A New Can Of Worms
09 May 2003
I loathe America, and what it has done to the rest of the world

There are legitimate criticims of US foreign policy and the United States in general. Like any human endeavor we are not perfect. But overall we have been a force for good throughout the world. During the run up to liberating Iraq, America haters came out of the woodwork like cockroaches. And these critics have leveled some truly stupid arguments for hating the US, but this piece takes the 1st prize in my book:

"I was tipped into uncontainable rage by a report on Channel 4 News about "friendly fire", which included footage of what must have been one of the most horrific bombardments ever filmed. But what struck home hardest was the subsequent image, of a row of American warplanes, with grinning cartoon faces painted on their noses. Cartoon faces, with big sharp teeth.

It is grotesque. It is hideous. This great and powerful nation bombs foreign cities and the people in those cities from Disneyland cartoon planes out of comic strips. This is simply not possible. And yet, there they were.

Others have written eloquently about the euphemistic and affectionate names that the Americans give to their weapons of mass destruction: Big Boy, Little Boy, Daisy Cutter, and so forth."

06 May 2003
Crime & Punishment

Heather Mac Donald argues in City Journal that the prison system needs some accountability.

Is Fair & Balanced Doublethink?

The road to 1984. I report, you decide.

05 May 2003
Email to Mike Wilson of WMAY-AM 970, Springfield

I couldn't believe some of the comments emanating from clock radio this morning regarding God and the Pledge of Allegiance. Here is an email I sent to Mike Wilson on WMAY regarding some comments he made regarding the Framers and secularism. Way off the mark...If he responds, I'll post.

Wish I had a transcript of what his exact quote was...

-----Original Message-----
From: Greg Blankenship [mailto:greg@illinoispolicyinstitute.org]
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2003 12:01 PM
To: 'mikew@wmay.com'
Subject: God and the Pledge


I about fell out of my chair this morning when you asserted, shortly before your final commercial break, that the founders wanted nothing to do with God -- that they intended a secular state. God was integral to the founding. It is the beginning point from which we launched our great experiment.

I have 3 points:

(1) The Constitution and Declaration of Independence are two documents straight out of the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment. The foundation of the Enlightenment is natural Law that states that the three irreducible truths are the right to Life; Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. These rights are given to us by God. The Declaration Of Independence puts it best, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happness--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed…"

If you read the preamble of the Constitution you find that the purpose of the Federal Government is to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare so as to "secure the blessings of liberty for us and our children. The Constitution creates the framework for establishing a society that seeks to ensure that natural rights are protected. It builds on the sentiments expressed in the Declaration. Lincoln said as much at Gettysburg. Lincoln, I guess in his George W. moments, spoke often of God and saw the Civil War as God's retribution for not living up to the ideals of the Declaration.

The Plege and God
The reason why God came under attack from the Marxist was two fold. First, before the communists could implace their own historical consciousness on the masses they had to destroy the old. That meant destroying God and replacing Him with mass society. In order to build a utopian society it was necessary to destroy God -- and thus heaven. You can't have heaven on earth competing with the real thing, now can you? Obviously the battle over communism has been won, but the root of the problem still faces us -- nihilism. Second, was scientific rationalism.

Scientific rationalism came from the French Enlightenment. It was far more radical than the Anglo-Scottish version. Since you couldn't prove God existed empirically, He doesn't exist. But, and here's crux of the matter, once you lose God you no longer have a measure of what the good is. That leads to moral relativism and its associated problem -- mainly nihilism. You lose the basis of the laws that bind our society, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Given this set of circumstances, reaffirming that we our one nation under God in the Pledge is hardly radical or reactionary. And it is consistent with the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

(2) My second point regards the successes of countries with and without God as a basis. If you were to envision a continuim from on the Left of a totally secular state where religion cannot be practiced pubicly and on the Right a theocracy along the lines of Iran or Saudia Arabia (and maybe some, but surely not a majority, of evangelical Catholics and Protestants) and place the United States on that continuim, it would probably be somewhere near the middle.

Now examine the success of states that have sought to totally eliminate religion -- or has at least attempted too. The extreme seculars would be France under Robespierre, the Soviet Union, Cuba, Communist China, Nazi Germany as well as a group lesser communist and Ba'athist states. Next, look at the theocracies of Iran, Saudia Arabia and Ancient China (confucian). Both groups of states are either failed states or in the process of failing. Why would anyone want to further move us in the direction of these countries -- which elimanting God as the basis of our Rights would surely do?

(3) Thinkers who believed God should have a role in public life: Max Weber, the Founding Fathers, Nietzsche (that God was dead was a lament not a celebration), Allan Bloom, Leo Strauss, the Anglo Scottish Enlightment thinkers (most of them), and many but not all of the Founders. Secular thinkers: many French Enlightenment thinkers, Marx, Hitler, the Neo-communists of the 1970's, Ayn Rand and others. The dividing for many of these thinkers was the English Channel, interestingly enough. We refer to the latter group of thinkers as Continentalists.

I'm painting with a broad brush on points two and three, but what I said could, accounting for some variables and other decisions (Marx was German but wrote from England; Weber wrote from Germany but studied England), be empirically verified.

According to polling keeping "under God" in the Pledge is supported by wide margins, which suggests consensus. Do we need to have a 100 percent approval to establish a norm? No. But you do suggest that because not everyone agrees with keeping "under God" in the pledge that therefore it should go. That suggests a tyranny of the minority over the majority. That is just as bad as the tyranny of the majority.

Finally, what was fascinating about listening to your show, was that many of the callers touched on some of these themes. On boths sides callers showed a sense of an inherent understanding of this issue without necessarily having a detailed intellectual history to call upon. Apparently, neither did you -- which is okay. But it also shows the power of the norms at work, here. It's also bodes well for the health of our community, and speaks highly of you and your audience.


Greg Blankenship
Illinois Policy Institute

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