Monday, December 5, 2011


I think we are much more like the Nazis and Dachau than we imagine.–Walker Percy

If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin–T.S. Eliot

“I have heard of dead men walking. What of blind men walking? That is what I see when I look at your Western Culture, so-called.”

Thus said Jabar Al Jabar to the Mad Hermit the day after their discussion of the Penn State sex scandal. The Hermit was on his usual afternoon perch, astride the burnished head of the sperm whale skeleton, ready for a skirmish with the Arab philosopher. Around the tip of Masirah Island, a small pod of whales was turning to the south. Playing in God’s eyes, Who made them for his delight, the hermit thinks silently, just as the psalmist sang.

“Blind men walking to doom in their pride,” Jabar continued, walking impatiently up and down the beach, “and carrying the rest of us with you, like as not.”

“And what of your people, you Muslims, Jabar—Pakistan, Syria, Iran—you have enough nuclear weapons to incinerate us all. What of your insane pride and blindness?”

“The better to scare you with, my friend, to awaken you to the inner truth of Islam. Remember, we are all Muslims, that is, children of Adam; you post-Christians simply are not awakened to the fact. Perhaps we can wake you up with fear, though I personally doubt it. Even on the brink of total destruction, the real message of Jihad will not penetrate your brains sick with lust and materialism. That was the point of hitting the World Trade Center, to strike at the heart of your usurious and luxurious culture.”

“So you have come here today to continue the jihad and perhaps push me into the ocean? Come, Jabar . . .”

“I will leave this topic in a moment. Permit me to remind you that your rationalist madness opened the secrets of nature and gave us Hiroshima and the new world of fear. We did not make it, we have only sought to defend ourselves as a sane man would in a prison of madmen. No lectures please.”

“I have none. Remember what you call my culture and the West is not the Kingdom of Christ. Throughout the world we are poor exiles driven into enclaves where we are persecuted by socialists and Muslims alike. Many in my world—especially in my own country of America—would seek to identify the political causes of governments with the Gospel.”

“You said yesterday that we are enemies and should remain so—”

“You are my enemy because you serve a false god and a false religion—”

“But you are commanded to love your enemies—”

“And love you I do, because true love desires the good for its enemy, which is Christ the King and Creator, which you reject—”

“Hold! You are on the soil of Islam and Allah!”

Properly steamed, Jabar paced back and forth, his hand on his khanjar. For the moment, the hermit thought it prudent to retreat into the desert silence and pray a few Jesus prayers.

“No,” Jabar finally said, assuming a more philosophic mood. “No, that is not why I came here today.

“Remember, we were on the deep contradictions and ambivalences of your culture. Not only about sex and love, but about the value of life itself. For some decades, since West accepted the fiction foisted on your minds by Max Weber and the sociologists, that life is not inherently and intrinsically valuable because created by God but a sort of malleable stuff that you ‘place’ value upon, like tying a price tag on a product. You drifted away from the solid vision of the high middle ages. As your poet T.S. Eliot put it, you experienced a ‘dissociation of sensibility,’ which in very plain terms . . .”

“Means a Cartesian separation of body and soul, spirit and flesh . . .”

“Exactly. This whole business of talking about where you ‘place’ your values has even entered the ordinary conversations of so-called Christians. If I may say, it has become a cardinal principle of your culture as much as usury and luxury. Catholic priests and protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis parrot it every day. And that is why you are rushing to a doom greater than nuclear attack. Said Qutb saw and smelled it in your streets and homes. Who, dear hermit friend, are you to decide what is the value of anything God has made? I hear the women chattering in your marketplaces, ‘I have issues with that, I am deciding what my values are, it all depends on where you place your values,’ et cetera ad nauseam.”

“Ah, Jabar, you cut deep with your philosophic sword.”

“I have found that the best place to know a culture is to listen to ordinary speech in marketplaces and coffee shops. For instance, I hear this as a common question now, ‘what will you do with your parents when they get old?’ Do? Do with? Do you see the underlying world view here? On all the earth, in tribes and villages on every continent, this is not a question for civilized people, who keep their parents with them as naturally as they breathe.”

“Yes, it is the same question that is asked now when a woman has been given the gift of life in her womb. What will we do with it? You are right, we are become as gods.”

“Let me put it as simply as I can. What I hear is that the disposal of individual lives has become the automatic response of a technocratic culture that sees everything as products that become outmoded and must be eliminated. The emperor ‘I’ is the autocratic disposer.

A friendly Nazi neighborhood extermination van

“Then there’s the official language, the false language adopted on death as it is on sexual abuse. This is a phony language of tenderness and sympathy; it fills the brochures of the nursing homes, hospitals, retirement communities. It pretends to be a language of reverence for life, whereas in fact it is the language of murder and death, in the melodic tones of ‘choice,’ just like the language of the abortion clinics, so called. There is only one premise in all this: suffering and inconvenience must be eliminated for everyone at all costs. At all costs, mind you. The price tag has been placed, is placed, because that is the lingua franca of the death factories—the Soylent Green Industries, if you remember the movie. ‘Your suffering is my inconvenience, your death my solution.’ The poets . . .”

“The poets? What?”

“Your poets—a few of them—have prophesied for your people but few listen. I am still struck by the fact that millions of people have watched The Lord of the Rings a dozen times, but have missed most of its meanings, including the evil of Mordor, the archetype of State madness.”

“Yes,” the hermit sad sadly. “I know. I taught an Honors seminar on Tolkien a few years ago in which the students—most of them—absolutely resisted knowing what Tolkien meant. It is incredible that this major poet has been such a successful failure.”

