Friday, March 28, 2008

What Exactly Do I Owe This Black Man?

Mr. Obama's pastor, Jeremiah T. Wright has made some statements that his defenders rationalize as expressions of black rage. He's gone so far as to say, "God damn America." And Mr. Obama has asked for a more frank and open discussion about race.

This is true. Blacks and whites seldom speak frankly about race. Thus, I have often reacted to black rage with a shrug and the remark, "I don't owe you anything." Yet that's the message of Mr. Wright and his ilk: "We're owed." The rationale is that blacks are disadvantaged by America's legacy of slavery.

I can understand that a child afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome and born to a crack-whore mother and raised in a ghetto and sent to an inner city school will face an almost insurmountable nexus of disadvantages. Are any of these things necessarily a black thing? I think it's racist to think so. Did I sell the booze, etc.? I think the weight of that culpability is on someone else's shoulders.

Why is Mr. Wright so angry that he says, "God damn America?" What were the disadvantages of his family? According to this biography his father was a pastor and his mother was a doctor--I presume a PhD. Compared to my own parent's 6th and 8th grade education, I maintain that Mr. Wright had a relatively privileged family background.

Perhaps Mr. Wright who was born in 1941 was denied educational or vocational opportunities in his youth? The Brown vs Board of Education ruling occurred when he was 12 years old. The Civil Rights Act was passed when he was in his early 20s. His biography does not show any insurmountable difficulties. Update:I just checked the fine print of the Wiki article on apartheid. Apartheid ended in 1995. That was 13 years ago and on another continent! But to listen to fellows like Mr. Wright, it's still ongoing. Why didn't he say "God damn South Africa?"

I do not find any justification for Mr. Obama's pastor's outrage. In fact, today I came upon this picture of Mr. Wright's house. Perhaps in a less racist America, Mr. Wright could afford this house instead.

America's legacy of slavery is that politicians like Mr. Obama attach themselves to men like Mr. Wright for the power he has accumulated to himself. Mr. Wright accumulates that power by pandering to the grievances of blacks with legitimate complaints of disadvantage. His message of "we're owed" is clearly false in Mr. Wright's life. How does "we're owed" help any disadvantaged person of any color overcome his disadvantaged station in life?

If you think "we're owed" you'll have an excuse for all of your own failings. if you think "we're owed" you'll think someone else needs to do something for your benefit and this encourages passivity on your part. This does make the slaves on the liberal plantation easier to control after all.

I think I owe this to the black man: You're my equal. Act like it. Man up. Take control of your life and overcome whatever disadvantages. If you fail, open your eyes and learn why you failed. It wasn't for lack of 40 acres and a mule a century before you were born.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Real and Phony Martyrs

On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI baptized a Christian convert named Magdi Allam. This placed Mr. Allam and the Pope at risk of retribution from Islamic extremists. You may recall a year ago the Pope merely suggested that REASON should be the operant basis for interfaith dialog, whereupon adherents to "the religion of peace" started rioting, burning things, and killing people.

With this in mind I wondered what in the world had gotten into the Pope's head. Though some Moslems think that leaving Islam is a sin to be punished by Allah, a significant number start sharpening their knives.

I now think that this is exactly what the Pope is thinking. The reality of Christianity is never so obvious as when the martyr stands in the coliseum indifferent to the lions. Ours is a faith predicated upon the Resurrection and to people looking forward to Resurrection martyrdom is no loss. Thus, I won't be terribly surprised, though horribly grieved, to note that Mr. Allam, or even the Pope has been murdered by some swine.

Contrast this with phony martyrs: Feckless losers who have no significance to their lives except killing as many people as flagrantly as possible then saving the last bullet for themselves. I'm thinking of the fellows who shot up Columbine High School some years ago. These men did the devil's work and traded their souls for a few weeks' worth of posthumous headlines.

John Lennon failed to consider these swine pigs when he sang, in "Imagine" no hell below us and above us only sky. Society cannot work without justice and how can there be justice for the murder-suicide without hell? Or call it what you will a just repayment after this life for crimes personally committed during this life.

Nowadays, when you hear of "martyrs" on the news, they are more often than not murder-suicides essentially the same as the swine of Columbine. They strap on a bomb vest and kill Israeli or Iraqi civilians. If there's a deity that rewards such behavior with Paradise, he's the devil. I want to go to where that deity isn't.

The man who bravely stands for his God and for his faith when dogs would murder him for no other reason than that he stands for it--he is a man. He is no phony martyr.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Let's Not Be Frank

At this moment in my DVD player is a film series from the 1970s. When I was an undergrad I worked in the library and one of my more enjoyable duties entailed showing films for various assemblies. What I enjoyed most was on Sunday evenings setting up and showing a series of films starring Francis Schaeffer entitled, "How Shall We Then Live." I bought the DVDs last year and this week on a lark my wife started watching them again.

