12/11/18

"The Land We Love" by Boyd Cathey, a Review

By: Jonathan Harris

Dr. Boyd D. Cathey, a first-rate scholar whose expertise ranges from European and Southern history to philosophy, religion, and music has finally published an anthology of his “greatest hits” in “The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage.” Essays on traditional conservatism, Southern culture, Western heritage, as well as movies and books fill up the 44 chapters of this intellectual gold mine. To say Cathey has been around the block, when it comes to Southern conservatism, is an understatement. Cathey was a personal assistant to Russell Kirk, an editor of Southern Partisan, and has filled multiple positions in the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Included in this wonderful work is Cathey’s widely circulated expose of Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center—an action that got him blacklisted when the “anti-hate” group focused their guns on him. Dr. Cathey’s explanation and understanding of neo-conservatism is worth the price of the book itself. Of course, Cathey also defends his homeland, the South and North Carolina, from progressive attempts to remake it; especially against the purging of all things Confederate. Standing with Robert E. Lee, Robert Lewis Dabney, and Mel Bradford; and against Abraham Lincoln, Victor Davis Hanson, and Dinesh D’Souza is Boyd Cathey.

Personal stories, intellectual essays, religious meditations, and even an interview with Eugene Genovese make “The Land We Love” stand the test of time. From 1983 to 2018 Dr. Cathey has faithfully interpreted and defended his place of birth. It turns out that loving “home” is not for the fainthearted, a charge Boyd D. Cathey will never be accused of.

12/4/18

A Compassionate Argument for a Strict Border Part 2: Incentives

By: David Harris

In the previous installment we looked at the some of the issues that arise for immigrants to the US when assimilation does not take place. In this installment we will further develop the idea that strict border policy is 1) more compassionate than loose policy and that 2) incentive is the key to understanding this.

Let's consider the incentive to
illegal immigration specifically. Why is the border policy advocated by those on the left cruel to illegal immigrants? It’s not just because illegals are afraid to use public services (they do, especially in sanctuary cities/states), it’s not just because of the risk they take in “sneaking in.” It’s because those advocating a less strict border policy generally don’t actually care about the people 1) who already live in the US or 2) those in other nations desiring to come here. How do we know?  

It’s actually very simple when you turn off the emotional overdrive for 5 seconds. Let me break it down: Immigrants who come to the US are not the poorest of the poor. We know this because they are able bodied enough to migrate, work and often travel back and forth between two countries. The extremely poor and sick are not able to move from where they are, and thus must be helped where they are. This can be done 3 ways: 1) a migrant comes to the US, works and sends money home; 2) people from the US or other more wealthy nations send money or go and personally assist the poor and needy themselves or 3) the situation in that country improves and people are less incentivized to leave. When the US government relaxes border policy it follows that an incentive to physically abandon a nation is created – those who cross the border illegally may be responsible for breaking US law in coming the way they do, but they are not responsible for the incentive that was created by the relaxed law, sanctuary cities and worst of all, entitlements that destroy personal industry. We typically only hear how illegal immigration hurts US citizens, but if we really cared about all people, we’d also talk about how it damages the illegals themselves, and worse, their countries of origin.

Once someone comes across, they are often separated from their family for long periods of time – often leading to a breakdown of the family structure. Marriages destroyed, children growing up with profound insecurity (I would know, I work with these families). But worse than that, the incentive to leave the mother nation means that there’s no incentive to stay and try to improve the situation there – “staying’s worse than leaving.” No argument has to be made for the problem of criminals coming to the US illegally, but what about the consequence of drawing productive members of society who now will never improve their own? You should be able to see that incentivizing for example, an El Salvadorian to come to the US illegally, has nothing to do with compassion for the people of El Salvador. Furthermore, it’s well known and observed that the multi-cultural “culture” of nations like the US render the cultures of immigrant children after two or three generations to be little more than a smattering of words from the first language and a few “ethnic” recipes, and therefore is culturally destructive (NOTE: I’m not arguing that this is a bad thing, but it would/should be for an ardent and honest multiculturalist).

Again, this is not necessarily meant to blame those who come – those who want to work hard to make a better life for their family should be respected, but would it not be more desirable for the immigrant to be able to stay in the country that he/she loves, if possible? Many, possibly most immigrants would prefer to stay in their countries (after all, many choose to keep displaying the flag of their home country when they make their home here) – their homeland is the place they’ve been born into, their grandparents were born into, that represents their culture, etc. – the land and culture are immensely important. Why incentivize individuals from other countries to come to this one and call it “compassion?” It’s hard to think of something less compassionate than to incentivize people with free stuff (sanctuary cities, entitlements, etc.) to abandon their struggling country for another one, the only benefit to the mother country being money sent home to family still in that country.

As the impact of illegal immigration on US citizens and those trying to come to the US legally is usually the focal point of conservative narratives on immigration in general, there is little point in reviewing them. The fixes to this broken system are fairly simple– build the wall, enforce immigration laws and most of all, and terminate entitlements, especially for “undocumented immigrants.” Enacting these polices would be good for those living and coming to the US, but as indicated above, they would also benefit those currently incentivized to come to the US illegally. In the next installment we’ll consider ways to show legitimate compassion to immigrants, both legal and illegal.

A Short Review of Every Good Endevour by Tim Keller

By: Jonathan Harris

It's a bit difficult to review this book and here's why: Keller says a lot of good things, but he also says some bad things. The good things he says are not unique to him at all. In fact, others have said them much better. Nancy Pearcey does does a much better job explaining the issue of compartmentalization (the sacred/profane distinction). I would recommend her book "Total Truth," five days of the week and twice on Sunday before recommending "Every Good Endeavor." In fact, I cannot see myself ever recommending "Every Good Endeavor." Keller's progressive leanings subtly infiltrate his message far too often. Having said this, I still think there's a lot of good that can come from this book.

I'll start with the positive. The best thing about this book is Keller's characterization of the Christian worldview as a story. It is not a top down ideological system (though it has elements of this, it is more than this). Unfortunately, Keller, after presenting this goes on later in the book to contrast a "Christian Worldview" with love and human flourishing. It's almost like he forgot about his own definition. A Christian worldview should flow from the story of God's love. Ok, so that did not sound very positive. Let me try again. There's a lot of good in this book in regard to destroying the idea that a job should be for the pursuit of idols instead of the pursuit of God's purposes. In fact, purpose is found when aligning oneself with God. This is all good. At least half the book focuses on this point.

Here's the rub. Keller is not much of a sophisticated intellectual (if this book is any indication), which is absolutely fine. The problem is he seems to fancy himself one. The categorical errors he makes expose him. For one thing Keller confuses the standards that ought to be in place for individuals with the standards that ought to be in place for organizations. Are people held to the same standards as corporations in a moral sense? Keller seems to think so, at least he navigates paragraphs that way. He'll be talking about Murdock and a company making money as a prime reason for existence and an example of idolatry while praising Hershey's benevolence. There's an apples and oranges problem here. Murdock could/should have a personal purpose for his company that connects with divine principles. This does not mean the corporation itself does not have the purpose of making a profit. In fact, without making a profit all the employees are out of a job. This does not help human flourishing (a phrase Keller loves but does not seem to want to define very clearly). Could not Hershey be paying employees to build an amusement park or give charitably out of a personal idol that longs for the praise of man etc.? Of course, but Keller seems to save his harshness for what most see as the excesses of capitalism.

He talks about "sociological idols." This is a modern idea very difficult to find in Scripture. Idols come from individual hearts. There can be a whole lot of individuals with the same idol, but they are still individual issues with spiritual solutions. He also goes as far as to say "family" can be an idol in a discussion on Christian conservatives withdrawing from the enjoyment of entertainment choices from the world. Yes, it can. But so can anything. Why pick on that particular thing, which in a rightly ordered universe should be a legitimate concern? Why are non-Christians praised for helping human flourishing etc.? They're engaged in idolatry as well, by definition. It's strange.

