Since May 11, 2004
It's a Beautiful Country
Hamed Nikpay "The Owner of This Land" (Maalek-e Een Khaak) (Must-see Iranian protest music video, 6/2009)
Tales of Persias Wondrous Past [The Shahnameh mourns the loss of Irans pre-Islamic...]
Revolutionary Types: Iran's is a peaceful uprising
"If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God's Word; and if we be uncertain of God's Word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or in the synagogue of Satan."
-- Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, First Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury
[On the night of the 2002 elections, in response to a despairing rant from a leftist on the DU site]:
I sense trouble here. At this point it looks like the Left has lost bigtime, but take a look at the lessons clearly not learned. This guy doesn't trust the Democrats' leadership -- right enough, but for the wrong reason. His solution is just more of what brought the Clintonistas to power -- and what tonight is sinking them and the party they subverted.
Perhaps we won over them tonight, but we have not won them over. They are still there in opposition to the fundamentals of our belief, to the foundations our country was built on. They still hold their power base: their pet teachers' unions, their slavish union lackeys, their plantation blacks, their repressive and intolerant universities, their liberal media, their corrupt judiciary, their bloated self-serving bureaucracies. They have not learned honesty, ethics, morality or honor -- and that's just for starters. They live in a NewSpeak universe so redefined to such an extreme degree that whatever the word "is" means, it apparently is not "is."
It seems we have won a battle and that's cause for rejoicing.
But we must never forget that the Left considers that it is not engaged in a spirited discussion conducted under gentlemenly rules; it is engaged in an all-out, no-holds-barred, winner-take-all war. And I see no plan for us to win such a war. I don't even see a plan that indicates that there might be such a war, and that is cause for grave concern because that is certain defeat.
And though this is a war with many fronts -- in the schools, in the workplace, in the courts, in the press, in the media, in society and in government -- there is a central element, there is the high ground that must be or taken or all is for nought.
We have to retake, we have to start working to retake, the cultural ground we have lost -- no, not lost but given up, willingly, piece by piece, in appeasing the loud, shrill demands of the Left. But if we fail to make that effort, if we fail to retake the lost ground, every victory like this will ultimately be nothing more than a brief stop along the road down to tyranny and slavery and ruin.
"The Left ... always seems to know what is right and what is wrong, yet they want us to believe that right and wrong are relative concepts."
-- Paul Walfield, " Maureen Dowd's Tambourine," in American Daily, 4/21/2003.
By any other name: "We don't see it as a quota, we see it as a performance standard..."
Excerpt from Freedom and Its Counterfeit, an address to the Hillsdale College Class of 2003 by Dr. Robert P. George
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From its founding during the struggle over slavery in the mid-nineteenth century, Hillsdale College has stood for freedom and for the basic moral truths and principles of civic life that are at once the foundations of freedom and among the great ends to which freedom is ordered. In the halls of this college, it has always been securely understood that ignorance of these truths and principles places freedom in dire jeopardy. Today, this understanding makes Hillsdale very nearly unique in contemporary higher education, where it is fashionable to deny that there is such a thing as truth and to embrace relativist and subjectivist doctrines that abet the deconstruction of the very concept of freedom and its replacement by a counterfeit.
Freedom, Truth and Virtue
True freedom consists in the liberation of the human person from the shackles of ignorance, oppression and vice. Thus it was that one hundred and fifty years ago this July 4, Edmund B. Fairfield, president of Hillsdale, speaking at a ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of a new college building, declared that education, by lifting a man out of ignorance, "disqualifies him from being a slave." What overcomes ignorance is knowledge, and the object of knowledge is truth - empirical, moral, spiritual. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
True freedom, the freedom that liberates, is grounded in truth and ordered to truth and, therefore, to virtue. A free person is enslaved neither to the sheer will of another nor to his own appetites and passions. A free person lives uprightly, fulfilling his obligations to family, community, nation and God. By contrast, a person given over to his appetites and passions, a person who scoffs at truth and chooses to live, whether openly or secretly, in defiance of the moral law is not free. He is simply a different kind of slave.
