Considering certain recent discussions on this website, readers might find the release today of Pope Benedict XVI’s second encyclical, Spe salvi, of some interest.
In particular, the Holy Father stresses that Christianity is not a religion of political revolution:
“Christianity did not bring a message of social revolution like that of the ill-fated Spartacus, whose struggle led to so much bloodshed. Jesus was not Spartacus, he was not engaged in a fight for political liberation like Barabbas or Bar- Kochba. Jesus, who himself died on the Cross, brought something totally different: an encounter with the Lord of all lords, an encounter with the living God and thus an encounter with a hope stronger than the sufferings of slavery, a hope which therefore transformed life and the world from within.”
However, as Pope Benedict explains, this truth was lost in the modern world, beginning “with particular clarity in the thought of Francis Bacon.” After quoting Bacon on the “triumph of art over nature,” he goes on to write:
“Anyone who reads and reflects on these statements attentively will recognize that a disturbing step has been taken: up to that time, the recovery of what man had lost through the expulsion from Paradise was expected from faith in Jesus Christ: herein lay ‘redemption’. Now, this ‘redemption’, the restoration of the lost ‘Paradise’ is no longer expected from faith, but from the newly discovered link between science and praxis. It is not that faith is simply denied; rather it is displaced onto another level”that of purely private and other-worldly affairs”and at the same time it becomes somehow irrelevant for the world. This programmatic vision has determined the trajectory of modern times and it also shapes the present-day crisis of faith which is essentially a crisis of Christian hope.”
The Baconian vision, the Holy Father says, culminated in the destruction wrought by the French Revolution and by Marxism:
“Francis Bacon and those who followed in the intellectual current of modernity that he inspired were wrong to believe that man would be redeemed through science. Such an expectation asks too much of science; this kind of hope is deceptive. Science can contribute greatly to making the world and mankind more human. Yet it can also destroy mankind and the world unless it is steered by forces that lie outside it.”
This is the great error of the modern world: “It is not science that redeems man: man is redeemed by love.” Thus:
“Whoever is moved by love begins to perceive what ‘life’ really is. He begins to perceive the meaning of the word of hope that we encountered in the Baptismal Rite: from faith I await ‘eternal life’”the true life which, whole and unthreatened, in all its fullness, is simply life. Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), has also explained to us what ‘life’ means: ‘this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (Jn 17:3). Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life.”
That relationship with Christ, however, is not merely individualistic; it draws us into a relationship of love with all who have a similar relationship with Christ. And that relationship between men has a transformative nature:
“In this regard I would like to quote the great Greek Doctor of the Church, Maximus the Confessor (“ 662), who begins by exhorting us to prefer nothing to the knowledge and love of God, but then quickly moves on to practicalities: ‘The one who loves God cannot hold on to money but rather gives it out in God’s fashion … in the same manner in accordance with the measure of justice.’ Love of God leads to participation in the justice and generosity of God towards others. Loving God requires an interior freedom from all possessions and all material goods: the love of God is revealed in responsibility for others.”
Using the example of Saint Augustine, who intended to live a life of contemplation after his conversion to Christianity but ended up serving his fellow Christians as bishop of Hippo, the Holy Father writes: “Christ died for all. To live for him means allowing oneself to be drawn into his being for others.”
There is much, much more, including a perceptive discussion of the first verse of Hebrews and the difference between the traditional Catholic exegesis of it and the Protestant one. In this short space, I can’t do it justice; go and read it for yourself. I’ll end, though, with one final quotation that sums up beautifully the corporate nature of Christianity that the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox Churches) still maintains in the face of the radical individualism of the modern world:
“Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well.”
On Wednesday, November 28, Derrick Shareef pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Chicago on federal charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. I’ve discussed the Shareef case before on this website, most notably here, here, and here.
In the past, I’ve suggested the Shareef case was only the tip of the iceberg, and that those who thought it was inconsequential were missing the bigger picture, some of which I’ve examined in the pages of Chronicles (and which I’ve examined in greater depth in the January 2008 issue, which goes to press on Wednesday). Now, however, the pieces are beginning to be revealed publicly, and—surprise, surprise—the predictions I’ve made are being confirmed.
