Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

BACKGROUND TO THE ZIMBABWE COUP

Forty years ago, my wife and I lived in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Rhodesia (Southern Rhodesia, to be exact) had been a model colony.   It never asked London for help; it always had sound finances; it was stable and prosperous.    It was often called the Breadbasket of Africa.   During World War II, Winston Churchill had labeled the country “the most loyal colony,” as it had contributed proportionately more to the allied cause than any other.

But, twenty years after the war, the same Rhodesians who had fought for the Empire and helped Britain win the war against Hitler, were being called “fascists,” for the simple reason that they wanted to preserve their way of life, which included a qualified franchise, to ensure responsible government.   This meant that most native Africans did not have the vote.   Britain, the US and the nations of Africa were hostile to this and insisted on NIBMAR (No Independence Before Majority Rule).   In order not to have majority rule forced on them, the white Rhodesian government declared itself independent of London on 11th November, 1965.

The “rebellion” led to a civil war, which lasted seven years.   It wasn’t a simple black and white struggle.   82% of the Rhodesian army was made up of black African soldiers.   Many saw what had happened to nations north of them, where independence led to corruption, nepotism, financial collapse, political uncertainty and eventually military coups – they didn’t want that and fought to save Rhodesia.

But the whole world was against Rhodesia.   Even its southern neighbor, South Africa under apartheid, did not like the country and was ready to throw it to the wolves.  This they did, with the US and the UK, forcing the country to hand over to a “majority government.” to introduce “one man, one vote.”

The last white Prime Minister, Ian Smith, remarked that “one man, one vote” would mean exactly that, that the first African leader would be the one man with the one vote.

Black African friends of ours said Zimbabwe, the new name for the new country, would be different.   It would not go the same way as the rest of Africa.

But it has.

It’s been over 37 years since Robert Mugabe became the country’s leader.   As Ian Smith predicted, he became the “one man” with the “one vote” – nobody else’s opinion mattered.   And, as has happened so many times in Africa, the only way to remove a civilian president who won’t allow anybody else to come to power, is for the army to overthrow him.   The army goes on to make things worse, with even more corruption and general incompetence all round;  eventually the army allows another election, bringing another civilian government to power, which is also corrupt and so it goes on and on in a vicious cycle.

Zimbabweans woke up Wednesday morning to find the army has taken over.   Right now, it’s unclear what has happened to 93-year-old Robert Mugabe.   It seems as if the army is saying that they only want to remove the criminals around the president, not the president himself.   They certainly want to remove the wife of the president, who has lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the poor. But Mr. Mugabe has become one of the richest men on earth during his time in office.   They may turn against him yet.   Right now, he is said to be under “house arrest”, while his wife, Grace Mugabe (“Gucci Grace”), has fled to Namibia.

What may help Mr. Mugabe is that he is highly respected across the continent.

Ask a taxi driver in any African country who is the best African leader and they will all say Robert Mugabe.   Why?   “Because he got rid of the whites!”   Point out that the country collapsed economically after the expulsion of the white farmers and they will say, “it doesn’t matter!”

Less than a week before the coup, the capital’s airport was renamed “Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.”

The “coup” seems more of a final act in a dynastic power struggle. The president was grooming his wife as his successor; this was intolerable for those who have been close to him for decades.  She was booed early last week at a rally.   The Vice-President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, fled to South Africa a week ago, increasing fears that Mrs. Mugabe may succeed her husband.   It’s even possible Mr. Mnangagwa may have solicited support from South Africa to effect the coup.

It all brings to mind the words of Jesus Christ in the Book of Matthew, where He warned His disciples not to be like the gentile leaders who ruled over them, with their never ending power struggles and abuses of authority.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.   And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:25-28).

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SSM, COA, SSA AND CCC

For those who are not familiar with the abbreviations above, let me explain.

SSM = Same Sex Marriage.

COA = Commonwealth of Australia, the latest country to approve this historic change.

SSA = Same Sex Attraction, a term that is often used to describe people who are attracted to the same sex.    Many of these people do not want to be gay, which denotes promiscuity and a particular lifestyle.

CCC = Conservative Christian Churches, who are ill-equipped to handle the cultural tsumani that is heading their way.

Australia is the latest country to embrace same-sex marriage, approved by the people in a plebiscite.   Parliament in Canberra is set to approve the change before the end of the year.

