The West vs. Christianity?

Ed. A reader sent this link.

Russian News and Information Agency Pyotr Romanov March 4, 2006

While recognizing the universal and appropriate appeals for tolerance for Muslims, I’d like to draw your attention to the strange attitude of the Western political elite, which has recently become so acute. I do not know what stands behind the lack of foresight, but too many of the political elite’s actions have dealt a devastating blow to Christianity.

I read the latest report: Andreas Abuna, Auxiliary Bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, said the strength of the Christian communities of Iraq was diminishing at a shocking rate. Despair, constant fear and lack of hope are compelling more and more Christians to leave Iraq. People do not want to leave their country, but they have to go because of the situation, he said. Christian rights and the status of believers went from bad to worse after the parliamentary elections last December. Iraq is flooded with police, their number is constantly growing, especially in the suburbs of Baghdad, but the protection they offer is very mediocre, said the bishop.

U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair say Iraq is becoming more democratic and the situation is improving, but eyewitnesses of what is happening there are not rejoicing over the democratic parliamentary elections or the growing number of the local police. Under the plan of the founders of Iraqi democracy, the latter should replace occupational troops.

The blood of many of our brethren has been spilled and many of our children have become orphans. Although there are still many believers in churches, if you go out into the street, you’ll understand that Christians in Iraq have been done away with, the bishop said. The latest statistics put the number of Christians in Iraq at around 750,000, as compared to about a million before the U.S. invasion, according to The Universe Catholic Newspaper.

Thus, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has put an end to Christianity there. Those Christians who have not yet run away from U.S. bombings, will flee from the U.S.-trained new Iraqi police, which is less enthusiastic about defending Christians leaving church on Sundays.

After the Western coalition intervened in Afghanistan and the Taliban was defeated, the Afghans “liberated” by the West were ready to pass a death sentence on a compatriot for converting to Christianity. When the man was eventually freed after international pressure, crowds of local people vehemently protested his release. Experience shows that even if there are positive changes in Afghanistan, they have nothing to do with Sharia, or Islamic law, and have little effect on the mentality of most of its citizens. Much time will have to pass in Afghanistan before its residents understand that Christians are also human. This will not happen under President Karzai or Bush. It’s doubtful that we’ll see another Afghan convert to Christianity anytime soon. It is easy to see that after this saga the attitude of Afghans to Christianity has not become any better.

I could cite Europe as an example. The European Union has deleted any mention of Christianity from its constitution, as if it has not shaped European civilization. European bureaucrats think that they have been politically correct to appease “new Europeans,” but in fact they have distorted the historical truth and offended many “old Europeans.” Such omissions are far from harmless – they are changing the image of Europe, and I’m not sure this change is for the better.

Here’s an abstract from an article written by one of my readers: “Imagine, new mosques are mushrooming up here, in Scandinavia, a country where people have not heard of anybody but Thor and Christ for millennia.” He goes on to say that the police squelch the discontent of the local Protestants – a Protestant is liable for a fine of 4,000 euros and a suspended term in prison of two to three months. At the same time, dozens of mullahs in mosques are urging the destruction of Jews and Christians, but in this case the law is silent.

If this is not an exaggeration, it appears that a Christian cannot feel safe even in the center of Europe. Who is to blame for this situation then besides the Europeans?

Or take one more example: Slobodan Milosevic, who recently died in the Hague Tribunal prison, might have been a true dictator, but this fact is no excuse for ousting all Christians, this time Orthodox ones, from Kosovo. Christian churches are desecrated and burnt down by Albanian Muslims with the connivance of the “peacemakers.” Meanwhile, we are in the 21st century, and Kosovo is an ancient center of Christian culture. Perhaps these are not the right “peacemakers” and this is not the right policy?

It is high time to understand that selective political correctness is not political correctness, but a hypocritical imitation. If you pity Muslims, pity Christians as well. If you pity Catholics, pity Orthodox Christians, too. If you pity the Blacks, pity also the Whites. If you pity Palestinians, pity Israelis, too.

Finally, in walking into the fire that is Iraq or Kosovo, the West has no right to forget about their residents – common civilians. They have nothing to do with political disputes. A total of 250,000 Christians had to flee Kosovo during the U.S. intervention. Basically, all those wearing a cross had to leave.

I don’t agree with the many critics who think Canadian film producer Paul Haggis did not quite deserve his recent Oscar (for his film Clash). I’m convinced that he has exposed the main headache of our time – the clash of people belonging to different civilizations, but having to live under one roof.

The world is approaching a point where everyone needs protection. Black racism is in no way better than white and religious fanaticism is awful no matter what its origin. The Western political elite and human rights champions should adjust their compass. The time has come, or rather has come again, for Christians to be protected in real earnest.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Comments

  1. Unfortunately, this trend is accelerating. This article along with the one on Kosovo (also posted here) point to a disturbing trend. The PC and secularist Euro-elites are too blame of course. But so is President Bush and his administration.

    This article said,

    Thus, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has put an end to Christianity there. Those Christians who have not yet run away from U.S. bombings, will flee from the U.S.-trained new Iraqi police, which is less enthusiastic about defending Christians leaving church on Sundays.

    Here is what I wrote on the subject before the war even happened:

    But if war must come, then as citizens of the United States, we have an obligation to remind our leaders that the lives of Christians are just as important as the lives of Muslims. A victory in Iraq that destroys the Assyrian community in its wake is no victory. If our President and his staff are not considering the fates of these brave Christians, then it is time for us, as Americans, to remind them of their obligations to our co-religionists in a war that we brought to them.

