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April 13, 2005

Levin Tries to Clear the Air

I'm not so sure it worked.

In this Corner post, Mark Levin tries to clear up the KKK issue with Dr. James Dobson. Levin makes a few good points when he notes the way the Supreme Court has consistenly been problematic. He veers off track, in my view, when he says that "it's time to engage on the substance." Indeed it is, which is why Dr. Dobson should have stayed on topic and avoided the rhetoric. Here's hoping he'll do likewise in the future.

Additionally, Jonah Goldberg cites an apparently typical reader e-mail on the topic. I just can't buy this line of thinking; excess on the Left does not excuse excess on the Right.

Like Jim, I have a lot of respect for Dr. Dobson's work. I believe, like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson before him, he needs to clarify his mission. Whatever Christians think of his position, Dobson is viewed by the media and general public as a Christian leader. Thus he is unable to engage in the sort of rhetoric that might, might be acceptable for a Rush Limbaugh or a Sean Hannity. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't feel comfortable with those guys speaking like in such a manner, but at least they don't operate under the banner of the Evangelical community.

Posted by Matt at April 13, 2005 06:58 PM

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» Re: Dobson on Judges from The Unalienable Right
Over at The Corner on National Review Online, Mark R. Levin offers some context to Dr. James Dobson's comments referenced earlier. Given that context, Dobson's comments do not seem as outrageous as they first appeared. Good to remember - context ... [Read More]

Tracked on April 13, 2005 10:59 PM


Matt -

Thanks for your reply to my post. However, either you read too fast or I didn't do a good job of setting forth my views, since you misunderstood what I said.

Let me try once more. Your problem with Dobson comparing leftist judges to the Klu Klux Klan (as well as with Bork's statement a few years ago about the illegitimacy of the American regime) is that, first, to your mind these are uncivil words. But second, and more importantly, according to you these are words of extremism.

For me, what the controversy over Dobson (or Bork) really reveals is that modern conservatism is an emperor that has no clothes.

Let me explain it this way. Imagine that the present generation of American conservatives find themselves suddenly transported back in time to 1776, and that that generation is transported to our own time.

There are two events that are certain to occur.

First, there will be no American Revolution. A generation that has been taught that Christ's words about Caesar means that we are to obey a Supreme Court that rewrites the Constitution at will, without the consent of the governed, and is complicit in the mass murder of thirty million babies, is not a generation that is going to rebel against King George. Indeed, it will be a great relief to us to obey a tyrant like George, since his actions are much less offensive to God and to constitutional government, than are the actions of the modern Supreme Court.

Second, it follows that the Americans who have arrived in our time from 1776 will graduate quite swiftly from a violent rhetoric that would make Dobson and Bork blush, to an outright and bloody revolution against the present American system of government. But then, that generation understood Christ's words differently. They understood their religious duty to involve upholding constitutional government against tyranny. To them, the Supreme Court would not be Caesar but the enemy of legimate government. In your words, they would be extremists.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not advocating a revolution today, if for no other reason than because we are clearly incapable of such a revolution. American Christians were spiritually emasculated by modern democracy a long time ago. Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, we are men without chests. But if we are ever to begin to understand the political reality of our time, it is necessary to confront the unpleasant truth that both the modern Left and the modern Right are founded on a pretense. The Left pretends to interpret the Constitution and the Right pretends to defend it. None of this has anything to do with reality.

History flows in one direction. The American Constitution is dead. It was overthrown decades ago and it is not coming back. It is only when this is recognized that we can begin to come to grips with what to do next.

Posted by: Jeff at April 14, 2005 01:44 PM

So does that leave me, Chuck Colson, the editors of National Review, the Weekly Standard and Commentary as "men without chests"? Seriously.

And for the umpteenth time, everyone who writes for this website is irate over the way certain segments of the judiciary have behaved. We are irate that the Democrats are acting like children in the Senate. And if Bill Frist wusses out of the Constitutional option, I will be eight kinds of livid.

All we said is that is inappropriate for a Christian leader to make comparisons to the Ku Klux Klan. That is all. We are not in need of a history lesson. I've had quite a few of those, as the diploma on my wall attests. I know full the judicial history of this country. Marbury v. Madison has been, in retrospect, a troubling ruling.

I never even addressed Bork's comments, but where do you get off saying that modern conservatism has no clothes? Have you listened to Rush Limbaugh lately? Robert Bork writes for National Review and regularly speaks on NR cruises. Hugh Hewitt has been outspoken on this matter as a columnist, blogger and radio host. Are you going to tell Norman Podhoretz or Fr. Neuhaus that they are emperors without clothes?

I'll grant that I'm a young man and have much to learn, but all we are asking for is that Christian leaders - men and women who have achieved their noterity by explicitly doing God's work - speak judiciously. That is all. It's not that the words are uncivil; I grant that's a pretty subjective area. My problem is that the words aren't Christ-like.

And please spare that non-sequitir comparisons of our modern world with the colonies circa 1776. It's apples and oranges.

Posted by: Matt at April 14, 2005 02:00 PM

Matt -

Actually, I agree with the you that a comparison of the colonies circa 1776 with our own time is a matter of apples and oranges. In fact, I think that's what I said.

Look, modern conservatism plays a double game. You don't have to be an old man to understand this. In fact I was about twenty by the time I figured it out. If you take the conservative understanding of constitutional government seriously, then what we face are not "activist" judges, but tyrants who are guilty of treason. That logic, of course, is never followed to its natural conclusion.

Modern conservatism wants it both ways. The logic says, in Bork's words, that the modern American regime is illegitimate. But of course we don't follow that logic, since it means revolution. Note that it's not me who is pretending that we still have constitutional government, or that the Constitution can be restored.

As for your list of admirable people without chests, all I can say is that in fallen world we can only rise to the height of our times. The purpose of modern conservatism is to delay the fall of what is left of the American system. We have some able leaders for that purpose, but for anything more than that we require a new -- and very different -- generation.

Posted by: Jeff at April 14, 2005 03:43 PM