Monday, April 22, 2013
Children Belong to Parents, Not Government
My wife, Karen, and I are blessed with seven children, including one little girl with very special needs, Bella. There are many days when we are overwhelmed or dead-tired or frustrated or all of the above. I'm sure all parents can relate. It's just part of being a parent. But like millions of Americans, we also know it's the most important job we ever will have.
In 2005, I wrote a book, called "It Takes a Family," about the importance of a strong family in raising children and imparting virtue. The title was in contrast to a well-known book Hillary Clinton wrote, "It Takes a Village," which offered a very different approach to raising children. She believes, as many on the left do, that the family is secondary to institutions and governments when it comes to looking after the interests of children. Karen and I disagree. We believe in the primacy of families and have worked throughout our careers on creating and promoting policies and ideas that make stronger families. The fact is that without stable families as the bedrock, our country will fracture and collapse.
Since those books were published, we have seen an expansion of at times well-meaning early-childhood programs and laws that subtly replace parental responsibility and discretion with government indoctrination and edict. Well, if MSNBC's latest offering is any indication, it appears the left feels that the need for subtlety has passed. Last week, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor at Tulane University, said in a network promotion spot: "We haven't had a very collective notion of, 'These are our children.' ... We have to break through our ... private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it's everybody's responsibility and not just the household's, then we start making better investments."
So we go from telling the small-business man that "you didn't build that" to telling parents that "they don't belong to you!" It harks back to Marxism's trumping of the family in favor of the state. It's only a matter of time before we hear another MSNBC promotion message advocating the construction of collectives for children to be properly indoctrinated.
And though Harris-Perry's comments made some news and upset many, another case has not gotten the attention it deserves and is equally troubling. The Romeike family came to the United States from Germany a few years ago seeking political asylum. You see, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children are Christians, and they believe strongly that the textbooks used in German public schools teach against their values. However, in Germany, families must send their children to government schools. They refused and taught them at home instead. After suffering fines, threats of prison and having the police come and forcibly take their kids to school, the Romeikes left everything behind and came to the U.S., where they were granted asylum.
Subsequently, the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the asylum and ordered them to be deported back to Germany. Later this month, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case. You may be surprised to learn that the Obama administration decided to weigh in on this case by filing a brief in the case advocating the deportation of the Romeikes. The president argued that there is no fundamental human right to educate your own children.
So it's not just MSNBC that thinks that your child's rearing belongs to the state. The president, like so many on the left, believes that the state should form the hearts and minds of our youths so they think the way the government wants them to think.
More than 100,000 signatures have been collected on a petition on the White House website from citizens who support the Romeikes' case. I have no illusions that Attorney General Eric Holder will alter his brief or that President Obama will change his mind on who can best raise children. However, I ask you to sign the petition, titled "Immediate Action Requested for Romeikes -- Grant Permanent Legal Status to Persecuted German Homeschool Family," to at least let the Romeikes -- and millions of others who look to America as the one place where dictators and bureaucrats don't control everything -- know that our president does not speak for you or America.
Southern Poverty Law Center Gets Rich By Selling Fear
While the media cheer the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats as they exploit the Newtown school massacre to push laws that would hamper law-abiding citizens, they won’t connect some more obvious dots to another shooting.
On August 15, 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II, a volunteer with a homosexual activist group, entered the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. with a self-confessed aim to commit mass murder and then smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches into his victims’ faces.
He was stopped only because courageous building manager Leo Johnson, who took a bullet that shattered his arm, managed to subdue and disarm Mr. Corkins.
On February 6, Mr. Corkins pleaded guilty to three felonies: committing an act of terrorism while armed, interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition (he bought the gun in Virginia), and assault with intent to kill while armed. At a sentencing hearing on April 29, he faces up to 70 years in prison.
What? You didn’t hear about this? Maybe it’s because a hate-filled activist trying to murder Christians doesn’t fit the media narrative of Christians as bigots and their opponents as Care Bears.
A key aspect of the lightly reported story is the role of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an ultra-rich “civil rights” group. Mr. Corkins told investigators that he got the idea of attacking FRC from the SPLC’s website. He also had the address of the D.C.-based Traditional Values Coalition, another group listed on the SPLC’s “hate map.”
Since the shooting, FRC President Tony Perkins has called on the SPLC to remove legitimate Christian groups from the “hate map” and its list of “hate” organizations. Others listed include the American Family Association and Coral Ridge Ministries (now Truth In Action Ministries).
The common thread is biblically-based opposition to homosexual behavior and the defense of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. To the SPLC, the First Amendment still protects pastors who quote the Bible, but not those in the public square who argue for morality. This would include anyone who questions ideologically-driven “studies” that “prove” gender is merely a social construct.
It’s bad enough that the SPLC won’t edit its “hate map” despite a correlation to actual violence, but it’s scarier that the U.S. Justice Department since the Clinton era has been using SPLC as its authority to determine what constitutes a “hate group.”
In her article “King of Fearmongers” in the April 15 Weekly Standard, writer Charlotte Allen bells the cat, describing the SPLC as:
“… a civil-rights behemoth bursting with donor cash … the SPLC started out fighting legal battles against lingering segregation in the South. More recently—and more lucratively, its critics say—it has transformed itself into an all-purpose antihate crusader, labeling 1,007 different organizations across America at last count as ‘anti-gay,’ ‘white nationalist,’ ‘anti-Muslim,’ ‘anti-immigrant,’ or just plain hateful (one SPLC category is ‘general hate’).
“The SPLC put the FRC on its list of ‘anti-gay’ organizations in 2010, and the SPLC’s ‘Hate Map’ page, whose banner displays men in Nazi-style helmets giving Sieg Heil salutes, lists the FRC among 14 hate groups headquartered in the District of Columbia.”
