The View From 1776
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Education vs Outsourcing
Surprisingly little attention is paid to one main reason for outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries.
Outsourcing jobs to foreign countries has become a hot-button political issue. French socialist John Kerry proposes to wave his magic socialist wand and command that American companies cease to move jobs overseas and that they bring the jobs back to our shores.
Kerry, in common with his liberal-socialist fellows, denounces American companies as traitorous and heartless. The initial slowness of job growth in the U.S., according to Kerry, is both the fault of President Bush’s tax reductions and the villainous nature of private business. These are no-nos in the catechism of French social justice.
But one major cause for outsourcing is, for good reason, ignored by the liberal-socialists: the abysmal quality of American education. Liberal-socialist politicians get massive and critical financial and organizational support from the socialist teachers’ unions like the NEA and New York’s UFT.
When you think about it, poor education is an obvious reason for outsourcing. American companies can go to India and find laborers whom they need pay only a few cents per hour. But that’s of no use in computer-programming or engineering jobs. Indian workers hired for those jobs must be both less expensive and well-educated.
The handwriting began appearing on the wall a few years ago. CEOs of Silicon Valley companies began frantically petitioning Congress to liberalize the immigration laws allowing qualified engineers to obtain visas to work in this country. That wasn’t because those immigrant engineers were being paid less than their American colleagues. It was because there simply were not enough qualified American workers coming out of our educational system.
Friends tell me that today’s high school graduates, while natively intelligent, are so poorly schooled that they are unfit for work even as sales clerks. So few of them can read, write, add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers that, even in bad economic times, stores continually plead for employable help.
A young Russian couple down the street from me came here with limited English-speaking ability. The wife immediately got a job as a bank teller, because she was the only applicant who could do basic math correctly and rapidly.
Doubtless, lower costs per unit of output is a big factor in outsourcing. But, as long as we have a school system that concentrates on building false self-esteem and inculcating socialistic attitudes via multi-cultural education and speech-and-behavior codes, we must expect to fall behind other countries at an accelerating rate.
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Sunday, April 25, 2004
Understanding the English Language is Essential to Clear Thinking
Spinmiesters and speech police have debased the language. Words are the units of thought. When their meaning is distorted, communication becomes unreliable. In a democratic republic, this is a grave danger.
The following article appeared in today’s newspapers:
Abortion-Rights Rally Draws Thousands in Washington
WASHINGTON—Abortion-rights supporters marched in huge numbers Sunday, roused in this election year by what they see as an erosion of reproductive freedoms under President Bush and foreign policies they say hurt women world-wide.
To the extent that the newswriter accurately reports, pro-abortion forces are using language dishonestly.
Anti-abortion forces have done nothing to erode reproductive freedoms. In fact, anti-abortion forces strongly support women’s freedom to have children.
What pro-abortion forces want is, not reproductive freedom, but the unilateral “right” to kill their children, without even a gesture in the direction of individual rights or due process of law for the innocent and defenseless children.
Using euphemistic terms like reproductive freedom is to engage figuratively in selling snake oil. If the pro-abortion forces were subject to Federal Trade Commission regulations, they would be hauled into court for false advertising.
Such misleading terminology fuzzes the issue and distracts attention from what is really being advocated: a unilateral right to terminate the life of a child. The public needs to look clearly at the facts and to employ the English language with exactitude to assess the merits of the case.
Unfortunately, this deliberate debasement of the language is nearly universal, partly to serve political purposes, and partly because of the deterioration of education. If every vote is supposed to count in our political system, people must have issues presented clearly if they are to understand and make wise choices. One of the most sinister aspects of Big Brother’s rule in George Orwell’s novel 1984 was NewSpeak, the deliberate use of common words in arbitrary ways, so that the public was always uncertain what regulations were supposed to mean and authorities could arrest them on any pretext.
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Saturday, April 24, 2004
“Hug an Evangelical”
New York Times opinion columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote a piece appearing in the April, 24, 2004, edition of the Times. In it, Mr. Kristof makes the decent point that liberals believe in toleration and respect for everyone but Christian conservatives. My reaction is the following:
Thanks for your opinion piece “Hug an Evangelical.”
Perhaps I’m overly sensitive, but I detect an underlying feeling that Christians are, as Freud opined, suffering from a form of insanity. Like other mentally-ill peoples, they should be pitied and treated nicely by liberal-socialists.
My suggestion is that liberal-socialists take a hard look in the mirror. Their unwavering worship of socialism’s secular materiality is the very definition of insanity: endlessly repeating actions that always fail, ever expecting a different result. If liberal-socialists truly believe in Progress under intellectual guidance toward Auguste Comte’s perfection of humanity, they need to take a hard look at today’s France and Germany, not to mention the France of the Reign of Terror, “the future that works” in Stalinist Russia, or the socialist apogee of Hitler’s National Socialism.
Come closer to home: even good socialists like the New School’s Bob Kerry or the late Pat Moynihan admit that FDR’s state-planning triumph, Social Security, will collapse under its own weight.
A particular reason for my annoyance is your dismissive reference to creationism. Let’s stipulate that the Bible may not be literally true. But let me ask you to adduce a single proof, any proof at all, to substantiate Darwinian evolutionary theory. Don’t bother searching, because there are only inferential “might be” pieces of evidence. Not a single thing Darwin himself predicted, notably the fossil record, supports evolution; in fact the fossil record completely disproves evolution.
Liberal-socialists, confident in their secular religiosity, look condescendingly upon Christians. Yet they have no problem believing the fantasies of Stephen Jay Gould or Carl Sagan, ranging from punctuated evolution (which is indistinguishable from Divine intervention) to the belief that little blue men from outer space brought new life forms to earth.
Liberal-socialists should face the scientific fact that evolution is no more than a speculative hypothesis without proof. It remains nothing more than Darwin’s desire to find some materialistic and secular mechanism to discredit what he called “the damnable doctrine” of Christianity. If Darwinian evolution is scientific doctrine, then there remains a possibility that the moon is made of green cheese.
