We Need to Oppose Evil

I happened to obtain a copy of Judgement at Nuremberg and, so, I naturally watched it. Who wouldn’t? Spencer Tracy, Richard Widmark, Burt Lancaster, Maximilian Schell…and even a small role by an exceptionally young William Shatner. I had seen the movie once before, many years ago, and it was far better than I remembered. What I liked about it is that it didn’t just go for the easy take a movie like that could have. It showed the Germans as all too human. The speech by Schell portraying the German defense counsel pretty much summed up the attitudes of the War generation Germans who emerged from Nazism: boiled down, “if we’re guilty (but we’re really not), then everyone is guilty!”. At the end of the movie, with the Cold War dawning, Spencer Tracy’s character (he playing the chief judge) is urged by nearly everyone to just drop the matter – find the Nazis not guilty or, if guilty, impose mild sentences. None of that: they are all sentenced to life in prison. And he sentences them because evil must be opposed. Which is true. And in that is the real tragedy of the 20th century.

Because evil wasn’t really opposed. Not in any vigorous and consistent manner. The war against the Nazis was a spasm, not a determination. It was only because Hitler forced the issue that anyone fought him. Had he refrained from war in 1939, he would have lived on until his natural death. His regime would have continued. Everyone would have kept trading and negotiating with it. The internal inconsistencies of the Nazi regime might eventually have brought a crisis, but not for decades. Just as the internal inconsistencies of the Soviet Union yet allowed it to live 70 years. And even when Hitler forced the issue and the world went to war against him, it still wasn’t really opposing evil, because the USSR was in partnership in fighting Hitler. If you use one gangster to kill another, you really aren’t fighting against gangsterism.

It used to be that evil would be opposed. The Romans were bloody minded about the Carthaginians because the Carthaginians were evil. Cortez was in quest for gold and glory, but after he and his men found out what the Aztecs had been up to, it became war to the death, because the Aztecs were evil. These days, we barely recognize evil when we see it. Even in our use of the Nazis as the standard of evil, most of the people referring to the standard couldn’t tell you one thing about the Nazis – they couldn’t tell you why the Nazis were bad, that is.

But it is more than just Nazis. They are the exemplar of evil, and deservedly so, but its not like anyone is really trying to do Nazism again. I bring this up because right about the time I was watching Judgement, I saw this series of tweets from a Conservative hammering Tucker Carlson for pointing out that our Ruling Class is doing bad things. The basic thrust of the tweets is that if things are bad, it is because we, the people, made them bad. In response, I tweeted this out:

The outcomes we’ve been having for 60 years have not been the result of the free interplay of public actors. We’ve had things we never wanted imposed on us.

Did you ever vote to legalize abortion? To have millions of illegals here? To have big banks bailed out after they screwed the pooch? When did you pass judgement allowing functional illiterates to graduate high school?

You did none of these things. They happened without your permission. You were promised abortion would be rare: that we’d amnesty and that would end illegal immigration: you were told we’d get better education.

You think it was an accident that you got the opposite of what you wanted? An accident that you’ve got policies that are a negation of facts and logic? No: this sh** was intentional.

And now how do you propose to switch it back? To get a government that does what you tell it to do? By working with the people who, wink and nod, gave you what you specifically didn’t want? Wake the F up

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve long seen that Conservative on twitter and I think he’s probably a pretty good guy. Certainly very intelligent. But, like all too many, he doesn’t recognize evil when he sees it. Think about just one thing I said for a moment: functional illiterates are allowed to graduate high school. You know that shouldn’t happen, but have you realized that it is immoral to allow it to happen? That it shouldn’t have happened even one time? That anyone who allowed it to happen is worthy of severe punishment? And, yet, no one calls for the arrest of those who allow it to happen. We, in fact, have people who insist that we allow such people to continue to be in charge. No one would approve of an illiterate graduating…but, without any consent of anyone, it happens. How? I’ll tell you:

Because those in charge of the education system don’t have your priority in mind. To them, the education system isn’t to provide educated citizens. That takes effort and is a real pain in the neck. No: what those in charge have other priorities. First off, high pay for themselves. Hiring more people like themselves. Making sure no one ever gets rid of them. These are all far more important than making sure Johnny can read. Johnny is a gigantic problem. They’d like to not have him, at all; but that would rather expose the game. They used to flunk Johnny out, but that brought attention to the fact that Johnny isn’t reading. So, now, Johnny gets his diploma. Which action is evil – Johnny and the taxpayers are both being cheated. And the cheaters pass out the bogus diploma and collect the ill-gotten gains. This is what is traditionally known as fraud and theft.

