When Job loses his family, fortune, and health by reason of things he cannot perceive, he is visited by those who would reason with him, those who would presume to discern the mysteries of the cosmos in order to explain his tribulation. They pursue: "Maybe you did this, or that — perhaps your sorrow can be explained thusly. Maybe if you had done this, or that — perhaps your sorrow would not have come to pass."
Have you ever had such "comforters" during times of tribulation? Unlike many of us, Job had no trouble telling his comforters what he thought of them:
I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief. Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased?
When Trent Lott’s "comforters" spoke "on his behalf," their utter lack of sympathy reminded me of the above passage.
But beyond that, all similarity ends. Job’s miserable comforters, albeit obtuse and without any apparent sympathy, were perhaps at least sincere. Job clearly recognizes their callousness, and tells them so, but he certainly doesn’t apologize for sins he did not commit.
With Friends Like These …
Every demagogue that can divine the smell of a struggling victim of political correctness has been teased out of his lair, and their reactions have been unsurprising; but no less surprising are the reactions of those who one would expect, in perhaps another time and place, might come to his defense.
Our brave and wise president affirmed that "Recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country. He has apologized, and rightly so. Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals." Another chapter of Profiles in Courage.
But I don’t want to give the impression that I think the president is only a fool, or coward — there seem to be fairly clear motives for his statement.
On the 22 December 2002 Meet the Press, David Broder of The Washington Post observed,
This was a coup, and it was brilliantly executed on the part of the White House because, so far, nobody has actually been able to find White House fingerprints on this. But the president ends up with the very person that he most wanted as majority leader, Bill Frist, in the job.
Broder later added that "we [the press] allowed anonymous sources from the administration to use us to take down Senator Lott."
Cut to Frist, with no apparent sense of propriety, or at least not able to hide his glee, beams for reporters as he exits the gated protection of his home.
Colin Powell chimes in, "I was disappointed in the senator’s statement. I deplored the sentiments behind the statement. There was nothing about the 1948 election or the Dixiecrat agenda that should have been acceptable in any way to any American at that time or any American now." In case anyone is in any doubt regarding the Secretary of State’s feelings, there were four superlatives in that last sentence.
Among the profane things that were included in the 1948 Dixiecrat platform, those things about which "nothing … should have been acceptable in any way to any American at that time or any American now," were "protection of the American people against the onward march of totalitarian government [that] requires a faithful observance of Article X of the American Bill of Rights," resisting "the gradual but certain growth of a totalitarian state by domination and control of a political minded Supreme Court," opposing "the totalitarian, centralized, bureaucratic government and the police state called for by the platforms of the Democratic and Republican conventions" and the "usurpation of the legislative function by the executive and judicial departments," and support of "home rule, local self-government, and a minimum interference with individual rights."
Aren’t these the principles that all freedom-loving Americans cherish?
But we don’t need to be selective in the voices of those who verbally stabbed Lott in the back. "When his comrades spoke, they spoke with knives, and when there was silence, the silence was deafening."
The Washington Post reports that "longtime friend and ally, former housing secretary Jack Kemp, called Lott’s remarks u2018inexplicable, indefensible and inexcusable.’" Pat Buchanan adds that "Not only was Lott abandoned by his president and his old friend Jack Kemp, he must have been even more disheartened at the sickening silence of his Republican caucus. He was their leader, he was under savage attack, and they never rode to the rescue."
To be certain, I hold no brief for Lott, but the repellent cowardice and slimy opportunism evidenced by his comrades would be almost enough to elicit sympathy for any victim.
The Killing Fields
The Killing Fields recounts the horror of the 1975 Cambodian revolution though the eyes of the impossibly heroic Cambodian journalist Dith Pran, and his New York Times counterpart, Sydney Schanberg. This is one of the most moving and disturbing films I have ever seen.
(If there is anyone who has not seen this film, I offer one caveat: I know many serious and unsentimental people who had difficulty seeing the film to its conclusion. One scene is reminiscent of The Apocalypse.)
