Archive for July, 2006

As I sometimes find myself here defending the conservative point of view, it occurs to me that there might be some misunderstanding, especially on the part of those who think "Republican" and "conservative" are synonyms. So, just in case: I’m not a Republican. I’ve never identified myself either officially or philosophically with any political party.

Richard Brookhiser of National Review said something a while back that struck a chord with me. There was some worry going on at the NR blog about what such-and-such would mean to Bush’s poll numbers (or something). Brookhiser threw in two sentences that went something like: "I don’t give a damn about Bush’s numbers. I want the country to be well-governed."

Just so. I don’t give a damn about the Republican Party per se, although I mostly vote for it. Those votes are a means to an end, not an expression of affection or loyalty.

Actually I kind of like Mark Shea‘s nomenclature: the Stupid Party and the Evil Party.

Maclin Horton

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A former Clinton speech-writer likes Crunchy Cons. This links to an excerpt and a link to the whole review. I don’t agree with everything the reviewer says (can’t stand Paul Begala, for instance) but it’s interesting. And of course I have to like the fact that he quotes me (not by name–it’s an odd sensation to be reading along and find yourself thinking "this sounds really familiar").

Also, some stuff I kept meaning to link to last week, but my attention was occupied elsewhere. First read this post, then go to the Crunchy Con main page and search for "TAC"–nope, hang on, Thomas Aquinas College grads, it’s not about your alma mater–you’ll find several very interesting snippets from the current issue, not yet online apparently, of The American Conservative. They’re excerpts from a sort of symposium on the current status of the conservative-liberal divide. Might be enough to get me to search out a copy of the magazine–so far I’ve only read what’s on their web site, and while it’s ok there’s kind of a same-old quality about much of it to anyone who knows much about the current state of things in the conservative movement (if you can call it that anymore).

Maclin Horton

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What Are They Among So Many?

Loaves and fishes, you’ll recall.

Maclin Horton

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The New Commies

It has often occurred to me that in the post-9/11 world Islam has come to
play the role that Marxism once played in the Cold War era.

Like Marxism, the jihadists are a real threat, one that is ruthless in its
violent expansionism.

And like Marxism, it is also a handy boogie man for those intent on
manipulating opinion to serve their own ends, to pursue war and profit and

It is also, like Marxism,  a phenomenon that is badly misunderstood by
those sincerely concerned about its dangers.

In the Cold War, Marxism was seen as a unified worldwide conspiracy, an
internationally orchestrated plot to impose global tyranny, all in the name of a
godless future Utopia.

Yet in fact, it was an ideology always riven by internal strife, and the
fall of Vietnam- where the U.S. took its stand- heralded not the effect that was
predicted, but rather immediate warfare with other erstwhile Marxist regimes.
And the whole thing eventually collapsed into itself, though I am not one of 
those who considers an eventual resurrection improbable.

In the midst of the fear-mongering anyone who pointed out the role that
social injustice, capitalist excess, and American foreign policy played in the
rise of revolutionary ideology was considered suspect, a fellow traveller if
not a commie.

Anti-communists tended to paint with a broad brush, rarely distinguishing
between varieties of socialism, rarely noting the more benign and democratic
schools of thought on the Left. The spectrum, in their eyes, ran from red to hot

And so Islam.

It is seen by many as a parallel to Communism, in this instance pursuing a
theocratic, rather than an atheistic Utopia.

Of course Mr. Bush and company are careful in public to distance themselves
from any wholesale denunciation of Islam, careful to ascribe the crimes of the
jihadists to a small minority of Muslims.

However, it is clear that the neoconservatives surrounding Bush have been
widely influenced by the "clash of civilization" school of thought- the ideas of
Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis- and talk show pundits and bloggers on the
Right do not restrain themselves, recklessly attacking Islam and Muslims as
inherently violent and threatening.

Yet in truth Islam is no more a united front than Marxism was. Even the
minority radical jihadists are deeply divided, as the sectarian violence in Iraq
has vividly illustrated. In fact, while all Marxists professed belief in
revolutionary violence, only a minority of Muslims worldwide express support for
terrorism, though majorities are unsuprisingly suspicious of, even hostile to,
the West and to Israel.

