Waiting for the Barbarians

Edmund Burke wrote, in his Reflections on the Revolution in France:

But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them, a ruin instead of an habitation – and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of summer.

Paul Krause writes in American Thinker about that very concept.

The West is a dying civilization. That much is evident.

But it mustn’t be. Who will defend the flame that once illuminated the skies and sang songs of ascents up on high? In the rush to destroy all things Western, few so-called conservatives—anywhere—risk themselves to defend our patrimony and our future. [..]

The riots are not about George Floyd, police reform and accountability, or justice. The riots are the systematic attempt to exterminate Western civilization and culture from the very lands in which its roots are planted. […]

Multiculturalism is not about multiculturalism. That is the greatest misnomer of all time. Multiculturalism is the veiled vehicle for dismantling and destroying Western civilization. This is not about political power as asinine conservatives often say. This is about civilizational desecration and destruction.

When multiculturalists complain about European and American statues, they are only voicing their genuine attitude of resentful hatred. What hath the multiculturalist in common with Julius Caesar, George Washington, or Horatio Nelson? Nothing. And they never will. Even if they reside in Western nations. Multiculturalists hate all Western heroes precisely because they’re Western. Even white abolitionists are targets of their rage because they are “murderers” and “colonists.” Anything and everything Western, as Susan Sontag said, is “the cancer of humanity.”

That is the truth that no liberal or the pseudo-conservative of Conservative, Inc. want you to realize. They are all wreckers, and what they mean to wreck is western civilization, and they are succeeding. Paul thinks, as do I, that only America can preserve our heritage. Here’s why.

We are the Keepers of the Flame in the City on the Hill

What makes the American unique is that he is the product of all of Europe and European history converged onto this New World and New Continent. Without the Greek victory at Salamis there would be no America. Without Alexander the Great there would be no America. Without Julius Caesar or Augustus Caesar there would be no America. Without Charles Martel there would be no America. Without Christopher Columbus there would be no America. (And this is why the multiculturalist tears down statues of Columbus—they only defile Western heroes.) Without Sir Francis Drake there would be no America. Without James Wolfe there would be no America. Every great Western hero of the past is now on the chopping block of the multiculturalist terror campaign.

Americans have the richest history and heritage precisely because we are the children of pilgrims, adventurers, and lovers stretching across the millennia whose actions made safe the possibility for the European settlement of the New World. This would serve conservatives well if they understood this fact and embraced it. The Greek heroes at Thermopylae and Salamis died for us. The Franks who died stopping an Islamic invasion of Europe died for us. The Catholics who fought the Turks at Lepanto died for us. The brave and heroic sailors, settlers, and pioneers who died in the New World died for us. If we love them let us honor them and immortalize them. We once did. Now we must show our love for them again in defending them against the new barbarians from within.

We are, in a sense no other country shares, the west incarnate. From English roots we embraced all of European civilization, incorporating the best from each and discarding the worst. We are the culmination of western civilization, and the most powerful nation to ever spring from Pallas Athena’s brow. For those very reasons, it is our task, our duty, and our honor to defend all the rest. If not us, who?

Do read the article, the excerpts I’ve quoted only provide a taste.

Otherwise, we become the city in Cavafy’s poem.

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
      The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?
      Because the barbarians are coming today.
      What’s the point of senators making laws now?
      Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?
      Because the barbarians are coming today
      and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.
      He’s even got a scroll to give him,
      loaded with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
      Because the barbarians are coming today
      and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
      Because the barbarians are coming today
      and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home lost in thought?
      Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
      And some of our men just in from the border say
      there are no barbarians any longer.
Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

Myths,legends and facts

lvalad

In his comment on Audre’s post yesterday Pontiac said this, ” I find a simple comfort about them. There’s no complexity about them and even the conflict and politics is elementary – you have it, I want it! For the most part, though, the characters are just hardworking, close to the land and want to build something, whether it be their farm or family”.

