"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, May 30, 2016

Is Forgiveness Ever Really Possible?

Ten years ago when the memory of the Rwandan genocide was still vivid, the government began a South African-style ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ process.  If those who murdered their neighbors would come forward, admit their crimes,  identify the graves where their victims were buried, and beg forgiveness from their families, healing would begin and the country would once again be made whole.

The tensions between Hutus and Tutsis persist in Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern Congo; and the gacaca (truth and reconciliation) process not only may not have promoted true forgiveness and reintegration of genocide perpetrators but increased resentments, suspicions, and hostilities.
Many survivors argue that convicted perpetrators have in the main benefited from the government's need to rapidly empty the prisons and thus gacaca  tendency toward moderate sentencing. Meanwhile, there is widespread anger among Hutu that gacaca has addressed only genocide crimes and not revenge killings against Hutu civilians committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the rebel force that ended the genocide in July 1994 and today represents the ruling party in Rwanda.
Second, gacaca has also generated significant truth-related problems. Gacaca's attempt to clear the massive backlog of genocide cases has involved weekly hearings over nine years in many communities. For many Rwandans, this has meant hearing repeatedly highly emotive testimony concerning brutal crimes. Gacaca has consequently increased levels of trauma among many of its participants.
The re-traumatization of individuals who are still dealing with the emotional and psychological legacies of the genocide is one of the major costs of gacaca's truth process. Furthermore, the truth component of gacaca itself has suffered from many participants' instrumental calculations based on the plea-bargaining scheme. In particular, many genocide suspects have had an incentive to confess falsely to crimes much less severe than those they actually committed in order to benefit from gacaca's pre-determined system of sentencing (International Justice Tribune, 10.24.10).
President Kagame in the spirit of ‘Never Again’ has pursued unrepentant and increasingly hostile Hutus wherever they have found sanctuary.  These actions, while completely understandable in geopolitical terms, have made sure that the Hutus would forever be branded as genocidaires and that forgiveness for them was only conditional.

Nevertheless, if Rwanda’s gacaca achieved but a fraction of what it intended – forgiveness of those who committed horrific crimes, the reintegration of genocidaires into Rwandan society, a forgive-and-forget policy towards those who most people would never even consider forgiving – then there is some hope for a more charitable, Christian society

There have been no recent polls or inquiries about the relationship between the two communities, Hutu and Tutsi.  In fact few people will speak openly about the genocide, fearful of government reprisals (President Kagame is proud of his defeat of Hutu genocidaires, his rise to power as a unifier and militant nationalist; and his repressive policies have been designed to keep any scintilla of resurgent ethnic hostilities from the surface), and afraid to open still sore and festering wounds within the community.

Rwanda has in a way become like France whose leaders have always been proud of saying, “We are all French”, dismissing American-style affirmative action and ethnic and racial quotas.  Yet this attitude has simply driven resentment underground.  It is one thing to talk cultural unity; but it remains only talk unless inequities and inequalities across ethnicities persist.  Thus the riots of the northern Parisian suburbs a few years ago.  Insisting on racial, cultural, and ethnic harmony when the society is far from this ideal is counter-productive.  France is facing civil unrest because its Muslim population, for decades second-class citizens in the supposedly uniform Republic, refuses to have its religious practices neutered.

Kagame, as long as he is in power; and as long as the donor West tolerates his increasing abridgment of civil liberties in the name of ‘Never Again’, will keep the lid on the unspoken resentments of his people.

Gacaca was always political and practical. Rwandan prisons could simply not hold – with or without trial – the thousands of Hutus arrested for genocide.  The State had to find another acceptable process of justice; and it followed the example  of South Africa, whose Truth and Reconciliation met with the same popular opposition but in many ways succeeded in defusing the persistent racial tensions in the country.

By any measure forgiveness for the brutal murder and mutilation of a family member or neighbor is almost impossible to believe; and only the most idealistic take from gacaca lessons of basic human goodness. 

Most of us cannot forgive a brother, sister, or cousin for slights made decades ago, let alone welcome a former adulterer, cheat,  or child abuser back into the family fold.

