Upon occasion, people ask where I get ideas for articles. I tell them that from time to time, I find a sealed envelope on the front step of my home, delicately scented and written in elegant cursive, in an alluringly feminine hand. In those envelopes are found a 3” X 5” plain file card with tantalizingly few words suggesting a topic. Neighbors have, from time to time, caught a glimpse of a tall, willowy young woman with long, dark hair, clad entirely, and formally, in black, a wide brimmed hat obscuring her face. None have seen her face clearly, but all describe her manner as at once graceful and immeasurably sad. She arrives and leaves in a sleek, low, black Mercedes.
At this, amazement plain on their faces, they invariably ask: “Wow! Really?”
To which I reply: “Nah; But it would be a lot more interesting and romantic that way.”
I hope you are less disappointed than they, gentle readers, with the truth. I read, write, live and think, and topics just pop into my mind. The mere process of writing about one topic often suggests another, and frequently, your thoughts, gentle readers, provide inspiration. Such was the case with regular reader 1706to1790, who, in responding to Independence Day, Anno Domini (In The Year Of Our Lord) 2015:
Anno Domini; is outdated and entirely Christian-derived. The accepted non-prejudical terms are ‘BCE’ (Before Current Era) and ‘CE’ (Current Era).
Of course we also know that all followers of all religions will steadfastly object and in this case, that would be Christians (who are still just one of a number of major religions, not the sole one by any means). Catering to that group by using one of their traditional conventions is understandable in light of the almost-certain flack some bloggers know they’ll have to deal with if they don’t comply.
Actually, I’m sure 1706to1790 meant “Before Common Era” and “Common Era,” which are the more commonly accepted terms, but as I do with all readers, I very much appreciate their comment.
Every year, I do my best to teach my students a bit of Latin, focusing on the most common and useful sayings and words. I begin with “AD,” which virtually all of them think means “After Death.” I explain that if “BC” means before “Before Christ” (which it does), and “AD” means “After Death,” how do we account for the 33-some years Christ lived? What is that slice of time called? The sense of BC/AD suddenly, and for the first time, dawns on them. I always draw a time line to help make sense of the concept for the more visual leaners.
But that knowledge requires an additional bit of knowledge. I explain that, particularly when they go to college, they will run into professors that refuse to say BC or AD, instead substituting BCE and CE.
“Why do they do that? That’s stupid,” my 15-year old Texans say, virtually to a boy and a girl.
I explain that such people do not want to acknowledge the birth or existence of Christ, to which they reply:
They think it stupid not because they are militant Bible-thumpers that demand everyone invoke “Jesus” in every sentence, but because they have healthy infusions of common sense, which has yet to be educated out of them. They are not “sophisticated” and sufficiently “elite” to imagine AD to be in any way unusual or insulting to them or anyone.
I merely smile and explain they need to be aware of it to avoid confusion, and I encourage them not to challenge their professors, many of which, if they are using BCE and CE, will have no sense of humor about people that prefer BC and AD, and will, quite unprofessionally, damage their grade for their impertinence. Better to merely smile, collect the grade they earned, and move on–unlike me: I’m professionally, constitutionally impertinent.
A decade or so ago, I attended a seminar–the place and exact circumstances are not important–where a prominent–at least she and the seminar promoters thought so–professor of English was holding forth on a variety of subjects including the evolution of language. Obviously thinking herself very erudite, she began her presentation with a warning that she would use BCE and CE rather than the outmoded and non-inclusive BC and AD. She was speaking to backward Texans, after all. She said this with a stern visage, which she obviously had used in the past to good effect to strangle disagreement in the crib. Clearly her death stare would work on most undergraduates. Not so adults of greater experience, made of sterner stuff.
I couldn’t resist: “Dr. X,” I asked, politely raising my hand. She acknowledged me. “Could you explain, please, what was the dividing line between BCE and CE?”
“What do you mean by that?” she replied, obviously confused and beginning to be annoyed at this Texan that had challenged her.
“Well, what is the seminal event that caused us to make the distinction between BCE and CE? Oh yes, and why was the change from BC/AD necessary? There must be a very compelling reason after all these years?”
There followed, for about 30 seconds, much read-faced sputtering, stammering and harrumphing–nothing could compel her to mention Christ–followed by the admonition that no further outbursts of this type would be tolerated. Suffice it to say, not much of importance was imparted over the next eight hours, but I did get some recertification credit, which is mostly what such things are about anyway.
Why was she so upset, so unable to respond rationally? I did not meekly accept her premise. I did not allow her to construct a reality in which I would be forced to live. I, by asking her to explain herself, short-circuited her entire worldview, and having not thought carefully about the necessity and validity of her substitution and acceptance of BCE/CE over BC/AD, she was not only helpless to convincingly respond, but had to revert to anger and authority to shut off discussion before it began, a discussion she knew she would lose.
