Birth(day), Death, and Taxes

“Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes,” the old saying goes.  But we are also born, those of us fortunate enough not to fall prey to the abortion industry.  Today marks my thirty-fifth birthday.  I celebrated by paying $162.57 in vehicle property taxes to Darlington County, South Carolina.

Yesterday, I purchased a new vehicle, my first new car in thirteen-and-a-half years, and only the third I’ve ever owned.  It’s a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV.  The other two were a 1988 Buick Park Avenue Electra, which I bought from my older brother for $800, after my grandparents gave it to him one year, and a 2006 Dodge Caravan, which those same grandparents gave to me as a college graduation gift (after the Buick was totaled when a lady ran a yield sign and smashed into me).

The Buick is long gone, but I kept the Dodge.  I figure it’s worth more to me as stuff-hauler than I would have gotten in trade-in value.  Of course, that means maintaining insurance on both vehicles, and paying taxes on each.

Well, I awoke today to the news that our military assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleiman last night.  When I first read that Soleiman was “assassinated,” I was picturing a fate similar to the death of the “austere religious scholar,” the ISIS guy, al-Baghdadi: covert operatives swooping in under cover of darkness, swiftly and surely relieving the general of his life.

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Lazy Sunday XXVIII: World History

Most of my pieces here at The Portly Politico focus on American politics and culture, with some occasional dabbling in British and European affairs.  But contrary to Ron Swanson’s historiographical claim, history did not begin in 1776 (though everything that came before may have been a mistake).

As such, I’ve written a few pieces about events, current and historical, that take place in more exotic locales.  While I am a parochial homebody, I appreciate travel and the contributions of other cultures (I still wish I’d seen London and Paris before they became part of the Caliphate).  I wish I had the time to do more of it (on that note, stay tuned for details of my trip to the Yemassee Shrimp Festival).

So, here’s some worldly pieces for your Lazy Sunday:

  • North Korea Reflections” – I wrote this little piece on the occasion of President Trump’s historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore.  My interpretation of the summit was cautiously optimistic.  It’s still unclear what the future holds for US-Nork relations, but the gambit seemed to work—North Korea is a still a bloodthirsty, repressive, totalitarian regime, but they aren’t lobbing missiles around constantly anymore.
  • The Impermanence of Knowledge and Culture:  The Great Library and Notre Dame” – this post was a synthesis of two events—the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria, and the burning of a substantial portion of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  The fire at the latter riled up conservatives and traditionalists because the structure had endured for so long as a symbol of Christianity and of France’s faithfulness.  France is not a very faithful country now, but Notre Dame remains a powerful symbol of man’s capacity for focusing on the greatness of God.  The major point of this piece was to drive home how even great edifices eventually crumble, and that knowledge and culture must be preserved actively if they are to endure.
  • Sri Lankan Church Bombings” – coming on the heels of the catastrophic Notre Dame fire, the island nation of Sri Lanka was shaken on Easter Sunday of this year with Islamic terrorist attacks on churches.  Democrats referred to the slain Christians as “Easter worshippers” in what appeared to be a concerted effort to appear politically-correct.  Yeesh.
  • America’s Roman Roots” – I wrote this piece earlier in the week, based on an excellent op-ed a colleague sent my way.  Commentators often fixate on the similarities between the United States today and the Roman Empire, but often miss the parallels to the Roman Republic.  Those parallels exist because the Framers of the Constitution pulled heavily from Roman tradition, even naming key institutions like the Senate after their Roman counterparts.  The Roman Republic holds valuable lessons for Americans for how to craft a robust society that enables citizens to live worthwhile lives.

That wraps up this little tour around the globe.  Rome, France, Sri Lanka and North Korea—not a bad start, though I’d better get Africa and Latin America into the mix soon, lest I catch flack from the SJWs for lack of inclusion.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Tommy Robinson is Free!

It might be Friday the 13th, but it’s Tommy Robinson’s lucky day:  he’s free!

For those unfamiliar with Tommy Robinson, he is a journalist-activist.  Robinson was jailed once before, ostensibly for contempt of court.  In fact, his “crime” was calling the defendants in an then-active child grooming trial “Muslim child rapists.”  For having the pique to critique Islam, Robinson was jailed.

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May We Never Forget

Today’s Number of the Day from pollster Scott Rasmussen is a poignant 9/11 memorial:  204 New York City firefighters have died due to illnesses from that fateful day.  That’s in addition to the 343 NYFD firefighters who gave their lives on September 11, 2001 (the NYFD maintains a list of “line of duty deaths” dating back to 1865; deaths 809 through 1151 were the result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks).  Rasmussen also notes that 2977 people died in the attacks.

