Here is an article written by our anonymous commentator. Many of you wanted him/her back since we changed to the new web site. Well, I have managed to convince this party to write something. It is long, but thought provoking. I have not edited it all. I’m glad this person is back and I look forward to more material:
Moments of clarity, like 9/11, Pearl Harbor, sinking of RMS Luistania, are rare, are often accompanied by surprising, shocking events, soul searching, passionate, deeply meaningful observations such as “I never prayed so hard in all my life.” Now, a distant memory, the 9/11 event, the “praying” thing is clouded, almost forgotten. These comments depart, embracing some thoughts in prior Blogs, but are not antithetical.
Moral and Material
Moral (conforming to ethical standards of behavior) and material (relevant, an idea to be refined) issues are the essence of the founding of our culture, of our country. How far are we willing to go to protect it?
Joan of Arc did battle; the subject a siege between two royal houses for the French throne, under the guidance of Divine Providence (Manifest Destiny is a perversion thereof) and, legend has it, many died. She was tried by an ecclesiastic court, found guilty and burned at the stake, a Christian/Catholic “Fatwa” (Islamic Shariah Law type Sentence). Is there not a thought provoking “absence” of non violence in this ecclesiastical judicial sentence? She was nineteen years old. Twenty-five years later Pope Callixtus III, reexamined the trial and found her innocent. She was declared a “martyr” (the impossible option being to be declared “alive”), beatified and canonized as a saint in 1920…for the fruits of violence and the mandate of a Christian/Catholic Fatwa pivot. What a grand gesture to affirm a mistake, the Occams Razor for religion, for violence vs. non-violence! Religious violence includes all violence that is motivated by religious precepts, texts or doctrines. The Old Testament of the Bible is on occasion quite heavy handed, i.e. “an eye for an eye.” Is violence always evil? How far are we willing to go?
Peace, in our lifetime, is the pause between conflicts. Accept the “word” of your enemy if he promises to wipe you from the face of the earth until there is reason to pivot, then trust but verify.
The great Judeo Christian Philosopher drove the money changers out of the temple with a whip (How far are we willing to go?). He was crucified. Gandhi was the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of India during the Indian independence movement, a time when Muslim and Hindu clashes (familiar?) threatened Indian peace. He was assassinated. Reverend Martin Luther King was a champion for the restoration of peaceful parity and equality, equitable co-existence and non violent civil disobedience. He was assassinated. Violence is a reality we must learn to live with, too often the only tool left in our fight to defend our entitlement to the first unalienable right guaranteed by our Constitution, “Life.” And the other option, to be a martyr.
There was the Holy Crusades and now the great Muslim controversy, a reemergence of another Great Inquisition, another Second Great awakening, the chaos expected with the arrival of the Twelfth Imam-Muhammad al-Mahdi? There was a time when Catholics thought they were the only ones in heaven. A much more moderate view compared to death to the infidels and Westerners, that is, with the exception of Joan of Arc.
Revolutionaries, turning to the use of religion for their purposes, have two ideological targets, “moral” and “material.” The “moral” element is concerned with transforming principles conforming to standards of behavior and character based on material principles. A common quote of dismissal in the U.S. “judicial” arena is ‘that the argument offered is not “material” (i.e. relevant) to the issue at hand.” The “moral” issues are cultural standards and laws. The “material” issues are often germane, relevant to the definition of “right” and “wrong.”
The Supreme Court does not adjudicate “right” and “wrong”, it struggles, sometimes very poorly (see Dred Scott), why are their rulings called “opinions (?)”, to interpret “the law or constitutional intent.” There is no Constitutional absolutism (maybe we don’t want it). Most present day decisions are struggling mightily to be more concerned with social justice, not equal justice. Thus many 5 to 4 decisions are heavily influenced by politically correct currentism and a desire to “transform,” the “intent” of the Founding Fathers.
Violence is not always the offspring of hate. For those in a honorable ethical quandary about the right to survive, the honestly conflicted, there must be a legitimate, moral, ethical and respected place for aggressive, proactive, even pre-emptive confrontation, “push back”, for “self defense.” Given the proper motivation anyone is capable of terrible cruelty, baseless savagery and horrific violence. But a mother will kill to protect her child. Are there not other sacred and justified causes? How far are we willing to go today?