There are always two sides to every dispute; yet families take sides quickly and unequivocally, siding with one spouse or the other for painful divorces even though the truth most certainly lies in between.  Families will always dispute inheritance, wills, and legacies; although the sub-texts of these (mis)interpretations will always unearth middle ground.   Women who are left alone after successive failures in their relationships will resent the men in their lives until the day they die.  Men who have been left on the curb once too often will not only resent the women who left them, but all women.  Othello was not alone in his unrepentant blame of Desdemona for the wickedness and duplicity of her sex.

Image result for images of othello and desdemona

Because all conclusions are subjective, there is little room for open-armed tolerance and generosity.  Any0ne who concludes that they have been wronged in financial, social, and emotional ways, cannot possibly ask for a truce, truth, and reconciliation.   The nature of resentment is complex.  Admission of guilt in the Hatfield and McCoy blood feud never happened.  Nor was complaisance and willingness to negotiate ever a possibility in the Mafia wars among the five New York families in the Seventies.  There was always right and wrong, onore, vendetta, and family status.  The families went to the mattresses regardless of the nature of the slight or dispute.

Relatives who are distant from a spousal dispute still weigh in on circumstantial evidence or make a priori judgments based on their own limited but painful experience.  Their non-cooperative, judgmental advice will always be based on how they were treated.  Better hate the presumptive offender rather than let in even a ray of hope for a deceived brother, sister, or aunt.

Most people will take their anger, hostility, and resentments to the grave.  Even at death’s door few people will apologize to those they have bitterly opposed for their whole lives.  Even faced with nothingness will they hold fast.  Not even eternity and the meaningless of judgment, opinions, or right and wrong can persuade them to apologize, admit their egotism and twisted self-worth, and give in.

Except in fiction.  Count Andrei in Tolstoy’s War and Peace has two important epiphanies.  One on the battlefield of Austerlitz when he realizes that all men – including Napoleon, his hero – are mortal; and another when the is finally dying and admits his selfishness, pride, and egotism to his wife.

Image result for prince andrei at borodino images

Everyone else is filled with regret – love missed, opportunities sacrificed, attention not paid – and resentment.  Unfulfilled dreams are not the result of one’s one apathy or lack of ambition, but because of the obstruction of others.  Even gasping our last breath, we cannot forgive.

Perhaps the most disregarded precept of Christianity is forgiveness.  Christ, it is said, died a painful, tortured death on the cross for our sins.  Our transgressions are so great, so numerous, do varied, and so horrendous that only by the death of God’s only begotten Son can these sins be forgiven and future forgiveness made possible.

Christians should be very thankful that Christ died for their sins, and that redemption even for reprobates is possible through the grace of their Savior; because forgiveness is in very short supply within humanity itself. 

Christ/God knew what he was doing and understood that man’s inhumanity to man would not only persist and repeat itself, but would never be acknowledged or atoned for.

It is popular now for world leaders to apologize for the past.  Queen Elizabeth, despite her protests, was forced to apologize to the Kenyans for British colonial atrocities during the war for independence.  She was asked to overlook the barbarism of the Mau Mau.

President Obama was pressured to apologize to the Japanese for Hiroshima, and yet that fateful decision was a good, sound, logical and strategic one in 1945.  Wars are for winning especially against the likes of Hitler and Tojo.  He did not apologize per se, but his metaphor of ‘the rain of evil from above’ left no one in doubt of his tearful regrets.  His hopes for a more peaceful, non-nuclear, more accommodating and loving world were well received in some quarters, but most seasoned observers knew that his apology was capitulation and a sign of American weakness.

Image result for image hiroshima bomb

Jane has not apologized to her sister-in-law for her untoward and self-serving criticisms of husband Bob.  Martha still has not agreed to sit down with her brothers and discuss the misunderstandings over the family will. Alice has vowed to hate her former husband to his death, despite his jail time, obvious rehabilitation, and demonstrations of good will.

Only meaningless apologies prevail – the Senator who apologizes to his wife for his sinful adultery, but is only buying time until she and the public forget.  The mega-preacher who is deeply sorry for his sexual deviance, and who promises – until he is transferred or forgotten – that he will never stray again.  The CFO of an investment banking firm who took repeated advantage of every loophole in SEC regulations and of the ignorance of his clients to make a fortune; and when caught says he’s sorry, but knows that after his short pris0n term he will be back in action.

