Archives For America

I largely agree with Ben Shapiro’s consistent criticism of Donald Trump’s ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants’ approach to foreign policy. Trump appears to ride roughshod, giving the impression of impulsiveness, or worse that he hasn’t considered the law of unintended consequences. However, a lot of recent criticism coming from both sides of politics, concerning the Trump administration’s decision to “withdraw” U.S Troops from Syria, ignore the plight of refugees, and push aside the fact that Turkey is still an official ally of the United States. As signatories of NATO they are strategic partners.

The recent advance of the Turks into northern Syria wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. The Turkish plan, as outlined by Carlotta Gall from the New York Times in September, is twofold. First, to create a buffer zone between Turkey and the Kurds, second, to repatriate over one million Syrian Refugees, currently in Turkey. The goal being to relocate some of the 3.6 million refugees Turkey has given refuge to, by moving them back into ‘Syrian territory controlled by the United States and its Kurdish allies.’

While it would be fair to ask whether Turkish regime leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was using refugees as an excuse to attack and suppress the Kurds, the question ignores the current needs of Syrian refugees, and it pushes aside the question about who is going to take responsibility for over 10,000 ISIS prisoners.

In addition, Gall reported that not everyone involved in Syria is on board with the plan. This didn’t stop Erdogan, who appeared to give an ultimatum in response. Either give Turkey access to the area, or ‘he would “open the gates” for large numbers of refugees to head into Europe as they did in 2015.’

Though Trump’s approach to foreign policy appears impulsive, the U.S. “withdrawal from Northern Syria” isn’t an absolute fiat accompli. Trump’s decision is better described as a strategic repositioning, rather than a withdrawal of U.S Forces. As James Laporta of Newsweek clarified, ‘current rules of engagement for U.S. forces continue to be centered around self-defense and that no order has been issued by the Pentagon for a complete withdraw from Syria.’

Claims about a withdrawal come from the decision to reposition 50-100 special operations forces. This was done, according to Military Times, ahead of the Turkish operation in order to ‘protect U.S. troops and keep them out of the crossfire.’

It’s also worth acknowledging that this strategic repositioning didn’t come without a warning to Turkey’s leaders.  Trump has made it clear that he does not support the initiative and urged Turkish authorities to avoid triggering another humanitarian crisis in the region. To back this up the United States ceased sharing of tactical reconnaissance information with Turkey, to prevent them using their strategic partnership with the United States to pad advantage in any military operation, to make way for the relocation and resettlement of Syrian refugees back into Syria.

Trump’s warning also takes into consideration an obligation for Turkey not to renege on an agreement to take responsibility for the 11,000 ISIS fighters being held across the region. The onus of responsibility for preventing any reemergence of ISIS in the area is now solely on Turkey.

The strategic partnership between Europe, Turkey and the United States, means that NATO has political clout from which they can use to hold Turkey accountable, if the regime decides to decimate the Kurdish people or further attempt to wipe the Assyrian Christians. It would seem, by Trump’s remarks on his personal Twitter account, (ignoring the ridiculous ‘great and unmatched wisdom’ part), that he is banking on that connection to keep the Kurds and Assyrian Christians in the area safe.

What may seem to be a foolish move by the United States may, in time, prove to be a smart one. This isn’t about American isolationism. The long standing mutual obligation America has to its Turkish allies through NATO, alongside the question about what to do with ISIS prisoners, and Syrian refugees, all provide legitimate reasons for the United States to redefine its relationship with the Middle East, and with Turkey in particular.

Add to this reasoning the peripheral activity of far-left foreign fighters training with the Kurds, such as the self-described Antifa platoon, mixed in with the domestic headache, and potential domestic threat this poses to the internal stability of the United States, the rationale for Trump’s decision becomes clearer. Given the actions of Antifa, a far-left organization, over the past three years, surely insurgent combat training and combat experience is a recipe for disaster.

To sum up, America and Turkey are allies. Turkey is part of NATO. The United States is bound by that partnership, and has a responsibility to hold to it.

This also means that America is not left alone in holding Turkey accountable – it would be a United Nations effort, lead by all of NATO’s partners. As witnessed by NATO chief, Jens Stoltenber’s recent call for restraint.