Malevolence does exist. Gandhi, a moral rightness force in India, was decidedly non violent. And yet he said “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.” Some see this as a legitimate entry, a justification, a covert invitation, an acknowledgement of the “right of survival”, self defense. He further offered “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.” This is an interesting observation for a non-violent man. The Dalai Lama is reported to have said “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” Is violence a “material” argument for survival? And if so, can even “violence” be corrupted? How far are we willing to go? There have been several thoughtful comments on Muslin issues in this blog.
Those of any religious or non religious righteous conviction must have been overwhelmed by humanities lack of sensitivity and dearth of charitable concern for emotions rising up from the 9/11 mosque locality issue. This was exacerbated by the disturbingly similar, the Koran Book Burning issue, constitutionally related arguments, more poignant, distressing, heartbreaking and certainly for most individuals of charitable, benevolent, altruistic and liberal philosophies, a teachable moment in compassion. There is a legitimate role for religion in the public square.
And then we were approaching a possibly distasteful event with the anticipated Florida Koran Book burning. President Obama did demonstrated proactive wisdom, statesmanship, guidance, a leadership quality by defusing this Florida event. However, where is the even handedness with the Ground Zero Mosque? There is the constitutional “right” to build the Mosque at Ground Zero, burn the American flag, burn the Koran (Beck, Romney, Palin, Petraeus, Gingrich, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton et al denounced it) and rip pages from any holy book, desecrate any Christian symbol….but is it wise, is it not “wrong?” Remember the “right” to free speech but then the error, the “wrong”, of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.
The Florida Koran Book burning never happened (yet) and people died are dying anyway. Why? Is it because of hurt feelings, a form of moral outrage or religious manipulation for “insidious control”? Salman Rushdie a novelist, Kurt Westergaard a Danish Cartoonist and Mohammed Bouyeri murdered Theodoor “Theo” van Gogh, a Dutch film maker; all were/are targets of violence over freedom of expression. If burning a Koran is insensitive, and it is, then are these reprisals not equally as insensitive and unjustified responses? The Islamic world stones women to death for adultery but not the men? America executes a Virginia woman, Teresa Lewis, for her part in the killing of her husband and stepson.
“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West of launching a “heavy propaganda” campaign against the case of an Iranian woman who was sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery (sentence stayed?) but failing to react with outrage over the imminent execution of Lewis.” This is straight out of Sal Alinsky’s Rules for radicals. Alinsky said” Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.” Is this Hitler preaching anti-Semitism? What is moral and what is material?
A level legitimate playing field, the Mosque locality and the Koran Burning, the “constitutional right” in dispute never questioned, both arguments hideously egregious in not demanding empathy, lacking sensitivity, the most offensive act possibly making an identical and more effective point. Pause is indicated when the real issue is not freedom but what “harm” will be done. Let the raw wounds of current events heal first. Someone said “there can be no “freedom”, given the “right”, to build a Mosque on or near hollowed ground if it causes ‘harm.””
“Free Will” does bequeath to each the right to intellectual, philosophical, rational deceit and fraud. And our President, pray for him, Our Congress and America, they who have displayed a lack of wisdom on the inappropriate location (not the right to) of the NY mosque, intensely foolish, he beseeched the Florida minister, “Obama Implores Florida Pastor to Call Off Quran Burning”, it was profoundly sensible, “righting” a potential “wrong.” And in the final analysis, a strange man, Rev Terry Jones, has temporarily laid claim to the moral high ground by reclaiming his senses. May Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (yet to explain his connection with former associate and 9/11 truther Faiz Khan, an acolyte of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on this issue) be so wise? Our constitutional rights stumble over the issue of “harm”, a “material” issue. The” right” to do anything carries with it the sacred moral obligation “not to do it if it causes harm or wrong.”
A very great man once said “A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.” The Muslim issue comments on this Blog eviscerated any rational sagacity against this premise. A wise man said “I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal to reason and is in conflict with “morality.” As with yelling “fire” in a crowed theater, the option of “harm” caused is relevant and prima facie “common sense.” Common sense is the realized sense of proportion. Compromise is sacred and a miracle.
There is no religion or belief system, including atheism, which can claim the Divine or Natural, implicit or explicit, right to inflict unjustified harm, proactively or reactively. Global dominance by religion can only be obtained by the selective and effective use of power. No Divine or Natural Authority would presumably ever condone that.
