Let’s just stop with the gun grabbing talk

February 18, 2018 · Posted in Culture and Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Let’s just stop with the gun grabbing talk 

For the past several days, we have learned more and more about the latest in what has become a depressing string of mass-murder incidents involving firearms of various types. Just as we as a society got all good and righteous over “bump stocks” along comes an obviously troubled teenager who hatched a plan to draw out unwitting students from the school he once attended into his own personal free-fire zone. What amazes me still about this perpetrator is that he’s still drawing breath – unlike most assailants in this style of massacre, he didn’t end the spree by blowing his own brains out.

I think we can all agree, however, that 99.9 or maybe even 99.99% of people could look at a gun, pick up a gun, or even shoot a gun (outside of self-defense) without the intention to cause harm to others. Unfortunately, that .01% in a nation of 320 million people, give or take, is still a sum of people that’s roughly equal to the population of our city of Salisbury. One of those people decided he was going to act out his fantasy of blasting his way through a school on Wednesday, and the resulting news cycle has once again stirred up the gun debate.

Look, it’s not the guns. Certainly this made the situation more dramatic but there’s nothing that says he couldn’t have killed as many people by driving a car up the sidewalk by the bus loading zone. I’ll concede, though, that for the sheer brutality, power in choosing victims, and making headlines the gun was the way to go. Sadly, the person with the gun who could have stopped him was nowhere to be found before the killer slipped away, blending in with the crowds fleeing the school.

But the extreme, draconian measures of banning so-called “assault weapons” (simple semi-automatic rifles) or repealing the Second Amendment aren’t realistic, either. Some take advantage of the ignorance and misinformation generally fed to the public in these situations to maintain that anyone can secure a fully automatic weapon, but that’s nowhere near the truth. And even though some are trying to tell us the Second Amendment is only about self-defense or that it’s no longer applicable because we have a National Guard, there’s zero chance a repeal of the Second Amendment would get a 2/3 vote in each house of Congress and pass muster in 38 states (although Maryland would waste no time in ratifying it.)

So let me give you the real question: have we as a society even considered this is the harvest we reap when we sow the cheapening of respect for life?And I’m not really talking the idea of violent video games where the “people” that die are just pixels on a screen (or, in that same vein, actors playing a role for a paycheck wallowing around in fake blood in a movie or TV show – surely some actors have “died” dozens of times on screen) or the fact that “choice” dictates we can murder a baby in the womb practically to the moment of birth – although all these contribute to the issue.

Is the real “mental illness” a distortion of the concept of right and wrong stemming from the fact it was never learned? We would expect predatory animals to cull the weakest from the herd of prey without compunction because their sole instinct is survival. A fox doesn’t stop to ponder their conscience or the chicken’s sense of (for lack of an equivalent term) “humanity” before tearing it apart to serve as an uncooked dinner – it only acts to stave off starvation and maintain the strength to reproduce. What sets humans apart from the lower realms of the animal kingdom is that conscience, but it has to be given some sense of direction. It’s obvious this young killer either didn’t get the guidance or chose to ignore it for reason only he knows. Of course, the same goes from the dozens of more anonymous young men who chose to take a gun and end someone’s life for reasons other than self-defense.

It’s extremely difficult for me to wrap my head around the mindset that it’s perfectly all right and justifiable to walk into a venue with a loaded rifle and wantonly kill defenseless people. And yes, I have seen the bumper stickers and memes that talk about the desire to kill people you find offensive or who burden you with a bad day, or the idea of revenge for a grievous wrong done to you. But sane people don’t act on those desires and eventually kick themselves for thinking that way in the first place because it’s wrong. Something about turning the other cheek?

So. my friends on the Left, banning guns is not the answer, nor can you prohibit people from buying them just because they give you the creeps. A gun ban puts us in a situation where a man with no conscience not only doesn’t know right from wrong but also knows he has his own free-fire zone enforced by people who can keep his conscience clean by doing the killing themselves. Leaders like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and so forth probably executed few (if any) of their millions of unarmed victims themselves, but they had plenty of men with no conscience to do it for them.

In another time, the young gunman would have been right at home as a Nazi prison camp guard or a Bolshevik enforcer. When dealing with flawed humanity, we need all of the tools we can get and guns are a good line of defense.

 

Seeing the other side

I have seen a number of people who I count among my friends fall on the other side of an issue where I’m not certain they’re seeing the proper perspective.

If you look at the situation from the world’s view, Maddi Runkles is being punished because she became pregnant and chose not to abort that pregnancy; yet despite that commendable pro-life stand she is being denied the honor of taking the stage to accept her diploma, among the other discipline handed down by the Heritage Academy, a Christian school in Hagerstown.

However, I look at it from the standpoint of a Christian, and perhaps more importantly, that of a step-parent who could theoretically very well be in the exact same situation as Kim and I have a daughter in a Christian school. So as I was reading some of the reaction from my friends (and their friends) on social media, I was led to the statement from the school, or as one particular friend put it, the group of “lost souls, despite what they are ‘preaching.'” Since this is probably creating more traffic in a week for the school than their website previously received in the last year, their front page has this statement so I’m choosing to reprint it for posterity when this all eventually dies down and the school returns to normal. (Otherwise, the link will point incorrectly.)

Dearest Heritage Family:

As I begin, please understand that my wife and I have fallen in love with the people of Heritage Academy.  Therefore, it is for Heritage’s protection that I write this.

The main reason I have been silent to this point is because in disciplinary situations, each Heritage family deserves confidentiality. The conduct of your children is not everyone’s business. This perspective would have been the best way to deal with Maddi Runkles’ disciplinary situation. However, her family has chosen to make her behavior a public matter. Before sending this letter, I contacted Scott Runkles who gave me permission to discuss this publicly. In my thinking, these were the two to protect: first Maddi, then Heritage, in that order. Unfortunately, both are now being hurt by those who do not know or understand the situation. For this sole reason, I am now willing to comment publicly.

