Tag Archives: Jamestown

GOAL IN AFGHANISTAN IS AN ISLAMIC STATE

Muhammad Nabi Omari also claimed that the U.S. cooperates with Ghani’s government to transport ISIS members between Afghanistan’s provinces . . . (MEMRI)

Former Taliban Official Muhammad Nabi Omari Claims U.S. Supports ISIS In Afghanistan, Says: 60-70% Of Afghanistan Controlled By Taliban; Our Goal Is To Establish An Islamic State

Muhammad Nabi Omari, the Taliban’s border police chief from 1996 to 2001, said in a July 9, 2019 interview on Russia Today TV that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani controls less than half of Kabul and that he cannot operate in other provinces or districts in Afghanistan because the Afghan people do not listen to him or recognize his authority.   Omari said that every province in Afghanistan has its own independent government and that 60-70% of Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban.   Omari also claimed that the U.S. cooperates with Ghani’s government to transport ISIS members between Afghanistan’s provinces, and he said that there are rumors that the U.S. has opened camps for ISIS throughout Afghan territory. He also said that Afghanistan’s intelligence agencies support, arm, and finance ISIS.   Omari added that the Taliban’s goal in fighting America is to establish an Islamic state.   Omari was held for 12 years in Guantanamo Bay and was released in 2014 in an exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. (MEMRI #7372)

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ALAN TURING TO BE ON NEW 50-POUND NOTE

At first this decision may seem like PC gone crazy.

Alan Turing was the subject of the movie “The Imitation Game.”   No exaggeration, he saved hundreds of thousands of allied lives and cut World War Two short by an estimated two years.   Turing was a British cryptanalyst who decrypted German intelligence messages for the British government during the Second World War.

“Turing played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic, and in so doing helped win the war.”  (Wikipedia. “Alan Turing).

“After the war, Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the Automatic Computing Engine, which was one of the first designs for a stored-program computer. In 1948, Turing joined Max Newman’s Computing Machine Laboratory at the Victoria University of Manchester, where he helped develop the Manchester computers and became interested in mathematical biology.   He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis and predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, first observed in the 1960s.” (Wikipedia)

After the war, a homosexual offense led to the penalty of chemical castration.   Some time after his release, he committed suicide, although this is disputed.

In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology for the British government’s treatment of Turing.   Four years later, he was posthumously pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II.  It was announced this month that he will be featured on future Bank of England 50 pound notes.

It raises an interesting question:   How many other talented individuals have been lost due to a sexual problem?

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JAMESTON REVISITED

July marked the 400th anniversary of the birth of American democracy.

Only twelve years after the initial settlement of Jamestown, the people exercised their right as Englishmen to have their own parliament. In time, this became the Virginia House of Burgesses (from 1643), which remained active in Williamsburg until the American Revolution, giving Americans 157 years to practice democracy.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were all members.

Sadly, 1619, when democracy was introduced, was also the year that slavery was introduced into English America, with the arrival of the first slave ship from Africa, in August.  Four centuries later, demands for reparations are growing.

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Letter From Jerusalem 

Trump’s Camp David Moment                                                                                  by Raf Sanchez, Jerusalem Correspondent, Telegraph UK, 31 July 2019

We woke up this morning to reports that Donald Trump will lay out his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan at Camp David in the coming weeks.

According to Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, Trump will invite Arab leaders to the presidential retreat but not Netanyahu or the Palestinians

Every indication is that the plan will propose autonomy for the Palestinians but will deny them an independent state.

In what seems to be a related move,   David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel appeared on CNN yesterday and essentially endorsed Netanyahu’s position on the Palestinians.   “We believe in Palestinian autonomy,” he said.   “We believe that autonomy should be extended up until the security of Israel is at stake.”

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Is Germany Becoming Germany — Again?                                    by VICTOR DAVIS HANSON (National Review)  https://www.nationalreview.com/author/victor-davis-hanson/    June 4, 2019 6:30 AM

Merkel’s evident anti-Americanism is a familiar refrain.

The more things change, well, the more they . . .   So it is with the perpetual German resentments of the U.S.

Recently German chancellor Angela Merkel reminded us of that German fixation, when she made some astounding statements to the German media that revealed what many Americans had long ago surmised.

Merkel all but announced that Germany, or for that matter Europe itself, is no longer really an ally of the United States:   “There is no doubt that Europe needs to reposition itself in a changed world. . . . The old certainties of the post-war order no longer apply.”

