Why ‘progressivism’ is regressive

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge provided a keystone speech.  He was known as a man of few words,* but the occasion of our nation’s birthday inspired him to pay homage to those who had gone before.  The entire address is worth your time, but this excerpt in particular speaks to today:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter.

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.  

Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.     ((Emphasis added)) 

For most of human history, despots and absolute rulers held life-and-death sway over their people, who had little control over their own lives.  When America is referred to as ‘exceptional’ it is in that context, rather than in comparison with contemporary nations (although it often applies there, too).  The Founding generation carefully distilled centuries of human experience into a philosophy of governance that managed to be both idealistic and pragmatic at the same time.  They recognized the dignity of the individual as a creation of God, yet also allowed for the fact we are fallen in nature and prone to abuse our authorities.  As James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution put it:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

Those who want a ‘living Constitution’ they can warp to the whims of the times forget how carefully its systems of checks and balances was forged.  The chains they placed on Leviathan have been weakened over the generations by tinkerers and would-be tyrants.  The recycling of old ideas as “new” has not improved our charter, for truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Rather, it’s demonstrated the wisdom and foresight of those who crafted it.  As the title quote for this blog suggests, we are on a wrong road.  To truly be ‘progressive,’ we need to turn back and get onto the right road.

(*) A female visitor to the White House once approached Coolidge to inform him she’d made a wager she could get him to say more than two words.  “You lose,” was Coolidge’s reply.

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Remember

Lexington and Concord
“Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1837

Is “diversity” good for America?

At every turn, we are assured by the media, too many politicians, and a whole host of activists that “diversity is our strength.”  Is it?  Some of the Founders would have dismissed such an idea.  John Quincy Adams, son of the second President, had this to say to his father in 1811:

“America is destined to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs.”  (emphasis added)

In this he was not falling far from the tree, so to speak.  During and after the American Revolution, the elder Adams strongly advocated English as a common language for the new nation.  George Washington, in his Farewell Address, noted the conditions of the younger Adams’ later observations were already present:

“With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.” (emphasis added)

We’re told that American-style liberty and self-governance is the desire of every human being; that in everyone, there’s an American struggling to break out.  Is that really true?  If so, then why are second-generation immigrants participating in terrorism?  Why are some advocating the adoption of an alien Sharia law system in the U.S.?  Why are there alien enclaves here waving foreign flags (while burning the U.S. one) and looking more like the lands of their ancestors than part of the United States?  Most importantly, who benefits from this conscious policy and why?

Culture is the wellspring from which a nation’s institutions flow.  The culture that created the United States was steeped in the Christian faith, the history of British self-governance and Enlightenment thinking about limited government.  Even today, those are hardly universal foundations for societies.   Around the world there are plenty of examples of what results when any or all of those pillars are missing.  So why would we not demand they continue to predominate here?  

America is now decades into its multicultural fetish.  But there is a tremendous difference between enjoying colorful assortments of dress, dance and cuisine, and acting as if all worldviews produce the same positive results.  They clearly do not.  I couldn’t help but think of the multiculturalists when I recently read about the custom in Madagascar of literally dancing with the corpses of dead family members.  I guarantee there are doctrinaire multiculturalists who would demand we not frown on such a horrific practice; that instead we celebrate what they would emphasize as an expression of love.  The problem is, such things have predictable consequences, such as the spreading of disease.  In most of Latin America (especially Brazil), the annual “Carnival” celebration is a license for utter debauchery.  In much of Islamic Africa, the genitals of young girls are mutilated in an attempt to mute their sexuality, a practice now flourishing in immigrant communities such as Detroit.

So what do we expect to happen when we have “diversity lotteries” for admission to the U.S., resulting in people moving here in large numbers directly from societies with such practices?  Is it not strange we have elected officials more concerned with protecting illegal immigrants than U.S. citizens?  We have forgotten, to our own peril, that the U.S., and more broadly Western Civilization, is unique in human history and that most of the world’s story is a uniform one of various flavors of subservience and misery for the average individual.  Too few Americans have personally experienced how different life outside the “developed world” can be, so they have no idea what’s at stake.

At the rate we’re going, though, many are about to find out.  Western Civilization once had the audacity to proclaim universal truths and standards of right and wrong.  But today it thinks of itself as merely one voice among many, and nothing special worth defending.  I believe the “diversity drive,” coupled with the now-prevalent idea there is no objective truth, will be noted by historians as the fatal acid that ate away the foundations of the United States.  The key question at this point is whether any of the original culture of this country will be preserved in what follows its approaching demise, or whether, as Winston Churchill once warned of the Nazi threat, “the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.” 

Iran

The clerical regime in Tehran is facing perhaps its biggest challenge since the immediate aftermath of the 1979 revolution that put it into power.

