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Thursday, June 27, 2002

How Quickly We Forget, or Why I'm Not a Conservative
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, being primarily communist in their philosophy, agreed that it is correct to coerce people to be allegiant. But as communists they object to a divinity being given credit for the power to coerce.
How quickly we forget.

Only three hundred years ago, the span of only three long lives, people were fleeing the oppression of European nations to risk crossing the Atlantic in hardly seaworthy craft by today's standards, to live among often hostile, uncivilized savages, mostly for two reasons: Economic freedom and religious freedom. People in Europe were being killed and persecuted beause of their beliefs, and only by fleeing the dogmatic and theocratic control of European religions were they able to create the freedom that has made Western Civilization, and especially the United States the envy of the world.

Upon reaching these shores, they were free. Free to practice whatever ridiculous religion they wanted, from the Puritans, to the Shakers to the Quakers, to Hare Krishna. All religions are pretty absurd to non-believers, but what they were able to establish is that they were free to be as absurd as they wished, so long as they didn't inflict their beliefs on others.

This caveat has often been forgotten. Virginia had a state religion until the American Revolution was concluded. Almost no one protected the Mormons. The Quakers often faced persecution as well. The Shakers weren't persecuted so much as they just died off, since they didn't believe in having sex, but I digress.

When the United States were formed, one of the many things established (which did not originate with the formation of the nation) was to make the oath of office for various positions optional. Invoking the name or authority of a god was optional. This was not done for the benefit of atheists. This was done expressly for the sincerely devout, especially the Quakers, who believed it to be sinful to swear in such a manner. That is, swearing was prohibited by the second Commandment, and to swear an oath, especially using the divine as witness was not allowed by many religions of the eighteenth century. An example is even in the US Constitution where the oath of office for President requires that the person accepting office either swear of affirm his obligation, and makes no reference to a deity.

You see, religious freedom was considered so important back then, that the people founding the government decided that the government has no right to intrude on how one invokes their god. They feared a government that involved itself with religion, not because they wanted to have no religion, but because they thought religion was far too serious of a personal issue to entrust a government to meddle in.

The history of the world is filled with examples of how mystics influenced or outright controlled politics. The Athenians delayed evacuating Sicily during the Peloponnesian War because sacrifices were unfavorable. They ended up being sacrificed themselves and were slaughtered to a man by their enemies instead. Rome was destroyed by Christianity, and Byzantium began the dark ages by having absolutely no separation between church and state, they were the same. Islam is still in that same dark age for the same cause. Western Civilization is the success it is because it finally relegated religion to a personal level rather than a macropolitical level. Religion has finally been stripped of direct worldly power with the result of unparalleled advances in sciences and in economic prosperity that was unknown before the power of the Pope of Rome, and Patriarch of Constantinople, was broken by protestantism and the rise of individualism.

So, now in the midst of this heretofore unimagined prosperity we have occasional movements to again institutionalize religion. It's happened several times, and I've no doubt that it will happen again, but the current complaint is the Pledge of Allegiance. Beyond the absurdity of requiring free people to pledge themselves to a government, fifty years ago this pledge was codified by our government and used as a useless ceremony that mostly did no harm. It still does little harm directly, even after the inclusion of the phrase "under god" was added.

Conservatives are now getting worked into a lather because some communists called the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared this phrase unconstitutional. This is unimportant. The conservatives should be happy as a matter of fact because with that phrase included, government is telling them how important or unimportant their deity is to them and where the government ranks in their religion.

Do any of these conservatives stop to wonder if there are extremely devout people who think it blasphemous to ask a god to intervene on behalf of a government? Do they stop to wonder at why a government sees fit to tell us that it is worthy of religious notice? Don't they remember what happened so recently? Why don't they fear government that claims the power of a deity over them. We have such short memories as a people!

But this ruling is mostly unimportant. Why? Not because the court is correct. They are, but it's still irrelevent. The real problem is the oath itself being codified and coercively being extracted from students across the country. Even this is petty compared to the fact that schools are instruments of the government to indoctrinate the children of the citizens. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, being primarily communist in their philosophy, agreed that it is correct to coerce people to be allegiant. But as communists they object to a divinity being given credit for the power to coerce.

The shocking thing is not that they declared this offensive and religiously insensitive phrase unconstitutional. The shock is that they didn't demand that the schools cease to exist. There is no authority in the Constitution to establish schools or control over schools, let alone demand an oath of allegiance from the citizenry. The government has no authority to be involved in education and it is dangerous to our freedom that they continue to be so involved.

But modern "conservatives" will have none of that argument. They hate the government being involved in anything, except the minds of the people. That's why they want the government to control schools. That's why they want the government to extract loyalty oaths.

Ayn Rand brilliantly explained in 1973 the difference between conservatives and liberals, and at the same time showed why they are both centered on evil. "The conservatives reject reason in favor of faith, the liberals, in favor of emotion." Our nation will retain its greatness only if both faith and emotion are rejected as being central to government. Only by keeping our government unemotional and by keeping faith personal will we all be allowed to prosper.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Britain, R.I.P.
It's almost been a thousand years since Britain was invaded last. There have essentially only been two successful invasions of Britain in recorded history. The first recorded attempt by Julius Caesar failed. The second Roman attempt by Claudius succeeded in establishing a permanent Roman presence, and we should also acknowledge invasions by the Angles, Saxons and even by the Norse in the Dark ages. But there is no dispute that the last successful invasion of Britain was in the year 1066 A.D. by the Normans, best noted by the Battle of Hastings where Harold the Fairhair was defeated by William the Conquerer. The Normans, who were actually Germanic people who spoke French, established their rule over the largest part of the island and it was their ancestors who established the Magna Carta and the tradition of liberal government that led to the creation of the United States. Their rule has continued free from invasion for almost 1000 years, making their island one of the most peaceful in the world if you discount the occasional civil war.
Until now, that is. Britain is about to be invaded, and without a shot being fired in defense. The dream of 19th century utopian socialists and communists is being realized by the creation of the European Union, and they are wasting no time in demanding to patrol the shores of Britain with a EU paramilitary force. This paramilitary force is supposedly meant to protect Britain from "illegal immigrants" but they don't really say how the EU can do this job better than the British themselves can do, especially considering that the British have a much more capable military than any other European nation.

I don't think this has ever happened in the history of the world. A people have completely surrendered their sovereignty to an entity that is primarily controlled by Germany and France, the two nations that they conquered a mere 57 years ago. So now the French and the Germans, after just being a little patient, are getting their dream of a united Europe after the idea was first attempted in modern days by Napoleon, then by the Kaiser, then by Hitler, Mussolini, and Henri Petain.

It's like a wealthy familiy inviting the Hell's Angels to their Christmas dinner in their home because they've behaved for a few weeks and not robbed any banks recently. The motorcycle gang will show up for the ham, but they won't leave without taking their money, tearing up the walls and furniture, and raping their daughters. The EU will do no better to Britain and the rest of the United Kingdom. After almost a thousand years of carefully keeping invaders out, the invaders have finally learned how to get themselves invited in.

It's sinful that the Brits might really do this. Lord help them, and us, if they do.