Britain—a country that celebrates its self-contempt

What is liberalism about, whether expressed through politics, or through education and the liberal arts, or through mass entertainment vehicles like The Dark Knight Rises, or through the Olympics? It’s about feeling that we are no good, that our country is no good, and that life is no good. It is about portraying everything that is good, as ominous, evil, and hateful. And that, as Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark, in a very different context, is the sin that hath no forgiveness.

Michael K. writes:

I thought you would be interested in this article about the opening ceremonies for the upcoming London Olympics.

It appears that the theme of the opening ceremonies will be Britain’s “denial of voting rights to women, Industrial Revolution pollution, the Great Depression and exploitation of the workers.” The “centerpiece will be a reenactment of a 200-mile 1936 workers’ march from the North to London to protest living conditions.” Here is the New York Post article:

Get Ready for the Guiltolympics
by Kyle Smith

When Beijing kicked off its 2008 Olympics, the ceremony celebrated an ideal China. Sweatshops, the Cultural Revolution and the absence of democracy went unmentioned. But the West is more sophisticated—so next week’s opening of the London Games will go for the gold in historical guilt, re-opening old wounds and national self-loathing.

The July 27 ceremony, conceived by Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Trainspotting” director Danny Boyle, will pay careful attention to Britain’s shame, with tableaux devoted to the denial of voting rights to women, Industrial Revolution pollution, the Great Depression and exploitation of the workers.

Instead of celebrating Nelson and Wellington, the show will feature scary soldiers “erupting” out of the ground like lava. A centerpiece will be a reenactment of a 200-mile 1936 workers’ march from the North to London to protest living conditions. “Brideshead Revisited,” this ain’t. Call it Painspotting.

The closely guarded details of the show have been leaking out. For example, it will contain “quite a lot of ‘Frankenstein’” imagery, Boyle told Vogue. “It’ll be a Hard Truths Night,” said a headline in the Times of London.

Is this what taxpayers want their $126 million to be spent on, in an alleged Age of Austerity—the feel-bad extravaganza of the century? In an economically depressed country where vicious tax hikes are rapidly turning the middle class into Slumdog Hundredaires, Boyle is preparing to do to Britain what he did to James Franco in “127 Hours”: Drop a giant rock on it and watch it squirm.

“It’s not a naive show,” Boyle has said. “We’re trying to show the best of us, but we’re also trying to show many different things about our country.”

Yes, by all means, let’s not confuse the Olympics with standing for the best. Why stop at the opening ceremonies, though? Instead of being so elitist as to bring the top athletes, why not just go down to the pub and pick a random cross-section of citizens?

Believe it or not, just as China 2008 experimented with artificial cloudbursts for the purpose of clearing the skies before the ceremony and leaving them bright and blue for the Games, Boyle promises an artificial downpour during the ceremony to, er, remind Britons they live in a land that is not only spiritually but literally soggy, gray and damp.

As if they needed reminding. (The Spectator’s editor, Fraser Nelson, tweeted last week of the nation’s recent downpours, “In the Bible it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and they called it a disaster. In England they call it summer.”)

Even the left-wing paper The Guardian expressed misgivings about Boyle’s choices, saying “the countryside” will be presented as “an ironic hors d’oeuvre, to be exploded and splattered over the face [of] the Olympics.”

The guiltolympics are a perfect example of how British elites—the BBC, the schools and colleges, even the film industry (which is awash in subsidies from the lottery)—shamelessly take money from ordinary Britons and use it to disparage them, their values, their sense of history and their national pride. Three generations of this have left the UK a cowering, cringing place, uncertain of its future and defensive about its past.

The ceremony will reportedly conclude with Sir Paul McCartney singing “Hey Jude.” Don’t be surprised if Boyle orders him to change a key lyric to, “Take a proud land, and make it worse.”

Michael K. continues:

I am not sure to what extent the information in this article has been confirmed, but it is consistent with everything you have been saying about about modern Britain for years. Indeed, I don’t know if you recall the “handoff” from Beijing to London at the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but the British portion of the ceremony consisted of a depressing and embarrassing performance of randomly choreographed multicultural street dancing on a double decker bus, which I assume was intended to highlight Britain’s liberalism and tolerance but instead just looked disordered and patched together. I recall discussing Britain’s embarrassing performance with my wife at the time, contrasting it with the truly magnificent, self assured and proud performance of the Chinese. I recall telling her that this one scene was irrefutable evidence that all civilizational pride and confidence had disappeared in Britain, and that the West could not continue down its present road. Based on the performance in 2008, I would not be in the slightest bit surprised if every word in the article were true.

I was unable to find a video of the British portion of the 2008 Olympics handoff, but I was able to find a video of the 2008 Paralympics handoff, which is similar to my recollection.

The Paralympics performance starts at 7:00 and ends at 16:15 in the video I linked. I think this portion at least is worthwhile for you to view. Please note “Lord Nelson” in sunglasses, a shiny silver costume, and playing the guitar.