A low point in the film is when the French Embassy hands over the monarchy of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge, at whose hands they will surely meet their death. In the film, at least, the only sympathy the French ambassador could muster was a sarcastic, "Adieu, ancien regime."
The U.S., in another of its brilliant play-one-against-the-other strategies, preferred the Maoist Khmer Rouge over the stable Cambodian monarchy because of its hatred for the Vietnamese. Even after the horror of the killing fields the Reagan administration backed Pol Pot in exile, so that in the words of one U.S. official, "we can achieve a better result" in the "last battle of the Vietnam War."
In the film, an attempt is made at distributing blame. A fellow journalist asks Schanberg, with the cameras rolling, "How do you respond to the accusations that you and other journalists underestimated the brutality of the Khmer Rouge and so share responsibility for what happened in Cambodia afterwards?" He responds defensively but accurately, "We made a mistake. Maybe what we underestimated was the kind of insanity that seven billion dollars worth of bombing could produce."
During one six month period in 1973, U.S. B-52s dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on this mostly Iron Age culture, killing as many as hundreds of thousands.
The only thing that doesn’t quite ring true about the journalist’s question appearing in the film is the astonishing complicity with which the Western press concealed these brutal events. In How Democracies Perish, Jean François Revel notes the near-absence of headlines in the Western press that would give any indication that the Cambodian terror even took place.
In Modern Times, Paul Johnson describes how "Sartre’s Children" (as he refers to the intellectuals that orchestrated the revolution), the Angka Loeu ("Higher Organization"), overtook Phnom Penh with shocking swiftness and brutality:
On April 17 over three million people were living in Phnom Penh. They were literally pushed into the surrounding countryside. The violence started at 7 am with attacks on Chinese shops; then general looting. The first killings came at 8:45 am. Fifteen minutes later troops began to clear the Military Hospital, driving doctors, nurses, sick and dying into the streets. An hour later they opened fire on anyone seen in the streets, to start a panic out of the city. At noon the Preah Ket Melea hospital was cleared: hundreds of men, women and children, driven at gunpoint, limped out into midday temperatures of over 100 Fahrenheit. Of twenty thousand wounded in the city, all were in the jungle by nightfall. One man carried his son, who had just had both legs amputated; others pushed the beds of the very ill, carrying bottles of plasma and serum. Every hospital in the city was emptied. All papers and records in the city were destroyed. All books were thrown into the Mekong River or burned on the banks. The paper money in the Banque Khmer de Commerce was incinerated. Cars, motorbikes and bicycles were impounded. Rockets and bazookas were fired at homes where any movement was detected. There were many summary executions. The rest were told, "Leave immediately or we will shoot all of you." By evening the water supply was cut off. What gave this episode its peculiar Kafkaesque horror was the absence of any visible authority. The peasant-soldiers simply killed and terrified, obeying orders, invoking the commands of the Angka Loeu. Nothing was explained. The intellectuals who had planned it never appeared.
One of the journalists in the film observed that half of the revolutionaries "were under fifteen." Surely, it is hard to imagine other than children being as uncompromising, and as cruel.
When the revolution was accomplished, and the "re-education" camps were organized, the most prized souls were the very young, those who had not been exposed to the wickedness of their fathers, those who had not been corrupted by the former culture. Conceived in sinlessness, only they were pure enough.
In a monologue, Pran imagines that he is corresponding with Schanberg, and tells him of his experience in the camp:
They tell us that God is dead and now the party they call the Angka will provide everything for us. Angka has identified and proclaims the existence of a bad new disease — a memory sickness — diagnosed as thinking too much about life in pre-Revolutionary Cambodia. He says, we are surrounded by enemies. The enemy is inside us. No one can be trusted. We must be like the ox and have no thought except for the party. No love, but for the Angka. We must honor the comrade children whose minds are not corrupted by the past.
During this recitation, a child is shown in front of a classroom blackboard, on which is drawn in chalk the scene of a home, with family members holding hands. The child responds to the image by drawing an "X" through the mother and father, and erasing the point at which the parent’s and child’s hands intersect. At that moment, the watching students applaud.
