Monday, March 31, 2008

An exchange over tolerance

[This exchange was had about two years ago or so--PSR]


This poster was hanging in the office hallway of the CSC at Washington University in St. Louis. I don’t know if it is still hanging there. If it is, it should be taken down immediately. The message of that poster is one of relativism and is, therefore, irreconcilable with the Catholic Faith (and basic common sense). The director of the CSC has told me that he regards relativism as one of the two greatest threats to the Church. Now, he may not understand the message of this poster to be that of relativism, but it is. Let me explain why.

The poster exhorts the reader to "make a difference by accepting the faith of others." Underneath this exhortation is a list of what the geniuses behind this poster consider to be "faiths". This list includes Islam, Buddhism, Secular Philosophies, Pagan and Earth-Based religions, and (my personal favorite) Zoroastrianism as well as others, including, of course, Christianity. Setting aside the problem of calling philosophy a faith (this is a huge, disastrous error all by itself), I note that to accept all these "faiths" requires one to believe that none can be objectively true. For example, if one is a believing Christian, then one believes that Christ is God. A believing Muslim flatly denies this. Moreover, he regards the belief in Christ’s divinity to be a monstrous heresy. Similarly, the believing Christian regards the denial of Christ’s divinity to be a monstrous heresy (The violent history of the Arian Controversy demonstrates this). The only way the Christian and the Muslim can accept eachother’s faiths is for both of them to say that my belief is true for me and yours is true for you. This applies to the other "faiths" as well. For instance, a Kantian Philosopher must say that the categorical imperative is true for himself only if he is ever to accept the "faith" of a Nietzschean, but, this, of course, would make the whole idea of the categorical imperative completely and utterly meaningless.

In short, if we are to obey the command of this poster, then there is onephilosophy or "faith" that we must above all accept. But we must not only accept this philosophy, we must also scrupulously practice it, namely the philosophy or "faith" of subjectivism. According to subjectivism, all beliefs are only true for the believer, and all beliefs are equally true in their own subjective ways. In other words, whatever floats your boat. In other words, out and out relativism. Here is an example of how this cashes out. You’re a Catholic. You believe that pre-marital sex is a grave sin. Your friend’s faith is one of the secular philosophies, namely the Playboy Philosophy according to which pre-marital sex with lots of women is not sinful but a very great good and the definition of bliss. And so you accept pre-marital sex as sinful for yourself while you accept his promiscuity as what makes him happy (as he proceeds to make damaged goods of all your sisters and, perhaps, even your girlfriend--perhaps, even your wife).

The upshot of this is simply that all beliefs and philosophies are nothing more than private opinions. If people believe that their deeply held beliefs are simply opinions, they will be humble about them and keep them in the private sphere. Truths are worth defending to the death, sure, but private opinions are not. This is the ultimate philosophy behind this poster. We all have different opinions but they are just that, opinions. Nothing worth fighting over. So, keep your opinions private, don’t let them intrude upon the public sphere, and then we will have one peaceful, tranquil community.

Now this simply does not work for many reasons. Chief among these reasons is that if everything is a private opinion, then the only thing capable of determining our laws is simple, unprincipled might, and that is why we have a police force. Our one tranquil community is not created so much by an enlightened tolerance but by a very well-armed police force. Nevertheless, our enlightened tolerance, which is nothing more than a subjectivism as shown above, does help the police inasmuch as it gives them a largely quiescent public to patrol. Things become more difficult when a group refuses to join in the deal and submit to this relativism as is currently the case in Germany.

Germany is now having a huge problem with a Muslim Population that refuses to assimilate to its secular nihilism. The daughters of Muslim families are being kept out of public schools, imprisoned in very small apartments, forced into marriages, and being ruthlessly beaten by their husbands who are firmly convinced that their faith is objectively true and that it gives them the authority to beat their wives at will. German society has tolerated this for years under the name of multiculturism (not more than five minutes ago I mentioned to my Uncle in Augsburg the epidemic of wife beating among Muslims in Germany. His response was almost a caricature of the multicultural complacency: Andere Religionen, andere Sitten--i.e, different religions, different morality), but more and more voices are decrying this multiculturism, and these voices belong not so much to the socially conservative religious right but to the secular, progressive left. It’s fine and dandy to accept all faiths and beliefs and philosophies when no one really takes them seriously. It is another thing entirely to accept a faith that its adherents think is objectively true and think should be held by everyone. These Muslims don’t want to accept the Christian Faith, Buddhism, or any other faith besides Islam, and they definitely refuse to accept the faith of any secular philosophy. And the leftist progressives don’t want to accept the faith of forced marriages and wife beating. Far from accepting the faith of these Muslims, the leftist progressives (well, some of them, at least) are calling for government control of the teaching of Islam. Here in this country not even a right wing, xenophobic bigot like Patrick J. Buchanan is calling for such a draconian infringement of the freedom of religion. He does not need to, yet.