    The Assyrians still speak the language of Jesus, and follow the way of the cross, despite centuries of persecution. The strength of their faith should be a humbling example to us all in the West. The Assyrians have survived the coming of the Persians, the Arabs, and the Turks. It remains to be seen if they will survive the coming of the Americans.

    I can’t tell you the number of people who wrote to me after that article ran to tell me that a good Christian like George Bush would never, ever abandon the Christians in Iraq. Well, he did, just as we abandoned the Christians in Kosovo and just as the Administration has been practically gushing in its praise for Islam since 9/11.

    As Orthodox Christians, I think we have to turn aside from partisan differences and deal with the situation honestly. Clinton was a serial liar and adulterer who blew up Christians in the Balkans and sold them down river at Dayton. Bush has not been any better. We are getting hammered from the Left and from the Right.

    The Left is taking advantage of a genuine desire to help the poor to lead half of us by the nose, the Right is taking advantage of our desire to protect ourselves and innocent life to lead the other half. The outcome has been more dead babies, more dead Christians, and a lot of partisan sniping from both sides. The truth is, we’re getting rolled, and the operation is bi-partisan.

    The Dems aren’t pulling for the Christians in the Balkans and Iraq. Nor are the Dems interested in confronting Islam. Despite a number of ‘Orthodox’ Christians in positions of influence in the party, the Dems are silent on this issue.

    The Republicans don’t seem up for the task either, even though many Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Oriental Orthodox Christians have labored intensely for the party over the years.

    So where does that leave us? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

  2. Jacobse says:

    Glen, it leaves us having to face some very hard truths.

  3. Christopher says:

    the U.S. invasion of Iraq has put an end to Christianity there.

    and

    The Assyrians have survived the coming of the Persians, the Arabs, and the Turks. It remains to be seen if they will survive the coming of the Americans.

    Is this really true? Has not this community been moribund, particularly in the last 50-75 years? Did not their last living bishop die in the 30′s, or 50′s (I can’t remember but it was a while ago), I think in Iran? I am not arguing that there is not a failing here on the part of US, but was not this chronically ill patient lingering, and the stress of the invasion is just the thing that, perhaps, put them over the edge?

    I say perhaps because I think it was here at Orthodoxytoday that I was reading an article (about a month ago) about a supposedly “extinct” group of non-chalcedonians on the border between Turkey and Syria that has made a bit of a comeback recently, with the help of $cash$ from the community that immigrated to Sweden. They even send their kids back to the area for an time period for an immersion in their original culture…

  4. Michael Bauman says:

    I have mixed feelings about the turmoil in which Christians exist in the middle east. Is it better to partially exist under the protection of oppressive tyrants or face genuine persecution for the sake of Christ, unable to fulfill the primary duty of Christians to evangelize?

    The dhimmi statements that spew from the mouth of my own Metropolitan Archbishop when he visits Syria are disgusting, yet I am at the same time concerned for the welfare of the Antiochian Synod and the other Orthodox in Syria should U.S. policy take a more militant course againt that country.

  5. Missourian says:

    Note 4, Michael, West has a long history of abandoning it co-religionists

    Unfortunately, Bat Ye’or and others have shown that the West has a long history of abandoning Christians and other religious minorities in the Islamic world because of a short-term or intermediate term foreign policy objective.
    The U.K. had joined forces with Turkey on several occaisions in opposition to Russian interests. The population of the U.K. did not want to join forces with Turkey and did not want to abandon the Christians and other minorities to the loving kindness of Islam, but, the government of Britain had it foreign policy objectives.

    I think the parallel is clear. At the very least we should provide easy and immediate asylum for Iraqi Christians.

  6. Post #3:

    Not true that the community’s last bishop died in the 30′s or 50′s or any such thing. Where on Earth did you get that? The Assyrians have bishops to this day inside Iraq, and outside. Numerically, the community has been in decline since so many Assyrians were butchered early in the 20th Century, but it still retained vigor and has a wide diaspora.

    The problem that is occurring now in Iraq is quite simple. If you’re a Jihadi who wants to kill an infidel for Allah, why go after pesky Americans who have guns and shoot back? Why go through all that, when you can just shoot up a few local Christians?

    The invasion is absolutely putting them over the edge, but their extinction within Iraq was not inevitable. The current chaotic situation in which Islamic nutcases are using them for target practice is what is driving them out of their homes. And most of them who are fleeing are hiding in Syria and Jordan – two non-democratic states whose policies keep Islamist forces at bay.

    Your reaction is quite typical, unfortunately, among Americans and Westerners in general. As Missourian pointed out, we always abandon Eastern Christians. When the British were in charge of Egypt, for example, the situation of the Coptic Christians actually got worse. The Brits had no interest in helping the Copts, and their presence only made the Muslims want to punish a scapegoat. It is sad that Christians in the Middle East are pummeled because of their supposed connection to us, when we Americans care so little for them.

    Michael your comment was:

    Is it better to partially exist under the protection of oppressive tyrants or face genuine persecution for the sake of Christ, unable to fulfill the primary duty of Christians to evangelize?

    This betrays an appalling lack of vision on your part. In Syria and Jordan, for example, the Christians lack political rights. There are stringent rules that apply to anyone (particularly Islamists) speaking against the government or organizing political oppostion. Syria is, of course, more stict than Jordan. But, despite the fact that they lack political rights, the Christians in those countries can practice their faith openly, can have processions on the street for Holy Days, can work, can raise their families, the streets are peaceful, there is little or no terrorism, and Christian women are not forced to wear the veil. In fact, neither are Muslim women. And yes, they do evangelize. After all, how many Americans and other people around the world are Orthodox now and under the Patriarchate of Antioch? The Patriarchate of Alexandria is evangelizing in sub-Saharan Africa, as are the Copts. And believe it or not, Muslims do convert despite all the odds, and the more secular states leave them unmolested when they do.

