Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Constitutional Law is What You Can Get Away With

In response to people who aren't so sure it's a good idea to import thousands of Muslims into the country at this particular time, President Obama said that failure to do so would represent a "betrayal of our values."

He didn't specify which ones, but he was probably referring to well-known liberal value of being so broadminded as to refuse to take one's own side in a war. Indeed, the left has effectively been fighting for the Islamists since 9-11, so it would be hypocritical to stop now.

Being that this country -- love it or hate it -- was explicitly founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, it is a little difficult to understand why giving priority to Christian refugees would betray those values. Christians throughout the Middle East are being murdered by Muslims.

By way of analogy, "in the 1930s and 40s it should have been permissible for American officials to view Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied territory differently from those of, say, non-Jewish Germans who sought to flee Europe..."

It is actually a betrayal of our values not to let these persecuted Christians jump to the head of the line.

Even -- or especially -- Muslims should be able to acknowledge that our values are not Muslim values. Consider the plight of the so-called Palestinians, who only exist because no Arab-Muslim state will absorb these pathetic refugees.

In actual practice, "Muslim values" dictate that the Palestinians remain a permanently stateless people so as to pose a mortal threat to Israel. That is why they exist. There is no Judeo-Christian analogue to weaponizing a people for the purposes of promoting genocide.

Islamic values dictate that man exists to surrender to God, and by extension, to the state. Thus, there is nothing un-Islamic per se about the Islamic state. Indeed, every Arab constitution is rooted in Sharia law, which is as it should be (if one is to embrace Muslim values).

Our values hold that government exists for us, not we for it. Prior to the separation of church and state is the separation of society and government. Our culture was a spontaneous outgrowth of our Judeo-Christian values, and the purpose of government is to protect this sphere of liberty and personal responsibility, i.e., self-governance.

Why do we have a constitution? For one reason, which bifurcates into two. That is, it is to protect us from tyranny. But tyranny comes in two forms, from the tyrant and the mob. Note that if we were actually a democracy, then no constitution would be necessary, since law would be reduced to the tyranny of the majority.

Now, does the federal government have the power to compel the states to accept foreign refugees they don't want? The question answers itself, for no one would have signed the constitution if they were signing away such a power.

As Madison wrote, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite" (in Charles, emphasis mine).

And the latter "extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state." It seems to me that the forced importation of potential terrorists touches on the latter three.

Jefferson, commenting on the above, wrote that "To take a single step beyond the boundaries" of the enumerated powers "is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to definition."

Unfortunately, that horse has long since left the barn. For example, if the federal government can force us to purchase a particular kind of health insurance, what can't it force us to do? What is the principle that protects one from the reach of the state, if it can already reach into our bodies -- if our "first property" isn't even our own?

Now, what does this all have to do with ultimate reality?

Well, one's vision of ultimate reality is necessarily the source of one's values, is it not? The real issue is that for a nihilist such as Obama, his only value is power.

And being that Professor Obama is a liberal Constitutional Scholar, he knows as well as anyone that constitutional law is defined by what you can get away with, precisely. Time and again throughout his presidency he has proven that this is a nation of law, and that the law is what he wants it to be.

But if this value of his is truly universal, it means that we too are the source of our own truth, law, and reality, so we are free to ignore this dimwitted pest.


Gagdad Bob said...

Good news: under existing federal law, we qualify as refugees from Obama:

"Under existing law, in order to qualify for refugee status in the United States an applicant must demonstrate a 'credible fear' of persecution in their home country. Isn’t it time our politicians heed the cries of 'credible fear' from Americans under threat of terrorism in our own country?"

John said...

"Indeed, the left has effectively been fighting for the Islamists since 9-11, so it would be hypocritical to stop now."
I reckon it depends on how you define 'left', but the idea that we can invade and distribute so-called democratic values to these folks is as progressive as it gets, too. The problem is two-fold-invade and invite; as is the solution--a suitcase or a coffin.

John said...

"Indeed, every Arab constitution is rooted in Sharia law, which is as it should be (if one is to embrace Muslim values)."
Including those new ones we helped create in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gagdad Bob said...

I define the left this way: as frontier
guards for the enemies of the United States

John said...

Of course, Horowitz and his ilk are the first to want to invade and distribute democracy.
Hint: they aren't like us.

julie said...

John, re. invading and spreading Western values - to be fair, there was enough precedent of it being effective in other parts of the world that most Americans, I think, genuinely believed that our idea of freedom was something for which all people have a longing. Especially the poor, the downtrodden, the perpetually persecuted, etc. We didn't just want to go to Iraq and Afghanistan to bomb them deeper into the stone age, we wanted to set them free from their evil rulers and see them flourish. But the reason this approach has worked in the past, when it has been effective, is that the cultures in question were either already Western enough or else so demoralized by the circumstances, that they were able to integrate the ideas we brought into something similar - though notably, never the same - as our own. Further, at that time we had the will to first defeat them to that point of demoralization, and then stick around long enough to help them up.

In that sense, the past decade has been an exercise in disillusionment. Unless we have the will first to utterly and unequivocally win, then to go full empire and be extremely paternalistic for as long as it takes, nation building in the muslim world is a giant waste of time.

