More Good Stuff from WSJ

America’s Covid Groupthink Functioned Like China’s Repression

Marching in ideological lockstep is less forgivable in a society where one has a choice in the matter.

By Gerard Baker

June 7, 2021

What we eventually learn about the origins of Covid-19 may implicate China’s government in failure and falsehood on a grand scale. But before we get too carried away with the endemic failures of the communist order, we should ponder that the episode has exposed layers of rottenness in critical institutions of American civil society that are similarly damning.

China’s officials may well be culpable of a combination of incompetence, recklessness and deceit. But in an authoritarian regime, they might not have had much individual agency in the matter. In this country, scientists, bureaucrats, journalists and executives of Big Tech companies suppressed the story not out of fear of imprisonment or death, but of their own volition, out of ideological or even venal motives. You may well ask: Whose culpability is greater?

It’s not simply that the lab-leak theory was “debunked,” as news organizations repeatedly told us when anyone tried to raise it a year ago. It wasn’t even permitted to be considered. Discussion of the topic was deliberately extinguished on tech platforms, in the respectable scientific journals and in newsrooms.

Some highly influential figures in the “scientific community” were the first to block serious consideration of the thesis that the viral pathogens escaped from a Chinese government laboratory.

Letters in the Lancet and Nature in the early days of the pandemic from an impressive constellation of experts dismissed the lab-leak idea, and in the case of the former, denounced it as a conspiracy theory.

Thanks to a recent release of emails under the Freedom of Information Act, we now know that some of the scientists dismissing the idea had themselves expressed concerns that the zoonotic explanation they were publicly championing might not be right. We also know that in the case of the Lancet letter, some of the correspondents were involved in similar research and had a strong professional interest in denying the possibility of an engineered virus.

Scientists differ in their methods and conclusions—and do so in good faith. It’s possible some believed there was a genuine scientific basis for rejecting challenges to the official Chinese version of events. But this dismissal of the lab-leak idea is of a piece with the politicization of science that’s been a feature of the last few years. The obsession with debunking anything Donald Trump said and the fear of being accused of racism undoubtedly colored the judgment of many whose job is to consider only the empirical evidence.

Last year, many scientists beclowned themselves by bowing to the prevailing political pieties with their absurd assertion that taking part in protests on behalf of Black Lives Matter was literally salubrious, whereas taking part in protests against lockdowns was lethally reckless.

If too many American scientists failed to help us get a proper understanding of the origins of Covid, they seem to have been abetted by like-minded people in the permanent bureaucracy. Emails to and from Anthony Fauci uncovered last week show that while there were some genuinely diligent officials determined to get to the truth, too many in positions of power seemed keen to stamp out a proper investigation.

As Katherine Eban reported in Vanity Fair last week, officials from two separate bureaus in the State Department warned against a proper investigation for fear of opening a “can of worms.”

Again we have good grounds to suspect that officials in a bureaucracy that had already undermined Donald Trump’s presidency with baseless allegations about Russian collusion seemed intent on suppressing any suggestion, however well-supported it might be, that Trump officials might be right about a critical issue of state.

Yet the largest responsibility for the failure to consider in a timely fashion the lab-leak theory lies with the media.

Journalists were once marked by their curiosity. Now the only thing that’s curious about many of them is their lack of curiosity when a story doesn’t fit their priors.

Instead of pursuing the tantalizing suggestion that the official Chinese and World Health Organization account might not be true, they simply signed onto it and dismissed anyone who didn’t as a kook or a xenophobe. Their ideological cousins in Silicon Valley then firmly shut the door on the story by blocking access to articles that didn’t fit the approved version.

In each field—science, government, media and tech—there were surely independent-minded people who did seek the truth. But they were no match for the groupthink and coverup.

It seems increasingly likely that Chinese officials mishandled research and misrepresented and misinformed the public. But they did so under pain of punishment, even death, in a system designed to suppress that kind of information.

In this country, constitutionally protected, free and independent scientists, bureaucrats, journalists and others did the same. What’s their excuse?

An Important Read from WSJ today

It’s a Travesty to Compare the Capitol Siege to 9/11

More than 3,000 children never saw their parents again. On Jan. 6, Congress returned within hours.

