Mailvox: Breivik: saint or monster?

A Norwegian asks about St. Breivik:

What I still not have clear for me, is your standing concerning AB Breivik, and that actually troubles me somehow. I am self a Norwegian, I live in Oslo, and what happened 22/7/11 made a deep and difficult impression on my mind. Breivik shot down in cold blood 69 people on that island, and the majority of the victims were  teenagers (children, I could say), which «guilt» was to be an offspring of a member of the social democrat party (Arbeiderpartiet). I have indirectly heard an eyewitness reporting about a child scared to death, and with blood pouring from a wound in the throat while slowly dying.

For me, Breivik doesn’t represent any positive and decent quality, and he neither represent any legitimate way of doing resistance against a fallen political class and elite. Maybe I have misunderstood, but if you somehow make a hero out of Breivik, that makes it so difficult for me to do what I much would like to do: to make you one of several good teachers in my life.

Somehow I can look at Breivik (and other terrorists) as (almost impersonal) expressions of tidal waves in our history. But simultaneously, I can do nothing else than look at their actual actions as utterly horrific. As I see it (and feel it), no one devout to God would never ever could have done what Breivik did, and no one would neither could defend his actions.

First, let me say that I have family members who are a) devout Christians, b) good men, and c) are responsible for killing considerably more people than Anders Breivik. I also have a number of friends whose confirmed kills are in double-digits. Nor am I at all persuaded by the notion that the God who loved David, who slew “his ten thousands”, or the Jesus who praised the faith of the Roman centurion, is anywhere nearly as appalled by war as most men would like to believe.

From a philosophical perspective, I tend to regard the Norwegians, and the “Norwegians”, killed by Breivik as having been more culpable on average than the average Japanese, Korean, or Chinese infantryman were. And don’t forget, the Viet Cong were no more professional soldiers than were the Quisling Youth on Utoya, and most of them were even younger.

Breivik did not target innocents. He didn’t attack teenagers at a pop concert or families enjoying a night out on a public promenade. He struck a highly effective blow against the political machine that is still actively engaged in attacking his people and attempting to eradicate them. If you don’t believe violence is a legitimate way of resisting invasion, if you don’t think that making war on those making war on you is permissible, that’s your prerogative, but your opinion is both ahistorical and irrelevant.

The fact is that Anders Breivik not only gave up his freedom to strike back at the quislings who are actively seeking to destroy your nation and your people, but he did so alone, and in the full knowledge that he would be hated for it by many of the very people he sought to save.

You may recall that someone once said something about the quality of the love that such a self-sacrifice requires. Can you honestly say that it was nothing but simple hatred that inspired him?

Of course, those who are not religious cannot fathom that kind of love, which is why they simply deem him mad, and a monster, and try to avoid thinking about the future. I don’t expect you to simply accept my perspective, but it might give you some food for further thought. While he did a terrible thing, it is far more terrible that he was put into a position where he felt the need to do it in the first place. Focus your anger, and your disgust, for those who knowingly created the untenable situation.

In any event, my expectation is that if the West, and Norway, survive the ongoing clash of civilizations, Breivik will be considered its first hero. And if it does not, well, then Breivik will be regarded in much the same way that Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard are presently regarded in New Orleans, as an evil monster who was “on the wrong side of humanity.”

And just to be clear for the excessively slow, although I am not a Catholic, I am aware that Mr. Breivik has not died, been beatified, or canonized. Nor do I believe in praying to intercessors.

UPDATE: It is clear to me that a few readers here simply do not understand what war is. I direct your attention to Clausewitz and ask you this: was Breivik practicing “politics by other means” or not?

The war for free association

Is eventually going to have to go to either a) Congress or b) the Supreme Court, given the wide range of contradictory court decisions.

A Kentucky appellate court on Friday ruled that the Christian owner of a printing shop in Lexington had the right to refuse to make T-shirts promoting a local gay pride festival. The dispute represents the latest court fight testing the limits of antidiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The cases have led to a number of state court rulings against Christian-owned businesses that refused to bake cakes, design floral arrangements or take portrait photographs for same-sex weddings.

This would be an easy win for the God-Emperor. An executive order protecting free association for business owners would be extremely popular with every Christian who doesn’t want to bake a gay cake, every Jew who doesn’t want to print a Nazi t-shirt, and every black who doesn’t want to arrange flowers for the KK.

