Category Archives: Uncategorized

Covid-19 vaccination is not the hill to die on

The first thing to note is that a vaccine mandate, even if ill-advised in some cases, is not per se or intrinsically immoral. Most Catholics acknowledge this in the case of other vaccines. For example, few complain about the fact that schools have long required measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines as a condition for attendance. Whether or not it is a good idea for a school, a government, a business corporation, or any other authority to impose some particular vaccine mandate is a matter of prudential judgment. Hence, the Covid-19 vaccine mandates cannot reasonably be objected to simply on the grounds that they are mandates. A reasonable objection would have to be based instead on the judgment that they involve a failure of prudence.

But how prudent or imprudent a policy is is a matter of degree. A certain tax policy, for example, might be extremely wise, merely defensible, merely ill-advised, outright foolish, or extremely foolish. The same thing can be true of a vaccine mandate. In my opinion, Covid-19 vaccine mandates of the kind now in play in California are somewhere between ill-advised and foolish. For one thing, I do not believe it has been shown that such mandates (as opposed to voluntary compliance) are necessary in order effectively to deal with the virus. That suffices to make them a bad idea, because imposing a vaccine mandate is a significant enough infringement on personal liberty that the authority imposing it faces a high burden of proof.

For another thing, when citizens are highly polarized about some policy that has merely prudential considerations in its favor, that is itself a serious reason for a public authority not to impose it, especially if the skeptical part of the population is already distrustful of the authority and sees the policy (whether correctly or not) as a crisis of conscience. This is just basic statesmanship. When polarization and distrust are already very high, the aim should be to reduce them, and to try as far as possible to accommodate those who have reservations. Heavy-handed policies like vaccine mandates will inevitably have the opposite effect.

Source: Edward Feser: Covid-19 vaccination is not the hill to die on

The question of trans rights has been settled by the Supreme Court.

What we’re dealing with now is something very different. It’s an assault on science; it’s an assault on reality; it’s an attempt not to defend trans people but to cynically use them as pawns in a broader effort to dismantle the concept of binary sex altogether, to remove any distinctions between men and women, so that a gender-free utopia/dystopia can be forced into being.

The use of trans people in this way follows a pattern. The woke left uses gay people in the same way: calling all of us “queer” to ensure our continued marginalization, merging us into postmodern categories like “LGBTQIA+” to deny our distinctive human experiences, erasing gay men and lesbians whose politics are not far-left and whose lives are not much different than our straight friends, describing gay men who are attracted to the same sex and not always the same gender as transphobes, literally falsifying history and re-making the English language to make it conform to their ideology.

The weapons deployed in pursuit of this fantasy are those that are always used by those seeking to impose utopia on free people: the brutal hounding of dissent, the capture and control of every single cultural institution, the indoctrination of the young, cancellations, bullying. The costs are mounting. Across the West, people are being fired, targeted, prosecuted, even jailed, for stating biological facts. Children are being medicated with off-label drugs — “puberty blockers” — that can permanently sterilize them, arrest their neurological and mental development, and deprive them of the ability as adults to experience an orgasm.

Source: Dave Chappelle Is Right, Isn’t He? – by Andrew Sullivan – The Weekly Dish

Laugh A Little More

… the current tendency toward the politicization of every aspect of social life, including even sports and entertainment, is evil.  And it would remain evil even if the political causes in question were themselves good (as, these days, they typically are not).  You cannot have the fellow-feeling required for a society to hold together without some area of life in which disputes are put on hold, tensions are eased, and common goods are enjoyed.  In American life, sports, popular culture, holidays, and the like have long performed that function, especially as the country has gotten more secular.  But as “wokeness” has extended its tentacles into even these areas of life, there is little if anything left to do the job.

Source: Edward Feser: Aquinas on humor and social life

The Wisconsin rock episode was a textbook demonstration of the difference between…

… sincere activism and playacting, out of a desire to join the civil rights struggle in a time when the problems are so much more abstract than they once were.

The true fault here lies with the school’s administration, whose deer tails popped up as they bolted into the forest, out of a fear of going against the commandments of what we today call antiracism, which apparently includes treating Black people as simpletons and thinking of it as reckoning.