She insisted that Germany views the democratic United States as not much different from autocratic Russia and Communist China: Urging Europe to present a united front in the face of Russia, China, and the U.S., she said, “They are forcing us, time and again, to find common positions.”   And Merkel concluded that therefore Germany must find “political power” commensurate with its economic clout to forge a new independent European path.

In other words, in the calculus of the supposedly sober and judicious Merkel, the democracy that saved Europe twice from a carnivorous Germany — and Germany once from itself and once from becoming a Soviet vassal — is now similar to the world’s two largest authoritarian dictatorships, nations that not so long ago murdered respectively 30 million and 70 million of their own citizens.   And how odd a sentiment for someone who grew up in Communist East Germany, a nightmarish state whose collapse was largely attributable to the Reagan-era effort to bankrupt and roll back the Soviet empire.

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THAT HAMILTON WOMAN

That Hamilton Woman was Winston Churchill’s favorite movie.   One source says that he watched it over 80 times.   He certainly watched it every night he was sailing across the Atlantic for a historic meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.   It was made at a crucial time for England, in 1941.   America was neutral and every nation in western Europe had been conquered by Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union was still neutral.   So England stood alone against the forces of fascism.

“Throughout the centuries England has built up a Commonwealth committed to freedom . . . every few years she must sent out her ships to stop a dictator conquering the world.”   So says the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples, on the eve of the Napoleonic Wars.   England fought alone at that time, too, against Napoleon.

This has been the course of European events.   Every so often one nation on the continent of Europe achieves domination over the others.   Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler are the most famous dictators, who all, in turn, tried to conquer democratic England, but lost.

It’s happening again. Germany is the dominant power, as it was twice in the last century.   This time it’s different.   There’s no military rivalry involved (not yet, anyway), but Germany has achieved the ascendancy and wants to hold its position.   Anybody who threatens it will earn the enmity of the teutonic state.

That’s what Brexit is all about.

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“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

 

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FREEDOM WORE A REDCOAT

It’s appropriate to start the fourth of July with a poster showing at the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia.

“Sometimes, freedom wore a redcoat,” is the slogan on the poster, showing a redcoat surrounded by African-Americans.

The exhibit highlights the fact that 15,000 African-Americans fought with the Loyalists; while only 5,000 fought for the Patriots.

Even the term “patriots” as against the “Americans” is a step forward in our understanding of the Revolutionary War; this was not a war between Americans and the British, but rather a civil war between two factions of Americans.

After more than 240 years, it’s healthy for Americans to realize this fact, and to appreciate that the war was not as simple as Hollywood (and books) have often made out.

After the conflict, many of the former slaves left for Canada and helped found Sierra Leone.

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LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN

Of course, the Revolutionary War was not the beginning of America.   There was 170 years of western civilization here before the struggle for independence.

It all began in Jamestown.

The first English settlement in North America began in 1607.  (There was an earlier settlement on Roanoke Island, but it was wiped out.)

Jamestown itself was almost wiped out.   It was a miracle that it survived.

I’ve been reading the book “Love and Hate In Jamestown,” by David A. Price, published in 2003.   On a number of occasions things were going so badly that the settlers wanted to return to England.  One young white man wrote his parents back home begging them to redeem him from indentured servitude, as he didn’t think he would survive the seven years he had to endure.

There is a promising series running on PBS right now titled “Jamestown.”   However, it should not be confused with the facts. The series is very good in conveying the difficulties and challenges of every day life,  but is a fictionalized account  of the English settlement.   However, the series is still one of the best currently showing on American television.

The TV series is in 1619-1620 right now, with the arrival of the first  women and the first African-Americans in 1619 under the governorship of Sir George Yeardley.   The same year saw the beginnings of democracy in the colonies, with the establishment of a parliament (the House of Burgesses).   A major fault of the TV series is that life in Jamestown is seen through the eyes of three women, at a time and in a place where women were few and far between, and irrelevant when it came to decision making. It’s revisionist history, for sure.   More for the 21st century audience than reality.

I am waiting for the uprising, which took place after Yeardley left.  On March 22nd, 1622, one quarter of the colony were slaughtered by the natives, a major turning point in relations between the settlers and the Native Americans.   This was a precursor of the long history of bad relations between the whites and the natives, which went on until the end of the nineteenth century.   The date, March 22nd, was long commemorated throughout Virginia, in remembrance of those who had died.

