Posts Tagged ‘relativism’

Crisis In Egypt Underscores The Problem Of Islam – AND LIBERALISM

February 2, 2011

It has rightly been said that Islam is a murderous totalitarian political ideology masquerading as a religion.

That fact makes an “Islamic democracy” a contradiction in terms.  You simply cannot have both.  If you want a democracy, you cannot have Islam; if you want Islam, you cannot have a democracy.

If you have a large population of Muslims living in a country, there are only two alternatives for governing that state: a totalitarian dictatorship, which is what we essentially have seen in Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, or a religious theocracy such as we see in Iran today.

Even alleged counterexamples, such as Turkey, are transforming.  Turkey is steadily becoming “less Europe, and more Islam.”  And I believe – primarily as a student of Bible prophecy – that Turkey will ultimately end up in the Islamic column.  It will ultimately be one of the Islamic nations that attacks Israel in the last days.

Jordan, which is at least less thuggish than most other Islamic countries, is reaping the whirlwind of Islamic unrest just as Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria.

Democracy becomes nothing but a tool for radical Islam – which itself utterly despises democracy.  Tayyip Erdogan compared democracy to a bus, saying, “You ride it to your destination, and then you step off.”

Other Muslims are even more crystal clear: Tarek Ramadan states:

“We must exploit the so-called democracy and freedom of speech here in the West to reach our goals.  Our Prophet Muhammad … and the Quran teach us that we must use every conceivable means and opportunity to defeat the enemies of Allah.  Tell the infidels in public, we respect your laws and your constitutions, which we Muslims believe that these are as worthless as the paper they are written on.  The only law we must respect and apply is the Sharia’s.”

Imams in England say, “You have to live like a state within a state until you take over.”  And Mohamed Akram says of America, Muslims “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”  While Omar Ahmad says, “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant … The Quran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”

For the record, I found all the above quotes from Tulsaworld.com.  And of course there are a million more where those came from.

We have a problem.  We want the world to benefit from democracy.  We want to spread the superiority of democracy as a political system.  We want to benefit from the fact that no democracy has ever once attacked another democracy.

But Muslims take our democracy, pervert it and exploit it for their own ideological advantage with a very radically different political system in mind.  And we tolerate this why?

One of the things that makes Islam so dangerous is that it puts itself and it’s prophet Muhammad above and beyond questioning or criticism.  As a case in point, the Danish cartoons revealed that the entire Muslim world will go berserk and literally become murderous over even the slightest “slights.”  Compare the Danish cartoons to the routine insults suffered by Christianity, such as placing a crucifix bearing an image of Christ in a jar of urine and calling it “art.”  That mindset represents the death of even the possibility of a free society.

Liberalism and secular humanism merely weakens our own society and makes us more ripe for the picking: to begin with, liberals react through their cultural relativism (e.g., “pluralism,” “multiculturalism”) by essentially saying, “We must not offend.”  And they proceed to actually help the radical Muslim extremists impose their system.  Liberal media routinely attack Jesus Christ and Christianity, but they are only all too willing to self-censor themselves when it comes to Muhammad and Islam.

And yet Christianity brought us the democracy liberals claim to love, while Islam is antithetical to it.  Liberals are literally helping radical Muslims poison the tree of democracy and freedom.

There’s more.  One of the reasons we so frequently see liberals enabling radical Islam is because it turns out that liberals and the sorts of radical Muslims I have already introduced share the same tactics.

Case in point: three quotes from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals:

  • The tenth rule of the ethics of rules and means is that you do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral arguments. …the essence of Lenin’s speeches during this period was “They have the guns and therefore we are for peace and for reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns then it will be through the bullet.” And it was. — P.36-37
  • …The third rule is: Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy.  Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
  • …the fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.

You look at what the Muslims are saying above, and you look at what liberal Saul Alinsky is saying here, and they are advocating identical tactics, with basically the same goal in mind: Muslims want sharia, with total power over a government that itself has total power; and liberals want control over a big government system which extends over every sphere of life.  And both say, “make the enemy live up to their own rules.”  Let’s take advantage of their morality and use it against them as a weapon.

And, of course, when Muhammad was weak (e.g., his Mecca phase), Islam was tolerant and peaceful; when Muhammad’s forces became strong (his Medina phase), Islam suddenly became profoundly intolerant, determined to impose itself and determined to use as much force as was necessary to attain its ends.  That is exactly what the American political left says.  And the only thing that that American liberals are truly intolerant of is Christianity and political conservatism.

And what is even more frightening is that America today actually has a president who actually lectured and taught from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals as a community organizer.  As Discover The Networks points out, “For several years, Obama himself taught workshops on the Alinsky method. Also, beginning in the mid-1980s, Obama worked with ACORN, the Alinskyite grassroots political organization that grew out of George Wiley‘s National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO).”

Part of this idea of using your opponent’s own morality against them turns into the strength of radical Islam and the weakness of liberalism when the two confront one another.  As one example, think of Jimmy Carter undermining the Shah of Iran – who clearly was a dictator, but a pro-American dictator.  Carter allowed the Shah to be deposed, and got as his reward the Ayatollah and an Iranian theocratic regime that undermined and ultimately deposed Carter via the hostage crisis that played out day after day through the Carter presidency.

And here Obama is apparently doing much the same thing: we find out that Obama has secretly been backing rebels of the Mubarak regime from the Wikileaks papers.

Barack Obama invited the terrorist organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood when he gave his speech in Cairo – the very same group that is poised to wreak havoc in that same city today.  And Obama – who is on the record siding with the Egyptian demonstrators against secular tyrant Mubarak – was pointedly absent from siding with the Iranian demonstrators against theocratic tyrant Ahmadinejad.  That contrasted with Obama making statements against Mubarak’s regime such that the Egyptian foreign ministry says  Obama’s words actually “inflame the internal situation in Egypt”  as the situation turns increasingly deadly and more and more signs are being written in English for American media consumption.  Bizarrely, it is almost as if liberals prefer Islamic theocratic tyrants over secular Muslim leaders.

It’s very easy to pooh-pooh thugs like Mubarak or the Shah and denounce their despotism.  But if you take away the thug, what else is there to control a people who will ultimately insist upon an Islamic theocracy?  You roll the dice and take your chances.  And in Islam, the “chances” have a pronounced historic tendency to become anti-American theocracies.  Which become even worse dictatorships then the ones that bleeding-heart liberals decried in the first place.