The fact is that everyone has the intrinsic human right to refuse to provide their services to anyone for any reason whatsoever. The only question is whether governments and laws respect that right or illegitimately infringe upon it.

Discrimination is both a logical necessity and an intrinsic human right.

There goes the Israeli-Turkish alliance

I wonder if the (((media))) will lose its enthusiasm for importing Turks now that Israel is also a destination:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Muslims around the world to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to protect the site’s Islamic identity. The Turkish leader also took the opportunity to heap scorn on Israel, likening the country’s policies to South Africa’s Apartheid era. Speaking in Istanbul at a charity conference discussing Palestinian economic development, Erdogan lashed out at Israel regarding its settlement plans in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

“We, as Muslims, should be visiting Al-Quds more often,” Erdogan said, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem. “Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”

As many as 26,000 Turks visited the Temple Mount, or Noble Sanctuary, in 2016. However, Erdogan emphasised “hundreds of thousands” should be visiting the site, which is considered holy by Muslims. “[It] would be the greatest support to our brothers there,” he said.

“Al-Quds is holy for all three divine religions. It is the heart and summary of all human history.

“Both in terms of our religion and historical responsibility, Al-Quds and the fight of our Palestinian brothers for rights and justice is of great importance to us. We will keep making efforts for Quds to turn into a city of peace.”

Erdogan also said that permanent peace in the region would only be possible with a “fair solution to the Palestinian issue”.

“What’s the difference between the present acts of the Israeli administration and the racist and discriminatory politics that were practised against black people in the past in America – and up until a short time ago in South Africa.”<

“Here is the only solution. The establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of 1967,” said Erdogan, according to Anadolu.

It would appear the next Hitler has identified himself.  Which is somewhat of a relief, as I was beginning to think the world might be running out of Hitlers. And we can’t have that.

I’ve long wondered what would happen if Israel were to go to war with NATO ally Turkey, with whom, unlike Israel, the USA actually has a treaty obliging mutual defense. I assume the US would simply ignore any obligations, but doing so would have some pretty serious long-term ramifications.

Let them bake cake

Jews and Muslims are whining about not being able to torture animals in Europe anymore.

Belgium’s Wallooon region has voted to ban kosher and halal meats by outlawing the slaughter of unstunned animals. The environment committee of southern Belgium’s Walloon Parliament voted unanimously for the ban, which will take effect on 1 September, 2019.

Both Jewish kosher and Islamic halal rituals require the butcher to swiftly slaughter the animal by slitting its throat and draining its blood, a process condemned by animal rights campaigners, who argue it is more humane to stun animals before killing them….

The European Jewish Congress called the law, which will be implemented by September 2019, scandalous and its president Moshe Kantor told The Independent it sends a terrible message to Jewish communities throughout Europe that Jews are unwanted.

‘It attacks the very core of our culture and religious practice and our status as equal citizens with equal rights in a democratic society,’ he said. ‘We call on legislators to step back from the brink of the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights in Belgium since the Nazi occupation of the country in World War Two.

“Muslims are worried about whether they can eat halal food … in conformity with their religious rites and beliefs,” the Belgian Muslim Executive said. Countries including Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand already prohibit unstunned slaughter.

If a Christian baker doesn’t have the religious freedom to not bake a cake, then an Aztec priest doesn’t have the religious freedom to offer beating hearts to Huitzilopochtli, a Satanist warlock doesn’t have the right to sacrifice a virgin to the Devil, and Jews and Muslims don’t have the religious freedom to eat meat from tortured animals.

If Muslims want to eat halal meat, they can eat it in Saudi Arabia. If Jews want to eat kosher meat, they can eat it in Israel. That’s up to them, that’s fine. But there is no reason for the Christian West to tolerate their foreign cultural traditions or to permit them to engage in religious practices that Westerners find distasteful, cruel, or harmful anymore. And it’s not the freaking Nazi Occupation if you refuse to eat a pepperoni pizza because you don’t like how the cheese was grated. It’s also informative to note that despite the Nazi card being played, the committee went ahead and unanimously approved the ban.

I notice that Denmark, Switzerland, and New Zealand have already managed to prohibit animal torture without proceeding to construct death camps. The fact is that banning foreign practices like this is an excellent way to encourage the peaceful migration of foreign peoples back to their homelands. It should be encouraged, especially considering the primary alternative. Because “It’s a Small World” is never, ever going to happen. When in Rome, either do as the Romans or leave.

