Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Apologetics: A Coda

     Let’s have a few home truths, the sort Junior once learned at his mother’s knee:

  1. People do things for a reason.
  2. Some people are impossible to please.
  3. Therefore, it’s impossible to please everyone.
  4. Therefore, your highest priority shouldn’t be to please others.
  5. Now finish your homework, brush your teeth, and get ready for bed!

     (Yes, #5 is rather difficult to square with the previous four. That’s actually why I included it. You’ll see in a moment.)

     America has a national malady of sorts. It consists of the desire to be seen as a benevolent power that will always come to the rescue when the cause is just. Thus we’ve embraced the “world policeman” role for seven decades. We’ve also added “world do-gooder” to our responsibilities, such that other nations now expect that the U.S. will send relief forces and resources speeding toward any disaster anywhere. The current desire to renounce those roles, and to reserve our power and resources for our own national interests, is part of why Donald Trump is now the president.

     That national malady flows from a personal weakness too many of us share: the tendency to make being liked and approved by others our highest priority. That’s the weak spot the Left has attacked at every opportunity for fifty years: our desire for others’ approval of our actions. But no matter how tolerant and generous we are, it’s never enough. It can’t be enough, for they keep attacking.

     We’re tired. Every man of good will in this nation is laden with near to unbearable fatigue. We’ve been playing Atlas, mostly reaping envy and resentment for our efforts, and wondering what the hell we did that was so wrong.

     What was so wrong was making other people the ultimate judges of our actions.

     Do you remember the Christmas Tsunami of 2004? I do. I remember it well, including the ridicule Europeans – including Europeans in the U.S. at the time – heaped on us for sending an aircraft carrier to the scene:

     Today, during an afternoon conference that wrapped up my project of the last 18 months, one of my Euro colleagues tossed this little turd out to no one in particular:
     "See, this is why George Bush is so dumb, there’s a disaster in the world and he sends an Aircraft Carrier..."
     After which he and many of my Euro colleagues laughed out loud.
     And then they looked at me. I wasn't laughing, and neither was my Hindi friend sitting next to me, who has lost family in the disaster.
     I'm afraid I was "unprofessional", I let it loose --
     "Hmmm, let's see, what would be the ideal ship to send to a disaster, now what kind of ship would we want?
     Something with its own inexhaustible power supply?
     Something that can produce 900,000 gallons of fresh water a day from sea water?
     Something with its own airfield? So that after producing the fresh water, it could help distribute it?
     Something with 4 hospitals and lots of open space for emergency supplies?
     Something with a global communications facility to make the coordination of disaster relief in the region easier?
     Well "Franz", us peasants in America call that kind of ship an "Aircraft Carrier". We have 12 of them. How many do you have? Oh that's right, NONE. Lucky for you and the rest of the world, we are the kind of people who share. Even with people we don’t like. In fact, if memory serves, once upon a time we peasants spent a ton of money and lives rescuing people who we had once tried to kill and who tried to kill us.
     Do you know who those people were? That's right Franz, Europeans.
     There’s a French Aircraft carrier? Where is it? Right where it belongs! In France of course! Oh why should the French Navy dirty their uniforms helping people on the other side of the globe. How Simplesse...
     The day an American has to move a European out of the way to help in some part of the world it will be a great day in the world, you sniggering little f**knob..."
     The room fell silent. My Hindi friend then said quietly to the Euros:
     "Can you let your hatred of George Bush end for just one minute? There are people dying! And what are your countries doing? has helped more than France has. You all have a role to play in the world, why can't you see that? Thank God for the US Navy, they don’t have to come and help, but they are. They helped you once and you should all thank God they did. They didn’t have to, and no one but them would have done so. I'm ashamed of you all..."
     He left the room, shaking and in tears. The frustration of being on the other side of the globe, unable to do anything to assist and faced with people who could not set aside their asininity long enough to reach out and help was too much for him to bear. I just shook my head and left. The Euros stood speechless.

     One American, unconcerned with his European colleagues’ opinion of him or his country, issued a brilliant dressing-down that silenced a roomful of them. That’s what’s possible when you don’t care what others think of you.

     I also remember a truly bile-stirring denunciation of the Bush Administration’s response by Leftist critic Robert Rivkin:

     Why hasn’t the Bush administration shown some imagination in convincing the world that Americans really care and are prepared to make a small sacrifice to help victims of this astonishingly destructive natural calamity? In the wake of the administration’s default, why hasn’t the Democratic “opposition” proposed something that will demonstrate to the world that Americans want to help and are not “stingy”? Especially these days, a dramatic proposal to assist victims of mass catastrophe might also improve our country’s tarnished image in many places in the world.

     Here’s a simple proposal that would capture the world’s attention, and which a majority of Americans would almost certainly support. President Bush should announce that because of the colossal losses suffered by millions of people in Southeast Asia and East Africa, he will make an exception to his promise not to raise taxes. Bush should propose a Tsunami Disaster Relief Surtax for 2004 and 2005, with very simple components that everyone can understand.

