Christian Democracy is the Inoculation to the Alt-Right, Part 2

What sets the National Policy Institute apart from all other National Socialist movements in the US is that is sets down a firm, intellectual base. Anyone with the stomach to read Fisher’s article in full will find this passage.

First off, the alt Right appreciates what is superior in man, in the Nietzschean sense. Most members of the alt Right applaud countries like Japan and South Korea for having low out-of-wedlock birth rates and not taking in Muslim or African refugees. We don’t simply say “who cares what they do, they’re not my tribe.” Rather, we recognize that such people have built impressive civilizations, and we believe that it is in the interest of humanity that these nations continue to exist, and not adopt the suicidal policies of the West.

To the layman, this looks like it is perfectly normal and rational; a nation should preserve its identity and has every right to do so. To the ameture philosopher like me, the first sentence is the most important. Everyone with a cursory knowledge of Nietzsche knows about the ubermench; few with a cursory knowledge of Nietzsche knows what the ubermench means. As far as I understand it, the ubermench was what Nietzsche believed was the next step in human metaphysical evolution. With God dead from the attacks upon him from the Enlightenment forward, the ubermench would create an entirely new value system, totally free from the previous Platonic or Judeo-Christian values.

This begins the first fissure in the thinking of the Alt-Right and their supposed allegiance to Nietzsche. The idea of the nation and national pride was a value produced from the philosophies that Nietzsche despised as being tied to the former ways of thinking. The things the Alt-Right values–race, social norms from white culture, tribalism, etc.–are things Nietzsche either vehemently condemned–especially the exaltation of race and social norms–or implicitly rejected.

So what Nietzschean values are they talking about? Well, the values come from someone named Nietzsche, but not Old Freddie. They come from his sister,  Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche who was married to well known anti-Semite and German nationalist Bernhard Förster. Nietzsche’s sister edited many of his works to support the ideals of National Socialism, creating the most bitter ironies when we consider that Nietzsche contributed his intelligence to being Polish.

If we examine actual Nietzschean values, the NPI have succumb to the seductions of old moral system. They are for communities but those communities still follow the old liberal pattern. They are for culture, but that culture is intricately tied to Judeo-Christian morality. The Nietzschean values, the ones from Elisabeth and not Friedrich, that NPI supports is the superiority of race. To them, some races have proven to be superior and they deserve to be protected from what they believe are inferior. How can such radical proposals return to public discourse? Thank conservatives.

Kevin Deanna writes concerning the establishment of a youth wing of the Alt-Right:

Thus far, YWCers can’t even really be placed on the “Alternative Right,” as we are essentially just echoing standard conservative rhetoric on immigration, multiculturalism, and American identity. (The difference is that we actually mean it.) But even this moderate approach is too much for leftists. Calls to completely transform the structure of the American economy meet far less opposition than suggesting that we enforce existing immigration laws. This tells us what the real forbidden issues are in America today and where the Left really sees the battle lines falling.

If you read the rest of the article, you see where Deanna basically shows the history of their movement working its way through the conservative movement, adopting its rhetoric and using it as a vehicle for their proposals. The conservative mantras concerning immigration, as innocent as they may have been intended, must now be credited with the rise of American National Socialism and its racial positions. As my mother was wont to say whenever a Democrat proposed some new program, “My mother always said: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

We have to take the Alt-Right at their word here and attribute such horrors to conservative rhetoric. How can we not? If they have used it and said that they used it to accomplish this task, how can we honestly tell them otherwise. The reason I mention this is because the conservative movement is now in a battle to save its soul. If Tomi Lahren’s outburst on The View is any indication on how conservatives play fast and loose with principles as fundamental as the right to life and the universal dignity of man, then it is entirely rational to take that along with the admissions of the Alt-Right’s political subversion and be very skeptical of where the movement is going.

I have said before and I will say it until I die: the party of Reagan is dead. If it did not die with the end of Reagan’s presidency, it died with him and is buried with him, only to be conjured up for nostalgia. My point is that conservatism is or was apparently home to National Socialists and small government advocates so radical that they reject the very purpose of small government.