True wokeness would have been to awaken to the tricky but urgent civic responsibility of, when necessary, calling out Black people on nonsense. Yes, even Black people can be wrong. As the Black professor Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law puts it in his upcoming “Say It Loud!”: “Blacks, too, have flaws, sometimes glaringly so. These weaknesses may be the consequence of racist mistreatment. But they are weaknesses nonetheless.” To pretend this is never the case where racism is concerned is not to reckon but to dehumanize.

I know — you thought, based on what people of a certain charisma are telling you, that the idea is that where race or racism is concerned, Black people are always right. What matters is not what someone meant, but how the (Black) person says he or she feels about it. Anything less is blaming the victim.

The problem is that to subscribe to this etiquette requires consideration beyond what logic dictates. For example, according to the tenets of critical race theory that has such influence on so many these days, each Black person represents a race-wide narrative of oppression that we need to think about regardless of pesky details such as empiricism or even coherence. Or perhaps Black infallibility is just complicated?

Right. All of us, on some level, know that this is nonsense, and readers who think I am making this point only to white people are quite mistaken. I mean all of us. Neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor redlining renders a people’s judgment of where racism has reared its head infallible.

Treating a people with dignity requires not only listening closely and sympathetically to their grievances, but being able to take a deep breath and call them on aspects of those grievances that don’t make sense. And there will be some, unless those airing the grievance are fictional creations instead of human beings.

On race, we should assess, look ahead rather than backward, channel our thoughts and feelings with cortex rather than brain stem, think slow rather than fast — and the notion that this counsel is “white” is science fiction. That goes for both protesters as well as those whom they protest at. Instead, too much of what passes as enlightenment on race these days involves merely pretending that something makes sense out of fear.

The Performative Antiracism of Black Students at the U. of Wisconsin – The New York Times

When Adults Sin Against the Young

With states like Oregon now eliminating the need to establish proficiency on basic subjects with standardized tests, American education faces the perfect storm. Despite record expenditures on public schools, we are still failing students, particularly minority students, in teaching the basis subjects needed to succeed in life. We will then graduate the students by removing testing barriers for graduation. Then some may go to colleges and universities that have eliminated standardized testing for admission. At every stage in their education, they have been pushed through by educators without objective proof that they are minimally educated. That certainly guarantees high graduation rates or improved diversity admissions. However, these students are still left at a sub-proficient state as they enter an increasingly competitive job market and economy. Any failures will come down the road when they will be asked to write, read, or add by someone who is looking for actual work product. They will then be outside of the educational system and any failures will not be attributed to public educators.

If we truly care for these students, we cannot rig the system to just kick them down the road toward failure. It is like declaring patients healthy by just looking at them and sending them on their way. We have the ability to measure proficiency and we have the moral obligation to face our own failures in helping these kids achieve it.

Source: Oregon Suspends Need For High School Graduates To Be Proficient in Reading, Writing, and Math – JONATHAN TURLEY

How Woke Might End 

From Madison’s (former) Mayor Dave:

the thing about young people is that they change. As they move off college campuses and into jobs and mortgages and child-rearing, they tend to become more practical, if not more conservative. Life’s priorities change. All of a sudden, security and stability matter. Law and order matter. Taxes and basic services matter. In short, I have hope that the kids will grow out of it. Another thing about young people is that they get older and are replaced by a fresh set of young people. That new group always decides, at some point, that their predecessors were wrong, uncool and morally bankrupt. So, I think it’s a fair bet that there will be, say within the next decade, a renaissance in respect for classic liberal values, and a backlash against today’s woke intolerance. The new intellectual fashion will be liberalism and free speech. I’m pretty sure you can take this to the bank. All of which is to say that I’m feeling more or less optimistic. Violent insurrectionists and hard-right conspiracy mongers are generationally challenged. They may burn out before they die out, but they will eventually do the latter for sure. And hard-left intolerant wokesters will grow out of it, see their ideas commoditized, and see themselves replaced and rejected by the next generation. I’m reasonably confident that the enduring laws of the free market, American democratic institutions and youthful rebellion will save us in the end.

Source: How Woke Might End – Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

UPDATE: 1 person shot multiple times, 1 in custody at temporary men’s shelter in Madison

The gunman who shot a fellow resident at a homeless shelter here in Madison is responsible for his own actions (see story linked below). But this doesn’t mean others don’t have some culpability as well. City and state officials also have some responsibility for the shooting as well. Why?

