Tag Archives: Paris

RUSSIA, BRITAIN AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

This 1783 portrait shows the American delegation to the Paris peace talks. The British refused to pose with the Americans. Animosity was still running high more than a year after the war had ended.

With three young grandchildren in the house, including a baby that recently turned one year old, I’ve taken to watching silent movies on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).   There’s no dialog to hear, so surrounding noise isn’t a problem.

I started by watching the 1925 version of “Ben Hur,” which many consider the best of the three versions.  It certainly has the best chariot scene, made at a time when animal rights were not taken into consideration.  (Not that I advocate hurting animals – it was just so REAL!)

Recently, I watched “Love” with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, made the following year.   The two actors were more famous than Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio are today.

The movie was an enactment of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.”   The title was changed thanks to the tabloids.  The gossip papers had revealed that, while making the film, Gilbert and Gabo had started their own relationship.  This enabled the movie’s producers to put the following on marquees across America:   “Garbo and Gilbert in Love.” The movie was a sensation, a bigger hit than anything Hollywood turns out nowadays.

It wasn’t only the title that was changed.   Producers chose to make the movie with two alternative endings.  They referred to one as the “Russian ending,” with Anna, as in the classic, killing herself in front of a train after an adulterous affair that led to her losing her son.   Another ending was made for Americans, with Anna’s husband dying, thereby leaving her free to marry her lover, Vronsky, and keep her son.  It was felt that American audiences couldn’t handle Anna’s death.   The “American” version missed the whole point of the novel.

Interestingly, the Russian ending was shown in New York and on the West coast.   It was only Mid-western sensibilities that they were concerned about.

If Hollywood can’t even get a novel right, why would we expect them to be accurate when it comes to non-fiction?

Another Russian “story” caused a problem for Hollywood a few years later, by which time sound had replaced the old silent movies. This movie dealt with “Rasputin and the Empress” (1932).   It’s depiction of Prince Felix Yousoupov, the principal murderer of Rasputin, was so inaccurate it led to a major lawsuit; since then movies carry the words “all characters in this film are fictional,” or similar, to protect themselves from expensive lawsuits.   Now, no attempt is made at accuracy.

I’ve yet to see a Hollywood movie depict the American Revolution with any degree of accuracy.   In Hollywood, everything has to be black and white.  Real life is rarely like that.   The Revolution was not Americans against the king; the country was equally divided — one third rebelled against the crown, one third were loyal and the other third couldn’t spell “crown.”   On the eve of Yorktown, 40% were loyalists, with support for the Patriots down to 30%.

Rather than the claim that the king was acting selfishly, it can be argued that the leaders of the Patriots were.   They were heavily in debt to British banks, following a bad crop in 1773 – one way to get out from under the debt was to ditch the Crown.   It’s not surprising that wealthy indebted landowners led the revolution – the only revolution in history where those rebelling were richer than those they rebelled against!   This issue was finally resolved after the war when the belligerents got together in Paris.

I was thinking about this over the Fourth of July, when I read a review in The Economist by their American correspondent.   He reviewed a book titled:   “Scars of Independence: America’s violent birth,” by Holger Hoock of the University of Pittsburgh.    Mr. Hoock “. . . concluded that selective amnesia took hold soon after the war, as victors told their version of history, and the British displayed their genius for forgetting defeats.  In the republic’s earliest decades, stone monuments charging the British with “cold-blooded cruelty” rose on battle sites from Lexington, Massachusetts to Paoli, Pennsylvania.   Meanwhile orators told Americans that their revolt had been unusually civilized:  one public meeting in 1813 declared the revolution “untarnished with a single blood-speck of inhumanity.”  (The American Revolution Revisited – a Nation Divided, Even at Birth)

I have an extensive library of books on the Revolution, all of which were written by Americans.  The following quote from The Economist is an accurate observation:

“Browse through school history books, with names like “Liberty or Death!” and the struggle to throw off British rule is sanctified as a victory of American patriot-farmers and artisans against battle-hardened British redcoats and foreign mercenaries, defending ideals crafted by orators in periwigs.  Yet go back to contemporary sources, and they called it what it also was:  a brutal civil war.” (Economist review.)

6% of America’s population died in the Revolutionary War, as against 2% in the War Between the States eight decades later.  (By 1861 the population was much higher, but the percentage gives an idea of the relative suffering of the people.)

Note the following:  “At the war’s end, about one in 40 Americans went into permanent exile, the equivalent of some 8m people today.” (ibid.)

The Revolutionary War was a civil war.   Most battles took place without the presence of British soldiers – brother fought brother, to death, with little mercy shown.   Ironically, if the Revolutionary War had not taken place, the “Civil War” would never have happened – the imperial parliament in London abolished the slave trade in 1808 and slavery itself 25 years later.   No battles were fought over the issue.   Additionally, states’ rights would never have been a factor or cause for conflict.   Canada was spared both civil wars.

So, what did Americans gain?

