Thursday, November 15, 2012

Compromised Courage, Missed Opportunities and the Republic

At every turn, it would seem, when the opportunity presented itself to stop or publically challenge Obamacare or other intrusive measures by the Obama administration, good men stood up only to sit back down again. Initially, a surge of courage would show itself. But when such courage was punished by the media and political operatives, these men repented for having stood on principle.

For instance, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, during President Obama’s address to Congress in September of 2009, yelled out “you lie!” when the President said the legislation would not mandate coverage for undocumented immigrants. An outburst? Perhaps!  But he received a lot of donations because of it. Yet, the congressman apologized the following Sunday on a number of news programs.

About six months later in March of 2010, when Obamacare was being rushed the House of Representatives, Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak courageous opposed the passing of this unprecedented healthcare bill due to his pro-life concerns. But he too yielded to peer pressure.

Then in March of 2012, when the case against Obamacare went to the U.S. Supreme Court, it appeared that the quest of the federal government taking over America’s healthcare system would at last receive its death blow. With that, the concerns the U.S. Bishops had about contraceptive mandate would be put to rest. But that was not to be. U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, a Catholic pro-lifer, concluded that Obamacare was constitutional.

Next we come to The Al Smith Dinner on October 18th. When the Archdiocese of New York had the opportunity to draw public attention to the injustice of the H.H.S. mandate in the presence of the chief architect behind the mandate, namely, President Obama, the opportunity passed. No scene was made. Indeed, the attempt to show all Americans that President Obama was no friend of the Catholic Church as long he aggressively pushed for abortion rights and the contraceptive mandate was squandered in the name of diplomacy.

The last chance: As expected, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, played it safe during their campaign. During the last presidential debate Mitt Romney did not hammer away on the HHS mandate, Obama’s support of infanticide, or the appearance of foul play with regard to the Benghazi tragedy. His aim, like so many of today’s leaders, was to play it safe.

Congressman Paul Ryan did exactly that during the vice presidential debate. When vice president, Joseph Biden, tried to explain away the coercive nature of Obama’s H.H.S. mandate, Mr. Ryan allowed that issue to pass by with only a brief challenge (and I mean brief). Furthermore, he was forced to give voice (against his own beliefs) that there were exceptions to the intrinsic moral evil of abortion; those exceptions being rape and incest. But any person who is well versed in logic and morality knows that position is incoherent.

The point with the Romney-Ryan ticket is that their aim was to “not lose” the election instead of trying to win decisively! They, like so many of the above men, have had their courage compromised. They opted not to deliver for the knockout punch.

This sad series of men who courage was compromised in America reminds me of what Albert Einstein wrote over seventy years ago. During the 1930’s in Germany, when the dictatorship of the Third Reich was on the march, social conformity prevailed over taking a stand on principle. There were many professors, editors, writers and even politicians who had at one time proclaimed their love for freedom from the rooftops. But when it became clear that the Jews were being denied that freedom and other human rights by their government, such heralds of freedom capitulated to the brute force of the Third Reich. In a December of 1940 edition of Time Magazine, the illustrious Albert Einstein made the following observation:

"Being a lover of freedom, when revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. Then I looked to the individual writers, who, as literary guides of Germany, had written much and often concerning the place of freedom in modern life; but they, too, were mute.”

This twentieth century genius saw firsthand one undeniable fact of human nature: that the instincts of social conformity are stronger than our humanitarian instincts. Even in the face of human suffering a “good man” can be hushed into silence. Despots know this and they, throughout the course of history, exploited this human weakness to great effect.

Currently, America has abortion clinics but no concentration camps. It has a strong monolithic State-run school system, but nothing resembling the cult of a dictator as did Germany with its Hitler Youth program. But such as distinction is immaterial; it doesn't really matter. What America has in common with Hitler’s Germany is that it is burdened with the culture of death and an all-powerful State (in the making). But all of this was made possible to begin with because of missed opportunities!

Above is a litany of missed opportunities that America will come to regret. Albert Einstein also took note of the missed opportunities of German professors, editors, and writers in his day. But he also made one unexpected observation. He made mention of a Church that did stand for courage and truth; a Church that did stand up for the persecuted Jews. After expressing his disappointment over the men whose courage were comprised, he said this:

“Only the [Catholic] Church stood across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly."

Somewhere within that same Church there are still men whose courage is not compromised; men who, like their spiritual ancestors, have a martyr-like conviction for truth and a zeal for Christ. When these men step up, giving no heed to status or human respect, then politicians, judges, writers and the like will follow their lead. Even more important, the Church will be in a position to “stand across the path” of that all-powerful State many Americans fear. Finally, that chain of missed opportunties and compromised courage will be broken.