By Debra Burlingame

May 27, 2021

Democratic lawmakers want to establish a “9/11-style commission” to investigate the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6. “I would like to see Jan. 6 burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11, because it was that scale of a shock to the system,” commentator George Will said recently. The attempt to reconfigure the “domestic terrorist” narrative to fit the horrifying story of Sept. 11 is profoundly disheartening. These two events are fundamentally different in nature, scope and consequences. Mentioning them in the same breath not only diminishes the horror of what happened on 9/11; it tells a false story to the generation of Americans who are too young to remember that day nearly 20 years ago.

My brother, Charles “Chic” Burlingame, was the pilot of American Airlines flight 77. He was murdered in his cockpit at age 51 in a 6½-minute struggle for control of the airplane. Here is what I want these young people to know:

Members of Congress might have had a frightening day on Jan. 6, but on 9/11 some 200 people in the World Trade Center towers chose to jump from 80 to 100 floors above the ground rather than be consumed by fire. A woman waiting at a lobby elevator bank was burned over 82% of her body when jet fuel from the first plane sent a ball of fire down the elevator shaft and into the lobby. She spent three months in a hospital burn unit and was permanently disfigured.

There are countless harrowing stories like this—of death, destruction and heartbreaking loss. More than 3,000 children lost parents. Eight young children were killed on the planes. Recovery personnel found 19,000 human remains scattered all over lower Manhattan from river to river, including on rooftops and window ledges. Victims’ remains were still being recovered years later by utility workers and construction crews. Some families received so many notifications of remains that they couldn’t take it any more and asked for them to stop. More than 1,100 families received nothing. Their loved ones went to work that morning and disappeared.

The attack brought down our nationwide aviation system, shut down the New York Stock Exchange for days, destroyed or rendered uninhabitable 16 acres of Lower Manhattan including underground subway and commuter train lines and destroyed a section of the Pentagon. Rebuilding at ground zero is still incomplete, and U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan.

On Jan. 6, Congress resumed its session that evening.

It is deeply offensive and sad that the brutal and harrowing memories of the worst terrorist attack in American history are being deployed by political partisans. They are using 9/11 not as an example of what the American people endured and overcame together, but explicitly to divide, to stoke hatred and to further a political agenda aimed at stigmatizing the other party and marginalizing ordinary Americans from participating in the political process. That is the real threat to democracy.

It should matter that the vast majority of the people who went to the Capitol protest that day didn’t believe they were there to overthrow the U.S. government, or, it must now be said, to kill anyone.

There have been real terrorist attacks on the Capitol. But those must be forgotten because they came from the political left. In 1971 the Weather Underground, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group whose goal was the overthrow of the U.S. government through violent, armed revolution, blasted a hole through the ceiling on the Senate side of the complex. It also bombed the Pentagon in 1972 and the State Department in 1975.

In 1954, four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire with automatic weapons from the House visitors gallery with members in the chamber for a quorum call. Five representatives were wounded, including one, Alvin Morell Bentley of Michigan, who was hit in the chest. The perpetrators received sentences ranging from 50 to 75 years; one was released in 1978, and President Carter granted clemency to the others the following year. One week after the shooting, the House was back to business as usual. That was a time when more members of Congress had served in the military, and with the world still recovering from World War II, one doubts that anyone likened the attack to Pearl Harbor or the Battle of Iwo Jima.

We are living in perilous times. When a modern democracy deploys forces of intimidation—whether government, corporate media or cultural institutions—to promote the ruling majority’s propaganda, it is time for good people to stand up and object. The world-changing attack of Sept. 11, 2001 shouldn’t be used, either as precedent or moral authority, to create a commission whose sole purpose is to turn a straightforward law-enforcement failure into destructive political theater.

Ms. Burlingame is a founding board member and trustee of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Foundation and a director of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.

A Homily on Jesus as the True Vine

Homily for The Geneva School

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Jesus is the True Vine

Over 20 years ago now, before the turn of the century in fact, a book came out called Way of the Modern World with a subtitle something like “why it’s tempting to live as if God does not exit.” The author’s contention was that in the Western world of comfort and consumeristic materialism, we can actually live in 21st century America as if God does not exist. Hey, look around you in your neighborhood – there are thousands of people living and walking around with no knowledge of God, Jesus, or the things we speak about here at Geneva. Some of them appear to be doing quite well, yes?  They seem to live quite successfully as if God does not exist.