Regardless of how we may feel as spectators, we aren’t privy to the kinds of sensitive information American Presidents have access to. The role back of a U.S military presence in Syria is a surgical response to a complex situation.  On one hand there is the possibility of the withdrawal having the same vacuous affect that Barrack Obama’s abysmal decision to withdraw completely from Iraq did, ripping apart a healing wound, only to see that wound fester into what would become the infectious abomination that is Islamic State (ISIS). If this eventuates, the decision could prove to be an avoidable disaster, not only for the Trump administration, but for NATO.

On the other hand, Trump’s decision could deescalate tensions, shining a spotlight on Turkey, making it hard for them avoid finding a diplomatic way to reach a settlement or agreement with their own partners in the region, that will include protections for the Kurds and Assyrian Christians. If this eventuates, the decision was humanitarian.

Either way, it’s likely to be the case that Trump is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Donald Trump’s head, since Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 election, has been marked for the guillotine by the far-left. Any preventable loss of American life would have been on his hands, as would the escalation of U.S involvement through any military action to stop Turkey.

The same goes for Trump taking the more peaceable road. It’s a decision that could open the door for the potential slaughter of Kurds and further elimination of Assyrian Christians by the Turkish regime.

Despite this, the repositioning of U.S troops was a hard, but an important call.

There’s a difference between being dominate and domineering. To be dominant is to have influence and power. To be domineering is to force that influence and power over others in an arrogant way. America is a dominate force, Trumps knows this. His decision also suggests that he’s keen to see America not follow mistakes of the past by abusing that power and influence. This arrogance of power, as noted by Democrat senator, William J. Fullbright in 1966, has been the domineering historical flaw in American foreign policy.

The rejection of this arrogance of power sends a message to the world. One which says that the Trump administration are not what their enemies claim, and one that asserts Donald Trump’s ability to make unpopular decisions, if he has good reasons for doing so.

The U.S is caught between themselves and two Allies. On one side they have to hold to their mutual obligations under the NATO treaty. On the other side, they have an obligation to honour the effort of the Kurds in helping defeat ISIS. The United States also has an obligation to its own people. A large part of this is seeing to it that they don’t commit the mistakes of the past. This is a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. The best move in this scenario is a reluctant, cautious repositioning, because idleness is the devil’s playground.


First published on Caldron Pool, 11th October, 2019.

Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Nike’s decision to pull a special edition of Air Max shoes featuring the ‘Betsy Ross’ Flag, used by Revolutionaries, during the 1776, American war of Independence, is shallow and proves that social justice warriors are hypocrites.

Reasons for the recall vary. The BBC reported, that Nike recalled the shoes because of ‘complaints about the use of an old US flag embraced by white nationalists’. The BBC righty pointed out, that American Nazi sympathizers (German American Bund) used the flag during the 1930’s. However, the Bund also used the Stars and Stripes. Leaving unanswered the question of how and why this makes the 1776, ‘Betsy Ross’ flag a symbol of racism.

The Nazis used the eagle, the slogan ‘Gott mit uns’ (God is with us), drank water, drove cars, flew planes, used electricity and had their own cinema. Context matters. Just because the Nazis drank water, doesn’t make drinking water racist. Borrowing the BBC’s logic in trying to justify the decision, we may as well say, water is racist. Get woke and boycott it.

The Wall Street Journal took a more direct approach, reporting that Nike’s decision was based on NFL star-turned-activist, ‘Colin Kaepernick, who told the company it shouldn’t sell a shoe with a symbol that he and others consider offensive.’

Not everyone is happy with Nike’s bizarre decision. As the Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti pointed out, the shoes were in the stores ready to go for the July 4th celebrations, leaving customers confused.

