America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Post • The Culture • the family

The End of Watch Call

Jesus said, “Blessed are those pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Our country is filled with unheralded heroes. Those that don’t seek self-promotion or use bombast to be recognized. Their hearts are only pointed to serving others. They work for our good and for God, not seeking fame, but to serve.

Many of our firefighters fit this model. They mostly serve as volunteers in local fire departments. They don’t get paid to serve, they just show up. They are the men and women who rush into burning buildings to bring people to safety. Their joy is in saving and not gaining.

When they pass into our Lord’s hands, they are given an “End of Watch” call—a broadcast over the airwaves to announce that their service and time is complete. The fire volunteers upon hearing this call offer them a moment of silence. It is a moving gesture of recognition.

Louis “Lou” Aroneo was on one of those men. He died this July and received his “End of Watch” call from the Stirling, New Jersey Fire Department. But Lou is more than just an individual who received a last call. He represented what makes America a special place. In his life he represented a way to live life. A way our forefathers taught us. A way that included honor, respect, duty and service. Lou didn’t curse the darkness, but instead chose to light candles.

Lou had no special privileges in life. He wasn’t a star athlete or a famed entertainer or even a noted politician. He was part of the tapestry of men and women known as first responders. Lou didn’t go to Harvard or Yale; he went to a local college and became an engineer.

While some will seek fame through rancor, Lou sought kindness. While some sought self-promotion, Lou sought to serve. Some seek to tear down, Lou sought to build up.

He had a wife and raised his children in a small town in New Jersey. He passed on to our Lord with a very ordinary resume. A simple life on paper, but a rich life in the hearts of the people he helped and served.

Even though he received a medal of honor for rushing into a burning building to rescue a wheelchair-bound individual, there will be no movie made about his exploits. Even though he raised his children to honor and respect others, no book will be written about his excellence. Lou lived his life the right way. A uniquely American way.

I take it upon myself to declare Lou a hero. Because he lived the way we all should live, with a quiet faith and desire to do good. Lou’s life compass was pointed to doing what was right and without compromise. Noting that perhaps we as Americans we should strive harder to recognize these people as the heroes. We should read about them more or see them on television. Perhaps knowing more about these heroes will soften the drums of discord.

Lou would be the first to point out he wasn’t special, he knew many others who lived the same life. And he would have been right, many others do. Our country needs these standard bearers of commitment and service. They are the ones who are there in times of disaster. Lou and his fire company stood on the shores of New Jersey during 9/11 to help. They stood in line waiting to help those devastated by Superstorm Sandy. They are the ones carrying children late at night from a house fire. They are the ones who are first on the scene of a terrible car wreck. They are the first eyes you see when you need to be rescued. They work, while we sleep. They are American first responders. They serve because they are supposed to serve.

I only wish that I knew Lou before I completed my latest book, Your Faith Has Made You Well. He would have been a terrific character to stand beside the dozens of other ordinary heroes, who are portrayed. As Christians we can never have enough heroes of faith. Lou stood tall among them.

As a country we need heroes like Lou. These are the people who don’t use social media to bring them fame through bombast. They don’t like to jockey for position to get what they want. These heroes seek only to help.

Every day we see these unnoticed heroes in our midst. They walk in supermarkets, hotel lobbies, or along crowded streets. They have blended in to live their lives without notice.

Look hard though and you will see them walking among us. They hold doors for others. They stop and pick up litter. They speak kindly to others. They have faces that show their integrity. They help parents overloaded with groceries. They are with us every day.

Lou passed on to our Lord on July 3. He had a funeral procession that included nine ladder trucks decorated with American flags and a long waiting line of people giving their last respects. Lou didn’t pass on with millions in the bank or with lasting notoriety. He passed with a more blessed legacy, a peaceful assurance that he would reside with his Lord from living an honorable life. While maybe not recognized fully by the world, it certainly was recognized where he is today, with his Lord for eternity. America needs more heroes like Lou.

Lou did get his last call. A time honored tradition for firefighters. He was the Chief of Stirling’s fire department and was sent off to be with God, having served humankind with honor. Many other first responders will go after him and they as well will receive the last call. Their special moment when the dispatcher says: “End of watch call! You have completed your mission here and been a good friend to all. Now it is time to rest. Thank you for your service.”

Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images

Books & Culture • Center for American Greatness • Post • The Culture • the family

Fathers Matter—A Lot

The truth of the title is obvious to all but the most fanatically anti-natural-family ideologues, and yet, our culture is drowning in fatherlessness and seems unable to get this most elemental requirement of healthy families right. So, our society suffers.

But the series “Cobra Kai” seems poised to change that—or, at least, to open up a serious conversation about the harmful effects of absentee dads.

The show, a YouTube original, began in 2018 and is a sequel of sorts to the 1984 classic, “Karate Kid.” It focuses mainly on the struggles and exploits of the now-washed-up Johnny Lawrence, Daniel LaRusso’s nemesis in the film. (As expected, Johnny doesn’t remember events in quite the same way Daniel does.)

The basic driver of the show’s two very good seasons (so far) is the feud between Johnny and Daniel, still very much alive—even more than 30 years after Daniel poached Ali Mills from Johnny and sent him to the floor with that iconic “crane kick” in the final round of the All-Valley Tournament. That angle alone would be interesting enough fodder to move the plot along—after all, it’s clearly unhealthy to carry around a 34-year-old grudge, especially about something so minor, in the grand scheme of things.

There is something deeper running under the hood, however: the absence of paternal figures in the lives of its key characters. This is the reason the show is so compelling. Each of the central characters is searching for what it means to be a man in a world where he lacks the firm guidance of a father.

Recall that Daniel’s father died when he was just eight years old. And in “Cobra Kai,” we get more of Johnny’s backstory: He was raised by a cruel, wealthy stepfather, Sid Weinberg, and found refuge from his torments under the tutelage of his merciless sensei, John Kreese.

In addition to Daniel’s and Johnny’s suboptimal fatherhood situations, two of the other central characters—Miguel Diaz and Robby Keene—are in many ways defined by their derelict fathers.

Miguel lives with his mother and grandmother; they fled from Ecuador after Miguel’s mother learned that her abusive husband, Miguel’s father, was some sort of gang member. The two women raised Miguel.

Robby Keene lives with his mother, a woman who drifts aimlessly from one romantic tryst to another to keep the lights on in their small apartment; his father is none other than Johnny Lawrence, who is told by Robby’s mother at one point at a bar that he, Johnny, “gave up on day one” when it came to being there for Robby, and for her.

Daniel finds in Mr. Miyagi a father to stand in place of his natural father, lost to him in death, and Johnny finds in Kreese both a shelter and a tutor in the ways of strength, in reaction to his callous stepfather, who, when the then-friendless, 12-year-old Johnny excitedly said he wanted to learn karate, was told: “I’ll write the goddamn check. I’ll make it out to garbage, because that’s where it’s gonna end up.”

Each of them is troubled in his own way, and their adopted fathers shape them through karate according to their respective visions of manhood. Daniel is taught that karate is for self-defense, defense of others, and to find balance in one’s life. Johnny, conversely, is taught to “strike first,” “strike hard,” and show “no mercy.”

Johnny takes Miguel under his wing after seeing him get beat up outside of a convenience store near the apartment complex where they both live. Miguel finds the father in Johnny he so conspicuously lacks and needs, even as Johnny, in pain, tells Miguel that on the day of his real son’s birth

instead of being up there, welcoming him into the world, I was down here, soaking up the booze from a three-day bender, trying to get the courage to walk across the street. I never got there. I failed my kid on his very first day in this world, and I’ve been failing him every day since.

Johnny’s self-awareness of his own inadequacies—and that failure in particular—is driven, in part, by the fact that Robby trains with Daniel, Johnny’s childhood enemy—as though Robby were Daniel’s own son. Robby was hired by Daniel (who, as an adult, is a bit self-righteous) to work at his luxury car shop, LaRusso Auto Group, a job Robby sought for the sole purpose of angering his dad. But, at the time, Robby was involved with a bad crew, and they try to pressure him to be an accomplice in their scheme to steal a car from Daniel’s shop. But his loyalty to the kind-hearted Daniel and his family gives him the inner courage to resist the siren song of ill-gotten money.

It is clear that the pain of fatherlessness manifests across each of the characters’ lives, well beyond the initial moments of absence. Daniel visibly struggles to know what Mr. Miyagi, a man old enough to have been his grandfather, would do in any given situation, and to balance being sensei of “Miyagi-Do” with being a husband and father. Johnny has before him a vision of masculinity ordered toward faux machismo and domination for personal gain, courtesy of Kreese. That is why he couldn’t find it within himself to stick to his marriage and to the son it produced. The tragic result is that Robby seeks a father in Daniel, just as Johnny did with Kreese—initially out of spite for Johnny, but, thankfully, it’s a relationship that eventually blossoms into something mutually beneficial and healthy for them both, unlike the one between Johnny and Kreese.

Nonetheless and understandably, this pains Johnny greatly, and that leaves him vulnerable to the return of Kreese, who is a very bad influence both on him and his dojo.

Even so, Johnny remains open to growth. There is a moment when Miguel’s mother, after learning of the vendetta between Johnny and Daniel, candidly tells him: “The only way to end a rivalry is for someone to rise above it. You have to be the bigger man.” It’s advice to which he is receptive and, indeed, acts upon and stands by, even when Kreese mocks him for going “soft.” If only Johnny’s real father had been around to teach him that lesson before he became a 50-something, bitter drunkard, stewing over lost love and stolen glory!

The show revolves around the actions and reactions of various fatherless males, and it showcases the cyclical, generational harm generated by missing dads. It’s an eminently human portrayal of the costs of family breakdown, and the lengths to which young men will go to find their place in the world—a world that will stop at nothing to convince them that their own egoism, status, and pleasure are the only reliable barometers for right action. It’s men like Mr. Miyagi who break the cycle, even if not perfectly. Perhaps Johnny can finally do the same.

Fathers matter. We ignore this basic fact to our collective detriment. Good on “Cobra Kai” for telling its audience the truth.

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America • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • feminists • Post • the family • The Left

America Needs a True Family-First Movement

Last week, I wrote about the formulaic demise of Taylor Swift. Once a picture of feminine potential, she’s now little more than a piece of meat chewed up and spat out by the legal sex cartel that is show business. Her spark has been squashed, and she joins a legion of other blinking drones with vaginas, one among many damaged, washed up women who know only exploitation and resentment and replicate it unto oblivion.

Call it the wholesome-to-whore pipeline.

This particular, ritualistic desecration of feminine virtue in the public square is so repetitive and predictable, so real and so pernicious, it is a wonder that so-called conservative people don’t talk about it more seriously. And, no, it’s not simply that the Democrats want women to vote for their party.

Throughout history, women have been understood properly as potential targets and tools of subversion, precisely because of the softness of heart they generate in their men. It is literally the oldest story in the book: Satan went through Eve to Adam. And as a result, they lost Eden. Civilizational disintegration follows spiritual disorientation. Spiritual disorientation follows a rebellion against the natural order.

The subversion of the American woman has political consequences beyond those topics that fall under the umbrella of “women’s issues,” and this kind of political warfare certainly transcends the tired, false paradigm of Republican versus Democrat.