It’s hard to imagine the heartbreak of those early years.   Pocahontas died before she was due to leave England with her husband.   He had to leave their two-year-old son behind, as he was too fragile to make the Atlantic crossing.   Having lost his mother, he never saw his father again.   He was eventually raised by his uncle.

In his last chapter, Mr. Price, who lives in the Washington DC area, looks at the Pilgrims and the Mayflower.   Of interest was his account of the religious persecution of the Pilgrims.   He relates how the Puritans wanted a ban on sports and the theater on “the Sabbath” (Sunday).   “In 1618 King James overruled local Puritan magistrates who attempted to ban Sabbath day sports.   “When shall the common people have leave to exercise,” he demanded, “if not upon Sundays and holidays, seeing they must apply their labor, and win their living, in all working days.”

“On the scale of European religious repression, King James’s treatment of the Puritans was relatively mild.   At his behest, the bishops of the Church of England fired around ninety of the most conspicuous Puritan ministers from Anglican churches.   He banned the worship services of a breakaway group, dissenters within the dissenters, known as the Separatists.   On the other hand, his sponsorship of a new Bible translation, now known as the King James Bible, came at the suggestion of a prominent Puritan clergyman; several Puritans were also on the team of translators.

“In any event, a group of 125 Separatists left England for Amsterdam in 1608.”   (“Love and Hate In Jamestown,” David A. Price. pages 223-224, 2003.)

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PERVERSE THINKING

“Politicians are granting free healthcare to illegal immigrants, while fining Americans for not having health insurance.”   (“The state has become our nation’s real God,” by Gary DeMar, New American Vision)

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EU CHANGE OF LEADERS

It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in Europe right now.

The EU’s top officials are being replaced.   Not democratically, of course.   But their terms are up, so there’s going to be change.

Most significant so far are Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde.   They have won the top two posts.   Ursula von der Leyen had a mixed record as Germany’s Defense Minister.   Christine Lagarde was the head of the IMF.

CNN reported 7/3:    “Europe’s leaders have agreed to give two of the top four European Union jobs to women, but only after a marathon set of talks that exposed the continent’s simmering divisions.

“German defense minister Ursula Von Der Leyen emerged as nominee for president of the European Commission, and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, who is French, was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank.

“Von Der Leyen’s role must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament.    If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the European Commission.   Lagarde will be the first woman to head the bloc’s central bank.

“Outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk called the appointments “a perfect gender balance.”” (Bryony Jones)

 

 

 

 

JAMESTOWN AND IDENTITY

Bernard Lewis was a British American writer on international affairs.  He was an expert on oriental studies and Islam.  He died this year.

Mark Steyn wrote the following about him in his weekly column:

“Bernard Lewis, the west’s preeminent scholar of Islam, worked for British intelligence through the grimmest hours of the Second World War.   “In 1940, we knew who we were, we knew who the enemy was, we knew the dangers and the issues,” he told The Wall Street Journal.   “In our island, we knew we would prevail, that the Americans would be drawn into the fight.   It is different today.   We don’t know who we are, we don’t know the issues, and we still do not understand the nature of the enemy.”   All true.  (12/31)

Thanks to digital television, you can now see old TV shows from the 60’s.   That includes British TV shows, such as The Saint, Danger Man, the Avengers and Doctor Who.  I quite like the first two, but never enjoyed the last two.  I am one of the few people left alive who can remember seeing the premiere of the first episode of “Dr Who.”  I seem to remember it was made on a budget of about twenty pounds!   (Ok, so I exaggerate!  A little.)

Anyway, I occasionally watch “The Saint” and “Danger Man” if only to see the England I grew up in, the England that Bernard Lewis was writing about.   Back then, over fifty years ago, the Citizens of England were English.   Their ancestors had lived on the island for over one thousand years.   Now they come from anywhere and everywhere.   This has complicated life immensely.   Now we don’t know who we are, we don’t see the enemy clearly and we certainly do not understand the nature of the enemy.

Another thing strikes me – there was no obsession with Europe.   These programs were made 50 to 60 years ago, before Britain entered the EU.   Note for all those panicking over Brexit, nobody was starving and Britain played a major role internationally, as “Danger Man” showed.

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JAMESTOWN

“Jamestown,” on the surface, is a very good show.   It’s based on fact, though the individual stories are fictional.   The physical challenges are all there.   It’s set in 1619, the year that the first females landed in the colony, after twelve years.   It also happens to be the first year that slaves were imported into America.   Additionally, it was the year that the first democracy was established in the Americas.