Keller's discussion of cultural engagement is borderline terrible. He says there are always idols and always aspects of redemption in every piece of art because of common grace. Scripture does not use this kind of language though. Scripture does not apply the image of God to pornography. There's a problem here. There is art that is objectively evil and art that objectively good. The Scriptures are obviously objectively good. Our problem as humans is a problem of recognition. We are limited and can't always see how God sees. But, to make an argument for an "eat the meat, spit out the bones" type of lifestyle is dangerous. Most art in the modern age compromises one's soul. Yes, someone may be using God-given skills (to spit in His face), but that's not really the point is it?

Ok, so Keller conflated individual and corporate responsibility/purpose, and potentially gave some license to engage in tempting forms of entertainment. Is that such a big deal? I mean, it's not the end of the world if the reader has discernment. But a discerning reader should be able to find the useful information in this book from other places. A little on the capitalism thing, since it sticks in my craw---Without a synthesis that marries cost/benefit and the well-being of the community (two things Keller juxtaposes) there will be no human flourishing. Making a profit is not a bad thing. I don't think Keller would go as far as to say that it is, but he approaches the cliff and seems to peer over the edge. Companies and individuals both need to be in the red. This is actually what helps them take care of others (Eph 4:28).

Back to Keller's perceived sophistication. The whole worldview analysis thing is weird. Keller tries to tie specific idols to three different worldviews (traditional, modernist, and post modernist). Of course traditionalists get to take responsibility for the racists. No shock there. Even though, anyone with a scintilla of historical understanding knows modernists and postmodernists have the same issues. In fact, that's where his whole model seems to break down. The same idols that have always plagued humans are reintroduced in different forms but they always remain (i.e. Dianna the temple goddess and pornography). None are unique to a different time period/world view. Keller compares the Christian story to these three worldviews. The issue here is that it's such an oversimplification it becomes a cartoon. Traditional worldviews are vast and varied (He talks about Asian cultures too?). Modernist and Post Modernist values are worldviews that make sense in the Western context, but are ideological and not traditional. They belong in a separate category. It's just unusual.

This book is written on a lower highschool level. Keller uses language common to a lot of pop Christian publishing endeavors. For instance, instead of saying "The enlightenment," he'll say, "This thing called the enlightenment." It's a bit overly simplistic, but feels like he's oddly talking down (This is probably where I got the impression he thought himself sophisticated. Well, that and trying to tackle Greek thought and worldview analysis in the manner he seems too). Keller overuses "human flourishing" and "love" without providing great Christian definitions for what he's talking about. This is an opportunity for readers with other worldviews to smuggle in their own concepts about what those things mean.

The end of the matter is this: Keller seems to be writing to postmodernists who are disenfranchised with modernism and capitalism in particular. He's writing from NYC. Once this is understood the whole thing makes sense. He's catering to the perceived needs of people around him. He's making a Christian worldview a palatable escape hatch from modernity. The issue here is that there's really not much about the Lordship of Christ. That ought to be the emphasis, but it's really not. Yes, there's a few verses here and there, but not what one would expect at all. Those coming to Christianity for the benefits will read this and perhaps love it. Maybe some will be saved as a result (that's my hope). But it's the wrong draw card to use. The beauty of, Lordship of, power of, etc. of Christ must be the draw card. Sin is also a disgusting pile of dung, not merely an impediment to "human flourishing." I'm not sure why anyone would flee to the Savior because they wanted to flourish in this life. It's not much of a rallying cry.

12/3/18

The Benedict Option: A Short Review

By: Jonathan Harris

So here's the uncomplicated, obvious, and simple strategy for Christian cultural renewal (the author admits this): Live like a Christian. That's it.

A reader may be wondering, "Why wonder my way through an entire book to tell me that?" The reason is that Rod Dreher has an accurate pessimism when it comes to the state of affairs in modern Christianity. Most professing Christians have completely lost any sense of integrating their faith with their life. They passively accept whatever the culture throws at them ethically, technologically, and artistically.

To be fair, Dreher fleshes out his strategy a little more. The Benedictine order has something to do with his premise. He thinks we can learn something from the life of a Christian monk. We can. But, we must be very, and I mean, very, careful here. I would never recommend this book to someone unless I was completely assured that their level of discernment was high. Dreher makes some excellent points (mainly in his critique of modernity), but also says some potentially harmful things.

Here are some of his better points: Toward the beginning he offers a jet-tour through Western civilization and, much like Richard Weaver, blames nominalism for our current cultural ills. He's right about all this. His section on technology at the end is great. We are addicted. It's sucking our humanity away. Monks definitely don't have the same problems (it helps when you give it up!). Dreher endorses the classical school model. More kudos coming from me. In addition, he suggests a life of prayer and reflection. These are lost disciplines, and yes, they need to be rekindled. There are more things the author says but these are the main take aways in my opinion.

Now on to the dangerous stuff: The greatest issue I see is Dreher's endorsement of "mere Christianity." Not the book, but the movement. He sees denominational barriers as a problem. We ought to have fellowship (Catholics, Orthodox, evangelicals, etc.) around the fact that we hold some basic truths and the secular world is persecuting us for them. This is a slippery slope. Scratch that, it's a leap off a cliff. The gospel must be the basis for any kind of fellowship. There is no Christian fellowship outside of it no matter how many common enemies or beliefs we may share. I'd be curious if Dreher invites Mormons into this sphere? He actually gives praise to the Mormon's sense of community while distancing himself from their theology. I don't think Dreher is thinking two steps ahead on where this kind of stuff eventually goes.

There is much more than can be said, but everything else is of lesser consequence. This may be a good book for someone interested in navigating technology and education in the modern age. Even then I think there are better books. This book is not revolutionary and eventually even Dreher's strategies are unlikely to work completely. He hints at a principled pluralism. I'm not sure if he'd ever use the term but the bottom line is that a secular government if left unchecked will not allow Christians to carve out these Benedictine "safe spaces." Still, Dreher makes some good points that are worthy of being heard. One of them I was already pondering, but he reinforced, was the need to incorporate liturgy in personal and church life. I think most of his good points Nancy Pearcey made in "Total Truth." If you read Francis Schaeffer sprinkled in with Neil Postman there's really no reason to read "The Benedict Option."

12/2/18

A Few Thoughts on Hillbilly Elegy

By: Jonathan Harris


Overall, this is a good book. It's not necessarily an entertaining one though. J.D. Vance does a great job narrating, to the point that you feel like you are with him in his stories. However, the stories are not always so nice. Vance describes a world of honor, bravery, and patriotism, but also of drugs, abuse, and poverty.

Here are a few good things about this book.

1. It sticks a needle in the eye of identity politics. The myth of "white privilege" completely disintegrates. It's not J.D.'s point to get overtly political. He's just telling his story, but his story does not comport with the concept of systematic racism or white privilege.

2. J.D. has a lot of optimism and hope. He is not writing as one who gripes about his family or culture. He is proud of where he came from though he can see the flaws in "Hillbilly" folk ways. Vance's solutions are not government solutions. He cares for his people, and he knows they can achieve more stability. He's not the savior lighting the way, but he is the humble example of what can happen when other's help.

3. It focuses on a marginalized culture often left out of mainstream discussions. Awareness is raised.

4.  This was written before President Trump was elected, but it explains perfectly why people elected him. Again, Vance isn't trying to write a political book, it just so happens that his story intersects with political questions. How can a professing Christian vote for a guy who has had all the affairs Trump has had etc.? Here's your answer.

Here are a few not so good things.

1. There's a lot of language. I mean F-bombs, etc. throughout the entire book. Vance's point is to make things as real as possible, but he goes a little overboard. Sometimes it's unnecessary. If it were a movie I likely would not watch it. For the purposes of study I was able to get through, but found the language annoying at times.

