Day: December 13, 2017

Ten Great Conservative Novels and Why They Are Relevant Today


To that end, this writer humbly submits ten books that can be read and enjoyed by a conservative looking for wisdom conveyed in a different form from nonfiction.  These books can be recommended to an apolitical person who resists an overtly political screed.  Or they can be part of a homeschooling curriculum for a bright high school student (though some have decidedly mature themes, as noted).

The list of books is eclectic, featuring both social and economic themes and both American and European authors.  In an effort to be accessible, the roster is limited to “modern” (post-19th century) novels.

With the prologue established, the list follows.  Let the brickbats fly!

1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell’s 1984 is a dystopian novel focusing on an individual living in “Oceania,” a socialist society comprising the present-day nations of England and the Americas.  Oceania is characterized by perpetual war; government surveillance; and the “thought police,” who persecute “thoughtcrime.”

The novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, works for the “Ministry of Truth,” which is engaged in the practice of constantly editing history to conform to the current party line.  People and places are changed, erased, or added as needed.

Although 1984 was intended as an indictment of totalitarianism, especially the USSR under Stalin, the novel today can be seen as a reflection of the current regime of political correctness in the popular media and academia.

The erasing of America’s past, renaming of holidays, and defacing and elimination of statues can all be seen as an effort to conform America’s history to the Progressive party line, in a manner similar to that foreseen by Orwell.

This is how Orwell described it:

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

Sound familiar?

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, published in 1957, has influenced more conservatives and libertarians than any other novel, from the Alt-Right Milo Yiannopoulos to the establishment Republican Paul Ryan.

While the book’s atheism and materialism are off-putting to many on the right, the novel celebrates the power of the individual in human achievement, the morality of capitalism, and the centrality of the entrepreneur.  These are many of the themes covered in Human Action, the treatise on economics by acclaimed economist Ludwig von Mises.  But Ayn Rand’s book gives flesh and blood to the Misesian themes, presenting an exciting narrative with colorful characters and exuberance.  In addition, the book seems to have particular appeal to younger readers.

It appears from recent surveys that our millennials have been infected with the virus of socialism.  Atlas Shrugged is the ideal antidote.

Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

Long before Black Lives Matter and “Hands up, don’t shoot,” Tom Wolfe illuminated the reality of racial politics in the liberal big city.

His 1987 novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, revolves around a young, wealthy investment banker named Sherman McCoy, self-described “Master of the Universe,” who accidentally enters the South Bronx at night while driving to Manhattan.  Lost and disoriented, McCoy is involved in an accident with a young black man, which leads to criminal charges.  But this isn’t an ordinary hit-and-run case.  A liberal New York prosecutor seizes on the McCoy case for his own political ends.  Whether McCoy is actually guilty or not quickly becomes irrelevant – all that matters is that he a white defendant against a black victim.  The novel skillfully demonstrates how the interplay of the zealous prosecutor, radical black activists, and a biased media culminate in a state of hysteria where facts become meaningless.

Thirty years later, Wolfe’s take on America’s racial politics remains prescient.  In both the Trayvon Martin case in 2012 and the Ferguson-Michael Brown case in 2014, we saw the same interplay of forces at work: the radical activists, the cowardly and scheming politicians, and the narrative-driven media.

Bonfire helps to make sense of it all.

Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail

Camp of the Saints was published in 1973 and quickly disappeared into obscurity.  Its premise seemed too far-fetched: prompted by charitable overtures from Belgium, an armada of a million starving third-world immigrants sets sail from India, headed for Europe.  The armada arrives on the shores of the French Riviera, and chaos ensues.  The title of the book comes from the Book of Revelation, describing the apocalypse.

The focus of Raspail’s novel is less on the advancing immigrant armada than on the various ineffectual responses of the French intelligentsia, media, and clergy.  (One of the voices in support of the advancing multitude is a left-wing Latin-American pope!)

What appeared far-fetched in 1973 is coming to pass in Europe today: the introduction of a million migrants into Europe, courtesy of Angela Merkel (and with the blessing of the pope) coupled with a demographic collapse that even Raispal could not envision.  The book, which had languished in obscurity, returned to the French bestseller list in 2011.

In an insightful analysis in The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson observed:

At the heart of the novel is a moral question: Is the West willing to defend itself? Denounced upon publication four decades ago as a racist, xenophobic fantasy, Raspail’s book now seems vaguely prophetic – not because of what it tells us about refugees from the Third World but because of what it reveals about European civilization.

The book is uncomfortable, often painful, to read.  It needs to be read anyway.

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

Written more than seven decades ago, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon stands as one of the most penetrating denunciations of totalitarianism ever written.  The book tells the story of Rubashov, a veteran of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, who is imprisoned and tried for treason by the regime he helped to create.  The book is based on the infamous Moscow “show trials” of the 1930s in which Stalin purged many of the old Bolsheviks on trumped up charges obtained through manipulations and induced confessions.

The show trials were bad enough. Worse still was the fact that many intellectuals in the West defended them, including New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty.