There were celebrations across Australia today.   One banner was particularly disturbing:  “Burn Churches, not Queers.”   The attitude behind this banner is not limited to Australia.   The issue of same-sex marriage has pitted conservative churches against the gay movement.   While liberal churches have embraced gays, Biblically based churches cannot.

But this does not mean that biblically based churches have got it right, either.

Recent research showed that 12% of 18 year olds in the United States have a sexual identity issue.   Either they are attracted to the same sex or they feel they are in the wrong body and want to change sex.   None of this is of their own choosing.   They are like people struggling with eating disorders.   A 75-pound woman will look in the mirror and see herself as fat, when everybody who knows her sees clearly that she is anorexic.

In the same way, someone can look in the mirror and feel they are in the wrong body.   They want to change sex.   Or they feel strong attraction to a member of the same sex.

Whatever the problem, these people have to make a choice: either go into the gay lifestyle, or try to obey God.   It’s the same choice everybody makes one way or the other, whether or not to commit to a godly lifestyle.   Those who choose to commit to God take the more difficult road and need help from other Christians.

Those struggling with these issues need compassion and love.   They need Jesus Christ more than the average person.   “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”   On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.   But go and learn what this means:   ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’   For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”… (Matthew 9:11-13).   This is what is lacking amongst conservative Christians and too many churches.

It’s been known for over a century that people do not choose their sexual orientation.   Recognizing this might have avoided the polarization that has taken place.

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ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

It seems that, in today’s English speaking world, you are guilty until proven innocent.   This is a significant reversal of a practice that goes back 800 years to the Magna Carta.   It separated England, and later the English speaking countries, from the European legal system, which denied people justice until they were tried before a 12-man jury of their peers.

Perhaps all the accusations are true and that all of those accused are guilty, but they are still entitled to a fair trial.

The Bible says:   “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”  ( II Corinthians 13:1 KJV)

What is clear with all the accusations, whether against politicians or actors, is that there were no witnesses.   What are parents doing allowing their teenagers to spend time alone with people they don’t know?

Maybe we should bring back chaperones!   That would put an end to all of this.

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WHEN A CROCODILE EATS THE SUN

“When a Crocodile Eats The Sun” is one of the best books I’ve ever read.   I read it some years ago when I was making regular visits to Zimbabwe, the subject of the book by Peter Godwin.   Mr. Godwin was born and raised in Rhodesia as it was before 1980.   At the time of writing the book he was living in New York City and visiting Zimbabwe twice a year to see his elderly parents.  During this time his father was dying and eventually did die.

The title of the book comes from an old Shona proverb.   The Shona are the dominant tribe in Zimbabwe.  They believe that an eclipse of the sun is actually a crocodile eating the sun.  It is a warning of a coming calamity.

The eclipse was on June 21st, 2001.   In the following years, Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed, millions of people starved to death and the country was plunged into chaos.  This all followed President Robert Mugabe’s decision to confiscate white-owned farms.   Food production fell by an estimated 90%.

In Rhodesian days, the country was the breadbasket of Africa; it now became an economic basket-case.   In one chapter his mother and a group of friends shared one tomato between them.  In a later chapter, he related the challenges he faced to cremate his father – the famine, together with AIDS, had overwhelmed the country’s funeral systems.

Those in the West who still think it makes no difference which ethnic group dominates a country, should study what happened to Rhodesia-Zimbabwe.

This does not mean that every nation that witnesses an eclipse of the sun will go through something similar.   But the eclipse seen by Americans last week reminded me of the book – and the consequences that followed the eclipse of the sun.

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DISASTER IN TEXAS

Just as some saw the eclipse as a sign of impending doom, so others feel the same way about the disaster in Texas.

If any problems follow the heavy rainfall in Texas, they are likely to be economic.   The US is already over $20 trillion in debt, money which has to be paid back at some point.   The Federal Government is offering Texas billions of dollars in assistance.   Private debt in the country is at an all-time high.   Student debt is a bubble waiting to burst.   And the only way to rebuild Texas is by borrowing more money.

You would think the world’s richest country would have “a rainy day fund” (no pun intended) but, in fact, we have so much debt, more disasters could easily break us.

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RECOMMITMENT TO AFGHANISTAN

A further financial burden that could break the United States is the war in Afghanistan.   After promising to pull the US out of America’s longest ever war, President Trump is now recommitting to the fight.   His military advisers think the US can win, where no previous foreign presence ever has.   We should remember that it was Afghanistan that broke the Soviet Union, both financially and militarily.   The US has a bad case of “imperial hubris” if we think it can’t happen here.   Afghanistan is not known as “the graveyard of empires” for nothing.