Modern conservatism has failed in one crucial regard, as evidenced by these two revelations: it has failed to reinforce man’s identity and place in the cosmic order as the impetus for and continuation of government. The Alt-Right saw the freedom to use the movement to advocate racial nationalism on the foundation of conservative immigration policy. Pro-abortion advocates saw the freedom to use the movement to advocate such a small government, that the lives of the most vulnerable are left unprotected.

There is, however, a solution to the fall of conservatism. It does not involve fleeing to monasteries except in the intellectual sense. It is a return to the Christian principles that conservatives say founded this country. It is a return to reason being the part of man that orders the will to right action, rather than the speculative power that attains for the will the satisfaction of the appetites. It is a return to the West, the True West. In the Lord of the Rings, the Lords of the West are not just the Numenorians and the Numenorians themselves failed. The Lords of the West were first the Valar, the residences of the West of West, of Blessed Aman. These beings, personifications of the highest virtues created in the music at the beginning of time, were the true Lords of the West.

So it is in our own time, for art imitates life. We look back on our Founders with the respect due to the power and wisdom of the ancients. Yet, we see them also as being part of a greater story, of a larger tapestry. It is this broader context, this eternal context, that we see ourselves and our Founders. We see ourselves as an ever advancing people, working towards that original state of human harmony that God did ordain for man from the beginning. Unlike the Alt-Right, we know what is superior in man and have an example of it. No ubermench has arisen save one and his example hangs in our churches, around our necks, in our pockets, and on our hearts. We are Christian Democrats. We are the American Solidarity Party. We are the last shield of the West, the True West, against horrors of the Alt-Right, of the American National Socialists.

Trump Channels His Inner Juche: Taking Fire and Food for Planes and Ships

I am in the military so no one can accuse me of being some anti-defense hippie who doesn’t know how much we need planes and things. I have been in the military–in the reserves for anyone trying to cite DoDD 1344.10, let this be my declaration IAW paragraph and statement that I was not on active duty orders when I wrote or published this–for almost eight years, serving at some of the highest echelons of command and seen firsthand the budgetary concerns we face in the Department of Defense.

That being said, the Trump budget is a firehose of wasted money at the expense of people eating, having heat, and other necessities. Let’s break this down.

Trump is increasing the defense budget by $52.3 billion for new planes and ships. While this sounds like a good thing for Norfolk and the defense contractors populating our state and contributing to about 11.8% of the state’s GDP. When defense spending goes up, Virginia gets the lion’s share of the increase. While this sounds great for the state economy, the cost is going to be felt elsewhere.

Also in the Trump plan is a cut in funding to Meals on Wheels, a Virginia-based national non-profit that provides food to homebound seniors. About 24,000 homebound seniors are served in Virginia and about 52% of Meals on Wheels Virginia branch’s funding comes from the program Trump intends to cut. It doesn’t get anymore cartoonishly evil than this. I’ve looked and the only people who thought that starving populations in order to build weapons were communist dictators.

But that isn’t the half of it. Thousands of Virginians stand to lose Low Income Home Energy Assistance under the new budget cuts. This would leave thousands of low income families without the help they need to heat their homes during the winter. Make no mistake: people rely on this assistance to survive the winter. We may as well evict them and let them freeze in the snow. This isn’t much of an exaggeration since many of these homes are not well insulated because people living below the poverty line typically can’t afford descent housing.

What all this means, apart from being a page from the Kim Jong Un manual on governance, is that the state is going to have to carry more of the burden, making that slight bump in defense spending incapable in covering the new cost the state will now incur just to keep people alive.

Also, these new planes and ships are going to be worthless when we are also cutting foreign aid programs. You see, there is this thing the US has been doing since 2001 called Foreign Internal Defense, an intricate strategy of diplomacy, military operations, collaboration with NGOs, and more to help nations get back on their feet and maintain stability as American allies. Defense Secretary Mattis knows about it and actually opposes the Trump plan to cut funding to programs that support these efforts. All the planes and ships in the world will not fix the complex problems that require the inter-agency cooperation and collaboration that Trump is actually specifically cutting. Our top military official are saying that doing so is going to make America less safe, which means those planes and ships are just waiting to get deployed in the next bloody conflict we inevitably get embroiled in.

