Sunday, December 31, 2006


The lawsuit centered on the Mt. Soledad cross will complete its 18th year in May without its initial litigant, Philip Paulson, who passed away in 2006. A great deal of time and passion has been expended on that suit (and on others) to make sure that religious expression is quarantined in a way that applies to no other set of ideas.

The pretext for this policy is recent, dating from around 1970. According to the “living document” school of constitutional interpretation, “establish­ment of religion” no longer means what it clearly meant in 1791—i.e. a government funded institution like the Church of England. Instead, it means any “excessive entanglement” of government with things religious.

“Excessive” entanglement was later revised to mean any government-affiliated religious expression whatsoever, including invocations at high school graduations, Christmas nativity scenes, and, according to some 9th Circuit judges, the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Indeed, our black-robed betters have decreed that the only religious trappings of our heritage that are “constitutionally” permitted are those with no religious significance. That is, as long as no one takes “In God We Trust” seriously, it can remain on our currency.

I doubt that this fingers-crossed jurisprudence is more than a way station to a religionless public square where the only exceptions are existing monuments that bear witness to a time when the Constitution wasn’t wax in the hands of secular sculptors.

It’s ironic that advocates of church-state separation (more accurately, religion-state separation) appeal regularly to Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists—as if that missive were scripture. Jefferson, after all, was a vocal opponent of what is today called “judicial activism.” And our third president issued frequent warnings about the Constitution becoming a mere scrap of paper subject to legal deconstruction.

Moreover, Jefferson was a strong advocate of limited government who would be appalled at the size and scope of the public sector today. Nowadays, government at all levels affects almost every segment of life—directly controlling about 35% of the nation’s GDP and indirectly leveraging (via loan and other programs) another chunk of our culture.

Were governments the size they were at the start of the 20th century, the religious cleansing of the public square would have “only” a symbolic impact. But since government, in accord with socialist inclinations, insinuates itself into vast areas of public life, the reinterpretation of the first amendment has had far-reaching consequences—functioning like a secular sieve to transform the dollars of God-fearing taxpayers into greenbacks that promote ever-expanding “god-free” zones. In these areas, ideas that presuppose a godless universe are regarded as “neutral” expressions of free speech not subject to the special restrictions put on religion.

Even an unorthodox theist like Jefferson would find such judicial-sponsored gag rules more odious than the reasonable reflection of religious belief in a government designed to represent those same individuals. At present, a largely religious nation must pay tribute to the “gods” of secularism while courts declare that this shell game is demanded by a “living” Constitution.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Who is Professor Ron Karenga? Karenga is the inventor of Kwanzaa—the tradition begun in 1966 that is now given respectful deference by educators and P.C. mediacrats. Part of the puffing up of Kwanzaa involves strict inattention to the biography of its creator—a man who not only boasts two Ph.D.s (one from the former U. S. International University) but who also spent four years in prison.

Details of alleged criminal acts are available under Karenga’s name in David Horowitz’s alphabetically arranged book, The Professors. Here’s a sample: “The victims Deborah Jones and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothing.” Other allegations, apparently convincing to jurors, involved putting a hot soldering iron in Davis’ mouth, tightening a vise on one of Jones’ toes, and holding the two women hostage at gunpoint.

The professor and his two “United Slaves” cohorts (an organization also founded by Karenga in the 60s) were convicted of felonious assault and false imprisonment. Karenga was sentenced to prison in September of 1971, and released in 1975. Shortly thereafter Karenga secured a faculty position at San Diego State University. (Horowitz notes, “Apparently a nationwide search for applicants was unable to turn up a better candidate.”)

In 1977, now at Cal State Long Beach, Karenga explained that Kwanzaa serves as an alternative to Christian, Jewish, and Muslim holiday traditions. He also wrote extensively about its seven principles: unity (umoja), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purposeful development of one’s people (nia), group autonomy (kujichagulia), communal creativity (kuumba), and faith in one’s people, parents, and teachers (imani). (Ann Coulter rudely noted that these seven principles are the same collectivist beliefs touted by the Symbionese Liberation Army—the 70s terrorist group that kidnapped Patty Hearst.)

Karenga has kept out of legal trouble since 1975. Indeed, in 1989 he became head of the Black Studies Department at Cal State Long Beach, making good on the Swahili title "Maulana" (Master Teacher) that he bestowed upon himself in the 60s. (Only in America’s university system can one go from prison to department head in less than fifteen years.) Nowadays, Karenga’s comments in support of Cuban Internationalism and against the “state terrorism” and “mass murder” perpetrated by “the U. S. and its allies” make him a team player in the academy.

With the mainstreaming of Kwanzaa, Karenga has toned down the separatist, anti-religious rhetoric that he employed when touting the “sevenfold path of blackness”—“think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black.” Indeed, Karenga now denies that Kwanzaa was created “to give a Black alternative to the existing holiday”—though those very words appear in his earlier writings.

What is clear is that Kwanzaa didn’t originate in any authentic African tradition or in ideas that transcend racial solidarity—ideas like “Peace on earth. Good will toward men.”

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Prof. Rodney Stark on Evolution and the Origin of Species

Here's an article from The American Enterprise, September, 2004, that deals with the issues adumbrated in my review of Dawkins' book. An addendum by Freeman Dyson (in the TAE article) provides an intellectual dessert.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


“Sublimely non-tendentious,” that’s the phrase I’ve always attributed to Alfred North Whitehead—a man who began his career as a Cambridge mathematician collaborating with Bertrand Russell and ended that career as a Harvard philosopher and metaphysician. Two things you can count on when reading Whitehead. First, he will look at the big picture. Second, he will generously give to all historical players the credit due to them. I make these points to contrast Whitehead’s modus operandi with the scattershot pettiness that pervades Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.

Here’s a sample taken from Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World—a stunningly insightful text based on the Lowell Lectures of 1925: “The Reformation and the scientific movement were two aspects of the [historical] revolt which was the dominant intellectual movement of the later Renaissance. The appeal to the origins of Christianity, and Francis Bacon’s appeal to efficient causes as against final causes, were two sides of one movement of thought.”

And again: “I do not think…that I have even yet brought out the greatest contribution of medievalism to the formation of the scientific movement. I mean the inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief the incredible labours of scientists would be without hope…. My explanation is that the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivation from medieval theology.”

To simplify, both the Reformation and modern science arose out of a “movement of thought” that, in the case of science, rebelled against final causes. Yet, ironically, the confidence that modern science displays in its intellectual project rests upon an unconscious faith in the universe’s detailed rationality that was derived from medieval theology.

Don’t look for anything like this kind of subtle analysis in The God Delusion. What you’ll find, instead, is page after sarcastic page of attacks against any foe Dawkins considers an easy target: Pat Robertson, Pastor Ted Haggard, Ann Coulter, a small fundamentalist school in Northeast England (to which 7 of Dawkins’ 374 pages are devoted), Pastor Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps, Dr. James Dobson, and, of course, G. W. Bush—who supposedly invaded Iraq because he was told to do so by God. Even poor Carl Jung is made into a kook by Dawkins for believing “that particular books on his shelf spontaneously exploded.” (I’ve read a number of works written by Freud’s unfaithful protégé and have yet to encounter the concept of spontaneous book combustion. Dawkins, however, as with the comment about President Bush and Iraq, doesn’t bother to provide references for these claims.)

When it comes to magnanimity, here’s a sample of the author’s generosity: “To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird.” This comment shows the contempt Dawkins consistently displays for ideas that don’t conform to his own—a bio-creed that includes the following affirmations: life emerged on earth due to random interactions of material elements; life evolved from its primitive forms to its current complexity because of natural selection; no god is needed to make sense of these (or any other) phenomena.

In truth, Dawkins’ entire book is an exercise in contempt—summarily dismissing Thomas Aquinas’ theological arguments and devoting less than 100 breezy pages to the whole issue of God’s existence. The rest of Dawkins’ book discusses—with the jaundiced eye of an H. L. Mencken in biological drag—how religious beliefs are given undue social deference, why Einstein’s references to God aren’t religious, why eastern religions aren’t religions, why religion developed (socio-biologically), how the Bible is a jumble of historical trash, how religion promotes intolerance and undermines science, how Hitler may have been Catholic, why Stalin’s atheism doesn’t matter, why society doesn’t need religion to be moral, why Jefferson was probably an atheist (the non-mentioned God-statements on the Jefferson Memorial to the contrary notwithstanding), why studying religion to understand literary references is ok, and why parents indoctrinating their children with religious beliefs should be viewed as child abuse. (The depth of Dawkins’ political thought is shown by his failure to ponder for one second the implica­tions of a government that can tell parents what beliefs they can and cannot transmit to their offspring.)

Far from being a serious philosophical book, this ill-edited and garrulous diatribe contains just about anything that crosses the author’s mind—including numerous quotes from that popular author, atheist, and graduate student, Sam Harris. What one won’t find in The God Delusion is serious curiosity about the essential nature of the universe. The billions upon billions of stars and galaxies that Carl Sagan invoked with semi-mystical awe, become, for Dawkins, a mere premise for his theoretical conceit that random interactions could have produced the phenomenon of life on earth. (With so many planets, it had to have happened somewhere!) Never mind the fact that scientists endowed with that mysterious chemical characteristic known as consciousness can’t, with purposeful intent, replicate that vital accident. And never mind that scientists like DNA-theorist Francis Crick were so baffled by the complexity of early life forms that they toyed with a panspermia hypothesis according to which space aliens brought life-seeds to earth. And finally, never mind the embarrassing fossil-record confession by the late Harvard biologist, Stephen Jay Gould, that “most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth” and that in any local area, “a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.’”

Dawkins’ treatment of that mathematical genius and 17th century philosopher, Blaise Pascal, is typical of his general approach. Dawkins seizes on Pascal’s weakest argument, the wager, and ridicules its obvious flaws. Ignored are the well-known passages that ground Pascal’s (oft-wavering) faith in the inadequacy of the human mind to deal with the enormity of the universe—both the infinitely large and the infinitely small. In Pascal’s words, “The whole visible world is only an imperceptible atom in the ample bosom of nature. No idea approaches it. We may enlarge our conceptions beyond all imaginable space; we only produce atoms in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere. In short, it is the greatest sensible mark of the almighty power of God that imagination loses itself in that thought.”

Had Dawkins bothered to cite this assertion, he would doubtless have countered it with replies that recur throughout his book. First, the awe that Pascal discusses has nothing to do with religion. Rather, it’s the kind of atheistic wonder that’s typical in scientists like Einstein. Second, this “God of the gaps” argument simply fills in the blanks of our ignorance with a destructive, curiosity-impeding concept. Third—and this is Dawkins’ favorite argument—the complexity of a God who created the world requires explanation. Put simply: Who made God?