Liberals decry religion as being anti-democratic, never realizing that it is they – rather than religion – who are profoundly anti-democratic.  A few quotes from the founding fathers whose vision created the first sustained democracy:

“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

“…And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
– George Washington, Farewell Address, Sept 17, 1796

“Religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness.”
– Samuel Adams, Letter to John Trumbull, October 16, 1778

“The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor…and this alone, that renders us invincible.”
– Patrick Henry, Letter to Archibald Blair, January 8, 1789

“Without morals, a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”
– Charles Carroll (signer of the Constitution), Letter to James McHenry, November 4, 1800

“Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God.”
– Life of Gouverneur Morris, Vol III

The Egyptian crisis reveals the problem of Islam:  You cannot have a nation of Muslims without tyranny.  It is only a matter of which form of tyranny you prefer.  Conversely, the same crisis is also revealing the problem of liberalism.  Because as they weaken our Christian religious foundations, the same liberals who would undermine Hosni Mubarak also undermine the very pillars that would enable us to resist the conquest of democracy by Islam.  And they further erode our once great democratic system by employing the very same tactics that our Muslim enemies are using against us.

Obama ‘believes that words are a substitute for reality’

April 8, 2010

Newt Gingrich gave the following sober assessment of Barack Obama:

“It’s a nice fantasy. It sounds good. It would be wonderful. It just doesn’t fit this particular planet. And, over here you have North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Al-Qaeda and a whole host of potential enemies…

I think if you were to say, “He’s potentially the most dangerous because he completely misunderstands reality.” …You get an embrace if you are Hugo Chavez. You get acceptance if you’re Ahmadinejad in Iran. But, if you’re an American ally, somehow you’re not acceptable. He can bully you.

And, I think this is a typical pattern on the left. Jimmy Carter did it to some extent. The other thing that Obama does on a scale that Carter never dreamed of, is he believes, maybe because he believes in his own rhetoric… He believes that words are a substitute for reality.

Youtube:

I wrote a 3-part series on postmodernism and the danger it poses to Western civilization:

How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 1)
How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 2)
How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 3)

That final assessment by Gingrich – “He believes that words are a substitute for reality” – couldn’t be more spot-on.  And it literally is the quintessence of postmodernism.

Postmodernists base their relativism and the view that all meaning is socially constructed on a particular view of language taken from a literary technique known as “deconstruction.”  As such, they begin with the assumption that language cannot render truths about the world in any kind of objective way.  On their view, language, by its very nature, shapes what we think.  And since language is a cultural creation, meaning must be nothing more than a social construction.  Thus, for postmodern linguists, the very meaning of words constitutes a self-contained system.  Words merely refer to other words.  And as human beings, we are unable to step outside of the boundaries, limits, or demands of language.  And since language is bound up within culture, it is therefore largely beyond our control, and we can’t even think for ourselves.

Postmodernists believe there is no objective meaning, no realm of absolute truth, that exist beyond the bounds of human language.  As a postmodern slogan puts it, “We are incarcerated in a prison house of language.”  And our language thinks for us.

Thus you understand how a Barack Obama believes that words are a substitute for reality.  On his view, what else is there but words?

Postmodernists along with deconstructionists view meaning as a social construct, which is to say that societies construct meaning through language.  But they also view societies as inherently oppressive.  They draw upon Frederich Nietzsche, who contended that human life and culture are only expressions of an innate will to power.  They draw upon Karl Marx, who reduced culture to economic class conflict and exploitation.  And they draw upon Sigmund Freud, who interpreted culture in terms of sexual and gender repression.  Postmodernists assume that the true significance of culture lies beneath the surface, and that institutions are really simply “masks” for a sinister conspiracy.

Modern liberalism is every bit an offshoot of postmodernism.  Take one of the most powerful tools of liberalism, “political correctness.”  Being politically correct is not simply an attempt to make people feel better.  It’s a large, coordinated effort to change Western culture as we know it by  redefining it. Early Marxists and fascists designed their postmodern takeover long ago and continue to execute that plan to this day: to control the argument by controlling the “acceptable” language. Those with radical agendas have been taking advantage of an oversensitive and frankly overly gullible public for decades.

This is where the fundamental elitism of postmodernism rears its ugly head.  They believe that all of the above is true for everyone else.  But they alone have the intellect, the courage, the foresight, and the academic tools to decipher the codes and understand language and culture.  They are the priests who can get beyond the limits they ascribe to all other human beings.

And so they alone have the right to rule the world.

It should be obvious why this point of view has been so dangerous every single time it has been imposed in history.

My response to all this is agreement with George Orwell, who once said that some ideas are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them, for no ordinary man could be such a fool.

Obama believes that he can “fundamentally transform” reality with his words.  And yes, in agreement with Newt Gingrich, that makes him a profoundly naive and ultimately incredibly dangerous fool.

Leftist Thought Led To Fascism – And Is Doing So Again

November 29, 2009

Liberals think that the title of Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism is an oxymoron.  They’re wrong.  Goldberg himself writes:

“For more than sixty years, liberals have insisted that the bacillus of fascism lies semi-dormant in the bloodstream of the political right.  And yet with the notable and complicated exceptions of Leo Strauss and Allan Bloom, no top-tier American conservative intellectual was a devotee of Nietzsche or a serious admirer of Heidegger.  All major conservative schools of thought trace themselves back to the champions of the Enlightenment–John Locke, Adam Smith, Montesquieu, Burke–and none of them have any direct intellectual link to Nazism or Nietzsche, to existentialism, nihilism, or even, for the most part, Pragmatism.  Meanwhile, the ranks of the leftwing intellectuals are infested with ideas and thinkers squarely in the fascist tradition.  And yet all it takes is the abracadabra word “Marxist” to absolve most of them of any affinity with these currents.  The rest get off the hook merely by attacking bourgeois morality and American values–even though such attacks are themselves little better than a reprise of fascist arguments” [page 175].

