“And I looked and rose up: and I said to the chief men and the magistrates, and to the rest of the common people: be not afraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, and your wives, and your houses.” – 2 Esdras 4:14
Are you afraid to speak your mind openly? Do you confide your inmost thoughts in a low voice only to family and close friends? Such is the condition of many of us, especially those whose livelihood depends on those who insist their subordinates mimic politically correct speech and behavior.
How many times have we seen prominent people fall from media favor for a slip of the tongue that can be interpreted as somehow offensive to the sensibilities of one or more designated victim groups? Who is immune from the accusation of racism from media and politicians eager to vilify any opposition to their agenda?
And the accusation now requires no proof. Once made, it is impossible to disprove, as used to be the case with witchcraft. Denial is taken as further confirmation, for all in league with the evil one necessarily lie. One television commentator has even said that President Trump should not be judged by what he says but by what he believes. But who determines what Trump believes? Obviously not Trump, but those who want to destroy him.
It is arrogance in the extreme to discount a man’s own words and to impose upon them a meaning manufactured from your own animosity towards him. This is the opposite of fraternal charity. It is hatred and slander masquerading as truth.
And we are all now liable to be subjected to such hatred and slander. Not only prominent figures, but even the hoi polloi have become circumspect, lest some careless word spoken in public evoke the wrath of a self-appointed monitor of permitted expressions who happens to be passing by.
By what authority do these putative protectors of public virtue presume to dictate what can and cannot be said? By what criteria do they judge the speech and actions of others? Such questions are seldom asked. Most just try to keep their heads down and hope they will escape the wrath of the media and the jaws of its jackals.
The authority of political correctness rests on the dominance and increasing militancy of liberalism, whose assumptions are difficult to delineate in a logical and consistent way, for liberalism is essentially parasitic. It is not a creature that stands on its own power; it must attach itself to a host in order to live. When one host dies, it moves on to another.
The overarching assumption of liberalism (today’s liberalism rather than the classical liberalism which is now conservatism) is that the white man is the root of all evil. The white man has allegedly preyed upon people of color for centuries and built his wealth and power upon the backs of slaves and the oppressed. A few historical examples, if such are even presented, is deemed enough to establish as fact this huge, all-encompassing fiction. And since the white man is the root of all evil, all that comes from the white man – culturally, artistically and, most importantly, religiously – must be regarded primarily as an instrument to maintain his hegemony.
The white man’s culture must then be seen as the propagator of racism. The white man must be confronted with his racism, which he owns by virtue of his birth. He cannot deny it or disown it. He is guilty and must be punished, not as an individual, but as a member of a race. The fact that such an attitude is the very definition of racism escapes the notice of the persecutors of white men, for their self-righteousness blinds them to logic and self-criticism and to an appreciation of irony as well.
Having some appreciation of irony, I realize that all of the above is being applied to a group identified broadly as liberals and that I am at the same time insisting that individuals be dealt with as free agents, not as a species. But it is useful to note certain general signs by which we can recognize the enemy. When another attacks a man, not for who he is, but because he is white, you can be reasonably sure that such a person holds the assumptions of liberalism to represent reality and to be morally unarguable.
Such a person feels free to attack others because he has been given license by the media and the powers that be. It matters little that such enablers of hatred are themselves mostly white people. They are exonerated from the crime of having been born white by their acceptance of their own racism and their public mea culpa. They also adopt the tactic of accusing others, which exempts them from the charges being leveled. Moral superiority is the platform on which they stand and from which they judge others of their own race who stand below them as a mass of deplorables who need correction – or elimination. The category of white men tends to exclude white women, who are classed with people of color as victims of the white man, who is not only racist but sexist.
But what do those who hate white men – including some white people themselves – really want? What do they hope to achieve by fomenting constant animosity and division? This is a large question to which several answers are possible and correct. Some seek political advantage and power. To this end, they exploit envy and resentment and grant it moral legitimacy. Others want to feel virtuous and to appear virtuous. Some, who don’t trouble themselves to think deeply or examine their suppositions, just want to be an acceptable part of the body politic. They are merely conformists. (Conformists populate the most crowded place in Dante’s “Inferno,” the vestibule of hell, where they run after a banner on which nothing is written.)
