Religiously secular SJWs

There are two basic reasons, I think, why liberals fail to appreciate the challenge from … [Social Justice Warrior] radicals.

First, they assume that because these students are usually secular, that their orientation towards their cause is not religious. Liberals have it in their minds that only Religious Right people are irrational. They let their guard down around SJWs, thinking that the SJWs are technologically oriented (in the Kolakowskian sense), when in fact they’re mythological.

Second, the SJWs advocate for causes that liberals generally support: equality, diversity, and so on. It’s easy to see why liberals in positions of authority capitulate to these tirades from left-wing students, whereas if they were coming from the right, they would not tolerate it for a second. Liberals, especially those in power, may feel guilty about their privilege,” and feel that they are not sufficiently committed to the causes of racial justice, gay rights, feminism, and so forth. The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.”

Rod Dreher, Our Coming War Of Religion

This is a powerful and disturbing synthesis by Dreher, made more disturbing by arriving in my RSS feed concurrently with a Pew Research survey of America’s religious affiliations and attendance.

October 18, 2019

Salt the earth for good measure

I’m glad Rod Dreher summarized his item, because I was having trouble sorting out the horrifying details:

[The thrice-married] Paula White-Cain is not an Evangelical. She’s a Pentecostal Word of Faith preacher. That means something. But she has been endorsed by all these leading Trump Evangelicals. It can’t be because they agree with her theologically. It has to be because she’s on their side politically. Here she is praising a convicted felon TV evangelist as a forerunner,” then raising money for his latest grift, and these Evangelical leaders are all on board with her. Why?

This is decadence.

It’s times like this when I must remember Wheaton Academy and Wheaton College and the important (if very flawed) part Evangelicalism-at-its-best has played in my life. Otherwise, I’d be tempted to say Knock it down. Put it to the torch. Salt the earth for good measure.”

October 18, 2019

Biden’s got to do better than this

With Mr. Trump’s decision to pull American troops away from the Syrian Kurds, he opened one of the most significant political vulnerabilities of his presidency. It was an opportunity for Mr. Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to show some foreign-policy smarts and president-like leadership. Instead we got this:

What I would do is I would be making it real clear to Assad that, in fact, where he’s going to have a problem—because Turkey is the real problem here. And I would be having a real lockdown conversation with Erdogan and letting him know that he’s going to pay a heavy price for what he has done now. Pay that price.

It fell to Pete Buttigieg, the mayor from South Bend, to produce the night’s most stinging critique of President Trump: What we were doing in Syria was keeping our word. Part of what makes it possible for the United States to get people to put their lives on the line to back us up is the idea that we will back them up, too.” That was good. Joe Biden somehow couldn’t figure out how to say anything like it.

Daniel Henninger, Joe Biden isn’t going to make it

October 18, 2019

Cunning Revolutionaries

A passionate tumultuous age will overthrow everything, pull everything down; but a revolutionary age which is, at the same time, reflective and passionless, leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance.

Attributed to Soren Kierkegaard, via Peter Hitchens. More:

This modern and enlightened new regime, the very reign of reason, couldn’t care less about the Resurrection, and doesn’t believe in it. Yet it thinks the law should take the side of a six-foot bearded man who wants to be called Madam” against someone who thinks this is silly.

And all this happens under a government which refers to itself as Conservative.” Expect no action from them. If you are surprised, in such a country, that a Conservative” government is no such thing, then you have much to learn about modern England.

October 17, 2019

Snappy Rejoinder

Black Letters Matter!

Response to a story about Red-Letter Christians,” a floundering Christian Left movement that purports to prioritize Christ’s words (over the rest of Scripture).

The message of Red-Letter Christians” is an unusually brazen cherry-picking coupled with tacit denial of biblical plenary verbal inspiration” in the usual Evangelical sense.

October 17, 2019

Short lists

There’s pressure on the Left for Democrat hopefuls to publicize their Judicial short lists” like Trump did. Considering that the buzz favors mostly activist non-judges, ignoring even Obama’s liberal nominees as candidates for elevation, that would be clarifying.

I’d be grateful for the clarity. I’d regret how that clarity would scare voters and boost Trump.

October 17, 2019

Spoiler headlines

Rural Voters’ Pride and the Left’s Prejudice

Progressives say the poor go against their interests’ but don’t mind when the rich favor high taxes.

By Crispin Sartwell

Add to ledes that almost make reading the story anti-climactic.” But Sartwell’s climax is pretty good:

It would be a mark of rudimentary respect for the people you’re purportedly trying to help to ask them how they define their own interests. If you won’t be doing that, at all, that’s exactly the reason these rural people tend to resent people like you.