Jesus Christ would be sorely disappointed about how the human race turned out despite his repeated admonitions and those of his disciples; but then again, being God, he knew exactly what he was doing.  He created man to procreate and be plentiful, and he knew full well that that meant selfishness, aggression, perimeters, expansionism, and violence.  No one in our dog-eat-dog world every really and truly apologizes and/or asks for forgiveness.  That would not be human.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Supreme Court, The States, And The Electoral Process–Popular Revolt vs Federal Authority

Roe v Wade is the law of the land, a decision by the Supreme Court in 1973 to protect and preserve a woman’s absolute right to abortion.  The Court’s decision was applauded by many who saw the ruling as the strongest statement in favor of feminism and the final restoration of a woman’s equal place in society.  By concluding that a woman’s body was her own, inviolate, and sacrosanct; and that no man, state authority, or political power could abrogate that right, the Justices and those who supported them were making a defiant political statement.


The decision, it was claimed, would not only save the lives of those many women who had to resort to backroom abortions and self-mutilation, but would put an end to patriarchy, male domination, and the continuing subservience of women.

The Court decision, however, was attacked by Constitutional scholars who challenged the ruling and especially its justification based on the Privacy Clause. This, they said, was a tortuous interpretation, one which was based on flimsy, errant, and blatant political agendas.
The Supreme Court’s reliance on privacy theory to support a right to abortion is problematical at several levels. First, as the Court itself recognized… the Constitution itself “does not expressly mention any right of privacy.” But the Constitution does not create a general right of privacy… The Fourth Amendment, which “protects individual privacy against certain kinds of governmental intrusions,” “cannot be translated into a general constitutional ‘right to privacy’”). Recognition of a “general constitutional ‘right to privacy’” cannot be reconciled with the care with which the Framers of the Bill of Rights described the specific rights that were being secured.
 Second, the concept of “privacy” is amorphous and chameleon (or, in Justice Black’s words, “broad, abstract and ambiguous,”.  Roe’s attempt to collect cases under the rubric of “privacy” – a term that does not even appear in most of the cases cited – simply creates an artificial common denominator among a very disparate and largely unrelated group of cases that have nothing to do with the subject of abortion 
As the Court in Roe freely admitted: “The situation [involving a pregnant woman and her unborn child] . . . is inherently different from marital intimacy, or bedroom possession of obscene material, or marriage, or procreation, or education….” If a pregnant woman’s decision whether or not to carry her pregnancy to term is “inherently different” from all of the “privacy” cases on which the Court relied, then it is difficult to understand how those cases could possibly support recognition of a right to obtain an abortion (EndRoe.org)
The dissension over Roe v Wade had added dimensions.  For Americans who had little understanding of Constitutional law, the Fourth Amendment, and the legal arguments using it to justify the Court’s decision, Roe was both an arrogation of power to nine politically appointed men, and a violation of laws that took precedence over America’s civil ones – the laws of God.   By legalizing abortion, the Supreme Court and defied the millions of Americans who believe that life begins at birth; that killing any living being is murder; and that only God as the right to bestow and take away life.

For them no Constitutional Right to Privacy could ever justify killing or the defiance of God’s law.
The political stage for the current popular uprising against ‘Washington’ was set.  Roe was a victory for progressivism and the government intervention that its adherents favor.  Opponents of Roe not only felt that it was wrongly and politically decided, but that it took what is basically a religious, philosophical, and moral issue out of the hands of the electorate and kept it within the privileged confines of the elite.   American democracy is not purely and universally secular, these opponents said, and by legalizing an act which has profoundly non-secular aspects, the Court did a grave injustice to America.

For a number of decades this resentment grew but political opposition was disorganized and largely unnoticed.  More recently, however, States have realized that the application of Roe go only so far.  Texas, for example, has made it extremely difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion.  Waiting periods, insistence that only hospital-accredited and –affiliated physicians can perform abortions; the inclusion of patient counseling before any procedure can be performed have all been strong disincentives to the open and free provision of abortions.

Recently the State Legislature of  South Carolina ruled that  abortions after 20 weeks will be illegal.  If Gov. Haley signs the bill into law, it will become the 17th state to do so.  Although some legal challenges have been mounted, the Supreme Court has not yet weighed in on the legality of late-term abortions.  Depending on the composition of the new post-Obama Court, it well may rule against them and set back the continuance of Roe even farther.


