Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

As the adherents of the world’s largest religious tradition spend the next month or so preparing for their celebration of the resurrection of their Lord, the time is as good as any for Christians (and everyone else) to acquaint, or reacquaint, themselves with Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), unquestionably among the most influential of Christian thinkers to have ever lived, and a philosopher of distinction in his own right.

Indeed, an education in the history of ideas that constitutes Western civilization is woefully inadequate if it omits mention of Augustine, a North African bishop of the city of Hippo who stood at the intersection of late antiquity and the beginning of the medieval era.

Augustine was at once a prolific writer as well as a master of the Roman oratorical tradition. From the time that he was a youth, Augustine was a student of rhetoric, and while he could read, speak, and write Latin fluently, the man who would become a Christian saint admits to having found Greek formidable. At least in part, though, this was because of Augustine’s own rebellious nature. In his Confessions, Augustine recalls his teacher’s readiness to resort to beating those of his students who made mistakes during their study of the Greek language. Because of the man’s penchant for corporeal punishment, the young Augustine refused to apply himself.

Augustine’s rebelliousness would remain a constant in his life until, after much debauchery, including fathering a child out of wedlock and embracing heretical philosophies, he turned his whole self over to Christ and became a priest, a decision that would not only fundamentally transform Augustine, but the civilization that we have come to know, for Augustine’s contributions to the development of the theology of his civilization’s religion are immeasurable.

Reality & Knowledge

From early on in Christian history, debate raged between thinkers over what, if any, place the pagan philosophers had within Christianity.  Some maintained that the Greeks had nothing to contribute to Christian theology (As Tertullian memorably put it, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”).  Others, like Augustine, held that from the pagans, or at least some of them, like Plato, Christians could gain insights into their own faith.

With this end in mind, Augustine turned to Plato, the philosopher par excellence, in his estimation. Because of the extent to which he utilized Plato’s ideas in the service of developing and systematizing Christian theology, it has been said that Augustine “baptized” the ancient Greek into the faith.

Plato was a rationalist: Knowledge, as opposed to belief or opinion, is rooted in reason; sense-experience could never supply genuine knowledge.

For Plato, what we know are “Ideas,” or “Forms,” or “Essences.”  Ideas are universals.  Some examples: Humanity is the Essence or Form of every particular individual human being; Beauty is the Essence or Form of every particular individual beautiful thing; Justice is the Essence or Form of every particular individual instance of justice.

It is the universal that makes the particular the kind of particular that it is.  For some philosophers, and for many non-philosophers too, universals are just names, categories that human beings invent for classificatory purposes. Not so for Plato. Universals, for Plato, are not only real; universals are more real than sensible particular things.

In fact, ultimately, universals are maximally real, while the things of sense, though not unreal, nevertheless lack full being inasmuch as they are passing away.

Plato, then, is what’s known as an “ultra-realist,” for universals, for him, aren’t just real. They subsist in their own independent ontological realm, and they are held together, as it were, by the most fundamental or primary of all of the universals: the Form of the Good.

Augustine endorsed both Plato’s rationalism as well as his stance on universals. Yet needless to say, the pagan’s views were revised in the light of the Saint’s Christian qualifications. For example, knowledge, Augustine insisted, should be sought not for purely theoretical purposes, but for the sake of achieving beatitude, happiness.  And beatitude is nothing more or less than union with God.

As for Plato’s Forms, in Augustine’s thought they become ideas in the mind of God, or the “Divine Ideas.”  Augustine writes: “The ideas are certain archetypal forms or stable and immutable essences of things, which have not themselves been formed but, existing eternally and without change, are contained in the divine intelligence.”

It’s not that human beings, in knowing the Divine Ideas, penetrate into the far reaches of the mind of God.  In order to head off this objection, which Augustine as much as any Christian would have regarded as blasphemous, the Saint introduced the concept of “Illumination”:

God is like the sun.  Just as the sun provides us with sight and makes the things of sense seen, so God illuminates the mind by providing it with its own intelligible perception of the Ideas, the stuff of knowledge.

