Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Euphemising language to sanitize killing

original article: My visit to Auschwitz reminded me why I oppose abortion
June 1, 2014 by Rebecca Frazer

“When I learn about this mass killing process and see the tools and the remains and the pictures…I block the humanity…My heart still is not accepting that each one of them was an individual, intricate, valuable, hand-crafted human being.  But my head knows.  …If I accept the humanity in my heart, what have we done?”

I journaled those words in March of this year, crouched in a bottom bunk in a hostel in Krakow, Poland.  I was not writing about abortion.  I was writing about the Holocaust—writing out of stunned pain and confusion—having spent the day touring the sprawling, well-preserved complex known as Auschwitz concentration camp, a killing machine unlike any other.  Over one million people died at Auschwitz during its five years of operation, the vast majority of them Jewish.  Ninety percent of prisoners who entered Auschwitz died, most by immediate execution in one of the camp’s five gas chambers.

I had walked through an original gas chamber, where 2,000 people could be killed in 30 minutes.  I had gazed at piles of thousands and thousands of shoes—shoes that Jewish men, women, and tiny children had removed just before entering the “showers” to be gassed to death.  I had stood three feet from black ovens with special chutes for shoving in bodies—ovens that created endless heaps of human ash.  The harsh reality—that 1.1 million people had been sanitarily, systematically, efficiently “exterminated” in the very place I had stood was literally beyond my comprehension.    I concentrated on the statistics and blocked the human faces; it was simply too painful.

I visited two other concentration camps the same week: Sachsenhausen and Dachau, both in Germany.   Sachsenhausen (located just outside of Berlin), left me equally reeling with horror.  Perhaps the most horrific part of the camp was the pathology building, where bodies had been stacked high in the basement’s white-plastered holding rooms before being hauled upstairs to be examined by doctors on white-tiled “autopsy” tables.  Each of the thousands of bodies of Sachsenhausen victims was processed through the pathology building before being cremated.  For me, standing in those deathly rooms where everything was bright and shiny white was absolutely surreal.  I was overcome by the stark realization that during the Holocaust, these killings were government-sanctioned; they were overseen by physicians; they were sanitized, euphemized, and standardized.

I gave a speech years ago when I was in middle school that made a comparison between the Holocaust and abortion (not an equivocation, a comparison).  I wrote it after a field trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (in D.C.) that left me terrified of being apathetic to evil.  A woman who heard the speech told me that any such comparison was very disrespectful to Holocaust victims.  Her words always concerned me, and they kept me from presenting abortion as a modern-day Holocaust with the frequency or vigor I otherwise would have employed.  But after visiting three concentration camps in the span of a week, I am convinced that my listener was totally wrong.  The greatest disrespect I could possibly lend to the victims of the Holocaust is the refusal to apply the lessons of that horrific history to the horrors of today, thus repeating the deadly mistakes of the past.

So, if you haven’t already made the connections, let me be perfectly clear: the parallels between the mass murder of the Holocaust and the over fifty million unborn children legally killed in abortion clinics all across our nation should horrify you.  What are those parallels?  The first is the failure of Americans (even the nominally pro-life) to truly, internally, accept and embrace that the unborn are human, with fingers, toes, smiles, and heartbeats.  The second parallel is the presence of an efficient, perfected, now even legal system of mass murder that exists in the backyards of America’s neighborhoods, with the vast majority of Americans living their daily lives as if this system of killing simply did not exist.  As I journaled the night after visiting Sachsenhausen, between the Holocaust and abortion exist “parallels of sanitized killing, standardized body disposal, euphemized language, government sanctioning, and lack of public outcry.”

Think I’m exaggerating?  The efficient standardization of the abortion industry can best be described in the words of the industry workers themselves:

“I refused to reassemble the body parts after a late-term abortion…tissue was the code word for bodies in our clinic.  We stored them in plastic bags, which were kept in a freezer until they were picked up weekly…The Parts Room, as we called it, was narrow, with washbasins on one side and medical supplies on the other.  Against one wall was a white freezer with the lock broken off… At the beginning of each week, a service truck would come by and pick up the body parts, which were taken to a lab.”

–Norma McCorvey (former abortion worker and “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade), from her auto-biography, Won by Love

“they would still have to put it [referring to a 23-week gestation baby] in, like, a jar, a container, with solution… all of our specimen have to go out to the lab.”

–abortion counselor, Dr. Emily’s Woman’s Clinic (abortion clinic), New York

“so the fetus and everything that goes along with it…they’re cremated, and then the ashes we spread out in the desert…”

–Dr. Laura Mercer, Family Planning Associates Medical Group (abortion clinic), Arizona

And yet, perhaps third parallel between the Holocaust and abortion stands most clearly: public apathy.  The final camp I visited was Dachau, near Munich, Germany.  Dachau was the first concentration camp built by the Germans and was the model camp and experimenting grounds for the hundreds of other camps that followed.  When one method of execution proved too slow, too dirty, or too expensive, the leaders at Dachau would devise new, improved methods to exterminate prisoners and would pass their ideas to the other camps.  Of Dachau, I journaled, “Here, death is a science, a process, something to be perfected and honed.”  But another essential piece of Dachau’s history bears repeating.  Dachau was located quite literally in the backyard of local civilians, most of whom ignored its existence completely.  When the allied troops liberated Dachau at the end of the war, they forced the local German civilians to tour the camp—to walk past the piles of bodies waiting to be cremated—to see the tortures and smell the death that they had ignored.  The civilians were shocked, horrified, and traumatized.

Almost 1800 abortion providers exist in our backyards here in the United States.   One day, I am absolutely convinced you and I will be those Dachau civilians.  In one fashion or another, we will come face to face with the horrors we have ignored.  And just as the civilians of Dachau wept, you and I will weep for our apathy.

Unless we take a stand—now and forever–against the greatest horror of our generation…

…that they may have life.

Shoes of Gas Chamber Victims at Auschwitz (Poland)

Shoes of Gas Chamber Victims at Auschwitz (Poland)

Sachsenhausen Pathology Building—“Autopsy” Tables (Germany)

Sachsenhausen Pathology Building—“Autopsy” Tables (Germany)

abortion, culture, ethics, extremism, history, ideology, oppression, propaganda, public policy, relativism, tragedy

Filed under: abortion, culture, ethics, extremism, history, ideology, oppression, propaganda, public policy, relativism, tragedy

Displacing girls, the (hopefully) unintended consequences of the transgender moment

original article: 8th Place: A High School Girl’s Life After Transgender Students Join Her Sport
May 6, 2019 by Kelsey Bolar

When two high school athletes who were born male but identify as female tookfirst and second place at Connecticut’s girls indoor track championship this year, it wasn’t just a local news story.

To some, it was a story of triumph and courage. The winner, a junior from Bloomfield High School, set a girls state indoor record of 6.95 seconds in the 55-meter dash, and went on to win the New England titles in both the 55-meter dash and the 300-meter dash.

To others, it was a story of shock and disappointment: Is this the end of women’s sports?

To Selina Soule, a 16-year-old runner from Glastonbury, it was personal.

A junior, Selina missed qualifying for the 55-meter in the New England regionals by two spots. Two spots, she said, that were taken by biological boys.

Had the boys who identify as girls not been allowed to compete, Selina would have placed sixth, qualifying to run the 55 in front of college coaches at the New England regionals.

Instead, she placed eighth, watching the 55 from the sidelines after qualifying in only the long jump, an event in which the transgender athletes didn’t compete.

“It’s very frustrating and heartbreaking when us girls are at the start of the race and we already know that these athletes are going to come out and win no matter how hard you try,” Selina told The Daily Signal. “They took away the spots of deserving girls, athletes … me being included.”F

While the debate over transgender athletes and fairness is complex, the situation in Connecticut has brought forth another complicating layer: Plenty of parents and high school girls appear to object to the participation of biological boys in girls sports, but fearing public bullying and backlash, they’re not speaking out.

Publicly, at least.

The stakes of remaining silent are high: Policies are being formed in real time at the local, state, and federal levels regarding transgender individuals, student athletes, and sports.

Most prominently, on March 13, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced HR 5, the Equality Act, a bill that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under federal civil rights law.

The legislation would create a civil right for male athletes to self-identify as females at any time, critics say, without any evidence of physical changes to their bodies.

A Voice for the Voiceless

Selina Soule, a 16-year-old runner from Glastonbury, Connecticut, shares what it’s like being forced to compete against biological boys. (Photo: The Daily Signal)

When the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, or CIAC, said biological boys who identify as girls can compete as girls in sports, most track athletes remained mum.

Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com, a website that tracks state policies in high school sports across the country.

Encouraged by her mother, Bianca Stanescu, who has been in the forefront in challenging the state policy, Selina is one of the few students, if not the only one, giving a voice to countless others who appear to feel the same way.

“Everyone is afraid of retaliation from the media, from the kids around their school, from other athletes, coaches, schools, administrators,” Selina explained. “They don’t want to drag attention to themselves, and they don’t want to be seen as a target for potential bullying and threats.”