Let me clarify some facts. Maddi is being disciplined, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was immoral. The Student Pledge which every student from 5th grade through 12th grade signs states that this application of Philippians 4:8 “extends to my actions, such as protecting my body by abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs”.  Heritage is also pleased that she has chosen to not abort her son. However, her immorality is the original choice she made that began this situation. Secondly, she will receive her diploma that she has earned.

Much has been said about grace. I believe that there are two kinds of grace: saving grace and living grace. One is concerning spiritual birth “once and for all” (Hebrews 9:12, 10:10) which demanded no effort on my part, because my Savior Jesus, finished this on His cross and from His empty tomb. The other kind of grace is spiritual growth that does demand my effort (2 Peter 3:18). It also includes discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11). A wise man told me that discipline is not the absence of love, but the application of love. We love Maddi Runkles. The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her immorality that began this situation.

As I conclude, I have two concerns. First, I am concerned that my Heritage family feels that the Board and I are harsh, cruel, hard-hearted men. Nothing can be further from the truth. We have spent countless hours in prayer and discussion. The Board has listened to three appeals from the Runkles family and compromised all three times. Secondly, I am concerned about our graduation ceremony on the evening of June 2nd. That night, I want God to be glorified in a dignified manner. Please enable us to do this.

With deepest sincerity,

David R. Hobbs

Administrator

(All emphasis mine.)

Before I go on, I want to add the context of Phillippians 4:8 that their Student Pledge is apparently based upon:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

In so many words, do the things which are good and which are right based on the Biblical values being taught in the school.

But let me step away from the Biblical and moral for a moment and consider the practical. Whether a young lady is taking birth control pills or not, whether the young man is wearing his own protection or not, whenever there is sex there is always the possibility of unplanned pregnancy as has occurred in Maddi Runkles’ case. And bringing a baby into the world as an unwed couple means the child is more likely to grow up in poverty and/or with single parents, neither of which are the more desirable outcomes. That’s not me talking, that’s a statistical fact: the best way for a couple to avoid poverty is to finish their schooling and find work, get married, and then have kids – in that order.

Most of those people who are taking issue with the school are saying they are punishing her for doing the right thing insofar as having the child; but the problem remains that she violated the school code and she faces a punishment for doing so. However, the punishment cannot be given to both participants because the young man does not attend the school, and the truly unfortunate fact of life is that, for boys (even if they attended that school and got a non-student pregnant) they could get away with doing the same thing Maddi did because they’re not going to get pregnant and it’s quite likely they could deny getting the girl pregnant until there’s no need to anymore. (It would be his word against hers.) It’s not fair, but neither is life.

I can’t speak to this for a fact, but as I read this there was the distinct possibility the school could have expelled Runkles immediately without giving her a diploma. We don’t know what other previous transgressions (if any) may have occurred involving her, either, but we do know that she has been made out to be the victim in this case because she lost out on the privilege of receiving her diploma with her classmates. But what she has lost out on are just her privileges. She will still be a graduate of Heritage Academy and can do with that what she will.

To me, the reaction to this story coincides very well with the reaction to the news about the group of graduating students who made the public show of walking out on Vice-President Pence as he delivered commencement remarks at Notre Dame last week. Those who thought the students were justified seem to also believe this school should bend its rules to allow Runkles to receive her diploma because she deserves it, despite one incident of wrongdoing (that we are aware of.) On the other hand, people like me who think the Notre Dame students should have handled the situation differently (perhaps by boycotting the ceremony entirely) are more likely to believe the school should remain firm in enforcing its rules.

One final thought. I’ve seen a number of comments from people, particularly of the Millennial generation, that basically run along the line of “well, no wonder they’re having a hard time getting kids to come to Christian schools when you have such draconian, backward rules.” I agree, to a point: for example, I could understand the girls being pleased about being able to wear pants because they ditched the skirts-only rule a few years ago at our school. Small stuff like that isn’t worth sweating over.

But the larger stuff, such as alcohol, illicit drugs, tobacco, and premarital sex? Such prohibitions are among those I find entirely appropriate for a Christian school. And yes, I think it is appropriate to expect Biblical-style morals from our children. Why should we settle for less when we see the results in the world today?

As parents, our charge is simple, and it’s reflected, among other places, in Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

That’s not to say any parent will do a perfect job, but there’s a reason it works best when a couple gets to know one another well enough to make a commitment to be wed then prayerfully and reverently embarks upon the job of rearing children (and even then it’s not foolproof.)

Apparently the plan was different for Maddi Runkles. I hope and pray when graduation is over she has a healthy baby and she and the father decide to do what’s right. I also hope and pray that the fifteen minutes of fame she receives for this episode, good and bad, will be gentle about chewing her up and spitting her out (as I’m sure it will, because that’s the fate of most “average” people thrust into the limelight so someone can make a point.)

Finally, I pray that the Heritage Academy weathers the storm sure to come from a world that’s sure it’s right but knows nothing of the sort. If I were them, the only people who need to be at their graduation a week from Friday are the graduates, their families, and invited guests. The media wouldn’t care a whit about whatever number of solid Christian graduates the Heritage Academy (and other schools like it) send into the world any other time, so why indulge them now?

On modern-day tyranny

By Cathy Keim

In the last few years, I have frequently pondered what it must have felt like to live in the 1930s. As much as people might have tried to ignore what was happening around them, the signs were there that a major upheaval was coming with shifts of power and subsequent grabs for land, resources, and control. As a baby boomer, I grew up with the USA being at its zenith of power. There were uneasy episodes along the way such as the Vietnam War protests, the hippie drug culture, the gas lines in 1973, and the Nixon Watergate scandal, but we were a superpower and no one thought otherwise.

