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June 22, 2012
The trickiness of words
By Alice von Hildebrand *

By Alice von Hildebrand *

Language is a privilege denied to animals, but it is typical of man’s dignity as a person. However, this very dignity – like every single gift – when misused, can lead to grave misunderstandings. Words are used to communicate truths, and alas, can also communicate errors and lies. Moreover, the meaning of words keeps changing: with time, they mysteriously put a new emphasis, a new nuance in their meaning, so that after a while, they can easily mislead us. This is why Dietrich von Hildebrand claimed that the Church needs a “dead language” to keep her Holy Teaching exactly as inherited from the Apostles. Not one iota is to be changed to the divine message.

A case in point is the word “discrimination.” The prevalent meaning used to be “to differentiate,” “to set apart as different.” To be called a “discriminating person” was a compliment. But today, the primary meaning of the word has shifted and mostly refers to unfair and unjust judgments and actions. What used to be the primary meaning is now totally obscured. Today the word “discrimination has a “bad reputation.” Woe to the person who “discriminates.” Most likely he will be threatened by a law suit. The new meaning  has“ conquered.”      

Thanks to the  magic now attached to this word, innumerable people suddenly woke up to how unfairly they have been treated. If  someone is not promoted, it is obvious that it was because of his ethnic background, the color of his skin, even his “weight.” If someone’s application for a scholarship is turned down, he is the victim of “discrimination.” Someone is fired: discrimination alone can explain this shocking injustice.

I suspect that clever lawyers gained many clients by advertising their skill at winning such law suits. They usually do.

Is there such a thing as unjust discrimination? Yes, and alas, as much as we try to eliminate injustice in our sinful world, we shall never fully succeed. It is a sheer illusion to assume that laws alone can guarantee perfect justice. Sin has entered into the world, and only cunning politicians can “convince” people that we are heading toward a perfect world. Let me say repeat emphatically: injustice should be opposed with every possible means, but it is sheer utopia to believe that we can, by purely human means, re-create an earthly paradise we have chosen to abandon by disobeying God.

We need not waste time explaining why unfair “discriminations” should be opposed. Some are so grotesque that the only appropriate comment is: God has set limits to human intelligence, but none to his stupidity.

One of the amazing remarks made by St. Therese of Lisieux is that “In Heaven, there will be perfect justice.” We would expect her to say that there will be universal love. Yet, she opts for the word “justice.” She knew that, deep down, all of us from our very youth, crave justice, and are revolted and grieved by injustice. The natural moral law inscribed in the human heart, tells us that it should not be, yet it is. Heaven is clearly a place where everything is perfectly just. For this same reason jealousy in heaven is unthinkable: we shall all see clearly that the place we occupy is the one that we deserve.
 
Alas, the devil who never sleeps, as Sancho Panza wisely remarks, has now hijacked the word “discrimination” for his own evil purposes. Knowing how limited human intelligence is, and using his diabolical cunning, he has now extended the word “discrimination” to wage war and abolish valid, essential differences which, once denied, will inevitably lead to the social and moral collapse of society. This is one of the gravest problems we are facing today. The grotesque claim that in order to eliminate “discriminations” against women, we should deny that they differ from men, is not only the peak of stupidity, but also a slap in the face of the Creator who declared that He created Man (homo) male and female.

That Evil already has scores great victories, (I.e. done much harm) is obvious to anyone who has eyes to see. Not only has he blurred the line separating legitimate from illegitimate discriminations, but moreover, with the collaboration of the news media, always at his beck and call, he has succeeded in convincing some people that classical traditional distinctions such as between true and false, morally good and morally evil, are “discriminatory,” and therefore should be condemned in schools and universities: they are responsible for “divisiveness,” wars and conflicts. Universal peace can only be reached if everyone’s “truth” is respected.  Modern man has finally realized that “True” is what agrees with an individual’s mind; good is what fulfills an individual's cravings. It is up to him to choose what will make him happy.