In one memorable scene, a little girl examines the hands of an old man who apparently was not working hard enough. She orders him to be taken aside, where a blue bag is placed over his head, and he is shot.
According to Johnson, the details of Angka’s plan had been acquired by State Department expert Kenneth Quinn, which described "total revolution,"
The scheme was an attempt to telescope, in one terrifying coup, the social changes brought about over twenty-five years in Mao’s China. There was to be a "total social revolution." Everything about the past was "anathema and must be destroyed." It was necessary to "psychologically reconstruct individual members of society." It entailed "stripping away, through terror and other means, the traditional bases, structures and forces which have shaped and guided an individual’s life" and then "rebuilding him according to party doctrines by substituting a series of new values."
Pran, an educated man who knows French and English, continues his monologue,
Angka says that those who were guilty of soft living in the years of the great struggle and did not care for the sufferings of the peasant must confess because now is the Year Zero and everything is to start anew. I’m full of fear. I must show no understanding. I must have no past. This is the Year Zero, and nothing has gone before.
A quarter of the population perished in that revolution.
Obviously the heartbreaking revolution in Cambodia depicts the most dismal conception of the State of Nature, and I don’t expect bloodbaths any time soon on American soil by atheist revolutionaries; but I’m always reminded of these scenes when I see the results of our own re-education camps: the public school system, the popular culture, and the press. There may be little carnage in our system (its insidiousness makes it unnecessary), but its subtlety probably provides more efficient and comprehensive results.
I feel my gore rise whenever I hear the latest lecture on the latest glorious step in social progress and the unmitigated evil that it replaces. However, the putridity of L’Affair Lot has crystallized how degenerate our "leaders" and "intellectuals" have become.
The Republican Party is beginning to look more like Angka than the party of Robert Taft. And to the neocons that control it, the "Year Zero" is 1964, and no one can spew enough bile at their ancestors to satisfy those that were born in the purity of time marked by the passage of the Civil Rights Act. And anyone who disagrees with them suffers from the Memory Sickness, and must be removed.
How can they jump on him when they’re out there repressing, trying to run black voters away from the polls and running under the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina? … I mean, look at their whole record. He just embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do on the backloads every day.
This is to be expected from the former Slimeball in Chief, but how are the neocons any better?
According to The Washington Post, editor of The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol said, "Oh G– … It’s ludicrous. He should remember it’s the party of Lincoln."
For once Bill Kristol has it right: The Republican Party is indeed The Party of Lincoln. Lincoln did the dirtiest work, murdering the infant republic in its crib, but The Party of Lincoln tirelessly continues the work of expanding the American State, while still taking credit for American rights while it in fact excises them. At least in its recent history (the last half-century), there were Republicans patriotic enough to warn of the coming theft, but those days are long gone.
Jonah Goldberg of National Review could not hide the admiration of his Leftist fellow-travelers: "The mainstream press missed the story for days and were it not for the highly acute ears of the civil-rights establishment, the story might have been missed entirely." Goldberg moralized that he cannot excuse Lott’s "indefensible comments."
But Goldberg’s admiration is disingenuous. Surely he knows that it wasn’t the "civil-rights establishment" that whipped up this story — it was his neocon buddies that did so. Perhaps he’s being clever, including himself and his compadres in the "civil-rights establishment."
On the 22 December 2002 Meet the Press, David Broder lamented, "I think many of us in the news media also did not acquit ourselves terribly well. Took a long time for this story to develop. Many reporters at the event did not write about it in the first instance." And Robert George of the New York Post added that "… the internet journalists and the web site bloggers and so forth kept this story bubbling in that very first weekend."
Steve Sailer of VDARE.com goes further:
The fundamental fact is that this disaster was almost completely self-inflicted by Republican pundits. It was the "right wing" mouthpieces, not the liberals, who went hysterical.