As I mentioned in the Darkstream on the subject, “let them bake cake” is now my standard rhetorical response to all religious minorities whining about their nonexistent religious rights.

The end of “religious freedom”

It appears that Russia is leading the way towards a much-needed rejection of “religious freedom” in the West:

Russia’s crackdown on religious activity took a major step forward this week as the Justice Ministry banned Jehovah’s Witnesses. Russia has steadily curtailed rights to evangelize in recent years, but this move signals their commitment to aggressively policing private religious activity. The Russian supreme court ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses amount to an “extremist group,” and therefore the government is shutting down their headquarters and local chapters, seizing their property, and banning them from meeting.

Vladimir Putin’s campaign to strengthen ties between the government and the Russian Orthodox denomination has included the passing of absurdly broad laws that prohibit “religious discord” and can easily be deployed against any religion or sect. This ruling will directly harm the 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country, but it also poses a clear threat to other minority religious groups, such as Protestant Christians. Without genuine protections for the free exercise of religion, the government has remarkably free rein to determine the social benefits of a given religion — and that means trampling the consciences of those who fall victim to government caprice.

I don’t suppose there are any other religious groups that pose a similar threat to the Russian people, their security, and public order, are there?

Religious freedom is a bogus and ill-considered pseudoright. In practice, it has been turned into a weapon that is almost solely used against Christianity across the West, and therefore it has to be abandoned. It has always been a charade anyhow; any religious belief or practice that challenges the state is always going to be banned no matter how sincerely held it may be. No one is about to let Aztecs start mass sacrificing to the sun or permit Druids to burn people in wicker baskets, no matter how historically legitimate their religious traditions are.

In like manner, any religion that harms the commonwealth merits similar outlaw status. Let people live among others of like religion if they wish to practice their religious traditions. How serious and sincere can their beliefs be anyway, and how much do those beliefs merit respect, if non-Christians would rather live in Christendom among Christians than where Islam, Hinduism, Shinto, or Judaism are the state religion?

Don’t be fooled by the appeal to imaginary fears for Protestants. The concept of religious freedom in the USA died the moment prayer was banned in the public schools, and the coffin was nailed shut when Muslim immigration was encouraged. There is no legitimate moral, legal, or philosophical reason that every nation in Christendom should not proceed to ban all non-Christian religions as readily as atheist regimes banned Christianity in the 20th century.

The Enlightenment, such as it was, ended a long time ago. It failed. It is long past time to reject its failed liberal precepts.

Fictional is not a synonym for false

National Catholic Register interviews John C. Wright:

What do you think is the place of such elements in science fiction?

Hmm. Good question. Science fiction is by and large based on a naturalistic view of the universe. When penning adventures about space princesses being rescued from space pirates by space marines, religion does not come up, except as local background and local color, in which case, the role of religion is to provide the radioactive altar to the Snake God of Mars to which our shapely by half-clad space princess is chained, that our stalwart hero can fight the monster.

Now, any story of any form can be used as a parable or as an example of a religious truth: indeed, my latest six-book trilogy is actually about faith, although it is portrayed in figures as being about a man’s love for his bride.

Fantasy stories, on the other hand, once any element of magic or the supernatural is introduced either declare for the Church or declare for witchcraft, depending on whether or not occultism is glamorized.

Note that I speak of occultism, not magic itself. Merlin the magician is a figure from King Arthur tales, of which no more obviously Christian stories can be found, outside of Dante and Milton, but no portrayal in olden days of Merlin glamorized the occult. Again, the way characters like Gandalf in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, Coriakin in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, or Harry Potter, even those they are called wizards, are clearly portrayed either as commanding a divine power, or, in Potter’s case, controlling what is basically an alternate technology or psychic force. There is no bargaining with unclean spirits, no rituals, not even a pack of tarot cards. These are like the witches in Halloween decorations, who fly brooms and wave magic wands, and nothing like the real practices of real wiccans, neopagans or other fools who call themselves witches.

Fools, because, as I did when I challenged God, they meddle with forces of which they have no understanding. I meddled with bright forces, and was spared. They meddle with dark, and they think they can escape the price.

