Hard to argue with

John Danforth on the Thing that Used to be Conservatism:

What have been the big applause lines in these debates? Well, a statement that the governor of Texas is responsible for killing 234 people on death row. Or that we favor torture. Or that we’re creating a fence on the Mexican border that electrocutes people when they try to cross it. Or when people show up at the emergency room at hospitals and they’re not insured don’t treat them. And that, I mean these are the big applause lines, people just hoop and holler when they hear all that. […]

It doesn’t have anything to do with the Republican party that I was a part of. This is just totally different. And all of these people who are saying this, y’know, and claiming that, y’know, they’re for all this stuff, they also sort of ostentatiously say, “Oh, we’re very religious people. We really, we’re just very pious, Christian people.” They were for torture, and electrocution of the people on along the border and all of that. That doesn’t have anything to do with, is contrary to the Christianity that I understand.

I am politically homeless. And so are a lot of people who are appalled by the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism. And the Christians who try to sell this stuff as somehow being identifiable with the name of Jesus are only setting themselves up for the day when people–especially the young–who might have believed in Jesus turn away, not from him, but from this base alloy of semi-Protestantized secular messianism. May they find, instead of this gross parody, the Catholic faith, whole and entire, and not the bowdlerized version which picks and chooses from the faith in order to support a deranged political agenda of war, torture, and violence.

"https://www.npr.org/section...Sobering.Our children's pediatrician, an American citizen, born in Los Angeles, was kidnapped by white American ..."

Let’s talk about Romans 13
"Just a minute! It is quite normal for Church leaders to refer to the Bible ..."

Let’s talk about Romans 13
"Happy Father's day Andy!!"

The New Prolife Movement is a ..."
"Another Christianist sadist at war with the bishops. Done with you."

Let’s talk about Romans 13

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jack

    Mark you’re not alone in being pollitically homeless, perhaps we should all band togethor and form the Chesterton Party, I’m sure that we speak for the silent majority

    • Timothy of Seattle

      I don’t know about majorities. I think a more realistic (and perhaps also more Chestertonian stance) would be to look at ourselves as a creative minority.

      • Jack

        I disagree Timothy, I’m sure that once people have Distributionism explained to them the generally come to see it as a decent alternative to Big Mammon, heck I did.

        • Martial Artist


          I have one small question. Are you a practicing Distributist (i.e., living out your Distributism) or a theoretical Distributist (i.e., making the case that you would be a Distributist if the state/government/somebody would just remove the “obstacles” to living it out? Thanks.

          Pax et bonum,
          Keith Töpfer

          • Jack

            Dear Keith

            My mother and I are trying to move to a more distributionist lifestyle (my mother is a distributionist even if she doesn’t know it), admitedly it is easier in the centre-left area of the city where we live as many of the people here share distributionist ideals, even if they are unaware that they do so.

            • Martial Artist

              Dear Jack,

              That is good to hear. I have read far too many people self-identifying as distributists who insist that they cannot do so because they claim, in one way or another, that the rules are rigged against it. This always troubles me, as what they actually seem to want is for the state to impose a “distributist” model on our society, rather than allowing individuals and families to choose what seems right for them.

              You are the first person I’ve encountered who is simply moving in that direction rather than making excuses about why it isn’t allowed/possible.

              Pax et bonum,
              Keith Töpfer

  • Thomas R

    I remember once hoping Danforth had a chance for the Nobel Peace Prize after his work for peace in Sudan. I’m sure I disagree with him some, but I agree with most of his criticisms here.

    (As for distributism that’s a bit “beyond my paygrade.” Some of it sounds good, but I don’t know if it’s viable in the US and I think I’m “conservative” enough I’d like an example of it any nation doing it successfully before jumping totally onboard)

  • The people applauding “torture” have been forced to choose a word they never would have chosen if waterboarding had been accurately portrayed for what it is in the the public discourse: COERCIVE INTERROGATION.

    Believe me, I have a friend who was tortured in a North Vietnamese prison, and for the U.S. to be accused of torture is absolutely absurd…….not even close…….and, in fact, many of our most skilled military members are subjected to similar treatment in their TRAINING.

    My friend who lived 2 full years in a 48-inch cell (I won’t describe his “punishment” here – your readers couldn’t take it), would take issue with Mr. Danforth decrying our support of “torture.”

    Danforth is a liberal Episcopal priest, by the way – not a bad man, but a naive clergyman who disagrees with a great deal of traditional Catholic doctrine….a GREAT deal.

    • Jack

      I’m sorry Mr Gunter but waterboarding IS torture, and toture whether commited by the viet cong or the US Marine corps is plain wrong.

      There is a difference between training those with access to confidential information to resist torture and actually inflicting it upon others as the US armed forces are documented to have done so on multiple occasions over the past 10 years.