Augustine moved Plato’s Universals from their separate transcendental realm into the Mind of God, it’s true. Yet he also used our knowledge of these universal ideas and principles in order to establish the existence of God.  Augustine reasoned thus:

Just as the mutability of the human imagination reflects the mutability of its basis, i.e. the human mind, and just as sense impressions of corporeal objects are mutable because of the mutability of the objects themselves, so the immutability of eternal, necessary, and immutable truths must reflect the immutability of their ground—which can only be God.

One needn’t endorse Augustine’s ultra-realism or his doctrine of Divine Ideas in order to appreciate the thrust of his reasoning here. All of us are aware of some eternal, necessary, immutable truths.  Mathematical statements like 3+2=5, for instance, most of us accept as universally and invariably true.  The principle of contradiction (the principle that a thing can’t be and not be in the same respect at the same time), the most basic law of all thought, is universally and necessarily true. Yet such principles and propositions, such ideas, though readily grasped by and regulative of the human mind, obviously can’t spring from the latter, for they are of a fundamentally different character than that of the finite human mind. But, as ideas, they must belong to some mind.

Thus, these timeless ideas point to a timeless Mind as their ground.

And this timeless Mind, it should go without saying, is the Mind of God.

 

Free Will & the Problem of Evil

Even among Christians, many still seem to be utterly unaware of how to respond to that which is undoubtedly the most formidable of all objections to theism.  The problem of evil (alternately known as “the problem of pain” or “suffering”) is the philosophical or theological problem of reconciling belief in an all-powerful and all-loving God with the presence of evil in the world.

After all, if God is all-powerful, then He must be able to stop evil, and if He is all-good or all-loving, then He must want to stop evil.  Since, then, evil exists, it follows that there can’t be an all-powerful and all-loving God.  This is how the problem has been formulated.

Augustine’s solution, commonly known as the “free-will defense,” remains the most intuitively appealing of all such solutions:

It is not God who is responsible for the evil in the world, the Saint insisted, but human beings. Everything that God created is good just insofar as each thing exists, for being, serving as it does as the basis for all good-making properties, is a good itself.  Whatever has being has “positive reality.”  Now, evil, though real, has “negative reality.”  It’s crucial to grasp that the terms “good,” “positive,” and “negative,” in this context, are not being used primarily in a moral but in an ontological or metaphysical sense.  As a Christian, Augustine accepted without qualification the Genesis creation account of a God who upon bringing the world into being ex nihilo (from nothingness or nonbeing) declared His work good.

Since all beings derive their being from the Supreme Being, all beings, insofar as they exist, are good.

Now, the freedom of the will with which God endowed human beings is a good.  God, in His eternal desire to share Himself with human beings, the only beings who He made in His own image and of whom He wants to make adopted sons and daughters, blessed people with the freedom to accept His offer of friendship.

God, you see, being Love itself, can’t force persons to love Him. Every loving relationship between persons derives its special character from the fact that each person freely embraces the other.  Love presupposes freedom.  Puppets and robots can’t love.

However, the freedom to accept God’s invitation to friendship necessarily implies the freedom to reject it.  Each time a person disobeys God, he shifts his will from the Godward trajectory for which it was designed to the ego-centric track that is the legacy of original sin. Every act of disobedience is a turning away of the human will from its ground and creator.  Augustine’s analysis is rich with spatial imagery: When a will is obedient to God, then it is oriented inward and ascending upward.  When it is disobedient, though, it is focused outward and descending downward.

The point is this: Evil is of negative reality inasmuch as it is a corruption of a good will.  Evil is the absence of goodness, just as silence is the absence of sound, darkness the absence of light, and coldness the absence of heat. Evil is not, then, a creature, much less the creation of God.

So, it is not God who is responsible for evil, but human beings who decided to use the freedom that God has given them for wicked purposes. Evil is not a strength; it is a weakness, a deficiency.