FACTS TELL A DIFFERENT STORY

Consider the following gleaned from a variety of books on the subject:

>>>American historian Gordon Wood, considered the foremost expert on the Revolution, wrote in his book: “The Radicalization of the American Revolution,” that England in the eighteenth century was the freest country in the world and that the colonists were even freer.  The king was the guarantor of freedom – never again could a commoner like Oliver Cromwell take power and become a dictator. Celebrations for King George III’s coronation in 1762 were greater in the colonies than in England.   So, what went wrong and why, then, did some Americans want more freedom?

>>>The French and Indian Wars were fought by Britain and the colonists to defend the latter against a French Catholic take-over. George Washington, serving “King and Country”, fired the first shots. The seven-year war left the British government with serious debts, which they tried to recoup by taxing the colonies.   Americans did not want to pay for the war.   Over two centuries later, Americans still do not like to pay for wars.

>>>Contrary to what is often thought today, all thirteen original colonies had a democratic form of government.   All property-owning males could vote, with a 90% turnout at elections.   After independence, there was no immediate widening of the franchise.   In 1789, when the first election was held, only 6% of the population could vote.   Both the United States and the United Kingdom extended the franchise during the nineteenth century and both gave women the vote after World War One.   America lagged behind England in voting rights, not catching up until the Voting Rights Act of 1964.

>>>The Right to Vote and the Right to Bear Arms were in force before 1776.   Indeed, the revolution would not have been possible without these rights.

>>>It has often been pointed out that the leaders of the Revolution were richer than the people they rebelled against.

>>>In 1772, the monumental Somerset Decision sent shock-waves through the American colonies.  A slave  had taken his owner to court.  The court ruled that nobody in the British Isles could be owned by somebody else.  If extended to the colonies, this would have ruined prosperous farmers who needed free labor.

Wikipedia has this to say on the subject:   “Somerset v Stewart 98 ER 499 is a famous judgment of the English Court of King’s Bench in 1772, which held that chattel slavery was unsupported by the common law in England and Wales.”

>>>Rather than the claim that the king was acting selfishly, it can be argued that the leaders of the Patriots were.  They were heavily in debt to British banks, following a bad crop in 1773.

>>> Paul Revere did not ride through Lexington, Massachusetts, shouting:  “the British are coming.”   This would have made no sense as everybody was British.   It would be like somebody today, seeing the police approaching, would shout out the warning that the Americans are coming.   Rather, Paul Revere warned that “the Regulars are coming,” a reference to full time professional troops.

>>>Geoffrey Wawro, a distinguished scholar of military history who teaches at the University of North Texas, led a discussion some years ago on “Global View” (History International Channel).   The panel concluded that the separation of England and America weakened the English-speaking world considerably.

>>>By 1800, almost twenty years after independence, Americans were paying more in taxes than they had ever paid under colonial rule.

>>>As the Patriots called themselves the “Sons of Liberty,” the Tories referred to them as the “Sons of Anarchy.”   Partly because of what happened a century earlier when England itself became a republic, many loyalists feared a total breakdown of law and order if the country became a republic, a country without a king.   A Biblically literate population was aware of the warning at the end of the Book of Judges:   “There was no king in Israel in those days; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  (Judges 25:25).   No king meant anarchy!

>>>Many of today’s super-patriots, those who celebrate the 4th of July most vigorously, ironically, would probably have been Tories in 1780.   Conservatives don’t like change or uncertainty.

>>>This brings us back to the Russians.  Newt Gingrich’s book “Yorktown” brings out that Catherine the Great of Russia offered to mediate between the British government and those rebelling against it.   One idea proposed was that Americans would keep their unitary nation, but remain within the Empire.  On the eve of the final Battle of Yorktown, this was acceptable to most Americans, including members of the Continental Congress.  This would have resulted in America being more like Canada.   It would, of course, also have meant there was no need for Canada – loyalists would have stayed where they were.   Catherine’s mediation attempt got nowhere – the autocratic Russian Empress was hardly a credible mediator between two sides that both believed in democracy.

>>>The victory at Yorktown would not have happened without the French navy.   After the battle, the situation was unclear.   It wasn’t until the King asked parliament for more money to fight the rebellion that the war finally ended – parliament refused his request.

>>>Cut off from the empire’s trading system, the US struggled financially after independence.  Even in the 1930’s, the nations of the British Empire recovered from the Great Depression quicker than the US.  America was anxious to break into the imperial trading club without becoming a part of the empire.

The question remains:   what did Americans gain from independence?  One thing comes immediately to mind – that the new country was no longer bound by British treaties with the “Indians;” they could now expand westward.

Ironically, it was a British bank that financed the Louisiana Purchase and British investors who helped build the railways that opened up the West.   So the Brits did their part to make the country expand anyway.

On the other hand, if those treaties had remained in effect, California may never have entered the Union and Hollywood might not exist – some would say, those are two very good reasons for remaining loyal to the Crown!