Any attempt at a justification, adequately and thoroughly shredded by thoughtful bloggers, for the rights, privileges and constitutional co-existence of, and with, any who would clearly, profess a radical or religious intent to exterminate (the Holocaust), of ethnic cleansing ( Bosnia and Herzegovina, the population exchange between Greece and Turkey et al) or religious sovereignty (the only true religion) are as misguided, emotionally, judicially and intellectually adrift as our Supreme Court was in the 1857 Dred Scott case, with their justification and “rule of law”, a constitutional right, embracing slavery. But that position at that time was successfully argued as “morally” appropriate, not necessarily “right’, given the “material” alternative……chaos. It took the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865 to correct that injustice. The electorate, “We the People”, again righted a wrong.
The cultural battle today is between issues that are “moral” and “material” and it rages in all corners of our culture. History demonstrates with great specificity, with elegant reasoning (liken to the eugenics argument of Margaret Sanger, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Woodrow Wilson, the Nazis, and others, even if Hitler was religious at some point in his life) the intellect and fallibility of the gifted, in these cases, a monumental self-deception or the intelligent exercise of time honored “moral” evolution. Totalitarianism, eugenics, and euthanasia have deep roots in world history.
The aim of eugenics, for example, is to eliminate “undesirable types”. To whom will we convey the “right”, and then the “material” privilege, the authority to define “undesirable?” Therein is the simple, clear and irrefutable error of judgment in this argument by individuals of “admired(?)” elitist inteligencia. “Free Will” does embrace the “right” to be wrong and with venerable articulation, struggle to justify it (and fail?). F. Scott Fitzgerald, opining on this issue, remarked “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” The thought provoking struggle rages on, even on these blog pages.
Let there be no doubt that “non-violence” is the highest “moral” venue to aspire to for mankind. But let our enemies know, clearly, without any doubt, those who live for death to the infidels, the Great Satan, all Westerners, the purveyors of genocide and Holocaust, that we will ascend the parapets of endurance, resistance and continued existence, the ramparts of a “just” (and yes, a flawed) civilization, in full battle armor to “materially” defend our country, our lives, our sacred honor, in deep respect for the call of Nature and Nature’s God, the edict of “survival of the fittest”. To deny Darwin’s possibility, Margaret Sanger would say, might be a little unwise. Does this constitute wisdom from an unexpected source?
Religious beliefs are at the core of the lives of two thirds of the world’s population giving sense and direction. Conflict is best served on the battlefield of ideas. Faith inspires us to act and “raise” our sights beyond ourselves. The value of religion is self-regulation. We cannot allow people who use religion as a divisive force, the misery merchants of our generation, to persist, persevere, and succeed.
Compassion is not a suicide pact. Great minds often go astray as the Dred Scot decision by the Supreme Court established. And the electorate often comes to the forefront of justice as the 13th Amendment has demonstrated. Do not retreat from honest discourse to be engaged by malicious misinformation or emotional humbleness, meekness, submissiveness, or timidity even though “the meek will inherit the earth” after the strong have secured (some would say destroyed) it?
A recent blog summarized, framed this concept of “moral” and “material” well; simplicity (certainly lost in these ramblings) is always elegant, with a challenge of the wording in “My Country Tis of Thee” vs. “Our Country Tis of Thee.” In support thereof, a prophetic premonition, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution in protest to their race-based abomination of excluding Marian Anderson from performing at Constitutional Hall. Marian Anderson’s subsequent performance, at the Lincoln Memorial, in 1939, of “America”, “My Country tis of thee” validated this bloggers sentiment. Marian altered the words, also, of that sacred song on that day from “My Country Tis of thee, sweet land of liberty of thee We (original word is I) sing.” National unity of patriotism and noble human dignity trumps unprincipled progressivism and secularism each and every time.
It is not in our best interest to continue to allow racism, sexism, homophobia, and Islamophobia issues to continually consume all of the oxygen from the universal debate about the reemergence of principled conservative (and pristine Democratic et al) traditional institutions, views and values (that dogma that vigorously repudiates each and every one of these aforementioned very wrongheaded ideologies), a reawakening of our politically positive and patriotic beliefs, in permanent residence in our hearts and souls. Stop burying those who die from Cholera long enough to boil the water. How far are we willing to go? Malevolence does exist.
The “material” argument is also corrupted in the “redistribution of wealth”, “what will we submit to”, Fredrick Douglass would ask! We march in lock step, a crematorium reflection, into the time for “reeducation”, the word of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the admitted agenda of this administration. And we are all within the tsummi of that mandated reeducation “dictate.” This is corrupted generosity, insidious control, and greed, not wisdom or divine charity.