I suspect for many of us that’s true, but for the best of the westerns, well Pilgrim, they go a lot deeper. Jessica explained it this way:

“This is the West, sir, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” One of my favourite quotations from any film, and it is what the newpaper editor, Scott, says to Jimmy Stewart’s character, Ransom Stoddard at the end of The Man who shot Liberty Vallance. Even for the great John Ford, that’s some line. Stoddard, a Washington grandee, former Ambassador to the UK and likely Presidential nominee, has come back to the town of Shinbone for the funeral of a local rancher, a nobody called Tom Doniphon, and the local press want to know why: Jimmy Stewart’s character tells them a story which is not just about how the West was won, but how it became civilized.

The story began quarter of a century before, when what is now the State was a Territory – with men who wanted it to stay that way. The young Stoddard is held up by a notorious outlaw, Liberty Valance, and pistol-whipped. Doniphon, a tough local rancher, takes him back to town and sets him up with the family who run the local canteen – his love interest, Hallie helps the wounded lawyer recover, and he helps out at the canteen – eventually falling foul of Vallance – played by Lee Marvin at his brilliant best. In a scene packed with tension, Doniphon tells Valance to pick up the food that’s been spilled by him tripping ‘Ranse’ Stoddard up: it looks like there will be a shoot out – but Vallance backs away – Doniphon’s that sort of a guy.

So, we have there the old West, men are men and all that. It;s rough and tough, and if you haven’t got a gun – or don’t know how to use it – you’re not going to get far – or even live long. But Stoddard is the new order’s forerunner. He believes in the law, sets up an office in Shinbone and works with the local editor as the Territory moves towards statehood.

Doniphon tries to help Stoddard adapt to the ways of the West, but an attempt to teach him how to use a gun is a failure. But Valance and his type are not to be stopped by the law. They beat up the editor and burn down the newspaper offices, and Valance challenges Stoddard to fight him. The first two shots see ‘Ranse’ injured, and he drops his gun – Valance, wanting to rub it in tells him to pick it up – sure the next shot will be right between the eyes – but to everyone’s surprise, the next shot kills Valance. Hallie runs to help the wounded Ranse. Doniphon, who actually fired the shot, sees that he has, in saving Stoddard, lost Hallie – he goes back home, drinks himself into a rage and burns his house down – being saved by his faithful retainer.

At the convention where the vote for who should represent the Territory in Washington is to be taken, Stoddard is challenged by a rival, who says that he should not be trusted because he shot a man. Soddard hesitates, wondering if that is actually the case – should a gun fighter be a politician. Doniphon removes his doubts by telling him the truth about the man who shot Liberty Valance. The rest is history, Stoddard becomes Governor, Senator and Ambassador, marries Hallie and has the career which opened up to men of his type as the United States moved towards its manifest destiny. Now Doniphon is dead, it is time to tell the truth – but the press don’t want the truth – the legend does them just fine.

So Doniphon, who had saved Stoddard’s life and made his career possible, dies alone and unheralded – but not quite, Hallie and Ranse have not forgotten him, or who he was, and who he was was more important than what he did. He did what he did because of who he was. He was the sort of man who did the right thing because it never occurred to him to do the other thing.

This is Ford’s world at its best – there’s no one does the old world making way for the new better. He admires the values of the old West, and he sees them re-embodied in a different form in the new. Doniphon and Stoddard are two sides of the same coin. Their integrity shines through – and Doniphon is all the more believable for not behaving like a plaster saint when he knows he has lost Hallie. Plaster saints neither won, nor will the hold, the West. And now, as then, the media prefer the legend to the facts!

Let’s think about that a little. How far is that from what we’re seeing these days in Minneapolis, in Seattle, in Chicago and New York, and yes, in London as well? Yes, Tom Stoddard was apocryphal but he existed all across this country, and it’s to him as much as to Jefferson and Madison that we owe the rule of law, the belief that might should be on the side of right.

When we talk about the western as the myth of America that is what we mean, the bringing of civilization out of the chaos. And don’t think for a minute that England never knew men lake Tom Stoddard. They did, William Marshal, First Earl of Pembroke is one of them, a warrior knight who made his fortune fighting in tournaments and wars, he is the man, acting with Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury who made Magna Charta the law for us all.

Jess was right here too when she said, “[…] and who he was was more important than what he did. He did what he did because of who he was. He was the sort of man who did the right thing because it never occurred to him to do the other thing.”