The Times continues to whitewash Soviet atrocities to this day.  Recently, the Times put together a collection of nostalgic remembrances about communism as part of a series called “Red Century,” exploring the legacy of communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution.  Many of the articles sounded as if they were concocted in the old Soviet propaganda ministry.  In one piece, for example, we learn that “women had better sex under socialism.”  In another, we discover that the USSR was a global pioneer in conservation.  In a third essay, fondly titled “When Communism Inspired Americans,” the Times recalls that “at that time, in this place, the Marxist vision of world solidarity as translated by the Communist Party induced in the most ordinary of men and women a sense of one’s own humanity that ran deep, made life feel large; large and clarified.”

None of these insipid pieces can survive a single reading of Darkness at Noon.

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

Audaciously written from the point of view of an innocent Christian schoolgirl, I Am Charlotte Simmons is a searing indictment of the decadence of modern academia.

The protagonist, Charlotte Simmons, is an attractive and intelligent but naïve freshman from a small town in North Carolina.  Charlotte receives a scholarship to “DuPont University,” an Ivy League school on the “other side” of the mountains, both literally and figuratively.  Back home, this is front page news.  She is ready to go off and live “the life of the mind” at DuPont.

But Charlotte’s experiences at this elite institution turn out to be considerably different from what she expected.  She discovers, to her shock, that at DuPont, academic achievement takes second place to sexual conquest.  The novel explores who Charlotte Simmons is and what she becomes.

Wolfe, a master social satirist, takes on the modern university experience – the random hookups, drug use, identity politics, and jock-worship.  His depiction is uncompromising – the language and sex scenes are very frank.

Though written in 2004, the book already seems dated in some respects – “safe spaces,” Antifa, and transgender bathrooms were still to come. But Charlotte Simmons‘s enduring value is showing how the sex-soaked culture of the Ivy League college – it was based on Wolfe’s interviews with students at North Carolina, Florida, Penn, Duke, and Stanford – devalues rather than liberates women.

Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour

Louis L’Amour was known primarily as a writer of westerns, but Last of the Breed is a Cold War novel, with a heavy dose of masculine survivalism.  Its inclusion on this list may surprise some: it is a boy’s adventure story, not an intellectual tour de force, but it’s just the kind of book we desperately need today.

Last of the Breed tells the story of Joe Makatozi, an Air Force major, whose aircraft is forced down in the Soviet Union.  Makatozi is an Indian, part Sioux, part Cherokee.

The Soviet interrogator seeks to exploit his “Native American victim status,” but Makatozi will have none of it.

A proud Indian, a proud American, “Mack” escapes from the prison camp and heads toward America through the Bering Strait (much as his ancestors did thousands of years ago).  In order to escape, however, he needs to fend off his Soviet pursuers and survive the harsh Siberian terrain.

Critic John J. Miller noted in National Review:

Moral ambiguity didn’t interest L’Amour. He had a clear sense of right and wrong: People should build rather than destroy, protect the innocent and vulnerable, and recognize that law and order can descend into chaos and barbarism with savage swiftness. L’Amour also didn’t write sex scenes, which made him a bit of an outlier among the popular novelists of his time. He called sex “a leisure activity” and said he had more important things to write about.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich deals with the struggle for survival in a Soviet prison camp in the 1950s, part of the vast infrastructure of such camps known as the Gulag Archipelago.

Solzhenitsyn had firsthand experience in the Siberian Gulag and movingly writes of the various prisoners and their predicaments.  In the Gulag, the protagonist encounters a cross-section of Russian society, and, indeed, the novel is allegorical – the whole of Stalinist Russia was a vast prison camp with no escape.  Ivan’s struggle was the struggle of every oppressed victim of Communist tyranny.

Chilton Williamson, noted author and critic, wrote of Ivan Denisovitch that the novel is “a testimony to the essential unmalleability of human nature by a political system whose professed raison d’être is to alter not only human behavior but humanity itself.”

America’s storytellers, particularly in Hollywood, depict Nazism as the sole or preeminent evil of the 20th century.  A record of 100 million corpses suggests otherwise.

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

In 2005, Michael Crichton, author of sci-fi classics The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, produced a thriller in which the evildoers are radical environmentalists.

The theme of Crichton’s adventure is that the widespread fear of catastrophic global warming is baseless.  As one his characters puts it, “[l]ike the belief in witchcraft, it’s an extraordinary delusion – a global fantasy worthy of the Middle Ages.”

Though it’s a work of fiction, State of Fear backs its assertions with scientific evidence and an impressive bibliography.

But while the book on the surface deals with global warming, it is really about something deeper: the assumption that man has the knowledge to predict the future with precision.  It’s the illusion upon which all central planning is built, including the “climate modeling” that serves as the basis of Al Gore’s fantasies.  “I prefer true but imperfect knowledge,” the great economist Friedrich Hayek once said, “to a pretense of exact knowledge that is likely to be false.”

Crichton considered himself a political agnostic.  And while he thought climate research was impressive, it was simply not good enough to justify radically transforming energy policy.  “I never thought the idea that you can’t predict the future would be controversial,” Crichton said, echoing Hayek.