People often forget that the American colonies were democracies, that they each had their own House of Burgesses, or whatever they chose to call it.   In colonial Williamsburg you can go into the House of Burgesses and see the colonial parliament as it was.   Now, there’s an attempt to denigrate this by claiming that the United States owes its origins and inspiration to the Iroquois Confederacy, the union of six (Native American) tribes that dominated the north east of the country.

It’s all a part of the ongoing denigration of the Anglo –Saxon – Celtic peoples who really did found the colony of Virginia and the other colonies. “Jamestown” will likely digress to show that the African slaves and the Native Americans contributed more than their fair share to the economic development of the colony.   History is being rewritten as we slide ever further into multiculturalism and political correctness!  The second series begins Monday on PBS.

The Bible says: “where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)   The people who founded Jamestown had a vision of establishing an English colony with representative government.   It was also dedicated to Protestantism.

It led, in time, to the establishment of the United States of America.

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BREXIT is yet another example of identity politics, the struggle of half the people to reclaim their national identity and birth right.

“In theory, Britain is leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.   But the legal small print, published by Brussels, shows what this means. Parliament will be asked to ratify a deal which clearly admits that ‘all references to ‘Member States’ and competent authorities of Member States . . . shall be read as including the United Kingdom.’ (Article 7)    So the UK will be bound by EU laws, at least during a transition period.   But this ‘transition period’ can be be made to last forever (Article 132).  And even if a successor deal is agreed, the UK will have signed away other rights for years to come.”   (“The top 40 horrors lurking in the small print of Theresa May’s Brexit deal,” The Spectator, 12.30 18.)

The title of this article says it all.  “The top 40- horrors” in the proposed agreement illustrate that Brexit is impossible if the UK pushes for a deal with the EU.   Better to go ahead with no deal on March 29th.

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A GOOD YEAR FOR ISRAEL

Israel’s identity is clearer – it’s the national home of the Jewish people.

Things have been going the country’s way, as highlighted by an article in “Israel Today.”    “Everything Israel Endured and achieved in 2018” (dated 1.1.19).

Firstly, there was President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.   This was followed recently by Australia.   Guatemala and Brazil are two other nations that have changed their stance.

Secondly, the US and some other western countries finally decided to act against the “pay for slay” policy of the Palestinians.   Under this policy, the Palestinians forked out $355 million annually to terrorists’ families, compensating them for the loss of a family member engaged in acts of terror.   The US decided to withhold $215 million annually to the PA under the Taylor Force Act, named after an American murdered in Israel by a Palestinian terrorist.

The Trump Administration also decided to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an organization that gives aid to Palestinians.

Thirdly, thanks largely to outgoing US Ambassador Nikki Haley, the UN voted to condemn Hamas, in a vote that was 87 for and 57 against.   (There are 57 Muslim nations in the Islamic Conference.)

Another very real sign of progress has been Israel’s reaching out to Sunni Arab states, finding areas of common interest with Saudi Arabia, Oman and other Gulf Arab states.   The Sunni Arab countries all share a common fear of Iran.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also visited Chad and Azerbaijan, two Muslim countries a long way from Israel.   Right now, he is in Brazil, a country whose new conservative government is going to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The like-minded Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has been working on measures to stop anti-semitism from becoming a bigger problem in the EU.

Mr. Kurz, sometimes labeled a “Nazi” for his right wing views, has ironically turned out to be Israel’s best friend in the EU.

“On the security front, the year began with a huge Israeli success when a 100-man strong Mossad team succeeded in stealing a large part of the secret Iranian nuclear archive under the noses of the mullahs in Tehran.   The more than 11,000 documents and disks that the Mossad smuggled to Israel indicated that Iran has never abandoned its plan to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

So, 2018 was a good year for Israel.

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NEW US CONGRESS HAS A RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN

The former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt may not be the first person you would think of when you ponder Isaiah 3:12:   “As for my people, children are their oppressors and women rule over them.”   But the late First Lady did inadvertently shed some light on the scripture.

In a 1951 radio program, which I heard on BBC Radio 4, she enthusiastically spoke about the role women had played in Congress.   At the time women had only had the vote for thirty years.

“All the great social reforms have taken place since women got the vote”, was the verdict of Mrs. Roosevelt.

If you overlook the first social reform, Prohibition, which was a disaster, others include social security.   Her husband, Franklin Roosevelt, was responsible for the three R’s, Relief, Recovery and Reform and set America on the road to socialism in the first five years of his presidency.