Soon afterwards, two of Clinton’s attack dogs, Sidney Blumenthal and James Carville, sent out mass emails trying to peddle the story. The websites of a few Democrats picked it up. But the big-time liberal media still wasn’t interested.
Sailer quotes the 17 December New York Times as identifying the real culprits:
Early, widespread and harsh criticism by conservative commentators and publications has provided much of the tinder for the political fires surrounding Senator Trent Lott. … Conservative columnists, including Andrew Sullivan, William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, and publications like National Review and the Wall Street Journal have castigated Mr. Lott …
The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz confirmed Lott’s assault by bloggers David Frum, Andrew Sullivan, and Glenn Reynolds.
Dith Pran concludes,
The wind whispers of fear and hate. The war has killed love. And those who confess to the Angka vanish, and no one dares ask where they go. Here, only the silent survive.
In the camp, confession is encouraged. In one "meeting," a couple confesses their past "sins," surely expecting salvation from Angka. They are embraced by the camp elder, and those in attendance applaud. Later, when no one else is looking, Pran sees them being dragged away, blue bags placed on their heads, taken away to be shot.
Angka always demands a confession of sins that have not been committed — in the form of a public apology. In this perfect antithesis of Christian confession, forgiveness and salvation is replaced by damnation and death.
In one of the most disgusting displays in the history of the republic, after already confessing ad nauseam, the Senate Majority Leader of the United States of America appeared on Black Entertainment Television to complete the humiliation. BET host Ed Gordon asked, "What about affirmative action?" "I’m for that," answered Lott enthusiastically. "Across the board?" "Absolutely, across the board."
If anyone believes that Angka is satisfied with confession, Lott’s confessions are instructive.
At the end of it all, what was gained? Was he respected by anyone for his prolonged prostration before the high priests of egalitarianism? Those who believed the confession wasn’t necessary certainly don’t respect him, and those who believed it was do not believe him anyway.
In confessing false sins, no one believes the apology of the accused, nor waits for the forgiveness of the accuser.
And as anyone could have predicted, the oblation was not enough to save him, and it only spurred the pursuit of reparations and other inanity.
The "blue bag" that our modern leftist revolutionaries use to suffocate anyone who is not in sync with their domestic and foreign policy agendas is the accusation of racism, and the neocon preference is anti-Semitism. It is meant to forever silence the victim, and the results are usually devastating.
Goldberg again: "Liberals were on the right side of history on the issue of race." Neocons like Goldberg have very good reason for feeling that way. Many of the neocon doctors are "converted" Trotskyites, whose ideology may have changed slightly, but their methodology hasn’t changed a whit. They play the race card with the best of them, and play it often.
He continues, "This event represented the death rattle of conservatism’s racist fringe, not its reemergence. The most-prominent exception, predictably, is Pat Buchanan, a man who had to leave the Republican party entirely because his views, not just on race [emphasis mine] …" In reality, Buchanan is the most prominent exception of those who have not been utterly destroyed by hysterical neocon finger-pointing, and they hate it.
But even Mr. Goldberg is not that ignorant. Pat Buchanan did not "have to leave," but left the Republican Party out of disgust; it had nothing whatsoever to do with race; and probably the most controversial aspect of his 2000 bid swirled over his interpretation of the events surrounding WW II in A Republic, Not an Empire.
And while we’re at it, Goldberg thinks, what the hell, let’s go ahead and call the entire Old Right a bunch of racist kooks: "In fact, prior to Trent Lott’s idiocy, most conservatives I know would have assumed it did not exist at all — except among the fever swamps of the so-called paleo-Right."
The Party of … Trotsky?
But should any of this be surprising?
In the 13 January 2003 issue of The American Conservative, J. P. Zmirak makes the case that "Neoconservatism owes more to Trotsky than to Burke."
Zmirak points out that:
Because [the Trotskyites] supported a global Marxist revolution, and a system which had no national host on which it could feed, they were able to function much more in the mold of Jacobins, of "pure" revolutionaries unfettered by national interest and realpolitik.
