“He was just kind of zombie-like”

27nicoll

Another tragic shooting, this time in Washington. Suspect Arrested in Washington Mall Shooting That Killed 5. It’s too early to know the motive, but Regis Nicoll has speculated on what is going on in the mind of these killers. From Salvo issue 27—The Zombie Killers: Nihilism Threatens Us with the Walking Dead.

. . . Whereas Hollywood movie zombies kill to satisfy their hunger, the real-life rampage murderer kills, says Dr. Hannig, in the belief that mass murder is “the solution to his problems.” He imagines that the spectacle of his crime will bring wide attention to the injustices he has had to bear. Through mass murder, he will assert his grievances and accomplish what he has failed to accomplish thus far: “to be heard, understood, and accepted.”

But whether fictional zombies or real-life murderers, such persons represent something the Apostle Paul warned would characterize the latter days: people “without natural affection” or, as the New Revised Standard Version puts it, who are “inhuman” (2 Timothy 3:1–9). They are not inhuman in the sense of “sub-human” or animalistic, however, but in the sense of “counter-human”—that is, these individuals are set against humanity and even their own humanness, often to the point of taking their own life after taking the lives of others.

Over sixty years ago, Albert Camus wrote a novel about what well could be the proto-“counter-human.” He titled the book The Stranger, an apt reference to the central character, Meursault. . . .

Next Stop: Wearing “C” On Our Shirts

by Michael Avramovich

Prior to the recent presidential trip to the G20 summit in China, I wrote on these pages about how Chinese human rights activists had met with Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security advisor, to urge that Mr. Obama advocate for religious and other human rights in China to President Xi and the other Chinese Communist government officials. At the G20 summit, there was no public comment or statements made regarding religious liberty and related human rights issues in China, and so one can infer that little of substance was articulated by Mr. Obama. As a result, many were disappointed with Mr. Obama’s failure to address these issues openly and candidly with Chinese officials.

DC08224LOGOBut from another obscure part of the Obama Administration, we may see why religious liberty issues are not a high-order priority for this Administration. Martin R. Castro, formerly of Chicago who declares in his biography that he is “is the proud product of Head Start and affirmative action in higher education,” is the chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (the “Commission”). The Commission is an “independent” federal agency whose mission is to “inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws.” Earlier this month, the Commission issued a 306-page report on “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” which is available here. In his comments, Chairman Castro wrote the following:

The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance. Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others. However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see “religious liberty” arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of “state rights”) in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans. This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America.

Thus, the Chairman declared that “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” have become merely “code words” for intolerance, “Christian supremacy” and committing every form of identity-politics sin, and thus, the First Amendment religious liberty rights must always yield before anti-discrimination laws.

A majority of other commissioners added the following bon-mots:

The fight to make religious-based exemptions to nondiscrimination laws preeminent over status-based civil liberties protections is characterized often as a battle being waged by some Christians who purport to speak for all Christians.

Then, those commissioners go on to describe how:

In 2015, twenty-eight state legislatures were already considering more than eighty-five anti-LGBT bills by mid-March. By early 2016, approximately two dozen state legislatures were considering at least that many bills which aim to limit Americans’ access to marriage rights, other government services, commercial services, health care services, adoption and foster care services, and other aspects of daily life based upon “religious exemption.” Some of these far-reaching proposals specifically target nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) Americans and some seek to limit women’s rights to reproductive freedoms. Many proposals are moving very quickly, and advocacy groups are monitoring them on an almost-daily basis.

(All citations were to Human Rights Campaign and the America Civil Liberties Union “reports.”) The Commission had particular problems with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), and has now called upon courts to restrict both the federal and state versions of the RFRA. While much can be written about the conflict of values and ideas, I am reminded of a law review article written several years ago by religious liberty scholar, Professor Douglas Laycock, who observed, “For the first time in nearly 300 years, important forces in American society are questioning the free exercise of religion in principle – suggesting that free exercise of religion may be a bad idea, or at least, a right to be minimized.” He posits “that the deep disagreements over sexual morality . . . have generated a much more pervasive hostility to certain kinds of religion, and this hostility has consequences,” and counseled against taking a “path [that] causes the very kinds of human suffering that religious liberty is designed to avoid,” a path leading to a society in which religious persons “who cannot change their mind [about a moral issue] are sued, fined, forced to violate their conscience, and excluded from occupations if they refuse.” Personally, I find that Dr. Castro and many of his commissioners are out of touch with our Constitution as government officials misinterpret and misuse nondiscrimination laws in order to punish religious citizens and organizations. However, it is a clear reminder, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that elections have grave consequences.

