Arimathea
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Philosophy
All wisdom begins in wonder, and this delight kindles a desire for truth that leads us on a quest for the really real -- the source of being itself. Hence, the philosophical impulse, albeit often manifested in atheistic and irreverent stumblings in the dark of human ignorance, begins and ultimately ends in theology -- communicating and communing with our origin and goal. We men are rational animals who seek to know. We are agents of truth who want correct answers to questions that we must ask. From the noblest objects of contemplation to the seemingly insignificant everyday trivialities of life, we attempt to unravel perplexing knots. Limited, blind, and distracted, we nevertheless struggle for wisdom. This is our lot, and it is also our glory.
Thursday, September 30, A.D. 2010
Our Fine College Nihilists

The news sites are sharing the horrific story of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly recorded and broadcast over the internet a sexual encounter that Clementi had with another male student: “Rutgers VP Never Seen Anything Like Student Suicide Over Roommate’s Spying.” The roommate, Dharun Ravi, and his friend, Molly Wei, decided that it would be amusing to record Clementi’s intimate activities and share them with the world. Ravi even invited people over Twitter to watch the broadcast, as if publishing it online were not enough malice.

What we see here is another example of how soulless, self-absorbed, and morally bankrupt much of the next generation is. Of course, it would be unfair to paint all American youth as amoral, subhuman monsters because of the wretched callousness of Ravi and Wei. However, my own experience suggests that the trend is unfortunately headed in their direction. Did it not occur to the two students that their actions could reasonably lead to the tragedy that has happened? If not, then why not? For it seems that this new breed of entitled hedonists, so rampant on campus today, sees the whole world of other people as mere material for twisted enjoyment. It is truly frightening to me—something akin, perhaps, to Augustine’s experience with the stolen pears. On the surface, Ravi and Wei may seem like normal, decent kids. Yet, to have done what they did suggests abysmal deficiencies in their character—a perplexing and horrifying glimpse of wickedness, uneasily so close and so unthreateningly wrapped in the guise of young and intelligent Asian American students. For how did it seem acceptable to these two supposedly bright university students to humiliate another person in such a disgraceful way? We presumably cannot even attribute it to vengeance, as they had just met. They are freshmen, and it is the beginning of the academic year.

Admittedly, I am completely ignorant of the situation other than what has been reported in the press, but Ravi and Wei come across in the articles as quite depraved, having reduced someone’s sexuality and the complicated consequences that follow from sexual deviancy to a matter of humor. Clementi was a toy for their day’s fun. They are like the bullies in Stephen King’s Carrie, only without the well earned deserts fitting for a teen horror flick.

Another troubling sign of cultural bankruptcy emerges in the press articles. Ravi’s moronic friend, Michael Zhuang, defends Ravi’s action by saying that he would have done the same thing had Clementi been involved with a female—as if possible homophobia were the only objectionable thing about his behavior: “He’s very, very open minded . . . and he, like if it had been a girl in the room it wouldn’t have been any different.” Hence, Ravi must be a fine, socially enlightened young man if he is willing to treat heterosexuals and homosexuals equally viciously. What a defense!

Lawrence Auster regularly points out bizarre statements such as these to show what underlying philosophical pathology festers in the modern soul. Consider the odd use of the passive voice in crime reporting (“Knives on crime spree across Britain”) or examine the frequent and alarming expression by friends and family of a victim that the victim “didn’t deserve” whatever horrible crime the victim suffered—as if someone else would deserve it. Auster thinks that this tendency is noticeable especially in black on white crime, with the subtext being that the victim did not deserve such savage treatment at the hands of blacks because the victim was not a racist. This implies, of course, that racists deserve to be mauled by negro wildings, and I have encountered that very opinion on countless occasions and held by all sorts of people. See Auster’s “The latest wiping out of a defenseless white by a black predator,” “Black pack attacks 13 year old, breaks the bones of his face, threaten his eyesight,” and “Barnard student (a fan of gangsta rap) attacked while jogging alone in Riverside Park.”

Similarly, Michael Zhuang’s odd statement suggests that he finds no fault in his buddy’s crude disregard of his roommate’s privacy, reputation, or dignity, as long as he did not engage in prejudiced discrimination against certain pet groups. There you have it, dear America, the degenerate Left’s moral code.