Worshipful humility in the face of mind-boggling (possibly parallel) universes is an emotion foreign to Dawkins—though the academic pugilist does admit to feeling very lucky. As for the “Who made God?” argument, this retort (convincing to any skeptical freshman who hasn’t read Aristotle or Kant) ignores the fact that philosophical explanations, as Wittgenstein and others have noted, have to end somewhere. The real question is whether one’s explanation terminates with a meaningless cosmos or with a being who provides a reason for things. Dawkins, without further ado, assumes that the former alternative is the only rational choice. In this way he gives tacit expression to the point of view that Whitehead criticized some 80 years ago:

“There persists…throughout the whole [modern] period the fixed scientific cosmology which presupposes the ultimate fact of an irreducible brute matter, or material, spread throughout space in a flux of configurations. It itself, such a material is senseless, valueless, purposeless. It just does what it does do, following a fixed routine imposed by external relations which do not spring from the nature of its being. It is this assumption that I call ‘scientific materialism.’ Also, it is an assumption which I shall challenge as being entirely unsuited to the scientific situation at which we have now arrived.”

Whitehead continues, displaying the non-tendentiousness to which I previously referred, “It [scientific materialism] is not wrong, if properly construed. If we confine ourselves to certain types of facts, abstracted from the complete circumstances in which they occur, the materialistic assumption expresses these facts to perfection. But when we pass beyond the abstraction, either by more subtle employment of our senses, or by the request for meanings and for coherence of thoughts, the scheme breaks down at once.”

In other words, once we look for a rational ground for complex development, self-consciousness, aesthetics, morality, and the universe itself, Dawkins’ brute facts (which in the world of quantum physics are neither brutish nor facts) look extremely lame. This lameness, I should add, comports nicely with the pleasure-based ethical system to which Dawkins appeals with no particular rigor.

Overall, Dawkins’ “philosophy” amounts to little more than this unintentionally humorous observation by Dr. Edward Tryon that was quoted in a Time-Life book on cosmology, “Our universe is simply one of those things that happens from time to time.” That’s reason according to Dawkins—a man whose cultural and philosophical observations are predictably au courant, consistently dogmatic, and largely unreflective. He is the un-Whitehead, a man who will never (barring divine intervention) appreciate this sublime comment by my philosophical mentor: “In the study of ideas, it is necessary to remember that insistence on hard-headed clarity issues from sentimental feeling, as it were a mist, cloaking the perplexities of fact. Insistence on clarity at all costs is based on sheer superstition as to the mode in which human intelligence functions. Our reasonings grasp at straws for premises and float on gossamers for deductions.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


37% of all children born in the United States are “illegitimate.” I use the now-banished term to emphasize the coincidence of our kinder, gentler linguistic habits and the devastating increase in “out-of-wedlock” births.

In 2005, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 1.5 million of the 4.1 million births in this country were to unmarried women—most in their 20s. Fifty years ago, when “illegitimacy” still existed as a social stigma, the number of children born without the benefit of married parents was about 5%. Apparently the progressive policy of social sensitivity hasn’t been a boon to those children for whom it was supposedly instituted.

Despite the rationalizations of 60s and 70s sociologists, it eventually became clear that what ails most children with one parent isn’t a social stigma, but rather the fact that they have only one parent—usually a mom. Unfortunately, our post-Murphy Brown society now casually accepts even the actions of terminally selfish women who deliberately deprive their children of a father—just as it casually ignores the consequences.

One study, for example, found that 90% of the rise in violent crime between 1973 and 1995 could be related to out-of-wedlock births. Another found that cohabitation is 10 times more prevalent now than in 1980, and that kids in these homes are twice as likely to see mom and dad split up than children whose parents have that “meaningless scrap of paper”—a marriage certificate. Indeed, fewer than half of cohabiting couples stay together more than five years—the typical duration being 18 months. Most depressingly, kids in these “test drive families” are vastly more likely to be abused. (See data at and at

As these statistics show, the destigmatizing of America has coincided with the demoralization of America. Indeed, one has to tune in Dr. Laura to get a taste of the phrases most folks would have employed fifty years ago—“shack-up honey,” “unpaid whore,” and “do it for the kids.” (The last statement is perhaps the one that’s most despised today.)

It isn’t unusual for irresponsibility and selfishness to parade around in respectable linguistic garments. I’m confident that most of the effort to destigmatize illegitimacy arose not from a deep concern for the welfare of children but rather from an unstated desire to normalize promiscuity. The latter goal was quickly accomplished by substituting the term “sexually active” for the p-word and by illustrating, ad nauseam, the pain-free joys of extramarital sex on the boob tube.

No more does our tolerant culture make individuals feel bad about doing bad things. We’re more “mature” than our judgmental grandparents. Ignored is the other side of the equation—including the millions of unlucky kids whose egg- and sperm-donors take parenthood less seriously than driving an automobile. The latter activity, at least, requires a license.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


James Joyce once remarked that Rome reminded him of a man who made his living “by exhibiting to travelers his grandmother’s corpse.” It strikes me that this observation applies more aptly to the commercial exploitation of President Kennedy’s assassination. After more than four decades, no scrap of evidence is immune from being dislodged, mutilated, and reconstructed so as to fit more securely into the imaginative web of an aspiring conspiracy theorist.

Did Oswald act alone? Was there a gunman on the grassy knoll? Did the doctors at Parkland Hospital alter their autopsy report? Was Kennedy’s body transferred to another coffin? Was the assassination a military coup d’etet “with Lyndon Johnson waiting in the wings”?

This last theory—concocted by Oliver Stone for the movie JFK—surpasses all previous efforts in combining ideological rigidity, factual manipulation, and commercial exploitation. The truthfulness of this assessment is open to any reader willing to peruse the writings of lawyer David Belin (Final Disclosure), writer Gerald Posner (Case Closed), and Brandeis Professor Jacob Cohen (“Yes, Oswald Alone Killed Kennedy,” June, 1992, Commentary).

The sad fact is that the dead president has entered the marketplace as a salable item. His death is not a question of historical interest but an exploitable commodity that may be packaged with impunity. Is it really a desire to get at the truth that motivates the never-ending publication of conspiracy books and the periodic production of television specials commemorating that fateful November day?

Why—if the media are really interested in the truth—are most Americans ignorant of even rudimentary facts about the case? When, for example, can you remember any prominent member of the Fourth Estate mentioning these critical facts: Oswald worked at the book depository; eyewitnesses actually saw someone shoot at the motorcade from the sixth floor of the building; a witness 110 feet from the window provided police a description that fit Oswald quite well; no one else was with Oswald at the time of the shooting; most aural witnesses heard three shots; Oswald brought some “curtain rods” wrapped in brown paper to work with him that morning; that brown paper, three cartridge cases, and a recently fired rifle were all found on the sixth floor of the depository; this rifle had been mail-ordered by Oswald a few months earlier; Oswald alone left the building after the assassination and later murdered a police officer in front of several eyewitness; Oswald kept an “Historic Diary” that made clear his radical political views and mental instability.

I could go on and on. I mention only a few highlights from the mountain of evidence that convinced three government committees that Oswald alone killed the president. The sad conclusion to which I must come is that most people involved in the mass dissemination of information are not really interested in these facts. They want an angle.

In George Orwell’s 1984, the Ministry of Information constantly rewrote history to fit the party’s ideological requirements. Our reality is more crass. History today has become a victim of the marketplace. Truth and decency are the casualties. In such a society, lusting for scandal, some people are obviously slain in perpetuity.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The third annual Liberty Film Festival opened Friday, November 10, with a minor galaxy of Hollywood conservatives in attendance. Comedy producer David Zucker and 24’s Joel Surnow began the festivities with an hilarious screening of a pilot that may actually become the right-wing alternative to The Daily Show. In this slick Oval Office skit, the deficit-size laughs attending President Rush Limbaugh were only topped at the entrance of Vice-President Ann Coulter. If the pilot is picked up, it would constitute a huge comedic counterattack in the media wars.

Following this opening, festival directors Jason Apuzzo and Govindini Murry noted that LFF was now sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center and that together they constitute “the premier conservative film and cultural organization in America.” Some weeks ago Apuzzo gave substance to that impressive description by distributing early copies of Cyrus Nowrasteh’s The Path to 9/11 to conservative talk radio hosts—a move that allowed them to preempt and counter leftist demands of ABC to pull or heavily edit the film. Bill Clinton’s Fox-News meltdown and Madeline Albright’s recent disappearing act are evidence for the success of Apuzzo’s strategy and for the impact achieved by films that are seen by millions of people.

In tribute to ABC’s refusal to crack under withering political pressure, the Liberty Film Festival presented a Freedom of Expression Award to the production team of The Path to 9/11—the honors being done by Frank Price, former Chairman of both Columbia and Universal Pictures. Nowrasteh, who was present to accept the award, noted in an interview with Human Events that, because of his work on The Path to 9/11 the Los Angeles Times had done hit pieces on him and that defamatory misinformation about him had even been disseminated on Wikipedia. The two-time Pen Award winner downplayed, however, possible threats to his life—which in view of his Iranian heritage and Muslim roots, can’t be taken lightly.

Opening night also saw the screening of the documentary that won the LFF award for best feature film—Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration. Co-produced by Kevin Knoblock and David Bossie (the same duo that collaborated on Celsius 41.11) this documentary approaches the border issue by focusing on, in Knoblock’s words, “interesting characters.” While the film covers aspects of the immigration debate one would never see on PBS, it doesn’t provide any easy answers. In interviews, both Bossie and director Knoblock concurred on that score.

Compared to Knoblock, Bossie is the new kid on the block. The former Watergate investigator and Congressional aide has a handful of documentaries under his belt, including another festival entry, ACLU: At War With America. As this title shows, Bossie isn’t afraid to deliver a very unnuanced conservative message. That approach shouldn’t change with his next subject—Hillary Clinton. Assisting in that effort will be the man who ranks as the Clintons’ most prominent nemesis—Dick Morris.

Also in attendance at the festival, which had over 3,500 admissions, was producer-director Pierre Rehov, whose From the River to the Sea won honors for best film under 60 minutes. This documentary focuses on Palestinian refugees whose obsession with a “right of return” has been exploited both by Arab governments and by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Rehov’s other festival film, Suicide Killers, provides chilling footage of “martyrs” in training and of the proud mothers of suicide bombers.

Rehov, a French-Algerian Jew, told Human Events he didn’t feel threatened while making these documentaries since he was viewed as French. He also offered the opinion that “love” (as distorted by a sexually repressive society) is the ultimate motivation for suicide bombers. Given this belief, most conservatives won’t be sorry to learn that Rehov describes himself as an “independent.” Nor will they be surprised by the slew of psychoanalytic explanations in his films.