However, the world seems a much less certain place today. As in the 1930s, one can see signs of global shifts of power. Which miscalculation by a diplomat or a politician will be the event that triggers an avalanche from which there is no turning back?

The totalitarian impulses which propelled the world into World War Two are showing up all around us. The difference between authoritarian control and totalitarian control are immense. A banana republic is authoritarian where the generalissimo forces people to do his will, but he does not control their thoughts. A Hitler or a Stalin demands that not only you conform to his will, but that you agree with him also. Obedience is not enough: you must like doing what you are told to do.

The progressive movement in the USA has reached this point of totalitarian control. We must conform to their demands not only outwardly, but we must inwardly accept their premises. Those of us that refuse are reviled as homophobes, bigots, racists, misogynists, haters, Islamophobes, etc. The progressives believe that they are pure of heart. They really do want what is best for us, so it is their duty to force us to do their will. Since they are pure of heart, they cannot do anything that is bad. Even if things turn out poorly, their pure motives mean they never have to say they are sorry.

In addition, you must remember that the issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution. The run of the mill progressives may really be pure of heart useful idiots, but the powerbrokers understand that everything is about power.

It is only when you put the events of the day in this rubric that you are able to make sense of the insane situations that you regularly confront in daily news. Occasionally you may have to pinch yourself to remember that you still live in America.

The Washington Times states: The Portland Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution this week that bans textbooks and other teaching materials that deny climate change exists or cast doubt on whether humans are to blame.

If a mom or dad questions a book that they feel is inappropriate for their child to read in a school library, they are ridiculed for wanting to ban books, but here we have a school board denying skeptics the right to question anthropogenic global warming. So much for encouraging critical thinking.

Of course, the precedent was already set when a group of 16 state Attorney Generals announced on March 29, 2016, “an unprecedented campaign to pursue companies that challenge the catastrophic climate change narrative, raising concerns over free speech and the use of state authority to punish political foes.”

Now if we deny climate change, we can be punished for not thinking correctly. Orwell wrote about thoughtcrime in a work of fiction, but this is getting scarily close to a totalitarian state and climate change is by no means the only issue which demands the correct viewpoint.

Child abuse is considered to be a bad thing, but now it is hard to know what is considered child abuse. If I expect a male child to use the boys’ bathroom and a female child to use the girls’ bathroom, then this qualifies as child abuse if the child in question thinks that he is a girl. If I try to help this child to understand his gender, then I am a horrible person. However, if I teach little children that their gender is fluid and that they can choose whether they are a girl or a boy, then I am a progressive, pure-of-heart caring person and all is well. The chaos and destruction that will come from this pure-of-heart nonsense is not their problem. The pure-of-heart are never called to account when things go awry.

The key factor in all of this is the turning of the world upside down and ridiculing those that resist. I realize more and more that every issue I address has me sounding like a hateful, bitter clinger to the old ways. This was pressed home to me vividly when I collected signatures to defeat gay marriage in Maryland. I was moved by Christian values that place the family at the center of society. As I talked to people, I watched the tide turn against marriage between one man and one woman because the progressives used the gambit that every person has the right to marry the one that they love. Why would I deny a man the right to marry the man that he loved?

Those of us that stand for the ultimate child protection that is a stable family with a mother and a father raising their children were washed away by the lie that “love” is more important. This is the same kind of upside down thinking that progressives promote when they say that it is better to abort a child than to have them enter the world unwanted. How is murder better? Who is to say that nobody wants the child, even if the mother does not?

When the world reaches the current state of affairs where there is no right to dissent from the progressive’s agenda, then it is time for people of courage and conviction to dig in and refuse to bow the knee to their self-proclaimed masters. The cognitive dissonance that surrounds us will overwhelm us and our children unless we clearly and bravely state the truth to ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Hope dies when the truth dies. People cannot live without hope. All tyrants everywhere seek to squelch the truth because then they can truly control those around them. As a free people it is our duty to speak out against the insanity that the progressives are pushing upon us. State the truth clearly and often. To do less is to acquiesce to tyranny.

Immigration: “The issue is never the issue.”

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: Once again, Cathy is combining her series on immigration with more coverage of the Turning the Tides conference earlier this month.

James (Jim) Simpson, an investigative journalist, followed Clare Lopez’s talk with equally distressing information. He has a short book called The Red-Green Axis Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America, which is available online for free.

Simpson began with the statement, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” The issue only matters as a means to advance the Left’s true agenda. This hit me as particularly eye-opening for those who could not connect the dots between the continual, never-ending string of social ills which we have been forced to endure for the last fifty years. The attack on the family through no-fault divorce, the sexual revolution, women’s lib, and abortion has morphed into the gay issue and then transgender concerns. Never satisfied with the concessions wrung from an exhausted public, the issues just keep on coming, ever weakening and degrading our culture.

Now the issue is immigration. Adhering to the quote, it is easy to see that the elites are not pushing through immigration because they care about the people. They care about how immigrants further the elites’ quest for power and wealth.

Jim listed six ways that refugee resettlement and immigration undermine us.

  1.  Dilutes American culture
  2. Undermines the rule of law
  3. Sucks up welfare resources
  4. Creates chaos: racial/ethnic tension, fiscal stress, unemployment
  5. Cultivates loyal voters for leftist politicians seeking permanent majority
  6. Refugee Resettlement is a vehicle for Hijra

A new fact that I had not heard before was that the UN at the 1976 Conference on Human Settlements laid the groundwork for Agenda 21.