“Foucault’s “enterprise of Unreason,” Derrida’s tyrannical logocentrism, Hitler’s “revolt against reason.”  All fed into a movement that believes action is more important than ideas.  Deconstructionism, existentialism, postmodernism, Pragmatism, relativism: all these ideas had the same purpose–to erode the iron chains of tradition, dissolve the concrete foundations of truth, and firebomb the bunkers where the defenders of the ancient regime still fought and persevered.  These were ideologies of the “movement.”  The late Richard Rorty admitted as much, conflating Nietzsche and Heidegger with James and Dewey as part of the same grand project” [Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, page 176].

It turns out that most of the moral and philosophical assumptions of liberalism have been shared by not only the Marxists, but the Nazis as well.  NAZI stood for “National Socialist German Workers Party,” and was merely a rival brand of the clearly leftist political ideology of socialism.  And given the fact that Marxism was in fact every bit as totalitarian and murderous as Nazism, in hindsight it seems rather bizarre that “Marxist” was ever an abracadabra word that the American left was willing to bear to begin with.

The purpose of this article is to explore how the foundational ideas that liberals uphold as being the opposite of fascism in fact actually fed the monster of fascist Nazism, and how the modern American left continue to fall prey to fascist premises and outcomes to this very day.

It is particularly interesting that the supposedly highly individualistic and influential school of thought known as “existentialism” became so ensnared by fascism and Nazism.  On the surface, existentialism would seem to be the very polar opposite of fascism and Nazism.  After all, a philosophy of radical freedom centered in the individual would surely be incompatible with a totalitarian social system that denies political liberty in the name of the community.  One would assume that existentialism would be a philosophy of rebellion against all such external authority.  And yet the Nazis quoted Frederich Nietzsche at great length in support of their ideology (see also here).  Martin Heidegger, one of the foremost existentialist thinkers in history, turned out to have been a proud member of the Nazi Party.  And even famed existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre – who fought to resist fascism in his Nazi-occupied France during WWII – ultimately merely chose another totalitarian ideology in its place (Sartre identified himself as a Marxist and a Maoist).

Georg Lukács observed (in The Destruction of Reason, 1954, page 5) that tracing a path to Hitler involved the name of nearly every major German philosopher since Hegel: Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Dilthy, Simmel, Scheler, Heidegger, Jaspers, Weber.  Rather than merely being amoral monsters, the Nazis emerged out of a distinguished liberal secular humanist intellectual tradition.

Max Weinreich documented in Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes against the Jewish People, an exhaustive study of the complicity of German intellectuals with the Nazi regime.  Far from opposing the Nazi regime, we find that German academia actively provided the intellectual justification for Nazi fascism as well as the conceptual framework for the Holocaust.  Weinreich does not claim that German scholars intended the Holocaust, but he argues that the Holocaust would not have been possible without them.

He asks, “Did they administer the poison?  By no means; they only wrote the prescription.”

How could such a thing happen?

Very easily, it turns out.

The existentialists (along with the secular humanists and the liberals), deny the transcendent, deny objective truth, and deny the objective morality that derive from transcendence and objective truth.  Rather than any preordained system – whether moral or theological – existentialist anchored meaning not to any ideals or abstractions, but in the individual’s personal existence.  Life has no ultimate meaning; meaning is personal; and human beings must therefore create their own meaning for themselves.

One should already begin to see the problem: since existentialism, by its very nature, refuses to give objective answers to moral or ideological questions, a particular existentialist might choose to follow either a democrat or totalitarian ideology – and it frankly doesn’t matter which.  All that matters is that the choice be a genuine choice.

Existentialists didn’t merely acknowledge this abandonment of transcendent morality, they positively reveled in it.  In his book St. Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre celebrated the life of a criminal.  Genet was a robber, a drug dealer, and a sexual deviant.  By all conventional moral standards, Genet was an evil man.  But for Sartre, even ostensibly evil actions could be moral if they were performed in “good faith.”  And since Sartre’s Genet consciously chose to do what he did, and took responsibility for his choices and his actions, he was a saint in existentialist terms.

And the problem becomes even worse: by rejecting the concepts of transcendence, objective meaning, truth, and moral law, and by investing ultimate authority in the human will (i.e. Nietzsche’s “will to power”, Hitler’s “triumph of the will”), existentialism played directly into the hands of fascism — which preached the SAME doctrines.  If fascism can be defined as “violent and practical resistance against the process of transcendence,” as Ernst Nolte defined it, then it’s affinities with existentialism are crystal clear.  The two movements became part of the same stream of thought.

Modern Nietzsche followers argue that Nietzsche was not a racial anti-Semite.  For the sake of argument maybe he wasn’t; but he was without any question an intellectual anti-Semite, who attacked the Jews for their ideas and their ethics — particularly as they contributed to Western civilization and to Christianity (which he also actively despised).  And in addition to Nietzsche’s intellectual anti-Semitism was his utter contempt for any form of abstractions — particularly as they related to the transcendental categories of morality and reason.  Nietzsche maintained that abstraction of life resulted from abstraction of thought.  And he blamed Christianity – which he rightly blamed as a creation of the Jews – for the denial of life manifested in Christian morality.

And, unlike most pseudo-intellectuals of today, Nietzsche was consistent: in his attack against Christianity, he attacked Judeo-Christian morality.  He attacked the Christian value of other-centered love, and argued that notions of compassion and mercy favored the weak and the unfit, thereby breeding more weakness.  Don’t you dare think for a single nanosecond that Hitler didn’t take the arguments of this beloved-by-liberals philosopher and run down the field with them toward the death camps.

The Nazis aligned themselves not only against the Jews but against the the Judeo-Christian God and the Judeo-Christian morality the Jews represented.  A transcendent lawgiving God, who reveals His moral law on real tablets of stone for mankind to follow, was anathema to the fascists.  They argued that such transcendence alienates human beings from nature and from themselves (i.e., from their own genuine choices).  The fascist intellectuals sought to forge a new spirituality of immanence, focused upon nature, on human emotions, and on the community.  The fascists sought to restore the ancient pre-Christian consciousness, the ancient mythic sensibility in the form of the land and the blood, in which individuals experience unity with nature, with each other, and with their own deepest impulses.

Gene Edward Veith in his book Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian worldview writes:

The fascist rebellion against transcendence restored the ancient pagan consciousness.  With it came barbarism, a barbarism armed with modern technology and intellectual sophistication.  The liquidation of the transcendent moral law and “Jewish” conscience allowed the resurgence of the most primitive and destructive emotions, the unleashing of original sin (page 14).

