Home/Rod Dreher

Toronto Cops Look For Bearded ‘Woman’

Last last night I returned from taping an interview with Jordan Peterson for his podcast. It was quite a thrill. He’s a powerful and intense figure, as you know, but he was really curious about my work, and respectful. I felt honored. It’s going to be up next Thursday. We spent the whole interview talking about my book Live Not By Lies. 

While I was waiting for the interview to start, a friend sent me this tweet by the Toronto Police:

I know, I know: what a bunch of dumbasses our ruling class is. But this is actually far more sinister. From Live Not By Lies:

In retrospect, this seems almost unbelievable. How could the Russians have been so blind? It was, in a sense, a problem of the imagination. Reflecting on the speed with which utopian dreams turned into a grisly nightmare, Solzhenitsyn observed:

If the intellectuals in the plays of Chekhov who spent all their time guessing what would happen in twenty, thirty, or forty years had been told that in forty years interrogation by torture would be practiced in Russia; that prisoners would have their skulls squeezed within iron rings, that a human being would be lowered into an acid bath; that they would be trussed up naked to be bitten by ants and bedbugs; that a ramrod heated over a primus stove would be thrust up their anal canal (the “secret brand”); that a man’s genitals would be slowly crushed beneath the toe of a jackboot; and that, in the luckiest possible circumstances, prisoners would be tortured by being kept from sleeping for a week, by thirst, and by being beaten to a bloody pulp, not one of Chekhov’s plays would have gotten to its end because all the heroes would have gone off to insane asylums.

It wasn’t just the tsarists who didn’t see it coming but also the country’s leading liberal minds. It was simply beyond their ability to conceive.

The point is not that that the Toronto Police folly is the same as the state crushing a prisoner’s genitals. The point is that people have no idea how quickly things they don’t imagine could happen actually can come to pass. If you had told intellectuals in the 1990s that within thirty to forty years, the police force of a major world city would be sending out a tweet like that with a straight face — and that for the cops to fail to do so would be a crime in that jurisdiction — well, those intellectuals would have thought this was hysterical Religious-Right propaganda designed to divide us. It would never happen, they would have confidently predicted.

This brings us to this second passage from Live Not By Lies:

As [Hannah] Arendt warned more than half a century ago:

There is a great temptation to explain away the intrinsically incredible by means of liberal rationalizations. In each one of us, there lurks such a liberal, wheedling us with the voice of common sense. The road to totalitarian domination leads through many intermediate stages for which we can find numerous analogues and precedents. . . . What common sense and “normal people” refuse to believe is that everything is possible.

This comment under the tweet I put up about the Toronto cops’ idiocy is a perfect example of a Wheedling Liberal:

The police department of a major world city tweeting out an alert to look out for a “woman” who looks like that bloke is not an “obscure anecdote,” but rather the sign that something has gone terribly wrong in a society.

Don’t forget these lines from Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four:

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

The Toronto Police force, agents of the State, tells you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. This is the most essential command of Wokeness. When you have an entire nation that has learned to do that, or at least has learned to collaborate with that insanity without protest, you have a nation that can be convinced to accept just about anything. That police tweet is a sign of our times. Why do people submit to this? Don’t they understand that they are laying the groundwork, culturally and psychologically, for their own total domination by lies?

leave a comment

Snowballs Of Soft Totalitarianism

Snowball, 'Animal Farm' villain, responsible for all failures of utopia

This piece by the liberal NYT columnist Tom Edsall is the most hopeful thing I’ve read in a while. In it, he details how so many left-wing activist organizations are tearing each other apart internally over wokeness. Excerpt:

There has been a burst of stories in recent weeks describing devastating internal conflicts within progressive organizations, the most conspicuous of which was Ryan Grim’s June 13 Intercept piece, “Elephant in the Zoom: Meltdowns Have Brought Progressive Advocacy Groups to a Standstill at a Critical Moment in World History.”

Grim’s assessment resonated across the internet and was quickly followed by Molly Redden’s June 17 HuffPost account, “Inside the A.C.L.U.’s Post-Trump Reckoning”; Jon Gabriel’s article in the Arizona Republic on June 18, “Who needs a right-wing plot when progressives are busy eating themselves alive?”; Zack Colman’s June 19 Politico column, “Justice or overreach? As crucial test looms, Big Greens are under fire”; and John Harris’s June 23 Politico essay, “The Left Goes to War with Itself.”

According to Grim (and those other reports), disputes over diversity, equity and inclusion — over doctrine, language and strategies — have paralyzed much of the left advocacy and nonprofit sector.

William Galston, a senior fellow at Brookings, has a sharp eye for what’s not working in Washington and has long been a critic of those he feels are pulling the Democratic Party too far to the left. Galston emailed me his take on the current situation:

In recent months I’ve had the chance to talk to several presidents and executive directors of established left-leaning centers and groups. They all tell versions of the same story:

Around 2015, something changed. The young people they were hiring were focused on issues of race, gender, and identity as never before, and they were impatient with — even scornful of — what they regarded as the timid incrementalism of the organizations’ leaders. They wanted equity (as they defined it) immediately. They were acutely sensitive to what they saw as microaggressions, including the use of terms to identify different groups that they regarded as out of date and insulting. They were prickly, quick to take offense and to see malign motives rather than inadvertent mistakes.

This generation gap has forced leaders to devote unprecedented time and energy to internal governance, sometimes to the detriment of their organization’s mission. The left has a long tradition of turning on itself, and what I’ve reported is the latest chapter in a long running saga.

One high-ranking nonprofit official who has been in the middle of these battles, but who declined to be identified because of the repercussions he would face within his organization, commented by email:

Difficulties addressing D.E.I. issues and identity politics are part of the problem, but they are symptoms as much as causes. There’s a new perfectionism in our organizations that gets in the way of actually dealing with challenges in our imperfect world.

The fundamental problem, he wrote, is “the presence in every progressive organization of a small but very vocal fringe that views every problem as a sin.” This hyper-moralization of internal disputes spills over into real-world but otherwise routine disagreements, he continued: “It has become too easy for people to conflate disagreements about issues with matters of identity.”

Every leader of a nonprofit organization, he contended, “is struggling with the same problems regardless of the race, gender, or identity of the leader.”
You love to see it.

There’s more:

The current factional difficulties on the left bring to mind the work of Richard Ellis, a professor of political science at Willamette University and a liberal, who wrote the 1998 book “The Dark Side of the Left: Illiberal Egalitarianism in America.” Ellis described the transformation of the radical 1960s group Students for a Democratic Society:

“How did S.D.S. move from the nonviolence of the Port Huron Statement to the violent fantasies of the Days of Rage?” Ellis asked.

Answering his own question, Ellis argued:

The impulse to effect social changes was increasingly pre-empted and distorted by a desire to retain an uncorrupted honesty or purity. The S.D.S. worldview increasingly became one of “us” versus “them,” the good inside versus the evil outside.

A similar process overtook two subsequent movements, in Ellis’s view:

Characteristic of both radical feminism and radical environmentalism is the tendency to dismiss the choices people make as a product of false consciousness. Under conditions of inequality, Catharine MacKinnon insists, female consent is merely male coercion concealed. Driving a car, radical environmentalists tell us, is an “addiction,” not a real choice.

Eric Kaufmann, a political scientist at the University of London and author of the book “Whiteshift” (and who pointed me to Ellis’s book), argued by email that a key element in the struggle of progressive groups “is the elevation of emotion and the personal over reason, generalizable data and process.”

Read the whole thing. It’s a good column. The best quote is from Steven Pinker, who says that the entire crisis is built on the woke Left’s belief that progress comes from Good defeating Evil (as opposed to problem-solving), and its false assumption about equality: that the only reason for unequal results is bigotry. Pinker calls this “an algorithm for infinite recrimination because of an iron law of social science: nothing ever mirrors the demographic statistics of a nation.”

Edsall goes on to talk about how, when people of color rise to positions of leadership, but struggle to succeed in them, the only reason (from the woke perspective) for this has to be institutional racism that hasn’t yet been identified and eliminated. No Social Justice Warrior can ever entertain the idea that that particular minority simply might not be very good at his or her job. I once worked in a professional environment in which a BIPOC was given a plum job far above their experience, and who failed spectacularly.

Everyone in the office was expected to avert their eyes from the humiliating disaster of this person’s professional flame-out. Plus, the rest of us had to take on extra work — this person’s work — to give this person “the chance to succeed.” Most of the people I worked with were liberals, but they had earned their positions by hard work and experience, and did not appreciate being compelled to do not only their own work, but somebody else’s, in service to a false philosophy of egalitarianism. When the BIPOC employee eventually burned out, I felt bad for this person, who was young, because they might have succeeded in time, by working themself through the ranks, like everybody else, if the (all-white) upper management hadn’t insisted that only a BIPOC should be hired for that job, and this person was promoted far beyond their ability to do the job — only because of the color of their skin.

This particular issue caused a lot of internal grumbling on the team, eventually among the white liberals, who eventually could not ignore the evidence of their own eyes. But this appointment was part of a broader push within the organization to elevate BIPOCs and other minorities, regardless of the quality of their work. I remember arguing with someone in the office (a white person) who supported this move, and who said, in all sincerity, that “diversity is a component of quality.” No it’s not! A crap piece of writing does not somehow become good because the person who wrote it is a BIPOC, gay, or female. But this is the corrupt principle behind the “decolonizing” of college courses and libraries.

George Orwell, in Animal Farm, understood well the dynamic at work in these situations. When reality fails to conform to ideological principles, then the ideologue has to find a scapegoat to blame:

If a window was broken or a drain was blocked up, someone was certain to say that Snowball had come in the night and done it, and when the key of the store-shed was lost, the whole farm was convinced that Snowball had thrown it down the well. Curiously enough, they went on believing this even after the mislaid key was found under a sack of meal.

“White supremacy,” “whiteness,” and “institutional racism” are the Snowballs of soft totalitarianism.

So, it’s a very good thing that these maniacs are eating each other alive. This is the time for the Right to get its act together and fight back hard, on every front, against these lunatics. It’s not going to be easy, given that they have captured every institution. But their ideology is incapable of dealing with reality, and produces nothing but failure, resentment, and conflict. This is what they are doing to our country. Joe Biden’s vision, rather than being a sensible center-left governing plan, has elevated identity politics to the first rank. There is no way to keep a country as diverse as America together if its leadership is guided by this kind of insanity.

