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”…
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.
I was not, I confess, a big fan of Piers Morgan when he was here in the U.S.; but since his return to his home country, he has actually evolved into something closely resembling a decent human being! I found his comments in this opinion piece to be, for the most part, quite appropriate. Especially this:
“As for those champing at the bit to protest against Trump this week, with their abusive placards, mocking chants, and pathetic baby blimp, I simply say this: the only reason you can do so in this country is because of what happened 75 years ago on D-Day. The heroic British and American forces (with the help of other Allied forces too) that fought that day did so to protect your freedoms.”
More on the plummeting U.S. interest in history, and its consequences. Unfortunately, the author, Edward Luce, has to get in a dig at President Trump! But he makes a number of good points, nonetheless.
Indeed, the idea that a de-emphasis on history (and other humanities) in favor of more technical fields “works for individual careers” may itself be a flawed assumption: the author himself notes that
“the biggest culprit is the widespread belief that ‘soft skills’ — such as philosophy and English, which are both in similar decline to history — do not lead to well-paid jobs. But the data do not bear this out. Engineers do better than those who study humanities. But the latter are paid roughly the same as those who graduate in the booming fields of biology and business services.”
But there is a greater cost to society generated by the near-demise of the humanities than simply missed employment opportunities. Luce goes on to comment,
“The demise of strong civics coincides with waning voter turnout, a decline in joining associations, fewer citizen’s initiatives, and other qualities once associated with American vigour. The spread of fake news is often blamed solely on social media… But the ultimate driver is the citizens who believe it.
“There is no scientific metric for gullibility. Nor can we quantitatively prove that civic ignorance imposes a political cost on society. These are questions of judgment. But if America’s origins tell us anything it is that a well-informed citizenry creates a stronger society.”
“The idea that [civility and decency]… are what’s holding social conservatives back from ‘victory’ in the culture war strikes me as one of the most preposterous claims to be taken seriously by intelligent conservatives in recent memory.”
Goldberg takes a long while to get to the point (forgivable, since it’s a farewell column), but when he does, it’s a point I agree with:
“[The solution to the problems facing our country] isn’t to get the best right-wing technocrats to run the economy and the culture. It’s to deny the state the power to run either. Send power back to the communities where people live [emphasis added]. If North Dakota wants to be a theocracy, that’s fine by me as long as the Bill of Rights is respected. If California wants to turn itself into Caligula’s court, I’ll criticize it, but go for it.
“The enemy here is the state, because by aggrandizing to itself the power to tell people how to live, people put all of the blame on a far-off government in Washington — or even more distant ‘globalists’ — for their problems. Federalism, part of the forgotten portions of the Bill of Rights, is the only system that lets the most people live the way they want to live, in communities they have power to influence and direct. In a real community, there are no faceless ‘powers that be.’ There’s Phil and Sarah, or even Mom and Dad.
“And the glorious thing about this kind of pluralism — i.e., for communities, not just individuals — is that if the community you’re living in isn’t conducive to your notion of happiness or virtue, you can move somewhere that is. We want more institutions that give us a sense of meaning and belonging, not a state that promises to deliver all of it for you.”
This is (as Goldberg points out) precisely the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity, with which I also agree: the principle that things should be done by the smallest and most local group / organization / entity that is capable of doing them.
“Keep it local,” in other words. Respect difference and distinctiveness. Celebrate real diversity, not the ersatz, politically-defined version (actually identicality and sameness) I have often written against here. Allow people – no, not “allow,” recognize and embrace people’s right to – true self-expression, and self-determination… even if it’s not politically correct. Maybe especially if it’s not!
Goldberg is square on when he notes that
“It’s a cliché to say that nationalism’s resurgence is a response to globalization. Obviously, there’s truth to that. Less discussed is the fact that American nationalism — both on the right and the left — is a response to, well, nationalization.”
In other words, we have forgotten federalism, as expressed perhaps most precisely and succinctly in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, the last right enumerated (not granted: recall that we are “endowed by our Creator” – not the government! – “with certain inalienable rights”) by the Bill of Rights:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
We have lost sight of that, in our march “from sea to shining sea,” and the creation of an American empire (though without the name), and it is to our very great detriment!
There are many points worthy of highlighting in this lengthy but excellent essay by Thomas Ascik – which I strongly encourage you to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! – but here is one that jumped out at me, and not only because it features one of my favorite writers and thinkers, Tony Esolen:
“Focusing on the differences between men and women and between fatherhood and motherhood, Dr. Esolen goes into an extensive analysis of the contemporary American family. He argues that girls become women more easily than boys become men, and, thus, the redefinition of masculinity and the compromising of formerly boy-oriented institutions like the Boy Scouts has been catastrophic. As a summary of ‘the way of the world’ in modern times, he points out that the Industrial Revolution took the father out of the house and feminism took the woman out of the house.”