Nietzsche argued that God is dead, and Hitler tried to finish Him off by eradicating the Jews.  What is less known is that he also planned to solve the “church problem” after the war.  Hitler himself  said:

“The war is going to be over.  The last great task of our age will be to solve the church problem.  It is only then that the nation will be wholly secure” [From Hitler's Tabletalk (December 1941), quoted in The Nazi Years: A Documentary History, ed. Joachim Remak, 1990, page 105].

Hitler boasted that “I have six divisions of SS composed of men absolutely indifferent in matters of religion.  It doesn’t prevent them from going to their deaths with serenity in their souls.”  And Himmler said, “Men who can’t divest themselves of manners of previous centuries, and scoff and sling mud at things which are ‘holy’ and matters of belief to others, once and for all do not belong in the SS.”

With the creed “God is dead” and the resulting “death of God,” Nietzsche predicted that energizing conflict and revolution would reemerge in a great wave of nihilism.  Human beings would continue to evolve, he said, nodding to Darwinism.  And man would ultimately give way to Superman.  And Nietzsche said that this Superman would not accept the anachronistic abstract, transcendental meanings imposed by disembodied Judeo-Christian rationalism or by a life-denying religion.  Rather, this Superman would CREATE meaning for himself and for the world as a whole.

The Superman, according to Nietzsche, would be an artist who could shape the human race – no longer bound by putrefying and stultifying and stupefying transcendence – to his will.  “Man is for him an un-form, a material, an ugly stone that needs a sculptor,” he wrote.  Such a statement did not merely anticipate the Darwinist-based Nazi eugenics movement.  It demonstrated how the exaltation of the human will could and would lead not to general liberty, as one might have expected, but to the control of the many by the elite — with those of the weaker in will being subjugated to the will of the Supermen.

Nietzsche’s new ethic became the rationale for all the Nazi atrocities that would follow.  As Nietzsche himself put it, “The weak and the failures shall perish: the first principle of OUR love of man.  And they shall even be given every possible assistance.  What is more harmful than any vice? Active pity for all the failures and the weak: Christianity” (in “The Anti-Christ” in Portable Nietzsche, p. 570).  We see here also the exemplification of yet another legacy left behind by Nietzsche that was picked up by the Nazi and afterward by secular humanist atheists today: the Nietzschean attitude of flippant, sarcastic contempt for all the ordinary human values that had resulted from Judeo-Christianity.

One of the ordinary human values that had resulted from Judeo-Christianity was the fundamental sanctity of human life.  But the Nazis had their own concept – Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”).  And nearly fifty million of the most innocent and helpless human beings have perished as a result of an existentialist philosophy that survived the fall of the Nazis in liberal thought, which celebrates pro-existentialist “pro-choice” above human life.

Nietzsche’s philosophy underlies the thought of all the later existentialists, and the darker implications of his thought proved impossible to ignore.

And Martin Heidegger, in his own personal choice to commit himself to National Socialism, did not ignore them.

There is more that needs to be understood.

Martin Heidegger invoked Nietzsche in his 1933 Rectoral Address, in his speech entitled, “The Self-Assertion of the German University,” in which he articulated his commitment to the integration of academia with National Socialism.  He began by asking, if Nietzsche is correct in saying that God is dead, what are the implications for knowledge?

As Heidegger explained, if God is dead, there is no longer a transcendent authority or reference point for objective truth.  Whereas classical thought, exemplified by the Greeks, could confidently search for objective truth, today, after the death of God, truth becomes intrinsically “hidden and uncertain.”  Today the process of questioning is “no longer a preliminary step that is surmounted on the way to the answer and thus to knowing; rather, questioning itself becomes the highest form of knowing.”

Heidegger’s conclusion became accepted to the point of becoming a commonplace of contemporary liberal thought: that knowledge is a matter of process, not content.  With the death of God, there is no longer any set of absolutes or abstract ideals by which existence must be ordered.  Such “essentialism” is an illusion; and knowledge in the sense of objective, absolute truth must be challenged.  The scholar is not one who knows or searches for some absolute truth, but the one who questions everything that pretends to be true.

Again, one would think that such a skeptical methodology would be highly incompatible with fascism, with its practice of subjecting people to an absolute human authority.  And yet this betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of fascism.  In fact, Heidegger’s Rectoral Address was warmly endorsed by the National Socialists for a very good reason: the fascists saw themselves as iconoclasts, interrogating the old order and boldly challenging all transcendent absolutes.

We find that in this same address in which Heidegger asserts that “questioning itself becomes the highest form of knowing,” Heidegger went on to advocate expelling academic freedom from the university:

“To give oneself the law is the highest freedom.  The much-lauded ‘academic freedom’ will be expelled from the university.”

Heidegger argued that the traditional canons of academic freedom were not genuine but only negative, encouraging “lack of concern” and “arbitrariness.”  Scholars must become unified with each other and devote themselves to service.  In doing so, he stated, “the concept of the freedom of German students is now brought back to it’s truth.”

Now, the claim that freedom would somehow emerge when academic freedom is eliminated might be sophistry of the worst kind, but it is not mere rhetorical doublespeak.  Why?  Because Heidegger was speaking existentially, calling not for blind obedience, but for a genuine commitment of the will.  Freedom was preserved because “to give oneself the law” was a voluntary, freely chosen commitment.  Academic freedom as the disinterested pursuit of truth shows “arbitrariness,” parking of the old essentialist view that truth is objective and transcendent.  The essentialist scholar is detached and disengaged, showing “lack of concern,” missing the sense in which truth is ultimately personal, a matter of the will, demanding personal responsibility and choice.  In the new order, the scholar will be fully engaged in service to the community.  Academic freedom is alienating, a function of the old commitment to moral and intellectual absolutes.

And what this meant in practice could be seen in the Bavarian Minister of Culture’s directive to professors in Munich, that they were no longer to determine whether something “is true, but whether it is in keeping with the direction of the National Socialist revolution” (Hans Schemm, quoted in Hermann Glaser, The Cultural Roots of National Socialism, tr. Ernest A. Menze, 1978, p. 99).

I point all of the above out to now say that it is happening all over again, by intellectuals who unknowingly share most of the same tenets that made the horror possible the last time.