The Trotskyites who mutated into neocons "carried a strong tendency towards pure abstraction" and tended to see America "not as our homeland, as the particular place where a people and their treasured institutions took root, but rather as the (almost accidental) spot where certain ideas had taken hold."
Zmirak quotes a Wall Street Journal editorial writer as saying "Where you’re born … is of no ideological significance." He continues, "For Cold War conservatives, anyone, anywhere, who will sign on to the Declaration of Independence is already an American."
Anything that doesn’t fit into this neocon formula goes down the memory hole, including
… the Anglo-Celtic roots of the Founding, the specifically Christian (mostly Protestant) identity of America, the very existence of the Confederacy, and the profoundly Western roots of our culture. For this reason, [historian David] Gress argues, Cold War conservatives have rendered themselves helpless against multiculturalism — and undermined the concrete foundations upon which the edifice of American freedom stands.
This is the intellectual heritage of the neocons — they have no real nation, no real roots. And the younger seem to know very little even about their own immediate predecessors — they stand on the shoulders of no one.
God Is Dead
According to Paul Johnson, Friedrich Nietzsche saw the "death of God" as a casualty:
Nietzsche saw God not as an invention but as a casualty, and his demise was in some important sense an historical event, which would have dramatic consequences. He wrote in 1886: "The greatest event of recent times — that u2018God is dead,’ that the belief in the Christian God is no longer tenable — is beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe." Among the advanced races, the decline and ultimately the collapse of the religious impulse would leave a huge vacuum. The history of modern times is in great part the history of how that vacuum has been filled. Nietzsche rightly perceived that the most likely candidate would be what he called the "Will to Power," which offered a far more comprehensive and in the end more plausible explanation of human behaviour than either Marx or Freud. In place of religious belief, there would be secular ideology.
In Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, he envisions the letzte Mensch ("last man"):
Everyone wanteth the same; everyone is equal; he who hath other sentiments goeth voluntarily into the madhouse.
"Formerly all the world was insane," say the subtlest of them, and blink thereby.
Reading this, it’s hard to imagine that Nietzsche never read National Review, The Weekly Standard, or Commentary.
Similarly, this episode will no doubt be seen by younger conservatives as a "teaching moment." They will see that the voices of the conservative movement rejected a past best represented by a 100-year-old man being put out to pasture and few comments made in his defense.
Yes, another lesson for the re-education camp. David Frum agrees:
I think one reason so many of us in the conservative mainstream have reacted so strongly to the Trent Lott affair was our shock and surprise — we all assumed that the attitudes Lott expressed had vanished from our midst twenty and thirty years ago. Then, suddenly, they ripped the door off the crypt and emerged nightmarishly into the daylight again, rotten but undead.
Shocking! It’s hard to imagine that such times even existed — twenty, even thirty years ago, even before Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Frum were even born!
With all the deep and mature perspective one might find in the films Footloose or Pleasantville, our comrade children at National Review don’t even seem to be aware what the intellectual forefathers of their own magazine once believed in the dim recesses of the latter half of the last century.
As Paul Gottfried recently pointed out,
Throughout the sixties, moreover, NR featured multiple pointed attacks on the civil rights movement by James Burnham, Frank Meyer, Will Herberg, Jeffrey Hart, and its editor-in-chief. Frum’s attempt to associate the paleos, and more specifically The American Conservative, with obsessive anti-Semitism because of their criticism of Israeli foreign policy, overlooks the willingness of NR’s editors in the old days to engage even more forcefully in "Judeo-critical" commentary. Burnham did so throughout the sixties; and in 1961, Buckley himself attacked the Israeli showcasing of the Eichmann trial for nurturing Teutonophobia and for expressing Jewish vengefulness. In the fullness of time, Buckley would preside over a publication that specialized in both.
And Lew Rockwell recognized that no one was fooled about the real intent of Civil Rights legislation:
Everyone, both proponents and opponents, knew exactly what that law was: a statist, centralizing measure that fundamentally attacked the rights of property and empowered the state as mind reader: to judge not only our actions, but our motives, and to criminalize them.
