FERGUSON AND THE GREAT AMERICAN DIVIDE

Ferguson MO

Race is America’s Achilles heel.  It’s also the country’s biggest blind spot.

Both have been evident in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of an 18-year-old African-American male by a white policeman, in August. The decision by a Grand Jury not to send the policeman to trial led to serious rioting last night, which has continued into a second night.

Racial tension goes back to the very beginning of the nation’s modern history and not just between black and white.

The first British settlement on the shores of North America was at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.   Twelve years later, the first African slaves arrived and continued arriving for almost two centuries.

Later in the century, the first major conflict in American history took place. King Philip’s War lasted three years (1675-78) and was, proportionately, the worst conflict the country has ever experienced, surpassing the Revolutionary War of 1775-81 (the second worst) and the North-South conflict (1861-65). All three were civil wars.   The first war resulted in the deaths of 10% of the population of the fledgling colonies. It was a war between the white settlers and Native Americans. Over the next two centuries there would be a great deal of further conflict between whites and Native Americans.

The country would also see more conflict between African-Americans and whites.

Discrimination against non-whites was a root cause of the violence.

In the 1960’s a new approach was favored. The Civil Rights movement addressed discrimination and efforts were put in place to make some fundamental changes. The 1964 Civil Rights Act banned all forms of discrimination. One year later, the Voting Rights Act made it much easier for southern blacks to vote, ending decades of discrimination.   Ironically, race riots erupted in the Watts area of Los Angeles the following day.   One month later, President Lyndon Johnson issued an executive order that required government contractors to take Affirmative Action, granting favor to minorities in employment.

Riots were to continue throughout the decade, emphasizing the bad state of race relations.   Change was clearly necessary.

In 1971, a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism made some recommendations on assimilation in neighboring Canada. This is considered the origin of multiculturalism, the idea that all races, colors, religions and nationalities can live peacefully and successfully together.   The US picked up the ball and ran with it. Australia, New Zealand and the EU followed. Multiculturalism, sometimes called “diversity,” has been the guiding philosophy of western nations for the last four decades.   Perhaps its greatest achievement in the United States was the election of an African-American to the White House

However, what’s happened in Ferguson shows that diversity is not working as promised.

Not just Ferguson, of course.   America’s inner cities have experienced ethnic conflict for decades. New immigrant groups have battled African-Americans and other new immigrant groups in never-ending gang warfare.

This is where the “blind spot” comes in.

Americans like to think of themselves as a “melting pot,” a term that has been in common usage since 1908.   It’s a reference to how different ethnic groups have been assimilated and become one. However, the term was used to describe the various European ethnic groups that migrated to the country prior to the twentieth century. It is questionable that the melting pot concept is still working.   Some would say it never included African-Americans.

America is such a vast country that it’s easy for whites to escape big cities and move to isolated dormitory towns and suburbs, where they will rarely come into contact with other ethnic groups. So it is possible for people to believe that race relations are harmonious when others feel very differently. Ferguson is a classic example of this.

It’s not just white policemen shooting young black males. There are also frequent incidents of black males randomly killing whites. These are given far less attention by the liberal media. But both show continuing racial tension and conflict.

Trust is seriously lacking.

The United States is not the only country with racial problems.   Ethnic conflict between tribes is a daily occurrence across the continent of Africa; historic conflict between ethnic groups has been a primary cause of wars in Europe; and ancient animosities flare up regularly in Asia.   Is America worse?

Over twenty years ago, the Detroit Free Press sent one of its African-American reporters to South Africa to cover news there in the year leading up to the end of apartheid.   In his dispatches, he observed that race relations were better in apartheid South Africa than in the US, where he lived.   More recently, I viewed a discussion on British television on which a number of people of African descent who had lived in both the US and the UK were asked about their experiences. All agreed they felt race relations were better in Britain.   (It should be noted that Britain has had its share of race riots.)

Jesus Christ predicted rising ethnic tensions at the time of the end of the age. In Matthew 24:7, He said: “nation will rise against nation.” The Greek word used for nation is ethnos, a reference to ethnic groups.   Until a few decades ago, the lid was kept on much ethnic conflict by great powers that ruled over many ethnic groups.   Increasingly, those groups have splintered and now are turning on each other.

Perhaps we are about to find that diversity doesn’t work, that mistrust between the races is still very much a part of our culture and heritage, not just in the United States but elsewhere.   A serious rethink is needed on multiculturalism, as racial harmony cannot be achieved by legislation or coercion. There is a definite possibility that, as a consequence of Ferguson, more laws will be passed to force further integration, which could backfire.

