Friday, September 29, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - Gloomy Gus

I try not to be too much of a doom sayer, although some of my posts of late would suggest that I am only one or two steps away from becoming the dirty nutjob in a ragged trenchcoat and a sandwich-board sign yelling "REPENT! The end is at hand!" on the street corner.

Here's what I wish to communicate to all those who should happen by here: I believe there are large, real threats to America and the American way of life, and all that that entails. George W. Bush is not one of those threats, either.

One threat is a curious radicalized sect of Islam, one that has millions of adherents, one that finds no discomfort in sacrificing the lives of its members, let alone the lives of those it has deemed inferior. By the way, those deemed inferior - that would be you, dear reader. Even if you are Muslim - for by their standards, you are probably not faithful enough. And its members chant, yell, and pray of how they wish us ill. But we pay them little mind.

The second is the recent resurgence in collectivist thinking finding realization in South America, and gaining adherents here at home. This is seen on international, national, and even local levels, as people turn more and more to government to solve problems that just three generations before their ancestors would not have dreamed of asking for government intervention. This is not embodied by Chavez of Venezuela; he does create an easy encapsulation of the problem. If men were angels, socialism and Communism could work; the problem is, we are not, and so these collectivist societies resort to coersion to impose their wills and realize their goals. Somewhere along the way, liberty dies, as the goal of the perfectly egalitarian society fails to be realized. When the goal is to create equality of outcome, rather than opportunity, individual rights disappear, and with them freedom.

Capitalism is not perfect - but it is the only system that successfully allows a society to possess a truely free political system and also achieve economic success.

The third is a societal problem that to my mind lacks an easy resolution, a growing hostility to religion. There are those who believe religion to be a malevolent force, a force holding humanity back, trapping it in a medieval mindset. Then there are those who cesslessly repeat the old canard that "more wars have been fought over religion than anything else."

First, allow me to address the scare quotes. Wars are about power, not faith. The Crusades were about popes trying to maintain precedence over the budding nation-states. The endless English-French wars were about territory, not Protestantism and Catholicism. The battles on the gates of Vienna were as much about empire-building as spreading Islam. Religion merely provided a rallying cry.

I believe those critics could not be more wrong. Religion is a force that calls on us to be better, by reminding believers that there is a higher purpose in life, and an accountability to something more than our individual wills. That those who most avidly agitate against faith tend to be quite self-absorbed speaks volumes. Having removed God from their lives, they erect themselves on His pedestal. And at a time when so much in the world is in flux, religion provides one of the few constants in a turbulant world, providing a moral anchor whist confronting the ethical challenges that our constant innovation presents us.

I believe that these threats, while at differing levels of intsity, are the primary ideological and philosophical challenges that confront us at this time.

Feel free to weigh in, critique, and comment; if there is something here you would like to discuss further let me know, and I will revisit it next week.

Recommended Reading
Victor Davis Hanson, "Islamic Fascism 101."

Rich Lowry, "Soft Cell." An inside look at Guantanamo.

Jonah Goldberg, "Excuse Du Jour."

Mario Loyola, "The New Cold War."

Michael Ledeen, "The Reality of Religion."

Cliff May, "Submit or Die."

Thought of the Week
"If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honour of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation."
Samuel Adams (letter to Elbridge Gerry, 27 November 1780)

Churchill Quote of the Week
"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill


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