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Friday, April 28, 2017

Sean Spicer's "Gaffe” and the New Dogmatism of Modern Society

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The current news cycle is full of odds and ends that seem to catch interest in a bizarre manner. Recently, the mainstream media launched a massive, personal assault on President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, for something he casually said during a press briefing. Of course, Spicer has been attacked and caught in numerous cross hairs since he was appointed. But this time the criticism was outside the realm of presidential politics.

His “sin”? On April 11 he made an off-hand comparison of the supposed barbarity of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with the crimes of German dictator Adolf Hitler over the use of poison gas. Oh, no! You can’t do that! You can’t even get close to that analogy! CBS News called the comparison a “colossal error,” and the rest of the media jumped in (including Fox) to condemn Spicer for his “being tone deaf,” and even “possible anti-Semitism.” It was a “serious gaffe,” Fox intoned. “You gotta know your history and can’t say some things!” was the nearly unanimous refrain.

You see the “Hitler analogy” is totally verboten; you are simply not allowed to use it. The crimes of Hitler---the horrendous gas chambers, the genocide---are considered unique, and absolutely no comparisons are permitted. Thus, to suggest that the thousands of Polish Catholic citizens who suffered barbarity at the hands of SS, or the approximately ten million Christian Ukrainians who perished under dictator Josef Stalin’s brutal rule in a process called the “Holodomor,” are in any degree comparable with the Holocaust, means that the speaker is shouted down as “insensitive,” “beyond the pale,” or, worse, labeled “anti-Semitic.” Even the publication a few years back of the famous Black Book of Communism, describing in irrefutable detail nearly 100 million deaths caused by world Communism, was condemned for somehow equating those lives with victims of the Holocaust.

Spicer, of course, immediately groveled and apologized profusely, demonstrating once again that there are certain totems in contemporary society that are even more dogmatic than any doctrine of religious faith ever was! You can deny the divinity of Christ or the Virgin Birth or the existence of Heaven and Hell, and no one will pile on you these days; indeed, most of the secular mainstream media and pundits like Bill Maher will most likely praise you for being “intrepid” and “fearless” in the face of “religious intolerance” and “bigotry.” But you cannot---under the pain of universal outrage and secular “excommunication” ---make any comparison with the unique, untouchable criminality of Nazi Germany.

In fact, the assault on Spicer was based on a new type of dogmatism that infects nearly every facet of American life.

Even on the basic point the press secretary was trying to make, the narrative was muddled. Even if we were to accept that Assad were responsible for gassing (which remains unconfirmed by independent observers), the clear attempt of the mainstream media in humiliating Spicer was to attack President Trump, once again, by way of his press secretary, using this accusation of his supposed “insensitivity” and the violation of one of the new dogmatic iron rules of our mentally corrupt society.

What we have witnessed in recent years is the erection of a whole series of new tenets of modern “faith,” unchallengeable totems that we dare not question, lest we be cast out into utter darkness, reprobation, and exile from “civilized” society. Thus, you cannot question the “fact” that the War Between the States was “about slavery,” or that “man-made climate change is a fact,” or that “white racism infects our entire society,” and so on. These “dogmas” have in an increasingly aggressive way replaced older Christian doctrines in the hearts and minds of millions of citizens.

And the difference is this: those older doctrines were authored by our Creator, and they were fitted not only to fallible human nature, but also to the rhythm of Natural Law. For nearly two-thousand years Christianity and Christians were able to create a civilization and a culture that glorified God. Certainly, mankind has had its share of conflicts and wars, famine and persecution; but through it all, there was a common recognition that what was “right,” was “right,” and what was “wrong,” was “wrong.” Original sin, human fallibility and greed did produce barbarities. But Christianity, most importantly, taught salvation and forgiveness through God’s grace, and that humans could receive that grace and illumination, and that with that illumination a Christian culture could—and did---exist.

The modern template disdains that legacy, perverts it, erects new dogmas, and those new dogmas reject and dissolve the historically Christian transformation of men as “children of God,” casting mankind back into the darkness of secular barbarism and the law of the jungle.

As Christians, it behooves us to regain that vision and renew the faith that never becomes old or loses its savor. As G. K. Chesterton once said about our supercilious modern society: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

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Dr. Boyd D. Cathey

Boyd D. Cathey, a native North Carolinia, received an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow) and served as assistant to conservative author, Dr. Russell Kirk, in Mecosta, Michigan. Recipient of a Richard M. Weaver Fellowship, he completed his doctoral studies at the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. Then, after additional studies in philosophy and theology, he taught in both Connecticut and in Argentina, before returning to the United States. He served as State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives, retiring in 2011. He is the author of various articles and studies published in several different languages about political matters, religion, and culture and the arts.

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