Thursday, November 30, 2006

On Multiculturalism

Every generation produces its own revolutionaries, some revolt against the moral order, by which I mean the order of the soul, and others the constitutional order, by which I mean the principles of justice and jurisprudence. These individuals perceive this inherited order as flawed and incongruent with progress—when indeed it is the fons et origo of every good we enjoy, and a springboard for the cultivation of our society.

As a student, I see many of my classmates rejecting tradition, and while they are motivated by different things, a major source of this rejection are multicultural groups on university campuses, which promote an amorphous post-modern virtue, diversity. Rather than promoting irenicism, multicultural organizations tend to splinter university campuses by encouraging a militant provincialism: At almost any university one can find scores of clubs and events geared towards one ethnic group or another. (Just this week I was e-mailed about a networking event for women and minorities, and wonder what those who do not fit into either category must think when reading similar e-mails.) And while not all such groups reject the inherited order, they do create factions on campus, which, at best, segregate part of the student body and promote a myopic sense of mankind.

Multiculturalists believe that they are the disenfranchised members of society, and that the moral and constitutional order is weighed against them. Therefore, instead of reaping the benefits of the American culture that they have inherited, they fatuously search for ways to “even the playing field.” In lieu of legitimate academic programs encouraging minorities to excel, university multicultural groups promote special networking events and internships solely for students of color. The words of Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France come to mind, “You think you are combating prejudice, but you are at war with nature.” Indeed, multiculturalists are at war with nature when they denigrate themselves by simultaneously refusing to participate in the moral and constitutional order, and complaining that they are the victims of that order.

This is not a new phenomenon, years ago Russell Kirk noted, “multiculturalism is animated by envy and hatred,” and labeled it as not only “intellectually puny”, but “anti-cultural.” It is intellectually puny because it would replace time-tested educational standards with more diverse curriculums and modern pedagogical methods. I do not claim that universities should never adjust their curriculums, but unfortunately the modernization and diversification of university curricula produces mediocre results. It is anti-cultural because multiculturalists zealously adhere to their ideology and are prepared to polemicize their opponents, even when they are minorities themselves. A salient example is the story of Mia Martinez, a College of the Holy Cross undergraduate that criticized a pre-freshman program for minority students in her campus newspaper as encouraging self-segregation by the participating students. Her opinion being that after participating in the program the students would naturally stick together since they already knew each other. Her honest observation resulted in a scolding from the college administration and even the threat of a lawsuit.

Multiculturalists are not likely to renounce their phantasmagoria anytime soon. Multiculturalism has persisted in the academy, and will continue to persist as long as there are individuals who are willing to pander to certain minorities’ sense of entitlement. We who believe in an inherited moral order – one that holds that all men are created equal – must also be persistent, and prepared to remind those who would undo tradition that, again to quote Burke, “we owe an implicit reverence to all the institutions of our ancestors."

Constantinople: The Queen of Cities

The pope’s visit to visit to Turkey provides Christians the opportunity to pay homage to the Byzantine Empire. In some ways, Byzantium seems to be a forgotten or lost period of time. Rarely is the Eastern Roman Empire discussed anymore, outside of stuffy history books. Part of this reticence may have something to do with how the empire expired; its jugular finally slit by the scimitar’s blade, wielded by the soldiers of Islam and Memhet II. Fortunately, the ancient civilization of Byzantium is receiving some much-deserved and belated attention as a result of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.