In a visit to the Nutmeg State, The Daily Signal spoke with four other track athletes from two high schools in Connecticut. Echoing Selina’s sentiments, they asked to remain anonymous.

“I think it’s a very important thing for people to really understand where we’re coming from, instead of just immediately going to, ‘We’re transphobic,’” one said. “Just the way that our society is built, it snaps on people so quickly.”

“We live in such a cruel world, and society is just so hard to figure out sometimes,” another girl told The Daily Signal. “You never know what the reaction is going to be. It’s so hard because you want your voice to be heard … but, how can you know what to say that will affect things positively, instead of people twisting what you’re saying and turning it against you?”

‘An Equality Issue’

The girls’ parents, too, expressed a high level of concern for protecting their daughters’ identities, not even wanting to identify them by high school.

Connecticut is made up of small towns, the parents explained, and given the relatively small number of athletes affected, people can connect the dots.

“There’s really nothing else you can do except get super frustrated and roll your eyes,” the first girl said, “because it’s really hard to even come out and talk in public just because of the way with the far left, and how just immediately you’ll just be shut down.”

“It’s not like we’re saying that we don’t like transgender people,” she added. “It’s just an equality issue where these girls are trying their absolute hardest to try and get those good things on their college resumes, and then it just gets completely taken away from them because there’s a biological male racing against them.”

The athletes say they don’t fear only being bullied or portrayed as a bigot. They also hope to attend college, and are afraid their politically incorrect views could hurt their prospects.

“I personally want a future in athletics in college,” a third girl told The Daily Signal, “but I feel like if there’s a coach that disagrees with my personal opinion, or a board that disagrees with it, then they’ll already have a predisposition with me and then it’ll affect maybe playing time or my ability to get into that college.”

“We have college down the road—I’m scared that that could get impacted,” a fourth girl said. “Sometimes the coaches will just like look at the lists … and if you’re not No. 1 then they won’t choose you.”

“I have heard opinions where coaches are just going to look at your times, and that they don’t really care where you place,” the first girl added. “But college coaches are going to these bigger meets, and when they don’t see you there, they’re not necessarily focusing on you. They’re focusing on the people that are there.”

“It kept Selina from getting to New Englands, where she had the opportunity to be running in front of college coaches, which is just unfair,” she added.

Uncomfortable Opinions

The athletes’ hesitation to speak out publicly begs the question:

How did society get to the point where high school girls now fear their uncomfortable opinions could prevent them from being admitted to the very institutions where uncomfortable opinions are supposed to be explored?

Whatever the answer, few could blame them, given the vitriol on display in today’s public square.

Business Insider removed a writer’s article defending the casting of Scarlett Johansson to play a transgender man in an upcoming film, for example. The publication said the article violated its “editorial standards,” and the writer later quit.

Authorities in Canada allegedly threatened to arrest a father if he refers to his biological daughter as a female in private or in public because she identifies as a boy.

And in schools, The Daily Signal has documented multiple cases of biological girls being forced to share locker rooms or bathrooms with boys, despite their safety concerns and discomfort.

But again and again, those on the “wrong side” of this conversation are too afraid to speak out.

‘Door Is Open for Any Other Sport’

A junior in high school, Selina Soule is asking for fairness to be returned to her sport.

Selina’s mother, Stanescu, told The Daily Signal that she has done “everything that I thought would be possible to help this and just open a conversation” about what’s happened in Connecticut and what could happen should Congress pass the Equality Act.

“The doors have been shut over and over again,” Stanescu said. “People are afraid to speak.”

In addition to potentially instating a nationwide bathroom requirement, health care mandate, and a “preferred pronoun” law based on gender identity, the Equality Act would enshrine in federal law the right of biological boys to compete as girls in all sports.

If the measure passes, Stanescu warned, “women will be completely eradicated from sports.”

What’s happening in Connecticut, she added, will happen across the country—and not just in track and field.

“Yes, it has been affecting track and field in Connecticut, but the door is open there for any sport, and that is something that could become also a safety issue,” Stanescu said. “It’s taking away the opportunity to win for the girls, but in sports that have physical contact, [it] could become a serious safety issue.”

“It could be potentially very dangerous if you have a transgender female that’s competing in basketball, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey because they are so physically superior to females,” her daughter Selina added.

Selina says all this while making clear she supports athletes “being true to themselves.”

“I have friends in school who are transgender and I know when they are struggling to come out or deciding to come out, I was there supporting them,” she said. “And when they were freshly out, I was caring towards them. I was never rude or disrespectful.”

But the situation in sports has “nothing to do with their gender identity and how they feel,” Selina said. “It has to do with what is right and what is fair in athletics.”

Looking forward to her senior year, Selina said she hopes to run track in college. She referred to the long jump event as her “safe haven” where “the results were fair no matter what, because it was girls competing against girls.”

“But now, unfortunately,” she said with a disappointed look on her face, “one of those athletes has started to compete in long jump. So now none of my events are safe.”

children, culture, diversity, extremism, ideology, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, public policy, relativism, unintended consequences

Filed under: children, culture, diversity, extremism, ideology, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, public policy, relativism, unintended consequences

Socialism ethically compromised

original article: Unitarian leftist: Socialism is not ethically superior to capitalism
April 26, 2019 by REV. BEN JOHNSON

Socialism has made a resurgence in this generation, not least because of its deceptive moral appeal. Secular Millennials join liberal priests, pastors, and rabbis in saying that profits corrupt, unequal outcomes are immoral – and perhaps even Jesus would have been a socialist. Yet numerous people, secular and faithful, have weighed collectivism in the balance and found it wanting.

One of the people who found socialism ethically inferior to capitalism came from an unlikely source: the Unitarian Church.

His verdict? Socialism “is the necessary outcome, not of religion but of irreligion,” he said. Redistribution of wealth slows moral development and creates evils worse than capitalism.

The minister in question, A. Powell Davies, was once one of the most influential church leaders in the United States. He crusaded for civil rights as pastor of All Souls Church in Washington, D.C. He counted Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black among his friends, and Justice William O. Douglas edited a book of his sermons. The Religious Left leader was honored by the liberal Americans for Democratic Action posthumously.

Reverend Arthur Powell Davies (1902-1957) was a British-born Methodist who converted to Unitarianism – if “convert” is the proper noun for such a change. Davies embodied William F. Buckley Jr.’s caricature of the Unitarian who believed in “at most” one God. “This ancient God of miracles and interventions … is really dead,” wrote Davies, who styled himself a “theological radical,” in his 1946 book The Faith of an Unrepentant Liberal. “There is no God in the sky,” he wrote in another context. “There is no army of angels, no hosts of seraphim and no celestial hierarchy. All this is man’s imaginings.” Any belief in the supernatural, he believed,“represses growth. It keeps the mind always childish.”

However, his lack of faith (from a traditional perspective) underscores the point. Although there is a high correlation between secularism and socialism, Davies revealed at least a few of socialism’s failures.

Davies, who provided weekly analyses of national issues from his pulpit, turned his glance upon socialism in an address titled “Is Socialism More Ethical Than Capitalism?” which was delivered on October 16, 1949.

Despite the title of his address, Davies actually explored only the morality of compulsory wealth redistribution as was practiced by Labour government-era Britain. But even a radical non-theist found that the welfare state did not pass muster as a moral economic system.

“Socialism is not an ethical advance; socialism is an ethical compromise,” he said.

First, Davies rejected Marxism because of its belief that human nature could not be improved. Socialism compels people to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, something Davies supported. But compulsion “is not ethically nobler” than choosing to give one’s own goods to the poor. “[E]thically they are better for what they do voluntarily than for what they are compelled to do, even though they themselves consent to the compulsion,” he said.

The very decision to turn to the state implies that people cannot be trusted to exercise their freedom responsibly. Socialism comes about “not because of idealism, but because of despair.”

Davies also denied socialism is more ethical than capitalism for a second reason, which echoed the most famous dictum of Lord Acton:

From the viewpoint of religion, there is no more evil in the profits of a capitalist than in the vanity of a socialist politician. The one seeks money, the other, notoriety. … [H]uman nature under either system would exploit the weaknesses of that particular system, and I fear the weaknesses of compulsory systems more than those of voluntary ones.

In 1949, the Unitarian lamented that Americans “would even give away a part of their freedom because they could not trust themselves and each other to act fairly on a voluntary basis.”

But collectivism’s greatest harm is its view of human character, Davies said.

Ultimately, socialism retards humanity’s moral progress:

[C]apitalism leaves more room for liberty and encourages ethical maturity and voluntary righteousness. Compulsory systems, paternalistic and authoritarian, foster attitudes which are ethically not grown up.

Since socialism is an ethical retreat from free moral action, it cannot embody the goal of any religion:

When therefore, churchmen draw closer to socialism and say it is the necessary outcome of religious idealism, they are mistaken. It is the necessary outcome not of religion but of irreligion; that is to say, it is the necessary outcome of the evils of the human heart which prevent us from doing voluntarily what we are therefore obliged to do from compulsion.

