Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Preview of Things to Come

For those who are curious about what I mean when I say that I think Mark Shea will eventually come to the conclusion that the current administration and/or conservative establishment is so depraved that he no longer feels an obligation to grant moral asset to it, look no further:

Whatever else this is, it is not a constitutional democracy. It is a thinly-veiled military dictatorship, subject to only one control: the will of the Great Decider. And the war that justifies this astonishing attack on American liberty is permanent, without end. And check the vagueness of the language: "purposefully supported" hostilities. Could that mean mere expression of support for terror? Remember that many completely innocent people have already been incarcerated for years without trial or any chance for a fair hearing on the basis of false rumors or smears or even bounty hunters. Or could it be construed, in the rhetoric of Hannity and O'Reilly, as merely criticizing the Great Decider and thereby being on the side of the terrorists?
All I know is that al Qaeda is winning battles every week now. And they are winning them because their aim of gutting Western liberty is shared by the president of the United States. The fact that we are finding this latest, chilling stuff out now - while this horrifying bill is being rushed into law to help rescue some midterms - is beyond belief. It must be stopped, filibustered, prevented. And anyone who cares about basic constitutional freedom - conservatives above all - should be in the forefront of stopping it.

For those who are curious as to what al Qaeda actually wants to achieve, their objectives are defined by Gunaratna (Inside Al Qaeda, 2002) as "the withdrawal of US troops from Saudi Arabia and the creation there of a Caliphate ... the ouster of 'apostate rulers' of the Arabian Peninsula and thereafter the Middle East and the creation of true Islamic states ... to build a formidable array of Islamic states - including ones with nuclear capability - to wage war on the US (the 'Great Satan') and its allies." This whole notion that "if we lose our freedoms, then the terrorists have won" might be correct in some abstract sense, but certainly not in any kind of actual discussion of what al Qaeda wants to achieve.

One of the things that I want to stress throughout this whole thing is that I don't disagree on a religious basis with Mark's basic policy contention that the United States should not practice torture under any circumstances whatsoever. It's open season on public policy and prudential discussions concerning this, but I would never for a moment assert that he is not a Catholic in good standing for doing so. That is essentially what he has done to myself, Victor, and anyone else who has bothered to call him on his hyperbolic rhetoric, straw man, false triangulation, and demagogic argumentation style, ahistoricism, and above all the contemptuous self-righteousness that he hurls against anyone who dares to question him on this or any number of other subjects.

It is when reading this that I am reminded of this passage from 1 Timothy 3:1-7:

This saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the church of God?
He should not be a recent convert, so that he may not become conceited and thus incur the devil's punishment. He must also have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, the devil's trap.

Now Mark is neither a recent convert or a bishop, but unfortunately he is rapidly becoming conceited as a result of his own self-righteousness on this issue, abeit selectively so as he has yet to call down the same vitriol against Jimmy Akin or Father Neuhaus (both of whom have views on torture somewhat similar to my own and those of Senator McCain) that he does against Victor and others in the combox, comparing them to abortion supporters et al. (to which I would answer that if Mark can show me a time when the Church practiced abortion as official policy I'll be happy to shut up, otherwise he has some major indefectability issues to overcome that so far he has tap-danced around).

I expect that this is because either Mark doesn't want to offend them because they have too much clout apologetics community (extremely unlikely) or because he doesn't understand where their arguments differ from his own because neither is an enthusiastic advocate of torture. The answer to the question is simple in that neither regards torture as an intrinsic evil and both conceded (as did McCain) that there are circumstances where it might be morally licit. "Ah ha!" Mark might argue, "Now you can see the torture advocates seizing upon this as a reason to torture!" And while there are certainly people that fall into that category, the Catholic Church is not one of them unless Mark wishes to argue that the fact that slavery is not an intrinsic evil is some kind of serious argument to revive the practice.

As a parting shot, I should probably note that I probably shouldn't be expecting any better from someone who apparently has never seriously read the neocons (or Machiavelli, for that matter) that he now so stridently and self-righteously condemns, instead preferring to interpret them through the prism of Justin Raimondo, Pat Buchanan, and the rest of the gang over at The American Conservative. Therein lies the distinction to be made between a serious argument and mere demagoguery.

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