The festival award for best film under 30 minutes went to Cynthia Graner’s The Manual, a story that devotes loving visual attention to military funeral rites and to the notification procedure for soldiers killed in action. Like another festival film, Rex Pratt’s Between Iraq & A Hard Place, this work focuses on the psychological vulnerabilities of men in uniform rather than on courage and dedication to noble ideals.

Another media luminary, Michael Medved, moderated a Sunday panel discussion on “Hollywood, Israel, and the Middle-East” that included Frank Price, David Zucker, and the Emmy award winning screewriter Robert Avrech. In a subsequent interview, Medved was eager to slam Pat Buchanan as “a disgrace”—in spite of the fact that he “personally like(s) Pat.” Medved also called Michael Savage a “phony,” citing as evidence the latter’s political contributions to now California Attorney-General elect, Jerry Brown. Neither Buchanan nor Savage attended the festival.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Two things set Mark Steyn apart from dystopian naysayers like Paul Ehrlich and Al Gore. First, Steyn is an irrepressible bon vivant—an odd trait in a journalist touting “the end of the world as we know it.” Linguistically, no turn of phrase is too banal, risqué, or obscure to be included in Steyn’s repertoire of fin de siecle ripostes. If Western civilization is going down the tubes, Steyn will at least get in a few bon vins, bonbons, and bon mots before the Eiffel Tower becomes the world’s most prominent minaret.

Second, Steyn has a drawer-full of hard data at his disposal—not cherry-picked computer models whose calculations are amazingly dependent on the speculative formulas fed into them. On an LP sold contemporaneously with Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb, the late comedian Don Adams mimics an incompetent defense attorney who protests how easy it is for the prosecutor to accuse his client of murder. After all, “He’s got proof. All I have are trickery and deceit.” Ehrlich and Gore may have imaginary numbers up their sleeves, but like the comic’s legal adversary, Steyn has a briefcase of persuasive exhibits: moribund European birth rates, unsustainable social welfare systems, growing Muslim immigration, high Muslim birth rates, the murder of Theo van Gogh, deadly bombings in London and Madrid, the nightly torching of Renaults and Citroens by French “youths,” craven acts of multi-culti cowardice in the face of sharia demands, and a future-be-damned philosophy that coincides perfectly with plunging birth rates.

For Europe, Steyn notes, this is “The Gelded Age”—with Spanish women reproducing at a rate that will halve the nation’s population in a generation or so. Almost as dire, demographically, is the 1.3 births per woman ratio that prevails in Greece—a figure that belies the image of fecundity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Indeed, it seems that uptight red-state Protestants are doing a better job of being fruitful than Italians who, if current trends continue, will live in a nation where 60 percent of them “have no brothers, no sisters, no cousins, no aunts, (and) no uncles.” Dinner tables filled with pasta and relatives will be replaced by pizza for one.

This population bust spells disaster for Ponzi-shaped welfare schemes that depend on young bodies to support generational transfers to oldsters who neglected the primary task of regeneration. Greece’s pension liabilities, for example, are projected to reach 25% of GDP by 2040. More immigration from people-rich Muslim nations is the clear “solution” to this demographic vacuum—a solution that’s already altered the habits of women in Amsterdam and London who “cover up” to avoid jeers in increasingly Muslim neighborhoods. Such examples show how, in Western Europe, assimilation has come to mean (as Kofi Annan implied when commenting on the Danish cartoon violence) a nation adjusting its ways to accommodate new arrivals.

Steyn’s term, “Eurabia,” suggests the future he foresees for a continent flirting with a “demographic death spiral” and brooding in the lounge of that “old ennui.” Rotterdam, where the Muslim population is 40%, may presage the shape of things by 2050—or sooner if “white-flight” out of “Eutopia” accelerates. In such an environment, “Pre-modern Islam beats post-modern Christianity.” Put more dramatically, it’s unlikely that “Pornistan” will peacefully co-exist with “the Islamic Republic of Holland.” And in the struggle between those two, the strong horse doesn’t belong to those who take pride in the fact that they aren’t prepared to die for anything.

To fend off charges of Islamophobia, Steyn issues periodic caveats that acknowledge what “of course” everyone knows—that most Muslims aren’t Wahhabists, that many have assimilated to Western ways, and that not every baby named Mohammad (the most popular boy’s name in Belgium) is destined to strap explosives to his chest and blow up a Brussels bus. Still, the author makes a convincing case that neither demographics nor cultural clout favor the continued existence of Europe as we know it. In the meantime, Western women in the EU are producing an average of 1.4 children while the Muslim EU rate is 3.5. At least one North African tyrant is on record predicting that the “Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.” The official number of Muslims now living in Europe is 20 million. Colonel Gaddafi’s figure is 50 million. If Muammar isn’t right today, he soon will be.

Unlike native Europeans, the birth rate in the United States is still at replacement level, 2.1—1.85 among whites. And while the nation has its immigration issues, those problems don’t involve large percentages of Muslims or the gradual introduction of sharia. Still, many Europhiles find the continent’s dance-macabre enchanting. And, like elites on the other side of the pond, these blue-state sophisticates despise their “self-righteous, gun-totin’, military-lovin’, sister-marryin’, abortion-hatin’, gay-loathin’, non-passport ownin’” redneck cousins. Steyn observes, however, that these pejoratives can be translated more positively as “culturally confident, self-reliant, patriotic, procreative, [and] religious.” And judging from census figures, such traits are more productive of a viable culture than the infantilizing statism to which Europeans have become addicted. “Over there” servile selfishness has spawned a continent of non-spawners.

Unfortunately, Steyn laments, the United States hasn’t exported self-reliance and limited government half as well as Terminator movies and Madonna concerts. If it had, some viable national partners would be standing alongside it. Instead, America subsidized social irresponsibility after World War II by taking upon itself more than the lion’s share of Western Europe’s defense. Simultaneously, America lessened its political influence by puffing up international institutions like the United Nations. This diplomatic courtesy didn’t win America the support of nations to whom it graciously ceded bits and chunks of power. It’s now time, Steyn avers, for the U.S. to speak with a voice commensurate with its strength and to tout its best cultural ideals. If it doesn’t, the only thing the rest of the world will associate with America will be cheeseburgers, tawdry films, and weak knees.

Steyn also devotes attention to two other major nations, Japan and Russia. The former is entering a period of population decline but doesn’t face the identity crisis that arises with mass immigration. Russia, by contrast, appears to be a basket case—with a per woman birth rate of 1.2, a male life span of 59 years, and an abortion rate of 70%. That’s a demographic trifecta whose winners will be the new Islamic countries on Russia’s southern border and (in the Siberian East) China. While China has its own demographic challenges, with 19% more boys than girls, that nation still numbers well over a billion and might provide a pool of frustrated males to rectify the Y-chromosome dearth in (what is now) Russia. The bottom line for Russia is this: “the world’s largest country is dying, and the question is how violent its death throes will be.”

The title of Steyn’s final chapter, The Falling Camel, refers to the weakness that, in an Arab proverb, “attracts many knives.” This maxim is cited to deplore the multicultural rituals regularly performed by Western leaders after terrorist attacks. Instead of these craven antics, what is needed in our civilizational war is “more will.” And the key to victory in that struggle is reforming Islam. This objective, Steyn concedes, is ultimately up to Muslims. America can, however, facilitate change by supporting free Islamic societies, by transforming the energy industry and defunding oil dictatorships, by ending the Iranian regime, and by “strik[ing] militarily when the opportunity presents itself.”

At least two things are unclear about this multi-pronged strategy. First, where will the resolve come from to accomplish these daunting tasks? Second, why should growing, confident Muslim cultures alter their ways based on advice, threats, and bombs from foreigners who aren’t even keen on reproduction? With respect to American fortitude, the most plausible motivator that Steyn notes involves falling European camels. If the knives that appear during their descent don’t open eyes and stiffen backbones, nothing will.

So much for Mr. Bon Vivant.

Monday, October 30, 2006


“The past is a foreign country,” said British author L. P. Hartley, “they do things differently there.” True enough, but I wouldn’t have thought 23 years was long enough to get a time traveler out of state, much less to a different continent.

Twenty three years is the time that separates the censure of the late Democrat Congressman Gerry Studds and the resignation from Congress of Republican Mark Foley. Both cases involved sex scandals with Congressional pages.

In 1983 Studds was censured for having sex with a 17-year-old male page. This particular violation of Congressional decorum, not Washington D.C. law, had occurred ten years earlier. Studds conceded that intercourse with a minor page was “an error in judgment” but insisted that what happens in Congressional bedrooms should stay in those bedrooms.

Not only did Studds continue to serve in Congress (over the objection of Rep. Newt Gingrich), he was also reelected by his Massachusetts constituents—six times. There was no frenzied media demand to know what Speaker Tip O’Neill knew and when he knew it. (Ten years is a long time between indiscretion and punishment.) And there were certainly no serious calls for O’Neill’s resignation.

In 2006 Mark Foley immediately resigned after the outing of his instant message come-ons to pages. No physical relationship between Foley and the pages was alleged. A great hue and cry then ensued over Speaker Dennis Hastert’s oversight of the page program, and numerous calls were made for his resignation.

What happened in the two-plus decades that separated these incidents that accounts for the different responses?

One partisan observer suggested that the nation has become more sensitive about the safety of children in light of 24/7 news-channel stories featuring pedophile priests and on-line predators. If so, those sensitivities still aren’t applied to Representative Studds—who was recently eulogized as the first openly-gay Congressman and was repeatedly returned to office till he retired in 1996.

A more realistic assessment would point to 1994 as the watershed event that separates then and now. In November of that year Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. That historical observation is another way of saying that “politics” is behind the moral indignation that has been expressed in the last six weeks.

I’m sure most folks will be “shocked, shocked!” at the thought of politics taking place on Capitol Hill and in the media. A more important point is that so many politicos now view morality as a mere tool to secure what they really prize—political power. Unfortunately, “realists” who view moral principles this way have nothing but the “will to power” to guide them once they are in office.

That’s a phrase from the past that was popularized by Nietzsche and exhibited in spades by the Third Reich and Stalin.

Friday, October 20, 2006


[Below is an article that was published in a few Southern California newspapers a couple of years ago on Father's Day. The sentiments reflect the priorities emphasized by Dr. Laura.]


“Happy Father’s Day.” It’s a greeting that sends pangs of regret through the guts of millions of American males, a greeting that echoes forlornly in the empty spaces of the heart.

Instead of memories of daily life--meals together, nightly routines, school visits—there stands a punctuated set of visits. A seamless web of association has been transformed into a series of photographs. Disneyland stands in place of, not beside, trips to the dentist. Like fabric with stitching embarrassingly stretched out, the tenuous threads call attention to themselves. Like pictures with no background, recollections of days together become two-dimensional--almost cartoonish in character.