As importantly, twelve States have sued the federal government for what they consider unwanted, unwarranted, and illegal imposition of ‘The Bathroom Rule’ – an executive order according to which all bathrooms, locker rooms, and other previously gender-designated facilities to be open to all.   The argument behind these law suits is not dissimilar from the action by various states to neuter Roe. 

There is no way, the State’s briefs contend, that the Federal Government can either legislate or rule by executive fiat on an issue which has such moral, religious, and ethical considerations.  Moreover, the likelihood of abuse, fraud, and sexual misconduct is overwhelming.
The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of gay marriage.
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the historic decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
The Court’s dissent was no less forceful:
“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
In other words, Justice Roberts was endorsing the validity of a popular trend if not an inevitability; but he refused to give gay marriage the official, final imprimatur that his colleagues demanded.  Such contentious issues belong in the popular domain, in the electorate, not in the courts.


Once again,  those who opposed the ruling were quick to find ways around it – just as those who deny Roe have done.  A number of cases involving religious liberty have been brought before the courts.  The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of The Little Sisters of the Poor, saying that they had a legitimate right to refuse to pay for contraception, a practice the Catholic Church specifically forbids.

Other cases involving the religious rights of individuals who claim the legal right to refuse specific services to gays – i.e. not to deny all service but only those, such as baking a gay-themed cake or photographing a gay wedding which offend their religious principles – are coming before the courts.
Like Roe the Court’s recent decisions on gay issues have legitimized in the name of civil rights and secular justice practices which for many have religious and moral overtones; and like the opponents of Roe, those who have reservations about universal gay rights have found indirect routes to challenge court decisions.

The point is not on whether life begins at conception and should be protected; or whether homosexuality is or is not a normal, human sexual expression; but whether or not the federal government – all branches – has the right and the authority to abridge and interrupt the electoral process.  Why shouldn’t complex non-civil matters of faith and morals be debated at the most democratic levels of popular government?

The answer is and always has been a mistrust of popular democracy.  Although Jefferson might have prevailed in his debates with Hamilton over the constitution of government, Hamilton still rules the halls of official Washington and, surprisingly, the liberal elite.  Some matters are too important to be left to the people said both Hamilton and today’s progressives.   Hamilton, however, would object violently to the patronizing, arrogant, and dismissive attitudes of those in power elected to serve the people.

Progressives argue that if civil rights had been left to the states, segregation would still be the law throughout the South; and that therefore no serious issue facing America should ever be left to ‘States Rights’. 

However, the Constitutional mandate in the case of civil rights is perfectly clear and unequivocal - all citizens are equal under the law; and the South was depriving black citizens of their rights.  No one has ever seriously challenged the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Voting Act of 1965 because, once the niggling Constitutional  references to slaves were explained away as historical anomalies, there was no doubt of its intent.


Yet the issues of religious rights, abortion and gay rights are not so cut-and-dry; not so easily embraced by all.   Sexual preference was never even considered by the Framers, and therefore finding such rights in the Constitution is even harder than finding one legitimizing abortion.  Although the Framers were absolutely adamant about the protection of religious liberty, they could not have anticipated the bewildering complexity of today’s society and the difficulties of matching religious conviction with civil liberties. 

Gun rights are never far from public scrutiny; and whether or not the Second Amendment endorses the universal right to bear arms or only a restricted right has not yet been resolved.  Although gun control advocates have persistently asked the Supreme Court to reaffirm the provisions of the Second Amendment as written, the Court has refused, letting the Amendment go unchallenged and permitting the debate to continue in the electorate.  The Framers of the Constitution could never have envisaged the rates of violent crime that exist today nor how corrosive and destabilizing they are.  If they had, they might well have been far more explicit about who exactly has the right to firearms. 

Just like for abortion, citizens are pushing back against Constitutional authority.  A federal appeals court judge recently ruled in favor of a citizens lobby group which contended that the District of Columbia’s highly restrictive policy concerning gun ownership was unconstitutional.  The give and take of this highly contentious issue is where it belongs – in the electorate and in the lower courts.
All of which is to say, as Justice Roberts implied, stop looking in the Constitution for answers to complicated issues.  Do what you want, he said; just don’t look to us to say it’s OK.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Individualism–The Heart Of The American Spirit Which The Left Will Never Understand

Despite almost three hundred years of American individualism – that special character of God-conferred rights, ambition, and personal strength – the American progressive Left, rather than seeing it as the source of America’s greatness it condemns it as the root of all social evil. .