Here’s the thing: it is not enough to defeat them politically. We have to build up something positive to replace wokeness.

Yesterday, after I wrote the blog post about Viktor Orban as “defender of the normies,” I ran into a friend who has done academic work on the Czech philosopher Jan Patočka, and wanted to talk to me about doing a book on Patočka for a non-academic audience. The only thing I know about Patočka is that he was a courageous anti-communist dissident intellectual persecuted by the Communist regime. That, and a phrase of Patočka’s that I first encountered in reading Roger Scruton: “the solidarity of the shattered” (or “of the shaken,” depending on your translator). Here is an explanation of the concept:

“When Jan Patocka wrote about Charter 77, he used the term ‘solidarity of the shaken’. He was thinking of those who dared resist impersonal power and to confront it with the only thing at their disposal, their own humanity.”

With this observation Václav Havel refers to an essential idea developed in one of the final works of the Czech philosopher, Jan Patočka, Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History, in which Patočka analyses the meaning of war in the twentieth century. It is precisely in this text that Patočka introduces the idea of “solidarity of the shaken”, meaning with it a particular bond that originates between people who have experienced a strong disturbance of the certainties, big and small, that hold their lives in place.

The “shaken” is an individual whose everyday assurances have been overturned by a deeply shocking experience, which allows them to change their perspective on life. From Patočka’s point of view, the shaken are “those who are capable of understanding what life and death are all about, and so what history is about”[2], as they have regained the true meaning of their own life through the experience of an actual danger. By rediscovering the meaning of their death, human beings can also understand what life really is, i.e. something that cannot be restricted to ordinary every day experience, or limited to mere facts.

“The solidarity of the shaken is built up in persecution and uncertainty: that is its front line, quiet, without fanfare or sensation even there where this aspect of the ruling Force seeks to seize it.”

These words remind us of the meaning of the dissident action engendered by Charter 77, as its signatories themselves defined it. Indeed, Havel and Patočka have highlighted the concept of a pure solidarity, experienced in a disturbing moment, which has guided them to a deep sense of sharing and loyalty. They have consciously chosen to leave the safe ground of everydayness in order to live a dangerous experience which allows them to create a new kind of commonality. Czechoslovakian dissidents were shaken persons, living a life exposed to danger and “problematicity”. Havel, Patočka and all the signatories of Charter 77 followed the direction of an ethical, critical and essential choice, which created a strong solidarity despite the differences existing between these people.

I am eager for a populist conservative leader who can help those shattered or shaken by the malign use of woke power, to build an alliance to drive them out of power, and to replace them with a more just order. Reading this about Patočka helps me to understand better what the Czech dissident Kamila Bendova meant when she explained to me why it was necessary (and easy) for her and her late husband, Vaclav Benda, to collaborate closely with all the hippie atheists in the Charter 77 movement, even though the Bendas were political and religious conservatives. She told me that when you are faced with totalitarianism, the rarest quality to find in others is courage. Havel and the hippies had it; most Christians, despite sharing religious convictions with the Catholic Bendas, did not. The Bendas leaned into solidarity of the shaken with the hippies who had been persecuted for their beliefs — one of their number was even a Trotskyist! — rather than the superficial solidarity with fellow Christians who kept their heads down for the sake of safety.

Similarly, we religious and social conservatives should form coalitions with brave anti-woke gay public intellectuals like Bari Weiss and Douglas Murray, rather than impose our own purity tests. All of us who have been shaken by conflict with wokeness in power must recognize that we share that in common. Whatever our differences — and they are meaningful differences — we are united in our opposition to these unjust and insane totalitarians. We can and must work out a new way of cooperating and living together with our differences, based on our shared experience of injustice at the hands of woke ideology.

The work remains to be done. One of the common criticisms heard after last autumn’s National Conservatism conference in Orlando was that the only thing holding us together was a shared loathing of wokeness. That’s a fair criticism, but that only means that we have creative and constructive labor ahead of us. We know what we don’t want — but what do we want? The refusal of a coercive, moralistic, radical egalitarian ideology — wokeness — is a good basis on which to discuss and negotiate among ourselves. And — crucially — witnessing the purity clashes destroying woke institutions now is a clear sign to us on the Right that we need to avoid the same. Though I hold moral views far to the Right of many people, I don’t want to live in a right-wing version of Wokeistan.

Douglas Murray’s remarks earlier this year, asking what it is about the Right that makes it so unattractive, are worth pondering. I am religious, and Murray, who is gay, is not. Our views on homosexuality are irreconcilable. But I know that my views are unpopular today; as a matter of practical politics, I would be willing to enter into a compromise in which we have a public order that makes a place for gay people, including civil partnerships, in exchange for robust religious liberty — including the right of religious institutions to be left alone by LGBT crusaders. I am not willing to allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good enough for now. What makes me still a classical liberal, however weak, is my hatred of bullies and the mob; I am in favor, deep down, of the right to be left alone.

We on the religious and social Right simply have to face the fact that on the gay question, we have lost the culture war, and that if we are going to protect our institutions, and our own religious liberty, we are going to have to reach a modus vivendi with gay conservatives and gay classical liberals who oppose us religious believers, but who don’t want to smash us. I’m not sure what that compromise would look like, but those conversations ought to be happening now (though probably not in public). Camille Paglia, who is outspokenly lesbian and atheist, once famously said that her fellow gays should be careful about attacking the Church. She points out that historically speaking, homosexuality has only flourished under conditions of advanced civilization. Like it or not, the Church is a pillar of civilization. Gays, according to Paglia, may think they are triumphing by attacking the Church, but in fact they may be undermining the conditions under which they can thrive. I would like to know more about that thesis.

Let me make this more concrete. If you haven’t watched Matt Walsh’s documentary What Is A Woman?, you really must. What makes it so brilliant is the simplicity of the concept: he simply asks leading lights of the gender ideology/trans movement to define “woman”. They can’t do it. This is a question that 99 percent of humanity had no problem answering until the day before yesterday. It’s a question that most of humanity still has no problem answering, but the power of the gender ideologues has cowed all those in professional circles into silence.

In Live Not By Lies, I quote (not by name) a physician in a major American hospital who told me that the hospital administration had ordered all the staff to give anybody who showed up wanting cross-sex hormones or surgical intervention what they wanted, no questions asked. This, even if it violated the physicians’ best judgment about what was good for that particular patient. Moreover, the doctor told me that the Human Resources department at the hospital monitored the social media feeds of all the doctors, to make sure none of them tweeted, Facebooked, or Instagrammed anything problematic. This is how far these crazies are willing to go to impose their ideology.

When you watch Walsh’s movie, you may feel shock that the rest of us have allowed such lunatics to achieve so much power. What Walsh does in that documentary is what ordinary journalists ought to have been doing years earlier, if American journalism had not been captured by ideologues. There is tremendous opportunity for politicians of the Right to build on the common-sense courage seen in Walsh’s documentary. Similarly, Mrs. DK, a semi-regular commenter here, is a Christian who talks about the solidarity of the shaken she has found with atheists and others not like her, all of whom have had their children captured by gender ideology, such that the kids have undertaken medicalized sex changes. Whatever our differences — religious, political, etc. — the threat to our children should bring us all together to stop the ideologues.

More broadly, as we see in the Edsall piece, if we don’t stop these people while we can, any basis for us to live together peacefully as people in a diverse country will be destroyed. The vicious infighting that they have brought to the organizations they control will be made general, given their control over big social institutions. Wokeness has captured the US military. What happens when our soldiers, sailors, and airmen, Balkanized from the top, turn tribal, and then on each other? We would be facing an existential question for our nation.

So, to end: the Right has to press its advantage hard now, against the woke in disarray, to dismantle their hold on our institutions, and cast their malignant ideology out of the public square. But it also has to build on the solidarity of those shaken by wokeness, to create (or reclaim) a positive social and political order. What I personally can’t figure out is if this means a return to classical liberalism, or if it really is true that classical liberalism got us into this mess. I tend to believe that classical liberalism got us into this mess, but I also don’t know if it’s possible to rebuild a binding social settlement without a shared source of authority. In other words, I don’t know if a stable liberalism is possible without Christianity. I doubt it, but I am willing to hear arguments. It ought to be obvious that the Catholic integralist project is a total non-starter, absent conversion. A non-Catholic Christian like me could only see this as a form of tyranny. I would unquestionably prefer to live under that kind of tyranny than woke tyranny. But I wonder: is the only realistic option open to us some form of tyranny? If liberalism really is dead, what else is there?

Lots to think about. Hey, good news: I’ve been invited by Jordan Peterson onto his podcast, to discuss Live Not By Lies. I will be recording the episode later today. So glad to finally connect with Dr. Peterson.

leave a comment

The Pope, Pelosi, Eucharist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week, denouncing Supreme Court abortion rights ruling

This is really something. It happened in Rome earlier this afternoon:

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Pope Francis on Wednesday and received Communion during a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, witnesses said, despite her position in support of abortion rights.

Pelosi attended the morning Mass marking the feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul, during which Francis bestowed the woolen pallium stole on newly consecrated archbishops. She was seated in a VIP diplomatic section of the basilica and received Communion along with the rest of the congregants, according to two people who witnessed the moment.

Pelosi’s home archbishop, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, has said he will no longer allow her to receive the sacrament in his archdiocese because of her support for abortion rights. Cordileone, a conservative, has said Pelosi must either repudiate her support for abortion or stop speaking publicly of her Catholic faith.

Pelosi has done neither. She called the recent Supreme Court ruling removing constitutional protections for abortion an “outrageous and heart-wrenching” decision that fulfils the Republican Party’s “dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions.”

So, Pope Francis overrules Pelosi’s own bishop, and gives her communion just days after the Dobbs decision, which, as the AP reports, she denounced in vivid terms.

