservative.  From the personalities on Fox News to the shining lights of “conservative” talk radio, from “conservative” politicians to the most well known “conservative” writers, there is scarcely an intellect to be found that isn’t indebted to the neoconservative worldview.

Names must be named if constructive change is to occur.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin, no less than Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Bill Bennett; Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, as much as Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich; David Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Michele Malkin, like George Will, David Brooks, and David Frum, are all neoconservatives.


Translation: they are alike proponents of Gargantuan Government.

There is a superabundance of evidence, from their policy prescriptions to the politicians for whom they have offered endless cover, to substantiate this. But the most glaring exhibit is their veneration of Ronald Wilson Reagan.

To be more accurate, these are actually two exhibits.  The friends of liberty, real conservatives, revere no politician, however virtuous he may be. And they certainly don’t revere politicians at the national level.

The veneration of this politician, though, Reagan, is even more revealing.  Reagan was definitely likable—a fact that, being a Republican president in an era prior to the explosion of non-Democratic-friendly media outlets, speaks to his considerable talents—but he was no conservative.


Despite all of his “limited government” rhetoric, Reagan was as much of a champion of Gargantuan Government as anyone else.  He is heralded by “conservatives” as a tax cutter. However, his much touted “tax cut” of 1981 was more than offset by two tax increases that year alone, to say nothing of the multiple tax hikes for which Reagan pushed all throughout his eight years in the Oval office.

Federal spending—and, thus, the federal government—expanded exponentially under Reagan. Both the deficit and the debt rose astronomically throughout his two terms.

His promises to the contrary aside, Reagan singularly failed to eliminate a single government program, let alone an agency.

And liberty diminished.


The deregulation for which Reagan typically receives credit consisted of measures that Jimmy Carter implemented but which didn’t take effect until after the Gipper was already in office.

Reagan did nothing—nothing—to advance conservatism on the cultural front either.  It was the Reagan administration that launched a so-called “war on drugs.”  The idea of a local government rendering it a crime for an adult citizen to ingest a potentially harmful substance is sufficient to make any friend of liberty cock an eyebrow.  The idea of an ostensibly federal government doing so should make him recoil in horror. 

Yet Reagan waged a “war on drugs,” a war that continues over three decades later and that shows zero signs of terminating at any time in the near—or distant—future.


It is probably the case that, to some extent, Reagan’s tough talk and liberty-centered rhetoric contributed to the implosion of the Soviet Union.  Yet precisely because it was an implosion that befell the evil empire, Reagan was, at best, a catalyst that merely expedited a process of disintegration that had already been well underway.

If there really was a “Reagan revolution,” can someone please say what it accomplished?  It isn’t just that Reagan’s presidency did nothing to arrest, and much to assist, the progressive’s agenda of cultural transformation. Some libertarian-minded thinkers, like Murray Rothbard, for instance, have argued, quite convincingly, that Reagan actually arrested the rising tide of libertarianism that was gaining steam in the mid to late 1970’s by co-opting some of its elements while relegating others to the periphery.


Ronald Wilson Reagan was neither a conservative nor a libertarian.  Though our verdict on this score is irrefutable, there isn’t a mainstream “conservative” publication in America that would print my argument.  The deification of Reagan has assured this.

But it is just this elevation of Reagan to the stature of a god that discloses for all with eyes to see that “the conservative movement” doomed itself a long time ago.





Why “the Conservative Movement” is Doomed

posted by Jack Kerwick

The so-called “conservative movement” is all but doomed.

For my gloomy prognostication I offer two sufficiently simple reasons.

First, the movement is dominated by self-serving publicity pimps and their whores who neither know nor care to know a damn thing about genuine conservatism.

Second, the grass roots of the movement, though free of their leaders’ character flaws, are no different than the latter as far as their ignorance of and indifference to the conservative tradition is concerned. 

The mainstream right in this country has been consistently tacking to the left from at least the time of the “Reagan revolution.”  The conservative movement, thus, is but a lighter version of leftism, a slightly less progressive form of progressivism.


Even during Ronald Reagan’s two terms, a time when conservatism was supposed to have been making this explosive comeback, it was the federal government that was exploding.  We hear much from the mainstream right about Reagan’s tax cuts. We hear not a peep about his multiple tax hikes. Reagan eliminated not a single government agency or department, and he granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.

How, I would like to know, did Reagan advance the conservative cause vis-à-vis “the social issues”—abortion, “gay rights,” abortion, affirmative action, and illegal immigration? 

Besides, even if Reagan was the great conservative giant that the mainstream right makes him out to be, he was in the last resort but a politician, and a politician in the federal government at that. 


A true conservative knows better than to endorse messianic politics.  But this is exactly what movement conservatives do when they worship Reagan—or when they revere any politicians as great leaders.

The left sets the terms of the debate and the mainstream right subscribes to them lock, stock, and barrel.  In doing so, the left allows those on the right who are willing to toe its line to be heard. This explains why mainstream rightists employ much of the same lingo as leftists. 