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You Can’t Cuck the Tuck: Immigration

Consistent with my own posts on immigration, and particularly Somalian immigration, Tucker Carlson nails it (see the video in the Tweet below):

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Somali Shenanigans

Mass immigration and open borders are huge problems, but their costs are sometimes difficult to see.  Generally, Americans take a rosy view of immigration, as it conjures up images of plucky Irishmen crammed onto ships, chuffing past Ellis Island.  We’re the melting pot—people of different creeds and races come here, each contributing some distinct spices to the stew, but ultimately subsuming into the larger cultural heritage and mores of the host country.  Learn English, learn the Constitution, follow the rules, and you’re golden.

Of course, that all assumes the assimilability of the immigrants.  Back in those rose-tinted Ellis Island days, waves of Irish, Italian, and Eastern European immigrants (not to mention Chinese and Japanese migrants to California) caused great consternation, as each ethnic tribe and nationality stuck to its own.  With the National Origins Act of 1924, that great wave of migration trimmed to a trickle, with quotas favoring immigration from Western Europe.  Combined with the national struggles of the Great Depression and the Second World War, those migrants had time to get “baked in” to the national pie, and emerged full Americans.

Consider, too, that these immigrants came to the United States at a time when there was significant friction by doing so.  Many of them would never return to their home countries, or would do so only many decades later.  Lacking the access to mass, global communications networks, many of them never saw or heard from their relatives and families again.

Today, immigrants are able to communicate seamlessly with their relatives back home—a wonderful marvel of our modern-age.  They can also hop a jet plane and be back in hours (or get here quickly).  That same friction is no longer present to the same extent as it was 100 years ago.

Couple that with massive legal and illegal immigration, and the push to assimilate begins to vanish rapidly.  That push becomes more of a gentle nudge, if that.  Why learn English and the local customs when you can be surrounded by your hombres from back home?

Let’s go a step further:  what if your host culture no longer promotes or defends the rightness of its own beliefs and values?  Instead, it promotes multiculturalism and diversity as self-evident goods.  The official and cultural messages are no longer “assimilate” and “respect our laws, values, and God,” but instead become, “do your own thing” and “we’re nothing special—we don’t even really believe this stuff.”  Suddenly, there’s no compelling reason to assimilate into a culture that lacks confidence in itself.

Take all of that and add in a culture that does have some conviction in the rightness—and righteousness—of itself, and you’ve got the makings of a cloistered, insular community of unassimilable immigrants in your midsts.

Such is the situation in Minnesota with the Somali “refugees” living there.  They are, almost universally, devout Muslims.  They are also what the cool kids call “visible minorities”—they’re black—which serves as a further impediment to assimilation.  Islam in its most fundamental form is, essentially, at odds with Western civilization.  The very existence of Sharia law conflicts directly with the Constitution.  It’s all a recipe for disaster.

Indeed, the situation in “Little Mogadishu“—the Somalian neighborhood in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area—is a miniature form of the Islamic migrant crisis Europe has endured for years now.  Like the banlieues of France and Belgium, Somalian Muslims have created their own ethnic enclave in the heart of a State once dominated by Swedes and Germans.

Little Mogadishu is, sadly, following the pattern of other Muslim-dominated areas in the West.  It’s crime rate is through the roof, growing 56% in 2018.  Most of that increase is due to gang violence between competing Somali street gangs.

Minnesota—in a suicidal display of “Upper Midwestern Nice”—has encouraged the accumulation of Somalis into its State, creating a powerful ethnic voting bloc that holds increasing sway over the Democratic-Farm-Labor Party (the technical appellation for the Democratic Party in Minnesota).  Freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who can barely speak English without an anti-Semitic accent, is a troubling figure to have walking the highest corridors of power.  She’s a political figure ripped straight out of sub-Saharan

That’s had lethal consequences, too, such as Somali police officer Mohammed Noor’s fatal shooting of Australian Justine Damond.  That killing drew attention to what was likely an unfortunate diversity-hire.  The Minneapolis Police Department is, apparently, attempting to hire more Somali officers to improve community outreach in Little Mogadishu, but why did the city allow such an alien enclave to develop in the first place?

That incident at least received coverage from the mainstream media.  What didn’t was this piece from InfoWars, which details (with police documents) the antics of a group of eight or ten Somali teens.  It seems these precocious, vibrant youngsters were spreading diversity with hammers and pipes in an attempt to rob elderly white people.

Some of these attacks are, no doubt, the result of typical inner-city gang violence.  But the insidious influence of radical Islamism is alive in well in the environs of this Minneapolis banlieue.  Fox News calls it “the terrorist recruitment capital of the US.”  Ami Horowitz, in a jaw-dropping YouTube video, demonstrates that Somali Americans believe Sharia law is preferable to (and, by implication, should replace) America’s constitutional law.

So, how does the United States avoid replicating the errors of Europe and Minnesota?  Tighter immigration restrictions would be a key first step.