Response by my dear friend, Dave P.:

Paul, I think you are mistaking the poster’s intent. You write that this poster exhorts its viewer to accept others’ faiths. It does no such thing. It invites the viewer simply to "make a difference by accepting everyone’s elses." You conclude that this is the same thing as asking us to accept these faiths as expressions of reality. Again, it is not. The poster only asks us to accept other peoples’ RIGHT to live according to the dictates of different faiths. Do you accept that? If not, then there’s no use in
arguing the point further. If you do, then, I guess that’s that as well. In any case, it doesn’t seem to warrant all of the venom you spilled over it.

You continue by writing: "In short, if we are to obey the command of this poster, then there is one philosophy or "faith" that we must above all accept. But we must not only accept this philosophy, we must also scrupulously practice it, namely the philosophy or "faith" of subjectivism." Again, I don’t see where the poster says this at all. If you as a Catholic want to categorically deny the validity of other faiths, you are welcome to do that. To you, subjectively, your faith may be the only expression of truth. I can certainly allow you that belief. I may try to dislodge you from this view through pointed argument, but I’m certainly not going to deny your right to hold this belief. That’s accepting your difference (again, what the poster’s asking of us).

What seems to set you off is the fact that the poster addresses different suites of religious beliefs. Let’s substitute for a moment philosophic ideas for religious beliefs (you do well to point out that philosophy differs from religion). I can’t believe that you would rant over a person’s right to act the Nietzschean versus acting the Kantian or the Marxist or the Comptean, etc. You’d simply say, well, I don’t agree with this or that position, and I’ll argue with you all night about why I think so, if you’d like. But I doubt you’d feel that something’s desperately wrong with the world because we hold opposing philosophical views. You’ll accept it. This isn’t relativism at all. One of those views may actually be true - or all may be completely wrong. Likely there’s some tincture of right dissolved in a whole lot of wrong. The same holds true for the different suite of religious beliefs. This isn’t relativism. We don’t, again, have to believe that any of those other beliefs are true. But, hell, people have lived and lived well according to religious beliefs that time has proven totally devoid of truth - accept perhaps in some metaphoric sense (take the ancient Greeks or Egyptians for example).

Now, the problem, which you rightly raise, is what happens when and if someone attempts to suppress another’s right to hold different religious beliefs. The minute someone comes down the pike and screams, "No, all of you others must accept my belief. I’m going to get control of political power and use armed force to suppress you," then we have a problem. The poster is trying to short-circuit this potentiality. In a democratic society we live by certain rules. Our forefathers in their wisdom recognized that wrangling over religious beliefs had for millenia steered polities into cul de sacs resolved only, or mostly, by resort to violence. They had seen their own stolid England fall to swords the century before over one’s right to dissent from the established Church. So they decided to allow absolute freedom of religious thought. Period. This extended, implicitly, to all manner of other beliefs given that the expression of those beliefs did not infringe on another’s right to hold his or her belief. In short, if my faith "A" involves picking up a knife and slashing to death anyone holding faith "B", this obviously does not fly in this society. Maybe in India. But not here. You have broken the rules and you will be judged and punished accordingly. These are our rules, yes relative to our society and to large portions of the West - not written in stone tablets by God - but they seem to work pretty well. They at least make utilitarian sense and have allowed generations to live a more or less irenic social existence on this continent.

All of this said, I take exception to some of your arguments:

You write: "In other words, whatever floats your boat. In other words, out and out relativism. Here is an example of how this cashes out. You’re a Catholic. You believe that pre-marital sex is a grave sin. Your friend’s faith is one of the secular philosophies, namely the Playboy Philosophy according to which pre-marital sex with lots of women is not sinful but a very great good and the definition of bliss. And so you accept pre-marital sex as sinful for yourself while you accept his promiscuity as what makes him happy (as he proceeds to make damaged goods of all your sisters and, perhaps, even your girlfriend--perhaps, even your wife)."

According to my argument, you are free to believe that pre-marital sex is sinful both for you AND for your friend (the poster is not suggesting you do otherwise). You do not accept his promiscuity because it makes him happy. Rather, you try in the strongest possible terms to point out how his promiscuity, in your eyes, actually makes him unhappy. This is not relativism. You hold absolute beliefs. He, for his part, holds beliefs that may also be absolute but which are likely ill-defined (if he’s like other philistines I’ve met). He just wants pleasure, he’s an unthinking hedonist. He either accepts your argument and changes or, more likely, shrugs his shoulders and later that night unzips his pants on yet another (un)willing conquest. So what do you want to do? Do you want to deny his RIGHT to behave as he will, put laws on the books that deprive him of his freedoms, perhaps even excise him as a social disease? Is that what you really want? And if so, what if down the road the Playboy decides he doesn’t want any prudish Catholics sniffing around any more spoiling everyone’s fun, gains power in his turn and has you and your correligionists paraded off to the tower?

Again you write: "The upshot of this is simply that all beliefs and philosophies are nothing more than private opinions. If people believe that their deeply held beliefs are simply opinions, they will be humble about them and keep them in the private sphere. Truths are worth defending to the death, sure, but private opinions are not. This is the ultimate philosophy behind this poster. We all have different opinions but they are just that, opinions. Nothing worth fighting over. So, keep your opinions private, don’t let them intrude upon the public sphere, and then we will have one peaceful, tranquil community."