    You make too much of political rights. Yes, in a perfect world they are important. But if the status quo lets you live, work, and worship, then things aren’t so bad. Especially if political freedom means that your community is likely to be completely destroyed.

    Americans have this high sense of themselves that we are all Rambos who would fight ‘dhimmi’ status tooth and nail. Guess what? The British didn’t slaughter women and children or burn cities to break our Revolution. That is why we were successful – because we were fighting a Christian people with a sense of honor who would rather lose than fight like Sherman when he marched across Georgia. The Brits learned their lesson eventually, which is why they broke Boer resistance a couple of centuries later by inventing the Concentration Camp and starving to death the women and children of the men fighting.

    Guess what – they quit fighting.

    The Muslims never fought or governed in a humane fashion. If a Christian community rebelled, and lost, the Muslims took their revenge on the women and the children as lesson to everyone. Forget guerilla war. Guerilla War isn’t possible if the group in charge is willing to mass slaughter civilians in retaliation. That is why Saddam did not face a guerilla-like insurgency but we do. One shot at a Saddamite official, and 100 civilians would be lined up and shot. The Christians have been facing that for 1,400 years. Rebel and lose, and your entire village/community dies. That is why the Greek Revolution was so long in coming, they had to know that they would win or the results would be catastrophic.

    I am sick and tired of the disdain that Americans have for Christian from the Middle East. In their place, most of us would have converted to Islam a long time ago. In fact, many of the most conservative members of our society would be enthusiastic jihadis.

    The Middle Eastern Christians have suffered and triumphed through their very survival. It should be one of our policy goals to help improve their lot in life, but instead, we kick them every chance we get and wallow in our superiority from the safety and comfort of our couches.

  7. Toni V. says:

    Don’t forget Cyprus!! But don’t despair. As we near Pascha we realize that after the suffering and death there is the Resurection!
    Saint Cosmas said that Orthodoxy would be saved by its “offshoots”. I hold on to that!! May God have mercy on His Church!!

  8. Christopher says:

    Where on Earth did you get that?

    It might not have been the Assyrian’s I was thinking of, but some other non-chalcedonian group. I distinctly remember seeing a black and white of the last bishop who had died quite a while ago, and they had since been living without an ecclesial structure, I suppose like the old believers in Russia. In any case the Assyrians currently have a structure at least.

    On the one hand you argue that “their extinction within Iraq was not inevitable.” yet on the other you admit that it is these hyper tyrannical and secular states that create an the environment that allow these Christians to co-exist with their Islamic neighbors. I think anyone with “vision” sees that these dictatorships probably won’t last, and it is only a matter of time before a populist Islamic regime comes in and continues the extermination of these Christians.

    I do agree there is more the US could probably do, but I would not want to see the entire war on terror built around that single goal…

  9. Christopher –

    Most Assyrians are in communion with Rome, so I would not classify them as non-Chalcedonian at this point in their history.

    Yes, regimes that rule with an iron fist are necessary to keep the Sharia and Islamist tendencies at bay. Sometimes, as in Turkey, these regimes do not benefit the Christian minorities when they attempt to substitute ethnic nationalism in a manner that excludes the Christians. This hasn’t been the case in Ba’athist states to a large degree, because the founder of Ba’athism was a Christian and the overall structure of the movement was designed to avoid just that outcome.

    But is the extinction of such regimes as in Iraq and Syria, or the milder, non-Ba’athist one in Jordan, or the mildly more Islamic one in Egypt really that doomed? They’ve been around for most of the 20th Century, and have made it this far into the 21st. The regime of Saddam Hussein wasn’t going anywhere, after all, until the U.S. Army and Marines pushed it over and arrested Saddam.

    Fine – protecting Christians isn’t our goal in the ‘war on terror.’ (I love fighting a tactic. I find it so refreshing. Much better than fighting an actual enemy, don’t you agree?) So what should our goal be? Fostering the Sharia? Installing a wide range of regimes that will embrace terrorism and bond with Iran? What exactly are we supposed to be doing? Strenghtening Islamism, since anyone with ‘vision’ can see that that is the wave of the future?

    If we are going to engage in social engineering, then the least we can do is attempt to protect our co-religionists from the results. If Iraq had collapsed on its own accord into an Islamist revolution, then I would put as much pressure on the government of the United States to apply every single possible diplomatic and economic lever at our disposal to protect the Assyrians. But I would not agitate for an invasion to do so.

    However, that didn’t happened. We knocked over the regime, and we did it primarily to engineer what the supporters of the war believed would be a better outcome. We took responsibility, before God, for what happened next. If the outcome was the death and destruction of the Christian community, then it is our reckless actions that have directly caused it. We are responsible for this, as it was an entirely foreseeable outcome of our actions.

    You can’t possibly know, anymore than I can, what would have happened had we left this in God’s hands. 20 years or more of Ba’athist rule could have been responsible for reaching a ‘critical mass’ of secularism. Or Jesus could have returned and all this would be forgotten in the Glory of the World to Come. But we didn’t let any of those events run their course. We seized the initiative, and then failed to protect people who call upon Christ as their Messiah. We left them to the mercies of the Shia and Sunni fanatics, because to do otherwise would have put our troops at war with practically every Muslim. We sacrificed them because we didn’t have the troops to pacify the country, and couldn’t risk a war with the Shia and the Sunni. And we still can’t.