This “dictatorial” relativism has poisoned our educational system. What is “new” today, as just mentioned, is that the word “discrimination” has now been extended to the sexes. To condemn sexual perversions (which Plato called “against nature”) is now labeled homophobic and therefore labeled as an “evil” discrimination that should be punished by law. This goes so far that even when a priest condemns perverse practices from the pulpit, he can become the victim of a law suit. 
 
This “achievement” – which inevitably saps the very foundation of any society – has gained impetus  with such a speed that it makes one dizzy. What has happened to our world?    

One possible explanation is that it was in part triggered by radical feminism. Simone de Beauvoir, dubbed the mother of French feminism, loudly claimed that the female sex has, from the very beginning, been the victim of “discrimination.” She refers to women as “the second sex,” and uses her impressive talents to convince females that their very being is marked by discrimination. Women are metaphysically “victimized” by their anatomy. It is high time for them to realize how unfairly they have been treated from the very moment of their creation: they were  clearly made “inferior” to their male counterpart, and were therefore destined to be both men’s servants and objects of  pleasure. The male sex is only making use of the “privileges” granted them by their very maleness. It is their “birthright”.    

The moment has come for women to revolt and loudly assert that they will no longer accept this shocking “discrimination.” They should loudly claim their rights to share all male privileges and characteristics. One crucial key is to gain control over their bodies, which up to now, have been the victim of biological laws. They have been “enslaved” by their flesh. The call of the hour is for them to gain control over their biological make up and therefore be able to master their destiny. A key factor is their right to choose whether or nor they want to get pregnant, and if pregnant, whether they wish to keep the “ tissues” growing in their womb. If not freely chosen, they should be eliminated like unwanted guests.

Victims of this enslavement, women have up to now “produced nothing” (sic) They have been imprisoned in what the Germans call the three Ks (Kirche, Kuche, Kinder): church, kitchen, children. How is one to produce a Shakespeare when one’s day is spent changing diapers, cooking or washing dishes? Women’s talents have been crushed in the bud. The moment has come to wage war on such shameful injustices and to declare themselves to be men’s equal in all things.

In this context, Chesterton has left us a precious piece of wisdom: “There is nothing so certain to lead to inequality as identity.” (Woman and the Philosophers, p. 20.) If we deny that men are men and women are women, we have opted not only for stupidity, but for greater injustices which ultimately will shake the very foundation of our society. This is the point we hope to make.

One serious bone of contention made by radical feminists (including nuns who used to be the backbone of authentic Catholic education) is that women have from the beginning of the Church, been denied the dignity of the priesthood. To their rebellious minds, this is revolting: women certainly have all the qualifications required to be priests. As a matter of fact, being usually more intuitive than men, they might have qualities that make them particularly talented to exercise this sacred function.

Conveniently they forget the fate of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who revolted against Moses in claiming that they too were entitled to the priesthood, even though they did not belong to the tribe of Aaron. “All the congregation are holy.” (Numbers, 16:3.) Moses, obeying God’s order, told them “to separate themselves from among the congregation.” (ibid, 20.) The ground opened up and “swallowed them.” (ibid, 31.). That was God’s eloquent response. Their fate was not enviable, but the divine message was clear. It is repeated by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews: “And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God just as Aaron was.” (Hebrews, 5:4.) It should be a source of grief to all of us that some nuns have shut their ears (or their hearts) to God’s will. Yet, they loudly insist that it is a shockingly unjust “discrimination,” based on their sex. They are unfairly “humiliated” by being declared unworthy of celebrating mass and giving absolution to sinners. That this has been denied women proves that the Catholic Church is “sexist,” and is dominated by a male, authoritarian clergy. To be a “sexist” should be put on top of the “new” list of capital sins.

These women (whether nuns or lay people) are so absolutely confident of the validity of their recrimination that no rational argument will ever register in their minds. They keep clamoring that not only has the Church never ordained a single woman, but, to add insult to injury, has solemnly declared that the female sex cannot be validly ordained. If a “new age” Bishop were to grant one of them the sacrament of  “ordination,” it would ipso facto be only be a satanic farce.

This arch belief of the Catholic Church is fully shared by the Orthodox Church. It is now rejected by many Protestant denominations.