The global neoliberal cultural and financial regime relies on men being hopelessly driven by their appetites such that they remain isolated slaves to their debts and desires. Men consumed by their own pleasures are effeminate, self-obsessed, and neurotic—incapable of leading or defending the integrity of the family and the nation by extension. As such, women (gatekeepers and natural regulators of the highest of pleasures) are the ideal political target for those who seek to destroy a nation. Modern woman has been conditioned to be a weapon against herself, and by extension, against the men who love her.

As we careen toward a world of lonely lotus eaters, we can look to the subversion of women for answers to the questions: How did we get here? Where are we headed? And how do we reverse the tide?

Raising the Modern Woman
The indoctrination process begins early and starts by accessing a girl’s implicit desire to be doted upon. With their own mothers away in a wage cage, America’s daughters have for many years found role models in Hollywood’s mistresses. Over and over again, we watched our childhood idols lose their innocence and become the new queen of cool. Repetition leads internalization. Internalization leads to normalization.

Over time, immodesty and rebellion have become perfunctory rites of passage for the average American girl. The limelit girl-next-door paved a twisted path for the literal girl-next-door, and for most of us, the Miley Cyrus/Taylor Swift/Ariana Grande/Selena Gomez arc of destruction has become all too familiar.

And if you think that’s bad, you should see what your tween is following and posting on Snapchat. Seriously, have a look.

At the same time girls are groomed by the entertainment and fashion industries to view themselves as sex objects, they are indoctrinated to compete with boys—to outlearn and outearn their male counterparts. Growing up in modern America, we were saturated in several contradictory messages: that sex is no big deal, but that being sexy is ideal. Of course you should have all the sex you want, but the natural consequences of “unprotected” sex would, catastrophically, “ruin your life.” Babies get in the way of you beating the boys, they said. And besides, boys don’t even have the decency to stick around. Even if they did, look how stupid they are! You can’t rely on them. You can only dominate them.

The net result of this two-pronged approach is the masculinization of women. Women’s financial independence and liberation from sexual standard bearing are the twin sisters of female “empowerment,” and, ask any devout feminist, neither may thrive without their counterpart.

By demystifying virginity, we rob women of their unique role of sexual gatekeeping. By denigrating domesticity, we rob women of their unique role of childbearing and childrearing. When the sexual and labor markets are thus deregulated, we make ersatz men of women, and things fall apart.

So long as man can access sex virtually or in reality with little effort, and so long as the only person who relies on him is himself, he is trapped in an addictive cycle of pleasure-seeking. He is ruined. And hoes are mad.

Atomization and Demoralization
The masculinization of women serves an end that most Americans consider a self-evident good: independence! But as it pertains to love and romance, “independence” means only one thing: the mutual alienation of women and men. In other words, loneliness.

The most stable unit of organizing people is that which is most natural. Man and woman need each other. It is the perfect interdependence of the two that mutually grounds the bonded persons: woman becomes the reason for man’s striving while man becomes the source of woman’s security. The stability generated by a happy marriage creates the foundation upon which good children can be raised properly and humanity may thrive.

Alienation is demoralizing and, for everyone but the lonely, profitable. It doesn’t matter if they’re  frustrated by their inability to create and maintain romantic bonds or if they embrace the transient experiences available to them, the result is the same. Isolated individuals pay rents all their own, buy groceries all their own, and spend their disposable income on passive pleasures. Oriented toward momentary inclination rather than long-term goals—or better yet, eternity—the atomized and demoralized with their ever-aching longing make ideal consumers.

Institutionalizing Degeneracy
Over the past century, market forces working in tandem with the propaganda machine (but maintaining the illusion of independence from it) extracted the heart of the family from its hearth. The hollowness ensuing from motherless homes formed a vacuum not only in the soul of women, but in men and children, and in the spiritual center of society itself.

More recently, the most powerful cultural and financial elements in society have joined forces to fill that hole.

Over the past 10 years, we have seen the total fusion of this contra natura cultural agenda with corporate interests in what some have termed “woke capitalism.” The rotten fruit of women’s lib are too numerous to count, but chief among the putrid selection might be the advent of this new system. Is it any wonder that Generation X—the Baby Boomers’ kids, the first children of mothers and fathers to sacrifice their posterity on the altar of capital gains, the latchkey kids, the first generation to know en masse the ennui of a motherless home—inject a matronly moralism into their corporate policy?

They’re compensating.

Woke capitalism imposes a particular kind of gravity on the social order: Obey and consume, consume and obey. Just as the administrative state relies on absentee fathers in order to replace their function, woke capitalism relies on absentee mothers in order to replace their function. Daddy welfare will give you a check in exchange for your devotion. In exchange for your devotion, Mommy multinational corporation will tell you she loves you. Each entity is a pharmakon answer to brokenness in the family unit.

Revolt Against the Modern World
Men and women are each targeted by the subversive Left in ways unique to their condition. A valiant few on the mainstream Right have recently attempted to push back against the attack on traditional masculinity, but many more are mum about the attack on traditional femininity.

When women’s issues are brought up on mainstream conservative programming, it is usually related to the most recent grotesque and whorish display made a teen idol. The talking heads that respond to this type of thing are usually those women who have made Conservatism, Inc. their career. Their complaint is usually that media hypersexualization doesn’t empower women enough, or that it reduces the possibility of men treating them as equals. It’s the old anti-porn feminist’s take.

They aren’t wrong, but they’re missing the point. The approach that the establishment Right takes to feminism today is that the Left has simply taken liberation too far. But by implicitly accepting the baseline logical framework of the enemy, they have already lost the argument. More importantly, they have assumed a worldview that automatically leads to the very outcomes they seem to despise.

Women’s liberation in every iteration and at its core is an attack on the family. Accepting any element of the philosophy is a suicide mission. A cryptofeminist stance is not appropriate for a political party that pays any lip service to “family values.”

One foot in, one foot out is the stand of cuckolds who think women will like them better if they give them what they say they want. Or it’s the stand of mercenaries. So-called conservative men have sat by rather idly as, since the middle of the prior century, women were empowered by corporate America to chain themselves to a cubicle, take on more student loans than any other demographic, and nearly double the labor market, slicing real wages and making single-income households a near impossibility for working class people.

Corporate America, said to be represented by Republicans, supports modern woman’s right to choose infanticide, to send the daughter they decide not to murder to day care from six weeks to six years old, at which point she is enrolled in public school where Planned Parenthood can begin explaining to her the intricacies of anal sex and the importance of sterilizing oneself for the sake of career. It’s the beauty of the free market, said the Koch brothers. Hooray! Capitalism crushed the patriarchy, said the libertarians.

No more.

A family-first political movement must begin by rejecting the losing stances of its Republican predecessors. This means rejecting the sexual and economic sides of the feminist proposition. Of course, we should raise daughters who regard Cardi B as unworthy of imitation. This is obvious enough. But in addition, if we care more about our families than we do about disposable income, we should raise our daughters to prioritize family, not finances.

The nation needs virtuous wives and mothers, not wage slaves and managers. This probably means you rethink sending your daughters to college, where life is light on learning and heavy on hooking up. Or at least that you take more care in choosing one. She probably would be better served learning to read, write, and think on her own. This certainly means advising your daughters to avoid debt. Few things make women more unmarriageable than a lifetime of loan repayment.

This absolutely means that your wife (not a Guatemalan nanny, a state employee, or a TV) raises your kids. Her absence hurts your children over the long run, even if her paycheck feels good in the short term.

Above all, we must remind ourselves that degeneracy is not an inevitable way of life unless we are passive. We don’t have to be atomized or demoralized. Our daughters don’t have to be sterile. Our sons don’t have to be suicidal. We just need to recover our will to live.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Photo Credit: The Print Collector/Getty Images

Europe • Post • Progressivism • the family • The Left

Eugenics Returns

The horrific recrudescence of European eugenicists marches on like a storm trooper’s hob-nailed boot to crush the inherent beauty and dignity of human life upon the drab gray, pagan altar of their globalist ideology.

Defined as the “the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) [or by abortion] to improve the population’s genetic composition,” eugenics has a long and sordid history in Europe and, yes, in America. Many believed sane, humane minds had rejected this insidious delusion for perfecting humanity.

They didn’t understand the Left and its brutal compulsion coercively to seek the unattainable perfection of humanity, whether humans wanted it or not.

In the recent past, we examined Iceland’s repugnant boast that it was nearing its goal of eradicating Down syndrome by aborting unborn children who may have the genetic marker for it. In this “voluntary” effort, the government not so subtly brings cultural and societal pressures to bear upon the pregnant mother to induce the abortion of her “afflicted” unborn child. The insidious argument preys upon the maternal instinct by alleging the child is better off not being born than he or she is being born and living with Down syndrome. Given its “progress,” Iceland nevertheless remains mum on what other syndromes or traits might next justify a death sentence for unborn children.

Yet Iceland is not the only European government that describes killing unborn children as a virtuous necessity for “the common good.”

The Catholic News Agency on Friday reported: “A British judge has authorized doctors to perform an abortion on a pregnant Catholic woman with developmental disabilities and a mood disorder, despite the objections of the woman’s mother and the woman herself.”

The case came about because the 22 weeks pregnant woman, believed to be in her 20s, was under the care of the NHS trust, which is a part of the UK’s National Health Service, due to her aforementioned disabilities. The NHS trust’s doctors argued the woman should have an abortion. The pregnant woman, her mother—a practicing Catholic opposed to abortion who has said she would care for her grandchild—and the woman’s social worker all vehemently objected. Consequently, the matter wound up in the Court of Protection that “handles cases involving individuals judged to lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.”

In court, the NHS trust’s doctors claimed: “the abortion would be less traumatic for the woman than giving birth, especially if the baby would then be placed in foster care.” This ghoulish argument is ridiculous on its face because it holds that the pregnant mother would be more traumatized by having her child raised by her mother or by giving her child up for adoption than she would by being forcibly dragged into an abortion mill and having her unborn child killed. (How the unborn child would feel about it was never an issue for these “experts.”)

Despicably, these doctors’ claims received a sympathetic hearing from a judge who is no doubt a fan of Buck v. Bell and the ironically titled “Justice” Nathalie Lieven.

In siding with the doctors and against the pregnant woman, her mother, and her social worker, the judge didn’t admit her decision was tantamount to the involuntary sterilization of the pregnant woman and a governmental decree for the execution of an innocent human life.

No, Justice Lieven stated her decision to kill the unborn child was one grounded in compassion for the pregnant woman: “I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the State to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn’t want it is an immense intrusion [but] I have to operate in [her] best interests.”

And what are her “best interests”?

Having casually dismissed the woman’s mother’s offer to raise the unborn child as not practicable due to her daughter’s disabilities, Justice Lieven decreed: “I think [the woman] would suffer greater trauma from having a baby removed” [from her care], because “it would at that stage be a real baby.”

Clarifying—and compounding her execrable decision—Justice Lieven alleged the woman’s pregnancy “although real to [her], doesn’t have a baby outside her body she can touch.”

Evidently, Justice Lieven has never felt or has forgotten how unborn children kick inside the womb or how others have placed a hand on the stomach of an expectant mother and felt this kick.

But what can one expect from this “justice” who, prior to reaching the bench, represented the British Pregnancy Advisory Service—an Orwellian name for an abortion provider—and argued British women should be able to have abortions at home rather than a hospital?

What can one expect from this “justice” who, prior to reaching the bench, argued restrictions in “Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were a violation of the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act” and claimed they were “akin to torture.”