The universal goals were to abolish private property, seek “equitable” distribution of land, resources, and populations worldwide, and a foundation for open borders agenda.

Jim traced out the sanctuary movement from from its beginning when radical leftists were assisting Salvadorans fleeing civil war to the tragic death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco last year. In addition, Simpson researched and came up with the following crime statistics about aliens:

  • 22% of U.S. prison population in 2009 were aliens.
  • The annual incarceration costs were approximately $6 billion.
  • Between 2004 – 2008 249,000 aliens were convicted: 25,064 for murder, 69,929 for sex crimes, 14,788 for kidnapping, and 213,047 assaults.
  • In North Carolina in 2014: 752 illegals arrested on a total of 3,696 sex crime charges against children.

Jim pointed out that while attention is on the Syrian refugee issue right now, there are many other programs such as Temporary Protected Status, asylum seekers, parole, and visa waivers adding up to more than 100,000 Syrians here since 2012.

He then listed the Volunteer Agencies (VOLAGs) that are government contractors to bring in the refugees. He contends that radical leftists infiltrated the VOLAGS. They are not Christians despite their names, they are not religious, and they are not charitable, Simpson added.

I agree with Jim on this. The VOLAGs bring in refugees and deposit them in inner-city slums where they are left to shift for themselves. They often place warring groups next door to each other with no regard for safety. Added to the mix is the fact that the people that already live there are struggling for jobs without being undercut by cheap immigrant labor. Many times the refugees don’t even know how to use indoor plumbing, electricity, or a modern kitchen. The VOLAGs are paid by the head so they are only interested in bringing in as many people as they can, not in helping the ones already here to acclimate.

Jim listed some of the refugee problems that the communities that host them must address. Manchester, NH, has 82 languages. Amarillo, TX, has 911 calls in 36 languages. In Minnesota the Somali unemployment rate is 21%. In Texas, 25% of skin tests are positive for TB. Then add in gangs, drugs, and terrorism to this troubling mix.

The White House Task Force on New Americans pushes “Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees” where the “welcoming” goal is to force Americans to accept mass immigration and the welcoming method is “Culture Shaping” where we “recognize the role everyone must play in furthering the integration of recent immigrants.”

(I wrote a piece on the White House Task Force on New Americans back in March.)

Jim Simpson ate lunch at my table, so I was able to question him further on some of his ideas. He pointed out that the communists have always used proxies to fight their wars when they could. He felt that the jihadists are the new proxies for the communists in the current situation, and made a compelling case for his theory.

It certainly explains why the leftists in our government are so eager to join sides with the Muslim Brotherhood and its numerous affiliates despite the rather glaring disparity between the progressives’ rhetoric and the Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-feminist, anti-gay agenda. How can the feminists swallow their vociferous promotion for equal rights and not peep about the horrors of female genital mutilation, honor killings, women being treated as property by men, and as being less than equal in worth to a man? Or how can progressives not complain about gay rights in Muslim controlled areas?

We go back to the quote that Jim started with, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” The progressives believe that they will use the Islamists to destroy America and then they, the progressives, will be in charge.

I am not so sure that the Islamists agree with that conclusion, but it is undeniable that the progressives in our country are working hand in hand with the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, and numerous other entities to undermine our country.

I will close with a quote from Frank Gaffney and remind you that you can read Jim’s book online. The final chapter is especially helpful in listing ideas of how to respond to this threat.

Center for Security Policy President, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. states:

Jim Simpson has done a characteristically exacting investigation of the extent to which the red-green axis – the radical left, with its activists, contractors, philanthropies and friends in the Obama administration, and Islamic supremacists – have joined forces to use U.S. refugee resettlement programs as a prime means to achieve the ‘fundamental transformation’ of America. His expose is particularly timely against the backdrop of the government sponsored effort to ‘Welcome New Americans’ and suppress those who understand the imperative of “resisting” the migration to and colonization of this country, or hijra, that Shariah-adherent Muslim believed they are required to undertake.

“We fill the culture with garbage, and we reap the result.” – Bobby Jindal

October 7, 2015 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on “We fill the culture with garbage, and we reap the result.” – Bobby Jindal 

Today at RedState (and perhaps a few other outlets) Governor and presidential candidate Bobby Jindal wrote something that you probably won’t see as a thirty-second commercial nor as an uplifting stump speech. He warned us at the outset “this is going to be a sermon,” but I think of it more as tough love. Jindal writes:

These shootings are a symptom of deep and serious cultural decay in our society.

Let that sink in for a minute.

These acts of evil are a direct result of cultural rot, and it is cultural rot that we have brought upon ourselves, and then we act like we are confounded and perplexed by what is happening here.

Jindal goes on to describe in an almost breathless style a number of indictments about modern society, and you really can’t argue with them. As I said above, it’s a dose of tough love, with special emphasis on the the father of the Oregon community college shooter.

Bobby Jindal was born about 7 years after me, so he came of age in the late 1980s. At that time, we were in the early days of the “thug” culture glorified by rap music and just a few short years away from the beginnings of the video games Jindal railed against. (The Sony PlayStation was introduced in 1994 as the first of the modern crop of video game consoles.)

But then again, we have had parents fretting about the decline of moral standards for generations. Nearly 100 years ago it’s likely the parents of the 1920s flappers thought they would be the generation that went to hell in a handbasket; instead they reared the kids who were present for the birth of rock n’ roll and rocked around the clock, only to turn atound and raise my generation. Maybe that’s where they went wrong.

I think Jindal comes closest to hitting the grand slam, though, when he talks about the absence of the father in modern society.