      But then again perhaps you’re one of those psycopaths who actually enjoys inflicting pain on another human being, perhaps you should get in contact with fomer army reservist Lynndie England who thought it was a great idea to force prisinors at abu ghraib to masturbate in front of her and to make a pyramid out their naked bodies – did I mention she had her friends take pictures? and I haven’t even got onto Guantanimo Bay

      Sorry mate but the US Armed forces have engaged in torture over the past 10 years and no amount of slick PR can change that fact, just because we are supposedly the good guys doesn’t mean we get to do whatever we want.

      • David Davies

        Yeah, waterboarding is ‘torture’. And parking by the fire hydrant and driving under the influence at 120 mph the wrong way on the freeway are both ‘traffic violations’.

        Can we insert some proportion here people? I agree that waterboarding is abusive and that we shouldn’t do it and that other methods yield better intelligence. That being said, waterboarding is just so insipid compared to have the bamboo splinters under your fingernails set on fire. Hysterically screeching that waterboarding is ‘TORTURE’ just cheapens the word until it begins to lose it’s meaning. Like ‘RACISM!’ Yeah, the perpetrators ought to be punished. Losing their jobs is about right.

        • Waterboarding doesn’t become any less wrong because someone can propose something worse. Racism became a cheap word because it was tossed at things that weren’t really racism. Waterboaring is torture, and if it really cheapens torture to say so, we wouldn’t see so many going into apopletic fit of excuse making for it.

          • David Davies

            Scott, you need to use another word. For most of us the word ‘torture’ conjures up images of Apaches roasting someone over a wagon wheel. When you apply it to a process that makes someone hold their breath for forty-five seconds or so, most of us just roll our eyes. ‘Abuse’ it is. ‘Torture’ it is not. And we should do neither thing.

      • David Davies

        Also, Jack, where is the ‘pain’ in masturbation? In no way to I approve of the activities of Ms. England, but PAIN? Humiliation, yep. Pain, not so much.

        The english in these com-boxes needs more precision. Maybe that’s why we don’t hold trials in com-boxes.

        • Maybe that’s why we don’t hold trials in com-boxes.

          No, but we did hold actual war crimes trials in which we convicted the Japanese for waterboarding prisoners. But apparently it’s different for us.

          • David Davies

            Andy. What the Japanese did was not waterboarding. Pumping water into your prisoner and jumping on him is not water boarding. Good grief. Can we at least get our offenses properly described?

        • Jack

          Dear David

          Given that the prisinors at Abu Grahib were almost (if not) exclusively Muslim who (to the best of my knowledge) hold with Catholics that masturbation is wrong, being forced to perform it would constitute degrading treatment (especially in front of other people and most likely at gun point) and would therefore qualify as torture under the UN convention against torture.

          • David Davies

            Jack. I agree with you. My point was specifically about the word ‘pain’. Degrading, yes. Offensive, yes. Illegal, yes. ‘Pain’, not so much.

            The lack of precision in the use of the language is what bugs me here. That’s all. Apparantly it is not important to most people and I am just weird. I accept that.

    • MarylandBill

      With respect to your friend, that the torture he received was worse than water-boarding does not negate the idea that water-boarding is torture.

      What the military subjects some of its members too is not torture for some important reasons; the most important of which is that the troops who receive such training volunteered (by enlisting if for no other reason) to undergo it.

      Lets put it this way, as far as I am concerned, if interrogation involves the infliction of physical or emotional pain, it is torture. It it would be a violation of the conventions on the treatment of POWs (as water-boarding would if applied to a uniformed member of the military), then it is torture.

      • David Davies

        So forcing me to listen to speeches given by our stuttering fool of a President would qualify as ‘torture’? I assure you that those speeches do indeed cause me ’emotional pain’. Isn’t it neat that I and only I can define this? That broadens the definition of ‘torture’ to include anything that especially bothers someone.

        • Jack

          David you have the option of turning off the TV/Radio when your president is speaking, the prisoners at Guantamino had no such option when the millitary was pumping rock music into the interrogation room at volumes designed to disorientate them.

          • David Davies

            So rock music is ‘torture’ also? All depending on whether you like it or not? Very subjective definition you have going there.

          • David Davies

            Jack. I said ‘forcing’ me to listen. Read more carefully.

            • Jack

              I don’t think being forced to listen to Obama’s state of the Union constitutes torture David, I think that Marylandbill was refering to techniques such as chaining people to the celling of their cells so they cannot sleep, holding people indefinately without trial, blasting high volume rock music into a cell with the aim of overloading the victim’s nervous system, waterboarding ect ect.

              But remember we’re the good guys and we’re spreading Truth, justice, democracy, freedom and all american apple pie so it really doesn’t matter if we’re the biggest bunch of hypocrites the world has ever seen

              • David Davies

                Jack, as long as anyone can define ‘torture’ any way they please, then for me listening to the Big Zero is ‘torture’. I am willing to accept a careful definition if ever we return to rational discourse.