We live in a time and in a country in which the all-too modern left has virtually purged the university of conservatives and conservative thought.  This is simply a fact that is routinely confirmed.  And as a mater of routine, conservative speakers need not apply at universities.  If they are actually invited to speak, they are frequently shouted down by a relative few liberal activists.  And leftwing censorship is commonplace.  Free speech is largely gone, in a process that simply quashes unwanted views.  We have a process today in which a professor who is himself employing fascist tactics calls a student “a fascist bastard.”  And why did he do so?  Because the student gave a speech in a speech class choosing a side on a topic that the professor did not like.

We live in a society in which too many of our judges have despised a system of objective laws from an objective Constitution and have imposed their own will upon both.  Judicial activist judges have largely driven transcendent religion and the transcendent God who gives objective moral laws out of the public sphere.

Today, we live in a society that will not post the Ten Commandments – the epitome of transcendent divinely-ordained moral law – in public schools.  And why not?  Because judges ruled that:

“If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments,” which, the Court said, is “not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause.”

One can only marvel that such justices so cynically debauched the thought of the founding fathers whose ideas they professed to be upholding.

Justices of the Supreme Court agreed with this fallacious ruling even as the figure of Moses holding the Ten Commandments rules atop the very building in which they betrayed our nation’s founding principles.

And thus the left has stripped the United States of America bare of transcendent moral law, just as their intellectual forebears did prior to WWII in Nazi Germany.   And thus the intellectual left has largely stripped the United States of America from free debate within academia largely by pursuing the same line of reasoning that Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger employed to do the same in Nazi Germany.  We saw this very feature evidenced by leftist scientists who threw aside their scientific ethics in order to purge climatologists who came to a different conclusion.

The climate that led to fascism and to Nazism in Germany did not occur overnight, even though the final plunge may have appeared to be such to an uninformed observer.  It occurred over a period of a half a dozen decades or so, with the transcendent and objective moral foundations having been systematically torn away.  And after that degree of cancer had been reached, it only took the right leader or the right event to plunge the world into madness.

Jeff Sessions’ Remarks In Sotomayor Confirmation Hearing

July 13, 2009

Transcript: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Opening Statement

Monday July 13, 2009

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your leadership.

And I believe you set up some rules for the conducting of this hearing that are consistent with past hearings, and I believe will allow us to do our work together. And I’ve enjoyed working with you on this process.

I hope this will be viewed as the best hearing this committee has ever had. Why not? We should seek that.

So, I join Chairman Leahy, Judge Sotomayor, in welcoming you here today. And it marks an important milestone in your life. I know your family is proud, and rightly so, and it’s a pleasure to have them with us today.

I expect this hearing and resulting debate will be characterized by a respectful tone, a discussion of serious issues, a thoughtful dialogue and maybe some disagreements. But we worked hard to do that, to set that tone from the beginning.

I’ve been an active litigator in federal courts. I’ve tried cases as a federal prosecutor and as attorney general of Alabama. The Constitution and our great heritage of law I care deeply about. They are the foundation of our liberty and our prosperity.

And this nomination is critical for two important reasons. First, justices on the Supreme Court have great responsibility, hold enormous power and have a lifetime appointment. Just five members can declare the meaning of our Constitution, bending or changing its meaning from what the people intended.

Second, this hearing is important, because I believe our legal system is at a dangerous crossroads. Down one path is the traditional American system, so admired around the world, where judges impartially apply the law to the facts without regard to personal views. This is the compassionate system, because it’s the fair system.

In the American legal system, courts do not make law or set policy, because allowing unelected officials to make law would strike at the heart of our democracy.

Here, judges take an oath to administer justice impartially. That oath reads, “I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and to equal right to the rich and the poor, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.”

These principles give the traditional system its moral authority, which is why Americans respect and accept the ruling of courts, even when they disagree. Indeed, our legal system is based on a firm belief in an ordered universe and objective truth. The trial is a process by which the impartial and wise judge guides us to truth.

Down the other path lies a brave new world, where words have no true meaning, and judges are free to decide what facts they choose to see. In this world, a judge is free to push his or her own political or social agenda.

I reject that view, and Americans reject that view.

We have seen federal judges force their political and social agenda on the nation, dictating that the words “under God” be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and barring students from even private, even silent prayer in schools.

Judges have dismissed the people’s right to their property, saying the government can take a person’s home for the purpose of developing a private shopping center.

Judges have, contrary to longstanding rules of war, created a right for terrorists captured on a foreign battlefield to sue the United States government in our own country.

Judges have cited foreign laws, world opinion and a United Nations resolution to determine that a state death penalty law was unconstitutional.

I’m afraid our system will only be further corrupted, I have to say, as a result of President Obama’s view that in tough cases the critical ingredient for a judge is, quote, “the depth and breadth of one’s empathy,” close quote, as well as his words, quote, “their broader vision of what America should be.”

Like the American people, I have watched this process for a number of years, and I fear that this thinking empathy standard is another step down the road to a liberal, activist, results-oriented, relativistic world, where laws lose their fixed meaning, unelected judges set policy, Americans are seen as members of separate groups rather than as simply Americans, where the constitutional limits on government power are ignored when politicians want to buy out private companies.

I feel we’ve reached a fork in the road, I think, and there are stark differences. I want to be clear. I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for, an individual nominated by any president who is not fully committed to fairness and impartiality toward every person who appears before them.

And I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for, an individual nominated by any president who believes it is acceptable for a judge to allow their personal background, gender, prejudices or sympathies to sway their decision in favor of or against parties before the court.

In my view such a philosophy is disqualified. Such an approach to judging means that the umpire calling the game is not neutral, but instead feels empowered to favor one team over another. Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it’s not law. In truth it’s more akin to politics, and politics has no place in the courtroom.

Some will respond Judge Sotomayor would never say it’s never acceptable for a judge to display prejudice in that case, but I regret to say, Judge, that some of your statements that I’ll outline seem to say that clearly. Let’s look at just a few examples. We’ve seen the video of a Duke University panel, where Judge Sotomayor says, “It’s the Court of Appeals where policy is made, and I know, I know that this is on tape, and I should never say that and should not think that.”

And during a speech 15 years ago, Judge Sotomayor said, quote, “I willingly accept the way the judge must not deny the difference resulting from experience and heritage, but attempt continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate,” close quote.

