Thursday, October 26, 2006

Liberal Infallibility

Michael J. Fox is back in the spotlight these days, appearing in a series of political ads in Missouri endorsing a proposed amendment (Amendment 2) that deals with stem cell research and that, in addition, would open the door to cloning and other nefarious initiatives. Fox has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and throughout the ad, the symptoms of his illness are strikingly evident as violent tremors surge through his body. In response to the ads, Rush Limbaugh assailed Fox, accusing him of exaggerating the tremors and exploiting his illness for political purposes. Limbaugh also laid heavily into the former actor for intentionally misrepresenting the Republican opposition and subsequently misleading the public. The furor over the radio personality’s remarks was swift and harsh. Legions of media talking heads condemned Limbaugh for his audacity and “shameless” attacks on the ailing Fox. Subsequently, Limbaugh has expressed regret for calling into question the degree or intensity of Fox’s symptoms but has refused to issue a blanket apology or completely retract his other remarks. Limbaugh’s point, and it is well worth making, is that the left in America routinely props up victims of some disaster or illness and shamelessly showcases them about to advance their cause. Cindy Sheehan, the “Jersey Girls,” Christopher Reeves and Michael J. Fox are among the most prominent examples of this liberal M.O.

Having continually lost in the respected arena of honest debate, where ideas and reason hold sway over sentimentalism, liberals have taken refuge in their own cooked-up, shallow doctrine of infallibility. Desperate to see their agenda shoved through Congress and enshrined into law, random victim X is typically paraded around television promoting the popular liberal dish of the day. If anyone dares to dispute their position or questions their motives, he is immediately pigeonholed and categorized as loathsome and insensitive to the pain of the suffering victim. Of course, it is argued that the victims, being victims, are the ones nearest the issue and as such have the primary right to be heard. Nobody is stopping them from talking. But they shouldn’t be allowed to use their victim status as the sole basis for trumpeting their position’s veracity. And further, they shouldn’t accuse those who think differently of being cold-hearted or insensitive just because they happen to strongly disagree with the latest victim celebrity the left can scrounge up from among the disillusioned citizenry. This is the liberal doctrine of infallibility. To quote from the ever-polemical Ann Coulter, “If you have a point to make…why not send in someone I’m allowed to respond to? No, no, we always have to respond to someone who just had a family member die.” In the warped world-view of liberalism, simply disagreeing with a Cindy Sheehan or Michael J. Fox automatically diminishes the chance that the opposing view might actually be the right one based on the merits of the argument, as disagreeing automatically implies or is equated to “questioning the authenticity of the victim’s grief.” For example, I found the following on

"Celebrities have a long history of supporting political candidates. But there's no question that Fox is uniquely suited as a spokesman for stem cell research. The star of the "Back to the Future" films, shakes and rocks as he directly addresses the camera, the effects of his disease clearly apparent."

From the point of view of a personal experience, Fox certainly may offer his thoughts, does this alone make him "uniquely suited as a spokesman for stem cell research? Is he a scientist? Is he a bio-ethicist? No. In dealing with the questions of whether or not embryonic stem cell research and cloning are morally ethical, Fox is simply not suited or qualified to step forward. But this is the usual ploy utilized by the left. They ignore or obscure facts, among other complicated questions of science and ethics, and fall back on their doctrine of infallibility.

Limbaugh is making a salient point that can no longer be glossed over by shameless liberal chicanery. The paper-thin veil of liberal infallibility has been penetrated by Coulter’s sharp pen and Limbaugh’s sharp tongue. Feelings might be hurt in the process but in the end, the truth is vindicated.

a funny image from Rush's site

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The End of Europe?