A few months ago I wrote that President Trump had made his biggest mistake, calling for Germany to spend billions more on its military.   History shows that decision could be fatal for Germany’s neighbors and others.   The decision to increase the military in Afghanistan could turn out to be Trump’s second biggest mistake.

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INTERNATIONAL COMPLICATION

KABUL/BERLIN/WASHINGTON  – In light of the new buildup of US troops in Afghanistan, experts are warning of a new proxy war between NATO and Russia at the Hindu Kush.   As observers unanimously explain, Russia has been able to expand its influence in Afghanistan significantly over the past few years. Moreover, the dismal results of NATO’s nearly 16 years of war have seriously damaged the West’s reputation in that country.   Moscow can now take advantage of this situation and enhance its prestige, according to reports.   A former top US intelligence official considers that Russian President Vladimir Putin sees Afghanistan as “one more hot spot, to exercise his influence” and depict Moscow “as the problem solver and peacemaker.”

If NATO and Russia ally with divergent forces at the Hindu Kush, it
could develop into another proxy war, as in Syria.   (German Foreign Policy 8/24)

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THE ENEMY WITHIN

August 24, 2017National

The Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated every one of our national security agencies, including our intelligence agencies, according to retired Navy admiral James “Ace” Lyons, former commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet…

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch recently obtained documents revealing that the FBI under director Robert Mueller purged hundreds of pages of training curricula related to Islamic terrorism at the behest of Muslim Brotherhood front groups who were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case….

(http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/08/national_security_coverups_missteps_and_miscalculations.html)

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MORE ENEMIES WITHIN

“Antifa” is a contraction of the words “anti” and “fascist.”   It’s a new word that will soon enter our dictionary.   It’s very misleading. People who identify with “Antifa” are not fighting fascism – they are, rather, trying to stop conservatives expressing any opinion different from their own.   Their opposition to freedom of speech shows that they are the fascists!

Note the following headline from the liberal-fascist New York Times: “Antifa grows as left wing faction set to literally fight the far right.” (8/17)   Just as you will never see a conservative editorial in the NYT, their readers will not allow conservative opinions to be expressed by anybody anywhere.

SKYFALL

Sky News in the UK is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News in the US.   Sky has just decided not to relay segments from Fox, described variously as “right wing” and “extreme.”

Does anybody ever describe CNN as “left wing” and “extreme?”  It most assuredly is!

Reminds me of Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

DEATH OF AN OLD FRIEND

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Keith Keogh was a friend of mine.   He died in November, aged 80.

Keith was a member of the church my wife and I attended when we first got married.   At the time, we lived in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).   Keith’s farm was in the middle of nowhere, in a place called Tjolotjo, in Matabeleland.   If I remember correctly, Keith had 9,000 hectares, over 22,000 acres.   His farm was about 60 miles one side of Bulawayo, while we lived 30 miles in the opposite direction.   We met with others for a monthly church Bible Study in Bulawayo, the country’s second biggest city.

I went out to his farm on one occasion to join a small group of people hunting on his land.    I wasn’t too successful but I have one lasting memory of that day.   Keith’s employees had just killed an elephant. Elephants were royal game, protected by law.   Farm hands could only kill one if it was a “rogue elephant” – in other words, if it was destroying crops or homes or killing people.   This was one that had been a problem for some time.

I remember watching them cut up the elephant after it was killed.   The meat from the huge animal would keep them all fed for some time.   They even cut open the stomach and turned its contents into some sort of stew.   The elephant’s feet were to be sold to make tables for foreign tourists, the tusks for ivory artifacts.   It’s hide likely ended up making purses and briefcases.   When we left Rhodesia in May 1978 for Ghana, the local church presented me with an elephant skin briefcase, an item I still have as a memento of the country and the Salisbury church (we lived in the capital for over a year after moving from the Bulawayo area).

At the time we visited Keith’s farm, the country was in the midst of a civil war and Tjolotjo was in the thick of it.   In fact, Ian Fyffe, who had taught me my job in Essexvale where I worked for the District Commissioner, was transferred there after I took over his job in Umzingwane.   Ian was younger than me. He was attacked by terrorists and seriously injured.   After two months in the hospital, he was back at work, only to be killed some time later by terrorists. His wife Linda remarried a farmer who, in turn, was also murdered by terrorists.