Though “Happy Father’s Day” is a bittersweet greeting for the 15 million men who do not live with the children that bear their own traits, I cannot imagine what those words mean to the substantial fraction of that cohort (up to 50%) who haven’t seen their offspring in the last year. Nor can I conceive what the phrase might mean to the 15% of male divorcees who, according to author and philosopher Christina Sommers, see their progeny only once a year.

What I do know is that the promises that flowed so glibly from the mouths of sixties radicals appear naive and stupid in retrospect. A society where autonomy and self-actualization inevitably lead to happiness has proven to be a cruel mirage masking an emotional desert--a world in which more and more Americans have become, in the chillingly prescient phrase of Alexis de Tocqueville, “shut up in the solitude” of their hearts.

Unfortunately, American pundits seem unwilling to confront this truth. “Ozzie and Harriett” continues to be the derisive epithet employed by elites who refuse to admit the devastation that has been wrought by our reckless pursuit of personal goals. Indeed, a 50% rise in single-father homes is even praised for “tear(ing) down a long-standing conception that single fathers tend to abandon their kids.”

The truth, pointedly ignored by the Associated Press article cited above, is that abandonment and alienation are much more common than continued involvement by dads at a distance. The truth is that there is no substitute for being there--day-in and day-out. The truth is that “quality time” is a lie devised for Americans who are unwilling to face the real costs of their determination to put career and personal goals above everything else. The truth is that children, more often than not, suffer from our contempt for “Ozzie and Harriett” households.

It is no consolation to me that more mothers now feel the pangs of remorse that affect conscientious nonresident dads. Instead, I grieve for kids raised only by Ozzies, just as I commiserate with and encourage the millions of fathers who know how hard it is to sew together lives that are physically separated.

And to youngsters growing up in a society obsessed with individual success, I offer you this bit of grief-laden advice: There is a good reason why so many tombstones bear this eternal witness--LOVING HUSBAND AND FATHER.

Monday, October 09, 2006


State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America by Patrick Buchanan

Pat Buchanan’s popular book, State of Emergency, is more than a litany of eye-popping anecdotes and statistics about the economic, demographic, and social impact of legal and illegal immigration. Buchanan does, of course, provide abundant information about these matters—how a tidal wave of unskilled labor has depressed working class wages, how the same migration of souls has altered the ethnic makeup of California and Texas, and how this influx has affected the safety of Americans victimized by aliens who now make up “over 29% of prisoners in Federal Bureau of Prison facilities.” Buchanan also tells readers that at least 300,000 “anchor babies” are born in the U.S. each year, that 54% of Los Angeles County’s 9 million inhabitants speak languages other than English at home, and that almost as many immigrants are in the U.S. today (36 million) as came to America between 1607 and 1965. Throw in data about the return of once-conquered diseases like tuberculosis, the nationwide growth of vicious gangs like Mara Salvatrucha, and the stark educational deficits exhibited by recent adult immigrants (31% of whom never finished high school) and you have what one might expect from a book with the aforementioned title.

At its core, however, Buchanan’s book is a work of political philosophy whose central question is posed in chapter nine: “What is a Nation?” According to the author, this vital inquiry has three possible answers. The first is that a nation consists of a common set of economic relationships. This view is dispatched with the remark by French historian Ernest Renan: “A Zollverein is not a fatherland.” The institutional status of today’s European Union reinforces Renan’s remark, and Buchanan drives home the point with this poignant observation: “For two centuries, men have died for America. Who would lay down his life for the UN, the EU, or a ‘North American Union’?”

A more popular “neoconservative” answer to Buchanan’s patriotic query is that the United States is a unique country whose roots are essentially creedal. By this reasoning, America is a nation composed of individuals, regardless of national origin or ethnicity, who subscribe to ideas elaborated in America’s founding documents. While Buchanan doesn’t deny that these ideas are part of what it means to be an American, he insists that national identity involves something more—something that can be recognized and felt apart from political convictions.

This “something more” concerns ethnicity, history, and tradition. Americans, Buchanan observes, created the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—not vice versa. He also notes, uncomfortably for those educated in multicultural classrooms, that the colonists who composed those documents were overwhelmingly “brethren” from the British Isles. Democracy and the rule of law weren’t abstract concepts that grew on American soil like wind-blown seeds felicitously falling on good earth. They were traditions carried by English settlers who populated the territories that later became the United States of America. National roots, Buchanan insists, come attached to the historical soil in which they grew. They aren’t nakedly exposed tendrils floating in some international hydroponic solution.

American leaders from Washington and Hamilton to Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson recognized this fact about national identity. The former wished to avoid large concentrations of foreigners, just as T.R. and Wilson denounced “hyphenated-Americanism” and divided loyalties. It wasn’t xenophobia that prompted these statements but rather the realization that nations rest on a shared background of culture, history, literature, and language—indeed, of shared ancestors. As even Patrick Moynihan observed, the nation is the largest group to which individuals see themselves ancestrally related. Negative illustrations of this truth are abundant in recent history: the violent rupture of the faux-nation of Yugoslavia, the splintering of the Soviet Union into more than a dozen nations with distinct ethnic roots, the divorce between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the ethnic and religious wars that plague Rwanda, Sudan, and a host of African “nations.”

One of Buchanan’s most poignant arguments involves this “reverse scenario” thought experiment: “How many Americans, forced to work in Mexico, would become loyal Mexicans in a decade rather than remain Americans in exile? Why do we think that Mexicans are any less attached to the land of their birth?” It is a jarring question, especially when one realizes that “one in six [Mexicans] is already here” and that “Nearly 90 percent of all immigrants now come from continents and countries whose peoples have never been assimilated fully into any Western country…”

But what about the notion that we are “a nation of immigrants” and that what happened in the past will surely happen again? Buchanan uses a drawer-full of statistics and the testimony of various American leaders to show that 1) the United States was always, overwhelmingly, an English-speaking country culturally tied to the mother country, 2) immigration into the United States prior to 1965 was overwhelmingly from Europe, and 3) immigration in the past pales when compared with the influx in the last few decades. To emphasize this final point, Buchanan recurs to the debate that surrounded the 1965 Immigration Act, where the most liberal position advocated raising annual quotas from 156,700 to 250,000. Today, “between one and two million” immigrants, “legal and illegal,” come to the United States every year.

Moreover, strong political and cultural forces now discourage the assimilation of those coming from Latin American: dual citizenship, multiculturalism, the explosive growth of Spanish broadcasting in the U.S., Mexico’s desire to politically and economically exploit the loyalty of its émigrés, and the very real belief in “Reconquista.” All these factors, in addition to sheer numbers, undermine an assimilation process that transformed 40 million Europeans into Americans over a span of 350 years.

Throughout his book Buchanan asserts that patriotism, “love of country,” is the soul that animates a nation—a love rooted in common language, common ancestors, common stories, common religious faith, and common experiences. All these ties, however, are now under assault—from within by cultural critics who laud diversity and relish America-bashing—from without by immigrants bound by language, culture, and history to their own native lands. The prospect for America can already be seen in “Eurabia,” where governments struggle to find some social equilibrium between ethnic groups with radically different backgrounds and sensibilities. Ultimately, as Buchanan warns in his book’s first pages, what happened to Imperial Rome at the hands of unassimilated Germanic tribes will be the fate of the United States—unless Americans summon the will to reverse policies that their leaders have foisted upon them.

The depredations associated with open borders are realities felt most by patriotic working stiffs, not by diversity-minded globalists who seek to maximize economic efficiencies and minimize the appeal of all things parochial. The bonds between cosmopolitans and their native lands are tenuous at best—and at worse, adversarial. For jet-set egotists, cultures are like sampler tables at an international exhibition. None can demand their exclusive loyalty. To them Robert E. Lee’s fateful choice of Virginia over the Union is incomprehensible and perverse.

Beyond the political, economic, and ideological forces that contribute to America’s paralysis in the face of demographic dissolution, there is, I think, another factor that Buchanan doesn’t discuss. That factor is related to the elitist-populist divide and concerns the nation’s self-image. Put simply, if a country doesn’t believe in itself, it won’t bother to defend itself. And America, as shaped and envisioned by elites, isn’t a culture worth defending—a country devoid of religious devotion, a country stripped of heroes, a country populated by consumers who take for granted the sexualization of children and the dissolution of marriage, a country molded not by traditions and loyalties that spring from heart and hearth but by the capricious winds of intellectual fashion and the corrupt imaginations of television producers. If “love of country” is the nation’s soul, as Buchanan avers, it follows that the nation’s body must also be thought worthy of salvaging. Yet what possible reason would there be to make strenuous exertions on behalf the post-modern golem described above?

Buchanan’s book, however, is gloomy enough as it is—all the more so because his vision of national identity rings true on many levels. The only question is whether the culturally and historically rooted nation he honors is too far gone for the prescribed medicine: no amnesty, no “chain migration” or “anchor babies,” no dual citizenship, no welfare magnets, an immigration moratorium, a border fence, and deportation of illegals. It’s a pill that’s sure to stick in the throat of political leaders whose hearts are tied, more than anything else, to the patricidal approbation of elite opinion.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


In his 1993 article, “Defining Deviancy Down,” Patrick Moynihan mentioned a New York Times headline that proclaimed the school year’s “first” shooting. Moynihan added sardonically, “first of the season.”

So far this season, as ABC News informs us, “there have been 25 shootings at or near schools nationwide. Several of the shootings—three in the last week—have been fatal.” This last comment rather understates the execution killing of at least five little Amish girls in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Multiple killings bring out media analysts in a way that quotidian school murders do not. (A seemingly endless list of violent incidents, including “unsuccessful” attempts, can be accessed at The “reason” for these killings is generally sought in some specific cause—a twenty year grudge, copycat motives, the availability of guns, the absence of armed guards, Ritalin, video games, bullying, cliques. By focusing on the little picture, which is not a totally useless enterprise, we lose sight of the larger picture—perhaps intentionally.

Karl Marx did not, I think, get everything wrong. One of the common statements made by Marxist scholars goes as follows: “Only the whole is true, and the whole is false.” The comment means that one has to look at the big picture, and that the big picture, presently, is deceptive and rotten.

The big picture in our society includes rotten video games, guns, and Ritalin—but it also includes an obsessive fascination with death presented as entertainment on the CSI family of shows. Here corpses in various stages of decomposition are featured on every show for our viewing pleasure—juxtaposed inevitably with tantalizing shots of nubile bodies that appeal to another basic instinct. Episodes compete with one another to explore new depths of perversity—like raping and killing children.

