Observation & Reflection

Wearing Down the West

There are two effects of today’s routine Islamist terrorism, apart from the death and destruction, that are breaking the will of its target countries. One is that the regularity blunts our outrage: when bombings and shootings happen nearly every week, people begin to accept them as part of their new existence. Humans can get used to anything. And when they’re used to something, there’s no longer any will to stop it.

The other effect is that the regularity overwhelms the media, to the point where effective reporting on the attacks isn’t really possible. Let’s assume for a moment that the Western media actually want to report on all the attacks. There’s evidence that they’re more interested in protecting the comfortable lies of multiculturalism than in factual reportage: consider how far Sweden will go to keep migrant crimes hidden from the public. (See here, here, and here for explanation.)

(more…)

Andrew Sullivan: How the Internet Broke Me

This long essay by Andrew Sullivan in New York magazine, detailing how his obsessive Internet use wrecked his health and life, is a searing commentary on the dehumanizing effects of pervasive technology. It’s also a wake-up call even to moderate tech hounds and social-media users: Have you realized just how comprehensively technology molds your life? How different your life would be without it? How miserably addicted you are? Do you even have a life?

(more…)

R.I.P. Matthew Wargas, 1978-2016

My heart is as broken as it will ever be. My oldest brother, Matthew Wargas, has died after a 21-month war with brain cancer. He slowly stopped breathing as he was surrounded by his closest family and friends — in many ways the most beautiful way to go, but also the most haunting for those who remain.

There are two components of this tragedy I’ll won’t soon get over. The first is that I’ll never see my brother again, which fact has led to some bizarre calculations in my mind. For instance, if I live to age 80, a bit more than the average male life expectancy in the United States, I will have gone nearly half a century without seeing Matt. (How will I feel about him then? Will I remember his voice?) And from now until that time, I will have lived far longer without him in my life than when he was in it.

The second component is the sense of injustice: how a 38-year-old man, a decorated police officer and the kind father of three small children, was robbed of everything he had earned through his superior virtue and character. It all changed so suddenly, and one of the tortures of losing a family member to cancer is recalling how enchantedly unaware you were, before your loved one’s diagnosis, of how little time he actually had left. When I put it in these terms, the sadness is so overwhelming I feel physically constrained by it, to the point of claustrophobia as I lie awake these past few nights.

I am comforted by how bravely he fought, and how steadfastly he resisted giving in to bitterness and resentment. But if I am to be honest, I must admit this is only a small comfort.

As time goes on, I shall be writing more about my brother. For now, I’ll just echo what Nehru said after the death of Gandhi: “the light has gone out of our lives.”

Matthew R. Wargas, January 16, 1978 – August 12, 2016

Why “Left” and “Right” Are Outdated Political Terms

2016-15-07-400x524

In the July 15 issue of The Catholic Herald, I write about how our concepts of “left” and “right” are Cold War-era relics. The rupture of these obsolete ideas is behind the current breakdown in conventional politics in both the United States and the United Kingdom:

Millions of Americans and Britons don’t accept a bipartisan consensus that was formed without their input or permission. Its partisans grew so resistant to reform they treated their own citizens as a kind of plague to be contained in the hinterlands, not as stakeholders with genuine concerns.

How did this mushy consensus come about? That’s a difficult question. One thing’s for certain: The political elite misread the fall of communism. They thought, as the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama did, that history had ended, and that at the climax of this great Hegelian unfolding was a Western liberal democracy that would never die.

This bred arrogant complacency – the belief that you could sit back, relax and think only about small matters like tax rates. Why worry about immigration? After all, history was over. We had won. The little people would soon see how glorious the future would be.

Read the whole thing here.