Of course this Pope has a rather liberal view of these things. From a transcript of his press conference on the flight back from his visit to Hungary and Slovakia last fall:

O’Connell:You have often said that we are all sinners, and that the Eucharist is not a reward for the perfect but a medicine and food for the weak. As you know, in the USA after the last elections, there was a discussion among the bishops about giving communion to politicians who supported abortion laws, and there are bishops who want to deny communion to the president and other officials. Some bishops are in favourable, others say not to use the Eucharist as a weapon. What do you think and what do you advise the bishops to do? And have you as a bishop in all these years publicly refused the Eucharist to anyone?

Pope Francis:I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone; I don’t know if anyone has come in these conditions! This even as a priest. I have never been conscious of having a person like the one you describe in front of me, that is true. [Emphasis mine — RD] The only time I’ve ever had a nice thing happen was when I went to serve Mass in an old people’s home, I was in the living room, and I said: who wants Communion? All the old people raised their hands. One little old lady raised her hand and took Communion and said: “Thank you, I’m Jewish” And I said: “What I gave you is Jewish too!”

Communion is not a prize for the perfect – think of Jansenism – Communion is a gift, a present, it is the presence of Jesus in the Church and in the community. Then, those who are not in the community cannot take Communion, like this Jewish lady, but the Lord wanted to reward her without my knowledge. Out of the community – ex-communicated – because they are not baptised or have drifted away.

The second problem, that of abortion: it’s more than a problem, it’s homicide, whoever has an abortion, kills. No mincing words. [Emphasis mine — RD] Take any book on embryology for medical students. The third week after conception, all the organs are already there, even the DNA… it is a human life, this human life must be respected, this principle is so clear! To those who cannot understand, I would ask this question: Is it right to kill a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to kill a human life? Scientifically, it is a human life. Is it right to take it out to solve a problem? That is why the Church is so harsh on this issue, because if it accepts this, it is as if it accepts daily murder. A Head of State told me that the demographic decline began because in those years there was such a strong law on abortion that six million abortions were performed and this left a decline in births in the society of that country.

Now we go to that person who is not in the community, who cannot receive Communion. And this is not a punishment, he is outside. But the problem is not theological, it is pastoral, how we bishops manage this principle pastorally. And if we look at the history of the Church, we will see that every time the bishops have not dealt with a problem as pastors, they have taken sides on a political front. Think of the night of St Bartholomew’s, “Heretics, yes, let’s cut their throats!… Think of the witch-hunts… of Campo di Fiori, of Savonarola. When the Church defends a principle, when it does so in a non-pastoral manner, it takes sides on a political level, and this has always been the case, just look at history. What must the pastor do? Be a pastor, don’t go condemning. Be a pastor, because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated. Pastors with God’s style, which is closeness, compassion, and tenderness. The whole Bible says so. A pastor who does not know how to act as a pastor… I am not very familiar with the details of the United States… But if you’re close, tender, and give communion? It’s a hypothesis. The pastor knows what to do at all times. But if you go beyond the pastoral dimension of the Church, you become a politician, and you can see this in all the non-pastoral condemnations of the Church… If you say you can give or not give, this is casuistry… Remember the storm that was whipped up with Amoris laetitia? “Heresy, heresy!” Fortunately, Cardinal Schoenborn, a great theologian, was there, he clarified things… They are children of God and they need our pastoral closeness, then the pastor resolves things as the Spirit indicates to him.

I don’t understand this position at all. Francis clearly believes that abortion is murder. He also says he has never denied communion to anyone, and that he has never knowingly had a politician who favors abortion present themselves for communion. Well, it happened today at the Vatican, and there is no way he can plausibly claim to have been in the dark about Nancy Pelosi’s stance.

He communed a politician who believes that the Supreme Court’s finding that there is nothing in the US Constitution that constitutes a right to kill the unborn is an outrage. It sounds like Francis’s bottom line is that anybody who is in the Catholic Church has a right to receive communion. What is the point of confession, then? If you can receive communion despite having unconfessed sins, what does this do to the rite of confession?

In the Orthodox Church in America, my wife and I are not permitted to receive Communion now because of our pending divorce proceedings. I don’t like it, especially because I did not initiate the divorce, but those are the rules. They aren’t meant to punish us; they are meant to underscore the profound significance of holy communion. In some Orthodox jurisdictions — I believe the Antiochians are like this — believers are kept away from the chalice for six months after the marriage has been dissolved by the Church. I think we can argue about the pastoral wisdom of all this in good faith, but I greatly appreciate how the disciplines of the Orthodox churches underscore how serious they take Eucharistic theology — this, even when those disciplines are being used against me.

Let me ask you readers who attend churches where the Eucharist is offered: does your priest or parish ever refuse the Eucharist to anybody? Or is it understood that anybody is welcome to receive, under any conditions? Whatever your church’s policy, do you think it’s a good policy, or not?

I do believe that stricter policies are better. I agree with the Pope that the Eucharist is medicine for sinners, but the ability of the medicine to work inner healing depends on the internal disposition of the recipient. A person who is guilty of serious sin, but is not repentant? The “medicine” is wasted on that sort of person, I think. This is why the Catholic and Orthodox churches insist on confession (which entails repentance) before receiving communion. To separate receiving the Eucharist from confession (and repentance) is to do violence to the meaning of the Eucharist, I believe.

This conflict between the Pope and the Archbishop of San Francisco reminds me of the e-mail I received from a reader who taught religion in a Catholic high school in the South. He wrote after Francis said his “who am I to judge?” remarks about homosexuality. The teacher said that he had worked hard, for a long time, to explain the Church’s teaching to his students, and in a single ill-chosen phrase, Francis had destroyed all of his work. He told me that his students said that the Pope doesn’t think it’s a big deal, so why should they? Similarly, how can priests and educators teach young Catholics the meaning of the Eucharist if the pontiff himself doesn’t seem to care who receives it, beyond them being at least nominally Catholic?

And: to what extent does the Pope doing this, in contravention of the San Francisco Archbishop’s ruling, constitute a meaningful split between him and Archbishop Cordileone? Catholic priests, canonists, and theologians who read this blog, help me out here.

leave a comment

Defender Of The Normies

Viktor Orban

I’m still pissed off by that crap New Yorker story about US conservatives and Hungary. All of us who know anything about Hungary know that we should not expect a positive story about Viktor Orban’s government in the Western media. The best we can hope for is something that is fair and nuanced. Based on past experience with other New Yorker writers, I thought I could expect that from the New Yorker. That’s why I went out on a limb to open doors for the writer that wouldn’t have opened otherwise, because the pro-Orban Hungarians have learned from painful experience not to trust journalists. No, I said, the New Yorker is serious. Yes, it’s liberal, but I think they will be open to reporting things that don’t fit the standard left-wing narrative. I put my credibility on the line, and boy, do I feel stupid. Never again will I help any Western journalist with the Hungarians.

“I’m disappointed in what he wrote,” texted one of my Hungarian sources, who talked to the reporter. “He could have written the same shit staying in NY.” True. You don’t have to like Viktor Orban at all to recognize that the Orban phenomenon is a lot more interesting than what the ideologically-driven liberal Western journalists say. You might be tired of me writing about Orban, but I’m telling you, the things in play here matter a lot to the US political scene, and will increasingly do so. From my perspective, the things that make Orban interesting and instructive for US conservatives are:

  1. He recognizes that “liberalism” is not liberal anymore, and that the left-controlled institutions have no interest at all in playing fair with those who disagree with them. And he doesn’t give a rat’s rear end what they say about him. He fights, and he fights intelligently. Which is why he’s effective.
  2. He is socially conservative but economically more to the Left than Republicans. That is, he’s a real populist.
  3. He believes in national sovereignty, not globalism. He’s not opposed to transnational alliances and organizations, but he believes that it’s important for people to keep and defend their own traditions and ways of life. That entails controlling immigration.

The core of it, I think, is that Orban realizes that the deck is stacked against the deplorables, and makes himself their champion. European leaders went berserk last summer when Orban’s government enacted a law preventing LGBT propaganda aimed at children and minors. But Orban looks at what’s happening in the West, where so many kids are calling themselves queer, and demanding hormones and surgery, and where all of this came about amid a propaganda blitz, and he says NO, we will not have this in our country. 

A reader writes:

American conservatives have to go to Hungary looking for authentic conservative leadership because too many of our own are grifters (see Trump, Donald J.), carnival barkers, or controlled opposition (see Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson’s strange new love for Pride, or Bush speechwriter David Frum’s opposition to actually overturning Roe v. Wade, which I believe was a stated goal of the administration her served). This is why the populist Right in Europe is sucking all the energy out of the established Right parties in Europe, e.g., France.

Notice how all the “world order” types are in rigid lockstep denouncing the end of Roe, calling it a threat to democracy, and all the rest. Social and religious conservatives really are strangers in a strange land now. What most of us knew already is now completely undeniable: abortion and LGBT are now absolutely sacrosanct, and any social conservative who opposes them must be shouted down and marginalized. Name just one area where it would be acceptable to draw limits, just one! You can’t. As far as they are concerned, this is what the Western world order stands for, and what it must now uphold and defend: abortion, sodomy, and sex changes, including for children.

To which my own view is: good luck with that. You have now raised several generations on hating the West. You have a completely atomized society, and are basically running on money and branding as the vultures gather. You will notice how all of the easy-win triumphalism on Ukraine has gradually faded as Western interest has waned and Russia’s gradual gains have continued. Expect to see a lot more of that in the coming years.

Here’s the thing that you never, ever read about Hungary in the Western media, but that you notice as soon as you spend any time there: the whole country seems like a middle-American city circa 1985. If you are a liberal person, you might find that unpleasant, but it ain’t fascism. I had introduced the New Yorker writer to Mark Bollobas, who grew up in the UK and US, the son of Hungarian parents who fled Communism. He moved to his parents’ homeland a decade or so ago, because he wanted to start a family, and he had lost faith in a future for him in either America or Britain. He hated the inequality, the violence, and the instability of the US and the UK (including the speed with which the culture in the UK was changing because of mass immigration). In Hungary, though he is poorer than he would have been back home (salaries here are low), he is much happier. He now has a wife and two kids. He spent an evening explaining to the reporter why he made the move.