The first Americans were chased from England to Plymouth; and despite a punishing climate, an unforgiving environment and hostile native tribes, they persisted, built the first English colonies in the New World, and felt that through hard work, enterprise, and the grace of God they would survive.


The first settlers on Albemarle Sound were more privileged – a better class of Englishman seeking fortune and even fame; an Englishman of manners and royal connections - but the semi-tropical lands of North Carolina had their own unsuspected hazards – mosquitoes, disease, and a defiant indigenous population. Yet they, too, having survived a long and difficult crossing, and having left a settled and comfortable life back home, were as determined as their Pilgrim brothers to profit from the new trans-Atlantic lands.


Given these origins – one can never discount the new, ambitious, and enterprising gene pool that migrated to the New World – it is not surprising to see the quick stake to new territorial claims, the militant defiance of the native peoples who threatened them, and the progressive movement West.
It was not long before the first Americans had cultivated the Northern Neck, planted indigo and tobacco, moved north, south, and west to increase the wealth of the British Empire, consolidate political power, and of course plant the seeds of rebellion.  In the years after 1776, both New England and the South grew exponentially.  By the time of the Constitutional Convention, the new Republic had formed and consolidated its own rules and principles of governance.

The Founding Fathers knew very well where the new Americans had come from; and the Bill of Rights were meant to assure that never more would this new nation ever live under autocracy, divine right of kings, aristocracy, and feudalism.

America was a land of liberty, but more than anything a land of individualism and individual enterprise.  Not only were Americans free to prosper by their own hand and thanks to their own initiative, but they were finally free to find God in their own terms.  Calvinism, political independence, freedom from Old World prescriptions of class, status, and social position combined to create The New Individual.

This individualism was no more evident than in the Age of Jefferson – Westward expansion and Manifest Destiny – followed by what has been called The Second War of Independence, the War of 1812 when the British were, once and for all, sent home.

Image result for images manifest destiny

The taming of the West, the Mexican-American War, and the push to the coast finalized American expansionism and the consolidation of a country built on individual enterprise, God-endowed destiny, and survivalism at its best.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Euro-centric and socialist sentiments began to be felt.  The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a victory for the working class, and American sympathizers, resenting the influence of the Robber Barons of New York , pushed through anti-capitalist and anti-individualistic reforms.  The era of American progressivism was born.

Only a few years later the Great Depression consolidated the then disparate factions of progressive socialism.  FDR, adopting a European statism enabled Big Government, and for decades liberalism ruled.

Only in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan did individualism have its resurgence.  Reagan and his supporters claimed that government was not the solution but the problem; and in his eight presidential years, Reagan oversaw a drastic reduction in federal bureaucracy, a resurgence of the private sector; and most importantly of all, a restoration of the legitimacy of  individual judgment, worth, and value.

President Obama has governed a period of radical progressivism in which the power of the state, civil collectivism, and radical anti-individualism have prospered.  The Obama Administration has, in the name of civil liberties, rights, and inclusivity, done more damage to the Founding Fathers’ understanding of the Republic (individualism in the name of fulfillment and respect) than any previous president

It is no surprise, then, that Donald Trump has attracted so much support.  His adherents are not just followers of his conservative philosophy, but radical anarchists hoping through is presidency to take down the venal, self-serving, elitist institutions of Washington and to replace them by a  radical populism.

It is ironic to note that most progressives in their most honest moments will admit to wanting a firearm to protect their families from an increasingly dysfunctional and violent minority; will admit to their squeamishness if not revulsion when viewing videos of an abortion or homosexual sex; or who will reluctantly confess to heretofore submerged religious convictions.

In other words by publicly persisting in their support of a progressive agenda of gun control, gender reform, racial entitlement, reparations, and a secular and expedient view of human life, they admit to their own hypocrisy.

Like it or not, the individual’s personal, subjective views on the origin of life, the morality of abortion and/or the death penalty, convictions about sexual reproduction and behavior do indeed count in any electoral calculus.