  10. Christopher says:

    Um, Glen, the war on terror is not an abstraction. It is a sincere effort by sinful men with limited knowledge to protect my family, neighbors, city, and country. I am sorry you are just a bit cynical about it, and obviously hopelessly cynical about Iraq. Let’s say you are right, and Iraq turns out to not be on the whole a stabilization, or at least a non threatening country to the USA. Given what I know now and in the past I still would have supported it. You seem to think your view of events is THE reality, and everything else is an abstraction.

    What are you going to argue for when (not if I don’t think) a much more deadly attack occurs (possibly nuclear)? How do we fight a culture, and that pseudo religion called islam? I think we take every reasonable opportunity we can to stabilize, contain, (and destabilize our enemies) etc. What are you going to argue for in the case of a nuclear Iran – which seems more than willing to wage a proxy nuclear with USA by supplying terrorist? Seems like you are arguing 2-4 million US boots on the ground to pacify a radical population of both Iraq and Iran. This is not “reckless”?

    Honestly, I think your political and religious philosophy would have had my grandfather invading mainland Japan and calling the bombing of Japan into submission (with both conventional and nuclear) “reckless”. I am not sure how many Christian’s died in these bombings, but no doubt a few – that of course means the tactic was “reckless”.

    I do expect my government to protect me from foreign enemies – it really is the least it can do. You can play armchair general all you want. IF you have a better way, then run for commander n’ chief. Frankly, I probably vote for your opponent…;)

  11. Christopher,

    Actually, the ‘War on Terror’ is highly abstract, which is why we can’t seem to get our act together on what our goals should be. Terrorism is a tactic. It is employed by evil men for a defined goal. They are trying to get something. You have to understand your opponent’s goals, his weaknesses, his vulnerabilities, and your own. That is Clausewitz 101, or Sun Tzu, pick your favorite military philosopher. We are fighting people, not their tactics, so the idea of a ‘War on Terror’ makes my skin crawl. The whole idiotic phrase ‘War on Terror’ is just a transparent attempt by a PC-blinded White House to actually not focus on the real problem. We are fighting Muslims, and not some extremists who have ‘hijacked a religion.’ We are fighting very Orthodox, very devout Muslims who are interested in bringing about certain outcomes. Some of them are localized in nature (A Sharia-based regime in Indonesia, for example) and some of them are globalist, Utopian dreamers (Bin Ladin and his future Caliphate), but they are not ‘outside the mainstream of Islam.’ They are the mainstream of Islam, but the White House won’t cope with any of that. Rather, we hear instead about fighting a tactic.

    Support that if you will, but I can’t stomach it. I’m too addicted to the truth.

    Now, it is curious that you ignored every question I asked you. JBL does the same thing, as do most other ‘conservative’ posters on this site. Heck, on all sites. Anything that might lead you in a direction you don’t want to go, you simply ignore and turn around into a question back. Since I am not afraid of the implications of my own thought, I will be happy to answer your questions about what I think. I would appreciate it if you would do me the same courtesy, but I can’t see that happening.

    Let’s get started, shall we?

    You said,

    “Let’s say you are right, and Iraq turns out to not be on the whole a stabilization, or at least a non threatening country to the USA. Given what I know now and in the past I still would have supported it. You seem to think your view of events is THE reality, and everything else is an abstraction.”

    Yep, I am cynical about the U.S. Federal Government’s ability to build a country out of a collection of warring tribes with multiple cross-cutting cleavages such as religion and ethnicity. Cynicism about the success of federal public works projects used to be known as ‘conservatism.’ Now, I suppose, folks like you consider it ‘sedition.’ The project is completely doomed to failure because it was not about knocking over a dangerous regime that was threatening us. That was something that we could accomplish with military forces, which is why we did it so well. No, Saddam was not much of a threat, nor was he an Islamist. After 9/11, anyone with any sense would have focused on Islamist regimes and those with Islamist tendencies that were aiding the global Jihad. That meant the Taliban, a wise move, and also Iran. Iraq – Saddam was a survivor that used to be our friend in the region. There were bigger, more important fish to fry.

    Now? Now we have a morass. We have a Sunni insurgency, and a Shia majority that is shot through with Iranian sympathizers. Even our own ambassador admits that. We are facing a stand-off with Iran, and our troops are within rocket range of Iranian rockets, and are embedded among millions of restive Shia, many of whom are loyal to Al Sadr who is nothing more than an Iranian stooge.

    Now, what have I said that is wrong, Christopher? What did I misstate? The Federal government can’t build New Orleans, any conservative will tell you that, without making a mess of it. But you expect it to build Iraq. What kind of conservatism is that, anyway?

    You said,

    “What are you going to argue for when (not if I don’t think) a much more deadly attack occurs (possibly nuclear)? How do we fight a culture, and that pseudo religion called islam?

    First of all, you need to secure the U.S. borders to lessen the possibility of another attack. You know the Bush Administration has done ZERO to improve border security. Second of all, if another attack comes then you find out who is responsible and you hunt them down. We did that in Afghanistan. It is the turn into Iraq that I considered stupid. Knocking over a secular, socialist regime and putting Islamists in power is a bad move, in my opinion and the opinion of a lot of other conservatives.