Yes, what can one expect from this “justice” who now feels her eugenicist decree that a pregnant woman must endure a forced abortion and de facto sterilization is compassionate—and, of course, for the common good?

Nothing good. Pray for Europe.

Photo Credit: Xavier Serrano/EyeEm/Getty Images

feminists • Identity Politics • Post • The Culture • the family • The Left

The Diminishing Dad

As the man hastily parked his car in the parking lot on an early spring morning, the sun was not yet peeking out from behind the clouds. The grey-haired father shoved his keys into his pocket and rushed down the hospital corridor, anxious to see his daughter and his infant grandson. Word had come to him that the newest member of his family had joined them sometime in the wee hours of that morning.

The man rapped softly on the door of his daughter’s room and then entered quietly after hearing no reply. In shock, he viewed an empty room—no baby bassinet, no awaiting mother in the bed, the lights completely off. It was at that moment he feared the worst, his thoughts not even nameable.

His daughter, not expecting such an early visitor, was enjoying her first shower since giving birth. She put on a clean gown and opened the door from the bathroom, eager to climb back into bed, when the welcome sight of her father greeted her. The anxiety on his face was palpable, expressing both joy at seeing her and tentative questioning about the baby. She laughed and reassured him that his grandson would be along shortly from the nurse’s station, where they were administering some care while she bathed.

Nearly a quarter-century later, he still speaks of those panicked moments and how relieved he felt upon seeing his daughter. She listens to the story every time it’s told, basking in the warm glow of love and appreciation emanating from her Dad. It is a tender testimony to the nature of fatherhood, one of many such examples she cherishes in her heart. This man, her dad, became her chauffeur, English tutor, religious instructor, sparring partner in a debate or a discussion, respected advisor, and, finally, as an adult, a bosom friend.

In an age when the topic of toxic masculinity is more likely to dominate conversations than acknowledgments of such tenderness, we wonder what will become of this day when we gather together to celebrate fathers. There are natural questions we ask ourselves: as citizens of a “woke” culture, are we even allowed to recognize fathers as something noble and distinct? Doesn’t that suggest a (reasonable, rational) assumption of gender, and assign a unique value to it? If we recognize fathers, for what can say we recognize them? Surely we can’t pay homage to the typical male characteristics of yore?

We now celebrate the hipster, with his ratty corduroy jacket and skinny jeans who knows his barista by name, but not the man wearing dirty, worn work clothes bearing grime on his face at the end of the day. We laud the man standing behind the woman (hear her roar), but not the one taking seriously his responsibility to lead and protect his family. We honor the open-minded beta male who seeks the journey, but never the alpha who rests in the truth. We have turned traditional American culture and the values of Western Civilization upside down!

If the underpinnings and history of the true, good, free American life have been Judeo-Christian values and beliefs, the family has been the method to impute those values to future generations. It is, after all, the family that has reinforced, taught and encouraged the belief and practices of those mores. What better way, then, to demolish the great and proud nation of America then by dismantling her foundation, one block at a time?

At the center of this effort, we find an attack on the cornerstone of the family: fatherhood. Consider the words of Linda Gordon, a well-known feminist, who says, “The nuclear family must be destroyed . . . Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process.” Toxic masculinity is under attack from toxic feminism!

What if the nuclear family is being destroyed by making society hate what has been the typical fatherhood role? What if the traditional admirable traits of strength, rationality, responsibility, protection, generosity, decision-making, and leadership are decried as woman-hating? What if we effeminize our boys to the point that we reduce or eliminate such characteristics?

But try this one on for size: God created fathers to be unique, with special attributes and responsibilities. And those strengths, when used appropriately and to good ends, create more harmonious families, children more rooted and grounded in Truth, and they further enhance the peace of society.

A disclaimer—which now must always follow statements such as those, in order to protect the author from oversensitivity on the part of . . . well, anyone, really: the author believes women can be most things, that women have special gifts and abilities, that women are equal in worth to men in terms of their rights and responsibilities, that women are not doormats, nor should they be treated or used as powerless human beings.

Nevertheless, fathers are not mothers—and both fathers and mothers have their individual, sometimes overlapping, roles. But it is precisely the role of fatherhood in its truest and best form that we gather together today to honor.

For the father who turns into his bed at night, weary with the day’s work and its responsibilities and cares, who utters soundless prayers throughout the day, beseeching his Creator for patience, wisdom and strength; for the one who silently wipes tears away from his eyes while watching a son graduate, a daughter curtsy on a stage, or a child walk down the aisle, you are not unwatched nor unappreciated.

For the man who has had to play the role of mother and father, your efforts will not go unrewarded. For the dad who sacrifices so that his family may prosper in innumerable ways, those littlest of eyes are on you, absorbing and learning your unspoken lessons. For the one who teaches a youngster how to use a hammer or a thesaurus, or how to change the oil in her car, those lessons take root and shoot, teaching far more than the skills themselves.

If you didn’t have a wonderful father, if you haven’t been the best one yourself, know that some of the richest things in life are forgiveness, mercy, and sometimes even forgetfulness. After all, some of the most difficult and painful lessons in life teach us the most valuable lessons. And sometimes we must also remind ourselves that not all broken fences should be mended.

So today we honor fatherhood. We nod to the humor of a whole classification of men for whom an order of jokes is named (“Dad, I’m hungry.” “Hi, Hungry, I’m Dad.”). We banish thoughts of toxic masculinity and, instead, praise the good in our fathers and the men who fathered our children. After all, they deserve a day.

Photo credit: Getty Images

feminists • Identity Politics • Post • Progressivism • the family • The Left

Are We Overdoing Father’s Day?

Like most American households, mine carries on all of the old-time Father’s Day traditions. Last weekend, we put up the Father’s Day tree. We’ve bought the fireworks, inflated the outdoor decorations; and we’ve laid out the decorative “Father’s Day Village” with the electric racetrack which runs between the sporting goods and the hardware stores.

We watch the Father’s Day TV specials, too. We love the old animated classics, like “Rude Al, The Red-Nosed Daddy,” and “The Grinch Who Caught The Punk Who Tried To Steal Father’s Day, And Thrashed Him Within An Inch of His Miserable Life.”

And who doesn’t love the Very Special Father’s Day episodes of our favorite sitcoms? You know, the holiday episodes in which Dad is predictably right about life issues, and his children grow into newfound respect for his wisdom, while his adoring wife reserves her withering sarcasm for his critics instead of offering it to her husband?

Most of all, though, we enjoy the traditional Father’s Day carols. We’ll revisit those shortly.

But are we perhaps, as a nation, overdoing Father’s Day? Overemphasizing old Dad, in an era when society may have evolved different priorities than our foreparents had, when establishing this festival in prehistoric 1972?

Our anachronistic Father’s Day celebration even interrupts the month long celebration of “Partisan Rainbows Insidiously Displayed Everywhere.” (Or is it “Preferences Recklessly Indulged, Demanding Exaltation”? I always forget.)

Anyway, like a feast day falling in the middle of Lent, Father’s Day—archaic though it may now be—is a chance to indulge in the forbidden for a bit. It’s wonderful to have license, if only briefly, to publicly celebrate an identity scandalously grounded in solid biological reality and adherence to masculine duty.

So amidst the hectic holiday season, in-between the frantic searches for the perfect Dad gifts of just the right vintage or caliber, take a minute to remember the true meaning of this great American holiday. And before you go on with your day, take a moment to really ponder the ancient, traditional lyrics, in a couple of those beloved carols for dear old Dad.

Feckless Thralls
Feckless thralls, of social justice
(Daddy daddy da, da da da da!)
You have failed to readjust us—
(Daddy daddy da, da da da da!)
Scorn we now, your gay malarkey—
(Daddy da, daddy da, da da da!)
Celebrate the patriarchy!
(Daddy daddy da da, da da da da!)

It Became, at Middle Age, Quite Clear
It’s come, again, that time of year
When Dads we bring to mind—
Who did that het’rosexual thing,
Which perpetuates mankind!
Then stepped up to overwhelming
And did their durndest, day by day,
To raise their families!

But lo, what Dadhood really means!
A lesson which cannot be learned
By youngsters, ‘til the times come round
When suddenly, it’s their turn!
And oh, how very smugly then
Will ancient grandpas smirk:
“Yeah, now you’ll learn what you put me through—
Man up, and get to work!”

O Little Frown
O, little frown on Daddy’s face—
What thoughts dost thou portend?
We’d hate to overlook concerns,
From you, wisest of men.
Hush, women, kids, and all those
Whose beards are not as grey,
And hear what our paterfamilias
Has got to say.

Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images

Post • The Culture • the family

A Father’s Day Salute – My Dad’s Left Hand

My 92-year-old dad’s left hand is, for lack of a better term, messed up. It didn’t develop properly in the womb. It’s an oval-shaped thing with small, dangly, non-working nubs.

I have never considered him handicapped. I’d guess the same is true of most kids whose parents were in some manner not physically “right.”

He was a great athlete in his youth. He’s also a pretty dang good carpenter, plumber, electrician, mechanic, horseman, farrier, farmer, rancher, hunter, and fisherman. And yes, he can do all of those things better than I can, even with my two working hands.

Dad’s birth defect—yes that’s what it is, it isn’t supposed to be like that—has absolutely no bearing on his moral standing as a human being. He is not somehow morally “less” simply because a hand didn’t develop as designed. His hand is both natural—it occurred, didn’t it?—and unnatural—that isn’t how a hand is supposed to be—at the same time.

But in no way is he morally inferior because of this reality. He is not defined by his left hand. It is an aspect of him, but only one among countless others, and not a very important one, either. I suppose people could use his left hand as the sole means to define him but that would be silly.

Each of us is like a multifaceted cut diamond with hundreds and hundreds of aspects. As free individuals each of us can choose which aspects of a person are of most importance and judge and discriminate for or against them accordingly. Not everyone is my cup-of-tea and I am certain I’m not all that for many others.

I think of this when I see my college buddy’s 30-year-old son who developed a serious brain malfunction a decade ago. He visits his personal hell on an almost constant basis. It is heartbreaking to see. But he simply has a brain issue. Just like my dad’s left hand, his brain didn’t develop exactly as designed. It is again both natural and unnatural but in no way is he morally inferior; he is not “less” in any way.

I think of this when I see a friend’s autistic child. He is not morally defective; he simply got dealt a crappy hand in the development of his brain. Natural and unnatural at the same time.

And I’ve been thinking about this as I read about the growing movement to more fully accept those whose sexual traits exist outside the norm. Although many in these movements don’t want to accept this truth, their sexual preferences are both natural and unnatural at the same time. But this does not make them morally inferior. Not morally defective. Just different on one aspect of the hundreds that make us who we are.

Each of us has unnatural aspects. Some are small and some are large. Some are hidden and some stand out. But each of us is so much more than these quite natural differences. Each individual is a cornucopia of traits. Some we might like and some we might not. We can choose our friends and shun others based on a single trait or the collection of the whole.

My dad is not defined by his left hand. We don’t need to celebrate his left hand, simply accept it for what it is; a very small and not very important part of a much larger mosaic. And I am dang lucky to have him as my dad.

Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images

Post • Religion and Society • The Culture • the family • The Left

Why So Many Mass Shootings? Ask the Right Questions and You Might Find Out

This past weekend, Americans learned of another mass shooting, this time by an employee who decided to murder as many of the people he had worked with for years as possible. As of this writing, the murder toll is 12 people.