The big picture includes, likewise, a phalanx of individuals who all insist on the right to do what they want—demanding that others consider their wishes while giving scant attention to matters of reciprocity or to the word “responsibility.”

The big picture includes a society where padded-bra kids are sexualized for profit and where free speech, a la Howard Stern, has devolved into a race for the bottom.

The big picture involves the unprecedented ceding of cultural power to morally vacuous individuals who pollute souls for a living. These electronic traveling salesmen, from Abercrombie and Fitch to Madonna to David Letterman, influence children, collectively, as much or more than parents.

Ponder the TV show Two and a Half Men. Attend to the loud and angry sounds that blare from the hot wheels of young males. Note the sophisticated psychobabble that avoids the terms “good” and “evil.” That is the ugly whole. That is a world where, in the words of Flannery O’Connor’s reflective Misfit, there’s “No pleasure but meanness.”

Saturday, September 30, 2006



Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore warned hundreds of U.N. diplomats and staff on Thursday evening about the perils of climate change, claiming: Cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming!"

Gore, who was introduced by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the world faces a "full-scale climate emergency that threatens the future of civilization on earth."

Gore showed computer-generated projections of ocean water rushing in to submerge the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, parts of China, India and other nations, should ice shelves in Antarctica or Greenland melt and slip into the sea.

"The planet itself will do nicely, thank you very much what is at risk is human civilization," Gore said. After a series of Q& A with the audience, which had little to do with global warming and more about his political future, Annan bid "adios" to Gore.

Then, Gore had his staff opened a stack of cardboard boxes to begin selling his new book, "An Inconvenient Truth, The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It," $19.95, to the U.N. diplomats.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Here’s an ANONYMOUS POST that was written in response to the INHOFE GLOBAL WARMING ARTICLE linked below. Since the post raises points worth addressing, I’m publishing it here. My response follows.


Part of the problem with public debates about complex scientific subjects like the anthropogenic cause of global warming is that non-experts think they are qualified to make judgments based on simplistic reasoning and incomplete evidence. “Of course there can’t be global warming,” lay critics claim, “because the East Antarctic ice shelf actually expanded.” The truth is that you and I are not able to make knowledgeable judgments about the specific claims of science, and that facts, like the growth of the eastern ice shelf, that would seem on the face of it to contradict the science in fact do not. Instead, the public must rely on the scientific community to inform us of the state of research and the degree of consensus and uncertainty. Certainly there are respected academic scientists—especially Richard Lindzen of MIT—who strongly disagree with the claims of many researchers in the field, and we need to be aware of such dissent. However, a great majority of the relevant scientific community believes that global warming is at least in part human caused, and that the environmental repercussions have a significant chance of being disastrous. One only need turn to journals like Nature or Science, rather than to the NYT, Gore, or Inhofe to get a more firm understanding of issues and the state of the scientific community.

Now Lindzen’s claim that funding issues promote BS science is certainly on some level legitimate; but how much is it impacting the science of global warming? Don’t forget that Lindzen himself is one of few prominent scientists on record against global warming, one who owes his popular fame precisely to his opposition: he is the darling of all those who are critical of anthropogenic global warming precisely because there are so few of his kind. If we are going to let conspiracy theories rule the debate, it would be all too easy impugn his motives. How do you suggest that we weigh Lindzen’s claim in assessing global warming science? Scientific truth-claims can only be validated by specialized scientists working in a related set of disciplines. I cannot, for instance, form my own informed opinion on the problems that string theory analyzes. Certainly we should be aware of and to the extent possible fix structural biases, but just because Lindzen claims large-scale bias does not in fact mean that there is one. Only the scientific community can evaluate such claims. To the extent that Lindzen helps to exhort scientists to greater disciplinary rigor, the better; but we should not mistake his accusations as reason to dismiss global warming science.

If liberals sometimes overstate the claims of the scientific community on global warming, it is because the public is too addicted to their prolific consumption, and Republicans too addicted to oil money and corporate interests, to care. We have a serious problem here, Mr. Kirk: the scientific community thinks there could be a real chance of major environmental consequences deriving from our current practices. Scientists aren’t sure of the extent of those consequences (a few admittedly think it will be zero), but many think there is real probability of disaster: the results may not just be ruining La Jolla’s year-round surfing weather, but large-scale displacement of populations in those areas least able to handle it: the third world. How then can we get this issue before the public in all its complexity? We need real public debate on this issue. Too often, the conservative tactic is too dismiss the near consensus in the scientific community, claiming that the science is insufficiently developed while simultaneously providing scant funding for further research.

My point is not engage in political scorekeeping. Both parties have serious problems and moral failings. Rather, I want to know what you think should be done about global warming given the issues at hand. I would argue that: 1) there needs to be significant public airing of the state of climate science, the degree to which consensus exists, the uncertainty of models and predictions; the potential impact of various likely scenarios; 2) that there needs to be large-scale public debate around acceptable strategies for reducing greenhouse gas admissions given the risks and likelihoods of various scenarios. Unfortunately, the radical skeptics of climate science, of those who seek to dismiss the issue as purely conspiratorial, are major obstacles to such discussion. Let us not forget the global consequences that will follow if certain models prove right. The stakes for the future COULD be extremely high.


The first point on which we differ is the deference you show toward scientists who presumably deal with matters about which laymen must be silent. This reverential attitude is a serious mistake that puts scientists on an almost superhuman level. In my prior blog posting, INCONVENIENT TRUTHS—FOR AL GORE, I argue that the consensus of scientific opinion is as susceptible to social influences and self-delusion as the general populace. That article refers specifically to the “scientific” backing for eugenics that was common in the 1920’s. I’m glad that folks back then weren’t as deferential to the “men in white” as you seem to be. C.S. Lewis’ classic work, THE ABOLITION OF MAN, is a helpful antidote against this attitude, as is also Aldous Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD.

Secondly, you suggest that Richard Lindzen is almost alone in his views and you confidently assert that a “consensus” exists in the field of atmospheric science on global warming. Additionally, you imply that Lindzen objects to that consensus because of the publicity he’s getting. (Using your own standard of expertise, I think you ought to refrain from engaging in psychological analysis unless you have the appropriate credentials.) What you don’t acknowledge is that a large number of “dissidents” exist, scholars mentioned specifically by Senator Inhofe. These scientists emphasize specific data that is ignored by global warming enthusiasts and, of course, by the media. Your willingness to leave the hashing out of these matters to folks in the discipline, without any “outside” interference betrays, I think, a naïve view about the sociology of science. You are happy to let scientists do their thing (by majority vote of “those that count,” presumably) in a way you would never agree to if the professionals wore business suits. (Scientists are different!) At the same time you ignore the role that media coverage has on who is and who isn’t considered a credible spokesman and on what evidence gets prime time coverage and what evidence never sees the network light of day. (Who made CAIR the go-to organization on all things Islamic in America?) Do you expect the media to “stand back” patiently while “objective scientists” huddle up and observe “the evidence”?

It has been my experience that most scientists are as abysmally ignorant about the history of their enterprise as they are about its philosophical premises. Most of the rank and file (This isn’t true of many of the best scientists.) assume, as perhaps you do, that science proceeds incrementally, adding bit by bit to a store of “facts” that just keep getting better and better. As Thomas Kuhn, among others, has noted, science proceeds incrementally (to the extent that it does at all) only within the framework of fundamental paradigms. These paradigms, however, are subject to radical changes that often redirect and revolutionize the interpretation of prior data. Thus, epicycles within a geocentric universe gave way to a heliocentric universe with planets following slightly out of kilter circular (and later elliptical) orbits. Likewise, Newton’s infinite, uniform, mathematical universe was replaced by a universe where time is relative and space warped.

More importantly, the less “fixed” paradigms are within their disciplines, the more “facts” and “theories” become intertwined. This observation is fairly obvious in the field of psychology but it applies just as well to “dynamic” and highly unpredictable models within disciplines that focus on the earth’s atmosphere. Here one model produces results that are touted as facts. A different model produces a different set of facts. If ever there was a scientific situation that lends itself to manipulation and wishful thinking and political skullduggery, this is it—dynamic variables, a vast number of variables, and the promise of being at the center of an effort to “save humanity”--with the help of generous foundation and government grants.

It is the myth of “incremental” knowledge that leads ignorant laymen to assume that any consensus hypothesis, no matter how ephemeral, moots any historical objections. Science, on this view, is always advancing and, thus, always “closer to the truth.” This worshipful StarTrekism confers practical infallibility on scientific opinions of every stripe since the time of the Enlightenment and ignores the fact that a litany of radical reversals is incompatible with the notion of incrementalism.

Senator Inhofe, who (contrary to your implication) doesn’t claim technical scientific expertise, does possess the ability to read and to publicize an historical record that many scientists and the mainstream media gladly ignore. That record shows an almost humorous movement, back and forth, on the issue of global cooling-warming-cooling-warming. And with the last two theoretical scares, active government intervention and suspension of industrial development was touted as the “cure” for both these maladies—global cooling and global warming! As Karl Popper observed, when any possible scenario fits your theory, what is at work isn’t science, it’s ideology. And the ideologies at work here are political and anti-industrial.

Since I have a fairly respectable background in the philosophy of science, I am reluctant to put myself on the same level of scientific ignorance that you place yourself. I suspect you have never taken post-graduate courses in the Philosophy of Science or read Karl Popper’s contributions to the subject or persevered through Alfred North Whitehead’s “Science and the Modern World.” Perhaps you’ve looked at Thomas Kuhn’s work, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” but probably not “The Copernican Revolution.” Nor, I dare say, have you ever had a post-graduate class that correlated scientific perspectives with the cultural milieus in which those ideas flourished. As a “semi-professional” philosopher of science I think I have enough expertise to distinguish between highly tentative theories that are hugely susceptible to political manipulation and more reliable theories that exist in a calmer social atmosphere. I think I understand fairly well the psychological, sociological, and political dynamics that are in play when it comes to the global warming issue.

As to the “cost” of being wrong on this issue, the question assumes there is no “cost” to a policy that would divert trillions of dollars toward an effort that “might” be environmentally useless, or even harmful. If you bothered to read the Inhofe speech carefully—a proposition for which I have no tangible evidence—you would see that the funds that “may” be squandered on a political boondoggle could unquestionably be employed to address a number of needs around the globe—starting with the eradication of malaria. That is the priority of one group of scientists who aren’t on the media’s call-for-comment list. Furthermore, the “anti-industrial” Kyoto agenda of eco-fascists will surely, in any case, condemn billions of human beings to a life of impoverishment and disease—all to the greater glory of Paul Ehrlich and his loyal band of misanthropes.

