Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen asks: “Coronavirus & covid-19: Is this how freedom dies?”

I like Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen, because he is even-tempered, reasonable / rational, and thoughtful. I like other YouTube videocasters, too, but folks like Dr. Steve Turley can sometimes be a little too bombastic and ebullient, and Marcus Follin (a.k.a. “The Golden One“) a little too narcissistic (although he’s gotten better since becoming a father), for me to take in large doses. But Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen seems like a guy I’d love to sit in the woods with, by a campfire, sipping coffee and talking about these things.

And we do indeed live in troubling times! At this writing, many things in my home state are closed down – schools, government offices, gyms, bars, restaurants (except carryout) – and the Federal authorities are recommending avoiding gatherings with more than 10 people. I am willing to accept that we need to deal with certain restrictions on movement, on gathering, etc., while the authorities try to get a handle on this virus.

And there are enough different countries affected, with enough different types of governments, on enough different locations on the political spectrum, and enough responsible, respectable medical personnel involved – and genuinely concerned – that I do not think this is a hoax, or a tempest in a teapot.

I’d rather us do more than necessary, and it end up looking (at least here in the States, as it’s already been pretty bad in some other countries) like – as one commentator put it – “a great big nothing-burger” than to have us not take it seriously enough, and it ends up killing thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or more people. To that end, I’m willing to put up with a good bit of inconvenience, even frustration.

I am more concerned, as Bull-Hansen says, with what comes after. The government – the various governments – have now had, for the first time in a very long time, probably since the end of World War Two (a conflict with a very specific enemy, or group of enemies, and a very specific end-point), experience with imposing curfews, travel restrictions, restrictions on the size of assemblies, and so on. And like the war on terrorism, a war on viruses does not have a clear end-point. You can’t have a ceremony on a battleship to sign a peace treaty ending a war with a disease.

So, the government has, in a sense, tasted blood. Like a sheep-killing dog, are they going to be able to go back to being the family pet? Something they haven’t been, for a very long time, anyway! Not since the 1860s, at least. What will be the next excuse? Or the next, to all appearances, legitimate reason? I’m a historian. Most dictatorships, most authoritarian forms of government, don’t come into being without what are initially good reasons, or what seem to be good reasons. But once the camel’s nose is in the tent…

Well. As Bull-Hansen put it, “we need to be alert, vigilant. We need to think for ourselves. We will be tested in the days, weeks, and months to come.” Beyond that… we’ll see.

We’ll see.

 

Attorney General William P. Barr’s Remarks to the Law School at the University of Notre Dame | Department of Justice

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Source: Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame | OPA | Department of Justice

“By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the classical Christian tradition. These practical statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

“Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large. No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity…

“In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles…

“The problem [in our contemporary society] is not that religion is being forced on others. The problem is that irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith…

“This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

“We must be vigilant to resist efforts by the forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon the free exercise of our faith.

“I can assure you that, as long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of this effort, ready to fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.”

This is absolutely magnificent. And these are only a few excerpts: read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! I did not really have much of an opinion on Attorney General Barr prior to this speech; but now I admire him greatly. Well said, sir! Well said.

Three books added to my reading list

 

 

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It is only occasionally that The Anglophilic Anglican writes book reviews, and to post on books I have not yet read is unprecedented. But these are three that not only pique my interest, but which I feel may turn out to be important reads. If I am right, I shall review them after I’ve read them! But for now, I’m simply sharing my interest, with the thought that they may prove of interest to my readers, too. As usual, the italicized, indented sections of text are quotes, in this case from the relevant Amazon listings:

Andrew Willard Jones: Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX (2017).

Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX by Andrew Willard Jones explores in great detail the “problem of Church and State” in thirteenth-century France. It argues that while the spiritual and temporal powers existed, they were not parallel structures attempting to govern the same social space in a contest over sovereignty. Rather, the spiritual and the temporal powers were wrapped up together in a differentiated and sacramental world, and both included the other as aspects of their very identity. The realm was governed not by proto-absolutist institutions, but rather by networks of friends that cut across lay/clerical lines. Ultimately, the king’s “fullness of power” and the papacy’s “fullness of power” came together to govern a single social order.

Before Church and State reconstructs this social order through a detailed examination of the documentary evidence, arguing that the order was fundamentally sacramental and that it was ultimately congruent with contemporary incarnational and trinitarian theologies and the notions of proper order that they supported. Because of this, modern categories of secular politics cannot be made to capture its essence but rather paint always a distorted portrait in modernity’s image.

In both my B.A. studies – in which I pursued a self-designed major in medieval studies, including history, literature, and philosophy – and my Masters work in early and medieval Christianity, one thing that was a given was the perennial tension, sometimes struggle, and sometimes conflict, between Church and State. It wasn’t something that was defended; it didn’t need to be. It was simply a foundational, underlying assumption.

