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Deaf, Dumb and Blind

June 21, 2012

You know a disability group formed a political action committee when…

When the tone-deaf demand public playing of music be outlawed because it is so irritatingly “just noise” — you know a disability group formed a political action committee.

When the color-blind insist school children be taught “emerging science” proves rainbows are only shades of gray– a disability group formed a political action committee.

But when the ACLU moves from town to town scouring traces of religion from the public sphere because god offends god-dumb Americans — this is larger than political action. This is cultural, too. Moreover, it’s stupid. Why are aggressive atheists squandering fortunes on this absurd quest to extirpate Christianity root and branch from within a two thousand year old Judeo-Christian culture?

What’s up with that? It’s not natural. Ah! Exactly!

Think about this for a second. Shoulder-shrugging agnosticism is the classic rationalist attitude toward the question of a supreme being because nobody can prove nothing. And, seriously now, exactly how do you hold a grudge against a Deity you don’t even believe exists? You can’t, anymore than you can hate Santa Claus personally. So what’s the beef all of a sudden?

Today’s professional atheists are anti-theists instead, so we suspect the intensely sterile politics of postmodern anti-humanist culture. But why would political activists care who believes in which god? The answer is sufficiently chilling to warrant a roundabout introduction from the last American novelist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In his 1976 Nobel Lecture, Saul Bellow took note of novelist/theorist Alain Robbe-Grillet’s demand that, from now on, “characters” be dropped from fiction. The Frenchman saw them as literary artifacts  from a 19th century apogee of bourgeois individuality. Since those dark times, happily, “the exclusive cult of the ‘human’ has given way to a larger consciousness, one that is less anthropocentric.”

While the King of Sweden and all the assembled dignitaries sat listening closely in their glittering formal attire, Bellow, once a Chicago street kid, counter-punched Frenchie in the mouth by wondering if, instead, perhaps what really was passe were drearily orthodox thinkers like Alain Robbe-Grillet and all those who are so terribly traditional and utterly conventional in their thinking.

“Literature for nearly a century used the same stock of ideas, myths, strategies…” Bellow reminded his audience. “Essay after essay, book after book, confirms the most serious thoughts — Baudelairean, Nietzschean, Marxian, Psycho-analystic, etc., etc.”

Baudelaire: the de-luxe French poet of languorous sensual corruption. Nietzsche: the intoxicating theorist of supermen who are above merely mortal law. The suggestion Bellow slips in here like a knife between the ribs (“for nearly a century”) is that, in fact, Robbe-G’s brand of trumped-up pseudo-profundity is historically derived from this same age of grand families and big characters which the Frenchman dismisses.

Bellow then switches, rhetorically, to a sawed-off shotgun: “What Robbe-Grillet says about character can be said also about these ideas, maintaining all the usual things about  mass society, dehumanization, and the rest. How poorly they represent us. The pictures they offer no more resemble us than we resemble the reconstructed reptiles and other monsters in a museum of paleontology. We… all feel… an immense painful longing for a broader, more flexible, fuller, more coherent, more comprehensive account of what we human beings are.

I agree. So many nonconformists are sick to death of the smelly little orthodoxies of postmodernism. Like Tony Stark in Iron Man, we are bored with the conformists’ certainties. And as for the sterile threatening politics of anti-humanism in all its guises, we increasingly feel an urge to self-defense against the uprising among us of  angry urban activists who despise themselves and their race, loveless people who strike out at the public because they cannot connect in private.

Let me show you my fear in a handful of words. If you were educated to believe that neither a god nor human nature exists, and, therefore, morality is relative and situational, then History becomes only the timely application of brute force. And History gives a name to people like you who believe this. You are called fascists.

Do you understand? It does not matter how many confident people around you keep saying it’s good. Any movement which starts by telling you you have no god, ends up by setting up extermination camps. This should be obvious to even the very young.

You do not forbid people their god in order to be extra nice to them.

 

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