Quick Hits: American society in disarray

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 07, 2020

To rescue America from the threat of both political and moral chaos, Michael Pakaluk argues on The Catholic Thing, we should begin by addressing the gross iniquity of legal abortion. There are other critical issues on the political agenda, he acknowledges, but “legal abortion is demonstrably the wellspring of the lies and totalitarianism of political correctness. To reverse the latter, one must reverse the former.” Moreover, Pakaluk continues, “abortion is the necessary backdrop of the hookup culture and the sexual revolution (as Casey admitted). To reject one compels practically the overthrow of the other.” There’s more to his argument, and it’s persuasive.


Looking at the current revolutionary impulse from a different perspective in The Spectator, Sohrab Ahmari (who knows something about the topic, having lived through the Islamic revolution in Iran), charges that today’s leftist activism is not really a revolution at all, but “a reactionary putsch.” The people tearing down monuments are not underprivileged, he notes; and their favorite causes have the support of the nation’s elties:

Does anyone seriously believe the American establishment—Walmart, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, the trustees of Ivy League universities, the major sports leagues, even Brooks Brothers, for God’s sake—would sign on to a movement that genuinely threatened its material interests?

If we are now watching the breakdown of the American republic, some conservative scholars will argue that the end was inevitable, because the Founders had ignored fundamental moral issues while adopting a materialist, Lockean philosophy. Robert Reilly attacks that argument head-on in an important new book, America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding. Reilly contends that the Founders were thoroughly steeped in the natural-law tradition that can be traced directly to Christian origins. For that matter, Locke—although undoubtedly influential—was not the sole influence on the Founders. Reviewing Reilly’s book for Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg remarks:

Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, for example, were widely read by the Foundation generation, which attached great importance to English common law. Blackstone’s introduction specifically cites and affirms the universally binding claims of natural law.

Ignatius Press, which published Reilly’s book, has posted a symposium in which a dozen other scholars comment on American on Trial. And I’m planning to offer my own thoughts on this important book—after I return from a few days at the seashore.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 08, 2020 3:38 AM ET USA

    I only mildly disagree with Pakaluk. Abortion is viewed by the left as a matter of strictly legal "rights", not a matter of science, morality, or reason. These three modes of understanding affirm one another that ALL abortions contravene God's will. Contraception, on the other hand, is the precursor to abortion. There would be no abortion mentality if there were no contraception mentality. Better to say that contraception is the necessary backdrop of the hookup culture and the sexual revolution.