    As for combatting Islam – you don’t do it by having Ramadan dinners in the White House, putting Islamists in power in more countries, enabling Hamas to come to power in the PA, continuing to pour U.S. tax payer money into Middle Eastern swamps, looking the other way in Nigeria and Sudan, and trying to get Turkey into the EU so that even more Muslims can start voting themselves into control of the French nuclear arsenal. Oh, I almost forgot. You also don’t keep propping up a Islamic narco-terrorist state in the Balkans. Kosovo belongs to Serbia, not the Muslims.

    In other words, to combat Islam, you take whatever the Bush Administration is doing and you switch it 180 degrees. That gets you in the right direction, finally. I’d also cut off all Muslim immigration to the U.S., close all mosques affiliated with radical groups, and remove Muslim chaplains from the military and prisons.

    One last thing – if you occupy a Muslim nation you must commit yourself to aiding and protecting the local Christians. Most Muslims today are Muslims because their ancestors converted from some other religion because it benefitted them. If we could reverse that equation and make it more beneficial to be Christian, rather than Muslim, then you can get converts. But since you, and so many like you, argue that protecting or assisting Christians in the Muslim world can’t be our focus – then that strategy won’t be employed, will it?

    Hey, Christopher – how’s all that for a start? Or is it too ‘touchey-feeley’ for you? Would a candidate who spoke like that get your vote, or would it be too ‘leftist’ or too ‘pacifist?’

    You wrote,

    “What are you going to argue for in the case of a nuclear Iran – which seems more than willing to wage a proxy nuclear with USA by supplying terrorist?”

    I was arguing four years ago that Iran was a much bigger threat than Saddam, and that we needed Saddam to balance the Shia menance in the region. Sorry – that isn’t possible now.

    Then again, neither is hitting Iran. I am not arguing that hitting Iran is wrong as long as the targets are of military value, which they would be. Civilians killed incidentally to the operation are a regrettable occurance of war. I would not support nukes in the assault, but conventional forces would be fine.

    That is, it would be fine if we didn’t have 137,000 troops in Iraq within missile distance. All U.S. installations in Iraq have been targeted by Sahib missiles. You can bank on it. In addition, there is a massive 5th Column on the ground in Iraq waiting to smack our troops whenever the Mullahs say so. In addition, the price of gas is already at almost $3.00 a gallon since we screwed up and took Iraq’s oil production offline and turned Iraq into an oil-importing country. Then there is the Russian and China problem, who have close ties to Iran and are still upset over the commercial losses tied to our overthrow of Saddam.

    All-in-all, a strike on Iran anytime soon is strategically foolish. We have to unwind the Iraqi situation, or we are courting catastrophe. This is not a moral issue, as I don’t have moral objections to bombing strategic targets in Iran. This is a practical geopolitical considerations. Our fiasco in Iraq has us in a box that we need to unwind before we can really threaten the Mullahs and do it convincingly.

    Yes – I would have a moral problem engaging in indiscriminate bombing in Iran to ‘break’ their will. That isn’t on the table, so I don’t see how striking a screened target list of illegal weapons sites is the same as the wholesale incineration of Japanese citizens.

    You said,

    “I do expect my government to protect me from foreign enemies – it really is the least it can do.”

    Yep – I agree. The primary responsible of the U.S. military is to defend the United States against foreign aggression. This is one of the few duties that the Federal government has that is not only Constitutional, but is a good idea to boot. But, I don’t agree that the current set of policies being pursued by the Bush Administration contribute to the goal of protecting us. Setting up Jihadi regimes from here to Kuala Lampur with an open Southern border is just plain nuts.

    So are most of the other policies that I seen coming out of D.C.

    I think you can get an idea based on what I’ve said of the kinds of policies I favor. They are not the solution set on offer by the Democratic Party, which is why I don’t vote for Democrats. On the other hand, they are not the solution set coming out of the White House either, which is why I find myself at odds with fellow Republicans.

    Back Bush all you want, but if you can stomach his policies I don’t care much for your idea of ‘conservatism.’

  12. Christopher says:

    “Support that if you will, but I can’t stomach it. I’m too addicted to the truth.”

    No, your too addicted to perfection (this side of the Eschaton, that is). You remind me of the many engineers I have worked with over the years. The widget they are designing, and the company they are working for is never ever good enough. Real world considerations like cost, market realities, etc. don’t matter. It’s the elegance (or lack there of) the think itself that matters most. The reality of America, our societal decline, the break down of the Protestant consensus after WWII, how we have all but succumbed to an essentially nihilistic and materialist world view – all that does not matter, you want – no DEMAND absolute truth. The fact that at least one political party (Thank God!) at least has it sort of right and realizes that we have real enemies and is willing to do something about it does not matter. The hard truth of political realities means nothing. How does the saying go, “politics is the art of the possible”? You want to stir up a hornets nest (from both Islam and the decadent American left that wins at least 45% of the vote in every election) and have George actually name that which-can-not-be-named?! Yes, we are at war with Islam, this is true, but the “war on terror” is what is possible right now, and it will have to work or we will be left with something far worse (I am thinking of a Democratic led appeasement, etc.). Look at the nominally Christian and admitted pagans that regularly post here at a site called “OrthodoxyToday”. Do you think they have the fortitude (even a pagan fortitude might do – if they had it), not to mention the good sense, to wage war on that-which-should-not-be-named? I don’t think so – no doubt you will here why from their own words here shortly (you will have to read between the lines of course :)

    As far as the rest of your post, I admit I would LOVE to see 99% of what you happen. The hard truth is that most if it won’t. Particularly the things that would reverse our societal decline, like the foolish notion that all religions and/or cultures are more or less equal. I back the small, half, and sometimes full (read real important) steps that are being taken by our government now. I did not vote for George the last time around because he governs mostly as a liberal. In fact, we have two liberal parties in this country today: the liberal Republicans and the uber-wacko-euro-socialist Democrats. Still, I support or admittedly flawed efforts to prevent another 3000, or 3,000,000 million of my fellow country men going up in a nuclear fire. I support the “war on terror”.