The counterfeit of freedom consists in the idea of personal and communal liberation from morality, responsibility and truth. It is what our nation's founders expressly distinguished from liberty and condemned as "license." The so-called freedom celebrated today by so many of our opinion-shaping elites in education, entertainment and the media is simply the license to do whatever one pleases. This false conception of freedom - false because disordered, disordered because detached from moral truth and civic responsibility - shackles those in its grip no less powerfully than did the chattel slavery of old. Enslavement to one's own appetites and passions is no less brutal a form of bondage for being a slavery of the soul. It is no less tragic, indeed, it is in certain respects immeasurably more tragic, for being self-imposed. It is ironic, is it not, that people who celebrate slavery to appetite and passion call this bondage "freedom"?
Counterfeit freedom is worse than fraudulent. It is the mortal enemy of the real thing. Counterfeit freedom can provide no rational account or defense of its own normative claims. It speaks the language of rights, but in abandoning the ground of moral duty it provides no rational basis for anyone to respect the rights of others or to demand of others respect for one's own rights. Rights without duties are meaningless. Where moral truth as the ground of duties is thrown overboard, the language of rights is so much idle chatter fit only for Hollywood cocktail parties and faculty lounges.
Hadley Arkes, the great contemporary theorist of natural rights, has observed in relation to the movement for unfettered abortion that those who demand liberation from the moral law have talked themselves out of the moral premises of their own rights and liberties. If freedom is to be honored and respected, it must be because human freedom is what is required by the laws of nature and nature's God; it cannot be because there are no laws of nature and there is no God.
The Danger of License
But counterfeit freedom poses greater dangers still. As our founders warned, a people given over to license will be incapable of sustaining republican government. For republican government - government by the people - requires a people who are prepared to take responsibility for the common good, including the preservation of the conditions of liberty.
Listen again to President Fairfield, speaking words at that ceremony on July 4, 1853, that are, if anything, still more urgent today:
Unrestrained freedom is anarchy. Restrained only by force and arms, is despotism; self-restrained is Republicanism. Wherever there is wanted the intelligence and virtue requisite for [self-restraint], Republicanism expires.
Slaves to appetite and passion, wanting in the understanding and virtue requisite for self-government, will surely lose it. They will look not to themselves but to government to provide for the satisfaction of their desires. Where counterfeit freedom prevails, the republican principle of limited government is inevitably sacrificed as people surrender personal and, ultimately, political liberty to whatever power promises to protect them from predation and supply the appeasement of their appetites. People are reduced from citizens to subjects to slaves. They trade their birthright of freedom for a mess of pottage. Yet, so long as the big-government-provided pottage functions as a suitable narcotic, they imagine themselves free.
At the same time, the want of virtue creates a counterfeit idea of equality that parallels the counterfeit conception of freedom. True equality - equality under the law, equality of opportunity - is displaced by the demand for equality of results, as envy, like every other passion, commands requital. Distinctions, grounded in such intrinsically retributive ideas as personal merit, are cast aside.
Ultimately, the counterfeit of freedom is a counterfeit because its view of the nature, dignity and destiny of man is a false view. Men and women are not mere bundles of appetites. Our destiny is not to be, as David Hume supposed, slaves of our passions - "rational" only in the purely instrumental sense of being capable of employing our intellectual powers to, in Thomas Hobbes's words, "range abroad and find the way to the things desired." On the contrary: Men and women, made in the very image and likeness of the Divine Ruler of the Universe, are possessors of an intelligence more profound, and, correspondingly, a freedom more God-like, than that.
We are, to be sure, creatures, and fallen creatures to boot; dust of the earth; sinners every one. Yet the divine image - the icon of God Himself - is not destroyed. And commensurate with the dignity of creatures fashioned in God's image, we are indeed, as the Declaration of Independence says, "endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable rights." Freedom - true freedom - is, as President Bush recently had occasion to remind us, God's gift to mankind. The self-government that is the right of free men and women is truly a sacred trust.
On the Fourth Amendment:
Robert Bolt, "A Man For All Seasons," dialogue between Sir Thomas More and William Roper over the whether or not the protection of the law should extend to evil:
"Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."
There's a reason for the Fourth Amendment. (Thanks to Steely Glint.)
Agrarian:This all seems rather quaint in retrospect
sionnsar: As ever do the previous steps taken down a slippery slope...
The only remedy for a false view of the Cross is the Cross itself.
--H.B. Dehqani-Tafti, Anglican Bishop of Iran in exile, in his book The Hard Awakening