And in that same speech she said, quote, “My experiences will affect the facts I choose to seek.” Having tried a lot of cases, that particular phrase bothers me. I expect every judge to seek all the facts.

So I think it’s noteworthy that when asked about Judge Sotomayor’s now famous statement that a wise Latina would come to a better conclusion than others, President Obama, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg declined to defend the substance of those remarks.

They each assume the nominee misspoke. But I don’t think it — but the nominee did not misspeak. She is on record as making this statement at least five times over the course of a decade. I am providing a copy of the full text of those speeches for the record.

Others will say that despite these statements, we should look to a nominee’s record, which they characterize as moderate. People said the same of Justice Ginsburg, who is now considered to be one of the most activist members of the Supreme Court in history.

Some senators ignored Justice Ginsburg’s philosophy and focused on the nominee’s judicial opinions. But that is not a good test, because those cases where necessarily restrained by precedent and the threat of reversal from higher courts. On the Supreme Court, those checks on judicial power will be removed, and the judge’s philosophy will be allowed to reach full bloom.

But even as a lower court judge, our nominee has made some troubled rulings. I’m concerned by the Ricci, the New Haven firefighters case recently reversed by the Supreme Court, where she agreed with the city of New Haven’s decision to change the promotion rules in the middle of the game. Incredibly, her opinion consisted of just one substantive paragraph of analysis.

Justice Sotomayor has said she accepts that her opinions, sympathies and prejudices will affect her rulings. Could it be that her time as a leader in the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a fine organization, provides a clue to her decision against the firefighters?

While the nominee was chair of that fund’s litigation committee, the organization aggressively pursued racial quotas in city hiring and in numerous cases fought to overturn the results of promotion exams. It seems to me that in Ricci, Judge Sotomayor’s empathy for one group of firefighters turned out to be prejudice against another.

That is, of course, the logical flaw in the empathy standard. Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.

Judge Sotomayor, we will inquire into how your philosophy, which allows subjectivity in the courtroom, affects your decision-making, like, for example, in abortion, where an organization of which you were an active leader argued that the Constitution requires taxpayer money to fund abortions; and gun control, where you recently noted it is settled law that the Second Amendment does not prevent a city or state from barring gun ownership; private property, where you ruled recently that the government could take property from one pharmacy developer and give it to another; capital punishment, where you personally signed a statement opposing the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York because of the inhuman psychological burden it places on the offender and the family.

So I hope the American people will follow these hearings closely. They should learn about the issues and listen to both sides of the argument and — and at the end of the hearing ask, if I must one day go to court, what kind of judge what I wish to hear my case? Do I want a judge that allows his or her social, political or religious views to change the outcome? Or do I want a judge that impartially applies the law to the facts and fairly rules on the merits without bias or prejudice?

It’s our job to determine which side of that fundamental divide the nominee stands.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

END

How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 1)

May 1, 2008

It is hard to talk to talk to people who believe that truth is relative. And there are more and more such people all the time.

C.S. Lewis described the fallacy of any theory that rejects the connection between thought and truth. In his book Miracles he said “All possible knowledge … depends on the validity of reasoning,” and developed his argument thus:

No account of the universe can be true unless that account leaves it possible for our thinking to be a real insight. A theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid would be utterly out of court. For that theory would itself have been reached by thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory would, of course, itself be demolished. It would have destroyed its own credentials. It would be an argument which proved that no argument was sound – a proof that there are no such things as proofs – which is nonsense.

To disbelieve in truth is patently self-contradictory. To “believe” means to think that something is true; and to say, “It is true that nothing is true” is fundamentally meaningless nonsense. The very statement, “There is no absolute truth,” is a statement of absolute truth. In the past, this pseudo-intellectual exercise was little more than a parlor game for the vacuous and simply not taken seriously. But it is very serious today, indeed. Today these views are held not only by much of academia, but by the average man on the street.

The rejection of absolutes is not merely a fine point of philosophical debate. Relative values accompany the relativism of truth. Today, we are a morally velocitized culture. What was unthinkable decades ago is openly practiced today; and what is unthinkable today will surely be openly practiced within a few years’ time.

What we have today is not merely immoral behavior by virtually all previous standards of conduct, but an abandonment of moral criteria altogether. More, we have an abandonment of meaning itself; and so today, we look for meaning in ways that would have bewildered, saddened, and shocked our forefathers.

The intellect is being replaced by the will. Reason is being replaced by emotion (which is one reason our kids are falling so far behind in math and science, and why so many are so passionate about a political candidate whose positions they cannot even begin to articulate). Morality is replaced by relativism. Reality itself is becoming viewed as little more than a mere social construct that can be manipulated by language. It all depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

Today, I frequently encounter people who hold mutually inconsistent ideas. I literally wonder how their heads do not explode from the contradictions they spout. It might simply be ignorance or confusion, but it really doesn’t matter: holding to mutually inconsistent ideas is a sure sign of believing that there is no such thing as absolute truth.

Where did all this come from?

Postmodernism as any form of coherent intellectual discipline largely developed from the field of literary criticism, especially from deconstructionism. So it is no surprise that postmodern scholars stress the importance of “contextualizing,” putting an author or an idea in the context of the times and showing its connections to all of the other “texts” that constituted the culture. But it turns out that one can deconstruct this deconstructionism to see where this thinking has been before, and where it will surely go again unless we turn away from these ideas. It is revealing, for instance, to contextualize Martin Heidegger, who originated the anti-humanism of both the academic theorists and the environmental movement that is so significant in the postmodernist academic circles of today. David Levin has written that Heidegger criticized humanism for tolerating totalitarianism. But Levin was quite disingenuous; the fact is, we now know that Martin Heidegger was a Nazi (see Victor Farias, Heidegger and Nazism, tr. Paul Burrell (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989), p. 253).

Heidegger’s active involvement in the Nazi party and his shameless promotion of its ideology puts a very different light on his rejection of the individual, his repudiation of traditional human values, and his glorification of nature and culture. We find that EVERY SINGLE ONE of these postmodernist concepts were central tenets of fascism. It should be no surprise that the deconstructionist critic Paul de Man has also been revealed as an apologist of Nazism (for the connection between Heidegger’s Nazi ideology and his philosophy, see Tom Rockmore, On Heidegger’s Nazism and Philosophy (Berkeley: U of California Press, 1992). The fact is, postmodernism as a philosophy shares the same underlying concepts as fascist thought.