         In fact, I think one of the crazy things about life in America is this ethos that says, “I got this.” Self-sufficiency has always been considered a virtue in the American work ethic. Perhaps you have heard me say in the past that the opposite of biblical faith is not doubt. Doubt still asks the questions; doubt can still turn to belief and trust. Rather, . . . the opposite of faith is self-reliance. Faith requires that you surrender to another, you depend on another to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.  Self-reliance says, “I control my life, I got this.”  The first and most fundamental act of rebellion is “I will do this myself. I will be my own god.”

         But the Scriptures teach us something different – something, in fact, that remains a huge stumbling block for most people in our Western culture. Scripture teaches us that as created beings, we are profoundly dependent creatures. We cannot survive much less thrive on our own. Yes, there are those legends of the wilderness hermit who lived and survived on his own – but such people are also often severely broken psychologically.  We are made in God’s image. We are made in God’s image as relational beings – and the first and fundamentally essential relationship is that which we have with our triune God, then relationships with family, then with others.

         Jesus captures this idea of our fundamental inter-connectedness when He told His disciples “I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinedresser.” It is a rich metaphor, with nuances often lost on most of us who have grown up away from any exposure to agrarian life. But it is one of those titles of God, names or metaphors of Jesus, that includes us in the metaphor. He is the True Vine, we are the branches. We have a lot to learn here.

         First, note that Jesus says He is the “True Vine” – which of course implies that there are other vines. I saw this as a kid in my parent’s home town in Pennsylvania. There were well tended winery vineyards – these are the true vines; then you could also find vines in people’s back yards – not as strong a heritage or product, passable maybe; but then you could also find wild grapevines in the woods whose fruit was positively sour and unsatisfying.

         Make no mistake, my young friends, there are many forces in our culture, many false vines, calling for your loyalty, your trust, your connection, and seeking your surrender. Some are rather banal and harmless, others frightfully dangerous and destructive to body and soul. Only Jesus offers true connection, true life, true hope and future.

         Second, note that connection to this vine requires pain and loss. Did you hear it? “Every branch in me that bears fruit he [God, the Vinedresser] prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  Ouch. Some of you have heard me talk about this. I saw this in action as a kid when we lived in that town. In late winter, the vinedressers go into the vineyard and prune away last year’s growth and any parts of the vine not bearing fruit. These are living parts of the vine.  Sometimes God needs to cut away parts of us living parts that are not fruitful. Why? . . . So the essence of us can be more fruitful.  Left to ourselves, we grow all kinds of needless sucker vines, drawing life and richness away from the fruit. God wants our fruit to be rich, deeply satisfying, complex; . . . not watered down, weak, and tasteless.

         But third, and scary, note the other part of vs. 2: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away.” And then in vs. 6: “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” Again, the vinedressers cut away the unfruitful, harmful parts of the vine to allow the true vine to flourish. And those parts cut off are gathered – we called it “pulling brush” – put into huge piles and burned.

         Now let’s be careful here. Jesus was speaking to His people – those connected by covenant and family to God and His people. And this speaks to many of you here – born and raised in a covenant, believing home where faith is present and real. This is a warning to you – being born in a Christian home does not make one a Christian –it is only by faith in Jesus, God’s Son that saves you, not mom and dad’s faith. The warning is: grow up in such a blessed environment, and a time will come when God looks at the maturing vine to assess its fruitfulness – if it is not bearing fruit (that is, not believing and trusting), it … will be … cut off.

         Some of you right now might be thinking, “Well, my family are not Christians, so what does that mean for me?  Like you, I grew up in a family where faith was not real or meaningful. So God cut me off a wild vine out in the woods and graciously grafted me into His True Vine, the people of God and His Church. Perhaps that can be your story of grace and mercy too!

         But there is more! Fourth, note the offensive part of this passage in vs. 5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” I remember hearing that as a kid in 6th or 7th grade and thinking, “Who does this Jesus think he is? I can do all kinds of things: play guitar, play soccer, I’m smart and pretty good looking, . . .” I really thought such things. I was raised to be self-reliant.

         Friends, we are not independent people; we are not made to be self-reliant. Rather, we are profoundly dependent upon God and inter-dependent upon others. It takes God pruning away your self-righteousness, your pride, and your trust in yourself to bring you to a place of surrendering to Him.  … But that’s when real life can begin.

Geneva’s faculty teach and mentor you all because we care about not only your present success but your future growth into faithful and faith-filled adults. Our collective affection for each of you grows from our deep desire to see you flourish as human beings. That only happens when you are connected to The True Vine. Jesus is our life! In Him we live move have our being. This faculty may have different convictions on many things socially and politically and personally — but on this, there is 100% consensus: Jesus is your only hope in life and in death.  