All beliefs and philosophies ARE in the end opinions. They are, however, not necessarily private because we often share them with many other people. And people do believe at times that (some of) their opinions are not opinions at all but rather Truths - even Truths worth dying for (remember the folks who flew the airplanes into the NY towers?). Fine. But if, like a pro-life assassin, you get caught shooting abortion clinicians, you will end up behind bars or even in the electric chair. You’ve broken the rules. Now, you may not care. You and others of your kidney may call your death a matyrdom and someone may even write a song of praise about you or put up a plaque of commemoration. But according to the rules of our society, those who deprive others of their right under our laws to hold different believes (which are placed on the books after informed deliberation), will be in turn deprived of their civil rights. Period. These rules seem sensible to me. Not to a fanatic, likely (at least not after the fanatic gains his end - fanatics love the democratic "live and let live" philosophy while their hatching their plots), but to most of us with democratic sensibilities. You don’t have to keep your opinions to yourself - stand up on your soap box all day if you’d like. Just don’t pull out a gun. And yes, under such a social contract we will live in one peaceful, relatively tranquil community. Thank God.

Let’s continue. You write: "Now this simply does not work for many reasons. Chief among these reasons is that if everything is a private opinion, then the only thing capable of determining our laws is simple, unprincipled might, and that is why we have a police force. Our one tranquil community is not created so much by an enlightened tolerance but by a very well armed police force. Nevertheless, our enlightened tolerance, which is nothing more than a subjectivism as shown above, does help the police inasmuch as it gives them a largely quiescent public to patrol. Things become more difficult when a group refuses to join in on the deal and submit to this relativism as is currently the case in Germany."

Again, I don’t see how this is true. Most of the opinions we hold, again, are not "private" opinions at all but opinions shared by many, many others. Not in all things, naturally, but for the BIG ticket items there’s often a vast consensus. This is an essential phenomenon because it makes us behave (in more than one sense) as a community. Few men, I’d submit, can live without some commonality of belief/opinion - again, a good thing, because it’s just this commonality of belief that holds civil society together. One important opinion that most of us living in democratic America hold is the right for others to believe what they will so long as their actions do not infringe on the civil rights of others (what I’ve been talking about). Our laws are in the end upheld largely by this consensus, and not, as you suggest, by any police force. If the day comes when this consensus no longer holds, there will not exist enough policemen to contain the violence of the masses in revolt. A brief glimpse into the history of revolutions will make this more than apparent.

I hope this hasn’t been too much of a rant, Paul. I just strongly disagree with your views on this matter.

Best regards, my friend.

Dave

My Response:

Dear David,

I will start this by acknowledging our agreement that there is a difference between philosophy and religion. I trust that you would further agree that this difference is in kind and not in degree. Now, I would formulate the difference as that between philosophy and supernatural revelation only because the term religion focuses the mind on organization whereas "supernatural revelation" is a knowledge claim and, as such, is more readily comparable and contrastable with philosophy.

In short, philosophy is what can be known by natural reason alone, and supernatural revelation tells us what cannot be known by philosophy. It is a very great error to conflate the two and leads to one of two disasters. To say that supernatural revelation is nothing more than a philosophy is to deny transcendence of the natural order and, therewith, to deny by categorical legerdemain any voice at all to the claims of supernatural revelation at the very outset. One winds up trapped in his own reason. The Philosophes of the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment did not know this nightmare since they were sponging of the cultural capital bequeathed to them by the Middle Ages, but Nietzsche and Kafka did know this nightmare and articulated it very well. Or, if you reverse the subject with the predicate and assert that philosophy is a supernatural revelation, then one denies the objectivity of reason and, therewith, the testability of any claim. Everything then becomes matter of blind faith and communication is impossible except between two inspired prophets who by the whim of God (or the gods) happen to preach the same revelation.

The poster, I contend, makes the latter part of this error. By putting "secular philosophies" under the rubric of faith, the poster is in effect saying everything is a matter of faith and, therefore, nothing is testable by reason. Thus, you are left with only this choice, accept the differences or don’t. Since refusal to accept will only lead to endless debates that are a priori unresolvable and, hence, to rancorous divisions that could very well cause bloody civil war or, worse, anarchy, acceptance is better for the sake of peace and tranquility. Post-Modern plurality is inexorablefate. Accept it because denial only causes endless strife.

Now, here is where your critique kicks in, David Paul. You contend that I err in my understanding the poster’s "accept" as "accept" simply. The real meaning of the poster’s "accept" according to you is: "accept the right of others to live according to the dictates of their different faiths." If one just accepts this meaning, then all my objections collapse. The poster on your reading of it does not require one to accept the content of any philosophy or faith; it simply exhorts one to acknowledge a basic right. The poster is simply a re-formulation of Voltaire’s famous dictum: "I may not agree with anything you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

But this reading ignores that this dictum is itself a certain belief, namely one that holds that all human speech, however dimwitted, makes some contribution to the pursuit of the truth. Therefore, no speech should be suppressed. This is a particular belief, and as a particular belief why the deuce does it have pride of place among the other beliefs listed on this poster? Your reading of the poster basically is this: It does not require anyone to accept the content of any belief, except one, namely the belief of Voltairian Liberalism.