At the same time that Shareef was pleading guilty in Chicago, an evidentiary hearing was taking place in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut, in the case of Hassan Abujihaad, which I’ve also discussed on this site. At the hearing, it was revealed that the FBI informant who was responsible for Shareef’s arrest used information gathered from Shareef to help break open the Abujihaad case. And the investigation into Abujihaad’s case is providing the evidence that will allow for the extradition of Babar Ahmad (whom I’ve also discussed on this website), the proprietor of a jihadist website. It’s also exposing the breadth of the jihadist network that Ahmad was involved with, which extends from the United States into Europe and the Middle East.
Oddly enough, the only publication that got this right from the start—and the only one that saw the significance of the Shareef arrest last year on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception—was Chronicles.
And there’s more to come—a lot more. Keep your eyes on Chronicles and on this website, because we’re going to provide coverage of these cases that you simply won’t read anywhere else.
I may be going out on a limb here, but I think most readers have probably heard of this saint. Ever since he signed that endorsement contract for Coca-Cola, he and his army of pygmy toymakers and genetically modified reindeer have maintained a high profile”sometimes to the point of distracting us from… you know… that kid in the manger.
Of course, the real story of St. Nicholas of Myra involves a few, carefully chosen gifts, and only rare visits to the North Pole. He really didn”t have the time”since he spent long sentences in prison for the faith, served as bishop of a diocese in Asia Minor, and helped lead the Council of Nicaea, which re-affirmed the fact that Jesus was God as well as man.
But the association of Nicholas with gift-giving isn”t entirely arbitrary. Some of the earliest accounts of his life include the charming suggestion that he would throw money through the windows of impoverished girls so their fathers could afford dowries and they could be married”instead of lapsing into lives of prostitution. It’s said that in one household he tossed three bags of gold”one for each endangered daughter. This inspired pawnbrokers ever after to hang three golden balls outside their windows. So the next time you swing by a pawn shop to pick up, say, an engagement ring or a .38, remember to say a little prayer to St. Nicholas for success in marriage or marksmanship.
Another legend of St. Nicholas tells that three young boys had been killed by a local maniac in Myra, and their bodies preserved in a pickle barrel. (I”m surprised this scene hasn”t yet appeared in a movie with Nicholas Cage.) The bishop opened the barrel, discovered the corpses, and promptly raised them from the dead”winning acclaim ever after as the patron saint of children, pickles, and barrels.
CELEBRATE: It’s traditional in Catholic Europe to celebrate St. Nicholas not on Christmas, but on his feast day, Dec. 6 (go figure!). Parents remind children the night before to leave their shoes outside the door, for St. Nicholas to fill with candy during the night. It’s probably best not to stuff your kids into a barrel half-full of brine, then return in a Santa Claus costume announcing that St. Nicholas has raised them from the dead. Just trust me on this one.
Recently I encountered a revelation in the New York Post that may startle my readers as much it did me. I discovered in a featured story “U.S. Jew Haters,” that a poll recently commissioned and carried out under the auspices of the Anti-Defamation League reveals that our country is awash in anti-Jewish bigotry. As much as 15% of those polled between October 6 and October 19—or “nearly 35 million Americans”—believes that Jews “have too much power in the U.S.” Moreover (and this data seem to be the most troubling for ADL Director Abe Foxman, of Heritage Foundation fame), 35% of the goyim polled believe that American Jews “are more loyal to Israel than the U.S.” This last discovery seems to bother Foxman even more than the discovery that 27% of the American people apparently think that Jews “killed Jesus Christ.” The 35% of those polled who believe that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than the U.S. “has never budged” in the forty years that the poll has been conducted. Foxman states his concern that “this is very sinister. It is a classic anti-Semitic canard. They used it on Dreyfus in France, and Hitler used it. It is very serious.” The neoconservative New York Post also found these poll results to be quite scary, and so the editors decided to treat it as an important story with lots of bold type and prominently featured statistics.
