Articles and Posts by Tom Piatak:
Google Gets One Right(0)
Google often gets grief over the events and people it chooses to honor. Much of this criticism is justified. But sometimes Google gets one right, as it did today, when it honored Ella Fitzgerald. Here is Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Cole Porter’s Begin the Beguine, recorded in 1956. Popular music does not get any better than this–the finest vocal rendition of one of the finest songs written by an American. (Of course, Artie Shaw’s instrumental version is terrific, too, in addition to having the distinction of being one of Taki’s favorite songs).
Butchery in Philadelphia(0)
Several commenters have decried the lack of media coverage of the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia. Gosnell is charged with the deaths of one pregnant woman and seven children who were born after botched abortions; those children were killed by having their spinal cords severed. Witnesses have testified that many more babies were also killed that way.
The reason for the media silence is obvious. Shining a spotlight on Gosnell’s butcheries might cause people to raise questions about abortion, something the media has long treated as a sacred right. As pro-lifers have argued, there is no logical dfference between killing a child late in pregnancy and killing a child shortly after it emerges from the womb. Gosnell’s grisly deeds drive that point home. Indeed, infanticide enjoys considerable support in the same elite circles that cherish abortion. When the Reagan Administration sought to protect handicapped infants from being left to die in hospitals, the New York Times was outraged. Barack Obama, back when he was an Illinois state senator, opposed legislation to give legal protection to children born following a failed abortion. Princeton philosophy professor Peter Singer has argued that parents should be able to kill children up to the age of two. And just recently a Planned Parenthood representative, asked in the Florida legislature what should happen to a baby born after a failed abortion, replied that the doctor and the mother should be the ones who decide what happens to the baby they had tried to kill.
The blunt truth is that what went on in Gosnell’s abortion mill differs only in degree, not in kind, from what goes on in all the “clinics” operated by people who enjoy the unqualified support of all the purveyors of respectable opinion in this country. After all, one of Barack Obama’s signature issues in the last election was his support for Planned Parenthood, an entity that kills hundreds of thousands of unborn children in America year after year. What happened in Philadelphia is the inevitable result of viewing abortion as an inalienable right. But what the Gosnell case shows is that you won’t encounter facts supporting that viewpoint on NPR or the network news, or in the New York Times or Washington Post.
A Misnamed Magazine(0)
The American Conservative has had dozens of articles and posts on gay marriage. The general tenor has ranged from arguing that gay marriage is inevitable to criticizing opponents of gay marriage to arguing that support for gay marriage is the conservative position. What has largely been absent is any opposition to gay marriage.
There is, of course, nothing conservative about support for gay marriage. Gay marriage is an utter novelty, with no historical precedent. Gay marriage seeks to enshrine homosexual acts, but those acts have always been condemned as immoral by Christianity, a condemnation echoed by most other religions and reflected in American law until only recently. Gay marriage also completely severs marriage from procreation, even though marriage and the families it naturally creates have been the means by which human culture is formed and transmitted.
Gay marriage is not only antithetical to Christianity. It is antithetical to the natural law, to tradition, even to Darwin. Those arguing for it should at least have the decency to drop the pretense that they are conservatives.
The Quiet of Easter(0)
In recent decades, the public profile of Easter in the United States has diminished. Americans now spend more on Halloween than on Easter, and the public attention Easter receives is largely negative. Google observed Easter Sunday by celebrating Cesar Chavez’s birthday, and public references to Easter are often excised, just as “Christmas” is often replaced by “holiday.” My subdivision had an “egg hunt” for children on Saturday, and none of the materials advertising this “egg hunt” even mentioned Easter. Network television, which used to observe Holy Week and Easter by airing such programs as Franco Zefferilli’s “Jesus of Nazareth,” was largely devoid of religious programming this year. Easter has become rather quiet in America.
But this quiet holiday still offers many simple pleasures. The beauty of Easter shone forth in the church my wife and I attend, with the sanctuary filled with candles and awash with flowers. The contrast with Good Friday, when the sanctuaty was bare, the statues were veiled, and the tabernacle was empty, could not have been more stark. I enjoyed seeing our church filled to overflowing, even though I know I won’t see some of the congregants next Sunday. Many people were dressed up, another welcome contrast with an ordinary Sunday. And then there was the welcome quiet coming from all the closed stores and restaurants. Even though most of the chain stores and restaurants were open, the family-owned businesses were not. Easter, then, is a reminder of what Sunday used to be in America, when most people made an effort to go to church and to dress up and commercial activity largely ceased. It is not what Easter used to be in America, but it is still a pleasant contrast with what American life has become.
May all the readers of Chronicles continue to have a Blessed and Happy Easter.