What if I don’t believe that freedom of speech is worth dying for? What if I do not believe that the Nazis had the right to march in Skokie because I am just not convinced that the Nazis could ever make a contribution to the pursuit of truth? This is my very sincere belief, and it is at complete loggerheads with that belief that is supposed to save that poster from utter nonsense. Your belief cannot tolerate mine without undermining itself and vice versa. Tolerance cannot tolerate intolerance, and intolerance simply does not tolerate.

Of course, you can always change the purpose of the Voltairian principle from the pursuit of the truth to the maintainance of societal tranquility, but that would in no way make it any less of a "faith". Why should the faith that holds for the sake of public peace, we must let every crackpot have his say, trump the faith that says for the sake of communal concord we should kill everyone who disagrees with us?

Because, Paulie (I can hear you say), there is a consensus for the former and not the latter, and we have such a consensus not because of any particular belief but because history has shown conclusively that the attempt to erect a monolithic culture by means of coercive Gleichschaltung leads not to tranquility but to lots and lots of strife and bloodshed. In this age of pluralism, there is simply not just one group strong enough to force its beliefs on all others, and if one group tries to play king of the hill, perpetual war will result. It requires no particular belief to realize this, merely the desire for a life that is not nasty, brutish, and short.

Thus, the foundation of this tolerant society is nothing less banal than the Hobbesian fear of violent death. But many beliefs, especially many well-known religious ones, teach and train believers not to fear any death. For the Hobbesian system to work, these beliefs must be watered down. The citizenry must believe more or less that nothing transcends the security that the state provides.

You may argue that no, citizens can have beliefs that override the fear of violent death, but they must be prepared to pay the legal price if they act on these beliefs. This argument works only in a society where the likes of Paul Hill and Eric Rudolph are still very rare. The mass of men in this country still lead lives of quiet resignation. But let’s say the anti-abortion crowd radicalizes on a massive scale. Right wing religious whackos all home school their kids and inculcate in them the belief that Roe v. Wade is a valid casus belli. Do you think the state will wait until this legion of zealots act on their beliefs?

Your argument for liberal tolerance ultimately ignores the inseparability of belief and action, which is one of the many errors of Protestantism. Europe is still Catholic enough to realize this is a fatal error at least with regard to radicalized Islam. This is why France has banned Islamic symbols from the schools and why there are calls in Germany for the state to regulate the content of Islamic education. I don’t know what is being done in Britian, but the British government would be mad to tolerate the faith of Jihad. Dangerous beliefs lead to dangerous actions. The idea that all beliefs should be tolerated is a perilous naïvete.

Love,

Paul

[Note bene: Dave did reply to my response, but I have since lost it. I will post it if and when I finally find it.--PSR]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Corn Ethanol

This is all you need know about it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Clarification on my views of Protestantism

A young woman after having read my profile [on MySpace, where I declared among other things that I'd rather be a gay porn fluffer than a Protestant] observed that my hatred of Protestantism went beyond a mere disagreement. With me, she wrote me, it seems to be a livid, raging vendetta. "Seems", my lady? Nay, it is. I know not "seems".

Now, let me state at the outset that, yes, I acknowledge that there are a great many Protestants whom I admire and who put me to shame as a Christian. One of these actually helped me to set my mind straight about abortion and (ironically enough as the clever reader will soon see) the poison of moral relativism. Another is a very sweet young woman who has done humanitarian work for two years in Nepal. I am a big fan of Søren Kierkegaard and even have a soft spot for Luther's polemical flourishes. And, of course, two of my all time heroes are Sophie and Hans Scholl, who were both still Lutherans when the Nazis murdered them. Their nobility is unsurpassable. I repeat: Unsurpassable.

My battle is with Protestantism, not so much with Protestants, certainly not with Protestants who are sincerely trying to live the Christian Faith to the best of their abilities. Protestantism is rotten to the core. Its principles of sola this and solo that lead logically to the subjective individualism that is so amenable and acquiescent to the hegemonic rule of consumerist capitalism but is utterly inimical and antithetical to true Christian Culture which is communitarian (Acts 2:43-47).

Take, for instance, one of the more well known of the "solas", sola scriptura, the notion that the Bible is the ONLY infallible rule of faith. This was the boneheaded concoction of Dr. Luther. Luther, of course, needed an authority to replace the one he comprehensively rejected, id est the authority of Rome. Well, that's easy, said Luther. The authority of Holy Writ! Duh! Fine, but Holy Writ, as magnificent and miraculous a book as it is, is still in one crucial respect like all other books: It needs to be interpreted. Luther thought he could get around this problem by saying either that Scripture interprets itself or that the Bible is so clear on "fundamentals" that everyone can understand it. The problem was that not every Bible-believing Christian had the same conception of clarity as Dr. Luther, and this made Dr. Luther angry. When the students at his school were coming up with exegeses of the Bible which differed with his, he ordered the Bibles replaced with copies of his catechism. When the Anabaptists dared to suggest that infant baptism had no Biblical warrant, Luther wanted to burn their sorry heretical asses. What Luther meant by sola scriptura was really his own dictatorial fiat.