Political Philosophy

Augustine’s The City of God is a magisterial work in which the author articulates his views on a variety of topics, among which is that of politics.  It is here that Augustine identifies what he presents as being the only two types of human association: the “city” of God—what Augustine also refers to as the “heavenly” or “celestial” city—and “the city of man,” or the “earthly city.”

Underneath the rich diversity of manners and customs of the planet’s peoples, ultimately, there are just these two types of human societies. Yet as long as this world of ours remains, “these two cities” will be “‘entangled’…and intermixed until the last judgment” separates them from one another.

Augustine explains that these two cities “have been formed by the two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.”

Put another way, the City of Man, or the Earthly City, “glories in itself,” while the City of God glories “in the Lord” (150).

There is still another way of characterizing the difference between the two cities. The City of Man is composed “of those who wish to live after the flesh,” while the City of God is comprised “of those who wish to live after the spirit [.]”

Although Augustine clearly thought that the City of God is superior to the City of Man, and while he conceded that it’s filled with its share of miseries, he did not believe that the latter was totally depraved.  Peace—what Augustine refers to as “the tranquility of order”—is the end of all types of association, the greatest of all human goods. The City of Man, political life, aims at and succeeds in obtaining the peace that is proper to its nature, a peace that consists in “well-ordered concord” among citizens.

And since the City of God is a “pilgrim” on earth, making its way through the earthly city, it needs the City of Man for the satisfaction of its basic necessaries.

The earthly city, though, insures its own ruin, however, when it either elevates earthy goods above the goods of heaven or fails to recognize altogether that there even are heavenly goods.

If the citizens of the earthly city “neglect the better things of the heavenly city, which are secured by eternal victory and peace never-ending, and so inordinately covet these present good things that they believe them to be the only desirable things, or love them better than those things which are believed to be better—if this be so, then it is necessary that misery follow and ever increase [.]” (151).

As Augustine’s analysis makes clear, the Saint makes two far-reaching contributions to Western political thought.

Firstly, he insists upon a sharp distinction between “Church and State,” the realms of faith and politics.

Secondly, exactly because of this distinction, it follows for Augustine that, contra those philosophers and theorists who assign to rulers the ability to inaugurate utopias of one sort or another, the City of Man cannot be engaged in the enterprise of perfecting men’s souls.  As Augustine writes: “But the peace which we enjoy in this life, whether common to all or peculiar to ourselves, is rather the solace of our misery than the positive enjoyment of felicity.”

He adds: “Our very righteousness, too, though true in so far as it has respect to the true good, is yet in this life of such a kind that it consists rather in the remission of sins than in the perfecting of virtues.”

Augustine here locates himself solidly within the tradition of St. Paul, who in the Book of Romans makes it clear that the secular authorities are to be obeyed because they have been ordained to wield the sword against criminals and the wicked.

Here is another critical respect in which Augustine the Christian parts ways with Plato the pagan.  Though Plato was more likely than not merely entertaining for theoretical purposes the utopian fantasy of his ideal political society when he composed his Republic, it would have been anathema to Augustine to have even theorized about such a thing, for true justice, for the Saint, could be had only after the City of God has been separated from this Earthly city and brought into the eternal Republic of Christ.

This is a reminder of their vocation of which American Christians in the 21st century are in much need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lenten season is here once again and Catholics the world over are preparing for Easter Sunday. In doing so, it is to the lives of holy men and women from over the centuries and millennia that all Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, should turn in their quest to become more Christ-like.

Saint Francis of Assisi is as good a place to begin as any, for such was the power of his example that he has enjoyed for centuries the unique distinction—one, tellingly, that neither the original twelve Apostles nor even Saint Paul succeeded in obtaining—of being regarded as “the Second Christ.”