At about the same time, Keith gave refuge to a couple we remember well and loved dearly – Martin and Cobi Visser.   The Vissers had left Holland after World War II to farm in Africa.  They were dairy farmers.  We often visited them and loved the raw milk they gave us on each visit.   I’ve forgotten why, but they lost their farm and were then invited to live and work on Keith’s farm.   Mrs. Visser looked after the farm store, which sold food and other essential items to the workers there.   On one occasion the farm was raided by terrorists and Cobi, together with Keith’s wife Winnie, scared them off with a loud car horn.

After seven years, the war ended in December 1979.   The whites, under incredible pressure from liberals and socialists in the US, UK and South Africa, lost and saw their country become Zimbabwe.   As the last white leader, Ian Smith, had predicted, Zimbabwe would have “one man, one vote,” meaning that the new leader Robert Mugabe had the only vote that mattered.   Theoretically, there’s universal suffrage, but President Mugabe has had dictatorial power for 37 years.

One of the worst things he did was expel the white farmers.   Keith lost his farm with no compensation in 2002.   He left everything behind him and moved to Botswana, a neighboring country with better race relations and better government.   I lost touch with him at about this time, but I have learned since that he was very successful there in helping local people to improve their farms and build for the future.

A few years ago, we returned to Zimbabwe and visited Essexvale, where we went to see the farm of a friend, Colin Martin, who had lived there.   He fled the country with his wife and dogs and nothing else about the same time Keith left.   A brief visit to his farm was heart-breaking – it lay in ruins.   It was not being used to produce food.   Africans are subsistence farmers, not commercial farmers like Keith and Colin.

Keith, Colin and others like them are part of central Africa’s story. They helped make Rhodesia the breadbasket of Africa and gave it the second most developed economy on the continent.   Since independence, the country they loved has become the basket-case of Africa.

The white liberals in the West who helped destroy the country are now silent.   Zimbabwe has created thousands of jobs for western aid agencies who try to feed the people with hand-outs. In hindsight, it would have been better to keep the white farmers and ensure there would be enough food for everybody.   Neighboring countries, like Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia have taken in some of the farmers, who have boosted food production in their countries.

Instead of forking out endless aid to help peoples in Africa, it would be better to send in just one highly productive white farmer.   Given 99-year leases, as in Zambia, they can make the land very productive.

Sadly, South Africa seems likely to follow Zimbabwe.   Militant voices are calling for the confiscation of white-owned farms.   A friend of mine related to me on Friday how his cousin and wife were murdered on their farm by African militants, members of the governing ANC’s “youth wing.”   Julius Melema, their leader, is one voice wanting all the land seized.   South Africa’s commercial farmers have helped feed Zimbabweans and others; if the farmers lose their land, where will the food come from?

It was the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone, who first opened up the interior of Africa in his zeal to end the slave trade on the continent and to bring light into darkness, preaching the gospel to people who had never heard it.   Muslims were raiding central Africa and taking slaves back to the Middle East.

Others from Britain went out to central Africa and farmed.   They did not steal the land as is popularly believed today – the land they farmed was mostly un-used.   They saw themselves as bringing civilization into the area.   Some believed they were fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the modern descendants of Israel being a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3); the colonies they settled were forming the “multitude of nations” promised in Genesis 48:19. The Victorians had a mission to save the Africans from ignorance, poverty and slavery.

Sadly, the end of the British Empire in Africa has seen slavery returning in every single country in Africa.  It is estimated there are more slaves today than there ever were at the height of the 18th century slave trade.   This is a direct consequence of today’s white liberals who succeeded in destroying the empire.

This can also be said about Africa’s food problems.   Again, it’s western liberals who have set back African food production.

Keith Keogh was one of the men who helped boost food production on the continent during the colonial era.   Right up until he died, he remained dedicated to helping improve farms and the lives of farmers.

It’s time to honor the work of men like Keith and to speak out about the African leaders who have done so much harm to the continent.

Footnote:   African countries are planning a mass exodus from the International Criminal Court (ICC).   They claim bias by the court, which has highlighted atrocities committed by African leaders, including genocide perpetrated by some presidents against tribes other than their own.  Rather than risk prosecution by an international court, they are withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the court.  This decision is not unexpected – South Africa, Burundi and the Gambia withdrew last year.