Not to mention the fact that the defense acquisitions process contains some of the most capitalism killing bureaucracy in the entire government. Ever wonder why contracts are always awarded to BAE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and others? It is because the regulatory process is structured such that taking risks is discouraged and awarding contracts to the big companies means job security for the underlings in the process. No one wants to award a contract to start up that goes under a few years later; that’s how you get fired. But the unintended consequence is that a oligopoly is formed such that Lockheed, for example, can shake the government tree for more money for the consistently over budget, under-performing, and behind schedule F-35 program without losing its contract.

Funneling more money into these companies may update our planes and ships, but at what cost? Being in the military, I know of numerous ways to save money. Abolish all needless promotion, change of command, and retirement ceremonies. Surgically target the lazy employees who stymie the progress of a given agencies. Create a better culture that is focused on accomplishing the mission with the least amount of money possible. We are hearty folk, we military personnel, and we can survive budget cuts to needless expenditures and a culture that seeks to weed out the useless. What we cannot survive is haphazard sequestration or pointless spending; neither solve the underlying problems.

And attempting to solve these problems on the backs of the poor is just wrong and goes against everything we swore to uphold. How can we take fire and food from the people of the United States and declare our oaths fulfilled? It runs entirely contrary to the core of military values of selfless service, integrity, and honor.

The American Solidarity Party supports a strong national defense, but also a smart national defense. It further supports the proposition that, even though we may have the mightiest national defense in the world, it is useless if the people we intended to protect starve or freeze. We need better solutions to budgetary concerns that do not involve hacking at one program or another in order to solve the growing federal debt. The ASP offers those solutions because, after all, they worked for Poland.

Summum Ius, Summa Iniuria: Measuring Mercy in Immigration

The New York Times reports:

“Esmeralda, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico in Alexandria, Va., is trying to find a new place to live with her 2-year-old daughter after her husband was deported to Mexico after a routine check-in at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office. She is now wondering if she should apply for a visa — which could end up in her becoming legal, or put her at risk because it notifies the government of her presence here.”

If this does not rankle your very soul, I am sinfully inclined to believe you do not have one. Those in support of this new surge in immigration enforcement tout the law as some immortal defense against accusation of injustice. They scream for law and order, yet their idolization of the law has brought on a serious disorder and a misunderstanding of the purpose of law. And before I am inundated with memes about how Obama did more, the facts are that he did not. We have not seen this level of deportation. The Obama administration did precisely what conservatives most moan about i.e. those undocumented immigrants who have committed dangerous crimes. Trump has expanded on who gets deported so that women and children get deported as well, even if they are citizens.

Now, I do not say that a nation does not have the right to control who comes through their boarders. Screaming about being pro-open boarders is a strawman. What I am saying is that pursuing the law to the extreme results in extreme injustice. Consider the example of Shylock who pursues the payment of a pound of flesh. Legally, the contract he and Antonio made is sound and Antonio owes Shylock a pound of his flesh. Here we see the law being taken to an extreme and putting a life in danger. Shylock’s murderous demand is check, ironically, by the law itself; since taking a pound of flesh would cause Antonio to die, Shylock would be liable for Antonio’s life and therefore be guilty of murder.

When we push the enforcement of the law to exclusion of all else, we do more damage than good. We want people to be here legally. If our enforcement makes those who are here illegally move further into the shadows, we are working against ourselves. When the advantages of remaining illegal remain greater than the advantages of becoming legal, then we can all admit that our immigration policy is backwards.

We see another example in Javier, who pursue Valjean to extraordinary lengths because he cannot conceive of a law breaker doing anything good. Javier’s persistence in following the letter of the law damages numerous people and, when he sees that a man can change through the mercy of Valjean, it inevitably consumes his life.

