From Under the Rubble…”Incredibly Small”
During his speech to the nation regarding Syria on September 10, Obama spoke of “humanity” four times. Three of them reflected the sense of the term made famous by Turgot (+1781), the Enlightenment progressive for whom “the total mass of mankind (l’humanité) marches… slowly but steadily toward ever greater perfection.”
In his prodigious studies of modern ideology, the late Gerhart Niemeyer perceives in Turgot’s symbolic phrase a politicized purloining of a revered term that reduces the person to a mere cipher. The result, as Rubashov puts it in Darkness at Noon, is stark: “the individual is one-millionth of a million men.”
As demonstrated by Turgot’s heirs in the twentieth century: killing millions of men is fine, so long as it’s for the sake of the mythical “mankind.”
Clearly Turgot’s sense of “humanity” differs from the ancient understanding: for Cicero, humanitas represents the sum of human qualities that mark the character of the truly virtuous man.
Friend and foe alike agree that Obama has seldom been less coherent, even without a teleprompter, than he was on Tuesday. In one particular passage he glided from one sense of “humanity” to the other, seemingly oblivious, yet emphatic:
“In 1997,” Obama said, “the United States Senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 governments that represent 98 percent of humanity.”
Here the term is being used in Turgot’s sense, albeit clumsily. But Obama plows ahead: “On August 21st, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity.”
Here Obama’s pathetic syntax stumbles once more, but we can infer that he means to imply that all “humanity” holds in common some sense of what it is to be truly human.
Confucius long ago urged us to “restore the proper meaning of words.” But be advised: dare to assert that there exists a “common sense” of what it means to be human, and you have defied the politically-correct Law Of Infinitely Diverse Possible Truths Depending On How Each One Of Us Feels At The Moment.
If that’s not enough, you’ve also rudely rejected what Pope Benedict calls the tyrannical “Dictatorship of Relativism.”
So, at least in Obamaland, you’re on thin ice.
But the question abides: Is there something so “human” that all humanity shares it in common? Can we call it human nature? Can we go on to discover a common sense of “virtue” – share it, even praise it?
Can we condemn its opposite, and call it what it is – “vice”?
Does Obama really mean what he is saying – with a determination so grim that it could overturn the entire unlovely character of his administration?
In a word, no.
Modern ideology thrives on contradiction, of course, and here we have a big fat one. My friend Robert Schadler puts it bluntly:
Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius has mandated that health care insurance MUST include the “morning after pill.”
Which should lead to an interesting question: should the international community, bomb the United States for killing babies with chemicals?
Storming Heaven vs. Storming the Hill
“The influential pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee will deploy hundreds of activists next week to win support in Congress for military action in Syria,” reported the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on September 7.
Pope Francis had other plans. On the same day, millions of Catholics and others of good will worldwide joined him in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in the cause of peace.
Whether Secretary of State John Kerry, who was an altar boy in his youth, joined in is still unknown.
On Friday, war was imminent. By Monday, the most anti-Catholic administration in history was a shambles, its credibility in ruins, its towering egos drowning in the face of a peace overture from Vladimir Putin, the president of the country once known to all as the seat of the Evil Empire.
Putin went over the head of the “incredibly small” John Kerry to the New York Times, urging Obama to follow international law (he did not, however, mention the Constitution). Numerous leaders of both parties immediately reacted: they were “sickened” by the piece, they said. But that sentiment is not unusual for readers of the Times.
Putin’s op-ed directly addressed the fact that Kerry, Obama, McCain, et al have desperately avoided: “The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations,” he wrote.
It is curious indeed that Obama is supplying arms and intelligence to the rebels whose Al Queda allies are swarming into Syria across several borders, graciously granting television interviews to U.S. reporters impressed by the devotion to Allah and jihad.
The want to kill every Christian in sight.
Piques In A Pod
John Kerry succeeded Paul Tsongas in the senate. He often imitates Tsongas’s unctuous petulance when he’s cornered – which is often.
So when Senator Rand Paul brought up the Constitution during Kerry’s testimony on Syria, Kerry dodged, implying instead that if congress didn’t support the war, people like Rand Paul would be to blame for all the mess in the Middle East that would surely follow.
Of course, if Congress did support the war, Obama would blame them for the ensuing disaster, count on it. Obama always blames somebody else.
Putin pressed his case, describing a tic that Obama shares with his predecessor, George W. Bush: “Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us,’” Putin wrote.
Here he focused on Obama’s embrace of “American Exceptionalism.”
“We are all different,” Putin wrote, “but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
Are Some Of Us More Equal Than Others?
Indeed, many are the conceits of human beings;
evil imaginations lead them astray.
– Sirach 3:24
Most Americans agree with Tocqueville that the early American republic was indeed exceptional. So were many of our Founders. But supporters of war these days debase the phrase. For them, “American Exceptionalism” is a magic formula that exempts our leaders from rules that govern the rest of mankind – the very rules that made us exceptional in the first place.
In their exceptionalist reverie, they mistakenly come to believe that they are not subject to the same temptations as the rest of us. Because they hold certain views, they imply, they are subject to no limits, because they are immune to infection by libido dominandi and superbia vitae. The lust for power, fame, and glory.
But these lusts are more powerful than merely physical appetites. And they tempt fallen men in every time zone, including America’s.
One of the most powerful temptations is also the most noxious: remember how “9/11 Changed Everything”? Well, it didn’t, but some folks succumbed to the dialectic’s gentle prodding and decided they could turn reality upside down.
In this dream world, our “exceptional” rulers can benevolently spend untold trillions without care, proudly convert the world to a civil religion of secular democracy – by force, if necessary – and, ultimately, triumphantly “rid the world of evil,” as George W. Bush put it three days after 9/11.
Frankly, what our country needs in not this tainted brand of “American Exceptionalism, but truly exceptional Americans.
Can anyone seriously allege that our leaders qualify for that category?
For now, the war is off. But the thief can come in the middle of the night, so we must be prayerful and vigilant.
AIPAC, many among the defense industry, and Evangelicals longing for the Apocalypse still want war — with Syria serving as a back door to Iran.
So as they storm Capitol Hill, those who serve the Prince of Peace must continue to storm Heaven.
This article, From Under the Rubble…”Incredibly Small” is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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