Francis Schaeffer was one of my heroes. I recall emerging from my agnosticism negotiating exactly how much of a thinker I could be while remaining true to Christianity. Francis Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis were significant influences in my defining the relationship between Christian Theism and philosophical thought.

Toward the end of "How Shall We Then Live" Schaeffer tends to get dark in his warnings of where we're going as a society. Secular humanism was the great Satan of those days, but at least it was humanistic. Contrast that with what Pope John Paul II called our culture of sex and death.

This darkness of tone, this warning of impending statist anti-humanism became much more apparent in Schaeffer's follow-on movie series, "What Ever Happened To The Human Race."

I caught a vibe back then that something wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on anything. I was and continue to be committed to pro-life. I had to admit the truth of Schaeffer's thesis in that film series. There really is no difference between one government that declares Jews to be non-persons, and another that declares the same about Blacks as the US did prior to the Civil War. And who's to prevent the Supreme Court from declaring that the unborn are non-persons, too? And thereby Francis Schaeffer violated Godwin's Law in his anti-abortion rhetoric, and taught a generation of pro-lifers to do likewise.

This was something I enthusiastically supported. But I think that was a mistake. Today I spoke with a friend about adoption and abortion. I've always said that I think every pro-lifer has a moral obligation to be willing to adopt and to do so if that will prevent an abortion. I heard long ago that the number of couples wanting to adopt is roughly equal to the number of abortions. Why has the pro-life movement done nothing about this? What have we done except vote for corrupt idiots who'll promise to nominate strict constructionist judges in the empty hope that Roe v Wade will be overturned?

Why is it easier to fly across the world to China or Korea to adopt than it is to adopt a child right here? Why haven't we asked this of our pro-life legislators?

It is too easy to say that Francis Schaeffer blinded us with Godwin's law. But I doubt that. It's more natural to oppose force with force. Godless feminazis get one Supreme Court to overturn abortion laws. We'll get our own Supreme Court to reinstate them. Let's face it, pro-life politics is a great way to keep Christians voting for Republicans who mumble incoherencies about "the sanctity of life" without having to actually DO ANYTHING about it.

So, now, I read that Francis Schaeffer's son, Frank, has come out condemning his father's political activism. I have never had much respect for junior. He always seemed to be something of a parasite on his father's ministry. Like Yoko Ono's baleful influence seen in "Let It Be." I think he saw this and tried unsuccessfully to attain a measure of independent achievement.

The complete extent of his failure has been seen in his recent denunciation of his father. Mr. Schaeffer has taken his place in that long line of ghoulish children who dine on a dead parent's reputation. He has thus made his stock and trade deconstructing and discrediting his father's work. Let's not be Frank.

It may be so, my lord.
Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear!
Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
To make this creature fruitful!
Into her womb convey sterility!
Dry up in her the organs of increase;
And from her derogate body never spring
A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
Create her child of spleen; that it may live,
And be a thwart disnatured torment to her!
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child! Away, away!
-- William Shakespeare in King Lear

Friday, March 14, 2008

Reducing My Carbon Footprint

A couple weeks ago my brother called me. He wanted me to get on eBay and find out what a Honda Metropolitan II sold for. I told him. He said he had one for sale. Well, not his, it belonged to his boss. The price was right.

Now, sometime in the mid '70s, my brother got a moped, a Puch. And between then and now he's bought a few dozen more. He says he doesn't collect them, he hoards them. I thought it would be fun to tool around with him sometime. So, I asked him to keep an eye out for one if it came on sale.

It's a 50cc Honda scooter that's classified as a moped. It's top speed is about 25mph IFF you're going downhill with a tailwind. This afternoon I saw the temps were in the 50s for the first time ever. I gave him a call, brought him the money, got the license and registration, and went to his house to pick it up.

He lives on the west side of GR and Mary rode along to drive back the van. She asked if I wanted to wear long underwear and I scoffed at her. Nevertheless, I took my hose hat and gloves and put on a flannel shirt beneath my leather jacket.

I set off to bring it home. When your vehicle has a top speed that's 25mph with a nominal speed well below that, you have to plan your route carefully. At the secretary of state's office, they had a moped safety brochure and I'd read it this afternoon. Setting off, I was filled with paranoia. Potholes are particularly bad this year and I could easily see myself falling in never to be found, just paved over by an inattentive road crew. Traffic whizzed past and I felt more kinship with the pedestrians on the sidewalk who invariably looked and smiled.

When I got home, I turned off the moped (or is it a scooter?) and just whooped. It was a blast, but I should have worn long underwear.

My brother brags that he gets 100 miles to a gallon. With gas at $3.40, that's a consideration. I've plotted a side-road route between here and work. If it ever warms up I intend to see what the commute is like. I'm looking forward to it.