This blog article in Psychology Today traces the top five causes of the epidemic of depression here in the U.S. (and in fact, throughout much of the world). These include:
1. The erosion of traditional social structures and communities. “A gradual disintegration of the social fabric, which has closely paralleled industrial and technological growth, has resulted in greater isolation and loneliness… we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, and neighbors. Urbanization and the breakup of the extended family and rural community are leading causes of this social atomization.”
2. Changes in modes of communication. “Following the physical upheaval of urbanization, the world has been swept by a tidal wave of electronic innovation… [The] alarming rise in depression among U.S. youth during the period 2004–2015… coincides with the birth and rapid growth of smartphone usage during the same period. While this does not prove a cause-effect relationship, it would seem to reinforce an urgent need to closely examine the impact of smartphone usage on the communication skills and psychological well-being of young people.”
3. Changes in Diet. “Consumption of processed foods, which mostly contain a serious imbalance of omega fats, large quantities of sugar, and a lack of fermented ingredients, are radically affecting the delicate balance of our gut flora. A landmark comparison between North Africans and North Americans revealed sharp declines in bacterial diversity among the North American group, including genera containing the psychobiotic strains… Is fast food and processed food throwing our microbiome, that is, our internal environment, into chaos in the same way that pollution is destroying the macrobiome?”
[Note: the Weston A. Price Foundation has been saying this since 1999; Dr. Price himself raised the alarm regarding processed foods vs traditional dietary patterns, back in the 1930s and 40s. This is not new information! But it’s finally beginning to be recognized by the mainstream.]
4. The intense competition surrounding education among industrialized nations. “Korea, Japan, China, and to a growing degree, Western nations, are experiencing an exponential rise in youth depression… fierce competition in the academic arena, in which academic success is equated with social and economic “success” by parents, is leading to a loss of personal autonomy and acute stress. Secondary schools are now largely focused on exam-centered curricula… marked by a lack of content related to life skills, social-emotional learning, and wellbeing in general.”
5. The familiar socio-economic suspects, including war and poverty. “Nations strongly affected by conflict and extreme poverty, with an emphasis on extreme, rank relatively high on the depression scale and low in happiness and satisfaction. Nonetheless, the relationship between GDP and depression/happiness rates is by no means linear… Personal freedom and the presence of social networks, two factors inversely correlated to depression mentioned above, are highly related to scores on the Positive Experience Index of the Global Emotions Report.”
Assuming that the above is accurate, and based on my own experience and informal research, I believe it is, what is most interesting in all this to me – aside from a certain degree of grim satisfaction of the “I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so” variety – is that four out of five of these factors are both endemic to, and so far as can be determined, unique to, our modern/postmodern age. Our ancestors had rough lives in many respects – rougher than ours in most – but they do not appear to have suffering from comparable levels of depression… which has spiked in recent years, as recounted in the linked article, and many others.
These contributing factors to the contemporary depression epidemic can therefore (despite the usual disclaimers about correlation not equalling causation) be pretty much laid at the feet of our abandonment of traditional approaches, thoughts, understandings, philosophies, and ways of living and being, in so many areas of life, from foodways to lifeways, from communication to education.
This mindless neophilia, this willingness (even eagerness) to cast aside the traditional, the tried and true, and to eternally chase after the supposedly “new and improved,” which is so characteristic of our present society, is going to kill us – is killing us – if we do not moderate it with a more sensitive and sympathetic appropriation and re-adoption of traditional norms and ways of life.
The President of the United States of America, President Donald J. Trump, accompanied by Mrs Melania Trump, has accepted an invitation from Her Majesty The Queen to pay a State Visit to the UK.
The visit will take place from Monday 3rd June to Wednesday 5th June this year. President Trump and Mrs Trump previously joined The Queen for tea at Windsor Castle in July 2018.
The Queen has hosted two previous State Visits from Presidents of the United States of America. President George W. Bush and Mrs Bush made a State Visit in November 2003. President Barack Obama and Mrs Obama made a State Visit to the UK in May 2011.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have made four State Visits to the USA, during Her Majesty’s reign. In October 1957 to visit President Eisenhower, in July 1976 for the US Bicentennial – President Ford, in May 1991 – President Bush and in May 2007 – President George W Bush.