Please forgive me for speaking harshly of the secular, amoral, materialistic religion of socialism that is worshipped by the Times editorial board and reporting staff. It’s just that Christians gave the world an English and American concept of God-given natural-law rights under a Constitutional government of laws, not men. The religion of the Times editorial board has given the world the barbaric savageries of two world wars and systematic liquidation of tens of millions of people in the name of perfecting humanity.
Thomas E. Brewton
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Friday, April 23, 2004
Equality vs Liberty
Equality cannot be attained without obliterating individual liberties.
There is an irreconcilable difference between equality and liberty.
Equality is what Freiderich Hayek, Nobel-Prize-winning economist, famously called “The Road to Serfdom.” Equality must be imposed upon society, because people are born with differing talents, energies, and ambitions. Absent artificial government restrictions, some people inevitably will become wealthier than others, some people will develop literary and artistic talents, many people will prefer the active life of sports, etc.
Liberty is the principle that led the colonists to go to war with the British crown in 1776. No one had the slightest notion that equality was the objective. A recent declaration by Walter Cronkite that the Constitution guarantees equality is sheer ignorance. The colonists simply wanted to be left to govern themselves as they had been doing for the preceding 154 years. What liberty does offer us is equality of opportunity, based on talent, energy, effort, and moral character.
Above all, as Samuel Adams wrote, every citizen’s private property must be free from arbitrary confiscation or restriction by government. Quoting John Locke, Adams noted that the fundamental reason for entering into the social compact we call government was to protect one’s property rights, which are the source of all political liberties against the power of government.
In American politics, socialistic equality lurks in calls for “fairness,” and in John Kerry’s promise to “eliminate tax cuts for the rich.”
An amusing report from London newspapers shows the every-day problems of setting equality as the goal of public policy. Reportedly in the UK it will now be regarded an infringement of a woman’s civil rights to call her “honey.” However ridiculous and trivial this seems to most people, it is a logical consequence of worshipping equality as the purpose of political society.
In the utopian paradise of equality envisioned by liberal-socialists, two mutually exclusive articles of social justice operate simultaneously. All formal distinctions of rank must be eliminated, but at the same time, it becomes a civil misdemeanor to say something that offends members of protected classes: women, blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, et al. Some people are permitted to address others as equals, but those others must become mind-readers and avoid offending those who are more equal.
Older formalities of politeness and respect, such as addressing relative strangers as Mr., Mrs., or Miss, or of saying Yes, Sir or No, M’am, have been discarded. Nowadays, teenagers presume to address strangers who are their elders simply by their first names. It goes back to the requirement imposed after the French Revolution that everyone, peasant or former aristocrat, be addressed as Citizen. And to the similar practice under Communism of addressing everyone as Comrade.
Experience in Revolutionary France, the USSR, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, and other socialist countries demonstrates that equality can be attained only in a prison or in an army, where everyone is regulated every hour of his life, everyone wears the same clothing, and there is no unemployment, but the jobs are assigned by intellectual planners.
In a liberal-socialist planned society, everyone is equally entitled to goods and services, but the supply of them is less than in a laissez-faire society of individual liberty. The end result of equality is that everyone is equally poor.
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Monday, April 19, 2004
Perspective on the Patriot Act
ACLU opposition to the Patriot Act is motivated by animosity to 1776 ideas of civic virtue and personal morality. It has no connection to protecting the liberties intended by The Bill of Rights.
John Kerry, our first French socialist running for the Presidency, has joined the ACLU’s chorus denouncing the Patriot Act as destroying American liberties. Even staunch conservatives like columnist William Safire have called for its repeal.
Wars have negative impacts on personal liberties. President Lincoln suspended many civil liberties, albeit under provisions of the Constitution, during the Civil War. The Federal government nationalized the railroads, shipping, and much of American industry during our brief involvement with World War I. But President Woodrow Wilson terminated all these provisions and demobilized the armed forces within months of the 1918 Armistice.
The 1930s Depression, followed by World War II, the Korean War, and the 40-year Cold War with the USSR, of which the Vietnam War was a part, presented the nation with unprecedented conditions. For the first time in American history, the nation was continuously mobilized in one way or another, militarily or politically, at the Federal level. President Eisenhower warned us about the dangers of the military-industrial complex.
Liberals, nonetheless, were in hog-heaven with the New Deal’s national planning and regulatory control imposed on almost every aspect of private activity. But, somehow the Bush administration’s Patriot Act is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Is the Patriot Act really a mortal threat to the Bill of Rights? Or isn’t it just one more necessary response to threats against our national integrity? Reasonable people can disagree about specific procedures authorized by the Patriot Act. They can demand stronger safeguards for rights of privacy. But that’s different from saying that the privacy of individuals’ library records is more important than national security against terrorism.
The first thing to be said is that every political society, for obvious reasons, has come to the position that it must do whatever may be necessary to preserve its political and military integrity. England and the United States, more than any other nations in history, have granted wide latitude to expression of critical social and political opinion. Historically, in most of Continental Europe and in the Middle and Far East, rulers ruthlessly crushed all expressions of dissent.
John Milton’s “Areopagitica,” written in 1644, championed the view that no government should employ prior restraint to prevent the voicing of opinion, though it might punish wrongdoings resulting therefrom. You can say what you believe, but you must be prepared to endure the consequences if it causes mischief. Milton’s summation was, “When complaints are freely heard, deeply considered, and speedily reformed, then is the utmost bound of civil liberty that wise men look for.”
It is precisely this view that the ACLU and other liberal-socialist organizations rail against. The possibility of Federal retribution, even for terrorist sabotage, is too much for them. Theirs is a self-interested and expansive interpretation of the First Amendment that was first developed by the ACLU after World War I. Realizing that public opinion, and therefore Congressional disposition, were strongly against them, they created the strategy of judicial activism to make end-runs around Congress and the public. If they could get liberal-socialists appointed to the Federal courts, then liberal judges could legislate from the bench.