African-American Podcaster and ‘Grace to You’, theologian, Darrell Bernard Harrison took to Facebook, calling it a ‘dust up’. In a lengthy post Harrison criticized the hypocrisy saying

‘the Betsy Ross flag was openly displayed during both of Barack Obama’s inaugurations—both of them. But all of a sudden, that same flag is symbolic of systemic racism? See, this is why I don’t take black liberals seriously. The Betsy Ross flag was of no significance to them whatsoever when the White House was occupied by someone who looks like them. ’

Candace Owens and The Daily Wire also pushed back on both Nike and its supporters by reminding people that ‘a full month of LGBT celebrations MUST be recognized everywhere (even on your UberApp) – but even one day, or one pair of sneakers celebrating America is too much’

 

In response to the Nike recall, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (Rep) withdrew from an agreement with the company arguing that it,

“…has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism, it is a shameful retreat for the company. American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it.” (Ducey, Twitter)

Most major news outlets have widely publicized the fact that Nike was offered financial incentives that would see around 500 jobs created in the city of Goodyear.

500 potential jobs in Goodyear, Arizona, gone, not because of racism, but because of a guilty-by-association subjective rule, applied by Social Justice Warrior activists who fight racism, by viewing everything, and anyone, through a racist lens.

In this case the poor become spectators, sidelined. All while those who claim to fight on their behalf, squabble over a piece of material that is now considered offensive because it was “once seen being displayed by white nationalists”.

The loss of these jobs won’t affect Kaepernick. He enjoys a multi-million dollar deal with Nike. Add onto this, a share of a multi-million dollar settlement from ‘a lawsuit that alleged the league’s 32 owners had conspired to keep them out of football due to their role in leading player national anthem protests.’ (Fox Business, 2019)

Kaepernick, similar to that of Democratic-Socialist, Orcazio-Cortez’s opposition to Amazon setting up in New York, doesn’t seem all that interested in helping raise people out of poverty by providing them with employment opportunities. Just like the very thing they claim to be fighting against, they choose to use symbolism and gestures to rule the day.

There is no justice in this, and the hypocrisy couldn’t be any more blatant.

The recall of Air Max shoes featuring the ‘Betsy Ross’ Flag is a storm in a tea-cup. It’s either a master stroke of marketing genius to promote the product (which is now in high demand), or it’s further proof that virtue signalling elites are more interested in keeping their names in the paper, than putting their hand to the grindstone, where they can help others, help themselves.


References:

BBC, Nike loses factory aid as ‘racist trainer’ row intensifies, 3rd July, 2019.

Gage, J.  AOC blew Amazon out of New York in 2019 over Tax breaks but demanded  one for herself in 2012, The Washington Examiner, 16th April, 2019. Sourced, 3rd July, 2019.

Khadeeja Safdar and Andrew Beaton,  Nike Nixes ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker After Colin Kaepernick Intervenes,  WSJ. 1st July, 2019. Sourced 3rd July, 2019.

Barrabi, T. NFL Paid Kaepernick, Reid under $10M to settle collusion lawsuit: Report, Fox Business, 21st March, 2019. Sourced, 3rd July, 2019.

Prestigiacomo, A. Arizona Gov Makes Major Announcement After Nike Pulls American Flag Shoe At Colin Kaepernick’s Behest, Daily Wire, 2nd July, 2019. Sourced, 3rd July, 2019.

Zanotti, E. Nike Pulls American Flag Sneaker After Complaint From Colin Kaepernick, Daily Wire, 1st July, 2019. Sourced, 3rd July, 2019.

Originally posted on The Caldron Pool, 5th July, 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

One of the highlights of State of the Union Addresses, is the build-up and debriefing offered by commentators. Mainstream media “expert” panels have their place,  but in favour of a more conversational tone, I prefer to steer away from them. If you’re an Aussie, and are old enough to remember Channel Ten’s excellent, late night program, ‘The Panel’,  you’ll know exactly what I mean. One of the better American versions, is the gathering of Daily Wire front-men, and their, all-issues-on-the-board, round table.

Although a lot of what Donald Trump said throughout the blockbuster address, was worth a post on its own (particularly the last 45 minutes of his speech), the content of a four-minute discussion between Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan, during the Daily Wire’s post-SOTU discussion, also deserves highlighting.