Saint Francis was born Giovanni Bernardone in Assisi in either 1181 or 1182.  His father was Pietro Bernardone, an Italian silk merchant, and his mother a French woman of whom little is known.  His father, who was away on business when his son was born, was reportedly upset when he discovered that his wife had baptized the baby with the name of “Giovanni,” after John the Baptist.  The last thing that Pietro wanted was for his son to become a holy man; rather, he wanted for him to become a man of the world, a businessman that would follow in his own footsteps both in the silk industry as well as with respect to being a Francophile, like Pietro.

Thus, his father renamed the baby who would become known as the Second Christ as “Francesco,” which essentially means “Frenchman.”

By the standards of the world, Francis had it good. He is said to have been handsome, charming, jocular, popular, and, of course, affluent. Though good-natured enough, Francis was filled with pride and sought attention by, among other things, dressing colorfully.  He was a ring-leader of sorts of a group of young men known for their proclivity toward acting recklessly by way of excessive drinking and other antics.  Francis himself would retrospectively concede that this was a period of his life during which he “lived in sin.”

Francis was very much of the world, seeking, as Saint Augustine put it centuries earlier, “love of self to the point of contempt for God.” Francis thirsted for worldly glory.

And so he went off to war.

Assisi declared war on another Italian city called Perugia, and Francis happily participated.

Yet Assisi lost, with most of its soldiers being killed. Francis had been taken prisoner and his life spared only because it was known that his was a family of means, a family, that is, that was capable of paying ransom for him. After spending one year of being confined to a dark dungeon, Francis was freed.

However, he resumed his old ways, and still longed for Earthly glory. So, when the Fourth Crusade was under way, Francis used his father’s resources to purchase a gold-decorated suit of armor, an exquisite cloak, and a horse so that he could become a crusader.  He assured his associates that he would return a prince.

Given his resolve, one can imagine the shock of his contemporaries who knew him when, in less than one day, Francis returned.  Francis, who always wanted nothing more than to be loved by the world, suffered a dramatic reversal of fortunes as those who knew him mocked and disparaged him, charging him with, among other things, being a coward. His father too expressed rage after having invested in that first-rate suit of armor that Francis had now decided not to use.

So what happened?

Francis claimed that while on his journey, the Lord spoke to him in a dream, assuring him that Francis’s priorities were radically misplaced and instructing him to return home.  It would be a while, but through much prayer and time alone—including time alone in a cave, where he broke down in tears as he lamented his sinful life—Francis drew nearer to God.

When he encountered a leper one day, Francis—the man who had virtually every worldly good for which a person could wish—was repulsed by the leper’s sight and stench.  Yet he embraced the man and kissed his hand.  The leper reciprocated.  Overcome with joy, Francis waved to the leper as Francis rode off on his horse, satisfied that he had done what God willed for him to do.

This event marked a turning point on Francis’s spiritual quest, but, as we will see, he still wasn’t as enlightened as he would become.

While praying at the church at San Damiano, Francis heard Christ speak to him: “Francis,” he heard Jesus say, “repair my church.”  This ancient church was in need of much work, and so Francis assumed that Christ wanted for him to attend to this particular church. He didn’t yet realize that it was the Catholic Church as a whole to which Francis was commanded to minister.

Francis took fabric from his father and sold it.  The proceeds he gave to the bishop for the San Damiano church. When his father discovered what his son had done, Pietro charged Francis with theft and essentially disowned his son in front of the bishop and the people of Assisi.  Francis would no longer be entitled to his father’s inheritance from this juncture onward. Francis’ response, however, was revealing:

He in turn disowned all worldly possessions, in effect taking a vowel of poverty. Moreover, he used his father’s treatment of him as an opportunity to…rejoice. Francis paid back his father the money that he had taken and, in front of the townspeople, joyfully declared:

“Pietro Bernardone is no longer my father. From now on I can say with complete freedom, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven’” (emphasis mine).

It was at this moment that Frances took comfort in knowing that, ultimately, he had but one true Father, a Parent who would never disown him.