Conservatives have never been bashful in expressing their convictions.  They resent the overweening influence of the White House and a venal, corrupt Congress.  Perhaps more than any other institution they resent the Supreme Court whose nine members have been selected and appointed on the basis of political philosophy and who vote party lines on almost all decisions.

It is time, conservatives say, to return political decisions to the people – to state legislatures, to popular referenda, and to the people themselves.  There is no reason why any contentious issue such as abortion, transgender rights, or homosexual activity should be decided in such a restricted venue.  It is time, they say to right the political ship, to neuter federal authority and to return important decisions to the electorate.

At the heart of this rebellion is individualism.  When Obama by presidential fiat declares bathrooms open to all; when he defies the will of the people on religious liberty and dismisses the legitimate claims of  The Little Sisters of the Poor; and when he champions the ‘disaffected’ in their specious and politically motivated claims to ‘justice’, he denies not only the will of the people, but the individual.

Image result for images little sisters of the poor

The claims to civil rights in what has become an anarchic if not chaotic society are not untouchable and inviolate.  Who ever said that the supposed rights of a supposedly aggrieved segment of American society will always and indisputably take precedence over Constitutional precedent and principle?

The current campaign pitting an outspoken advocate for individual rights versus an old-fashioned, unreconstructed product of the defamed and discredited American Left, is no contest.  Donald Trump has understood the zeitgeist of America.  Hillary Clinton is scrambling to survive.

Individualism is now and has always been at the center of the American ethos.  Especially in an age of increasing ethnic, religious, and linguistic separatism, individualism – the expression of deeply felt, personal, subjective convictions – has never been more important.

This election is far more than one between a conservative and a liberal, but between two fundamentally opposed political philosophies.  Let’s hope that Donald Trump prevails.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Guns, Abortion, Gay Rights, And Religious Liberty–Passion vs Secular Logic And Trump’s Ultimate Victory

A colleague of mine at the World Bank a few years back was considering a move to Abidjan.  A chance to work with one of Africa’s more enlightened governments, live in an exclusive expatriate neighborhood, dine in excellent French restaurants and order lobster and foie gras from the Auvergnat detailer who guaranteed shipments from France a la minute and not selon l’arrivage was irresistible.

There was only one problem – crime.  Beneath its composed, cosmopolitan, and respectable veneer, Abidjan was fast becoming one of Africa’s most violent cities.   Despite good international schools, superb housing, and excellent European amenities, how could he – in all good conscience – move there with his wife and two young children.

For the first time in his life, he considered buying a gun; and given the level of threat in the country, more than one.  Ivorian customs were notoriously lax, and no one would ever look for let alone discover his personal firearms at the bottom of the lift van.

The problem was that he had been a lifelong gun control advocate, and one who had always counseled tolerance, moderation, and patience.   Violent self-defense was unconscionable, given the understandably dysfunctional nature of the African American family.  Slavery was never an afterthought, and the persistent racism of white America drove black men to extreme measures.  He contributed to every gun control lobby in Washington, spoke out loudly and insistently whenever he had a chance against the corrosive and degrading nature of gun culture in America.

Yet here he was, facing life in an an African nation teetering on the edge of civil and political chaos, and voluntarily taking  his innocent wife and children to such a benighted, unhappy place.  A good World Bank economist, he weighed costs and benefits, and decided that moving to the Ivory Coast, despite the risks, would be good for all.  The children would get a first class French education.  His wife would be able to socialize with la crème de la crème of post-colonial African intellectuals and artists, and he would be sure to get a Bank directorship.

How to reconcile the obvious benefits of the assignment with its equally obvious risks?  A Glock 9mm, a Colt .22 sidearm, and an Uzi semi-automatic. 

At first my colleague did the usual and predictable moral gymnastics.  It might be wrong to own guns and promote gun ownership in America where the civil, democratic process provided so many remedies for social dysfunction and violence; but in an increasingly lawless environment in countries like the Ivory Coast where such democratic protections and progressive programs did not exist, who could blame him for arming himself to protect his family?

The point is that no one wants to be Lear’s ‘bare, forked animal”, naked on the heath, at the mercy of the elements and the most treacherous, immoral, and violent human beings.  In everyone’s heart of hearts, there is a weapon.