So, why did Americans revolt and why did the rebels (patriots) win?

Decades after the American Revolution, the Anglo-Israelite movement believed that the British Empire and the United States of America were the fulfillment of a prophecy in Genesis 48; that the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, would become a great company of nations (Ephraim; the British Empire and Commonwealth) and his brother would become a great single nation (Manasseh, the United States).   As the “company of nations” (Genesis 48:19) was united by the Crown, the great single nation had to break away from the crown, which is exactly what the United States did.   Note: ”He set Ephraim before Manasseh (verse 20)”. Britain was the world’s superpower before the United States.  In relative terms, Britain was also greater than its successor.  After the loss of the American colonies, the British went on to develop the greatest empire the world had ever seen.

In other words, God determined the outcome of the Revolutionary War in order to fulfill Bible prophecy.

GROWING ANGLO ISOLATION

President Trump announcing US withdrawal from Paris climate accord deal.

An historic upheaval is taking place around the world as the US and UK, the two leading Anglo-Saxon powers, inadvertently separate from other nations.

It started a year ago with the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. One year later, the country is about to enter dialog with other EU nations, a divorce settlement that is going to have a lasting effect on both the UK and the EU.

The historic upheaval continued last week when President Trump ended an international trip with a NATO meeting in Sicily that made it clear the US will no longer guarantee the security and independence of other NATO countries if they are invaded by Russia.   This effectively ends Clause 5 of the NATO Treaty that required all member nations to come to the aid of another member if attacked.

The only time Clause 5 has been invoked was on September 11th, 2001, in defense of the United States.   Alliance members came to America’s aid.

A third development could end America’s leadership role in the world.

I posted a few weeks ago an article on the 70th anniversary of America’s replacing Britain as the world’s chief superpower and international policeman.   The question I asked was: “Could 70 be it for the US?” (February 19th).

It looks increasingly likely that, indeed, 70 could be it!
I say this following President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the US is withdrawing from the Paris climate deal.

Climate change has certainly become politicized.   It’s also true that it has cost jobs, in the US and other countries.   But the fact is that 195 countries in the world signed the deal – the only two that didn’t were Syria and Nicaragua.

More is at stake than a simple climate deal to reduce carbon emissions.

What’s at stake here is America’s global leadership.

Next time the US goes to other nations and asks for help (Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003 are two examples, the fight against ISIS more recently), it’s likely the country will be rebuffed.

The dispute within NATO also risks the US president losing the accolade “Leader of the Free World.”   In recent days, Angela Merkel seems to be filling that role.

Jacob Hellbrunn, editor of the American magazine National Interest, asked in the May 28th issue, Is Trump Pushing Merkel to Create A German Superpower?

“Donald Trump entered office hoping that he could splinter the European Union.  But what if his presidency has the effect of further unifying it —against America?
“. . . Until now, the core relationship in American foreign policy in Europe has been with Germany.   That tie appears not simply to be fraying but on the verge of snapping.   It will be no small irony if Trump has impelled Europe to transform itself into a unified great power.”

Two days later, the National Interest, in a separate article by Salvatore Babones, once again addressed the issue of Germany:

“Germany is not among America’s “closest and oldest allies.”   That honor surely goes to the United Kingdom.   And second, Merkel didn’t single out just the United States.  She said that Europe can no longer rely on the United States or the UK for its security.   In other words, Merkel wasn’t just declaring her independence from Donald Trump.   She was declaring independence from Theresa May, too. But can Germany defend Europe itself?   And even if it could, would Europe want it to?   The most likely answer to both questions is “no.” (“Can Germany defend Europe on its own?”)

The last question and answer overlooks the possibility that the US may push the Europeans into standing on their own; and the only leader, in such a situation, is Germany.   This likely development has been made more likely by Brexit, even though London says it is not turning its back on Europe.   The outcome of Thursday’s election in the UK could be decisive here – a change of government, even a hung parliament where no party has enough votes to govern effectively, would seriously weaken Britain’s role relative to the EU.

SHIFTING ALLIANCES

Yesterday, it was France’s turn.   Emmanuel Macron, the new President of France, took the unprecedented step of announcing France’s “disappointment” at Mr. Trump’s decision and inviting scientists from around the world to fight climate change from France.   Paris was where the deal to fight climate change was signed in December 2015.   The new French prime minister described Trump’s decision as “calamitous.”   (It should be noted that this was the first time ever that a French president addressed the world in English from the Elysee Palace. It was clear to whom it was addressed.)

CBS’ Ben Tracy put it well this morning when he said:   “The president (Trump) is fundamentally shifting alliances around the world” (CBS This Morning).

Note the following from a British newspaper Friday morning:
“One senior European NATO diplomat said:   “Trump showed that we have fundamental differences about what NATO is for. NATO is designed to defend the territory of its members, not stop terrorism or immigration.   We are heading in opposite directions.”   (NATO joins forces in fight against ISIS – but it’s branded as POINTLESS in Germany” (Katie Mansfield, Daily Express, June 2nd).

