If the title quote had come out of the mouth of an American, one can well imagine the torrent of self-righteous invective against the speaker’s supposed racism and bigotry, his irrational anti-Hispanic bias, etc. But a more careful examination of the title quote yields something unexpected: a decidedly un-American spelling of the word “neighbor.” Why? Because the title quote is Canadian in origin.
Paula Citron, writing in The Globe and Mail, a Toronto publication, alludes to something invading Canada from south of its border. Something that some Canadians, at least, find undesirable. What could this “unwelcome import” be?
Shift gears now to New York, to the conference held at the CUNY Graduate Center on April 29–30, 2005, called “Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right.” I attended this conference, as did Chalcedon’s Communications Director Christopher Ortiz.
How welcome did we feel in the lion’s den?
One speaker, Katherine Yurica, in regard to “dominionists,” made her perspective quite clear: “We are dealing with psychological aberrations, if not outright evil.” “The dominionists have brought our nation to ruin.” “As dominionists continue to resurrect the words of Hitler, we invoke Churchill.” Dominionists have “a plan to take over the government of the United States.” Shrill comparisons to Jim Jones and Adolf Hitler abounded in her talk. While a few (wiser) speakers counseled restraint in demonizing, deriding, and insulting Christians, Yurica didn’t deviate from her script. “Dominionists,” she affirmed, “have studied Machiavelli, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and Hitler’s Mein Kampf.” “Hitler learned the value of spiritual terror,” says she, empowering him to create “the new individual who appeared in Germany,” namely, “the uncritical recipient of orders.” “Dominionists,” says she, are consciously replicating Hitler’s success using “Hitlerian technique,” thereby building an “edifice of lies.”
There must be some mistake: I’ve never read Machiavelli, William Shirer’s Rise and Fall, or Mein Kampf. Although my parents were German, my father was ten years old when World War II ended. My grandfather hated Nazis so much he became a Communist (which quickly landed him at the Russian front and imprisonment at Minsk), while his brother (my great uncle) was decapitated by the Nazis using a locomotive.
Truth be told, the most significant Hitler parallel actually lies between Hitler and the opponents of “dominionism.” Hitler outlawed Christian schools in 1936.
(I put “dominionism” in quotes because the definitions used by the speakers were so overly broad, and Chalcedon’s position was almost never accurately disclosed. The Bible’s position on many points was also inaccurately handled.)
Speaker Karen Armstrong, looking out across the gulf between fundamentalists and secular pluralists, sees both “a clash of sacred values” and “a chasm of incomprehension.” (That chasm of incomprehension sure sounds a lot like Van Til’s “point of contact” principle. Arguing across different presuppositional systems is inherently fruitless.) Speaker Frederick Clarkson quoted The New York Times to the effect that “This is Christian theocracy breaking out.” This paralleled speaker Joan Bokaer’s citation of Maureen Dowd: “Oh my God. We’re living in a theocracy!”
As Dr. R.J. Rushdoony observed, the greatest offense a Christian can commit is to take his faith seriously and actually be culturally effective.
There’ll be much more to say about the conference — I took pages of valuable, and very revealing, notes. But for now, let’s return to the question posed at the outset of this exercise. What is the “unwelcome import” seeping into Canada across the U.S.-Canadian border?
In a word, the unwelcome import from south of Canada’s border is Puritanism. What a curious American export this is! The American reaction is to put on a conference calling for political counter-strategies. But one Canadian, ballet choreographer James Kudelka, had a different reaction: mount a production of what he calls his “dirty, little ballet.”
An Italian Straw Hat is the latest ballet of Kudelka’s, and earns its bawdy reputation quite handily (what with its variegated “simulated copulations,” etc., that occur onstage). As Toronto correspondent Paula Citron put it, “Kudelka sees the explicit sexual nature of the ballet as his defiance against the Puritanism he feels is pervading Canadian society, an unwelcome import from our neighbours to the south. It was perhaps this present-day moral hysteria that brought An Italian Straw Hat from the back burner of his mind, to the forefront of his interest.”
It would appear, then, that a little leaven can leaven the whole lump and that the power of ideas can transcend national borders. If the best “containment strategy” against the Word of God is to put on an alarmist conference in New York or a ballet in Canada, this would be sufficient proof that the nations “imagine a vain thing” in casting off God’s cords (Psalm 2). One speaker admitted that Christian Reconstructionists have had an influence far out of proportion to their numbers. Evidently, support for Chalcedon represents the best bang for the buck out there, the opposition themselves bearing witness to it.
- Martin G. Selbrede
Martin is the senior researcher for Chalcedon’s ongoing work of Christian scholarship, along with being the senior editor for Chalcedon’s publications, Arise & Build and The Chalcedon Report. He is considered a foremost expert in the thinking of R.J. Rushdoony. A sought-after speaker, Martin travels extensively and lectures on behalf of Christian Reconstruction and the Chalcedon Foundation. He is also an accomplished musician and composer.