It’s not a move for everybody, but Mark’s perspective — which I know, because he’s a friend of mine, and because he wrote about it at length here — is really interesting. Shouldn’t a reporter trying to figure out why conservatives like Orban be interested in that sort of thing? Last summer when I was here, I talked to a young woman, at the time a Danube Institute colleague (she has since moved on), who is not religious, and was living with her boyfriend. She was 100 percent behind Orban in part because, as she put it, “I don’t want to raise kids in a country where they are told that they might be of the opposite sex.” Simple as that. Many liberals today cannot fathom a world in which parents might find it horrifying that their sons could claim to be girls, and the entire established order — the state, the media, medicine, corporations, law — is lined up to sever the child from his given sex, and from his parents.

Viktor Orban says no, not on my watch. When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis oversaw the enacting of the law forbidding discussing sexuality with little children in Florida public schools, and punched back hard against the groomer Walt Disney Company when it tried to raise hell about it — that was pure Orban. Imagine a Republican governor daring to stand up to woke capitalism and the LGBT media colossus! DeSantis 2022 is not Mike Pence 2015, who, as Indiana governor, collapsed on the religious freedom restoration law when woke capitalists roared in opposition.

I’ve mentioned in this space before that a visiting American friend told me, after two weeks in Budapest, that as best he can tell, Orban’s Hungary is a lot like Mayor Daley’s Chicago. It’s run by a political machine dominated by a charismatic leader, but it is certainly a machine that can be voted out of office when it stops delivering for the people. The Pendergast family in Kansas City ran a similar machine a hundred years ago; it’s how Harry S Truman got his start in politics. Huey P. Long ran a similar machine in Louisiana.

My late father was a conservative voter all his life, but he wouldn’t hear a bad word said against Huey Long. Born in the Great Depression into rural poverty, my dad told me that if it hadn’t been for Gov. Long and his successors — crooks though they were — poor people like his family would have continued to be screwed by the oligarchs that ran Louisiana. The choice they had was not between good government and bad government; the choice they had was between crooked government that looked out for the interests of the poor and working class, or crooked government that benefited the rich.

Similarly today: there is no such thing as clean politics in the former Communist bloc, of either Left or Right. Corruption is just how things get done. The question is, does the government deliver overall for its people? Had the New Yorker reporter bothered to talk to people who didn’t share his views, he would have had no trouble finding people here who are fed up with what they consider to be the Orban clique helping each other out, but who vote Orban anyway because they believe he has the best interests of Hungary in mind, and actually delivers for them. These are people who do not want Brussels to tell them that they have to subject their children to genderqueer propaganda, and that they have to open their borders to foreign mass immigration. As one young female voter told me last summer, she doesn’t like the Orban-style corruption, but she planned to vote for him anyway in the next election, because the moral and intellectual corruption that comes from western Europe (she was talking about gender ideology) is the kind that will destroy a people. She’s right.

One more thing. Jeremiah Daws is an Evangelical Christian who worked for years as a creative at Walt Disney. He lived in the closet there — in the closet as a Christian — because he feared what would happen if people in that oh-so-tolerant, diversity-and-inclusivity company would do if they knew what he really believed. He left the company not long ago, and when the Dobbs decision came down, overturning Roe, he went public on social media with his profession of faith.

It did not go well for him. Read on:

You want to know where Viktor Orban comes from? He speaks for — and defends — people like Jeremiah Daws. People who are sick and tired of being pushed around by the powerful people in this society, told that they are horrible people for the views they hold, and deserve contempt and punishment, no matter how kind and compassionate they might be.

He’s for the normies, in other words. He’s for the people who are tired of being told that they should be ashamed of their country and its traditions, and that things would be so much better if foreigners immigrated here to improve it by displacing the original “bigots” whose ancestors settled here. He’s for the people who are sick and tired of woke Big Business, and woke educators, trashing the normies. A young Hungarian woman told me recently that at university in Budapest, all her professors went on and on about how horrible the Orban government is, even if it had nothing at all to do with the subject of the class. She couldn’t grasp their obsession. Told me it’s all they wanted to talk about. She is a practicing Catholic who actually approves of the government, but she was too intimidated by the bullying of her professors to say anything in class.

But the voting booth is private. This is why Orban wins. And this is why a Republican presidential candidate who can figure Orban out and deduce how to apply his insights to the American scene — which is significantly different from Hungary, which is mono-ethnic — will win in 2024. And this is why the American and western European journalistic class will continue to be shocked. They don’t see what they don’t want to see. I’m never going to help another one see it, either. The Hungarians at CPAC didn’t want to let western media in, because they didn’t see any reason to help out the people they knew would come in and write lies about them. I thought they were mistaken. They weren’t; I was.

leave a comment

Trump Behind The Wheel

Cassidy Hutchinson, January 6 committee witness

Crazy stuff in Washington today at the January 6th hearings. Take a look at this clip of Gen. Mike Flynn refusing to answer whether he believes in the peaceful transfer of power in the US, by taking the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. My God, this guy. This retired three-star general.

President Trump thought Mike Pence deserved to be hanged, according to testimony from Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson.

Hutchinson in this clip tells a jaw-dropping story about how President Trump tried to grab the wheel of the presidential limousine when his driver refused to take him to the Capitol to join the mob there. I suppose she could be lying, but I don’t think so. What’s in it for her to lie? This sounds in character for Trump, too.

What do you even say to that? This is batsh*t crazy! A man as insane as that was once President of the United States. It’s like something out of a bad Hollywood movie.

This man needs to be sent away. He did some good things, but he cannot hold power again.

UPDATE: To be fair, she’s not being challenged. She could be lying. I wish I thought she was lying.

UPDATE.2: And yet! Look at the insane, immoral man who is now in the White House:

UPDATE.3: A contrary view, one that says Secret Service agents are prepared to testify under oath that what Cassidy Hutchinson says happened never did. More:

I noted in this afternoon’s post that the January 6 committee has already interviewed Engel. Maggie Haberman reports that they interviewed Ornato too, many months ago. I assumed they had already corroborated the details of the SUV incident with the two of them and were having Hutchinson tell her story today in anticipation of Engel and Ornato telling it themselves in future testimony. Otherwise, why the hell would they have Hutchinson pass on a story second-hand on national television which might not bear out under scrutiny, causing it to blow up in their faces?

I assumed too much, it seems. And as others have noted, it *is* strange that this explosive account of what happened in the vehicle never once leaked in 17 months before today.

Much depends on Ornato now. If he testifies that he told Hutchinson about the SUV incident but got his facts wrong somehow — maybe he heard a rumor second-hand himself and irresponsibly passed it along — then Hutchinson’s credibility is intact. It’s the committee’s credibility that will be badly damaged, having allowed a witness to share a bombshell allegation that they hadn’t personally corroborated. That would be a disaster, but not a major disaster inasmuch as the SUV incident wasn’t the important testimony that Hutchinson gave today. The important stuff was when she claimed to have heard firsthand Trump say backstage at the January 6 rally that he didn’t care if his supporters were bringing weapons to the rally because he knew they weren’t meant for him.

Whatever. I’m sick of the craziness of Trump, and just want a conservative president who believes what Trump believes (or said he did), but who can be counted on to be a damn grown-up, and spare us the drama.

UPDATE.4: Dukeboy1, who is a retired cop, comments:

Yeah, have you ever seen The Beast (the Presidential limousine) in person? I have. The passenger compartment is cut off from the driver’s area. There is literally no GD way for Trump to have attempted to do what is being claimed. It is an absolutely ridiculous lie that is being put out there unchallenged.

I bow to no man in my disgust for Trump and my desire for him to just go away, but these hearings are a farce.

But Donald Trump had a new Beast built. This shot (taken from this photo essay about the Trump Beast) indicates that the president could have reached over and grabbed the driver:

leave a comment

Icon Of The Post-Christian Family

The woman in the rear is a surrogate for the gay couple at the front. This is a detail of their 'maternity' shoot, which they put on social media

Liberal Evangelical professor Kristin Kobes Du Mez ain’t never gonna call me darlin’. I described the pro-LGBT Calvin professor as part of a group of “post-Christian Christians,” by which I mean Christians who are jettisoning bedrock Christian teachings to conform to the post-Christian order. She responded sharply. Excerpt:

It is in the interest of people like Dreher to erase the existence of any reasoned, nuanced, and principled middle ground. We see this around the issue of LGBTQ rights and inclusion, and, especially this week, around the issue of abortion. I think that is one of the reasons why I have become a target, not just for Dreher, but for others—particularly among the Christian nationalist wing of the evangelical world. And why I am routinely mocked for saying things like “it’s complicated.” Because their power depends on a stark binary, on a simplistic division of us vs. them.

As I chronicle in Jesus and John Wayne, this has been a throughline of conservative evangelicalism for more than half a century. A key moment in my research came when it dawned on me that the militancy of conservative white evangelicalism wasn’t primarily a response to fear, but rather a precondition for fear. I saw how militancy required the continual stoking of fear: fear of outsiders, of secular humanists, feminists, Muslims, Democrats, immigrants, the list goes on and on. This is how we can make sense of the strange phenomenon of the fake “ex-Muslim terrorists” who were all the rage on the post-9/11 evangelical speaking circuit, long after they had been exposed as utter frauds. This is how we can make sense of the combativeness of Mark Driscoll and Jerry Falwells (father and son). This is how we can make sense of not just the positions but also the posture and tactics of the Christian Right. Militancy requires fear. In the absence of a real threat, a new threat must be manufactured.

The greatest challenge to this system are those who threaten to expose it for what it is. Those who remind fellow Christians that the Bible tells us not to fear. Those who seek to live obediently with humility—humility that, in discerning how to live as faithful Christians, we will inevitably get things wrong, but that we can nevertheless remain secure in the knowledge that God’s truth is not dependent on our perception of that truth.

To be clear, none of this means that doctrine isn’t worth debating, that boundaries around orthodoxy aren’t significant, or that all political and social views are equally valid. But if I may make a theological claim, let me assert that to use doctrine or discussions around orthodoxy as cudgels is not the way of Christ.

Read the whole thing. 

Well, for readers who come to this post of mine via Twitter, without familiarity with me, I am not an Evangelical, nor have I ever been an Evangelical. But I am white and conservative, so she’s got that right.

More importantly, this is standard liberal speak. She just wants to have a dialogue about whether or not Christianity is compatible with affirming same-sex attraction, same-sex marriage, and the like. Why (she asks) are people like me so afraid of dialogue?

