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BIG MEN IN LITTLE BOATS — LESSONS FROM DUNKIRK

On Tuesday I was able to see the widely acclaimed movie “Dunkirk”. It tells the story of a major turning point in World War II, before the United States entered the war.

After the declaration of war in September 1939 Britain sent the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to France to help the French fight Germany.   The German advance through France was so rapid that the British Army was cornered in the small coastal town of Dunkirk. 338,000 men were about to be captured by the Nazis.   Such a catastrophe would have left Great Britain unable to defend itself against the Nazi onslaught on Britain widely expected to follow the fall of France. In turn, if Britain had fallen, Canada, a dominion of the British Empire, would have been under great pressure; the United States would then be next, at the time unprepared to fight a major conflict.

It’s hard for people now to realize how victory over Germany was not a foregone conclusion.   Even after the US entered the war, the advantage still lay with Germany and its far-eastern ally, Japan.   The Germans were a formidable military force.   Adolf Hitler only came to power in 1933, but in a little over six years had taken the country from the depths of depression and despair to the height of economic and military power.   No country was able to stop Germany’s rapid takeover of Europe.

In May of 1940, faced with this incredible threat, the British changed leadership.   Winston Churchill came to power. One of his first tasks was to rescue the BEF from Dunkirk.   Only 30,000 beleaguered soldiers could be saved by the navy from the beach at Dunkirk.   The call went out for ordinary British people to take their boats and their yachts across the Channel to help rescue the others. Over 700 vessels accomplished this heroic task – big men in small boats.   They not only had to contend with the advancing German Wehrmacht. They were also risking aerial bombardment by the German Luftwaffe.

The evacuation began on 26th May.

On the same day, King George VI called for a National Day of Prayer.   Photos taken at the time show tens of thousands of people lining up at churches across the country, anxious to pray for their loved ones on the beaches of northern France.   The King called on the British people to repent and turn back to God.

Biblical verses like this one were his inspiration: if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (II Chron 7:14). The King was a British-Israelite – he believed that the British people were literally God’s people:

“In The Independent, 6 April, 1996, there appeared a facsimile of a letter written by George VI in 1922, when he was Albert, the Duke of York. In the letter, George VI wrote:

”I am sure the British Israelite business is true. I have read a lot about it lately and everything no matter how large or small points to our being ’the chosen race’.”

MIRACLE OF DUNKIRK

What happened then was truly amazing and was referred to as “the miracle of Dunkirk.”   The weather around Dunkirk changed dramatically, making it impossible for the Luftwaffe to continue their deadly attacks on the stranded British soldiers.   Following this, the English Channel calmed, enabling the armada of small boats to cross and rescue the men from France.

It took a few days to get everybody home.   It was to be four years before they were able to go back, attacking Germany on the beaches of Normandy.   Then, another year before the final victory, ending the European theater of war on May 8th, 1945.

LESSONS FOR TODAY FROM DUNKIRK

First of all, the movie is a reminder of how quickly the situation in Europe can change and threaten the United Kingdom.

Secondly, the movie reminds us of the long history of what Winston Churchill called “the island race,” the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples who have inhabited the British Isles for well over a thousand years.

The only criticisms I’ve seen of the movie were in Time Magazine and USA Today.   Both lamented the lack of minorities and women in the film.   Neither reviewer seemed to realize that non-white immigration into the UK did not begin until after World War 2; and women were not in combat roles until fairly recently.

Rather, the men who stood on that beach, waiting to be rescued, were the direct descendants of the people Churchill was talking about.   Their ancestors stood up and fought the Spanish to ensure the Protestant Reformation, which gave them and others religious freedom; Churchill’s own ancestor the First Duke of Marlborough led an army against King Louis XIV’s forces; a century later the British defeated Napoleon who also tried to unite Europe forcibly; in the last century, the enemy was the Kaiser before Hitler.   Each time it was the British people, fairly secure on their island, who preserved the freedoms of smaller European nations.

They are not the same people today.   After World War II, immigration from the West Indies, Africa and the Asian sub-continent, transformed the country.   More recently, arrivals from other parts of the European Union have entered the UK.   Today, well over 50% of the people of London are not of British ethnic descent.

Most of these people are highly unlikely to fight for Britain if a similar situation arose to that faced in 1939-45.

There is also a third, and deeper, lesson here for the United Kingdom.

Christopher Nolan, the producer and director of the movie, deserves acclaim for an outstanding film.   But the movie does not even mention the King’s call for a National Day of Prayer on the day the evacuation began.   In an irreligious age, this is to be expected. However, it’s an appropriate time to remind the island race of the role religion played in the four centuries of their greatness.

After the Protestant Reformation, the country had to act quickly to secure its freedom and independence from Rome.   They began building what became the greatest navy in the world.   Colonies were established in different parts of the world as they pursued trade.   Wherever they went, they established parliamentary government, the rule of law and basic freedoms.   All of this came about as a direct consequence of the break from Rome.

The British people lost sight of this after World War II.   They reversed course in a pursuit of an alternative dream, that of European unification.   Instead of pursuing a different course to Rome, they signed the Treaty of Rome and lost themselves in an alien enterprise.   Continental Europe has always been more centralized – gradually the British people came under increasing control by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, together with foreign politicians in Strasbourg and Berlin.   At the same time, they lost support from the Commonwealth of Nations that they had built up since the first settlement in Virginia over 400 years ago.