2. Vance's portrayal of hillbilly culture is accurate to a point. He is reading a culture through his experience. They are the descendants of Scotch-Irish mountain dwellers who spread out over the Midwest and upper South. I'm fairly skeptical that Vance's experience is the experience of all hillbillies. Northern Kentucky and Ohio are going to be different than Western North Carolina and Ozark mountain dwellers. In the same way, many of the issues Vance describes can be applied to western New Yorkers. My own experience as a repairman in upstate New York, Connecticut, and both Carolinas is what makes me a little bit skeptical. I feel as though I've met exactly who Vance describes in every place (perhaps not as much in CT) I've worked. I've also met the more committed church-going straight and narrow types as well. The rust belt and Appalachia, as well as the Deep South, contain mixes of Dale Earnheardts and Jeff Gordans, Hank Williams Jr.'s and Alan Jacksons. The people who indwell these regions are usually somewhere between "raising hell and amazing grace" to quote a Big and Rich album. Vance seemed to have been in an area, and in a family, that were a little more on the raising hell side of things. It's his story so this is not a bad thing, it just needs to be understood.

3. In Vance's sociological I wish there was a little more about the effect of modernity, Reconstruction, etc. This is because I have the history bug. Vance was under no obligation to do this, I know I would have wanted to insert something about how historically hillbillies got to the point they're at now. What happens when you break the pride of "dueling culture" through war, outsourcing, and persecution? (i.e. the War Between the States, Factories shutting down/poverty, and anti-Christian and anti-Southern rhetoric). What happens when a culture that takes pride in family names is now more confused genealogically, through hanky panky etc.,  than they ever have been? Sure these things are their own fault. Vance is right about that, but how did they get here? That's a story for another book perhaps. Oftentimes, the Great Society is blamed for the demise of the black family. It would be a true statement to say, "The black family collapsed because of internal moral failings." It would also be true to say, "The Great Society had something to do with it." Both are true in this case as well.

I would still recommend the book for those who want to understand how Donald Trump came to be where he is (his mother is Scottish you know), or what kinds of real solutions impoverished people need. (Hint: They don't come from the government).

12/1/18

Gay Girl, Good God: A Short Review

By: Jonathan Harris

The title makes it sound like it's for "Gay Christianity," but it's not. This is a great story of deliverance from homosexuality. It's a story, not a book on homosexuality specifically. It's also more descriptive than the standard fare popular Christian publishers are cranking out these days.

I would recommend with two cautions.

The first caution is this: Make sure you do not fall into the trap of thinking Jackie Hill Perry is a spiritual guru. She's not. This is the story of a layperson, and it's a good one. It glorifies God and the gospel. However, Perry is no theologian. She's very correct about the power of the gospel, but she's also on the social justice train when it comes to cultural Marxism. None of that comes out in this book. Her story though is what informs her. What God did in delivering her is very real. She's not writing a theology though. Someone could easily read this and use her story to justify her theology rather than using theology to justify her story. None of this takes away from the point she makes in the book. It's valid. But, in an age of celebrity preachers and spiritual gurus this needs to be said.

The second caution is this: Toward the end of the book Perry talks about "the gospel of heterosexuality." Much of what she said is true. Yes, there are Christians who have assumed the gospel is meant to make gays straight, etc. The problem is that Perry reads her perception through the lens of her experience. She seems to universalize her experience toward the end by saying "the church" has this issue. Well, perhaps in some quarters, but overall it would be very difficult to find sources to back up such a claim other than personal experiences, etc. Mainstream Christian ministries have not been known to crank out anything remotely similar to what Perry calls "the gospel of heterosexuality." The only concern I have is that people from the "let's hate the church" crowd could easily use what she said and perhaps take it farther than she even does. The fact is, the gospel should order our desires which includes making someone with same sex desires someone who now is attracted exclusively to those of the opposite sex. That's not a bad thing. It's a healthy thing. Perry makes a separation where there should not be one. It's not either/or. It's both/and. It's not either Jesus or straightness as a pursuit. Homosexuals who want to be Christians should pursue Jesus and in pursuing him pursue ordered desires.

This all being said, again, I recommend this. It's a great antidote in the pop Christian world to books like "Single, Gay, Christian." It's a great story of redemption. 

11/15/18

A Compassionate Argument for a Strict Border Part 1: Assimilation

By: David Harris

A heartwrenching scene: a young child stands with his hands wrapped around the bars of a small and constrictive cage. He sobs because he has been separated from his mother and father, they being placed in another detention camp, possibly hundreds of miles away. It is indeed a shocking sight – except it’s not real. It was taken at a leftist political demonstration to protest Trump’s border policy – it doesn’t reflect reality in the way that the tweeters wish it to. Again, a series of photos surface showing children being kept in larger chain link “cages” of sorts – the outrage is immediate and loud. The Trump Administration must answer for these crimes! Except the photos were taken in 2014 – during the Obama Administration, and demonstrate policy in place from that administration to this point – the outrage shifts, but does not silence or even lower in volume. Why? Because the President is racist, xenophobic, etc., and the laws he and some of the more hardline supporters of a secure border are the outflow of this racism and xenophobia. At least that’s what an alien in a distant universe might think if they only are able to intercept intergalactic radio waves carrying virtually any major news source.

We should be smart about how and when we are outraged by something. This was true during the Obama years and every previous government administrations from the beginning of time, and it’s still true today. That being said, it’s incredibly sad to see so many people being “straight up duped” by what they read and hear through the media into counterfeit outrage that acts like a drug in their system, convincing them even more that they’re right and everyone who disagrees with them is not only deathly wrong but also evil. It’s even sadder when there are throngs of among the outraged masses thinking that their outrage is somehow justified by a moral, biblical perspective because in their minds they are “supporting justice,” “standing up for the downtrodden,” or “welcoming the sojourner.” If you are one of these outraged, this piece is for you. While I don’t want you to be unnecessarily offended, if you are, then it is necessary – my hope is to bring true, actual compassion and charity to an issue that many are using as an excuse to metaphorically beat other Americans over the head for “not being compassionate.” My thesis is straightforward: a stricter border policy for the United States is far more compassionate than a loose and lax one. I will make this argument through several lines of reasoning, but I should fully disclose that I am coming from a biblical perspective, one that values above all things treating others “how they would want to be treated.” If my reasoning seems cold at times it is only because I am following logical conclusions to get to what is most important: the truth of how to best serve, love and protect our fellow man because they are made in the image and likeness of God.

So let’s get specific: it is very much in vogue among certain circles of the “values voters” and the evangelical community to stand in opposition to stricter border policy with the reasoning that these policies (secure border, selective immigration, etc.) are innately racist and/or do not reflect the biblical principle of “welcoming the sojourner.” While the interest in caring for those of other lands in less than desirable economic/political/cultural conditions is admirable, there is no moral high ground to be had by opposing secure border policy. In fact, if one peels back the emotional layers, opposing a secure border and stricter immigration policy is downright cruel. Why? There are many reasons. I want to deal with two, both dealing with the idea of incentive in these two categories: 1) incentive for immigrants to come to the US, and 2) incentive for US citizens to care for those of other nations.

Before directly discussing incentive, I want to examine the question of why migrants come to the US in general (legally and illegally). Why do people leave their place of birth, life and root to come to a new place? Population movements throughout history have occurred for any number of reasons (many times being forced), but the overwhelming incentive for those coming to US as of now must be chiefly economic opportunity – with a far smaller percentage for reasons related to freedom of speech, expression and association. What does this mean? From an economic standpoint this is fairly straightforward: unemployment almost demands immigration – this is what happens when an economy thrives. In fact, with the lack of skilled laborers in the US at this time, labor pools from other nations will have to be tapped into, as other nations do throughout the world (If you want proof of this, look on a website for a country that is actively searching for immigrants like New Zealand – there are incentives and jobs to be had, but only to those with specific skills). While there is fear that migrants could “steal” jobs from Americans, the fear subsides with low unemployment, a resulting factor of lower taxes and regulation. By this train of economic reasoning (which, I might add is also founded on the biblical principles of private property and the command “thou shall not steal”), the economic policies of redistribution, high taxes and high regulation actually lead directly to ant-immigration sentiment as they become the target of anger by unemployed natives.

