BILL BENNETT --
FAMOUS WARRIOR IN THE CULTURE WAR
BILL BENNETT -- FAMOUS WARRIOR IN THE CULTURE WAR
Bill Bennett writes in The DE-VALUING OF AMERICA: THE FIGHT FOR OUR CULTURE AND OUR CHILDREN, "America, then, is engaged in an ongoing and intensifying cultural war. It is a conflict that I actively participated in during the last ten years. I brought to it strong views and deep convictions. For that I make no apologies. The judgments made herewith may cheer some. They will undoubtedly infuriate others. That's fine, and in fact that would be very much in keeping with the reaction I evoked during my years of service in government. My real hope is do with this book what I tried to do during my public career: stimulate a true national discussion over some of the most consequential issues of our time. If it will alone have been worth the effort."
Bennett says, "After certain necessary functions of government are performed -- providing police protection, ensuring public basic order and safety, providing for highways, a social safety net, and the like -- the American people understand that the institutions of family, church, and neighborhood will bring about more positive change than is within the power of governments -- federal, state or local -- to do."
Conservatives are not libertarians so they make the mistake of not going far enough in limiting government. Bennett is wrong in thinking that highways and welfare are "necessary functions of government." Nevertheless, Conservatives are clearly Abels and Liberals are Cains in this cultural war.
He ends his book saying:
Those whose beliefs govern our institutions will in large measure win the battle for the culture. And whoever wins the battle for the culture gets to teach the children. This cultural and institutional reclamation project will not be easy. Midge Decter has written that the Reagan election victories set off a response in the liberal community ranging from deep confusion to panic. The reason this occurred, according to Decter, is that his victories
So be it. Reclaiming our institutions is less a political opportunity than a civic obligation. It involves hard work. But it is work of immense importance. At the end of the day, somebody's values will prevail. In America, "we the people" have a duty to insist that our institutions and our government be true to their time-honored tasks. In some instances that means that the American people must roll up their sleeves and work to ensure that their institutions and government reflect their sentiments, their good sense, their sense of right and wrong. This is what a democracy -- government of, by, and for the people -- is all about. The debate has been joined. But the fight for our values has just begun.
Phil Brennan is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web, http://www.pvbr.com. He is a veteran journalist and one-time Washington correspondent for National Review magazine and a former staff aide to the House Republican Policy Committee. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. He wrote the following article titled "Remember These 'Terrible People'" (Dec. 13, 2000) that shows that there is a deep divide in this country and the liberals are "terrible people":
The American Spectator's John Corry put it best: "Al Gore and his people are spoilers. If they can't win the White House, they will discredit the administration of George Bush. Donna Brazile, Gore's campaign manager, is working with the Democratic National Committee and the unions to stage demonstrations. What matters to them is not the country, but their ability to seize and hold power. They really are terrible people."
It's important that we remember that. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, and in recent weeks we've certainly had plenty of warning that we are dealing with the very worst of John Corry's terrible people. Enough warning to know that we'd better be forearmed and ready to take on a determined mob bent on usurping power.
I hate to harp on it, but we are engaged in a war a genuine civil war and at stake are our liberties and our ability to govern ourselves. We face a relentless, conscienceless enemy that has proven it will stop at nothing to get what it wants.
These people will lie, cheat, and resort to slander, bribery, chicanery, and every form of corruption. Nothing will deter them, not the law, not the Constitution that gives it force and legitimacy, not morality, not ethics. There are no limits to their determination to achieve absolute domination over the people of America.
We hear the siren song that would lull us into accepting the belief that somehow we can reach an accommodation with these terrible people. We are told that reasonable people can find common ground upon which they can agree. But these are not reasonable people. There is no common ground those who cherish freedom can find with those whose idea of freedom is the freedom only to agree with them.
Look at what they have done in the past month. Without a moment's hesitation they have plunged this nation into chaos, divided the American people into warring parties, created a bitterness between them that will linger for years to come, and promised that if they don't get what they want they will do everything in their power to further divide the people and prolong the national agony.
And, aided and abetted by our Marxist media elite, they have based their case on a series of lies.
It's an old tactic with these people: Confuse the issue with mantras, and they are very good at it. They learned a lot in fighting for abortion. Killing babies in their mothers' wombs, a grisly business no pro-abortionist wants to defend on its merits, becomes a civil rights issue it's no longer a matter of killing an unborn human being, it's a "woman's right to choose." The baby becomes a nonentity, a meaningless collection of tissue and flimsy bones. The baby's right to life is subordinated to its mother's right to choose.
Move on to the impeachment of William Jefferson Blythe aka Clinton. The president lied his teeth out, committed perjury, obstructed justice and otherwise demeaned his office as no other chief executive before him. His conduct was indefensible and criminal except that it was, after all, "just about sex."
That brings us to the mantra "Every vote must count," even when they are clearly not votes.
This is perhaps the boldest attempt yet to confuse an issue and win it by slogan. "Ten thousands votes in Miami-Dade were never counted," we heard over and over again. One could correct the speaker point out that they weren't tabulated because they were not legitimate votes; the machine counted them but did not tabulate them and the speaker would simply continue to chant the mantra.
Of course, you can't get away with this if the media are doing their job pointing out the outrageous sophistry of the mantra but the media do not do their job because they are allies of the sophists. Instead they repeat the mantras.
