Thursday, September 22, 2011

Unseasonable thoughts

Every once I a while, I wonder if I am a bad person. I think, "Huh. May be. More'n likely", and then I make lunch.

What possible good could have come out of uniting Northern Ireland with the South? Well, I suppose then the minority Catholics in the North would feel better. But the Republic would then be the eternal possessor of an angry, loathed and inimical minority, the Scots Presbyterian colonists, of its own.

I am grateful, too, that Benedict Arnold's attempt to conquer Quebec and bring the French into the Revolution failed. At least if the idea was to include them in a new American Republic. Can you imagine what that would have been like? As our Civil War proved, it was tough enough dealing with the differences among the English-speakers.

As unpleasant as the post-Civil War relations between races in the former Confederacy were, how could anyone be genuinely surprised at it? Did anyone really expect the Whites to suddenly take for buddies --under a militarily imposed regime--a people whom they had only ever experienced as deeply inferior? And who, as slaves, had very little chance to prove them wrong? And who often outnumbered them?

Reminds me of a story that when the Jesuits in Maryland sent to Rome for approval their blueprints for a big new seminary back in the day, it was returned rejected, with this simple Latin sentence: Suntne angeli? "Are they angels?" After renewed scrutiny, it seems that the reverends had neglected to include provision for bathrooms...

I remember a little saying about Northern vs Southern attitudes towards Blacks. "Northerners don't care how big blacks get, as long as they don't get too close; Southerners don't care how close blacks get, as long as they don't get too big." In the South, the issue was attitude and behavior; in the North it was spatial distance. As Tevye prayed, "May the Lord bless and keep the Czar...far away from us."

I wish the Catholic social justice crowd would consider the old Catholic category of "occasions of sin," which are
external circumstances--whether of things or persons--which either because of their special nature or because of the frailty common to humanity or peculiar to some individual, incite or entice one to sin.
A personal example. An elderly person I know needed home assistance and hired a friend of friend who needed a side job to make ends meet. This caretaker was then given a credit card to make purchases for the homebound senior. Who did not not check the monthly statement. It was only after many months that it became clear the employee was using the card for their own purchases. It was ugly and messy and eventually went to court. The employee should not have broken their employer's trust. But really, was it not an occasion of sin to put an unrestricted and unsupervised credit card in the hands of person under a lot of financial stress?

Back to the larger world. A lot of their liberal engineering schemes tax human nature predictably to violence. I recently critiqued a pious and utopian Dominican student for his unnuanced blame of all anti-immigrants in Scandinavia for the recent massacre by asking him what responsibility those governments held for creating a situation very likely to issue in all kinds of violence, in short, an occasion of sin. Do we take a group of Palestinians and move them next door to a Jewish neighborhood and expect nothing bad to happen? Isn't that what liberals love to call "irresponsible"?

A lot of liberalism includes a hatred of humanity as we actually are and a consequent reaction-formation stance that humans are, given the right conditions, perfectible. If only. (Liberal "patriotism" is very often a formal love of their idea of what America should be combined with loathing for the actual country and most of its history and people.) And a lot of what is condemned as narrow-minded bigotry is really a kinder recognition of human limits.

Liberals (as well as most conservatives) condemn the Victorians for their unreal demands for social probity, especially in matters of sex. So now those shackles have been sorta* removed. And then reapplied by unreal demands for social probity in matters of money and race.

I do not believe in universal suffrage. It is a kind of compulsive liberal fundamentalism, part of their great fetish about equality. Perhaps, perhaps, it may stand because of prudential grounds, that at this point anything less than universal suffrage for non-felon adult citizens would cause so much grief as to be cost/benefit imprudent. But I don't see anything wrong with the notion that the right to determine the affairs of a community must somehow be earned. The devil would be in the details, of course, as always, but universal suffrage as some kind of sacrosanct and obvious truth? Just spend an afternoon riding on the buses in San Francisco.

*The Victorian ideal of womanhood as especially vulnerable, liable to victimization and needing exquisite protection has been continued with a vengeance through feminist law and policy, although now a woman may present herself as a sexually free and uninhibited creature with the understanding that any unhappy consequences are always men's fault, never hers.

Time to make lunch.

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