Fantasy stories generally are hostile to Christianity, some intentionally and some negligently. The negligent hostility springs from the commonplace American desire for syncretism, that is, for all religions to be equal. Even some fairly Christian-themed fantasy stories yield weakmindedly to this temptation, as in Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising or A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel by American writer Madeleine L’Engle, where the forces of light are portrayed as ones where Christ is merely one teacher among many, each equally as bright and good, but makes no special nor exclusive claim. Or tales where the crucifix will drive back a vampire, but so will any other sign or symbol of any religion, from Asatru to Zoroastrianism, because all religions are equal, dontchaknow.

Such syncretic fantasy stories are perhaps more dangerous that those which are openly hostile to religion in general and Catholicism in particular, because such stories as are openly hostile can be read with pleasure and enjoyment the way one would read the Iliad by Homer or the Aeneid of Virgil, as pagan works where the reader suffers no temptation to bow to the stupid gods the writer evidently favors. In this category I place the work of Philip Pullman and Michael Moorcock. Socialist anarchist materialists are so autistic when it comes to spiritual matters, their worlds portrayed in their make believe has little or no power to sway real faith in anything real. Their ideas, when they venture into spiritual themes, are like listening to colorblind men discussing how they would make a better rainbow.

More dangerous are writers of real skill and talent whose spiritual vision is awake, but whose loyalty is in the enemy camp: I put the remarkably talented Ursula K LeGuin in this category, for she can capture the spiritual look, feel, and flavor of Taoism without ever once revealing her own spiritual preferences; and likewise Mr. John Crowley, who is a gnostic, and peppers his work with themes that make the heresy seem quite inviting and new.

In my fantasy stories, magic is always portrayed as unlawful for humans, dangerous, and innately corruptive; elves are beautiful but dangerous; the Church is a mighty fortress bold as an army with spears and trumpets. Because that is the way it really is.

Stories and fairy tales are fictional. That does not mean they are false.

Catholics against the Alt-Right

The Catholic opposition to the Alt-Right is every bit as feckless and dishonest as one would tend to expect from a fully converged institution:

Christopher Hale, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, argued that along with denouncing the extremism and bigotry central to white nationalism and the alt-right there should also be an effort to engage with people drawn to this movement. “We need to understand better as Catholics how did Steve Bannon and the alt-right come to be?” he said.

But keynote speaker Michael Sean Winters, a fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, highlighted the challenges of that approach. “The main difficulty in engaging the alt-right as if it were just another political movement is found precisely in its anti-democratic stance,” said Winters, also a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. “Normally, when we as Catholics engage those with whom we disagree, both sides accept democratic norms to shape that engagement. The alt-right derides democracy and openly states its desire to undermine democracy.” Winters added:

Engage, but do so warily, and only when repeatedly noting the fact that the positions the alt-right espouses are not just wrong, but contemptuous of the means by which a liberal democracy sorts out the complexities of public policy, means that we value and celebrate, and which we accord to these provocateurs even if they wish not to accord them to anyone else. Winters pointed to the church’s intellectual and moral traditions as resources to contest the resurgence of white nationalism. “It is often joked that Catholic social doctrine is the ‘best kept secret’ in the Catholic church,” he said. “Let it be secret no more. The most sophisticated response to both these alt-right haters, and to the ever-present difficulties of democracy, is found in that doctrine. I often say and shall say again: There is no problem facing the political life of this country that is not leavened by an encounter with Catholic social doctrine.”

There is no panacea to eradicate the diseases of white nationalism and Islamophobia. The church’s manifold capacities—theological, pastoral and prophetic—will be required at different places and times. Catholics don’t all need to speak with the same voice or use the same tone. But the message should be unambiguous and urgent. The alt-right movement is built on an edifice of racism, social sin, and exclusion that must never be tolerated.

The idea that Catholics are great defenders of democracy and the will of the people is a lie worthy of Goebbels. It is a big lie; not only is it historically false, but it is categorically and observably false. Just yesterday, Mr. Bergoglio was reported to have come out against populism, which is nothing more than “the will of the people”, which is a truer form of democracy than the sham “democratic norms” that proscribe the will of an unelected, anti-democratic elite using ancient rituals and rhetoric as cover.

Note the appeal to “Catholic social doctrine”, which has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible.

We are, of course, contemptuous of them, as we are contemptuous of all liars. If the Catholic Church sets itself against the truth, it will be destroyed for its faithlessness. Now, granted, neither these wormtongues nor the current Pope speak legitimately for all Catholics, they are merely converged pseudo-priests attempting to lead the faithful astray.

