Worth Reading - 8/25

1. An article at the website Forward, a website that intends to deliver "incisive coverage of the issues, ideas and institutions that matter to American Jews," speaks of the need to befriend racists for the purpose of ending hatred.

The subject of our third remarkable story is Derek Black, the scion of famous white supremacists. His father, Don Black, was the brains behind Stormfront, the Internet’s first and biggest white nationalist site with 300,000 users. His mother, Chloe, had been married to David Duke, who was Derek’s godfather. “They had raised Derek at the forefront of the movement, and some white nationalists had begun calling him ‘the heir’,” the Washington Post reports ,

Black was outed on his college campus as an anti-Semite. But one of his classmates, Matthew Stevenson, the only Orthodox Jew on campus, decided to invite Black to a Shabbat meal.

“It was the only social invitation Derek had received since returning to campus, so he agreed to go,” writes the Washington Post. Stevenson told the other guests, “Let’s try to treat him like anyone else.”

Pretty soon, Black became a regular at these Shabbat meals. And eventually, Black, like Phelps-Roper and the two hundred men (and women) Davis befriended, renounced the ideas that had once filled him with such hatred.

2. Amid the voices that call for the legalization of prostitution (normalized by calling it "sex-work") the Spectator notes that the vast majority of sex-workers are actually enslaved.

One of the most disturbing discoveries I made was that the loudest voices calling for legalisation and normalisation of prostitution are the people who profit from it: pimps, punters and brothel owners. They have succeeded in speaking for the women under their control. The people who know the real story about the sex trade have been gagged by a powerful lobby of deluded ‘liberal’ ideo-logues and sex-trade profiteers.

As Autumn Burris, a former prostitute from California, who escaped in the late 1990s, told me: ‘I had to tell myself lots of things, lots of lies, in order to keep my brain from splitting into a million pieces and me going crazy with the continual abuse that was happening over and over and over, and the violence that goes along with prostitution.’ Autumn now campaigns for an end to the sex trade, and she runs training courses for police officers and other professionals on the realities of prostitution.

A survivor of the sex trade in Germany, Huschke Mau, put it this way: ‘Every time I met a john I had to drink not just one glass of wine but a bottle. If you’re sober and not doing any drugs you cannot make a (date) with a john. Once I stopped drinking, I couldn’t do it any more.’

3. An article at Acton Institute discussing the morality of free market capitalism, particularly concerns over income inequality.

For me, as a Christian, I do not see the ability of some to make much larger incomes through open markets as a problem for everybody else; I see it as a problem for those who have the grave responsibility of handling high levels of wealth.

Christians should focus public policy, not on reducing inequality, but on ensuring that the barriers to the advancement of the poor are removed. This might, or might not, reduce inequality as a side effect. If we are willing to make the rich much worse off simply to reduce inequality – without making anybody better off – then we are succumbing to the temptation of envy.

Envy is a harmful basis for public policy. It is not difficult to decrease inequality. Consider what happened in Ireland after the financial crisis. Unemployment tripled, to 14 per cent. There were savage wage cuts in the private and public sectors. Poverty rose rapidly. In 2009, nearly one-quarter of the population were in arrears on utilities or other bills. All this happened, and yet inequality fell, because the wages of high earners were slashed.

But the fact that we should not be concerned about inequality as a matter of principle does not mean that the position of the poor should not be a major concern for us. This is true when it comes to both international and domestic policy.

4. George Weigel at First Things points out the danger that socialized healthcare poses to the weak an infirm when the population has been trained to view people through a utilitarian calculus.

Canada’s vulnerability to the culture of death is exacerbated by Canada’s single-payer, i.e. state-funded and state-run, health care system. And the brutal fact is that it’s more “cost-effective” to euthanize patients than to treat secondary conditions that could turn lethal (like H’s infection) or to provide palliative end-of-life care. Last year, when I asked a leading Canadian Catholic opponent of euthanasia why a rich country like the “True North strong and free” couldn’t provide palliative end-of-life care for all those with terminal illnesses, relieving the fear of agonized and protracted dying that’s one incentive for euthanasia, he told me that only 30 percent of Canadians had access to such care. When I asked why the heck that was the case, he replied that, despite assurances from governments both conservative and liberal that they’d address this shameful situation, the financial calculus had always won out—from a utilitarian point of view, euthanizing H and others like him was the sounder public policy.

But in Canada, a mature democracy, that utilitarian calculus among government bean-counters wouldn’t survive for long if a similar, cold calculus were not at work in the souls of too many citizens. And that is one reason why the Church must engage the culture war, not only in Canada but in the United States and throughout the West: to warm chilled souls and rebuild a civil society committed to human dignity.

5. Firefighters in the UK saved some piglets from a barn fire. Six months later, the farmer bought them sausage from those pigs as a thank you gift. This has animal rights activists up in arms. It also makes for a highly ironic, somewhat humorous read.

Way back in February, a band of English firefighters rescued 18 baby pigs and two sows from a burning barn. If Charlotte had been around, she’d probably have woven “Some Firefighter!” into her web.

She wasn’t, but grateful farm manager Rachel Rivers promised she’d soon send along a little thank you gift.

Just about six months later, she followed through, offering up a collection of sausages made from the meat of the very pigs the firefighters had saved. The grateful public servants of the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service celebrated with a barbecue.

“Exactly six months and one day since firefighters rescued 18 piglets from a fire, we got to sample the fruits of our labors from that February night,” the crew wrote in a Facebook post. “Huge thank you to Rachel Rivers for dropping them off for us to sample.”