Traditional Christianity taught for millennia that believers should diligently cultivate wealth so that we can freely distribute it to those in need. Almsgiving, a pillar of all three Abrahamic religions, benefits the giver by freeing him from greed and allowing him to express love for the recipient.

The notion that it is morally superior for Christians to ask the government to forcibly redistribute others’ possessions is so fatuous that it was once exposed by a non-believer in the pulpit.

capitalism, christian, culture, economics, ethics, government, ideology, left wing, philosophy, progressive, socialism

Filed under: capitalism, christian, culture, economics, ethics, government, ideology, left wing, philosophy, progressive, socialism

Public education and hyper speed sex ed

original article: Sex Ed and Stalinism at the Local School Board
February 13, 2018 by AUSTIN RUSE

I usually avoid really sick, appalling spectacles. I skip movies like Saw. But last Thursday I saw something worse. I went to the sex-education committee meeting of the Fairfax County School Board. I have never seen anything as shocking.

Understand, that I have sat through years of shocking meetings. My day job is monitoring and lobbying the United Nations. But, I have never seen or heard anything like this. This meeting was a horror show. And a Soviet one at that.

The Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC, pronounced flea-cack) advises the Fairfax County School Board for the content of the sex-education lessons taught to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

This group has come up with over 80 hours of sex-education for these poor kids. And some of it is straight-up pornography.

Rich, Leftist, and Libertine

This school district in Northern Virginia, one of the largest and richest in the country, is among the most leftist in the country. No big surprise there. Twenty-five years ago, they were already promoting “Two Mommies” to the little tots.

But the sexual revolution ideology kicked into hyper speed a few years ago. Fairfax leftists put transgender ideology into schools a full year before Barack Obama’s Department of Education mandated it for the rest of the schools in the country. Last year the Trump administration cancelled the mandate, though Fairfax County is clinging onto it.

This committee has long embraced the rest of the LGBT program. “Oral sex” is introduced to kids as young as 12.  Thirteen year olds are told about “anal sex” 18 separate times in one year’s lessons.

The FLECAC committee is made up of about two dozen people. They’re appointed by the overwhelmingly leftist Fairfax County School Board. Four voting members are students, chosen no doubt because they’re members of student LGBT clubs, and most other members appear to be teachers and administrators.

If the idea behind the committee is to get community input, why stack it with people on the county payroll?

The School Board’s Supreme Soviet

Last Thursday night, two regular citizen members of the committee tried to offer amendments to the curriculum. What happened to them is right out of the Politburo of the Supreme Soviet.

The subject was the phrase “sex assigned at birth,” which appears numerous times in the lessons. This is a politically-charged slogan that teaches that it’s wrong for a delivery room doctor to say a penis means boy or a vagina means girl. A child should be left to his own gender choice later in life.

One citizen member made a motion to remove this phrase from the lessons and to simply use the word “sex” instead. Through parliamentary maneuvers, other members of the committee made sure the amendment was put off indefinitely without debate. The vote to cut off debate and never speak about it again passed 23-3.

The member who offered the amendment asked for a roll call, so that those voting to keep in “sex assigned at birth” would have their names associated with their votes. The motion for a roll call was killed by voice vote.

No debate, no accountability.

Another citizen member made a motion that, somewhere in the numerous lessons about various contraceptive methods taught beginning in eighth grade, there ought to be something about the possible health risks of certain contraceptives.

This, too, was shut down without debate, by a vote of 23-3. A roll call of the vote was shouted down by voice vote.

Hush, Adults Are Listening

The first citizen member made a motion to include a discussion in the lessons about the health risks associated with hormonal and surgical “transitioning.” This, too, was not allowed.

One county employee member asked why there was no lesson on anal sex for the seventh graders. There was oral sex, but why was anal sex missing? The chairman of the committee assured her that the anal sex begins with lessons in the eighth grade.

This revealing moment was followed by another: The chairman actually apologized, with a nervous laugh, for using those graphic terms.

Did it not occur to her, or anyone else on the committee, that she was apologizing to the adults in the room for using words that are scripted into the lessons they have created for children?

It was clear to me that much of the reaction to these motions was a kind of animus toward traditional morality. The glee with which the majority cut off the legitimate concerns of the minority was breathtaking.

Christians as the Taliban

One new member of the committee is a democratic activist named Daniel Press. He was the one who was most vociferous that these motions not only be trashed, but that they not even be discussed. On his Facebook page he calls Christians the Taliban and has an image of Christ on the cross over the mocking words: “Total Winner.”

The other thing that struck me was the sheep-like attitude of most of the members of the committee. There were a few loudmouth ideologues, to be sure.  One student member treated us to an anti-American diatribe ending with the charge that transphobia stems from white supremacy. For the most part the members were silent. But they were lickety-split to raise their hands whenever called upon to vote against debate, discussion, and accountability. That they could not allow.

Finally, it’s remarkable how fast such new and fantastical notions have entered the leftist mindset. The notion of “sex assigned at birth” was itself born just a few years ago. And yet, these people are so certain of its truth, they clap hands on their ears to avoid hearing anything contradictory. Even more, they clap their hands on the mouths of anyone who might want to question this new tenet of faith.

Blind Faith, False Faith

This brings to mind two things: brainwashing, and bad religion. The committee members may not know it, but they have been brainwashed to believe things that are simply not supported by either science or reason. Theirs is faith plain and simple, and the worst kind of faith, the kind that contradicts reason, the kind that can only be imposed. Theirs is a blind faith, taking as gospel whatever the sexual zeitgeist vomits forth.

And so what are parents to do? Opt their kids out of Family Life Education and take over the school board. One is easy, but both are necessary. Sexual Stalinism, of the kind I witnessed a few nights ago, has no place in the education of our children.

———————————-
anti-religion, bias, bigotry, bureaucracy, children, corruption, cover up, culture, education, elitism, ethics, extremism, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, public policy, reform, scandal

Filed under: anti-religion, bias, bigotry, bureaucracy, children, corruption, cover up, culture, education, elitism, ethics, extremism, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, public policy, reform, scandal

The religion of sex: is rape in the eye of the beholder?

In the 1990s Whoopi Goldberg played wise, ancient sage in a popular TV show. In one episode her character and another were discussing matters of truth, and Goldberg’s character voiced this popular tenet of progressivism: “Truth is in the eye of the beholder”.

This was nothing innovative even back in the 90s. It was merely another example of how the political left revels in customizable reality. But the quote is a good reminder of the underlying problem: some people don’t know the difference between fact and opinion.

People who wish to genuinely understand the world freely recognize the difference between fact and opinion. We recognize there is no such thing as “your truth” or “my truth” or “true to you but not to me”. If something is “true to you”, it’s your opinion, not truth. Your opinion is yours, reality is not yours.

Truth is reality, what ever reality happens to be. Our views, preferences, beliefs, feelings about reality matter not to the universe. Reality is what it is, regardless of what you or I wish it to be. We can change some aspects of reality, which is best accomplished one heart and mind at a time, by persuasion and understanding. This is the antithesis of modern progressivism, both in the acknowledgement of truth and in the peaceful, non-coercive means of accomplishing change.

Recently, another Hollywood-ite once again entered the light of controversy. Quentin Tarantino once defended known pedophile Roman Polanski. There is now a published audio recording from 2003 of Tarantino stating “I don’t consider him a rapist”.

Consider what he’s saying here. Social norms and sexual mores, even the law, are irrelevant as far as Tarantino is concerned. What matters is the fact someone wanted to have sex, and that should be the end of it.

Consider this attitude in some other contexts. Business owners don’t have the right to do anything and everything they want with their businesses, and people don’t have the right to do anything and everything they want with their money. Given the more recent limitations imposed on us all via political correctness, one could legitimately argue we no longer have the right to free speech either. But never mind all the areas of life where limitations imposed by culture or by law are widely considered good, healthy, and necessary.  On the matter of putting one’s genitals where one wishes, in this one area, our same progressive culture would have us believe any limitations here constitute a grievous form of oppression.

So we find this curious contradiction in progressivism. On matters related to money, ownership, speech, and more, progressive culture has no problem imposing limitations on individuals who challenge societal pressure (such as florists, bakers, photographers, or pizzaria owners). The culture gets to dictate what is acceptable, such as the transgender controversy taking the United States by storm. But on matters of sexuality the opposite is demanded, society must acquiesce to the demands of individuals who challenge cultural norms. Here, it is the outlier individual who gets to dictate what is acceptable, and the broader community must give way.

And that leads us back to the failure of progressive culture to distinguish between fact and opinion. Reasonable people recognize words mean things. If we intentionally distort the meanings of words we can find ourselves in a heap of trouble where no one wanted to go, such as the asinine but inevitable position of a pedophile raping girls as young as age 6 claiming he is a 9 year old boy trapped in an adult’s body. This is where customizable reality leads us. An acknowledgment of genuine truth protects us from such things.