But we don’t call it that. Because we don’t call anything by its proper name any more.

Part of the appeal, for me, of Donald Trump is his willingness to call things by their proper name. Even his gross insults are really no more than calling people what they are. It is this truth telling that makes him hated more than anything else. I remember how ballistic people went when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”. The phrase was strictly accurate – no one in possession of their senses could argue otherwise. But people were furious that Reagan had said it. Why? Because he was committing that horrible sin (in modern eyes) of calling something by its proper name. That had to be nipped in the bud. Same thing when Bush called our enemies an “axis of evil”; remember how much people hated that, too? But such things were rare until Trump: he calls things what they are 20 times a day.

But we do have to get back to it. To call wrong things, wrong. To call evil people, evil. To refuse to voluntarily provide any power or prestige to those who make and do the wrong things. Only if we see evil and oppose it can it be stopped. We’ve been blind and silent about it for a very long time and so it has eaten very deep into our civilization. We still have, I think, time to purge it – but only if we see it and say it, first.

Advertisements

Thinking About Art

So, I’m still writing the novel. Just past 57,000 words, now. I figure I’ve got about 20-25,000 left to go. Very importantly, I figured out how it ends. Meaning, I knew in general how it ended all along, but now I know how to get there. I’ve re-read what I’ve written from time to time…make a few changes here and there, but the main thing is the story is compelling. At least, to me it is. I do hope other people like it. To me, it’s a real page-turner…and I already know what’s on the next page, being the author of it, and all. There will be a lot to do in the re-write after the first draft is done…increasing the descriptions, diving a bit more deeply into character development, making the overall Narrative flow better. I’m having a lot of fun writing it. Though it will take longer than I first thought – originally hoped to have it out in May, but now that will slip by several months. Partly because I got dragooned into working on another project which will absorb some writing time over the next month or so.

The other day the news did what Chesterton pointed out is the primary purpose of the news: telling people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive that Lord Jones is dead. In this case, Lord Jones was Ursula Le Guin. I had never heard of her until I found out she was dead. In case your ignorance matches mine regarding this lady, she was a famed sci-fi/fantasy author…writing lots of books and winning all manner of awards. Someone quoted a passage from one of her books and said this was the most beautiful opening paragraph he had ever read:

Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of the ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss. The light shines through it, and the dark enters it. Borne, flung, tugged from anywhere to anywhere for in the deep sea there is no compass but nearer and farther, higher and lower, the jellyfish hangs and sways; pulses move slight and quick within it, as the vast diurnal pulses beat in the moon-driven sea. Hanging, swaying, pulsing, the most vulnerable and insubstantial creature, it has for its defense the violence and power of the whole ocean, to which it has entrusted its being, its going, and its will.

If you like that, then I’m afraid my novel is going to be a terrible disappointment to you. It is just a bunch of words strung together, in my view. I initially thought the guy who posted that on Twitter was joking – and maybe he was (it is hard to tell), but the comments from people about it indicates that some people actually think this is meaningful stuff. Deep. Thoughtful.

Its about a freaking jellyfish drifting with the tide! Its drivel!

It got me thinking about the whole concept of creative arts – and thinking that it is in a very bad way. Ms. Le Guin wrote that on purpose and people read it and gave it awards. I am flabbergasted. I’d be embarrassed if I wrote anything like that. I’m hoping that she wrote it as a joke – that the rest of her writing was better and that she merely put that out once securely rich and famous as part of an “I wonder if they’ll really just buy anything I write?” experiment.

Then I read a bit from Andrew Klavan about how he was viewing the upcoming Oscar awards:

The Oscars as a glamorous, televised, fun event are a relic of the days when film was the central American art form, the way America told stories to itself. When an art form is at its peak — which usually comes pretty early in its life cycle — the greatest works and the most popular works are usually one and the same. The movies, for instance, peaked around 1939 when the nominees included Gone With The Wind, Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights, and The Wizard of Oz. All are still rightly considered classics and all were in the top ten at the box office.