“But let me point to two poets (I use the word in its traditional sense) who have gone to the heart of the matter on the direction of humanistic and anti-religious societies. These are two poets whose prophetic messages have been ignored by your intelligentsia, who mark them ‘odd’ or ‘mad,’ and turn away.

“The first is The Canticle of Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1959); the second is The Thanatos Syndrome by Walker Percy (1987). A pivot point between them is “Rediscovering A Canticle for Leibowitz,” an essay by Walker Percy written in 1971, during the period in which Percy was becoming more aware of the depth of cultural sickness in America and beginning to shape his fictions as messages wrapped in comedic strategies to elude the literati. With his last novel, The Thanatos Syndrome, the message was all too clear, and the critics opening that package were horrified to find that their pet Catholic novelist was up to the same game as Flannery O’Connor, writing in giant letters and grotesque plots the meanings that the West needed to hear, like warnings shouted on a sinking ship.”

“I remember these strange, powerful novels, Jabar,” the hermit responded. “Remind me, how do they reveal the deep ambivalence of our culture toward death?”

“Simply, that the West has nothing to believe in any longer except death itself. Death is the solution, the only solution that makes any sense, release from the suffering of life. Instant Buddhism, if you will, cloaked in a lying reverence for life. No matter how much the secular humanists prate about the value of life, they can only define it as the power to exterminate—in euthanasia, abortion, infanticide, or nuclear war. After wildly hinting at his vision for four or five novels, Percy risked spelling it out—a sort of ‘Life and Death Issues for Dummies.’”

“Yes,” the hermit recalled, “he reveals one of the best kept secrets of the twentieth century, the roots of the Nazi holocaust in the left-wing politics of the Weimar Republic, in which the State took on the mantle of savior by redefining the value of life. The doctors of liberal Germany spelled it out in The Release of the Destruction of Life Devoid of Value (Life Unworthy of Life) (1922) by Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche, and the legislators proceeded to pass the laws that would allow the government to forcibly sterilize the ‘feeble minded’ and euthanize anyone who did not fall without the parameters of ‘meaningful’ life. Hitler’s Nazi government did not need to pass a single law; the statutes were already in place. The friendly vans from the government could begin euthanizing mental patients wholesale. This deep interconnection between the leftist view of life and the Nazi view of life . . .”

Life devoid of value with a price tag

“Yes,” the hermit agreed, “is definitely hidden in the left’s educational syllabus today, while Peter Singer is taught as a respectable philosopher and Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, clearly a neo-Nazi with a particular animus against black people, is celebrated as a savior of society. I wonder why abortion ‘clinics’ do not have little Sanger shrines and pass out Sanger holy cards.”

Saints Sanger and Singer: Prophets of Death

“Walter M. Miller was a real prophet. He saw where things would go. In A Canticle for Leibowitz he pictured earth in the third millennium as a place where a second nuclear holocaust would leave millions dying of radiation exposure and where a small band of Benedictines would be the last line of defense against the euthanizing Mercy Camp crematoria of the government. Abbot Zerchi and his monks protest the smarmy government murders that are committed in the name of mercy—”

“Yes! And in The Thanatos Syndrome, Percy’s ‘science fiction,’ it is a Catholic priest, thought to be mad by most, who preaches a sermon at the opening of a hospice—in which he startles his hearers by saying that the Great Prince Satan is ruling the earth and that ‘tenderness leads to the gas chamber.’ ‘Beware, tender hearts,’ he says, ‘don’t you know where tenderness leads? To the gas chambers . . . . More people have been killed in this century by tender-hearted souls than by cruel barbarians in all the centuries put together. . . .Listen to me, dear physicians, dear brothers, dear Qualitarians, abortionists, euthanasists.’ Then, like Mother Teresa, he invites these doctors to send all the ‘suffering, dying, afflicted, useless, born or unborn, whom you for the best of reasons wish to put out of his misery’ to his hospice.”

“So both these poets point to the central lie that the State should be allowed to define who is worthy of life and to act accordingly.”

“Yes,” Jabar replied, “but note that it is the citizens of the State who rush to embrace this evil philosophy. And that is why I say that the culture of the West is eaten up with a love of death disguised as a love for life.”

“Yes,” the hermit said sadly, “in my last years of teaching, I was astonished to hear students defending every unnatural thing. From homosexuality to involuntary sterilization to a preference for animal rights over human rights. In particular they reacted with revulsion to the mentions of large families, virginity, chastity, traditional marriage (the only kind), and cheered on abortion, euthanasia, birth control, eugenics, cloning, you name it.

Saint Margaret, Mother of Mercy, speaks to the KKK

“The current enthusiasm for socialism among the occupiers is all of a piece: the first thing a socialist society does is to deny the worth of, even the existence of, the human person. When I was a college student in the last century, I read Pope Leo XIII’s denunciation of socialism as a philosophy in which the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the ‘socio-economic mechanism.’ In other words, life has a price tag. All those who follow the wonderful celebration of painless death now popular in medical and nursing schools will perhaps be surprised when they themselves hear the hiss of the gas chambers. Nazis R Us, but we don’t see it and, like Ann Frank, wonder that the Nazi philosophy could so completely surround us.”

When the hermit heard no reply, he turned to see the figure of Jabar Al Jabar moving steadily away from him into the desert, as if he were suddenly seized with a fear that the hermit himself carried the Western contagion, and needed to purify himself in the burning hot sands. With an added ironic gesture, Jabar shook the dust from his sandals.

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