However, there is a problem of a somewhat different variety that arises from immigrants coming for economic reasons – there is not the same drive for cultural assimilation. An immigrant who leaves one country for another because they’re fleeing an oppressive regime or culture typically embraces the place they’re fleeing too – after all, the difference in the administration of law is the point of their move to begin with. When one moves only for economic reasons, the drive for assimilation is much less, leading to lethargy toward adopting the culture, language and worst of all, civics of that place. This is not at all to say that all those who come to the US for economic opportunity don’t contribute positively in to the nation, only to say that the trend of merely chasing dollars and cents does not lend itself well to cultural assimilation. Now, a decent argument could be made that many immigrating to the US are actually bringing superior culture in some instances – I’d be willing to accept that premise on a case by case basis, but it doesn’t negate the consequences of a massively unassimilated migrant community. The obvious question/objection is this: why is assimilation important or even good? The answer is simple: the US is particular nation with a particular system of law and government. This system has yielded, in general, a peaceful nation. The working of our system requires a populace that subscribes and understands the laws that make it work. The laws are based on a common culture that has traditionally valued them. The culture is based in a common language, history and values system. Assimilation is necessary not only for the thriving of the nation, but also the thriving of those entering to it.

While there are a host of negative consequences that arise from a lack of assimilation, one receiving little attention from the conservative side of the immigration debate is the Democrat monopoly on immigrant voters. Why this trend? Well, for starters, when someone comes to the United States their primary interactions are with government run institutions – immigration bureau offices, the school system, community volunteer organizations, etc. – the bulk of these being run by urban, Democrat volunteers, or more often than not, paid government employees. How do I know? Because I have worked in some of these bureaucracies for years. The monopoly is held tight through an aggressive program built upon a firm subscription to the idea of multiculturalism that leads to a lack of assimilation (because if all cultures are equally valid and good, there’s no reason anyone should change or adjust their own regardless of where they come from).

It often works like this: (and I have asked many immigrants from Hispanic countries concerning these trends) an immigrant arrives in the US. He is shown the ropes of his new nation by both a plurality of government bureaucracies and by members of his own culture already there. As he is guided in the citizenship process, he is taught American History primarily by democrats, encouraged to vote by democrats and then his community tells him to “be Hispanic” in the US is to vote Democrat. Why would anyone be surprised that he votes Democrat with nearly every voice telling him to do so? To add insult to injury, the left-leaning folks who helped him are directly at odds with the community he’s a part of on even more crucial issues – they just don’t bother to tell him. For example, polls have shown that Hispanic voters are typically pro-life and pro-traditional marriage – issues that should be at the forefront of their voting decisions, but are so often ignored in favor of economic issues like “affordable housing” (which is essentially code for redistributionism, a policy that negatively affects any immigrants wishing to grow businesses and increase personal wealth in the US). Perhaps if the new arrival had been forced to assimilate more, he wouldn’t be voting for a party that openly supports things he detests from a moral standpoint.

Above all, it should be noted that assimilation is good for the person being assimilated, at least in the United States, thought this is not only true here. If YOU ever move to a foreign country, you should do your best to assimilate in the areas that are important – this does not mean that you change your worldview, but you adopt the language, traditions and civics that do not conflict with your conscience – after all, if you weren’t willing to, why did you move there to begin with?

In part 2 we will begin to look more specifically at the idea of incentive and how it determines who and why come across the border.

11/12/18

Why?: Explaining the Holocaust - A book review

By: Jonathan Harris

The very idea of the word “Holocaust” conjures up feelings of the most despicable kind of evil imaginable. It is normal for those who have detailed knowledge of the horrific mistreatment of Jews in Nazi Germany to wonder what could have motivated such barbarous actions in a civilized country. This is the very question history professor Peter Hayes seeks to answer in Why? Explaining the Holocaust. While Hayes admits his task is not an easy undertaking, he comes as close as perhaps one can to arriving at an explanation. Hayes introduces his study by stating: “Each chapter of this book examines . . . eight central issues . . . and the book as a whole reflects my conviction that the Holocaust is no less historically explicable than any other human experience . . .” (59). Broadly speaking, the issues Hayes deals with can be categorized into “acts of commission, some concern acts of omission, and still others entail[ing] both” (59).

The story of anti-Semitism in Europe starts long before the existence of national socialism.  Hayes observes that “Although some ancient Egyptian and Greek texts express animosity toward Jews, the rise of intense hostility to and fear of them largely coincides with the rise of Christianity” (133). Guilds across Europe kept Jews from competing economically in most vocations. However, the rise of capitalism afforded an opportunity for Jews to have success in financial vocations such as money lending. An oft-repeated cliche throughout the book is that “the appeal of antisemitism rises and falls in inverse relationship with the stock market” (478). The perception that Jews, because of their over representation in banking, were responsible for the financial down turns that affected the rest of the population formed the wedge that would tarry long into post-Christian secularism.

Of course the moral objection to the Jewish people still had a profound affect. The author states that “By the time of the Reformation . . . hatred of Jews . . . had crystallized around two central generalizations: (1) that Jews were parasitic profiteers, intent on extracting wealth from Christians, and (2) that Jews were incorrigible instruments of Satan, intent on serving his purposes and afflicting the pious” (207). The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a widely circulated publication originating in early 20th century Russia, asserted a Jewish conspiracy for international control. This theory was widely echoed as one Catholic journal from 1938 “wrote of the Jews’ ‘messianic craving for world domination’” (3994). It was this attitude that could have given rise to the Holocaust in many European countries as the lack of resistance and degree of assistance in the Holocaust among other nations shows.

The reason the Holocaust happened within a German context, according to Haynes, has much to do with events immediately preceding the rise of Hitler. “ . . . the prominence of Jews in the arts became an excuse to blame them for the alleged ‘corruption’ of German culture during the Roaring Twenties. . . the leading proponent of sex education and research and of gay rights . . . was a Jew, as was the owner of Germany’s preeminent manufacturer of condoms . . .” (1012). In addition, Germany’s devastating economic collapse in the late 20s and early 30s was blamed on Jewish corporate interests. Association with Bolshevism gave the impression that Jews did not care about the country in which they resided. The three-class voting system and “Jew count” from World War I still lingered in the minds of Germans who believed that Jews were over represented in political decision making had shirked their military duty. Catalyzing justification for this resentment was the fact that evolutionary “science” could now be used to justify racial hatred. “Hitler tricked his message out with a synthesis of pseudoreligion and pseudoscience that may be aptly dubbed a ‘theozoology’: On the one hand, he posed as an evangelist of the Volk, the person who would lead a national revival by making the German people sense its own power and, as the Nazi slogan ‘Deutschland Erwache’ said, ‘Awaken Germany’” (928). It was in awakening the German people to alleged Jewish privilege and fanning the flames of resentment because of it that Hitler gained the support necessary to eventually carry out the Holocaust.

In addition to answering the major questions, Hayes also draws lessons about the Holocaust. He identifies potential opportunities that exist within the United States for stoking the flames of hatred, namely toward homosexuals and Hispanics. This may be Hayes weakest section since he fails to make necessary distinctions between the motivations for the resentment of Jews within Germany and the motivations for wanting to secure the southern border within the United States. He also fails to interact with movements aimed at the rich, such as Occupy Wall Street, or the popular concepts of social justice and white privilege. Still, Hayes does offer up a wonderfully thorough explanation for why the Holocaust took place, and why there was little resistance to it.

11/6/18

The Farce of Finding Faith in Facts

Historiography Meets Presuppositionalism
By: Jonathan Harris

"This pill is guaranteed to cure what's ailing you!" or so the sales pitch goes from the half-baked sweat drenched racketeer of quackery and pioneer of snake oil preaching at the county fair. What's to make a young clean shaved fresh out of college urban sophisticate part with a few Thomas Jeffersons on the flimsy notion that he may, after all, get sick one day? Every marketer worth their salt knows the answer: "Don't take my word for it!” and in streams the testimonials and scientific studies all delivered by a lab coat housing the body of a healthy specimen of an alleged medical expert.