The entire episode is outrageous and repulsive! Both of those students should have to apologize in person to each friend and family member from Clementi’s life, in addition to whatever harsh legal punishments and civil lawsuits come their most deserving way. I would like to believe that the two will mature and become better people through the suffering and guilt that they must now feel. Yet, I wonder if such folks even experience guilt. If they were concerned about Clementi or about what was right, they never would have been such vipers in the first place.

In all of this, I do not think that they are legally responsible for Clementi’s death. His choice to kill himself was his own, and I find it problematic to trace the responsibility for sin beyond the agent. However, they have fully and willfully participated in the intentional harming of another, and though the result was perhaps worse than what they had intended—or failed to intend—I think that they are morally tainted by his death. May they work out their salvation.

As for Clementi’s family and friends, I cannot imagine what they are going through. May they and Clementi himself find peace. For the Lord’s ways are inscrutable.

Update: Auster and his commentators discuss the Rutgers issue: “The meaning of the Rutgers suicide.”

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, September 30, Anno Domini 2010
AnthropologyEthicsPoliticsCommentsPermalink
Wednesday, September 29, A.D. 2010
Progressivism: The Snobbery of Chronology

Peter Kreeft has a fine article on Patheos about one of the most pernicious and foolishly unthinking assumptions of our age: “Progressivism: The Snobbery of Chronology.” The little essay is worth your reading. Here is an excerpt of its simple truth:

To judge any change as progressive or regressive, we must eventually ask ourselves the Big Question: what is our final end, goal, purpose, “summum bonum” or greatest good. We must ask nothing less than the question of “the meaning of life,” however unfashionable that question has become. If we don’t have a clear vision of the ultimate finish line, we can’t even know whether we’re running toward it or away from it.

Of course, of course, but so many so often fail to see the obvious.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, September 29, Anno Domini 2010
AnthropologyMetaphysicsPoliticsCommentsPermalink
Monday, September 20, A.D. 2010
The Party of Lincoln and the Fenty Affair

Normally, I find leftist attacks on Republicans ridiculous without being funny. Sometimes, though, even the blind manage to travel the path correctly. I found the following image rather amusing.

Speaking of politics, Steve Sailer has some interesting posts about the recent Democratic primary election in D.C., where Mayor Fenty, the candidate favored by the city’s new white yuppies, lost to an old time D.C. local establishment guy, Vince Gray. So, now the city will have another colored man in the top seat. By that, I do not mean black; after all, they’re all black. Rather, I mean the recent crop of Oranges, Greens, Grays, and Browns to dominate campaign signs throughout the city. Anyway, the election reminds us of how unfit the District’s population is for self government. After Marion Barry—who remains to this day on the city council—was re-elected to be mayor after his imprisonment and after his much corruption was exposed, my friend Andrew remarked that the city’s residents ought to have their suffrage revoked. Well, you may read Sailer’s “DC voters: Adrian Fenty: Not black enough; Michelle Rhee: Extremely not black enough” and “DC Election: Blacks v. Journolistas” for additional evidence to limit the franchise. Do not miss the Sailer’s comments section about Courtland Milloy’s gem of an article, especially this one:

white man-black wife said…

Whenever the hi-yalla elite lapses into Stephen Foster dialect as Mr. Milloy does, there is some existential challenge to their blackness. Black-speak is one way of proving their bona fides.

When you see guys who normally speak like Harvard PhD’s doing the fist-bumping “‘sup, brutha” stuff, you know (1) they are trying to get back in the good graces of other black folk, or (2) there is a status battle between black males and one is trying to “out-n*gg*r” the other.

As a white man, I am always fascinated when this appears at my black wife’s family gatherings.

She and her family have spoken accentless Middle American for at least two generations now, so whenever a black male or female goes into dialect it is worthy of analysis.

Consider Milloy.

He has championed Rhee and Fenty for at least a couple years now. (Read his previous columns).

He now sees that Fenty and Rhee have been rejected by the black lower class and lower middle class.

Either Milloy can (1) continue to support Fenty and Rhee and be excommunicated from the black community, or (2) he can tuck his tail between his legs and join the chorus of black LC/LMC voices.

He has chosen the latter and hammers it home by adopting black-speak.

Can we blame him? From his vantage point there really is no reason to chivvy poor black folks to “ack white” and support the job-killing DC overhaul of Rhee and Fenty.