If you accept the claim that “all the great social reforms have taken place since women got the vote,” another way of putting this is that “the road to national bankruptcy began in the 1930’s with all the great social reforms,” for every social reform adds to the nation’s debts.

And this new Congress is set to increase them further.

While the media boasts of “diversity,” and much has been made of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ radical socialism, more social reforms are expected to follow.   Her top two priorities are Medicare for all and forgiveness of student debt.   Norah O’Donnell this morning announced enthusiastically, talking of the new entrants to Congress, that “Trump has met his match!”

Our national identity is being threatened, with all this talk of “diversity” and radical socialism.

 

 

 

IS A MUSLIM BAN DISCRIMINATORY?

abe-lincoln-slaves

The fuss over the executive order relating to Muslims entering the US once again highlights just how ignorant most people are of history.   This is especially true of the left, who keep on repeating the mantra that discrimination is un-American.

Perhaps they have never heard of slavery, or maybe they just want to forget it as the Democrats were the party of slavery.

Anyway, discrimination has been common in American history, going right back to the first settlements in Jamestown and Massachusetts Bay.   Both colonies were founded by WASPs, for WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants).   The location of Jamestown was chosen to hide from Catholics intent on kidnapping Protestants.   At the time of independence from Great Britain, the thirteen colonies were 98% Protestant, 1% Catholic and 1% “Other,”  including Jews.

In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that African-Americans could not be American citizens.   Again, remember, by this time the Republicans were campaigning for the end of slavery, while the Democrats were in support; this blatantly racist decision was made by a Court that was siding with the Democrats.   Right up until the 1964 Voting Rights Act, Democratic politicians in the South deprived blacks of the vote; while the whites voted for the Democrats as the party that supported the Old (pro-slavery) South.

In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress.   The law was against ethnic Chinese, as even Chinese from British territories were not allowed.   The Act was renewed in 1892.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has self-righteously announced that Canada will take in refugees America doesn’t want. Canada is another country going soft, also wallowing in ignorance of history.   His predecessor, Stephen Harper, apologized in 2006 for the 1923 Act of the Canadian parliament that banned Chinese immigration. Australia had a “White Australia” policy before 1972. Muslim countries routinely discriminate – it’s impossible for whites to settle in their countries and become citizens.   The same is true of most African countries.

As the first mosque was opened in the US in 1929, there were clearly few if any Muslim immigrants before that date.   Non-white immigration was strictly limited before the 1965 Immigration Act, which literally changed the face of America.

It should be remembered that in 1942, a Democratic president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued Proclamation No. 2537 “requiring aliens from World War II-enemy countries–Italy, Germany and Japan to register with the United States Department of Justice. Registered persons were then issued a Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationality.   A follow-up to the Alien Registration Act of 1940, Proclamation No. 2537 facilitated the beginning of full-scale internment of Japanese Americans the following month.”  (History magazine)

More recently, President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, banned Iranians (Muslims) from entering the US during the 1979-80 hostage crisis.

So, clearly, it is possible for the US president (and even Canadian and Australian governments) to put an end to Islamic immigration, if they want to.

And what about Europe?

A Muslim army tried to conquer Europe in the eighth century.   It was defeated in 732 at the gates of Paris, by the grandfather of the future Emperor Charlemagne.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Muslim armies tried to take Vienna, at the heart of Europe.   They were defeated by Catholic armies.

There is no record of Austrians demonstrating to let them in!   That had to wait until 21st century liberalism, where half the population is besotted with ignorance of both history and comparative religion. The Catholics of 1683 knew that Islam was a pagan religion – they were terrified the Muslims might win and take over, ending their way of life.   Not so today’s churches who are more inclined to welcome immigrants and refugees.   Even the pope took in a family or two at the Vatican and has said that the building of walls is unchristian – it was walls in the Middle Ages that kept the pagans out, enabling citizens to stay safe.   It was Roman Catholics who built those walls.

In 1095, Pope Urban II called on the nations of Western Europe to launch a “Crusade” against Muslims who were killing and harassing Christians on pilgrimages to the Holy Land.   He called for Christian forces to retake the Holy Land.   Again, there were no demonstrations in the streets in support of Muslims – everybody knew the horror stories from the Middle East.   It’s true that Christians perpetrated horrendous acts against Muslims during the two centuries of the crusades, illustrating how the two religions cannot exist peacefully side by side.   This is another lesson not taught in today’s public schools!