We must remember that the ACLU was defending the “rights” of anarchists, socialists, and communists to organize for and carry out activities intended to subvert the Constitution and replace it with anarchy or the despotism of socialist collectivism. Just as with Islamic jihadists, the intellectual elite represented by the ACLU was driven by deep-seated faith that they alone understand what is best for society. Their vision could be implemented only if the individualism of Constitutional principle could be removed. Hence, there should be no restraints of any kind on their speech or actions.
Looking at the Patriot Act from the perspective of this history, it’s clear that the burr under the liberals’ saddle blanket is really conservatives’ challenge to licentious speech and public conduct.
At the every-day level, this liberal-socialist attitude is manifested in defending an anything-goes regurgitation of filth in TV, movies, and in print media. Since the days of the French Revolution, liberals have advocated free-love, the early term for sexual promiscuity. They have always understood that civic virtue and personal morality cannot survive a steady and prolonged erosion of public taste of the sort so skillfully effected by the entertainment media.
What seems not to have occurred to liberals is that such licentiousness, once it infects all of society, must abruptly and ruthlessly be brought to an end by the liberal intelligentsia itself if society in any form is to survive. France’s Reign of Terror, the many purges of Lenin and Stalin, and Mao’s “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom,” followed by Red Guard re-education of dissenters, are what inevitably follows the sort of society advocated by Michael Moore, Al Franken, and the air-head class of Hollywood denizens.
Meanwhile, if the ACLU has its way, Islamic terrorists also remain free to pursue the ruin of Constitutional government. Liberals seem unaware that they will be among the first to feel the headsman’s axe if Al Queda is not brought under the Patriot Act’s surveillance.
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Saturday, April 17, 2004
Jamie Gorelick’s Wall of Separation
9/11 Investigation Commission member Jamie Gorelick, while the No. 2 official in President Clinton’s Justice Department, issued a policy directive that eliminated any remaining chance that the CIA and the FBI might have stopped the 9/11 attacks. Why did she do it?
Attorney General John Ashcroft, testifying on April 13 before the 9/11 Commission, dropped a bomb on the Commission itself. The Attorney General delivered a declassified copy of a March 4, 1995, policy directive issued to the CIA and the FBI by Jamie Gorelick, who was then Janet Reno’s Assistant Attorney General, the No. 2 spot in the Justice Department. That policy directive, which in Gorelick’s words was intended to “go beyond what is legally required,” ordered the the FBI and the CIA to adopt procedures that would make impossible the sharing of international terrorist intelligence with domestic law enforcement agencies.
Why did she do it? The better question is why do liberal-socialists, both Democrats and Republicans, fail to make a distinction between prior restraint of actions and control of actions intended to damage society and undermine the Constitution?
Preventing individuals from expressing their opinions is different from penalizing them for negative results of their speech and actions. The intent of the Patriot Act is to identify individuals who aim to harm American citizens in order to forestall their action.
To give the devil his due, liberals have a valid point that too heavy a government surveillance hand could destroy the liberties they aim to protect. Government policy always is a matter of judgment, of weighing good and bad.
Gorelick’s policy directive reflected no new liberal attitude. Opposition to the Vietnam War by people like Jane Fonda and John Kerry was the catalyst to the Baby Boomers, who emerged from college believing that the United States is an evil oppressor nation.
For their college professors, who aided and abetted the student anarchism of the 1960s and 1970s, the antecedents were the 1880s period of socialist and anarchist terror attacks that murdered several prominent public and corporate officials, along with hundreds of innocent citizens. Radical-left spokesmen like Emma Goldman called for “propaganda of the deed,” bombing property and assassinating conservatives. One result was the assassination in 1901 of President William McKinley by one of Goldman’s followers. This reached a peak around the time of U.S. entry into World War I, when the ACLU was formed to protect the “right” claimed by radicals under the First Amendment to regard any words or deeds as protected freedom of speech.
On June 2, 1918, bombs exploded in eight cities. After the end of World War I in November, 1918, socialists and anarchists unleashed an unprecedented wave of strikes, race riots, and terrorist bombings. Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson received a bomb in the mail, as did Georgia Senator Thomas Hardwick. The Postal Service intercepted thirty-four bombs addressed to prominent citizens, including John D. Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, and Postmaster General Albert Burleson. In 1920, liberal activists planted dynamite in a wagon outside the Wall Street headquarters of J. P. Morgan, timed to detonate shortly after noon, in order to kill the maximum possible number of people on the street for lunch hour. With shrapnel tearing through the packed sidewalk crowds, 38 people were killed and some 300 wounded.
Liberals denounced Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s efforts to prosecute these liberal thugs. Today liberals sneeringly dismiss the hundreds of murders by their predecessors as a “red scare.” Since liberals like John Kerry still believe that European socialism is a more noble form of government than the Constitution, they are up in arms, screaming that the Patriot Act destroys American liberties, in the same way that an arsonist might inveigh against the fire department for impeding his freedom to set fires and watch the results.
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Sunday, April 11, 2004
The Pledge Under God, Under Attack: Liberty vs License - Part Three
This third article about the challenge to the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance examines the social and political implications of making the United States an atheistic society and then asks whether atheism has any historical or philosophical validity in the United States.
Michael Newdow’s action is far more than opposing an establishment of religion or of furthering the free exercise of conscience in matters of religion. The choice before the Court is between two opposing philosophies of human nature and political governance. If the Supreme Court rules in Mr. Newdow’s favor, it will amount to an endorsement of atheism and a further rejection of morality and spiritual religion.
Endorsing atheism destroys the foundations of the Constitution. Removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance is not preventing an establishment of religion. It is establishing atheistic socialism as the official national religion.
