“The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated… Otherwise, however carefully planned and executed our liturgies may be, they would risk falling into a certain ritualism. Hence the need to provide an education in eucharistic faith capable of enabling the faithful to live personally what they celebrate.” (Pope Benedict XVI, SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, 64)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Berlin and Fort Hood

UPDATE: Father Sirico has a much more eloquent statement for the occasion. His assessment was bleak, but I loved how he ends on a hopeful note:
Then I remember the years leading up to 1989. The
people who brought that victory about were not defeatist or compliant.

A former Hollywood actor, undaunted by ridicule and
the compromising lethargy of his own party; a Soviet prisoner, Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, reaching from the frozen tundra of the Gulags of the Soviet Empire
and wounding the omnivorous bear with a simple pen; an iron lady in England,
Margaret Thatcher, who didn’t get the memo about the demise of capitalism and
the rise of the Marxist dialectic; a rough and crude Polish shipyard worker,
Lech Walesa, who led a workers’ revolt against the Worker’s Paradise, encouraged
by another Pole, John Paul II, who on his appearance on the world stage bade the
world to throw open the doors to Christ and who, without tanks or military
resources, stood face to face with Soviet puppets who literally trembled at his
calm articulation of the Truth.

It is a remarkable testament to the human thirst
for freedom under such hardship and against such odds—in the midst of
deprivation and with guns pointed at them—all they were able to achieve, these
mothers and fathers of freedom. Their example calls us not to acquiesce to the
softer, more insidious and seductive tyranny of our own time, but to redouble
our efforts.

Their example also calls us to remember what too
many of us today have forgotten: We are beings with a destiny both in and beyond
this world—a destiny which can only be worked out in human freedom.

Twenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, such an event was unthinkable. We thought of the Reds as strong, inflexible, unbreakable, with a zeal for world domination. The thought then was that the wall would only come down if Soviet expansion assumed the entire city of Berlin, or possibly something worse. It was the symbol of the divide between east and west. In the past, citizen uprisings in Czechoslovakia and Hungary were met with brutal repression. As much as we despised the Wall, most of us were used to the idea of living with it.

Then citizen uprisings began that year. It wasn’t just Berlin. Before the wall fell, also in 1989, citizen movements in Hungary and Poland managed to force multiparty elections, and lo and behold, the communists lost. Soon after November 9th of that year the Velvet revolution toppled the communist government of Czechoslovakia and citizens gained control of the military forces in Romania, closing out 1989 with the hasty executions of Nicolae Ceausescu on Christmas day.

The news was fast and furious and there was giddy hope for the future. Of course, not all was well, as Yugoslavia and China did not adjust well to this new paradigm. Nevertheless, such a stirring victory for human freedom was deemed a fantasy. Looking back, was it not for the courage of men and women who believed in God and our inheritance of Western Civilization, such a glorious day as the fall of the Berlin Wall. The multitude of heros will never be counted in this life, but three names resound today; Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul the II.

Looking at Reagan in particular, I can only state what I remember from my high school and early college years. It seemed as if he was on an island of his own. When he made his famous speech at the Brandenburg Gates in 1987, many people unduly influenced by the media shrieked with embarrassment that we had such a fool as our leader. I was one such person. His foreign policy was reckless, so we said. And his senile mouth was even more dangerous. We couldn’t wait to rid our nation of this dolt.

Ronald Reagan, to his credit, subscribed to a traditional American school of thought which recognizes the dignity of the human person. His critics, for the most part, do not. They would never admit to that, but the liberal dialectic reduces the person to a set of traits based on accidents of birth or inclinations. And it has so pervaded American thought that I don’t think, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, that we could in our age so valiantly participate in such a noble endeavor.

Recent news mocks this momentous anniversary. I could apply this to the current debate over healthcare, but instead, since other bloggers have written well on the Fort Hood massacre, I will piggy-back on that and look to contrast the weakness of our current times with the strength of the previous generation of leadership.

Former Education Secretary and Drug Czar Bill Bennett zeroed in on this earlier today.

I give you the words of two German Chancellors: Helmut Kohl and Angela Merkel.
When the wall came down, Helmut Kohl told President George H. W. Bush: “Without
the U.S., this day would not have been possible. Tell your people that.” And
last week, Angela Merkel said this:

I think of John F.
Kennedy, who won the hearts of the Berliners, when, during his visit in 1961,
after the wall had been built, he reached out to the desperate citizens of
Berlin by saying, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” I think of Ronald Reagan, who, far
earlier than most, clearly saw the sign of the times and, standing in front of
the Brandenburg Gate, already in 1987, called out, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this
gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” This appeal shall remain forever in
my heart.