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AMERICA FIRST – PHONE CALL TO AUSTRALIA

I was saddened and troubled this morning upon hearing the news that the new American President, Donald Trump, yelled at the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, during a phone call that reportedly lasted 25 minutes.   The US president apparently was so angry he slammed the phone down, cutting off the prime minister.  The PM has since denied this.

The issue they were discussing was an agreement between the Obama Administration and the Australian government, whereby the US promised to take in 1,250 Muslim migrants that Australia did not want to accept.

The real problem here is the migrants themselves.   This situation has been going on for years and has led to extreme violence by Muslim immigrants in both the US and Australia.   Why is it governments still have not come up with a solution?

Why is it that thousands of migrants cross dozens of countries to get to Australia, the US, Canada and the nations of Western Europe when they could quite easily go to a neighboring Muslim country?

Just as disturbing is the question: why did President Trump get so angry with a vital American ally?   Australia has done a great deal to help the United States in recent decades, in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It works both ways – the US is pledged to defend Australia in times of war. But Australia has fought in American wars that were not in their own interests.

Additionally, the US has a large trade imbalance with Australia, to America’s advantage.   Aussies buy far more American products than the other way round.   (I do my bit to buy goods from Australia, but one can only eat so many Tim Tams!)   Australians are already disappointed at the US backing out of the TPP.

Hopefully, the president will learn quickly who America’s friends are, friends who themselves have often put “America First.”

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IS AMERICA UNRAVELLING?

Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and regular CBS contributor, expressed grave concern this morning following the riot at the University of Southern California, Berkeley.  The riot was intended to stop a conservative speaker who had been invited to speak on the campus.  As so often happens nowadays, whenever a conservative is asked to speak, a “rent-a-mob” turns up to stop them.  Whether or not these were all university students is a matter of speculation.  But what’s going on threatens the historic freedom of speech that has been a hall-mark of American democracy going right back to colonial times.

Mr. Luntz said he feels the country is unraveling, adding that “we have 1968 all over again.”   Prior to the latest election, 1968 witnessed the most tumultuous election in recent times, with riots and assassinations against a backdrop of war.

Mr. Luntz is correct when he notes that there is “nothing that binds Republicans and Democrats together” any more.

He also observed that Donald Trump is keeping his promises, that people had plenty of warning of what he intended to do in America.

AMERICA’S GROWING DIVISIONS

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On the same day as the Inaugural in Washington, The Gambia was in the midst of a major constitutional crisis.   Gambia is a slither of a country in west Africa.   Until the weekend, it was ruled by the same dictator for over twenty years.

A recent election gave victory to Mr. Adama Barrow, but President Yahya Jammeh refused to step down.

Neighboring countries in the region invaded to remove the former president and replace him with the new one.   Mr. Jammeh has now gone.

It’s different in America.   No coups or counter-coups were needed to remove President Obama.   Canadian and Mexican troops were not needed, either.

America has had smooth transfers of government for a very long time.   That is to America’s credit.

But some commentators, including some religious ones, are doing a disservice to the United States when they describe America as “unique” in this regard.   They also overlook an area of grave concern, deeply rooted in American history.

America’s peaceful changes of government are not unique.   England has had peaceful transfers of power since 1689, to name just one country.   Ed Morrow, CBS’s American wartime correspondent during World War II, marveled that, when faced with foreign invasion and possible extinction, the United Kingdom maintained a democratic system of government and people were free to criticize Winston Churchill.   He did not think America would fare so well when faced with similar threats.

It can truthfully be said that America is unique in one respect – it is the only presidential system in the world that always has peaceful transfers of power.   Others, like Gambia, have a bad history in this regard. It has taken over 50 years of independence for The Gambia to get a new elected Head of State – and the change was not peaceful.   Zimbabwe has had the same president for 38 years following its independence – there is no sign of change in the country, though people talk increasingly of “nature taking its course” – the president is well over 90 years of age.

So, credit to America.

But not so fast.

In 1860, the election was peaceful, but a few weeks later, fourteen southern states seceded from the Union.   Four years of civil war followed. 2% of the people were killed.

Go back even further, to 1775, and we see another civil war that claimed 6% of the people’s lives.   (The population was less then so the total number was less, but the impact was, arguably, greater.)   This war is known as the Revolutionary War or the American War of Independence.   It lasted seven years.

Both wars saw incredible divisions in America.   Both saw “brother against brother.”   Both were truly civil wars of the worst kind.   Is another civil war possible?   It is not out of the question.