Parts One and Two of this series recounted the history of the atheism represented by Mr. Newdow. Atheism was shown to be an inseparable part of the radical philosophy of socialism and its doctrines of amorality, secularity, and materialism. All of these are antithetical to the grounding philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Those documents were based on what Jefferson said were the common understandings throughout the colonies in 1776, namely a belief in God as the author of inalienable individual rights to life, liberty, and private property.
What confronts us is not some conspiracy. That could be dealt with by the public outcry following exposure. Our challenge is far greater: a huge portion of the populace has been converted to the religion of socialism by a century of continuous work by intellectuals in the educational system. Young students have been drilled in the catechism of social justice, which tells them that ours is a history of repression at home and crimes against humanity abroad. They have been catechized to believe that individualism is barbarism that must be replaced with socialized cooperation under government regulation of all aspects of our lives.
Most importantly, they have been catechized by our public schools and colleges to believe that seeing actions as right or wrong is to make unscientific value judgments. Atheism and materialism have become fashionable, old wisdom is ridiculed, and we have become a juvenocracy, a nation ruled by the immature tastes and sensual urges of teenagers.
This Part Three makes five main points: first, that atheism is part of the religion of socialism; second, that atheism is amoral, which means that political rulers are bound by no inherent limits on their powers; third, that wherever atheism has gained political ascendency despotic rule has followed; fourth; that, while it is inaccurate to say that the United States is entirely a Christian nation, it is historically accurate to say that all of its political institutions were founded upon Christian ideas of morality; and fifth, that the meaning of “an establishment of religion” is utterly different from what Mr. Newdow objects to.
(1) People have reason to fear atheism as the enemy of Constitutional liberty.
The Columbia Encyclopedia states that, until the 19th century, atheists were rare in any population. Atheism became an ideology and spread widely following the introduction of secular materialism by the French Revolution. Educated classes in Europe and the United States accepted the claims of French materialistic philosophers that being scientific necessitated abandoning Christianity and adopting the religious ideology of atheistic moral relativism.
Atheism is by definition amorality. Moral principles in every society, as far back into antiquity as history and archaeology have taken us, have been understood as coming from nature itself and from the God or gods that control nature. Thus, to reject God is to reject the entire foundation of morality, to reject belief in right and wrong, and thereby to reject the concept of law itself. What atheism leaves us with is the raw, unlimited power of self-designated intellectuals to follow their whims about what regulations to impose upon the people. What atheism leaves us with is a government of men, not of laws. What regulates our lives under atheism is not stability and continuity under relatively predictable law, but the fearful instability of caprice, potentially under a madman like Stalin.
Atheists rationalize eradicating spiritual religion by declaring that belief in God is a neurosis, if not insanity. Freud, for example, says in his “Civilization and Its Discontents” that Western society’s problems result from the guilt produced by the conflict between irrational dictates of religious morality and the true nature of humans, which in his theory is reduced to the lowest possible materialistic level, the sex drive. This condescending attitude also explains why liberal college professors today assert that only liberal-socialists are fit to teach.
Atheism as a political movement necessarily requires a disbelief in moral principles and a belief in authoritarian government. The connection between atheism and centralized government power is simply that the vast majority of the people in every society have always believed in a Divine moral order, and their belief must be suppressed by force.
Thomas Huxley, the champion of Darwin’s evolutionary theory in England during the 1860s, said that there is no such thing as sin. People’s actions are merely the struggle for survival, in which material conditions, not Divine Will, are the controlling factors. Correct political and social order can be imposed upon this struggle only by atheistic intellectuals, who alone understand the true nature of the world.
The political triumph of atheism means the end of freedom of religion. Wherever atheism has prevailed, socialistic totalitarian dictatorships have followed. The revolutions in France, Russia, China, Cuba, and elsewhere were peculiarly modern in the sense that they were revolutions based on abstract ideas. And those ideas were atheism, socialism, and the amorality of atheism that permits intellectuals to order the mass execution of millions of people, believing their actions to be justified by their intention to perfect humanity.
One of the most repulsive slanders by liberal-socialists is to equate the American War of Independence with the French Revolution. Our war was a conservative action to preserve the concept of English self-government the colonists had enjoyed for 154 years. The French Revolution was a mob action by thugs, looters, and rapists who roamed the streets murdering anyone they disliked, urged on by the intellectuals’ propaganda. This is what Mr. Newdow’s atheism stands for.
Mikhail N. Epstein states it this way in “Fugitive Russian Sects: A Handbook for Beginners,” which he wrote in Moscow in the 1980s as the Soviet Union was unraveling:
“Socialist society is the only society constructed according to a previously-laid plan based on ideas born in the minds of thinker-founders: it is the most speculative and “premeditated” society on earth. Socialism is society without God and without things—spiritually and materially poor but ideologically strong, built on ideas alone; it is the kingdom of ideas ruling in their own name, a kingdom where a ruler rules only in the name of an idea, as the impersonation of an idea, the triumph of its truth…....... All there is is ideas. They neither save us in the next life nor feed us in this one, but they do give us the feeling that our life is rightly lived and our death not in vain. Thus the third comedy, the Comedy of Ideas, arises precisely from the self-consciousness of socialist society, whose moving force is neither the will of God nor the private interests of human beings, but the ideas in which the faith and passion of immense human masses have been concentrated. Ludicrous and terrible—in the highest sense comical—is a human being who has fallen away from God into sin, living by merely human laws…... Consciousness can be liberated from the dictatorship of ideas, from attachment to absolutized points of view, only when it acknowledges the mystery of the Absolute as a Person and not an Idea—that is, only when it acknowledges the impossibility of fixing the Absolute in consciousness itself.