Mark Steyn, the ever-witty contributor for National Review has released a fascinating book entitled, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. Personally, I have not read it but I plan to as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. I have a feeling that such a book will be, for obvious reasons, hard to come across here in Italy so I may have to wait until I return home. For those of you in the States, buy a copy asap! From the reviews that I have come across, it won’t disappoint. It seems that Steyn’s book would go well with George Weigel’s, The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America and Politics without God. Steyn outlines the grim prospects for Europe; she continues to dwindle in population thanks to dangerously low birth rates while at the same time she is subject to a never ending influx of Muslim immigrants. Steyn argues that Socialist Europe will be ever more forced to accommodate the new arrivals so as to find a means to pay for massive amounts of retirement pensions looming on the horizon for the aging European population. In addition, Steyn reveals how a sickening multiculturalism has effectively killed, or in the very least severely wounded, the cultural identities of European nations, leaving a vacuum to be filled by, you guessed it, the disciples of Islam. The book is not all doom and gloom however. Steyn points out that Europe’s demise could be the decisive wake-up call that America desperately needs. He argues forcefully that, at present, we are not winning the war on terror. Americans are beginning to show the first signs of battle fatigue. With Europe’s rotting corpse being divided and dissected among the unstoppable immigrants, America will become more isolated and, as a result, may be shocked back into reality. Steyn is convinced that while Europe is finished, America still has a fighting chance, but we can’t lose sight of what Weigel refers to as the ¨stakes for the states¨.

Ultimately, I may not share Steyn's pessimism regarding Europe's ultimate fate. I prefer to reserve some hope that the efforts of JPII and BXVI will produce some fruit; indeed, their warnings may be Europe's last chance. I'm not sure Steyn takes this factor into account in his book. Poland's unique status in Europe also deserves some attention. Nevertheless, America Alone is a welcome reminder for Americans to come around.

Monday, October 23, 2006

President Obama???

Junior Illinois Senator Barack Obama recently backtracked on previous remarks to the effect that he would not seek the office of president. On NBC's Meet the Press, Obama confessed that he would consider running for president in 2008.

"I would say I am still at the point where I have not made a decision to pursue higher office, but it is true that I have thought about it over the last several months," said Obama.

Considering the astonishing level of attention he's been receiving over the past couple years, Obama's change of heart is not all that surprising. To the point however, I've never understood what everybody sees in this guy. He is presented by the media as the embodiment of mainstream America and the definition of moderation. But Obama is anything but mainstream or moderate. He's an unabashed, arch-liberal. He conceals his radical tendencies behind his next-door neighbor personality, smooth rhetorical tricks and wide grin. Washington insiders admit that he's done nothing of significance, outside of his presidential-like tour of Kenya which served only to further inflate his ego, and he has also been known to shirk the tedium of day-to-day congressional duties, preferring instead to bask in the lights of cameras and converse with coquettish reporters. The expression ¨style over substance¨ has rarely found a more appropriate home than with this ambitious political celebrity. Someone needs to bring this guy down to earth, quickly.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Poland's Triumph

The Shrine in Częstochowa

Recently, I traveled to Poland with a small group from my Communication class. Last Spring, six of us organized a four-day whirlwind tour of Pope John Paul II’s homeland to help kick-off the new academic year. One of my good friends here in Rome is a young Polish priest and he readily agreed to serve our guide for visiting many of Poland’s most renowned sanctuaries. Time was short; we only had four days to pack in a healthy dose of Poland’s rich culture, but with the help of our Polish friend, who safely delivered us through what would have certainly been a precarious language barrier, we were able to do much of what we set out to accomplish. Prior to the trip, I had heard a good deal second-hand about Poland’s history and culture and had been deeply impressed with her reputation as one of the world’s most devoutly Catholic nations. But for some time I wanted to experience this culture firsthand, so finally the time had arrived as we touched down in Warsaw. We started off by visiting the sanctuary in Częstochowa, which serves as the sacred repository for the revered icon of the Black Madonna. As we made our way through the Church, we were all deeply impressed by the intensity of the devotion exhibited by the Polish faithful at the shrine: young people lined up at the confessionals and Mass attendance was standing room only. The visit to the shrine confirmed right from the start of the trip that the Catholic faith in Poland is not merely an incidental or historical anecdote of Polish culture, relegated to the history books, but rather is a living, breathing part of modern Polish society. After the stop at Częstochowa, we took the long bus ride to the infamous Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz and, by the end of our tour of the grounds, we were all reduced to a somber silence: it seemed the only appropriate reaction, words weren’t enough. Undoubtedly, Auschwitz will serve for the ages as a dark reminder of humanity’s capacity for diabolical machinations against the dignity of his fellow man. As the visit progressed, we also toured Wawel Castle in Krakow. Wawel serves as a national shrine and final resting place for numerous Polish royalty and cultural and political luminaries from ages past. Along with the shrine at Częstochowa, many consider Wawel the epicenter and nexus of Polish culture and history. Wawel lacked the musty museum ambiance that characterizes other European cultural sites I’ve visited, where all too often, a nation’s cultural identity and past have been reduced to a faded memory or museum piece, an old, forgotten book gathering dust on the shelf of Europe’s collective conscience. Far different was the scene at Wawel; the castle was alive with Polish pilgrims, again young and old, streaming in and out of its cavernous chambers, paying respects to their national heroes. Looking back, what stood out most about the visit was a tangible cultural freshness unique to Poland, which sets her apart from other nations of Europe. All of these moving experiences brought to the forefront a salient question: Why is Poland so different from the rest of modern Europe?