Although Orthodoxy was the de facto religion of Byzantium after the schism of 1054, Catholics too can take pride in the accomplishments of this magnificent civilization. In fact, the very last liturgy celebrated in the renowned Hagia Sophia, before being converted into a mosque by the conquering Turks, was a Catholic Mass. Constantine XI Dragases, the last Roman Emperor, was desperate for military assistance from the West and signed an agreement of unity between the two bickering sides of Christendom. He attended the last Divine Liturgy; the Patriarch was notably absent. The beating heart of this vibrant empire was the city of Constantinople, inaugurated by Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. For over one thousand years, this “nova roma,” also known as Vasileousa Polis or the Queen of Cities, remained the source of a golden age in culture until 1453 when it collapsed. In terms of the arts, learning, culture and engineering, few cities could rival her accomplishments and triumphs. “Old Rome” herself seemed to pale in comparison to her younger, imperial sister and rival. As barbarian hordes overran Rome, Western Europe was carved up into an array of competing tribes, as warring kings squabbled over territorial boundaries. Throughout this time, Constantinople and Byzantium flourished, shining as a beautiful gem in the East. Unfortunately, fraternal friction emerged between East and West that at times bordered on unbridled hatred. With more than a little condescension, the haughty Greeks disregarded the Latin West as a barbarian melting pot of uncivilized philistines and the source of all religious heresies. Returning the favor, Western Europeans, the Franks in particular, saw the Greeks as effete, prissy and sanctimonious. Looking beyond the lamentable cultural, political and most importantly, religious fault lines that cleaved the two pillars of Christianity, it could safely be argued that Constantinople was, at the height of her splendor, a city unrivaled in Europe and the world. Accounts from Western travelers who passed through Constantinople remain. They express astonishment at the city’s unparalleled wealth and beauty. Hagia Sophia, the greatest church in Christendom, was so beautiful that it seemed to gracefully elude words that attempted to form a description of it. Stephen of Novgorod, a 14th-century Russian passerby in Constantinople had this to say about the renowned Church of Holy Wisdom, “As for St. Sophia, the human mind can neither tell it nor make description of it!” The city was teeming with exquisite churches, monasteries and convents, all harboring suburb works of Christian art. Byzantium gave the world another august age and a proved herself a worthy successor to Athens and Rome.

All of this came to an abrupt end however in the year 1453. The Byzantine Empire, hobbled and exhausted from relentless onslaughts by the advancing Ottoman fury, finally capitulated and was conquered. Emperor Constantine XI died gloriously in battle, futilely rallying the brave defenders who remained behind, mostly Greeks, with some Venetians and a handful of Spaniards. According to eyewitness accounts, he was last seen on his horse with his sword drawn, right before throwing himself into an advancing Turkish hoard. Just before doing so, he tore off his purple cloak, the imperial regalia and the last outward vestige of his link to the glory days of Rome. “The city is taken but I am still alive!” were his last words to his beleaguered comrades. Soon, both city and emperor were gone forever. The enormous and glittering statue of the Emperor Justinian dating from the sixth century, which had stood for the ages as a symbol of Byzantine might, promise and glory was ripped down from its massive pedestal. Janissaries, the elite fighting force of the sultan, poured into the now defenseless city, mercilessly cutting down soldiers and citizens, women and children alike. No distinctions were made as a generous portion of the population was killed. Those who survived the horrific conquest and sack of Constantinople were rounded up like cattle, divided up again as spoils for the victors and sold into slavery or deported. Every church in the city was desecrated, convents and monasteries were ransacked, relics and sacred images shamelessly defiled. The Janissaries marched through the streets bearing a large crucifix chanting, “Behold the god of the Christians!” This ancient Christian capital of Constantine was immediately transferred into hands of a twenty-one year old Ottoman sultan. The triumphant Memhet II waited until order was restored before he majestically entered his newly acquired prize on horseback. His first appointment was at Hagia Sophia, now emptied of its Christian worshippers. He immediately ordered it converted to a mosque and within seconds, an imam issued the first call to prayer from within the apse of the gutted temple. According to legend, to add a final exclamation point to his stunning victory and to forever seal the fate of the Christian line of Constantine, the sultan had the slain emperor’s straw-stuffed head sent throughout the capitals of Arabia as proof of his astonishing feat. He viewed himself as heir to the Caesars of Rome and was eager to demonstrate his claim with a morbid trophy. His claim as successor to Caesar is dubious however, since in the West, a Holy Roman Emperor was already firmly established and he, being Christian and reared in European culture, would certainly have had more legitimacy to claim himself heir to the Caesars and, more importantly, to the civilization Rome breathed forth.