I don’t know Prof. Dumez, so it’s certainly possible that she sincerely can’t figure this out. I mean, that she’s being straightforward here, and doesn’t see this as a tactic to disarm opposition to her radical revisionism of the Christian faith. I’ll assume good faith on her part. The answer, in that case, is that we cannot have dialogue on something that, if normalized within Christianity, will destroy it.

For one, look at every church where LGBT has been normalized and affirmed by the church. How are they doing? Are they growing? Are dissenters within the institution respected?

For another, normalizing homosexuality is profoundly anti-Biblical — and not just because of Scriptural citations clearly damning homosexual behavior. At a deeper level, the Bible teaches us that the family is an icon of the Holy Trinity, which is to say, of God. The generativity of the life of God is seen in the generativity of the natural family. The receptivity of the female to the male results in new life, and in cycles of new life. Remember that Mary accepted the act of the Holy Spirit that conceived the Messiah. You don’t have to be a believing Christian to recognize the meaning of the Incarnation, and the symbolic importance of the natural family to Christianity.

Here is an icon of the Holy Family:

Today, in the post-Christian West, we have this icon:


The two gay narcissists staring into each other’s eyes. The woman who has rented her womb out to them, relegated to the background, as the men’s accessory gestates within her. It is sick stuff — and it’s not just a gay thing. Straight couples use surrogacy too. It ought to be outlawed as an abomination.

If what you see in that iconic image above is a family, just as valid and truthful as the natural family, then the Christian order falls apart. God gives us the natural family to disclose something to us about Himself. I suppose liberal, nominalist Protestants like Du Mez don’t believe that, but this has been the teaching of the Church for many centuries. Though Du Mez taunts Christians like me as driven by “fear,” she’s not wrong: I really do fear what heretics like her are doing to the faith, and to institutions that are supposed to guard and pass on the faith. Christianity is not just a set of moralistic, therapeutic opinions about who God is and what He expects of us. For many of us, it is the ground of Reality. Iconoclasts like Du Mez are profoundly destructive. You ought to fear what they do. If you read her piece, she positions people like herself as caring — indicating that those who hold the line on fundamental Christian teaching regarding homosexuality are hard-hearted bigots.

This is how her side rolls: calling those who disagree bigots, on the grounds that the only reason why anyone would defend orthodox Christian teaching on these matters is irrational fear and loathing. Anyone who has seen how liberals work within Church institutions these past few decades knows these tactics, and this strategy, well. It’s very, very effective, too. Again: if you’re a conservative who is afraid of it, you should be congratulated for having paid attention to how well it works in practice.

What the icon of the post-Christian family signifies is a social order in which the gestation of human life has been entirely commodified. Where women are turned into brood mares for rich people. Where children become lifestyle accessories. Where there are no moms and no dads, only “parents” — as many as you like, because “family” is whatever we say it is.

Mary Harrington, the self-described “reactionary feminist,” gets it right:

This is what Kristin Kobes Du Mez and her liberal post-Christian Christian colleagues are trying to normalize. They’ll deny it, but once you have accepted a flexible definition of marriage and family, and claim it as Christian, where do you draw the lines? Where do you say, “this far, but no further” — and why?

UPDATE:This critical analysis of KKDM’s work appeared in American Reformer. The author is Michael Young. Excerpts:

Jesus and John Wayne [Du Mez’s breakthrough book — RD] is built on the shifting sand of postmodernism. No Christian interested in her thesis can ignore the implications of her methodology. To embrace her work is to embrace the postmodern deconstruction of Christianity.


All this she thinks adds up to the conclusions that Evangelicalism is racist, sexist, homophobic, and that Evangelicalism as it stands needs to be “undone.”

Du Mez readily admits that her work is a work of deconstruction, and that she is influenced by the work of postmodern philosopher Michael Foucault.[1] Much of Jesus and John Wayne is a Foucauldian Archeology of Evangelical discourse around masculinity, and a Foucauldian genealogy of how that discourse developed.

If we follow postmodern methods to their ultimate conclusions, they dissolve every belief system and every philosophical framework to which they are applied, including postmodernism itself. A philosophy or method that dissolves everything proves nothing, save for the fact that the philosophy or the method itself is flawed. So it is with postmodernism.


In this way Du Mez thinks that she can “see through” the theological claims of Evangelicals, and as such she can set them aside. In a passage in the concluding section of Jesus and John Wayne Du Mez makes this clear:

Despite evangelicals’ frequent claims that the Bible is the source of their social and political commitments, evangelicalism must be seen as a cultural and political movement rather than as a community defined chiefly by its theology. Evangelical views on any given issue are facets of this larger cultural identity, and no number of Bible verses will dislodge the greater truths at the heart of it.

This literally can’t be argued with. Nobody can argue with this because any Evangelical who disputes Du Mez’s account of faith is beholden, himself, to “facets of [Evangelicalism’s] larger cultural identity,” unable to see the truth of his situation. It does not matter what Evangelicals will say in response. It does not matter what they sincerely believe. She will tell them they misunderstand Evangelicalism as a phenomenon. She will entertain only those arguments that accept her framework and dismiss any theological appeals, because Evangelicalism is not defined by theology, no matter what Evangelicals themselves claim.

Once the reader realizes that this is what Du Mez is up to, he can make sense of how it is that she arrives at many of her conclusions. She simply ignores the Evangelical’s own claims about what drives him, and decides to analyze Evangelicalism through the lens of cynicism she has constructed. Du Mez’s slanders are as casual as they are broad:

As evangelicals began to mobilize as a partisan political force, they did so by rallying to defend ‘family values.’ But family values politics was never about protecting the well-being of families generally. Fundamentally, evangelical ‘family values’ entailed the reassertion of patriarchal authority. At its most basic level, family values politics was about sex and power.

Got that? Du Mez tosses aside the Evangelical’s stated motivation about caring for families. The pro-family reader is told his real concern is sex and power. This is pure Foucault. Foucault is famous (or infamous) for arguing that claims to truth about a given topic are often masks for power-seeking, or are corrupted by power-seeking. This is what we see here.

Read it all. 

This might be the place to post these tweets by Kangmin Lee that struck me recently:

leave a comment

American Orbanism

Detail from The New Yorker cover

Well, the New Yorker‘s piece on why American conservatives are interested in Hungary is out today, and I am disappointed in it, because it’s a standard liberal media account. I thought that the Hungarians were making a mistake by keeping liberal Western journalists out of CPAC Hungary, but maybe they knew better than I did.

I didn’t expect a Western liberal media account of Hungary under Viktor Orban to be positive, but I had hoped that the New Yorker would at least try to explain to its readers why Orban remains popular, not only with his people, but increasingly with American conservatives like me. Instead, it’s the usual stuff: Orban only wins because he’s gamed the system, he’s a closet anti-Semite, he hates liberal democracy, etc.

I know that the reporter Andrew Marantz had a long dinner with Mark Bollobas, a friend of mine whose parents escaped communist Hungary, and settled in the UK. Mark was born and raised in Cambridge and in the US (when his father did academic stints in the US), but some years ago, moved to Budapest to raise a family. A few years back, Mark wrote on this blog why he left Britain for Hungary. Excerpt:

I consider London to be Chelsea, Kensington, Covent Garden. Places close to the river, areas with amazing architecture, reasonably central. But how much would I have to earn to live there? Millions. Impossible. I’d always be the guy who walks by the shop window and sees what he can’t afford. It would be a lifetime of unhappiness.

And culturally, the most important of all, the England of today is so far removed from the England of my youth that it feels like a different world. What makes England great is the nonchalant English attitude to everything. Stiff upper lip. Humor. The genuine lack-of-interest in what other people do, as long as they’re not interfering. The moral strength to play fair, be a good loser, etc.

But over the last few decades this has been eroded by non-English immigrants who have moved to the UK permanently and brought their culture with them, aggressively. Usually the children are far more aggressive than the parents who actually made the move. And the English let this happen, because that’s how they are. Now the politeness is gone.

I ran a bar in Finsbury Park. My schedule was the same. Open at noon, close at midnight. I would go to work at around 10am, and walk home around 2am. You have the same schedule, and you walk past people who share that schedule. In England, 20 years ago, if you did this for a few weeks you’d eventually strike up a conversation, or create a little bond. That couldn’t happen in Finsbury Park because it was full of Somalis, north Africans and others (Abu Hamza was a personal favorite, hawking his vitriolic sermons on CDs to anyone that passed).

They all hated me and looked at me with distrust and disgust. The women walked past in their veils, clothing that sends the message of “f-ck off, don’t dare look at me or talk to me.” I walked those streets for two years and made not one connection. Visitors have come, have brought their culture, and they stick to it (I loved whichever day it was when they say you have to slaughter a goat; blood literally ran in the streets). It is their identity. Meanwhile the beautiful, accepting element of being British is abused, its kind culture allowed Trojan horses of all sorts to settle in.

Aside from that, there was the dreaded question, “Where are you from?” that every Englishman asks. Even from me. It’s the most unpleasant question because you hear it over and over again, and it’s like a death from a thousand cuts. Because it means, you’re obviously not from here, so where are you from? I shudder at the thought of having to answer that question in Britain. Because I am from there.

So, not England. The second choice was Hungary. True, it’s not a wealthy country, and true, it suffers many of the same problems that afflict other nations. And yes, salaries here are very low. As editor-in-chief for English language news at a national TV station, and ironically the only Hungarian TV station that was on the local Memphis cable network, I made $1,200 per month, before tax. And even on that salary in Budapest I could live and do things like dine out and take advantage of all the positive things a city like this offers:  theatre, concerts, museums, sporting events, parks, nightlife, etc. Most of all, it was where I really felt at home.

Like many children of immigrants, I was raised to know that I have to work harder, and be better everywhere than those who were “local” to get ahead. And it’s all true. But I was also raised in a Hungarian household. While my parents made every effort to assimilate, I was raised in a household that took pride in being Hungarian. I didn’t support Hungary in sports or anything tribal like that, but I was proud when Hungary did well. I appreciated the poetry, the folk music, the heritage, the history, and so forth. And every time I went back to Budapest, I felt so so comfortable. No one asks “where are you from?” because although I don’t sound like I am from here (I have a British accent in Hungarian), I am from here, and people recognize that.