This is a very big deal.

For years, Iran has been the world’s biggest state sponsor of international terrorism (in particular the Hezbollah organization).  That’s why it was criminally irresponsible for the Obama administration to weaken sanctions on Tehran, and airlift $1.7 billion in paper currency to them!  This, after essentially ignoring previous unrest in 2009.  In his quixotic quest for a meaningless “nuclear deal” with Iran, Obama spared no opportunity to help the mullahs.  In doing so, he was enabling a regime that exported considerable trouble, including cooperation with other rogue regimes like the one in North Korea.

Many Obama alumni are calling on the current administration to also be silent, saying to speak out risks having Iran’s leaders brand the dissidents as “foreign agents.”  This overlooks the power of moral support.  Trump’s initial statement on the matter — a remarkably statesmanlike missive — was translated into Farsi and quickly passed around among the dissidents before the regime blocked access to social media.  Obama’s team might well be wondering what else will come to light about them, should the mullahs lose power.

America remains the original modern Constitutional republic, however battered that system may be.  The most powerful foreign policy tool available to us is modeling what a free society should look like.  For more than two centuries people in other countries seeking a better way have looked to us for inspiration and example.  We have not always lived up to such scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.  Inspiration is far to be preferred over invasion as a means to advance freedom.

“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she (America) goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.”  – John Quincy Adams, 1821

Let us all offer “prayers and benedictions” that the Iranian people will finally free themselves of the original Islamist gangster regime.  The world could be a much better place if they do.

Never forget September 11, 2001

Sixteen years.  That’s how long it’s been since the worst terrorist attack in American history.  A total of 2,996 people dead or never accounted for.  Symbols of American power struck without warning: both World Trade center towers and the Pentagon.  The actions of informed passengers on a fourth plane likely averted a strike on the White House or Congress.

An entire generation had horrifying visions of previously unimaginable events happening in their own nation, with memories firmly etched into their minds.

They say time heals all wounds. And for the families of those lost that day I hope there is some measure of truth in it. But there is a flip side: such events fade in the public consciousness, such that they no longer inform or shape how the nation acts. To quote the opening of the movie “The Fellowship of the Ring,”

“…some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend, legend became myth…” (click “continue reading” below to continue)

Continue reading

Stealing inheritances

I know of someone whose parents, while he was just a wee lad, broke into several antique stores, amassing a tidy little sum fencing the artifacts before retiring from such activity.  Then the family settled into the quiet life of the “Nouveau riche.”  There was just one problem: eventually the authorities broke the case and discovered who was responsible for the string of thefts.  By this time, my acquaintance was just entering a fairly respectable college, fully expecting to afford the tuition with ease.

That is, until his parents were exposed and all their assets seized.  But since it would be unfair to deny him such a great educational opportunity just because his parents had broken the law, the court ruled the family could keep the money and send him to school. The various antique store owners and their families were astonished.

Outrageous, no?

OK – confession time.  The above is made up, and I don’t actually know of such a case. But there are apparently a lot of people who would agree with the fictional court ruling above.  These are the people who want to allow the children of illegal immigrants to stay in the United States, despite their parents breaking the law to get them here.

“But a child shouldn’t have to suffer for their parents’ actions!”  It’s an easy statement to agree with, emotionally.  And yet children do suffer the consequences of their parents’ actions every day.   Children are fatherless because of “no-fault” divorces.  Children live in poverty because their parents failed to acquire skills or motivation to work a decent paying job. Children are beaten when parents abuse alcohol or drugs and fly into rages. On and on the list could go.

Our nation is being played emotionally yet again to allow people to stay here who never had any right to be here in the first place.  I understand sending away people who’ve lived here their whole life seems cruel.  But is it compassion to allow wave after wave of invaders to break into America, depressing wages and driving up social spending for those already legally here?  Does it serve justice to have an immigration policy that, in effect says, “you have to follow this specific process… unless you can successfully hide out illegally in the U.S. long enough to become a sob story when you’re discovered?” Does it build confidence in the integrity of our institutions when those charged with enforcing the law go out of their way to obstruct it:

The NYPD says the (DACA) protesters arrested outside Trump Tower (Tuesday) won’t have to be fingerprinted if they provide their information willingly — no fingerprints means no arrest information transmitted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

After all, we wouldn’t want to deport any of these people who are now so bold as to say “yeah, we broke the law to get here, but we deserve to stay anyway!”

The other heartstring being pulled is “if you enforce the law it will break up families!” This is only because the United States is one of the few nations left in the world where geography of birth confers citizenship (via a grossly expanded reading of the 14th Amendment*, which was dealing with the end of slavery, not immigration in general).  The Founders talked about “securing the blessings of liberty to our posterity.” That means the descendants of Americans.  One should not receive automatic citizenship unless at least one of your biological parents is already an American (even if they themselves are a naturalized citizen).  Our current process created an “anchor baby” loophole through which hundreds of thousands of migrants have put down dubious roots in our land.