Let me count the ways that this supposedly shocking information is pure nonsense. The quotation from Foxman about Hitler, Dreyfus, and the “classic anti-Semitic canard” makes no sense whatever, since neither Hitler nor Dreyfus’s military superiors accused the Jews in their countries of being more loyal to Israel than the country in which they resided. Israel did not even exist as a country until 1948. Nor are those unidentified Americans who agreed to respond to this poll necessarily expressing anti-Jewish sentiments. They were simply registering a perception that many Jews have in relation to other Jews—and which Zionist fundraisers consciously appeal to. In every synagogue I have ever entered in the last sixty years, an Israeli flag can be seen on one side of the ark and an American flag on the other. When politicians campaign in Jewish neighborhoods, does Mr. Foxman have any idea what they talk about, when they’re not beating up on “anti-Semitic” Christian Fundamentalists? I won’t even bring up the statement made last year by “conservative” journalist and supposed American patriot Jonah Goldberg on NRO (March 13, 2003), explaining that Israel has better claims to its territory than Americans do to their land. Apparently our treatment of the Indians was far more unjust than what the Israeli army did to Palestinians in 1948. Although I have never hidden my own sympathy for the Israeli side, I can’t imagine how even the most brain-dead gentile could fail to notice such Israeli nationalism among Americans. Apparently, daring to register this fact is, for Foxman and his neoconservative pals, a peculiarly anti-Semitic tic. For me it is entirely understandable that those who observe how Jews talk about politics here and in Europe should arrive at the conclusion that offends Foxman and the New York Post. I am only surprised that the figure in the poll is as low as 35%. Many gentiles may be even duller than I thought.
As for the conclusion that 27% of American Christians blame Jews for killing Jesus, this too seems a bit muddy. Beside the fact that there is no evidence offered in the detailed news story that suggests that enough people were interviewed to justify the inference about the beliefs of tens of millions of Americans, it is never made clear what believing the “Jews killed Jesus” really means. Are the respondents condemning today’s American Jews as complicit in deicide (which is the implication of the article presented)? Or does the finding suggest something far less dramatic, namely that on the basis of what these respondents heard about the Bible, or may have read from it selectively, it would seem that Jews in the first century were among those who were calling for the death of Jesus? Although I wouldn’t stake my own life on the truth of the second case, it is impossible to grasp in what sense the respondents were speaking. Add to this that the ADL lives by exploiting Jewish fear of anti-Semitic outbursts among the gentiles, and more especially among devout Christians, I don’t think its staff would have any interest in presenting conclusions that run counter to its yearly announcement that “anti-Semitism is on the rise in the U.S.”
Nor can I understand how the fact that 15% of the respondents think that Jews “have too much power in the U.S.” indicates that America, as the New York Post maintains, is full of “Jew haters.” To what extent does the polling reflect general American opinion? And who exactly were polled? If one went into some black district or into certain Third World immigrant neighborhoods, one would likely find far more dislike of Jews and their influence than I have perceived living among white-bread WASPs. Since Jews ally themselves politically with groups that are most hostile to them as opposed to those who wouldn’t hurt a hair on their heads, the poll may have more to tell us than Foxman would suggest. Unfortunately it is not made clear from whence the 15% was drawn. And even more importantly, we are never told why the “Jew haters” hold the unexplained opinion that Foxman and the New York Post are playing up with fear and trembling.
Somehow I suspect it is not because white Christian respondents, among whom this figure has been plummeting for the last forty years, are jealous that Jews earn money or have advanced themselves professionally. In fact I would not be surprised if these “Jew haters” were noticing what any minimally perceptive American might be picking up on—the will to power that AIPAC and its neocon allies have been exercising for some time past. (It is, of course, enabled by the widespread white, gentile fear of sounding politically incorrect.) The most revealing part of the Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s expose of AIPAC and its effects is its laying out of how many public figures have been dragged down for criticizing the subjects of this book. Indeed by now it has become impossible for a small-government, old-fashioned Republican like Ron Paul to mention that neocons had a lot to do with the Iraqi quagmire without having an English leftist in The New Statesman as well as the collective “conservative movement” denounce him for anti-Semitism. As someone who took a hit from the same group for not being “reliable on Israel,” although at the time of the hit I actually supported the Likud coalition in Israel, I’ve no idea how anyone but cognitively-challenged gentiles would fail a problem with neocons and other hyper-Zionists in American politics. Although black and Hispanic race-hustlers can get away with equally obnoxious behavior, their groups have not been as successful socio-economically as Jews, and therefore the victim card that the ADL, AIPAC, and often the neocons play has come to be increasingly devalued relative to the claims made by certain other minorities. Perhaps eventually Foxman and his partisans may come to notice this self-evident fact.