October 17, 2019

Sparring spinmeisters

David Leonhardt, a relative moderate among the leftists at the New York Times opinion pages, recently expressed a view held by many elected Democrats when he wrote that the country has reached the point where once-unthinkable solutions are worth debating.” Added the Timesman:

I don’t like the idea of court packing, which I think could lead to never-ending escalation between the parties and the potential breakdown of the judicial system. But I also find the status quo unacceptable: A court majority of dubious democratic legitimacy that sometimes acts as a kind of partisan super legislature…

And remember: Every 5-4 decision that breaks along partisan lines likely would have gone the other way if Senate Republicans hadn’t stolen a seat from Obama.

By stolen,” Mr. Leonhardt means that in the appropriate exercise of its constitutional role in 2016, the Senate did not consent to President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

And of course Mr. Leonhardt’s smear goes much further, as he called the entire majority of the Supreme Court of dubious democratic legitimacy.” Here’s his argument:

Four of the nine current Supreme Court justices have been named by presidents who took office despite losing the popular vote.

Two of those four justices were named by a president whose victory was clinched when the Supreme Court ordered a halt to vote counting.

He’s talking about Justices who were appointed by duly-elected Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump —and then confirmed by the Senate. To make his argument, the Times columnist appears to be clinging to Constitutionally irrelevant nationwide popular vote totals to denigrate winning campaigns by Messrs. Bush and Trump.

It’s corrosive enough for our politics when partisans refuse to accept the legitimate results of elections. But the Leonhardt critique is also highly misleading.

It’s true that George W. Bush won the Electoral College vote and therefore the Presidency in 2000. It’s true that in 2000 he received fewer votes nationwide than his opponent. It’s also true that in 2000 the Supreme Court ruled that a Democratic effort to apply different vote-counting standards in different parts of Florida was not constitutional, which allowed the Florida secretary of state’s certification of a Bush victory to stand.

But the two Bush appointees whom Mr. Leonhardt seeks to smear were appointed in 2005, a year after Mr. Bush had won re-election ….

James Freeman.

On the question of the 2000 stolen election,” Freeman wins by a knock-out. The stolen seat … from Obama” is a closer call, but I’d bet a modest amount that Democrats will similarly steal” a seat if they get the chance — which makes me think precedent-shattering” is more apt than stealing.”

And if you read Leonhardt’s column, you’ll find it more balanced than Freeman lets on.

October 17, 2019

Lessons from Judas Maccabeus

Some of the lessons of I Macabees are potentially relevant to North American Christians today.

October 17, 2019


The leaders of many European countries are childless. Not since Oxford and Cambridge required celibacy of their dons has the university culture of the West been so dominated by childless professors. The same is true for the professions. In 1965, the ideal IBM employee was a married man with children. He was thought to be reliable and hungry for advancement. Today, the ideal Google employee is a single person without children, someone who is flexible” and creative.” The growing percentage of childless adults, especially at the higher reaches of society, is sure to have profound cultural and political consequences.

R.R. Reno

October 16, 2019

She has a point

The U.S. Department of Education issued a letter requiring the Duke University and University of North Carolina joint program in Middle Eastern Studies to make curricular changes. The program receives special federal funding under Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965, a provision meant to expand offerings in foreign languages and international studies. The purpose was to educate specialists in non-European cultures who could staff the State Department and other government and non-government agencies that play roles in advancing America’s international interests. The department’s letter questioned whether a conference on love and desire in Modern Iran” and a course focusing on unconscious bias” and advocacy for LGBT youth in schools met the criteria of Title VI. Overall, the department judged the program to have a startling lack of focus on geography, geopolitical issues, history, and language.”

Anyone with a passing knowledge of higher education can recognize the phenomenon. Programs in the humanities and social sciences have been taken over by faculty who teach political advocacy. It seems the Duke-UNC Middle Eastern Studies program has followed this pattern. Some howl academic freedom.” But this is a red ­herring. Of course, Duke and UNC are free to hire as many one-sided ideologues as they wish. But there’s nothing in the Constitution that requires the American taxpayer to ­subsidize them.

R.R. Reno

My reaction after the first sentence was anger at Secretary DeVos and the Administration for pulling the kind of high-handed crap Team Obama pulled all the time, but a full reading persuades me that she has a point.

October 16, 2019


96% of the 5,577 biologists who responded to me affirmed the view that a human life begins at fertilization

Of course, that’s not the end of Steve Jacobs’ story.

October 16, 2019

Parsimonious” illustrated

[G]uess how much Mr. and Mrs. Beto O’Rourke donated to charity this year? A whopping $1,166, or about 0.3 percent of their income … If the poor are depending on liberal Catholic Beto O’Rourke for charitable contributions, they’re going to go hungry.