Many Bible students know that another superpower will soon replace the United States as the world’s global leader.   Some have felt that Donald Trump would reverse America’s fortunes by putting “America First” and strengthening America’s role in the world.   At this point in time it seems more likely that he will speed up the rise of an alternative global power that will rival the United States of America.   Revelation 13, 17 & 18, together with Daniel 2 & 7 describe this new superpower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONFUSION REIGNS!

 

Captain America

Last Sunday evening I was humbled.

I decided to take all four granddaughters to the latest “Captain America” movie, which began at 7.15pm.   I sat there through over two hours of film, not comprehending what was going on.   I was totally bewildered.

Leaving the movie theater at 10pm, we all drove home in my daughter’s RV.   It was very dark outside.   I was driving as all the girls are 9, 10 and 11.

Suddenly, a voice in the back yelled out, “Will my dad be up this late?”

I shouted back, “Which dad?”  Two of the girls belong to our son, Kurt, and two to our daughter, Alix, and her husband, Mike.   And they all have similar-sounding voices.

“MY dad!” was the response.

Again, I asked, “Which dad?”

This time, two girls shouted back,  “OUR dad!”

“Look,” I said, “I can’t see who is asking and there are two dads here. There’s Kurt and there’s Mike.  Which dad do you want?”

This time, the response was clear.   “Kurt.”

Silence followed for a few seconds, then I heard our nine-year-old granddaughter, Elena, turn to her sister and cousins and observe: “I’ve heard that when people are old, they get very confused!”

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Perhaps there is some truth to that.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is a few years older than me and said something last week that showed she is very confused.   Either that, or she was deliberately misleading people.

She said in a speech that Donald Trump’s call for an end to Muslim immigration would increase terrorism.

If this is true, how does she explain Japan?   They have received no Muslim immigrants – and have experienced no Islamic terrorism!

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There was no mention on any news program of the religious background of the man who killed the UCLA Professor a few days ago.   Earlier, he had also murdered his ex-wife.   A “hit list” found at his home showed he intended to kill two professors but the other one was gone for the day.

The man, Mainak Sarkar, was a Bengali immigrant.   Bangladesh is a Muslim country.

Once again, we see the need for a complete overhaul of the rules relating to immigration and naturalization.   Confusion (Babylon) has been the result of the last fifty years when it comes to immigration.

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There’s also a lot of confusion over in England, too, over the EU Referendum taking place on June 23rd, less than three weeks away.   The debate has gotten nasty and the country remains very divided.

It’s becoming the norm for foreign leaders to butt in.   US President Obama, Mrs. Clinton, and Donald Trump have all expressed their opinion.   Mr. Trump has brought forward his visit to the country by two days, now arriving the day before the vote, rather than the day after.   The head of the International Monetary Fund, the German Chancellor, and European Union bureaucrats are all warning of disaster if the country leaves the EU.

Although there are peripheral issues, the fundamental question is: do the British people want their country administered from London or Berlin?   75 years ago, Winston Churchill knew the answer.   Does England need another Churchill to figure it out?

A very important secondary question is: do the British people want their country to remain British, or become a European mix?   The EU’s open borders have led to millions of people from other EU countries flooding into the UK, for its more generous welfare benefits and it’s better economy.   There’s nothing can be done about this as long as they remain in the EU.

The future of the UK is certainly at stake.

The worst possible result is a close vote, with the majority of Scots voting to “Remain” (in the EU) and the majority of English voting to “Leave.”   This would lead to Scotland calling for a second referendum on independence from the UK.   Going it alone could work with help from Berlin and Brussels, the capital of the EU.

It would mean the end of the United Kingdom.

In today’s world where only money seems to matter, I don’t think anybody really understands the full implications of this. “Grey hairs are here and there upon him, and he knows it not.”   (Hosea 7:9).

It’s not just the elderly who are confused!

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A final comment on the US presidential election comes from our 11-year-old granddaughter, Paris, who was half-watching the news with me.   Following the usual five-second sound bite from both Trump and Hillary, she suddenly asked:   ‘Why do we have to have a president anyway?   Whey can’t we be like other countries, with a king or a queen?”

After watching this election, it’s no wonder she’s confused!

 

DONALD TRUMP AND ISLAM

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Donald Trump’s statement that “Islam hates us” has been roundly condemned by other presidential candidates and by the media.

But, what if he’s right?  What if Islam does hate the West?

Islam and the West have a long history of conflict.   The predominant thinking in the West is that it’s all in the past, that religion itself is no longer important.

But is that the view from the Islamic world?

