Charlie's Blog: October 2018


Agnostic on Race

You don't have to teach people how to be human. You have to teach them how to stop being inhuman.

Is it racist to speak the truth? That question wins a lot of debates for me. This is because the person on the other side of that question is caught in an inescapable trap. If he says no, then he is faced with unpleasant realities that he would rather not acknowledge. If he says yes, he confesses that he is ignoring these realities and wants you to ignore them, too. But in saying yes, he is inadvertently testifying to the truth. Reality is not very flattering to the black race.

Despite a civil rights movement and efforts on both the Left and the Right, the African-American population is tops in every social pathology that exists. They have the lowest test scores in school. They have the highest rates of incarceration. They have the highest rates of crime and homicide. Many of them are born illegitimate not knowing who their fathers are. Their STD transmission rate is high. We can go on and on with these statistics. These are facts that the Left chooses to ignore. I ask once again. Is it racist to speak the truth?

For the white supremacist and the bigot, these facts are cause for glee. It is justification for the belief that the black race is inherently inferior. Somehow, this makes the white race superior. The only problem is that these people exhibit none of this superiority in their own lives. Rednecks and white trash have similar rates of pathology as any that you will find in any urban black ghetto.

Speaking from personal experience, if I had to keep a scorecard on things, the black people I have known have been far better and nicer to me than the white people I have known. If I had to be a racist, it would be against my own race. So many times, it was the white people in my life that have done me wrong, and it was the black people in my life that showed me the most understanding and compassion.

If we went on a purely statistical basis, Asian-Americans would be the superior race in the USA. They have the lowest levels of crime, the highest test scores, and the strongest families today. A very close second would be Jewish-Americans. Is there something in their DNA that makes them superior?

I don't believe that a person's race or their skin color makes them good or bad. If someone asks me if I am a racist, I tell them I am an agnostic on the subject. This is because I can pick great and awful people from every race on the planet. In the case of Asian-Americans, I have had two friends who were Asian, and they were awful people.

I think the issue is not race. I think the issue is culture. Some people are raised well. Others are raised poorly. The key thing I discovered about black people who have it together is that they are very religious. The key thing I discovered about white trash is that they are devoid of religion in their lives. Essentially, you are the product of what you believe and value. A guy raised on hip-hop is going to be a bad guy even if he is white. And a guy raised on Christian music is going to be pretty good even if he is black.

But on the general level, you might not be a racist, but it behooves white people to not drive through black ghettos especially at night. Likewise, a Confederate flag should be a sign to everyone white or black that the flyer of that flag is most likely an inbred violent fool high on crystal meth. These are prejudicial judgments, but they would be correct. They may also save you from violent encounters and even save your life.

If I had to make a division in the world, it would be between the decent and the indecent, the righteous and the unrighteous. If you could draw a red line between these two groups, you would find that this line cuta across every race and class that exists in America and in the world. But this line is not visible. It is invisible. You can't know someone until you actually know them. This unknown is what makes things so difficult. People want to know people without actually knowing them. This is when you get bigotry and racism.

I don't trust people that I don't know. They might be the salt or the dung of the earth. But until I know, I give no one the benefit of the doubt. This is the application of that racial agnosticism. And this is what distinguishes me from those practicing the foolishness of political correctness. This would be the belief that you are either racist or voluntarily naive. Basically, you should put your life at risk at the hands of thug gangstas until they murder you because self-preservation might offend these people.

There have been well-dressed and charming murderers. Ted Bundy and H.H. Holmes are two fine examples of this. Likewise, people who have gruesome images can turn out to be quite innocent. I remember feeling a bit of fear growing up about the rapper Ice Cube who looked fearsome at the beginning of his career and has been rehabilitated considerably into a nice man. But, as a general rule, if the nice looking people can kill you, the mean looking people will certainly kill you.

To conclude, I must tell a story about a guy I used to work with delivering pizzas. This guy really hated black people. He hated the way they dressed, talked, and acted. He would use the N-word repeatedly in his denigration of these people. And he refused to deliver pizzas to their homes. The irony is that this racist was black. I am not making this up. It would crack us up to no end to hear this guy go on and on. He was a black guy separated from black culture being raised in the lily white Pacific Northwest. His first encounters with other black people happened as a teenager when he moved with his family to the South. Raised different culturally but divorced from any trace of white guilt, this black man had an unusual candor that was mind blowing. He wasn't religious or a black conservative. He was actually a skater punk. But knowing this guy rocked my world. Once you see a single unicorn, you can't say they don't exist. He was a unicorn.

The simple fact is that everyone has free will, and this includes the free will to defy your culture and upbringing. I was raised to be a racist, and I rejected it. Likewise, some black people were raised to become thugs, and they rejected that. And some people were raised in good Christian homes but chose to embrace evil. What I can say without qualification is that all of humanity tends towards evil, and it is the minority who chooses to pursue and embrace the good. I am going to assume your wickedness for the sake of my own safety. And if you assume I am a racist for this, I understand that, too. Trust has to be earned. I will endeavor to earn your trust. Do me a favor and endeavor to earn my trust.