Like the American Civil Liberties Union, the SPLC threatens people and groups with litigation that they cannot afford to fight. A prime example is the SPLC’s “consumer fraud” lawsuit in New Jersey filed recently against a small group, Jews Offering New Alternatives of Healing, which helps people overcome same-sex temptations. The idea is to criminalize such counseling, as California legislators have done, pending a judge’s injunction. This is the Left’s idea of tolerance and diversity.
Mark Potok, the SPLC’s oft-quoted spokesman and editor of its Intelligence Report and Hatewatch blog, maintains a prolific flow of fear mongering, to apparent great effect. The SPLC’s false characterizations are finding their way into strategic places. On April 5, Fox News’ Todd Starnes reported that, last year, “a U.S. Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania.”
On April 9, Mr. Starnes reported that an officer at Fort Campbell, Kentucky sent an email, drawing from the SPLC site, that slams Focus on the Family and includes the Family Research Council and the American Family Association (AFA) alongside Fred Phelps’ notorious Westboro Baptist Church in a list of “anti-gay hate groups.”
The e-mail, which the Army claims is an isolated incident, included this guilt-by-association characterization:
“The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies.… One of those has been defamation. Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling….”
Talk about defamation. Anyone familiar with these groups (I have worked for two of them) knows this is a flat-out lie.
The good news is that the SPLC’s lucrative run could be grinding to a halt, according to Mrs. Allen:
“There may soon come a day when the SPLC’s donation-generating machine, powered by [founder Morris] Dees’s mastery of the use of ‘hate’ to coax dollars from the highly educated and the highly gullible, finally breaks down. That is why, according to [SPLC President Richard] Cohen, the SPLC has no intention of soon spending down much of that $256 million in stockpiled assets that has earned the center an ‘F’ rating from CharityWatch.
“‘Those 1960s liberals—they’re getting older, and the post office is dying. We’re likely to be out of the fundraising business within 10 years,’” Mr. Cohen told Mrs. Allen.
The Southern Poverty Law Center once did good work, keeping track of the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, skinheads and other real hate groups.
By refusing to de-list Christian organizations like FRC and AFA, however, the SPLC is engaging in the very activity that it once effectively decried.
Why isn’t Congress investigating federal agencies’ reliance on the SPLC?
The name of “Russell Kirk” is heard seldom, if ever, in conservative circles today. This is tragic, and maybe even a bit scandalous, for as William F. Buckley—a person whose name is well known—once said, it “is inconceivable even to imagine, let alone hope for, a dominant conservative movement in America without [Kirks’] labor.”
Given all of the current talk over the need for a reawakening to conservative “principles,” we are in need of Kirk’s guidance today more than ever.
The author of 32 books and legions of essays, this World War II veteran was a college educator, novelist, intellectual historian, and political theorist. At Buckley’s request, Kirk helped to found National Review, a publication to which he contributed for many years. He also founded his own magazine, Modern Age. Kirk gave over 60 lectures to the Heritage Foundation, where he was a Distinguished Fellow, and was very much involved with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. In 1989, five years before his illustrious life came to a close, Kirk was granted the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan.
Conservatism, Kirk explained, is neither a doctrine nor a dogma, but “a way of looking at the civil social order.” Still, from looking at the “leading conservative writers and public men” from “the past two centuries,” Kirk gathered ten principles that distinguish conservatism as the intellectual tradition that it is.
First, there is “an enduring moral order” of both “the soul” and “the commonwealth.” It is at our peril, conservatives insist, that we ignore this order.
Second, “custom, convention, and continuity” constitute the glue that keeps us together.
Custom “enables people to live together peaceably,” convention helps us “to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties,” and continuity “is the means of linking generation to generation.”
Third, prescription—“things established by immemorial usage”—is the stuff of which a flourishing civil society is made.
Since we are not likely “to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics,” since we are “dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than [our] ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time,” we are best served by following the prescriptions of thousands of generations.
Fourth, prudence is a cardinal virtue.
Change is needed if society is to preserve itself, but prudence demands that we attend to it cautiously, and only after considerable reflection. “Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.”
Fifth, variety is both necessary and desirable.
Conservatives “feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life [.]” On the other hand, they abhor “the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems.”
The sixth principle is that of human imperfectability.
Because human beings suffer “irremediably from certain grave faults,” the best “that we reasonably can expect is a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk.”
Seventh, freedom and property are indissolubly linked.
“Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built,” Kirk writes. He adds: “Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan [the government] becomes master of all.”
Eighth, “voluntary community” is as essential to the civil order as “involuntary collectivism” is destructive of it.
Duty and virtue are learned within our local communities—our “little platoons,” as “the patron saint” of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke, famously called them. But when, “in the name of an abstract Democracy, the functions of community are transferred to distant political direction,” this centralization of authority and power proves “hostile to freedom and human dignity.”
Ninth, there must be “prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.”
Kirk notes that “political power” must be “balanced” so as to prevent both “anarchy” and “tyranny,” both the unbounded will of the individual and that of any group. To this end, “constitutional restrictions, political checks and balances, adequate enforcement of the laws,” and “the old intricate web of restraints upon will and appetite” are indispensable.
The tenth and final principle of the conservative attitude concerns the affirmation and harmonizing of “permanence and change” in “a vigorous society.”
Kirk succinctly summarizes this principle when he writes: “The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism.”
If today’s conservatives are serious about wanting to return to “the roots” of their tradition, then they have no option but to familiarize themselves with Russell Kirk.
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Posted by JR at 12:34 AM