That is the legacy of the men that Antifa and BLM are so busy trying to make us forget. Why? Because they are the men that built our civilization, that their deepest desire is to destroy. Abraham Lincoln said that America is “the last best hope of mankind”. How right he was, if we in this generation go down, there will be nowhere left to run.

It can be so delicate; so fragile.

I have a friend whose religious background is vaguely Anglican. When a child, she was brought – and sometimes not – to church for the special holidays of the church year. But there was no real commitment in her home growing up; nothing much in the way of Bible study or learning the Canons of the Church. No real catechesis, no Jesus stories for children. Her understanding, at now 60 plus years, is that of a small child. Maybe.

My friend discovered Anglican TV on YouTube and enjoyed the conversations when there were three panelists – one has since left the Anglican Church and has joined the Church of Rome. But that’s not important; what’s important is that she started to take an adult’s interest in her religious tradition. Always political, she grasped first at the things that had political overtones that were Anglican and sort of got comfortable with talking and light reading about Anglicanism. I was very careful to let her find her own way. If she had questions, I answered. If I didn’t know the answer, I knew where to look to get her answers.

I was tooling about YouTube one morning and something caught my eye. I always think of YouTube as this great, huge, domed place with rooms and corridors and dark places and sunlit windows – a treasure trove for wanderers; sometimes a black hole for those who prefer the dark over the light but by and large, a wonderful place to mine for previously unknown gems. What I had discovered was the books of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, read by Alexander Scourby. I listened to the Book of Mark and thoroughly enjoyed the actor’s subtle reading – acting without acting. Very much a big fan now, I had sent my friend the link to St. Mark. She had only read a little bit of the Bible in her life but something about the reading by Scourby touched her in a special way; she is reading the Bible now, while listening to the video version of whatever book she is reading. She says it helps her to process what she’s reading.

A sudden personal tragedy has just recently happened in her life and she was looking for verses that would be comforting. I took my 1928 Book of Common Prayer from the shelf, opened it to the Burial service and found one that I thought would be a salve for her. The Holy Spirit does wonderful things if you step aside and let Him. It did, indeed, bring her comfort and she was grateful. I never take credit for things like this; who could? But I told her how happy I was that it brought her some peace. Just for my own peace of mind, I contacted my priest and he thought what I had given her was a good choice so I was greatly relieved.

She loves to bake and found a recipe for Bible Cake. All the ingredients are from passages in the Bible. How clever is that? It’s in an air-tight tin under her bed right now. I know that sounds funny but my Mom used to do that with her Christmas fruit cake – kept in a cool place for a couple of weeks for all the ingredients to ‘marry’ and become one delicious flavor. Then she found a recipe for Bible Stew which she is looking forward to producing in the days ahead. She mentioned today that she likes to sit outside on a bench near a church close by and thought about having the priest bless her Bible Cake; I said she should take Sweetie, her beloved feline companion of twelve years, and have her blessed as well. Not knowing about the area in which she lives, I suggested she should do some research and see if there’s a church that does the ‘blessing of the animals’ and she did. It made her happy as she has a fear of losing Sweetie and what her life will be like without her.

I am so humbled, and blessed, by her sharing her faith journey with me. I am so aware that I’m being given the chance to watch a Christian grow, like a little green shoot. I pray for her continuing steps along the path. I am sensitive to her searching and reaching for the Lord. There’s no more fulfilling journey than the one she on – delicate and fragile. May all her steps be on level ground.

Fighting for Freedom

We celebrated Memorial Day last Monday, and the 30th will be the traditional observance, so this seems appropriate. PJ Media’s Claudia Rossett tells us:

Not since the eve of the 1989 Tiananmen slaughter have we seen China’s communist regime more clearly girding to demolish a vibrant democracy movement. Thirty-one years ago, China’s Communist Party shut down democracy protesters in Beijing by shooting them in the streets. This time the CCP’s target is the former British colony of Hong Kong, where protesters turned out in huge numbers last year to defend the rights and freedoms that China promised them for at least 50 years after the 1997 British handover. Now, while the world grapples with the China-spawned coronavirus pandemic, China is preparing a national security law that would override Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous system. Under this law, as previewed by China’s authorities, Beijing could criminalize any activity in Hong Kong it deems a threat, and send mainland security operatives into Hong Kong as enforcers. Hong Kongers have richly demonstrated that they are a freedom-loving people, unlikely to bow down en masse and obey. The stage is set for a nightmare showdown.