It’s sad that the issue of immigration from Muslim lands has become a political football.   It would be a lot better if there were bipartisan agreement on the matter, but this is not going to happen. Consequently, the invasion will continue.   The Gatestone Institute revealed this week that Muslim immigrants arriving in Italy are shouting “Allahu Akbar” when they see the coast.   Why else would they be risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea when they could simply walk into a neighboring Muslim country?   They see themselves as part of the Muslim army that is going to conquer Europe and the West.

Unless the Church and a political populist come together to try and save Western civilization!

Could Donald Trump lead the charge?   Or is it more likely that a European figure like Charlemagne will emerge to unite Europe and defeat the Muslims?   The biblical Book of Revelation speaks of a final revival of the Roman Empire (Revelation 17:12-14) that will deal with the Islamic threat from the “king of the south” (Daniel 11:40-43).

Footnote:    I would like to write an eye-witness report from a couple of European countries on the Muslim invasion of the continent. If you can donate frequent flyer miles (60,000) or money to cover expenses, please contact me at rhodesmf@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WORLD’S OLDEST DEMOCRACY

Indian artist Harwinder Singh Gill shows off his creation, an image of US president Barack Obama carved on a duck's egg shell with the national flags of India and the United States, on January 24, 2015. Mr Obama is due to arrive in India on January 25, 2015.  Munish Sharma/Reuters
Indian artist Harwinder Singh Gill shows off his creation, an image of US president Barack Obama carved on a duck’s egg shell with the national flags of India and the United States, on January 24, 2015. Mr Obama is due to arrive in India on January 25, 2015.
Munish Sharma/Reuters

All nations have an inflated view of themselves and their place in the world.

The Times of London famously carried a front-page headline over a century ago that read:   “Fog in Channel.   Europe cut off.”   The reality, of course, was that Britain itself was cut off from the much bigger continent of Europe.

This morning (Monday) I heard something similar on CBS.   It was a news item on President Obama’s visit to India.   It went something like this:   “The leader of the world’s oldest democracy is meeting the leader of the world’s largest.”

Now, I’ve heard this before . . . but this time I want to comment.

How can the United States, barely 200 years old, possibly be the world’s oldest anything?

It certainly isn’t the world’s oldest democracy.

I googled this, asking where the idea comes from.   The answer, it seems, is the politicians.   In recent years, they have been claiming this is the case, when it isn’t.   Ignorance of history never stopped anybody from attaining office.

For the record, one of the first things the original colonists did when they landed in Jamestown, was hold an election.   Elections were regularly held in the colonial period.   The turnout averaged 90%.   On this basis alone, you could say that colonial America was more democratic than what we have now, when participation is usually less than 50%.

When the colonists held that first election, they were not inventing democracy.   Their country of origin, Great Britain, already had a democratic system in place.   Not since 1215 had English kings held absolute power.   For centuries after that date, parliament was gradually becoming more powerful at the expense of the crown.

The first parliament was summoned in 1264.

Part of the problem is that “democracy” can mean different things in different countries.

The North Koreans call themselves “The Democratic Peoples Republic” of Korea but they are neither democratic nor a republic.

When I googled the word “democracy,” this is the definition it came up with.   Democracy is “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”   “All the eligible members of a state” does not necessarily mean that every person has the vote.

Today, in the year 2015, we in the West think of a democracy as a country where every adult has the vote.   But this has not always been the case.   It wasn’t in ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy, where women and slaves were not allowed to vote.   A universal franchise, where everyone has the vote, is a fairly recent thing.   It did not exist in the United States until at least 1964 when the Voting Rights Act guaranteed the right of all adults to vote.   Even then, there were some who missed out until more recently.   In England, women got the vote in 1918, but they had to be 30, whereas men could vote at 21.   Ten years later, the law was changed to make women fully equal with men.

Forty years ago, we lived in Rhodesia, which had a qualified franchise, similar to what the United States had in its infancy.   Actually, Rhodesia was more generous as women had the vote equally with men, something America didn’t have until 1920.   Rhodesia had five qualifications for voting.   Diane and I did not meet all five, whereas many Africans we knew did.   Once everybody got the vote, a dictatorship came to power and has remained there for 35 years.   Rhodesia was far more democratic than its successor state.

Anyway, forget England and America.   Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Isle of Man all have a parliamentary system that goes back to the ninth or tenth centuries.

There is no basis for claiming the US is the world’s oldest democracy. But what would you expect from a bunch of lawyers in Congress? After all, they are wrong on most things!

 

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.