Is the female sex truly disparaged by a “male Church?” The question deserves a careful examination. Let us turn to the message of Genesis. This sacred book tells us that after creating the magnificent material universe, God decided to create man. (I.e. homo) and made him to His image and likeness. In other words, God, who had already created angels, (purely spiritual persons) chose to create a new type of person, fully sharing personhood with angels, but incarnated in a body personified by its union with an immortal soul. He also chose to create them male and female: equal in dignity, sharing the same destiny, but different, because by their very nature they are complementary. The male has perfections which are typical of his sex, the female has her own. They essentially belong together and are made to enrich one another. The word 'homo' includes both man and woman. (In English, unfortunately, the word  “man” refers to both homo and vir). The Bible certainly does not entitle us to claim that God has made the woman inferior to the male. Further reading might even lead us to question whether the woman, from the very moment of her creation as female, was not the privileged one in more ways than one. For whereas Adam’s body was taken from the slime of the earth – a very modest origin – Eve’s body was taken from the one of a person made to God’s image and likeness. This is definitely a more “aristocratic” origin. Moreover, upon perceiving her, Adam, overwhelmed with joy, exclaims; “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” No such enchantment is expressed by Eve, even though I personally am convinced that she too responded with joy and gratitude in perceiving Adam’s male perfections. She knew intuitively that he was to complement and enrich her.

Genesis tells us further that Adam gave Eve an incredibly beautiful title: he calls her “the Mother of the Living.” Proclaiming that between woman and life there is bond of such nobility calls for a response of respect and awe. Adam is denied a similar dignity; never in the Bible is he called the father of the living.

Moreover, when Eve gave birth to Cain, she joyfully exclaimed: “I have gotten a man with the help of God.” (4:1.)  Adam is not even mentioned. Surprisingly, he does not protest: after all, the father too has a role to play in procreation. The very same scenario is repeated when Eve gives birth to Seth, replacing Abel, who was murdered by his brother. Can we assume that Adam, who certainly had no diploma in biology, knew intuitively that human life begins in the female body: it is only when the father’s sperm has fecundated the mother’s egg that life begins. It is also the awesome moment when God who alone can create souls, puts a new one in this miniscule human body. Therefore there is an immediate contact between God and the woman’s body. To be “touched” by the Creator is once again an amazing privilege, not granted to the male sex.

Why does Adam not complain that he is being “discriminated” against? If he did, Moses thought it was not worth reporting. Chesterton was clearly inspired by Genesis when he wrote: “Nothing can ever overcome that one enormous sex superiority, that even the male child is born closer to his mother than to his father. No one staring at that frightful female privilege, can quite believe in the equality of the sexes.” (What is Wrong with the World, Sheed and Ward, p. 192.)

Eve was severely punished for her disobedience, (see  Genesis, 3:16.) nevertheless, God was faithful to His original plan to grant the female sex a unique role in the process of redemption. In His own time, He granted Eve a descendant whose name was Anna. She in turn gave birth to a baby girl whose name was Mary – the only creature born without the curse of original sin: from the very moment of Her conception, she was blessed. This young Virgin accepted to be the mother of the Savior. As woman, she was already entitled to be glorious title of being called “mother of the living,” but now, as mother of Christ, she was honored with an infinitely greater title of honor: she became the mother of someone who (having no earthly father) proclaimed that He was Life itself. Not a single founder of the many religions that have flourished on this earth, has ever dared make such a claim.

In the light of what we just mentioned, it is legitimate to raise the question whether the female sex is not, in the light of redemption, the privileged one? In the Liturgy, we find this amazing prayer: “O God who has put salvation in the hands of a woman.” In the same Liturgy, women are alluded to as the “pious sex.” This is a compliment indeed. Is not the male sex the one “discriminated” against? Why is it that they do not protest against this injustice?