Every American asks why. What was the killer’s motive? When we read there is “no known motive,” we are frustrated. Human beings want to make sense of life, especially of evil.

Liberals (in this regard, liberals’ views are essentially as the same as leftists’) are virtually united in ascribing these shootings to guns. Just this past weekend, in a speech in Brazil, former President Barack Obama told an audience:

“Our gun laws in the United States don’t make much sense. Anybody can buy any weapon any time—without much, if any, regulation. They can buy (guns) over the internet. They can buy machine guns.”

That the former president fabricated a series of falsehoods about the United States—and maligned, on foreign soil, the country that twice elected him president—speaks to his character and to the character of the American news media that have been completely silent about these falsehoods. But the main point here is that, like other liberals and leftists, when Obama addresses the subject of mass shootings—in Brazil, he had been talking about the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012—he talks about guns.

Yet, America had plenty of guns when its mass murder rate was much lower. Grant Duwe, a Ph.D. in criminology and director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, gathered data going back 100 years in his 2007 book, “Mass Murder in the United States: A History.”

Duwe’s data reveal:

In the 20th century, every decade before the 1970s had fewer than 10 mass public shootings. In the 1950s, for example, there was one mass shooting. And then a steep rise began. In the 1960s, there were six mass shootings. In the 1970s, the number rose to 13. In the 1980s, the number increased 2 1/2 times, to 32. And it rose again in the 1990s, to 42. As for this century, The New York Times reported in 2014 that, according to the FBI, “Mass shootings have risen drastically in the past half-dozen years.”

Given the same ubiquity of guns, wouldn’t the most productive question be what, if anything, has changed since the 1960s and ’70s? Of course it would. And a great deal has changed. America is much more ethnically diverse, much less religious. Boys have far fewer male role models in their lives. Fewer men marry, and normal boy behavior is largely held in contempt by their feminist teachers, principals and therapists. Do any or all of those factors matter more than the availability of guns?

Let’s briefly investigate each factor.

Regarding ethnic diversity, the countries that not only have the fewest mass murders but the lowest homicide rates as well are the least ethnically diverse—such as Japan and nearly all European countries. So, too, the American states that have homicide rates as low as Western European countries are the least ethnically and racially diverse (the four lowest are New Hampshire, North Dakota, Maine and Idaho). Now, America, being the most ethnically and racially diverse country in the world, could still have low homicide rates if a) Americans were Americanized, but the left has hyphenated—Balkanized, if you will—Americans, and b) most black males grew up with fathers.

Regarding religiosity, the left welcomes—indeed, seeks—the end of Christianity in America (though not of Islam, whose robustness it fosters). Why don’t we ask a simple question: What percentage of American murderers attend church each week?

Regarding boys’ need for fathers, in 2008, then-Sen. Obama told an audience: “Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools; and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.”

Yet, the Times has published columns and “studies” showing how relatively unimportant fathers are, and more and more educated women believe this dangerous nonsense.

Then there is marriage: Nearly all men who murder are single. And their number is increasing.

Finally, since the 1960s, we have been living in a culture of grievance. Whereas in the past people generally understood that life is hard and/or they have to work on themselves to improve their lives, for half a century, the left has drummed into Americans’ minds the belief that their difficulties are caused by American society—in particular, its sexism, racism and patriarchy. And the more aggrieved people are the more dulled their consciences.

When you don’t ask intelligent questions, you cannot come up with intelligent answers. So, then, with regard to murder in America, until Americans stop allowing the left to ask the questions, we will have no intelligent answers.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


America • Cultural Marxism • Hollywood • Post • Pro-Life • The Culture • the family

Let’s See If Netflix and Disney Really Mean It

Pity the poor actors and production companies that have discovered a need in conscience not to film in Georgia because of its new abortion restrictions. Presumably they won’t film in any state that restricts abortion—so not just Georgia, which has a burgeoning film industry because of tax incentives—but also Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, which have all recently passed “heartbeat laws.” And –no!—not Louisiana! No more filming in the French Quarter or on the bayou? This is sacrifice indeed.

Netflix voluntarily complies with Saudi and Iranian censorship, and accepts content filmed in Egypt, which bans abortion entirely. Disney has a theme park in China in spite of its gulag and other blatant human rights violations. So one wonders at this newfound studio squeamishness at complying with local laws. It seems only to be in America, against American citizens, that the Silicon Curtain descends to bully the local populace about what it may say and think, who it may read, and which laws it may enact. Perhaps it is merely democratic enactment by free people that is the objection?

No matter. The rights of conscience must be respected, so I look forward to the brave Hollywood boycott of the Cannes film festival next year (too late for 2019), since France bans abortion after 10 weeks.

And I expect there will be no more films set in the major European capitals, or on the Riviera, or in the Alps, or exotic Morocco, or most of South America, or anywhere in the Middle East or Africa. Most of the world restricts abortion after the first trimester. Even Sweden, with one of Europe’s most liberal abortion laws, bans abortion after 18 weeks.

If you will only film in places where abortion on demand for any reason for all nine months is permitted, you’re restricting the industry largely to the anglosphere: Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and certain parts of the United States and Australia. (What is this thing Anglo countries have for abortion do you suppose?) Sorry, actors of color who want more great parts and more diverse stories told: “on location” from now on means mostly New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, and  Sydney. And Beijing, of course—a welcome exception to the coming studio boycott of practically the whole non-Anglo world.

P.S. Abortion is legal only in the first trimester in Switzerland. Should anyone be going to Davos?

Photo credit:  Mario Tama/Getty Images

America • History • Post • The Culture • the family

Our Modern ‘Satyricon’

Sometime around A.D. 60, in the age of Emperor Nero, a Roman court insider named Gaius Petronius wrote a satirical Latin novel, “The Satyricon,” about moral corruption in Imperial Rome. The novel’s general landscape was Rome’s transition from an agrarian republic to a globalized multicultural superpower.

The novel survives only in a series of extended fragments. But there are enough chapters for critics to agree that the high-living Petronius, nicknamed the “Judge of Elegance,” was a brilliant cynic. He often mocked the cultural consequences of the sudden and disruptive influx of money and strangers from elsewhere in the Mediterranean region into a once-traditional Roman society.

The novel plots the wandering odyssey of three lazy, overeducated and mostly underemployed single young Greeks: Encolpius, Ascyltos and Giton. They aimlessly mosey around southern Italy. They panhandle and mooch off the nouveau riche. They mock traditional Roman customs. The three and their friends live it up amid the culinary, cultural and sexual excesses in the age of Nero.

Certain themes in “The Satyricon” are timeless and still resonate today.

The abrupt transition from a society of rural homesteaders into metropolitan coastal hubs had created two Romes. One world was a sophisticated and cosmopolitan network of traders, schemers, investors, academics and deep-state imperial cronies. Their seaside corridors were not so much Roman as Mediterranean. And they saw themselves more as “citizens of the world” than as mere Roman citizens.

In the novel, vast, unprecedented wealth had produced license. On-the-make urbanites suck up and flatter the childless rich in hopes of being given estates rather than earning their own money.

The rich in turn exploit the young sexually and emotionally by offering them false hopes of landing an inheritance.

Petronius seems to mock the very world in which he indulged.

His novel’s accepted norms are pornography, gratuitous violence, sexual promiscuity, transgenderism, delayed marriage, childlessness, fear of aging, homelessness, social climbing, ostentatious materialism, prolonged adolescence, and scamming and conning in lieu of working.

The characters are fixated on expensive fashion, exotic foods and pretentious name-dropping. They are the lucky inheritors of a dynamic Roman infrastructure that had globalized three continents. Rome had incorporated the shores of the Mediterranean under uniform law, science, institutions—all kept in check by Roman bureaucracy and the overwhelming power of the legions, many of them populated by non-Romans.

Never in the history of civilization had a generation become so wealthy and leisured, so eager to gratify every conceivable appetite—and yet so bored and unhappy.

But there was also a second Rome in the shadows. Occasionally the hipster antiheroes of the novel bump into old-fashioned rustics, shopkeepers and legionaries. They are what we might now call the ridiculed “deplorables” and “clingers.”

Even Petronius suggests that these rougher sorts built and maintained the vast Roman Empire. They are caricatured as bumpkins and yet admired as simple, sturdy folk without the pretensions and decadence of the novel’s urban drones.

Petronius is too skilled a satirist to paint a black-and-white picture of good old traditional Romans versus their corrupt urban successors. His point is subtler.

Globalization had enriched and united non-Romans into a world culture. That was an admirable feat. But such homogenization also attenuated the very customs, traditions and values that had led to such astounding Roman success in the first place.

The multiculturalism, urbanism and cosmopolitanism of “The Satyricon” reflected an exciting Roman mishmash of diverse languages, habits and lifestyles drawn from northern and Western Europe, Asia and Africa.

But the new empire also diluted a noble and unique Roman agrarianism. It eroded nationalism and patriotism. The empire’s wealth, size and lack of cohesion ultimately diminished Roman unity, as well as traditional marriage, child-bearing and autonomy.

Education likewise was seen as ambiguous. In the novel, wide reading ensures erudition and sophistication, and helps science supplant superstition. But sometimes education is also ambiguous. Students become idle, pretentious loafers. Professors are no different from loud pedants. Writers are trite and boring. Elite pundits sound like gasbags.

Petronius seems to imply that whatever the Rome of his time was, it was likely not sustainable—but would at least be quite exciting in its splendid decline.

Petronius also argues that with too much rapid material progress comes moral regress. His final warning might be especially troubling for the current generation of Western Europeans and Americans. Even as we brag of globalizing the world and enriching the West materially and culturally, we are losing our soul in the process.

Getting married, raising families, staying in one place, still working with our hands and postponing gratification may be seen as boring and out of date. But nearly 2,000 years later, all of that is what still keeps civilization alive.

Photo Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images


America • Post • The Culture • the family

Her Children Will Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

<When I was young and brash and full of dreams for the future (and in the process of making them come true), had anyone told me I would embrace motherhood joyfully, I would have scoffed. Could someone have enumerated the various episodes of vomit, crying, screaming, temper tantrums, refusals, Legos on the floor, suspect dried items of unknown origin stuck to the wall, load upon load of laundry, fatigue, and the acquisition of enough marks on my body that it resembles a world map, I would have turned up my nose and stormed away.

What is astonishing to me is the incredible joy and humor and depth to be found in such seeming banality. How when you feel the soft slump of a newborn melt into your chest, it is to brush up against the sublime.

Somehow, in these moments, you are finally in touch with a love so intense that you could not have imagined it existed. Somehow, when you hear childish peals of laughter after you blow raspberries on a chubby toddler stomach, your delight surpasses all other forms you have experienced. Somehow when you watch your first child walk out your front door for the last time, you will weep with the loss of that presence, that you will endure a period of grief as you bid adieu to the years of hard work and wish them back to do again, a little better this time, and you will bear witness to sadness as you contemplate your household one person quieter.

The magic of motherhood is found in the unique ability to kiss a boo boo and banish its pain, to comfort a child both from a bully and a broken heart, to cheer on a luckless child from yet another boring sideline for some unending sports event, to exchange a worldly identity which was once so important for the title “Johnny’s mom.”