To the more skeptical among us this scenario raises eyebrows. How should we know that the smiling doctor on television is really telling the truth? How can we verify that the testimonies before us are not the performances of paid actors? Where can we go to find the cold hard truth straight from the mouth of the proverbial horse? Fears are somewhat dispensed when a trusted source, such as a close friend or a family doctor, tells us that the product worked for them. Subjective experience, therefore, does hold a place in the quest for verification. Anxieties may also decrease when it's confirmed that a prominent university is willing to stake its reputation on the product on the basis of clinical studies. Objective scientific processes, it can thus be surmised, also hold a place in verification. Still, there are some who may find their faith in a product boosted when the mechanism behind the product's success is logically explained to them.

In each of the cases above faith is being displayed in some form. Trusting a snake-oil salesman may be more akin to a blind leap, but it is just as much a faith commitment as purchasing a product on the basis of consensus, expert authority, or sensory perception. The latter are perhaps more reasonable, but they are not less faith driven. It is easier to trust our eyes than it is a complete stranger mainly because we have previous experience with our eyes that we do not have with a stranger. Of course, even this assumes the principle of induction which in and of itself must be justified epistemologically.

Now, for the sake of argument, pretend we are trying to verify the effectiveness of a medication existing one hundred years ago with a recipe that has since been lost in a natural disaster. There are no living witnesses. There are no experts. There is no scientific data. All that exists are written testimonials. Perhaps without the missing additional verifiers it would be tempting to eliminate the whole concept of the medication all together. Why not sink into complete skepticism about the product? Maybe the testimonies are mere forgeries? Whose to say?

Consider that this is the way in which the vast majority of historical facts come to us. Perhaps there are artifacts and corroborating evidence, but why should one hundred pieces of evidence be any more reliable than one? With no one alive capable of stretching their memory back into the past far enough perhaps the whole discipline of history is a fruitless effort?

Facts, as it turns out, are not self interpreting. They are particulars in search of universals. They must be assumed to exist first, and then they must be categorized. For example, if one were to find a saber from an area in which pirates were known to traverse three hundred years ago, and if such a saber matched other known sabers from pirate vessels, it may be a safe assumption that the saber is in fact a pirate saber. Because this reality cannot be totally verified should not bother anyone. What is verified is the methodology used to ascribe the category of "pirate saber" to the piece of medal found on the beach.

The next logical question is, "Upon what basis can this methodology be justified?" Carl Trueman believes that it is upon social convention:

"My conclusion is that, while there is no such thing as neutrality in the telling of history, there is such a thing as objectivity, and that varied interpretations of historical evidence are yet susceptible to generally agreed upon procedures of verification that allow us to challenge each others’ readings of the evidence.” (Trueman, Histories and Fallacies, 21)

Whether it be the nature of an ancient artifact, or a much more complicated proposition such as "King George III violated the English constitution," objectivity, according to Trueman, resides in "generally agreed upon procedures." Trueman goes on in Histories and Fallacies to further define what he means by "procedures," but he never defends his assumption that such procedures are granted validity by being "generally agreed upon." It's more than a little interesting that in a wonderful work that even includes a chapter on logical fallacies, the whole basis for trusting any of the methodology being discussed is likewise an "ad populum" fallacy.

My suggestion is that one can appreciate, in general, the tools that traditional historians use to refute revisionists without hinging their entire toolbox on a cliff of expert testimony, majority vote, or prejudicial conjecture which will only serve to place any system of interpretation two steps behind a complete collapse into postmodernism itself. An easy case and point would be the majority of experts in Soviet Russia who reduced the entire history of religion to a manifestation of ignorance and superstition. Their fatal flaw was assuming dialectic materialism. Philosophy undergirds historiography. Fortunately, despite their materialism, Soviet historians were not wrong in every area just because they were wrong in one. They would have, with equal vigor and rigor, argued against holocaust deniers just as any American historians today would. But, the important point is this: Their "rightness" or "wrongness" was not determined by their agreement. Something other than their consensus made them right about some things, and the denial of this "something" made them wrong about other things.

When determining if a salesman is being honest, potential customers are justified in employing methods of verification, but not because they are autonomous self-justifying creatures. Rather, it is because they themselves are "justified." Here's an analogy. Suppose a microscope is being used. In order to utilize it properly the device must be calibrated, otherwise it will not focus on the petri dish. A microscope cannot focus itself. Nor can a convention of microscopes assemble and focus themselves together. They rely on outside authentication. A human must calibrate them according to a pre-assigned criteria. Even if were the case that every microscope in the world were unfocused, it would not follow that the new standard for microscopes is that they ought to be unfocused. A criteria from the maker of the microscope still exists. It could be that the contents in a petri dish are not identifiable, but this does not invoke relativism. Objectivity makes its way to the microscope from the top down, not the bottom up. It is outside the system, not within it. It is in the calibration that truth is brought into focus, not through a “brute” self interpreting fact.

It is the same with both testing medication or engaging in historical research. Human beings are finite but calibrated by their maker to ascertain truth. They rely on a divine entity that must by nature be immaterial, absolute, and unchanging in order to justify induction, the immaterial laws of logic, and sensory perception. Some kind of unified plurality must be presupposed and grounded in order to solve the problem of unity in diversity thus creating the categories necessary for relating objects to one another. In addition, there must be an ethical code of some kind that ensures lying about facts is impermissible. Of course now I will be accused of religious language. But, to be sure, it will be by some modern prophet whose mouth inescapably drips the same kind of language.

The reason some customers are duped by snake oil salesman is the same reason historians are duped into pseudo-history. They have adopted a paradigm that does not adequately account for all the facts available. They declare "clear" what in reality is "fuzzy." Sometimes evidence is ignored or misread due to improper calibration. An example would be the materialists previously described. Their whole foundation for critical analysis, perhaps unrealized by them, is based upon immaterial absolutes. Yet, they undercut their own foundational belief by also holding to materialism simultaneously. Throwing out all facts that would suggest immaterial realities leads to paradigms that do not make sense of all the evidence. Human nature is reduced to biological categories. Thus, historical realities are interpreted according to material needs. Another reason historical error takes place is that not enough facts exist to create a paradigm capable of fitting the facts that do exist. The methodology may be superb, but the lack of evidence must lead to an educated guess. Archaeologists are constantly coming up with theories about incomplete evidence. Sometimes their theories are later proven to be wrong based on new evidence.

It is important in this historical endeavor to maintain an attitude of humble absolutism. Humans are finite creatures utilizing infinite principles. Historians deal in evidence, not brute facts. Just as a diamond has many facets, so do historical realities. Events in particular can be seen from many different angles. Reconstructing something as sophisticated as a crime scene requires a willingness to be corrected. However, this willingness is never to be confused with postmodernism, relativism, or revisionism, all of which do away with universals and any kind of binding methodology.

In closing, let me name some names. There is a curious strain of supposed objectivity among the priests of modern academia when it comes to the cause of the War Between the States. Gary W. Gallagher maintains that “If Southerners did not fight to preserve slavery, neither did they wage a rebellion against the United States.” (Gallagher, The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, 207). Well, I suppose the second claim is as equally disputable as the first. Edward H. Bonekemper III says that “[The war] had everything to do with it (i.e. slavery)” (Bonekemper, The Myth of the Lost Cause, xi). In both cases, it is claimed that the “truth” squarely contradicts the “Lost Cause Myth.” Gallagher writes, “I am more concerned with its historicity. Thus I will catalogue the assertions of the Lost Cause and compare them to the history of the Civil War experience. The goal is to correct the national memory by refuting the Lost Cause legend and reestablishing the war as history” (Gallagher, 14).

All this may sound well and good to the casual reader, but what is actually being lost in these studies is any semblance of actual objectivity. The reason for this is that methodology has been sacrificed by ideology. If it assumed at the outset that Southerners were as a group involved in historical amnesia about the reasons they engaged in war, of course the conclusion will also assert that Southerners were liars. It is as if the scientific process is commenced with a smudge on the screen of the microscope.