I’ll have to agree with that. My Mrs gently chides me for my preference for old movies, but I really find most modern movies unwatchable. There have been a few recent offerings I liked. In sci-fi, for instance, I liked Interstellar. It got panned, but I thought it the most interesting sci-fi movie since, say, Planet of the Apes in 1968. But, mostly I just keep watching old movies. They are just better, in my view. For instance, for most of my life I had ignored Citizen Kane: mostly because I figure a movie that praised couldn’t be as good as people were saying. Then I watched it all the way through. And then watched it again. It is the best movie ever made in my view. I’ve watched Lord only knows how many movies, but I’ve never seen anything as interesting as that – something so crisply done, such great dialogue, such phenomenal acting and cinematography. Klaven has hit upon something – the movies are worn out. So is fiction writing. So, too, is writing in general (Matt and I were most pleased with those who opined Worst was well-written; we really appreciated that…but, I can’t argue against the people saying it…most books written these days are simply badly written…I mean, just terrible, and they are written by people who supposedly went to school and learned how to write. I just started writing in 2003 and slowly got better at it).

It occurred to me that part of the reason I’m writing my novel is the same reason that C S Lewis wrote the Narnia series: he took one look at what people were reading, was appalled and set about trying to write something worth reading. So am I. I don’t know if anyone will read it; I hope they do. But my purpose is clear: to write a story which will be interesting and fun to read.

And I think that is where the modern arts have gone wrong: they aren’t trying for interesting and fun. They are trying for something else…a message, or a moral, or simply to be as weird as they can, because that is where the awards and book contracts are. I’m writing a fairy tale – and that means I’ve taken some average folks and put them in strange, dangerous situations where they can only rely on their courage and each other to triumph over evil. You know – it is a story which you can imagine yourself landing in, and then imagine how you might react. There is no sex in my book; though there is love. There is violence, but not gross violence. No one is depressed. They are, at turns, afraid and unsure…but they aren’t wallowing in self-pity and trying to get to some cosmic truth because they have it hard. Having it hard is just part of life, and you take it with as much grit and good humor as you can.

We need to recapture the sense of wonder and hope which art is supposed to provide us. We’ve had quite enough of weirdos and psychopaths. Maybe my book flops. Doesn’t matter. I’m writing it because it is fun to write…and I’m going to keep on writing it. I just hope that other people will join in – we’ve learned that our experts in most areas are rather dumb. The experts in the arts are no less so. If you’ve got a song in your heart, a story in your mind, a painting that is waiting to be done…do it. After all, the really great art wells up from the people…and perhaps it is time for we, the people, to take back the arts, too.

A Quick Thought on the Elite

There are, indeed, elite people in the world. People who have been specially gifted with certain talents. A talent for being a surgeon; a talent for being a plumber; a talent for pure intellectual inquiry, etc, etc, etc. But here’s the price of being an elite: service. That is what our elites are missing…and have been missing ever since the Enlightenment came along. Then it was that our elites started thinking not in terms of service, but in terms of ruling…of telling us how to live, because they knew better than the yokels how it should be done. It should be noted that the elites who lead the way in this were those who usually lacked practical knowledge…you know, how to build a bridge or manage a water system. This is not to say that we never had busybodies prior to about 1750, nor to say that everyone with a liberal arts degree since then has been an annoyance. But the rule holds true: prior to about 1750, those who had more thought they owed service; since then, they feel a right to rule.

The duty of the elite is to serve the needs of the yokels as defined by the yokels. Anything other than that would either be worthless, or tyrannical. You want to be elite? Fine – then your whole task in life is service. After all, the first shall be last…

Conserving Civilization – With Babies and Foreigners

Been watching Social Media and the universal seems to be that Representative Steve King (R-IA) is a horrific racist – the offense comes from this tweet:

Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

There was no reference to what particular ethnic group of babies were desired, but it is taken as a given – by plenty on the right as well as nearly all the left – that he meant “white babies”. Because, what else could he have meant?

