The Bad Path of Relativizing the Rule of Law

Call me old-fashioned, but I don't like living in cities where life is mocked and made into a perilous contact sport by cadres of riotous thugs who glorify violence and death as societal goods.  The only lesson such people have learned in school is "kill."  The problem is simple.  Progressive leaders have tacitly permitted criminals to run life off the tracks and ruin it by relativizing the rule of law and behaving as if it applies to everyone else but them.  Conceptually, enforcing the law is the solution, but progressives don't see it that way.

America's cities are testaments to the abject failures of these policies because violent crime has escalated, especially murder.  Yet progressive district attorneys adamantly refuse to prosecute them.  Moreover, the movement to eliminate cash bail steadily gained traction as it has in New York, which attenuates accountability.  It is incumbent upon district attorneys to prosecute all those who commit violent crimes.  But district attorneys Larry Krasner in Philadelphia and Cyrus Vance, Jr. in New York don't see it that way.  According to Niall McCarthy, a data journalist for Statista, the world's leading statistical database, murder rates have risen 52% and 32%, respectively, in those jurisdictions during the first half of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.

Rather than vociferously prosecuting crime, Krasner and Vance have acceded to the defund the police movement, perhaps for the inexplicable pretext of imposing reparations.  Clearly, they do not uphold the rule of law themselves, nor do they allow police officers in their charge to have the same so done.  Such sentiments strongly suggest that they hate equal justice under the law with such reckless abandon that they hold the moral stature of terrorists, illegal aliens, and other criminals in higher regard than their honest and law-abiding countrymen.  A double standard exists because progressive leaders lack moral clarity and relativize the rule of law.  Criminals become emboldened, so crime ensues.

The economic foundations in both cities have been marred probably beyond redress.  The cascading effects have been felt by manufacturers and consumers alike.  As we have already seen in San Francisco, for example, honest, hardworking folks cannot produce goods if riotous mobs shoplift their work products with impunity.  If left unchecked, petty crimes spawn more serious crimes, hence the rising murder rates, which make life purposeless as well as perilous.  The folks have suffered unduly because of it and deserve far better.  Defunding the police will not avail and has become the philosophical byword for error.

Philosophically, proponents of the police defunding movement are premised and err upon the ideology that criminals aren't culpable because America is a systemically oppressive and racist country, more especially in the aftermath of George Floyd.  Hence the imperative of "police reform."  The mainstream media obsequiously objectified Floyd's murder along racial lines as a pretext to control the narrative of the national consciousness.  However pernicious their errand may be, it has succeeded brilliantly.  Not only has it unduly skewed the 2020 election and wrecked American public policy, but it has promoted Critical Race Theory, their hidden objective.  Leftists wear it as a suicide vest with alacrity to make even an ISIS terrorist blush!

Amid such social instability, I am reminded of the stark contrast between Pope Francis's papal visit to Philadelphia in 2015 and Pope John Paul II's in 1979.  I didn't like seeing millions of people inconvenienced because of their presence here, much less having to live in a veritable police state during Francis's visit by having to show ID even to enter my own house.  John Paul II never wanted such stringent security and doubtless would have resented the undue inconvenience of those affected by it.  His Magisterium being far more mature than Francis's, neither his messages urging freedom with responsibility nor his ministry, which heralded the demise of communism, even required it.

During the Mass on October 3, 1979, John Paul homiletically echoed the importance of using freedom responsibly: "This principle of freedom is paramount in the political and social order[.] ... However, man's life is also lived in another order of reality: in the order of his relationship to what is objectively true and morally good" (Holy Mass at Logan Circle: Homily of His Holiness John Paull II, October 3, 1979).  Continuing, "Every human person, endowed with reason, is free when he is the master of his own actions[.] ... Freedom can never tolerate an offense against the rights of others[.] ... Freedom can therefore never be construed without relation to the truth as revealed by Jesus Christ, and proposed by his Church[.]"  The responsible use of freedom, he taught, is prerequisite and fundamental to living not only in a free society but within Christ.  He considered each person he met, regardless of that person's station, a unique aspect of His life or Christology.

Lessons that guard against the attenuation of Christology are more urgently needed, a theme echoed by Pope Benedict XVI in "Crises of Law": "the sense of the sacred no longer has any meaning for law; respect for God and for that which is sacred to others is now regarded with difficulty as a juridical value[.] ... To eliminate law is to despise man; where there is no law, there is no liberty."  Where law is relativized, there can be no freedom, and without freedom, there can be no country.  Without country, there is no Church.  While people may have welcomed Pope Francis, they did not welcome Christ, as Pope Francis did not articulate the primacy of the law and the responsible use of freedom in accord with his predecessors, but tendentiously chastised classic American capitalism.

People have dignity.  So do laws.  Through their observance, we mark our superiority as individuals and exceptionalism as Americans.  This becomes the means whereby we set the example and thus earn freedom against the chains of communism, which Pope John Paul II would go on to singlehandedly defeat in 1989, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Pope Francis has not clearly understood the foundational moral implications of the fall of communism brought.  When we uphold the law instead of relativizing it, we in effect realize the big dreams of the heroic and dramatic by becoming ourselves aspects in the life of Christ and the logos for His Church, as John Paul II wanted.  In so doing, we aspire to the cultural and moral grandeur of which we as Americans are eminently capable.

Image via Max Pixel.

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