Strength without leverage is nothing. Even Samson at his power’s peak could not have budged a massive object in a vacuum: he’d simply push himself backwards into empty space. Likewise, an intellect ungrounded in history can only bounce aimlessly off the ineluctable marble of facts (“stubborn things,” John Adams said). I recently remarked, by way of giving the devil his due, that despite the ghoulish Reign of Terror into which the French Revolution swiftly devolved, the poor of Paris had at least been justified in their initial defiance of the monarchy; but my sporadically sagacious brother, Canon Turner ICKSP, called my attention to facts that my inadequate research had missed. Louis XVI turns out to have been a man of deep charity, routinely paying personal visits to his suffering countrymen to give them aid out of his own pocket. The vague, miasmic assumption to the contrary, to which the modernly “educated” now default, represents the triumph of pure propagandist calumny—like the still-popular lie that attributes the phrase “Let them eat cake” to the martyress Marie Antoinette.
The problem, or part of the problem, is that we can’t take steps to rectify an ignorance of which we’re unaware. If I’m fundamentally certain the Civil War ended in 1864, why would I stop to look it up? It took the wisest man in Athens to acknowledge “I know nothing.” Our deliberate, systematic miseducation has been so pervasive that it grows ever more difficult to predicate an argument on anything solid at all. We gave the devil his due by admitting that Columbus (for instance) was not without his failings: now we have college graduates who believe Cortes was a brutal oppressor for tampering with the beautiful indigenous culture of the Aztecs. We conceded that the Spanish Inquisition was guilty of injustices: now a ludicrous majority of us believe they killed more people than were alive in Europe. And our dutiful tithes to Pandemonium in allowing the very rare, exceptional divorce have yielded such bounties of compound interest that a child with married parents has long been rather an aberration.
Divorce rates, however, have recently hit a 50-year low. The Internet, as dangerous as it can be, is nonetheless a powerful tool for dispersing the mustard gas of false information in which we and our children suspire. And ordinary people are beginning to stir and push back against the flabby juggernaut of Woke politics. (Really, would it have killed them to say “Awakened”?) As of this writing, the New Jerusalem has not arrived, which means there is never an absence of temptation and peril; but peril necessarily entails hope, and temptation constancy. “Where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). We’re bloody well not beaten yet. Furthermore, the promise of Our Lord (Matthew 16:18) that the gates of hell would not withstand His Church seems odd, if one envisions a Church on the defensive. On the contrary, our conflict with the devil’s door implies a frontal assault.