That is our Rorschach on this, right? Given that we all know (know – meaning, we all agree to the Progressive Narrative, even if we’re Conservative, because one thing a Conservative can’t ever do is stray from the rules provided by the Progressives) that Trump appeals to racists (in his greedy quest for power, wealth and selling the United States to Putin for an option to build a casino in Sochi), any statement by him or his supporters which isn’t explicitly inclusive of all races must be a racist statement. King, you see, should have tweeted out, “We can’t restore our civilization without having our own black, Latino, Native American, Asian, Jewish and Muslim babies”. Hey, Mark – some of you ask – why didn’t you include white babies in there? Because if you do that, you’re racist. In fact, might have been better if he tweeted out, “We can’t restore our civilization without all sorts of babies, except white babies”. But even that probably wouldn’t have been good enough. It would really have to go, “Our civilization is a horrible, lousy thing built on racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, war and greed and anyone who wants to restore it is racist”. That might have passed muster.

King’s statement is wrong in that the genius of American civilization (presumptively, what he wishes to restore) is that it can take Non-Americans and turn them into Americans. Whether or not he meant it in a purely racist sense is beyond my reckoning, given that I’m not clairvoyant and thus lack the ability to read his mind. That aside, in a very real sense, the son of a Vietnamese refugee has ancestors who fought at Bunker Hill. As long as he adopts the ideal of America, it doesn’t matter that his ancestor got here 200 years after the battle. Meanwhile, someone who rejects the ideal of America, even if he had an actual blood relative at the battle, isn’t American. America, you see, isn’t a place – it is an idea. Sure, we have our physical territory, but America is built on a Creed as much as, say, the Catholic Church is. The Church used to directly rule a fair portion of Europe – now it directly rules only a few acres inside the city of Rome…but it is no less Catholic than it was when it ruled a large, temporal estate because the Church isn’t based on land, but on an idea. If we Americans who have generations in this nation cease to have children but we continue to transmit our ideal to the most recent arrival, then America continues.

This is a bit different from every other nation on Earth – Japan being a rather extreme example of a nation being a specific people in a specific place, but even in places like Germany and Spain, it is difficult for a foreigner to become fully integrated into the society, at least for many generations. The only other nations which approximate what we do are the United Kingdom and former parts of Britain’s Empire like Australia and Canada. Because they, too, have a bit of an ideal which transcends ethnicity and place. It isn’t quite like ours – ours is written in the Declaration of Independence (it is also in the Constitution, but that can be altered or abolished…nothing can ever be done to alter the Declaration). One close friend I grew up with was the son of parents who were born outside the United States…but there was no fundamental difference between those of us who had family for centuries in this land and him. It is that quick – when the ideal of America is imparted.

And it is in the task of transmitting the idea of America that we are failing – and failing very badly. The primary cause for this failure rests on the left. It is the left which is determined to break us up into warring tribes which keep to themselves and never absorb the American ideal. It is a divide and rule tactic; a tactic as old as the first Ruling Class to ever emerge, I imagine. But this failure is seconded by many on the right. The way this is done is to presume that only certain types of people can be American and transmit the American ideal. The worst part of this group are the out and out racists – people imbued with a species of warmed-over blood and soil neo-Nazi drivel. But even outside of that, we have a problem. If our worry is that only people of Western Civilization can become American, then I hate to break it to you, but Mexicans are as much a part of Western Civilization as we are. They are a mixed lot, but so are we – and they still get their Civilization from a Judeo-Christian, European base just as we do. Try to point this out to some on the right and you’ll get an earful…flip it around and try to explain to supposedly Latino-loving Progressives that Cortez was a heroic person and you’ll get another earful. Both sides have taken up positions which are simply not true – the left that America is so bad that it needs to change into something else, the right that you have to be of a certain type to be American. But let’s be sensible – a Mexican can easily become an American, if he wants to and if we insist upon it as the price for entry. So, too, can a Chinese, a Pakistani, a Nigerian…anyone. All it takes is a desire to be American, and then learning the ropes, as it were, of being an American.