Constantine XI

Regardless, the fall of Constantinople marked the end of an age. It is considered by historians as point of departure to signal the end of the Middle Ages. For their part, the Ottoman Turks continued on a remarkable and seemingly unstoppable march toward conquering “Old Rome” herself, and thus closing the circle of their conquests. Even before the Ottomans could dream of capturing Constantinople, Muslim armies were accustomed to psyching themselves for battle against Christians with the rallying cry, “roma, roma, roma!” With the arrival of the ferociously militant Ottoman Turks, their goal was not all together so unrealistic. European kings and the pope looked on with terror as the Ottoman armies swallowed up huge tracts of territory in their march west, coming within striking distance of Europe’s heart: the Eternal City. Only with the decisive defeat of the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna could Europe breath a collective sigh of relief as Ottoman expansion finally, miraculously stopped.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Pope and Islam

TIME recently ran a cover story on the pope’s upcoming visit to Turkey. In general, it was well written, quoting liberally from complimentary sources who, to one degree or another, agreed that the Pope, in his Regensburg speech, said what needed to be said. For example, one “high-ranking Western diplomat in Rome” was sited by TIME that summed up the shared sentiment of many of those quoted throughout the article. “It was time to let the rabbit out of the can, and he did. I admire his courage.” Even those who disagreed with the pope were measured in their criticism. Tariq Ramadan wrote an op-ed expressing his points of departure from the Holy Father’s view. He nevertheless defended the pope’s right to express himself. “It is Benedict’s right to exercise his critical opinion without being expected to apologize for it.” And further, “Benedict XVI should be free to express his opinions without risk of impassioned denunciation.” It was refreshing to read an article in a magazine like TIME that gave voice to articulate supporters of the Holy Father like Father Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak. This is not to say however that the article was error-free. When it came down to dealing with the nuts and bolts of what the Holy Father actually said in his Regensburg address, the writers for TIME fell short of the mark.

The criticisms I’ve heard or read emanating from the pseudo-intellectual elites of America regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s lecture are, in varying degrees, the same hackneyed talking-points crafted and reshaped to suit different audiences. TIME dismissed the substance of what the pope said in his sophisticated discourse as “slap-dashed and flawed.” It seems that the problem many experienced when reading the controversial address stems from modernity’s general disregard for philosophy as a science. The modern American mind has been reared in the school of positivism, which forbids or holds highly suspect, a correct anthropology of the human person and any definitive conclusions on moral actions. Such critics of the Pope’s lecture come across as sorry attempts by intellectual inferiors to grasp something that soars far above their limitedly trained mind’s capacity. The Pope’s brilliant summation of Western civilization’s present dilemma passed clear over the heads of many for the simply reason that he, and anyone else schooled in the Classics, are on a different level, intellectually speaking. One passage from the TIME article particularly galled me. It was made in the familiar arena of criticizing the Church for its involvement in the Crusades. It followed up on a discussion of the Koran and passages within it that could be interpreted today by extremists to sanction violence. To appreciate the astonishing oversight by TIME, it is worth citing the passage in its entirety.

The bellicosity of some Koranic passages owes much to the fact that they were written at a time when Muslims were engaged in almost constant warfare to defend their religion. But when suicide bombers today go to their fates with the Koran’s verses on their lips, it invites questions about Islam’s credentials as a religion that is willing to police its own claims of peace and tolerance. As conservative Catholic scholar Michael Novak points out, the Vatican’s pacifism gives Benedict unmatched moral standing to press this point. “Being against war, he can say tougher things…than any President or Prime Minister can. His role is to represent Western civilization.” Perhaps so, but then he might have to represent its past as well, including all the historical violence done in Jesus’ name (despite the Gospel’s pacifism).

