Note: Been gone awhile, I know. Things are crazy at work. But I’ve got two weeks of vacation coming up and I plan to use it to get some good writing done!
Some California lawmakers are now proposing a bill that would, essentially, punish religious schools for upholding the teachings of their religions. Their argument is that since these schools accept some form of government money — through loans and whatnot — they are obligated to set aside the aspects of their faith that make progressives uncomfortable.
Yeah, yeah, yeah: “What if they were discriminating on the basis of race? Wouldn’t you support what they’re doing?” I’ve explained before why I believe this is an extremely poor analogy, but let me put it a different way. You realize, don’t you, that by tying any form of public support to an ever-narrowing range of permissible opinions, you’re undermining the very notion of public support? If I’m not permitted to use a government-backed loan to pay for the school of my choice, well, maybe I’m going to tell my lawmakers that I don’t believe the government should be making those loans in the first place. If you’re not subsidizing my choices, why the hell am I subsidizing yours?
But whatever. My main point in bringing this up is that if this sort of thing spreads outside of California, I do not see any way it will not lead to the dissolution of our country. And chances are very good that it won’t stay bottled up in California. If, as seems likely, Hillary Clinton is elected president this fall, and liberals finally gain a solid 5-4 voting bloc on the Supreme Court, there are already people advocating total, all-out judicial warfare against conservatives, and especially conservative Christians. You really should go over and read that link I just posted; I’ll wait.
Back yet? Okay: The program this man is laying out is nothing less than a recipe for the end of the United States of America. In the last paragraph of After Virtue, the Scottish philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre famously pointed out that in the fall of Rome,
A crucial turning point … occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium.
The well-known legal scholar I linked to earlier, the one wanting scorched-earth legal tactics against conservatives, is proposing to accomplish that very thing. He would build a new legal regime that is implacably hostile to at least 40 percent of the population. Not tolerant — hostile. As in: Holding or being sympathetic to traditional, conservative religious beliefs, while not illegal, will be officially viewed by the state as less than fully American and a potential breeding ground for treason. That means 40 percent of the country, while not necessarily hostile, will not see the continued health and prosperity of the United States as being in their best interests. Like Jews living under Roman rule in the first century, these people might not wish for America’s destruction, exactly — a few will, but most will just grind their teeth and bear it. But they’ll also regard the United States of America as wholly unworthy of their time, treasure or blood.
That is unsustainable. From there, the only two paths I see are some kind of peaceful dissolution, or civil war. Well, there’s also a third option, I suppose: A sort of federalism-on-steroids, where certain parts of the country are granted a limited local autonomy as long as they pay their taxes on time and don’t cause too much trouble for the central government. This is more or less the arrangement Northern Ireland has with Great Britain; it’s also the solution the Roman Empire settled on in its later years. This would be a stopgap measure, but it could probably be made to work for a century or two.
ADDENDUM: Can’t believe this didn’t occur to me before, but my “federalism on steroids” scenario of wide local autonomy is also, of course, the solution the U.S. government adopted towards the South from the late 19th century until the mid-20th century.
After the Civil War, the Union had not the time, money, nor inclination to conduct a long, drawn-out guerilla war across the South, so the solution was to allow the South to enact Jim Crow. In return for the South surrendering peacefully and abandoning slavery, northern political interests basically allowed Southern states to set their own rules for how to deal with newly-freed black “citizens.”
This, again, should underline the fact that this is a less-than-optimal solution, even if it provides some short term peace. I should also remind readers that this “solution” came about only AFTER the bloodiest war in our nation’s history.
So that’s even more reason to be worried…