Just as pre-Revolutionary Russian sects cannot be understood outside the system of the official Orthodox Church, so the incipient sects of the Soviet period cannot be understood outside the system of government atheism. ....... The government dogma in its turn lived and flourished precisely by eradicating every slightest glimmer of free religious thought,... “
In an article appearing in the September 20, 1997, edition of the Washington Times, Douglas Burton wrote:
PRAGUE- The many crises of this era arise from a first-ever “global atheism,” leading to man’s loss of the purpose of every living thing, Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel told an international gathering here this month.
“The contemporary global civilization is indeed in essence a deeply atheistic one,” Mr. Havel said. “Indeed, it is to date the first atheistic civilization in the history of mankind.” .......Mr. Havel, a leader in 1989 of Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution,” urged conferees to consider whether remedies to the world’s most acute problems might be found through a search for common religious values and principles.
In an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Havel emphasized the civic role of churches in the newly democratic nations of Central and Eastern Europe.
“Many threats which mankind will have to face soon will be possible to solve only if human spirituality and responsibility for the world will be restored in some way, if some global consciousness will be awakened,” he said. “And who should contribute to it more than the religions? Of course, it assumes that the religions would not stress their differences, but more they would seek their original roots and what they have in common, and therefore what is held in common by all peoples.”
(2) Mr. Newdow’s petition has no historical foundation:
The First Amendment’s opening two clauses state: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; .....” No matter how one interprets those words, it is undeniable that declaring unconstitutional the phrase “under God” requires repudiation of nearly three and a half centuries of historical fact. Like it or not, the American colonies were founded upon Christianity, and that religion has played an intimate daily role in the lives of Americans ever since. Our Constitution does not endorse any specific religion or sect, but it is founded upon and permeated by Christian understanding.
Mr. Newdow’s court petition requires the sort of thing his fellow Soviet atheists specialized in: rewriting history. Whenever Stalin, a paranoid, decided that a rival Soviet leader was a threat to him, that rival was executed. To expunge any remembrance of the rival’s ideas and actions, he was made a nonperson. His image was retouched out of photographs showing him standing alongside Lenin, Stalin, and other Soviet leaders reviewing Red Square military parades. All mention of the nonperson was removed from textbooks, news archives, and official documents. History books and official records were rewritten to attribute to Stalin all the nonperson’s accomplishments for the Communist Party.
Mr. Newdow demands that we similarly rewrite 346 years of history to eliminate one of its most essential characteristics. His only conceivable basis for this is what the New York Times editorial board likes to call “the living Constitution.” This is a theory that depends upon incorporating into the Constitution Charles Darwin’s speculative theory of evolution. Today’s Constitution has evolved to become a different species from the original Constitution. Under that perspective, what was intended when the Constitution was written is immaterial. All that counts is changes in popular opinion, the snap judgments expressed in focus groups of the moment.
This is the juvenocracy in action. Truth and wisdom are supposedly to be found in the off-hand reactions of people for whom reality TV represents educational fare, people whose native intelligence can not function because our educational system has left them ignorant of history and our system of government.
Socialist Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes endorsed this position without reservation. His famous dictum was that truth is whatever wins out in the market place. One can wonder, however, whether he would entrust his own life to that theory. If he were seriously ill, would he follow the medical advice of two hundred people interviewed at random?
There is, said Justice Holmes, no such thing as a higher law of morality, and by implication no inalienable Constitutional rights to anything, if popular opinion turns against those rights. Holmes went on to write that, should popular opinion come to support turning the United States into a Bolshevik dictatorship, neither the Constitution nor the Supreme Court should stand in the way of raw opinion, however uninformed it might be.
This is literally the opposite of Constitutional government.
Ironically, the alleged “evolving” understanding of the First Amendment espoused by Mr. Newdow and his fellow liberals is overwhelmingly opposed by public opinion. This “evolution” of understanding exists only in the minds of the liberal elite. Their demands reveal clearly that the issue in this case is not really liberty, but the asserted right of socialist intellectuals to dictate political standards.
In their Soviet-style rewriting of American history, liberal-socialists assert that the “under God” phrase, indeed the whole religious connection with government, are very new things, dating back only to 1954. Presumably this proves that “under God” is too recent to have real Constitutional legitimacy. Yet they fiercely defend the 1973 Roe vs Wade abortion rights ruling, which is nineteen years younger, as firmly established Constitutional law.
When the Bill of Rights amendments were ratified in 1791, the people of the United States had lived in all respects “under God” for 183 years. When that phrase was added to the Pledge, by an act of Congress in 1954, an overwhelming majority of citizens had continuously for 346 years professed a faith that we are a people “under God.” To emphasize this incontrovertible fact, Congress in 1956 made “In God We Trust” the official national motto. The Pledge of Allegiance as it now stands without question represents the fundamental faith of the majority.
So pervasive and voluminous are statements by American leaders supporting faith in God and Divine guidance that listing all available quotations from 1608 onwards would require incalculable thousands of pages. David Barton’s “Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, and Religion” uses 350 pages for just a sampling of such quotations by famous persons.
Let’s turn to Thomas Jefferson, because he is the author of the celebrated “wall of separation between church and state” phrase that is repeatedly cited by secular humanists and by the Supreme Court’s liberal-social Justices like the late William Brennan. Even a cursory review of Jefferson’s views makes abundantly clear that, though he was a God-fearing Deist, Jefferson took for granted that Christian morality permeated the very soul of American citizenry. In no way could his “wall of separation between church and state” be taken to mean that Christian morality should be eradicated from consideration in public affairs.
Foremost among the examples is the Declaration of Independence, in which Jefferson bases the colonists’ right to independence upon “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” This means that the primary justification for the very existence of the United States is the God-given natural-law rights to life, liberty, and private property, which flow from “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Acceding to Mr. Newdow’s demand is to repudiate the Declaration of Independence, along with the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, all of which are founded entirely upon the concept of God-given natural law.
One of the three things Jefferson regarded as his most important achievements in life was authoring the 1786 Virginia Statute of Religious Liberty. That act begins: “An Act for establishing Religious Freedom. I. WHEREAS Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do;.......”