Look at how fathers are treated in the popular culture – most are the long-suffering types who regularly get rolled by scheming kids smart beyond their years while the women run the show. In the reality of life, we find millions of children in families where they have brothers and sisters by multiple fathers. If they are fortunate, one of them may be with the mother but many rarely see their father.

The next question, though, is what can Jindal do about it? It’s an interesting question since government’s role in shaping culture should be limited. Let’s hope that now that Jindal has vented that he can advance the discussion with some policy ideas.

The culture wars and Common Core (part 1)

April 20, 2015 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Education · 2 Comments 

By Cathy Keim

First of a two-part series.

I have been writing about traditional marriage, traditional family, and sanctity of life issues for several years. I have been increasingly aware of the inability to communicate with people why these traditional values are important to them personally and to our society as a whole especially in our political realm. It is hard to win political battles if we cannot defend our positions cogently and make a compelling case for them.

There is the ever-present problem of media bias, which skews decidedly towards the progressive values, but our positions are true and have facts to support them. We can cite studies that show that children do best in a home with their married father and mother. We can demonstrate that babies have a heartbeat at about six weeks in a pregnancy and that they can feel pain by 16 to 18 weeks.

Why is it so hard to engage voters with our traditional values? Why do our facts fall on deaf ears? Donald Williams, PhD, makes a compelling case in his recent article “Discerning the Times.” (This is from the print version of the Christian Research Journal.)

We paid insufficient attention to changes taking place in our colleges in how reading and writing were taught.

(snip)

The attempt to discover the author’s message to his original audience was replaced by a new view in which authorial intention is irrelevant at best and meaning is in the eye of the beholder. When people are taught to read this way, the authority of all cultural texts- including our founding documents and Scripture- is undermined, so that even good arguments for traditional values lose their traction. To reverse this defeat, we must recognize the importance of reading and how it is taught.

Tea Party activists, pro-life advocates, and judicial restraint supporters all point to our founding documents and our Judeo-Christian heritage and beg for people to resist the “hope and change” that has been unleashed on our country. Our history is firmly on our side of the argument, but people look at us as though we are speaking gibberish.

I remembered an article about a teacher complaining about a Common Core lesson plan in the Washington Post several years ago. I looked it up and sure enough my memory was correct: the teachers were to teach the Gettysburg Address in a particular manner.

Another problem we found relates to the pedagogical method used in the Gettysburg Address exemplar that the Common Core calls “cold reading.”

This gives students a text they have never seen and asks them to read it with no preliminary introduction. This mimics the conditions of a standardized test on which students are asked to read material they have never seen and answer multiple choice questions about the passage.

Such pedagogy makes school wildly boring. Students are not asked to connect what they read yesterday to what they are reading today, or what they read in English to what they read in science.

The exemplar, in fact, forbids teachers from asking students if they have ever been to a funeral because such questions rely “on individual experience and opinion,” and answering them “will not move students closer to understanding the Gettysburg Address.”

(This is baffling, as if Lincoln delivered the speech in an intellectual vacuum; as if the speech wasn’t delivered at a funeral and meant to be heard in the context of a funeral; as if we must not think about memorials when we read words that memorialize. Rather, it is impossible to have any deep understanding of Lincoln’s speech without thinking about the context of the speech: a memorial service.)

The exemplar instructs teachers to “avoid giving any background context” because the Common Core’s close reading strategy “forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge, and levels the playing field for all.” What sense does this make?

(snip)

Asking questions about, for example, the causes of the Civil War, are also forbidden. Why? These questions go “outside the text,” a cardinal sin in Common Core-land.

According to the exemplar, the text of the speech is about equality and self-government, and not about picking sides. It is true that Lincoln did not want to dishonor the memory of the Southern soldiers who fought and died valiantly. But does any rational person read “The Gettysburg Address” and not know that Lincoln desperately believed that the North must win the war? Does anyone think that he could speak about equality without everyone in his audience knowing he was talking about slavery and the causes of the war? How can anyone try to disconnect this profoundly meaningful speech from its historical context and hope to “deeply” understand it in any way, shape, or form?”

This teacher points out many of the problems with reading without any context. However, you must remember that the proponents of “New Criticism” have been entrenched in our universities for over fifty years. While most of us ignore the academic world, it does not ignore us. The professors of the academy have been educating our children and setting them loose on our society to wreak havoc. We have been undermined from within. Few of us, or our children, can articulate these concepts in the academic jargon that the scholarly journals use. In fact, we do not read the journals because they seem ridiculous to us, but the concepts have filtered into our society so that appealing to the original intent of the founders of our country or declaring that our Judeo-Christian heritage tells us that marriage is between a man and a woman has no weight or credibility.

If our citizens have been taught that it doesn’t matter what meaning the author intended to convey, but only what they interpret it to mean to them, then we cannot convince them by our good arguments from the Constitution or the Bible.

Williams adds:

(W)e must adjust our rhetoric to address the audience that actually exists, not the one that was here two generations ago. We need to stop berating people for departing from a position they never held.

(snip)

It is too late to preserve the American republic (we have to restore it). We have lost the opportunity to appeal to the old consensus and we need to stop acting like it is still there.

If you have had a hard time crystallizing your concerns about Common Core, then I hope that this information will help you identify a key problem in an easy to share example. I find that many people just cannot grasp what is at stake in our schools.

Sadly, we lost the culture war over fifty years ago when we let the academic world be overtaken by progressive professors. Common Core is just one of the final steps in destroying our society.

Part II will address what we can do to remedy our situation.

Ten Question Tuesday: January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013 · Posted in Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism, Ten Questions · Comments Off on Ten Question Tuesday: January 22, 2013 

After several days of trying to nail this busy lady down, I finally had the chance to speak with writer and author Diana West. You may recall her from the recent Turning the Tides 2013 conference, although I’ve actually linked to her website for some time.