                And, btw, enemy combatants can be held until the end of hostilities. It would be very helpful if we could decide whether we are faced with a war or a crime spree. Bush didn’t help at all by saying we were at war with ‘terror’, which as Mark has pointed out, is a tactic. It would be more accurate to say that we are at war with a nascent Caliphate.

                And a second btw. Illegal combatants can by summarily executed. Like pirates. They should either be killed in battle or tried and hanged. No torture is required.

  • Peggy R

    I don’t disagree w/Danforth on this, but I generally don’t like him and disagree with him otherwise. He is an Episcopal priest who is pretty socially liberal and not fiscally conservative. The Danforth family foundation supports embryonic stem cell research in Missouri. John Danforth is on the record supporting ESCR. Remember the big Prop x(?) in MO that then-Abp. Burke sought to defeat?

    • Mark Shea

      Not intended as an endorsement of Danforth, about whom I know little. Merely agreeing with this observation.

      • Peggy R


        Filter wants more words….wants more words…ye old filter wants more words, so here they are…

    • Thomas R

      Yeah I knew there was something about him I disliked. A shame because the first thing I knew about him was the Sudan stuff.

  • David Davies

    For the umpteenth time. The governor in Texas is a ‘weak’ governor. He can stay an execution once for thirty days. That’s it. Executions in Texas are otherwise out of his hands. Let’s get our facts straight.

    • MarylandBill

      Well, the governor in Texas does appoint the members of the parole board that can commute the sentence, and he can also request the sentence be commuted. It seems to me more like the Texas law is written to provide the governor cover than it is to actually restrict his power. I.e., if the parole board never commutes or offers longer stays, its because the governor put members on the board that wouldn’t.

  • Or when people show up at the emergency room at hospitals and they’re not insured don’t treat them.

    Whoa! Wait a minute. Who said this?

    • Dan

      Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yva0VSN1_T4

      The moderator asked Ron Paul a follow-up question: what should happen to a young, healthy man who didn’t buy insurance because “there’s time for that later,” who shows up to a hospital with a life-threatening head injury? “Should we let him die?

      Audience: “Yeah!” (cheers ensue)

  • Torture as a political policy has not bothered dominican-style catholics (e.g. Christie, Giuliani, the ghouls at Ed Feiser’s blog, etc), regardless of what JP II, or Ratz. have proclaimed–just as they will pay little notice to Ratz.’s pronouncements on the death penalty. The question then seems to be… who’s actually in charge of American catholics? Not the Pope so much. Out west, it’s probably like the LA bishop, Tom Lasorda, some assistance from like Schwarzenegger and pals, some hip lesbians from Loyola, etc.

    • S. Murphy

      Yeah, it’s funny how little that Vatican mind-control chip actually does…

  • JustMe

    Has anyone ever felt like they’re not voting for the least worst choice in an election? That said, do you sit home and let the worst happen or vote for the slightly less bad option?

  • Mark

    As long as abortion is legal in this country and supported by the Democratic Party I will vote Republican. Nothing else comes close to importance to the butchering of 4,000 innocent babies a day.

    at the planned parenthood site on their history http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/history-and-successes.htm
    I note that under the W Bush years you have a massive rant about W. and all he did to hinder planned parenthood. They hated him for his pro life actions.

    At the bottom of the page, we come to the election of Obama which was helped by those pro life who did not vote, or voted for a third party who could not win. Here is what Planned Parenthood had to say about this event..

    “On January 20, 2009, a new day dawns for reproductive health and rights with the inauguration of President Barack Obama, who makes clear his commitment to ensuring access to comprehensive health care for women and their families. With a PARTNER in the White House and ALLIES in Congress, Planned Parenthood renews its efforts to help secure reproductive rights and define health care reform for the 21st century.”

    If every pro life person in this country sent a letter to the Democratic Party and their local candidates in our area saying we would not vote Democrat for anything until the party ends its support of abortion and we will give those votes to the Republican Party, it would have more impact on abortion than any action we could take. If they know that they can keep you home, they know they win. Nothing compares to abortion and until we end it and all attacks on life, we will get nothing right in this country. I would encourage all the pro life bloggers to get on board and support a program to say no to Democrats and force them to change or lose every election over the next number of years to their total demise. Yes, we need to hold the Republicans to maintain a solid pro life voting record and to push them on all other areas of concern. But if we can stop abortion killing 4,000 babies a day and end the holocaust which has killed 54 million babies, God will be on our side in all the other battles. Staying home is a vote for Obama and his party. Voting for third party is a vote for Obama and his party. Lets let the democrats know that with their PARTNER relationship with Planned Parenthood, they will never get pro life votes ever again and they will not deter us from putting the other party in charge.