In Sam Pekinpah’s Straw Dogs, the main character – an Eastern Establishment academic and liberal – is transformed in the face of a violent, brutal, and savage attack on his family from a mild-mannered, on-the-one-hand-on-the-other liberal, to a Wild West, gun-toting, defender of family, hearth, and home.  Peckinpah said that this self-protective violent streak is in all of us.  All liberal cant and posturing goes out the window when one’s family is threatened.


Such sub-rasa conservatism extends far beyond the right to bear arms.  Despite the persistent, universal calls by progressives shilled by a complaisant and supportive media establishment for tolerance – a woman’s right to choose; a gay man’s right to marry; a mixed-gender man or woman’s right to use the bathroom of his or her choice; open borders and a generous welcome to all migrants and refugees – many if not most Americans are saying, “Enough already”.

There is a video circulating on the Internet (May, 2016) which documents an abortion - by any criteria an invasive, bloody event designed to cut loose a fetus from its supporting placenta, to deprive it of nourishment, growth, and life; to scrape it out from its mother and discard it as hospital waste. 

It is not surprising that young women who watch this video – no matter how pro-choice they may have been – change their minds.  No woman wants an abortion.  It is an unconscionable invasion of privacy, sanctity, body and soul.

Pope Paul II was the first to use the term ‘expediency’ when referring to abortion and Pope Francis reprised his argument this year.  Abortion is not only the killing of an unborn child, but a moral insult to all life. Once abortion is taken for granted, then respect for the sanctity of all life is degraded.


In other words, even the most committed Eastern Establishment progressive woman has to think twice about what she is doing when she fits her feet into the stirrups and agrees to a D+C.  She may have been committed in principle to civil rights and especially the rights of women, but when she is about to subject herself to an abortion, she cannot possibly be neutral.

There is no liberal heterosexual who does not turn away from a chance viewing of homosexual sex on late-night cable.  Although he might have concluded that Deuteronomy is time-based, socially and morally relative, and contrary to Christ’s inclusive and more general teachings, he is still disgusted by male anal sex.  No matter how he may struggle to square his politico-philosophical tolerance with actual, vivid, and explicit homosexual bedtime activity, he cannot.

Religious tolerance and liberty are important principles, enshrined in the Bill of Rights and defended by progressive and conservatives alike.  Yet the idea that the Little Sisters of the Poor must buckle under to the secular authority of the State and cannot refuse any legislation, executive fiat, or court order which denies them their own religious rights strikes even the most devoted progressive as untoward.  A baker who cannot turn down a request to bake a homo-erotic themed cake; a photographer who cannot refuse to record a gay wedding; a school principle in a rural, conservative district who must allow open bathrooms – all offend not intellectually but viscerally.  It simply does not seem right.


The United States has always been a country which has welcomed immigrants.  If it had not been for Polish, Irish, Italian, and Chinese immigrants in the 19th century, the railroads would never have been built, the industrial revolution would have sputtered, and the vitality of New York, Chicago, and San Francisco would have been denied.  Yet in an age of high fertility, overpopulation measured against resources and demand, and porous borders which threaten social and cultural integrity as well as economic well-being, it is no surprise that many Americans agree with Donald Trump that we should keep all new-comers out.

It simply doesn’t seem right that waves of non-English-speaking, Third World, politically disaffected immigrants should be given a free pass in the name of inclusivity, compassion, and tolerance.  There is, like it or not, a common American culture – one borne of liberty, independence, and enterprise – and it in the minds of many is being threatened.  Already the notion of cultural solidarity is being corroded from within.  Campaigns of ‘diversity’ only lead to separatism, conflict, venal demands, and the eventual fraying of the formerly tightly-woven fabric of American society.  God only knows what will happen if we let in all comers.

These issues – abortion, gay rights, religious liberty, immigration, etc., – have been on the back burner of American politics for years.  But in this election year they have been moved to the front of the stove.  They are hot, burning, visceral, and imperative.  The millions of Americans who have become disaffected by faux intellectualism and progressive arrogance are making their will, opinions, and emotions known.  No matter how much traditional intellectual elites may dismiss America’s middle as uninformed, emotional, and misguided, it is their time.