Failing to defend the Faith

I’ve long considered Queen Elizabeth to be representative of class and tradition in an age that has largely rejected both.  But as this article points out, the history of her family — including Saturday’s marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — shows her descendants have decisively spurned whatever faith and self-discipline the Queen Mother possesses.  Even worse, under her reign, including the title “Defender of the Faith,” the Anglican Church has rejected many Christian doctrines in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusion.”  The result is a Britain in far worse shape than when Elizabeth ascended the throne more than 65 years ago.  She is the longest-reigning monarch in British history.  But despite her personal popularity, it’s not altogether clear her legacy will be on the whole a positive one.

…the courtship and wedding of Meghan and Harry, who is sixth in line for the throne, signaled a sea-change for the royal family in many ways. The bride is American, divorced, biracial, a Catholic, and a commoner, all of which would have been considered scandalous just a generation ago. (Markle was baptized into the Church of England in a private ceremony in March.)…

That the Church blessed the union at all, coming as it did after the couple had been openly cohabitating and in light of Markle’s divorce, signals a radical departure from the traditions of the church headed by Queen Elizabeth, who inherited the title “Defender of the Faith” on the day of her coronation.

While the queen is said to be a very religious woman, her children and grandchildren don’t appear to share her faith. The marriages of the children of the queen and Prince Philip have been replete with scandals and divorces — the most infamous being Prince Charles’s divorce from Princess Diana. Her children and grandchildren, not to mention her husband, openly defied church teachings with pre-marital and extramarital affairs and cohabitation before marriage. Both Prince William and Prince Harry shacked up with their future spouses before marriage, something that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago….

…according to a 2017 British Social Attitudes survey, more than half the population claims they have no religion and only three percent of adults under the age of 24 describe themselves as Anglican. Amongst those ages 18 to 24, three out of four say they have no religion. Among all adults in Britain, only 15 percent now identify as Anglican, 17 percent as Catholics or “other Christian,” and 6 percent say they belong to a non-Christian religion.  (((Spiritually, then, it is no surprise a Muslim is now mayor of London itself.  The influence of that pernicious religion is likely to grow ever stronger there in the vacuum left by the abandonment of Christ.  — Jemison)))

The Church of England’s decline in numbers closely follows the sad trajectory of other mainline Protestant churches. As is almost always the case, declines usually begin with the decision to compromise on longstanding church doctrines. The Church of England began ordaining women in 1994, and ten years later the first female bishops were ordained. Not long after, the church began unofficially blessing same-sex couples. And while the Church of England doesn’t yet officially allow for same-sex marriage, the stage has already been set for approval with the acceptance of clergy in same-sex civil partnerships.

What a long way the Church has come from 1936 when King Edward VIII abdicated his throne so he could wed American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Indeed.

“…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”  (Luke 12:48)

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Looking back 50 years later

Before Britain became knife-ophobic, before it became subsumed into the European Union experiment, there were those who remembered what it meant to be a Briton.  There were those who meant it when they sang (or thought) the words “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

One such man was Enoch Powell, who today is remembered either as a prophet or the personification of bigotry, depending on one’s view of the last half century of unprecedented demographic change.  Today, the 50th anniversary of his most famous address, it’s worth reading and comparing to today’s conditions.  Keep in mind that in 1968, London did not have a murder rate exceeding that of New York.  Nor did the UK regularly suffer from terrorist attacks using vehicles or acid thrown onto passersby. Some links and information are included in the text below to provide further points to ponder.

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This is the full text of Enoch Powell’s so-called ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, which was delivered to a Conservative Association meeting in Birmingham on April 20 1968: 

The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature.
One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: at each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future.

Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: “If only,” they love to think, “if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen.”

Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical.  At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.

A week or two ago I fell into conversation with a constituent, a middle-aged, quite ordinary working man employed in one of our nationalised industries.  After a sentence or two about the weather, he suddenly said: “If I had the money to go, I wouldn’t stay in this country.” I made some deprecatory reply to the effect that even this government wouldn’t last for ever; but he took no notice, and continued: “I have three children, all of them been through grammar school and two of them married now, with family. I shan’t be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas. In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.”

I can already hear the chorus of execration. How dare I say such a horrible thing? How dare I stir up trouble and inflame feelings by repeating such a conversation?

The answer is that I do not have the right not to do so. Here is a decent, ordinary fellow Englishman, who in broad daylight in my own town says to me, his Member of Parliament, that his country will not be worth living in for his children.  I simply do not have the right to shrug my shoulders and think about something else. What he is saying, thousands and hundreds of thousands are saying and thinking – not throughout Great Britain, perhaps, but in the areas that are already undergoing the total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history.