If you’ve known the pain of childbirth—not the coming-into-the-world-kind, but the slammed door, snarky response, rolled eyes, and expression of disapproval kind—you are a mother.

If you have endured the stuttering, stammering first attempts as a small reader sits tucked next to you, you’re a mother.

If you have watched in dismay as a treasure trove of worms and bugs and rocks gets dumped triumphantly on a clean counter in an excited attempt to show you some precious thing collected that day, you are a mother.

If you sat up late at night, waiting for the slam of the front door that shakes the house, announcing the safe arrival of a new driver, you are a mother.

You might be a mother if, like Susanna Wesley coping with her large litter of children, you feel like dropping to your knees in the middle of the day and throwing an apron over your head in fervent prayer—even if it is only to pray that you are not tempted to hurt one of them. You might be a mother if, like Erma Bombeck, you declared emphatically each child your favorite and gave them each the reasons why. You might be a mother if, like yours and mine, they put up with us and our attitudes and our rebellion and self-made emergencies, and they loved us anyway.

If you have felt your knees go weak and dropped to them only to feel fat toddler arms encircle your neck in a hug and have marveled at the downy soft hair against your cheek, you are a mother.

If you stayed the desire to run after your children and cover their ears and their eyes with what the world would tell them and show them, you are a mother.

If you have cracked open a book, scanned online articles, called respected friends to search for advice on how to handle a troubling issue with a child, you are a mother.

If you have laughed so hard you cried when you really should have been angry at the little one for some transgression committed, you are a mother.

If worry could generate power like an electric plant, mothers could power the world.

If pride in our offspring could fill a space, the universe would have no voids.

If love could be felt as tangibly as our teenagers’ disapproval in our presence at times, we would have world peace.

If you’ve stood sentry at a too-small grave, clutching a handful of flowers, and still grieve for a life and possibilities lost . . . if you have had a lion’s share of time sitting beside a hospital bed in a pediatric unit, wishing that it was you instead of her . . . if you have been jealous for “normal” problems for your child instead of those granted to him . . . you are one of the most special kinds of mothers.

If you’ve known the dual pain and pleasure of watching a child cross a stage in a cap and gown and felt the excitement at the future and the sorrow at the years past, you know keenly what it is to be a mother.

If you’ve laughed at the remembrance of a too-bold proclamation uttered at an uninformed time (“My child would never . . . ”) and have found that a God who has a delightful sense of humor has taught you a lesson or two or three about such egoism, you are now a better mother.

If you’ve apologized after you lost your temper because your child just can’t seem to remember where to put her shoes away, or how to turn the lights off, or what time you told him to be home, you might be a wiser mother.

If you’ve thanked God for the painful mirror that is known as “Motherhood” that teaches so many necessary and useful lessons, you might be a more humble mother.

As we gaze back through our lives and relish memories of times gone by, it is easy to remember the grubby fists bringing handfuls of yellow dandelions for the most precious bouquet ever received. With tears, we recall the ghost of a child’s grin that shines through the spaces in his mouth where baby teeth have gone and adult ones haven’t yet been received. We smile with the remembrance of a phone call issued for the sole purpose of saying “I love you, Mom.” The memories flood, and we savor those veritable monuments to times past. Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who recognizes “Mother” as not just a job description but, rather, an explanation of who we are.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

America • civic culture/friendship • Conservatives • feminists • Post • Pro-Life • Religion and Society • The Culture • the family

‘Unplanned’ and the Effective Arsenal of Life

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One thing you can say about “Unplanned” is that it is ambitious. The film tops “Gosnell” in forcing the audience to confront the true nature of a legal abortion in a sanctioned clinic.

Even given the advanced medical equipment and sterile conditions, the true nature of an abortion horrifies. But that isn’t the point of the movie.

Although it’s hard to imagine anyone short of a hardcore zealot making it through the entire film with his pro-choice beliefs intact, the intended audience of “Unplanned” does not appear to be the pro-choice crowd. The movie seems more to be directed at turning existing pro-life opinion into effective action.

The film’s critical scene depicts the contrast between two kinds of pro-life responses. On one side are grandstanding protesters screaming at women as they walk into a clinic. As the demonstrators bombard these pregnant women with accusations of promiscuity and murder, this moves moves the sympathy needle toward the volunteers protecting their patients as they scurry into the clinic.

A contrasting group of protesters employ the tools Jesus taught: Love, forgiveness, understanding, and prayer. They calmly entreat the abortion-seeking women just to talk to them, tell them their story. They offer help through counseling and adoption services. They offer understanding and forgiveness to women who have made mistakes but who can still be reached through the healing redemption of divine forgiveness.

The movie retells the story of a former director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic named Abby Johnson. As the plot unfolds, Abby begins to interact with the gentler protesters. They learn each other’s names and the protesters inexplicably offer her smiles and encouragement, even congratulating her on a promotion. At one point, Abby lashes out at them with a political speech about reproductive rights. Abby is shocked to learn that the protesters have an intellectual argument, not just a faith-based one, that leaves her speechless.

Little by little, the people in Abby’s environment encourage her to take a different path. Abby resists, seeing them as misguided. She feels irrevocably committed to the abortion rights cause because of her personal history with abortion. Her husband, an earnest pro-lifer, swallows his personal distaste for her chosen career and nevertheless showers her with love and support.  

As Abby rises through the Planned Parenthood hierarchy, she begins to realize that some of her assumptions about the morality of Planned Parenthood’s work just aren’t true. The core focus of Planned Parenthood is not birth control or prenatal counseling. The money that pays her salary comes from abortion and she’s trained to sell abortions as a product. Planned Parenthood purposely expands operations to accommodate later and later abortions beyond Abby’s red line of fetal viability.

She also learns that the clinic is actually an assembly line or, rather, a disassembly line for abortion. When one patient has complications due to the negligence of the performing doctor, Abby is forbidden from calling an ambulance to aid the woman because it might open up the clinic to public criticism.

Early on, Abby delivers her sales pitch to reluctant customers, reassuring them that the fetus growing inside of them is incapable of feeling pain. But when she’s forced to watch a procedure on a sonogram, she realizes this is a lie. The unborn baby clearly reacts in pain and attempts to flee the vacuum hose. “They all do that,” the performing doctor quips in response to her shock.

When Abby does switch sides, Planned Parenthood sends an army of lawyers to silence her.  Abby successfully defeated these efforts in court with the help of a plucky attorney’s pro bono work. Abby’s experience calls to mind the use of a prosecutor to retaliate against Project Veritas when it recorded a video of Planned Parenthood openly discussing selling the remains of aborted fetuses. While it is a felony to sell human tissue, that’s not the crime that got prosecuted. Instead a pro-abortion prosecutor exacted vengeance on behalf of Planned Parenthood to deter future abortion-rights dissenters from exposing the ghoulish trade to public scrutiny.

While watching “Unplanned,” tears of impotent rage wet the viewer’s cheeks. But the story of “Unplanned” demonstrates clearly that the monstrousness of abortion cannot be conquered with anger or violence. The key success of the pro-life group depicted in the movie is to offer the women in crisis a choice. The abortion industry thrives on women motivated by shame and fear over their pregnancies. Offer forgiveness and support to those women and you take away Planned Parenthood’s most powerful marketing device.

At the end of the movie, the creators display a written message with instructions to abortion workers about how to get assistance if they decide to quit their jobs. The pro-life activists promise help with job placement and support. And yes, prayers do work. Near the end, when Abby joins the protesters, one of them expresses doubt that all of their prayers end up doing anything. Abby gives them a priceless insight: When potential patients saw people praying outside the clinic, the no-show rates would skyrocket.

For a pro-life activist awakened to abortion’s gruesome nature, it must feel impossible to show love and forgiveness towards the abortion practitioners and the women who hire them. Yet, if you are called to take action against abortion, this is what “Unplanned” challenges you to do. The awakening of Abby Johnson is an invaluable victory for the pro-life cause and the story of “Unplanned” is a study of the tools proven effective to replicate this victory. Prayer and love worked on Abby and they remain the most effective weapon in the arsenal of life.

America • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Post • The Culture • the family

Your Family Can Save Our Civilization

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Let me ask you a personal question: Why do you believe what you believe? Why? From where did you derive your values as a human being?

In my case, there was an amazing, very strict Latin teacher at school who I think helped me internalize some of my values. Everybody has mentors, of course, or one hopes everyone may be so blessed. But for the majority of human beings who have ever lived on God’s green Earth, their values come from their parents. It’s incontrovertible. Parents are our primary role models. And for men, you always—always—try to live up to your father’s example. For me, that was very, very hard.

My parents were children under when the fascists took over Hungary during World War II. After the war, my father was persecuted, tortured, and imprisoned for life by the age of 20 by the Communist regime that replaced the fascists. My mother and father escaped to the West during the Hungarian Revolution, after my father was liberated from a political prison.

I can trace back to a single moment in time when I understood the core values I inherited from my father. I was on holiday with my parents as a child in France, my father came out of the ocean—he was a great athlete, he was on the national crew team before the secret police arrested him, and he loved to swim. As father came out of the ocean I noticed for the first time in my life the heavy white lines on his wrist, and, I knew that he was too young to be wrinkled at his wrists. So, I said, “Dad, what’s that?” And, without skipping a beat, totally unemotional, he replied: “Well son, that’s where the secret police bound my wrists together with wire behind my back so they could hang me from the ceiling of the torture chamber.” That’s when my life changed forever.

That’s when I understood the value of freedom, I understood what human dignity is, and for the rest of my life, I understood why the truth matters. And that is the essence of our civilization. It is a civilization to which both Hungary and America are a party— our shared Judeo-Christian civilization. We are proud of being part of that civilization.

The most important speech our president has given since his inauguration as the 45th commander-in-chief was the speech that he gave in Warsaw. If you are not familiar with the Warsaw speech, read it. Watch the president’s presentation. At the time we told the Polish government, “We don’t want him downtown, in some lovely palace, giving the speech. We want him standing right next to the statue of the Warsaw Uprising. The memorialization of those brave men and women who stood up to dictatorship.” Finally, they agreed and that’s where he gave the speech.

A key part of that speech is where the president asked a question. He asks the only question that matters right now, which is: “Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it” That is the question. What are the core values of that civilization?

On my national radio show, America First, I did an hour-long interview with Os Guinness that we will be airing on this Friday. I wish I had days and days to interview him, a true champion for Truth and Western Civilization. I asked him, “What is the essence of our civilization—the Judeo-Christian civilization?” And he answered, “Three things: number one, dignity, number two, freedom, number three, justice.” What do these words mean and where does their content come from?

First, dignity. We have dignity not because a government deigns to give us dignity. And we don’t have dignity simply because we’re the most intelligent animal. We have dignity because, as the Bible tells us, we are made in the image of our God. There is a reason that the founding document of this great nation has the word “Creator” with a capital-C in it. All of this garbage about the founders being deists—oh really? Read what they wrote. Listen to what they said. They were Christians and they believed that our unalienable rights came because we are made in the image of our Creator.

Second, freedom. But, what kind of freedom? I’m a Catholic and I like to quote St. John Paul, when he gave his incredible speech in Poland during the Cold War—he was one of the key actors who brought down the Iron Curtain, along with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The Pope said, “Freedom is not the freedom to buy Playboy. Freedom is having the choice to do what you ought to do.” That’s where the quality of freedom comes from.