The Death Of The Grown UpShe is the author of The Death of the Grown Up: How America’s Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization (2007) and the forthcoming American Betrayal: The Secret Assault On Our Nation’s Character. Diana is also a syndicated columnist whose work appears in dozens of outlets around the country.

**********

monoblogue: We actually met last Saturday – I’m going to bring my readers up to speed – you and I met last Saturday at Turning the Tides and you did a talk on “Toward a Conservative Foreign Policy.” I noticed this morning that it’s now up on your website, which is very convenient for the readers. I guess the question I would start out with is that you’re more known as a cultural speaker, so how did you get put into talking about foreign policy?

West: Well, really it goes back to 9/11. That’s really when I started writing about how our culture was being changed by this conflict with Islam. And most writers, most thinkers, most pundits and politicians, (they) continued to look at the last decade as a decade of terrorism. Most of the voices you hear discussing how to keep America safe, defend American interests, and so on are really looking at this as how to combat attacks (such as) terrorist attacks (or) military attacks – and while those are, of course, important because no one wants to be attacked at an airport or a stadium – coming from a more cultural lens I started looking at this in terms of how we were being changed culturally by this conflict.

I guess the first part of my writing career definitely had a focus on culture, although I did cover politics as well, but again with a definite cultural emphasis. This past decade I have definitely been looking at the war as a cultural event, and that’s why I’m so interested in things like what’s known as “civilization jihad,” which is, again, the turning from within of our civilization.

monoblogue: Right. And as I read your book, which I did finish – it’s very good – I noticed in The Death of the Grown-Up you started out in the vein that you described, just talking about our culture, but then as the book wrapped up you interspersed a look at the Islamic effect on our culture. The book’s evolution mirrors what you just said…

West: Yes.

monoblogue: …where you started out as talking about culture but then wrapped in the element of Islamic terror after 9/11.

West: Yes. And there’s a backstory to that book, really, which I’m glad you brought up. It explains the way of thinking about some of these problems. I was actually thinking about that book and working on it before 9/11, and it would have been a very different book. It would have definitely outlined the cultural decline as I saw it in terms of this increasing emphasis on youth and this increasing fear and denial of adulthood, and what went with it.

After 9/11 – I was living outside New York at the time, in Westchester County about 45 minutes from Manhattan – after 9/11 happened I shelved the book because I thought ‘who cares, what does it matter?’ We’re in this terrible fight, we’ve been attacked, and trying to understand these new issues I put that project aside. A year or so later, it suddenly became very apparent to me that the cultural decline that I had been trying to work through had a terrifying application in the post 9/11 age. That was how the book became a description of where we had come in terms of an infantile culture and how dangerous that cultural development was for our chances in battling this totalitarian threat which, if you look back through Islamic history, the hallmark of non-Islamic populations living under Islamic law is really one you could describe as infantilized in the sense of not having full rights, not being allowed to speak out, being afraid – these are the hallmarks of non-Islamic populations across centuries, across cultures, across continents.

I looked at this and said, oh my gosh, we are ripe for this kind of takeover and indeed, I ask your readers to look at our speech codes that we willfully put on ourselves. We are afraid to discuss Islam in any kind of rational, logical, and truthful manner. I would ascribe that to this very infantilization that I tried to see in the culture. The book is an argument to see this development and understand how  we have to overcome it if we’re going to withstand this.

monoblogue: Well, 9/11 kind of synthesized and crystallized your thesis then is what you’re saying.

West: Yes, I’m glad I didn’t write the book beforehand because I really felt that application was much more compelling – for me, anyway – and certainly seemed to have more significance for our future.

monoblogue: The other thing that’s interesting, and it’s a matter of how they paired the speakers up at the Turning the Tides Conference, was that you spoke right after Pamela Geller, and Pamela got most of the attention – and she’s the lightning rod for…

West: Sure.

monoblogue: …for pro-Islamic protests. But your message is almost as powerful as hers in the fact that, yes, this Islamic influence is not a good thing for America.

West: Well, I suppose that’s true. Of course, Pamela is a well-known activist at this point, and I think that as an activist she is certainly going to draw the attention of the CAIR demonstrators and things like that. I work strictly as a writer, journalist, and author, so I move in a different track although I would say we have similar goals and very often discuss similar topics so there is a commonality of theme here, but we have different roles and different careers.

monoblogue: That’s fine, but it seemed interesting to me – they’re actually out there protesting her and not you for your message, which – you kind of get to fly under the radar in a way.

West: I suppose so (laughs.) I work, perhaps, in more of the journalistic milieu – maybe it just doesn’t rile them up quite as much.

monoblogue: That’s all right (laughs), sometimes it’s good to be stealth. I’ve found that out myself. But when we heard you last Saturday, I noticed that you were coming in and saying ‘this isn’t really my forte, I hadn’t been thinking about that sort of thing as a broad foreign policy.’ And like I started out, it was interesting to hear you talk about that when you’re more known for culture. So how long did you have to prepare for this speech?

West: Oh, I guess I worked it out over about a week. I mean, in terms of – if you go to my website and comb through some of the back archives I have not written on culture per se for, really since 9/11. And while I definitely examine the cultural impact of war, I have also been looking very minutely and intensively – for example, in war policy, in military doctrine, in examining the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – so I wasn’t quite the fish out of water that I may have made you think in terms of thinking about a foreign policy address.

What I was trying to say was, when I was asked to come up with a conservative foreign policy for the conference, I think I was asked because I’d been thinking through jihad, the Islamization of the United States military, which is something I write a great deal about (and) my sense of the futility, and indeed dangers, of nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. So what I was trying to explain was that I had not put these things together in the sense of a comprehensive political policy.