What the little letzte Menschen at NR don’t seem to understand is that all those wicked people who warned against Civil Rights legislation saw clearly into the future, and they have been clearly vindicated.
racial quotas are the inevitable by-products of our anti-discrimination laws. When Barry Goldwater explained how the 1964 Civil Rights Act would lead to quotas, Hubert Humphrey famously promised to eat a printed copy of the law if it ever happened. But merely a half-decade later, quotas were commonplace.
During the 12 January 2003 Meet the Press, Tim Russert informed Mr. Frist that in the University of Michigan admissions process, being a "person of color" gained one twenty points (out of a possible 150), while a perfect SAT score was worth only twelve points.
Frist was asked by Russert what he thought about all that. Mr. Frist said he couldn’t comment on it because he didn’t know anything about the Michigan admission process.
In a party that claims to be against racial quotas, in the clearest imaginable example of such, our Republican president (after a great deal of time) hasn’t seemed to be able to make a decision on it, and the Republican Senate Majority Leader pleads ignorance.
When the president finally did make up his mind, it was in the form of political double-talk. He and his staff made it sound as though the president was against quotas, but also that it was awfully clear that they had better be diverse. 1964 all over again, except that the president is one of the bad guys — he believes diversity goals are just swell.
In a later piece by Sailer, he quotes Bush explaining helpful schemes to achieve "diversity":
Some states are using innovative ways to diversify their student bodies. Recent history has proven that diversity can be achieved without using quotas. Systems in California and Florida and Texas have proven that by guaranteeing admissions to the top students from high schools throughout the state, including low income neighborhoods, colleges can attain broad racial diversity.
The Bush brothers’ "X-percent solutions" that were introduced in Texas and Florida are "blatant schemes for achieving quotas." Ensuring that a percentage of students are admitted from even the worst schools is even worse than outright quota systems, which at least admit the highest potential students within each race.
Yet worse, Bush continued, "Schools should seek diversity by considering a broad range of factors in admissions, including a student’s potential and life experiences." Even though heroic neocons like Bill Bennett went to all the trouble of traveling clear across America to defeat a proposition in a state that’s not his home, the Proposition 209 ban on racial preferences passed by a wide margin. But, of course, the government ignored the people’s wishes, and found ways to sidestep the law. The solution that Bush praises for California is yet another subversion of Prop. 209, where applicants get extra credit for hardships, such as receiving gunshot wounds. That’s probably taking "the school of hard knocks" a little far.
Could the president’s policy be any more disastrous? Isn’t this a states’ rights issue anyway? (The Bush brothers and the "conservative" members of the Supreme Court made it pretty clear how they felt about states’ rights during the 2000 presidential election.)
And the president’s State of the Union address was filled with proposed multi-billion dollar program after multi-billion dollar program — imagined rights of every shape and size — a leftist’s dream. And he means what he says — the president’s spending rate increase is double Clinton’s.
I ask my Republican friends, when they seem frustrated (which isn’t often enough): "So, what else did you expect?" The invariable answer comes: "What else is there — the Democrats?" This is supposed to be the slam-dunk question.
I tell them that there isn’t anyone else, or any other solution, nor will there ever be as long as they continue in their miserable and pathetic co-dependent relationship with the American State. They believe their lover when he tells them he’ll never cheat on them again, but not only does he continue to cheat, he has the habits of a satyr, and to add to the humiliation it’s carried out in broad daylight.
But they still keep believing.
Whether by cowardice, cynicism, or cluelessness, it’s irrefutable that both parties are dead set at removing every last remnant of Old America. It’s gone far beyond the possibility for "compromise" — it’s not that our leaders’ hearts aren’t in it any more, it’s not even that they’ve surrendered the battlefield. It’s that they don’t even show up for battle because they’re fornicating with the enemy.
Isn’t it far past time to break it off?
Brian Dunaway [send him mail] is a chemical engineer and a native Texan.