If we remain focused on the law being executed without mercy, we see grave injustices. We treat people like they are scum that need to be removed from an otherwise pristine nation, then we are the scum, not them. It is written, after all, “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him. The wicked are overthrown by their evildoing, but the righteous find a refuge in their integrity.” Our danger does not come from a now single mother and her toddler; our danger comes from our unwillingness to show mercy. It will eat at us until it eventually consumes our lives. In the end, it is a lack of mercy that will destroy America. Perhaps we should make an Executive Order about that. After all, it worked for Poland.

On Prudential Tax Cuts

President Trump has produced an ambitious tax plan that has people with more knowledge about economics than I scratching their heads as to how in the world he is going to pay such dramatic tax cuts. For those like me who do not understand all the nuances of economics, the logic behind Trump’s plan is simple: lower taxes mean that businesses can hold onto more money and expand, thereby increasing their overall wealth and growing the economy and therefore the tax income. It is not a stupid plan if your plan is to grow the economy and it makes sound sense.

What it depends on, however, is businesses taking those tax cuts and using them for growth. For example, let’s say company x receives an extra $1,000,000 from the tax cuts. Now, suppose they could also hire more people and open a second location thereby adding $500,000 to their yearly revenues. On the other hand, with that bump in income, they are taxed $100,000 more. So the natural thing to do if you are a business that will, in the long run, make you more money, is to not grow.

Think about it: if you choose not to grow, you get $1,000,000 more than you were making before. But if you grow, you not only spend that money, but you will actually end up losing that tax break. My wife and I recently did our taxes and found that, had we made a little less money last year i.e. not worked as hard and not grown, we would have gotten a better return. The business operates on the same principle. By not investing in growth and pocketing the money instead, they come out ahead.

There are plenty of reasons besides that for a business not to grow. For the small sandwich shop that has no aspirations of growing larger, a tax break just means greater income from the business you currently have. In fact, a small business owner is less likely to expand because it involves more risk to do it. Therefore, the sensible small businessman will pocket the extra money, not raise wages, and not hire any more staff, while increasing his profits.

This catastrophic inertness occurred recently in Kansas. The state made massive cuts to taxes. The result was massive budget shortfalls and minimal to no growth. The Kansas legislature believed that lower corporate, property, and private taxes would increase economic activity. When it didn’t–because trying to expand a business in a state with more cows than people is insane unless you are in the grain business–government institutions like schools and public assistance suffered. Thus, businesses became wealthy on the backs of children and the poor. Kansas is now trying to fix that mess with tax hikes that are–surprise, surprise–unpopular.

Like the Marxist Materialists in the Democrat Party, the Randian Materialists in the Republican Party following the Orange Emperor are promising a materialistic paradise that they cannot make good on. We need economic approaches that focus on man and his nature, not his wealth or the wealth of other men. Unless we order our economy and tax policy to serve man rather than exploit him, then we will head to financial ruin whether the Marxists or the Randians are in charge.

The American Solidarity Party seeks to do just that. The first thing we need to do is incrementally abolish the income tax. First of all, the Federal government has no business meddling in the lives of the individual citizens; all its dealings should be with the several states in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. A policy that focuses on taxing real property rather than liquid assets like income would be more just naturally as it would be progressive and distributed based on each person’s economic situation rather than setting up arbitrary brackets.

This is only one proposal as there may be others more suitable. The fundamental principle, however, is to meet the demands of justice and thereby protect the private property rights of each person and protect the right to acquire property, especially that of the poor. It worked for Poland.

Constitutional Rights v. Natural Rights

In the People’s Court of Public Opinion, comes now the Plaintiff, Constitutional Rights, by and through counsel Political Conservatives, submits this complaint against the Defendant Natural Rights on the grounds hereinafter set forth.

Plaintiff Constitutional Rights cannot be applied to non-citizens because the Constitution only protects “We the People of the United States.” Therefore, non-citizens cannot be said to have Constitutional Rights, either of free speech and assembly or due process.

