Death Race 2000 – a 1975 dystopian thriller, with a tinge of what might pass for humour – takes place in a totalitarian America in the millennial year, with martial law imposed, and the greatest ‘sport’ – well, I will let the Wikipedia description stand for itself:
After the “World Crash of ’79”, massive civil unrest and economic ruin occurs. The United States government is restructured into a totalitarian regime under martial law. To pacify the population, the government has created the Transcontinental Road Race, where a group of drivers race across the country in their high-powered cars and which is infamous for violence, gore, and innocent pedestrians being struck and killed for bonus points
Yes, there was a young Sylvester Stallone, just one year away from Rocky fame, and a cast of other worthies, mowing down people wheelchairs and on crutches. As with any number of such B-minus films filling theatres, it has proved unwittingly prophetic: The recent tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, with ‘violence, gore and innocent pedestrians being struck and killed for bonus points’. Death Race was what we might have (once?) called a ‘black comedy’, but that may be too much of a double entendre in this case.
From what facts have emerged, an embittered man drove his SUV deliberately into a Christmas parade, deliberately plowing into old and not-so-old ‘dancing grannies’, before swerving into toddlers, children, men, women – didn’t matter, so long as they were ‘white’. Six are dead, and dozens severely injured, and one can but wonder at the rank evil, just before the holidays. There will be at least six empty chairs at the Thanksgiving and Christmas tables.
What went on in the perpetrator’s mind, and soul? Had his perception of reality become so twisted, exacerbated by media, that he saw ‘white people’ – here, defenceless children and grannies celebrating in a hometown parade – only as evil, colonialist bowling pins to be knocked over, the more, the merrier, the more points?
Ideas have consequences, wrote Richard Weaver in 1948, just after 40 million had perished in the war, which is another way of saying lex credendi, lex vivendi – the law of believing, is our law of living. We live as we think, and if we think, and believe, evil, then evil we will do.
One of the most evil ideas is that some humans are not persons, and, hence, have no inherent dignity.
Slavery and prostitution are such, reducing humans to chattel to be bought, sold, or used for reasons of utility or pleasure. But at least there is some vested interest in keeping said humans alive and healthy. Not so when de-personalization is motivated by hatred and fear, which distort our perceptions such that we murder. Homo homini lupus, the poet Terence lamented, man becomes a wolf to man. Or worse. As the saying goes, there are some things even a wolf won’t do.
In the French Revolution, those who were deemed ‘anti-revolutionary’ – or not revolutionary enough – were guillotined or simply shot or hacked to death, without trial or mercy.
The First World War: Germans were ‘Huns’, while the French and English were, well, English and French, and they mowed each other down by the millions. The war saw the first use of poison gas – by the Germans. A sign of things to come.
For we need not belabour the dehumanization, and attempted extermination, of the Jews by the Nazis. The National Socialist government under Hitler began in 1933 with euthanizing the ‘unfit’ – imbeciles, epileptics, the ill – and moved on from there to include not only ‘Semites’, but any ‘non-Aryans’ and other undesirables: Gypsies, Catholics – priests especially, and eventually anyone who would not comply with the ‘Reich’.
In the midst of that horror, we witnessed the indiscriminate destruction of entire cities, citizens – non-combatants, women, children, babies, the unborn – perishing in conflagrations, all treated as collateral damage to ‘end the war’. But at what cost?
Soon afterward, the unborn lost their own status as persons, and this is not unconnected to the concept of ‘total war’. If we can kill unwitting, innocent adults, asleep in their beds or enjoying their morning coffee – for proportionate reasons, of course – why not babies in their mothers’ wombs?
And so it was, in 1969 in Canada, under Pierre Trudeau and John Turner, and in 1973 in the United States, by a Supreme Court, headed by Justice William Brennan. All three, self-professed Catholics, members of the Church that gave human beings their dignity, in her teaching that we are all created in the image of the tri-Personal God. If we lose that ‘idea’ – and it may already be lost – we lose everything, the consequences, already around us, unforeseeable. A race to the bottom, with might once again making right.
To paraphrase Jack London’s nihilistic Sea Wolf, if we are just protoplasm, why is anything ‘wrong’? Why not make euthanasia more entertaining, with an annual death race mowing down the sick, the lame, the mute and the deaf? How close are we to just metaphorically throwing them – and anyone else – to the lions?
Without God, and His immutable law, as Dostoyevsky warned, anything goes.
Meanwhile, for the ‘un-vaxxed’, here’s a snippet from Mark Steyn:
in Greece the unvaccinated are now being fined; in Austria they will face gaol terms; in New York City they will be ineligible for private-sector employment; in Slovenia they can’t gas up; in Australia’s Northern Territory they’re being carted off to government camps for two-week incarceration.
Pundits and even physicians have called for them to be left untreated outside hospitals, in tents.
Bracing to see the Nietzschean notion of untermensch is still with us. Whither all this goes, no one knows, except the Father.
There are some things that we quite simply cannot do – to ourselves, to one another, to God. Not because the state says so, or some legal precedent, or custom, or a constitution, but because our Creator does, Who has counted every hair on our head, and calls each of us by name back to Him. If only we would listen to His voice, and obey His Word, what a wonderful world this would be! Babies cherished in the womb, the elderly and ill cared for at the end, and people treating each other as eternal beings made in God’s very image.
Yet we instead follow the path of Death, all the while living in such fear of it. There is only one Life that can conquer death, so choose life, that you, and our descendants, may live.
On the first day of this month of December, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case that may undo Roe vs. Wade. Six of the nine current justices are Catholics, at least in name. Much of their discussion was on legal fine points, skirting the central issue of whether the unborn child is a human person, with the full dignity and rights thereof.
This seems obvious, yet disconcerting that their fate rests in the hands – or minds – of nine unelected black-robed lawyers, some of them spouting nonsense (see Sonia Sotomayor and now the thankfully retired Anthony Kennedy, who I hope repents for Planned Parenthood v. Casey before he shuffles off this mortal coil). A nebulous thread, indeed! We should nevertheless pray, and hope, that they decide in favour of reason, truth, and goodness. For not only do ideas have consequences, but so do each of our moral decisions – eternal ones, with not only our souls, but the very future of humanity, hanging in the balance.