Why I Remain Catholic

But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

These are hard times to be a Roman Catholic. In the past, persecution drove Catholics away and strengthened others. In other times past, tolerance and comfort made Catholics a bit complacent. Temptation triumphed where persecution did not. But these are unusual times. Remaining Catholic is like remaining faithful to a wife that is a wanton whore. If it was difficult to remain faithful to a good wife, what are we to do when that wife has turned bad and gone to whoring? That's a rough dilemma.

God is always faithful. Unfortunately, prelates and priests are not. We should always cling to Christ. But Protestants and Orthodox will argue that the Roman Catholic Church is not the only church. We can cling to Christ and simply move to another church like some evangelical going church shopping. But the temptation to schism is a siren song calling us to take one small step away from the One True Faith. I've already been a Protestant. No thanks.

The atheist makes the claim that the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church is all the evidence you need to decide that all religion is a fairy tale. The problem is that I don't see any atheist saints. None of them stand in any moral superiority to anyone I know. Granted, some atheists don't rape children. But we can say that about every group of people including Roman Catholic priests. The atheist sings the siren song of apostasy. I've already been an atheist. No thanks.

I can't be a Protestant again. I can't be an atheist again. What else is there? This is why I remain Catholic.

There is no other religion or philosophy in this world that attracts me. I know because I have explored them all. I have been there, and I have done that. I could give a well argued apologetic for becoming Catholic and remaining Catholic, and I probably will. But from a personal perspective, I remain Catholic because I don't have any options. If I thought there was something better, I would go for it. But there isn't. I am a Catholic, and I will always be a Catholic.

The Roman Catholic Church will survive its current self-inflicted wound. I expect the healing to happen long after I have departed this life. But when that day comes, I will die a Catholic.


Thoughts From the Straight Edge

Ok, fine, you take drugs, you drink, whatever. But obviously I have the edge on you because I’m sober. I’m in control of what I’m doing.

Mac Miller is dead. He died on September 7th. The cause of death is a suspected overdose. As of this writing, the official cause of death has not been determined or announced. What is known is that Mac Miller used drugs especially the drug codeine found in the concoction known as "Lean" and "Purple Drank." Miller was 26 years old.

I am not a fan of Mac Miller's music. I'm a middle aged man who listens to classical music now. I have heard some of Miller's tunes, and I believe he was gifted in music. He had many fans. Yet, all this is wasted and flushed down the toilet because Miller liked to get messed up on substances. This isn't a generational thing as we have lost Michael Jackson, Prince, and Tom Petty to substance abuse. Here's a newsflash, Gentle Reader. Drugs will kill you. If they don't kill you, they will certainly ruin your health and your life.

This anti-drug message was delivered to me constantly in the 80s. This was the era of Nancy Reagan and Just Say No. They mocked that woman for that message, but it is as relevant today as it was back then. The 80s was an anti-drug decade. This was because of two things. Ronald Reagan got elected, and John Belushi died. That message found a foothold in my young mind and remained there. I have never used drugs in my life. I haven't even taken a puff from a joint. Drugs have never been my thing.

The 80s were unusual with the anti-drug message. Even MTV heavily censored any mention of drugs in their videos. The 70s were saturated in drugs, and drugs made a big comeback in the 90s especially with heroin that would claim the lives of other musicians like Mac Miller. Others would struggle to overcome addictions to smack. But that anti-drug message never came back. A new Nancy Reagan has not emerged to carry the anti-drug banner. This has left the 80s sandwiched between two eras of drug excess.

No one likes to get preached at, but I think the Reagans had a very positive impact on this issue. As Edmund Burke put it, "Statecraft is soulcraft." Government and its leaders have a hand in promoting behavior through policy but also through the bully pulpit. This nation could use some scolding today as people drop dead from opioid abuse.

What is the straight edge? The term comes from a movement in punk rock that got going in the 80s. It derives its name from a Minor Threat song called "Straight Edge" which became an anthem for a movement that had been growing as a sort of backlash to the drug and drink saturated 1970s. This was not fueled by a Puritan impulse but by people who were survivors and fed up seeing their heroes go down from substance abuse in death or just plain mediocrity. Two rockers not associated with the straight edge--Gene Simmons and Ted Nugent-- have a similar mindset as the straight edge. Being around druggies and drunks will make you one of them or make you despise them. I despise them.

I hate drugs. I am also not fond of people who use drugs. This includes marijuana. As far as possible, I remove people from my life who are druggies. They don't stay in my life. To achieve this, it helps to learn and practice The Most Valuable Life Skill. You should never use drugs or have people in your life who are messed up on drugs. Sad to say, I had to learn a few hard lessons for this message to take hold.