Let’s consider the facts —-

  1. Christians are being driven out of the Middle East. And not just by ISIS.  Even the supposedly pro-western, moderate Egyptian government continues to discriminate against its Coptic Christian population, down from 25% of Egyptians forty years ago, to 10% now.   Recent articles show that it’s become almost impossible for new churches to be built.
  2. Whereas millions of Muslims have moved into the West in recent decades, there is no traffic the other way.   Christians are still not allowed to move into Muslim countries, except as temporary skilled workers.   Citizenship for non-Muslims is out of the question.
  3. Islam means “submission,” surrendering your own will to the will of Allah.  The West is built on freedom of the individual, the exact opposite.
  4. The goal of Islam is to take over the world.   Everybody must submit to the will of Allah.   “I was ordered to fight all men until they say:   “There is no god but Allah.”   So said the prophet Muhammed in his final address to his followers in March 632. 1400 years of violence has followed.   At least three times in history Islamic forces have tried to conquer Europe.   Could the present migrant invasion of Europe be yet another attempt?
  5. Voices in the Islamic world are frequently raised against the “crusader states,” meaning the United States and its coalition partners.   The term “crusaders” goes back almost one thousand years to when the western Europeans launched a series of crusades against Islam, establishing the “Christian” Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Holy Land.   It took two centuries for the Muslims to oust the Christians.   Many, and perhaps most, see Israel as a new crusader state that must be ousted; they also see US and other western troops as “crusaders” intent on forcing Christianity on the region.
  6. Warnings from former Muslims.   Author Salman Rushdie in a lecture on C-Span warned that “when a Muslim from the Middle East moves to Detroit, he is not looking to take advantage of America’s way of life to better himself.   Rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard who will spread Islam to America.”        Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian, suffered female genital mutilation as a young girl.   She fled to the Netherlands, where she eventually became a Member of the Dutch parliament.   She helped Theo van Gogh make a short documentary titled “Submission,” highlighting the suffering of women at the hands of their Muslim husbands.   Mr. van Gogh was decapitated on the streets of Amsterdam for making the film.   Ms. Ali now lives in the United States.   She is frequently on television warning the West on the dangers of Islam.
  7. Where are the so-called “moderate” Muslims?   When the irreverent Bill Maher (who frequently lampoons Christians), discussed the issue of Islam with PBS’ Charlie Rose, he responded to a comment from Mr. Rose about “moderate Muslims,” with “what moderate Muslims?   Show me one.   Bring one to your program and I will return to discuss the issue with him.”   This was said over a year ago.   To date, Mr. Maher has not returned.

The late Professor Samuel Huntington predicted in his book “The Clash of Civilizations and The Remaking of World Order” that “the population explosion in Muslim countries and the economic rise of East Asia are changing global politics.   These developments challenge Western dominance, promote opposition to supposedly “universal” Western ideas, and intensify intercivilization conflict….” (inside cover of book).

He first wrote on this subject in 1993.   We are now in the thick of the crisis he foretold.

Birth rates have certainly played a major role in these developments.   While western countries have practiced birth control, including the murder of innocent babies through abortion, many nations, including Muslim ones, have continued to have large families, exporting their surplus to the West.

Additionally, Bible prophecy suggests a coming clash of civilizations. Although the term is not specifically used, Daniel, chapter 11, foretells of a coming clash between “the king of the south” and the “king of the north,” two powers to the south and to the north of Jerusalem.   These are likely to be an Islamic alliance to the south and a European super-state to the north, as prophesied in Revelation chapters 13 & 17.

Not for the first time, Mr. Trump has raised an issue that needed to be raised. He warns of Islam threatening the United States.   Some voices in Europe are raising similar fears, following the Paris attacks and the migrant crisis.   Calls for restrictions on immigration are greeted with voluble cries of “racist.”   Both President Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have said it’s “un-American” for the country to discriminate against Islamic immigrants.   They clearly do not know much history – before 1965 the US openly discriminated.

One final question needs to be considered:   The United States and western Europe have not had a 1930’s style Depression in the fifty years of mass immigration.   When another one comes, which it surely will, will the multicultural paradise envisioned by Mr. Obama, the Clintons, the Kennedys and others, hold, or will we see friction between the various ethnic groups, the kind of conflict that has led to so much upheaval in other parts of the world?

THE WEEK

Donald and Ted

There’s a lot of discussion about whether Senator Ted Cruz can run for president, due to the fact that he was born in Canada.   A few years ago, a similar concern was expressed about Barack Obama, with many convinced he was born in Kenya and therefore unqualified to run for president.

FWIW, when I went to the US Embassy in Ghana to register the births of our three children, all born outside of the United States between 1976 and 1981, I was informed that they had all the rights of any child born on American soil, “up to and including running for President of the United States.”

They were considered “natural born citizens” because their mother is an American citizen.

On this basis, President Obama, Senator Cruz and Senator John McCain all qualify even though they were born overseas, or maybe born overseas in the case of the current president.

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“In 2013 alone, 117,423 migrants from Muslim-majority countries were permanently resettled within the United States— having been given lawful permanent resident status.   Additionally in 2013, the United States voluntarily admitted an extra 122,921 temporary migrants from Muslim countries as foreign students and foreign workers as well as 39,932 refugees and asylees from Muslim countries.