Another would be more drastic, and unlikely politically.  Indeed, were it to succeed, the precedent it established could be destructive in the long-run to religious liberty.  I’ll elaborate:

Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust.”  That is a beautiful statement in favor of religious liberty.

That said, Islam may very well be the grand exception.  It is a faith that is fundamentally incompatible with the faith, culture, and laws of the West.  It has no desire to reform (indeed, it may lack the ability to do so), and it contains within it no separation of church and state.  The faith of Islam is the law code.

As such, one could argue it may be necessary to amend the Constitution to ban Muslims from serving in higher office.  That is a bold step, and one that I shrink away from even as I ponder it.  But can there be any guarantee of loyalty from followers of a religion that is so hostile to American and Western values?

Of course, the flaw in this approach is that individual Muslims are, like lapsed Catholics and Protestants, sometimes easygoing about their faith.  At the same time, even lax Muslims have a tendency to radicalize quickly.  Just look at the Boston Marathon bomber, who went from being a pot-smoking loser to killing innocent people in the blink of an eye.

Regardless, the West has to wake itself up to the real, existential threat Islam represents.  We’ve spent nearly 1400 years fighting against its aggressive expansion—the Battle of Tours, the defense at the gates of Vienna, the Reconquista—only now to invite the invaders in with open arms?

A few hundred Muslim immigrants a year is no big shakes.  But if we adopt Europe’s “come one, come all” approach, we’ll lose everything that makes our country great, and free.

Sri Lankan Church Bombings

It was a lovely Easter Weekend here in South Carolina, which is, after all, God’s Country.  It was a weekend full of church, colorful clothes, a trip to the movies, and TONS of eating.  If you’ve never celebrated a major holiday (that is, an Easter- or Christmas-level event) in the South, you’re missing out on good eatin’.

Unfortunately, less than a week after the Notre Dame fire, anti-Christian terrorists persecuted fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in three cities in Sri Lanka, the island nation to the south of India.  The death toll is somewhere between 138 and 207, with approximately 450 others injured.

Islamist extremists committed these attacks on hotels and Christian churches, an act all-the-more wicked for its symbolic timing.  As Christians flocked to worship the Resurrection of Christ Jesus, Muslim terrorists callously and opportunistically slaughtered them.

Sadly, these attacks are nothing new.  In the wake of the Notre Dame fire—which was probably an accident, but could have been the result of foul-play—some news outlets quietly began to point to the persistent attacks on French churches that have been going on since February.  Europe is particularly awash in shiftless, military-aged, unassimilated Muslim men, men easily radicalized into supporting and conducting these kinds of attacks.  A shocking percentage of “moderate” Muslims support or condone terrorist attacks as sometimes justified.

I’m not as familiar with the issues Asian Christians face with Islam, but there have been attacks in the Philippines, as well as attacks on Christians of all stripes in North Africa and the Middle East.

Christianity faces twin threats today:  the progressive Left and Islamism.  The former is a more subtle, but increasingly bold, threat, that seeks to destroy Western Civilization from within.  The latter is an external threat that is very upfront about its hatred for non-Muslims, but that also leverages the tolerance of Western societies to its advantage.  The Left and Islam are allies of convenience, despite their many incompatibilities.

My prayers go out to all Christians facing persecution, from the small-scale persecution of mockery to the very real persecutions of death and intimidation.  Christ promised us that, as Christians, the world would reject us, and persecution would be inevitable.  In the United States, especially in the religious South, we’ve been spoiled, and have grown complacent, to threats to our faith.  We should never forget the real men and women who gave their lives—and continue to risk them—to keep the faith.

Here’s hoping for some better news as the week progresses.  Deus Vult!

The Impermanence of Knowledge and Culture: The Great Library and Notre Dame

On Sunday, blogger and antiquarian Quintus Curtius posted a piece about the famed Great Library at Alexandria.  The Library is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient War, and its destruction is an event that stands as one of the great cautionary tales of history.

Except, as Curtius points out, it wasn’t a single event.  Historians point to the accidental burning in 48 B.C., when Julius Caesar’s men’s burned Pompey’s fleet, and the flames spread, consuming a substantial portion of the Library’s connections.  Curtius mentions other events that may have damaged the Library, including Emperor Theodosius II’s decree to destroy pagan temples and buildings.

But, significantly, Curtius argues that it was centuries of neglect that destroyed the Great Library, rather than one single, spectacular event.  The burning of the Library in 48 B.C. makes for a dramatic story, but lack of maintenance, poor funding, and corrupt officials, Curtius contends, ultimately destroyed the Library.

