Restating The Anchoress
A few days back I proposed that the way to real dialog between the factions in this country was for each to state the other's position on America and the world in as objective manner as is possible for them, avoiding any explicit and attempting to avoid any implicit refutation of them. She, for example, could do this for me, and I could do this for her.
This did not sit well with the Anchoress and she told me shortly that she would not presume to do it. The briar patch was getting a little thorny at the time, as it does for me now and then on her comment pages, so I withdrew. She is too good a person with whom to provoke a serious quarrel.
But this casual proposal has gotten under my skin and it will not let me go. Abstractly, I think, it, or something similar, is one of the greatest things in the life of the intellect. I have thought so since my first quarter in college when I heard a graduate assistant in political science succinctly summarize a host of different views with which he personally disagreed.
He did it so well that we hadn't a clue which views he disagreed with, though he had to disagree with some of them because at one point or another they contradicted each other. In the last week of the quarter, a couple of us had him buttonholed after class and asked him outright. He told us, quietly and reluctantly, because his views were actually Marxist, and he knew that he was always a potential target of a smear campaign because of this.
The Anchoress herself writes so well and copiously that the challenge of articulating the overall views she maintains, without prejudice or any attempt to refute them with my own, is simply too good to pass up. This is so however presumptuous it may be of me to do it, and whatever failures I am responsible for in trying.
She is currently out of earshot, I suspect. So if you will keep it among ourselves, I'm going to try it.
Am I really up to the challenge of articulating the political views of my friend, with whom, on occasion, I have disagreed with so sharply? Can I actually step beyond my own strong opinions and present her views fairly. I am willing to fail, so I am willing to try. And, as long as the reader doesn't demand that I write as well as she does, I might possibly succeed.
The task is made easier by the fact that the Anchoress is a very devout Catholic, so she shares in that great theological and intellectual tradition of putting first things first. The ground of the Anchoress' views is her faith in the Incarnation, the Ressurection, the Real Presence, and the Authority of the Church. This last is particularly important because it colors all social and political relations of a believing Catholic far more directly than the preceding dogmas, and, sooner or later, presents any Catholic with dilemmas of private opinion that lead to silence about some issues.
With most deeply religious people, the core of their social and political awareness is centered in the life and death issues that are personal, rather than in outside abstract principles--matters of the soul rather than the mind. The Anchoress, I think, is no exception. So I think it can be said first that the Anchoress' political views start from her religious and her moral opposition to abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia as secular evils.
This is grounded in her faith, but goes beyond it. She believes that these evils are part of a broader general Culture Of Death, based in moral relativism, and propagated by the people she calls the "deatheaters". And she has stated quite explicitly that the most important of them is former president Bill Clinton.
This culture of death extends beyond the issues of societal killing, first in the direction of Progressive and Liberal social views, which are both enfeebling to individual moral responsibility and ineffective economically and socially. Therefore, they are dangerous both to the personal well-being of citizens and to the societal well-being as a whole. She calls this broad phenomenon Socialism Doesn't Work.
Moreover, the culture of death is also suicidal in relation to the need to make "just war" [quotation from the Catechism 2309-2317] against any true and dangerous enemy, and, particularly, in the Anchoress' view, just war against Radical Islam. This includes, but is not limited to, specific groups committed to secular terror, such as Al Queda, or its former components and future progeny.
Radical Islam also includes the fundamentalists such as the Wahabi's in Saudi, the Taliban, and the Iranian Shite theocracy.
Radical Islam further includes all Palestinians, who actually have no real grievances to speak of against Israel. This last is sufficiently broad and is uncharacteristic enough with the Anchoress' private personality as revealed on other, non-political issues, to warrant my including a little evidence. In a recent post the Anchoress quotes, with at least implicit endorsement, the following from Astute Blogger:
If Sharon passes away tonight, he can go with a satisfaction of forcing the Palestinians themselves to prove themselves unworthy of the world's concern.
I think the Anchoress would stop short of saying that Islam as a whole is inherently Radical and, therefore, a constant enemy against whom to make just war. This is the view, I believe, of our mutual friend Alexandra, of All Things Beautiful. But I think the Anchoress has at least considered the possibility of it and is, for now, suspending judgment, awaiting things such as the ultimate success of democracy in Iraq to self-evidently prove this view to be wrong.
The suicidal aspect of the Leftist Culture Of Death, which is directly traceable to its vision of universal social welfare, consists of three parts:
First, there is the selfishness and self-centeredness which drives the demand of a "right to choose" to procreate or not while still sustaining a sexual life. This is leading Radical Islam to outbreed the rest of us.
Second, is the demand to stop any and all military action, covert operations, and suspension of civil liberties implicitly necessary for the war against Radical Islam, and to let Radical Islam conquer us.
Third, and deepest of all, a strain of moral weakness known as "multiculturalism", consisting of a refusal by Leftists to assert the cultural primacy of Europe and the European Diaspora, at least in those parts of the world whose populations embody a European majority, perhaps even worldwide, though this is only implicit in the Anchoress' views.
Finally, the institutions which are the prime centers of the culture of death are most universities, as well as those major newspapers and media outlets which are not clearly conservative in political tone or political thought. This includes both the explicitly Liberal publications, such as The Nation or The American Prospect, and the major market networks, broadcast and cable, as well as most of the major market newspapers, newspaper syndicates, and virtually all wire services.
There is relatively little historical sense in the Anchoress' writings about how and why such a total takeover of all of these by this one point of view occurred, but the takeover itself is a self-evident fact, and it has led the worst of them, The New York Times, to the edge of unpatriotic and anti-American lawbreaking, and perhaps beyond it.
The Anchoress is a tremendously important blogger. In the recent Weblog Awards she was voted the second best Conservative blog. I think, unquestionably, she should have been voted first. But she is important not just because she is so good a writer and so articulate a spokesperson for a coherent Catholic Conservative view of life.
She is also part of a broader cultural phenomenon: those conservatives, especially women, who self-identify as disaffected Democrats, or disaffected Liberals. There is an important and universal "conversion experience" that extends to most of them. For many of them this change of heart dates from the shock of 9/11, though the Anchoress dates her own, I believe, to far back in the Reagan Administration. I think it is by far the most important political phenomenon of the past twenty-five years. But this is not about what I think. It is about what I think the Anchoress thinks, so I'll requote the pithy saying which she quotes that embodies it all, "A Conservative is a Liberal who has been mugged."
Finally, and perhaps most importantly in a religious sense, the Anchoress draws a clear distinction between hatred and anger, particularly justified and justifiable anger, and is quite explicit about the religious meaning of both:
The judge is quite wrong. HATE corrodes the soul. Anger, when it is righteous anger, is a force for justice and reform and even redemption.
This is the spirit, I think, in which she undertakes all her political blogging.