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Thus, twelve years after the September 11th hijackers were invited into the country on temporary visas, the US decided to admit 280,276 migrants from Muslim countries within a single fiscal year.” – Breitbart, Julia Haha, September 15th, 2015.

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President Obama took pains in his State of the Union speech Tuesday to warn Americans not to exaggerate the threat from terrorists,” notes a Journal editorial.   But after a spate of attacks from Paris to San Bernardino to Jakarta, what “Americans want from their next President is someone who will give them fewer reasons to fear being murdered while getting coffee.”   (WSJ, Morning Editorial Report, James Freeman, “Hillary and Ted’s Big Problem”)

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In Europe, reaction to the massive influx of refugees is increasing as people experience the full significance.   One thousand young men from North Africa and the Middle East congregated in the main public area around Cologne Cathedral on New Years Eve where dozens of German women were groped and sexually assaulted. Chancellor Merkel has condemned what happened and promised those convicted would be sent to their country of origin.   The anti-Muslim PEGIDA movement has been holding rallies and now has a British branch, committed to ending the growing Islamization of the West.

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Meanwhile, the 70-year-old ban on Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) has been lifted in Germany and a new annotated version of the book has become available.  Sales have been greater than expected.   The new publication contains the full text of the original, with scholarly notes commenting on what was written.   It is hoped that this will turn people against right-wing ideas, but the law of unintended consequences may lead to a different outcome.

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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a European Army, adding his voice in support of a development that is already taking place, with more European countries cooperating on defense.

The issue of Europe is uppermost on the minds of many in Britain at this time, with a referendum on future membership of the EU set for later this year.   Pro-EU politicians are trying to scare people by claiming that the EU has prevented conflict in Europe in recent decades. Fourteen leading British academics and historians have issued a statement saying that it is, in fact, NATO that has prevented major conflict in Europe since World War II.   This debate could intensify.   Many EU members are also members of NATO, which includes the US and Canada. But, if the EU successfully puts together its own powerful military force, the two organizations may go their separate ways.

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The British parliament is debating today, Monday, a petition signed by well over half a million people to ban Donald Trump from visiting the United Kingdom following his anti-Islamic comments.   A second pro-Trump petition has been signed by fewer people.   It seems like the Donald is dividing the UK as much as the US.   If the ban is approved by Members of the British Parliament, what will happen to the western alliance should he become president?

More immediately, what will happen to the $1 billion investment he promised Scotland?

Surprisingly, Piers Morgan came out in support of Mr. Trump on a popular British radio program.   The audience did not applaud.

The unanswered question here is why so many people on both sides of the Atlantic are determined to see a lot more Muslim immigrants arriving on their shores.   Their thinking is totally different from that of previous generations.

It’s going to be difficult to overcome political correctness on both sides of the Atlantic!

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Talking of the Atlantic, notably absent from the ocean right now are cargo ships – a sure sign the global economy is slowing.   For centuries, there have been ships crossing the ocean every single day. But right now there’s a lull.   Another sure sign of global inactivity is the fall in the oil price.   The price of oil is determined by supply and demand, as is everything else.   There’s more oil available now thanks to fracking and, from today, the lifting of sanctions on Iran. But there’s also less demand, with China’s economy weakening by the day and a deteriorating standard of living faced by most Americans, the world’s biggest consumers.

The head of the Royal Bank of Scotland warned all customers last week to get out of the Stock Market.   His warning sounded extreme, but what if he’s right?   We should know this week!

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Just remember, with all the uncertainty in global markets and in the Middle East, that Christians should not worry unduly about what’s going on. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matthew 6:34)   The previous verse reminds us of where our primary focus should be at all times: “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IS THIS TO BE THE FATE OF THE WESTERN WORLD?

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Michigan winters can be depressing, a real downer.   Add to that, the state of the world as 2016 begins and it’s amazing anyone can function.

A cartoon in yesterday’s paper showed half a dozen people nervously peeking into a dark room labeled “2016” – clearly, nobody wanted to go in.

Who knows what the year will bring?

Adding to my sense of foreboding has been a couple of books I’ve been reading.   Perhaps I should stop reading!   Then I could stop thinking and become like lots of other people.   It’s difficult, though, to watch hours of mindless drivel on television or at movie theaters when there are so many good books to read.

The books I’ve been reading are “The End of Byzantium” by Jonathan Harris  and “Isabella” by Kirstin Downey.   The latter is about the famous queen of Spain, but includes a long section on the fall of Byzantium and what followed.

Byzantium was the name of the Eastern Roman Empire, founded by Constantine the Great in the fourth century.   It survived the fall of the (western) Roman Empire by a thousand years.   Byzantium was the greatest power in Christendom during that period. Constantinople, its capital, was known as “the Queen of Cities.”