Ron Paul’s supporters forced the media to pay attention with their (okay, OUR) Nov. 5 “money bomb,” if only because it broke fundraising records. The credibility this achievement gained for the campaign was incalcuable—but much of that money is already committed or spent. So the same folks who put together the Guy Fawkes event are asking us to pony up again on Friday, Nov. 30. I hope you will all take part, as I will—and email your friends asking them to do the same. To pledge your donation and receive a reminder on Friday, click here. “
Hold the presses. Teddy Kennedy has just signed a contract with John Karp, the publisher of 12, an imprint of Hachette, for—get hold of this—8 million dollars, for the senior senator from Massachussetts’ memoirs. Just think of it. 8 million big ones for Teddy’s side of the story. And here’s my exclusive. My Kennedy spies tell me that all of the moolah, all eight million of Teddy’s royalties will be donated to the Mary Jo Kopechne Fund for the Study of the Side-Effects of Water. And if any of you believe this, you know there was no cover up back in 1969.
The mind boggles. Just imagine if a conservative Republican had left a girl to drown after driving her off a bridge, had tried to cover it up for ten hours, and then pleaded diminished responsibility and spent the next forty years as a respected U.S. Senator. You couldn’t make it up, as they say.
I’m not sure which of the two sights was funnier: The hordes of Brit bargain hunters huffing and puffing and laden with enormous shopping bags while taking advantage of the shot-to-hell dollar, or the English football heroes huffing and puffing and being sliced up by the national team of a tiny country which didn’t exist 20 years ago. Crossing the ocean in order to shop used to be the privilege of the very rich. Now it’s the overweight and over-tattooed who do the overseas shopping. I have witnessed more dignified scenes in Africa while the Red Cross distributed food to the starving. And as far as football is concerned, there is an old Greek saying that one does not mention the word rope in the house of someone who has been hanged. English football stinks because English players do not understand the difference between brutal play and technical virtuosity. Running like wild men up and down the field and physically lashing out against their opponents cannot match pinpoint passing, skilled, precise, graceful and relaxed play. I define English sport in general and football in particular with a single word: choke. Enough said. Just don’t mention the word football in an English household for couple of years or so.
Remaining totally relaxed is the secret of champions. Sure, concentration and preparation count a hell of a lot, but once you’re in there and the bell rings or the whistle blows, it’s the more relaxed one who will win. Floyd Patterson, the youngest ever to win the heavyweight title back in 1955 or so, never mastered it. When he fought Liston, he literally froze and was knocked out twice in the first round by Sonny boy, who was to leave this world in Vegas with a needle up his massive arm. When Patterson fought Muhammad Ali, many sportswriters thought he had a chance. Ali’s style suited Floyd. But he froze so badly he put his back out. I watched the fight and knew exactly what the poor guy was going through. I used to put my back out when playing tennis for Greece and especially in Greece. It’s being desperate not to lose which makes one tight.
Great expectations on the part of the paying public do not help. English goalkeepers, with the exception of the great Banks, have always been shaky as hell, especially when they have time to think. The Chelsea keeper Peter Bonetti made two incredible reflex saves in the 1970 World Cup, then let in an easy one because he thought about it and froze. Tennis players today have learned their lesson and the technology has helped, by making a once wonderfully subtle game into a slugfest, in which one is less likely to choke. Oversize rackets minimize mis-hits so all one has to do is close his eyes and swing for the rafters.
The sports in which one tends to choke are boxing, karate, judo, tennis, golf most of all, and things like darts, pool, and other such extremely silly pursuits. I suppose there are guns who freeze at the sight of a bird or a clay pigeon, and end up having to leave the field, but I think dem guns are mostly foreigners playing country squire. In football (soccer to you Yanks), ten out of eleven players do not choke, but then there’s always the keeper, the loneliest position in sport. It’s not the same in ice hockey because the game’s too fast and every save is a reflex one. I eventually conquered my nerves with the help of Nigel Armstrong, an English coach in tennis, Richard Amos, an English teacher in karate, and Teimoc One-Johnson, a half English, half Japanese coach in judo. When you think of it, two and one half Englishmen have made me the most relaxed sportsman around, yet it’s the English who are known as the greatest chokers in sport. Go figure, as they say you know where.