Men will sometimes submit to divine authority, but to the authority of the mere opinions of some foul-mouthed, egghead scripture scholar? You gotta be kidding me! No, the thought among the people was, "Well, great, Rome is off our backs, and if Luther can interpret Holy Writ according to his whim, hey, so can we!" Presto! Every man his own pope!

This is doctrinal anarchy, of course, and it still prevails to this day. We have a protestantism that affirms limited atonement and another that denies it. One that affirms infant baptism and another that denies it. One that affirms free will and another that denies it, and on and on and on. A Christian culture must have doctrinal unity. The so-called Reformation gave us doctrinal anarchy and, thus, destroyed the culture once called Christendom.

And what took its place? Since people could not be united by a public belief anymore and since the love of philosophy can only unite a rarefied group of eggheads, the only thing that could keep society from coming unglued was the Hobbesian compact. In other words, rationally counterbalanced selfishness. People could not agree on the questions of justification and the sacraments, but they could very well agree on their own material welfare and self-enrichment. So, in the absence of a unified belief, the universal motives of self-preservation and greed became the uniter. Sort of. The motives, of course, lead inevitably to strife. Hence, the Hobbesian compact. In other words, a good, well armed police force to make sure that every individual's struggle to realize his greed against everyone else's does not lead to bloodshed--at least. Thus, the Occident which was supposed to be the culture of Christ became instead the culture of the marketplace and the cops.

Protestantism divided the Kingdom of God and, in so doing, delivered the Occident over to the Kingdom of Mammon. This is just one reason why I hate Protestantism with a fiery vengeance.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ah, Geez!

I already dealt with the true meaning of The Regensburg Address, but apparently it did not reach the caves in Northern Pakistan. Maybe this will, but I doubt it.

Osama bin Laden, the putative mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and wanna-be Caliph, has released a new single today, sure to be the biggest hit on iTunes al Qaeda. In the new tape bin Laden claims that the Pope has called for another crusade. Apparently the 2006 Regensburg Address has finally been brought to his attention by way, I might add, of a neo-con courier. Ever since the Regensburg Address, neo-cons like George Weigel and Richard John Neuhaus have been trying to make people believe that Papa Ratzi is on their side in the war on terror and the project to wipe Islam off the map with the imposition of (neo-) liberal democracy. Well, Papa Ratzi is not on their side. Merely printing out The Regensburg Address will indicate as much. Only one page is devoted to a critique of Islam, and seven pages are devoted to a critique of the modern democratic West, and the address itself is barely nine!

Yes, it is true that Papa Ratzi's uses the harshest language of the address in the Islam critique, and Weigel and Neuhaus have repeatedly drawn attention to this in their mendacious campaign to make the Pope a fellow honorary lackey of Norm Podhoretz. What they don't tell you is that by the end of the Address it is clear to anyone with reading comprehension at the sophomore highschool level (and I assume that both Neuhaus and Weigel made it through their sophomore years--at least) that Papa Ratzi applies that critique of Islam to the modern democratic West. For just as the Byzantine Emperor imagines Islam to be, the modern West has severed ties with a metaphysics of reason and can communicate its values only by force of a blind, irrational will. Therefore, the modern west can spread its new faith, liberal democracy, only by violence.

Well, what intellectual movement in the West devotes all their intellectualism to the proposition that we must bomb the world into liberal democratic freedom? If you said, "The Neo-Cons,", you can take pride that you are smarter than both Weigel and Neuhaus, but don't let it go to your head for such a feat is not hard at all. The Regensburg Address, if you actually take time to read it, is not a neo-con document at all; it is, in fact, a pointed condemnation of the neo-con project.

If bin Laden had actually read the address, he probably still would be pissed for Papa Ratzi does say at the very least that Islam's theology is dangerously voluntaristic but would, I hope, know better not to lump him in with those wanna-be neo-crusaders. Ratzinger's address was, if anything, a clarion call for the return to the quiet study of metaphysics, and that is hardly a shrieking reprise of Deus vult, much less an endorsement of Bush and McCain's puerile warmongering.

But, perhaps, Osama bin Laden is as dumb and as metaphysically tone-deaf as the neo-cons. That would not surprise, although I would not put it past the neo-cons to have infiltrated Al Qaeda simply to get bin Laden all riled up about what Papa Ratzi really did not say. And then bin Laden will order an attack on the Vatican, and the CIA and roaming Israeli Exchange Students will tell the Italian Intelligence to let the attack happen. The Vatican will be bombed. The Pope will die, Europe will be sufficiently ginned up to enlist in Norm Podhoretz's World War IV and we will have apocalyptic chaos, and the neo-cons will all fiddle in giddy excitement while the world as we know it burns away.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

a brief observation about Obama's speech yesterday

Mr. Obama made it clear that he repudiated his pastor’s vehement assertion that white racism is endemic in this country. Nonetheless, he went to great lengths to make his audience understand that this was not an apoplectic fit of a wacko who had lost his meds, but rather an expression of frustration by an accomplished man who had lost his hope. Thus, Mr. Obama’s liability becomes his rationale for his clarion call for the restoration of American Hope. Very neat.