This is a freight train that rolls over and obliterates the rationale for the case now before the Supreme Court. The freedom of religion claimed by atheists like Mr. Newdow is, in Jefferson’s words, a gift of God to humanity. To assert that freedom of religion means freedom from spiritual religion, as does Mr. Newdow, is to remove the freedom demanded.
Finally, let’s look at the source of the phrase “wall of separation between church and state.” It occurs in a letter written by Jefferson in 1802 to a committee of the Baptist Association in Danbury, Connecticut. Jefferson repeats the classic definition of tolerance stated in John Locke’s 1685 “Letter Concerning Toleration.” Note in passing that Locke’s “Second Treatise,” which justified ousting James II for breaking the social compact by infringing God-given natural-law property and religious rights, was the philosophical basis for the Declaration of Independence. Locke’s and Jefferson’s position regarding toleration was that religious belief is a matter between an individual and God, for which the individual owes no account to the government or his fellows.
As Jefferson put it in the 1802 letter, “...the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions. I contemplate with solemn reverence the act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” Toleration does not mean that there should be no religion, but that the sovereign can not command an individual’s beliefs.
Several points must be noted in this connection. First, Jefferson is writing to a church in support of Christianity. Second, both Jefferson and Locke took it for granted that the people as a whole would be God-fearing Christians. Third, Locke went so far, in his “Letter Concerning Toleration,” as to exclude atheists from most legal rights on the grounds that their renunciation of moral principles made them unfit for political liberty. Finally, freedom to hold a religious or non-religious opinion is not at all the same thing as claiming that one has a right not to hear opinions with which he disagrees.
(3) Mr. Newdow’s petition misconstrues the meaning of “an establishment of religion”:
Living in the United States, few of us realize that, until the founding of our nation, every nation and city state in the world had had an established, official religion. The meaning of “establishment” therefore can best be understood by studying its meaning in historical context.
The reason for having an established church was its crucial importance to legitimizing the ruler’s powers. Monarchs’ powers in Western Europe were considered to be legitimate because they flowed from God’s natural law, which by the time of Thomas Aquinas, was separated from the spiritual power of the church. But both were under God and part of the Divine plan for humanity.
When the First Amendment was written, everyone in the United States understood exactly what was intended, and it had nothing whatever to do with Mr. Newdow’s being offended by hearing government expressions of piety that conflict with the dogma of the socialist religion.
The establishment of religion issue had a specific meaning for the writers of the First Amendment, arising from Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic church in the 16th century and establishment of the Church of England. Henry decreed that the Church of England, with himself at its head, was to be the sole official state religion. The ensuing century was one of repeated turmoil, involving the English Civil War, Cromwell’s beheading Charles I, imposition of the Puritan Commonwealth, and the Restoration of Charles II. Anglicans, Puritans, and Catholics fought among themselves, often to death.
To escape this strife and the strictures of established religion, the Pilgrims and the Puritans sailed to Massachusetts, Lord Baltimore brought Catholics to Maryland, Quakers went to Pennsylvania, and Jews built their oldest New World synagogue in Newport, Rhode island.
Several of the colonies, and later as states of the Union, had established religions. Jefferson in his Autobiography describes what having an established religion entailed. Including the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t even come close.
The Royal grant to Sir Walter Raleigh establishing the Virginia colony required that its laws be consonant with “the true Christian faith, now professed in the church of England.” The new colony was divided into church parishes, and all colonists, whether they were members of the Anglican Church or not, were taxed to pay the ministers’ salaries and other church expenses. Quakers attempting to settle in Virginia were physically driven out. The College of William and Mary was controlled by the Anglican church, and its faculty and students had to be professing members of that church. By an act of the Virginia Assembly in 1705, persons denying the doctrine of Christianity and the Church of England were not permitted to hold public office or any other church, civil, or military employment at public expense. Nor could a dissenter be a guardian, executor, or administrator under a will, and the children of a dissenter might be taken from him to be raised in an Anglican home.
(4) To summarize, we can say: first, that atheism is part of the religion of socialism; second, that atheism is amoral, which means that political rulers are bound by no inherent limits on their powers; third, that wherever atheism has gained political ascendency despotic rule has followed; fourth; that, while it is inaccurate to say that the United States is entirely a Christian nation, it is historically accurate to say that all of its political institutions reflect Christian ideas of morality; and fifth, that the meaning of “an establishment of religion” is utterly different from what Mr. Newdow objects to.
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Sunday, April 04, 2004
The Pledge Under God, Under Attack: Liberty vs License - Part Two
In this second article about the Supreme Court case to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, we review the early history of the movement in England and the United States that leads up to today’s challenge by atheist Michael Newdow.
On the surface, Mr. Newdow’s challenge to “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance appears to be simply an assertion of his perception of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Whether intended by him or not, however, it is part of the relentless assault by liberals on the entire original basis of the Constitution. Atheism, by definition, was an essential characteristic of the godless and amoral religion that the educated classes in France, Germany, England, and the United States came to regard in the 19th century as scientific knowledge.
This represented a 180 degree turn away from the philosophy of God-given, natural-law individual rights to life, liberty, and private property for which the colonists had fought in 1776. Mr. Newdow’s challenge represents secular and materialistic socialism’s campaign to replace spiritual religion and personal morality with French theories of social justice.
We saw in Part One that the decapitation of Western civilization by the the 18th century’s so-called Age of Enlightenment led to dismissing as pre-scientific ignorance the moral codes that flow from spiritual religion. The educated elite presumed that they now possessed superior knowledge that would empower them to manage the world’s political, economic, and social affairs in arbitrary ways to perfect humanity. They and their bureaucratic administrators would right every wrong simply by promulgating appropriate regulations.