Again, we are seeing great division in American society.   Roughly half the voters supported Donald Trump, while the other half supported Hillary Clinton.   The latter seem no more inclined to accept the result than voters in 1860.   That is not to say there will be another civil war, but there could be a great deal of civil unrest; and, eventually, another civil conflict, this time between conservatives and liberals, with race as a contributory factor.

Hundreds of thousands, some would say millions, of angry women were out on the streets of a number of cities, demonstrating over threats to women’s rights; an issue that did not even exist in 1860.   The term “women’s rights” is a euphemism for abortion, the murder of babies.   There was no support for abortion in 1860 – that’s a new phenomenon that is directly due to the nation’s gradual rejection of Christianity.   Over 60 million abortions have been performed since legalization in 1973 – those children, who would now be adults, have been replaced by over 60 million immigrants, some from countries that are hostile to the United States.   It really doesn’t make any sense.

Many of those immigrants are now with the demonstrators against the new Administration.   This adds an ethnic dimension that did not exist in the two previous civil wars.   Some of the most outspoken critics of the new administration in Washington are Muslims.   Liberals come quickly to their defense. I even heard one prominent liberal on CNN yesterday extolling the virtue of an Islamic female leader who “is pro-gray, pro-LGBT.”   Do they really believe that?  The gay lifestyle is totally at variance with Islam.   Gays have no civil rights in any Muslim country.

These divisions in America, primarily over abortion (sorry, women’s rights) and race, will continue to worsen during the Trump presidency.   They have already resulted in some violence.   In time, they could explode into greater conflict.

Americans can pride themselves on being part of a presidential republic that has seen many peaceful changes of government, but America is not unique where peaceful change is concerned.   The challenge now is to make sure peaceful transfers of power continue. This is not likely to happen in a period of increasing diversity. Tribalism was a big factor in Gambia’s electoral disaster – tribalism is now a growing threat in America.

Diversity is just another word for “tribalism.”

We should not become complacent.   Jesus Christ warned that:  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  (Matthew 12:25).

 

 

 

 

 

 

IS DONALD TRUMP A FASCIST?

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I would be amused if it wasn’t so serious.

The venerable (!) New York Times carried a front-page news story on Sunday that had “Trump” and “fascism” in the title.

Fascism is defined as follows:  an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.

Donald Trump has many faults, but he can hardly be called a “fascist.”

Fascist countries in World War II included Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia and Japan, all of which invaded other countries or practiced genocide, or both.   I can’t see that happening under Mr. Trump.

The US constitution has been in effect for over 200 years.  Except for a major hiccup known as the Civil War, it’s worked quite well.   The checks and balances in place have been quite effective.   It will be hard for a President Trump (or a second Clinton) to rule in an authoritarian manner, no matter how authoritarian the candidate might sound now.

The NYT should be careful what it writes (that would require a change in editorial policy in itself!) and not be frightening people.

Other media outlets in the last few days have chosen to use words like “Trump” and “violence” in the same sentence, when covering Trump rallies.   But, please note, the violence is caused by those opposed to Trump.   TV coverage shows most have been immigrants who fear he will send them all back to their country of origin.

Instead of throwing gasoline onto the fire, why can’t our TV news programs and the New York Times, show where the Republican presidential candidate is wrong.   They could actually do this in an intelligent debate.   Admittedly, less people would be inclined to watch, so ratings would suffer, which is what it’s all about.

But Mr. Trump needs to be pinned down on foreign policy, especially. His understanding of international relations could result in the US losing its allies, in which case the President of the United States would no longer be “the Leader of the Free World.”   His proposals on trade could actually make things a lot worse.   A history lesson on the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Act would be a good place to start.

There are some good reasons not to vote for Donald Trump; just as there are good reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton.   The moniker (no pun intended):   “crooked Hillary” is not without merit.    Check out the book “Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer:   “The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” (2015).

Neither candidate would have made it under a parliamentary system.

If there are good reasons not to vote for either Trump or Hillary, then perhaps it’s time not to vote at all!

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Alex Haley’s novel “Roots” was turned into a highly successful 1977 TV mini-series.   A new version is showing on The History Channel this week.

The original series did not improve race relations.

Supposedly, Haley traced his ancestry back to The Gambia.

Some years later, research by a historian proved that Haley could not have done that.   In fact, his book was not a novel based on fact, but, simply, just a novel.   Of course, when this was revealed it was on page 17 of the New York Times!

