Attention word mavens and neologists, there is a new politically correct kid on the block and he has just joined the ever-increasing gang of psychological maledictions, such as Racism, Sexism, Ageism, Genderism ad infinitum that are anathema for all Americans today. Dare I include Catholicism?
In the immortal words of Joycelyn Elders, the former Surgeon General, during the first Clinton administration we must all come to grips with our ‘isms. In her weekly WSJ column, Peggy Noonan, who used to write lyrically patriotic speeches for President Ronald Reagan, has attempted to do that for all with her rambling analysis of the roots of our societal division.
In answer to her own rhetorical question, Noonan states that people, such as those in QAnon and other escapees from the funny farm who had the temerity to support Donald Trump, have found a degree of communal solace in belonging to the deplorable outliers on the Net. In her words, it is pleasurable to know and hold a higher knowledge—-you get it, others don’t.
In her apparent wokeness, Noonan just described the basic credo of the Gnostics, of the 2nd century, making them the oldest heretics in Christian history. The Gnostics believed they were an elite few, who possessed an inside knowledge. The Gnostics gave rise to nearly every erroneous intellectual -ism in Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors (1864) including Liberalism, Socialism and Communism to name the most prominent ones. Gnosticism has also been the driver of almost every major revolution in history, excepting the American Revolution, which was a reactionary movement to maintain the status quo in the American colonies.
Intellectual history, as St. Augustine might have defined it, is an eternal battle between the City of God and its opponents across the secular aisle in the City of Man. This has served as a cautionary tale of two cities, more powerful and lasting than anything Charles Dickens could have imagined. In today’s parlance, pundits would call it an ideological culture war. This might be true of the City of Man but God’s Kingdom is not based on an ideology, which has too many revolutionary and political underpinnings. On the contrary, God’s City is based on Faith, Hope and Charity while the Secular City of Man is founded on Materialism, Mendacity and Revolution.
Each side has its scribes or evangelists. God’s writers are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Their condensation of the Word of God has been the standard by which His followers have studied, contemplated and discussed for two millennia. The City of Man has relied on the secular works of its evangelists, Jean, Karl, Antonio and Saul, whose writings have indoctrinated millions over the course of world history since the 18th century.
All of this seems foreign to Noonan, who does not seem to understand the moral binary that dates back to the Fall of Man. Real conspiracies are so second nature to the City of Man, they often happen quite naturally and behind the scenes so that most people cannot connect all their sinister dots. Any suspicions are quickly dashed on the rocks by the skillful employment of the word theories by the compliant secular media. This thoroughly eliminates any serious discussion of real conspiracies as do other -isms do on race, sex and age.
Without any of this necessary backdrop, Noonan proceeds to list a muddled litany of cultural problems that barely scratch the surface of the intellectual currents flooding the American cultural swamp. Without any identifiable pattern, Ms. Noonan cites the gender battles over bathrooms, the rewriting of America’s founding, the notorious Project 1619, the enthusiastic long-term closure of Church doors, the possible leak of the deadly virus from a Wuhan Laboratory, claims of a stolen election. The latter not only evoked name-calling and a cancelled culture, but a Russianesque canceled from history, such as befell hundreds of historical monuments. In high tribute to irony, she implies all have conspired to create a mood of Conspiracism.
Noonan states that conspiracy believers don’t believe what the mainstream media tells them. Why would they she opines with an delicious aura of paradox. In a mild form of non sequitur, Noonan calls this societal confusion an ideological battle. We are here to create a new reality…The woke are winning. But to her it is merely generational. I am afraid she just does not get it.
Ms. Noonan explains her understanding of this situation with the tautology when you think your country has grown completely bizarre, only bizarre explanation of events will do. This implies that all this happened, not because some Deep State in or exterior to our government but a kind Holmesian randomness that just happened with any reliance on human ideas, conspiracies or nefarious agency. If this be wokeness, methinks that many of its victims are fast asleep in a Rip Van Winkle coma. Life goes on while they rest in a never-neverland while swathed in the comfort of their own alienation from reality and truth.
For years I always enjoyed Peggy Noonan’s columns and a book or two. Often I fantasied meeting her for dinner in a New York restaurant and discussing her views on our mutual Catholic faith, politics and American culture. Since the rise and fall of Donald Trump and the end of his one brief and shiny moment of real change, she forfeited all my intellectual attraction. Now I fear she has nothing of her faith and lost wisdom to interest me, even in her column. In fact, I saw no reflection of Christian charity in her frequent screeds about the president.
It was as if she had undergone some sort of wicked transformation from mildly disliking President Trump who tried to establish a cordial relationship with her in the early stages to a she-creature whose writings continually evoked images of Henry VI’s Queen Margaret, the Queen of Hearts or the Parisian crowds who surrounded the guillotine in the 18th century. Off with his head could easily have roared from her constant venom. Her column repeatedly shed any pretense of objectivity or journalism, which she seemed to exchange for a poison quill of contempt.
Ms. Noonan and most journalists appear to me to be unfamiliar with the art of history. They all fail to realize that history is unfathomable to anyone without a deep understanding that through its veins runs a toxin of a deeply flawed humanity that threatens the health of every country, which attempts to balance freedom with government. Even worse many try to rewrite it to support their ruthless agenda. While she is right that our culture has gone mad, her conclusion that lonely people on the internet believe crazy things, rightfully belongs more to the denizens of the Left. It is a never-ending battle and as Noonan might conclude for the wrong reasons, our country seems to be losing its battle as its turns its back on God, innocent life and true freedom. How many of her trusted colleagues and friends patently dismissed the real conspiracy of the Steele Dossier and the Russian election hoax of the Democrats? What is her excuse for them? Or are they just part of the crazy people’s Conspiracism? Now that is something that has a ring of truth around it