Mr. Obama’s address did not focus entirely on the deep racial problems in this country, though. Early on in the speech, he did address with one brief sentence Jeremiah Wright’s angry denunciation of Israel. He did not say that as wrong and hurtful as such a condemnation is, we must understand where it comes from so that we can better address the pain, hurt, and frustration that lies behind such an angry distortion of geopolitical reality. Mr. Obama instead simply dismissed his pastor’s critique of Israel out of hand.

So, when he rants about race, Pastor Wright is wrong, but we must take a seminar in American History not merely to know why he is wrong but also to come to understand how frustration with the poor lot of the American black would lead such a thoughtful man to such wild and confused rage; but when he opens his trap about Israel, he is simply a lunatic. No mention of how the Israeli government has systematically robbed, killed, starved, and even dehydrated the Palestinian people ever since the creation of modern Israel sixty years ago. No mention of the series of predatory and brutal wars that Israel has launched against Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon. Also, no mention at all, I might add, of Israel’s role in getting this country to do unjust and predatory wars that Israel does not have quite the means to do herself.

In short, no mention of anything that would even hint that there exists a history that can make sense of the anger, frustration, and, yes, rage that is hurled at Israel and at our country for supporting her. A history of all this--such as one which John J. Mearsheimer, one of Mr. Obama’s colleagues at the University of Chicago, has done--is not needed for the mess in the Middle East is, unlike the American Racial Divide, simple enough to be explained on a postage stamp. It is, after all, clear that the conflicts in the Middle East today cannot have any reason beyond the wholly unreasonable insanity of the "perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam", and none but crazy, tin-pot pontificators or other such wild lunatics (such as, say, Edward Said, with whom Mr. Obama once was photographed having dinner) would dare deny such a self-evident truth.

AIPAC is to be congratulated for the fine number it has done on Barack Obama.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Gore Scenario

Pelosi today pretty much endorsed Obama today when she told George Stephanopoulos that the Democratic Candidate who has the most elected delegates going into the convention should be the nominee. Well, that will be Obama, unless Clinton wins every remaining state in a ludricrously lopsided landslide, and that won’t happen, unless, of course, Clinton fellates the CEO of Debold, which is not beyond the pale of Machiavellian possibilities. Clinton is, after all, a post-modern Lady Macbeth. For now, at least, it is a statistical certainty that Obama will maintain the lead in the delegate count, but that’s it.

It is also as certain that Obama will not reach the magic number needed for the nomination, and once that becomes excruciatingly clear after the first convention ballot, those so-called pledged delegates won’t be pledged any longer. All bets are off. Chaos will ensue, as the Clintons will be free to pillage and poach Obama’s delegates. The Great Equanimous One may at last have to resort to good old fashioned fisticuffs to defend them, thereby showing that he is indeed from Chicago after all. Perhaps the Dems could get Jerry Springer to mediate a mud wrestling match on the floor of the convention. Suffice it to say that it will be ugly, and everyone will stink.

This is why some are predicting that Al Gore will be the White Knight who saves the Democratic Party from cannibalizing itself on Prime Time TV. Isn’t Gore’s present silence a bit odd? Why hasn’t he endorsed anyone yet? The candidates are so desperate for each and every last delegate that they’ll wash down bad beer at superbowl parties with nebbishes like Bill Richardson for their endorsements. Gore is an Oscar-Nobel-winning megastar who won the popular vote in 2000. His endorsement would be worth at least two Oprahs, and yet we’ve not heard a peep from him for a very long time. Curious.

Gore is biding his time until the convention becomes 1968 all over again, this time inside. Clinton will have become as bitchy as Medusa that no one except, perhaps, Gloria Steinem will want anything to do with her, and all of Obama’s inspiring transcendent talk about uniting this country will be so much spilled snake oil over the rubble of an ignominious street fight.

Enter Gore, the man who will be truly above the fray because he chose to stay out of it and instead campaign to save the planet, if not the entire universe. It will be like the Parousia descending Mount Olive. The Obamamaniacs, disillusioned by the cynical carnage all around them, will be suffering acute hope withdrawal and will rush to Gore in mad desperation for another fix. And the Clintonistas, apart from, again, Gloria Steinem, wanted to vote for Gore anyway. It will be so dazzling and blinding that all of McCain’s support on the religious right may well be raptured.

The raptured can’t vote, and those Left Behind will give us President Albert Gore.

Well, I’ll be left behind, too, because I am Catholic, but I am not voting. I could give two shits about the farce we call American Democracy.