For example, to justify George W. Bush’s “Freedom Agenda”—his neo-imperial crusades in theMiddle East—Fox News personalities and “conservative” talk radio hosts sound no different than their leftist counterparts sound in arguing for various domestic entitlements.  The language of “human rights,” “women rights,” “tolerance,” and “equality” abounds.


With few exceptions—the Pauls, father and son, say, and maybe some others—the vast majority of mainstream conservative politicians in Washington D.C. are no more interested in repealing Gargantuan Government than are their Democratic rivals.  Rather, what they are interested in is taking control of this government to use for their own purposes.

In other words, they are interested in power.

But it isn’t just mainstream conservative politicians who are intent upon seeing to it that the show continues on.  Mainstream conservative journalists and pundits are equally invested in fooling the rank and file of the movement into believing that they are really interested in advancing truth and liberty.

The movement has no hope because while it claims to oppose the left, it relies upon the same universe of lies upon which the latter is built.


For example, there is an underlying racial dimension to virtually every issue that we face—how could things be otherwise when both mainstream conservatives and leftists continually tell us that slavery is America’s “original sin?”  Yet no mainstream conservative publication will dare publish a piece that aspires to address racial issues frankly. 

The problem is even worse than this, unfortunately.  The editors of these publications are obsessed with gaining recognition for themselves.  So, they publish writers depending on whether they meet a few criteria. 

First, writers should have some name recognition themselves.  If your name is Buchanan or Coulter or Limbaugh, you’re in.

Second, like moths, they must be ever on the move, addressing only those topics that engage readers’ interest at the moment.  The timeless, or even attempts to tie the timeless in with the topical, are discouraged. In other words, events, and maybe people, are paramount.  Ideas, though, are generally not welcome.  


Third, whatever writers say about current events, they must make sure that they remain within the bounds of acceptable—i.e. Politically Correct—discourse: the more conventional and, hence, humdrum, the better, and the safer, both editor and writer will be.

Last but certainly not least: writers must write as if they are addressing eight graders.

Anyone who doubts me on this need only look at any number of mainstream publications—from World Net Daily to American Thinker, from Townhall to National Review—to see that, with some notable exceptions, their commentators suffer from a conspicuous lack of daring and imagination.

The mainstream conservative movement, as I say, is doomed.



My Prediction Come True: Reaction to Sandy Hook “Racist”

posted by Jack Kerwick

One week ago, on the heels of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead, I made a prediction on my Facebook wall.  Sooner than any of us would like, I predicted, the national mourning that this event has beckoned forth will be regarded by some as the function of racism.

The victims of the mass murder at Sandy Hook were white.  Moreover, they were, as the left would have referred to them had they not been slaughtered, “the children of privilege.”  The Sandy Hook School is a prestigious institution in an affluent, and predominantly white, area.  Indeed, most of Sandy Hook’s students are doubtless the offspring of just those people—Americans making over $250,000 annually—who our President has spent the better part of his term castigating for failing to pay their “fair share” of taxes.


But now, along with the rest of the nation, he sheds tears over these dead white bodies.  Furthermore, he leaves the White House to travel to—of all places!—a prayer service inConnecticut from which he makes a televised address to the country.

Now, none of this would be objectionable if the daily killing of black “children” in “inner city” neighborhoods throughout the land elicited a similar outpouring of concern and attention.  However, no such luck.  You see, when black kids are routinely murdered, no one cares.

This is the line I saw coming.  And this is the line that I first heard yesterday on Sean Hannity’s radio program, and today heard repeated on a local radio station in the Philadelphia,Pennsylvania area. (Incidentally, I also predicted that Sean Hannity would be among the first to give it coverage).


Granted, to my knowledge, no public figure—no politician, celebrity, or professional racial activist—has yet to exploit Sandy Hook in quite this way.  Yet on the December 20th broadcast of Hannity’s show, a regular black caller named “Levi” said that while he does indeed feel for the deceased and their loved ones in Connecticut, he is frustrated that no one appears to care about the suffering that black children daily have to endure.

The black listener that contributed to the discussion on “Power 99” this morning, however, wasn’t nearly as diplomatic. He said that since “no one cares” about the killing of black children, he didn’t care a lick about the deaths of the 20 white children for whom the nation now grieves.  The black hosts of the morning show, as well as at least one other black caller, took him to task for his absence of empathy.  But they agreed with him that there is a racial double standard, and, thus, they claimed to “understand” his position.


There are two things of which we can all be certain. 

First, there are plenty of Americans, blacks, certainly, but white leftists as well, who think this way.  Second, very soon now, a professional race shyster with a microphone and a camera will be screaming from the rooftops the very same thing that these obscure black callers uttered on a couple of radio shows.

In a sense, but only in a sense, there is some truth to this sentiment. It is obviously, painfully, disgracefully true that black “inner city” communities throughout the country are virtual combat zones.  It is also true that, just as it is the residents of any and every other community the world over that are ultimately responsible for the condition of those communities, so too does the responsibility for the desolate condition of black communities fall squarely upon the shoulders of their residents. 


