There is ample reason to be disgusted and depressed by the state of the American conservative movement. Its leading journals are run either by ideologues or arrested adolescents, and the president it has backed to the bitter end has betrayed, successively each of its governing principles:
Fiscal responsibility. Spending like a compulsive geriatric gambler wearing Depends so he needn”t get up from his slot machine stool in Atlantic City, a Republican president has transformed a modest surplus into an unthinkable, unpayable deficit that has our country in hock to China. (Let’s not forget that before what they viewed as the “divine surprise” of 9/11, the neocons were goading us into confrontation with China”even as they”re now picking fights with Russia.)
Limited government and individual rights. The same pundits who screamed that fascism was coming to America when the Clinton administration took Elian Gonzalez back to his father, who howled about the “persecution” of the militia movement, now favor the unrestricted arrest without charge, trial, or appeal, of American citizens”on the word of the President. Complain all you like about how the neocons are fundamentally Trotskyites”their president claims the powers of Josef Stalin. (The Black Maria rattles up in the middle of the night, and you disappear into the Lubyanka….)
Prudence in Foreign Policy. In a direct betrayal of his campaign promises (remember the words “modest foreign policy”?), that same combat-shy president has muffed the chance to capture our real enemies (Al Qaeda, remember them?), and instead launched two separate campaigns to transform Islamic backwaters into Western European democracies”squandering American lives and treasure, and costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. He also helped destroy one of the last refuges for Christians in the Middle East (Israel has wrecked Lebanon, and Bush may well hand Syria over to the Islamists.) He now contemplates a direct, aggressive war against Iran that would be no more just than Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor (another “preemptive war”).
But why go on? Readers of this site know all about how the conservative movement has dropped its pro-life litmus test, and is now rallying behind a serial adulterer who supports gun control, partial-birth abortion, gay marriage, open borders, and aggressive wars.
Just now I”d like to depress the reader even further, by pointing out that the Left offers no alternative. Sure, they favor a more reasonable policy in the Middle East (at least, the far Left does), one which would encourage a just Israeli settlement with the Palestinians that might defuse the possibility of war”and get the Israelis off land they can”t populate, and won”t ever have the gall to ethnically cleanse, and which if they don”t abandon will soon put them in the minority, just like the South African whites.
And the Left opposes the all-encompassing police powers demanded by the Bush administration”mostly because they”re aimed at Moslems rather than at home-schoolers, prolifers, or middle-class folks who”d like to carry guns in self-defense.
That’s about it, folks. On every other issue”and I know this may be hard to swallow”the Left is even worse than the neocon right. As crackpot as the Christian Right has become”John Hagee’s translation of Mein Kampf into pidgin King James English, Jerusalem Countdown, is already a best-seller, being pimped by the likes of Human Events“it is the only force holding back the kind of outrages which the Left gets up to when there’s no force to oppose it.
What am I talking about? Let’s take a look at a few sites around the world where the cultural Left has taken undisputed power, and see what these fine folks get up to once they”ve chewed through the straps and taken over the asylum:
In Quebec, a proposed government policy would forbid private Christian schools from teaching Biblical sexual ethics.
A law with similar intent is pending in Brazil, which according to Zenit News “seeks to criminalize anything considered a condemnation of homosexuality, including priests who speak against the practice in homilies. Priests could face two to five years imprisonment for preaching against homosexuality. And a rector of a seminary who refuses admission to a homosexual student could face three to five years.”
In Britain, the “anti-discrimination” regulation which will prevent Catholic and other serious Christian adoption agencies from placing children only with married, heterosexual couples will also restrict the teaching of Christian sexual ethics in schools, according to the non-partisan, secular news site MarriageDebate.com.
In Germany, where home-schooling was outlawed by Hitler and the law left on the books, the parents of 15-year-old Melissa Busekros lost custody of the girl for teaching her at home. She is now being held at a psychiatric institution“diagnosed with “school-phobia” at an undisclosed location, with no access to her parents. In the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, laws restricting religious garb”which were aimed at the Moslems that country unaccountably allowed to settle there”are now being used to strip teaching nuns of their habits.
In Poland and Ireland, the democratically-passed laws restricting abortion on demand may well be stricken from the books by the diktat of unelected judicial bureaucrats of the European Court of Human Rights”who by the way, ruled against the parents of the abducted German teenager.
Meanwhile, in France, children are still forbidden to wear visible crucifixes or yarmulkes, since this is the only way that anti-clerical country can justify to itself stripping Islamic girls of the Hijab they are religiously moved to wear.
Across the Rhine in Deutschland, a judge recently ruled in favor of an abusive Islamic husband who beat his wife”basing his decision on the Koran.
To what does this all add up? The fact that the secular Left, around the world, is engaged in a systematic persecution of Christianity, per se”even as it bends itself into knots to accommodate other religions, and every conceivable lifestyle perversion. The only reason that the secularist elites in this country haven”t tried harder to crack down in the U.S. is the presence of a large, Evangelical Christian movement”and a few Catholic intellectual cheerleaders. The presence of that movement serves as a bulwark against these forms of repression”for the moment.
But with every occasion on which the Christian Right squanders its moral capital, every unjust war it supports, every foolish statement designed to provoke a war between Israel and her neighbors, every ham-handed attempt to keep Christians from taking the environment (and the survival of God’s Creation) seriously, that bulwark erodes just a little. Intelligent young people look at the movement which can sanction such irresponsibility, which touts the likes of Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush, and turn away in disgust. Like the Catholics of Spain who associate the Church with Franco’s secret police, they shudder and look for something else”a worldview which is not so manifestly juvenile and irrational.
They may very well turn to the secular Left. The Christian Right could vanish like the “massive” Southern resistance to desegregation, like the Temperance movement which once outlawed alcohol in 50 states, like the Black Power movement… like every other half-baked ideological crusade which faded away with the irrational emotions that had driven it, in the absence of serious thought.
And then we will be in the same boat as our cousins in Brazil, Quebec, and England. We”ll be facing real persecution by a “soft” totalitarian system that holds the family in contempt, regards Christianity as its enemy, and covets cradle-to-grave control over the thoughts, feelings and actions of its subjects.
The only hope of resisting the partisans of secular intolerance is to clean up the Christian Right (Catholic and Protestant), to purge it of jingoism, anti-intellectualism, and end-of-the world nihilism, then to break up its shotgun wedding to the hacks who run the conservative movement. The Christian Right must become less “Right” and much more Christian, reassert its intellectual and moral independence of partisan politics, and insist on applying its principles consistently. Pastors must stop endorsing torture, public Catholics must choose their pope above their president, and all of us must remember that the real war is not between the Democratic and Republican parties, but between the Church and the World. And the battlefield lies within our hearts.