I appreciate much better now the Old testament idea of the ban. As cruel and horrible as it was, the alternative seems to be far worse. Indeed, I suspect sometimes that we are still fighting the Amalekites...

mushroom said...

There is no Judeo-Christian analogue to weaponizing a people for the purposes of promoting genocide.

The next person who tells me, "Blaming Muslims for Paris, 9/11, Boston, et al, is like blaming Christians for Westboro Baptist" had better be well beyond arms' reach.

Amalekites -- that's exactly right -- ... barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides...

In Esther, it says that Haman was an "Agagite", with some suggesting that he was a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites, whom Saul had spared contrary to God's decree. You may pity and have mercy on Amalek, but Amalek will have no mercy on you.

John said...

That's a solid point, Julie. I would only respond that Jefferson's "all men are created equal" was outside the Biblical tradition, and squarely within a kind of false liberal universalism, that even he didn't really believe. In any case, we have had plenty of experience with the Muslim world already, and many knew and even predicted these outcomes. We have also seen this kind of clear inability to mimic Western ways in our experience with the American Indians. Demographically speaking, it will only get worse as they multiply more rapidly than their enemies. Indeed, the refugee phenomenon is really driven by the demographic change they have experienced since gaining access to Western medicine and technologies.

wild said...

"It is not hard to know God provided one does not trouble oneself to define Him" Joseph Jourbert (1754-1824)

"The history of Christianity is the most depressing study I ever undertook...I came away from it with the firm conviction that the prodigious evils which spot this record can all be traced to the attempt to organise and institutionalize something which in its nature incapable of being successfully organised or institutionalized. I can find no respectable evidence that Jesus ever contemplated either....He exhibited a way of life to be pursued for its own sake....The doing of which would establish what He called the Kingdom of Heaven, a term which as far as anyone knows, He never saw fit to explain or define. His teaching appears to have been purely individualistic....It reverted to the Jewish tradition of a particularized and bargaining God, and of a redeeming Messiah....blood sacrifice, blood atonement...an elaborate system of ritual ceremonies and a professional priesthood....If I had been at the council of Nicaea in the year 325, and Arius had told me that Jesus was not an an integral part of the Godhead, I would have asked him how he knew that." Albert Jay Nock

"Where we find wisdom, justice, loveliness, goodness, love and glory in their highest elevations and most unbounded dimensions, that is He...and a defection from these is the essence of sin and the foundation of hell." John Smith [C17th Cambridge Platonist]

wild said...

In his autobiography Eric Voegelin (in 1973) noticed that

“the fact that Cambodia has been invaded by a Communist army from North Vietnam, and that a military expedition against an invasion is not in its turn an invasion, did not deter intellectuals from falsifying the facts into an atrocious American aggression…..The examples just enumerated indicate to the historian a serious problem in the intellectual sector of American society i.e. willful divorce from reality and violent aggressiveness in the pursuit of Utopian dreams. Since this intellectual disease is not confined to journalists and television reporters but has penetrated deeply into the academic world, and through the academic world into the education of the younger generation, one must recognize in these trends a danger to democratic government”

Fast forward from the Utopian dream of Communism to the New Left dream of multiculturalism [culture (value) neutrality i.e. all cultures are equal]

If you believe something to be the case, that has consequences; on the other hand all knowing is fallible. A free society is not an Open Society it is a society committed to the assumption that there is such a thing as good and bad (better and worse) but that our understanding is in a state of continual evolution (as we discover more about the world).

I think it is reasonable for emigrants to have to accept various commitments as the price of admission to a particular society. There are (and should be) limits to toleration even in a free society.

But to what extent are these commitments Christian? Or are they Western? Or is this the same thing? Is being a Muslim incompatible with living in the West, and is that because the West is Christian or because the West is Post-Enlightenment (i.e. has progressed beyond the (bloodshed of the) C16th & C17th Wars of Religion)?

julie said...

In a sane world, someone immigrating from one country to another would be expected to adopt the culture and mores of the country to which he is immigrating. Not a particularly Christian thing, more of a general survival thing; when in Rome, etc. A Christian immigrating to Saudi (or even just visiting) does not get a pass from Saudi laws, no matter how intolerable he may find them. If he wants to stay for the long haul, he figures out how to fit in as much as possible.

In the West, we have rejected the idea that immigrants to our communities should become Westernized. This isn't a result of Christianity, it is a result of both hubris ("there's nothing special about Westerners, anyone can live like us if they come here!") and a lack of understanding of human nature. If anything, it is a result of the rejection of Christianity. Westerners assume that all people everywhere want the same (largely material) things, and if only they can have those things (here or abroad), everyone will get along more-or-less fine, no cultural assimilation required. Further, they believe that no one culture is more "valid" than another, and therefore it would be wrong to expect foreigners to act like locals. Anyway, Boys will be boys.

As to the question of whether being a Muslim is compatible with living in the West, increasingly I believe the answer is "no." To become fully Westernized - as a secular person or a Christian - would be to reject everything that Islam stands for. Muslims are making it perfectly clear that they are not here because they want to be like us, they are here to make the world into their idea of paradise. By law when necessary, and by terrorism when possible.