The Ides of March

Yesterday was the Ides of March, but the tyrant Dick Cheney still lives, and no one has the guts of Brutus anymore. Oh, well. Yesterday was also the birthday of L. Ron Hubbard, the guy who invented a very high-tech closet for the likes of Tom Cruise and John Travolta, otherwise known as Scientology. Mr. Hubbard coined that word to mean the study of knowledge. Fuck Hubbard. There was already a word for that, "epistemology". Uneducated Wankers like Hubbard gave us mongrel neologisms like "quadrophonic". I assure my readers that I am no Nazi, but when it comes to compound derivatives from the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome, I insist upon ethnic purity. Either "quadrosonic" or "tetraphonic" or admit that you have no business meddling with Latin and Greek and just say "four-way sound" or shut up. And if you want to make a religion out of epistemology, convert to Cartesianism. It is every bit as gnostic, doesn't require you to read thousands of pages of schlocky science fiction, and is much cheaper. Of course, Cartesianism does not have hired drones to impregnate Katie Holmes to make us all believe that Tom Cruise is not gay. But you can't have such luxury with a very low overhead.

Anyway, to mark this momentous occasion there was a Scientology protest in University City yesterday afternoon. I joined it because I would really like to stomp on Scientology with spiked shoes. Scientology is an obvious racket as is Mormonism, and yet both are protected and tax exempted by our really stupid notion of Religious Freedom, one of those precious freedoms that makes the murder of ten year old Iraqi girls a tragic necessity.

Many of the protesters were wearing masks, and many of those were V for Vendetta masks, as if Scientology were not simply a cynical manipulation of religiosity and the self-help craze to bankrupt pathetic suckers but actually an oppressive tyranny that needs a second Gunpowder Plot to overthrow it. The original Gunpowder Plotters were all fierce Catholics. I like the idea. But the masks were not simply a sign of solidarity with Guy Fawkes or an expression of cinematic preference; they were also protection against the very real possibility of reprisal from the Scientology thugs. Scientology is known to photograph any who dare speak the truth about its evil and harass him with some trumped-up charge or, worse, murder him and then make the murder look like a suicide. I was not wearing a mask, and I was photographed alot, ostensibly by fellow protesters, but as with everything about Scientology, appearances can be deceiving. The people shooting me could very well have been infiltrators. After all, anyone could join the protest. I did.

Later that day I was accosted by three obviously underage girls who wanted me to give them change to satisfy a requirement of a scavenger hunt. As I gave one of the girls a token amount of two coppers, another girl took a picture of us. I thought nothing of it until a few minutes after they had traipsed away. And then it came to me. I'm gonna get busted for solicitation of a minor. Geez!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Something that gives me hope

And, no, it's not the line, "There is not a Red America, there is not a Blue America, there is the United States of America." Good, you passed your fifth grade geography test, and that is about it. No, what gives me hope this morning is a line in the book section of a young woman's MySpace profile: "Books are my drug, and the Librarian is my dealer." Civilization as we know it, although it may be in rapid decline, is not quite dead yet.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tackling an annoying atheist quip

Atheists like to tell us benighted monotheists that they simply believe in one fewer god than we do. They wait for the puzzled neanderthal gape, which admittedly they sometimes get, and then explain, "Well, you deny all the gods of the ancient polytheisms for precisely the same reason we deny yours, to wit: they are just figments of imagination (and quite possibly some kind of neurosis as well). Well, then, why do you believe in just one God? What is your principle for accepting one God and denying all the others, eh? Aren't you being just a tad inconsistent?"

No, we're not. Aquinas actually gave this challenge a long, exhaustive answer in Chapter 42 of the First Book of Summa contra Gentiles. I will be a bit more brief: For monotheists God is not simply a supernatural entity with comic book powers, he is actually Being itself and as such the source of all being. Therefore, we monotheists believe that there can only be one God because there is only one principle of the to be. If there were multiple gods, there would be multiple principles of the to be. But everything in the universe at least has one thing in common, namely that it exists, it is a being, it has a to be. But multiple principles of existence mean no unity of being, and that would wipe out the commonality of existence. And so non-being would no longer be the only opposite of being, being could be as well. And this is clearly absurd.

A Ten Year Old Girl

Our soldiers shot and killed a ten year old Iraqi girl today, oh boy. Preliminary reports suggest she was unarmed but giving a signal to evil, pusillanimous, freedom-hating terrorists. If we had not killed her, then the evil-doers would have received the signal, our boys would have been blown to bits, terror would have claimed another victory, which would have emboldened another 9/11, and we would all be brandmarked dhimmis under the new worldwide Caliphate that would swiftly follow.

I owe those soldiers who gunned down that ten year old girl a really heavy debt of gratitude. Otherwise, I would be living in a fascist state that monitored all my phone calls. Er, wait. Okay, well, I can still enjoy hotwings at hooters and get a pornographic dvd really cheap.

I want to vomit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Man of God

When I re-joined MySpace, I wondered what I should do first. Should I contact my former MySpace friends, the ones with scare quotes and those without? Or should I just show that my very moral reasons for leaving the Murdoch-owned MySpace were utterly bogus by trying to find barely legal teens willing to have a nefarious assignation with a totally depraved middle-aged lech like me? I did neither. The first thing I did was pick a religious fight with an anti-Catholic bigot who calls himself A Man of God. I sent him a cheeky attack on Protestantism, and he sent me a very serious attack on the Pope along with his equally serious concern for my soul, and so we had yet another Catholic-Protestant back and forth that has not changed much in five hundred years, save the concern for proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. I asserted that Protestantism is anarchy and responsible for the moral relativism that poisons us to this day, and he accused the Pope of attempting to usurp the place of God and thereby lead millions upon millions of people into hellbound idolatry. Nothing is ever changed by these pissing matches, but I indulge them all the same mainly because I have not been laid in sixteen years, masturbation is a mortal sin, and I need to get my yah-yahs out somehow.