In 15 or 20 years, on present trends, there will be in this country three and a half million Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants. That is not my figure. That is the official figure given to parliament by the spokesman of the Registrar General’s Office.

There is no comparable official figure for the year 2000, but it must be in the region of five to seven million, approximately one-tenth of the whole population, and approaching that of Greater London. Of course, it will not be evenly distributed from Margate to Aberystwyth and from Penzance to Aberdeen. Whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population.

As time goes on, the proportion of this total who are immigrant descendants, those born in England, who arrived here by exactly the same route as the rest of us, will rapidly increase. Already by 1985 the native-born would constitute the majority. It is this fact which creates the extreme urgency of action now, of just that kind of action which is hardest for politicians to take, action where the difficulties lie in the present but the evils to be prevented or minimised lie several parliaments ahead.     ((Note: by 2012, children of foreign-born mothers represented one-fourth of the population of the United Kingdom!))

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A spineless Congress

It’s no wonder Americans have such a low regard for Congress, when government officials are allowed to thumb their noses at it with impunity.  In recent memory the worst sanction the legislature has given to a recalcitrant official has been to hold Eric Holder in “contempt of Congress” — the first sitting Attorney General ever to be so designated.  That only has effect if the target has any sense of shame, which few in D.C. Mordor do anymore.  Official designation or not, it’s clear much of official Washington shares that contempt.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s no coincidence that defiance from Holder, Lerner, Rosenstein and Wray parallels the public’s near-record low approval of Congress, which, according to the RealClearPolitics average, hit a meager 14.2 percent earlier this week.

But Congress has only itself to blame because the Constitution gives the first branch it created “all of the ultimate weapons in any showdown with either of the other two branches,” in the memorable phrasing of professors Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in their classic “The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition.”

Here are five of those “ultimate weapons,” whose deployment ultimately depends on the will of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to defend the right of Congress to be the people’s representatives…

Put somebody in jail.

Impose a big fine.

Invoke the power of the purse

Cut the workforce.

More political appointees.

It’s worth reading the description of these five options at the link.  Despite the frequency of choreographed televised hearings, Congress has largely abdicated its oversight role with regard to the Federal bureaucracy.  This was apparent at least by the time of the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal and the IRS investigations, during which the agencies slow-rolled Congress’ requests for information with impunity.  True oversight involves exercising the power to compel compliance.  The Founders intended the legislature to be “first among equals” within the branches of government.  They, not unelected paper-pushers, represent the people.

The president has less power than people imagine over employees in the Executive Branch.  While he can fire political appointees, career bureaucrats have created a byzantine disciplinary process that, in effect, prevents nearly anyone from losing their job.  I encountered this while supervising relatively low-level “civil servants” — I can only imagine how much more difficult things are in the executive suites.

With a majority in Congress, however, it should be a simple thing to put entire departments like the FBI on notice: comply with legislative directives and requests, or perish as an agency.  Congress can defund any activity of the government with a simple vote.  Unfortunately, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have shown zero interest in actually asserting Congress’ prerogatives.  They are as much a part of the swamp as the agencies running amok, as the recent omnibus bill debacle shows.  That should be a key issue during these midterms — voters need to seek candidates who will support Trump’s “swamp draining,” and that includes pledging to vote in new Congressional leadership.

But for any of this to happen, We the People will need to be more focused than ever this election cycle.  The election of Trump will accomplish little if voters allow the legislature to defend the status quo by resolute inaction.

Blunted from overuse

By now it should be obvious that the charge of ‘racism’ is as likely to mean someone had the audacity to stand up to the Left than it is to mean someone is genuinely bigoted.  Case in point: there is a good argument to be made that Senator Durbin’s now-challenged accusation that President Trump referred to certain places in the world as “s***holes” was merely a setup so that the president could perform public penance by passing a DACA compromise acceptable to the Democrats.

Painting Trump as an unrepentant racist requires rewriting history, though:

2000: Trump declines to run as a Reform Party candidate.  In explaining why, he said  “The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” he said in his statement. “This is not company I wish to keep.”  ((For the record, I think charges of “neo-Nazism” against Buchanan have always been overblown, but that’s beside the point here.  — Jemison))

1998 VIDEO: Jesse Jackson praises Trump for a “lifetime of service to African-Americans.”

1997: Trump praised in the Wall Street Journal for opening Mar-a-Lago Club to African-Americans and Jews, a move opposed by other Palm Beach clubs at the time.

1986: Trump receives Ellis Island Medal of Honor, alongside Rosa Parks and others

Senator Rand Paul has pointed out that Trump funded one of his medical mission trips to Haiti, where the erstwhile optometrist restored vision for more than 200 Haitians.  It’s worth noting he mentioned this in partial defense of the president despite a generally bumpy political relationship with Trump.  And it’s worth noting at least one relative of Dr. Martin Luther King thinks Trump is a friend to African-Americans.