They will not engage with us, even warily, because they know we will expose their falsehoods and false teachings. “Social sin” is no more sin than “social justice” is justice. We don’t ask these wormtongues to tolerate us, we merely observe that they have no place in the Christian civilization they are attempting to destroy.

When life is like Blasphemous Rumors

I don’t fault those who find it difficult to believe in God due to tragic events, particularly those that tend to smack of the Divine having a sick sense of humor:

Dennis Byrd, a former Jets defensive lineman best known for battling back from a serious spinal injury and recovering to walk again, has died at the age of 50. Byrd was killed in a car crash in Claremore, Oklahoma, today.

According to Fox 23, Byrd was driving down the highway when his vehicle was struck head on by another vehicle, which had crossed the center line. A 12-year-old passenger in Byrd’s vehicle was hospitalized, as was the 17-year-old boy driving the vehicle that hit Byrd’s vehicle. Byrd was pronounced dead at the scene.

A second-round draft pick of the Jets in 1989, Byrd played four NFL seasons before suffering a serious neck injury in a collision with a teammate. Byrd was paralyzed and his career was over, but after lengthy physical therapy he was able to walk again. At the Jets’ home opener in 1993, Byrd walked to the middle of the field to represent his team in the pregame coin toss, and there he was given the team’s Most Inspirational Player Award, which is now known as the Dennis Byrd Award.

In the 1980s, Depeche Mode wrote what may be the greatest philosophical lyric ever written in pop music.

I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumors
But I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor
And when I die
I expect to find Him laughing

As an indifferent agnostic, that fairly well described my religious perspective before I became a Christian. But that is why it is so important to understand the correct application of the Problem of Evil, and to grasp what it means for the world to be fallen, why it is necessary for Christians to be in the world, but not of it, and why the Word became flesh and died on the Cross.

Depeche Mode was right, in a sense, though it is not God who has the sick and sadistic sense of humor, but the Prince of this world. Neither God nor Jesus Christ rule over the Silent Planet, and they are not the architects of human misfortune.

I do, however, contra Umberto Eco, firmly believe that God possesses a sense of humor. I have sensed it. And one cannot read the New Testament without recognizing that Jesus was almost brutally sarcastic.

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Empty-handed at the OK Corral

Not bringing a religion to a clash of civilizations is like not bringing a gun to a gunfight. Every major civilization has had its basis in a core religion.

Consider these three quotes from Sam Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations:

  1. The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power. The problem for Islam is not the CIA or the U.S. Department of Defense. It is the West, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the universality of their culture and believe that their superior, if declining, power imposes on them the obligation to extend that culture throughout the world. These are the basic ingredients that fuel conflict between Islam and the West.
  2. Blood, language, religion, way of life, were what the Greeks had in common and what distinguished them from the Persians and other non-Greeks. Of all the objective elements which define civilizations, however, the most important usually is religion, as the Athenians emphasized. To a very large degree, the major civilizations in human history have been closely identified with the world’s great religions; and people who share ethnicity and language but differ in religion may slaughter each other, as happened in Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, and the Subcontinent.
  3. Religion is a central defining characteristic of civilizations, and, as Christopher Dawson said, “the great religions are the foundations on which the great civilizations rest.” Of Weber’s five “world religions,” four—Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Confucianism—are associated with major civilizations. The fifth, Buddhism, is not.
Now, one can blithely try to wave away Huntington’s civilizational perspective and his thesis, but considering how The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order was published in 1996 and has proven to be not merely far more insightful and predictive than Fukuyama’s End of History thesis or any other conceptual model, one would have to be grossly ignorant to do so.
So, if we accept the idea that Western civilization and Islamic civilization are in conflict, what must we logically conclude from the three quotes provided?
  1. The decline of the West is the direct result of the decline of Christianity in the West, both religious and institutional.
  2. The growing power of Islam in the West cannot be halted by secularism, white nationalism, or any sub-civilization-level force.
  3. The preservation of the West requires a revival of Christianity.
  4. The preservation of the West requires the abandonment of some, though not all, secular values, beginning with the freedom of religion, that conflict with the restoration of Christianity
There is considerably more that can be concluded from this particular perspective, but I expect most people, even of an Alt-West persuasion, will struggle to accept just those four inescapable conclusions.