Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Guy on a Buffalo

Rather busy at the moment.  Here's a song about a guy on a buffalo:
For those so inclined, here are links to parts II, III, and IV.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Women and War

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently announced that women who meet the same qualifications as men will be allowed to serve in combat.  This is a terrible idea, and if you don't realize this then keep reading, because I'm about to tell you why.

Those who want women in combat seem to think that the only relevant issue is the physical ability of female soldiers, but that is almost beside the point.  True, many women are not capable of the extreme physical exertion that men are.  According to the AP, "When the Marine Corps sought women to go through its tough infantry course last year, two volunteered, and both failed to complete the course."  However, there are certainly some women who can meet the qualifications to serve in combat, but that does not mean that they should serve in combat.

What I am about to say is so anachronistic, so sexist, so insensitive, that it may grievously offend most modern Westerners, but it must be said.  War is unfeminine.  Even just killing is a terrible thing that should be done by men when it must be done at all.  Since prehistoric times, men have been warriors.  Men have fought for millenia to defend their homes, their people, and especially their women.  To bring women to the battlefield and place them in front of enemy guns is contrary to instinct and tradition, but our ruling class nominalists have little use for either.  

In his interview with Peter Seewald titled God and the World, then Cardinal Ratzinger says,
It is false when people want men and women to be cut to the same measure and say that this tiny biological difference has absolutely no significance.  That tendency is dominant nowadays.  Personally it still horrifies me when people want women to be soldiers just like men, when they, who have always been the keepers of the peace and in whom we have always seen a counter-impulse working against the male impulse to stand up and fight, now likewise run around with submachine guns, showing that they can be just as warlike as the men.  Or that women now have the "right" to work as garbage collectors or miners, to do all those things that, out of respect for their status, for their different nature, their own dignity, we ought not to inflict on them and that are now imposed no them in the name of equality.  That in my opinion, is a Manichean ideology that is opposed to the body.
One might accuse Ratzinger of putting women on too high a pedestal of feminine domesticity.  However, his basic point is absolutely correct, that women are not supposed to do all the things that men are, and that among those male jobs is the business of killing and dying in war.

The fact that war is not a feminine occupation does not mean that women should not serve in the military.  Support positions are a way for women to serve their country in uniform and frees up men for combat duty.  It is entirely appropriate that women are trained in the use of weapons and that they are armed in order to defend themselves.  In extraordinary cases, female soldiers may be sent into combat.  When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, it made sense for the desperate Russians to throw everything they had at the invaders, including female soldiers.  To use an example from fiction, it was appropriate for Éowyn to fight at the battle of the Pelenorr Fields.  If the Free Peoples were to fail, the people of Rohan both male and female would be subject to torment and death.  At that point, women might as well fight.  It should be noted that after her brief military career, Éowyn married Farimir and became a housewife.  Hardly a model feminist.

Unlike the people of Middle Earth, the United States faces no existential threat from foreign enemies.  Women need not fight.  Women should not fight.  Instead of trying to conform the U.S. military to trendy egalitarianism, Secretary Panetta should respect the natural differences between the men and women in the armed forces.  The secretary is leaving his position soon, and will presumably have more free time.  I recommend he read some Tolkien.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The American Catastrophe

Many people seem to think that America is in a state of sudden decline because of the Obama administration, but they seem to have forgotten about the real blight on our nation.  If America could be said to have fallen, it was not when Barack Obama was elected president, or when Obamacare was passed, but 40 years ago today, when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.  Since then, infanticide has been considered a fundamental right enshrined in our founding document.

With their decision, the Supreme Court majority betrayed reason and the constitution, but the people are mostly to blame for the ongoing mass murder in our country.  I was not around in the 70s, so perhaps I am ill-equipped to judge, but I cannot help but feel some resentment towards my parents' and grandparents' generation.  American citizens and those they elect have had the power to ban abortion and they have failed to do so.

Maybe pro-lifers did everything they could, but I cannot comprehend how the American people allowed legalized abortion to stand.  Why were there no mass strikes when abortion became a constitutional right?  Why was there no talk of secession?  Secession is probably not a great idea, but one wonders why there were there were no movements to break away from what had become an officially pro-abortion nation.  Why is the legalization of infanticide a mere footnote in modern American history?