A sad reality is that some of you may shipwreck your faith.  It happens to some. Worldview, community, mentors in Jesus matter.  Don’t become cut off.  Suckers without fruit get cut off — we are saved by faith in Jesus, and that salvation bears fruit. If there is no fruit, it shows there is no root. We are not saved by what we do. It is by Grace alone through faith in Christ alone!  But what we do, the way we live, demonstrates the reality of Jesus as our life-giving vine. 

The World says, “Do your own thing, find your way, be true to your authentic self” . . . but Scripture says our authentic self runs from God, wants to be its own god, and the fruit it yields is weak, sour, or (at best) tasteless – it will not satisfy!

         Last week Haley Taylor spoke about the necessity of taking a genuine Christian faith with you to college. She said, “without intentionality it is easy to conform to the ways of the world.”  And I would add, without connection to the

True Vine of Jesus, you will inevitably be conformed to the world – the wild, uncultivated essentially poisonous vine. Remember, false vines don’t give life or richness; stability, health, or vitality. But life in Jesus is contra mundum –against the world. Today’s cultural worldview is driven by selfishness and self-centered-ness that erodes into immorality and fruitlessness. “Americans are softening in their practicing Christianity; social issues are recalibrating essential Christian convictions. These are gradual small steps away from historic faith.” Haley said, “With every choice we either move closer to God or father away from him.”

         Some in this room heard a sermon last Sunday where the pastor said the worst possible curse is to be left alone, left to ourselves – but God says He will allow this for those who are ultimately self-reliant and rebellious. Ps. 81 in yesterday’s morning prayer: says, “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts.”  Then Deuteronomy 28:68, “And the LORD will bring you back in ships to Egypt, a journey that I promised that you should never make again; and there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.” May God forbid that you are ever left ultimately to yourself with no one who even would want to make you a slave. The opposite of connection to the Vine is utter loneliness.

         My friends, abide in the True Vine. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Find life, health, future, hope, fullness of life and contentment in Jesus, the True Vine. Then you will flourish and bear much fruit.  May God give you and me the grace so to do.

An Important Read

More evidence in today’s WSJ against our “friends” at Big Tech — personally, we now seek to avoid Amazon, even at the cost of paying more to use other providers; we are actively looking for a secure, non-google or non-big-tech email server; we have basically left FB, etc. It’s becoming more and more clear that these forces are not neutral — in fact the worldview and operating philosophy behind these organizations seems more overtly anti-Christian than ever before. God bless you all,

MSB

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Big Tech Censors Religion, Too

There’s no rest for the faithful when it comes to the woke orthodoxy.

By Josh Holdenried March 28, 2021

It’s not only politics. So far this year, religious groups and figures have been silenced by tech companies at a rate of about one a week, according to a new report from the Napa Legal Institute.

Consider LifeSiteNews, a popular religious news website. In February its YouTube channel was permanently banned by Google, which deleted all its videos. Google claimed its action was a response to Covid-19 misinformation but wouldn’t tell LSN which video had offended its standards. The tech giant had flagged LSN for a video of an American Catholic bishop criticizing vaccines developed with fetal cells. The website’s editor in chief said “our best guess is that the channel was taken down for our frank and factual discussion of the controversy around abortion-tainted medicines and vaccines.”

In January, Bishop Kevin Doran, an Irish Catholic, tweeted: “There is dignity in dying. As a priest, I am privileged to witness it often. Assisted suicide, where it is practiced, is not an expression of freedom or dignity.” Twitter removed this message and banned Bishop Doran from posting further. While the company reversed its decision after public opposition, others haven’t been so lucky.

The previous month, Twitter blocked a post from the Daily Citizen, which is run by Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian nonprofit, and suspended its account. The reason: a tweet that respectfully challenged the underlying premise of transgenderism. Twitter made a similar move against Catholic World Report, though the company later said it had acted in error. Ryan T. Anderson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center saw Amazon ban his book criticizing transgenderism, “When Harry Became Sally.” Amazon shows no signs of changing course.

Books from specific publishers are often targeted, such as Catholic TAN Books. One of its authors is Paul Kengor, who wrote an anticommunist tract called “The Devil and Karl Marx. ” TAN Books can’t advertise his work on Facebook, or that of Carrie Gress, who wrote a book on “rescuing the culture from toxic femininity.” Facebook has also banned ads for Kimberly Cook’s book, “Motherhood Redeemed.” The offending ad called it “a book that challenges feminism in the modern world.”

