Saturday, May 07, 2005

The end of WWII in Europe

We're at the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Arthur Herman reflects on how close it came to going the other way:
It is important to remember how many people, especially Europeans, wanted democracy to lose and hoped Hitler would win. They included the world's Communist parties, who followed the directions of their leader Josef Stalin in enthusiastically embracing his alliance with Nazi Germany. They included politicians and intellectuals who, after Hitler's lightning victories in Poland and France, saw a new world order arising and wanted to be part of it. Denmark's elected government enthused in July 1940 that Hitler had "brought about a new era in Europe, which will result in a new order in an economic and political sense..." France's Robert Brasillach saw Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin as the men of the future and Roosevelt and Churchill as "grotesquely antiquated" relics of the past. Catholic mystagogue Teilhard de Chardin proclaimed that "we are watching the birth, more than the death, of a World....the Germans deserve to win..." Holland's Paul de Man, later the darling of the deconstructionist Left at Yale and other universities, announced that Europe's future under Nazi rule was brighter than ever and that "we are entering a mystical era, a period of faith and belief, with all that this entails," with the Third Reich at its center.

Today, it is sobering to contemplate how close Hitler came in the early summer of 1941 to achieving that new order. Had he followed the advice of his naval advisers and completed his rout of the British from the Mediterranean by seizing the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf, Germany would have secured control of the world's oil supply and the world's sea routes to India and the Far East. After Pearl Harbor, Hitler and the Japanese could have divided the resources of Asia — from Bombay and Afghanistan to Australia and Singapore — between them.

But Hitler was not interested in following in the footsteps of the British and Americans, in building an empire built on economic power instead of conquest. Instead, he turned on his ally Stalin and invaded Russia — again hoping this would complete the isolation of Britain and deter the United States from going to its aid. Like all totalitarians, he assumed the democratic response to forthright force would be hesitation, weakness, and retreat.

What's wrong with the Democrats?

Victor Davis Hanson knows. America's most important writer, in an article titled "Democratic Suicide," says that Democrat won't start winning again until they start acting like normal folks. Here's his take on why Democrats can't get away with their old class warfare routine:
The old class warfare was effective for two reasons: Americans did not have unemployment insurance, disability protection, minimum wages, social security, or health coverage. Much less were they awash in cheap material goods from China that offer the less well off the semblance of consumer parity with those far wealthier. Second, the advocates of such rights looked authentic, like they came off the docks, the union hall, the farm, or the shop, primed to battle those in pin-stripes and coiffed hair.

Today entitlement is far more complicated. Poverty is not so much absolute as relative: "I have a nice Kia, but he has a Mercedes," or "I have a student loan to go to Stanislaus State, but her parents sent her to Yale." Unfortunately for the Democrats, Kias and going to Stanislaus State aren't too bad, especially compared to the alternatives in the 1950s.

A Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, John Edwards, Howard Dean, George Soros, or Al Gore looks — no, acts — like he either came out of a hairstylist's salon or got off a Gulfstream. Those who show up at a Moveon.org rally and belong to ANSWER don't seem to have spent much time in Bakersfield or Logan, but lots in Seattle and Westwood. When most Americans have the semblance of wealth — televisions, cell phones, cars, laptops, and iPods as well as benefits on the job — it is hard to keep saying that "children are starving." Obesity not emaciation is the great plague of the poorer.

So the Democrats need a little more humility, a notion that the country is not so much an us/them dichotomy, but rather all of us together under siege to maintain our privileges in a tough global world — and at least one spokesman who either didn't go to prep school or isn't a lawyer.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

"The Perfect Child"

George Neumayr points out the mainstreaming of eugenics in America. He doesn't quite get at the utter monstrosity of it, but he comes damn close:
The slogan, Every Child a Wanted Child, always gave off a eugenic chill, implying that unwanted children weren't fit for life. But it didn't quite spell out what makes a child unwanted. Were the meaning of the slogan unpackaged and given more eugenic precision, it would read: Every Child a Perfect Child.

Imperfect children aren't wanted children -- this is the logical terminus of a society obsessed with choice and control, and the culture is hurtling towards it. If you doubt this, note the growing impatience with imperfection in children, both unborn and born, that increasingly dominates the culture of reproductive choice and control. The New York Times ran a story earlier this week titled, "Ugly Children May Get Parental Short Shrift." The article doesn't even mention the shortest shrift they receive: eugenic abortion. To the extent that the numbers are known, most unborn children deemed ugly by virtue of a disability detected through prenatal screening are aborted, and research surveys have shown that many parents will choose abortion once doctors become able to diagnose nothing more than "obesity" prenatally.
You should read the whole thing, of course. I just have to wonder what people think they are doing. Do they understand that to get at the child who looks perfect in his blue blazer at prep school that they might be "weeding" out the most special human talents, gifts, and genius, hidden in the genes of the "imperfect," and mocking human posterity.

Monday, May 02, 2005

A real horror story

Dorothy Rabinowitz has worked the "false sex-abuse allegations" beat for a long time. This story, about the conviction and life sentence of Father Gordon MacRae, should make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

While rooting for the fascists in Iraq...

...Scott Erb throws (April 27, 2005 entry) a reductio ad Hitlerum argument at David Horowitz and FrontPageMag.com. This is something that Scott does when he's feeling insecure, and perhaps a bit worried. One of the things that Horowitz and FrontPage do best is to out committed anti-American university professors, of which Scott Erb is a very good example.

One way to gauge how upset Scott is is to watch which of his voodoo dolls he is shaking. If he shakes his "talk radio" (meaning Rush Limbaugh) voodoo doll, he's a little upset. If he shakes his Joe McCarthy voodoo doll he's very upset. But when he shakes his fascist voodoo doll and mentions Hitler, he's just beside himself.