Anyway, the exchange ended when this Man of God finally read my profile and discovered to his utter shock and horror that I hang out with pagan undergrads and would rather be a gay porn fluffer than a Protestant. This made me in his eyes an irredeemable pervert. He could only imagine what I do with those pagan undergrads, and it was probably the most fun he has had in a very long time, too. I can only wish my time with pagan undergrads would be what this Man of God can only imagine. My next round of quality time with an undergrad pagan will be devoted entirely to a discussion of Dostoevski's Notes from the Underground and Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, and I am guessing this is not what that Man of God had in mind. Sorry.

Yes, I know what really triggered his sense of sanctimonious outrage (which is the raison d'être of these Men of God). It was my preference of sucking a gay porn star's cock to being a Protestant. I thank God every day that He does not test me with this choice, but if He did, then, well, assenting to heresy and, thereby, renouncing the Faith is more evil than aiding masturbation. Catholic Teaching ranks sins, and that means some sins are worse than others. Admittedly I chose a rather offensive and disgusting way to illustrate this point mainly because I am a sick and spiteful man who may well have a diseased liver but also as a reminder that we cannot base our moral hierarchy on a sense of shock alone. It is because this nation of pornographic puritans is so obsessed with the shock of a blowjob in the inner sanctum of the Oval Office that lying about fellatio rises to the level of a high crime whereas lying us into wars--wars that destroy livelihoods, send millions of mothers and daughters into sex slavery, and, of course, maim and murder lots and lots of people to no good end--does not. We are moralistic morons.

By the way, I thought evangelicals like this Man of God believe that all sin is equally depraved in the eyes of God. So, who the fuck is he to get high and mighty about my preference of fellatio to Protestantism? Let's say that Protestantism is the one, true faith handed down to us from the Apostles (with the exception of St. James, of course, whose "Epistle of Straw" clearly demonstrates his semi-pelagian heresy), and because I would rather pay homage to Jeffrey Stryker than join the forever squabbling Children of Dr. Martin Luder, I am turning away from God and am thereby a wretched, totally depraved sinner.

So fucking what? That Man of God sinned as well by imagining what I would do with all those pagan undergrads, eh? After all, he needed to get hot and bothered to muster all that outrage. Sure, an idle impure thought that comes reflexively after reading something unexpectedly shocking is not deliberate whereas I went out of my way to assert that disgusting preference. It is still impure, and impurity is sin, and sin is sin, and so this Man of God is as much a sick fuck as I am. And he's casting stones? Please!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Champion of Democracy? Blow me!

Might as well post this: It simply confirms what anyone who is not comatose or a fascist already knows, that Bush is a lying piece of shit. Bush cares nothing about Democracy at all. Of course, he said so to make our imperialistic wars sound noble, and that's nothing new. Wrapping our dirty little wars in noble-sounding bombast is as American as Hooters and Union Busting. But when the wars are just too dirty even for noble lies, the government pays off thugs to hire Ghurkas through back channels for the sake of one of my favorite Orwellianisms, "plausible deniability".

By the way, the Surge isn't working. "Straight talk" is, of course, yet another Orwellianism and simply means "to lie your ass off".

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Happy Poem

She thought their love would never quit soring,
But then the passion sputtered, and it was boring,
The once ever-blooming flower
Wilted and turned very sour
Sultry June became cold February,
True love was merely temporary,
Warm fuzzy feelings do not banish strife,
But Herpes, indeed, will last all her life!

Weishaupt's Legacy

Herr Weishaupt may long be dead, but his minions are alive and well and working feverishly to remove the name of God from the Public Square and thereby ensare the soul of this great God-fearing nation for the everlasting fires of perdition! "In God We Trust", our country's motto of piety and humility towards our Creator--you know, that guy who has blessed us with our rights to watch cable television--, has been removed from the new dollar coin issued by the U.S. Mint this past February 15. Well, okay, not removed actually, but it is no longer on the face or the back where it could be easily seen for our much needed edification and spiritual uplift. The motto has been relegated to the very thin edge spelt out in very tiny letters which will be quickly worn down once circulated. This is outrageous! God is being pushed to the edge, and if Weishaupt's epigones have their way, and they will should we lose our vigilance for our freedoms, they will push God off the cliff entirely. Don't doubt the resolve of these godless termites. They will eat at our God-given liberties until we will be singing "The Internationale" before each game of our new national pastime, Soccer. Oh the horrors!

Yesterday evening I was in a newshop on Olive Street and witnessed a man purchasing a stack of hardcore pornographic magazines, each of which comes with a hardcore pornographic DVD, and he purchased them with paper bills, each of which has "In God We Trust" on it. So, if anything, "In God We Trust" needs to be put in much larger print. Oh, well. Annuit coeptis indeed.