Defendant Natural Rights denies the allegations in the Plaintiff’s complaint. Plaintiff argues from a false concept of the relationship between the state and the human person.

We have all heard the argument that illegals shouldn’t have constitutional rights because they are not citizens. The irony of this argument is that it largely comes from political conservatives who often rabbit on with immense vigor about how the rights in the Constitution are not granted by the Constitution, but merely protected by it. I share this view i.e. that our rights stem from our being human, endowed by our Creator and Nature with our rights rather than receiving them as grants from the state.

Yet, in order to complain about immigrants not accepting American values, political conservatives reject American values. To say that an immigrant, illegal or otherwise, does not have a right to free speech is basically like telling Jefferson that his whole Declaration thing was wrong because the unwritten constitution of Great Britain didn’t allow the colonists to declare independence.

They will dress up the extension of due process rights to illegal immigrants as a sort of carte blanc to enter the country. This is their own self-denial and cognitive dissonance. Due process rights state that someone cannot be indefinitely detained or detained without charges or not given a fair process by which their issue can be addressed. This was important to the colonists before the Revolution because Great Britain would detain people and then send them to England to be held without the prospect of a trial.

To say that someone does not have a right to due process because they are not an American citizen is to repudiate the whole theory of Natural Rights the Constitution was based on. In the debates about the Bill of Rights, the Federalists actually argued that to make a Bill of Rights, the rights of the people would actually be limited. The Anti-Federalists argued that having the Bill of Rights does not mean “these are your only rights,” but rather, “your rights are but not limited to x.” The Founders never believed the Constitution granted rights nor that those enumerated the Constitution were the only one’s people had.

They believed, as I do, that our rights stem from our humanity, from our personhood. They used language such as “individual” and so on, but the sense was largely the same: each and every person/individual has rights and the government protects them. The having of rights, therefore, are prior to the Constitution. This means that, just we are endowed by the Creator with the right of due process, the illegal immigrant is given the same.

By saying the illegal does not have these rights is to say one of two things: a) that God granted special rights to Americans only or b) our rights come from the Constitution and therefore the State. Either one of these is wrong on its face; anyone can see that. Yet, faced with such a dilemma as to how they are going to deny basic human and individual rights to illegal immigrants, I wonder just how much cognitive dissonance political conservatives can drum up.

To Rule at Home: Abolishing Dillon’s Governmental Capitalism

I have often heard that capitalism is the best system and that if only the government had more capitalism and was more capitalistic, then it would be better. That is, unless the almighty and inscrutable invisible hand decides to move somewhere they don’t like. Then we need to regulate bathrooms and the like. I would say there is an exponential function whereat the level of fascist tendencies increases with every value of undesirable legislation passed by local governments.

It often puzzles me that political conservatives will be ready to lay down their lives–read: reputations and the assumption of their human decency–in mass exercises of defiance–read: petty Facebook squabbles and angry rants on call in talk shows–in order to argue against the federal government’s alleged intrusion into their personal lives, but not when they want the state to do the exact same thing to some local government they think is getting uppity.

Take the sanctuary city issue. In these cities, the local authorities have said they are not going to go around trying to find illegal aliens and not arrest the ones that they do find. Some will call this a flagrant disregard of federal law until you realize that local governments don’t have the jurisdiction to enforce federal law. All these cities have done is made it policy to let the feds take care of their own criminals and use their resources on other things like gang violence and such. To conservatives, this means we have to override all local autonomy as to how they allocate their local resources i.e. how they spend their tax payer dollars as the tax payer directs them and force them to enforce a body of law they have no legal authority to enforce without voluntarily joining a federal law enforcement program. My point is that even the proponents of local control and individualism turn into qausi-fascist when towns and cities they don’t live in don’t do what they want them to do.

