The Battle For The American Soul, Updated
Freedom and rights do not originate or function in a vacuum. They are only some of the necessary ingredients of the complex recipe that comprise a functioning and productive society. As with any recipe, it is the interchange and interaction of necessary ingredients that produce the desired result.
Alongside those basic freedom and rights, there must also be an exchange. In exchange for those rights and freedoms, there must also exist law and order, social and cultural norms for all and not just the privileged few, and most importantly, there must be be a sense of obligation and duty to society. If any of those things are lacking, and the emphasis remains on the 'self ' and individual 'rights,' that society will self destruct.
While it is true free societies naturally evolve, they must retain some of the original DNA that was there at their creation. That original DNA that served as the basis of free societies had less to do with the self and a lot to do with the society and community. What causes societies and communities to be be founded and succeed, is the abiding focus on the welfare of that society and community, as a whole. It is true that great emphasis in free societies is placed on the individual, but in the end, that focus is really about the place the individual has within society. In exchange for his contributions, the individual is accorded certain rights and privileges- in exchange for those contributions and obligations. Drivers must be licensed and insurance must be had, for example. Those contributions and obligations to society as whole take precedence, as they must, if functioning societies are to succeed. A free society places those demands on it's members. Those who do not wish to comply, are free to live in their cherished freedom- in isolation and as hermits.
There was a time that only the left side of the political spectrum provided the moral voice of America. That is no longer the case. Throughout the globe, the right, in the shape of the religious community, are addressing the injustices the left no longer engages.
In what has to be one of the most stunning ideological reversals in this country's history, the standard bearer for human rights is now the political right. The left ceded that role with barely a whimper.
American religious activism first came about as a result of the persecution of Christians in many repressive regimes. The truth soon became clear- the left would not take up the cause, for any number of reasons. As a result, the religious right mobilized. Their first unlikely ally were progressive and liberal Jewish groups, who understood quite clearly what religious persecution meant. They were to step into the breach, no matter what the mainline left had to say. This was to have repercussions years later.
After a few years of focusing on Christian issues, the religious right could no longer ignore other human rights matters. These realities were hard to ignore because the persecutions of Christians was happening in the developing word. Poverty, disease, exploitation and violence are hard to miss- or ignore. The American religious right stepped into the breach and became the noisy advocates for the downtrodden now ignored by the left. To the consternation of the left, they were getting noticed by foreign policymakers - and getting press coverage, to boot.
The left faced a choice. Reclaim their long held place as the face of American aid, or step aside. They chose to step aside because helping the oppressed would enrage their new backers- in many cases, the very purveyors of oppression. There was an unholy agreement. The left would ignore the oppression and their backers would give them a place in front of the cameras. Tyrannical regimes had nothing to fear. The left, America's conscience, would leave them alone.
As we have noted in an earlier piece "All conservatism, is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone, you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone, you leave it to a torrent of change." So said GK Chesterton. The issues of the day are being addressed by the right. It is the left that has adopted a 'conservative' position by failing to address- by design- matters that are of consequence to us all. They are acceding to the demands of their proxies, who wish not for change, but rather for blessings, from their supporters. Americans are evil, they say, and should be destroyed. Israelis are evil- and they are Jews, so they too merit destruction. And so on and so on. In fact, the less insistence for change we demand from those who would do harm, the more we empower them. We cannot allow them to 'be themselves' any longer. We must see progressive change.
The left could be forgiven for 'missing' Rwanda, where over a million people died as UN peace keepers watched. They would not be able to 'skate' on Darfur. No one could deny that what was happening in Darfur wasn't genocide, save the United Nations and the Arab League. Reports, filed by the world's news media, made that clear. The left did nothing- and could say nothing. Many of the victims of the Arab militia, the Janjaweed, are Sufi Muslims. The media reports came only after religious aid organizations made noise. The left was nowhere to be found, save for the rare, token voice.
Even as western democracies demanded access to the region, the Sudanese authorities blocked their entry. As the left remained silent, the destruction of farms and agricultural facilities produced an engineered famine. It is important to understand that since the 1980's, the regional conflict has cost two million lives. Christian activists took their cue from the left and and mounted public campaigns in the same way as the anti apartheid movement and with grassroots organization and mobilization, demanded political sanctions and divestment pressure. Most importantly, they delivered aid, food, health care, education and sanitation. They stayed on the ground and they delivered in the same way the left once did.
There is no evidence that the left participated in or even acknowledged these efforts. They had chosen to protect and defend the 'politically' oppressed, and joined them in the demand for their 'rights.' The left no longer engages in the defense and help of the truly oppressed. The once magnificent left no longer believes in actual engagement. Like the Hollywood elite that funds them, they believe that simply talking about a problem is enough. There is no need to actually get involved- unless there is a camera present. When the camera leaves, so do they.
The left have become a part of the Arab world , complete with conspiracy theories and visceral hatred, and the justification of the most heinous of violence. They demand rights without addressing obligations and have little tolerance for those with different ideas. It is acceptable to call for the death of an opponent, and no one objects. There is no debate- only name calling and calls for the destruction of those they cannot agree with or those who get in their way.
It is all a matter of 'rights' they are being denied, they say.
In fact, the left has become a shell of it's once glorious self. It is not the right that has 'sold out,' but in a matter of transference, it is they themselves that have given up the mantle of decency in favor of a kind of self delusion, that somehow, they are relevant.
It is true that there are many on the left that are unquestionably devoted to the elevation of their fellow man- and for that, they are to be admired and appreciated. Indeed, this country was founded and made great by patriots of the left and right- and to say otherwise is deceitful. Nevertheless, that part of the left that places itself in front of the media and seems to have hijacked the message, have done themselves and the country a great disservice.
Attending a demonstration is not working for and supporting a cause. Holding up signs is not enough to be a committed supporter of a cause. Demanding 'rights' and offering only hate is not a substitute for a viable political agenda. The leadership of the left that taught these things to their legions of followers and have done them great harm.
The right takes seriously their obligations to the community, as the primary driving force in defining the American soul. For the left, it is a matter of rights, first and foremost that defines the American soul.
The easy response is to say we are a nation that blends rights and obligations, in a healthy balance. In fact, those days have long passed. That we cannot even agree as a nation on a response to tyranny is indication enough of that.
The winner of this battle for our national soul, will determine the direction the country will take, for generations to come.