The “Two Dilemmas: Outsourcing and Social Security” is a very thought provoking journey into the struggle between selfish versus selfless, independence versus dependence, generosity versus charity (the ultimate resolution of this issue), a symptom not a cause, government control versus solutions by “We The People”, socialism and principled capitalism, ethical and spiritual return on investment (ROI, something very well understood by independent film makers) versus a Ponzi scheme, faith based solutions versus a “nanny state”, and the ultimate dilemma of the difference and consequences when the “group” become more “takers” than ‘makers.” But have no doubt there is a triumphant sense of kindness in “I am my brother’s keeper”, in the concept of “Charity (and equal justice) versus “Social Security”. We have no idea what “Charity” of the triumvirate Faith, Hope and Charity is all about, responsibility and accountability, that moral and material thing. Rev. William James Boeteker embraced the dissonance of this issue with “You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.” The same old “worn out philosophy” that is the vessel of eternal wisdom, and we reject it?
With the creation of the sea of Tsars, legislation passed but not read, bills passed against the “Will” of “We The People”, taxation without legitimate representation, the abuse of National Sovereignty and Supremacy over States rights, the creation of non-elected posts, positions and authority formed that bypasses congressional oversight, the unconstitutional unaccountability of the Federal Reserve, the manipulation and exploitation of the process with self interest, corruption, pork, ear marks, bribes, quid pro quo and favoritism for a few at the expense of the many, evils that infect political parties indiscriminately, we are at risk.
Beware the twisted and tortured view of loosening the constraints placed on this noble nation by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution, the errant view of the Constitution as a Charter of negative liberties, the concept that the state or federal government must not be restrained by what it cannot do to “We The People” and the edict that “We The People” cannot govern, pass and repeal laws, learn, as is our right, by trial and error, i.e. the Dred Scott case, that which is on our behalf, in our best interest, these are the issues at the foundation of our hour of discontent.
The time is ripe for a third party, and that third party may just be the Republican or the Democratic Party. Some very wise men left us with touchstones of wisdom, intellectual noble ports of call, a reminder of the ever important need to reevaluate our moral and material values.
President Eisenhower said specifically “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars (i.e. Sal Alinsky, Cloward and Piven, Van Jones (a self avowed Communist), William Ayers and Bernadine Dorn (Weather Underground), Angela Davis (Black Panther Association), SDS (largest radical group in US history), by federal employment project allocations, and the power of money (Federal Reserve and National Debt) is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.” Beware of siloed thinking. This administration, it is argued with cause, is the “material” servant, not the master, of these radicals.
It bears repeating. George Washington, General Douglas MacArthur, General George S Patton, General Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower were men of “necessary violence” that shield (the “right” that allows “harm”) that allowed the possibility of survival first and then the option of peace. As one wanders down the list of notables, even their personal, political and governmental displeasure, remember Thomas Paine:
“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldiers and the sunshine patriots (us?) will, in a crisis, shrink from the service of their country (convictions, beliefs?) but he that stands by it now (in sacrifice and pain) deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have the consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
And the impossible dream (why is it called “impossible”) is the survival of the Constitution, our Bill of Rights and Martin Luther King’s non-violent revolution, a sustainable Republic.
John F Kennedy said “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” This wisdom runs afoul of selfish, bloated legacy costs and entitlements. The number of households on government assistance is rising, estimated at one-in-six of every American. The number of families that pay no taxes is alarming.
Fredrick Douglas ( “…a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican”) said “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” The Tea Party is not submitting! Should we?
Ronald Reagan said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the blood stream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them to do the same. He also said “I know in my heart that man is good. That what is “right” will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.”
President Obama has aligned himself with a monumental historical giant, Abraham Lincoln, who is often “eloquently” misquoted with the “Ten Cannots by A. Lincoln”, (words that seem to be factually attributed to Rev. William James Boeteker):
“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”
This wisdom is “moral”, “material” and timely. These arguments are “material” to our constitutional interpretation.
As a final reflection, a message of principled significance comes from Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, “we” mutually pledge to “each other” our lives, fortunes and sacred honor.” Only “we” can answer “Why?”
And one does muse, is this just a light-hearted cracker barrel round table, the continuum of moderate temperate purpose, or should one consider “mutually pledging to “each other” our lives, fortunes and sacred honor?” Are we the summer soldiers and the sunshine patriots who will, in a crisis, shrink from the service of their country, convictions and beliefs or are we something else? How far are we willing to go?
© 2010 by Alan Smithee. Used with Permission. All Rights Reserved.