    Fact is you know exactly what I am talking about when I say “war on terror” – stop pretending otherwise and I will stop calling you on it…:)

  13. Christopher:

    Fact is you know exactly what I am talking about when I say “war on terror” – stop pretending otherwise and I will stop calling you on it…:)

    No really, I don’t know what is meant by the ‘War on Terror?’

    Facilitating Hamas coming to power in the PA – that is fighting terrorists? Pushing free elections in Egypt and making the Muslim Brotherhood the new opposition party of record? Free and fair elections in Lebanon that give us Hezbollah as the largest party in parliament? A Shia-dominated Iraq sitting across from a soon-to-be nuke armed nutcase ruled Shia-dominated Iran? A narco-state named Kosovo being mid-wifed into existance by NATO, led by the United States?

    Are those policies a ‘War on Terror?’

    What exactly are we doing to combat Islam, anyway? I’m not asking for perfection, I’m asking for something that makes a lick of blessed sense to me. None of the above do.

    What exactly are you supporting? The war in Afghanistan is not an issue between us, since we are both on that page together. Other than Afghanistan, what exactly is Bush and the Republican Party doing?

    Well, we have the Patriot Act, NSA spying, occupying Iraq, and a full court press to give all Muslims the right to vote for the Mullah of their choice, and a soon coming attack on Iran.

    Hey – I would be fine with attacking Iran if we had done that before we got up to our necks in Iraq. As it stands, for the reasons I already stated, I think that is a mistake at the current time.

    But I digress. Politics may be the art of the possible, but Bush and the Republican Party is giving me possibilities that I just can’t stomach. I don’t want PC weasling, I want action. Bush could call the conflict we’re in the ‘War on Terror’ all day long. If that would give him cover to pursue the right policies, then I’d be all for it. ‘Frame the issue’ boys, I’m okay!

    He could sing happy campfire songs, for all I care, but if we can’t profile Muslim terrorists on airlines, we can’t protect our Southern border, and we can’t aggressively combat the multi-cultural rot that is killing us internally – well then what good are we actually doing?

    President Bush was willing to veto a bill that would stop the Dubai World deal, but he won’t veto a pork-laden spending bill, or stand tall to permit profiling of suspected Muslim terrorists. Get real. Is the President a brave man of honor doing what he has to do to appease the ‘left’ or is he actually a true-blue PC blinded dingbat?

    That’s what it comes down to, many Republicans seem to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is doing what he has to do to keep the liberal 45% from lynching him. I’ve gone the other way. I think that he pushes ‘guest worker’ programs, more socialism at every turn, and fiscal irresponsibility because he is actually a liberal who trots out a few conservative lines every now and again when it suits him.

    In 1996 I worked (actually drew a paycheck) for the Christian Coalition full time. I was responsibility for getting out the vote for Dole. Obviously, we didn’t get out enough votes. I despised Dole then, and I despise Dole now. I did what I did to try and spare the country 4 more years of Clinton. In 2000, I volunteered on George W’s campaign.

    I despised the Bush clan, but I went out and held signs and phone banked anyway. Why? Because I couldn’t stomach the idea of a third term for Clinton via Gore.

    What is the moral of this story? We keep going for ‘lesser evil’ Republicans and they keep dragging us further and further to the left. They’ll toss us a bone here or there, but to get that bone we have to swallow ‘No Child Left Behind,’ open borders, women in combat, and a whole lot more.

    Look, Christopher, I can’t take it anymore. The only time conservatives get anywhere is when we kick in the White House door and threaten the President like on the Harriet Miers deal. Support gets us nowhere, only when the Republican establishment fears us do they appease us.

    I’d be willing to look the other way on Iraq, even though I think it was a bone-headed move, if the president were giving me so much as half-a-loaf of good, wholesome bread, with the idea that I would be getting more under the next Republican president. As it is, what am I getting? A couple of good justices? That’s nice, but is that enough to offset the ‘guest worker’ fiasco and all the rest?

    If this is the ‘best’ we can do, then why do 50% of the people not even vote? Did you ever think that there are possibly a ton of votes to the right of the current administration that just go fishing on election day because they don’t feel like choosing between two ‘liberal’ parties?

    How about we rally around a prinicipled conservative and find out?

  14. Christopher says:

    Glen,

    Again, I can’t disagree with much of what you say here. Like I said in my above post, I went with the Constitutional party for pres last time around. I was one of about 1300 who did in that state (Louisiana) :) I think our major disagreement is that I am not nearly as cynical as you are on this administrations foreign policy and the war on terror. Islam is a conundrum. In the past, we supported the secularized dictation (I am thinking of Iran) and that seems to go nowhere. Then we support free elections and we might just be legitimizing sharia. One thing is for certain, we need to keep trying. The Democrats would simply appease – we KNOW this is worse than anything else.

    Based on my interpretation of our current society, there just not that many votes on the right left out there. I think the vast bulk of that non-voting 50% is to right smack in the middle of the left wing of the Democratic party. This is not to say a principled conservative is not electable. I stand with Bork and others who think we are past the point of no return. There are just too many folks on the dole, and too few real taxpayers (i.e. too many true socialists whether they are conscious of it or not) for any true rightward turn. Have you not read Kirk – Conservatives have been routed for the last 200-250 years!