Rod Dreher

October 16, 2019

Describing an arc

First, William Barr gives a fairly anodyne speech at Notre Dame Law School on the tried-and-true theme (as far back as the Framers) that our free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people …” and pundits (Paul Krugman for instance) lost it — in condemnation or in praise (the speech really was nothing special).

Now Mike Pompeo gives a speech about being a Christian leader to a group of Christian counselors and is met with criticism that it potentially violates the principle of separation of church and state enshrined in the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.” I care neither for Pompeo’s evangelical Presbyterianism nor his foreign policy, but the objection is more anodyne than Barr’s speech and approximately a tenth as intelligent.

No. A Christian official talking about his faith does not establish a religion. Period. Full stop. I do find it curious, though, that godless Trump’s inner circle is out touting Christianity at this fraught juncture.

As I recall, you need three points to define an arc. Will there be a third?

October 16, 2019

Beto, an otherwise unemployable moron

Now, when I hear the words otherwise unemployable morons,” I think of Robert Francis O’Rourke and his sad little presidential campaign, which suffered a little setback on Tuesday night when the gentleman who advertises himself as Beto” tried out some tough-guy shtick on Pete Buttigieg, who is, whatever else you can say about him, a veteran of the Afghanistan campaign, one who rightly pointed out that he doesn’t have to prove his courage” to the idiot son of a well-connected El Paso political family who has done almost nothing with his life …

You’ll notice a pattern emerging here. When O’Rourke encounters something that makes him uncomfortable, his instinct is always the same: Send federal agents to stick guns in somebody’s face until he gets his way. (And if you think the IRS is something other than a gun in your face, try declining to pay your taxes for a few years.)

O’Rourke’s politics — and the politics of the Left more generally — are increasingly totalitarian. Totalitarian” is not only a scary-sounding adjective. It is a word that actually means something, and what it describes is a theory of government that recognizes no sphere of truly private life, no life outside the state — one that sees the scope of the state as total, hence the term.

Totalitarianism is in fashion on the Left ….

Kevin D. Williamson, who seems to have developed a particular contempt for Beto.

October 16, 2019

Theocracy today

We have seen the law used aggressively to force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith. . . . This reminds me of how some Roman emperors could not leave their loyal Christian subjects in peace but would mandate that they violate their conscience by offering religious sacrifice to the emperor as a God. . . .

Militant secularists today do not have a live-and-let-live spirit—they are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience. . . . Thus, for example, New Jersey, recently passed a law requiring public schools to adopt an LGBT curriculum that many feel is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching. . . . And the Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that parents who disagree with the instructional materials related to gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation may not excuse their children from this instruction.”

Attorney General William Barr at Notre Dame Law School

Some idiots, with no sense of irony, call Barr’s talk as endorsement of theocracy.

October 15, 2019

R.I.P. Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom, Critic Who Championed Western Canon, Dies at 89.

He was a giant. 9 inches from my left elbow as type is The Best Poems of the English Language from Chaucer through Robert Frost, selected and with commentary by Harold Bloom.

But I confess that I conflated him with Allan (Closing of the American Mind) Bloom in my initial reaction, too. This Bloom was controversial for arguing the superiority of superior literatures, which we’re not supposed to do any more.

October 15, 2019

David Von Drehle

Such succinctness illustrates how professional writers differ from me.

[W]hen a tangled skein of forces — technical, scientific, economic and cultural — transformed Western societies from primarily rural to urban and agrarian to industrial, every walk of life was altered. Revolutions erupted around the world. Wars were waged among dying monarchies. A person could spend a career trying to explain it all, but the typical populist boiled it down to a problem of railroad barons and Jews.

October 14, 2019

Delusional, vindictive, absurd

Bobby Jindal’s immiserating governce of Louisiana tarnished his image as the conservatives’ Great Brown Hope. But he continues occasional punditry, and here makes a point you don’t have to be a certified policy geek to appreciate:

The Republican National Committee should offer to be the official sponsor of a weekly Democratic presidential debate. There would be no better advertisement for President Trump’s re-election. Every time the Democratic presidential contenders gather together, it’s a contest between the merely delusional, the vaguely vindictive and the patently absurd.

Even my sentimental favorite, Tulsi Gabbard, is starting to look like the Hare Krishna’s Manchurian Candidate, albeit due to off-stage poking around by reporters or opposition researchers.

October 14, 2019

See how you like this

Perhaps it requires someone who is gay to say this, but there are times when such news’ reporting doesn’t feel like news reporting at all. Rather it seems that some type of message is being sent out either to the public or to people whom the media believe to be in positions of power. This goes beyond This will be good for you” and nearer to the realm of See how you like this, bigot.”

From Homophobia to Anti-Bigotry: How Did Christians Become the New Pariahs?

Yes, perhaps that’s who it requires, but it’s true.

October 13, 2019

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