These remarks will help us to re-examine the feminist claim that the Bible has discriminated against them, and that this discrimination is now incorporated in the teaching of the Catholic Church. Let us go back to the French priestess of feminism, Simone de Beauvoir. She reminds us that Freud – a world famous psychiatrist – made the great discovery that little girls inevitably suffer from an inferiority complex. There is something missing in their anatomy. He calls it “penis envy” (sic). It is well known that the greatest stupidities are usually products of “geniuses” when their intellectual pride makes them derail. This is a case in point. His claim is as stupid as to assume that boys suffer from “a womb envy.” Indeed, this most mysterious and precious organ is not inscribed in their anatomy. The feminine organ par excellence happens to be one of incredible dignity for it is “the cradle of life” and became the cradle of the Savior of the world.

Moreover, the male organs are “exterior” and therefore visible, whereas the womb is hidden. How right St. Bonaventure was in reminding us that nature is a book that we should learn how to read. Once its message is perceived and understood, it guides the human eye to “look upward” and grasp the divine message communicated by His visible creation. That the womb is “concealed” clearly  transmits a message that feminists are incapable of “reading.” The reason being that having adopted an arrogant posture toward their Creator, they have lost the virtue of “reverence,” which D. von Hildebrand rightly calls 'the mother of all virtues.' Irreverence has a blinding effect. It  kills in us the sense of mystery, sacredness, intimacy, secrecy. Whereas blind people know they are deprived of the sense of sight, morally blind people live in the tragic illusion that they alone enjoy the privilege of perfect vision.

Today, many women, poisoned by the rhetoric of feminists, (porte parole of the Evil one) have become so convinced of their metaphysical “inferiority” that they try to ape the male sex. They are so untalented at doing this that all they succeed in doing is to copy some of the most unlovable features of the strong sex, which have also been affected by original sin.

Feminists talk themselves into assuming that they are now “liberated.” In fact they have exchanged the sweet bond of love for the shackles of slavery, typical of pride and of Satan’s key words; “non-serviam.” They swallow the arrant nonsense of de Beauvoir who writes, as mentioned above: “women produce nothing.” To her arthritic mind, to give birth to a human person, reminds her of hens with a high level of productivity. This grade of imbecility must be a source of delight to Satan and his agents. To the “mother” of French feminism, female organs are a woman’s enemy: in fact, they are “ashamed” of their bodies.

Whereas in the Old Testament, infertility was a curse – modern “feminists” see it as a “sickness” for which they are entitled to medical coverage and advised to take “preventive” remedies. To refuse to grant them this “right” is a grave cases of “discrimination.”     

The many women that have fallen victims of this lying rhetoric, have become “female Esaus” who sell their birthright (to be called “mother of the living”) for a bowl of pottage. When I was in grammar school, and told about the inane choice made by Isaac’s first born, I recall that my response was: “how un-intelligent can a human male be! Women would never make such a stupid choice.” I clearly was not affected by the “inborn inferiority” complex that Freud attributes to little girls. But, alas, I was mistaken. Modern feminists definitely trump Esau in “brainlessness!”

No sane person can claim that to be a top executive is more noble and more valuable than to bring a child into the world. One among many valid definition of stupidity, is to lose sight of the hierarchy of values: to place the lower over the higher.

No one can contest that men have been the great creators in the intellectual and artistic domains, but we should not forget that St. Peter tells us explicitly that at the end of time, the world will be totally destroyed by fire. (Second Epistle, 3 -12.) Everything will be reduced to dust and ashes, but every single child that a woman has brought into the world, having an immortal soul, will live forever. Moreover, let us recall that all male geniuses, were brought into the world by their mothers: Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Michel Angelo, Leonardo, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven all had a mother who carried them in their womb for nine months, and then suffered labor pains in order to give them to the world. 

Feminists, like all bad historians, are very selective in their scholarship. They read the Bible with the deforming glasses of prejudice. Whenever they find critical remarks made about the female sex wounded by original sin, they proudly capitalize on them. When, on the contrary, sublime things are said about them, they are “wisely” left “forgotten.”
 
