Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: Black Ships Before Troy

Black Ships Before Troy delivers all the epic legendary drama of Homer's Iliad in a package sure to appeal to kids between the ages of 8 and 13.

If you say "Homer" to most kids these days, the most immediate response is "Simpson". "Ajax" is a cleaning product and names like "Hector", "Achilles", and "Priam" evoke blank stares. To counteract this, I recommend that you get them a copy of Black Ships Before Troy by renowned children's author Rosemary Sutcliffe. Given that the Trojan War cycle is, after Sacred Scripture, one of the main fonts of the Western literary canon, it is important that kids have a basic knowledge of the legends, heroes and villains associated with it. While the Iliad itself may be a tough read for kids, Black Ships Before Troy is not. The writing, however, is not pedestrian. It maintains a poetic quality that is well-suited to the subject matter. The illustrations are also superior and held my children captivated.

For homeschoolers, this book is a great way to introduce your kids to ancient Greece and great literature at the same time. It also provides numerous opportunities to discuss morals and the virtues and flaws of the numerous characters. We read the book out-loud as part of our ongoing studies of Bronze-age Greece and it was interesting to see which characters my kids identified with and which they despised. It was also a chance to examine the pagan religions of the ancients and introduce the kids to the differences between the pagan and Judeo-Christian views of the world.

One further bonus is that Black Ships Before Troy actually goes beyond the text of the Iliad and tells the story of the entire war through the fall of Troy.

So overall, I highly recommend this book, particularly for homeschoolers, as a fantastic appetizer to the feast of ancient history and Western literature. Once your kids have read it, they will be ready to move on to other similar books such as The Wanderings of Odysseus, also by Rosemary Sutcliffe, In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid, by Penelope Lively, and The Laviniad: An Epic Poem by my friend Claudio Salvucci.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Communist Goals of 1963 and modern Libertarians as Useful Idiots

This past week, Rick Santorum was taken to task for daring to suggest in an eminently reasonable policy statement on his website that we should actually enforce laws already on the books to restrict the distribution of hard-core pornography. The hysterical reaction from the libertarian/left was predictable, likening Santorum to everything from a church lady to an American Taliban.

Following is a list of Communist Goals that was read into the Congressional Record by A. S. Herlong, Democrat Representative of the State of Florida in 1963. Every now and then, I like to revisit this list to see how the enemies of the civilization are doing accomplishing these goals. While some of the goals on this list are out-of-date historically speaking, many are in the process of being accomplished right now under our very noses. On the whole, the list provides a checklist for how to undermine a nation and set it up for destruction.

I hope that some libertarians will read this list and at least come to understand what you are defending and whose rhetoric you are adopting when you claim that a duly elected government has no right to restrict obscenity.

[Bold is mine]


January 10, 1963

Current Communist Goals



Thursday, January 10, 1963

Mr. HERLONG. Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Nordman of De Land, Fla., is an ardent and articulate opponent of communism, and until recently published the De Land Courier, which she dedicated to the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of communism in America.

At Mrs. Nordman's request, I include in the RECORD, under unanimous consent, the following "Current Communist Goals," which she identifies as an excerpt from "The Naked Communist," by Cleon Skousen:

[From "The Naked Communist," by Cleon Skousen]


1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.

2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.

3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.

4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.

5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.

6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.

7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.

8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.

9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.

10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.

11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces.

12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.

13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.

14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.

15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.

16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.

17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

18. Gain control of all student newspapers.

19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.

20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.

21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.

22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."

23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art."

24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press.

25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy."

27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a "religious crutch."

28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state."

29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man."

31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.

32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture--education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.

34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.

36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.

37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.

38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.

42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use ["]united force["] to solve economic, political or social problems.

43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.

44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.

45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.

Beyond libertarians, however, it is dismaying to me how easily some well-intentioned conservatives have fallen for the narrative that obscenity is a "free speech" issue when it never was before the 1960s. Here are two snippets from Supreme Court decisions that were subsequently overturned by the radical courts of the 1960s, much to this country's detriment:
Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire (1942):

"There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or 'fighting' words....It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality."

Roth vs. The United States (1957)

"Obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected freedom of speech or press--either (1) under the First Amendment, as to the Federal Government, or (2) under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as to the States.... In the light of history, it is apparent that the unconditional phrasing of the First Amendment was not intended to protect every utterance.... The protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.... All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance--unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion--have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests; but implicit in the history of the First Amendment is the rejection of obscenity as utterly without redeeming social importance."
Personally, I am happy to see a national candidate of Santorum's stature address this issue.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hero of the Culture of Life, Bl. Pope John XXIII

Quoted in Pope Paul VI's epochal encyclical Humanae Vitae, this declaration was originally found in his predecessor, Blessed Pope John XXIII's encyclical, entitled, Mater et Magistra, which was published in May of 1961.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hero of the Culture of Death, Margaret Sanger

This quote is take from Margaret Sanger's 1920 book, Women and the New Race, Chapter 5: The Wickedness of Creating Large Families.

Here are a few more choice tidbits from that particular chapter:
The most serious evil of our times is that of encouraging the bringing into the world of large families. The most immoral practice of the day is breeding too many children...
...Let it be remembered that bearing and rearing six or eight children to-day is a far different matter from what it was in the generations just preceding. Physically and nervously, the woman of to-day is not fitted to bear children as frequently as was her mother and her mother’s mother....
...The immorality of bringing into being a large family is a wrong-doing shared by three—the mother, the father and society. Upon all three falls the burden of guilt. It may be said for the mother and father that they are usually ignorant. What shall be said of society? What shall be said of us who permit outworn laws and customs to persist in piling up the appalling sum of public expense, misery and spiritual degradation? The indictment against the large unwanted family is written in human woe.
Interestingly if not ironically, Margaret Higgins Sanger was the sixth of eleven children.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Rick Santorum - The Family Values Candidate

Rick Santorum is the only candidate left in the race who has got it right on how family issues are affecting our country.