The Most Disturbing Aspect of the President’s Inaugural Address

Conservatives in general did not like President Obama’s inaugural address.  This is not surprising.  Not everyone has emphasized the same things, however.  Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard found in it a troubling and foolish pacifism.  At National Review Online Matthew Franck observed that the president speaks as if there is no civil society, only government and individuals.  Patrick Buchanan contended that the whole speech is a brazen attempt to replace the founding ideal of freedom with a left-wing egalitarianism as our guiding star.

There is something to be said for all of these views.  I would like to emphasize one sentence in particular (as did Kristol), but I guess that my point has the most in common with Buchanan’s.  Here is the president’s more or less open call for same-sex marriage: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to each other must be equal as well.”  (Here is the whole text of the speech, by the way.)

At the moment I am not interested in Obama’s specific argument, his call to redefine marriage, although that is certainly a matter of concern.  Rather, what bothers me here is the way in which Obama uses the Declaration of Independence and attempts to transfigure it into something entirely new, and something on the basis of which there can be endless, unpredictable transformation of American society.

The president is correct that the Declaration affirms a kind of equality.  But that equality is understood in the context of the “laws of nature and nature’s God.”  Or, it is presented in the kind of beings we are created to be by our “creator.”  In other words, the doctrine of equality asserted by the Declaration is based upon some notion of natural law or natural right.  Nature as a standard stands in the background of the equality to which the Declaration refers, and it is in fact not very far in the background.  For the Declaration, equality is to be understood in terms of what is true about human beings by nature.

It seems to me that Obama’s effort is to move equality front and center and dispense with any concern with what is right or just by nature.  Why is this a problem?  Because mere equality, without any more substantive content such as could be supplied by traditional understandings of nature or natural law, is vague and infinitely manipulable.  President Obama said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we choose to give must be equal as well.  That probably sounds good to the liberal believer, but it does not take too much reflection to see that such claims would obliterate any natural standards of human conduct.  You could just as easily that if we are all created equal, then surely all of our actions and choices must be equal as well.

Of course, any society needs some rules, so not even the most liberal among us would embrace the nihilistic consequences of that statement.  This returns us instead to the problem I mentioned earlier.  Untethered from any substantive account of human nature, a commitment to “equality” opens the door to who-knows-what series of endless transformations of society.  No one can say what new inequality this kind of liberalism will become preoccupied with next and turn the power of the state to abolishing, whatever the costs to traditional institutional arrangements.  Obama’s — and the left’s — groundless egalitarianism is a recipe for the endless transformation of society and the endless expansion of government power.  This is not a prospect that conservatives — or anybody — should welcome.

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52 thoughts on “The Most Disturbing Aspect of the President’s Inaugural Address

  1. wamj2008 says:

    There is nothing equal about the love between a man and a woman which can create a child, and the “love” between 2 men or 2 women in which the creation of another human being is impossible. It has nothing to do with the law, it’s simple human biology.

    1. Paulspr says:

      By that logic we must ban infertile couples from marriage, not just haphazardly discriminate against gay people. Since no “marriage amendment” has ever included a ban against straight infertile couples, it is obvious that they were intended as insidious discrimination against gays, and not anything more.

      1. Unfortunately, it would be grossly invasive to determine whether a couple is infertile or not. Legally, it isn’t really practical to even think about attempting such a thing. Also, infertility comes in degrees. It’s not like you can either have children or you can’t with nothing in between. That would make it very difficult to determine.

        1. Paulspr says:

          So gays should be discriminated against because its easy to do so?

      2. abadilla says:

        Paulspr,
        “Here we go again” as Ronald Reagan used to say. The Church does not condemn in anyway any Catholic couple that is infertile because the Church knows the difference between not being able to have children, and NOT wanting children. That is the difference, but why don’t you know that as a Catholic?

        1. Paulspr says:

          Evidently they don’t. Many gay couples want children.

          1. abadilla says:

            And they have the freedom to adopt but not from Catholic agencies since we think that is wrong. The Church also frowns upon the idea that heterosexual partners adopt because the Church is fully aware that a child needs a male and a female role model, that simple.
            However, what you addressed and I replied to is the accusation that somehow the Church does not care for infertile couples and that is simply not true.

    2. tamsin says:

      And Democrats say they are the “party of science.”

  2. John Christensen says:

    What about members of NAMBLA? By Obama’s logic they should be afforded the same?