At the local level where the state and the county/town/city/whatever are butting heads, it gets even worse and the squabbles are even more partisan. What’s more, it inhibits the local government’s ability to provide services and perform in a manner consistent with their particular circumstances. The top down approach that conservatives say is nothing but socialism is exactly the model that is created effectively under Dillon’s Rule. The whole state gets the same, meager services for the sake of Richmond preserving its power. In fact, of the states that have Dillon’s Rule, Virginia is one of the most strict. This means that if Prince William or Sussex Counties have an idea for a better way to manage their food assistance programs, the General Assembly has to expressly give them permission.

In other words, Dillon’s Rule in Virginia stifles the creativity of the local governments to pursue solutions to problems in a manner better suited to their own circumstances in favor of a top down solution that fits most but not all. It is to be expected that the party that nearly nominated a Democratic Socialist as their presidential candidate would support such draconian rules. But the party of personal responsibility seems out of place in what seems to be individualism verses the state. When presented with the opportunity to inject the capitalist spirit by allowing local governments to develop in the way they see fit and share their creativity, the party of capitalism steps away with their blue brethren.

Now, certainly there cannot be absolute Home Rule; there must be some limitations placed on local governments. But the intervention of the state government is only going to mirror the relationship of the fed to the states. Increasingly, we have seen local issues be repressed by the states and the federal government coming down to support the locality, violating the ideals of federalism and states’ rights we hear so much about. Bathroom laws, cake makers, and other disputes that could simply be solved by having the states acknowledge more autonomy and a better ability to address grievances to their localities would likely lead to fewer interventions of the fed. But then the power to rule someone’s life from the capitol building in Richmond is not one, I think, will be given up easily.

Right to Life Month: On VP Pence Speaking at the March

I have to say, I am very excited for the Vice President to be speaking at the March for Life. This brings unprecedented visibility to one of the most important, peaceful, and longest running protests in US history. At the same time, I am concerned about what this may mean for the prolife movement in general.

VP Pence is very staunchly against abortion; unlike his president, he is unambiguously opposed to it and has worked to limit it in his home state of Indiana. What concerns me is that Pence’s stance on other life issues are not at all congruent with the prolife movement. I will accept that we need to get allies where we can, but we need to be cautious that Pence and his view on what being prolife–basically just being anti-abortion–means.

Who could forget the very high profile argument between Pence and then Archbishop Tobin over the resettlement of refugees? During that struggle between the power of the state and the power of the Church, Pence lost because it was Tobin’s decision to  continue participating in the federal refugee program, not Pence’s. Now the shoe is on the other foot and I hope that the experience dealing with now Cardinal Tobin and his witness then of what it truly means to believe that every man has the inalienable right to life has changed him. I hope that the experience will prompt Pence to influence his president to give justice to the vulnerable and the dispossessed refugees.

I further hope that, when he said last August that some illegal immigrants can stay, means that he will support the BRIDGE Act and provide justice and mercy to thousands of innocent children. I hope that his commitment to vulnerable children in the womb will extend to those out of it, with special attention to the poor and the oppressed. If his commitment to human life is so strong, then I hope he is ready to reform the exploitation of the visa system so that even those who overstayed their visas received justice if they have been used by their employers.

I hope that his commitment to the unborn will extend after they are born and work to protect their right to basic needs such as food and shelter as well as their right to a good education and health care. It would be a poor prolifer who didn’t want to continue to protect life after it is born.

I hope many things for Vice President Pence. Some may say it is a fool’s hope. Yet, if I believe in the inherent goodness of mankind and the sovereignty of Divine Providence, then I must give Pence and even Trump a chance. I hope they both stand for life and life for the whole life. If they do, I will praise them as long as I have breath. If they do not, then I, and all other Americans and people of good will, shall fight with all our strength against them. After all, we are talking about human life here. What else is more worth fighting for?

Right to Life Month: Don’t Like Trump Immigration? Support the BRIDGE Act

The BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) Act, S.128/H.R. 496, is bipartisan legislation recently introduced in Congress to sustain the temporary relief from deportation and employment eligibility offered to youth through the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the BRIDGE Act, young people who came to the United States as children would remain eligible to work and live in the U.S. without fear of deportation and family separation so long as they meet certain requirements: demonstrating a commitment to education or honorable service in the military and having no serious criminal history.