Judeo-Christian civilization believes that true freedom, the true realization of Man’s worth, his value, his objective essence is when you are given freely the choice to decide by your God, and you use that power to do the right thing—which is rarely the easy thing. Ask any parent and you will have that confirmed.

And then lastly justice. This word has nothing to do with “social justice” or with SJW idiocy. This has to do with objective truth. Objective justice. Our civilization believes that truth exists outside of humankind. Truth is immutable. A man is a man, a woman is a woman, good is good, bad is bad. And we strive to create manmade justice systems that reflect that objective reality, not the capricious systems we see outside our civilization. Just look outside our civilization. I’m sorry, I’m going to say something controversial (allegedly): Some cultures are better than others. Period. If that isn’t true, just go and live in Somalia. Go and live in Venezuela and then get back to me about those cultures, those political systems.

Think of those three foundations. Think of dignity, freedom, and justice, and how they are represented in other cultures. I have worked very closely with our allies and our partners in the Middle East. I spent five-and-a-half years in the Defense Department training our friends, such as the Jordanians and the Egyptians. Go to the Middle East and do a little research on what “dignity” is there. Look at what it is to be a woman in the Middle East; what it is to be a non-Muslim in the Middle East. Talk to me about concepts of freedom and justice in societies that are run along tribal or clan lines. Or look at Asia, where the needs of the collective truly outweigh the rights of individuals.

My good friend Chris Plante has a morning radio show in Washington, D.C., and he raised a very interesting question recently: How many films have we had—rightly—on World War II and Holocaust? Hundreds. Hundreds, and “Schindler’s List” is perhaps the best. But, how many films have been made on Mao and the destruction he wrought in China? The Holocaust was a travesty. We must never forget and we must never allow it to happen again. Six million Jews killed. Yet Mao killed more than 60 million of his fellow Chinese human beings. Sixty million. Why? Because the needs of the collective outweighed the needs of the individual. Because the individual has no inherent dignity in a structure that is secular—that is, atheist—and denies the fact that we are made in our Creator’s image.

I asked you at the outset, “Why do you believe what you believe?” It was a trick question. Because if you’re a conservative like I am, if you believe this is the greatest nation on God’s Earth, then you don’t believe what you believe, you know that what you hold is true. You know that just because today Jimmy says he’s Julie, doesn’t mean he’s a girl. He is still a boy, though a confused one. Just because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the Green New Deal will provide justice for everyone, doesn’t mean it won’t destroy freedom and the free market and individual liberty in this country, in ways that Stalin could never have dreamt of doing.

We are here because we know the core building block of the Judeo-Christian society is the family. It is the family that provides us the direct connection to the eternal truths upon which our civilization is built. A civilization that proudly counts both America and Hungary as its members. God, family, country.  

Adapted from an address to the conference, “Making Families Great Again—The Role of the Family and Marriage in Modern Society,” March 14, 2019, at the Library of Congress, hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Hungary.

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images

Education • Post • The Culture • the family • The Left

Your Kid Goes to Yale? So What?

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I have told the following to numerous audiences:

I’m hardly a Hollywood celebrity, but almost no day goes by that I am not stopped by a few strangers who want to shake my hand and say something. Needless to say, I rarely know the religious identity of the individual, but if the person tells me what college their child goes to, I assume the individual is a Jew.

When I relate this to Jewish audiences, it invariably evokes a great deal of laughter. Jewish audiences know how true, albeit slightly exaggerated, it is. As I always add, to more laughter, non-Jews don’t tend to tell strangers what college their child attends (which is why non-Jewish audiences don’t find the story nearly as funny).

The story is humorous, but it conveys a serious and troubling fact: Many American Jews define their worth by the college their child attends. In American Jewish life, there are no bragging rights equal to being able to say one’s child attends a prestigious college.

Thanks to the recent revelations about wealthy people—few of whom are Jews—paying large sums of money to bribe coaches and others to get their children into elite schools, it is now clear this perverse affliction is not limited to any ethnic or religious group.

Why would people do what they know to be immoral and illegal just to get their child into Yale—or, for that matter, USC?

I am certain the biggest reason is bragging rights.

Apparently, many American parents define much of their worth as parents—and even as individuals—by what college their child attends.

If I am right, it betrays an extraordinary level of superficiality. That your child got into Yale tells us nothing about you either as a person or as a parent. In fact, it doesn’t tell us anything more about your child other than that he or she studied enough to get great grades and is adept at rowing or playing the oboe or some other extracurricular skill. It tells us nothing about your child’s maturity, common sense or decency, and most importantly, it tells us nothing about his or her character. In other words, it tells us nothing about any of the important things about a person. Indeed, videos of Yale students screaming “f—k you” at a distinguished (and liberal) Yale professor over an email his wife sent defending “offensive” Halloween costumes—students who were then supported by hundreds of other Yale students (an episode even The Atlantic found repulsive)—leads one to assume that getting into Yale means nothing other than high grades or perhaps membership in the right minority. And it tells us a great deal about the low moral and intellectual state of Yale University—which went on to honor one of the students who screamed epithets at the professor.

In a blind test of character, if I had to hire either a hundred students attending the University of Wyoming or a hundred students attending Yale (or any other prestigious university), I would choose the Wyoming students in a heartbeat. And if I had to choose a spouse for one of my children from among Wyoming or Yale students, I would likewise choose the former. Why? Because they are less likely to think they are the creme de la creme of American society, they are more likely to be working while going to college, they are less likely to support students who curse professors, and they are less likely to think America is a crappy country.

There are, of course, fine young men and women at Yale, but their being fine has nothing to do with why they were admitted to Yale and is not fostered by Yale.

There is a second reason parents will do almost anything to have their child attend a prestigious college: money. They believe attending a prestigious school guarantees a far greater future income, and for those who equate a large income with meaning in life—or with happiness—this is determinative. For those who have a different value system and those who link happiness with a happy family life, close friends and a religious community (a particularly great contributor to happiness), that alleged extra money isn’t nearly as important.

Moreover, this widespread belief isn’t even true. As New York Times columnist Frank Bruni points out in his book “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be,” among American-born chief executives of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500, only about 30 went to an Ivy League school or equally selective college.

And to the extent the belief that graduates of prestigious colleges will make more money is true, it is largely because young people who get into those colleges are driven to amass money, prestige and/or power. As Yale professor of computer science David Gelernter writes, “They go to Yale to become prominent, powerful, successful, and naturally (why not?) rich and famous.”

Such individuals will earn more than those who are less driven. But virtually any ambitious and capable individual in America will earn good money and if he or she leads a responsible life and saves money wisely, will retire with well more than a million dollars.

Tell your children from the day they understand language that you care far more about their character than about their grades or what college (if any) they go to. Only then will you have a child you can brag about.

But if this college admissions scandal is any indication, I wonder whether most American parents could actually say that to their children.

Photo Credit: Yana Paskova/Getty Images


America • civic culture/friendship • feminists • Post • Pro-Life • the family

Distinguishing Abortion from Infanticide

We have reached a pivotal moment on abortion. New York recently legalized late-term abortion up to the moment of delivery and repealed a law requiring doctors to care for babies who survive. The new law legalizes procedures for which the infamous abortionist, Kermit Gosnell, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. A similar Virginia proposal generated much discussion but failed in committee. In Rhode Island similar legislation, supported by Gov. Gina Raimondo, is pending.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Democrats blocked a bill that would require medical professionals to provide care and treatment for babies born alive after abortion attempts. How far we have come since 1996 when President Bill Clinton stated what was then understood to be the mainstream view on abortion: that it should be “safe, legal, and rare.”

Read the rest at the Providence Journal.

Center for American Greatness • Education • Post • Technology • The Culture • the family

Is It Time to Ban Kids from Smartphones and Social Media?

What would you say about a widely available consumer product that is highly addictive, facilitates and perhaps causes deeply anti-social behavior, leads to loneliness and aggression, delays and impairs cognitive development and according to some research may kill you in the long run? Sounds like a public health crisis. And maybe it is.

It’s not tobacco, it’s not alcohol—it’s far more widely available than either of those whose purchase and consumption is limited by law to adults. The product in question is the smartphone. And Tucker Carlson asked some questions on his show that are bound to make a lot of people uncomfortable. In large part, it’s because they know he’s right on his diagnosis, but his solution—banning smartphones for kids—will strike them as drastic.

But what if it’s not? What if smartphone use—and in particular the social media use it enables —is harming children? We don’t let kids buy cigarettes or whiskey and for good reason. Carlson noted a disturbing correlation in the data. “It’s not surprising,” he said, “ that rates of mental illness and suicide among teenagers began to surge around 2012, just as smartphones and social media became universal.”

I’d make a small amendment to Carlson’s overall description: Smartphones are the syringe, if you will, but social media is the drug.

What is particularly striking is that the open secret in Silicon Valley is that parents there severely restrict their kids’ screen time. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, famously forbids his nephew to use social media. If you want to see kids playing with wooden blocks, reading books, or playing outside go to Palo Alto or Menlo Park. If you want to see kids spending their afternoons and evenings playing “Candy Crush” go to Wichita.

How did we get to a point where the people who develop and sell technology won’t let their kids use it but have convinced everyone else that their kids need to use if they want to succeed?

It’s complicated, but it’s worth noting that the same economic pressures that have made married, two-parent families a luxury good, increasingly enjoyed more frequently by the affluent than by the middle class, have created a situation in which parents, both of whom usually have to work, use screen time as a combination babysitter, pacifier, and playmate. Who can blame them? The demands placed on families trying to stay in the middle class are intense. Between the requirement of being out of the house at a job and the normal fatigue at the end of a day’s work, parents are under pressure, too.

What’s a parent to do when smartphones and tablets have been marketed for kids as learning centers? They think giving their kids a phone is helping and its reinforced when every school thinks it has to use tablets in the classroom if they’re going “to prepare their students to compete in a global economy.” Or something.

But it was a false promise. As Carlson put it in his monologue, with a smartphone, “you can answer every question on ‘Jeopardy’ without learning a thing.” So kids—all of us really—are more connected and have more computing power and information at our fingertips than ever before, but do we know any more? Are we wiser? Are we happier? Are our children happier?

The answers to those questions might explain why Silicon Valley, which prides itself on changing the world, is no longer held in such high regard. To paraphrase Peter Thiel, we were told to expect flying cars and we got Twitter instead. What changed?

Google’s unofficial corporate motto used to be  “Don’t be evil.” It sounds good until you think about it; at which point you realize that it actually says a lot about the limits today’s technologists put on themselves. They’re aiming too low. Google’s motto isn’t “Do good” or “Be good.” It’s not a call to action, it’s a call to inaction. It says what not to do, and that’s probably because they themselves don’t know what to do.

That’s a problem for an industry premised upon building a better world. They’re saying just don’t make this one any worse. That’s fine, but it’s hardly inspiring, and it’s not sustainable. The middle- and working class in this country are tense because they sense the country can’t meet its embedded growth obligations. Put another way, parents don’t think their kids have better prospects than they had and kids don’t think they can do better than their parents. Heck, a lot of them are wondering how they can just stay even. When we express it that way, it’s just an economic problem. It’s more than that and it has major social and political implications.