Social programs should also be re-evaluated. LBJ’s War on Poverty, proclaimed fifty years ago this year, offered hope to all poor families, including African-American ones, by setting up a welfare system. However, it is now possible to look back and see that welfare has contributed to the breakdown of the family, a social trend that has been particularly devastating for black families. Nine out of ten African-American boys do not live with their father to the age of 16.   The lack of a significant male presence in their lives encourages criminal activity and is a reason why there is a disproportionate number of African-American males in the US prison system.

There will be more Fergusons. Sadly, more parents of young men, both black and white, will lose their loved ones in violent acts between the races.   More riots will result in more lives lost and more property damage, though there is no sense in driving businesses away.

Race remains America’s Achilles heel – ethnic conflict could bring the country down.   But there are also many examples of whites and blacks working well together. Clearly, more work is needed to improve race relations. The alternative is growing conflict in the years to come.

OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ORDER

obama-cnn

President Obama’s speech on Thursday announcing his executive order on illegal immigration was not watched by many people. Most of the usual television stations did not show it.

It’s just as well.   It was misleading.

He referred to the fact that America has always been a land of immigrants (true) but it is misleading to imply that there is a correlation between the present situation and the past.

At the time of independence, the US was 98% Protestant, 1% Catholic, and 1% “Other,” including Jews. This means that, in the 175 years of the colonial period that came before independence, almost all immigrants came from the Protestant countries of NW Europe.   They mostly came from the British Isles.   This trend continued well into the nineteenth century.   When Irish Catholic immigrants started arriving in significant numbers, they were not made very welcome. Washington DC even witnessed anti-Catholic riots.

Today, according to the Pew Research Center, 51.3% are Protestants and 23.9% Catholic. “Others” number 4.7% — this includes Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, three religions not represented in America’s early years.   That’s quite a change in a little over 200 years. The United States is well on the way to becoming a minority Protestant country.

Religious tolerance developed in majority Protestant countries, the nations of NW Europe and especially England. This was due mainly to the proliferation of different denominations. “If there were only one religion in England,” wrote Voltaire in his Philosophical Letters, “we should have to fear despotism; if there were two, they would cut each other’s throats; but there were thirty and they live in peace and happiness.” (The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood, 1991, page 14.)   The number of denominations in both England and the American colonies was the same.

The fact that Protestantism is in decline in the United States will likely lead to greater religious intolerance. It has already contributed to significant changes.   Not so long ago the Protestant Ten Commandments were taught in school (the Catholic Ten Commandments are different; really, check out a Catholic Bible!)   The Bible was considered the Word of God. I grew up in England. I remember us being taught Bible stories as young children in school. I remember asking one of my teachers how you got three days and three nights into the period between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I don’t remember exactly what he said but I do remember he attempted to answer the question.   This would be unheard of today in a state run school.

Some of the religions entering the US today are known for their intolerance. Many immigrants come from countries violently divided between different religious factions. Those divisions are in danger of spilling over into the US.

“America by the Numbers” is a PBS series dedicated to highlighting the “major demographic change” that is taking place in the United States. It makes the changes seem so positive, yet geography and history show that different ethnic groups and religions will not get along once they are present in significant numbers.

The President’s speech was also misleading in another way.

When immigrants came to the US in previous centuries they were very much on their own. Churches and charities might have helped to a limited degree but immigrants had to find work fast to take care of themselves. Today, government helps. At the very least, free medical care is provided (no one can be turned away from ER) and free education for children, courtesy of tax-payers who are largely unaware.

Government even helps with accommodation, food, and transport.

This is not just in the United States. Other western countries do the same. Is it any wonder that hundreds of thousands, even millions, annually, are leaving their own countries and moving to western nations? Without the freebies, most would not attempt the journey.

Mr. Obama’s executive order will help to fundamentally change the country, a process that started 50 years ago with the 1965 immigration act. In time, it will also guarantee the Democrats five million more votes!

THE STELLA COULSON APPROACH

 

English tea in a bone china cup

I can still remember Stella Coulson, even though it’s been almost 40 years.