And speaking of the Big Bagel, thieves are swarming through Midtown and along 5th Avenue, muggings are back in vogue, and robberies are up 40 percent. Gun-wielding thugs robbed two men in broad daylight in front of the Metropolitan Museum, and only one newspaper, The Sun, reported the colour of the robbers as well as that of the victims. PC rules OK, as they say, and while Mike Bloomberg is going around blowing his own horn and telling us how to be healthy, the place is starting to revert to the bad old days. Bloomberg’s popularity has me totally flummoxed. He’s a self-promoter like no other, has a ghastly way of speaking and a face only his mother or a hooker could like, yet the Bagelites think he’s doing a good job. He is not. He does not back up the cops the way Rudy used to—hence the rise in crime—and flies around the country promoting himself and some kind of general multiculturalism, probably the last thing the Bagel needs right this minute. And not a peep out of him when a politically incorrect murder took place last week 28 miles from the city. Three black thugs kidnapped, tortured and murdered an illegal alien from Guatemala, Lazaro Tista, who was a hard-working landscape gardener and father of eight. The motive was robbery. Not a peep about it appeared in any of the news programs. But just think: If three white men had done the dirty deed, the city would have shut down and Mike the Bum would have led the protests. I guess Guatemalans who work hard don’t count as victims.
Everybody is going through the motions again as part of the ongoing charade known as the Middle East “peace process”, now in its latest incarnation at the Annapolis conference. At this stage, what it all boils down to is how to get the Palestinians, or rather their leadership, to accept their status as a conquered people, to do it officially and for the record, so that Tel Aviv can feel comfortable, if not fully vindicated. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Palestinians, both those living under occupation and those in refugee camps outside Palestine, are powerless and in no position to “negotiate” with the Middle East’s regional military superpower—most especially when one recognizes that this regional superpower has the world’s lone surviving “Superpower” in its pocket.
The circumstance of relegating itself to being a de facto client state of Tel Aviv means that Washington is incapable of coming to the aid of the underdog. At the behest of the Israel Lobby, Washington has been kicking this dog down the street and around the corner for decades. At the moment in Gaza, the White House is leading a campaign to starve the dog, in coordination with the EU, which is shamefully going along with it.
Bush Jr. and Dr. Condoleezza Rice thought they wanted “democracy” in the Middle East. What they got was Hamas, which won free elections in 2006, defeating a tired and corrupt Fatah. So now Washington is engaged in starving Hamas out. Meanwhile, G.W., Condi and the Frankenstein monster look-alike Ehud Olmert have latched onto the hapless Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. What a cast of characters in the final days. For good measure, throw in the unemployed Tony Blair as the “Representative” of the Middle East diplomatic “Quartet” which consists of the EU, UN, U.S. and Russia. We’re talking a farrago here, big time. Layers of diversion and impotence.
For Bush Jr., the Palestinian conflict is an afterthought. To be fair, Iraq, Afghanistan and the “war on terror” have sucked all the oxygen out of the Oval Office. How to make some breathing space to deal with the root cause of the wider conflict? Evidently, with the “legacy thing” a factor, the task has been tossed over to Condi. I’m sure she is going to get all the moral and material support she needs, behind the scenes, from Dick Cheney and Elliott Abrams, don’t you think? You can bet they are interested in democracy, especially in Palestine. Mentally snapping her fingers, Condi breathlessly proclaimed on October 16th during a confidence-building trip to Ramallah and Jerusalem, “Frankly it is time for the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Can you imagine what such a state might look like at this point, after decades of military occupation, expropriation and bulldozing? Frankly, Dr. Rice, it would look more or less like what it is at the moment, a state of helotry and bantustans for the natives, with Gaza remaining as the largest open air prison in the world. Indeed, the time is now. And if it does not work out, then blame the victims, as always, for not coming “to terms with their condition”. The great Johns Hopkins “neocon” scholar, Dr. Fouad Ajami, has proclaimed that the Arabs “have left the Palestinians to the ruin of their own history.” How convenient. Perfect timing for G.W. and Condi. I’ll let Uri Avnery have the last word.
Dear Mayor Giuliani:
Your fidelity to your longstanding views on abortion is being scrutinized with rare intensity for so early in a presidential campaign. And no wonder: your pro-choice views have alarmed a veritable army of pro-lifers. These pro-lifers fear that, if you become president, you will use your power, especially in appointing Supreme Court justices, to solidify the pro-choice position. That raises their hackles, and now you’ve become their target. You’re heading for trouble, whether you admit it to yourself or not.