Precisely how that’s likely to play out is a sickening question. Over the past year, Beijing’s quisling administration in Hong Kong has made copious use of tear gas, water cannon, threats, bans, beatings, and arrests (more than 8,000 to date). All this has failed to quell Hong Kong’s democracy movement. Is it likely that China’s dictator, President Xi Jinping, brandishing his new security law, would go so far as to reprise in Hong Kong his Communist Party’s 1989 Tiananmen tactics, and default to wholesale gunfire? Don’t rule it out.

Last year, especially among those with vivid memories of Tiananmen on June 4, 1989 (myself among them) there was plenty of worry that a Hong Kong massacre was in the cards. But perhaps it was a serious deterrent to Xi that the world was watching, bigtime, and he was in no hurry to sponsor a bloodbath so horrifying that it might end Hong Kong’s role as China’s chief financial portal to world markets.

And American authorities have indeed said that if China suppresses the freedom of Hong Kongers, both China and Hong Kong will come under American sanctions, as will their political leaders. Not a happy prospect, but what has really changed since John Kennedy stood on the platform on the east front of the Capitol on January 20, 1961, and said this:

For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

Later on, in his address, he also said this:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

And so today, as on that cold and snowy day, that I and many of you remember clearly, he laid out what it means to be “the keeper of the flame of liberty”, and that is the mission of America in this century as it was in the last.

But today, many of us see much of America in the same position as the Hong Kongers, beset by totalitarian administrations. Well, we’ve been there before too. The first time against the foremost empire in the world, and with God’s help we won through.

And so, perhaps, we look weak to China and others, but what I see our citizens doing, even as the Hong Kongers are, is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength that will win through

This post will continue in a day or so, but Bruce Springsteen has a very clear idea of how freedom is won.

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Had a brother in Iraq, he didn’t come back
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die
Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the blood of someone’s son

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Daddy died in Vietnam, he was killed at Khe Sahn
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die
Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the blood of someone’s son

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Had a brother in Iraq, he didn’t come back
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die

Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm, hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm.

From an excellent article at: The Imaginative Conservative.

Commencement and the ‘Pseudo Elites’

The other day, Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels gave a noteworthy commencement address, which came to me via Emily Jashinsky at The Federalist. Let’s check it out but do read it all.

Purdue celebrated its own landmark this year, our 150th anniversary. Since it coincided with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by our most famous alumnus, Neil Armstrong stories were abundant. My favorite claims that, later in life, Commander Armstrong took to telling corny, lame jokes about the moon, and when nobody laughed he would say, “Well, I guess you had to be there.”

A year or so ago, a major national journalist visited our campus and later wrote a gracious, complimentary article about what he saw here. While I enjoyed his accounts of the progress and successful results he thought he had witnessed, my favorite part of the column was a single phrase, basically a throwaway line. He described Purdue as “a happy place.”

That got me wondering how many college campuses these days would strike a visitor quite that way. I hope it’s been that kind of place for you.

That strikes me. Most of you know that while I am a Purdue Alum, I didn’t graduate. Mot Purdue’s fault other duties just intruded more than was compatible, but for all that, while I never considered going back, it does remain a happy memory for me. Like so many of us, it was my first chance to live on my own, and I loved it. A happy place indeed, even while the Vietnam war was disrupting so many campuses.

But one thing I never expected to worry about, but now do a little, is your being lonely. I have known you and met thousands of you personally in an environment that, despite our size, does a pretty good job of getting people together, creating bonds among them. A thousand clubs. Dozens of faith-based organizations. Our Greek system and, maybe our best examples of true communities, our co-op residential houses, where students not only live but cook, clean and do repairs together. And, most recently, the “learning communities,” where thousands of Boilermakers live in mutual support with others who are studying the same subject matter.

But elsewhere, the academic journals and lay periodicals are now filled with research about the “epidemic of loneliness” in our society. Surveys report record numbers of Americans living alone and suffering from strong feelings of isolation. Many view it as a new public health crisis, linked to rising rates of depression, anxiety, even suicide. A lack of strong social relationships has been found to raise the risk of premature death by 50%.