Singing blissfully, Frances went off into the woods, into the bitter cold, wearing rags.

And when bandits jumped him, threw him in a ditch, and stole what little clothing he had left, Francis climbed out of the hole and…sang.

Within time, this once-worldly man, this man who not only possessed every conceivable Earthly good, but who relished in worldliness, became a living inspiration to his contemporaries. He rebuilt, with his bare hands, stone-by-stone, the church at San Damiano.  But he also began to rejuvenate the Church, the Bride of Christ that had become corrupted by greedy clerics, by way of his example of piety.

To underscore this last point: Francis was no fire-and-brimstone preacher.  While sleeping outdoors and begging for scraps of garbage to eat, he was always careful to show nothing but tender mercy to even those of the Church’s members who were most scandalous.  For example, when informed of a priest who had been openly living with a woman, the informant asked Francis if this meant that the Eucharist had been corrupted.  Francis responded by seeking out the guilty priest, kneeling before him, and kissing his hands.

Francis’s rationale for his action was that the priest’s hands had touched the Body and Blood of Christ.

His lifestyle began winning over people, folks from all social strata: merchants, educators, university students, and churchmen from the fields and the towns.  Francis refused to be recognized as their “leader.” Instead, he treated everyone as an equal, a child of God who, as such, was entitled to be treated as a being with an inherent dignity.

He did, though, insist that those who would follow his example—Francis had no interest in founding an “order,” for he rejected what he took to be the military connotations of this concept—should do a few simple things, prescriptions that he lifted straight from the Scriptures, specifically, from the New Testament.  Those who wished to follow him needed to: (1) sell all that they had and donate the proceeds to the poor; (2) take nothing with them on their journey to spread the Gospel; and (3) assume their cross daily.

His following grew into the thousands even before Francis passed to glory at the young age of 44.

Other noteworthy facts regarding the life of this outstanding person and disciple of Christ include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1)During the Fifth Crusade, in order to put a stop to the warring between Christians and Muslims, Francis left Italy and traveled to Syria with an eye toward converting the Sultan and however many practitioners of Islam would lend him a hearing.

Francis and his companions were imprisoned. Mercifully, their lives were spared. Moreover, the Sultan was charmed by Francis and reportedly remarked: “I would convert to your religion, which is a beautiful one—but both of us would be murdered.”

Francis and his friends were freed.

(2)Francis saw God’s blessedness incarnated in all of creation—not just in humanity, the crown jewel of God’s handiwork.  It is precisely because of the intensity and inclusiveness of his vision that Francis is known as the patron saint of the environment.

In other words, Francis saw all creatures, animals, plants, the planets, moons, and stars as his brothers and sisters in God.  Even death itself Francis acknowledged as an intrinsic feature of the reality that God authored.

Francis’s vision he beautifully articulated in his Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon.  The following excerpts concisely encapsulate his theocentric reading of the cosmos:

 

Praised be You my Lord, with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun,

Who is the day through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,

Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

 

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,

In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

 

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,

And fair and stormy, all weather’s mood,

by which You cherish all that You have made.

 

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,

So useful, humble, precious and pure.

 

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,

Mother Earth

who sustains and governs us,

producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

 

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Death,

from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they she finds doing Your will.

 

(3)Such was Francis’s compassion for all of creation that he supposedly preached to birds, imploring them to be thankful for their elegant clothing, their freedom, and the fact that God attended to them with care.

Another account is that of a wolf who had been devouring the residents of a town.  The townspeople wanted the wolf dead.  Francis, though, intervened on behalf of the wolf and persuaded the latter to forego its predatory ways.

The wolf subsequently became a pet to the community.  The people who at one point wanted to kill the wolf now made sure that he was fed and treated with compassion.

Francis’s lifestyle of poverty and traveling caught up to him.  He became blind and was racked with other ailments. He nevertheless remained joyful.  It was after he was afflicted with blindness that he wrote his Canticle thanking God for Brother Sun, and it was during his trials, while approaching his deathbed, that he prayed to God to share in Christ’s Passion.  Upon seeing a vision of the Lord, Francis’s prayer was answered as he received the stigmata.