  15. Christopher –

    We had a chance to back a secular, popular government in Iran in the 1950′s, but flubbed that because of Anglo oil interests. We then backed the Shah. The problem wasn’t that he was secular, so much as that he was brutal and incompetent. Brutal and competent can last, as the Chicoms are proving daily. Brutal and incompetent make a bad combination. But, we still probably would have been okay if we had still ridden that tiger. When the Shah was losing power, we had the chance to intervene and help shape events.

    Instead, we took the ‘hands off’ approach which would have worked in 1953, but wouldn’t work in the late 1970′s. Carter blew this thing by letting the mullahs take over. Sometimes your predecessor’s send you down an alley that you can’t easily back out of. Many of the ‘suits’ behind the Ayatollahs were actually secularists who thought the religion card would be useful to play as part of a sweep into power.

    The joke was on them, and us. Egypt and Syria, on the other hand, don’t show any signs of falling apart at the seams, unless we give them a helping hand in that direction. The results won’t be much different from Iran if we do. I see no reason to push those governments over, when we know full well what will be coming next.

    I am not at all sure that in some respects a Democratic administration’s policies in the Middle East wouldn’t be better than the current Republican one. That is hard to say, because in general, the Democrats are such a complete train wreck. What I will say though, is that I think that doing nothing is preferable to doing something if that ‘something’ is the wrong thing that makes your predicament even worse. The U.S. is doing the wrong thing in so many theatres of conflict, that I would take a helping of ‘inaction’ as an improvement of our tactics.

    Of course, almost all of the mistakes the current administration is making has bi-partisan support, so I really don’t see a change of course in Kosovo or other areas just because a Dem takes over. It’s likely to be just more of the same.

    I think you have to be careful with Kirk. Prior to Kirk, the belief system that he branded as ‘conservatism’ was known as ‘liberalism.’ It was the corruption of that term which caused Kirk to recast prior thought as ‘conservatism.’

    In the Anglo-American sphere, ‘classical liberalism’ was the dominant political theory throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. That ideal emphasize economic and personal liberty, though there were significant differences between say a Hamilton and a Jefferson. The ‘classical liberal’ ideal has only been getting its clock cleaned in the U.S. and Britain since the 1930′s, though a case can be made that it was Teddy Roosevelt that fundamentally altered the concept of the presidency.

    The only way you could say that ‘conservatism’ has been getting roughed up for 200 to 250 years is if you associate ‘conservatism’ in the U.S. will fringe movements or in Britain with the ‘Tories.’ Then you can show an unbroken string of defeats.

    In today’s environment, Americans seem to be fixated on social issues to divide ‘conservative’ from ‘liberal.’ I think this is unfortunate, because it leads Christians to support a man like ‘W’ because of his rather tepid stands on abortion and homosexual rights, and to foregive his raging socialism on other issues.

    I tend to disagree with you on where most Americans stand on the ‘economic freedom’ versus ‘socialism’ argument. I think there is more widespread support for ‘classical liberalism’ than you imagine, but that the enthusiasm is muted because no party really puts forward an actual agenda that promotes economic freedom and small government.

    By the way, I voted for Peroutka also. May be next time, a few more folks will. Would be nice.

  16. Glen, I think you are right:

    … there is more widespread support for ‘classical liberalism’ than you imagine, but that the enthusiasm is muted because no party really puts forward an actual agenda that promotes economic freedom and small government.

    I think the same is true for many other issues, from anti-male discrimination, to abortion, to the gay agenda, to unsecure borders. The self-appointed “agents of change” have been getting the attention, and getting their way, for the last several decades. When people with the traditional point of view express themselves, it’s easy to characterize them as sexist, boorish, uneducated, uncaring, and xenophobic. That usually quiets them down.

  17. Christopher, Glen, Augie, others:

    You would be interested in a recent article by the Heritage Foundation, The Conservative Movement Since 1950 (.pdf file).

    Regarding the “Gospel” discussion: I intend to answer but I have not had a block of time needed to form the response. It’s Holy Week this week. I get home late and leave early. I’ve got some articles to post on the main site and am behind there as well (some really excellent pieces).

    Had a great afternoon though. Fifteen graduate students from Ave Maria University came by. Gave them a tour of the church, talked about Catholicism and Orthodoxy, answered a boatload of questions — a lot of fun. Tonight we have Holy Unction, tommorow morning the Liturgy of the Last Supper, then the reading of The Twelve Gospels in the evening — we are off to the races!

  18. Nice article.

    I still have one nagging problem, however. Here is part of the section on Reagan from this article:

    Reagan had explained years earlier, in his 1965 memoir Where’s the Rest of Me? his understanding of a frequent theme of conservative interpreters, namely that modern conservatism is a branch of 18th century liberalism: The classic liberal used to be the man who believed the individual was, and should be forever, the master of his destiny. That is now the conservative position. The liberal used to believe in freedom under law. He now takes the ancient feudal position that power is everything. He believes in a stronger and stronger central government, in the philosophy that control is better than freedom. The conservative now quotes Thomas Paine, a long-time refuge of the liberals: “Government is a necessary evil; let us have as little of it as possible.”

    How do you square those ideals, which I wholeheartedly support, with the neo-conservative mantra:

    Kristol put the matter more broadly in an essay, “The Neoconservative Persuasion,” two years ago: “[T]he historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy.” Kristol makes clear that he has no fundamental objection to the general direction of the modern progressive welfare state:

    Neocons do not like the concentration of services in the welfare state and are happy to study alternative ways of delivering these services. But they are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on ‘the road to serfdom.’ Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable.