She was a widowed farmer in the delightful farming community we lived in, thirty miles SE of Bulawayo, on the road to Beitbridge, the main crossing point into South Africa. At the time, we lived in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

There was a prolonged terrorist war going on at the time, which affected rural areas more than cities. Today, the war is depicted as a racial conflict between the majority black population and the ruling minority whites. It was not as simple as that. 78% of the “white” army was black, rising to 82% by the end of the seven-year conflict. There was also a great deal of tension between the two main tribes, which complicated everything.

Stella Coulson thought that everything could be resolved “if only we could sit down with the terrorists over a cup of tea and discuss our differences”!

I’ve heard similar comments on both sides of the Atlantic about ISIS.

Compromise is very much a part of the Anglo-Saxon mindset and heritage. It’s deeply ingrained in our culture and our national psyche.

Another term for it is “appeasement.”

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich for discussions with Hitler and returned promising “peace in our time.” A year later, Britain and Germany were at war. All Chamberlain had achieved was a few months of peace by throwing Czechoslovakia to the German wolves.   I do not know whether tea was on the table during his discussions with Hitler but the outcome showed clearly the pointlessness of discussions with people who are clearly unreasonable. They want what they want and won’t stop until they get it!

To a certain extent, I can understand Chamberlain’s thinking.   And even Stella Coulson’s.   When you want peace, it’s hard to imagine that others don’t. But they really don’t! There are plenty of lessons from history that illustrate this.

Although Anglo-Saxons may always be ready to compromise, terrorists will not stop until they get everything they want. They are driven by a desire for power and money. Religious extremism may be the driving force, or rather an excuse. Power and wealth are the main objectives.

And that’s what ISIS is all about – religious extremism, power and wealth.   They established a Caliphate a few weeks ago, an area as big as Great Britain, and now want to see it expand until it encompasses the entire Muslim world. Long before that goal is realized, they will pose a serious threat to the West.   It can be argued they already do.

When Stella Coulson’s dream was realized and the Rhodesian government did sit down with the terrorist leaders, it led to the end of Rhodesia and an almost total white flight.

Meanwhile, appeasement is alive and going strong in western countries, where there are plenty of Stella Coulsons.

Last Saturday, the National Cathedral in Washington DC, the closest equivalent to England’s Westminster Abbey, hosted a Muslim service.   One female member of the church protested, pointing to a statue of Christ on the cross, reminding everybody that salvation is only possible through Him (Acts 4:12) and that a Muslim worship service in the cathedral desecrated the historic church. She was promptly removed.

Sadly, the parents of Peter Kassig, the latest hostage beheaded by ISIS, will be holding a combined Christian-Jewish-Muslim funeral service.

We are likely to see a bad case of appeasement when discussions with Iran end this month. Meanwhile, Washington is pressuring Israel to appease the Palestinians over their demands, which will seriously weaken the Jewish nation. President Obama’s executive order on immigration also shows an attitude of appeasement There’s an estimated 11 million illegal aliens. Every single one has broken the law. The solution? Give half of them the right to stay here legally.   This will only mean more people entering the country illegally, hoping for a similar future amnesty. Why have laws at all?

When a future Edward Gibbon writes a monumental definitive tome on the “Decline and Fall of the Anglo-Saxon Empire,” he or she will marvel at how quickly Islam gained a foothold in our countries, following September 11th.   You would think 9/11 would have been a wake-up call. Instead, we’ve seen tens of thousands convert to Islam and hundreds enthusiastically volunteer to fight with ISIS.   It is also remarkable that the first newly elected president after 9-11 had definite Muslim connections, through his father and the school he attended in Indonesia.

This is a classic example of what the Prophet Isaiah was talking about in Isaiah 30:10 “And (say) to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”

Appeasement anyone?

YET ANOTHER BEHEADING

Peter Kassig

Sadly, ISIS has chosen to behead Peter Kassig, a 26-year-old man from Indianapolis. Peter, who converted to Islam while in captivity and changed his name to Abdul Rahman, was a humanitarian. He went to Syria to help people suffering in the Civil War there and was captured by ISIS.

It seems his captors cannot understand the concept of humanitarianism, even though charity and charitable works is one of the five pillars of Islam.

I am reminded again of our experience in Ghana, where we lived for seven years. Frequently, people would accuse me of working for the CIA, in spite of my protestations to the contrary. At the time, I had never even lived in the United States, let alone worked for the American government. I came to the conclusion that they could not comprehend why any westerner would live in West Africa when they didn’t have to; that trying to serve people was an alien concept to them.