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

Submission is set in the near future – 2022 – in a France that has elected a Muslim president who governs in coalition with the Socialist Party.  The theme is the ascent of political Islam in Europe and the crumbling of an increasingly secular West.

The novel’s protagonist is a symbol of the decadence of western Europe: sex-obsessed, materialistic, bored, lacking religious faith.

Houellebecq’s frank depiction of Islam is uncompromising.  As reviewer Jane Clark Sharl has noted:

There are no platitudes here of Islam as a partner-religion with Christianity, Islam as a force for unity, or Islam as a spiritualized arm of progressivism. Mr. Houellebecq describes Islam as it actually is: male-centric to the point of chauvinism, aggressive, political, dominant. He has no compunction about including all the doctrines of Islam, including those most distasteful to the contemporary elite. Despite repeated insistence otherwise, the Islam in Submission is not satirical; it is historically and ideologically accurate.

Christian conservatives may find this book a tough read – the sex scenes are graphic, and it is definitely written for a mature audience.  But it’s a story that needs to be told.

***

The late Andrew Breitbart famously observed that “culture is downstream from politics.”  Good storytelling is the way we advance the cultural narrative.  Conservatives ignore this to their peril. 

Conservatives often seem to resist reading fiction, preferring fact-laden books on history, philosophy, or economics.  Similarly, conservatives are more likely to recommend the latest book by Mark Levin or Ann Coulter, or a philosophical evergreen by Thomas Sowell or Milton Friedman, than a work of fiction.

Yet fiction can be a powerful tool in advancing ideas, as the left well understands.  Fiction can entertain and outrage, trigger sympathy or revulsion, provoke pity or pride, thus allowing the political or moral point to be absorbed by the reader indirectly.

To that end, this writer humbly submits ten books that can be read and enjoyed by a conservative looking for wisdom conveyed in a different form from nonfiction.  These books can be recommended to an apolitical person who resists an overtly political screed.  Or they can be part of a homeschooling curriculum for a bright high school student (though some have decidedly mature themes, as noted).

The list of books is eclectic, featuring both social and economic themes and both American and European authors.  In an effort to be accessible, the roster is limited to “modern” (post-19th century) novels.

With the prologue established, the list follows.  Let the brickbats fly!

1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell’s 1984 is a dystopian novel focusing on an individual living in “Oceania,” a socialist society comprising the present-day nations of England and the Americas.  Oceania is characterized by perpetual war; government surveillance; and the “thought police,” who persecute “thoughtcrime.”

The novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, works for the “Ministry of Truth,” which is engaged in the practice of constantly editing history to conform to the current party line.  People and places are changed, erased, or added as needed.

Although 1984 was intended as an indictment of totalitarianism, especially the USSR under Stalin, the novel today can be seen as a reflection of the current regime of political correctness in the popular media and academia.

The erasing of America’s past, renaming of holidays, and defacing and elimination of statues can all be seen as an effort to conform America’s history to the Progressive party line, in a manner similar to that foreseen by Orwell.

This is how Orwell described it:

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

Sound familiar?

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, published in 1957, has influenced more conservatives and libertarians than any other novel, from the Alt-Right Milo Yiannopoulos to the establishment Republican Paul Ryan.

While the book’s atheism and materialism are off-putting to many on the right, the novel celebrates the power of the individual in human achievement, the morality of capitalism, and the centrality of the entrepreneur.  These are many of the themes covered in Human Action, the treatise on economics by acclaimed economist Ludwig von Mises.  But Ayn Rand’s book gives flesh and blood to the Misesian themes, presenting an exciting narrative with colorful characters and exuberance.  In addition, the book seems to have particular appeal to younger readers.

It appears from recent surveys that our millennials have been infected with the virus of socialism.  Atlas Shrugged is the ideal antidote.

Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

Long before Black Lives Matter and “Hands up, don’t shoot,” Tom Wolfe illuminated the reality of racial politics in the liberal big city.

His 1987 novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, revolves around a young, wealthy investment banker named Sherman McCoy, self-described “Master of the Universe,” who accidentally enters the South Bronx at night while driving to Manhattan.  Lost and disoriented, McCoy is involved in an accident with a young black man, which leads to criminal charges.  But this isn’t an ordinary hit-and-run case.  A liberal New York prosecutor seizes on the McCoy case for his own political ends.  Whether McCoy is actually guilty or not quickly becomes irrelevant – all that matters is that he a white defendant against a black victim.  The novel skillfully demonstrates how the interplay of the zealous prosecutor, radical black activists, and a biased media culminate in a state of hysteria where facts become meaningless.

Thirty years later, Wolfe’s take on America’s racial politics remains prescient.  In both the Trayvon Martin case in 2012 and the Ferguson-Michael Brown case in 2014, we saw the same interplay of forces at work: the radical activists, the cowardly and scheming politicians, and the narrative-driven media.

Bonfire helps to make sense of it all.

Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail

Camp of the Saints was published in 1973 and quickly disappeared into obscurity.  Its premise seemed too far-fetched: prompted by charitable overtures from Belgium, an armada of a million starving third-world immigrants sets sail from India, headed for Europe.  The armada arrives on the shores of the French Riviera, and chaos ensues.  The title of the book comes from the Book of Revelation, describing the apocalypse.

The focus of Raspail’s novel is less on the advancing immigrant armada than on the various ineffectual responses of the French intelligentsia, media, and clergy.  (One of the voices in support of the advancing multitude is a left-wing Latin-American pope!)

What appeared far-fetched in 1973 is coming to pass in Europe today: the introduction of a million migrants into Europe, courtesy of Angela Merkel (and with the blessing of the pope) coupled with a demographic collapse that even Raispal could not envision.  The book, which had languished in obscurity, returned to the French bestseller list in 2011.

In an insightful analysis in The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson observed:

At the heart of the novel is a moral question: Is the West willing to defend itself? Denounced upon publication four decades ago as a racist, xenophobic fantasy, Raspail’s book now seems vaguely prophetic – not because of what it tells us about refugees from the Third World but because of what it reveals about European civilization.

The book is uncomfortable, often painful, to read.  It needs to be read anyway.

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

Written more than seven decades ago, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon stands as one of the most penetrating denunciations of totalitarianism ever written.  The book tells the story of Rubashov, a veteran of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, who is imprisoned and tried for treason by the regime he helped to create.  The book is based on the infamous Moscow “show trials” of the 1930s in which Stalin purged many of the old Bolsheviks on trumped up charges obtained through manipulations and induced confessions.

The show trials were bad enough. Worse still was the fact that many intellectuals in the West defended them, including New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty.

The Times continues to whitewash Soviet atrocities to this day.  Recently, the Times put together a collection of nostalgic remembrances about communism as part of a series called “Red Century,” exploring the legacy of communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution.  Many of the articles sounded as if they were concocted in the old Soviet propaganda ministry.  In one piece, for example, we learn that “women had better sex under socialism.”  In another, we discover that the USSR was a global pioneer in conservation.  In a third essay, fondly titled “When Communism Inspired Americans,” the Times recalls that “at that time, in this place, the Marxist vision of world solidarity as translated by the Communist Party induced in the most ordinary of men and women a sense of one’s own humanity that ran deep, made life feel large; large and clarified.”

None of these insipid pieces can survive a single reading of Darkness at Noon.

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

Audaciously written from the point of view of an innocent Christian schoolgirl, I Am Charlotte Simmons is a searing indictment of the decadence of modern academia.

The protagonist, Charlotte Simmons, is an attractive and intelligent but naïve freshman from a small town in North Carolina.  Charlotte receives a scholarship to “DuPont University,” an Ivy League school on the “other side” of the mountains, both literally and figuratively.  Back home, this is front page news.  She is ready to go off and live “the life of the mind” at DuPont.

But Charlotte’s experiences at this elite institution turn out to be considerably different from what she expected.  She discovers, to her shock, that at DuPont, academic achievement takes second place to sexual conquest.  The novel explores who Charlotte Simmons is and what she becomes.

Wolfe, a master social satirist, takes on the modern university experience – the random hookups, drug use, identity politics, and jock-worship.  His depiction is uncompromising – the language and sex scenes are very frank.

Though written in 2004, the book already seems dated in some respects – “safe spaces,” Antifa, and transgender bathrooms were still to come. But Charlotte Simmons‘s enduring value is showing how the sex-soaked culture of the Ivy League college – it was based on Wolfe’s interviews with students at North Carolina, Florida, Penn, Duke, and Stanford – devalues rather than liberates women.

Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour

Louis L’Amour was known primarily as a writer of westerns, but Last of the Breed is a Cold War novel, with a heavy dose of masculine survivalism.  Its inclusion on this list may surprise some: it is a boy’s adventure story, not an intellectual tour de force, but it’s just the kind of book we desperately need today.

Last of the Breed tells the story of Joe Makatozi, an Air Force major, whose aircraft is forced down in the Soviet Union.  Makatozi is an Indian, part Sioux, part Cherokee.

The Soviet interrogator seeks to exploit his “Native American victim status,” but Makatozi will have none of it.

A proud Indian, a proud American, “Mack” escapes from the prison camp and heads toward America through the Bering Strait (much as his ancestors did thousands of years ago).  In order to escape, however, he needs to fend off his Soviet pursuers and survive the harsh Siberian terrain.

Critic John J. Miller noted in National Review:

Moral ambiguity didn’t interest L’Amour. He had a clear sense of right and wrong: People should build rather than destroy, protect the innocent and vulnerable, and recognize that law and order can descend into chaos and barbarism with savage swiftness. L’Amour also didn’t write sex scenes, which made him a bit of an outlier among the popular novelists of his time. He called sex “a leisure activity” and said he had more important things to write about.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich deals with the struggle for survival in a Soviet prison camp in the 1950s, part of the vast infrastructure of such camps known as the Gulag Archipelago.