I thank George Herbert Walker Bush for the trust he
placed in Germany and then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl, offering something of
immeasurable value to us Germans already in May 1989: partnership in
leadership. What a generous offer 40 years after the end of the Second World

“Forever in her heart,” “partnership.” “leadership.”
“Immeasurable value.” “Generosity.” That is what the United States of America
stands for, that is what this country dedicated to a proposition stands for.
That is what our men and women in uniform fight for.
…Last week the
battlefield showed itself in one of the most unimaginable places: Ft. Hood,
Texas. We don’t need to wring our hands and our brains to try and figure out the
motive of the terrorist, when someone fires on Americans, killing as many as he
possibly can, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” that is all I need to know. The
question of motive need not be asked, especially not when you have further
evidence of devout religiosity, and vocal criticism of our military missions in
our other battlefields, like Iraq and Afghanistan: all of which was true of
Nidal Hasan.

But there are questions to be asked and I suspect many
of the answers will be unsatisfying — I also suspect we will see memos or some
kind of paperwork on Nidal Hasan that will prove embarrassing to officials in
the FBI, our intelligence services, or the military. There are many stories to
relay relating to Hasan — here’s just one,
by the AP
: “Fellow students of Hasan in a military training course
complained to the faculty about Hasan’s ‘anti-American propaganda,’ but said a
fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from
filing a formal written complaint.”

This last part is one isolated example that showed Maj Hasan had no business on duty. Had this man been a non-Muslim and spouted right-wing hatred in this manner, there is no doubt he would have been stripped of his commission and been closely watched by the FBI, if not incarcerated. As ironic as it sounds, this man could not be treated as if he were a potential Islamic terrorist because he was a Muslim. It sounds silly, but you know that it is true.

This insane political correctness has continued in Orwellian fashion in the aftermath. From President Obama to the talking heads on most of the cable shows, the association of the man’s professed religion and his actions, though obvious to all, has been ignored.

We were instructed twice by the president not to “jump to conclusions”. Of course, that means we aren’t supposed to jump to the obvious conclusion. But, not much more than an hour after the first rounds were discharged into our innocent service men and women, the FBI had no trouble declaring that terrorism wasn’t involved. The media then “jumped” into full gear “conclusion” mode, speculating that gunman was a victim of discrimination and post traumatic stress syndrome (despite his lack of deployment to a combat theater). This is a good roundup of the media “jumping to conclusions”, other than the obvious. The obvious, that this man is a traitor and an Islamic terrorist, is avoided. Days later, it’s still avoided.

The same flawed thinking that fought President Reagan every step of the way has had 20 more years to metastasize and pervade more and more of our institutions; media, education, government, the Church, and even the brave world of our military. So what is going on here? Why is this insanity taking over?

Let it be said that liberals are principled. They just don’t adhere to universal principles in certain, and very important, matters of right and wrong. Dr. Jose Yulo wrote a very short and profound post, the key to unlocking the mind of the liberal, and all of us who are susceptible to it.

The motivation behind the massacre still remains mysterious. What is
intriguing, however, was the quickness with which some news organizations began
the narrative of a soldier ridiculed because of his ethnicity, ultimately
cracking and lashing out in a rage against his perceived persecution. Making
matters more interesting was the possibility of the murders carried out because
of post-traumatic stress, an unusual possibility to say the least since, by
latest account, the attacker had not yet been deployed overseas and therefore
had yet to experience the fire of combat.

Perhaps unknown to its various authors, the roots of this narrative run
deep and parallel to the precedents set forth by certain philosophical schools
in the last century. Paramount here is the dichotomous worldview ham-fistedly
established by Marx and perennially finding converts among cultural elites. The
dialectical clash between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is often
chameleon-like, assuming the suitable color and hue to fit the assigned
socio-political context.

In the liberation theology of Paulo Freire, the
paradigm of the oppressor and the oppressed takes form as the basis for the
Brazilian's distillation of Socratic dialogue into "conscientization." In this
third world setting, members of the latter class are made aware of their
assigned status and encouraged to rebel, sometimes violently, against the former
since, as Freire claims, rebellion is an "act of love."

Integral in this school of thought is the belief that group membership
in the oppressed class, even removed by both time and current economic
conditions, permits for a looser interpretation of moral norms, enabling a
historically underprivileged group the license to "correct" their plights by
means restricted only by their creativity.

Read the whole article. It’s very important, especially if you’ve ever found yourself questioning the liberal devotions to abortion, reverse-racism, the labor movement, environmentalism, anti-capitalism, sympathy for foreign and domestic communists and terrorists, the peace movement, and a paranoid fear of an imperial United States. In every case, you can cast a group in the role of the bourgeoisie and the opposing group in the role of the proletariat. It’s pretty simple, then, to understand the thinking.