One key question we should ask is, why are two incomes almost a necessity for families to remain in the middle class? It’s not because science and technology are progressing too fast. That’s a fallacy. It’s because they’re advancing too slow. It’s true that people are being displaced from lucrative jobs by new technologies—that’s always happened—but the problem is that technology isn’t advancing fast enough to give them something new to do at the same wages. If you are replaced by automation or globalization you are very likely to become underemployed, that is employed, but at much lower wages. Our technologists have been telling us for years that they’re building the future. But not fast enough. Unfortunately, Silicon Valley has lowered its aspirations from building the world of tomorrow to using internet-enabled bits to trigger dopamine releases in adolescent brains. That’s what addictive drugs do. It’s what social media does too. Both of them are selling the same thing.

Carlson quotes from a 2017 interview with Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, who described what Facebook was designed to do. The interview is very revealing because Parker is quite candid and expresses serious reservations about the unintended consequences of social media use. He said they approached the design of Facebook by asking a simple question:

“How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments. It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. (Emphasis added.)

What about kids? God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains. But we’re learning—and it’s not good. Carlson thinks Congress should ban smartphones for kids and maybe they should. For parents concerned about being able to reach their children when they are away from home, a simple phone that makes calls and texts would suffice. And schools should stop deluding themselves into thinking that giving kids iPads makes them smarter. In fact, encouraging screen addiction might be making them less prepared to lead happy, productive lives.

There are a number of intertwined issues at stake in how we handle new information on the harmful effects of smartphones and social media on children. Conservatives will be rightly wary of government intrusion into the parent-child relationship. But we must face the fact that we have created an economy in which both parents often must work and be away from their children every day. Smartphones and social media fill some of that void. Banning phones and/or social media may not be the right solution, but we must face the issue head-on. No one wants Instagram or SnapChat raising their kids, but that’s what’s happening.

What is perhaps most striking is the apparent class divide. Upper-income households, which are more likely to be single-income households where one parents stays home with the kids have already seen the detrimental impact of consumer technology on their children and are taking action. Meanwhile, middle-class, usually two-income households are behind the curve. Again. That is unsustainable and we need to find solutions. Tucker Carlson offers a place to start.

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America • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Post • Pro-Life • Religion and Society • The Culture • the family • The Left

Too Fearful of Man to be Fearful of God

Of the many memorable scenes and sequences from the film, “Casablanca¸ one that stands out for both its subtlety and its continuing resonance comes when the Bulgarian Bride—her name is Annina Brandel in the script—sits down with Rick Blaine and asks for some very important advice. Let’s watch the scene first before discussing it:

The young woman, played by Joy Page, wants to know whether she can trust Captain Renault to deliver exit visas for her and her husband, Jan, if she sleeps with him. She poses her question to Rick as a hypothetical, but we know the central moral issue of her query cuts deep: it’s basically the same choice Rick’s lost love, Ilsa Lund, made when she left him standing the rain in Paris at the train station in order to rejoin her husband. She doesn’t know that, of course; when Rick abruptly excuses himself, she has no idea that he’s going to rig the roulette wheel in Jan’s favor in order for them to win enough money to afford the visas and then get the hell out of North Africa for America.

It’s a quandary to which we can all relate. One of her lines of dialogue, however, has an especially timely meaning: “The Devil has the people by the throat.” In the context of the film, the Devil is Hitler and the Nazis; the Brandels were lucky to escape with their lives. Today, the Devil is much closer to home. I’m speaking, of course, about the recent “Reproductive Health Act” passed by the New York State legislature and signed into law by a nominal Catholic governor, Andrew Cuomo. It is the greatest moral disgrace in American history and, if we don’t stop it, it’s just the beginning of what Ramesh Ponnuru has called, correctly, “the infanticide craze.”

In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that makes abortion legal, even after the unborn child is viable, so long as the abortionist makes a “reasonable and good-faith judgment” that abortion will protect the pregnant woman’s health. In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo has pledged to sign legislation that also makes abortion legal after viability to “preserve . . . health.” In Virginia, state legislator Kathy Tran has introduced legislation that would, she has explained, make abortion legal even at term and in the middle of birth. Governor Ralph Northam supports that legislation.

Does he ever: “When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way,” Northam said on WTOP radio in Washington. “And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion.”

Northam, of course, is a Democrat; a member of a criminal organization masquerading as the political party of slavery, segregation, secularism, socialism and sedition. If there is any meaningful distinction between his sentiments (for which he was roundly roasted by decent Americans) and those of any national-socialist murderer—other than perhaps his assurance that the victim would be “kept comfortable”—I would like to hear them.

Let’s be clear: the Empire State’s new law, and the one proposed but luckily so far tabled in Virginia, where it never got out of committee, has nothing to do either with reproduction or health. In fact, diabolically, it is the exact opposite. For it is meant to allow what amounts to infanticide right up to the moment of birth, thus preventing reproduction, and it has little or nothing to do with a woman’s “health”—unless you, like the Democrats, define pregnancy as a disease.

Shamefully, the New York legislature erupted in cheers when the bill passed, and the governor—his sainted father, Mario, was an unctuous phony, but Andrew is the real thuggish deal—said, “this is a victory for all New Yorkers” and ordered the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan to glow pink in the celebration of homicidal “feminism’s” latest burnt offering to Baal and Moloch.

The Devil has the people by the throat, indeed. And a pussy hat on his horns.

Meanwhile, those who actually are in the business of devil-fighting, instead of devil-worshipping, are AWOL. That would be the Catholic Church (the rest of the Christian sects are too far gone to care, or care about), in the form of the Irishman, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and the Argentine-born Italian pope, Francis. If any single public figure has richly earned public excommunication from the Church, Andrew Cuomo is him. And yet, where are Francis and Cardinal Dolan?

It’s been a rough time for faithful Catholics recently in our state government’s frantic rush for “progressive” ideas.

I’m thinking first of the ghoulish radical abortion-expansion law, which allows for an abortion right up to the moment of birth; drops all charges against an abortionist who allows an aborted baby, who somehow survives the scissors, scalpel, saline and dismemberment, to die before his eyes; mandates that, to make an abortion more convenient and easy, a physician need not perform it; and might even be used to suppress the conscience rights of health care professionals not to assist in the grisly procedures. All this in a state that already had the most permissive abortion laws in the country.

Those who once told us that abortion had to remain safe, legal and rare now have made it dangerous, imposed and frequent.

So, what are you going to do about it, Your Eminence? Nothing: “Notable canon lawyers have said that, under canon law, excommunication is not an appropriate response to a politician who supports or votes for legislation advancing abortion,” he said in a statement.

This is not only wrong, it’s cowardly, which is what we’ve come to expect from the American bishops, who have been so busy trying to bury their gay clergy scandal without getting the hems of their skirts dirty that—since many of them have no skin in the game in more ways than one—they don’t have time for matters of faith and morals any more.

As I’ve often asked, what would Dagger John do?

In 1844, faced with a Nativist threat to burn down St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (at Prince and Mott streets), John J. Hughes, the Irish-born bishop (and later first archbishop) of New York, gathered several thousand of his mostly Irish parishioners and deployed them around the church. Any attack on the cathedral, warned the man known as “Dagger John,” would be repulsed with force. The Nativists backed down.

During the Civil War, Hughes undertook a secret mission to Europe at the personal request of Abraham Lincoln, to rally support for the Union cause and keep Britain from entering the war on the side of the Confederacy. This he did in part by explaining the facts of life to the English: that they’d have no luck in raising troops in restive, famine-stricken Ireland to fight against America, and a great deal of trouble if they tried.

Those were the days of the two-fisted Irish clergy, who understood their dual American roles as both the spiritual leaders of their people and—when necessary—political figures as well. But those days are long gone (Cardinal O’Connor was the last of the line).

In other words, Archbishop Dolan and his confreres ought to ask themselves, What Would Dagger John Do? No need for mobs this time, just morals. But if they’re not going to vigorously defend their own faith, in a Church Militant sort of way, who will? 

I wrote that in 2012, when the public threat to private morals came from another notional Catholic, Kathleen Sebelius, implementing Obamacare’s mandatory birth-control coverage at government gunpoint. Over the next two years, I wrote three more articles in this series, concluding with this:

So I’ll tell you what Dagger John would do. (For more on Dagger John Hughes, please consult the first three articles in this series herehere, and here.) He would simply refuse to comply no matter how the courts rule, announce that no Catholic institution will either obey the mandate or pay the fines, stand on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and dare Eric Holder to arrest him in front of every TV camera in New York City.

With just a few changes of words, the same sentiment could and should be expressed today:

Ah, but the Dagger Johns of the Church Militant are long gone, and in their place have come the mincing social-justice warriors in cassocks and mitres, too fearful of man to be fearful of God, false to their faith and false to their mission. Andrew Cuomo and his gloating, murderous, ilk are bad enough, but these whited sepulchers are even worse, because they know better and don’t care.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

That’s Jesus talking, not me. The hell with them all.

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Photo credit:  Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Post • The Culture • the family

Nostalgia and the American Dream Aren’t Airy Fantasies

BRYAN, Ohio—When the New England Confectionery Co. filed for bankruptcy in Boston last spring, there was such an immediate and deep sense of loss across the country that folks took to local stores and Amazon to claim a piece of yet another what-used-to-be.

Necco Wafers, its signature product, had been part of Americana since before the Civil War. In fact, the company said the sugary, chalky wafers were a favorite of soldiers because the confection didn’t melt, and that they were consumed by Union soldiers on the battlefield during the Civil War and by GIs during World War II.

Any Catholic kid of the ’60s will tell you it was their parish’s practice wafer for the least holy, most worldly part of preparation for first Holy Communion. I never liked them (my dad adores them, in particular the licorice flavor). When I asked Sister Leo if I could pass on the wafer, she allowed it, but only after a lecture in which she said, “You are not going to like the taste of the communion wafer much either, but you don’t get to pass on that.”

Go on Amazon today and some price points for a bag of Necco Wafers are nearly $60. Why? My guess is the nostalgia they evoke in us about simpler or happier times in our lives or our communities.

Even if in those times, everything around us was, in truth, chaotic, challenging or even awful. Maybe having that wafer reminds of respites we could find.

Nostalgia is a complicated emotion. Initially it raises our endorphins as we flash back and momentarily relive those times. But it also evokes a deep sense of loss because those times and experiences will likely never return. We are completely powerless to change that, and we know it.

Many professionals who live in larger cities and communities and have made the decision to embrace our current culture of dramatic and rapid change with gusto face a complication, their refusal to listen to the people who sometimes want the world to slow down. To them, nostalgia often simply means racism. To many others, though, nostalgia means seeking something that was lost.

The more cosmopolitan class—caught up, living and enjoying societal and political upheaval—too often views those who aren’t on board—or who are more nostalgic for a more personally connected society—as less intelligent, backward, bigoted or too tied to the tenets of their faith. These views are not new to the Trump era. They have been building for years and went largely unnoticed—until their class lost a presidential election in 2016.

Why this rejection? The list of reasons is long. In his riveting and important new book, “Alienated America,” my Washington Examiner editor, Tim Carney, explores those deeper reasons and unearths the true losses that lie inside that nostalgia.

What cosmopolitan critics have gotten wrong about nostalgia since this populism began is the assumption that it is rooted in racism. They firmly believed then, as they do now, that “Make America Great Again” is code for something nefarious.

Yes, some who were rallied by the MAGA promise were motivated by prejudice and vice—every political movement has its bad travelers. But ask President Trump’s earliest supporters and most of them would share a vision of making America great again by rooting it in a wholesome, inclusive vision of the American dream, a dream that was dead or dying for voters in blue-collar communities.