In the Iraq part of his post Scott is very excited by the prospect of civil war in Iraq, an excitation that was no doubt itself excited by the upsurge in terror attacks in the past week to ten days. Civil war in Iraq would be a great relief for Scott, given that he has always opposed success in the mission. Success, you see, would have portrayed the U.S. in a good light, and we can't have that.

In the second part of today's entry Scott adds some more drivel to his "Spirit and Belief" "series." He ends with this stunning conclusion: "modern spiritualism and religion can co-exist with modern science." Forget the misuse of "spiritualism" for "spirituality," the purpose of this conclusion is to allow that clear-thinking and rational people of science can allow people to feel all warm and fuzzy about the universe, if they insist upon it.

That's so big of Scott, don't you think?

Jay Nordlinger delivers...

...a good Impromptus column today. It hits several marks dead on. Here's his item on historian Paul Johnson:
This week in The Spectator, we find Paul Johnson at his most cheerful: “I foresee a sorrowful procession of events in which the triumph of the Darwinians may ultimately lead to the extinction of the human race. Evolution to destruction, or self-destruction, is part of the Darwinian concept, but if the theory itself should bring it about, that indeed would be a singularity. Not inconceivable, though.”

Thanks, Paul! See you next week.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A three-pack

Making my usual rounds through the conservative sites this morning I found three articles, all on completely different subjects, that shared an off-beat sensibility. Thomas Sowell writes about "black rednecks." William Voegeli takes a chop at the "cynical idealism" of Social Security. And in an occasionally overwrought piece at the American Spectator, James Poulos riffs away on Hunter S. Thompson as a "reactionary." All three make interesting reading, if you're in the mood.

Monday, April 25, 2005

More idiocy

Scott Erb continues today to prove that not a single thing ever said about him by his worst critics was undeserved. Tacked on to today's entry at his blog (April 25, 2005 entry) is some rambling nonsense about "Spirit and Belief." You have to read it to appreciate its essential weaselishness, but that essence climaxes with this statement about evolution: "Evolution is something that cannot be denied. Every respected biologist and almost all educated people recognize that it is a well developed theory so well supported by evidence that no one can honestly and reasonably deny its existence."

It's a plain fact that evolution, as a theory, has long faced an internal crisis, with various evolutionists at each other's throats, even as it has over the past decade come under a withering critique from the intelligent design theorists. Philip E. Johnson ("Darwin on Trial"), Michael J. Behe ("Darwin's Black Box"), David Berlinski (in his famous Commentary magazine article "The Deniable Darwin"), William Dembski ("The Design Inference") and a host of other authors have shown that the Neo-Darwinian synthesis that is the backbone of contemporary evolutionary theory is so weak that it depends on the huffiness unto hysteria of its advocates to fend off its critics.

One of the favorite evolutionist ploys is to routinely confuse people by not making a distinction between the fundamentalist Biblical literalism of "Creation Science" and the simple creationism implied by intelligent design theory, which infers from the complexity of life the reasonable premise that it is improbable (to the point of impossibility) that said complexity is the result of mere accident.

The irony of Erb's comment that "Evolution...cannot be denied" is that he's criticizing the Catholic Church for being slow to accept changes in scientific understanding, when virtually the entire edifice of evolutionary theory is imploding from the forces of its own internal contradictions. Yet materialists, those who believe that all that exists is the natural order and that there is nothing outside that order, cling to evolution as a dying faith, lashing out at those who dare to question it.

As Philip Johnson points out, evolution as a theory has become a number of things, some larger than others. The larger the claims, the less water they hold.

The only brief I ever held against evolution was that it seemed to me to be improbable. Then I gave my attention to the ID theorists and they made quite a case for just how improbable it really is. The irony is that evolution is the high church of materialistic naturalism, which is a philosophy, not a science. For people like Erb, it's a matter of belief.

The thing that bothered people most...

...about Scott Erb during his disastrous (for him) years on Usenet was that he was a university professor who was both shallow and stupid, an indication that today's Ph.D.s should come with a disclaimer, particularly when they are lodged by tenure at the front of classrooms.

The latest example -- just to isolate one moment among the vast continuum of moments -- of Scott's shallowness and stupidity, is found in the latest post to his blog (April 25, 2005 entry). Let's listen to that moment:
The good news to me is that the new Pope will remain a strong voice against war, carrying on the tradition of John Paul II. I still can't fathom the hypocrisy of some Catholics who praise John Paul and his stance on life, but somehow support a war of aggression. They are in conflict with their own church.
Unfortunately for Scott, the Church has no teaching against war. It has a doctrine that establishes criteria for a "just war." It has no teaching or doctrine against war per se. It is, in fact, the teaching of the Church that it is left to the civil authority to determine when a war must be fought. I think that this has been explained to Scott more than once, but the fact that he has been corrected before on any number of errors has never stood in the way of him repeating them. That's why Scott's audience of choice is chiefly students unexposed to facts and disinclined to look into them.

John Paul II believed that war per se is a defeat for mankind, and like all popes urged that belligerents find ways to settle matters without war, but he never changed the Church doctrine.

On the other hand, Scott is perfectly content to see a million unborn children killed by abortion each year in the United States. Abortion is, of course, something that the Church strictly condemns as grievous evil. But Scott is in no position to defend a right to life, particularly when he is incapable of claiming a right to his own life.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Even Maureen Dowd...

...should eventually be made nauseous by the infantile column she wrote for today's New York Times. If one wonders why self-identifying liberals are down to about 20% of the population in America, embarrassment over the likes of Maureen Dowd might be a good reason.