But underneath the constant and ubiquitous cries of racism there is the voice of the demonic, of principalities and powers who present themselves as angels of light. They want to excite strife and stir violence. Their desideratum is the war of all against all. They do so by inciting hatred in the name of compassion for the downtrodden, in the name of an impossible equality, which has become a false idol. They put on the robes of justice to condemn the innocent. They speak of brotherhood in a way to turn brother against brother.
And their chief weapon is fear. Fear requires power. Fear also requires attachment to that which may be lost. No one is more subject to fear than he whose worldly wealth and position rests on public reputation. The media derive their power from such fear, which means they rule the world of politics. The hatred of the media for Trump rests in large degree upon his disdain for their bully-boy tactics and ceaseless smears. They feel powerless when they cannot instill fear and destroy at will.
But the air of fear the media constantly breathe into our world reaches all of us. Few religious leaders are not cowed by it. Pope Francis sides with the promoters of fear. He is ever ready to attack others, especially members of his own Church, as lacking in charity and justice and guilty of racism toward immigrants from Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East. In doing so, he joins with those who vilify European culture as rooted in racism and characterize those who would preserve it as motivated by bigotry and a desire to preserve their privilege.
Woe to the poor white man! Woe to the poor Christian! Woe to the traditional Catholic! He has no friends in high places. He has had a scarlet letter sown to his chest – a large “R” that he cannot remove. And all he is and all he says is tainted by his birth and Faith.
Such is our situation now. It would seem to be growing worse by the day, as public rhetoric grows more heated and all public arguments become arguments ad hominem. The temptation is to withdraw from public life entirely; to do what the Desert Fathers did when society became hopelessly corrupt and inimical to a life lived in the spirit. But few of us have this option, and it may not be what God wants of us.
We must stand as witnesses to the truth and be prepared to pay the price. We have often heard it said the Church was nourished by the blood of the martyrs, but we may not have considered well what this means: we must be willing to surrender not only our reputation, our livelihood, the affection and esteem of our neighbors and possibly our own family, but our very lives.
Violence is in the air. The ruling class, abetted by the balkanized victim groups who coalesce into a mob of the aggrieved, are closer to declaring war on all who insist that they are individuals, not members of a species. We are the only creatures on Earth who say “I”. This is our gift from God. We are free individuals. There are dark forces who want to rob us of this gift, for we can only come to Christ as individuals. Salvation is personal.
We need not look for a fight. The fight will come to us. All who love Christ, no matter the color of their skin, are under attack. We must pray that we will have the courage to stand firm. We must root ourselves in a love that will never yield to fear: a love that is willing to lose all that the world can offer, because it knows that which is infinitely better.
It is easy to write such stirring proclamations. It is much harder to live by them. And we tend to think we have more courage than we actually possess. We may be tested many times and we may fail often, but reliance on God will see us through to the end.
For those of us who grew up in times when the civil exchange of ideas was taken for granted, the current atmosphere of intimidation and vituperation is alarming. We feel the contraction of free expression. A menacing cloud hangs over the public square where some people move along quickly and silently, with heads bowed, while others eye them with suspicion and malice.
This situation did not occur suddenly. It came about through the divorce of religion from public life. It was seeded by the assumption that people can behave well by virtue of human nature, unaided by grace. Few realized that the decency of secular society was carried along by the inertia of Christianity. That inertia has now slowed almost to a halt, and we are seeing what fallen nature, left on its own, is capable of producing.
No call for reasoned discourse, for a return to civility, has any chance of succeeding. Fraternal charity is not a product of material nature, but of spirit. No society that denies the spirit can hope to engender fraternal love based on its assumption that we are random mutations of a meaningless, pointless evolution of matter that came from nothing and will end in nothing. Even the appeal for equality, for social justice, for an end to supposed white supremacy can find no foundation apart from that on which the Christian West – the detested white man’s culture – was built. But a reversion to the principles of that culture would prove fatal to the idols of modernity.
We must first allow and assist the death of those idols in our own hearts, for we are not entirely immune to the times in which we live. Then, by degrees, probably with much suffering for us and for others, we must help them to die in the hearts of those around us. We can do this merely by speaking the truth and living the truth. It sounds simple, but it is the path of the hero, the road to Calvary. It is also the only way to the Resurrection and the Life.