In a failure to recognize their own biases, both Gallagher and Bonekemper conveniently leave out or offer absurd explanations for facts that do not seem to fit their paradigm. Gallagher asserts that Gettysburg could not have been the turning point of the war since there were two years of fighting after the battle. What are historians then to make of the battle of Midway during the second world war? Hampton’s support of black suffrage after the war as a self-realized ploy to paint the war in a more noble light while efforts to suppress black suffrage are equally features of the Lost Cause. Jubal Early is credited with creating the myth of Lee to the exclusion of Grant at a time when Northerners had an insurmountable advantage in book purchasing power. The more one reads, the more conspiratorial things become. Similarly, Bonekemper commits the error of reification by attributing personal attributes to the Lost Cause such as its ability to convince Douglas Southall Freeman to paint Lee in a favorable light in his famous biography of the general. The burning of Columbia by Sherman’s army is attributed to Wade Hampton despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary that is never discussed. The Confederate Constitution is thoroughly cherry picked, but never actually understood in any intelligent fashion.

The reason for this is clear. To purveyors of politics history is a weapon. The pursuit of understanding takes a back seat to the impulse of destroying ones political foes. There is no real objectivity because the tools of the historian are not the primary tools being utilized. They are only called upon on the off chance that they can be harnessed to seemingly validate a political point. This is why Gallagher and Bonekemper’s historical paradigm falls apart. They allow their faulty metaphysical and ethical assumptions to influence their epistemological method.

Why talk about any of this? Just like the actor playing a doctor in a television commercial is able to sell snake oil, so too is the political priest playing the historian. Most are aware of the first kind of charlatan but fooled by the second. Unfortunately, listening to him will cause more than just a belly ache. Like a house built upon a poor foundation is a historical paradigm built upon faulty assumptions. Always examine the presuppositions of any alleged expert. It may be that they handle their tools with skill and precision, but if they start their process upon a faulty basis or an ill conceived philosophy, the whole house will come crashing down. Both act as if they are neutral because of their unbiased and objective "expert" status. They alone are capable of separating myth from fact. They want us to put our faith in the facts, when in reality it is not "the facts" we are putting our faith in at all, but rather their own philosophical musings.

Davy Crockett is said to have made the statement, "Be Sure You’re Right, Then Go Ahead." Historians would do well to be sure that their historiography is in order and only then go ahead with using the tools of a historian. Don't be fooled. Finding faith in facts is just a farce.

11/1/18

Two Unconventional Books on Abraham Lincoln

By: Joseph Jay

Abraham Lincoln is somehow surviving his country's current "re-founding." Street and building names are being changed, monuments taken down in the place of new ones, and somehow ole' "Honest Abe" escapes the criticism leveled at other prominent Americans such as George Washington and Andrew Jackson. The reason that, at least for now, Lincoln is still seen as the hero of America's story is because of his reputation as "The Great Emancipator." He is effectively the 19th century's MLK. In the quest for egalitarian equality and universal political mobility Lincoln is a patriarch. The only problem is, the facts do not exactly fit the narrative. In fact, they don't fit at all.

Charles T. Pace has recently come out with a wonderful short book entitled Lincoln as He Was on Abraham Lincoln's life from childhood to the resupply boat headed to Fort Sumter. Abraham Lincoln, it can be concluded, was a political animal. In a way he was an abolitionist when it suited him, just as he was a Christian when it suited him. Pace destroys any mythology surrounding young Abraham Lincoln as a backwoodsman splitting rails. If anything, Lincoln was characterized in the words of his contemporaries as being "lazy." He was not much of a student either. At least not in the classical sense. The little he did read suited a pragmatic political end. Pace hangs the responsibility for the war on the shoulders of Lincoln, where it likely belongs due to his political maneuvering and rejection of all conciliatory efforts. The chapter on Fort Sumter is worth the price of the book. In his own words, and those of his contemporaries, the real Lincoln was a far cry from the downright falsehood spun about him today.

Another book published nine years ago by Thomas J. Dilorenzo tells the same story with a less biographical and more political focus. The Real Lincoln focuses on Lincoln's abuse and misuse of political power, his erosion of civil liberties, and ultimately his place as a founding father of American despotism. Dilorenzo pulls no punches. For those who think the War Between the States was about the emancipation of slaves, this book is the antidote. Not only is Lincoln exposed, but the early Republican party is indicted along with him.

Both books are written on a popular level and thoroughly researched and cited. Even for members of the cult of Lincoln worship, these two heavy hitters are good to have as opposition research materials.

10/22/18

War Without Mercy by John Dower: A Review

By: Jonathan Harris

World War II was a conflict that included many wide and divergent motivations among those who participated. However, one aspect of the war has not received the scholarly attention it deserves according to John Dower. “Apart from the genocide of the Jews, racism remains one of the great neglected subjects of World War Two." In War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, Dower presents his thesis stating that, “To scores of millions of participants, the war was also a race war." To substantiate this claim, Dower attempts to leave no rock unturned. Wartime propaganda, popular media, cartoons, and direct quotes from scientific, military, and political leaders in Japan, the United States, and to a lesser degree Great Britain are all examined. The book is comprised of three neatly organized sections. The first, entitled “Enemies,” offers a first hand look at how racial animosity affected the conduct of the war. The second two sections, “The War in Western Eyes” and “The War in Japanese Eyes,” serve to give the reader a deeper account of the psychology and philosophy undergirding racially superior attitudes on both sides.

In the first chapter Dower states, “The propagandistic deception often lies, not in the false claims of enemy atrocities, but in the pious depiction of such behavior as peculiar to the other side." Both the Japanese and the Americans were guilty, according to Dower, of appealing to counterfeit virtue on the part of themselves while maintaining outrage in regard to the atrocities of the enemy. Films like Frank Capra’s “Know Your Enemy - Japan” in the United States, and the Japanese books such as “Read this and the War is Won” or “The Way of the Subject,” all helped shaped public consciousness regarding the other side. Dower notes, “The Japanese thus read Western history in much the same way that Westerners were reading the history of Japan: as a chronicle of destructive values, exploitative practices, and brutal wars." Racial mistreatment of blacks in the United States and abusive colonial practice on the part of Great Britain became favorite tools in the hands of Japanese propagandists, while Japan’s cruelty toward Chinese civilians was a pawn in the hands of the British and Americans.

Both sides to some extent attributed animalistic tendencies to their enemy upon evolutionary grounds. This was more so the case among the Allied powers, and Dower is quick to point out that the Nazis may have influenced the Japanese in this direction. Japan saved most of her racial prejudice for the other “darker people of Asia" while simultaneously claiming to be their liberator from the West. “From at least the Heian period (794–1185) on, the pale patrician has been idealized in Japan . . .” Therefore, wartime propaganda and newspaper cartoons rather portrayed Western powers as devils, while equivalent American publications painted the Japanese as primates.

Perhaps Dower’s most powerful pieces of evidence come from the illustrations contained in his book. Political cartoons featured in prominent British, American, and Japanese newspapers show what appears to be an obvious racial component. The Japanese are often demeaned as insane and undeveloped in American cartoons, however, after Pearl Harbor, the advent of a menacing Japanese superman makes its way into cartoons as well.

Dower certainly provides some useful research. He shows that race was a component in World War II. There are, however, a few weaknesses worth mentioning. The first weakness is that at certain points Dower seems to overstate his case. For instance, Winston Churchill referring to his Asian allies as “little yellow men” is assumed to be derogatory. It could be, but it may not be. Descriptive language is not always an indication of racism. Dower seems to assume that it is. Even describing a group of people in animalistic terms is not always a clear indication that racial animus was behind the characterization. Since motivations are in play, these are hard waters to navigate, and therefore the benefit of the doubt should be extended whenever possible. Another issue the author has is that he extends his main thesis out to include the relationships the United States had with Japan and the Soviet Union up through the 1980s. “Ultimately, [the race war] brought about a revolution in racial consciousness throughout the world that continues to the present day." The only problem is, if the Americans were able to transfer their disdain for the Japanese to the Russians it is doubtful that the conflict existed on the basis of race in the first place. Similarly, if the British and Americans thought of their Asian allies in racially inferior terms, as they did the Japanese, then how could race have played a decisive role? It obviously was not decisive enough to keep the Allies from forming alliances with other Asian nations. Perhaps race became an occasion for conflict rather than a cause for conflict. It was perhaps a war than included racial animosity, but not a “race war” in the proper sense.