    You simply can’t square these two lines of thought. They are completely contrary to each other. The neo-con position is basically “socialism lite.” Since that is the governing philosophy of the Republican party, then I would say that pretty much sums up why we can’t seem to move in a rightward direction in this country on economic freedom.

    The only way the official Republican Party keeps getting votes is by focusing on security and social issues. The Dems are so whacked out on issues like Islam and abortion that this strategy is successful, which allows our Republican leadership wide lattitude to drift ever further in the direction of a nanny state.

    This is not my idea of a good time.

    We seem to have this idea, by the way, that communists and other assorted statists are somehow anti-morals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Homosexuality is usually illegal and punished in socialist nations. States like the Soviet Union and NAZI Germany had strict codes of moral conduct. They differed greatly from traditional Christianity in that our moral code is unchanging, whereas the moral code in the Soviet Union/NAZI Germany could be revised at any time.

    The statist ideals of ‘neo-cons’ can be paired with moral rectitude in the same manner. Simply because someone is against gay marriage, doesn’t mean that he/she isn’t a stark raving socialist on economic matters. Unfortunately, we make that assumption all too often.

  19. The two points can’t be reconciled. A revealing moment about the neo-con agenda occurred during the McCain-Bush primary races. William Kristol and the neo-con establishment backed McCain largely because he was a war hero hoping that they could rally the Republican base and jettison the Christian right. It was a big gamble and they lost but they rallied quickly behind Bush and the attempted coup d’etat was quickly forgotten.

    The arrogance of the move gave me pause. Neo-conservativism was not a movement seeking to align itself with traditional conservativsm, that is, build on the Reagan base, but drive forward an agenda foreign to Reagan Republicanism (one that has since become clear with the tepid response to government expansion, etc.). The comment above, that neo-cons “are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on ‘the road to serfdom,’” is accurate (and worrisome). After the primary I dropped my subscription to “The Weekly Standard.”

    A big problem here is Democratic abandonment of the core principles of their party. If the Democrats would return to who they were, we just might have the debate the country needs. Now the Republicans just have to appear reasonable (not too difficult a task when your opposition is the radical left) to win elections.

    (Look at Hillary and Reid just this week. Their solution to “unplanned pregnancies” is, you guessed it, more condoms. Hillary even said birth control pills should be free. Great. Let’s sacrifice even more of our teens to skin borne STD’s. Nothing like a bout of herpes to make you feel emancipated! Anyone with any degree of common sense will ask how many more condoms will it take?)

    As for the morality of Nazi’s and others, they knew that rampant immorality degrades the social order. That’s why the homosexuals were routed out of the SS for example. I’d be careful about how this point is made however, because it is easily miscontextualized. Gloria Steinem, for example, once wrote an article on the Nazi resistance to abortion (a policy only promulgated to achieve Aryan supremacy) to equate pro-lifers with Nazi’s.

  20. Christopher says:

    Glen, Augie, and Fr. Jacobse,

    I suppose I am a bit more pessimistic about our societies acceptance of limited government, ‘economic freedom’ and socialism. I think of the entrenched entitlements of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I see no real questioning of the basic roles of these programs. They are simply expected in the popular mind. I don’t know what the percentages are, but I would guess over 90% of folks think the government has a real role to play in the “social safety net”. I think of the coming socialization of medicine for everyone. I don’t think it’s if, but when. It may even be in the form of some government backed (i.e. partially/mostly funded) “insurance” so heavily regulated that it the companies are de facto state run enterprises. I think of how about almost everybody is really in the 45-50% tax bracket (when you add up the true tax burden) and thinks the almost insignificant “Bush tax cuts” are something that are really worth debating.

    I don’t think it is a matter of leadership (on the conservative side), because I think most folks now believe the size and scope of government and the roles it now plays in our daily life to be a minimum moral standard. I use that word intentionally, “moral” because that is what it is even if they don’t really use the language.

    It will be interesting to see how far McCain goes in the next primary. As one commentator put it he has a “temperament” problem that shows itself too often. I more worried about the next McCain like Republican who has a more steady political hand. I bet I end up voting for less and less Republican’s in the next 10 years or so…

  21. Father –

    Agreed that we have to be careful about how the point on morality can be taken out of context. I wouldn’t bring it up, except to illustrate a point that greatly concerns me. Many, many sincere Christians believe that the left is represented by disordered flower children running amok or by homosexuals running riot in bath houses.

    It is true that such groups gravitate to the radical left in this country. But they are merely pawns. The serious leftists are people who are enamoured of order. They seek power to transform society to resemble a grand vision they have. They have a code of morality, but while it may superficially resemble some elements of the Christian code of morality, the goal of it is not to save souls but to further the interests of the state.

    You point about Hitler and his breeding programs is a perfect example. Christians want to save babies because they love them. Hitler wanted more grist for his war machine. Both desires led to the same aim – a prohibition on abortions, but the two systems of thought that produced this common outcome are not at all alike.

    I feel like, frequently, so many conservatives are simply blind to the warnings of Hayek and others and are too willing to trust governmental power.

    If John McCain manages to snow conservatives enough to win the presidency, I’ll seriously consider hiding out in a different country. The man is insane, but as you said, running against the radical left he may even have a chance.

  22. Note 20. Christopher, probably the only way things will change is when the financial crisis hits home hard. This may come sooner than later as the boomers move into retirement only to find that there isn’t enough money to go around.

    How’s this for black irony: the boomers aborted a third of the population that they now expect should fund their retirements.