I think with that address, I kind of wish that Mitt Romney had made such a foreign policy address as mine, in terms of putting these various cultural and national security concerns together because I don’t think you can talk about – you can successfully talk about and battle the threats to our country in terms of terrorist events, in terms of a bad man with a bomb getting into a building, what we tend to do – and this gets back to what Pam is so good at, and others in this field, is understand that these actions (like) bringing bombs to a building are the expression of an ideology, and this ideology goes back to classical mainstream Islam. It is jihad, it is Islamic law to the entire world, to the caliphate – which is something else that I write about a lot – it is jihad to exert Islamic law over the world and everyone in it, including non-Muslims. And this is where we come in, and I’ve always felt that Islam itself doesn’t interest me, except insofar as the nexus between expansionist Islam and our life.

Where you come in to understand this is the impact of jihad and something called dhimmitude. Dhimmitude is the condition of the dhimmi, which are Christians and Jews living under Islamic law, and it is in effect a third- or fourth-class degree of citizenship. That’s where I’ve become interested in Islam; it is a cultural interest but, again, it also becomes a national security interest. In trying to knot this all together in a talk for a whole foreign policy address, of course it also involves things like border security and the importance of Congress becoming more involved in foreign policy. At this point, I think we have a very dictatorial foreign policy that is set at the White House, mostly, and Congress is merely there to rubber-stamp funding for whatever it is the President wishes to do.

These were some of the things I was trying to bring together into a more macro sense than I was accustomed to doing as a weekly columnist and almost daily blogger.

monoblogue: Right. And that’s something – I just happened to look (yesterday) morning and here’s the speech that you happened to give at Turning the Tides, which is very convenient. The website, by the way, is dianawest.net – I’ll plug that for you – and you also have the syndicated column.

West: Yes. I have the syndicated column and the speech actually was published at American Thinker as well. But mostly I write my column, which runs in something around 100 papers at this point, and I also write books. I have my new book coming out in May, which is called American Betrayalwhich, again, is a foray into history, actually, and how we got into this condition we’re in. I think of it as a prequel to The Death of the Grown-Up, really; it goes deeper and back a little farther to kind of set things straight.

monoblogue: That’s good, I’ll be interested to see how that does when it comes out. Obviously you’ve been working hard on that because, I recall as I was getting this set up and talking to you for (this interview) that you originally had this coming out in April, but now it’s going to be May.

BetrayalWest: Yes. (laughs) It’s been done for quite awhile. It’s a long book, and in talking about the old-fashioned way of doing things (referring to our small talk prior to the interview) publishers are doing things somewhat old-fashioned. It turns out that getting everything straight, typeset, and properly footnoted and everything just simply takes more time, so we had to push it off to May. But I do not believe there will be any further delays.

It’s been done – actually it was turned in back in May of 2012, and we’ve been editing over the months and so on. Books just take time, especially a large book that is very heavily footnoted.

monoblogue: Chock full of information.

West: Yes it is! Definitely value for the dollar. (laughs) A heavily researched book; it’s no cut and paste job here.

monoblogue: And I would expect no less. It sounds like you’re a very thorough-type person, and that’s good. We need more of those on our side. We have to put up with a lot of lies from the other side, people who just make it up as they go along and don’t check their facts. It’s refreshing to see our side portrayed in that way. You’re crafting.

West: Thank you. Yes, I try very hard and try to be thorough and try to be correct because it is very important. And I also try to admit when I change my mind or make a mistake – I think that’s equally as important. That’s one complaint I have with general journalism is that there is very little interest in correcting mistakes, and also changing minds. Sometimes the facts appear and there is reason to reconsider, and that is actually, I think, a sign of human growth and not anything less.

People tend to get very entrenched in their views of the world and vested in them so it becomes very difficult to reconsider and reformulate policies, which is one of my complaints with, for example, the Bush administration over its period in Iraq and Afghanistan, and certainly the military over these many years of fighting the same war, even as it became more and more apparent that “winning hearts and minds” in the Islamic world was not going to happen short of conversion to Islam. It’s that clear-cut; there’s no room for wiggle here. It is an absolute brick wall in terms of trying to persuade or win over an Islamic culture to a Western way.

You would think after a decade of trying there would be some reconsideration here, but I think there’s even less willingness to consider  a larger picture, much to the detriment of our country and just too many of our fellow citizens from the military.

monoblogue: Right, and in a way I can tie this to together to conclude it, this gets to be a battle between infantilization and maturity. We’re not showing the maturity to evolve our thought process as situations dictate.

West: That is certainly one way to think of it; it does seem to be that way. I think there’s also people with careers in mind, and reputations they’re too vainly wed to – these are some of the very human characteristics, yes, but I would say they are not of the more mature side. Certainly the ideal to which we aspire – and of course, we’re all human so there’s not some super standard that we all hit all the time every day – these are very serious problems and none of it is theoretical, none of it comes from an academic milieu where a theory can be argued.

We’ve been battle-testing these theories, which have led to loss of life, loss of limb, and tremendous losses to our national treasury, to our fitness of our fighting forces – I mean, it’s really been a cataclysmic decade and there’s really no end in sight (nor) any interest in looking back and actually saying what went wrong and how can we make it better for the future. I hope that that changes.

monoblogue: I hope it does too, and that actually turns out to be a good spot to wrap this up. Your book comes out in May, and I wish you the best of luck with it. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.

West: Thank you, Michael, I enjoyed it.

**********

We actually chatted for a few minutes after the interview, comparing notes on the conference and other topics. A thought we extended on during the impromptu conversation was regarding the process of writing her book since I obviously chose a different path in getting my book to market because I wanted it out before the 2012 election. It boggles my mind that her manuscript has taken so long in the editing process, although I’m sure verifying the footnotes is a tedious batch of work.