When posts are removed, ads are blocked, and accounts are banned, public pushback and media criticism often lead tech companies to rethink their actions. Last October, after the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List was targeted by one of Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers for “misleading claims” about Joe Biden’s policy on late-term abortions, the group went on a media blitz, securing both a reversal and an apology.

It seems likely that religious groups and individuals will face mounting threats from tech companies. Their views on marriage, sexuality, life and other moral issues are unpopular among the Silicon Valley set. Religious groups should refuse to silence themselves, change their views, or otherwise back down. Censorship is a symptom of a national collapse in civic culture. Curing the deeper disease will take all the courage and conviction we can muster.

Mr. Holdenried is vice president and executive director of Napa Legal Institute, which educates and protects faith-based nonprofits.

Providence

So I have been reading a new book by John Piper: Providence (Crossway, 2021). It may be Piper’s masterpiece. It’s a monster at over 700 pp. and is available right now at only $20 from Westminster Books (in a special introductory offer from Crossway through the end of March) — Get. The. Book!

You can find it here at this 50% off price: https://www.wtsbooks.com/

Piper looks at providence from before creation, at creation, in Ancient Israel (multiple historical parts), in the new covenant era, and then from many theological perspectives. It has been a joy to read . . . and to be reminded of the goodness and mercy of God in all aspects of life. It has been a balm to my soul . . . and I am only 110 pp into it!

I could say more, but just buy the book. It is big, yes, but each chapter is accessible, bite-sized, and rich.

Over Spring break, I also began (again!) The Lord of the Rings, and am about to complete Book I (they are making for the Ford of Bruinen) — such a joy to read, remember, and smile. Then there has been some reading in Wilfred McClay’s majestic history of America: Land Of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. Another book that I highly recommended.

Finally, I stay up until 2:30 am one night finishing my first read through Honor Among Thieves, the first part of the “HeartStone Trilogy” written by the inimitable Jameson E. Beates. Haven’t heard of it? Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not “out there” yet — but I was privileged to be an early reader. Wow! It was so good I’ll say that backward . . . W.O.W.! I can just say this: when it comes out to the public, you will want to read it. Set in the fantasy genre, the story is in the tradition of Tolkien and Lewis with overt shades of the triadic virtues of classicism woven through out. I found myself engrossed by this writing in ways I have not been in a long time. My first words to Jameson the next day were, “Okay buddy, you better get the next volume written! You can’t leave me hanging like this!” You won’t want to miss Honor Among Thieves when it comes out to the public!

As Solomon said, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Eccl. 12:12b). With that in mind, it’s encouraging to read some enjoyable stuff. Someone else said, “So many books, . . . so little time.” So use your time wisely!

Blessings to you all,

MSB

Things I wish I’d written

Finding lots of intriguing stuff these days. These two (one from Colson Center, one from WSJ columnist) are both worth reading today. Blessings to you all,

MSBN


Colson Center: Rescuing the Victims of the Sexual Revolution: Katy Faust’s Them Before Us

John Stonestreet, 03/8/21

Imagine a young man with every advantage. He’s well-educated, goes to church, lives in a nice neighborhood, able to secure strong employment . . . but he grew up without ever having known his father. Even as he moves into adulthood, his desire to know his father, his sense of loss for what he missed, is somewhere between insistent and consuming.

There used to be a time when fatherlessness was considered a tragedy. Now, raising a child without a father or, in some cases, without a mother is a perfectly acceptable intentional choice. The only thing that matters are the adults making the decision who have desires to meet. The adults are put first; the children, all too often, come in a distant second.

This sweeping social change didn’t happen overnight, or by accident. It’s the logical outcome of the three fundamental lies of the sexual revolution. These lies are now so widely embedded in modern society that we don’t give them a second thought. But it wasn’t always this way.

The first lie of the sexual revolution (and I owe my friend Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse for the wording here) is that sex, marriage, and babies are separable. That these created realities were part of a biological, social and religious package deal, went unquestioned until quite recently. Technological innovations, such as the pill, IVF, and surrogacy, legal innovations such as no-fault divorce, and cultural innovations such as ubiquitous pornography and “hook-up” apps, have all made it increasingly easy to imagine that sex is not inherently connected to childbearing, and that childbearing is not necessarily best placed in the context of marriage.