I say to the left – cease your attempts at dividing us. I say to the right – cease your adherence to nonsensical ideas about who can be what. Our job, as Conservatives, is to conserve our civilization – and that means transmitting it to both American babies, and foreigners who wish to become American. It really isn’t a difficult task. The sons of Germans became Americans and fought Germans with gusto in World War Two. The sons of Japanese, become Americans, would have fought the Japanese with equal gusto, had we let them (instead, we sent them off to kill Germans – and a fine job they did of it).

I’m descended from a wide variety of ancestors – my surname comes from Ireland, but I haven’t the least feeling for Ireland, as such. Just another foreign country. Imagine, though, if my family had kept up the Irish feeling with intensity – and if my fellow Americans had kept up their intense feeling that an Irishman couldn’t be a proper American…you know, what with being a member of a despised, violent race which was also Catholic and thus owed allegiance to the Pope? I’d likely be locked into an impoverished, Irish ghetto and be mindlessly mouthing hatred of Protestants in general, and Britain in particular…while also taking great exception to the United States as a nation of fine words, but bad actions. But, it wasn’t like that – my great-great-grandfather became American, and by the time his son was an adult, the family was so American that great-grandpa became a wheelhorse of Democrat politics in New Jersey…and his daughter became a Hollywood star.

It is past time we left off this fight over differently wrong ideas. E pluribus unum really is a worthwhile thing. All it takes is a desire that it should be so. I fear we are losing that desire and if we do, then very bad things will follow.

Relentlessly Refusing to Understand Dallas, Or Anything Else

…the whole modern world, or at any rate the whole modern Press, has a perpetual and consuming terror of plain morals. Men always attempt to avoid condemning a thing upon merely moral grounds. If I beat my grandmother to death tomorrow in the middle of Battersea Park, you may be perfectly certain that people will say anything about it except the single and fairly obvious fact: it is wrong. Some will call it insane; that is, will accuse it of deficiency of intelligence. This is not necessarily true at all. You could not tell whether the act was unintelligent or not unless you knew my grandmother. Some will call it vulgar, disgusting, and the rest of it; that is, they will accuse it of a lack of manners. Perhaps it does show a lack of manners; but this is scarcely its most serious disadvantage. Others will talk about the loathsome spectacle and the revolting scene; that is, they will accuse it of deficiency of art, or aesthetic beauty. This again depends on the circumstances: in order to be quite certain that the appearance of the old lady has definitely deteriorated under the process of being beaten to death, it is necessary for the philosophical critic to be quite certain how ugly she was before. Another school of thinkers say that the action is lacking in efficiency: that it is an uneconomic waste of a good grandmother. But that could only depend on the value, which is again an individual matter. The only real point that is worth mentioning is that the action is wicked, because your grandmother has a right not to be beaten to death. But of this simple moral explanation modern journalism has, as I say, a standing fear. It will call the action anything else – mad, bestial, vulgar, idiotic, rather than call it sinful. – G. K. Chesterton, “All Things Considered”, 1908

Now, ask yourself – has anyone in the MSM called the actions of the Dallas shooter immoral? The main thing that the man did was murder – which is a sin. It doesn’t, in the largest sense, matter why he did it – what he did was wrong. Immoral. Sinful. The only time we really care why a man murders is when we’re putting him on trial and even then it is only so that we can establish, as a matter of fact, that he did sin. Far more important than understanding the often twisted motives of those who sin is to call an immoral action wrong. Start making the motivation your primary concern and before too long what you’re doing is finding ways to excuse the sin. Our primary focus here should be to proclaim very loudly and firmly that what the man did was wrong; that no one should ever do such a thing; that there is never the slightest justification for sinning. Period. Full stop.

But, we don’t do that – and, as you can see from the date of the quote, we haven’t done it for quite a while. We’re very far down the road of trying to understand why a sinner sins, and thus we’re very far down the road to pretty much finding an excuse for every sin that comes along. If we were a moral people then what would be flustering us is not that Hillary wasn’t indicted, but that she lied (a sin, you see?) and isn’t sorry for it. True, she should be indicted but that is hardly the point – she should feel ashamed. Everyone who has been boosting her chances for the Presidency should also feel ashamed (and betrayed). We shouldn’t be talking about whether or not the prosecutor blew the case, but why the issue had to go beyond the moment we discovered (and this was quite a long while back) that Hillary had deliberately lied.