On October 4, 1226, Francis went home to his Father in Heaven.

During this Lenten season, and every season, let us remember the man who memorably remarked that while as Christians we do indeed have a duty to follow our Lord’s injunction to preach the Gospel to all nations, we should use words only when necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only people who can any longer deny with a straight face the reality and pervasiveness of Fake News are fake journalists and their fellow travelers in the Democratic Party.

Actually, there’s in addition a third group of people whose members will, when the opportunity to virtue-signal to leftist elites presents itself, indignantly deny that much of the contemporary world of journalism is Fake News. In fact, this group of “conservatives” will even go so far as to indulge and promote the fakery.

The recent case of the Covington Catholic school boys is illustrative in a number of ways.

As everyone now knows, over a week ago a highly edited video surfaced that was doctored in such a way as to suggest that a group of MAGA hat-wearing teenage white boys, who came to the nation’s capital for the March for Life, went out of their way to harass an elderly American Indian and Vietnam War veteran.

The online mob formed quickly.  Its readiness to issue categorical denunciations of the teens was matched only by its readiness to call for violence, including homicidal violence, against them.

And the mob was bipartisan.

That’s correct: The usual suspects among Big Conservatism, or “the Big Con,” for short—those who spare no occasion to exhibit to the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, Washington Post, etc. their outrage over President Trump’s tweets—were sure to let the world know that their outrage over this matter was second to none.

Obviously, so-called “Never Trumpers,” the Kristols and Podhoretzes, were all too anxious to relegate themselves even further to the nether reaches of irrelevance by showcasing their moral righteousness to their allies on the left.  Yet other “conservatives,” those like Ben Shapiro and Salem Broadcasting’s Hugh Hewitt, who selectively support President Trump, depending on the day, also spared not a moment in piling upon the Covington kids.

So too did such prominent “conservative” Roman Catholic public intellectuals, such as Princeton University’s Robert P. George, pounce.

The most disgraceful, the most sickening, display of moral exhibitionism, however, came from National Review.  The latter’s deputy managing editor, Nick Frankovich, likened the American Indian activist who aspired—and failed—to antagonize the Covington boys to Christ while equating their conduct toward him with that of the Roman soldiers who executed Him.

The boys may as well have spat upon the Lord’s cross, Frankovich insisted.

You read this correctly.

My friend, the writer Christopher DeGroot, recently coined the term “moral prostitutes” while characterizing the Big Con. This is an apt description: The men and women of Big Conservatism have gone beyond virtue-signaling in the case of the Covington Catholic boys.

They engaged virtue-whoring.

The virtue-whores of the Big Con began whistling a different tune, though, not long after they turned tricks for their leftist pimps.  Had they only waited the additional so many hours before the unedited version of events was released—the version that they should’ve known would be released—they wouldn’t have had to be seen for the caricatures of themselves that they’ve become (or have always been?).

Unsurprisingly, as it turns out, the Covington Catholic students aggressed against no one. It is they who were accosted by Nathan Phillips, the left-wing Indian activist who, along with the Democrats in the media, sought to convey the false impression that he was a Vietnam War veteran.

It was the white, MAGA hat-wearing Catholic kids who traveled from Kentucky to Washington D.C. to affirm the cause of the unborn who were made to suffer verbal abuse both by Phillips’ fellow American Indians and the “Black Hebrew Israelite” men who approached them.

The unedited video of these encounters reveals to all with eyes to see that of these three groups assembled not far from the Lincoln Memorial, it was the white, pro-life, Christian, Trump-supporting adolescents who acted like the adults in the room. Conversely, the grown men of color who they were accused of having harassed were the ones who conducted themselves like teenage punks.