If there is one way we can fight for the rights of migrants, the BRIDGE Act can do it. It is a rare occurrence for Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin to have a common cause. We are thankful they have found one in this protection of the rights of migrant children. The crimes of the father should not pass to his children and young people who are pursuing an education, serving in our armed forces, and abide by our laws should be granted our clemency and support.

A nation always has the right to defend itself against threats and regulate its borders. The rights of nations, however, cannot abrogate the rights of the human person. Otherwise, the abuses and crimes of regimes like the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea could be justified. Instead, a commitment to a “prolife for the whole life” mindset would compel us to have mercy on these children who are fleeing broken homes or have lost their homes. Such is the exceptionalism of America that we are able to grant such mercy without pain to ourselves.

Call your representatives and tell them to support Sens. Graham and Durbin in this protection of the rights of vulnerable children.

Right to Life Month: Torture is Not Prolife

President Trump has said in an ABC interview that he would revive the old program of torture called waterboarding. Against the advice of experts and even members of his own cabinet, he says it “absolutely works.” He must have skipped that intelligence meeting. Now, several members of his own party–unsurprisingly including Sen. John McCain, who was a victim of both torture and Trump’s ire–have spoken out against it. Yet, these denouncements and even Trump’s pronouncement miss the mark and obscure things.

In his confirmation hearing, Gen. Mattis stated that the current field manuals that exclude torture as an interrogation method would remain the standard. Sessions and Pompeo both said that they could not envision a world where torture was reintroduced. Since Trump is on record, stating this, then I do not see where they could have been led to believe that bring back torture would not be a priority for him. But again, the talk of Army Field Manuals is useless. It wasn’t the Army that was waterboarding people, but the CIA whose nominated director said that he could not envision Trump wanting to bring back torture. As disorganized and factionized the Obama administration was, I don’t think we have seen a cabinet that so disagrees with the priorities of their president, except maybe Lincoln’s but his was during a massive civil war so it isn’t that comparable.

What this really does besides highlight the inconsistencies of Trump’s secretaries is undermines his status as pro-life and undermines the pro-life movement as a whole. The only thing Donald Trump has going for him in terms of pro-life policy is that he might nominate a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court. He has not given any comment on DC’s euthanasia law; he has barred refugees based on religious biases; and he has formally supported torture in order to “fight fire with fire.”

First, the rationale that we should fight fire with fire against ISIS is absolutely absurd and flies in the face of American values. We are America. We are better than them. We, unlike them, do not need to use cruel methods to get our points across. Our courage, valor, and self-sacrifice says more about our goodness and justice to the world and to history than any act of torture. If the often repeated conservative maxim that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it then they would do well to remember every tyrant began his reign of blood by using the tools of his enemy. This is so much part of the Western experience, that Tolkien made it a major conflict in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. To use evil to fight evil only brings one a different evil. The wisest people–Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, Faramir–all resist the temptation to use the One Ring for noble purposes. They do so because any noble purpose achieved through the power of evil is necessarily corrupted. Imagine if Ronald Reagan believed that, in order to destroy the Soviet Union, he needed to collectivize the industries. I sincerely ask those Reaganites now who support Trump in this: when did you abandon reason for madness?

Second, Trump ignores the America moral center i.e. that all men are endowed with the inviolable right to life and all the dignity that implies. When we Americans speak of the dignity of the human person and the right they have to  be free of torment as being basic to their humanity, we cannot turn around and say, “except those guys.” It undermines our core beliefs in inalienable rights. If the rights of another Divinely and naturally endowed person can be abrogated for the whim of an Oompa Loompa with a pain fetish, then who else is at risk?

Third, it forces the modern pro-life movement to really examine what they believe here. Is being pro-life solely about abortion and nothing else? Seeing as Fr. Pavone hasn’t given any statements on this recent move, we can safely say that those of his thinking are not bothered by the prospect. Yet, it should deeply trouble us and challenge us to challenge Trump to be more pro-life. We cannot merely be grateful he might appoint an anti-abortion justice and move on. We have to advocate for more, showing the world that life is more than reproduction, that it only starts in the womb, and that there are real dangers to it post-partum.