So far, we have not been told that the new series is also fiction and that Haley could not trace his genealogy back very far.

Whether it only makes racial tensions worse remains to be seen.

The slavery depicted in “Roots” was horrible.   So is the slavery of today.   According to UNESCO a few years ago, slavery is now back in every single African nation.   When will one of our television companies make a series on that?

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Race relations are set to deteriorate further in South Africa after the country’s parliament passed a Land Reform bill that will enable the president to effectively confiscate white-owned farmland to promote equality.

“South Africa has passed a bill criticized by some opposition parties and farming groups that allows the compulsory purchase of land in the public interest.

The bill, approved by parliament on Thursday, will enable the state to pay for land at a value determined by a government adjudicator and then expropriate it for the “public interest,” ending the willing-buyer/willing-seller approach to land reform.”  (Al-Jazeera, 27th May.)

This may seem progressive in western countries, but it’s actually a big regressive step backwards.

White South African farmers have been highly productive commercial farmers.   That is, they farm on a massive scale.   Black African farmers, by contrast, are subsistence farmers.   They just grow enough for their own families.   It’s a cultural difference.

When President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe confiscated white farmland almost twenty years ago, food production in the country plummeted and the nation’s economy was shattered.   Within a few years, the country was bankrupt and its money worthless.

It will take a while for South Africa to reach that point, but it will come.

The difference between Zimbabwe and South Africa is that the former was helped by South Africa’s agricultural produce during its man-made famine.   South Africa has no such neighbor.   Its people will starve.

“EMPIRE DAY” – A GREAT LOSS FOR THE WORLD

Empite flags

I meant to post this article on Tuesday the 24th but it was delayed by the arrival of our latest grandson, Hayden Hilario Rhodes Garza.  The baby was due to arrive June 9th.   Mother, father, brothers, and new little son are all doing well.   The grandparents are delighted.

Yesterday, May 24th, was Empire Day.

It’s no longer observed because there is no empire.

But, at one time, not so long ago, it was celebrated by people in more than a quarter of the world’s countries.

Seventy years ago, on June 8th, 1946, the British Empire celebrated one of its greatest moments, the victory one year before over fascism and Japanese imperialism.   Troops from all over the world were in London for a victory parade.   It was to be the Empire’s victory swan song.   As with other empires before it, it was broke after fighting two global conflicts, militarily over-extended and tired. We see a similar scenario today with the United States.

Empire Day began in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1901, the same year Queen Victoria died.  It was started by a local headmistress, Mrs. Clementine Fessenden, who wanted the children in her school to remember the deceased monarch and give thanks for all the achievements of the Empire during her reign.   They also chose Queen Victoria’s birthday, May 24th, to celebrate it.  One of those achievements was Canada’s independence in 1867.   Queen Victoria herself chose Ottawa as the nation’s capital.

In recent decades I’ve been able to visit many of Britain’s former colonies and lived in two of them.  I’ve always made it a point to ask older people how things compare now to the way they were prior to independence.   Without exception, everybody has replied that things were better under British rule.   They give different reasons. The lack of corruption in colonial times often comes up as many today are living in very corrupt societies.

I remember, almost forty years ago, listening to an elderly man in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) lecturing myself and my colleague on how the British Empire was the prophesied Kingdom of God.  It wasn’t, of course.  It was not perfect.   But many believed, including some in Rhodesia, that it was the fulfillment of biblical prophecies about Ephraim becoming “a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48: 19).   According to one historical account, this was widely believed in the trenches of World War One.   Ironically, it was that conflict that shattered faith in Empire.

Internationally, the end of the empire has left an incredible vacuum. Note the following prophetic paragraph written by America’s pre-eminent historian of the 1930’s, James Truslow Adams.   This paragraph concluded his history of “The British Empire 1784-1939.” It’s particularly interesting because it was written in the year that the British Empire went to war against Nazi Germany, while the United States remained neutral. Mr. Adams showed Americans what was at stake.

“In this world crisis, we in America have a great stake.  We know that stability is impossible without respect for law and order, for the honesty of the written and spoken word.   Without liberty of thought, speech and press, progress is impossible.   What these things mean to the world of today and tomorrow has been amply demonstrated by the negation of them in certain great nations during the past few years.  Different peoples may have different ideals of government but to those who have been accustomed to freedom of person and of spirit, the possible overthrow of the British Empire would be a catastrophe scarcely thinkable.   Not only would it leave a vacuum over a quarter of the globe into which all the wild winds of anarchy, despotism and spiritual oppression could rush, but the strongest bulwark outside ourselves for our own safety and freedom would have been destroyed.” (page 358)

This is exactly what has happened.   This paragraph helps us understand the world we have been living in.   During the last seventy years, as the Empire fell apart, we have witnessed a world of endless upheaval and increasing threats to our own freedom and security.