But even then, I caught glimpses hinting that there might be more to the story; Continue reading “Three books added to my reading list”

The Right to Bear Which Arms? – 2A Interpretation and the Federalist Papers | The Truth About Guns

The 2020 presidential campaigns have just begun, but on the issue of gun control, we’re already hearing a common refrain from numerous candidates: The Second Amendment does not protect anyone’s right to own, as they put it, “weapons of war”…

Source: The Right to Bear Which Arms? – 2A Interpretation and the Federalist Papers | The Truth About Guns

But of course, as the linked essay accurately points out, this point of view is absolutely and categorically incorrect. In fact, it is 180° false and wrong-headed. It is precisely ownership of “weapons of war” that the Second Amendment does protect! As Mark Houser, author of this essay, puts it,

“The Second Amendment unambiguously protects our right to own ‘weapons of war.’ That is, weapons suitable not just for sport, but for combat.

“Many people find this obvious. It’s hard to imagine what else the Second Amendment could possibly be intended to do. James Madison wrote the Second Amendment in the aftermath of a bloody war for independence from a tyrannical empire. The first shots of that war were fired to resist disarmament. Can anyone truly believe that Madison wrote the Second Amendment with, say, hunting or target shooting in mind? It’s a preposterous notion.”

And he also correctly notes that

“Gun control proponents are quick to point out that Madison and his contemporaries didn’t imagine the sort of weapons that exist today. That’s probably true, but it’s irrelevant to the question at hand.

“We don’t say that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to typed or online publications simply because the Framers did not imagine typewriters or the internet. We don’t say that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to search and surveillance capabilities that the Framers did not imagine, such as GPS tracking.”

The Anglophilic Anglican adds: although that will be next, if we lose the 2nd Amendment – the one that guarantees all the others. Or maybe the 1st Amendment will be the next victim. By that point, it hardly matters… At any rate, Houser continues:

“Technological development doesn’t change the fundamental nature of the rights that the Bill of Rights seeks to secure.”

Amen. Read the whole thing. It’s worth it. We need to understand these matters, and be clear about them when it comes to political discourse! For too long we have let the Left define the terms of the argument. That needs to change.

The list of bogus ‘hate crimes’ in Trump era is long | New York Post

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail following his release.

In the wake of the arrest of actor Jussie Smollett, who was charged with staging his own racist and homophobic attack, here are just some of the other crimes that have been given prominent play by the media since the 2016 election.

Source: The list of bogus ‘hate crimes’ in Trump era is long

Left-wing pundits and protesters have been quick to blame any crime against racial or religious minorities here in the US, since 2016, on what one CNN analyst called “The election of President Donald Trump [which] lifted the rock under which much of the hatred had hidden, allowing it to squirm out into the light.”

But is that a fair assessment, or is it just another example of what has been called (accurately, in my view) “Trump Derangement Syndrome”? While it is entirely possible that there are some racists, homophobes, and other bigots who have felt emboldened by the election of President Trump, this article demonstrates that Smollett’s case is far from unique – with the mainstream media serving as a willing, even eager, accomplice.

Journalistic objectivity and pursuit of the truth behind the story seem to have gone out the window, when the dominant narrative seems better served by simply “rounding up the usual suspects.” I am reminded of a poster that used to hang in my father’s home office: “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts!”

The difference is, he was joking…

Gun News of the Week: ATF Says “Assault Rifle” is a Bogus Term | Outdoor Life

Colt competition rifle

A Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “white paper” correctly identifies “assault weapons” as a politically contrived term with no real meaning and recommends dramatic federal law revisions in how they are regulated.

Source: Gun News of the Week: ATF Says “Assault Rifle” is a Bogus Term | Outdoor Life

The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms – now Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but still usually called by the older nomenclature) finally gets it right!

“Authored by ATF second-in-command Ronald Turk, the “white paper”… says the agency is interested in reforms that ‘promote commerce and defend the Second Amendment without significant negative impact on ATF’s mission to fight violent firearms crime and regulate the firearms industry.’

“Turk wrote that the misleading ‘assault weapons’ term to describe AK-and-AR-style rifles should be replaced with ‘modern sporting rifles,’ to reflect how the use and popularity of these firearms has grown. In fact, he noted, their use in ‘sport shooting’ has grown ‘exponentially’ and such guns ‘are now standard for hunting activities.’

“The ATF official also argued in favor of changes in policy for the import of WWII-era military weapons, such as M1 Garand rifles.”