    1. Antonio Sosa says:

      You are right. Obama’s logic opens the door to all kinds of abominations, the abominations that destroy individuals and societies, as they destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

  3. Paulspr says:

    If our finding fathers didn’t want us to embrace equality, perhaps they should not have enacted the 14th amendment during Lincoln’s presidency as it REQUIRES that our laws treat all citizens equally.

    But in fact, they did. And our march forward in embracing that equality that is called for in our Constitutiin must continue. Even if it makes you uncomfortable.

    1. As big a fan as I am of the 14th Amendment, the Founding Fathers had nothing to do with it. They were slave owners and the thought of a black person being equal to them would have been anathema. They were long dead at that point.

    2. Joe M says:

      Paulspr. What types of love do you think should not be held equal?

      1. Paulspr says:

        I understand that the Catholic Church admitted today that gay couples raise children in happy loving homes and established the fact that gay couples are perfectly capable parents.

        Perhaps, instead of hateful ad campaigns attacking gay people, attacking their dignity, and inciting prejudice against them, we can have a conversation about whether their love deserves the same treatment under our laws.

        Because that’s NOT the conversation that we’ve been having to date.

        Joe: What part of the traditional marriage vows are gay couples unable to fulfill? Is it the part about loving each other, cherishing each other, or caring for each other until death?

        Until you can answer that question, I see no reason to deny EQUAL TREATMENT of gay couples under our laws.

        1. Antonio Sosa says:

          The Church OPPOSES gay “marriage.”

          “The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care. The Vatican and Pope John Paul II are speaking out against the growing number of places that recognize same-sex marriages.”

          Children being raised by a homosexual couple and exposed to their sexual abomination is a heinous type of child abuse!

          http://www.americancatholic.org/News/Homosexuality/default.asp

          1. I don’t particularly plan on marrying in a Catholic church but I do expect the person who issues my taxpayer funded civil marriage license to not take orders from a religion that I don’t follow.

            I’d have the same problem if a clerk had to check with an imam first.

          2. Marvin Derks says:

            Bravo!

          3. abadilla says:

            Bravo for what?

          4. Marvin Derks says:

            Rational thought by Barbera LaPeters.

          5. abadilla says:

            Well, isn’t that nice that you would consider that “rational thought.”

        2. Joe M says:

          Paulspr.

          I just checked. The Catholic Church has not changed their position in the Catechism. So, you must be mistaken about what this “admission” means.

          In fact, we have been having the conversation you claim we have not. And you have contradicted yourself constantly on the issue.

          You said that you agree with the statement from the Catechism that gay marriage cannot be approved in any way. Yet, now you are claiming that gay marriage is equal to traditional marriage.

          Were you being dishonest with us in order to serve your agenda? Which position is your true position? Are you really Catholic as you have claimed in the past?

          1. Msgr. Charles M. Mangan says:

            J.M.J. Joe M., most likely Paulspr will not respond to you. That’s not part of his m.o. He has done this repeatedly. He makes outlandish comments, someone else calls him on those remarks, and he refuses to reply. His method is the old Soviet method of repeating something so often that someone will believe it. There’s no receptivity on the part of Paulspr to dialogue, discuss, etc. His tone is accusatory, and his facts dubious. He wants the Church to teach that two men may marry each other, which is an impossibility.

          2. abadilla says:

            “I understand that the Catholic Church admitted today that gay couples raise children in happy loving homes and established the fact that gay couples are perfectly capable parents.”
            Are you aware of Rome, some Vatican congregation speaking on behald of the Pope, some conference of national Catholic bishops or even an individual bishop admitting today that gay couples raise children in happy loving homes..,.” Did I miss something Monsignor?

          3. Msgr. Charles M. Mangan says:

            J.M.J. Thank you, Abadilla. Paulspr made this claim without any relevant citation. I am not aware that during the last three days any Church leader has said this. But, as you know, Abadilla, through your own studies, even should a bishop or some office say such a thing, this would not be, as Paulspr maintains, “the Catholic Church.” Whenever some member of the Church does something sinful, many will pounce on that news and assert that the Catholic Church carried our such-and-such a terrible deed. False. Furthermore, the fact that two men or two women have raised a child well is not, as Paulspr implies, a reason to embrace homosexual “marriage.”

          4. abadilla says:

            “Furthermore, the fact that two men or two women have raised a child well is not, as Paulspr implies, a reason to embrace homosexual “marriage.”
            Yet he does embrace homosexual marriage and he is right and the Church is not only wrong but it is bigotted because of its stand on gay marriage.
            I often find on the pages of the Costa Rican major newspaper someone saying the Catholic Church teaches this or that or the other, and I could understand such confusion if we did not have a universal Catechism but we do, and I don’t get why so many folks are still so confused about our faith. Well Monsignor I’m an old man, but so are the majority of the dissenters in our Church and death is the big broom taking care of dissent in our Church.