This, though, we can’t say.  When blacks say it, they are derided as “sell outs,” “race traitors,” and “Uncle Toms.”  When whites say it, they are charged with—what else?—“racism.”

Most people, and especially whites, either remain silent on the issue of black pathology, like criminality, or contrive transparently preposterous explanations for it: “racism,” “poverty,” Democratic politicians, “a legacy of slavery and Jim Crow,” and a host of other fashionable—and groundless—“root causes.”

The Land of  Make Believe is often preferable to the real world, and it is always safer.  But as we fortify the former, the latter only deteriorates further.

There is another point that needs to be addressed. 


Most of the black “children” to whose deaths Americans are allegedly indifferent are themselves murderous thugs.  They are not children between the ages of five and ten years of age.  They are gun-toting, gang-banging teenagers.  To be sure, this doesn’t warrant indifference.  It is nothing less than an unadulterated scandal that this state of affairs ever could have been permitted to emerge in the United States of America.  As such, it deserves that we deal with it—truthfully.

Still, it is just dishonest to compare this with what occurred in Connecticut.  In fact, that there is anyone who would think to draw this comparison proves just how far off from dealing with the routine killing of “black children” we remain. 






Atheism and the Problem of Morality

posted by Jack Kerwick

Where was God when Adam Lanza went on a shooting spree at an elementary school in Newtown,Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead? 

Atheists assume that if there is evil in the world, then there can be no God. What they need to realize, however, is that if there is no God, then there can be no morality. This is what Dostoyevsky meant when he noted that if there is no God, then anything is possible.

Morality is objective.  It consists of norms that are held to be independent of human will.  Morality is not about what we do, or what we want to do.  It is about what we ought to do—whether we want to do it or not.  

But if there is no God, the Supreme Law Giver and Goodness Itself, then morality loses the only objective ground available to it—and, hence, itself.


Not so, many have retorted.  Morality is rooted in reason, or human nature, or biology.

None of this will do. Reason, human nature, and biology may very well have a role to play in the moral life, but only if they are somehow ordained by God.

Reason is fickle.  Over the centuries, distinguished thinkers—from Burke and De Maistre to Hobbes and Hume to Montaigne and Pascal—representing a variety of philosophical traditions have recognized this.  Adolph Hitler and Osama bin Laden (and Adam Lanza, for that matter) acted no less rationally in the pursuit of their goals than did Mother Teresa and Gandhi act in the pursuit of theirs.  Reason is all too easily, and frequently, subverted by the simplest of things, whether passion, impulse, fear, or sickness.


Those who would attempt to use reason as the foundation upon which to lay morality are like a man who tries to build a house on quicksand.

And what is true of reason is just as true of human nature and biology.

Human nature has its angels, for sure, but it also has its demons.  Any human being who has dared to look honestly at himself will be compelled to acknowledge this stone cold fact. As we all say: No one is perfect.  

Biology is even less eligible of a candidate for a basis of morality.  Biology gives us instincts and impulses, needs and inclinations—in short, causes of various sorts.  Yet it cannot supply reasons.  Biology compels.  Morality, in stark contrast, presupposes the freedom to make choices.


If there is no God, then there is no spirit.  And if there is no spirit, then all is matter: reason and human nature boil down to human biology, and biology, in turn, becomes nothing more or less than the latest product of a resolutely non-purposeful mechanical process billions of years in the happening.

If there is no God, then anything is possible.

It isn’t just Dostoyevsky, a Christian, who recognized this.  Some of the most astute and staunchest of atheists have as well.

Of Christianity, Friedrich Nietzsche said that he regarded it “as the most fatal and seductive lie that has ever yet existed—as the greatest and most impious lie.”  Yet Nietzsche viewed Christianity as the ground zero of the “campaign against morality” that he openly waged, the prototype of just the notion of objective morality that he so despised. 


Thus, when Nietzsche declared “the death of God,” it was the death of moral objectivity, of moral absolutes, that he celebrated.

Human beings had nothing to go on but their own “Will to Power.”  They alone are the creators of value.

Jean Paul Sartre was even clearer on this score.

Though an atheist, he scoffed at those atheists who held that we could preserve such traditional moral ideals as honesty, compassion, and justice while doing away with belief in God.  Rather, he admitted to finding it “very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with him [.]”  If there is no God, then there are “no values or commands,” no principles or ideals, that “legitimize our conduct.”


Sartre’s verdict is as haunting as it is inescapable. If there is no God, then we “are alone, with no excuses.”

The response of believer and unbeliever alike to Adam Lanza’s shooting spree in Connecticutis unmistakably moral in character.  Yet unless God exists, there is no basis for our conviction that it was an act of evil. 

And unless the atheist, in his own peculiar way, needed God as much as anyone else, he wouldn’t feel compelled to look beyond his world of material causes and cosmic insignificance to blame Him for not existing.      





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