Hallelujah! Now, it’d be nice if this would have some practical effect on the absurdity of some states’ gun-control laws, including Maryland’s…

Woman admits she didn’t write anonymous sexual-assault claim against Brett Kavanaugh | Business Insider

chuck grassley brett kavanaugh
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, right, and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, left, arrives to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 4, 2018. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

“The Committee is grateful to citizens who come forward with relevant information in good faith, even if they are not one hundred percent sure about what they know,” Grassley said. “But when individuals intentionally mislead the Committee, they divert Committee resources during time-sensitive investigations and materially impede our work.”

Source: Woman admits she didn’t write anonymous sexual-assault claim against Brett Kavanaugh – Business Insider

This is why one cannot simply and uncritically “believe the woman” (or anyone else, for that matter), as activists stridently chanted during the Kavanaugh hearings. Even good-faith allegations may still be in error – incorrectly remembered or simply mistaken. And then you get this sort of thing!

This should also be a cautionary tale about the idea that “if there’s enough smoke, there must be fire somewhere”: additional uncorroborated allegations do not corroborate the initial uncorroborated allegation. #metoo…? Well, this woman said “me, too” – and she lied. And unfortunately, like the proverbial “boy who cried wolf,” such false accusations actually harm women who have genuinely been assaulted, by calling into question the veracity of their accusations. Continue reading “Woman admits she didn’t write anonymous sexual-assault claim against Brett Kavanaugh | Business Insider”

Russiagate’s ‘Core Narrative’ Has Always Lacked Actual Evidence | The Nation

'Russia's Mark Zuckerberg' takes on the Kremlin, comes to ...

The unprecedented allegation that the Kremlin “attacked America” and “colluded” with its president in order to elect him is based on two documents devoid of facts or logic.

Source: Russiagate’s ‘Core Narrative’ Has Always Lacked Actual Evidence | The Nation

As my late father used to say, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts!” He, however, was joking. Unfortunately, there’s no hint of humor, awareness of irony, or anything other than a deadly earnestness in the Left’s verbal opposition to “fake news,” even as they use it themselves to feed their favorite narratives.

Case in point: The Nation is hardly a platform for alt-right opinion, yet this article in that venerable magazine of progressive causes and perspectives reports that Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University, and frequent contributor to The Nation,

“reminds listeners that the Russiagate scandal, which first leaked into the media in mid-2016, has already done immense political damage during these two years. It has cast doubt on the legitimacy of this presidency and possibly future ones. It has questioned the authenticity of a popular election and probably future ones, and thus of American democracy itself.

“And with high-level former US officials, influential columnists, and an array of mainstream-media outlets regularly declaring that President Trump is ‘a quisling‘ and ‘a Russian agent,’ the scandal has greatly diminished his capacity to avoid war with Russia, conceivably nuclear war.”

That alone is a horrifying thought, and is worth some serious introspection regarding whether the Democrats’ irrational desire resolute determination to take down the President, regardless of the cost, is really worth that cost, in world peace as well as political stability here at home.

Up until quite recently, the U.S. has been justly proud of its tradition of the orderly transfer of power, and the willingness of the party not occupying the White House to take the role of the “loyal opposition” – standing up for its principles and policies, of course, but doing so with honour and dignity, in an awareness that we are all, despite our differences, Americans, and that “politics stops at the waterline.”

That reserve seems to be gone, and while today’s Democrats – with their bluster about being the “Resistance” (a hard slap in the face to those who have, throughout history, resisted real dictatorships and tyrannies) – are not solely responsible for the shift, they have carried it to new extremes. Meanwhile, the article goes on to note,

“as happened during the McCarthy era, a myriad of official and media ‘investigations’ have cast an ever-widening net in search of evidence of other ‘colluders,’ from peripheral Trump ‘advisers’ and shadowy ‘informants’ to a Russian prostitute and her pimp in Thailand. After all this time and frenzy,”

it continues,

“substantiated charges and indictments amount to little more than customary financial corruption on the part of the bipartisan top 2 percent and “lying to the FBI,” the latter apparently open to interpretation as to what was actually said and perhaps involving entrapment.

“Meanwhile, reputations are slurred, lives ruined, once-respectable media degraded, and public discourse—especially about international affairs, but not only—chilled by self-censorship and growing institutional forms of ‘preventing disinformation.’”

Hardly the high-water mark in American political discourse. Furthermore,

“Amid this daily frenzy, it’s often forgotten that Russiagate’s ‘core narrative,’ as one of its most devout and prominent promoters terms it, was inspired by, and continues to be based on, two documents, both published in January 2017: an ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ and the anti-Trump ‘dossier’ compiled by a retired UK intelligence officer, Christopher Steele.

“The ‘core narrative’ of both was, of course, that Putin’s Kremlin had intervened in the 2016 presidential election—essentially an ‘attack on America’—in order to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and abet Trump’s.

“At the time, a few critics questioned the authenticity of the ICA and the dossier, but for political and media Russiagaters, they instantly became, and have remained, canons, despite their deficit of facts and logic. Reread today, in light of what is now known, they are examples of the adage ‘rubbish in, rubbish out.’