I’m sure, given time, she would have come up with the common, progressive talking points: “shut up!” followed by inclusiveness, tolerance, diversity, science, you name it. We can’t mention Jesus Christ because not everyone believes in Jesus Christ or even acknowledges that he was an actual person, let alone the Son of God. Therefore, we cannot mention anything, even an acronym in Latin in common usage for some two thousand years, that makes reference to Him, lest we fail to be inclusive, tolerant, diverse, and make a mockery of science, which cannot prove the existence of God, therefore, He cannot exist. We can’t make people that don’t acknowledge Christ feel uncomfortable with even so much as an acronym that does not actually include His name.
Of course, no one is afraid of failing to include Christians, and being intolerant to them is, for such people, something of a badge of honor. Christians, as a rule, won’t so much as direct strong words at people that ridicule and abuse them, as their faith teaches that all must accept God willingly. Surely, occasionally someone who purports to be a Christian commits a crime, but rational people don’t take such things as an indictment of all Christians. Progressives are very careful, in fact, to observe that despite the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, virtually all terrorists are Muslim, the barbaric crimes of individual Muslims do not indict all Muslims.
Ridiculing and attacking Christians is also quite safe, as Christians tend to take the biblical admonition to love their neighbor and to be kind to one’s enemies seriously. Progressives, at the very least, tend not to in anyway ruffle the feathers of Muslims, who take their scripture seriously too, and tend–many of them–to kill those that disagree with them–even their co-religionists–often in rather nasty ways.
To make complete sense of this, we must remember that progressivism is, in a very real sense, a secular religion with its own pantheon of Gods, people who, by virtue of their education, connections, and adherence to progressive orthodoxy, are alone fit to rule lesser beings. One need only Google “Obama halo” to discover, in sickening profusion, the adulation with which Progressives worship their lord and king.
Because progressivism is akin to religious faith, it is non-falsifiable. No matter how progressive policies fail–and they always do–progressives cannot admit they were wrong. They usually can’t even admit they’ve failed, thus does Mr. Obama say, with a straight face, that he has saved the economy, while simultaneously running up a national debt of more than eight trillion dollars and climbing daily. He also ignores the facts that more Americans are on food stamps than ever before, and by huge numbers, and the labor participation rate is at historic, and enormous, lows. Thus does Mr. Obama claim Obamacare to be a spectacular success while simultaneously waiving entire sections of the law, that once they go into effect, will destroy the economy and health care, and while every promise he made about the law has proved baldly false. Not only have families not saved money, their premiums and deductibles have increased astronomically, and the grateful multitudes that were supposed to sign up on the exchanges have failed to materialize.
Because the inevitable failure of progressive policies cannot be acknowledged or admitted, progressives must first respond to any challenge with “shut up!” Failing that, they deny reality, scream insults and accusations–“you’re a racist! You’re anti-woman!” You’re anti-science! “You’re anti-diversity! You’re anti-immigrant!” “You’re anti-gay!” (add your favorite here)–and ultimately, either invoke authority or storm away in a huff.
This, gentle readers, is where we have come in a culture war that many of us barely know is being fought. We win elections, but are amazed that Republicans accomplish so little, despite having full control of Congress. Their excuse used to be that they only had control of ½ of 1/3 of government. Now they have complete control of 1/3 of government–the entire legislative branch–yet can accomplish virtually nothing of consequence, and certainly little that would roll back progressive gains Progressives lose election after election, but continue to win the culture war.
Part of the problem is that the war for America is won primarily in the culture, not on the floor of the legislature, which tends to reflect the culture. Progressives understand this well, and are willing to use any dirty trick to win.
I suggest that we fight back, twice as hard, and begin by refusing to accept their terms. Refuse to accept their premises, their words, for those that successfully name things have power over them and others. Refuse to accept their beliefs. Refuse to argue on their terms, and make clear from the start that you will not. Challenge them on what they represent as fact from the moment lies escape their lips. Use their tactics, and ridicule and shame them for immorality, and for praising it. When they denigrate America and Americans, call them what they are: self-hating Americans, even, in some circumstances, traitors. When they claim that true patriotism lies in attacking America, ask them if they spoke about their spouse in public the way they speak about America, who would believe for a second that they honor and love them?
We need not descend to their level. We need not be ugly and abusive, but we must be direct, relentless and truthful, and give them no chance to define the terms of the debate or the culture. We must take up the banner of war and take the long view; fight until we win, for the prizes are America and liberty.
The advice I give my students, to allow people in a position of power over them their delusions and lies, is sound. We all understand such relationships. Beyond that, however, we must fight those that have chosen to be enemies of America, western civilization, and humanity, or let them dictate the terms under which we will live mean and beaten-down lives, in 2015 AD and beyond.