The second lie of the sexual revolution (thanks again to Dr. Morse for this wording) is that men and women are interchangeable. What we mean by this has evolved to a much more fundamental level. Interchangeability in rights was a good thing. Interchangeability in roles was, at times, good and, at other times, blurred biological distinctions. Today, of course, we talk as if men and women are interchangeable in reality, as if men can bear children and “not all women menstruate,” and as if love can make a second mom into a dad. None of this is true.

The third lie of the sexual revolution is that human dignity derives from autonomy, that our ability to sexually self-determine, not only in our behavior but our identity, is the essence of human dignity. In that equation, those unable to sexually self-determine, or who stand in the way of someone’s “true self” (typically defined by happiness) are excluded from the category of dignity.

These three lies of the sexual revolution were largely justified by a myth, one repeated over and over in different ways, to assuage our collective consciences as we fundamentally violate the created and social order. That myth was “the kids will be fine.”

But, of course, they aren’t fine. Not even close. In her new book, Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement, Katy Faust documents all the ways the kids aren’t fine, and all the ways their well-being is sacrificed on the altar of adult happiness. This is essential reading, not only so we can take our place in Christian history among those who stood for and defending children from hyper-sexualization, abandonment, abuse, and social experimentation, but also because too many Christians embrace cultural norms about reproductive technologies, sexuality, and marriage. In doing so, the Church is complicit in putting children at risk.

In Them Before Us, Faust begins in a crucially different place than the sexual revolution: the rights of the child, not the happiness of adult. That’s what “them before us” means. Simply put, adults must do those hard things that honor the fundamental right of children to be known and loved by both mother and father.

The results of the sexual revolution are in: Children are the victims of our bad ideas. In response, Christians are called to be agents of restoration in whatever time and place they find themselves. For us, now, that means advocating for children’s rights. As Faust writes, “Our culture and our laws must incentivize and encourage adults to conform their behavior to the needs of their children if we are to have any hope of a healthy and thriving society.”

Meghan and Harry: Aristocratic Victims for Our Times

Our elites parade their grievances before us, demanding sympathy and remorse from the masses.

By Gerard Baker, March 8, 2021

When some future historian, or perhaps some honest parodist of our modern mores, seeks an event that captures the inversion at the core of our continuing cultural revolution, he should examine closely the television spectacle that aired on CBS Sunday evening.

There they were, assembled dreamily in the verdant grounds of a California mansion, poster victims of our irredeemably unjust system: the sixth in line to the throne of the United Kingdom, his wife, a so-so actress who nonetheless enjoyed considerable fortune before she married into the highest levels of the English aristocracy, alongside one of the most successful television celebrities on the planet, bemoaning the injustices that have befallen them in a systemically cruel society.

You’d struggle to find a better metaphor for one of the dominant narratives of our age: our elites parading their grievances and preoccupations for the masses, demanding sympathy, issuing a call for the ordinary people to do better to acknowledge their own sinfulness.

Economic inequality is greater than it has been in decades, and widening still further after a great recession and a global pandemic. The poorest neighborhoods in this country, many of them dominated by ethnic minorities, are beset by levels of violent crime and disorder not seen in a generation. Educational opportunities for those most blighted are drowning in a sea of neglect, ideological rectitude and acquiescence to the demands of teachers unions. All the while, we are forced to listen as chief executives, tenured academics, Hollywood celebrities and now a prince and his wife lecture us about what are supposed to be the real systemic flaws in our society: the terrible legacy of American history; sexism, racism and “transphobia”; the endless stream of microaggressions caused by an errant word, a contentious writer or the illustrations in the Dr. Seuss books.

None of this is to deny that our three figures, up there on their little Californian Calvary on Sunday, have, like all of us, had to bear their crosses.

Oprah Winfrey was there as the facilitator. She is a woman of exceptional talent and character who overcame crushing hardship in early life to achieve deserved success. When she speaks—or in this case facilitates a discussion—about hardship, we are well-advised to listen.

The duke of Sussex—the name provides a clue—had no such misfortune of birth, though he did suffer the unspeakable grief of losing his mother at a young age in violent and public circumstances, an event that surely left the deepest of psychic scars.