Illegal and chain immigration hurts the black community as much, or more, than anyone else.  Trump may be boastful and a loudmouth.  But it seems he’s genuinely trying to make the American Dream possible again, without regard for grievance politics.  If he can blast through the withering public sniping and achieve increased opportunity for all, he’ll have shown conclusively that crying “raciss!” is simply the last refuge of a Left that has nothing else substantive to offer.

Swamps, RINOs and Trump

Many in the press hope they see a big story developing: a Republican “civil war” between those aligned with the president or Steve Bannon and the “establishment” GOP.  But as one outlet has already realized, the momentum is with the president:

Traditional Republicans fancying the cracks in their party as an opening to primary President Trump in 2020 need to deal with one inconvenient fact: Republican voters aren’t interested.

The brawl for dominance in the Republican Party is certainly remarkable. Former President George W. Bush; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; the chairmen of two top Senate committees; and now Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; all have sharply rebuked Trump, questioning his fitness, integrity, and moral authority.

But their resistance, though hardly isolated, is missing one crucial element: a significant measure of enthusiasm from Republican voters. That’s a weak foundation from which to pursue a challenge to the renomination of a sitting president.

Why is Trump’s base willing to overlook his unorthodox presidential behavior? Here the article nails it:

…where Trump’s Republican opposition sees a dangerous political provocateur, the GOP base sees a fighter who is defending them and their values — against the cultural oppression of the liberal elites in New York and Hollywood and against a political establishment in Washington that bends the rules for everyone but them.

Trump’s coalition includes true conservatives (as opposed to the think-tank faux conservatives in D.C.) and blue-collar Democrats who are tired of seeing everything and everyone put ahead of the needs of honest Americans.  The “have you no decency” outrage from the GOP establishment is easily ignored when one remembers how often they have failed to keep their promises to the voters (Obamacare repeal?  Immigration enforcement?  Tax and regulation relief?).  The problem with most Republican members of Congress is they are “Republican In Name Only (RINO).”  The Tea Party movement was a “civil” attempt to protest this repeated betrayal, and the bi-factional ruling party attacked it — the Republicans by painting it unfairly as racist, and the Democrats by illegally unleashing the IRS and other government agencies on the various groups.  In the latter case, no accountability has been forthcoming against Lois Lerner and her helpers, either.

Is it any wonder a large part of the voting population now wants to burn the establishment to the ground?

Not only has the administration outlasted the Democrats’ frantic efforts to delegitimize it, the shoe is rapidly moving to the other foot as:

These stories are far more important than the manufactured distraction over presidential condolence calls to Gold Star families. Those who care about America should not allow the topic du jour to “move on” from them.

The real fight now is not over the survival of the Trump administration (even the NYT admits “he’s not going anywhere“). It’s over whether he will have a more cooperative Congress to deal with after 2018.  Steve Bannon is rallying insurgent candidates* across the country, and even sitting Senators are reading the tea leaves (finally).  The election of Trump represented a bursting point of extreme voter dissatisfaction with business as usual.  “Civil” didn’t get voters anywhere, so they went with the bull in the china shop. Whether that voter anger and focus can be maintained through the next election cycle is the question of the decade.  If it is, the Trump victory in 2016 will be seen not as a fluke, but as a pivotal moment in American politics when the Swamp was finally confronted head on.

* While Bannon rallies Republican insurgents with name recognition, there are also complete outsiders like Tony Monetti in Missouri, who is challenging established Republican candidates in the primary to run against vulnerable Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.  Be sure to pay attention to ALL the candidates in the races for which you can vote.

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)

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Quote of the day

“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.”  – George Orwell, 1984

Whatever you may think about the appropriateness of removing statues of former Confederate figures, one thing is certain: it will not stop there.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are complex characters, not simple cardboard cutout “racists.”  In today’s climate, though, careful consideration of both virtues and vices is frowned upon.  We are pressed to judge historical characters not by the context of their times, but by how they measure up to current political emotionss.  And so we have reached Shakespeare’s observation through Mark Antony in Julius Caesar: 

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

Caesar, rather than the wealthy, aristocratic Roman Senate, had populist support.  (Sound familiar?)  So was it out of patriotism or jealousy that the Senate acted?  It’s a fair question to ask those today who see our current President as Caesar, and dream of removing him, violently if necessary.

Whether Caesar should have been killed by the Roman Senate can be debated, but one thing history makes clear: after that milestone and the civil war that followed, the Republic clearly was dead.

What we are watching today is the disavowal and erasure of the historical foundations of the American republic.  It’s been a long process over the last half century, but those who want to see it done sense victory and are accelerating their efforts.  They may need to be more careful what they wish for.