Obviously, the last few months have really made this worse, and while the liberty-loving people of America are fighting for the right to again associate with others, we have not got it done yet. But it is a real problem, too many of us live our lives staring at our screens. I know I do. But right now, as Audre alluded to yesterday, it is a lifeline, the ability to associate with others like ourselves pretty much anywhere in the world. But I, and I suspect a lot of you, miss the touch, feel, the smell of others, let alone a smile of welcome at our arrival. Soon, I hope.

One of the things Mitch is warning against here is something that  J.B. Shurk wrote about in American Thinker the other day …

When Governor Gretchen Whitmer or J.B. Pritzker or Jay Inslee or Gavin Newsom opens his mouth or any of the exhausting municipal Marxists like Bill de Blasio and Lori Lightfoot starts barking orders, more and more Americans only hear “womp, womp, womp.” That’s a good thing. When elected representatives confuse their “public service” with titles of nobility giving them license to make demands beyond their delegated authority, Americans have a duty to just “walk away.” America is a “safe place” from entrenched aristocracy. We rule ourselves here; elected “servants of the people” are meant to take care of the public chores we’re too busy to perform ourselves. We pay them for this. In America, we’re our own feudal lords and ladies.

For all their talk of the “little guy,” the left sure does gravitate toward nobility and special classes with extra-special privileges. It’s not just their obvious devotion before the altar of celebrity or fashionable “groupthink” causes. They are transfixed by titles of any kind. Because we kicked all the dukes and duchesses, barons and baronesses, earls and countesses back to the other side of the pond, the left confuses education with the “right to rule.” Affixing “Dr.” before their names has become the only opportunity for them to separate themselves from a sea of commoners. And after having spent decades trying to wean society from signaling simple respect by addressing each other as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms., they are now often the only ones who demand verbal recognition of their special status. We have become a nation flooded with so many meaningless and laughable Ph.D.s, it seems, [interestingly at Purdue in my day, it was averred that Ph.D stands for  ‘Piled high and Deep’, something I still believe almost always] not because their holders consider education a path toward greater enlightenment, but so that they can become new members of a noble peerage class entitled to demand newfound privilege and respect nowhere else due.

He makes a lot of sense to me, so I think you should read it all.

And so, Hail Purdue, and our new Alums, and Liberate America.

I Am

Over the course of the last two, maybe two and a half years, I’ve developed a long distance friendship with someone from the United Kingdom. It has been educational, fun, insightful, and meaningful which is, of course, the very best that friendship has to offer.

The gentleman requested the link to our beloved Neo’s blog as he wanted to read a couple of my articles. I heard from him this morning and after stating what he thought about the articles, he ended his email with, “May God bless you, darling.” He’s probably the most chivalrous person on the planet. But it’s the statement that brought me up short.

May God bless you, darling. Such simple words, meant with great kindness. I am so incredibly humbled by those words and realize how truly blessed I am. I don’t – maybe we don’t – always take time to consider how we’ve been blessed. We can talk for hours about how we may have been ill-used or suffered some physical impairment and it’s resulting inconveniences but when it comes to our blessings, do we even think of them or share them with others? I can’t remember the last time someone told me how blessed they are or felt particularly blessed by something that happened in their lives. Of all the stories we tell, why aren’t these the first on the list?

There’s no end to the list of my blessings. I’m just going to share a small portion of my blessings because these are the things it’s important to know. I found acceptance, kindness, love, and friendship from the United Kingdom in five people who have become so very dear to my heart. Our church has a new priest who is so ‘on fire’ for the Lord you can feel the heat emanating from him and his resilience and fortitude in the face of the ‘shelter at home’ constraints has been truly humbling. I have a friend here in the States who is also long distance but instantly with me via email and I value him as being not just intellectual but grounded in real things, in the way the world works, in how things get done. My family and extended family are well and they love me. I have a roof over my head, food in the pantry, my bills are paid and there is no wolf at the door. God has given me more than I need and a million times more than I deserve. He, in His great love, has given me friendships I thought I would never have again.

“May God bless you, darling.” He has. I am.

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