Two regions in particular were kept in relative peace by British rule.   The Middle East was one; the North-West frontier of the Indian Empire, the Raj, was the other.   Today, these are areas where the peace of the world is constantly threatened.

Queen Victoria’s passing was a great loss for the Empire; but the collapse of the Empire itself has been a disaster every bit as great as the fall of Rome.

OBAMA’S AFRICAN VISIT

Barack-Obama-Kenya

Only an African-American president could say it and get away with it!

President Obama on his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia was able to pointedly criticize African leaders for their corruption, human rights abuses, abuse of power and unwillingness to ever relinquish office.

Nobody could accuse him of racism.

Mr. Obama said things that have long needed to be said.

In contrast to his speeches on the Middle East, which are always filled with controversy and generally seem to make things worse, his speeches in Nairobi and Addis Ababa could only upset Africa’s corrupt leaders.   Ethiopian primary school teacher, Hikma Lemma had just one regret:  “He took too long to come.”   (“In Ethiopia, a cry for basic freedoms,” USA Today, July 28th.)

Things will not change quickly.  Indeed, they may not change at all, but it was still good to hear the president address these basic issues.

“Ethiopia jails the most journalists in Africa after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.   Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the country’s human rights record.   And in May, the State Department expressed concern over how the elections that month could result in all seats being won by the ruling party and its partners.   The department noted lingering ‘restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.” (ibid, USA Today).

At the start of his African trip, Mr. Obama spoke candidly to Kenyans, warning them against the twin evils of corruption and tribalism.  He could have addressed both issues in any of Africa’s 54 countries and his listeners would generally have applauded him. Only the leaders would have sat stone-faced and emotionless, probably wishing they had invited the Chinese leader to visit instead of the American president.   China, much more involved in Africa, does not comment on human rights abuses or corruption.

Boldly, Mr. Obama even addressed the persecution of gays in Africa. Most African governments deny that homosexuality even exists in their countries.   Certainly, all governments are guilty of a double standard in this regard.   At least one country has a prominently displayed sign in its airport warning “perverts and sexual deviants” to stay away, but saying nothing about the many prostitutes offering themselves in all the hotels.

In Addis Ababa, Mr. Obama addressed delegates of the African Union, whose headquarters are in Addis Ababa.   Introducing him was the Chairwoman of the AU, who did not always tell the truth. She criticized the United Nations because Africa is the only continent that does not have a permanent representative on the Security Council.   In actual fact, neither South America nor Australia are represented, either.

The US president expressed incredulity that any president would want to serve indefinitely.  He said he is looking forward to retirement and being able to go places without a massive security detail.  He said it was particularly difficult to understand when so many African presidents have so much money, another reference to corruption, enabling leaders to amass great wealth while their people go hungry.   Unwillingness to leave office is also linked to corruption – African presidents fear being investigated for corruption when they stand down.

Underscoring his points was the absence of the current AU Chairman Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, one of the richest men on earth.   Mr. Mugabe has been president of his country since independence in 1980, presiding over a number of rigged elections.

Mr. Obama mentioned, too, that Americans don’t want to keep on sending Africa free food, but would rather teach Africans how to farm more efficiently.   He could have added that the continent would do well to encourage western (white) farmers to remain in Africa, as their farming skills produce greater crop yields.   Zimbabwe was once the grain basket of Africa – it’s people now go hungry because Mr. Mugabe evicted the white farmers.

Western reporters were also guilty of not telling the whole truth. Much was said during coverage of the African visit about what America is doing for Africa, with some focus on a program to help those with AIDS, a disease that, in Africa, is transmitted almost exclusively by heterosexuals.   Not once did I hear mention of the fact that the program was the initiative of George W. Bush, Mr. Obama’s predecessor.   With this one single program, he did more for Africa than any other president.

It would be nice to think that, with this one single visit to Africa, President Obama might accomplish something else on a grand scale – the end of corruption, together with real progress toward greater democracy.   The two together would boost the living standards of the entire continent.

It remains to be seen whether his visit will make a difference.   But his candid comments were certainly a good start!