For starters, the writers for TIME seem quite willing to give the early subscribers to Islam a moral pass for behaving violently because they were merely defending their religion. Could it ever have been a possibility that Christians too have also taken up the sword in defense of their prerogatives to worship freely? TIME seems ready to excuse or overlook the violent excesses of Muslims in the 7th century in the name of “defense” and, further, to ignore the clear-as-day fact that for one-thousand years Muslims on the offensive overran entire Christian civilizations, from the Iberian Peninsula, across northern Africa and into the Orient. This oversight by TIME is most unfortunate and provides yet another manifestation of a selective historical bias. More troubling still is TIME’s failure to make a critical distinction. TIME rightly observes that Christians acting violently in the name of Christianity contradict the very essence of the Scriptures. Surprisingly and commendably, considering the rampant political correctness of the day, TIME even gets close to broaching the subject of the Koran’s blatantly violent passages, leaving open for discussion the unresolved connection between violence and the essence of Islam. The deficiency of the observation lies in its reluctance to clearly distinguish, as Pope John Paul II did in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, between the theology and anthropology of Christianity and Islam. Such a distinction sets the two religions worlds apart. One simply cannot conclude that, because Christians committed atrocities in the name of their religion, Christianity and Islam, as religions, are the same with regard to their relation to violence. The whole point of this debate is a critical study into the very essence of Islam and Christianity. TIME at least recognizes the intrinsically peaceful soul of Christianity and it deserves credit for raising the topic of Koranic exegesis in light of Muslim terrorists. However TIME’s omission in delineating the essences of the two religions by virtue of their holy texts is extremely frustrating. This failure opens the door to moronic comments that serve to undermine Christianity’s sublime message, sabotaging it with the cruel actions of some of her members; actions clearly at odds with the religion’s essence.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Appia Antica

The Appian Way in Rome, like most of the sites in the Eternal City, is a tour de force of early Christian history. The military road for the vast Roman Empire was constructed in 312 B.C. and is composed of massive flat rocks set into the earth. Remarkably, the road is still in use today. While not quite as impressive a feat as the Pantheon or Colosseum, the smooth, well-trodden road is nevertheless a remarkable display of Roman ingenuity. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Appian Way and stop along several prominent sites for the early Christian Church. One of the many things I savor about the Appian Way is that it is situated just outside the grasp of the frenetic and noisy city life of Rome. The near silence and natural setting permits one to be transported back to the early days of Christianity. It’s one of the few places in Rome that seems relatively untouched by the modern world.

Along the road, pilgrims will come across the Quo Vadis Church, erected centuries ago over the exact spot where tradition says Christ appeared to Saint Peter to strengthen him and encourage him to return to Rome and face his martyrdom. A little further down the road, in the basilica of Saint Sebastian, the very stone on which Christ stood and addressed St. Peter is still preserved, with His footprints miraculously pressed into the rock. As the name of the Basilica suggests, Saint Sebastian, one of the early Church’s most beloved martyrs, is under the altar beneath a beautiful sculpture depicting the Roman soldier in his final moments of agony before winning the crown of martyrdom.

Of course, the ancient catacombs are among the most sacred destinations for pilgrims in Rome since they serve as the final resting place for hundreds of thousands of Christians. Early Christians carved the extensive network of tombs and mausoleums out of the soft turfa rock on the outskirts of the city. There is an undeniable spiritual dimension to the visit that makes it a must-stop site for any pilgrim to Rome. To descend into the earth and walk down the dimly lit, labyrinthine passageways is to experience an almost mystical bond with some of the earliest members of the Christian community. Our guide for the visit was a charismatic priest who, throughout his presentation, harmonized salient points of theology with the history we were all experiencing firsthand. We walked past row after row of tombs now empty, stacked one on top of another. Faded images of Christ in the Byzantine style painted on the walls, together with other Christian symbols etched in Latin and Greek, most dating from the third and fourth century, were moving testaments to what transpired there so long ago. The most profound emotion for the conscientious pilgrim is the spiritual link with the early Church. Our guide reminded us several times that Catholics remember all the members of the Church during the Mass, the living and the dead, and visiting this expansive subterranean cemetery brought that message home with great force. And what better way to encounter this nexus of past and present than to follow in the footsteps of the early Christian community of Rome? To this day, Masses are celebrated daily in the catacombs. What a beautiful manifestation of the Church’s transcendence, her living history and her connection to the past!