Until we start being a people who call a sin a sin, and who start to feel shame when we sin, or see others sin, then we’ll never get back to being a people who can make rational choices. We’ll just keep on going down this route – our leaders will become ever more corrupt; horrible murders and other crimes will pile up; our people will become more hate-filled, depressed and bewildered…and all because we won’t just starting saying about wrong things, “hey, that’s wrong”.

The Gun Debate – Open Thread

Obama and Progressives are calling for “sensible gun laws” as if that is the problem. They continue to demonize the NRA as if that is the problem. They continue to conflate radical Islamists with the isolated deranged American criminal, as if that is a moral equivalency. And they dare not speak one word of condemnation toward inner city gang violence, nor judge those who perpetrate those crimes for fear of constituency backlash. In summary, Obama and Progressives are not at all addressing the actual problem, which is typical, hence the absolute mess we find ourselves in. In short, we have to stop listening to Progressives.

The problems we face in this country and in this world are due to the absence of well armed, law abiding, decent people, not the presence of them. On the world stage, the problem is that the Radical Islamic Jihadists are better armed, more focused, and more brutal than those who want a peaceful existence. The Kurds need more weapons, the peaceful Sunni’s and Shiite’s need more weapons, and countries like Jordan and the UAE need more forceful support. We need more weapons to confront and defeat the Islamists, not less. And we need to be more brutal. This is not a war where you take prisoners. This is a war where you kill as many of them as you possibly can until they realize that they can not win. You want to close Gitmo? Fine. Put a bullet in the head of the remaining prisoners and burn the place to the ground. Case closed.

Domestically, we need more weapons in the hands of law abiding Americans so that they can protect themselves from the deranged gun man, or from the increasing threat of radicalized Muslims. And we need to clean out the cesspools of our inner cities and give those people hope of a better future. Make sure that children have a stable home with two parents, make sure they have school choice and a good education, make sure they have clean and decent housing, make sure they are not living in a drug and gang infested neighborhood, and make sure they have the opportunity for a good paying job and the opportunity to lift themselves up. And these are conservative ideals, not progressive ideals, and that is why Governorships and State Legislatures have increasingly gone conservative in the last 8 years, and that is why the White House will be conservative in January 2017.

Ending World War Two

August 6th was the 70th anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and there was a lot of the usual hand-wringing about the deed from the usual suspects – Arthur K over at Ace has a good round up of counter-arguments to that sentiment. Most notably the fact that those who complain about the bombing aren’t those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who would have had to invade Japan in November of 1945 if the Bomb hadn’t done the trick. I admit to a bias in this area as one of the Marines who would have had to hit the Japanese beaches was my father. There is a high probability that I wouldn’t exist if the Bomb hadn’t been dropped.

People also tend to just not know how savage the Pacific War was. I recently for the first time watched Flags of Our Fathers. It was a bit of a disjointed movie and I won’t put it down as one of Eastwood’s best efforts, but there is a scene in there which moved me nearly to tears. It is when the son of one of the Marines who raise the flag on Suribachi is talking to his aged, now-dying father in the hospital. It reminded me terribly of the last few days I had my father with me. As the story goes, that son never really knew what his father had done in World War Two – he only really found out by going through his father’s things after he died. I never even got that much.

My father never told me about the war. The only thing I ever got out of him was, “it smelled like blood and shit”. His battle was Saipan. Nearly 14,000 American casualties, including more than 3,400 dead – in less than a month of fighting. Japanese dead ran above 50,000, including around 20,000 civilian dead, many of whom committed suicide rather than fall into our hands, because the Japanese military told them we’d murder them all if captured. That is more than 53,000 dead in less than a month in an area less than 45 square miles. Just try, for a moment, to imagine what the place looked like on July 9th, 1944 when the island was declared secure. There must have been bodies just everywhere – and as it was war, the bodies would have been in quite a horrible state. Even if dad didn’t have to engage in hand-to-hand fighting, what his 17 year old eyes must have seen had to have been grim beyond description. Six months prior he was a high school boy living the sheltered life of the United States. And he carried that with him for 65 years. I wondered why he was so distant at times. But I think, now, I understand.

Continue reading