You might think you long ago covered the main bases in arriving at your pro-choice position. But did you? There is a neglected aspect of the abortion question that you may not have seriously considered—or have not considered at all. Perhaps reflection on it will lead you to moderate or revise your pro-choice position. This too-often neglected aspect concerns infanticide. You see, it is irrefutable that there is a logical connection between abortion and infanticide.
Infants lack the same capacities that fetuses lack. Neither fetuses nor infants have a sense of self, an awareness of their life as a continuing project, or an ability to reflect on anything or to communicate at a minimum level of meaningfulness. Only when a child is about 1-1/2 to 2 years old does it possess the capacities that we typically attribute to persons. When it is a toddler, and no longer an infant, it has finally arrived at the shores of self-consciousness. No one thinks it’s okay to kill a toddler.
Most pro-choicers agree that it’s wrong to kill infants. But they have no objective basis for thinking so. The arguments in favor of abortion are unable to stave off the conclusion that infanticide, too, is morally permissible. This is not to say that most pro-choicers favor infanticide; the Judeo-Christian shadow which still hangs over our culture leads them to regard infanticide with revulsion. But it is almost comical to see how pro-choice philosophers try to avoid biting the bullet. Their arguments against infanticide are weak and unconvincing, given their pro-abortion premises. Every one of those arguments seems to rely, in one way or another, on merely subjective considerations. Michael Tooley and Peter Singer are more honest. Both of these well-known philosophers argue for the moral permissibility of infanticide as well as abortion.
One pro-abortion philosopher criticizes infanticide this way: “Killing children or adults is wrong because it violates the respect they are due as creatures aware of, and caring about, their lives; killing infants, because it violates the love we give them as a means of making them into creatures aware of, and caring about, their lives. Killing children or adults is wrong because of properties they possess; killing infants, because of an emotion that we naturally and rightly have toward infants. Infants . . . do not possess in their own right a property that makes it wrong to kill them.” (Jeffrey Reiman, Abortion and the Ways We Value Human Life, Rowman and Littlefield 1999.)
Is infanticide really wrong only for these morally subjective reasons—which mirror the traditional Christian rationale for opposing cruelty to animals? Aren’t there any sturdier reasons for opposing infanticide, reasons having to do with certain objective characteristics of the infant? The answer, for the defenders of abortion, is no. Defenders of abortion are unable to distinguish the morality of abortion from the morality of infanticide except by recourse to what that great American philosopher, Huckleberry Finn, called “stretchers.”
If infanticide is wrong, it must be because of some property that the infant possesses. (Otherwise abortion would be morally worse than infanticide. In abortion, the fetus is deliberately attacked, and killed either directly or indirectly. By contrast, infanticide need not involve an actual attack. An infant can simply be left untended, and it will die.) In fact, if it is wrong, the wrongness of infanticide must depend on some essential property or attribute that the infant possesses. And that’s the rub: an infant has no essential properties that distinguish it from a fetus, or, for that matter, from an embryo.
Perhaps you’re not sure where all of this leads. If so, consider this passage from a particularly rigorous and honest pro-choice philosopher: “[T]he implications of the [pro-abortion/pro-infanticide] view are in fact even more shocking to common sense than I have so far acknowledged. Let me cite the worst-case example. Suppose that a woman who wants to be a single parent becomes impregnated via artificial insemination, but dies during childbirth. The newborn infant is healthy and so is an ideal candidate for adoption. But suppose that, in the same hospital . . . there are three other children, all five years old, who will soon die if they do not receive organ transplants. The newly orphaned infant turns out to have exactly the right tissue type: if it were killed, its organs could be used to save the three ailing children. According to the view I have developed, it ought to be permissible, if other things are equal, to sacrifice the newborn infant in order to save the other three children. For if the infant is below the threshold of respect, its time-relative interests can legitimately be weighed and traded off against the interests of others. And its time-relative interest in continuing to live is much weaker than that of each of the three older children; it is only one individual, whereas they are three; and it has no parents or relatives, while each of them, we may suppose, is cherished by its parents and others.” The author adds that “[Peter] Singer’s understanding of the morality of killing has the same implication.” (Jeff McMahan, The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life, Oxford 2002.)
