Monday, November 19, 2012

Two Quotes and a Video

First, Ross Douthat, writing in the New York Times:
Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

Likewise with the growing number of unmarried Americans, especially unmarried women. Yes, social issues like abortion help explain why these voters lean Democratic. But the more important explanation is that single life is generally more insecure and chaotic than married life, and single life with children — which is now commonplace for women under 30 — is almost impossible to navigate without the support the welfare state provides.

Or consider the secular vote, which has been growing swiftly and tilts heavily toward Democrats. The liberal image of a non-churchgoing American is probably the “spiritual but not religious” seeker, or the bright young atheist reading Richard Dawkins. But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.

What unites all of these stories is the growing failure of America’s local associations — civic, familial, religious — to foster stability, encourage solidarity and make mobility possible.
And now, courtesy of the Nightwriter, yet another reminder of why Dietrich Bonhoeffer was so important:

“Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than evil. One can protest against evil; it can be unmasked and, if need be, prevented by force. Evil always carries the seeds of its own destruction, as it makes people, at the least, uncomfortable. Against folly we have no defence. Neither protests nor force can touch it; reasoning is no use; facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbelieved — indeed, the fool can counter by criticizing them, and if they are undeniable, they can just be pushed aside as trivial exceptions. So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-satisfied; in fact, he can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make him aggressive. A fool must therefore be treated much more cautiously than a scoundrel; we shall never again try to convince a fool by reason, for it is both useless and dangerous…

“…The fact that the fool is often stubborn must not mislead us into thinking that he is independent. One feels in fact, when talking to him, that one is dealing, not with the man himself, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like, which have taken hold of him. He is under the spell, he is blinded, his very nature is being misused and exploited. Having thus become a passive instrument, the fool will be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that is is evil. Here lies the danger of a diabolical exploitation that can do irreparable damage to human beings.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “After 10 Years”)
And lest you think I'm being unfair, I offer this wisdom:

So here are my conclusions for this morning:

  • Triumphalist liberals are fools and should be treated as Bonhoeffer recommends
  • Conservatives who assume that they were simply outbid in this cycle are fools as well
If you think you are exempt from these categories, think carefully.

1 comment:

Night Writer said...

Thanks for the pick-up, Mr. D. Allow me to add this (a NB from NW, if you will):

Fools are found on all sides and in all doctrines; they are those who don't know WHY they believe something. A common fool will read the Bonhoeffer quote and not understand it. An educated fool will read it and assume it is talking about the "other" side.

Slogans and catchwords have an appeal, especially when they pass for "reason". A reasonable man, however, observes and considers both evidence and principle and charts his course accordingly in order to stay free of "diabolical exploitation" in any form.

As you said, "think carefully," indeed.