An increasingly irreligious people lost sight of their unique place in the world.   It was still there at the queen’s coronation in 1953, when she committed herself to enforce the laws of God in her numerous territories.   Things did not go according to plan.

Faced with catastrophe at Dunkirk, the King rightly called for a National Day of prayer.   Apparently, it was not well received amongst the soldiers, who interpreted the call as saying that they were doomed unless God intervened.

It’s the same today.   The UK has been reduced to a position of weakness in a hostile world.   Without a return to the foundations that made Britain great, the country, racked with divisions over Brexit and the future of the United Kingdom itself, and disunited by diversity, is in danger of falling apart or becoming a vassal state of a coming European superpower.

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OUT OF TOUCH

Jeb Bush

Following the Republican debate Thursday evening, one newspaper quoted on PBS’ McLaughlin Group observed that Jeb Bush spoke as if he thinks that America’s problems are all psychological and not real at all.   The Bushes have done well and live the dream and can’t understand why others have failed to achieve the same.

On Sunday, reports from Moscow showed a similar problem. President Vladimir Putin, by some accounts now the richest man in the world, thanks to the accumulation of ill-gotten gains, ordered the destruction of 350 tonnes of food from the EU in retaliation for western sanctions on Russia.   Mr. Putin’s decision shows that he is oblivious to the fact that millions of Russians are struggling to feed their families.  40% of Russia’s food was imported before the sanctions were announced.

Jeb Bush and Vladimir Putin aren’t the only two politicians who are out of touch with reality.   It’s difficult, for example, to imagine how Hillary Clinton, who, together with her husband, earned approximately $30 million last year, can possibly claim to represent the middle class.

It’s dangerous when politicians at the top are out of touch with people at the bottom.

In 1789, France’s Queen, Marie Antoinette supposedly said: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.”   That same year, the monarchy was overthrown and, three years later, the hated Marie lost her head to Madame Guillotine.   It wasn’t that simple.   The queen actually did a great deal for the poor through her charitable work and the words she supposedly uttered were recorded over a century earlier, attributed to the Spanish wife of King Louis XIV.

But hungry people don’t care about historical accuracy – they just want to eat.

A lack of food has been a regular cause of revolution throughout history.   In 1917, a bread riot in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) started the revolution that led to the downfall of the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty.   It’s not inconceivable that something similar could happen to Mr. Putin.   Of course, the revolution did not improve the situation – seven decades of communism included many years of famine and regular food shortages even at the best of times.

No nation is exempt.   If billboards in Michigan are to be believed, one in five Michigan children go to bed hungry.

Former presidential candidate Ross Perot warned a few years ago that food stamps are all that stand between us and anarchy – in other words, take away free food for the poor and you could see a revolution in the United States.

In June, 1932, veterans marched on Washington demanding that a bonus they were promised by Congress should be brought forward as, in the midst of the Depression, they could not afford to feed their families.   They built shanty-towns outside of Washington and were determined to stay until Congress met their demands.   President Herbert Hoover sent in troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur to tear down the camps and send them home.   Reports at the time tell of great hunger amongst the vets and their families, including young children.   President Hoover was seen to be out of touch and uncaring (the shantytowns were dubbed “Hoovervilles”) and lost the election a few months later to Franklin Roosevelt.

Mr. Bush should remember the fate of the last Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who lost the 2012 election to Mr. Obama.   Mr. Romney was recorded dismissing the “47%” of the electorate who depend on government and who, therefore, were not going to vote for him anyway.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Bush, both claiming to be conservative, should have read a biography of Benjamin Disraeli, the nineteenth century Conservative British prime minister who warned of Britain becoming “two nations,” one rich and the other poor.   He reshaped the Conservative Party to be a party that reached out to the working-man.   If the Republicans are to succeed, they have to do the same, to show how their policies will help improve the life of Joe Citizen.   To do this, they need to distance themselves from Big Business.

They can do it.   The 1896 election was held in the midst of a Great Depression that saw 50% of the people unemployed, at a time when there were no unemployment benefits for those who were out of work.   Understandably, the election saw the highest turnout in American history.   80% of the electorate voted.   The presidential election that year was won by Republican William McKinley.   He promised the people sound money and high tariffs to increase employment at home.   It’s interesting to note that the same issues still prevail.

Left-leaning parties, whether the Democrats in the US or the Labour Party in Britain, do not represent working people.  They are the parties of Big Government, which gives jobs to their supporters, but leads to a rise in taxes.   Those taxes are paid by ordinary people and small businesses, making life harder for the majority of people.

Leaders, and aspiring leaders like Jeb Bush, cannot afford to be out of touch with the common people.   This is especially true in democracies where every citizen has the vote.   Perhaps Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin should copy Britain’s Prince William, who spent the night sleeping on the streets of London to get the feel of homelessness.   At the very least, his gesture showed empathy with the poor, a realization on his part that tens of thousands of people are homeless and unable to take care of themselves.

Only a return to conservative values, including restoration of the traditional family, can help people get out of poverty.   Conservatives everywhere need to convince the voters that they represent them and not Big Business.

They could start by following the example of Menachem Begin, an Israeli conservative and former prime minister.   Mr. Begin spent many years in prison under the Bolsheviks.  Reading a biography of Benjamin Disraeli helped him maintain his sanity and inspired his future conservative course.   Focusing on struggling voters makes more sense than pursuing big business!  After decades of Big Government, people want change.