Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Just War Poll

Christianity Today has a poll up in which they ask readers to vote Yes or No on whether the Iraq war met the conditions of a Just War. As I write this it's 58% No and 36% Yes.

I wonder exactly which of the Just War criteria those who voted No think the Iraq war violated.

In fact, I wonder how many of the respondents even know what the criteria of a Just War are.


Gay Adoption

Frank Lombard, you may or may not have heard from the major media, is the associate director of Duke University's Center for Health Policy who, over the internet, recently offered his five year-old adopted son to pedophiles who wished to molest him. Lombard himself has admitted to molesting the boy and photographs have been found of his cruel perversions.

Lombard and his gay partner (who seems to have been unaware of Lombard's behavior) adopted the boy, a fact which may explain the media's reluctance to make much of the story, since it certainly wouldn't do much to advance the cause of gay adoption. Mike Adams points out that the child is black and goes on to write that:

If this case goes to trial, it could be an interesting one to watch. But it will be just as interesting to watch the Duke faculty respond to these allegations. It didn't take them long to respond when several white Duke Lacrosse players were accused of raping a black stripper. A whopping 88 professors signed a statement accusing the players of both racism and rape. Such was their regard for the presumption of innocence.

Perhaps even more stunning was the response of some professors after it became apparent that the white lacrosse players were innocent. After that became so obvious the school had to readmit the students, Professor Kate Holloway resigned her committee assignments in protest.

So it will be interesting to see how Duke faculty members respond to Frank Lombard. Because he is white, Lombard is fair game at Duke, isn't he? But Lombard is also gay, so will that complicate things?"

I think it much more likely that if this case goes to trial it will make nary a ripple on the evening news. If white males are accused of raping a black female then that's worth 24/7 coverage, but if a gay white man rapes a black child, well, those things happen, unfortunately, and we really shouldn't try to draw any larger meaning from it. So let's all move on to more important matters like what Michael Jackson will be wearing at his viewing.


Liberty and Tyranny

I've on occasion voiced my uneasiness with the on-air habits of radio and TV talkers who use rudeness as a substitute for dialogue. I'm put off by the shouting, name-calling, and talking over each other that some talkers, both left and right, seem to employ as standard procedure. Even so, despite my misgivings, I purchased a book written by one of the worst offenders (Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, by Mark Levin) which has been riding the New York Times best-seller list for a couple of months now.

I wasn't much impressed at first since it seemed in the beginning to be a little long on rhetoric and a little short on specifics, but as I worked my way into it I found myself becoming more and more intrigued. Having now finished it, I can say that it's as fine a book on what it means to be a Conservative as I've read. It may turn out to be for the first half of the twenty-first century what Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative was for the latter half of the twentieth century.

Levin's aim is to explain for the current generation what Conservatism is, to discuss what Conservatives tend to hold in common and to contrast Conservative principles with the beliefs held by those he calls "Statists." Levin eschews the term "liberal" because there's too much confusion surrounding the word. Classical liberals were anti-authoritarian, which is a better description of modern Conservatives than of modern liberals who tend to be enamored of the power of the state, a proclivity which makes them the antithesis of classical liberals.

At any rate, Levin explains that, contrary to popular belief, Conservatives do not oppose government: "The Conservative does not despise government, he despises tyranny. This is precisely why the Conservative reveres the Constitution and insists on adherence to it."

Neither do Conservatives oppose change. Indeed, they desire it since much of the status quo is the result of Statist policies inimical to liberty: "The Conservative seeks to preserve and improve the civil society, not engage in a mindless defense of the status quo inasmuch as the status quo may well be a condition created by the Statist and destructive of the civil society - such as the 1960s cultural degradations which are all too prevalent today. It is the Statist, who rejects even minor change if such change promotes the civil society, thereby challenging his authority."

He quotes C.S. Lewis who describes the danger posed by the Statist thus: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under the omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Beginning with chapter 3 Levin undertakes to clarify some important truths about the role of faith in the founding of the country, the crucial importance of fealty to the Constitution, and the importance of federalism and free markets. He also explains modern attempts by the Statist to undermine each of these.

Toward the end of the book he offers a compelling critique of the welfare state, enviro-statism, and lax immigration policies. He concludes with a chapter on the need for a strong national defense and, what some readers might find the most useful part of the book, a succinct statement of Conservative principles arranged in the format of a manifesto.

The book should be required reading for every student of political theory. It should also be read by everyone who wishes to understand the Conservative worldview and everyone on the left who thinks he knows what Conservatism is, but whose criticisms often reveal an unfortunate ignorance and lack of understanding.