In Honor of Joe Sobran

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the annual luncheon in Joe
's honor, held recently by the readers of his
monthly review
, writer Tom Bethell offered a fascinating observation
in his introduction:

Sobran invites us to see the clear, obvious truth, in plain view,
that everyone else has missed.

is the key to Sobran's genius, said Bethell. It allows him to ask
obvious questions that are forbidden elsewhere. For instance, the
mere question, "are there extraterritorial loyalties at stake,"
as we survey the supporters of war, is anathematized as anti-Semetism,
whether those loyalties might be to Great Britain, to Israel, or
merely to the principles of the Socialist International as an alternative
to America's constitutional system. Such questions are instructive
and illuminating, but are never answered: they are forbidden.

Sobran's invitation, and prominent illustrations of the Sobran principle
pop up everywhere. In the spirit of the gathering, I tried my hand
at it. It didn't take long.

for instance, the endless procession of yellow school buses disgorging
millions of students a year from all across America at the Arlington
Cemetery gravesite of former president Kennedy. These student visitors
acquire academic credit for their "civic trips" from government
schools nationwide — schools that forbid any and all hints of religion
— and certainly all religious processions but this one.

permit this exception? Because the "eternal flame" –
the only one, certainly, that JFK ever had – glorifies not God,
but government. And government schools want us celebrate, well ….

day, year in and year out, this sacrament of the Leviathan's civil
religion goes on, unimpeded by the truth (about the Saintly Order
of the Kennedys) and, natch, without even the aroma of dissent from
the likes of the ACLU. The Ten Commandments? No way. But government
commandments are fine.

in these hard economic times, consider the government bureaucrats,
having failed so miserably and mortally in their basic responsibilities
to the American people they are paid to serve and defend. While
hundreds of thousands of layoffs, business failures, bankruptcies,
and dislocations have hammered the private economy since 9/11, the
Washington Post reports that Washington, D.C.'s economy is flourishing.
No layoffs of government workers are mentioned or contemplated even
by the "conservatives" at Bush's OMB. And, while no one
is singing the praises of nonagenarians or tabloid editors (two
of the five fatalities in the recent anthrax attacks), the country
is inundated with multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded televised
propaganda celebrating the "service" of the monopoly government
post office, complete with blue-chip music clips costing a cool
million in royalties alone, all to celebrate the "800,000 [overpaid
and semiskilled] workers of the USPS."

this the cause for which two unsuspecting mail sorters at the Brentwood
postal station in Washington gave their lives ? Did they really
die for monopoly mail?

the painfully obvious but unmentionable strategic roadmap to 9/11,
drawn and driven by the "spring break" crowd in the Clinton
Administration. No one is permitted to point to the simple cause
(Clinton) and effect (9/11) — it is as though radical Islam had
suddenly discovered the superiority of American postmodernism, and
attacked out of envy and spite. Meanwhile, eight years of disastrous
foreign policy, culminating in 9/11, have now cornered Bush into
glorifying and enlarging government more than Democrats ever could
have. Even Al Hunt agrees that, under Gore, opposition conservatives
would never have permitted such specters as John Ashcroft emulating
the wartime FDR. The Clintonites couldn't govern, but they sure
set the stage for world-class satire.

how Microsoft, probably as responsible as any single company for
the economic gains of the 1990s, was concertedly attacked by Clinton,
lest anyone assert that Bill Gates was more important than our endearing
hustler-president (as Gates had done, in an aside during the early
1990s). When reminded of that by Wired magazine in a November 2000
interview, Clinton smirked in triumph: "I wonder what he thinks

how we are now governed "democratically" by a majority
that does not pay taxes, deciding how much the minority should pay.
In fact, anyone who earns enough to pay income taxes is by definition
"rich," and no one marvels at this miraculous sleight
of hand. While every special interest benefiting from government
handouts is encouraged to become more "engaged" in our
democracy, taxpayers, the only group originally protected by our
Constitution, is told to "shut up and pay." These days,
to insist on any of our constitutional rights as Americans is downright

warned us in Federalist 10 against factions. Today government has
become a majority faction, proudly parading the fact before our
very eyes, and no one dare shout that the Emperor has no (constitutional)

Sobran's insight and approach are refreshing, but readers should
take note that he has paid the price for seeing the obvious and
telling the truth about it. "Responsible" conservatives
have jettisoned him, playing instead to the crowds in the circus
maximus, the only game in town.

Evans once observed that "most conservatives come to Washington
knowing that it's a sewer. The trouble is, most of them wind up
treating it like a hot tub." Joe Sobran has had the temerity
and integrity to stay on the outside — because that's the only place
from which we can pull out the plug.

are in his debt.

10, 2001

Manion, PhD, [send him mail]
is a small businessman in Virginia. An adjunct lecturer at Christendom
College, he has taught ethics at Boston University and is a founding
member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

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