Solzhenitsyn had firsthand experience in the Siberian Gulag and movingly writes of the various prisoners and their predicaments.  In the Gulag, the protagonist encounters a cross-section of Russian society, and, indeed, the novel is allegorical – the whole of Stalinist Russia was a vast prison camp with no escape.  Ivan’s struggle was the struggle of every oppressed victim of Communist tyranny.

Chilton Williamson, noted author and critic, wrote of Ivan Denisovitch that the novel is “a testimony to the essential unmalleability of human nature by a political system whose professed raison d’être is to alter not only human behavior but humanity itself.”

America’s storytellers, particularly in Hollywood, depict Nazism as the sole or preeminent evil of the 20th century.  A record of 100 million corpses suggests otherwise.

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

In 2005, Michael Crichton, author of sci-fi classics The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, produced a thriller in which the evildoers are radical environmentalists.

The theme of Crichton’s adventure is that the widespread fear of catastrophic global warming is baseless.  As one his characters puts it, “[l]ike the belief in witchcraft, it’s an extraordinary delusion – a global fantasy worthy of the Middle Ages.”

Though it’s a work of fiction, State of Fear backs its assertions with scientific evidence and an impressive bibliography.

But while the book on the surface deals with global warming, it is really about something deeper: the assumption that man has the knowledge to predict the future with precision.  It’s the illusion upon which all central planning is built, including the “climate modeling” that serves as the basis of Al Gore’s fantasies.  “I prefer true but imperfect knowledge,” the great economist Friedrich Hayek once said, “to a pretense of exact knowledge that is likely to be false.”

Crichton considered himself a political agnostic.  And while he thought climate research was impressive, it was simply not good enough to justify radically transforming energy policy.  “I never thought the idea that you can’t predict the future would be controversial,” Crichton said, echoing Hayek.

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

Submission is set in the near future – 2022 – in a France that has elected a Muslim president who governs in coalition with the Socialist Party.  The theme is the ascent of political Islam in Europe and the crumbling of an increasingly secular West.

The novel’s protagonist is a symbol of the decadence of western Europe: sex-obsessed, materialistic, bored, lacking religious faith.

Houellebecq’s frank depiction of Islam is uncompromising.  As reviewer Jane Clark Sharl has noted:

There are no platitudes here of Islam as a partner-religion with Christianity, Islam as a force for unity, or Islam as a spiritualized arm of progressivism. Mr. Houellebecq describes Islam as it actually is: male-centric to the point of chauvinism, aggressive, political, dominant. He has no compunction about including all the doctrines of Islam, including those most distasteful to the contemporary elite. Despite repeated insistence otherwise, the Islam in Submission is not satirical; it is historically and ideologically accurate.

Christian conservatives may find this book a tough read – the sex scenes are graphic, and it is definitely written for a mature audience.  But it’s a story that needs to be told.

***

The late Andrew Breitbart famously observed that “culture is downstream from politics.”  Good storytelling is the way we advance the cultural narrative.  Conservatives ignore this to their peril. 



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Leftists: Establishing a Religion


In the case of Jack Philips, the baker who doesn’t want to be forced to support a gay “wedding,” leftists have revealed their freedom-hating fascist fanaticism and their desire to establish their faith as a government-mandated religion.

Religion interacts with politics by defining moral and behavioral codes. For example, Catholics believe murder is wrong, a moral code, and that you shouldn’t eat meat on the Fridays of Lent (a penance that was ended in 1984, but is recently making a comeback), a behavioral code. Hence establishing a religion in the context of the 1st Amendment would involve providing preferential treatment to the moral and behavioral code of one particular faith, as the English government did with the Church of England.

The Constitution was specifically designed to provide freedom of religion while preventing the government from picking one religion as the winner. Historically Americans were more divided based on behavioral issues than on morality; the Ten Commandments has always been something most Americans agree on. As a result, the morality of our laws hasn’t been much of an issue, apart from slavery, of course, until very recently. Even better, most Americans have no interest in using the power of the government to impose their behavioral beliefs on the rest of America; Catholics don’t want to force people to eat fish on Fridays, Jews don’t want pork banned from restaurants, and Protestants don’t want to require people to go to services.

Sadly, leftists are trying to impose their behavioral beliefs on all Americans.

Contrary to leftist revisionism, the Framers wrote the First Amendment not to put a wall between religion and government but to prevent the government from picking one religion over all others. They did so because many of them had suffered because of the Church of England’s oppression of other faiths.

The key point is that the government should not pick one set of behavioral beliefs, on which people can disagree, and impose it on all Americans without some very compelling reason.

Contrary to the Constitution, leftists are claiming that the government has the right to force people to go against their own moral beliefs and submit to the morals defined by leftists even when there is no compelling government interest.

Leftists demanding that all Americans be forced to accept leftist moral precepts and leftist behavioral rules — that marriage needs to be redefined, and that you must allow the “transgendered” into women’s bathrooms. This, in effect, is creating a government-sanctioned religion that is more equal than all the other faiths in America.

Leftists are working hard to ensure that anyone who disagrees with their morals/behaviors will be punished by the government. Precisely the sort of thing that the 1st Amendment was written to prevent.