Salvo Links

Some articles of interest from around the web:

The Atlantic
What America Lost as Women Entered the Workforce

Civic organizations were built on the voluntary labor of women. As the demands on women’s time increase, communities are suffering.

The Guardian
A world without work is coming – it could be utopia or it could be hell
Robots will eventually do all our jobs, but we need to start planning to avert social collapse

Intellectual Takeout
Is European Civilization Vanishing Before Our Eyes?
The continent is witnessing an unprecedented population change.

This Past Weekend Modern Europe Died

51JnBP2io-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_by Michael Avramovich

In his magisterial book, Dark Continent, Professor Mark Mazower’s history of 20th century Europe, describes how Europe was the killing field of the 20th century. For decade after decade, Europe was the site of wars, great destitution, and numerous attempts to destroy and exterminate whole populations. Hundreds of millions of Europeans were killed, imprisoned, tortured and expelled in the name of racial, political and national ideological “progress,” including an entire generation of my family. One of the most powerful sections in his book was his description of how the eugenic and racist policies of the Nazis actually were an extension of policy recommendations of social and medical “reformers“ in other nations. Professor Mazower writes, “The German racial welfare state . . . was in so many ways the apotheosis of very widespread trends in European social thought,” which we know from Scandinavian, French, Swiss and American legislation authorizing sterilization and other eugenic policies. The Nazis simply brought German efficiency to these eugenic policies.

In the United States, many supporters of Planned Parenthood and its organizational predecessors supported the eugenic trends in Europe. Even our nation’s Supreme Court ruled in Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), that a state statute permitting compulsory sterilization of the unfit, including the intellectually disabled, ”for the protection and health of the state” did not violate the Constitution. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., famously concluded his ruling by declaring, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” (Incidentally, this Supreme Court decision has never been expressly overturned.) Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, believed that through abortion, birth control, forced sterilization and euthanasia, society could rid itself of “the unfit.” And who were the unfit? She dedicated her life to ridding the world mostly of poor black babies, whom she described as “degenerate and defective.” She was a featured guest of the Ku Klux Klan and a proponent of the eugenic policies of the Nazi regime in the 1930s. But, she wrote, one needn’t fear unfair excesses because “the rights of the individual could be equally well safeguarded by the Nazi regime.” After all, she noted in a letter praising Nazi eugenic efforts, “There are 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts in Germany to review the cases. . . . but in no case should the rights of society be disregarded.”

Now we have come full circle. It was widely reported on Saturday that a terminally ill 17-year-old became the first minor to be officially euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia were lifted in 2014. Jacqueline Herremans, a member of Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission (death panel?), said in a French media report, “The euthanasia has taken place.” She further announced that the euthanasia was done “in accordance with Belgian law.” Few details were provided other than the minor child had “a terminal illness.” Belgium is presently the only country in the world that allows terminally-ill children of any age to choose to end their life, but Belgian law requires that the minor be capable of making “rational decisions.” Further, any request for euthanasia must be made by the minor, be studied by a team of doctors, approved by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist, and have parental consent. The only thing missing is the 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts to give their legal authorization….always within the law, of course. The Netherlands also allows mercy killings for children, but only for those aged over 12. Lord, have mercy!

Douglass, the Play

An interesting review of a play about Frederick Douglass from The Weekly Standard:

“Douglass” a Timely Play amid Modern Racial Strife
Thomas Klingestein’s Frederick Douglass is optimistic, conservative—and occupied with personal disputes.

Timeliness is a virtue, and Thomas Klingenstein’s Douglass, which had its world-premiere this past summer at the Theater Wit in Chicago, captures the zeitgeist of our period of increasing racial tension. Through Douglass, Klingenstein hopes to reinvigorate our contemporary debates by revisiting the life and struggles of its titular character.

Douglass is presented as a story of redemption. At its founding the United States was burdened by the original sin of slavery, which needed to be expunged before it undermined the motivating principles of the Declaration and Constitution. Some men—such as the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and black nationalist Martin Delany—believe the damage has been done. The American dream is beyond salvation, as the sin of slavery had poisoned the tree of liberty down to its very roots.

Contrasted with these radical perspectives—one radically left, the other radically right—is the moderating wisdom of Frederick Douglass. He begins the play as an acolyte of Garrison, and struggles with the appeal of the intransigent positions of both Garrison and Delany. There is something attractive in radicalism, particularly for the dispossessed. It is sound and fury; a cathartic release, but one Douglass comes to realize is incapable of meaningful political action. . . . Read the rest.