Wawel Castle

It is widely acknowledged in Catholic circles, and it is immediately perceived by those who visit Europe, that the Continent at present finds itself in the violent throws of a particularly poisonous cultural malaise that has at its source an identity crisis rooted in its hostility toward its Christian heritage and broad embrace of moral relativism. By rejecting the essential ingredient of Christianity in the composition of its identity, most in Europe are grasping in the dark for something else that might fill the vacuum and give meaning to their existence. Dangerous ideologies promising to herald in a new august age of enlightenment, ranging from Nazism, Fascism and Communism have been the most popular substitutes over the past century and no doubt Poland has suffered the full fury of what these creeds had to offer; death on a scale unprecedented in the history of the world, disease, famine and political and economic turmoil, to name only a few. The pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI have eagerly sought to allay these erratic spasms of secularism by imploring Europe to rediscover herself by fearlessly embracing her cultural heritage and, in particular, the faith that has over the course of two-thousand years, crafted Europe’s beautiful and diverse cultures. Both have made it clear in no uncertain terms that the survival of Europe as a cultural entity is at stake. Even traditionally Catholic nations like Spain and Italy have fallen prey to the predator of moral relativism. Yet despite the success that relativism has achieved in virtually every nation, Poland has firmly resisted and fought off relativism’s advances and consequently stands out as a pearl among the nations of Europe.

My short pilgrimage proved convincingly that the dark cloud of radical secularism has by and large passed over Poland. There are several reasons that can explain for this. Over the centuries, Poland has suffered severely at the hands of avaricious nations who have fought over how to divide, conquer and eviscerate not merely Polish territory, but Polish culture itself. Indeed, it is precisely because of Poland’s epic struggles to preserve a cultural memory against foreign powers over the past millennia that Poles today are so acutely aware of precisely what is at stake when the armies of relativism and secularism threaten at its borders. Throughout Poland’s agonizing ensnarement by Nazism and Communism, Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II fought mightily to remind his countrymen of their unique identity as Poles, found in the pages and chapters of their literature, the chords and notes of their music and most significantly in the faith of their fathers. Through the immense trials of foreign occupation and oppression, an authentic Polish culture, a unique Polish identity, was embalmed for future generations so that today, it remains viable and intact. Indeed, Poland embodies everything that Europe ought to be. To be certain, this Slavic nation, like all nations, faces the same challenges and hurdles that threaten any open and free society. Nevertheless I have never been in a country whose people and culture move in tandem so harmoniously with the traditional faith professed by the nation. Absent was the disparity present in so many other nations that sees modernity and faith set against one another as irreconcilable and mortal foes. Poland, as a society, culture and nation, has figured out how to be thoroughly modern and authentically Catholic at the same time by recognizing, revering and cherishing its culture. I believe this was the vision for Europe and the world that inspired Pope John Paul II.