Tarantino offers us another example of the insanity Western culture has embraced, an insanity where actual rape is not to be considered rape, but false allegations of rape are treated as unquestionable, depending on who the accused happens to be (such as Roman Polanski or Bill Clinton on one hand, and the Duke Lacrosse team on the other.)

Rod Dreher has good insight into this problem in his short piece “The Religion of Sex“. Give it a read.

—————————————————
crisis, culture, diversity, ethics, hypocrisy, ideology, law, liberalism, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, relativism, scandal, sex, unintended consequences

Filed under: crisis, culture, diversity, ethics, hypocrisy, ideology, law, liberalism, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, relativism, scandal, sex, unintended consequences

A mom’s/teacher’s experience shows big bureaucracy usurps the will of the people

original article: How Common Core Taught Me Bureaucrats Will Always Win Unless We Slash Big Government
January 3, 2018 by Jenni White

 

During summer 2010, while researching an article to address yet another tax-and-spend initiative to fund public schools, I stumbled upon a 33-page state law passed that spring titled “Schools; relating to teacher incentive pay plans; modifying requirements.”

Although a portion of the legislation did address teacher incentive pay, the bulk was used to establish a state longitudinal database, a “Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Evaluation” (TLE) system, a way to “turn around” low-performing schools, and institute something called the “Common Core State Standards” into Oklahoma policy with a single sentence.

A Google search led me to discover that cementing these four programs into state law increased the likelihood of our state receiving Race to the Top grants from the Obama administration. As a former public school teacher, the change in educational landscape represented by even one, let alone four, of these programs concerned me. As a small government gal and a parent with kids in public school, I wanted to know why our state would institute a whole raft of new, untested, educational programs just to get federal funds.

In June 2011, after months of investigation aimed at answering these questions, I published a paper with 179 references entitled “Common Core State Standards and Race to the Top; An Introduction to Marxism 101.”

Oklahoma’s Common Core Repeal

From 2011 to 2014, the Common Core Four, as National Review dubbed us, fought Common Core and student data collection in the Oklahoma legislature. We logged hours and hours of travel across the state and country, showing up anywhere we were invited—mostly Republican women’s clubs—where I talked about Common Core. Eventually I found myself on radio and news shows from Utah to Florida, including national media programs like Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, and NPR, discussing my research.

Finally, and many thanks to the Herculean efforts of state Sen. Josh Brecheen and state Rep. Jason Nelson, a law repealing Common Core and requiring the state to develop new “Oklahoma standards” was passed the last day of the 2014 legislative session. Following a state Supreme Court ruling denying a lawsuit to scuttle the bill, from Common Core supporters including four State Board of Education appointees, Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill June 5.

By the time school started in the fall, we were fielding question after question through our Facebook page akin to, “They’re still teaching Common Core at our school! What do I do?”

I was not surprised that schools would continue to use Common Core curricula, but was surprised it was so blatantly done and with so little regard for the law. This turned out to be the least of my surprises. After an exhaustive search for an answer, the biggest shock we got was that we’d overlooked the most important part of House Bill 3399—an enforcement mechanism.

Unfortunately, our hard-fought, hard-won Common Core repeal bill was little more than a suggestion at best. Nowhere in its endless legalese did it address punitive action for continued use of Common Core. Other than contacting their local district attorneys (which several parents did and were ignored, with replies  of “Why would we spend money going after Common Core ‘law breakers’ when we’ve got meth labs on every corner?”) we were told parents should run for local school boards to keep it out of their schools.

After licking our wounds from this setback, we pulled up our big girl panties and prepared to watchdog the curriculum mandates re-write process, thinking we’d see Common Core end there.

Oklahoma’s Common Core Standards Re-Write Saga

The standards re-write process began in earnest in January 2015 under direction of a new state superintendent. In February, Dr. Sandra Stotsky—an education policy powerhouse and member of the Common Core State Standards Validation Committee who refused to sign off—and Dr. Larry Gray, a math professor at the University of Minnesota, were among four experts asked to testify before the Standards Process Steering Committee about how Oklahoma’s new academic standards (OAS) could advance beyond Common Core.

Very long story short, after producing critiques of all four subsequently released standards drafts, Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment, the grassroots organization I help lead, asked the legislature to grant more time to the re-write process before officially making OAS the state’s new curriculum and testing mandates. From that moment on, the Oklahoma education establishment (#oklaed) engaged in a series of social media attacks against ROPE, and me personally, to marginalize us as “tinfoil hats” for suggesting any overlap between OAS and Common Core, and me as a hater of public education.

Leo Baxter, a state school board member who sued to stop the Common Core repeal, was especially vocal, taking to social media every moment he could, at one point calling Stotsky an “arrogant miscreant” (while misspelling Massachusetts).

Rather than stand their ground against a vocal, largely uncivil, minority of Oklahoma teachers, the Oklahoma senate gaveled out of session rather than vote on Oklahoma’s new “Oklahoma Academic Standards” (OAS). On March 28, 2016, OAS became law through administrative processes written in the bill, leaving Oklahomans who fought desperately for better education standards with nothing for all our years of citizen advocacy.

Oklahoma and Common Core Today: One Teacher’s View

Emotionally spent after years of fighting government for better education opportunities only to end up very publicly attacked, I wrote a blog post detailing all the ways I’d come to believe Common Core had beaten us despite Oklahoma’s repeal. I stand behind every observation today, but I wanted to know if others had the same pessimistic conclusions, so I interviewed several.

Sandy Harrell, an Oklahoma math teacher who participated in the “Common Core Is Not OK” pushback, at first assured me, “Common Core is not gone from Oklahoma classrooms,” before telling me how unclear the new mandates are, echoing a common complaint about OAS. The thing that frustrates her most however, is the fact that, “Some teachers and administrators thought adopting CC was a step in the right direction. There are teachers who still use CC in their classrooms because they think it superior to OAS.”

An April 2015 article in the Hechinger Report called “Gone but not forgotten? Common Core lingers after Oklahoma’s repeal” reinforces Sandy’s point. Here, the author interviews several Oklahoma teachers including Oklahoma teacher of the year (2009) Heather Sparks, who admits that not only does she use Common Core-aligned teaching materials, she also writes Common Core-aligned lesson plans for a teaching website.

Harrell told me many of her fellow teachers are “grasping at straws” to satisfy OAS with limited budgets and outdated resources. This often leads them to reach for curricula from outside suppliers, which correlate OAS and CC math standards.

“I’m curious how Smith Curriculum and Consulting can equate each OAS and CC standard to provide teaching resources if the two sets of standards are not closely related, as some OSDE employees have claimed,” Harrell said. “As a teacher, I have to be able to justify every lesson and method I teach. I have yet to hear anyone justify why CC is superior to PASS [Oklahoma’s previous academic standards].”

Oklahoma and Common Core Today: A Legislator Responds

Josh Brecheen, the Oklahoma state senator responsible in great part for HB3399, told me, “It’s a teacher by teacher decision as to whether they are bringing Common Core aligned curriculum into the classroom. It’s my hope teachers continue to honor the wish of Oklahomans who voiced their opposition to the Common Core State Standards through their elected officials.”

For Brecheen, the biggest threat to Common Core independence in Oklahoma has to do with the new state superintendent’s desire to have taxpayers pay for every high school junior to take the ACT, a college entrance exam controlled by a private company.

“ACT is known to be aligned to the Common Core and if a teacher uses Common Core curriculum, rationalizing it will prepare students for the ACT exam, this undermines HB3399 and ultimately, the voice of parents in our state,” Brecheen said.

Interestingly, the information regarding ACT’s alignment with Common Core has since been scrubbed from its website. Thankfully, my experience with disappearing pages from the Common Core webpage taught me to take lots of screenshots.

The senator also believes using the ACT in such a way “puts private companies in charge of what is being taught in our state and not teachers and parents,” yet most Oklahoma lawmakers, as well as those in many other states, seemed largely content to mandate ACT for all juniors. “National curriculum uniformity driven by company profits and a national marketplace for their goods and service offerings will stagnate educational improvement long term as well as threaten each state’s traditional values,” Brecheen says.

Oklahoma and Common Core Today: A Parent’s Take

Like many Oklahoma parents, Melissa Wilkins watched her third grader, Ashlyn, turn into someone she didn’t know during the 2014 school year.

“We started every morning with a fight because she constantly complained of a stomach ache and cried because she didn’t want to go to school,” she said. “We would finally get her around and out the door to catch the bus, and then I would catch myself almost dreading her walking back in the door after school. It wasn’t uncommon for her to walk in the door, hit or kick her baby brother for no reason, and then run back to her bedroom where she would yell or cry, again for no reason I could understand.”

After talking to another parent, she found her daughter’s school was implementing Common Core math and English just in time to take the state’s new third-grade reading test, the results of which could keep her from moving to fourth grade. While taking part in Common Core repeal activities, she also met many times with Ashlyn’s teacher, wondering why her daughter had slipped from a fifth-grade reading level to barely above third grade.