I also recommend this article on Frederick Douglass from the Salvo archives:

Sabbath School
On the Emancipation of Frederick Douglass by Means of Liberal Education
by Thomas Jodziewicz

True wisdom has suggested that the only way to find one’s real self is, paradoxically, to get out of oneself, “to be beside oneself,” as philosopher Josef Pieper phrased it.

Our popular culture promotes the injurious fiction that the world is all about me, myself, and my ephemeral needs, a temptation that American culture has confronted for a long time. But a true liberal arts education can provide an escape from such alienation and loneliness—and boredom. A true liberal education is a way to discover that you are not alone.

As we share great texts and ideas and works of art, our vision and expectations can be enlarged. It does take work, and a peculiar type of courage to admit that there’s a world larger than the self while fear is all about us, but we are meant to be citizens of that larger world. The study of the liberal arts—the kind of study that means examination and not just memorization—can be a foundation or grounding for one’s work, one’s vocation, and really for one’s life in a larger world than oneself.

Take Frederick Douglass, for example. Douglass (1818—1895) escaped from slavery in Maryland in 1838. Seven years later he published the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself, the first of several autobiographies. . . . Read the rest.

Giving ’em What They Don’t Want

38kingFrom The Stream. African Activist: Stop Using Western Aid to Force Leftist Values on Our Cultures

Obianuju Ekeocha is a UK-based activist and author from Nigeria who founded Culture of Life Africa. Her organization defends African culture from Western governments and charities intent on pushing a ‘progressive’ agenda on African families. In her zeal to defend natural marriage and unborn life, Ekeocha has confronted various powerful figures, from Melinda Gates and President Barack Obama to U.N. Delegates and even the Catholic Church’s recent Synod on the Family.

Most of us in the West know very little about African culture, and yet many of us unwittingly support the very “charities” and foreign aid policies that Ekeocha believes are harmful to African people. To get Ekeocha’s take, I contacted her for an interview, which was conducted via email September 5.

Stephen Herreid: What got you started? Why did you found Culture of Life Africa, and how did you become a world-traveling advocate of the Gospel of Life?

Obianuju Ekeocha: I was born and raised in a small town in Nigeria. And I had the great blessing of assimilating, from my family and society, basic principles and values of faith, family, love, life, dignity and discipline.

I was taught that sex was sacred and best reserved for marriage, that marriage was the foundation of family, and that family was supposed to be the center of love and support. I understood that human life was precious from the womb and so every abortion was a serious attack against human life.

I knew, even as a young girl going through the less-than-perfect educational system in Nigeria, that my empowerment was dependent on my continued access to education rather than my access to contraception (and abortion).

By the time I moved to Europe in my mid-twenties for my masters degree, I realized that even though there was much to admire in the Western culture that I had moved into, there was a part of this culture that I could not accept or embrace because it was the direct opposite of the values I had learnt from my youth.

For years I held my thoughts, opinions and convictions to myself, but in 2012, when I heard that Melinda Gates was launching a multibilliondollar contraception and population control project targeted towards the 69 poorest countries in the world (most of which were African countries), I saw this as a bold move on her part to impose her worldview upon the poorest of the world. She was pushing to shift the views of millions of people on family, motherhood, marriage and sex.

This was cultural imperialism and I couldn’t reconcile with it or be silent about it.

It is Ms. Ekeocha’s last point here that struck me when we were working on the latest issue of Salvo—specifically from Nicole M. King’s article on this very topic. I had never thought about it in those terms, “cultural imperialism,” but of course that is exactly what it is. Ms. King writes in her article Fertility Fixers: Population Controllers Miscalculate

The second big incongruity in the NPR article—and others like it—is that apparently, when it comes to babies, it’s okay for the West to throw away its multicultural principles and instead be racist and colonial and altogether creepy toward people in less-developed countries. Despite all their talk about affirming the choices and cultures of people in those countries, the U.S. and other developed nations are brazenly poking their noses into the most intimate relationships that people can have.

Policymakers like to cite maternal mortality rates as justification for such intrusion, and admittedly, the rates in Ghana and other sub-Saharan nations are much higher than those in the developed world. But given that African women seem generally to want more children, why do we spend billions of dollars on birth control for them and then billions more trying to convince them to use it? The title of one of those Guttmacher Institute fact sheets says it all—”Costs and Benefits of Investing in Contraceptive Services in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

It’s the money, honey. The current model of reproductive foreign aid—injecting women with contraceptive implants or inserting IUDs—costs a lot less than setting up clinics and helping women deliver safely. It also costs the West a lot less in humanitarian aid when there are fewer women and children to care for. And it’s a lot more in line with our elite’s anti-baby ideology.

Food for thought.

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