No Christians Need Apply at the Voice of America?
Yes, we have bigger fish to fry in the form of fighting election fraud and keeping those two Georgia Senate seats. But Christians can’t let that distract us from every other battle. And there’s an important one brewing, over at the Voice of America, the U.S. government’s international radio station and news service. That service is meant — by law — to be non-partisan and patriotic. But holdover Obama appointees, aided by Senate Democrats, pushed the VOA off-mission until quite recently.
After years of Democrat obstruction, Trump got confirmed his appointee to run the Agency for Global Media (the VOA’s governing body), Michael Pack. And Pack has been trying to restore some philosophical balance and American pride in that service. This despite the bleating of 1619 Project-style America-bashers, and an outraged Mainstream Media.
A Scholar and a Patriot
Pack chose to run the Voice of America Stream contributor Robert Reilly. I think you can guess the rest of the story, but I need to tell it. Media figures and long-time federal employees (i.e., Swamp Creatures) have worked themselves into a frenzy over Reilly’s appointment. Why? Is he some kind of right-wing extremist, linked to racist organizations or theocratic Pharisees?
No, he’s a perfectly normal Reaganite. He ran VOA already, from 2001-2. Reilly has served as president of Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a high-brow intellectual group that mentors college students. (I edited ISI’s college guide for 12 years, by the way, and our main criteria were free speech and solid core curricula, not right-wing zeal.) Reilly not a partisan commentator but a political science scholar. He has published widely on classical music, American history, Islam, and moral philosophy. He also organizes an annual evening of waltzes in Washington, D.C., to help keep that form of dance alive.
Reilly’s most recent book, America on Trial, defends America as a nation founded neither on religious dogma nor empty, groundless “individual rights.” Instead, Reilly shows through careful scholarship that the U.S. was founded as part of an unbroken tradition of natural law reasoning that goes back to Jewish and Greek philosophical roots. The book is so rich and dense that I had to read it slowly. It could serve alone as a textbook in a political philosophy seminar at Yale.
A real firebrand, that Reilly. A regular Proud Boy.
No Christians Needed Here
But Reilly is more. He’s also a Christian conservative, who holds to views that were perfectly normal and mainstream the day before yesterday. (For instance, when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, with Joe Biden’s support, and Barack Obama disclaimed support for same-sex marriage.)
Reilly wrote a powerful, courageous 2014 book, Making Gay Okay, which laid out the natural law (reason-based, not scriptural) case against normalizing homosexuality. He told me the publisher could hardly find any conservatives journals or magazines willing to review it, for fear of the wrath of the LGBT machine. People privately warned him he was making a career blunder sticking his head up, in the face of massive, well-funded pressure groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center. He shrugged them off. That’s how magnanimous men behave, in case you’ve forgotten, since we see so few of them.
Speaking Frankly About Islam
Reilly also made himself a scholar of Islam, and wrote the best book on it that I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot of them). His The Closing of the Muslim Mind is a masterpiece of high-level but accessible analysis. In it, he explains why Sunni Islam in its current form is chronically prone to violence and extremism. Some people say that the Muslim world never went through a Renaissance or Enlightenment. That’s incorrect, as Reilly shows.
In fact, a movement arose in the Muslim world that did embrace the idea that God is purely rational, then critique those tenets of Islam which reason couldn’t justify. (Such as slaughtering apostates, endorsing slavery and the seizure for sexual bondage of “infidel” women.) This movement emerged in the 9th century. In its heyday, it generated quite a few thinkers (such as Averroes) whose arguments influenced the West, becoming central for Thomas Aquinas in particular.
The End of Islamic Reason
But because Islam’s founding scripture and traditions are so incompatible with reason, this “rationalist” movement quickly turned on basic Muslim beliefs. Its followers jumped from the Renaissance to a kind of radical Enlightenment almost overnight. Secularism beckoned. Soon Muslim rulers and their official philosophers turned against this movement and hunted its followers down. It disappeared, and we’re still living with the results, in the form of jihadist terrorism. What “moderate” Islam existed once proved unstable, and vanished, never to be seen again.
Is Reilly’s a fringe position? In one of his last interviews, King Hussein of Jordan was asked by journalist Milton Viorst, “Would you agree that the Muslim decline can be dated from the 9th century when Islam missed the chance to become the religion of reason and moderation by crushing the Mu’tazilite movement?” King Hussein answered, ‘That is essentially correct, and we must do what we can to change that now.’”
Are you getting the picture now? Our elites cannot abide it that someone who defends biblical morality and speak honestly about Islam is working for the government in any capacity. Indeed, as social media platforms have made abundantly clear, people who cross red lines like those barely enjoy free speech in our country. How much more outrageous that one of them is running a U.S.-sponsored media service, like Voice of America!
So of course the attacks began. Then escalated from merely angry to shrill, hysterical, and now apocalyptic. I will link to, but not quote, the wearisome abuse to which Reilly is being subjected for thoughtcrimes and wrongthink. The attacks include grossly truncated quotes from his sophisticated books, and the usual catalog of “phobias” with which armchair Woke analysts diagnose him. Much of the controversy being whipped up about Reilly’s appointment comes from … Democrats who previously held his post. Only one side’s allowed to win in America, remember? Wasn’t that what the vote Steal was meant to teach us?
Make no mistake. Reilly is one of the finest conservative voices in America and a leading Christian scholar. If he is somehow forced out of his job it will be just one more light going out in America, one more “No Christians Need Apply” sign telling us we have no place in our country. Your member of Congress deserves to hear what you think about that.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”