Postmodernists of today and the fascist intellectuals of the 1930s BOTH embrace a radicalism based not so much on economics but on culture. They BOTH reject identity in favor of cultural determinism. They BOTH reject moral values in favor of the will to power. They BOTH reject reason in favor of irrational emotional release. They BOTH reject a transcendent God in favor of an impersonal, mystical nature.

In Gene Edward Veith’s book, Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview, he discusses in detail fascist ideology, its intrinsic opposition to the biblical worldview, and its survival in contemporary culture and postmodernist thought. He demonstrates that the irrationalism, the cultural reductionism, and the anti-human values of the postmodernists have already been tried once, and the result was catastrophic. Fascism is coming back. Communism has fallen, but throughout the former Soviet empire democracy is opposed by a new alliance of ex-Marxists and nationalists, who are trying to forge a new National Socialism (witness Vladimir Putin’s shutting down a newspaper for publishing his secret divorce and remarriage to a young Russian gymnast). American academics see themselves as pro-Marxists (or neo-Marxist, or post-Marxists, or however they sell this utterly failed system to themselves), but their desire for a government controlled economy, their cultivated irrationalism, and their reduction of social issues to questions of culture and race are actually more similar to Mussolini (i.e. fascism) than to Marx. If Marxism is modern, fascism is postmodern. And, as per the title of another of Veith’s books on the subject, we are living in Postmodern Times.

In addition to Gene Edward Veith’s insightful works, a further excellent reference is the book The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism by Richard Wolin (whose study substantially agrees with this paper). A review of Wolin by George Crowder available online is also very much worth reading. Although Crowder disagrees with the conclusion that fascism is implicit in postmodernism, he nevertheless acknowledges that the philosophical premises between the two ideologies are virtually identical. There is a genuine interrelatedness between fascist and postmodernist thought that simply cannot be denied.

For all their earnest championing of the oppressed, and their politically correct sensitivities, postmodernist intellectuals, no doubt without realizing it, are actually resurrecting the ways of thinking that gave us World War II and the Holocaust. Perhaps the postmodernists think their good intentions will mitigate the implications of what they are saying. But intellectuals thought this once before, with terrifying consequences. David Hirsch has warned, “Purveyors of postmodernist ideologies must consider whether it is possible to diminish human beings in theory, without, at the same time, making individual human lives worthless in the real world.” Ideas have consequences.

The Tenets of Postmodernist Ideology and The Political Implications of Postmodernism (Understand that this is a presentation of what postmodernists believe and the corresponding implications of these beliefs):

  • Existentialism. Existentialism provides the rationale for contemporary postmodernism. Since everyone creates his or her own meaning, every meaning must be equally valid. Religion becomes merely a private affair, which must not be “imposed” on anyone else. The context of one’s meaning makes no difference, only the personal commitment – to give otherwise meaningless life some subjective degree of meaning. Jean Paul Sarte chose communism; Martin Heidegger chose Nazism; Rudolf Bultmann chose Christianity. Everyone inhabits his or her own private reality. Thus, “What’s true for you may not be true for me.” In today’s youth culture (and video/computer games are a classic example), we find a growing dark side to this existential subjectivism; we see a growing cynicism, pessimism, and dislike for reality as more and more people elect to create their own private realities and “tune out” to the world around them.
  • Moral Relativism. Moral values, like all other kinds of meaning, are created by the self. The best example of this existential ethic can be found in those who call themselves “pro-choice” in their advocacy of abortion. To them, it makes no difference what the woman decides, only that she makes an authentic choice (whether or not to have her baby). Whatever she chooses is right – for her. “Pro-choice” advocates are astonishingly disinterested in any objective information that might have a bearing on the morality of abortion or the status of the unborn. Data about fetal development, facts about the despicable ways abortion is performed, philosophical argumentation about the sanctity of life – all such objective evidences from the outside world are meaningless and can have no bearing on the woman’s private choice. As we can see in the “One child per family” policy of forced abortion in China, however, this view of individual choice cannot stand for long in a larger community that accepts the premises of abortion. Ultimately, as we shall see, one’s will must be subsumed into the will of the majority.
  • Social Constructivism. Meaning, morality, and truth do not exist objectively; rather, they are constructed by the society. The belief that reality is socially constructed is nothing less than the formula for totalitarianism [as David Horowitz pointed out in "The Queer Fellows," American Spectator, January 1993, pp. 42-48. For a similar discussion applied to Hollywood values in K.L. Billingsley, The Seductive Image: A Christian Critique of the World of Film (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1989), pp. 112-113)]. Democracy presumes that individuals are free and self-directed. They are capable of governing themselves. But postmodernism holds that individuals are NOT free and in fact are directed by their societies. If the members of a society are passively and wholly controlled by societal forces, then self-governance would be impossible. Furthermore, if reality in fact is socially constructed, then the power of society and those who lead it becomes unlimited. We see this carried out to its logical extreme in Orwell’s 1984, in which the all-powerful state totally shaped the culture and controlled the very thoughts of the masses.
  • Cultural Determinism. Individuals are wholly shaped by cultural forces. Language in particular determines what we can think, trapping us in a “prison house of language.” Whereas Christian religion teaches that God constructs reality and creates man in His image to comprehend that reality, to see society as the creator (of reality) is to divinize culture. With these postmodern assumptions, every problem must have a societal solution, and nothing would escape the control of those who direct such a society. “Totalitarian” means that the state controls every sphere of life, which is exactly what postmodernism implicitly assumes in its presuppositions!
  • The Rejection of Individual Identity. People exist primarily as members of groups. The phenomenon of American individualism is itself a construction of American culture with its middle-class values of independence and introspection, but it remains an illusion. Identity is primarily collective. Postmodernism minimizes (even subsumes) the individual in favor of the group. This can only result in a collectivist mentality in which the claims of the individual are lost within the demands of the group. An ideology that that believes that personal liberty is an illusion can hardly be expected to uphold, allow, or tolerate human freedom. Subscribing to the former view ultimately must rule out the latter.
  • The Rejection of Humanism. Values that emphasize the creativity, autonomy, and priority of human beings are misplaced. There is no universal humanity since every culture constitutes its own reality. Traditional humanistic values are canons of exclusion, oppression, and crimes against the natural environment. Groups must empower themselves to assert their own values and to take their place with other [human as well as non-human] planetary species.
  • The Denial of the Transcendent. There are no absolutes. Even if there were, we would have no access to them since we are completely bound to our culture and imprisoned in our language. Moreover, excluding transcendent values places societies beyond constraints of moral limits. There is no God outside, above, or transcendent to society that holds a society accountable. Society is not subject to the moral law; it makes its own moral law.
  • Power Reductionism. All institutions, all human relationships, all moral values, and all human creations – from works of art to religious ideologies – are all expressions and masks of the primal will to power. If there are no absolutes, the society can presumably construct any values that it pleases and is itself subject to none. All such issues are only matters of power. Without moral absolutes, power becomes arbitrary.
  • The Rejection of Reason. Reason and the impulse to objectify truth are illusory masks for cultural power. Authenticity and fulfillment come from submerging the self into a larger group, releasing one’s natural impulses such as honest emotions and sexuality, cultivating subjectivity, and developing a radical openness to existence by refusing to impose order on one’s life. Since there is no ultimate basis for moral persuasion or rational argument, the side with the most power will win. Government becomes nothing more than the sheer exercise of unlimited power, restrained neither by law nor by reason. One group achieves its own will to power over the others. On the personal level, the rejection of all external absolutes in favor of subjectivity can mean the triumph of irrationalism, the eruption of raw emotion, and the imposition of terror.
  • A Revolutionary Critique of the Existing Order. Modern society with its rationalism, order, and unitary view of truth needs to be replaced by a new world order. Scientific knowledge reflects an outdated modernism, though the new electronic technology holds great promise. Segmentation of society into its constituent groups will allow for a true cultural pluralism. The old order must be swept away, to be replaced by a new, as yet undefined, mode of communal existence.