Walking along the Appian Way helps Christians of every age to see in their own lives a microcosm of the entire history of our salvation; that is to say, the story of personal conversion, a shared hope and faith that conquers the shadows of age-old persecution and a lasting testament to humanity’s redemption.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Democrat Crack-Up

With the Democrat takeover of Congress secure, preparations for the reign of the witches on Capitol Hill have begun in earnest. Inured to a political sideshow status after 12 years of inactivity and eager to flex their muscles, Nancy Pelosi and her cohort of left-wing kooks are beginning to anxiously reveal their agenda for the next Congress. At the top of the list of priorities for this rag-tag group of intellectual lightweights will be the minimum wage, expanding federal funding for the disembowelment of human embryos under the guise of science (let’s call it what it really is), and the further socialization of the American economy. As troubling as all of this is, certain events have already played out which are indicative of a crisis within the victorious Democrat Party. Their reign, as I see it, will be plagued with a host of schisms and inner squabbles. The new queen bee of the House Democrats has already suffered a humiliating setback at the hands of members from her own Party. With victory assured, Nancy Pelosi wasted no time revealing just where her loyalties and sympathies rest as she proffered the anti-war, left-wing extraordinaire John Murtha as her primary choice for Majority Leader of the House. Fellow Democrats, far more intelligent and shrewd than Pelosi, revolted immediately, having recognized the public relations disaster that loomed if an individual like Murtha was elevated to such a post. This forced the whipsawed Pelosi to withdraw her support for the Congressman. Less than one month after the election, a potentially fatal splintering within the Democrat Party has manifested itself for the first time. For Republicans, still stinging from their election day whipping, this could turn out to be an unexpected November ‘06 surprise. This quandary for the Democrats is not merely the delusional and wishful thinking of a disappointed member of the flawed but preferable Republican Party: this dilemma for the Democrats is a real one.

As I see it, the Party is deeply divided and it remains to be seen whether or not it can be reconciled or salvaged. On one side stand the Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha types, who represent and trumpet the purest, most undiluted vision of the far left in the world. On the other side of the chasm, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton stand for the more pragmatic, cunning members of the Party. While perhaps just as liberal as their Democrat brethren across the fault line, they are far more adept in the political sense and they recognize the simple truth that Americans by and large are more conservative than the great majority of the members of their own Party. It was proven in the last election that Democrats, in order to win and survive as a viable political Party in the United States, must present themselves as centrists while at the same time cloaking the fringe base of their Party at least until after the election. Remember the John Kerry blunder? Immediately following his reckless and clumsy but revealing diatribe against US soldiers in Iraq, he was temporarily exiled by his own Party for fear of repercussions on election day. The San Francisco poster-child for American liberalism, Nancy Pelosi, was barely seen in the weeks leading up to the election…a coincidence or a well-thought out strategy? Pelosi’s ill-fated attempt to force through Murtha with whip and spur to a leadership position will be just one of many displays of the growing fissions within the Socialist-lite party of America. This presents a Gordian knot, of sorts, for the Democrats. It is clear that the core base of their Party, the interest groups that bankroll them, consists primarily of the militant pro-abortion, affirmative action and gay rights organizations in the US. Americans in general are not so cozy with these radical groups and they observe the intimacy shared between the Democrat Party and such nefarious organizations with suspicion. Democrats will succeed in politics only to the extent that they can deceive and conceal their true identity from the public. They cannot win simply being that which they are in reality; that is to say, a motley crew of “new world order” socialist-leaning, anti-American firebrands. The minute the curtain is drawn aside, their hideous features are revealed under the light of day. Their only chance for political survival is to deceive Americans by presenting themselves as straight-shooting, middle of the road, “everyday people”. Propping up someone as unabashedly fanatical and clueless as Murtha would have been suicidal, especially fresh after an election year in which the pundits for the Party were left breathless from constantly reminding us that they could be trusted in prosecuting the war on terror.