The key thing was that I learned a lot in speaking with Diana, and hopefully you did as well in reading this. I haven’t determined next week’s guest quite yet, so stay tuned.

Political incorrectness redux

He caused a sensation when he appeared the first time, but “Smoking Man” is back.

Actually, the message is one which makes sense given the theme. But my thoughts on this aren’t about the theme, but why the smoker as a messenger is such a big deal. It also relates to another issue I think is important.

Think about it: smokers comprise a minority of the population – about 1 in 5 according to most generally accepted estimates. Yet their behavior is discouraged in nearly all public places and their right to conduct this activity in their own private space is coming more and more into question. Last year, for the second time in two years, Maryland legislators introduced a bill to ban smoking in private automobiles if children are present.

But smokers grin and bear the consequences of their actions as they huddle outside public places to get their fix, put their health at risk from a wide variety of diseases – at least according to medical research – and pay steep taxes of several dollars per pack in order to satisfy their nicotine craving. Moreover, thousands of state tax dollars are spent in an effort to shame smokers into giving up their habit, which is hypocritical at best when the state makes millions of dollars from smokers alone. (No one pays a specific tax on sugary pop, Big Macs or Cheetos – well, at least not yet.)

On the other hand, look at what we are doing to cater to an even tinier minority of the population – studies like this recent one have established this segment as somewhere between 3% and 5%. Among this minority, there are a subset who partake in much riskier behavior which can lead to health problems down the road as well.

Yet many of their activists are claiming this as a civil rights issue comparable to the struggles the black population went through a half-century ago. Of course, it was obvious in most cases who was being discriminated against, just as it is fairly obvious who among us smokes. (Many just have that tobacco smell which hangs on their clothes and belongings.) It’s not always as obvious who’s in this other tiny minority, but they seem to have an oversized voice when it comes to the cultural and political arenas. And while the percentage of smokers long-term is declining, the percentage of those who self-identify as LGBT is increasing as we teach their certain brand of “tolerance” and “acceptance” in schools and media.

Most of us don’t hound the LGBT population back into the closet, and I’m not advocating such an action. But there is something wrong with this overall picture. Just look at the history of smoking bans: first we banned smoking on airplanes, then we segregated smokers into smaller and smaller areas in other public venues (“smoking or non-smoking?”) before eliminating most entirely, and now we’re trying to encroach these prohibitions into private spaces. It’s been a breakdown in the right of someone to enjoy a substance which is still legal.

Similarly, the legalization of same-sex marriage begins a further breakdown of the family unit. Since biologically speaking it takes a male and female to create offspring, there is no way a committed same-sex couple can have children naturally. There either has to be a surrogate mother or a sperm donor involved, and that person shouldn’t forfeit their rights just for the convenience of a same-sex couple.

And then there is the probable next step: plural marriage and polyamory. A Brazilian trio (one man, two women) recently made headlines when their civil union was announced. At this point it remains a civil union but Brazilian law allows for the conversion of a civil union to a marriage with a judge’s approval, according to the Telegraph article. At some point we here in America will further break down the traditional family and remove those guideposts which have served us well for centuries.

As we have seen with the jihad against smokers, the assault against tradition and values may accelerate once the step is taken and voters in some state approve same-sex marriage. When we give an inch, the next mile is placed in jeopardy.

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  • 2018 Election

    Election Day is November 6 for all of us. With the Maryland primary by us and a shorter widget, I’ll add the Delaware statewide federal offices (Congress and U.S. Senate) to the mix once their July 10 filing deadline is passed. Their primary is September 6.

    Maryland

    Governor

    Larry Hogan (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Shawn Quinn (Libertarian) – Facebook

    Ben Jealous (D) – Facebook Twitter

    Ian Schlakman (Green) Facebook Twitter

     

    U.S. Senate

    Tony Campbell (R) – Facebook Twitter

    Ben Cardin (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Arvin Vohra (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    There are three independent candidates currently listed as seeking nomination via petition: Steve Gladstone, Michael Puskar, and Neal Simon. All have to have the requisite number of signatures in to the state BoE by August 6.

     

    U.S. Congress -1st District

    Andy Harris (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Jenica Martin (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    Jesse Colvin (D) – Facebook Twitter

     

    State Senate – District 37

    Addie Eckardt (R – incumbent) – Facebook

    Holly Wright (D) – Facebook

     

    Delegate – District 37A

    Frank Cooke (R) – Facebook

    Sheree Sample-Hughes (D – incumbent) – Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 37B (elect 2)

    Chris Adams (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Johnny Mautz (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Dan O’Hare (D) – Facebook

     

    State Senate – District 38

    Mary Beth Carozza (R) – Facebook Twitter

    Jim Mathias (D – incumbent) Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38A

    Charles Otto (R – incumbent)

    Kirkland Hall, Sr. (D) – Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38B

    Carl Anderton, Jr. (R – incumbent) Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38C

    Wayne Hartman (R) – Facebook

     

    Delaware

     

    U.S. Senate

     

    Republican:

    Rob ArlettFacebook Twitter

    Roque de la FuenteFacebook Twitter

    Gene Truono, Jr. –  Facebook

     

    Libertarian (no primary, advances to General):

    Nadine Frost – Facebook

     

    Democrat:

    Tom Carper (incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Kerri Evelyn HarrisFacebook Twitter

     

    Green (no primary, advances to General):

    Demitri Theodoropoulos

     

     

    Congress (at-large):

     

    Republican:

    Lee MurphyFacebook Twitter

    Scott Walker

     

    Democrat (no primary, advances to General):

    Lisa Blunt Rochester (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

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