As for your suggestion about open discussion of the global warming issue—that is precisely the position I am advocating. YOUR side claims, via its delusional demagogue, Al Gore, that the question has been settled. Read Karl Popper’s THE OPEN SOCIETY AND ITS ENEMIES to see what label he would attach to global warming’s biggest mouthpiece. Whitehead refers to such statements—proffered frequently by a “consensus” of scientists—dogmatism.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Joseph Stalin famously discounted the power of the pope by asking how many troops he had. The Soviet dictator shared the belief of his soul-mate, Mao Zedong, that power comes from the barrel of a gun. The final leaders of the Soviet Empire were less sanguine about the uselessness of spiritual weapons. Witness the conspiracy to assassinate John-Paul II.

The recent comments that Benedict XVI directed to the “representatives of science” at the University of Regensburg concerned a similar topic—the relationship of faith and reason to violence. Based on news snippets, one might think the talk was an extended harangue against Muslims.

In fact, the address was over the heads of 99% of reporters who bothered to read it. Fortunately for them, the inflammatory sound bite they crave came toward the beginning of the talk. That remark was a quotation “by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II” to “an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.” Manuel II, Benedict noted, “addresses his interlocutor with an astounding harshness on the…relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: ‘Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’”

The reason for this “astounding harshness” [wrongly translated “startling brusqueness”] doubtless had something to do with the fact that these remarks were set down by the emperor shortly before or during the siege of Constantinople by Muslim Turks from 1394 to 1402. Manuel goes on to explain why violence is incompatible with God’s nature: "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.”

Benedict proceeds to argue that there is an essential continuity between rationality itself and the God that transcends human reason. Were this not the case, an unbridgeable chasm would arise between faith and reason—a chasm that consigns faith to the sphere of individual subjectivity or opens the door to a religion spread by force of arms.

The irony of Benedict’s address is that he was speaking to two groups who posit an absolute fissure between faith and reason. The first group consists of modernists for whom all talk about God is balderdash—folks who think ethics can be reduced to an evolutionary bi-product and who accept without comment those rational structures that make science possible. The second group consists of believers (Christians and Muslims) who reject links between reason and faith as an infringement on God’s sovereignty. Strange bedfellows. For both sides, reason yields to irrationality—and often to brute force.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


“She would have been a good woman,” the Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

The line occurs near the end of Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” It refers to a self-absorbed grandmother who had just been murdered (along with her son and his family) by a religiously reflective killer. Sadly, the poignant observation seems to fit many Americans’ relationship to the events of 9/11/2001.

For some weeks following that infamous date, Americans focused intently on things that matter: courage, honor, integrity, especially patriotism. An inconceivable tragedy highlighted the tenuous nature of the blessings we take for granted--family, peace, freedom--and temporarily diverted attention from the superficial, vile, or self-serving activities which preoccupy so many of us.

During that time firemen and cops replaced movie stars and pop divas as society’s most admired individuals. Anonymous heroes without Malibu mansions or drug rap sheets were honored instead of their celluloid counterparts. People were jolted into
asking serious questions: “What is really important? What is worth dying for? Why am I here?”

As months wore on, however, it became obvious that many individuals-- especially the rich and famous camera cult--were eager to reinstitute the old regime. Where, after all, would MTV be if youngsters began to idolize Todd Beamer instead of Eminem or Madonna? Where would Hollywood’s hedonism rank in a world where integrity was defined by virtue and self-sacrifice instead of doing whatever the heck you please? And how could Leno and Letterman deliver nightly monologues for audiences that weren’t tawdry and cynical?

Where would the talk-show Lilliputians be in a world where national leaders aren’t caricatured as blithering idiots who deserve nothing but contempt? And what would happen to that cohort of intellectuals whose sense of moral superiority rests solely on acts of vicious criticism--folks physically revolted by exhibitions of patriotism and profoundly depressed at the prospect of restraining their venom another day?
A world where personal virtue is taken seriously isn’t to the liking of these groups. Like the children of Israel in the book of Exodus, they long to return to the “fleshpots of Egypt”--to revel in the thoughtless security of a society where matters of life and death are reduced to vulgar punch lines in yet another South Park episode.

They wish to “get on with their lives”--to forget the truths of death, heroism, and evil and to slide back into a world of cheap sex, cheap talk, and cheap rebellion. They crave a life of comfortable celebrity devoid of nobility and moral earnestness.

As the memory of 9/11 fades, “American Idol” replaces the World Trade Center on pop-culture’s jumbotron. Too many Americans, it seems, need to be shot every day to avoid reverting to lives of brutish pettiness.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

THE SHADOW PARTY by David Horowitz and Richard Poe

A month after John Kerry’s narrow loss to George W. Bush in 2004’s Presidential election, Eli Pariser boasted to his MoveOn associates, “Now it’s our party. We bought it. We own it.” The huge question raised by this audacious declaration was, “Who are ‘we’?” That query is answered in David Horowitz and Richard Poe’s new book, The Shadow Party—a work that also explains how this political takeover was accomplished. In the authors’ own words, “This book documents how, through an extraordinary series of political, legal, and financial maneuvers, an unlikely network of radical activists and activist billionaires gained de facto control over the Democratic Party’s campaign apparatus….”

The eminence grise lurking behind these machinations was and is George Soros, the billionaire financier and founder of the Open Society Institute. It was Soros who declared in November, 2003, that defeating President Bush was “the central focus of [his] life” and “a matter of life and death”—then devoted twenty-seven million dollars to accomplish that goal during the 2004 campaign cycle.

That figure was almost matched by Soros’ friend, Progressive Insurance Chairman Peter Lewis, who channeled $24,000,000 into supposedly non-partisan “527” organizations. Donations by three other Soros associates, Hollywood mogul Stephen Bing ($14,000,000) and Golden West Financial Corporation’s Herbert and Marion Sandler ($13,000,000), brought contributions by the Soros five to a staggering $78,000,000. The Machiavellian quality of these massive donations becomes apparent when one discovers that Soros was also an influential figure, and possibly the key figure, behind the push for campaign finance reform.

This multi-year conspiracy to pass a law for which there was no electoral constituency was dubbed “Pewgate” by the New York Post’s Ryan Sager—a Bronx tribute to the Charitable Trust whose Program Officer made public the covert strategy. A centerpiece of this top-down scheme was Senator John McCain, the “maverick Republican” whose adulatory press was matched by a spate of large gifts from left-wing foundations to his “Reform Institute for Campaign and Election Issues.” Other media icons like Bill Moyers, with substantial foundation backing, joined in conjuring up an illusory popular demand for campaign finance reform. Even a bogus academic study was part of the mix.

In the end, as Horowitz and Roe note, the McCain-Feingold legislation succeeded only in regulating political speech—not at limiting campaign finances. Indeed, the law created a funding crisis for Democrats since they relied more heavily on large “soft-money” contributions than Republicans did. Into this financial breach stepped Soros and company—not with contributions doled out to party regulars, but with an avalanche of funds to establish organizations of their own. Thus did campaign finance legislation and lawyerly accounting methods facilitate a political coup staged by billionaires. Machiavelli, the authors suggest, could only gaze in admiration at this cynical feat of ideological misdirection.

Connected at the hip to Soros’ archipelago of non-profits is the Byzantine political structure known as “Hillaryland”—a secretive world dedicated to the aspirations of the junior senator from New York. Needless to say, “Hillaryland” is generously supported by the former First Lady’s “good friend George Soros.” According to Horowitz and Poe, the “unofficial CEO” who coordinates the activities of all these “independent” and “non-partisan” groups is Harold Ickes—another “good friend” of Hillary and, for a time, Bill Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Of Ickes’ White House job description, Dick Morris commented in 1997, “Whenever there was something that…required ruth­less­ness or vengeance or sharp elbows… [Clinton] would give it to Harold.” This was a job for which Ickes had been well trained, having spent years providing legal representa­tion for union bosses with purported mob connections. Ickes, it seems, thrives in the shadows.

Among the groups that Horowitz and Roe link to the Shadow Party are a klatch of non-profits known as the “Seven Sisters.” These include (the feisty brainchild of Wes Boyd and Joan Blades that was transformed into a political player on steroids by infusions of Soros cash), the Center for American Progress (headed by Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff, John Podesta, and known as “the official Hillary Clinton think tank”), America Votes and America Coming Together (organizations focused on voter registration and turnout), the Media Fund (an in-house advertising agency), the Joint Victory Campaign 2004 (a funding conduit), and finally, Thunder Road Group (a powerful organization that combines planning, polling, opposition research, and PR).

While Horowitz and Roe focus much attention on the top of the political ladder, they also show how those players employ, sometimes illegally, grassroots activists. The use of Soros money to fund the successful campaign of David Soares for Albany County District Attorney is an instructive case in point. Even more disturbing, however, are indications that coordination exists to implement a new version of the radical Cloward-Pivin strategy. In the seventies this tactic resulted in dramatically expanded welfare rolls that brought New York City to the brink of bankruptcy. Today, a similar plan of attack is being used “to overwhelm the nation’s understaffed and poorly policed electoral system.”

The disdain that radical leftists have for the democratic process, Horowitz and Roe suggest, may not be an attitude that is anathema to Soros—who from 1959 to 1965 lived among Greenwich Village’s socialist bohemians and later became a close friend of the poet Allen Ginsberg. Evidence from Soros’ revolutionary undertakings in Serbia and Georgia also implies a greater concern for Soros-approved results than for strictly democ­ratic methods. Furthermore, the fact that Soros views the United States government as an oversized bully isn’t encouraging—especially in light of the legion of lawyers that were poised to challenge 2004’s Presidential election results and Congressional proposals for U.N. oversight of elections. Such tactics suggest, at the least, a cavalier attitude when it comes to undermining public confidence in the democratic process.

The Shadow Party’s most intriguing pages provide an ominous portrait of the Hungarian-born billionaire who, in one interview, expressed his wish to become “the conscience of the world,” but on another occasion coolly observed that taking “social consequences” into account would throw off his financial calculations and reduce his profits. Put more bluntly, the latter statement means that Soros wouldn’t have netted two billion dollars from “breaking the Bank of England” in 1992 if he thought about the pain his currency play would bring to British citizens. Similar contradictions attend the man who, until the Tax Reform Act of 1986, sheltered his Quantum Fund from U.S. taxes but now wishes to create a global economic system that would prevent others from doing the same.

Intellectually, Soros declares himself a disciple of Karl Popper and of his former prof’s “open society” philosophy. Yet Soros has little sympathy for an America that is clearly more “open,” by Popper’s standards, than the one the philosopher praised in the early 1950’s. Furthermore, Soros works, often surreptitiously, to establish open societies around the world, yet he opposes the “imposition” of values on foreign cultures. What Soros most clearly despises is “American Supremacy”—a political state of affairs that he likens to a stock market bubble. It’s no wonder that Soros gave up serious philosophizing when he was unable to make heads or tales of comments he had committed to paper the previous day.