9/8/18

Senseless Protest:The Emptiness of Both Sides of the Kneeling Issue

Protest and What It Means by Frank Russo

 There has been a lot of talk recently about Colin Kaepernick, kneeling and Nike that has come up once again due to the latter’s politicized usage of the sport stars fame for marketing purposes. Oddly enough, or perhaps not so oddly, this has had a huge effect on the Christian community which has seemed to double down on either the social justice gospel and the self flagellation that comes with it, or in reactionary language and rhetoric, in which they burn their Nike products and counter protest.

Now, the jury really is still out on if kneeling is disrespectful, be it to American values or the American troops. That's not an argument that is meant to be made here. What is my argument to make is that we need to address the racist implication of what is being said and done by the Kaepernick crowd.

First we must look in on the accusations being leveled. I've seen it from two angles, the first of which comes from a secular parody of Christians and the second coming from the Babylon Bee, a Christian parody source. Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Perfect Christian is a Facebook page owned by a secular satirist. One of her segments included a speech about Kaepernick and kneeling in which she accused American Christians, (of course specifically white Christians), of wanting black people to “know their place”, a phrase that it constantly used by leftist demagogues to imply, rather overtly, that white Americans still have a “klan” mentality.

This first source was an older source and the rest of her material is the usual one dimensional leftist propaganda filled with the rantings and delusions of the everyday social justice warrior. The newest source, which mirrored and echoed this sentiment, is the Babylon Bee, who posted a satire about a “conservative male”, (obviously depicted as being white), who supported black people's right to protest as long as they did it “quietly in their own home”. The message, while using differing and less obvious language, was the same one that the secular satirist used, (bad news for the Babylon Bee? Evidence of it becoming and evangellyfish organization? The jury is out),.

The insinuation is the same. White American Christians just don't want to hear black voices in any meaningful way and we are just racists who think black people should, “know their place”.
While there are undoubtedly white people who feel this way, I doubt any of them are actually Christian, (this coming from a former alt righter who claimed to be a Christian at the time so i have a bit of authority on this), and I have to seriously take issue with characterizing an entire group of people based on their skin color. I know that my lack of support for the kneeling crowd has nothing to do with black voices. It just has to do with disagreement. I don't believe black people shouldn't have a voice or should be silenced. In fact I believe they should be given a platform to speak which is a bit better than the media groups who have silenced Alex Jones and other conservatives, (does Facebook have a racist bias against white men? This is that logic in actions).

Simply put just because Colin Kaepernick speaks does not mean I or you or anybody has to agree with him. While it might be ignorant to do so I am not even bound by law to even listen to Black Lives Matter or the kneeling crowd. I don't believe that he shouldn't be allowed to kneel or speak but I do believe I have the right to vocally disagree with what he says or how he does it. Me personally? I don't really care for the protest. I disagree with it's tenets, (blacks are being targeted by police), it's rhetoric, (you disagree with my protest ergo you're a white supremacist who wants blacks to know their place), or it's screeching if I'm being completely honest.

I won't burn my Nike shoes, (I never owned any), or screech in moral indignation. I think the last place morality can come from is the adultery filled, wife beating permeated and felony soaked NFL. I've stated the case of why I think the self flagellation of white Christians is stupid before, I've also stated the case of why this whole if you're not with me you're against me mentally is bad and why it's soaked into the evangellyfish community is bad. Let me go over the facts on why i think the protest itself is stupid. It's over police brutality yes? Let's look at the statistics.

In 2017, 987 people were shot to death by police. Of these 473 were white males while 223 were black males. It is true that whites are the majority population in the United States while blacks constitute about twelve percent of the overall u.s population. This would indicate that blacks are being “targeted” at a higher rate than whites. However, despite being a minority 50% of murders in the United States are committed by black males. There is a myriad of reasons for this such as poverty, social collapse, lack of fathers and none of them involve race as a cause. That's not the argument I'm making. The argument I'm making is that you're more likely to be mauled by a tiger if you're a zookeeper than a normal civilian. Your exposure is the proving point of that. Ergo it's only logical say that with the black community's higher involvement with law enforcement, they are more likely to have violent encounters with law enforcement, especially when you consider how many black males are involved in violent crime. That is not to say white males aren't involved in violent crime, that is to say that it is disproportionate to population size.

Consider this. 940 of the 987 people shot by police in 2017 were men. That means that men in general are being targeted by police at a rate that is 95% more than women. Do we claim that there is a police war on men as a result? Or do we recognize statistically that men are more involved in violent crime than women by a large margin? Or is that sexist to say there are differences between the genders? Wait, I said there are only two genders. I keep making oopsies here.

The fact of the matter is that no, there is not a widespread police bias against black men in general. Are there racist police officers? Of course. Just like there are racist teachers and doctors of every gender,(the two there are), race and sex,(wait gender and sex are the same thing, sorry),.

The knee jerk reaction of those on the right to this issue is not one of statistics and logic, the game we just played above, but of whataboutism such as when they point out black on black crime. The left’s response to this is “why don't we talk about white on white crime?” And then again, it's because you're racist. However, the right is not the one that has to carry the burden of proof on this issue. When the left out out a campaign entitled “Black Lives Matter” one would have to assume that they meant all black lives matter, not just the ones killed by police that can be used as political leverage. So let's do the stereotypical thing and talk about black on black crime, white on white crime, and how it relates.

The number of whites murdered in 2017 numbered 3,005 with only 409 being murdered by black perpetrators. That means that the majority of whites were murdered by other whites. The number of blacks murdered was 2,409 with only 189 being murdered by whites. A rather small number in comparison to the overarching idea of a dangerous America for minorities. That means that 79% of black Americans killed, are killed by other black Americans. My point is that police shootings, which are often justifiable self defense, are not the major focal point of what is killing black males on the streets of America.

My point is that drug related gang violence is the real bane of our communities, and black communities in particular. You do nothing for black Christians by self flagellation, police bashing, kneeling or buying Nike just like you do nothing by burning your Nike shoes, protesting the NFL or fighting back against evangellyfish online. The only way we can health violence in all communities is by sharing the gospel and praying for revival. Racial reconciliation isn't working ladies and gentlemen. Works based salvation will never help. You're avoiding the causes of sin and hoping that if you're just a good enough ally you'll help fix the problem. You're not helping our black brothers and sisters by lying and going along with an agenda based on skin color. You're aiding and abetting racism. Giving ammunition for the real racists to use. Instead read scripture on why killing happens.

James 4:2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

9/6/18

The Fall of the Third Republic and the Reasons Why

By: Frank Russo

On May 10th, 1940, Operation Fall Gelb commenced with German armored forces spearheading assaults through the Ardennes and over the Mouse river into France. In conjunction with this assault came separate assaults on Belgium and the Netherlands, with astonishing success. It was an unprecedented assault, and nobody, not even the German high command flush from successes against Poland, expected it. The French high command was sent reeling and was never able to recover. There are many questions that remain. The most pressing is, “what went wrong” for the French and “what went right” for the Germans.

Modern historians and revisionists alike point to German invincibility and French decadence as the answer to both of these questions. In fact, many consider it a verdict on secular republicanism as a whole. And in many senses they are right. But in many senses they are also dead wrong. Before looking at the events of  May 1940, we must look at the 1930s and French policy as a whole. Following the first world war, threats loomed greatly over the French nation. ¼ of their land was devastated by the fighting and there were still signs everywhere of what happened. Subway seats were still reserved for disabled veterans. Movies and reels were shown every day in French cinemas. The trenches had not even completely vanished.

The French of the post war years were a people who were bound together in a collective memory of suffering, in which their armed forces and countryside had effectively been used by their allies as a blunt to the German colossus. In the event of another war with a rising Germany the French had no desire to once again take the brunt. But in order to forestall such a outcome, the French needed allies. These were short in coming. In 1914 the French could rely on the Russian empire to serve as strong ally and force the Germans to fight a two front war. In 1940 this was not the case. The Russian empire was gone and in its stead stood the Soviet Union, an authoritarian power bent on continental domination just as much as the Nazis. Aside from this stood the fact that anti communism was a uniform ideology that bonded both right and left, (or at least many parties on both ideological sides), in French parliamentary politics.