     For example, the president could propose a flat $50 surtax applicable to every American tax return with an adjusted gross income of between $25,000 and $40,000; a flat $75 surtax on every tax return with an adjusted gross income between $40,000 and $80,000; $100 for incomes over $80,000, and so on. This small assessment for two years would produce many billions of dollars, which could be placed into a fund which would support infrastructure repair and development over a period of at least 10 years in the stricken countries.

     (The original article is no longer reachable. The above is a transcription that appeared in a 2004 article at Eternity Road.)

     Yes, Gentle Reader, you read it right. Rivkin was actually proposing a tax on Americans specifically to benefit – drumroll, please -- non-Americans! If memory serves, we fought a bloody war to be free from that. Of course, I wasn’t around that long ago, but the histories all agree on it.

     But I want to draw your attention to one specific phrase in that disgusting article:

     ...a dramatic proposal to assist victims of mass catastrophe might also improve our country’s tarnished image in many places in the world.

     In other words, Americans should be saddled with a tax specifically so that non-Americans will like us more!

     Yet Leftists wonder that we want no more of them.

     No one admits publicly, and hence public opinion does not admit, that ingratitude is the norm. It is astounding that countless benefactors allow themselves to be persuaded over and over that ingratitude with the resultant hatred is a rare and special case. -- Helmut Schoeck

     If insanity consists of endlessly repeating the same actions but expecting the results to change, it is insane to think that the pattern of so many years, and so many well-meant benevolences, will ever be reversed. We compound the insanity when we allow others to make us feel guilty about their envy and resentment. We complete the tailoring for our straitjackets when we broaden and intensify our efforts in response.

     Remember Home Truth #1: People do things for a reason. The Left – especially its spokesvermin – issue their denunciations of our “lack of compassion” because for many years it’s worked to get them what they want. They call us racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, and any other trendy names they can think of because it impels us to apologize – nay, to grovel, to beg forgiveness and do penance. Yet no matter how we respond, they refuse to grant their approval, much less absolution for our imaginary sins. Why? To keep the tactic usable!

     That’s what we get – as individuals and as a nation – for making others’ approval our highest priority.

     I could go on in this vein for many thousands of words more, but as the overarching lesson should be clear by now, I’ll spare you. However, one recent incident deserves special mention.

     At Mass this past Monday – yes, I go to Mass every day – Father Henry Vas, normally an excellent homilist, said something so thoughtless, so stupid, and so far outside his proper sphere that I wanted to charge the pulpit. What he said, quite briefly, was that if the richest 5% of Mankind would just share what we have with the rest, “we could eliminate poverty.”

     I’m not sure how I resisted, but somehow I suppressed the urge to rise from my seat and shout “Oh yeah? For how long?” If we hadn’t been in the middle of a sacred ceremony, I think I would have done so. At my next opportunity, I intend to “tax” him about it.

     Have you been present at any similar incidents? What did you say in reply to such arrogant imbecility? More to the point, what will you say – if anything – at the next such occasion? Will you be willing to challenge such lunacy, or will you be more concerned with being liked and “keeping the peace?”

     Have a nice day.


  1. Fran, I read just about every sentence twice. I understood what you said, and agreed.


    "Have you been present at any similar incidents? What did you say in reply to such arrogant imbecility? More to the point, what will you say – if anything – at the next such occasion? Will you be willing to challenge such lunacy, or will you be more concerned with being liked and “keeping the peace?”

    I didn't say enough. I'm trying. I'm a coward, really. And I KNOW there are some patriots out there that will stand up, but without the voices of the rest of us, they will be called the Ruby Ridgers and dravidians and evil militias when the government comes for the rest of us and I don't say enough.


  2. Keep in mind a religious person's perspective: they get their salary courtesy of what they can coax their parishioners out of. This is a very different thing from agreeing to a certain salary/wage, which - by your efforts - you are entitled to.
    I'm not faulting priests and nuns for their viewpoint, which is colored by their lived experience. It's just that so few have had work/business experiences that enable them to understand capitalism.

  3. Just like the pope. His life experience as a socialist (communist?) in Argentina along with his overweening desire to wash the feet of muslims who are commanded by the qur'an to enslave or kill Christians (Catholics are Christians, are they not?) hardly prepares him to understand capitalism - or reality, for that matter. Benedict may have been a member of Hitler Youth as a child, but he certainly had more on the ball than this poseur.

  4. I remember reading the Christmas Tsunami essay on Eternity Road. Thank you for bringing it to my attention again.

    As for the duration poverty can be eliminated by getting money from the rich, an answer to a related question which I've long appreciated is Bill Whittle's "Eat the Rich" video.

  5. Remember Home Truth #1: People do things for a reason. The Left – especially its spokesvermin – issue their denunciations of our “lack of compassion” because for many years it’s worked to get them what they want.

    This is important to understand when you dissect their crybullying demands. One that's been bugging me for a while is, "I just want to appeal to your humanity, can you at least agree with 'disingenuous talking point'?"

    At that point you have to respond, "so what you're trying to do is tie my humanity to your talking point? You're willing to dehumanize me over a political dispute. I refuse to grant any legitimacy to your question and you should be ashamed of yourself."


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