Why should he risk losing his status among ghetto dwellers by telling them uncomfortable truths when (1) his success at persuading them to “ack white” will only generate competition for his own children, and(2) his failure to persuade them to “ack white” will lose him his job and readership?

Putting it more bluntly, seeing which way the wind is blowing, why should he risk being the Fenty or Rhee (or Clarence Thomas!) of the Washington Post?

Black voices for personal responsibility, hard work, and no more bastards will always be faint.

They will always be quick to turn tail and run.

As members of the hi-yalla elite it really is not to their advantage to rescue poor, feckless, irresponsible blacks.

Men are an odd lot. I wonder how long the political marriage of white “progressives” and blacks will last. It was always a strange and perverse relationship—one of utility rather than true friendship.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, September 20, Anno Domini 2010
Politics • (1) CommentPermalink
Wednesday, September 15, A.D. 2010
In Support of Derek Fenton

Auster discusses Koran burner Derek Fenton, who lost his job at New Jersey Transit following his political protest on his own time: “The Koran burner of downtown Manhattan loses his job,” followed by “Different opinions on Derek Fenton’s firing by New Jersey Transit.” I expressed my position in a letter that I sent to the head of N.J. Transit, James Weinstein:

Dear Mr. Weinstein,

I trust that you, as Executive Director of New Jersey Transit, are aware of Mr. Fenton’s firing after his Koran burning protest over the weekend. Regardless of what we may think of Mr. Fenton’s ideas or actions, he did not (as far as I know from the press reports) perform his protest as an employee but as an American citizen, on his own time, and in his own capacity. As far as I understand, he did nothing illegal either. Therefore, how is it justifiable for your organization to fire him based on private actions that he did on his own time? Such appears to me to be such a corporate overreach that it negates the very freedom of speech that we hold so dear as Americans.

Moreover, I strongly suspect that New Jersey Transit is not applying its policies equally. If the organization has such “high” ethical standards that it concerns itself with what its employees do on their own time and in their own name, then clearly the entire workforce at New Jersey Transit must have spotless police records. New Jersey Transit’s workers must never have engaged in controversial political protests or behavior—involving, for example, seditious speech at antiwar rallies in the past decade, mockery of or indeed threats against the former U.S. president, desecration of American civic symbols, or participation in far left labor and Communist affiliated rallies. Lastly, no workers attended any political or artistic events that could be seen as sacrilegious to one of the world’s major religions. Surely not!

Mr. Weinstein, I ask that the you look into the matter and see that Mr. Fenton is treated fairly even though his political views contrast sharply with the dominant opinion. From the outside, it certainly appears otherwise.

I never received a response.

I disagree with some of Auster’s commentators that a business should be able to fire you for what you legally do on your own time and in your own name, with certain qualifications.* Were we to treat employment relations as strictly voluntary, then I would agree that a business should be able to fire anyone at anytime for any reason. All employment relations would be “at will,” unless certain contractual agreements were made by both the employer and the employee, which then must be honored. However, there are all sorts of worker protection and anti-discrimination laws, and I see it as very inconsistent to have these constraints on firing while permitting non-job related firing of the sort involving Mr. Fenton. Ideally, employment would always be about voluntary, contractual agreements between an employer who wants a job done and an employee who wants a job with a wage. Of course, in mass society, that puts a lot of power in the hands of an employer to take advantage of an employee. Unions are supposed to level the sides by giving the individual worker more weight, but labor unions have long ceased their rational function and have become leftist armies who would not help a man such as Mr. Fenton who had upset the multiculturalist political allies of “organized labor.” Therefore, what recourse do decent hard working Americans have when all the powerful institutions in American society are conspiring to transform the free American people into silent, obedient Mandarins that cower before the establishment Left? Will it come to revolution?

* Obviously, a business cannot afford to compromise its ability to function. Therefore, a day care would be within its rights to fire a known porn star and a junior high school would be within its rights to fire a N.A.M.B.L.A. activist. Some folks think that the Fenton case falls within these lines, but then such a position condemns the United States to surrender to sharia. For it privileges the readily offended sensibilities of Mohammedans over traditional Americans’ right to reject openly the aliens’ religion and their civilization of conquest. Such is an additional reminder that free, civil society is only possible in a rather homogenous society united in values and loyalties.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, September 15, Anno Domini 2010
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