What Carney gets right is that our betters ignored the root of America’s angst. Some focused on purely economic decline, but the people living it knew it was cultural collapse. Carney’s book digs deeply into that collapse and outlines the decline of America’s blue-collar communities, religious institutions and civic institutions that is fraying their bond to one another.

Nostalgia is a big part of America’s commerce. It plays a role in fashion and furniture. There is a reason we search for vintage clothing—many spend hours at flea markets or antique stores—and why top-line courtiers look backward for retro designs.

It seems that half of eBay’s products are for people looking for something that embodies a time that was.

And sometimes collective nostalgia has power. Here in this northwest Ohio town, 65 miles southwest of Toledo, the Spangler Candy Co., a fairly joyful candy company to visit and home to Dum Dum lollipops, has bought Necco Wafers and Sweethearts and will begin producing them sometime this year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


America • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • feminists • Post • Pro-Life • Religion and Society • The Culture • the family

Cuomo Excommunicado

The New York State Legislature on Tuesday night passed the Reproductive Health Act (“RHA”), which legalized abortion in New York State up to the moment of birth. Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly signed the bill into law, hailing it as a triumph for “reproductive freedom.” Then the governor ordered the spire of New York City’s Freedom Tower be lit up pink in celebration.

New York’s Catholic bishops denounced the new law. New York City Archbishop Timothy Dolan released a statement signed by all of the state bishops asking, “This is progressive?” Sternly worded condemnations are fine as far as they go, but not nearly far enough in this instance. Either Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany—the location of Governor Cuomo’s canonical crimes—or Cardinal Dolan of New York—where Cuomo is probably canonically domiciled—should solemnly excommunicate the governor for his enthusiastic support of this monstrous law.

The RHA strips abortion from the penal code, permits non-doctors to perform abortions, and makes abortion legal on-demand for the first 24 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy; abortions are permissible after 24 weeks, but only if they are “necessary” to protect a mother’s life or health. The RHA does not define “health,” though it certainly has an expansive meaning since the very broad definition from Doe v. Bolton (1973), the companion case to Roe, is likely what the “progressive” New York legislators intended to codify.

The effective outcome is that a baby can be shot through with poison or hacked apart by forceps a moment before the child is born. That should horrify any sane, moral person. And yet, after the RHA passed, the New York lawmakers were seen smiling and clapping with glee in celebration—a display of utter barbarism and depravity that shocks the conscience.

Bishop Scharfenberger writes in a statement condemning the RHA that we must “support the lives of all, especially the voiceless, the most vulnerable and marginalized.” He goes on: “Let’s not bequeath to our children a culture of death, but together build a more humane society for the lives of all of our fellow citizens.”

“Mr. Cuomo,” the bishop concludes, “do not build this Death Star.”

Cardinal Dolan also joined his voice to the bishop’s, noting the illogic at the heart of a concept of “progress” that celebrates the slaughter of the tiniest and most innocent among us: “For a genuine progressive, all human life deserves dignity, respect, care, and protection, no matter what stage, from the womb to the tomb. No exceptions! The more vulnerable, threatened, or fragile, the more dignity, respect, care, and protection life requires” (emphasis in original).

Both statements are necessary and demonstrate morally clear thinking on the part of both men, which is admirable in these topsy turvy times. But pointed press statements without action in this case are empty. They need to take swift and decisive action. They have real power and they ought to use it.

One or both of these men has real authority to punish Cuomo, a heretic if ever there was one, for the grievous scandal he is causing.

The Church is not just a spiritual haven; she is inescapably a political actor, too, and the episcopacy needs to stop letting enemies of the Church remain at home within her, subverting her mission and redefining her in a way antithetical to her true purpose which is to convert the world to Christ. Bishop Scharfenberger and Cardinal Dolan are not mere pundits who must be content to fling rhetorical arrows at a shameless, immoral man like Cuomo. Instead, they, princes of the Church, can exercise the authority of their high offices and defend her from evil—and they should.

In his commentary to Pope Saint John Paul II’s Ad tuendam fidem, then-Cardinal Ratzinger included “the doctrine on the grave immorality of direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being” as on par with “the articles of faith of the Creed, the various Christological dogmas and Marian dogmas.” He then declared: “Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church.” In other words, assent to the proposition that abortion is a gravely immoral act is required of any faithful Catholic.

A person like Cuomo, who insists that the unborn have no right to life, undeniably is spouting heresy—“the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith.”

If either cleric were to excommunicate Cuomo, he would be performing a great moral service to the world, the Church, and, most importantly, to Cuomo himself. Throughout the Church’s long history, excommunication was seen as very strong medicine, sometimes necessarily administered—but only rarely—to bring an especially wayward soul back to Christ and His Church. By alerting Cuomo to the seriousness of what he has done, the Church might prompt him to return to the Faith; failing that, excommunicating him might at least warn other public officials of what could happen should they behave as he has.

In addition, it would signal to everyone that the Church remains fully serious about its teachings on the sanctity of life, and it would encourage faithful Catholics to retain their zeal for the Church’s beautiful, good, and true teachings on that subject, as well as send a clear message to those wavering or who outright reject her moral teachings on abortion and other things, like marriage, that they must not continue to do so.

It would, finally, put an abrupt halt to the Church’s steady assimilation to the world and its prerogatives. In excommunicating a man who believes that women have the “fundamental right” to contract with another person to execute their preborn children, the Church would sound the death knell of the much-abused “seamless garment” worldview, which is more often than not a rhetorical smokescreen for those want to ignore abortion outright, elevating other “life issues” to equal or higher corrective priority.

But the “consistent life ethic,” as applied by its most notable boosters, is pernicious nonsense. Would we think it sensible to avoid making murder illegal while we fret about what makes people murder? Or would we just attack the evil of murder directly and declare, by making it illegal, that nobody ought to do it, ever, no matter what kinds of poor conditions they were raised in or hardships they face?

To ask is to answer.

It is wrong and an abuse of canon law to wield the sword of excommunication to exact revenge on someone or for purely political purposes; however, that is not the case here. Abortion is a moral evil at least on par with chattel slavery, a practice we rightly regard with horror.

It would be fitting for the Church—which resolutely stands for the dignity of every single human being against the powerful who would destroy them for convenience’s sake—to stand now with the unborn, against a moral monster like Andrew Cuomo.

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America • Center for American Greatness • GOPe • Greatness Agenda • Post • Pro-Life • Republicans • the family

Establishment Republicans Want the Pro-Life Movement Dead

Just a few days before Christmas, departing Ohio Governor John Kasich decided to play a disappointing Santa and put a massive lump of coal in the pro-life movement’s stocking. He vetoed a bill that would have made it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Mercifully, he did at least sign a second bill which bans the most common second trimester abortion procedure, the dilation and evacuation—“D&E”—also called a “dismemberment” abortion, during which a fetus is ripped apart and extracted piece by piece.

Is any political constituency as regularly swindled and abused as are pro-lifers?

From their promises to defund Planned Parenthood to their assurances that Roe v. Wade is very soon to be on the chopping block, establishment Republicans are masters at talking a big game but doing nothing at all to advance the right to life of the unborn.

Too many Republican politicians either are cynical grifters or outright liars who don’t care a whit about the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws” to all persons or the Declaration’s teaching that “all men are created equal” and “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”—chief among them being the right to life.

Cowardice on Parade
Kasich’s spineless decision should prompt all pro-life citizens to reevaluate their unflinching support for “GOPe” candidates—or at least certain of its squishy establishmentarians who have been housebroken by a hostile media and browbeaten by feminists into complying with aspects of a radical “social justice” agenda. Kasich’s signing statement is an example of this cowardice par excellence.

He opens with an obligatory paean to the moral force of pro-lifers’ worldview, the very least he could do in the face of all the political support they have given him over the years. To which pro-lifers can only reply: Your words are nice but not enough.

Kasich goes on to say that the “central provision” of the bill is contrary to the Supreme Court’s abortion precedents and, because of that, it “will likely be struck down as unconstitutional” by lower federal courts, which are bound by the high court’s rulings. So what?

The whole point of signing such a cutting-edge bill is precisely to effect a challenge in the courts and thus set abortion on the path to extinction. We all know the law permits abortion. But presumably one supports such a bill both because one believes such a barbaric practice deserves to be consigned to the ash heap of history and because one thinks the law—which is a teacher—should be changed to secure that outcome.

Cynical Political Calculus
So, why did Kasich sign the bill that bans D&E abortions, even though it likely won’t fare any better than the heartbeat bill he vetoed?

After all, eight of the 10 states that have banned D&E abortions have seen those laws (temporarily) blocked by the courts; further, a ban on the most commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure almost certainly constitutes an “undue burden” under Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and ultimately will be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court under that governing precedent. Therefore, Kasich’s justification for refusing to sign the heartbeat bill is nothing more than a transparent attempt to avoid having his name attached to a law that strikes directly at the heart of the “right” to abortion.

But fret not! Kasich is more than content to tinker at the margins, perhaps even to regulate boldly the death chambers’ cleanliness—but only if the courts permit him to do so, of course.

Amazingly, Kasich goes on: “The State of Ohio will be the losing party in that lawsuit and … will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers. Therefore, this veto is in the public interest.” That’s an absolute doozy.

First, how could Kasich be sure Ohio will lose? Particularly given that the GOP just spent vast amounts of political capital elevating Justice Brett Kavanaugh—who supposedly is more of a rock-ribbed originalist than his old boss, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Second, what are legal fees compared with the 20,893 babies slain in Ohio in 2017 alone (42 million worldwide in 2018)? Is Ohio secretly governed by Ebenezer Scrooge? Talk about penny wise and pound foolish.

No Guts, No Glory
Republicans, it’s past time for you to deliver for pro-lifers. No more bait and switches. No more false promises. No more feeble yelps of, “We don’t have the support yet.” The millions who have attended the March for Life each year for the past 40 years or so strongly beg to differ, as does the 2016 Republican Party platform, the “most pro-life platform ever.” The Democrats blew up their supermajority in Congress from 2008-2010 for something they believed in: Obamacare. Such political courage changed the political landscape for at least a generation; after all, who is still talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare?

Trying to convince the Supreme Court to overturn Roe is a lame attempt to avoid the hard work of politics and doesn’t count because it won’t work; the chief justice has made that very clear—twice now.

Does the GOP even have the guts to blow up a majority over anything other than tax cuts for corporations? These corporations, by the way, are the same ones that happily spearhead the nascent totalitarianism of progressive “social justice” and now push for increased illegal immigration, which undermines our sovereignty and harms American workers, particularly black American workers. Count on them, however, to run back to the GOP in a heartbeat, tails between their legs, begging for economic protection from freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s socialism-obsessed wing of the Democratic Party when the time comes.

Republicans, it seems, are good at saying all the right things, but they’re unwilling to do the work necessary to protect the most vulnerable among us: the unborn. In so doing, they betray their venerable heritage as the “Party of Lincoln” and its Declaration-sourced commitment to equality before the law for every American. They trade that legacy for a mess of pottage—a brief delay in the operation of the progressives smear machine—even as they must know they will be hated by Progressives no matter what they do because the only good Republican to them is a dead Republican.

Is the GOP the “stupid party”? Well, if the boot fits. . .

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