Further, I would note that the dominant ideologies behind Islamic violence-
Shi’ia clerical theocracy, Salafist and Wahabbi puritanical rule- would like
Marxism, eventually collapse fo their own weight. Inhuman suppression of every
expression of beauty and creativity, all music and dance and celebration- I’m
told the Taliban banned flowers- is destined to provoke rebellion. Just
as Calvinists evolved into Universalists, puritanical Islam would likely evolve
into some form of Islamic humanism.

Think of it like this: If Sarah Ruth, Parker’s iconoclast wife in Flannery
O’Connor’s story Parker’s Back, had come to power and instituted a
theocratic state, the hillbillies would rise up against her eventually.

Like in the Cold War, anyone who examines the role that colonialism and
-more recently- American foreign policy have played in the rise of Islamic
militancy is viewed as less than patriotic.

Yet that role does bear examination.

Besides the obvious- oil policy, blind support for Israel, and the rest-
there is the history of American and British intelligence support for the new
wave of jihadism as a counterforce to Communism and Middle Eastern nationalism,
beginning with the Muslim Brotherhood in the 40s and 50s and continuing through
Afghan resistance to the U.S.S.R. in the 80s.

The Wahabbist version of jihadism was spread throughout the world by our
allies- and Bush family business partners- the Saudis.

George Bush the elder was at one time head of the CIA.

Whether these dots connect to portray a very bad miscalculation or a very
astute, if evil, calculation, I don’t know.

But the dots are there.

There is evidence of British operatives disguising themselves a
bomb-wielding Muslims in Iraq. There are accusations of all sorts of dirty
tricks and subterfuge around the world, of disinformation on a vast scale.

I don’t know about that, but I’d sure like to run into Andy again.

Andy was a guy I knew in the DC area in the 80s.

I met him at the Communion and Liberation meetings I attended at Catholic
University. Like the boring evenings  of recollection I sat through at the posh
townhouse home of the Legionairres of Christ- those second rate Jesuit wannabes-
I was there for one reason: to meet Catholic women. (Without luck, I might

But in the post-meeting pizza parties I found Andy to be an interesting
character: a hearty, bearded, earthy guy, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, he
was naturally very anticommunist.

He worked, apparently, for the CIA and would disappear for months at a
time, resurfacing with tales of the wonderful holy warriors he had trained in

I always have wondered what he thought of his protegees after 9/11, when
Osama bin Laden, who was at least indirectly trained and armed by the CIA,
emerged as the mastermind behind that assault.

I wonder if Andy now talks of Muslims like he once talked of

Or if he has second thoughts on the whole manichean paradigm, the whole
boogie man syndrome?

Daniel Nichols

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Resentment Studies

Maclin Horton

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The Laughter of Contempt

Maclin Horton

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At Open Book, links to two updates. And let me warn you: they are not easy reading.

: here is the text of Regina’s eulogy for Joshua. "If you have tears…"

Maclin Horton

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This organization’s ideas were discussed at some length by an anonymous poster at Mark Shea’s Catholic and Enjoying It (link takes you to the post, the discussion of CESJ is pretty far down in the comments). The Center’s web site is here. Perhaps some of you have heard of it but it was new to me. I haven’t delved very far into their ideas but they seem to have some good ones, and possibly also some bad ones. They’re not Catholic (as an organization) but seem to have absorbed some Catholic ideas about social justice and property. Widespread property ownership seems to be their main cause, and I’m certainly on board with that. But there’s some stuff about the sovereignty of the individual that smells kind of bad, although as noted I didn’t read closely or extensively.

Anyway, seems worth a closer look.

Maclin Horton

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The Round-Earth Conspiracy

Nothing much this week, just a letter to the local archdiocesan paper regarding The DaVinci Code.

–Maclin Horton

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Heartbreaking News

I wasn’t sure if this intended to be public knowledge, so haven’t said anything, but I just discovered that it’s on her web site, so I will take this opportunity to solicit your prayers: the four-year-old son of Regina Doman has been killed in an automobile accident. Here is the brief announcement at Regina’s site. Among many other things, Regina and her husband Andrew are long-time contributors to and supporters of CetT. They built the CetT web site. No parent needs any help from me in grasping how devastating this must be. Please pray for the family.

Maclin Horton

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