On a personal note, I couldn’t help experiencing some Schadenfreude as a result of the Democrat’s plight. Who can blame me for expressing some satisfaction after the prerequisite and prolonged period of mourning that follows any victory for the Democrats?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Moving Forward

The political Party of thorough corruption, proven incompetence and disguised socialism has taken hold of the reigns of power in the United States Congress. There can be no glossing over a defeat, and this one is a bitter pill to swallow. Truth be told, the Democratic conquest of Congress sends a terrible message to our enemies. Democrats are ever fond of caterwauling once they sense that their patriotism is being called into questioned, but facts are facts. Democratic triumphs at home prove that the terrorist’s Fabian tactics in Iraq are, to one extent or another, effecting the general public. I am forced to ask myself some difficult questions: Do Americans take the war on terror seriously? Do we genuinely have the will to fight and win this epic struggle? The terrorists in Iraq would interpret a premature departure on our part as a decisive victory. And which major political Party has been demanding for months a “timetable” for withdrawing our troops? Such a Party’s success at the polls can, in no way, be framed as a good thing for America. If Democratic policies were enacted, Bin-Laden’s 1993 slander against U.S. soldiers as timid “paper tigers” would be reinforced. In addition, the enactment of Democratic policies regarding national security would bolster the terrorist’s conviction and hope that Americans cannot stomach a prolonged conflict that involves high numbers of US casualties. If the Democrats were to have their way, and thank God that they won’t as long as Bush is in office, America would be humiliated, the terrorist’s emboldened and their modus operandi vindicated. It is a remarkable thing when a major political Party in the United States shares the objectives and talking points of the terrorists in common. It is more remarkable still that such a Party can succeed to the extent that they have in pulling the wool over the eyes of a significant number of Americans and convince them that theirs is the Party to be trusted with so sacred a trust as a nation’s security. So, our defeat on Tuesday is troublesome, there’s no escaping it. But, as it is useless to dwell on what should have been done, our current frustrations, or other factors which are now irrelevant, we can derive some consolation from several points.

• George Bush is still president and he will not hesitate to wield his veto pen when necessary. The Democrats still have no direct power to affect any of their dysfunctional schemes. (Although they do control the purse strings to military funding, a definite hurdle to overcome.) Bush will not allow them to touch national security issues. All that the Democrats can do is spawn more rancor from the halls of Congress, given their new majority status. And if they actually manage to pass any legislation, Bush will stop it dead in its tracks with a veto, Deo gratias.
• Now the machinations of the degenerate Democrats will be placed squarely under the spotlight for Americans to inspect. If Republicans manage themselves wisely over the course of the next two years, having learned from their mistakes, the public will see with greater clarity the blunders and fecklessness of the liberals and give them the boot in ’08. Soul searching is always a good thing and, the truth is, losing often forces one to introspection.
• The Supreme Court has been shifted significantly to the right over the course of Bush’s term. I’ve never been one to take enormous consolation from present judicial supremacy in the affairs of government, but with the likes of Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Alito and, to a much lesser extent, Kennedy, I have my hopes on this front. Perhaps Bush will get another shot at tipping the scales of the high court in our favor: he still has two years left.
• The Democratic victory is hardly the extraordinary event that the media is portraying it to be. The congressional shake-up just witnessed is consistent with all previous midterm elections that fall on a president’s second term. Historically, the president’s Party has always taken a hit in Congress during his sixth year in office. Democrat’s, and their willing accomplices in the “drive-by media,” are apt to describe this election a long-overdue comeuppance for the president and his policies. There may be varying shades of accuracy to that assertion, but not nearly to the extent that they claim. The election was simply another manifestation of a long existing historical precedent in American politics. That the Democrats are ecstatic that they finally won an election after numerous failures is understandable but it ought not cause us to magnify the significance of what actually happened.