For example, let’s take abortion. In this case. men (that is All Men) are the oppressor group and women are the oppressed. It is clear that there has been a history of male oppression over the physically weaker sex. That is universally understood. So now, with that history, women can be defined as an oppressed group, even if much of that oppression has long past. As an oppressed group, they bear no responsibility for anything they do as a member of that oppressed group. It’s simply a reaction to being a victim. Children, in fact, limit the potential of women to combat this inequality with men, an inequality which renders them victims. They are forced to live pregnant for nine months (something not inhibiting men), nurse (again, something men could not do, even if they wanted to), and nurture the children through their young youth. This limits the potential of a woman who desired to pursue her own career, compete in a male world, and reach what they consider a place of respect. Therefore, abortion is a required option. A) It’s perfectly moral to rectify inequalities and B) even if it were not moral, a woman is a victim and cannot be held responsible for her actions.

You might be tempted to wonder why unborn children are not considered an oppressed class. That’s a good question that needs to be explored, and once answered, could be used to convert more liberals to the pro-life cause. But as my wife, a sociology graduate student, remarked, there have to be hierarchies of the oppressed to order the thinking of elites, and currently woman occupy a high tier than the unborn. My guess would be that woman are outside of the womb, and therefore can complain about their oppression, whereby the unborn cannot. It could be as simple as that.

Please understand, I was once a liberal myself. Having converted through the course of the 90’s, I have to say that I cannot understand my own thinking. But this is how I think it starts. My family was in most ways very traditional. My mother stayed at home and my father worked at the factory. We were a union family. We cared about many issues, but clearly when it came to politics, the issue that trumped all others were labor concerns. Thus, we belonged to our own oppressed class.

Thus, in 1987, I’m a huge Ronald Reagan detractor. But still, despite that, we were still pro-life, and we never subscribed to the grievances of the environmentalists, the gay community, the peace movement, or any of the other liberal groups. They were crazy. Yet, we still loyally voted for candidates who were supported by all those other groups.

I theorize that the rank and file oppressed only subscribe to their own grievance. They generally don’t subscribe to all the other grievances out there that the liberals all embrace. Take the black community as an example. They vote liberal in lock-step since they see themselves as an oppressed group, and their grievances will be addressed by they liberals. But all the studies I’ve seen show that they line up against other liberal causes; gay marriage, abortion, environmentalism, etc. Yet, much like my family, their own grievance trumps all, and that’s the way they vote.

After high school, I went on to college, and moved from being an oppressed to being an elite. Sympathy for one oppressed class can lead to the universal sympathy of liberalism. An elite sees the big picture, recognizes all these oppressed groups, and understands the need for political cooperation in order to accomplish justice for any of them. An elite does not necessarily have to belong to an oppressed class. They only have to be a champion for them. That gives their life meaning. We all want to champion the oppressed, don’t we? In return, the oppressed adopted us. We can, thus, be a member of the oppressed without ever suffering oppression. Pretty good deal, eh?

And what happens when an oppressed member decides to fight for the oppressors? The highest scorn of the oppressed and their elite champions is reserved for the traitor, people like Clarence Thomas and Sarah Palin. Feel free to earn money, social status, and fame, but never turn your back on the people you left behind.

It is a conservative reflex to blame liberals for relativism. That is unfair. As I’ve shown, the liberal dialectic is very defined. But their reactions seem relativistic, since they can see evil and fail to condemn it, as is the case with this Fort Hood shooting. That is, evil from the conservative’s perspective, one that expects people to take responsibility for their own actions and holds them accountable.

When George W. Bush declared what is now known as the Bush Doctrine (any nation that assists the terrorists will be considered as guilty as the terrorists), he was criticized as being simplistic and seeing the world through rigid, black-and-white lenses. How could something so logical be so offensive? This criticism seems kind of relativistic, doesn’t it? Well, when viewed through the liberal dialectic, we, the United States, through our military and economic strength, are the oppressors of the world. Through our support of Israel, we’ve marginalized even further the plight of the Muslim world. So the help that terrorists, who were justified in their outrage against the US, receive from terrorist-sponsoring nations should not be acknowledged, since they obviously need the help to combat the US juggernaut. That isn’t relativistic from their standpoint.

Let me be careful at this point. This doesn’t mean that liberals overtly or covertly support terrorists. However, there is a level of sympathy that prevents them from interiorly condemning them and exteriorly acting on the condemnation. That’s why the president and the media are afraid to admit the obvious, for it might lead to a condemnation of someone who wasn’t responsible for his actions.

So here we are, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and we in the United States seem to be rapidly adopting the thinking that would have prevented that wall’s momentous fall. Maybe someday I will write on the errors of the conservative dialectic, but I will have to recognize that error first. I have no doubt that errors are there (especially when I continue to hear prominent conservatives insist that healthcare is not a right), but I don’t think in this era that they are important. Right now, the call to intellectual arms needs to favor an end to this group dialectic which is destroying our ability to see and respond to the truth.

By the way, this, again, is why we homeschool.

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