Ten years ago, when I was a much younger man, What’s Wrong with the World appealed to me as an editor because it was ecumenical. That is to say, we all agreed on the core doctrines of Christianity (let us say, for simplicity, the Apostles Creed) while preserving without apology our differences in detail. Meanwhile, the keystone of our firm unity lay in our opposition: to the liberal spirit of the age, which among other outrages exposes our most vulnerable people to extra-legal execution, and denies the clear facts of mammalian biology; and to the marching might of the Islamic religion, with its endorsement of assassination, treachery and terror in the service of God.
Of those ten years it is difficult to compose a summary. Things have changed.
We are conservatives who kind of miss the dignity that Barack Obama displayed in the White House; we are Catholics who look askance at the Pope; we are Americans who wonder just what all the fuss over the “war on terror” was about, when simply stating the details of Islamic doctrine on war and subjugation is borderline illegal.
But I state this emphatically: it is not our hatred that animates us, though we do hate the devil and all his works. No: It’s our gratitude.
We are grateful for our country, for the liberty of our churches, for our friendships, our cities and towns and companies, our prosperity and legal right to the capital we earn by the sweat of our brows; more broadly we are grateful for our solidarity in these trying times with Americans of all walks across this wide land. We stand for the National Anthem but have some sympathy with men who, in good conscience, cannot.
We are a corporation of writers, grateful that we may write freely, and by our words fight against pernicious and servile ideas; we fight against certain things, precisely because we love and want to preserve certain other things.
We have gained a lot of enemies and lost a few friends. We grieve the loss of friends but will have no truck with the bizarre simulacrums of conservatism that have risen in recent years. We do not believe that Jews are responsible for any particular wickedness in the world. We do not believe that husbands should game their wives. We do not believe that vulgarity can stand in for effective polemics. We do not believe that non-whites are anything less than human, or, when American, anything less than American through and through. We reject the “science” of human differentiation by denigration.
The President who left office in January was, by comparison in personal life, twice the man of the current occupant of the White House. None of us voted for either of them.
The old verities still stand: the United States Constitution is a very fine document, eminently worthy of our admiration and obedience. The Preamble is a particularly brilliant summary. The First Amendment to that Constitution should govern our relations, civilly. The Second Amendment should govern our relations when civility fails. The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments protect our liberties, and have been grievously violated by police and prosecutors across the country. The Tenth Amendment is a dead letter but nevertheless a superb statement on self-government to which we should all subscribe.
Private enterprise is a legitimate activity. It is the duty of government to secure property rights and only deprive men of the same by fair prosecution at law (even if you mouthed off to the cops.) Health is a gift not at right. Married couples should not be separated absent grievous and extraordinary circumstances. Only a man and a woman may marry.
St. Paul’s views on sexual ethics are sound. That people who affirm this have had their businesses and livelihood destroyed is a stain on our nation. Nevertheless, we Christians are to live peaceably with all. All sin should be renounced and repented of, in sincerity and contrition.
What we stood by in 2007 we stand by today, though the constellation of forces has changed. As Bob Dylan put it, we’re standing on the gallows with our head in the noose, but any minute now we’re expecting all hell to break loose.
—Paul Cella, for the Editors