We have mentioned the privileges that God Himself has granted to the “weak” sex. The moment has come to re-examine one of the key incriminations made by feminists against the Church: why can’t women be ordained? The answer is now pre-given. There is only one Priest – Christ, for all  priests only partake of His dignity. This one Priest has a mother, but no human father. It should become obvious that the magnificent role assigned to the woman by God Himself is to give birth to priests, following the example given us by the Blessed one among women. Priests need a mother, and as no being can be mother and son simultaneously, it should now be luminous why women cannot possibly be ordained. The two magnificent charisms: maternity and the priesthood being complementary, cannot be either interchanged or reduced to one another.

We can conclude that to wage war on maternity is to wage war on the priesthood. For God had decided that His Son should have a mother but no human father. No mothers, no priests. The Holy Wisdom of the Church prohibits the ordination of women for She knows that one cannot be a mother and a son simultaneously. It is a sacred Either – Or.   

As we saw, from the very beginning, God has established a sacred bond between the woman and life and granted her a key position in the mystery of redemption. This is a dignity that many women have betrayed. For this reason, we do not hesitate to claim that the legalization of abortion is the greatest victory achieved by Satan since original sin. God stated in Genesis “I will establish an enmity between you and the woman…”(3:15.) Satan hates the woman, because being a murderer from the very beginning, his hatred was targeted at “the mother of the living.” She is his arch enemy.

Once the “heart” of the family becomes a female Judas, the powerful influence she is privileged to exercise over her male counterpart – instead of helping him – pulled him with her in an abyss of perversions. 

Every sin brings with it its own punishment; the feminist revolt creates a domino effect: contraception (preventive medicine) led to abortion, which was followed by co-habitation. This opened the door to a society of innumerable single mothers, that is, a fatherless society. The “miracles” of  modern technology led to the possibility of isolating sex from procreation. The “brave new world” promises that one day children will exclusively be produced in a petri dish; they will become a “product.”

It could have been predicted that the next step was an epidemic of homosexuality which, as Plato saw twenty five centuries ago, shakes the very foundation of any society. He writes: “But how can we take precautions against the unnatural loves of either sex, from which innumerable evils have come upon individuals and cities.” (Laws, VIII  836.)

Today, we have “progressed” further. Many claim that to oppose sexual perversions is to be “homophobic.” Once the masses have been brainwashed into endorsing the validity of this claim, the time was ripe for clamoring for “same-sex  marriages.” Once homosexuality is legally recognized to be a fully justified “life style,” it follows that they should be given the same legal rights. We now have reached the point of no return. It could be foreseen that “same-sex” marriage was to  be put on the political agenda, and presented as a question of justice – a redressing of a secular discrimination no longer acceptable in the “modern” world.  To deny two males or two females the permission “to get married” was a clear case of “ shocking discrimination.” This led to the “right” of homosexuals to adopt children. We are now told that to have two mothers and two fathers is just as good as to have a father and a mother. The unisex mentality has made men and women “interchangeable.” Recently in England, a woman gave birth to a child, and refused to fill out the form asking 'male or female?' She justified her refusal by saying that it was up to the child to choose its own sex. She had “no right” to interfere with his or her choice.

Once the president of a powerful country officially proclaims that he endorses this abomination, any sane person must see that we are close to an abyss leading to a world catastrophe.
 
Isaiah wrote; “woe to those who call good evil and evil good…” (5:20.) The world was not yet mad enough to inspire him to add: woe to those who claim that it should make no difference whether a person “marries” a person of the same sex or of a different one.

A society that no longer “discriminates” between male and female, moral good and moral evil, truth and error, normal and perverse, is doomed. Those who have ears to hear clearly perceive the death knell of annihilation.

The conclusion  is “long live classical discrimination.” Let us fight to re-establish moral sanity, and wage a relentless war against those who fight for the “rights” of lying and perverse discriminations. May God make us clear sighted and give us the courage to oppose all the devilish lies sold by the news media. We should tremble at the thought that our Creator, who made man “male and female,” might repeat the fearful words He uttered in Generis: namely that “He regretted that He had created man.”

Alice von Hildebrand is a lecturer and an author, whose works include: The Privilege of Being a Woman (2002) and The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich von Hildebrand (2000), a biography of her late husband. She was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory by Pope Francis in 2013.
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