          5. Paulspr says:

            The Catholic Church in England wrote a letter stating that gay couples were great parents.

          6. abadilla says:

            Again, where is your source?

        3. abadilla says:

          “I understand that the Catholic Church admitted today that gay couples raise children in happy loving homes and established the fact that gay couples are perfectly capable parents.”

          What’s your source, the National Catholic Reporter?

          “Perhaps, instead of hateful ad campaigns attacking gay people, attacking their dignity, and inciting prejudice against them, we can have a conversation about whether their love deserves the same treatment under our laws.”
          How does the Church have a “converstion” with people willing to accuse her of “hateful ad campaigns attacking gay people?”

  4. naturgesetz says:

    “[I]f we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to each other must be equal as well,” is a non sequitur. There are so many different kinds of love — parental, filial, friendly, universal. Furthermore, even if the love is equal, it does not follow that the parties must be capable of and legally admitted to, marriage. Indeed, as far as the civil law is concerned, love has never been a requirement for marriage. The state has never cared if the spouses love one another.

    If I understand the argument based on natural law as it’s being used here, I think it needs to be clarified so that it does not become a pretext for unjustified discrimination against homosexuals.

    1. Marvin Derks says:

      Natural law concepts are used by religious groups and many others because it can be defined any way you want, to fit (supposedly) any set of circumstances. It has no measurable characteristics and therefore is perfect for religious groups to utilize as justification.

      1. Joe M says:

        Are you really comfortable with the government enforcing upon you what type of love is equal?

        Kind of cheapens the concept of love, doesn’t it?

        1. Marvin Derks says:

          Can you elaborate? I’m not getting your point.

          1. Joe M says:

            They are questions. Not points.

            Can you answer the questions?

          2. Paulspr says:

            You are just typing to type without saying anything. Perhaps you are out of rational arguments. That doesn’t bode well for you this spring at the Supreme Court.

          3. Joe M says:

            No. I asked the questions because I would like to know Marvin’s answer. Why are those simple questions difficult to answer?

          4. Msgr. Charles M. Mangan says:

            Paulspr, Why must you always be so antagonistic? Won’t you please treat others with respect? Make your point charitably and let it go at that. There is no reason to be so accusatory.

          5. Marvin Derks says:

            test

          6. Marvin Derks says:

            No, I can not answer the question because it makes no sense to me.

          7. Joe M says:

            What part of “are you comfortable with the government enforcing what type of love is equal” does not make sense? I will be happy to clarify.

          8. Marvin Derks says:

            Sorry. Your question still makes no sense to me.

          9. Joe M says:

            What about it doesn’t make sense?

          10. Marvin Derks says:

            “what type of love is equal” makes no sense to me. If you’re not able to restate your question differently then I’m not able to respond.

          11. Joe M says:

            Actually, I think that your response provides the answer:

            Obama’s stated basis for why marriage laws should be changed makes no sense.

            I’m pleased to hear that you’ve come around on that point!

          12. Marvin Derks says:

            I agree. I never said Obama’s statement made any sense. What also didn’t make sense was the way you paraphrased his statement. I’m not a big fan of Obama and I didn’t vote for him.

          13. abadilla says:

            “I’m not a big fan of Obama and I didn’t vote for him.”
            Thank be to God for small favors!

  5. Greg B. says:

    “But that equality is understood in the context of the “laws of nature and nature’s God.”

    One of the major flaws with your thinking (and there are many) is that you are operating on the idea that the Declaration of Independence must be interpreted within the context of your specific concept of a god. Sorry pal. The absence of the word Christianity or the name Jesus Christ in our founding documents should clue you in.

    1. Set aside the fact that the Declaration of Independence has no legal bearing on the governing of this country. It was a Dear John letter to the King of England. Nothing more, nothing less.

      We’re governed by the US Constitution which is very specific in not mentioning God or any particular religion.

      1. Marvin Derks says:

        It was one heck of a “dear John letter.”

        1. Yep, it certainly did the trick. Still doesn’t change the fact that the Declaration of Independence has no force of law in this country.

          1. tamsin says:

            So Obama should quit yammering on about “all men are created equal.”

          2. Well, no, he can say that all he wants. That concept is in the constitution. See: “14th Amendment”.

          3. tamsin says:

            I looked everywhere in the 14th Amendment, and found nothing about men being created, implying a Creator. See: “14th Amendment”.

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