By their response to this summer’s riots undermined the rule of law. Officials allowed and even seemingly support the destruction of property and the harassment of innocent people.

Violent crime is up in Madison at least in part because elected officials have failed to meet their primary moral obligation to keep the peace by defending life and property.

And as often happens when those in power fail to do their duty it is those on the margins of society who bear the cost.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Source: UPDATE: 1 person shot multiple times, 1 in custody at temporary men’s shelter in Madison

It’s OK to Reject Critical Race Theory – Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

From former Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz comes this:

For too long we have told ourselves a narrative of our country that was too sanitized. We have not been willing enough to confront what’s still wrong with America. There is no question that slavery and Jim Crow are national stains that can’t be just wiped away. It’s good to be honest with ourselves.But that’s my point. We need to be honest with ourselves, not overcompensate by inventing a narrative that portrays America as something that it’s not. We have done bad things, but we are not bad.Every American civil rights leader from Frederick Douglas to Martin Luther King was telling us that America made wonderful promises, but now it was time we kept those promises to everyone. Critical race theory tells us that the promises themselves were never real and that we need to replace them entirely with something else.

Source: It’s OK to Reject Critical Race Theory – Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

Stop ‘Woke’ Madness

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the blog, writes:
For academics playing word games, this is fun. For gangs of ‘woke’ students — or Times employees, who have managed to ‘cancel’ a series of the paper’s top writers recently — it can produce a feeling of enormous power and self-importance.
But if you’re Macron or any sensible European observer, seeing a United States in which playing the national anthem or displaying the flag is deemed ‘offensive’ and ‘problematic,’ in which professors are suspended or threatened for quoting Supreme Court opinions verbatim when they contain unapproved language and which has seen months of urban riots tearing apart some of America’s biggest cities, how could you not say ‘no thanks’? By its fruit the tree is known, and the fruits of woke leftism in the United States have been poisonous. No honest observer could claim that our campuses are friendlier, our cities healthier or our institutions more productive as a result of its introduction. The defenders of woke theory say that France is becoming more diverse, and that’s why it needs more of the overt race-consciousness and blame-assignment that their theory provides. But, of course, France’s increased diversity is precisely why it’s right to shun a philosophy of race that is affirmatively based on racial name-calling, division and guilt-mongering.

Read the rest here: The French are absolutely right to say ‘no thanks’ to US woke-ism

Look, I’ve read a lot of post-modern philosophy and while I wouldn’t dismiss it all out of hand, what Reynolds says in his NYP article has a great deal of merit. Having served as a college chaplain at half a dozen colleges and universities for 30+ years I can tell you, students aren’t happier. If anything they are depressed and anxious. That is if they aren’t angry and bitter.

‘Wokeness’ isn’t just not Christian, it is antithetical of the reason and destructive of civil society. Stop the ‘Woke” Madness!

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

A Chaste Love of Nation

Patriotism, that is love of country, is for Christians an obligation that flows from our love of neighbor. Such love, like all loves, must be chaste not promiscuous. Chaste love doesn’t overlook shortcoming in the beloved. But neither does it make even the most serious moral failures the sum total of the beloved.

In the service of fostering a chaste love our flawed nation, here’s some observations by Bari Weiss in a recent NYP op ed:

“Do not nod along when you hear the following: That Abraham Lincoln’s name on a public school or his likeness on a statue is white supremacy. (It is not; he is a hero.) That separating people into racial affinity groups is progressive. (It is a form of segregation.) That looting has no victims (untrue) and that small-business owners can cope anyway because they have insurance (nonsense). That any disparity of outcome is evidence of systemic oppression (false). That America is evil. (It is the last hope on Earth.)

This list could go on for a thousand pages. These may have become conventional wisdom in certain circles, but they are lies.

Yet too many good people are sacrificing the common good, and therefore their long-term security, for the sake of short-term comfort.

Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco is at risk of being renamed by woke city leaders.

It’s time to stand up and fight back. That means you. Social conservatives. Never-Trump Republicans, and anti-anti-Trump Republicans, too. Lukewarm liberals and libertarians. Progressives who have a little curiosity still left. Exhausted parents who want nothing to do with politics. Joe Rogan stans. Reddit revolutionaries and the hedgies getting crushed. Facebookers and email chainers and Etsy-shop owners and Boomers who still use AOL accounts.”

Read the rest here:10 ways to fight back against woke culture