My decision to move back here to Hungary — I say that even though I wasn’t born here — has been reinforced by this fact: Hungary understands that holding on to its cultural identity is essential to its existence as a society we can understand.

Culture changes over time, of course, but it normally does it slowly as we creep towards a more civilized future.

England doesn’t feel more civilized — quite the opposite. It feels more feral. And the UK has just accepted its fate.

The lack of an American culture means Hungarians don’t know what’s missing, because they never had it. But there is a gaping hole in America: something is obviously broken. America is collapsing on itself.

It’s been nine years since I moved back. I can’t count the number of days I’ve thought to myself, or told others, “It’s just great to be here.” It still is.

I don’t know what Mark told the reporter, Andrew Marantz, at dinner, but it pretty clearly didn’t fit the Hungary Bad narrative. It wasn’t in the New Yorker story — even though it is crucial to understanding why Hungary matters to a lot of us. You read the piece and think that the only people who are interested positively in Hungary under Orban are bad people who hate democracy.

I talked to Marantz for the piece, and am quoted several times in it (accurately). For example:

When I was in Budapest, Dreher, seven time zones away and in the midst of a messy divorce, texted me assiduously, including before 5 a.m. his time, trying to steer my story. “I really do care about Hungary, and I want to help you do a good job,” he wrote. “God knows it’s not paradise, but it’s important to understand Hungary as it is.” That’s the sort of P.R. that money can’t buy.

I texted him at 5 am because he had sent me a text saying that he had not been able to get into CPAC, and that someone had threatened to call the police on him. I thought this was a really bad move on CPAC’s part, and wanted to help him talk to people who could give him insight into the story he was there to report. By “steer the story,” I was simply trying to help him get the quotes I thought he wanted. I wasn’t trying to get him to write a story about Hungary as Magyar Disneyland (“God knows it’s not paradise”), but it’s a complex and interesting country (“but it’s important to understand Hungary as it is”). I come across in that quote as a fanatic trying to puppet-string the journalist, when in fact I thought that the New Yorker could be counted on to go deeper than the standard liberal media gloss.

I was wrong. Useful thing to learn.

Again, no one expects a liberal magazine like the New Yorker to write a positive piece about Orban’s Hungary. But the fact that there is no nuance or insight in the piece is telling. And what does it tell? The the Left is incapable of understanding why a politician like Viktor Orban appeals to American conservatives. I’ll give you a couple of examples:

There are more than a few Americans who think the Boy Scouts marching in an LGBT Pride phalanx is horrifying. These Americans can’t find many Republican politicians who will say anything about this. Viktor Orban will. He doesn’t care what the liberal media, and the respectable establishmentarians say. He’s going to defend the family, and the Judeo-Christian social order.

In Hungary, gay people can contract civil partnerships. They can walk down the street holding hands in Budapest, and nobody cares. But you know what they can’t do?

And you know what else? You don’t see this in Hungary:

An entire city block in London, flying the banner of a conquering tribe.

You know what else they don’t have in Hungary? Women and their babies reduced to breeders and accessories for gay men:

Another thing they don’t have in Hungary:

According to a different German media report:

In Essen -Altendorf, dozens of people fought on the street on Saturday evening.

Several hundred people are said to have been there, two people were injured. The Essen police were on site with a large contingent. And also on Sunday there were clashes again.

At 7:35 p.m., the police were called to a kebab shop on Altendorfer Strasse. Dozens of people are said to have fought there. The officers arrived with a large contingent of patrol cars. In fact, a large crowd had gathered on the street.

You can watch video of the street fight between Arab clans here.

I mentioned in one of my interviews with Andrew Marantz that going to Paris last summer from Hungary, and listening to so many French people talking about how afraid they were of immigrant street violence, I realized that Viktor Orban had been right to keep the immigrants out. And I also mentioned to him that when anti-Semitic violence flared in major Western cities — including New York and Los Angeles — I was shocked to discover that there was no police presence in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest, even though Jews were walking the streets with their families. Why no violence? Because the Hungarian government doesn’t welcome Jew-hating immigrants.

None of that made it into the story. It violates the canons of liberalism to point out that if you want to keep a liberal society, you had better not let in certain peoples. Marantz doubled down on the “Orban hates Soros, therefore he must be a dog-whistling anti-Semite” canard. This, even though Soros, a non-observant Jew, advocated opening Europe’s borders to the migrant wave in 2015.

And so on. I also pointed out to Marantz that late last summer, many Fidesz people expected the party to lose the spring election. They were telling themselves that twelve years in power was great, but you can’t really expect more than that. And then came the opposition with a truly terrible candidate, Peter Marki-Zay, who kept making gaffes. I told Marantz that I heard over and over, asking people in the city who they were voting for, that they were sick and tired of Fidesz, but they couldn’t trust the opposition with power, so they were voting Orban.

European liberals were sure that after the Russia-Ukraine war broke out, Orban’s relative closeness to Putin would mean defeat for him. In fact, it was a plus. Orban condemned Russia’s invasion, but he also refused to allow Hungary to be dragged into the war many fellow NATO nations wanted. In my own experiences there, I met not one Hungarian who had anything good to say about the Russians — but I didn’t meet one who believed Hungary had any business risking war on its own territory to satisfy Brussels.

Viktor Orban was exactly where the Hungarian people were this spring, which is why his party won re-election by a landslide. Yet puzzled Western liberals, including liberal journalists, console themselves with the conviction that he must have done this by playing dirty, somehow.

You don’t learn anything from the New Yorker story that you didn’t already know from a dozen previous stories about Hungary. This is disappointing; I expected better from that magazine. Another massive, massive miss by Marantz is that American conservatives are drawn to Orban because unlike most of our own right-of-center politicians, Orban understands that the Left is no longer liberal at all, and is willing to fight them without tying one hand behind his back.

One story I told Marantz that didn’t make it into the piece was about the encounter I had (which I related here many times, so I won’t go into it again) with the liberal Budapest academic and Orban critic. When he said that he could say whatever he wanted in his classroom, and nobody from the government would bother him, I told him that is also true in the US — but the persecution would come from students and activists who, for whatever reason, are offended by what you say. For example, I told him, if you fail to affirm transgender ideology, you could find yourself the target of mob action on campus, and may even be out of a job. Joshua Katz lost his job at Princeton on trumped-up sexual harassment charges, when everybody who didn’t fall off the organic turnip truck yesterday knows that it’s because he spoke out against extremely illiberal racial proposals. 

Here’s what Viktor Orban knows: that “liberalism” has produced a society and a culture that despises itself, and is committing suicide. It hates the traditional family. It hates Judeo-Christian religion and moral norms. It hates the history and traditions of the countries where it governs. It hates certain people because of the color of their skin, and loves others because of the color of their skin — in both cases, irrespective of the content of their character. It has no respect for free speech, freedom of religion, and other traditional liberties. It believes that it has the right and responsibility to spread its beliefs globally. It has conquered every institution in the West — most importantly, Big Business — and is using soft power to silence and marginalize the “deplorable” people who disagree. The news media lie by commission and omission in order to prop up the Narrative.

This is not liberalism. This is illiberal leftism, which wears liberalism like a skin suit.

Orban understands that if conservative people don’t understand what’s actually being done to them by the illiberal-Left ruling class, and use the only institution within which they have a fighting chance — the State — then they will be totally demoralized and defeated. He would rather not go gently into that Brave New World.

An increasing number of us American conservatives think he’s onto something, and want to know what his vision of faith, family, tradition, and sovereignty — and his political strategy for implementing it over and against the Goliaths of illiberal leftism — has to teach us.

One more bit from Marantz’s piece:

In 2018, Patrick Deneen’s book “Why Liberalism Failed” was admired by David Brooks and Barack Obama. Last year, Deneen founded a hard-right Substack called the Postliberal Order, on which he argued that right-wing populists had not gone nearly far enough—that American conservatism should abandon its “defensive crouch.” One of his co-authors wrote a post from Budapest, offering an example of how this could work in practice: “It’s clear that Hungarian conservatism is not defensive.” J. D. Vance has voiced admiration for Orbán’s pro-natalist family policies, adding, “Why can’t we do that here?” Rod Dreher told me, “Seeing what Vance is saying, and what Ron DeSantis is actually doing in Florida, the concept of American Orbánism starts to make sense. I don’t want to overstate what they’ll be able to accomplish, given the constitutional impediments and all, but DeSantis is already using the power of the state to push back against woke capitalism, against the crazy gender stuff.” According to Dreher, what the Republican Party needs is “a leader with Orbán’s vision—someone who can build on what Trumpism accomplished, without the egomania and the inattention to policy, and who is not afraid to step on the liberals’ toes.”

In common parlance, the opposite of “liberal” is “conservative.” In political-science terms, illiberalism means something more radical: a challenge to the very rules of the game. There are many valid critiques of liberalism, from the left and the right, but Orbán’s admirers have trouble articulating how they could install a post-liberal American state without breaking a few eggs (civil rights, fair elections, possibly the democratic experiment itself). “The central insight of twentieth-century conservatism is that you work within the liberal order—limited government, free movement of capital, all of that—even when it’s frustrating,” Andrew Sullivan said.“If you just give away the game and try to seize as much power as possible, then what you’re doing is no longer conservative, and, in my view, you’re making a grave, historic mistake.” Lauren Stokes, the Northwestern historian, is a leftist with her own radical critiques of liberalism; nonetheless, she, too, thinks that the right-wing post-liberals are playing with fire. “By hitching themselves to someone who has put himself forward as a post-liberal intellectual, I think American conservatives are starting to give themselves permission to discard liberal norms,” Stokes told me. “When a Hungarian court does something Orbán doesn’t like—something too pro-queer, too pro-immigrant—he can just say, ‘This court is an enemy of the people, I don’t have to listen to it.’ I think Republicans are setting themselves up to adopt a similar logic: if the system gives me a result I don’t like, I don’t have to abide by it.”