This was the proverbial textbook illustration of Fake News at its absolute best (or worst).  Rich Lowry and his colleagues at National Review were subsequently quick to do an about face in deleting their condemnatory tweets and Frankovich’s article likening the Covington kids to Christ-killers.  Neither did the current custodians of Bill Buckley’s magazine waste any time in calling out “the media” for having “bought” Nathan Phillips’ dishonesty.

They were not, though, in much of a rush to acknowledge the ease with which they bought both Phillips’ lies and those of the media.

The Covington students, both those who were involved in this incident as well as their peers who didn’t attend the March for Life, have had their lives irrevocably changed. They have been on the receiving end of a relentless barrage of vitriol, including threats of murderous violence against them and their families.  Nick Sandman’s is now a national household name of notoriety, thanks to the Fake News industry.

But the virtue-whores of the Big Con contributed to the plight of these poor kids as well.

Everyone makes mistakes, of course. Yet the idea that those “conservatives” who joined the feeding frenzy made an honest mistake strains credibility to the snapping point.  Given that they are pundits who have been around, in many cases, for decades, they are either lying when they purport to have been misled by the leftist press or they are incompetent with respect to their craft.

How can anyone who is so much as remotely familiar with the standard operating procedure of the “mainstream” media ever have been even tempted to believe the Covington story, to say nothing of actually believing it?!

As soon as I heard about it (through a leftist colleague), I was convinced that it was Fake News, a media concoction that was tailor-made to advance the left’s current ideology of choice, an ideology that is anti-white, specifically anti-white male, anti-Christian, and anti-Trump.  Given the left’s perpetual quest to find the great White Oppressor, and the endless number of hoax “hate-crimes” that it has invented to that end, how can anyone, or at least any self-proclaimed conservative pundit, not be skeptical when informed that these students sought to start trouble with a bunch of black and Indian adults?  Among other tips that this was Fake News is the fact that adolescents who attend pro-life rallies tend not to go roaming the streets of the nation’s capital looking to start fights with racial minorities (or anyone).

Whether this most embarrassing of episodes of virtue-whoring will prove to be a watershed moment of sorts for the Big Con is left to be seen.  Peoples’ lives, children’s lives, have been made significantly worse in part because certain self-styled conservatives couldn’t resist their impulse to prove to the folks at CNN, MSNBC, and The New York Times that they aren’t “racists.”

Peoples’ lives, children’s lives, innocent children’s lives, are now in jeopardy because self-proclaimed conservatives wanted to showcase to the left just how good they are.

In truth, their efforts to join the vicious mob that targeted the Covington kids reveal that they aren’t very good at all.

 

 

Failed GOP presidential nominee and newly minted Utah senator Mitt Romney couldn’t even wait until he was sworn into office before he submitted his anti-Trump editorial to the vehemently anti-Trump Washington Post.

Despite his public image as a wholesome and honest man, an image that he has labored indefatigably to craft, Romney is, in truth, the embodiment of all that is wrong and bad with the Republican Party and, by extension, the conservative movement.

In other words, for as reprehensible as so-called “RINOs” undoubtedly are, few are as contemptible as is Romney.

In fact, it is worse than this: Romney embodies all that is wrong with American politics.

When John Kerry ran against George W. Bush in 2004, his Republican opponents in D.C. and the conservative media successfully, and accurately, branded him a “flip-flopper.” Yet with respect to flip-flopping on political issues, Kerry was a piker relative to Romney.  Kerry at least never pretended to be anything other than the New England, “liberal” Democrat that he has always been.

Romney, in glaring contrast, though always self-identifying as a Republican, has oscillated on key issues from one position to the next, depending on what he thought would serve his political interests.

Abortion

When Romney ran for the presidency in 2008 and 2012, he exhausted himself assuring the GOP base that he was an opponent of abortion. Yet for most of his career, not only has Romney been a proponent of “women’s choice;” he regularly sought to frustrate the efforts of those who recognized abortion for the evil that it is.