The more time elapses since Roe, the more entrenched abortion becomes.  The pro-life movement is stronger, more tech-savvy, and younger than ever, but the population at large does not want to get rid of abortion.  Only about 3% of the population consider the murder of the unborn to the be the most important political issue.  For the foreseeable future, Roe is here to stay and so is abortion.  One day my children will wonder why their country allows abortion, and why their father's generation didn't stop it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Abortion and Vigilantes

Pro-lifers insist that they are dedicated to peaceful resistance against abortion, but it is important to be clear why they oppose violence.  This position must be made known both to those who are pro-choice and those who oppose abortion.  I have seen pro-choice people argue that pro-lifers do not really believe that abortion is murder, because if we did, we would all shoot abortionists.  Such people need to know that nonviolence is not due to timidity or lack of belief on the part of pro-lifers.  There are of course pro-lifers who believe that violence is justified, and sadly, some act on such beliefs.  Those who would oppose abortion with violence need to be convinced of their error.  Unfortunately, standard pro-life PR lines about peace are unconvincing.

The most common thing said by pro-lifers who try to extoll the peaceful nature of the pro-life movement is, "you can't kill in the name of life."  If you think about this statement, you realize that only a pacifist could accept it.  In reality there are many situations in which one may kill to defend life.  Soldiers, policeman, and executioners kill people to enact justice and save lives.  In the case of law enforcement and private citizens acting in self-defense, one might argue that they don't "kill," but shoot at bad guys and then capture them if they survive.  However, a confused pro-lifer might attempt such a double-effect justification, saying that they don't mean to kill the abortionist, they just want to stop him from performing an abortion and to do so they had to put a bullet in him.  The idea that one can never commit acts of violence to protect life is obviously wrong, and it would not take much for someone to reject this pacifistic argument and move on to justifying violence against abortionists.

Another fallacious argument in favor of peace made by pro-lifers is one of utility.  Many say that violence should be condemned because it is counterproductive.  We are told that violence will discredit the pro-life movement and cause more abortions in the long run.  This argument makes some sense, but it does not address the central moral issue.  Someone might accept the premise that killing abortionists will discredit pro-lifers, but kill abortionists anyway because they think the positive consequences will outweigh the negative.  We need to leave the utilitarian calculus to the pro-choicers and condemn pro-life violence because it is wrong, not because we think it won't be helpful.

The real reason we must not commit acts of violence against abortionists is simply that vigilantism is wrong.  Justice belongs to God.  To enact justices, the property, liberty, and even life of a wrongdoer may be taken by the state because it is God's agent on earth.  St. Paul says, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1-6)  It is true of course that some governments may become so wicked that they cease to be governments.  Few would argue that the Nazis had a divine mandate.  However, though some governments may be opposed, no private citizen has the right to claim the authority of God and take on the role of the state as executioner.  Vigilante acts, no matter how well intentioned, are immoral.  Vigilante justice is injustice.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Blog Preview

I could post some actual writing, but I'm going to preview my next few posts instead because that requires significantly less work.  Over the next few days I will post on:
  • Video Games for Reactionaries
  • Whittaker Chambers vs Ayn Rand
  • Neil deGrass Tyson on "The Cosmic Perspective"
  • The Real Reason for Peace in the Pro-Life Movement
  • Marx and Economic Culture
  • Whatever else I feel like writing about

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

John C. Wright Admires Women

God help the poor fool who angers John C. Wright.  If Wright has a mind to, he will pound you into the dirt with his keyboard.  (Metaphorically of course, for physical confrontations he employs a sword cane.)  The feminists and their emasculated male servitors are upset with sports announcer Brent Musburger for saying that a quarterback's girlfriend is beautiful.  Wright destroys the PC police in a stupendous essay.

Katherine Webb, the pretty lady:


Wright includes this aside in his assault,
We Christians are also much sexier in every way than the wimpy agnostics and their sad barbarian machismo, and our women are fertile, nubile, feminine, and cute, and make better mates and mothers and human beings than the neurotic unisex tramps from your world, heathen losers. Deal with it.
He hyperbolizes of course, and is perhaps a bit mean, but I have to say that nothing accentuates natural loveliness like modesty and holiness.  Living on a Catholic campus I believe I can say with some authority that no women are as attractive as Catholic girls. Of course, by expressing my admiration for a particular kind of woman, I risk the wrath of the ame PC types who hate Musburger, but if anyone objects, I'll refer them to John C. Wright.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Textbook Oddities

I have mixed feelings about sociology.  On the one hand, people can be grouped according to a variety of criteria and their actions are often motivated by forces that can be quantified.  On the other hand, describing human beings like they are a bunch of ants seems creepy and arrogant.  Even when they don't sound like supervillians, sociologists can appear very silly.