Conservative readers are shaking their heads at that and laughing. This is what American liberals do all the damn time! For example, the State of California declared itself to be a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants, defying federal immigration law. How many examples like this do you want? We’ve got ’em. In 2015, when the State of Indiana passed a state version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a coalition of Very Big Businesses came down like a ton of bricks on the state, and forced shocked and spineless GOP lawmakers (and Gov. Mike Pence) to repeal the legislation. Seven years later, having learned a thing or two about woke capitalism, and when the Walt Disney Company tried to bully the State of Florida into doing the same thing over LGBT primary school propaganda, Gov. Ron DeSantis punched back hard.

That’s an Orban move. More, please.

Liberals, and liberal journalists, are blind as bats to how insanely illiberal they have become. They change the rules all the time, and denounce anyone who objects as bigots, illiberals, authoritarians, and so forth. Meanwhile, ordinary people are starting to wake up. Just yesterday, I received an email from a friend, who said [I’ve slightly redacted this for privacy]:

A good friend just called to lament that her two middle and early teenage daughters—who have both had crushes on boys—have announced they are lesbians. She is in a secular household.

A very Christian man I know is gob smacked that his young adult son just left the Church and announced he is a woman. Changed name and taking hormones. He was home schooled. Of the 10-12 home schoolers he associated with—all from conservative Christian families of differing denominations—at least 8 have announced they are on the LGBT spectrum.

A family member’s daughter told her she is “pansexual.” Conservative Catholic family, parochial school. It took 9 months of family disputation and removing her smart phone to get back to her admitting she is a girl. Family relations still wounded.

This is civilization destroying stuff.

It is. Viktor Orban knows that he’s fighting to save what’s left of our civilization from the postliberal liberals who are tearing it apart. If you don’t want an American Orban, you had better be prepared to pay your respects to the Brave New World. The truth that is hard for most of us — certainly for me — to accept is that liberalism is all but dead. The future will either be between illiberal left-wing democracy, or illiberal right-wing democracy. Don’t accept the media Left’s framing of the problem. Even the honest journalists among them can’t see what’s happening.

Read the New Yorker story, not to see Hungary as it is, both good and bad, but to see a classic American liberal journalist’s account of the place. My friend Andrew Sullivan is quoted in the piece twice, critical of Hungary. I challenge him to ring up his old friend John O’Sullivan at the Danube Institute, and arrange to go over for a month, to see for himself what it’s like. He will be surprised. I told Andrew Marantz how shocking it is for American and Western European intellectuals to meet Orban, spend time with him, and learn how intelligent he is, and how willing he is to engage in debate and critical discourse with visitors. I’ve been present twice when it happened. I gave Marantz the names of some American journalists and intellectuals who were there this spring when it happened. I don’t know if he reached out to them or not, but they weren’t in the story.

A lesson I have learned from this: don’t make big efforts to open doors to Western journalists to Hungarians who won’t confirm the Narrative.

leave a comment

Religious Materialism

W.H. Auden

W.H. Auden — gay, Christian, and one of the greatest poets of the 20th century — from an essay about Christianity and art:

As soon, however, as materialism comes to be regarded as sacred truth, the distinction between the things of God and the things of Caesar is reabolished. … [U]nder religious materialism, everything in life is, ultimately, serious, and therefore subject to moral policing. It will not tolerate what it knows to be evil with a heartless shrug — that is how life is, always has been and always will be — but it will do something which the pagan world never did; it will do what it knows to be evil for a moral purpose, do it deliberately now so that good may come in the future.

Under religious materialism, the artist loses his personal artistic liberty again, but he does not recover his sacred importance, for now it is not artists who collectively decide what is sacred truth, but scientists, or the scientific politicians, who are responsible for forming mankind in the true faith. Under them, an artist becomes a mere technician, an expert in effective expression, and who is hired to express effectively what the scientist-politician requires to be said.

By “religious materialism,” the poet means materialism taken as a kind of religion. He anticipates wokeness. There can be no frivolity in the Kingdom of Wokeness. Everything is deadly serious. I’m in London this weekend, and had a conversation with a lawyer who was telling me shocking things going on here in Great Britain, compelled by the government and all the captured institutions. The conversation was on background, but the things he told me startled even someone like me, who is not easily shockable about this stuff anymore.

The lawyer told me about one of his friends who lived under Soviet communism, and who said that she is watching a version of that take form here. He brought up a prominent UK university that requires all applicants for academic jobs to file a parallel application listing their commitment to Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity. The emigre from Eastern Europe told the lawyer, “This is exactly what the Party used to do. You had to proclaim your political loyalty before you could be considered for a job anywhere.”

Our institutions have been captured by soft totalitarians. Later today, I have to give a Live Not By Lies talk to a group of young Christians about how to live in these times, under these conditions. Last night, I talked to a different figure active in public life in Britain, a Catholic who explained to me how he sees some form of the Benedict Option as the only possibility for those who want to pass the faith on to their kids. He told me that he and his wife are part of a group “of about fifteen Catholic families, maybe only one of whom have read The Benedict Option, but all of whom are now trying to move to live closer together, to form a community, because we know that’s the only way we are going to be able to raise our kids in moral sanity.”

I get this more and more, a version of, we thought you were alarmist when your book came out, but now we’re having to live the Benedict Option. Christians (and Jews, and Muslims) had better understand that we are all in the middle of a religious war with zealots who don’t recognize that their materialism is religious. They believe they are neutral, and hide their own zealotry and bigotry from themselves. The artists politicize their art, because politics are sacred to them.

leave a comment

Roe-pocalypse Now

Whoopi Goldberg, one of many Post-Dobbs Raging Celebrities™ (Entertainment Tonight)

This. So much this:

I understand — or think I do — people who favor abortion rights. I think they are wrong, but I understand why they are upset over this Supreme Court ruling. But Kangmin Lee is right: the hysterical freakout over a ruling that overturns a badly-reasoned decision, and returns abortion law to the democratic political process, is so very telling.

Look at this:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. companies including Walt Disney Co and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc said on Friday they will cover employees’ expenses if they have to travel for abortion services after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

Not only does the Walt Disney Company — formerly the gold standard of American family-friendly wholesomeness — fully favor grooming children into genderqueerness, but now it will pay its female employees to go to pro-abortion states and terminate the lives of their unborn children.

If you had predicted this fifty years ago, people would have thought you insane. As Kangmin Lee said, abortion was widely seen as a necessary evil. Now it is considered by the class of people who run most of America as a sacred rite.

There is an obvious Luciferian connection between the twin sacred rites of abortion and sex change. Both assert human will over life and the generative order. Both refuse the givenness of Creation. Both insist that the autonomous choosing individual has ultimate power over life and death, male and female. Both rites are necessary to upholding the Sexual Revolution, which is the event that gives meaning to the lives of the American ruling class.

We are now seeing how much that ruling class hates those it rules.

A reader writes that he doesn’t expect mass violence over Dobbs — not an abortion-related repeat of the George Floyd riots. Those riots were carried out by black people and white antifa. The kind of demographic most upset over the fall of Roe — educated middle class women — will never risk their professional status to commit acts of criminal violence, he predicts.


We’re going to see that overturning Dobbs and restoring Roe is going to become the next litmus test for middle-class respectability. BLM/CRT, LGBT, and now this. Every major corporation is going to have to announce a policy to pay the freight of women employees who go out of state to have abortions. Every major authority figure is going to have to be onside on this issue, or face the kind of hysterical ostracism that we’ve seen around other issues.

Interestingly, they don’t seem to think that abortion hysteria is enough. Now we’re seeing them go crazy on gay marriage, interracial marriage, and contraception. They’ll believe anything, no matter what the realities are on the ground (which is that if any of those issues were returned to the political process, they would all be voted into law almost instantly, everywhere). No, the abortion hysterics will simply call this, one more time, the Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time, replay the old script, and wait for the Republican Party to crack — something the business and donor class of the GOP is already prepared to do.

It is really something to think about how the Left today, post-Dobbs, is left to feel the same things that many of us on the Right have felt over and over again: defeat on an issue that is dear to us. They are not used to losing — not our ruling class. They are used to getting their way, and expecting the rest of us to fall in line and know our places.

What if people don’t want to do that anymore?

What if they don’t want the unlimited right to exterminate unborn children?

What if they don’t want groomers to colonize the minds of their children in schools and in children’s entertainment?

What if they don’t want women to have to share toilets with men who think they are women? What if they don’t want their daughters to lose athletic competitions to men masquerading as women?

What if they’re sick and tired of all the propaganda from media and woke capitalism?

What if they are fed up with unaccountable corporations dictating public policy to state legislatures?

What if they just want to be left the hell alone?

The thing is, the Left will not leave any of us the hell alone. You would think that they would have the sense to realize that if we’re going to keep America together, we are going to have to lean heavily into federalism. Let Alabama be Alabama, and let California be California.

That’s the only way we can share a country with those people, and that they can share a country with us people.

This is not about abortion, but Dave Mastio’s Twitter thread about how the loony left at Gannett has seized the means of McPaper production tells you a lot about where we are as a decadent society. Mastio was formerly deputy editorial page editor at USA Today. Keep in mind these are the same kind of people who are screaming bloody murder about Handmaid’s Tale America:


I’ve embedded this one so you can click through to the insane op-ed:

Read the whole Mastio thread, start to finish.This is the ruling class gatekeeping media that only the ruling class believes. They don’t want to be fair to their fellow Americans. They don’t want to understand their fellow Americans. They want to demonize and marginalize them.

The Roe-pocalypse is going to further unveil this reality. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. This is what I talk about in Live Not By Lies: the ruling class is not going to accept dissent lying down. We have got to be ready to resist, anchored in truth, and the courage of our convictions.

By the way, don’t let yourself be gaslighted by people like Emmanuel Macron:

UPDATE:Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic writes that we are continuing to split apart as a nation. Excerpts:

It may be time to stop talking about “red” and “blue” America. That’s the provocative conclusion of Michael Podhorzer, a longtime political strategist for labor unions and the chair of the Analyst Institute, a collaborative of progressive groups that studies elections. In a private newsletter that he writes for a small group of activists, Podhorzer recently laid out a detailed case for thinking of the two blocs as fundamentally different nations uneasily sharing the same geographic space.

“When we think about the United States, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of Red and Blue people,” Podhorzer writes. “But in truth, we have never been one nation. We are more like a federated republic of two nations: Blue Nation and Red Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.”