This attack on the 1st Amendment by leftists is nothing new. Demanding that leftist morals/behaviors be allowed in schools and public settings while demanding that the morals/behaviors of all other faiths be silenced has been a key theme of leftism for quite some time.

For example, allowing teachers in public schools to extol the moral/behavioral beliefs of Nietzsche while declaring that even mentioning Jesus is verboten is nothing more than an establishment of one faith, leftist atheism, above all others.

Further, leftists demand complete obedience even in cases where no one actually suffers. No gay couple has been unable to purchase a wedding cake, for example. But leftists demand complete intellectual submission to their morals/behaviors. It’s as though Catholics were demanding that all orthodox Jewish delis serve pork.

Historically people understand that the 1st Amendment is not absolute; if one’s religion requires human sacrifice the government has a compelling interest to stop murder for example.

But in the case of the baker no sane person would argue that there is a compelling government interest in gay’s having “wedding” cakes.

What leftists are saying is that gay’s “right” to decide who will provide their “wedding” cake overrides the explicit 1st Amendment right of Americans to exercise their religion. Essentially the leftist religion overrides all other faiths in America. For example, leftists stated in their arguments to the Supreme Court that the government would have the right to force a Catholic church to host a gay wedding and for Catholic lawyers to defend gay causes.

Leftists will argue that their moral and behavioral beliefs aren’t a religion because they don’t involve a god or a formal structure. That is an invalid argument for two reasons; the Framers were concerned about the government imposing a set of moral and behavioral beliefs on the people and they used the term “religion” because at the time in America only religions had defined those things, not because they were okay with atheists imposing their beliefs. We all agree that Buddhism, which is decentralized and which does not believe in a god, is a religion. No one would think that giving Buddhist beliefs special privileges would be consistent with the First Amendment so it’s clear that giving the leftist faith special rights is wrong.

While leftists try and couch the discussion in terms of discrimination we can tell that’s a sham. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the group that ordered Christian baker Jack Philips to endorse a gay “wedding,” also found that gay bakers don’t have to bake a cake with a Bible citation condemning active homosexuality. That’s a clear example of moral/behavioral beliefs that align with leftist’s faith — being gay is good — are protected but moral/behavioral beliefs from other faiths — marriage is between a man and a woman — are not.

It’s time to start condemning the left’s attack on other faiths and demand that the 1st Amendment rights of all Americans’ be protected.

There is no reason why what leftist define as moral and good behavior should be backed by the full power of the government. True diversity, which leftists constantly claim to support, means that all faiths should be on an equal footing in America. If a gay baker can refuse to bake a cake which cites Biblical condemnations of homosexuality, then a Christian baker can refuse to bake a cake that will be used in a gay “wedding”.

You can read more of tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious and feel free to follow him on Twitter

In the case of Jack Philips, the baker who doesn’t want to be forced to support a gay “wedding,” leftists have revealed their freedom-hating fascist fanaticism and their desire to establish their faith as a government-mandated religion.

Religion interacts with politics by defining moral and behavioral codes. For example, Catholics believe murder is wrong, a moral code, and that you shouldn’t eat meat on the Fridays of Lent (a penance that was ended in 1984, but is recently making a comeback), a behavioral code. Hence establishing a religion in the context of the 1st Amendment would involve providing preferential treatment to the moral and behavioral code of one particular faith, as the English government did with the Church of England.

The Constitution was specifically designed to provide freedom of religion while preventing the government from picking one religion as the winner. Historically Americans were more divided based on behavioral issues than on morality; the Ten Commandments has always been something most Americans agree on. As a result, the morality of our laws hasn’t been much of an issue, apart from slavery, of course, until very recently. Even better, most Americans have no interest in using the power of the government to impose their behavioral beliefs on the rest of America; Catholics don’t want to force people to eat fish on Fridays, Jews don’t want pork banned from restaurants, and Protestants don’t want to require people to go to services.

Sadly, leftists are trying to impose their behavioral beliefs on all Americans.

Contrary to leftist revisionism, the Framers wrote the First Amendment not to put a wall between religion and government but to prevent the government from picking one religion over all others. They did so because many of them had suffered because of the Church of England’s oppression of other faiths.

The key point is that the government should not pick one set of behavioral beliefs, on which people can disagree, and impose it on all Americans without some very compelling reason.

Contrary to the Constitution, leftists are claiming that the government has the right to force people to go against their own moral beliefs and submit to the morals defined by leftists even when there is no compelling government interest.

Leftists demanding that all Americans be forced to accept leftist moral precepts and leftist behavioral rules — that marriage needs to be redefined, and that you must allow the “transgendered” into women’s bathrooms. This, in effect, is creating a government-sanctioned religion that is more equal than all the other faiths in America.

Leftists are working hard to ensure that anyone who disagrees with their morals/behaviors will be punished by the government. Precisely the sort of thing that the 1st Amendment was written to prevent.

This attack on the 1st Amendment by leftists is nothing new. Demanding that leftist morals/behaviors be allowed in schools and public settings while demanding that the morals/behaviors of all other faiths be silenced has been a key theme of leftism for quite some time.