Yet it fell.

It fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453.   It’s fall was as dramatic and interesting as the fall of Babylon to Persia in 539 BC.   The consequences for both were dramatic.

Residents of both had considered their capitals impregnable.   Most Americans and Britons today would describe their own countries similarly.   After all, they have nuclear weapons.   The US has the greatest military on earth.

But, as the falls of Babylon and Constantinople show, it doesn’t mean a thing!  And, just as the “handwriting was on the wall” for Babylon (Daniel 5), so it is today for the West.

I went to see my primary doctor recently, shortly after San Bernardino.   He couldn’t understand why so many people brought up in the United States could become “radicalized.”   I know that Britons, Australians, Canadians and people in other western countries don’t understand this, either.

An article in yesterday’s Lansing State Journal called for more Muslim immigration into the US.   The reasoning was simple – the more people from the Middle East who come here, the better, because they either go back enthused about the American way of life, or they stay here committed to America.

This is naïve thinking at best.   At its worst, it’s downright dangerous.

Both my doctor and this writer represent 1960’s liberal thinking.   They believe that our western way of life is superior and that anybody who moves to the West will naturally see things that way given a short period of time to adjust.   And their children, naturally, will be just as committed to the American (or British) way of life as anybody else born here, embracing our liberal values.

This reasoning fails to understand that there is a major difference between Islam and the West – one means “submission” (or “surrender”), while the other believes in freedom.   These two cannot be reconciled.   Any child brought up in the former, while living in the latter, is inevitably going to be confused.

Why can’t people see that?

If they cannot grasp what is written above, then they can at least read some history and learn lessons from the past.

Note the following from “Isabella,” describing the fall of Christian Constantinople to the Muslim Turks.  Don’t think this can’t happen again – it’s happening right now in the Middle East as Christians are being driven out by Muslims.   After the fall of Byzantium, it happened to other European nations as the Muslims moved into the heart of Europe.   Again, hundreds of thousands have moved into central Europe in the last few months.

(When I was on a tour of Turkey a few years ago, I asked our tour guide three times what happened to all the Christians when Constantinople fell to the Muslims.   Three times, I failed to get an answer.)

“On the last day, a crowd of men, women, children, nuns and monks, “sought refuge” in Hagia Sophia . . . (the sixth century cathedral built by Justinian) . . . the Turks broke down the doors of the church with axes and dragged the congregants off to slavery.   The statues of the saints were smashed; church vessels were seized.   “Scenes of unimaginable horror ensued,” historian Franz Babinger writes.”

“The Turkish soldiers killed four thousand in the siege and enslaved almost the entire population of the city.   They plundered the churches, the imperial palace, and the homes of the rich, and they did considerable damage to much of the city’s fabled architecture . . . unique and rare classical manuscripts were torn apart for the value of their bindings and thrown into the garbage.” (“Isabella”, page 172, 2014)

“By the end of 1459, all of Serbia had fallen under their control.   About 200,000 Serbs were enslaved by the Turks…..Soon, he (Mehmed, the sultan) attacked the city of Gardiki, in Thessaly, killing all 6,000 inhabitants, including women and children.   He had accepted the surrender without struggle of the Genoese colony of Amasra, on the Black Sea coast, where he enslaved two-thirds of the population.” (p. 175)

ISIS continues to treat Christians the same way.   There was, and is, no respect for other religions.

In the fifth century, the Roman Empire was invaded by barbarians (non-Romans).   This is a reason they no longer exist.   Spain itself was overrun by Muslims in the eighth century, a reason why Isabella took the stand she did centuries later.   When the Holy Land fell to the Muslims, it was necessary for the West to intervene to enable pilgrims to travel there safely.   After Constantinople fell, the West was in shock, rather as it would be if the United States fell.

The historian Niall Ferguson wrote after Paris that the West has the feel of Rome about it, that we are in danger of falling the same way; conservative columnist Mark Steyn wrote that “the barbarians are at the gate, and there is no gate!” – a reference to the fact that Angela Merkel and others are welcoming the invaders.

There clearly are genuine and justified concerns about allowing more Muslims into western countries.  Just yesterday, the BBC has reported that Germany has been shocked by how many German women were sexually assaulted and even raped over New Years, a direct result of the recent surge in immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.

TV reporters and those who write for newspapers advocating more immigrants are clearly ignorant of history.   They endanger all of our lives.

Reporting right now is focused on the growing Saudi-Iranian conflict, a continuation of the 1400-year-old struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam.   Neither can respect the other.   They just want to kill those who believe differently from themselves.  We can see it clearly when looking at the two branches of Islam – why do the same reporters find it so difficult to see the threat Islam poses to Christians and secularists in the West?

Christians for centuries have prayed “Thy Kingdom Come” (Matt 6:10) as Jesus Christ taught us to do in His model prayer.   Never has the need for that kingdom been greater.  Only He can put an end to false religion and the religious confusion that threatens the end of our civilization.