We in the West can be quite naïve when it comes to other cultures. We cannot understand how different the thinking is. Another victim of this failure to understand was a British taxi driver who was beheaded a few weeks ago. Again, like Peter Kassig, he had gone to Syria to help alleviate suffering.

A further example of the incredible gulf between west and east lies in history. In the West most people are not interested in history. This is especially true of the United States.   It comes as quite a shock to find that in the Middle East, history really matters. When Peter Kassig’s executioner referred to Coalition soldiers as “Crusaders,” he was referring to the crusades that began in 1095 and continued for two centuries. Frequent references to the crusades show that, to many in the Middle East, it’s as if they were a recent event. Israel is often referred to as “the Crusader State,” thereby avoiding the use of the word “Israel.” Westerners in the Middle East are seen as the modern equivalent of the Crusaders, out to conquer the region at the earliest opportunity.

The author Salman Rushdie, who came from a Muslim background, explained in a speech some years ago, that when a Muslim from the Middle East comes to Detroit, he is not looking for an opportunity to better himself, to take advantage of the American way of life. Rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard that will spread Islam to the United States. With this intent in mind, perhaps it’s not surprising they cannot understand why Americans go to their part of the world.

A third lesson from this tragic incident is that the West is going through a prolonged period of religious confusion. After decades of anti-Christian propaganda in schools, it’s not surprising that so many of our young people, like Peter Kassig, convert to Islam, which is a simpler religion. Islam is even propagated in schools in an attempt to promote multiculturalism. However, converting to Islam, as some captives have done, does not gain any mercy from ISIS captors.

There will no doubt be more beheadings. American troops are still in the area. If any of them are captured, they can expect the same fate, along with any other aid workers from western countries still hoping to make a difference.

THE MISSING SPIRITUAL DIMENSION

Blessing, Curse Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Blue Sky and Clouds.

Yesterday, I quoted Daniel P. Bolger, a retired Lieutenant-General, who has just written a book on the two major conflicts of the first decade of this century. The book’s title is “Why We Lost.”

I haven’t read the book yet. It only came out on Veterans Day. I’ve requested it from our local library and will write a review when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, I would like to add a dimension that I doubt the retired Lt-General includes in his book. It’s a lesson from ancient Israel.

Deuteronomy chapter 28 is often called the Blessings and Cursings chapter. In it, God promises Israel all kinds of blessings that will come upon the nation if it chooses to obey God. Then, He lists all the bad things that will befall them if they disobey God.

This chapter is applicable to us today. Not just in the United States, but in the UK, Canada, Australia and other western nations. One example lies in the widespread rejection of the traditional biblical family that began in the sixties. The consequences are now upon us and seem to worsen by the day. Nations cannot disobey God without negative repercussions.

The chapter specifically mentions war, with a promise of easy victory if Israel obeys. “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways” (verse 7). I can still remember a time when Americans could boast that they had never lost a war. At a time in the country’s history when religious convictions were far greater, victory was assured. This all changed after World War Two.

Note what the same chapter says about disobedience. “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth” (verse 25).   Add to those words the following: “The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me” (v.20).

It’s distressing to think about it but this is precisely what is happening. We did not win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we are not winning against ISIS now.

There clearly is a spiritual element here.

Part of the problem is that there is confusion over who the enemy is. Our ancestors believed Islam was a pagan religion. There were no Muslims in the United States before the American Civil War.  Our generation embraces Islam as an equally valid faith. This change in thinking is a direct result of the rejection of a fundamental truth of Christianity, that salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

But this confusion means that we fight wars half-heartedly. How far would we have got in World War Two if we had thought that fascism was an equally valid way of life? Or, later, that communism really did offer a utopia?

According to the BBC this morning, the UK is going to fast-track legislation to strip terrorists of citizenship. This was announced as a tough response. In contrast, Denmark is going to try rehabilitation of terrorists who return from fighting with ISIS. Rehabilitation?!? Are they seriously expecting people who beheaded men and raped women to commit to doing good works with the Salvation Army?

Such weak responses are not likely to win this conflict. How will we react when ISIS reaches our own shores?

We haven’t even got the sense to reverse the liberal reforms of the last fifty years, changes that led directly to recruiting for ISIS. Second generation Muslims cannot reconcile the permissiveness of our society with Islam, which means “submission.”

It should be remembered that both ancient Israel and ancient Judah fell to enemy nations as a direct consequence of their disobedience. Our national sins are an abomination to God – could we go the same way as Israel and Judah?