Call your representatives in both bodies, especially if they are on the Armed Services and Intelligence committees in either house. Tell them to denounce Trump’s revival of torture as the violation of basic humanity that it is.

Right to Life Month: On Refugees and Sacred Rights

Recently, President Trump has placed a ban on refugees coming from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. If you haven’t noticed the coincidence between these nations yet, then I will spell it out: they are Muslim majority nations. This is a prolife issue. Protecting the refugee fleeing violence is a basic act of human kindness incumbent on anyone and any nation who is able. If we believe that life is sacred, that all lives matter, then the life of the refugee matters as well. As they languish in camps, their very lives are at risk of violence, disease, and generational, abject poverty with few of the basic essentials such as food and water.

Trump has made good, at least for the time being, on his ban of Muslim refugees being resettled in the US. Trump says it is so he can start a process of “extreme vetting.” Let’s take a look at what the current process looks like.
The Screening Process for Refugees Entry Into the United States (full text of the graphic written below the image)

And we thought the DMV was bad. Basically, if you have ties to a terrorist organization, look funny at your interview, or a piece of paper gets lost. You have more chance of entering the US on a forged passport or swimming the Gulf of Mexico than you do as a refugee. The process is slow, redundant, bureaucratic, and takes, at a minimum, 2 years to complete. The existence of a phone number you had thirty years ago and totally forgot about but get dredged up through the investigations–oftentimes going into war torn countries and salvaging government records and interviewing your friends and family–can bump you to the back of the line. That is why some refugees from a Bush era program to reward Iraqi nationals who helped us during the war and lost their place in their society haven’t been accepted some ten years later.

So why is Trump doing this? The sense is entirely nationalistic and operates on fears published by people who have little to no knowledge of who these people are. People can call them bigots and racists all they want, but this isn’t the case. These are people who have a strong sense of what their nation is, how their communities should be, and are afraid of these others coming in and changing everything. When you get right down to it, it is simply humans being humans. We like preserving norms and we dislike anything that disrupts them. We may criticize these sorts of people, but let me make one thing very clear: we cannot discount them. These aren’t the boogeymen of liberal memes; these are real people who are often caring and compassionate people. We cannot dismiss them and their concerns without so much as a nod. Otherwise, we do exactly what they are accused of doing: denying someone’s humanity and basic human rights.

That said, we need to examine why they believe that a freeze of Muslim refugees will solve anything. Ever since 9/11, the demand for “Islamic Experts” has risen. Both liberals and conservatives spin their own narratives, highlighting and downplaying the factors that help their case. Pamala Geller, Robert Spencer–not the alt-right leader Richard Spencer–Ron Branstner, and others became overnight experts and proclaimed their brand to the world. The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR)–an unindicted co-conspirator in some very questionable dealings that I sincerely hope they have abandoned for their own sake–becomes the source for liberals. Like lawyers in a personal injury case providing their conflicting medical experts, we, the jury of public opinion, have to parse out the truth. Because there is truth in both narratives, but the absolute truth is much too complex to be on a bumper sticker. The dollars roll in for these experts while the refugees languish in bureaucratic limbo.

The truth is this. The US already does “extreme vetting.” We cannot have an influx of refugees like Europe unless they start coming over the Atlantic, which is practically impossible. There are security concerns with the refugee process that were addressed by bipartisan congressional oversight committees. No system is perfect, but America has the one of the best existing systems. Can it be improved to better integrate refugees into the population? Yes, it can. Yet, it will require participation of the public, a firm concern for the common good, and plain and simple charity for our fellow man. I can think of no greater ally in the fight against Islamic extremists than Muslims who have been given the freedom to be the sort of Muslim they want, not the one that radical ideologies force them to be.  Oppose this executive order and tell the oppressed Muslim refugees that we are their friends in taking back their religion.