As you are all too aware, people disagree about the morality of abortion. But you, as at least a nominal Catholic, should be particularly sensitive to, and apprehensive about, the infanticide-friendly logic of abortion. What this logic does, in effect, is give the benefit of the doubt, in the debate about abortion, to the pro-life side. True, those who are completely secularist in their thinking will not be offended by the philosophical kinship of abortion and infanticide. If you are a thoroughgoing secularist like them, it would be irrational for pro-lifers to support you.
If your Catholic faith means anything to you, and if you value truth, intellectual rigor, and moral consistency, you will make your peace with pro-lifers. At the very least, you will do nothing to give aid and succor to the pro-choice side. This means, at a minimum, that you will reject the idea—which you previously appeared to endorse—that precedent, or stare decisis, can be the basis for upholding Roe v. Wade. In assessing Roe, moral considerations carry far more weight than do legal conventions such as precedent. Precedent cannot bear the weight of legitimizing Roe.
The decision is yours, and while your presidential aspirations may well hang on it, it is essentially a moral and philosophical choice, not a political one. May your decision, whatever it is, exhibit the integrity (intellectual as well as personal) that Americans want to see from politicians, not least on the vexed issue of abortion.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
The Real Rudy
In his New York Times column (November 23, 2007), “conservative” commentator David Brooks complains that his favorite political figure has gone over to the dark forces of the “anti-immigrant movement.” Brooks recalls those happier days when Rudy, in an address at the Kennedy School of Government in October 1996, recognized that xenophobia had overwhelmed his own party, when it had just passed a welfare reform bill in Congress restricting benefits to legal immigrants. Rudy shuddered at the “fear-mongering and discrimination” that were afflicting the party of Lincoln, “someone who had the courage to take on the anti-immigrant forces.” Then last year, Brooks had “seen [sic!] Rudy passionately deliver remarks at the Manhattan Institute Hamilton Award Dinner in which he condemned “the punitive approach” to immigration, “which is reflected in the House legislation that was passed, which is to make it a crime to be an illegal or undocumented immigrant.” Listening to his recent harangues about sealing America’s borders against illegals, Brooks is worried that his onetime hero may be losing Hispanic voters in his desire to accommodate nativists. He fears that “Rudy may “look back on this moment and wonder why he didn”t run as himself.”
Putting aside some of his muddled historical details, e.g., Lincoln Republicans were not open-borders types, but anti-Irish and at least implicitly anti-Catholic, Brooks is certainly expressing valid neoconservative concerns. By sounding “Tancredo-esque” at this point, after decades of being identified with socially leftist positions on immigration and just about everything else, Rudy may be sliding irreversibly to the right, beyond the neocon communion. What happens if he does win while sounding like a critic of immigration and the gay lobby (two causes that mean a great deal to Brooks as a “New York Times conservative”) and then bases his presidency on his newly constructed identity?
Allow me to comfort the agonized columnist and others who may think like him. I couldn”t imagine why Rudy would not revert to form once elected. It is highly unlikely that his habits of thought, acquired over many decades, would suddenly be reversed in a 61 year old politician, who is trimming his sails because of the wind he is trying to get through. I doubt that anyone but a low-grade moron, or someone acting like one in order to hold on to Republican patronage, could possibly believe that Rudy is no longer Rudy. Does anyone think that Rudy underwent a recent epiphany since addressing the Manhattan Institute last year, as a pro-illegal immigrant zealot? His conversion shows about the same degree of sincerity as the practice of Western Communist party leaders in the 1950s who would talk about “democratic pluralism” when they were competing with social democrats. Rudy has no choice in the Republican primaries but to lie through his teeth, unless he wishes to sink like a lead weight. If he does win (God save us from that fate!), he will probably do what he did before, favor leftist social positions, appoint federal judges who lean strongly left, and call for war against “Islamofascism.” Brooks would be delighted with these results. And by then Rudy would have dragged along the mercenary or opportunistic conservative media, toward an updated form of “value” or “compassionate conservatism.” If I were David, I would stuff the ballot box (or whatever contraption they vote with in the Big Apple) to make sure that the “real Rudy,” who is the only one, manages to prevail.