To be a member of the intelligentsia was to be an atheist. Humans, they boasted, were not made in God’s image; man had made himself in his own image, a view reflected in Auguste Comte’s Religion of Humanity. God, said Comte, was a product of ignorant imagination. The true object of worship was Humanity itself.
Every Western society, from the early Greek city states onward, has had some atheists, people who were unconvinced by religious explanations of the nature of the world and of humans’ place in it. But the religion of socialism went far beyond that in its attempt to destroy Christianity. During the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, tens of thousands of Christians were executed on the guillotine. For the first time in more than a thousand years, since Christianity became firmly settled as the official religion of the Roman Empire, a Western political state adopted terrorism to suppress the entirety of spiritual religion.
Michael Newdow and his liberal brethren are heirs to this powerful and savagely destructive history.
The central role of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory was touched upon in Part One. Many different interpretations of Darwinian evolution were proclaimed in church pulpits and university lecture halls, and widely publicized in books, magazines, and newspapers. It would be safe to say that hardly anyone in the United States had not at least heard of Darwin and his theory.
But, to an extent few are aware of today, his doctrine was the focal point for a fierce and extended debate in England and America from 1859 into the 1920s. The battleground of the struggle was the idea of Progress. Belief in Progress toward social perfection entailed, for most people, agnosticism, if not atheism.
Darwin’s speculative theory could easily be interpreted as supporting the parallel theory that political societies were also progressing, i.e., evolving, toward higher and better states of development. From this come today’s fanciful dreams of world peace, abolition of poverty, and universal individual liberties through the collective efforts of the UN. Needless to say, the idea of Progress was seized eagerly by socialists as a “scientific proof” that English and American societies should no longer be fettered by repressive ideas of Christian morality.
Out of this came the Progressive political movement in the United States after the election of President William McKinley in 1896. As with its spiritual progeny, today’s liberalism, the Progressive movement drew support from both Democrats and Republicans. Seeds for the Progressive movement were planted in our most prominent colleges and universities, where faculty members had studied for advanced degrees in German universities.
In Germany, where the socialist party held greater power than in almost any other country at the time, higher education was sharply oriented toward collectivistic and statist views of government. German emphasis was upon cooperation and obedience to the political state. Individualism and marketplace competition, so distinctly English and American, were loathed.
In our tradition, individuals’ rights of private property, beginning with Magna Carta in 1215, were the source of all our political liberties. Newly minted PhDs returned from Germany imbued with the belief that private property and individualism were anti-social. Founded to train Protestant ministers, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and their fellow colleges steadily converted to the secular humanism of the socialist religion. Their young graduates became the minions of Progressivism.
Fortunately, their numbers were small. Very few Americans attended college before the GI Bill after World War II. Those who did were taught the new scientific theories of socialism. For example, the young ladies who were employed as social workers in Jane Addams’s Hull House and the other settlement houses in the 1890s proudly identified themselves as socialists. They were among the first generation of American women to graduate in some numbers from college.
After the prosperous 1950s, young Americans went to college in numbers that dwarfed previous attendance. Following the normal rebellious instincts of youth, they became avid converts to socialism. Bill Clinton’s generation thus became the mindless mobs in the streets that began literally to wreck society. Underground sects like SDS, Weatherman, the Black Panthers, and the Symbionese Liberation Army brought back the terrorist traditions of their socialist and anarchist grandparents, who had dynamited public places and assassinated hundreds of businessmen and public officials from the 1880s to the 1920s.
This is the direct antecedent to Mr. Newdow’s attack.
A parenthetical note in that regard: employing obviously circular reasoning, a professor at a noted university recently told interviewers that the predominance of liberals among college faculties (more than 90 percent) proves the validity of liberal-socialism. If most educated people are liberals, then traditionalists by his definition are uneducated and unworthy to become faculty members. The element of circularity is that, if most college graduates are liberals, this proves only that liberal education is effective in producing liberals. Would he also argue that, because graduates of Islamic extremist madrassas become terrorists, this demonstrates that non-terrorists are ignorant?
Two major changes in the make-up of America gave impetus to the Social-Gospel, socialist movement after the Civil War. First, industrial production expanded tremendously in response to the war, then expansion westward put industry, agriculture, and railroads into high gear. Second, with this explosion of economic activity came a never satisfied need for cheap labor. Between the end of the Civil War and America’s entry into the First World War in 1917, more than twenty million immigrants flooded into the country.
In contrast to earlier immigration waves, mostly from Great Britain and northern Europe, these new arrivals came from southern, central and eastern Europe. They had never known any government but autocracy, and property ownership symbolized tyranny to them. Knowing nothing about the English individuality rooted in property rights that was the basis of our Constitution, these new immigrants were oriented toward socialistic collectivism.
They faced horrendous squalor and disease in the packed immigrant sections of the great cities, as well as dangerous, burdensome, and poorly paid labor conditions in workshops, factories, and mines. By the time of Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, from 1901 to 1908, French concepts of government-controlled social welfare began to replace Christian charity as the source of aid to the poor and unfortunate. What had for centuries been a matter of personal morality became a political issue. For the first time the Federal government, following the lead of French and German socialists, presumed to regulate personal life in ever more numerous ways.
Mr. Newdow simply wants to continue that effort and remove yet another barrier in the path of French socialism in America.
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Thursday, April 01, 2004
The Pledge Under God, Under Attack: Liberty vs License - Part One
This is the first of several articles dealing with Michael Newdow’s challenge to the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. After reviewing the historical and philosophical background, we will look at what constitutes law and order in a good political society, and then at the issue as it has unfolded in Supreme Court decisions.
The case now before the Supreme Court is only the latest in a series of skirmishes in our cultural civil war that stretches back to the 1860s. Reviewing the history and the philosophical rationalizations on both sides of the issue won’t change many people’s minds, but it may add to people’s understanding. It will, at least, broaden our perspective when addressing the deliberations in the Supreme Court.