Pope Benedict XVI: A Brief Reflection(0)
I have not had the time or the inclination to wade through the commentary on Pope Benedict’s unexpected resignation, but I assume that much of it is angry, vituperative, and dismissive, because such commentary is one of the hallmarks of our degraded age. I wanted instead to offer a brief note of gratitude for Benedict’s service as Pope. Benedict is transparently a decent, gentle, humble, and holy man, and I have profited greatly by reading his works and listening to his words. May his successor build on his example.
A Band of Brothers No More(0)
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the Pentagon was largely eliminating restrictions on women serving in combat units. This is perfectly consistent with the egalitarian ideology to which the Obama Administration is committed. However, it ignores the reasons why Western armies have never included women in combat units, apart from a few exceptional circumstances. There was the laudable desire to spare women the horror of combat. There was the pragmatic recognition that the vast majority of women were physically unsuited to combat, because men are physically stronger than women. And there was the desire to preserve the psychological conditions that make for effective fighting units. In many different wars and in many different armies, the reason soldiers have given for what keeps them going in combat is the same: they fight for their comrades. Excluding women from combat meant excluding sexual tensions and jealousy and enhancing unit morale and cohesion. It meant creating bands of brothers who will fight for each other and win wars. By contrast, as Steve Sailer notes in his trenchant post on the topic, the Obama Administration’s decision to allow women in combat units “is like gay marriage: a symbolic war on the realities of biology.”
A Christmas Miscellany(0)
Peter Brimelow has written a discussion of the War on Christmas for VDARE.com that is well worth reading. In it, Peter puts me in the unusual role of optimist. There are still many people in this country who want to suppress the public celebration of Christmas, and the situation in the schools, where culture is formed and transmitted, remains terrible. But it is true that I see more public manifestations of Christmas than I did in 2001, when I first wrote about the War on Christmas for Chronicles.
In this uncharacteristic role of optimist, I’d like to share a few positive items related to Christmas. One is a blog whose author was persuaded to at least think about his position that there is no War on Christmas as a result of reading the speech on the subject that I had the good fortune of delivering at the Rockford Institute on December 6. It is, of course, very gratifying to see someone thinking about a topic I care about as a result of something I wrote. The second is this fun article about Russian exchange students in America enjoying the American Christmas, which Wayne Allensworth kindly brought to my attention. The third is something that happened to me a few days ago. Walking to lunch, I saw two mounted policemen whose horses were wearing Santa hats, an unexpected sight that was enough to make me smile. Then, at lunch, I got another pleasant surprise, the opportunity to listen to Christmas music being sung by a very talented quartet in a small downtown arcade. The quartet sang both secular Christmas music and Christmas carols, but the highlight was clearly Silent Night. The quartet sang the first two verses in English, and then concluded by singing the first verse of Joseph Mohr’s great poem in the original German. People stopped what they were doing and listened, and I even noticed one of the restaurateurs in the arcade quietly singing along. We all returned to work a little happier because of this unexpected encounter with beauty.
I wish all Chronicles readers a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. And here, in a small effort to make your Christmas merry, is the great choir of St. Thomas in Leipzig singing Stille Nacht.
Robert Bork, RIP(0)
Today brings the sad news that Robert Bork has passed away. The sadder news for America, though, came in 1987, when the Senate unjustly rejected his nomination to the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that, had Bork been confirmed, Roe v Wade would have been overturned in 1992 when the Supreme Court decided Planned Parenthood v Casey. Unlike Anthony Kennedy, whom the Senate ultimately confirmed and who voted to reaffirm Roe in Casey, Bork possessed the fortitude to stand up to the pressures that exist in the Beltway to move to the left.
Interestingly, in view of recent disparaging comments made here about Americans who vote for Republicans, a principal reason Bork lost in the Senate was that Southern Democrats, who were still a formidable force in the Senate in 1987, voted against Bork. Howell Heflin, Richard Shelby, Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, Lawton Chiles, Bob Graham, Sam Nunn, Wyche Fowler, Wendell Ford, John Breaux, John Stennis, and Terry Sanford all voted against Bork. Today, most of those Senate seats are held by Republicans, including that of Richard Shelby, who has subsequently switched parties. If those Senate seats had been held by Republicans in 1987, we would today be mourning the loss of Justice Bork and remembering all the good he did on the Supreme Court, rather than all the good he might have done there.
The War on Christmas(34)
The desire to efface Christmas that lies behind the elevation of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and all the rest is illustrated by the New York City schools, which ban Nativity scenes but regularly display menorahs and Moslem crescents.
The Power of Christmas(0)
The power of Christmas (and Christianity) shows through even in unexpected places, such as Saturday Night Live. When the producers of the show, in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Connecticut, were looking for something with beauty and emotional depth, they chose a song about the true meaning of Christmas, not a secular Christmas song or an ersatz “holiday” song. Last night’s show began with a choir singing Silent Night, a fact widely commented on in the media. Even many of those who no longer believe in Christ recognize that Christianity at least attempts to provide answers to the most profound questions, something today’s secular culture either miserably fails at or does not even attempt.