Twenty-five years ago, while he ran against Ted Kennedy for a senator’s seat in Massachusetts, Romney made sure to have his photograph taken at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. He also resoundingly affirmed that “we should sustain and support” Roe v. Wade and “the right of a woman to make that choice” to pursue or not an abortion.  Romney insisted that it would be wrong for him to inject his “personal beliefs” “into a political campaign.”

When Kennedy charged Romney with waffling on the abortion issue—Kennedy said that he was “multiple choice”—Romney replied that upon losing “a dear, close family relative” to an illegal abortion, he and his family “have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others [.]”

Romney added: “And you will not see me wavering on that, or being multiple-choice, thank you very much.”

When Romney ran for the governorship of Massachusetts in 2002, he resolved to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.”  He elaborated: “The choice to have an abortion is a deeply personal one.  Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not [those of] the government.”

When Romney turned his eye to the presidency, though, he began whistling another tune.  In accounting for his apparent conversion on the abortion issue, Romney explained that it was when he had a conversation with Harvard University stem cell researcher, Douglas Melton, that he recognized the error of his ways.  Melton reportedly told Romney that the practice of destroying embryos for purposes of therapeutic cloning was morally permissible.  Shocked, Romney said that he turned to his chief of staff, Beth Myers, and told her that “we have cheapened the sanctity of life by virtue of the Roe v. Wade mentality.”

The only problem with Romney’s account of the moment at which he had this epiphany regarding the wickedness of abortion is that Douglas Melton expressly refutes it, insisting that when he and Romney met, there was zero talk between them concerning the killing of embryos.

Romney’s political-moral conversion on the issue of abortion occurred at just that moment when he prepared to run for the presidency, at that time when it was most politically convenient for him to jettison a position that promised to frustrate his professional aspirations.

As we’ll see, regardless of the subject, political expediency trumped all considerations for Romney.

Second Amendment

When Romney ran for the governorship of Massachusetts in 2002, he was unabashed in his expressing his support for the strictness of his state’s gun laws: “We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts,” Romney remarked. “I support them,” he added. “I won’t chip away at them. I believe they protect us and provide for our safety.”

During Romney’s senate campaign, Romney endorsed the Brady Bill, federal legislation mandating a five day waiting period for all who would purchase firearms.  Romney bragged that his commitment to this law was “not going to make me the hero of the NRA.” This, though, was just fine for Romney, for “I don’t line up with the NRA.”

In 2008, however, right before declaring his candidacy for the presidency, Romney purchased a membership with….the National Rifle Association.

Agricultural Subsidies

During Romney’s campaign for the Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994, he called for the “the virtual elimination” of the Department of Agriculture. But in 2007, while campaigning for the presidency, one of Romney’s spokespersons in Iowa sought to disabuse farmers of their concerns by assuring them that “Governor Romney believes that investing in agriculture is [the] key to our economy and families.”

Universal Health Care

Everyone knows that “Romneycare,” the socialized health care system that Governor Mitt Romney imposed upon the residents of Massachusetts, served as the blueprint for the law that would become known as “Obamacare,” the socialized health care system that President Barack Obama imposed upon all of America.

Although Romney, during his run for the presidency, repeatedly insisted that, insofar as Romneycare was limited only to a single state while Obamacare extended to the whole country, the former was good and the latter terrible, the truth of the matter is that much of Romneycare was indeed funded by the federal government.  Much of it was financed, then, by American taxpayers from around the country—and not just by the citizens of Massachusetts alone.

More to the point, though, is that in the hard back edition of Romney’s book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, the author unapologetically declared his resolve to do for the citizens of America vis-à-vis healthcare what he did for the citizens of Massachusetts.

When, however, the paperback edition of his book was released—on the eve of his run for the presidency—this line of Romney’s was omitted.   

Conclusion

Romney is not the good, honorable man that even some of his conservative movement critics make him out to be. He is a dishonest, dishonorable person who will lie at the drop of the hat in order to serve his own self-interest.

His record renders this verdict undeniable.