SAN BERNARDINO – REALITY HITS HOME

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The fact that the target was a Christmas party at a center for the disabled shows that an attack can come anywhere, at any time.

There have been other attacks by radical Islamists on American soil – Ft Hood, Garland, Chattanooga to name just three.   There will be more.

ISIS has staged 25 terrorist attacks in the last five weeks.   That’s five a week. The total number of dead is 250.   Paris, Sinai and San Bernardino got the most publicity and will continue to have the biggest consequences, but other attacks have taken place in the Middle East and Africa. Boko Haram, an ISIS affiliate, carries out the most attacks, with impunity.

The West can certainly destroy ISIS with the right leadership, but defeating Islamic fundamentalism is quite another matter.   Even if ISIS coalition forces wipe out the threat from Sunni Islam, there will still be Iran, the Shi’ite terror state that has been plaguing America since 1979.

On the same day as the San Bernardino attack, the British government was debating bombing ISIS in Syria, along with other coalition partners.   The vote was an overwhelming yes.   But concerns were expressed that ISIS would turn its attention to Britain if the British authorized the bombing. Emphasizing the point was a “terrorist incident” Saturday evening on the London Underground when a man with a knife attacked passengers, shouting: “this is for Syria!”   A passerby was heard screaming at the perpetrator:   “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv!”   This has become a famous hashtag, supporting the official line that Islam is a religion of peace and that ISIS is trying to hijack it.   President Obama reinforced this idea in his speech to the nation last night.

Full-blown fear is now starting in the general population, a realization that terrorist attacks are going to be a regular part of daily life.   But this does not mean there is unity when it comes to dealing with them.

Political commentators agree that the threat of terrorism will move countries to the right politically, starting in France Sunday where they were holding regional elections.  If the far-right National Front sees significant gains, it could mean Marine Le Pen becoming President in the 2017 presidential election.   In the United States, increased fears of terrorism are benefitting Donald Trump in his bid for the presidency.

President Hollande of France has said that we are at war with ISIS. A number of US presidential candidates in the US have said the same. But nobody has yet stated the increasingly obvious, that we are in fact at war with Islam itself.

Hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East believe that this is the case.   From the Iranian revolution in 1979 through the Persian Gulf War, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq,   Muslims have been convinced that they are in a war with the West.   When they see babies being pulled from the rubble after western planes bomb homes in Syria, they want revenge, they want to kill babies in the West.   Schools full of children, concert halls full of young adults, and disabled centers throwing Christmas parties are easy targets.   We will see more of them.

We’ve been denying history for fifty years, encouraging a mixing of races and religions, which denies historical reality.   Now we are paying the price.

It’s amusing, frustrating and unbelievable watching politicians and commentators, all overwhelmingly liberal-leftists, trying to explain everything and come up with solutions, without stating the obvious and without any reference to history.

The latest slant on TV news is to blame the wife for the terrorist attacks last week.   She had only been in the country for a year, whereas her husband was born here.   As it is inconceivable a homegrown American boy could become a terrorist, it must all be blamed on her.   Why can’t we accept that a homegrown Muslim may hate our society, a country whose values are the exact opposite of his own?

The president and his wannabe successor prefer to place the blame for San Bernardino on the lack of gun control.   Wherever you stand on the issue of gun control, making it more difficult to buy guns will not put an end to terrorism.   Paris has strict gun controls, but look what happened there less than a month ago.   California also has gun controls, none of which were able to prevent last week’s attack.   If gun control advocates ever managed to stop the manufacture of guns, terrorists would simply bring them in from outside.

We can talk about gun controls encouraging terrorist attacks; we can talk about climate change causing terrorism (yes, somebody actually said that); we can blame it all on US foreign policy or on bombing Syria, but all of these hide the simple reality that we are in a clash of civilizations every bit as real as the medieval struggles between Christianity and Islam.

Only this time the West is not Christian.   And that’s the reason we don’t see anything clearly any more.

Watching commentators after San Bernardino, I didn’t once hear anybody ask why a Muslim would go to a Christmas party in the first place.   The Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is blasphemy to Muslims.  There really is no equivalent in today’s “Christian” world, where even most believers do not take religion seriously.   In a post-Christian society like America, there’s an inability to comprehend that others may take religion more seriously.

Perhaps it’s time in this multicultural paradise that liberals have created to scrap all Christmas parties, lest offence is taken!

In all the televised conversations that have followed San Bernardino, there has been no mention of the fact that no Muslim countries allow non-Muslims into their nations, except on short-term contracts.   They believe strongly that “infidels” cannot live alongside believers.  Yet, we in the West continue to believe that we can all live peaceably together.

I do not believe this to be the case.   And, for that reason alone, we will see more and more attacks like the one on San Bernardino.

It is true that God made all men from one blood, but it is not the case that different religions and ethnic groups can all live together.

“And He has made from one blood  every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings”   (Acts 17:26).