The arrogance suggested by Soros’ hopeful self-designation, “the conscience of the world,” is echoed less benevolently in a comment made to The New Republic in 1994: “Just write that the former Soviet Empire is now called the Soros Empire.” Additional doubt is cast on Soros’ philanthropic motives when, as in Kosovo and Russia, the global mogul mixes open society initiatives with shady financial deals. Soros at times acknowl­edges his schizophrenic persona, but then rationalizes this duplicity by observing that a wealthier Soros can do more good than a less affluent billionaire. For many observers, Soros’ will to power reveals itself as the majority shareholder in an uneasy psychological partnership.

Stories that describe Soros’ tenuous relationship to the Jewish community are also instructive. They include anecdotes that go back to his father, a well-to-do lawyer who exchanged the surname “Schwartz” for an Esperanto appellation based on the verb “to soar.” Soros describes his non-practicing, globalist upbringing as “Jewish” and “anti-Semitic.” When the Nazis overran Hungary in 1944, the Soros family assumed Christian identities and later split up. “Gyorgy’s” safety was secured by paying an official in the fascist regime to take the fourteen-year-old into his home. During the next months this man’s presumed “godson” often accompanied him as he delivered deportation notices and confiscated Jewish property. Decades later, when Soros was asked in a Sixty Minutes interview if this experience had created feelings of guilt, he replied, “Not at all,”—strange words from “the conscience of the world” but not unexpected from an individual who once lectured a group of American Jews on their contributions to anti-Semitism.

Blaming the victim, it seems, is typical for Soros, who immediately rejected a military response to 9/11 and articulated instead a policy of self-scrutiny. For Soros, the best way to retaliate against terrorism is global redistribution of wealth—a policy that a few years earlier (inasmuch as he and Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs redistributed multinational funds in the new Russian state) resulted in “one of the greatest social robberies in human history.”

Viewing events through the lens of moral equivalence is another Soros trademark. This trait was on full display when the billionaire equated the murder of thousands of civilians on 9/11 with the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib: “I think that those pictures hit us the same way as the terrorist attack itself, not quite with the same force because in the terrorist attack we were the victims. In the pictures we were the perpetrators….”

Even if the Horowitz-Poe portrait of Soros isn’t the whole story, their work certainly raises profound questions about the man’s psychic shadow. The billionaire promoter of “open societies” is also, it seems, an opportunistic financier and stealthy kingmaker—a man whose globalist fantasies and contempt for America are matched only by delusions of grandeur rooted in a desperate lack of self-awareness and moral perspective. Such is the mind of the man who, more than anyone else, dominates the Shadow Party.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


What a culture embraces most deeply is seldom articulated. It is, rather, presupposed. The spirit of the times, as Alfred North Whitehead observed, permeates human activity without itself becoming the subject of discussion. People in America, for example, take the notion of freedom for granted and argue about the best way to define and secure it. The West’s secular culture is even less likely to ponder its fundamental convictions.

That culture is given expression via thousands of media messages every hour—in film, television, CDs, magazines, and iPod presentations—but its philosophical roots are largely invisible. The reason for this state of affairs isn’t just the inherent difficulty involved in stepping back to look at the ground upon which one stands. It also involves the fact that, nowadays, there’s so little of substance to see once one attempts that daunting philosophical two-step. There has never been, I think, a culture erected on such a shallow and flimsy foundation.

Freedom is certainly an essential dogma of secular life, as it was of the culture that preceded it. But the purpose of post-modern freedom is largely undefined. Within secular culture the idea that individuals can do “whatever they want” is reiterated ad nauseam—a mantra that makes self-actualization a vacuous objective. Correspondingly, the idea that people “should” do certain things, except for recycling, is given short shrift. Even the much-touted virtue of “tolerance,” analyzed critically, turns out to be a non-negotiable demand that non-secular folks give up their beliefs about how people “ought” to behave.

This purposeless freedom, freedom for its own sake, is a concept that feeds into the popular notion of “pushing the envelope.” Those who employ this phrase typically do so with the tacit assumption that destroying taboos is a “progressive” enterprise—an activity that puts taboo-breakers on a higher plane than individuals who dwell in the passé world of moral restriction.

Accordingly, not being able to pillory moralists represents an intolerable inhibition on “artistic freedom” among bi-coastals who view cultures that take blasphemy seriously as primitive and theocratic. What one expects to gain by normalizing cultural depravity, exhibited most completely in gangsta rap, need not be articulated beyond vacuous clichés like “openness” and “freedom of expression.” A vague romantic hope persists that, somehow, with the aid of science and midnight basketball, utopian bliss will break out once nine-year-olds can swear proficiently and are no longer naïve about the varieties of sexual expression.

The apotheosis of “individual freedom” also requires the abolition of concepts like natural law. There are, it seems, no self-evident truths. Even distinctions between male and female are treated as arbitrary constructs. Just as individuals can be whatever they want to be, so families and marriages can be constituted in ways restricted only by our capacity to imagine them.

Tepid and unimaginative formulations that concern direct harm done to other individuals (“My freedom to swing my fist ends at your nose.”) limit the possibilities of self-expression under this cultural myth that also embraces a godless universe that is itself devoid of freedom.

Scrutinized rationally, the “rights” that are constantly touted in secular culture turn out to be a function of raw power. This fearful symmetry explains the fondness antinomians have for elaborate government structures that both bear the blame for individual sins and constitute the awesome Leviathan that keeps anarchy at bay. These Hobbesian “rights” aren’t derived from a Creator. Rather, they emerge from the struggle of individuals against each other in a world defined primarily by the “sovereigns” Pleasure and Pain.

Youngsters raised within this cultural framework are told to view nature as a meaningless fluke that must, nevertheless, be revered and preserved; they are told to view their existence as accidental and their desires as “rights”; they are told (dozens of times every day) to look down upon religion as a childish delusion rooted in wish fulfillment; and they are told that corporate pimps must be allowed to corrupt the souls of children for the sake of “freedom.” Is it any wonder that many of these persons, as young adults, find more nourishing, and even more reasonable, an intransigent religion that boldly preaches the exact opposite?

Thursday, August 17, 2006


“Why shouldn’t gays be allowed to marry?” Nowadays, the question has a prima facie persuasiveness that’s akin to the popular rhetorical challenge, “Who’s to say what’s right and wrong?” Another trait these queries share is the likelihood that persons confronting them will be reduced to stammering incoherence. The main reason for this detour into dementia isn’t that opponents of gay marriage are idiots. It is rather that the case against same-sex unions requires more strenuous philosophical lifting than the case for it.

Rhetorical Challenges

Proponents of this radical domestic innovation possess a pocketful of bumper sticker appeals--including the aforementioned “Who’s to say” argument. “It’s not fair” and “It’s discrimination” are two other easily developed themes. Then there’s the protest that people who “love each other” should be encouraged, not discouraged, to commit themselves to their male-female, male-male, or female-female partners. Why, after all, should heterosexuals who decry the social damage caused by divorce be in the business of discouraging commitment among homosexual couples? Finally, there is that familiar prosecutorial inquiry, “How does it hurt you if someone else marries a person of the same sex?” Several decades earlier Phil Donahue and his talk-show pals touted sexual license by employing similar questions: “Why would you stand in the way of someone’s happiness?” So much is presupposed in these “beating-your-wife” challenges that no simple reply is possible.

Glibly articulated sound bites work well in mass media. By contrast, when one is obliged to defend an institution that has never been challenged and ideas that have almost always been taken for granted, the speaker faces a daunting task. Quickly! Why must women marry men? Who is hurt if you let people marry whomever they want? Who made you the marriage czar?

When Socrates, in Plato’s Republic, explored the nature of justice, his arguments rested on assumptions that he shared with his interlocutors. In Book One of this extended dialogue, the impetuous Thrasymachus, after having been argued into a corner by his verbal sparring partner, rashly asserts that justice is bad and injustice good. This novel perspective, Socrates declares, makes his own task much more difficult. Most persons take for granted that justice is good and argue over its proper definition. Socrates, however, is now forced to demonstrate for his auditors something more fundamental--the superiority of justice to injustice.

Defending male-female marriage is akin to defending the value of justice over injustice. It’s seldom done, and the issues are so basic that people are inclined to fall silent. Certainly, no simple slogan serves as an adequate defense of this previously unquestioned proposition. Replying that “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” isn’t compelling--especially when addressing secular audiences inclined to equate religious faith with stupidity.

As Socrates was forced to ponder the essence of justice and injustice in response to Thrasymachus’ assertion, so advocates for the traditional definition of marriage are faced with the task of explaining to short-attention-span Americans plausible reasons why male-female unions ought to remain the norm. Those explanations, however condensed, must include an analysis of the essential nature of marriage.

Marriage: Procreation and Commitment

Marriage is a institution that ties procreation to commitment. This newly-minted but long-presupposed definition should constitute the heart of any defense of traditional marriage. For centuries marriage has revolved around pledges of loyalty made by husbands and wives to each other. “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer” are words familiar to all Americans. Until recently the phrase “as long as you both shall live” was part of most wedding ceremonies. These vows of commitment aren’t important simply as expressions of the love that two individuals have for each other. They are also significant because marriages are consummated, and those sexual unions produce babies. Marriage, therefore, not only links two people to vows of commitment, it also links commitment to family.

Not all marriages result in children, but marriages aren’t complete--according to law and language--apart from consummation. And acts of consummation produce, for most couples, the children that Roman Catholic theology has rightly linked to acts of intercourse. Indeed, this link between consummation and reproduction is so pronounced that husbands and wives go to considerable contraceptive lengths to frustrate it. With same-sex couples the situation is reversed--and more so. Not only are biological offspring never a result of sexual intimacy, the acquisition of children is an arduous process fraught with legal hurdles. No matter how committed the parties, same-sex unions can never be linked, via consummation, to the creation of a family.

Heretofore, marriage has provided a framework, rooted in vows of commitment, for the raising of children. Though imperfectly realized, that ideal has served to sublimate--to place within the bounds of exalted purpose--mere acts of propagation. Absent this larger framework, intercourse tends to assume the raw visage of animalian instinct. C. S. Lewis once observed that a single man’s desires, freely indulged, would soon suffice to populate a small village.(1) Traditional marriage restrains such impulses because it sets forth the expectation that father and mother will provide a home for the fruit of their passion.

Same-sex marriage, by its very nature, dismisses this link between marriage and propagation. Few heterosexual unions remain childless. All same-sex unions are barren. This biological fact of life renders the term “shotgun wedding” meaningless as regards an entire class of persons--individuals who say their marriages are based on the same principles as everyone else. Though hardly a happy image, this coercive practice (based on whatever stigma still attends out-of-wedlock birth) bears further witness, alongside the term “illegitimate,” to the essential link between marriage and children.