When she saw her daughter’s practice tests, “I was appalled,” she said. “Not only was the content immoral, but the questions were so subjective that there simply could be no right or wrong answer.”

After fighting so hard for her kids’ education, Wilkens’ life changed once Common Core was repealed. Through her advocacy on Common Core, she became interested in “alternative means” of education, because her four children “all have very different approaches to learning.”

Wilkens homeschooled her other two children for a year, after which she enrolled them in an Oklahoma online charter school. Wilkens continues to be frustrated by numerous reading assignments given to her oldest son, who was required to read graphic, anti-Christian literature in his senior English class.

“Is Common Core dead in Oklahoma? I would say no,” Wilkens says. “Am I better prepared to lead my children through the challenges posed by this toxic set of standards? Yes! Being a political activist cannot be my primary role, but I will never again be scared to dig deeper when my gut tells me something isn’t right.”

Oklahoma and Common Core Today: A Teacher of Teachers

Barbara McClanahan is an associate professor of educational instruction at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Early in our fight, we were asked to give a presentation in the far southeast part of the state, where we met this diminutive powerhouse who had done all her own research on Common Core and come to the same conclusions. Until Common Core was repealed, she spent her time like we did: testifying before government committees, writing, and traipsing about talking to anyone who would listen.

Barbara says, “In the fall of 2011…I began to have my teacher candidates attempt to apply the new CC standards to the lesson plans they were required to write for 1st-3rd grade students. We began to discover that the standards components for these age groups and grade levels simply did not match the developmental concepts they were learning about in their textbooks. I became quite frustrated and began looking outside my institution, which seemed to have no answers, for an explanation.”

To her the Common Core victory was hollow, she says, in part because both Oklahoma City Public Schools and Tulsa Public Schools loudly proclaimed their continued use, but also because the standards don’t help children learn to read well. In the end, she says, her position on standards changed.

“Whereas I used to feel that standards were a useful tool, the fact that they have been co-opted in the service of high-stakes standardized tests makes their usefulness highly questionable. Standards, in the end, lead to standardization, which is fine for widgets, but not for children,” Barbara says.

And What About Me?

I learned through this process that education policy in this country simply can’t be shifted by citizens anymore because there are too many moving parts and entrenched policy makers tied to progressive education methods to have any real impact. So I quit fighting for public education.

Part of me hates that, but I was beginning to look a bit like the Elephant Man from banging my head into unmovable walls, and my husband and kids deserved more of my attention. Today, I help run our small farm, teach three classes at our homeschool co-op, and drive my kids’ studies like a good natured tyrant.

If I learned anything from Common Core, I learned that local is the answer to nearly every government problem, and I turned my attention to my tiny Oklahoma town of 2,700 where, in April, I became mayor. Now I fight battles largely winnable, in a picturesque little town on a plot of land where I can see both the sunrise and sunset, and pray that national public education will get better despite the near impossibility of parents and local voters to significantly affect it.

——————————–
bureaucracy, children, culture, education, government, indoctrination, legislation, legislature, marxism, nanny state, politics, public policy, reform, tragedy

Filed under: bureaucracy, children, culture, education, government, indoctrination, legislation, legislature, marxism, nanny state, politics, public policy, reform, tragedy

HOW THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION BECAME A DOGMA

original article: THE ZEALOUS FAITH OF SECULARISM
January 2018 by Mary Eberstadt

 

Begin with a sobering fact. During the past ten years, some of the sharpest observers of our time have come to believe that the tectonic plates underlying Western civilization have shifted momentously. One result is a deep, creative struggle among the thoughtful for new imagery and fresh analogies to illuminate what’s perceived as a darkening time.

Thus, nine years ago, the late Richard John Neuhaus called this new place “American Babylon.” Today, in another eponymous book, Rod Dreher speaks of a “Benedict Option.” George Weigel called in his 2017 Simon Lecture for a new Great Awakening, and elsewhere for what he dubs “the Panula option” after the recently deceased Fr. Arne Panula, a tireless evangelizer. Using T. S. Eliot as a touchstone, First Things editor R. R. Reno argues for Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society. In Strangers in a Strange Land, Archbishop Charles Chaput develops an analogy between our time and that of the Book of Exodus. And in yet another book just published, Anthony Esolen evokes the image of the phoenix with Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture.

As this profusion of literary and historical analyses goes to show, to be Christian today is to be a sailor in search of an astrolabe. And no wonder: We are in open, roiling, uncharted waters, so looking up to fixed points would help. One other way to orient ourselves is to peer down beneath the currents and focus on what’s done most to shape the “post-Christian” or “ex-Christian” world: the sexual revolution.

That the revolution is what’s catapulted us to this place is a fact that more and more analysts now affirm. What may be less obvious, though just as important, is what the widespread Western embrace of the revolution has wrought not only in individual lives, but macrocosmically: It has given rise to an increasingly systematic, zealous, secularist faith. We cannot understand either the perils or opportunities of Christianity today without first understanding this developing, rival body of beliefs with which it contends.

To begin with a point to which many Christian thinkers would agree, the United States and other nations rooted in Judeo-Christianity have entered a time of paganization—what we might also call “re-paganization.” The gravitational pull of traditional religion seems to be diminishing, even as a-religious and anti-religious elements accumulate mass. This paganization is especially ascendant among the young, now famously more prone than any other group to checking “none of the above” when asked for their religious affiliation; according to the Pew Research Center and others, the combination of self-described atheists and self-defined “nones” is now the fastest-growing “religious” group.

Wider manifestations of this ongoing paganization have also become commonplaces: the proliferation of religious liberty court cases, legal and other attacks on Christian student groups at secular universities, demonization and caricature of religious believers, intimidation aimed at those who defend Judeo-Christian morality, and other instances of what Pope Francis himself has dubbed the “polite persecution” of believers in advanced societies. Paganization is also evident in the malignant conflation of Christianity with “hate speech,” a noxious form of ideological branding destined to unleash new forms of grief on believers in the time ahead.

So far, so familiar. And yet, we’ve not fully understood this new paganism after all.

According to the dominant paradigm shared by most people, religious and secular alike, the world is now divided into two camps: people of faith and people of no faith. But this either-or template is mistaken. Paganization as we now know it is driven by a new historical phenomenon: the development of a rival faith—a rival, secularist faith which sees Christianity as a competitor to be vanquished, rather than as an alternative set of beliefs to be tolerated in an open society.

How do we know this? We know it in part because today’s secularist faith behaves in ways that only a faith can.

Consider, for example, the scene on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States on June 27, 2016, following the announcement of the decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a decision about Texas abortion clinics that was taken as a victory by proponents of abortion on demand. After that decision was made public, videos documented the outdoor party that resulted, spilling from the court steps on out into the city: a gyrating, weeping, waving, screaming sea of people, mostly women, behaving as if they were in the throes of religious ecstasy. Occam’s razor says they were in religious ecstasy—their kind of religious ecstasy, in which abortion on demand becomes the gnostic equivalent of a central sacrament, the repetition of which is judged essential to their quasi-religious community.

Or consider another snapshot: the so-called Women’s March on Washington following the election of Donald Trump. This public demonstration, too, was driven in large degree by a single force: animus against traditional Judeo-Christian moral teaching—specifically, teaching about sex. The totemic hats used to brand the event were named not for any conventional political concern—jobs, taxes, defense, the economy, health care, immigration—but for female genitalia. To clinch the point, the only women’s organization disinvited from this supposedly universal “women’s march” was a pro-life group. When forced to choose between women and abortion on demand, the women in charge chose abortion. That’s because, within this new church of secularism, pro-life women are heretics: despised transgressors of a religious community’s teaching and norms.

If the so-called right to choose were truly an exercise of choice—if the rhetoric of the people who defend it matched the reality of what they actually believe—one would expect its defenders to honor choosing against it here or there. But this does not happen: No “pro-choice” group holds up as an example any woman who chooses not to abort.

That this doesn’t happen tells us something noteworthy. For secularist believers, abortion is not in fact a mere “choice,” as their value-free, consumerist rhetoric frames it. No, abortion is sacrosanct. It is a communal rite—one through which many enter their new religion in the first place. The popular, Internet-driven rage for “telling one’s own abortion story”—the phenomenon known as #shoutyourabortion—illustrates this point. Each individual story is a secularist pilgrim’s progress into a new faith whose community is united by this bloody rite of passage. Add the suggestively popular term “woke”—today’s gnostic version of “awakened”—and there’s more evidence that secularist progressivism has erected a church.

So the fury directed at Christianity can be pressed into a single word, sex. Christianity today, like Christianity past and Christianity to come, contends with many enemies. But the adversary now inflicting maximal damage on the Church is not dreamed of in Horatio’s philosophy. It is instead the absolutist defense of the sexual revolution by its faithful.

