Thursday, August 11, 2011

Buyer's Remorse

The Left is becoming increasingly disenchanted with Mr. Obama. Even his cheerleaders at MSNBC are beginning to complain about the lack of leadership coming from the Oval Office. Drew Weston, a progressive psychologist at Emory University, and ardent Obama supporter has a lengthy essay in the New York Times in which he argues that Mr. Obama has disappointed by being neither tough enough nor liberal enough.

The latter charge will seem incomprehensible to many readers since Mr. Obama is the most leftward president in American history, but be that as it may, toward the end of the piece Weston says what many observers who've been less smitten by his oratory and racial significance have been saying for three years:
A second possibility [for Mr. Obama's failures] is that he is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted "present" (instead of "yea" or "nay") 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues.

A somewhat less charitable explanation is that we are a nation that is being held hostage not just by an extremist Republican Party but also by a president who either does not know what he believes or is willing to take whatever position he thinks will lead to his re-election. Perhaps those of us who were so enthralled with the magnificent story he told in “Dreams From My Father” appended a chapter at the end that wasn’t there — the chapter in which he resolves his identity and comes to know who he is and what he believes in.
Of course, these explanations are not mutually exclusive. The part about an "extremist Republican Party" is nonsense, of course, but the part about Mr. Obama being unable or unwilling to articulate what he believes in, is not. The country, led by a swooning media, rolled the dice on a man they knew nothing about and got a president who appears with every passing day to be unsuited for the job.

London's Liberal Legacy

By now everyone has heard of the terrible, senseless rioting that has occurred in England over the last several nights. Max Hastings of the Daily Mail explains why it is happening, in his opinion, and everything he says, down to the last detail, sounds like he's talking about the U.S.

This is a very important essay, exposing as it does the culturally corrosive acid that is modern liberalism. Everything Hastings deplores in his piece is the outworking of the liberal assumption that individuals should be unfettered by any discipline, rules, and consequences for their behavior. It's the result, too, of three generations of the liberal emphasis on the inherent goodness of people, personal autonomy, and a state generated sense of entitlement.

Here's Hastings' conclusion:
A century ago, no child would have dared to use obscene language in class. Today, some use little else. It symbolises their contempt for manners and decency, and is often a foretaste of delinquency.

If a child lacks sufficient respect to address authority figures politely, and faces no penalty for failing to do so, then other forms of abuse — of property and person — come naturally.

So there we have it: a large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable. They are too idle to accept work waitressing or doing domestic labour, which is why almost all such jobs are filled by immigrants.

They have no code of values to dissuade them from behaving anti-socially or, indeed, criminally, and small chance of being punished if they do so. They have no sense of responsibility for themselves, far less towards others, and look to no future beyond the next meal, sexual encounter or TV football game.

They are an absolute deadweight upon society, because they contribute nothing yet cost the taxpayer billions. Liberal opinion holds they are victims, because society has failed to provide them with opportunities to develop their potential. Most of us would say this is nonsense. Rather, they are victims of a perverted social ethos, which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline — tough love — which alone might enable some of its members to escape from the swamp of dependency in which they live.

Only education — together with politicians, judges, policemen and teachers with the courage to force feral humans to obey rules the rest of us have accepted all our lives — can provide a way forward and a way out for these people. They are products of a culture which gives them so much unconditionally that they are let off learning how to become human beings. My dogs are better behaved and subscribe to a higher code of values than the young rioters of Tottenham, Hackney, Clapham and Birmingham.

Unless or until those who run Britain introduce incentives for decency and impose penalties for bestiality which are today entirely lacking, there will never be a shortage of young rioters and looters such as those of the past four nights, for whom their monstrous excesses were ‘a great fire, man’.
Do read the whole column. It's an eye-opener.

I have one criticism, though. It has to do with the above sentence which says, "Only education — together with politicians, judges, policemen and teachers with the courage to force feral humans to obey rules the rest of us have accepted all our lives — can provide a way forward and a way out for these people."

Those things are all necessary, of course, but what's really at the root of Britain's problems, and ours, is an accelerating secularism. Unless young people can be given a transcendent purpose, grounded in belief in individual responsibility to a personal God, none of the rest will make much of a dent in the problem. Unless society affirms that there is indeed a transcendent purpose and a God who establishes it then it has no compelling answer to the nihilist argument that everything is meaningless and we may as well just burn it all down.