To quote Curtius (emphasis is his):

The point is that libraries, like all institutions of culture, must be maintained and refurbished by every generation.  As I see it, the evidence points to a stark truth that tells us much about human nature.  The primary destroyer of the library, and perhaps of most cultural artifacts, was apathy.  How does this happen, in practice?  It is very simple.  It happens the same way official neglect happens today.  A new king or government minister would have said to himself, “I don’t think we need to allocate funds to the Alexandrian Library right now.  I have other priorities.  I would rather spend the money on ships, the army, or my new summer retreat.”  And this is how it starts.

Apathy—a general lack of care and concern for our cultural artifacts—destroys them far more effectively than book burnings.  Death by a thousand insouciant cuts, rather than the dramatic thrust of the sword, causes all things to wither away.

Having read Curtius’s piece (and a podcast related to it, which I cannot now locate), I very much had this topic on my mind when I heard about the tragic fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday.  I did not realize that the great cathedral is 850-years old.

Let that sink in:  it’s stood for nearly a millennium, surviving the Wars of Religion in France; the Thirty Years’ War; and the First and Second World Wars.  It also survived the French Revolution, which saw many churches destroyed or converted into blasphemous “Temples of Reason” throughout Paris and France.

Notre Dame is a powerful symbol of Western Civilization:  a bold testament of the faith and piety of a once-proud, Christian people.  A civilization that believes in itself and its God builds and maintains an edifice like Notre Dame.

We don’t yet know the source of the Notre Dame fire (at least, I don’t), and I’ve heard and read several explanations, from the careless (a dropped cigarette) to the, if true, quite wicked (Islamic terrorism; to reiterate, I am not claiming this was the cause of the fire, just that I’ve heard it insinuated).

What we do know is that France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has promised to rebuild the destroyed roof and upper level of the cathedral “in a way consistent with our modern diverse nation.”  I let out a moan of despair upon reading that phrase.

Notre Dame is a not a symbol of a “modern diverse nation,” nor should it be.  The only universalism it embodies is Christ’s universal Love for all of humanity.  Beyond that, it is a symbol of the French people, and of Christendom.  I am not convinced that the “diverse” Maghreb and Bedouin tribesman of the banlieues are deserving of that patrimony.

The West is constantly bending over backwards to accommodate foreign cultures in a show of cosmopolitan hospitality, but the favor is never returned.  Unassimilated migrants and “refugees” don’t deserve architectural “representation” in a building that never would have been built were it not for Charles “The Hammer” Martel.

Knowledge and culture are both one generation away from darkness.  Westerners should understand the deep roots of our civilization, and protect it at all costs.  That means teaching it to our children, and instilling them a love of and reverence for our institutions, culture, and faith.

TPP Weekend Update

Readers will know that this week has been pretty insane for TPP, so the quality and length of blog posts have suffered accordingly.  My Internet connection woes, coupled with an unusually hectic work schedule, limited my ability to get posts out by 6:30 AM EST—and I had to write several entries on my phone on public WiFi.

Indeed, I’m writing today’s post amid the hectic South Carolina Junior Classical League Spring Forum, which my little school is hosting this weekend.  I just wrapped up moderating Certamen (proposed team name:  “Certamen Noodles”), which is basically quiz bowl or academic team for Latin nerds (take your average nerd and dollop even more nerdiness on top; one kid in one of the Certamen matches literally “meeped” at random, to give you a mental picture).

There’s been a lot going on this week that I’ve been unable to comment upon, like the college athletic scholarships corruption scandal and the mosque shootings in New Zealand.

The best statement I’ve seen on the latter is from an Australian Senator from Queensland, Fraser Anning, who condemned the violence, but also pointed out that Islam endorses such violence against non-Muslims on a regular basis.  Best line:  “The entire religion of Islam is simply the violent ideology of a sixth century despot masquerading as a religious leader….”  Dang.  Well said, sir.

Fortunately, the Internet is working again at home, after the valiant efforts of a gracious Frontier technician, Harold.  I’m still quite frustrated with Frontier; they told me they had no technicians in the field, but Harold told me he’d been sitting in the local office all day waiting to get dispatched.  This after I’d spent an hour on the phone with a Frontier supervisor demanding answers as to why the company couldn’t keep a four-hour appointment window scheduled a week out.

It turns out that someone in the local office unplugged a jump cable, which caused me to lose Internet.  I literally could have walked 1000 feet around the corner and talked to someone.  Now I’m armed with the general location of the local office (which is just where Frontier technicians maintain the local access point for the town, apparently, and not a true “office”) and Harold’s number, so I can (hopefully) fast-track repairs in the future.

My takeaway:  Frontier still sucks, but their technicians are great.  The whole company is just riddled with incompetence at the customer service level, and they make a lot of unforced errors (like accidentally unplugging my Internet for a week), and they operate in the Stone Ages of cable/Internet provides (a two-year contract, really?).

Enough whining.  Tomorrow we’ll be back with another installment of “Lazy Sunday” (I, II, and III), and then (hopefully) back to more substantive material.

God bless, and Happy Saturday!

–TPP