Book: WHY WE LOST

Why We Lost

Title of new book by Lt. General Daniel P. Bolger.

The paragraph below appeared in an article by the retired Lt. General in the New York Times, on Veterans Day.

“As a senior commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, I lost 80 soldiers.  Despite their sacrifices, and those of thousands more, all we have to show for it are two failed wars.  This fact eats at me every day, and Veterans Day is tougher than most.”

 Daniel_Bolger

REMEMBRANCE DAY OBSERVANCE

queen_lays_wreath_remembrance_day 2008

Late night arrests at the weekend foiled a terror plot in London, England. Speculation was rife that the plot involved an attack on the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning. This did not deter the Queen from carrying out an annual duty, which she has never missed.

This was the occasion of the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, the day that ended World War I. “At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” was exactly when the war ended, having claimed almost a million British lives.   Observance is held on the Sunday closest to the actual day.

The Queen not only leads the nation at this ceremony. She is also leading the Commonwealth, that quarter of mankind that comprised the British Empire and Commonwealth during both wars. Without their contribution, the allies might never have won. Together with Britain, they were the only allied nations that were in both wars from beginning to end.

It’s hard to imagine now but a century ago when the Great War (World War One) began, hundreds of thousands of people around the world volunteered to fight. Many faked their age to qualify.

I read recently that many were motivated by deep religious convictions.   According to this website, a significant number of men in the trenches believed in British Israelism, that the British Empire and the United States were the fulfillment of the promises made to Joseph in Genesis chapter 48:

“15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:  “God, before whom my fathers Abra

ham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,

16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,

And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 

18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.”

The United States is big at 3.9 million square miles but the British Empire was vast at 13.9 million square miles. Many believed it was the prophesied “multitude of nations.” Its formal name was the British Empire and Commonwealth, the latter being the independent countries of the Empire that remained loyal to the Crown. These nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, together with the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia, all sent troops to help “mother England” when the country was threatened by the Axis powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary.   As Germany had colonies close to South Africa and Australia, these nations also brought about German defeats on a regional level.

The independent nations that formed the Commonwealth were known as Dominions. Canada was the first country to become a dominion in 1867, independent but loyal to the Crown. The word “dominion” was taken directly from Psalm 72:8: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.” The fact that the term dominion was inspired by scripture shows the founders of Canada were far more biblically aware that most recent leaders, the current prime minister being an exception.

It wasn’t just the dominions that sacrificed for Britain.   In World War II, two million Indians volunteered to fight for Britain, the biggest volunteer army in history.

Even India’s sacrifice was not as great as that of Southern Rhodesia, proportionate to population.   Sir Winston Churchill lauded the central African nation’s loyalty by describing it as “the most loyal colony.” Sadly, twenty years later, one of his successors was to betray the country, which now no longer exists.

Other colonies also contributed. The Gold Coast, now Ghana, raised up the Royal West African Frontier Force, which saw action in Burma and Ethiopia.   Nigeria also sent troops to Burma. It was felt that Africans could handle the heat a lot better than the British in the steaming hot jungles of Burma and Malaya.   Indian troops comprised the majority of soldiers fighting against the Japanese in this particular theater of war. Many sacrificed their lives for King and Country.

The Queen appreciates the sacrifice of all these nations more than most, as she lived through World War II and knows how easily Britain could have been defeated. Memories of the bombing of Buckingham Palace will still be with her. She will also remember that the wartime leader, Winston Churchill, had lunch with her father, King George VI, every week, keeping the king abreast of all developments in the war. It is said that Churchill would give the young Princess and future Queen informal history lessons. Churchill was later to write his monumental “History of the English speaking peoples,” a book that thankfully was written before political correctness and revisionist history.

At the Cenotaph, the war memorial in the center of London, the Queen remembers, at 88, far better than most of her subjects, the sacrifices made and the struggles that still continue. Her grandson, Prince Harry, missed the service in London, choosing instead to commemorate the day with British troops in Afghanistan, where he served three years ago.

The Commonwealth will likely survive the Queen’s passing. Prince Charles, who will take over as king upon the death of his mother, is getting more involved with the organization while his son, Prince William, together with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, are immensely popular, especially in the Commonwealth Realms, those member countries that retain the Queen as Head of State.

The organization may survive but it will never again be in unison in fighting a global conflict. It is no longer a military force and its members now have conflicting loyalties that preclude action on a universal scale. And, with the Queen’s passing, remembrance of two world wars will further diminish.

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill

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