For more details, read the rest of the article. It makes for sobering, or perhaps enraging, reading. If this is what we are becoming, I am not at all happy about it.

This sort of misinformation, manipulation, and blatant witch-hunting on the part of what should be reputable agencies and institutions is far more damaging to America’s credibility, values, and indeed system of Constitutional government than any number of arguments over whether the children of adult illegal immigrants should be housed with them or separately – the cause célèbre which seems to be consuming America’s talking heads at the moment. Distraction, anyone…?

Magna Carta: an introduction | The British Library

Image result for magna carta

King John granted the Charter of Liberties, subsequently known as Magna Carta, at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.

Source: Magna Carta an introduction – The British Library

On this date in 1215, 803 years ago today, King John “Lackland” granted – admittedly under duress! – the “Charter of Liberties,” which was to become known as the “Magna Carta” or “Great Charter,” to the rebel barons and leading churchmen of the Realm of England.

This is of Anglican interest because it protected, among other things, the rights and privileges of the English Church (Ecclesia Anglicana); and is is of general interest for those concerned with the defense of the West because “Magna Carta has… acquired a special status as the cornerstone of English liberties…. [The Great Charter] retains enormous symbolic power as an ancient defence against arbitrary and tyrannical rulers, and as a guarantor of individual liberties.”

The article points out that it is not certain how many copies of the 1215 Magna Carta were originally issued, but four copies still survive: one in Lincoln Cathedral; one in Salisbury Cathedral; and two at the British Library. It is actually the edition of 1225, issued (voluntarily) by King Henry III, which became definitive, and of which three critical clauses are still part of English law:

“Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. Although nearly a third of the text was deleted or substantially rewritten within ten years, and almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British constitution.

“Most of the 63 clauses granted by King John dealt with specific grievances relating to his rule. However, buried within them were a number of fundamental values that both challenged the autocracy of the king and proved highly adaptable in future centuries. Most famously, the 39th clause gave all ‘free men’ the right to justice and a fair trial. Some of Magna Carta’s core principles are echoed in the United States Bill of Rights (1791) and in many other constitutional documents around the world, as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).”

Of the three of those clauses which remain part of English law, one defends the liberties and rights of the English Church, another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns, but here is the third and most famous:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”

“This clause gave all free men the right to justice and a fair trial [although] ‘free men’ comprised only a small proportion of the population in medieval England…

“Magna Carta has consequently acquired a special status as the cornerstone of English liberties. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of its clauses have now been repealed, or in some cases superseded by other legislation such as the Human Rights Act (1998). Magna Carta nonetheless retains enormous symbolic power as an ancient defence against arbitrary and tyrannical rulers, and as a guarantor of individual liberties.”

Perhaps, given the political and social situation there, England is in need of a new “Great Charter”!

Is the worm turning for Britain? One can hope!

I am beginning to be guardedly optimistic that for Britain, the worm is turning at last. The decision by the British government to arrest, convict, and incarcerate Tommy Robinson – with what might be called, at the risk of understatement, unseemly haste – appears to have galvanized at least a significant segment of British society. The protests and calls for his release are growing larger and more numerous, with the rally in this video, which occurred earlier today, standing as the most recent example: thousands of people gathering in London itself.

To paraphrase the great Professor Tolkien, there is a seed of courage hidden (often deeply, it is true) in the heart of the most peaceful and complacent Briton, waiting for some final and desperate danger to make it grow. Perhaps the sudden realization, forced by Tommy Robinson’s arrest and immediate incarceration, of how close Britain is tottering toward the brink of totalitarianism and tyranny – that anyone could, for some reason deemed sufficient by the bureaucrats and politicians, be suddenly arrested and thrown into prison for expressing their views – is that “final and desperate danger,” for many Britons. I hope and pray it is, and for a sufficient number to do some good.

As an anglophilic Anglican – “The Anglophilic Anglican,” for the purposes of this blog – I bow to no one in my love of England, and Great Britain as a whole. But as I have previously stated, that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with some of the stances taken by its present government. With some, I disagree profoundly. And I am grateful to live in the United States, where the First Amendment of our Constitution protects – for now, at least – my freedom to say so. Sadly, some of my British friends are not so fortunate, having been warned that making their true feelings known on social media could lead to their arrest!

This, from the country which is the source of our understanding of rights and liberties. It’s sad, and it’s truly appalling. But I am, as I say, hopeful that at long last, the worm is beginning to turn, and the people of England and Britain are on the road toward beginning to take back their ancient liberties from the Left-leaning politicians, bureaucrats, and budding authoritarians that make up far too many of the present governments of Europe, not just Great Britain. If that happens, the unjust arrest and imprisonment of Tommy Robinson will have at least served some useful purpose!