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By David Warren, The Catholic Thing, Feb. 1, 2019
NOTE: In a previous column, David Warren championed Latin as a language of civility in need of revival (perhaps in a newspaper). Professor Daniel Gallagher, a classicist and Latinist, responded in a subsequent column. Warren returns to the classics today. So we thought some readers might also enjoy reading Gallagher’s column, translated by the author into Latin, here: Brevium ad Populum. David Warren respondeo.
At this moment, I write next to a large window, against which winds are crashing, moaning and howling through every crack they find. It is a fine midwinter scene, up here in the Great North: temperatures from the High Arctic, frequent whiteout blizzards, and the accumulation of mighty snow banks, here in downtown Toronto.
That is Nature, outside. Inside my little apartment, Civilization so warm, cozy, and insecure. It is only through Learning, of the most modest kind, that I may know the winter will pass, that spring will come, and someday, heat waves. Call this “historical research,” at its most basic.
Or: “Civilizations have come and gone.” The winter is upon this one now; our own death is constantly before us. What we glibly call “Western Civ,” once so powerful, is now under vicious, barbaric attack not only at frontiers but from within the very institutions it created. Those with the solemn moral responsibility to uphold them are instead wetting their pants.
I could add a thousand Internet links, but readers of a website like this will be well acquainted with what is happening, for instance, in ALL the college humanities. My own attention has been captured recently by the betrayal of Classics. I’d been aware of “progressive tendencies” all my adult life, but now the revolution has come, and the whole organism is being gutted.
Naïve, perhaps, I couldn’t quite believe the intellectual terrorists of the pagan Left would have much interest in Latin and Greek. Surely they would consider ancient history and archaeology too effete to bother with.
The same, previously, in each of the humanities that was infiltrated then gutted by brazen ideologues. They had no business there, had no love for the disciplines as they found them, took no joy in the beauties each discipline revealed. How did they even come to envy the scholars who took pleasure in the arcana of each field?
The organism first accommodates the parasite: “live and let live.” It seems an irritation, no serious threat. Cells in the vicinity will defeat it. They don’t, as they might in a very healthy body. The parasite flourishes; it feeds on any healthy tissue it finds. It spreads, metastasizes. Suddenly it is everywhere; and will die only with the patient it kills.
It is now the turn of Classics to be eviscerated in this way. Try to defend this organism and you will be accused of “white supremacy.” If you are a white man you are under attack, for no other reason. Defend yourself, and you will be publicly vilified for hypothetical racism and misogyny.
And we are supposed to take lessons about racism and misogyny from people who only care about our “gender identity” and the color of our skin. The absurdity is manifest in every radical slogan.
There is no stench like “equity.”
Yet it was a glory of our civilization to have uncovered the glories of so many others. Those who condemn “the myths of Western Civ” depend, invariably, on what it discovered and preserved to construct their “alternative” myths.
The howling winds discover every crack. The people taking our civilization down, damn the consequences. They are killing the very organism that keeps them warm and dry, against the blizzards of rude nature. They break our pretty windows, so the storm comes in against us, but also against them. We freeze together.
Those who can appreciate their own dependence upon civilization – which is never an abstract; which is always a specific, embodied and therefore imperfect organism – are alone capable of defending it. Here we must appraise our failure to teach the connections between things.
One is under a prudential obligation to acknowledge that which keeps one alive. I write “obligation” because recognition of the obvious slides into moral truth. To deny one’s sustaining parentage and patronage – the “patriarchy” if you will – is to live a lie. You do not live on your own cloud; you draw your food from the cultivated earth.
Catholics are privileged in this respect. The “Western Civ” now under ruthless attack is Christian in its essence, thus Catholic par excellence. It owes its integrity to a Christian formation, both Roman and Greek. It had from Greece and Rome and Israel – and from Egypt, Mesopotamia and other distant sources – its antecedents.
To characterize our whole civilization as a racist imposture is an act of bastardy. It is a murderous attack on Catholicism itself, and on the Church whose diversely colored members inhabit every modern nation. All should take it personally.
An expression of regret is not a defense. The idea that we should retreat to the hills, when we are in fact pursued by wild beasts, is not a plausible strategy. As Christians of old, we have no such choices.
Defense requires us to raise the stakes. Rather than submit with some limp protest to the tyranny of the moral imbecile, we must force his hand. This is what the early Christians did in the face of Roman paganry. It has always been required of us; every Christian “drafted” at baptism.
In reasoned terms, it comes to this. To prevail against us, ignorant slogans won’t do; let us show our contempt for what is contemptible. In the end the enemy must kill us. Then by our martyrdoms, we prevail. Parse this as they may, they cannot win.
Indeed, history tells the very happy tale of the extinction of all those who persecuted Jews and Christians.
As a strategy, that of Christ Militant defeats those of Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, and all others. It has always been dismissed; it has always triumphed.
As Catholics, we are privileged to have inherited a civilization whose accomplishments have exceeded all others; which outlasted them to become the core of a world civilization. It is our privilege, as Catholics, to understand this, our privilege to defend, and our privilege to renew the advance.
*Photo: [Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star]
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