For example, allowing teachers in public schools to extol the moral/behavioral beliefs of Nietzsche while declaring that even mentioning Jesus is verboten is nothing more than an establishment of one faith, leftist atheism, above all others.

Further, leftists demand complete obedience even in cases where no one actually suffers. No gay couple has been unable to purchase a wedding cake, for example. But leftists demand complete intellectual submission to their morals/behaviors. It’s as though Catholics were demanding that all orthodox Jewish delis serve pork.

Historically people understand that the 1st Amendment is not absolute; if one’s religion requires human sacrifice the government has a compelling interest to stop murder for example.

But in the case of the baker no sane person would argue that there is a compelling government interest in gay’s having “wedding” cakes.

What leftists are saying is that gay’s “right” to decide who will provide their “wedding” cake overrides the explicit 1st Amendment right of Americans to exercise their religion. Essentially the leftist religion overrides all other faiths in America. For example, leftists stated in their arguments to the Supreme Court that the government would have the right to force a Catholic church to host a gay wedding and for Catholic lawyers to defend gay causes.

Leftists will argue that their moral and behavioral beliefs aren’t a religion because they don’t involve a god or a formal structure. That is an invalid argument for two reasons; the Framers were concerned about the government imposing a set of moral and behavioral beliefs on the people and they used the term “religion” because at the time in America only religions had defined those things, not because they were okay with atheists imposing their beliefs. We all agree that Buddhism, which is decentralized and which does not believe in a god, is a religion. No one would think that giving Buddhist beliefs special privileges would be consistent with the First Amendment so it’s clear that giving the leftist faith special rights is wrong.

While leftists try and couch the discussion in terms of discrimination we can tell that’s a sham. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the group that ordered Christian baker Jack Philips to endorse a gay “wedding,” also found that gay bakers don’t have to bake a cake with a Bible citation condemning active homosexuality. That’s a clear example of moral/behavioral beliefs that align with leftist’s faith — being gay is good — are protected but moral/behavioral beliefs from other faiths — marriage is between a man and a woman — are not.

It’s time to start condemning the left’s attack on other faiths and demand that the 1st Amendment rights of all Americans’ be protected.

There is no reason why what leftist define as moral and good behavior should be backed by the full power of the government. True diversity, which leftists constantly claim to support, means that all faiths should be on an equal footing in America. If a gay baker can refuse to bake a cake which cites Biblical condemnations of homosexuality, then a Christian baker can refuse to bake a cake that will be used in a gay “wedding”.

You can read more of tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious and feel free to follow him on Twitter



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Misandry Rises: In Defense of Men



"Don’t vote for men!" is the message of a recent campaign ad.  Issued by Dana Nessel, Democratic attorney general contender in Michigan, what she literally says is, "Who [sic] can you trust most not to show you their [sic] penis in a professional setting?"



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What Time's 'Silence-Breakers' and the #MeToo Movement Miss


Recently, Time Magazine chose “The Silence Breakers,” women who started the #MeToo movement by speaking up, as “Person of the Year” for 2017.  The cover of the hard copy and pages on the online edition show beautiful women, mostly famous, looking great.  The article centers on what they faced in work lives with a mention of what poor and minority women often face, plus some feminist narrative.

My response to the whole thing was annoyance and irritation, even though I am a woman who has faced harassment in the workplace and who was molested as a girl.  Let me elaborate on what bothered me about the article and highlight other actresses who actually made a difference to me on this topic.

One sentence in the article stood out: “When movie stars don’t know where to go, what hope is there for the rest of us?”  That seems like a thinly veiled justification for the approach Time took for the article.  In reality, the magazine exploited these celebrities by using them to sell magazines in the name of a hashtag movement.  (But the portraits are beautiful.)

Also startling about the package was who was left out.  I didn’t see Juanita Broaddrick, who spoke out long ago and accused Bill Clinton of raping her.  Maybe that’s because she supported Donald Trump, whom they write about at length in the piece.  Makes me think Time is just attempting to frame a narrative, to virtue-signal for the left.

One more thing: There is no mention of the abuse problem regular people regularly face in their lives: sexual abuse within families.  As I looked at the Time cover,  that came to my mind, as did two other actresses and a performance of theirs, which was cathartic for many women.  Hanna Hall and Robin Wright were silence-breakers years ago in the movie Forrest Gump.

In a heartbreaking scene early in the movie, young Jenny (Hanna Hall) runs with Forrest (Tom Hanks) to get away from her father – stalking the little girl with bottle in hand – hides in the cornfield, and prays for God to make her a bird so she can fly away from there.  Instead, God seems to answer her prayers by sending her to live with an older woman in a trailer.

In another scene, the grown-up Jenny (Robin Wright) takes a walk with Forrest and comes upon the house where she lived with her father.  Jenny stares at it.  She throws her sandals at it.  She grabs rocks and throws them, breaking old windows.  She falls to the dusty road and sobs.  Forrest says, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

The movie also portrays how Jenny’s life is messed up.  There is nothing easy about her making her way through drug use, loneliness, and suicidal impulses to finally reach peace before her death from cancer at a young age.