Christians and other dissidents aren’t being heckled from Hollywood to Capitol Hill for feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, or defending the commandments against lying and stealing. Bakers aren’t landing in court because of trying to follow what’s said in the Song of Songs. All of the expressions of animosity now aimed against Christianity by this new secularist faith share a common denominator. They are rooted in secularist dogma about the sexual revolution, according to which that revolution is an unequivocal and fundamental boon.

This substitute religion pantomimes Christianity itself in fascinating ways. It offers a hagiography of secular saints, all patrons of the sexual revolution: proselytizers for abortion and contraception such as Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem. Every year, Planned Parenthood confers on pro-abortion journalists, politicians, activists, and others prizes known affectionately as the “Maggies,” for Margaret Sanger—its “highest honor,” in the organization’s words, awarded in recent years to luminaries such as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

This brings us to another feature of the new secularist faith: its lack of transparency. For decades, scholarship has established Sanger’s moral roots in eugenics, her faith in the inferiority of certain other people, her cynical use of African-American ministers to evangelize the black population about birth control in the hope of bringing their numbers down, and related beliefs out of odor today. Yet in a moment when Confederate statues are targets in the name of scrubbing racism from the public square, Margaret Sanger remains immune from moral revisionism. Why? Because she is the equivalent of a secularist saint of the revolution, off-limits from second thoughts.

Similar status and protection are accorded to pseudo-scientist Alfred C. Kinsey, founder of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, whose fabled “reports” on human sexuality included allowing so-called research “subjects” to inflict what is now called child sexual abuse. According to biographer James H. Jones in Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life, the icon also filmed sex acts of employees and subordinates, walked in on students as they showered, had sex with people involved in his “research,” wrote letters of erotica to assistants and others, and otherwise appears to have fallen short of today’s standards concerning sexual harassment and coercion. Even before “Harvey Weinstein” became global shorthand for such depredations, Kinsey’s legacy would have been reviled—were he anything but Kinsey, a founding father of the new secularist faith. Instead, Kinsey and all his works, like Sanger’s, remain untouchable.

The rival faith sports foreign “missionaries,” too, in the form of progressive charities and international bureaucracies—those who carry word of the revolution and the pseudo-sacraments of contraception and abortion to women around the planet. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to name one prominent example, recently made the provision of contraception a centerpiece of its overseas work. It hopes thereby to reach “an additional 120 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020.”

Who, exactly, are these women? Judged by the photos on the Gates Foundation website, they do not hail from Iceland or Denmark. As the foundation explains, “Less than 20 percent of women in Sub-Saharan Africa and barely one-third of women in South Asia use modern contraceptives”—making these women targets of quasi-religious zeal.

In fact, preoccupation with the fertility of certain other people is a constant theme in the church of the new secularism. In July 2017, French president Emmanuel Macron revealed his own fealty to the faith when he dilated at an appearance in Germany—of all places—upon the “civilizational” challenges facing Africa, singling out the fact that women in some countries still have “seven or eight children.” Elsewhere that same summer, Canada’s minister of international development, Marie-Claude Bibeau, called abortion “a tool to end poverty.” In 2009, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a similar slip in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, reflecting that “at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

Again, it’s the lack of transparency that makes this faith go round. Under any other circumstances, if well-heeled white people were to proclaim that the solution to the world’s problems is to have fewer dark people, public outrage would be the result. Yet in secular quarters, these statements above, and others like them, get a pass. This is what happens when one’s religion takes as its cornerstone the teaching that the sexual revolution and its consequences are beyond question—eugenics, sexual violations, and other transgressions be damned.

Traditional religious believers should strive to bring the hidden premises of this rival faith into the open. For example, when people say that they hope the Church changes its position on marriage or birth control, they are not talking about one religious faith—i.e., the Christian one. What they really mean is that they hope the Church will suborn or replace its own theology with the theology of the new church of secularism. Or when politicians say they are “privately opposed to abortion”—even as they vote for policies that will ensure its ubiquity—they are using language to conceal rather than clarify their intention. What they really want is to enjoy a kind of dual religious citizenship, according to which they are “Catholic” or “Christian” in some circumstances, and followers of the church of secularism in any circumstances bearing on the sexual revolution.

This effort to keep a foot in both churches won’t work, any more than one can be simultaneously Muslim and Buddhist. Even so, the effort to enjoy dual religious citizenship, particularly among politicians and others in the public eye, remains commonplace. It should be understood for what it is: an attempt to serve two very different—indeed, competing—religious masters.

The fact that two faiths now compete in the West also explains the vehemence aimed at public figures who are practicing Christians—in particular, practicing Catholics. In September 2017, at the confirmation hearing of judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic, several senators remarked upon and denounced her faith. The most telling rhetorical moment may have been Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s declaration that “the dogma lives loudly within you”—an expostulation more fitted to an exorcist preparing for battle with Satan than to an American elected official charged with ascertaining the judicial fitness of a highly qualified candidate. Which is exactly the point.

In sum, secularist progressivism is less a political movement than a church, and the so-called culture war has not been conducted by people of religious faith and people of no faith. It is instead a contest of competing faiths. One believes in the books of the Bible, and the other in the evolving, figurative book of orthodoxy about the sexual revolution.

What does this tour of the new church of secularism mean for those outside its congregation? First, traditional believers need to distinguish the competitive character of this new religion from the cooperative qualities of other, more familiar ones. At long last and after great troubles, Americans have grown accustomed to the peaceful coexistence of multiple faiths and denominations. The rival church of secularism seeks no such comity, as today’s unprecedented attacks on Christian schools, charities, colleges, and other works go to show. The new church of secularism serves a very jealous god.

We see this, again, in the new church’s chronic, self-perceived imperative to interfere with the fertility of other people. This spectacle—of pale people in increasingly barren societies telling certain other people not to have their own children—is going to look grotesque in history’s rearview mirror. It also shows that the Christian idea of the intrinsic dignity and worth of all human beings stands as an especially vivid sign of contradiction to secularism’s understanding that certain people would be better off dead, or otherwise not among us. And it’s at least ironic that a movement known by the slogan “keep your rules off my body” has no trouble telling other people what to do with theirs.

Its missionary aggression also explains why the new secular faith has insinuated itself successfully into many Christian institutions, and why this insinuation has been invariably destructive. At the micro level of personal behavior, the new faith tempts people toward disobedience and cafeteria Christianity. At the macro level, it’s institutionally divisive like no other issue of our day. It turns the followers of Christ into political interest groups. The scramble over doctrine in the Catholic Church today, conducted entirely by advocates who mistakenly believe that the dogmas of both faiths can be somehow reconciled, is a powerful example of the sexual revolution’s virulent workings within Christianity itself.

The most insidious threat to the real Church, and even to religious liberty, is not the new secularist church in itself. The greater threat is self-censorship. There is understandable temptation, including among Christians, to preemptively accommodate to this new faith, for all kinds of reasons: saving face, not being “judgy,” preventing the ostracism of one’s children, and other motivations plumbed so searchingly in Rod Dreher’s work, especially. As he also proves, it’s hard to find comity with a foe that wants to drive one’s own Church to perdition. Christians need to know that what’s paramount is confronting secular religion and its sex-fixated dogmas, not accommodating them.

This vocation of religious opposition is necessary not only for the protection of the Church, but also for the sake of the sexual revolution’s real and many victims. The new church of secularism, rooted in a false anthropology that mismeasures humanity and deprives it of redemption, generates human misery throughout Western societies. The malign consequences of secularist doctrine are playing out especially tragically among the young. The scene on many American campuses, to offer one example, has become surreal, replete with demonstrations and high emotional drama and seemingly inexplicable animosities. But why are more and more students behaving so bizarrely in the first place?

One novel thought is this. Maybe they’re claiming to be victims because they are victims—not so much of the “isms” they point to as putative oppressors, but of the church of the new secularism and its toxic works. Up until the sexual revolution, expectations remained largely the same throughout the ages: that one would grow up to have children and a family; that parents and siblings and extended family would remain one’s primal community; that one would have parents and siblings and extended family in the first place.

The revolution has upended every one of these expectations. It has erased the givenness into which generations are born. “Who am I?” is a universal human question. It becomes harder to answer if other questions are out of reach. Who is my brother? Who is my father? Where, if anywhere, are my cousins, grandparents, nieces, nephews, and the rest of the organic connections through which humanity up until now channeled everyday existence—including our relations with God?

It’s this loss of givenness that drives the frenzied search for identity these days, whether in the secular scholasticism concerning how to speak about ethnicity, or in the belligerent fights over “cultural appropriation.” Such phenomena are indeed bizarre, if we examine them under the rationalist assumptions of the pre-revolutionary world. But if instead we understand them against the existential reality of today—one in which the family has imploded, and in which many people, no matter how well-off or privileged, have been deprived of the most elementary of human connections—we can grasp why “identity politics” is the headline that just won’t go away.