Aside from that the Soviet Union by the time of the late thirties was no longer in the mood to form an anti fascist Bloc as it was in the early and mid thirties. Josef Stalin, had started to reach out to pro Moscow parties across Europe, the most famous of which was the Popular Front in France, in order to build an anti-fascist coalition. However, following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, attempts were made by many in France, most notably French socialist Prime Minister Leon Blum, to force intervention on the side of the Republican loyalists against the Nationalist forces of Francisco Franco. The Republican forces were soon overtaken by communist and socialist factions which dampered any enthusiasm held by the British for direct military intervention on the behalf of the Republicans. Blum, seeing direct intervention as an impossibility,instead advocated for a mutually agreed upon non-interventionist policy between all major European powers.

This was not to come to fruition either as the Soviet Union, Italy and Germany would send aid to the nationalists,(in the Fascist party Bloc), and the Republicans,(in the communist party Bloc) ,. This left a bad taste in the international community’s mouth, a community already afraid of communist subversion. If a movement to protect democratic institutions could so easily be overtaken by Moscow loyalists, what would come of any such coalition that included the Soviets? In any case the point would become moot for two major reasons. The first being that France was largely subservient to Britain in its foreign policy decision making and in the United Kingdom anti-communist sentiment ran too high. The second was that any such coalition would become impossible on August 23rd, 1939 when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed, a nonaggression treaty between two powers that despised each other. The pact sent shockwaves through the world and left France in a worrying position.

From Stalin’s perspective, the move was one of forward thinking. He knew that Hitler was dedicated to the destruction of communism and the addition of the Soviet Motherland to the German Reich. The nonaggression treaty was simply to buy time. Stalin as well wished to let the western Allies take the brunt of Hitler’s attack and let a world war one style stalemate play out which would drastically weaken German forces and resources. The great purges of the 1930s had killed off 40,000 experienced military officers of the Red army and by all field projections Stalin's advisers had told him that the Red Army was not ready for war.

While Russian political maneuvering would not pay off in short term, France was still left with very few allies. The loss of backing from potential anti-fascist communists,(now being ordered by Moscow to back down), was a harsh blow. To further enhance the embarrassing lack of friends Belgium refused to ally herself to the French via coalition and voided a 1929 agreement, instead opting for strict neutrality. The Dutch were equally, if not more so, uncooperative. While the Belgian government itself struck to the path of appeasement, its top military officers remained in conversation with the French high command, attempting to coordinate defense and assault plans. This is still a indicator of how alone France must have felt. The low countries could not be counted on.

It may come as a shock but Italy was also an ally that France looked to to blunt German aggression. In 1936, Hitler began to saber rattle against Austria, demanding it's addition to the Reich or war. Italy,(a fascist power but at this point not an Axis one), was against such an action as it would put Germany on an even more impressive footing in case of war between the two powers. Thus the Stresa front was born, an alliance between Mussolini,(Italy), Daladier,(France), and Chamberlain,(Britain) that forced Hitler to back off on his demands and leave Austria alone, (for the time being),. The Stresa front was almost a thing of French dreams but it was indeed to good to be true. In 1937, Mussolini would invade Ethiopia, sparking international outrage, especially in England.

While Italy was not officially punished, (in fact it would take over Ethiopia), the relationship was soured. England would begin to distance itself from the Stresa front and not amount of French posturing for unity would keep it together. The same year the pact of steel would be signed, officially tying Italy and Germany together in an alliance. France was quickly running out of options. The United States, while sympathetic, was officially neutral and England was more intent on appeasing Germany than fighting her. It took the 1938 seizure of Czechoslovakia following the Munich agreement to stoke serious British opposition to Germany but at this point it was almost too late, at least for France.

We must now turn to the military side of affairs in order to get a good glimpse of the situation. To all intents and purposes the French army was superior to the Wehrmacht from a numerical scale. It had more numerous and better tanks than the Germans and in fact had more motorized units than the Wehrmacht. This was even before the outbreak of hostilities following the German assault on Poland. In fact, following Poland, Germany was without a full quarter of her armed forces. If there was ever a time for the French to attack, it was the winter-spring of 1939-1940. The French did not attack. The reason for this is well known. The French high command was still dedicated to outdated modes of defensive warfare. In fact France’s overall military plan was to absorb a German attack, (preferably anywhere but on French soil), blunt it, gather supplies and men before pushing back into Germany and winning the war.

Hitler in fact wanted to attack the French Homeland in November, a move that would have been disastrous had the German high command not dissuaded him. The Polish campaign, while a stunning success, had cost the Germans much and they needed time to regroup. They also needed a plan of attack. The Maginot line, spanning from the Mediterranean to the Ardennes, was immediately not an option. Despite being outdated tactically, it represented the world's most impressive defense line. It had only one major flaw. It did not extend all the way to the English channel. The French, not wanting to upset the Belgians, had declined to extend the Maginot line across their border. This left Northern France particularly vulnerable to a Schlieffen style plan of attack, which is exactly what the Germans had originally planned. That was until a German officer, carrying the invasion plans while on a recon flight, was shot down and interrogated revealing the German plan of attack.

This prompted the German command to make a quick change. The Ardennes, considered impassable for tanks, was the new route of invasion. The area was the one that was only sparsely defended by lower quality French troops while the French moved all their motorized and crack troops north to where the German attacks meant to originally be, a fatal mistake as it would turn out.

Many mock the idea of the Maginot line but when it was conceived it was actually quite a brilliant solution to many problems. While undoubtedly expensive the line would be less expensive than maintaining a larger standing army, which was a huge bonus, especially in a time of economic crisis. The French economy actually began to improve by the time of the rearmament drive, the production of planes and tanks actually outpacing the Germans. The SOMUA main battle tank and the CHAR B1 were fearsome threats to German tanks. But they suffered from the same problem that hampered the planners of the Maginot line. They failed to grasp the full measure of modern war. While the Germans used mass tank formations for quick piercing attacks to be followed up by infantry assaults, the French preferred to use line formations for their tanks in mostly defensive maneuvering.

Another fatal flaw of the French tank organization was a lack of radios. Line of sight was necessary for communication whereas the Panzer divisions acted with a good degree of flexibility due to their ability to exercise a fair degree of autonomy. This was proven on May 10th, when a diversionary raid kept the elite French forces in the North busy while General Rommel and Guderian advanced across the Ardennes and the Meuse. Their assault met initially fierce resistance and almost ended in calamity as British air forces and French fought to get a crack at the army advancing into them. However, German anti air was just too good. 45 of the 71 British bombers were downed and German tanks were able to provide lateral fire on the French positions to allow their engineers to build bridges.

General Heinz Guderian, a tank commander, wanted to keep going. However, field marshall Von Kleist, afraid of the idea of his panzers outpacing the infantry. Guderian, ignoring his orders, swept through to the coast cutting allied forces in half and sealing Frances fate. While their soldiers fought hard eventually France would seek a negotiated peace and Marshall Petain would take over, installing an Authoritarian regime that was collaborationist. France was not defeated by Germany alone. It was defeated by outdated military tactics and a political elite that was all too willing to surrender. This is evidenced by Prime Minister Reynaud needing power to Maximillian Weygand and Marshall Petain, both military elites, who disavowed Charles De Gaulle's move to make a government in absentia in London.

They also refused to acknowledge the chance of starting a resistance movement from their African colonies, stating that any Frenchmen who left French soil was committing an act of treachery by doing so. In this way these select few military men had dashed any French hope of continuing the war. France had done everything in it's power to make sure the water did not advance on their own soil. Their adventures in Norway and their hopes of an Eastern front were indicative of this attitude. In the end however, the shocking triunoh of the Wehrmacht had proved too much and French spirit was dampened. The third republic, claimed to be especially weak and decadent but in reality no more so than any other democratic power at the time, was killed by a majority vote in the National Assembly on June 25th, 1940 with Marshall Petain assuming dictatorial powers from the spa town of Vichy in southern France.
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