Jenny probably would not join the #MeToo movement and be included on Time magazine’s cover because it’s too facile, but maybe that’s just me.

It’s one thing, an admirable thing, to call out a producer or a boss or a politician.  It’s quite another to tell the world that your father or your brother or your grandfather or your sister or your mother betrayed your trust and used you as an object, saddled you with shame that was really his or hers.

That is one thing the article got right: the shame of abuse haunts victims for years – the shame and betrayal.

Our stories are too complex to share with a hashtag.  And, speaking for myself, I’m not out to expose my abuser.  I’m beyond that now.  Fifteen years ago, I dealt courageously with what happened to me by carefully confronting my abuser with the help of a counselor and two pastors in a private setting.  I did it that way to protect children I love and my mother.

I’ll answer the age-old question: why did I not tell on my abuser when it happened?  Shock.  Also, family would have believed him and not me.  That would have been unbearable.  The experience went into my subconscious and did not emerge until thirty years later.  Then I spoke up in order to heal and to forgive.  I have done both for the most part.  (I didn’t see any mention of forgiveness in the article, even though that’s how victims get free ultimately.  That’s also telling.)

Finally, there’s a part of my story that still hangs over me that no media can address: my beautiful sister killed herself and was probably molested, but we didn’t talk about it because we couldn’t.   

She would have to forgive him herself, but she is unable to be a silence-breaker now.

Recently, Time Magazine chose “The Silence Breakers,” women who started the #MeToo movement by speaking up, as “Person of the Year” for 2017.  The cover of the hard copy and pages on the online edition show beautiful women, mostly famous, looking great.  The article centers on what they faced in work lives with a mention of what poor and minority women often face, plus some feminist narrative.

My response to the whole thing was annoyance and irritation, even though I am a woman who has faced harassment in the workplace and who was molested as a girl.  Let me elaborate on what bothered me about the article and highlight other actresses who actually made a difference to me on this topic.

One sentence in the article stood out: “When movie stars don’t know where to go, what hope is there for the rest of us?”  That seems like a thinly veiled justification for the approach Time took for the article.  In reality, the magazine exploited these celebrities by using them to sell magazines in the name of a hashtag movement.  (But the portraits are beautiful.)

Also startling about the package was who was left out.  I didn’t see Juanita Broaddrick, who spoke out long ago and accused Bill Clinton of raping her.  Maybe that’s because she supported Donald Trump, whom they write about at length in the piece.  Makes me think Time is just attempting to frame a narrative, to virtue-signal for the left.

One more thing: There is no mention of the abuse problem regular people regularly face in their lives: sexual abuse within families.  As I looked at the Time cover,  that came to my mind, as did two other actresses and a performance of theirs, which was cathartic for many women.  Hanna Hall and Robin Wright were silence-breakers years ago in the movie Forrest Gump.

In a heartbreaking scene early in the movie, young Jenny (Hanna Hall) runs with Forrest (Tom Hanks) to get away from her father – stalking the little girl with bottle in hand – hides in the cornfield, and prays for God to make her a bird so she can fly away from there.  Instead, God seems to answer her prayers by sending her to live with an older woman in a trailer.

In another scene, the grown-up Jenny (Robin Wright) takes a walk with Forrest and comes upon the house where she lived with her father.  Jenny stares at it.  She throws her sandals at it.  She grabs rocks and throws them, breaking old windows.  She falls to the dusty road and sobs.  Forrest says, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

The movie also portrays how Jenny’s life is messed up.  There is nothing easy about her making her way through drug use, loneliness, and suicidal impulses to finally reach peace before her death from cancer at a young age.

Jenny probably would not join the #MeToo movement and be included on Time magazine’s cover because it’s too facile, but maybe that’s just me.

It’s one thing, an admirable thing, to call out a producer or a boss or a politician.  It’s quite another to tell the world that your father or your brother or your grandfather or your sister or your mother betrayed your trust and used you as an object, saddled you with shame that was really his or hers.

That is one thing the article got right: the shame of abuse haunts victims for years – the shame and betrayal.

Our stories are too complex to share with a hashtag.  And, speaking for myself, I’m not out to expose my abuser.  I’m beyond that now.  Fifteen years ago, I dealt courageously with what happened to me by carefully confronting my abuser with the help of a counselor and two pastors in a private setting.  I did it that way to protect children I love and my mother.

I’ll answer the age-old question: why did I not tell on my abuser when it happened?  Shock.  Also, family would have believed him and not me.  That would have been unbearable.  The experience went into my subconscious and did not emerge until thirty years later.  Then I spoke up in order to heal and to forgive.  I have done both for the most part.  (I didn’t see any mention of forgiveness in the article, even though that’s how victims get free ultimately.  That’s also telling.)

Finally, there’s a part of my story that still hangs over me that no media can address: my beautiful sister killed herself and was probably molested, but we didn’t talk about it because we couldn’t.   

She would have to forgive him herself, but she is unable to be a silence-breaker now.



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