“Who am I?” An illiterate peasant of the Middle Ages was better equipped to answer that question than many people in advanced societies in this century. He may only have lived until age thirty—but he spent his days among family and in towns, practicing a shared faith, and thus developed a vivid sense of those to whom he was elementally connected, not just in the course of his life but before birth and after death. Post-Pill, confusion rules the earth. No wonder itinerant erotic leanings and ethnic claims have become substitute answers to that eternal question, “Who am I?” Many people, especially younger people, experience these as the only reliable answers to that question of identity—or at least, as the answers that seem less ambiguous and fraught than answers that refer back to their family, or families, or lack thereof.

In this ongoing catastrophe over the fundamental question of who we are,there is great opportunity. It is shocking but true: The overbearing secularist culture is itself sowing the seeds of a religious revival.

The wide range of fresh cultural and religious analysis mentioned earlier is one measure of a counterculture that’s thriving in this hour of paganization. Even the dominance of the secularist church in familiar venues looks to be less monolithic than is usually understood. Witness again how the conflagration that started with Harvey Weinstein has gone on to illuminate wrongdoing elsewhere, on the part of others who have acted on the premise that women are available for recreational sex anywhere and anytime. Meanwhile, new Catholic and other Christian associations proliferate on campuses and elsewhere, despite fierce secularist pushback. If the rise in “nones” is one emblematic story of our time, so too is the birth of countercultural campus communities like the Thomistic Institute, the Love and Fidelity Network, and FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); the sharp rise in high schools grounded in classical education; the Leonine Forum for young professionals in Washington, D.C., now expanding into other cities; related ongoing intellectual projects like the Tertio Millennio Seminar in Poland, the Free Society Seminar in Slovakia, and more; and many other organic responses, both protective and proactive, to competition from the rival church of secularism.

These and other platoons like them will transform the American landscape. They encourage the search for transcendence in a world where neo-paganism insists there is none; they help those damaged collaterally by the sexual revolution to find answers to the question “Who am I?” The rival church of secularism shortchanges humanity, and humanity, plodding and delinquent though it may be, still shows signs of wanting more than the church of the new secularism can deliver.

Two such witnesses to that reality appeared in Washington, D. C., a few months ago, in the middle of a heat wave. They had gotten in touch with me to discuss a documentary they were creating to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae. Their studio in D.C. turned out to be their hotel room. The entourage for the shoot included their three very young children, with whom they took turns throughout the interview. They had made many sacrifices and traveled hundreds of miles because, they said, they were on a mission to tell the truth.

The young woman had grown up without knowing who her father was. Her mother, a radical feminist, raised her to fear and hate men. The young man came from Scandinavia, growing up as secular as Scandinavians can be. Both, if encountered earlier in their lives, would have been categorized as “nones.”

In their own estimations, they had escaped from behind enemy lines of the sexual revolution. Somehow, they found each other. Somehow, falling in love led them to question what had happened in their pasts. Somehow, they encountered a priest. Somehow, they read some books by faithful authors. And what with one improbable development and another, both ended up converting to Catholicism. Now they want to share with others the truths they discovered the hard way. That’s how the Church of the future will be rebuilt: stone by stone, picked up from the rubble, by witnesses to the initial blast.

Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles has connected our moment in the West to Juan Diego’s in Guadalupe, almost five hundred years ago. Today’s world, like Diego’s then, overflows with human damage. Today’s world, like his, has now raised up whole generations of men and women subjected to an inhuman account of human life. The resulting deformations are everywhere, and confusion can’t help but abound. Even so, the secularist faith remains vulnerable for the same reasons that a once-triumphant Marxism did: because its promises are false and its anthropology deluded.

The church that the sexual revolution has built is thriving, all right, and those outside need to know what’s in there. But its pews are packed with casualties—every one of them a convert waiting to happen, for the Church that does keep its promises.

——————————
abortion, american, anti-religion, atheism, crisis, culture, ideology, liberalism, philosophy, progressive, religion, sex, study, theology, unintended consequences

Filed under: abortion, american, anti-religion, atheism, crisis, culture, ideology, liberalism, philosophy, progressive, religion, sex, study, theology, unintended consequences

Is your elementary student being instructed with sexualized propaganda?

original article: California elementary schools to use pro-LGBT history textbooks
November 14, 2017 by Dorothy Cummings McLean

 

Children in California will be learning to identify historical personages by their sexuality.

The Advocate reported that the California state board of education approved “10 LGBT-inclusive history textbooks” for elementary school students in grades K-8 last week. It also rejected two textbooks on the grounds that they did not include “LGBT history.” The exclusion of LGBT history violates California’s FAIR Education Act.

The FAIR Education Act, once informally called the LGBT History Bill, was written by Senator Mark Leno. FAIR stands for “Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful.” It ensures that the political, economic and social contributions of people with disabilities as well as those people identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are included in textbooks of California’s state-funded schools. It also added sexual orientation and religion to a list of characteristics that California schools already could not present in a negative way.

In 2008, Mark Leno became the first openly gay man to be elected to the California State Senate. He introduced the LGBT History Bill in 2011. Fifty-eight other bills penned by Leno were made into law, including the California Universal HealthCare Act and the establishment of Harvey Milk Day in California.

When the LGBT History Bill was presented, there was opposition from traditional family organizations. Candi Cushman of Focus on the Family told LifeSiteNews that the Bill was unnecessary because “California has some of the most pro-active laws in the nation in this regard already on the books.”

Cushman added, “The appropriate emphasis in history books and social science books is to honor people because of their contributions. It just seems kind of crazy to be promoting them based on their political or sexual identity. You wouldn’t want to leave people out based on that, but neither do you want to base the entire reason that they’re included in history on sexual identity. It should be based on their historical contributions.”

However, homosexual rights advocates welcome the new LBGT-inclusive textbooks. Rick Zbur, head of Equality California, told the Advocate that this “is the next step for California students to learn about the contributions of LGBT people.”

“Approval of these textbooks means that California schools will now have access to approved materials that accurately represent LGBTQ people … ”

Renata Moreira, executive director of the pro-homosexuality Our Family Coalition, told the Advocate that “LGBTQ students, and those with LGBTQ families, will finally be able to see themselves and our history accurately reflected in textbooks in California.

—————–
bias, children, culture, diversity, education, homosexuality, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, sex

Filed under: bias, children, culture, diversity, education, homosexuality, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, sex

This, above all else, is why Roy Moore has as much support as he does

original article: ‘Reckoning’ Attempts Display A Left Still Unable To Face Bill Clinton’s Alleged Sex Crimes
November 15, 2017 by Daniel Payne

It is fascinating and welcome to see liberals discovering their consciences on Bill Clinton’s alleged rapist tendencies. True, this moral revelation comes about two decades later than it should have, and at precisely the moment the Left can no longer reasonably ignore it and not a moment sooner.

Just the same, it is nice to finally see some honesty on this issue. It is nice to see liberals, having no more use for the Clintons, finally undertaking what MSNBC host Chris Hayes calls “a real reckoning” with the very real possibility that Bill Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick nearly 40 years ago.

And yet. One is tempted to believe we’re witnessing not a “reckoning” but a quick and guilty kind of moral shrug, a sort of Kansas City shuffle meant to absolve a bunch of deeply culpable people of their own deep and stinking culpability. For a real “reckoning” of American liberalism’s wink-nod approach to Bill Clinton’s alleged sex crimes would implicate American liberalism itself, or at least the last few decades of it. That is understandably not something many liberals are willing to do.

Still Too Scared to Face Themselves In the Mirror

A great example of this evasive genre can be found at The Atlantic, where Caitlin Flanagan has written an article titled, simply, “Bill Clinton: A Reckoning.” The article itself is actually not a reckoning of Bill Clinton or even an overture toward a reckoning.

Indeed, Flanagan only comes to the sexual assault allegations leveled at Clinton only about two-thirds of the way through, after bringing up Clarence Thomas’s alleged sexual harassment of Anita Hill. She places most of the blame for Clinton on “machine feminism” rather than Democratic opportunism, then lamely asserts Democrats need to “come to terms” with how they “abandoned some of [their] central principles” in their unthinking defense of Clinton.

At The New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg offers a similar pastiche of self-serving pseudo-reflection. “I Believe Juanita,” her most recent column declares upfront. After that she spends a great deal of time grumbling about Breitbart, “the right’s evident bad faith,” “right-wing propaganda,” “the right-wing press,” “epistemological warfare,” and “various figures in conservative media.” Only after six paragraphs do we get to Broaddrick, after which Goldberg quickly returns to the conservative-led “blizzard of lies” that led progressives to doubt Broaddrick 20 years ago.

Almost as an afterthought, Goldberg writes: “It’s fair to conclude, that because of Broaddrick’s allegations, Bill Clinton no longer has a place in decent society.” Goodness, after two decades this is the best we can manage?