- end of initial entry -

Karl D. writes:

Good gravy! If that is true as the article implies, it has almost become leftist multicultural parody. Why don’t they just hand out whips to every Englishman to flagellate himself with? Or at least give the whips to any UK medal winners. Then they can whip themselves on the podium and give their medals to the Third World country of their choice. Perhaps the entire contingent of medal winners from Western countries could take a page from Obama and proudly announce “I didn’t win this.”

LA replies:

That’s a riot.

Michael K. writes:

You said:

What is liberalism about, whether expressed through politics, or through education and the liberal arts, or through mass entertainment vehicles like The Dark Knight Rises, or through the Olympics? It’s about feeling that we are no good, that our country is no good, and that life is no good.

I would add that the self-hatred you describe violates the Lord’s Second Commandment, and thereby eliminates the possibility of true love for another.

In Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV), Jesus is asked by a lawyer for the Pharisees, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” In response, Jesus states :

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Emphasis added).

While liberals emphasize the Lord’s commandment to love one’s neighbor, the corresponding commandment—to love oneself—is ignored. Loving oneself (and by extension, one’s family, society, people, etc.) is thus a necessary condition for truly loving another, and is a necessary condition for the ability to obey his commandment. Conversely, self-hatred tends to lead to the hatred of others, a truth evidenced by the end results of liberalism we have seen throughout history (i.e. the French Revolution, Communism, etc.)

This truth is also taught by the Church. In the Baltimore Catechism (No. 4), the Church teaches:

The Commandments which contain the whole law of God are these two: first, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, with thy whole strength, and with thy whole mind; second, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. “As thyself”—that is, as explained elsewhere, with the same kind, though not necessarily with the same degree, of love. First we must love ourselves and do what is essential for our own salvation.

LA replies:

I’m so glad you made this point. I covered similar ground in an unpublished section from the draft of my 2004 FrontPage Magazine article, “How liberal Christianity promotes open borders and one-worldism.” However, my point was somewhat different from yours. I said that since we are to love others as we love ourselves, and since we obviously are not meant to love ourselves unconditionally, therefore the liberal interpretation, that we are to love the Other unconditionally, is incorrect.

Here is the unpublished draft:

Another of the liberals’ favorite biblical passages is God’s command in Leviticus 19 concerning the proper treatment of foreigners:

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. But the stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

While liberals have often quoted this passage to provide support for an open borders policy, it has little to do with immigration. The text refers to one who “sojourns,” meaning a temporary resident in the land, not an immigrant. It is telling us to treat such a stranger as a fellow human being, not to vex or persecute him. It is most decidedly not telling us to open our borders to a mass immigration of such strangers, so that they can change our society from what it is into something else. If you believe that it is telling us that, then you must also believe that Jesus’ command, “Give to him who asks of you,” means that we should instantly hand over our entire national product to leftist international organizations who are demanding, in the name of justice and compassion, the global equalization of wealth and income.

But what about that command—which we can’t get away from—to “love the stranger as yourself”? The main Gospel authority concerning love of others is the passage in Matthew where Jesus, asked what is the greatest commandment, quotes two verses from the Torah: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39.) The key to this teaching is that love of God comes first. It is the love of God that disciplines us toward the good and restrains our self-aggrandizing impulses, including the impulse to display conspicuous compassion for others. An unconditional love of neighbor apart from love of God would lead us to mad acts of do-gooderism or self-sacrifice.

To this, a liberal literalist might say that since the first commandment is to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind; and since the second commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves; and since the second command is “like the first,” therefore we’re supposed to love our neighbor just as we’re supposed to love God—with our whole heart, soul, and mind. In reality, Jesus tells his followers to love the neighbor as one loves oneself, not as one loves God. It would be an absurdity to say that God wants us to love ourselves unconditionally, with our whole heart, soul, and mind. Therefore we are not to love our neighbor that way either. We are commanded to love and follow God, and once we do that, we will know how to feel and behave rightly toward ourselves and our neighbor as well.

Ironically, the very words, “you shall love him as yourself,” which liberals take as commanding unconditional love for the Other, back up my narrower interpretation. Since it is only possible, at best, to love one person or a few people as one loves oneself, not an entire populace or the entire human race, the passage must be referring to a voluntary, personal relationship, not some politically coerced process of national self-sacrifice.

Furthermore, as the Bible states over and over, God wants mankind to exist in separate nations. Deuteronomy 32:8 says: “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples … ” Acts 17:26-27 says that God sets “boundaries of their habitation” for every nation of mankind. The Old Testament is filled with admonitions to the Israelites to make distinctions between themselves and strangers. The most extreme instance is in the book of Ezra, Chapters 10 and 11, where the Jews are commanded to disown their non-Jewish wives and children in order to preserve the ethnic purity of the Jewish people (which if they hadn’t done, the Jews would have gone out of existence, and there wouldn’t have been a Jewish people for Jesus to be born into, and there would have been no Christianity). When so much in the Bible counsels national and ethnic exclusiveness, it is dishonest to take isolated scriptural passages as a mandate for open borders.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 23, 2012 02:34 PM | Send

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