And it is our land.  Not just anybody’s.  To state otherwise is to void any semblance of a nation-state or international borders.  It’s understandable that parents want to provide the best life they can for their children.  But they must do so legally.  Allowing the children of illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. is the moral equivalent of allowing my fictional acquaintance to keep the ill-gotten gains his parents arranged.

So no, enforcement doesn’t mean breaking up families.  It means they should all go back.  Thirty years ago Ronald Reagan was played a fool by agreeing to a deal for amnesty in return for better border security and stricter immigration.  As we all know, only the first half of that deal occurred.  I guarantee Congress will try the same thing again, now the Trump has (properly) put this issue back to the legislature instead of trying to rule by Executive Order as his predecessor did.  We cannot allow our Congresscritters to hold stricter immigration and border security hostage to the demands of people who literally have no legal standing to be in the United States in the first place.  We must communicate to them clearly and loudly that we won’t consent to a second sucker’s deal.  On a tangential note, isn’t it interesting the GOP couldn’t fulfill its promise of repealing Obamacare, but within hours of the Administration’s DACA announcement there is already bipartisan support building to let the “Dreamers” (a propaganda term if there ever was one) remain in the U.S.?  Who, exactly, do these “representatives” represent?

Build the Wall.  Deport the lawbreaking illegal immigrants — all of them.  

This is not a race issue.  It is not a “realizing the American dream” issue.  It is an issue of whether we are a nation of laws, and one that is willing to defend the inheritance intended to be handed down to future generations.  If we fail this test we may as well erase the borders from all maps, because they will have become meaningless.

And our children will watch helplessly as invaders finish squandering the legacy of their ancestors.  

Let’s remember that when anti-American globalists try to play the emotion card.

(*) – The 14th Amendment is by far the single longest amendment to the Constitution, and the various broad judicial readings of its provisions have dramatically changed the way in which our system of governance operates.  But that’s a post for another time…

Attempting to be an art critic

I’ve been seeing this image pop up here and there across the Internet.  It’s by the same painter who did one of Obama a few years back in response to the passage of Obamacare.  The two form something of a bookend set.

jmYouAreNotForgotten 002

I think the original Obama painting was spot on, depicting as it did an aloof and arrogant president trampling the Constitution while all his predecessors (except a few to Obama’s right, or the “left” side of the crowd) looked on with expressions of “what the hell, man?”  The message of the original painting was clear.

As for the one above, I can appreciate that it’s not Trump who is center stage.  We don’t need blind hero worship or the man-on-the-white-horse syndrome here.  Trump’s depicted standing on a snake, which may be more Biblical allegory than I’m willing to extend to him.  That said, D.C. Mordor is definitely snake-infested in our day, and much of the hissing against Trump comes from that serpentine choir.  But the center of the action is a young family watering a plant (perhaps the Tree of Liberty?) in what is very parched soil.  The message could well be interpreted as Trump trying to buy time for the next generation to refresh our nation.  Changing who’s in office won’t matter until the culture itself has been changed.  Politics, it is said, flows downstream from culture.

I’m sure in this era of professional grievance-mongering, others will count faces and point out there are only a few non-white characters in the crowd.  But look who they are: Sheriff David Clarke, an outspoken patriot; an unnamed World War II veteran in a wheelchair who clearly gave to his country; an unnamed black lady and a minority man holding folded U.S. flags, signifying loss of loved ones in service to the nation.

The fault lines in this country today are not so much Republican-Democrat than they are traditionalist/progressive.  As the many “RINO” Republicans demonstrate, the parties don’t cleanly align with the other dichotomy (Sheriff Clarke, by the way, is a registered Democrat).  There are simply those who believe the “bourgeoisie” values that made this nation successful are worth preserving (perhaps “restoring” would be more accurate by this point), and the inaptly named “progressives” who would continue to tear down those values in a vague utopian quest that has ended in tragedy time and again throughout human history.

The takeaways?

  • Don’t expect Trump to solve every problem.
  • Those who love this land and the values that made it must be active in restoring them.
  • Teach your children well.  One generation — the Boomers — left a huge wake of cultural destruction.  This shows how a single generation can change a nation.  Make sure those who are our heirs are prepared to change it again by valuing and defending their inheritance.

One final thought about watering the “tree of liberty” — the artist is optimistic in his portrayal.  Thomas Jefferson warned that nourishing that fragile plant sometimes takes more than water (though his quote is often used without context).  Hope/pray for the best; prepare for the worst.