Even Hayes’s own viral tweet is couched in a tired and evasive formula. “As gross and cynical and hypocrtical [sic] as the right’s ‘what about Bill Clinton’ stuff is,” he wrote, “it’s also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.” Got it: so the Right is “gross and cynical and hypocritical” regarding the Left’s steadfast avoidance of Bill Clinton’s alleged sex crimes, but we’re also correct? Are liberals capable of discussing Clinton’s sordid history without having to obsessively refer back to conservatives?

They Let Bill Clinton Keep Legitimacy for 18 More Years

There is a deeper and more cynical politics at work here. “Reckoning” with Bill Clinton’s alleged crimes is not just a matter of the Democratic Party saying sorry for not believing Broaddrick in 1999. Bill Clinton has remained a prominent fixture of the party in the intervening 18 years, including as a major fundraiser during his wife’s two failed campaigns for president and as a stump for other Democrats, including President Obama.

Progressives, meanwhile, adore him. “Bill Clinton couldn’t keep it in his pants, but he was a great president!” one very liberal woman told me years ago. Broaddrick would surely agree with the first part. Summing up the feelings of millions of progressive millennials, comedian John Mulaney described Clinton as a “smooth and fantastic hillbilly who should be declared emperor of the United State of America.” This kind of hero-worship is only possible if one disbelieves Broaddrick’s testimony entirely—testimony that, 20 years on, remains very credible.

A “reckoning” of the accusations against Bill Clinton must thus also function as a reckoning of the last couple of decades of Democratic politics, a politics that has featured Bill Clinton as an ancillary yet still near-permanent fixture. Every Democrat has known of Broaddrick’s accusations for years. Yet Bill Clinton was still eagerly accepted within “decent society,” and his wife—who is quite reasonably seen as both an apologist for her husband’s perverted behavior and possibly a criminal conspirator regarding his crimes—became the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party itself in the last election.

To reckon with all of this means to reckon with the Democratic party in toto—its political instincts, its morals, and its public credibility and future viability. The Left predictably isn’t very keen to do that. So we get what we’ve witnessed in the past week: liberals feigning a kind of come-to-Jesus public confessional over Bill Clinton while ultimately just complaining about conservatives.

It is true that, in the end, we do not know if Bill Clinton raped Broaddrick. It is virtually impossible to prove it one way or the other, as it generally is with these types of claims. It would not be wholly unreasonable for someone to doubt Broaddrick after a careful review of the evidence. Then again, her claim, and the evidence surrounding it, is compelling enough to be believable, more so than many.

So what does it say about the Democratic Party that it has nevertheless allowed Bill Clinton a revered and permanent spot in its ranks? And what does it say about liberals that, even now, after all of this time, they cannot truly come to grips with it?

————————-
abuse, bias, corruption, culture, Democrats, elitism, ethics, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, politics, progressive, relativism, scandal, sex, unintended consequences, victimization

Filed under: abuse, bias, corruption, culture, Democrats, elitism, ethics, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, politics, progressive, relativism, scandal, sex, unintended consequences, victimization

Government is not enough to rebuild a broken society

original article: Why America Will Not Solve Its Existential Crisis Without A Rebirth Of Faith
November 8, 2017 by Emilie Kao

Country music legend Johnny Cash had hit rock bottom. Exhausted by his struggle with drug addiction, he literally crawled into a cave to die. But then, as he described it later, a feeling of tranquility came over him and drew him back from the brink: “There in Nickajack Cave I became conscious of a very clear, simple idea: I was not in charge of my destiny. I was not in charge of my own death. I was going to die at God’s time, not mine.”

Cash’s spiritual awakening gave him new hope. His story of redemption rings true among countless Americans who credit faith with helping them overcome addiction and other self-destructive behaviors.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of Americans are living only the earlier part of Cash’s story—the misery, futility, and sense of hopelessness. The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Culture and Opportunityreports that Americans are now four times more likely to die from opioid overdose than in 1999. Teens are 13.5 percent more likely to use drugs than in 2006, with just under a quarter of high school seniors reporting drug use last year. President Trump was right to recognize that the opioid crisis is really a national emergency.

The suicide rate has risen so sharply that the overall life expectancy of Americans is declining for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, the marriage rate continues to decline. A likely related trend is the unemployment of young men, which has doubled in the last 15 years.

Money and Programs Can’t Provide Existential Meaning

Clearly, many Americans are stressed out—economically, emotionally, and psychologically. But what ails America cannot be remedied with just money or counselling. A genuine cure must include cultural revival in which religious communities come alongside individuals and families to reweave the frayed ends of broken relationships. Empirical research demonstrates that religion contributes to individual and societal prosperity. In his book, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” J.D. Vance shows how religion can help generate holistic flourishing.

Like Cash’s story, Vance’s memoir brings to life the statistics about divorce, domestic violence, and drug addiction. He credits his own upward trajectory to acquiring “social capital.” Through personal networks, he learned “soft skills” like conflict resolution and financial management that fueled his upward mobility. He cited both the military and churches as critical institutions that form social capital.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber’s research has demonstrated a causal connection between children’s church attendance and their ability to stay off drugs and out of prison. After analyzing religious attendance, Gruber also observed an “incredibly strong correlation” with higher education, more stable marriages, higher income, and lower likelihood of being on welfare. A study at Harvard showed that those who attend religious services at least once a week are five times less likely to commit suicide.

A Commitment to Morality Increases Social Trust

The role of faith in preventing and treating opioid addiction is increasingly evident. New Hampshire and West Virginia present a contrast in addiction and religiosity. New Hampshire confounds purely economic explanations of addiction, since it has both high employment and high addiction. It doesn’t fit in well with mainstream media narratives, but states like West Virginia, Utah, and those in the Deep South have both high levels of religiosity and low levels of addiction.

As the Trump administration builds a strategy to combat this public health emergency affecting 21 million Americans, it should consider not only criminal punishments and opioid alternatives, it should also take into account the empirical evidence of faith’s role as seen in the states. Similar to Gruber’s observations about faith’s effects in the lives of individual Americans, a Chinese economist saw faith’s effects on business transactions in America’s national economy. Zhao Xiao traces America’s prosperity back to the Puritans.

He sees a relationship between their transcendental motives and a high degree of personal integrity, which generated trust and minimized friction in economic transactions. Zhao’s research has influenced policymakers in the Chinese Communist Party, who are increasingly emphasizing the role of morality in fostering trust.

Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen also attributes America’s economic success to civic virtues religious communities teach, such as obedience to the law, respect for private property, and honesty. While earlier generations created the cultural momentum that led to American prosperity, Christensen warns that momentum is dissipating as religious belief wanes: “If you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police”

Religion Is Important for a Thriving Country

The importance of personal virtue for society is something Vance takes seriously. He urges Americans to incorporate cultural causes into our discussions of the structural factors that contribute to poverty. When individuals feel hopeless, marriages dissolve, and children get caught up in families’ breakdown, government solutions are not enough to make up the difference. Religious communities, however, are there when life falls apart.

Just how critical are religious organizations to the fabric of American life? Religious networks provide $161 billion in medical services annually. Religious schools and colleges provide $138 billion in education. Religious charities contribute $95.2 billion, religious businesses $438 billion, and religious congregations $326 billion. Eliminate religious organizations, and Americans would lose $1.2 trillion in services.

Communities also benefit greatly from partnerships between government and religious groups. Consider the relief efforts needed to deal with natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Nonprofits provide 80 per cent of recovery efforts, and they are mostly faith-based. But faith is equally as powerful in less visible day-to-day interactions. In Gadsden County, Florida, partnerships between faith leaders and city officials have transformed programs in women’s prisons and schools.

In the words of the town sheriff, “We cannot incarcerate our way out of crime. When all else fails, you sometimes have to appeal to the spiritual side of offenders.” Local churches in Gadsden send members to teach inmates the Bible and life skills. Other churches help find jobs and housing for newly released inmates. Gadsden County’s story is one of countless examples showing the “spiritual capital” that religion provides on top of its tremendous economic value—more than that of Facebook, Google, and Apple combined, according to the research of Brian Grim.

Faith Provides Private Accountability We All Need

Faith infuses lives with greater meaning, and faith communities help us make and keep wise commitments. They help us to stay engaged in the lives of our spouses, children, and friends. They help us to stay in school and at jobs when we might prefer to quit. Most of us are more likely to keep commitments when others help. But this kind of accountability, which requires face-to-face contact over a long period of time, is not something the government is well-equipped to provide.

Religious communities help parents raise their children. They provide counseling to individuals while they are dating, after they get married, and even when they lose a spouse. They provide assistance, loans, and job contacts to those who are unemployed. And they are a source of encouragement and hope for people desperate to stay out of addiction.

The American Dream is still alive, but it needs renewal. Government can help. But it takes communities of faith to fully rebuild what has been broken and to restore hope where it’s been lost.

——————-
crisis, culture, economy, ethics, family, ideology, religion, study, unintended consequences

Filed under: crisis, culture, economy, ethics, family, ideology, religion, study, unintended consequences

Pages

Categories

May 2019
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031