Life moves forward. Gazing in the rear-view mirror and dwelling on this setback is counterproductive. The laceration left by this electoral scourge is painful but it is hardly a fatal wound. We need to regroup, reorganize and plan for the real battle in 2008, when much more will be at stake. It does not require the gift of prophecy to envision Senators Obama and Clinton paired-up in an unholy alliance, aiming to close the circle of their Party’s 2006 triumphs. With such a grim prospect not unlikely, we have no time to squander in feeling sorry for ourselves. The ‘06 election could be the wake-up call we desperately need.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kerry's "Joke"

John F. Kerry’s telling blunder once again lays bare his and the dysfunctional Democratic Party’s contempt for the military and, by extension, America. As I see it, the only shocking feature of the entire episode is that someone as renowned for his intelligence and Brahmin tastes as Kerry would make such a stunning mistake a mere week before crucial midterm elections. I had to laugh when I read the furious reaction of an anonymous Democrat, who couldn’t contain his bewilderment. “He (Kerry) already cost us one election, he needs to just shut his mouth until after this election.” In a frantic display of damage control following the wave of criticism he received, Kerry issued a cri de coeur, asserting that he merely “botched” a joke, and predicted that Karl Rove’s minions would scheme to exploit his slip for cheap political mileage ahead of next week’s elections. He must think the general public is as gullible and naive as he suggested the soldiers in Iraq are stupid. In both cases, he is sorely mistaken. Finally, after a relentless barrage of revulsion and condemnation from every honest patriot in America, Kerry was whipsawed into making an artfully constructed and begrudged apology. And everyone savored Vice President Cheney’s quip that “Kerry must have been for the joke before he was against it.” Now there’s a real joke! That Kerry caused a fatal wound to his own political fortunes, no one can deny. But was his mea culpa proffered to the troops and to Americans sincere? One can only guess.

The media is keen on reminding us, ad nauseam, that Kerry is a “decorated” war veteran, while his actions since returning from Vietnam receive noticeably less attention. Kerry’s history of casting aspersions on American soldiers, however, is hardly a novelty; it can be traced back to his post-Vietnam, medal-jettisoning days, when, for starters, he likened U.S. soldiers to the marauding armies of Genghis Khan. More recently, Kerry made a sweeping accusation that U.S. soldiers in Iraq were “terrorizing women and children.” How comments such as these can be interpreted as being helpful or supportive to the overall mission in Iraq or to our country is a question left unanswered. It seems to me that his apology was, in a sense, nothing more than an expression of regret that his “joke” was misinterpreted. In other words, “I’m sorry that you didn’t get what I really meant.” So everyone, not just the soldiers “stuck in Iraq,” must be stupid, since no one was able to grasp the subtle nuance of his sophisticated humor. Maybe Americans should apologize to Kerry for their inability to keep up with his quick wit. As I see it, his qualified apology for this latest and totally unwarranted slander was just as forced and artificial as his attempt to play the role of the American hunter during his failed run for the presidency, when, strutting about, he risibly and unforgettably asked, “Can I get me a hunting license here?”

Kerry’s attempts at feigning normalcy aside, Americans must ask themselves if his views are merely the private opinion of an aging, irrelevant political relic of the 1960s? Or, more to the point, is Kerry’s untimely, yet revealing, slur another manifestation of an opinion held in common by an entire political Party? Don’t forget that just two years ago, John F. Kerry was the Democrat’s anointed savior to run against enemy number one, President George W. Bush. Would a major political party in America throw their considerable weight behind a particular candidate without first whole-heartedly endorsing his own most deeply held convictions? It is no secret that Kerry ranks among the most liberal of his kind. Despite his superficial and transparent triangulation to cast himself as a moderate, or his priceless attempts at rusticity, Kerry’s haughty New England pedigree and down-the-line leftist voting record betray his true loyalties. The Democrats crowned him in Boston because he personifies their skewed vision of the world. Kerry stands as a prime apostle for the “BLAME AMERICA FIRST” movement in the United States and the rest of the world. We must not divorce his views from those held by the Party to which he subscribes. They are utterly indistinguishable.