Even the duchess, the squeakiest of the wheels, commands some sympathy. The costs of marrying a royal are sometimes overlooked. Whatever their virtues, the Windsors will never be known for an openness of manner or spirit. They seem to have combined in their personalities in fact the relaxed informality of their German heritage and the sunny warmth of their adopted English homeland, so, we can assume Meghan’s distinctly New World style probably went over like supermarket kibble in the corgis’ breakfast bowl. And while claims about a yearning for privacy can be taken with a pinch of salt coming from an actress with a penchant for self-publicity that was notable even by the standards of her profession, it’s also true that the British press can be aggressively intrusive in ways anyone would find painful.

But the personal struggles, real as they are, aren’t the subject matter of the lesson we are enjoined to learn from them. The ex-royal couple have enough wit to understand that their own hardships don’t occasion many tears outside their lachrymose celebrity friends.

Instead they frame themselves as victims of much larger societal evils.

Harry and Meghan have seized the moment to sign on fully to the woke creed, ascribing their trials to that original sin of racism, not just from the royal family itself, but from the British press, feeding the ugly prejudices of the masses. They conveniently forget that the arrival of Meghan was greeted by the same press—and the same masses—with joyous acclaim, that she was portrayed as somewhere between Grace Kelly and Diana Ross.

But that’s the beauty of the new dispensation: You can always blame systemic injustice. Meghan may be pointing the finger at unnamed royals for her victim status, but we know that’s just a proxy for the wider evil that, improbable as it seems, makes her the victim. Even as you sit there in your alabaster palaces, your Silicon Valley boardrooms or your elegantly appointed dressing rooms, you can point to the real cause of society’s inequity: the Trump- and Brexit-voting hordes with their unenlightened views on immigration, crime, the climate, Western history.

And it’s one of the ironies of our leading social-justice revolutionaries, fighting to overturn the social order. When you have on your side the people who control most of the nation’s corporations, newsrooms, universities, celebrities, the federal government—along with a duke and a duchess—can you really be that oppressed?

\\ https://www.wsj.com/articles/meghan-and-harry-aristocratic-victims-for-our-times-11615227357

But then, there’s this that just makes one shake one’s head. Like Duh . . . are you shocked? Really? Were you that deluded? Apparently so:

https://thefederalist.com/2021/03/07/evangelicals-for-biden-feel-used-and-betrayed-by-biden-fulfilling-his-radical-abortion-promises/

Some Bad News and Some Good News

So . . . I’m not a conspiracy theorist . . . really. But the last 12 months sure could make someone believe some loopy things. But I don’t think this is loopy — I think it is serious and a strong take on what’s been happening. It’s bad news, but important reading:

Now for some good news. Take a look at this video — I know . . . it’s like 30 minutes, but it may encourage your soul. It’s worth it. See what you think:

https://rumble.com/veee37-kirk-cameron-urges-americans-to-unite-over-the-next-100-days-for-the-americ.html

Stay faithful . . . blessings to you all,

MSB

Words Have Meaning

In this week’s “Briefing” from Al Mohler earlier this week, he dove into the news that Bethany Christian Services has “pivoted” in their position — now serving “all people” including LGBT community people. See here (it’s long, but part I gets you there):

https://albertmohler.com/2021/03/02/briefing-3-2-21?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_campaign=Once%20a%20day_2021-03-03_08:30:00&utm_content=5575

But of course, they are not really serving all people, right? They draw a line at deviants, perverts, those who indulge in child sacrifice and child sexual abuse. So they don’t serve all people. They have just moved the line of whom they will serve to avoid governmental restriction. Notice too that the statement from Bethany does not mention “marriage” only “parents” and that good Christians can reasonably disagree on numerous doctrinal issues. True, but while we might disagree on issues like the form of baptism, meaning in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, or the return of Christ, that is one thing; however, when the disagreement gets to the fundamental mission of an organization (serving children in adoption and foster care), then concepts like “marriage” and “parents” are not areas we can disagree on, right?

The Scriptures could not be more clear about God’s creation order and the way of family and life. And this will be the battlefield for the next generation: What will we be willing to sacrifice in order to avoid government restriction and cultural cancelation? Are we willing to discard fundamental Christian truth and creation order? Then remove the idea of “Christian” from your mission. By like the YMCA and remove the M, and the C and just become “The Y.”

And next time you hear that an organization decided to “pivot” on an issue of cultural importance, think “capitulation” not pivot. Ask what did they just give up in order to gain the love of the world? When The New York Times lauds your “pivot” . . . you had better ask what I did wrong. Remember, Jesus said, “When the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15). If the world, the culture, love your position, your cultural progress to a new stance, you are almost certainly losing Christ to gain status.