This is shameful. But it's only a small part of the story. These terrible people aided and abetted vote fraud all across the nation, helping convicted felons and noncitizens to vote by the tens if not the hundreds of thousands. As Jude Wanniski has pointed out, discounting all these fraudulent votes would show that Bush won the popular vote and probably a lot more states than are now in his column.
Then there is Jesse Jackson, all but calling for blood in the streets, without a shred of evidence, making explosive charges of racial discrimination in the Florida voting that are nothing more than figments of his demagogic imagination.
Remember all of this. Keep it in mind. Remember who and what we are dealing with. Get ready to do battle with the terrible people your liberty and the futures of your children and grandchildren demand no less.
Lyn Nofziger says at his website (http://www.lynnofziger.com/musings.htm nofzinger.jpg):
"I am a Republican because I believe that freedom is more important than government-provided security. Sometimes I wish I were a Democrat because Democrats seem to have more fun. At other times I wish I were a Libertarian because Republicans are too much like Democrats.
"What I actually am is a right-wing independent who is registered Republican because there isn't any place else to go."
The Republican Party is not correct in many of its stands, but we have a Cain/Abel split with the Democrats. We should work within the Republican Party to change it instead of voting for the Libertarian Party that is right in many ways on domestic policy but they are so wrong in being isolationistic.
Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton in their book Tyranny of Good Intentions warn of a "police state that is creeping up on us from many directions." The Left accuses them of being too "alarmist" but they are right when they say, "We the People have vanished. Our place has been taken by wise men and anointed elites." Barring "an intellectual rebirth," they warn that America may yet go the way of "German Nazis and Soviet communists."
Paul Craig Roberts wrote (July 12, 2000) an article tited, "A House Divided":
Now that the Fourth of July is over, let's be honest with ourselves about our country. Abraham Lincoln said that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Lincoln was speaking geographically. Today our only unity is geographical. We are a land bordered East and West by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and North and South by Canada and Mexico.
Lincoln would tremble at the divisions in the American house. Not even a Grant and a Sherman could force the country together again. Americans are no longer a people with a common heritage, sharing common values, aspirations and a mother tongue.
Our divisions are not merely political, or along economic or class lines. We are divided in new ways that reflect a fatal disintegration.
Paul Craig Roberts also wrote (May 17, 2000) an article titled, "Slipping Back into Tyranny":
Are we succumbing to decadence? Its signs surround us. Vices have taken over from virtues, shame no longer restrains behavior, the perverse is celebrated, and truth has been abandoned for propaganda.
Jacques Barzun is a pre-eminent cultural historian. In his recently published 800-page summing up of the modern epoch, "From Dawn to Decadence," Barzun says that decadence is our fate. This is because the ideas that launched our modern civilization have been carried to their logical conclusions and become used up. Exhausted, they have no more to offer.
That is one way to look at it. If Barzun is correct, we face a far more serious threat than an external enemy armed with weapons of mass destruction. If the ideas and purposes that have given us meaning are exhausted, decline is unavoidable.
Ideas do become exhausted. This is true even in science, where the struggle to grasp reality is, perhaps, most intense.
Neither the American public nor its leaders understand the threat of decadence. On the whole, people think of cultural decadence in terms of art, literature and sexual behavior. They see a lot of bad examples for children and teen-agers, but they don't think of decadence in terms of slipping back into tyranny.
But that's what decadence means. The ideas and purposes of the last 500 years lifted us from tyranny: the tyranny of superstition, of imposed religious dogma, of status-based legal privileges, of arbitrary and unaccountable power.
Barzun notes that the Inquisition has returned with political correctness, thought police and sensitivity training. These practices reflect a deeper decadence -- the abandonment of constitutional protections of free speech and an intrusion into the freedom of conscience that is the basis of a liberal social order.
Decadence and the reappearance of tyranny are manifest in law, as my colleague Larry Stratton and I show in our just published book, "The Tyranny of Good Intentions." In the Anglo-American legal tradition, law shields the individual from arbitrary government power. To protect this shield, law was made accountable to the people.
William Blackstone celebrated this shield as "the Rights of Englishmen." These rights consist of the attorney-client privilege, due process, equal standing in law with no group or class enjoying status-based privileges, and the prohibitions against retroactive law, self-incrimination and crimes without intent. To protect these rights, a political system evolved in which elected representatives were the only source of law.
Today, law in this fundamental sense is largely lost. Constraints on prosecutorial powers have fallen away as we have lost sight of the protective functions of law. The fevered pursuit of drug dealers, Wall Street insider-traders, environmental polluters, racial justice, S&L crooks and child abusers have eroded the Rights of Englishmen and left us all, innocent and guilty alike, exposed to arbitrary power.
Law ceased to be accountable with New Deal legislation that made the executive branch both interpreter and enforcer of law. Today wealthy and prominent Americans and business firms of all sizes are no more secure against frame-ups and coerced plea bargains (a form of self-incrimination) than suspected drug dealers.
Is Barzun right in concluding that decadence will now unwind our great achievements, or is there a more hopeful way to look at our plight?
A case can be made that it is not constitutionalism that is exhausted but the belief dating from Jeremy Bentham that government power is a force for good and must be less restrained. Benthamism is the opposite of true liberalism.
The universal failure of government might give us pause and produce an intellectual rebirth that would again restrain government power, the injustice it causes and the evil it brings.