(Note: Although I do not provide citations, and my own ideas are interspersed throughout this paper, much of this three part series emerges directly from the influence of two works by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.: Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview, and Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture. At some future time I intend to add page references. Veith’s penetrating analysis of culture needs to be considered as we enter into what are incresingly perilous times.)

See How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 2)

How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 3) is available here.

Pope Benedict: The anti-Maher, anti-Wright Christian leader

April 20, 2008

I was so pleased that Fox News gave the Pope’s celebration at St. Joseph’s Seminary full coverage. I am not Catholic, but I would have gladly kissed that ring today.

I think about Bill Maher’s recent comments against Pope Benedict (see my article, “Bill Maher vs. Pope Benedict: and the winner is…). I think about the remarks of Trinity United Church of Christ’s (and Barack Obama’s) paster, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In contrast to such bitter men, it was so inspiring to see a wise, gracious Christian giant demonstrate the true virtues of the Christian faith.

My home page is set to MSNBC. It really shouldn’t be, but I’m too lazy to change it. I am glad that their forecast (something like, “Pope Benedict is visiting America, but nobody cares”) was so completely dead-wrong.

The Pope, addressing an audience of mainly young people, was able to draw on his own experiences as a youth in Germany under the “monsters” of Nazi fascism. He said, “My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew — infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion — before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.”

The Pope praised God for the strength of Democratic governments who finally stood up and removed the evil that marred his youth even as it marred the world, and called upon continued resolve to stand up for freedom. “Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just,” he said. He urged the young people and the future priests in the seminary to faithfully carry on their Christian works while enjoying the liberties that they were blessed to have.

“The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; and the Church recalls this most dramatically during the Easter Triduum and celebrates it with great joy in the season of Easter! The One who shows us the way beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you have restored us to life!” (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday). And so, just a few weeks ago, during the beautiful Easter Vigil liturgy, it was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world, but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart! dispel the darkness of our minds!”

“The German-born pope lamented that what he called “the joy of faith” was often choked by cynicism, greed and violence. Yet he drew an analogy to show how faith can overcome distractions and trials. ‘The spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral are dwarfed by the skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline, yet in the heart of this busy metropolis they are a vivid reminder of the constant yearning of the human spirit to rise to God.'”

These words were as beautiful as they were inspiring:

“The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They recognize Herod’s dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter: “Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world … inflame us with your hope!” (Blessing of the Fire). And so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of Christ among us. It is “the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride” (Exsultet). This is Christ’s light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope — Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.”

Pope Benedict did not turn a blind eye to the darkness that constantly threatens to eclipse the world. Rather he defines it, and describes the path to attaining victory over it:

What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation — especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ? a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands — your hands — reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.

The second area of darkness — that which affects the mind — often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth’s place — or better said its absence — an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).

How then can we as believers help others to walk the path of freedom which brings fulfillment and lasting happiness? Let us again turn to the saints. How did their witness truly free others from the darkness of heart and mind? The answer is found in the kernel of their faith; the kernel of our faith. The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They recognize Herod’s dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter: “Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world … inflame us with your hope!” (Blessing of the Fire). And so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of Christ among us. It is “the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride” (Exsultet). This is Christ’s light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope — Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.

At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt the strength of Christ’s radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God’s presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.

Some more marvelous words that reveal the genuine transformational power of the Christian faith, as well as an incredible source of power to do good in the world:

“In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God’s people in “the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s Passion, his Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension — what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this “work of Jesus” is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the “work of Jesus” is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. Here we catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then that the Church’s liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world — saints and sinners alike — open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone (cf. Spe Salvi, 34).

Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity. Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 12). The opportunities to make this journey are abundant. Look about you with Christ’s eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.”

I hear and read these great, wise, potent words, and then I compare them to the cynicism of Bill Maher and the bitterness and divisive racism of Jeremiah Wright. The gulf is astronomical. Such a beautiful description of such a beautiful worldview. Contrary to the sickness that has come out of the mouths of Maher and Wright, the first German Pope is the anti-Hitler, the anti-Wright. The light he offered to the young people at Yonkers contrasts dramatically with the darkness we have heard from others.

Daniela Rizzo brought her husband and their infant son from Connecticut. “You can feel the energy,” Rizzo said. “You can feel the faith.”

I felt it too.

Welcome to America, Pope Benedict. May your visit be as happy as the joy you are bringing to millions.

A full transcript of the Pope’s remarks at St. Joseph’s is available at

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/19/nyregion/19popeyouth.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ei=5088&en=2a1a37f9f94e066d&ex=1366344000&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss


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