You Can’t Make this Stuff up — 1984 . . . Incoming!”

Notable & Quotable: Another Classic ‘Fact Check’

‘USA Today confirmed that all of the details of the Instagram post, including the quote, were absolutely correct. Why, then, did it flag it as misleading?’

Feb. 3, 2021

From “Lincoln High School and the Latest Fact-Checking Pitfalls” by Kalev Leetrau, RealClearPolitics.com, Feb. 2:

On Dec. 16, Not the Bee, which describes itself as a “humor-based news, opinion, and entertainment site,” shared on its Instagram account a photograph of Abraham Lincoln titled “San Francisco to rename ABRAHAM LINCOLN High School because—I swear this is real—‘he did not show that black lives ever mattered to him.’ ” Four days later, Facebook fact-checking partner USA Today (which receives funding from Facebook) published a fact check of the post, issuing a verdict that it was “Missing Context.” This means that anyone viewing the Instagram post since then has seen a large red warning label saying, “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say information in this post could mislead people.”

In its fact check, USA Today confirmed that all of the details of the Instagram post, including the quote, were absolutely correct. Why, then, did it flag it as misleading? In the paper’s words, “It is true that a renaming committee included Abraham Lincoln High School on a list of 44 schools whose namesakes met its renaming criteria. But the committee has not finalized its recommendations, and the school board has not voted on the name changes—so at this time, it’s not accurate to say that the school will be renamed.”

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the February 4, 2021, print edition as ‘Notable & Quotable: ‘Facts’.’


And the primary lead editorial today in WSJ also addressed the new “Truth Control” that is rearing it’s ugly head. This is important and will require resistance, being canceled, and perhaps even more as the future unfold:

Liberalism’s Ministry of Truth

Academics and the progressive press mull state media controls.

By The Editorial BoardFeb. 3, 2021

The academic establishment and progressive press want you to know two things: First, conservative claims of social-media bias are bogus. As Silicon Valley firms police content, their decisions are, miraculously, wholly uninfluenced by ideological preference.

Second, there is an urgent need for a much wider crackdown on political speech, perhaps led by the Biden Administration and requiring the creation of new government agencies. In other words, all that conservative suppression that’s, er, not happening? We need more of it.

New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights released a brief this week that is being amplified in the press entitled, “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives.” It argues that “some conservatives believe their content is suppressed on partisan grounds when, in fact, it’s being singled out because it violates neutral platform rules.”

That is sometimes true, but the report doesn’t remotely prove that it always is. What about when Twitter and Facebook tried to suppress a New York Post story about Hunter Biden before the 2020 election? Even the report concedes that “the question of whether social media companies harbor an anti-conservative bias can’t be answered conclusively.”

That doesn’t stop the authors from unabashedly asserting that “the claim of anti-conservative animus is itself a form of disinformation.” It is perpetuated partly because “it appeals to the same conspiratorial mindset that has fostered the QAnon movement.”

Got it? Anyone who argues social-media moderation has a progressive slant is spreading disinformation, and possibly drawn to a bizarre cult. And remember that disinformation is against the rules—which, once again, are neutral.

Among the solutions to the non-problem of progressive bias is, naturally, government control. The NYU report recommends that “the federal government . . . press Facebook, Google, and Twitter to improve content policies” and “cooperate with these companies” on enforcement. This political suppression—er, neutral government-backed content policy—“could be enforced by a new Digital Regulatory Agency.”

Since we’re devising new entities for speech control, the New York Times offers another idea. Experts recommend “that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a ‘reality czar,’” the beacon of progressive tolerance avers.

When disinformation (or at least disinformation that is not useful to the Biden Administration) spreads, then according to the Times, “a centralized task force could coordinate a single, strategic response” and enlist the tech platforms. That “could become the tip of the spear for the federal government’s response to the reality crisis.”

Government as the “tip of the spear” against political speech? Imagine if Donald Trump had floated that one.

Intellectuals don’t merely want the Biden Administration to promote progressive policies. Flush with power, they’re now suggesting that government should police the flow of ideas and assume the authority to define reality itself. So bring on the truth commissions. And if any political minority group complains that the Ministry of Truth is biased, worry not—the reality czar can make quick work of such disinformation.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/liberalisms-ministry-of-truth-11612395404?mod=opinion_lead_pos1