State of the Culture: Real masculinity and counterfeit freedom

By Jonathon Van Maren

It is increasingly obvious that no dissent from the State religion of secularism will be permitted. Additionally, it is important to note that our culture is reaching the conclusion not that they have a different morality than Christianity, but that Christian morality is itself wicked, which is something else entirely. Christians are the new heretics, and must be driven from the public square:

A public health official, who says he was fired by Georgia’s health agency for the content of his sermons, filed a lawsuit today against the state claiming religious discrimination.

Dr. Eric Walsh accepted a position as the Georgia Department of Public Health’s director for the northwest part of the state in May 2014. A week later, state officials requested copies of sermons he had preached as a lay minister for the Seventh Day Adventist Church, according to First Liberty Institute, a legal organization that defends the religious freedom of Americans.

“Dr. Walsh was terminated because of something he said in a sermon,” Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, told The Daily Signal. “No one should be fired for something they say in their sermon.”

The lawsuit charges the state with religious discrimination as well as retaliation against Walsh.

“I couldn’t believe they fired me because of things I talked about in my sermons,” Walsh said in a statement released by First Liberty. “It was devastating. I have been unable to get a job in public health since then.”

The Los Angeles Times reported in May 2014 that Georgia health officials retracted a job offer to Walsh, “who had come under fire for controversial remarks he made on homosexuality and evolution.”

“In recorded sermons online, [Walsh] said homosexuality is a sin and evolution is a ‘religion created by Satan,’” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in September 2014 after Walsh filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Atlanta.

Government officials terminated Walsh the day after he provided his sermons to the state.

State officials, of course, are now claiming that Walsh was dismissed for some other obscure reason. But the fact remains that state bureaucrats, on paid government time, spend over ten hours listening to Dr. Walsh’s sermons. Why would they do that?

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With corporations flexing their muscles and attempting to bully North Carolina and other states passing religious liberty laws, Maggie Gallagher over at the National Review takes a crack at explaining why social conservatives keep losing so badly:

Social conservatives aren’t doing politics. Before I explain what I mean, let me ask you to answer a simple question: What is the national organization that fights for religious-liberty protections by spending money in federal elections? Currently, there is none. There are many good nonprofits who issue voter guides or get pastors together. There are public-interest law firms galore. These are all good things to have — but there is a hole in the center of our movement. Social conservatives can’t get much out of politics because we aren’t in politics.

How big is the hole? For my own amusement, I tried to figure out how much money social conservatives (excluding pro-life groups) spent in national elections in 2014 compared to what they spend on 501(c)3 and other nonprofit strategies. I looked for every organization I could find that has marriage or religious liberty in its mission statement and then compared it with election expenditures by either c(4)s or political-action committees (PACs). Then I asked around to major social-conservative donors I know to see if I had overlooked any major organization. How big is the hole in the center of our movement? In 2014 pro-family social conservatives invested $251,633,730 in tax-deductible 501(c)3 efforts (excluding pro-life efforts).

How much was spent on direct political engagement, counting both state and federal organizations? $2,484,359. That 100-to-one ratio of doing politics by indirect versus direct means explains a lot about the relative powerlessness of social conservatism. Social conservatives can’t get much out of politics because we aren’t in politics. We just talk like we are on television, when the Left allows us to get on television. Meanwhile, we don’t build political institutions that matter. Social conservatives need to think like a minority and organize politically to protect our interests.

The moral majority is dead. But a well-organized and politically-savvy minority can still do much to keep the government off its back.

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Canada’s Liberal government has now put forward its euthanasia law—with steadfast promises to take things much further, very soon. Andrew Coyne continues to distinguish himself above all commentators on this issue:

What once was the furthest limits of the imaginable, something permitted in only a few other countries on Earth, is now the baseline. The senators who, armed with a democratic mandate from exactly no one, are vowing to delay or defeat the bill are not doing so because it goes too far: because, say, it does not require the patient’s consent in all cases, but allows another adult to sign on their behalf; or because the 15-day waiting period is optional, at the doctor’s discretion; or because it does not require that death be imminent and inevitable, but only that it be “reasonably foreseeable.”

No, the reason the bill is under fire is because, in the view of its critics, it does not go nearly far enough: specifically, because it does not allow for the termination of children, the mentally ill and those who book their demise in advance, in fear of finding themselves unable to consent at the time. Even worse, the bill would still require that death be somewhere in the offing, however vaguely: physical or psychological suffering on its own would not be sufficient. This was not a stipulation of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, which has lately become Holy Writ, or at least the parts that do not mention competent adults.

For its part, the government gives every indication of being amenable to these changes. Asked on CTV how the government could have brought in “such a conservative” bill, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould replied, in effect, give us time. At which point it will become even more clear this is not about “end-of-life care” or “dying with dignity” or “assistance in dying,” or any of the other pleasant euphemisms in which the issue is now swaddled. It is not about easing the pain of dying, but easing the pain of living. It is about helping people to kill themselves who are not in any danger of dying, but find their lives, for a variety of reasons, intolerable.

Again, this is explicit among its advocates. For the writer Sandra Martin, for example, author of The Good Death, “I might want to say if I can no longer speak, if I no longer can recognize my family, if I can no longer take care of my own bodily functions — then it would be unacceptable for me to carry on living.” Others have argued that it should apply to those suffering from depression. In Belgium, as Rachel Aviv writes in The New Yorker, doctors have been authorized to kill not just in cases of depression, but also “autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, blindess coupled with deafness, and manic depression.”