OK, nothing new here. More:

Podhorzer isn’t predicting another civil war, exactly. But he’s warning that the pressure on the country’s fundamental cohesion is likely to continue ratcheting up in the 2020s. Like other analysts who study democracy, he views the Trump faction that now dominates the Republican Party—what he terms the “MAGA movement”—as the U.S. equivalent to the authoritarian parties in places such as Hungary and Venezuela. It is a multipronged, fundamentally antidemocratic movement that has built a solidifying base of institutional support through conservative media networks, evangelical churches, wealthy Republican donors, GOP elected officials, paramilitary white-nationalist groups, and a mass public following. And it is determined to impose its policy and social vision on the entire country—with or without majority support. “The structural attacks on our institutions that paved the way for Trump’s candidacy will continue to progress,” Podhorzer argues, “with or without him at the helm.”

Read it all. 

Though honestly, you don’t have to. You know what it’s going to say: that whenever politics results in outcomes liberals don’t like, Democracy Is At Risk™. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party was returned to power in a landslide election this spring — but see, that’s not democratic. Do you remember all the liberals like Ron Brownstein fretting over the fact that the US Supreme Court, in the Obergefell decision, overrode binding marriage referendums at the state level? Neither do I, because it didn’t happen.

Similarly, do you see the Ron Brownsteins of the world complaining about how antidemocratic it is for major corporations — who are accountable to no voters — to threaten punishment to state legislatures if they don’t pass social legislation (e.g., pro-LGBT, pro-CRT) that the companies like? Gosh no.

Do they complain about illiberal, anti-democratic policies within institutions and in government that explicitly privilege certain demographics on the basis of race? Of course they don’t! Because they see that as normal, and democracy as working as it should.


1) if the system does not produce liberal policy outcomes, the system is undemocratic;

2) if voters elect candidates that do not endorse liberal policy outcomes, democracy as we know it is in danger;

3) politicians of the Right who aren’t supine before their institutional woke betters are Authoritarian, but politicians of the Left who favor the non-democratic imposition of progressive policies (e.g., Biden’s recent LGBT executive order) are normal

Earlier this week I wrote about a US Government-sponsored panel that debated the “moral and strategic imperative” of working to “decolonize” Russia, a sovereign nation. We are supposed to be fine with that, because Russia Is Bad. Did no one think about how the Russians might respond? Did no one think about how this insane thinking, if not stopped dead in its tracks, will end up getting somebody else’s kids serving in the military killed? And this:

That Putin! He’s not playing fair! says the liberal, who doesn’t yet know how to keep European peoples from freezing in the dark this winter. It’s only natural that the West would make war on him, but it’s not cricket for him to strike back.


leave a comment

Hallelujah, Roe Has Fallen

Thank you, Donald Trump, for making this day possible!

I never thought I would live to see the day:

The Supreme Court on Friday overruled Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

The ruling will test the legitimacy of the court and vindicate a decades-long Republican project of installing conservative justices prepared to reject the precedent, which had been repeatedly reaffirmed by earlier courts. It will also be one of the signal legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who vowed to name justices who would overrule Roe. All three of his appointees were in the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.

Chief Justice Roberts voted with the majority to uphold the Mississippi law, but said that he would not have overturned Roe. More:

Two years ago, in June 2020, the Supreme Court struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law by a 5-to-4 margin, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. providing the decisive vote. His concurring opinion, which expressed respect for precedent but proposed a relatively relaxed standard for evaluating restrictions, signaled an incremental approach to cutting back on abortion rights.

But that was before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died that September. Her replacement by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative who has spoken out against “abortion on demand,” changed the dynamic at the court, diminishing the chief justice’s power to guide the pace of change.

I got the news on a train to London. When I arrived, I went to the Westminster Cathedral (Catholic) to pray a Te Deum in thanksgiving for this ruling. And to pray for the safety of the justices who chose life, and justice, over death.

What a day! Of course this only means that abortion policy is now up to each state to regulate as it sees fit. There’s lots of work left to be done for the unborn.

Let us be thankful for all the faithful men and women and even children who marched, who prayed, who donated, and who sacrificed over the past 49 years to make this day a reality. Let us be thankful for the courage of Justices Alito, Barrett, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and even Roberts, despite his waffling.

Let us be thankful for Donald Trump; I didn’t vote for him in part because I didn’t think he would do anything on abortion in the courts; I have scarcely been happier to admit I was wrong. This would not have happened without his presidency. And thank you, Federalist Society!

I am not a Catholic, but I want to give special thanks to the Catholic Church in the United States, for never once failing to fight for life. Thanks to to all the churches and church leaders who stood publicly for life. In America, the Catholics were always there, without fail. Thank you, National Right To Life and all other pro-life lobbyists. I also want to give thanks to the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, which has been taking an especially courageous stand for over three decades.

On this day, I remember with fondness the late Nat Hentoff, a Jewish atheist who nevertheless believed in the right to life of the unborn, and said so in a time and place where that cost him something. Here is a column Hentoff wrote after he hosted pro-life liberal Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Bob Casey at Cooper Union in downtown Manhattan. Hentoff wanted the governor to  be able to give the speech he had been denied the chance to give at the Democratic National Convention: Excerpt:

As moderator, I started what would have been the discussion by pointing out that this was an evening about free speech — not only that of the governor of Pennsylvania but also that of anyone in the audience who wanted to challenge him.

The hooting, screaming, pounding and whistle blowing began. Strategically located at both sides of the hall — disruption by stereo — a preening array of hooligans made all speech except their own inaudible. They reminded me of the domestic brown shirts breaking up Jewish meetings in my youth, but these were howling soldiers of the left. (There is no difference, of course, between right and left when it comes to silencing the bearers of uncomfortable ideas.)

Among the opponents of any free exchange of ideas were ACT UP and various pro-choice (sic) cadres, among them: WHAM (Women’s Health Action Mobilization); and NYU Students for Pro-Choice.

At least 80 percent of the audience wanted to hear Casey and said so, as best they could, by applauding his attempts to get started. But they were no match for the speech muggers.

After several tries, Gov. Casey yielded. “The Democratic Convention suspended the First Amendment,” he tried to say, “and tonight you did the same thing.” Casey walked off the stage as the shouters congratulated each other.

Read it all.

Tonight across America, we may see churches and pro-life crisis pregnancy centers burning. Pro-abortion radicals have promised it. I know that federal law enforcement officials have warned judges, clerics, and others to be vigilant. I hope that faithful Christians, especially Catholics, will keep vigil tonight around their churches to prevent hateful activists from defacing or burning them. This has already been happening lately:

In Charlotte, North Carolina, the message was more explicit: “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either,” read the words scrawled in red paint across another center, which also had its windows broken.

The same message was found on the walls of “pregnancy crisis centers” in Texas and Wisconsin in May, and another attack took place on a similar institution in Washington, also in May. The attacks on these centers – which try to dissuade women from seeking abortions – are believed to be linked to Jane’s Revenge, an extremist, militant pro-choice group.

No one has been injured during these attacks, but the methods have been extreme: vandals have thrown molotov cocktails, committed arson, damaged property and made threats. At a time of rapidly increasing abortion restrictions in the US – and an upcoming supreme court decision this summer that is expected to result in total abortion bans in as many as 26 states – can more violence be expected?

After the attack in Wisconsin, a letter signed by “Jane’s Revenge” was sent to a Bellingcat journalist laying out a kind of mission statement, and threatening further action. “This is not a mere ‘difference of opinion’ as some have framed it,” the letter said. “We are literally fighting for our lives. We will not sit still while we are killed and forced into servitude.”

The letter also demanded that “anti-choice establishments” – institutions that have a reputation for trying to lure women into unwanted pregnancies and spreading misinformation about the impacts of abortion – to disband within 30 days, or else face more violence.

“Wisconsin is the first flashpoint,” the letter said. “But we are all over the US, and we will issue no further warnings … We will not stop until … the inalienable right to manage our own health is returned to us.”

The spiritual war is about to make itself manifest in a violent way. Abortion is the keystone of the Sexual Revolution. It’s going to get very ugly. Pray, fast, keep vigil. And consider giving to your local Crisis Pregnancy Center, to help women who choose to have their babies.

UPDATE: Woke Capitalism, showing itself to be the enemy:

UPDATE.2: The dean of Yale Divinity School sent this out today on the alumni listserv. Notice the assumption that all graduates surely support exterminating unborn human life in the womb:

June 24, 2022
Dear Colleagues,

Today the Supreme Court overturned five decades of federal protection for abortion that sprang from the Roe v. Wade decision. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision returns the issue to states, which undoubtedly will come to reflect the political divide of our country.

The decision culminates a decades-long effort by those who identify as pro-life. But is this decision pro-life or pro a particular ideology? Will those who lobbied for it now lobby for expanded medical support for the women who carry babies to term? Will they lobby for benefits for the unwanted children who are born? Will they lobby for the support of poor people who will not be able to care for additional children? To be pro-life means far more than to oppose abortion.

There are millions of American women who feel violated by today’s decision. They understand that this is not only a decision about abortion, but about women’s rights. The decision is a step backward for human rights. Does it portend the reversal of other rights—as some have already suggested? Is the elimination or suppression of individual freedoms pro-life?

The pro-life stance is often linked to Christianity and there are many people who are genuine in their faith who will support the Supreme Court’s decision, including members of the YDS community. It is, however, a more complex issue than some acknowledge. There is no biblical basis for the ban on abortion. The only text that deals directly with a fetus is Exodus 21:22–25, and it makes a distinction between the penalty levied on someone who causes a pregnant woman to miscarry versus an injury to the woman herself. The former results in a fine; the latter in the lex talionis (an eye for an eye etc.). In other words, it distinguishes between a fetus and a human being. Simplistic appeals to the biblical traditions are just that, simplistic. Christianity is supportive of human life, but we must work through our traditions with care. It is not at all clear that today’s decision reflects a text like Exodus 21:22–25.

This decision will not heal our country. It will only exacerbate the divide that already exists. May we find ways to promote life, not political agendas. May we find ways to discuss our differences, not build higher walls.

Best wishes,



Gregory E. Sterling
The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean
Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament
Yale Divinity School

Useful knowledge to have. Our country is run by a rotten elite.

leave a comment