These articles will present the view that we are dealing, not simply with an individual right presumed to be inherent in the First Amendment, but with the whole fabric of society. As with all fundamental social and political questions, humans face the inevitability of making choices between competing aims.
The implicit presumption in Mr. Newdow’s challenge is that we can have it all: individuals can do anything they wish, unconstrained by standards of social conduct, yet be shielded from any view that annoys them. It is a contest between liberty and license, between civic duty and the selfishness popularized in the “me generation” of the 1960s and 70s.
The conclusion advanced by these articles is that preservation of moral codes of right and wrong conduct is essential for the purposes of the Constitution’s Preamble: “to…promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” Moreover, that spiritual religion is essential to the preservation and teaching of moral codes, and that good government requires, not amoral secular humanism, but active support of non-sectarian spirituality and morality.
Ardent desires of individuals like Mr. Newdow may benefit them individually, but harm the whole of society. Dissolution of morality dooms the future welfare and liberty of our posterity.
The Historical and Philosophical Background:
As other postings to this weblog regularly point out, the social paradigm of Western civilization suffered a staggering blow in the misnamed Age of Enlightenment, the 18th century, capped by the French Revolution in 1789. From this turmoil emerged the atheistic belief that civilization’s prior history had been an epoch of ignorance and superstition. Intellectuals now hubristically declared that social, political, and religious institutions were simply creations of intellectuals’ minds. That there was no such thing as a Divine order to the world, that humans had no God-given and stable nature. Intellectuals would henceforward assume the mantle of God and reorder society, thereby changing and perfecting human nature. To oppose them was to oppose the advancement of science.
One implication of this new outlook was amorality, the idea that there are no timeless principles of right or wrong conduct. Above all, it was a repudiation of the deeply rooted human religious impulse to understand the mysterious order that clearly prevailed in the world and through history. That was now the job of intellectual theorists. Metaphorically, it amounted to cutting the anchor chains of morality that held the Ship of State off the rocks in a storm, on the presumption that intellectuals’ minds alone could tame the forces of nature.
As Plato’s antagonist Protagoras put it, man is the measure of all things, foreshadowing John Dewey’s Pragmatic philosophy, which taught generations of American students after the First World War that morality is a relative thing. All that counts is whether your actions produce what you want. In the larger picture, all that counts is enabling intellectuals like Dewey to acquire political power to impose their new concepts upon the whole nation.
Liberals professed a deep faith in “the people” and promoted the destruction of traditional social standards in the name of individual liberty. Yet, paradoxically, they proposed to achieve this liberty by imposing a collectivized, all-powerful Federal government regulating potentially every aspect of human social and economic activity.
Those secular religious faiths came to the Unites States from France, via Germany and England, after the Civil War. The contentious debate exemplified by the challenge to “under God” in the Pledge was commenced in England during the 1850s, while we were preoccupied with conflicts leading up to the Civil War. Marx and Engels were in England writing “The Communist Manifesto” and other socialistic programs for revolutionary overthrow of traditional government. Charles Darwin was writing “On The Origin of Species” at the same time, finally publishing it in 1859. Darwin’s thesis was the atheistic proposition that there is no Divine order in the world, merely the chaos of random chance that accidentally produced various life forms through the mechanism of natural selection.
Jeremy Bentham and James Mill had been urging the Utilitarian philosophy upon the English people since the time of the French Revolution. In that doctrine, the endeavor is to reduce government to a scientific and mathematical calculus so that laws may be designed to produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Taking this approach requires ignoring the spiritual aspects of human social and political life. If they are to calculate the greatest good, Utilitarians must reduce all measures of good to materialistic factors like food, clothing, housing, etc. They must, in effect, assume that humans are little more than pieces of litmus paper responding passively to pain or pleasure deriving from satisfaction of sensual impulses, from hunger to sex.
Utilitarianism is, thus, closely akin to Auguste Comte’s Positivism and his Religion of Humanity that was being articulated in France at the same time that the foregoing was transpiring in England. Were Comte to gain political power, government and business would become simply administrative bureaus run by educated managers and engineers. Management decision would flow from the top councils of intellectuals who alone understood the Immutable Law of History that ordained the triumph of socialism.
What has all this to do with Michael Newdow’s objection to “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance?
First, with regard to Comte’s Religion of Humanity, which enjoyed a warm reception in England and in American academic circles, intellectuals directing political, economic, and social affairs, were to exercise their power by influencing public opinion. Control of popular opinion was to be through manipulating the way news was published to the people and by requiring public education to teach whatever tenets of social justice the intellectuals might think appropriate.
A principle strut supporting Mr. Newdow’s case is that educated opinion is on his side, and the Supreme Court became on balance a mirror of educated opinion in the 20th century. Education has been preaching the gospel of socialistic amorality, in colleges since the late 1800s, and in public schools since the 1960s. Liberals declare that a President can be legitimately elected only by a popular vote embracing everybody: criminals, illegal immigrants, welfare dependents, the insane, and, most recently in California, 12 and 14 year olds. But, in a matter such as removing God and morality from public life, educated liberals must reserve the right to trump the majority of citizens who want to keep tradition.
Second, this controversy is a continuation of the argument set forth by John Stuart Mill, the second generation leader of Utilitarianism. In 1859, the same year that Darwin published “On the Origin,” Mill published his much admired and oft studied “On Liberty.” That essay is the foundation of Mr. Newdow’s argument to the Supreme Court. Mill asserts that suppressing the expression of any political, social, or religious view, however repugnant to majority views, will diminish society. Today’s quackery, Mill notes, can be tomorrow’s truth. The rough and tumble of public debate will lead us to the truth. We must not be constrained by traditional understandings.
“On Liberty” implicitly sets individual license above public order. Individuals must be permitted to do and say whatever they please, and society is simply to endure it, like a horse continuing to feed while swatting flies with his tail. The problem is that those flies carry a lethal disease.