I am not pleased that marijuana has become acceptable to so many people. Marijuana is a drug that you can abuse to great excess and still remain alive. The problem with marijuana is that it makes you stupid. I have known potheads who spent the entire day baked. One of them almost killed a woman at my work back in the 90s with a truck trailer. Whatever buzz he had that night, it vanished when he almost killed that woman. She is alive today because I happened to be in the right place at the right moment. My clarity of mind at that moment counteracted the cloud of his mind. Without that clarity, that woman would have died.

This is the part of the straight edge people overlook. It's obvious to focus on the casualties from drug abuse, but no one pays much attention to the mental toll it takes. This is your brain on drugs as it fries in the pan. You don't have to die from drugs to make them bad. You can be a casualty of them and still remain alive. This is what happened to Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd who literally fried his brain on LSD. He was still drawing breath, but his mind was gone never to be recovered.

The remaining members of the Floyd would go on with survivor's guilt that would inspire some of the best albums rock has ever produced. Syd was considered a genius, and his extreme use of acid is credited with much of that genius. But that just isn't the truth. Post-Syd Barrett Floyd is much better, and that music is not the product of drug abuse but an incredible focus from four musicians at the top of their games. The real truth about Pink Floyd is that Syd's fry out became a warning to them to not become acid casualties themselves. For the most part, Pink Floyd have eschewed drugs even if their fans have not.

This clarity of mind is what Ian Mackaye was getting at in his Minor Threat song. The clear mind is superior to the messed up mind. You don't need drugs for creativity. You just need incredible focus. You can't achieve this if your brain is fried on substances.

This brings us to alcohol. I have been totally against drugs my entire life. Alcohol is a different story. I have enjoyed many beers and whiskeys in my time. I have been at every stage of inebriation that exists. I cannot and do not recommend it. The question remains. Do I condemn it?

My hang up with alcohol centers on the issue of Puritanism. Even Puritans drank. The only abstainers are Baptists, Mormons, Muslims, and teetotallers. Jesus Christ drank wine and turned water into wine. One of the elements of the Eucharist is wine. Monks make beer and wine. Alcohol in moderation is a pleasant thing. Yet, the immoderate use of alcohol has wrecked a lot of lives.

Nothing is evil in itself. It is how we use it that matters. With drugs, they can have medical benefits. Studies have already determined salutary benefits from cannabis. But virtually everyone who smokes ganja does so for its recreational benefits. As for opioids, they do wonders for pain before they kill you.

Wine and beer have some health benefits, but I eschewed beer after discovering its role in my gout flare ups. I had backed off being a teetotaller, but gout put me there again. I have never been an alcoholic, but I believe that I could very easily become one. This is because alcohol is relaxing. It feels good to take the edge off the day with a cold beer or three. But three becomes four, and you know the rest of the story. You wake up with your car wrapped around a telephone pole.

St. John the Baptist was a teetotaller. The people of his day thought he was nuts, but he received no condemnation from Jesus. He did not drink alcohol. Ever. This was part of being a Nazirite. But this was a special thing. Not everyone must take this vow for holiness. Jesus didn't. This dichotomy cuts to the heart of Puritanism.

It is OK to do things like not eat meat or smoke or drink alcohol. It is not OK to insist that others must do the same. This is because what is prudent is not necessarily moral. For instance, I think people should become vegan for the sake of their health. But I don't think eating bacon is a sin. Likewise, I think listening to classical music is better, but I'm not going to go burning rap albums.

Some things are wrong. Other things are just stupid. Getting plastered on strong drink is just stupid. Not drinking is smart. Prudence or wisdom is one of the virtues. If we are prudent, we will learn to make the distinction between what is moral and what is prudent.

Drinking and drug abuse make you stupid. That is the essence of the straight edge philosophy. They can also make you dead. But it is enough to choose not to be stupid. And that is ultimately why people want to get messed up. They want to assault their brains. They want to be voluntary imbeciles for a time or for life. They want to be stupid.

I am into being smart. There are only two drugs that make you smarter. These would be caffeine and nicotine. But since tobacco is harmful and isn't smart, this leaves caffeine. Consequently, I drink a lot of coffee. Coffee does not cloud the mind. It clears the mind.

This clarity of mind is why I am into quitting social media, doing deep work, reading, and writing. Your mind is like a blade which you can sharpen with focus or dull with substances. This is why "straight edge" is a great term. Your mind should be as sharp as a straight razor.

I don't know what Mac Miller's official cause of death will be. There is just one thing I know about the guy. He was incredibly stupid. It didn't have to be this way, but he chose to get stupid on drugs. We can lament the waste of talent, but Miller is the one who wasted it. Don't be a Mac Miller. Choose to be alcohol and drug free. Choose to be smart instead of stupid.