My textbook Religion and Politics in America is relatively good for a sociology/poli-sci book, but it nevertheless contains the requisite silliness.  Some examples:
  • Once chapter is titled, "Judaism, Islam, and other Expressions of Religious Pluralism."  I'm pretty sure that Jews don't go the synagogue because they are trying to express pluralism but because they're, you know, Jewish.
  • "Certain aspects of Catholicism resonate particularly well with Hispanics, including a strong attachment to Mary as Mother of God, reflecting the Latino emphasis on family."  I suspect that most devout Latinos would say that their devotion to Mary has a lot more to do with an apparition to a certain Juan Diego, but what do they know?  
  •  The book tells us that black spirituals "emphasize Christianity."  Who would have thought that Christian songs sung by Christians would be about Christianity?
  • The authors say that the USCCB "represents the official political positions of the Church. .  . . its leaders speak with authority for the Catholic Church."  No, no, no, no, dang it, no!  The USCCB has managed to convince just about everyone that they have some sort of magisterial authority.  They don't.
  • A proposed amendment to the constitution that would legalize prayer in public schools is described as "contrary to the weight of constitutional scholarship."  This book was written by four people with PhDs, none of whom seem to know what an amendment is.

It should be noted that though these excerpts do not reflect well on the book, most of the text is decent and I've definitely read worse.  Perhaps I'll analyze more textbooks in a future post.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cafeteria Muslims

When I was in Kurdistan, I heard expats praise certain areas of the Islamic world for being liberal and irreligious.  Such areas are good for infidels concerned about safety and the availability of beer, but I can't say I like the idea of relaxed Islam.  Catholics are expected to obey Church teaching, and Muslims should be expected to obey the precepts of their faith, so long as those precepts do not violate the moral natural law.

I ate at restaurants in Erbil during Ramadan, which had erected sheets to hide their many Islamic patrons from view.  The availability of food during a time of fasting was convenient for me and my fellow expats, but I couldn't help but feel disappointed in the Muslims around us who were blatantly violating the moral teachings of Islam.  Erbil is far from the most Westernized place in the Western world.  In Turkey, the government actually bans women from wearing a headscarf in public buildings, and bars are common in Istanbul.  This secularism is praised by some Western conservatives who also criticize their own societies for being too secular.

We obviously don't want Muslims beheading people for apostasy, but I don't see why we should encourage them to drink beer and wear bikinis.  Muslims who aren't into beheadings and bombings could be powerful allies against secular liberalism, but not if they become secular liberals themselves. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Plant People


The law of non-contradiction is essential to rational thought.  A thing cannot be simultaneously be and not be, or otherwise belong to mutually exclusive categories at the same time.  However, it would seem that many people try to violate this law daily.

Moral relativists of all stripes are contradictionists (that's a word now).  To claim that there are no absolutes is an absolute statement and a contradiction.  Catholics who contracept may employ a variety of obfuscating concepts and terms such as "conscience" or "the spirit of Vatican II" but when it comes down to it, they are attempting to affirm Catholicism while simultaneously denying it, a violation of the law of non-contradiction. 

In his Metaphysics Aristotle says that someone who would deny the law of non-contradiction cannot in speech "signify something both to himself and to another," without affirming the law they would refute.  To maintain the fantasy of contradiction, he must "speak of nothing."
If he speaks of nothing, it is ridiculous for us to seek to engage in rational discourse with someone who doesn't engage in rational discourse with someone who does not engage in it' for insofar as he does not engage in any rational discourse, he is like a plant.
By denying the law of non-contradiction, a rational animal negates any attempt at reasonable speech.

This doesn't mean that those who inadvertently violate the law of non-contradiction are all imbeciles, but that in particular areas they fail to use their rational faculties.  The aforementioned Catholic dissenters may be quite rational in other respects, but when they try to address issues of moral theology they are about as useful as a zucchini.

Be a person, not a plant. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

The original lyrics and tune of the New Years favorite Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns was rather different from modern renditions.  A neat lyrics comparison and pronunciation guide is available on Wikipedia.

This guy is playing what is believed to be the original tune:

Happy New Year!