Very well. Suppose we legalized assisted suicide in all the ways demanded. Suppose we were then presented with children, suffering from a mental illness — severely depressed, perhaps — but non-terminal, who expressed a strong desire to kill themselves. Suppose, that is, we were dealing with the situation reported in Attawapiskat today. On what basis would we deny them their request?

That has been the convention to date. We do not accommodate people, let alone children, who want to kill themselves. We try to stop them, by force if necessary, a desire to kill oneself having been seen until now as prima facie evidence of mental incapacity. You see a guy standing on a ledge, you pull him in. But assisted suicide asks us to invert that convention: not merely to allow the suicide to proceed, but to facilitate it, indeed to subsidize it. Doctors who refuse to provide this “service,” or at the least to refer patients who request it to others, may face disciplinary action.

This is what it means to normalize suicide. While the preamble to Bill C-14 takes pains to affirm the “inherent and equal value of every person’s life” and expresses a desire to avoid “encouraging negative perceptions of the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill or disabled,” that is the unmistakable message we would be sending: some lives are not worth living. Suicide prevention advocates, likewise, are adamant that suicide not be presented as a rational alternative to suffering. Yet that is exactly what we would be doing.

I’ve been doing quite a few lectures on euthanasia myself these days, since our society now seems determined to burn the candle at both ends. And yet, I cannot for the life of me understand why so many people seem so steadfastly opposed to recognizing what is so transparently obvious: That we are empowering doctors to kill people, and we are empowering people to demand suicide as a right.

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David French over at the National Review is one writer who consistently pens columns I wish I’d written. For example, his brilliant column this week on true masculinity contrasted with the sleazy windbag extraordinaire, Donald J. Trump:

Some Americans believe that Donald Trump is the answer to feminism. He’s the fearless man. He’s the strong man. He’s the man who laughs in the face of the social-justice warrior and demonstrates the appeal of pure, unadulterated aggression and virility. In reality, however, he’s a great gift to feminism: the man who will revive a failing ideology.

To understand why, one has to understand the true object of modern feminism. The modern feminist doesn’t so much hate biological males as hate the very concept of manhood as a distinct and valuable aspect of the human experience. Masculinity, to the extent that it exists, is toxic and must be suppressed. Classically male virtues such as bravery, strength, loyalty, and an intellectual and physical sense of adventure must be de-gendered (after all, who’s to say that any given woman can’t share those traits?), while traditional male vices, including tendencies toward unjustified violence and superficial, obsessive sexuality, are to be regarded as essentially masculine.

The result is a world where masculinity is understood to be inherently destructive. If women can’t penetrate traditional male spaces, such as fraternities, locker rooms, or infantry platoons, then those spaces are dangerous, and abolition or gender integration isn’t just a matter of social justice but, indeed, of public safety. “Bro culture” at its best is privileged; at its worst, it’s predatory. The result is that untold numbers of men simply shun the masculinity that  they’ve been taught is wholly bad, embracing (or settling for) the de-gendered life. In their modes of speech, their conduct, and their interests, they become similar to the women around them. Sure, a guy might like superhero movies slightly more than his girlfriend, but these shreds of distinction represent just the faintest echo of true manhood.

Many more men are left confused, aimless, and often angry. They simply can’t and won’t conform to a genderless society. Absent exposure to those few American subcultures that still retain an understanding of distinctly virtuous masculinity, they live in a state of frustration, with many ultimately embracing negative stereotypes, living a life in full reaction against feminism. While not rapists, they are predators — seeking serial sexual conquests. While not criminals, they are bullies — using threats and swagger to get their way. Life is about winning, and women and money are the ways in which they keep score.

And Trump is their hero. To enter the world of the pick-up artist — or of segments of the so-called men’s-rights movement — is to enter the world of the Trump fanboy. Trump has “tight game,” to borrow the phrasing of Château Heartiste, a popular website for frustrated male Millennials. He’s the “ultimate alpha.” Fox News’s Andrea Tantaros channeled this mindset when she declared: “The Left has tried to culturally feminize this country in a way that is disgusting. And you see blue-collar voters — men — this is like their last vestige, their last hope is Donald Trump to get their masculinity back.” Fox’s Stacey Dash memorably called Trump “street” — and meant it as a compliment.

Trump’s masculinity is a cheap counterfeit of the masculinity that’s truly threatening to the cultural Left: man not as predator but as protector, the “sheepdog” of American Sniper fame. This is the brave man, the selfless man who channels his aggression and sense of adventure into building a nation, an economy, and — yes — a family. This is the man who kicks down doors in Fallujah or gathers a makeshift militia to rush hijackers in the skies above Pennsylvania. Or, to choose a more mundane — though no less important — example: This is the man who packs up the household to take a chance on a new job, models strength for his family when life turns hard, teaches his son to stand against bullies on the playground, and lives at all times with dignity and honor.

The masculinity that threatens the Left is the masculinity that embraces the manly virtues while minimizing the traditional manly vices. Teaching a boy to be a man doesn’t mean teaching that strength, bravery, loyalty, and a sense of adventure are exclusively male or even always found in men, but it does mean cultivating those virtues in our male children.

Brilliantly put. I, for one, am tired of the instinctive, knee-jerk reaction of too many men on the right to respond to hysterical feminist accusations by becoming exactly what they said we were in the first place.

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