Should marriage be forced to accommodate same-sex commitments, it is hard to believe that this revised institution will continue to be viewed as the ideal framework for raising the offspring that same-sex couples cannot, by themselves, produce. Marital unions will likely focus even more exclusively on the feelings that two people have for each other--and even less on the children that one class of married pairs can, and another can’t, produce. This intensified focus on feelings will expedite the delinkage of sex, marriage, and family that began in the 60’s with the era of convenient birth control. Such marriages, lacking the substantive bond between feelings and family, are destined to be as short-lived as nuptials sealed with a vow to be faithful “as long as we both shall love.”(2)

For some time it has been fashionable to disparage couples who look to maternity as a way to save their marriages. The problem with this desperate logic, however, isn’t that it’s totally benighted. Instead, this reasoning puts the child at the wrong end of the marital relationship--as glue to mend what is already broken. Ideally, children are mutually desired centers of affection that serve to strengthen existing bonds. The spilled-milk approach to parenthood recognizes, only belatedly, the ephemeral nature of feelings not tied to something as tangible and enduring as “our baby.”

Marriage and Child-Rearing

It is hard to fathom the intellectual obstinacy needed to deny what seems a prima facie argument on behalf of male-female marriage—namely, that children are best raised within two-parent, male-female homes. Yet individuals frequently cite a handful of limited and ambiguous studies in order to “prove” the opposite of what nature and common sense would suggest.(3)

What is incontrovertible, however, even within the dubious world of social science, is that children raised by two parents (who, as of now, “happen to be” male and female) are more successful on measures of social, emotional, and educational welfare than children lacking one or the other parent due to divorce or abandonment. What I think is equally plain is that a definition of marriage that ignores male-female consummation, and thus the link between marriage and family, will open the door (or rather, the floodgates) to a view of sexual relations that ignores children altogether.

Same-sex unions need not worry about having and educating offspring--a fact that clearly contributes to the short-term character of most homosexual pairings.(4) Until recently opposite sex couples were obliged by society to worry about such matters. Under a regime of same-sex marriage, men and women will doubtless think less about these duties than they do today. After all, so goes the self-interested logic, if “studies prove” that kids are OK with same-sex guardians, why shouldn’t they be OK in less controversial domestic arrangements that also fall short of a presumably-discredited ideal?

Some homosexual advocates agree that, optimally, children should have two, married, male-female parents. They concede that it makes sense to prefer intimate role models of maleness, femaleness, and male-female domestic relations. But they deny that same-sex marriage undermines this ideal. This optimistic assessment seems implausible given the positive public attention already received by gay couples--and even gay singles--who go to great lengths to birth or adopt children. On the contrary, what seems to be emerging is a view of marriage that ignores not only the connection between marriage, procreation, and child-rearing but also the link between male-female parents and domestic training. This is precisely the scenario suggested by relevant statistics following the institution of gay marriage in Scandanavian countries.

In Sweden, where gay unions were made legal in 1994, marriage rates hit an historic low in 1997.(5) Meanwhile, out-of-wedlock births in 2001 rose to a record high of 55%. In Norway, where elites foisted gay marriage upon a reluctant country in 1993, illegitimate births rose from 39% to 50% by the end of the decade. Finally, in Denmark, which provided for gay unions in 1989, the out-of-wedlock birth rate for first-born children has increased to 60%--a figure that indicates a growing wall of separation between marriage and procreation in the minds of young Danes.

These numbers provide convincing evidence that under a regime of same-sex marriage even more children than today will be raised in homes that have no intimate male-female model. We should not pretend, for the sake of tolerance, that such homes are “just as good,” psychologically speaking, as homes where children see mothers and fathers interacting almost every day. Children who grow up in fatherless or motherless homes know that something is missing. If it is missing because of an accident, that’s tragic. If it is missing due to divorce, that’s regrettable. But if it is missing by design, then that situation is a socially sanctioned form of child abuse.

People might argue, based on the preceding observation, that same-sex marriage should be legal just as divorce and single-parenthood are permitted. This comparison is misleading. The latter circumstances are not (at least not yet) viewed as ideals to be celebrated. Instead, they are concessions to weakness and occasions for grief. The same-sex equivalency argument would transform all these domestic arrangements into joyous states mirroring a bride-groom wedding. Only minds untouched by divorce, clouded by the rigors of single parenthood, or blinded by ideology could seriously entertain such an empirically unwarranted equation.

Furthermore, children actually reared within same-sex households are not only deprived of male-female domestic models, they are also deprived of a family within which reproductive desire is channeled into a framework of familial affection. After all, no homosexual union, within or without marriage, has reproductive significance. Consequently, children raised in these environments will almost certainly be less prepared for male-female relationships, less likely to view those relationships in the context of a family, and more likely to indulge the variety of impulses that constitute the erotic profile of most humans.

The Fish or Fowl Myth

Over the last two decades we have been given to understand that each person is “straight” or “gay” in the same way that people are born with blue or brown eyes. Sit-coms (today’s preferred propaganda tool) assert this notion with a repetitive vengeance. Yet no body of evidence comes close to confirming this dogma. Meanwhile evidence for the malleability of sexual expression is right before our eyes--yet ignored in the name of political correctness.

It is now fashionable for Hollywood types (as with Jerry Springer guests) to declare themselves “bisexual”--a term that raises huge problems for devotees of the I’m-just-that-way school of thought. Also increasingly prevalent are stories about “gay” celebrities who later link up with members of the opposite sex. Ellen DeGeneres’ one-time partner, Anne Heche, is a prominent example. Diversity of this stripe leads individuals who embrace the fish or fowl dogma in disconcerting directions.

Is bisexuality genetic? If so, are bisexuals condemned by their chemistry to be promiscuous? Are threesomes and groups the next “progressive” innovations? How does “being who I am, sexually” differ from sheer indulgence of whatever erotic urges happen to emerge from regions just south of the navel? Is self-restraint always verboten--or only sometimes? And how is one to know which impulses are “me” and which are gratuitous?

People more intent on being non-judgmental than on providing guidance for the next generation aren’t inclined to ponder these questions. They would rather blindly embrace what is politically palatable--that children’s sexual habits are inflexibly set--than confront the “lesbian chic” experimentation that now pervades college life. Cognitive dissonance is resolved by denying or ignoring the evidence at hand.

Here’s the bottom line of this train of thought. The popular idea that boys and girls aren’t affected by their sexual environment is clearly a myth. Even a recent study conducted by researchers sympathetic to the gay agenda now says as much. These sociologists admit, gingerly, what was previously denied because most folks would have found the conclusions highly objectionable. Today, however, in a society where “gay marriage” is promoted on a par with “straight marriage,” the aversion to homosexuality has been so minimized that the air-brushed truth can be told. Children raised by homosexual partners “seem to grow up to be more open to homeoerotic relations.”(6)

Sex-Ed and Gay-Marriage

What is true for children raised in same-sex households is true to a lesser extent for all children--boys and girls who may soon be forced by avant garde health teachers to ask themselves at the age of ten just which sex they think about marrying. That’s a perverse load to put on kids who have yet to reach puberty. Only ideological zealots, moral ostriches, and confirmed couch potatoes could possibly think a “freedom” of this sort is anything but an invitation to social chaos.

Progressive views of sex have taken us from an illegitimacy rate of 4% in 1950 to 33% today--and from under 20% to almost 70% among blacks. The idea that legitimizing homosexual marriage will stanch or reverse that trend requires a degree of self-deception that borders on the psychotic. Adolescents invited to explore their sexual identity will not sit quietly in the corner until they choose A or B-- especially not when “bisexual” or “polymorphous” are among the options that a society bereft moral backbone is putting on the table.

At a meeting of very tolerant church folks, I was discussing, as politely as possible, some of the off-putting and dangerous practices that are erotic norms among male homosexuals. [I invite readers to peruse the NARTH website.(7)] The general reaction ranged from denial to disbelief. One commentator went so far as to assert that homosexual sex and gay marriage had nothing to do with each other--an assertion equivalent to denying that consummation is linked to marriage. Most of these people seemed to believe that same-sex intercourse involves no greater medical risks than heterosexual relations and that only a geographical accident caused AIDS to be vastly more prevalent among America’s homosexuals than among heterosexuals.

If putative adults are abysmally ignorant of the nature and medical consequences of male homosexuality, how much more are their media-molded children kept in the dark about the dangers of acts that constitute an open invitation to disease and death. The portraits that children constantly see and hear in the media falsely portray gay sex as a benign variation of heterosexual relations. About nothing are same-sex proponents so deceptive as the normal erotic practices of homosexuals. Any culture that puts a seal of approval on gay marriage is as much as inviting its children to engage in forms of sexual expression that are both sterile and dangerous--practices that have no natural connection to the creation of a family.

Arguing for Armageddon

The philosopher Edmund Burke would sympathize with those who face the task of painting a plausible portrait of a hypothetical future. There are so many subtle interconnections that one can hardly imagine the impact of even minor changes. Despite the assurances of pundits whose views are assiduously attuned to tenor of the Times, a change of the magnitude now contemplated will surely have enormous consequences--consequences that may dwarf even the devastating effects of the sixties sexual revolution.

Bumper-stickers can proclaim the onset of Armageddon, but they cannot make an argument for it. It is incumbent upon defenders of traditional marriage, therefore, to ponder realistically and rationally, the shape of a culture that has rejected one of history’s most fundamental assumptions--an assumption rooted in the reproductive facts of life.

Marriage has been at the heart of our rise from savagery to civilization. I do not think that future generations will bless us for severing its already damaged root--the one linking propagation to commitment.

(1) Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 5, “Sexual Morality.”

(2) William Bennett relates the story of a couple who pledged to stay together “as long as we both shall love.” His suggestion for a wedding gift was paper plates.

(3) The tenuous and even contradictory nature of these very limited studies can be seen in Charlotte Patterson’s highly tendentious article summarizing studies prior to 1992, “Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents,” Child Development, V. 63, 1992.

(4) McWhirter and Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, 1984). Gay authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen observed, “Alas, it turns out that, on this point, public myth is supported by fact. There is more promiscuity among gays...than among straights.” Even among committed partners, they observe, “the cheating ratio, given enough time, approaches 100%.” Cf. After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90's (Doubleday, 1989).

(5) All Scandanavian figures come from Stanley Kurtz, “Beyond Gay Marriage,” The Weekly Standard, August 4, 2003.

(6) Stacey and Biblarz, American Sociological Review, 2001.

(7) National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, John R. Diggs Jr., “The Health Risks of Gay Sex.” Cf. also R.S. Hogg, et al., International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol 26, No. 3, 657-661. “In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men.”