Here’s why:

“You know it’s amazing; it just occurred to me when you watch that speech, you see all these Democrats and they’re constantly talking about check your privilege this, and check your privilege that; here’s the fact, everyone who is born today is privileged everyone who was born in the last 30, 40, 50 years in the United States these are the most privileged human being ever so check your privilege seriously check your damn privilege. Like all these women who are dancing there, “oh, look at us we finally overcame; [no], you didn’t overcome a damn thing. Your grandmother’s overcame something, your great grandmothers overcame something and that’s really what the speech was about”
“When Trump was saying, when he was paying homage, half the people he was paying homage to are people who are over the age of seventy, right? And he was saying you know our privilege is to be their grand-kids, our privilege is to be their kids. They’re the ones who did the heavy lifting. We’re just here picking up the leftovers and it’s our job to push it on to the next generation.”
“The one privilege that people will not recognise on the left is the privilege of having been born here and the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants. They act as though the earth began spinning the moment they arrived here, and that they’ve had to overcome such terrible burdens. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez has not had to overcome a burden. Neither have I by the way. With very rare exceptions there are some people who have had to overcome [terrible burdens].“ (Shapiro)

In the space of four minutes, Shapiro and company achieved, what large amounts of naval gazing commentators have failed to do from 2016 onward; and that is provide a succinct, proper explanation of what “Make America Great Again” actually stands for, and why its impact is important to understand.

 “…this is what the Left number understood about Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again. MAGA was never about this idea that America was ever at any point in the past to utopia it was about the idea that the people who inhabited America were infused with the idea of an American Dream that they were motivated by that idea and if you want to make America great again you have to get back to that idea that motivated people are grandparents to storm the shores of Normandy anybody in that chamber is storming the shores of Normandy, they’re bitterly storming the shores UC Berkeley.” (Shapiro)

Shapiro’s right. It’s wrong to say that MAGA is only the manifestation of old white men and their desperate, failing, attempt to hold onto a Utopian past. It’s just as wrong to say that MAGA is the product of a hidden pseudo-Nazi religion; as is pushed by some who’ve hijacked Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, amongst Leftist theologians; or Leftist politicians, and the small amount of delusional Neo-Nazis, who Leftists need in order to justify their own fascist tendencies (which include the widespread use of manipulation, reckless labelling and generalisations).

Despite what you’ve been told, or may think about Donald Trump, there’s no denying that the MAGA movement is multi-ethnic. Looking at MAGA through its multi-ethnic lens, shows that it was more than just an election slogan for Donald Trump, or the Republican Party. The multi-ethnicity of MAGA proves what many said from the start, often against a barrage of hatred, deliberate misinterpretation and false accusation: “Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion.

MAGA’s popularity, even amongst ethnic groups, can be explained by its line-in-the-sand message.  It’s about Americans. It’s about inheritance, faith and tradition.On a broader scale, it’s about taking a firm stand against the abuse of hard fought for freedoms, and the blurring of definitions; a firm stand against the surrender of Western Civilisation behind a veil of compassion, and the downgrade of both Judeo-Christianity and Classical Liberalism.

MAGA is the defiant stand of a free people, thrown into a culture war they didn’t ask for; a war that is being waged on the West from within, while opportunistic people, determined to make an enemy of the West circle overhead.

MAGA is a megaphone, not for racists, but for ordinary everyday people. It’s allowed, and allowing, an increasing majority, who are not aligned, or who were once aligned with Leftism, to break free from Leftist ideology, such as their obsession with victimisation and their mob mentality. Significant examples of people who are breaking free are the #walkaway and #Blexit movements.

It wasn’t just Trump’s 2016 election win that unveiled just how far the culture war had advanced. It was also the fact that Hilary Clinton lost. Clinton’s “shock” election loss, unmasked Leftism and it’s war against all who disagree on reasoned ground with them. Clinton’s election loss exposed the Leftist march against people who are on both the Left and the Right. That loss woke people up to the actual nature of Leftism, as it began charging at them, celebrity venom at the ready, Antifa flag flying, faces hidden and bayonets drawn.

The fact that things have been allowed to get so hostile, isn’t entirely the fault of the Leftist cult of modern liberalism or its cult members. The culture war has been, by and large, triggered by the long complacency and entitlement of many in the West. As Shapiro and company explain, while there is a unity in universal privilege, there’s an absence of unity in gratitude and awareness of that privilege. Gratitude and universal privilege are overlooked in the American psyche, (and I’ll add, most of the West).

Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan added weight to Shapiro’s grand-slam response to the State of the Union address stating:

“Yeah, this is the thing that makes this speech so jarring even for me in this culture but especially for people on the left is gratitude we have utterly lost gratitude, there’s nothing but pride, and entitlement that people feel, and so [Trump] goes and he says thank you. Thank you for what you guys who stormed the beaches of Normandy. Thank you for what you did; and it’s so that we’re just not used to saying thank you anymore.” (Knowles)
“I’ve never seen a major war. I’ve seen racism and I’ve seen it disappear; they disappear, it vanished, you know. It was gone and I think it’s not personal racism. That’s always there; with us, but institutional racism it’s just erased. You know I’ve seen all this stuff I’ve never had to fight I’ve never had to pick up a rifle I’ve never had to do any of those things and I’m so grateful, I’d be of jerk if I weren’t an optimist.” (Klavan)

Through this lens, MAGA, is about showing gratitude for freedom, opportunity and American privilege. It’s not an empty boast about American exceptionalism, a longing for some Utopian past, or some fanatical quixotic return to a doctrine of “manifest destiny.””

As Ronald Reagan, said in 1964,

The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honoured dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance. [This is] the meaning of “peace through strength.”[…] We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” [i]

MAGA is a renewed line-in-the-sand, drawn and backed by a people who refuse to surrender freedom in the name of what others call “progress”. Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion. It’s no longer just about Donald Trump. MAGA is a bulwark against Leftism, not just for Americans; not just for the Right, but for anyone in the West, who chooses to pick up both prayer and gratitude, knowing that we have what we have today, because we were not handed a gift to abuse, but a gift to preserve, and build responsibly upon.


References & Notes:

[i] Reagan, R. 1964 A Time For Choosing 

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

In August, Iranian refugee and former Muslim, Ramin Parsa was arrested for trespassing {*coughs* for breaking blasphemy laws}, while privately sharing his testimony about becoming a Christian, in a Mall of America, shopping centre in Minnesota.

Tyler O’Neil from PJ media reported that while Ramin, now a Christian Pastor living in Los Angeles, was sharing his testimony,

“Another woman who was not part of the conversation went and complained to the security. The guard came and said, ‘You can’t solicit here.’ He then told them “we were not soliciting”. He just said, ‘Bye,’ and walked away.” After Parsa, the pastor, and his son grabbed some coffee, “three guards were waiting for me and said, ‘You must leave now.’ I asked why. They said, ‘You’re soliciting.’ I said, ‘No, we are not.’ I was explaining to them that I’m from out of state, I’m here as a guest, I’m here to see the mall.”
“That’s when they grabbed my coffee, handcuffed me, and took me to the underground mall gaol,” he recalled. “They patted me down, handcuffed me to a metal chair that was bolted to the ground. They refused to give me water, refused to let me go to the restroom except right before the police came. When I was taken to gaol after 3 hours. I was hungry and thirsty.”

In a video aired on Facebook, Ramin Parsa gave a detailed response about his encounter, talking about the dangers of creeping shari’a law, how Christians should be aware of Shari’a creep and how necessary it is to become pro-active in answering it. Parsa also mentioned his support for Donald Trump’s travel ban on Somalia, saying “Imagine if these people [Somalian Islamists] get into power [in the United States]. They don’t respect the constitution and the bill of rights, and American values. They come here to oppress. So…now I understand why there’s a [travel] ban on Somalia, which is a good thing….I believe that true refugees are Christians and other minorities in Muslim countries living under Islamic Shari’a Law.”

According to Parsa’s website, he was ‘raised in Iran, in a Shiite Muslim family. He lived under Islamic Law and was taught to practice strict religious traditions. After his father died, Parsa began to question Islam and the existence of God.

He heard about the gospel, disagreed with it, but became curious. Parsa gave himself to God, asking to be shown the way forward and came to Jesus Christ as a result. He was later arrested for handing out bibles. Then stabbed, causing him to move from Iran to Turkey.’ He came to America for Bible College and now works as Pastor of Redemptive Love Ministries International.

PJ Media also reported that Ramin Parsa’s pre-trial is for December 11th, where, while hopeful for an acquittal, “if prosecutors don’t drop the charges, his case will go to trial.”


Originally published at www.caldronpool.com 4th December 2018 under the same title.

Wiel 18th October 2018In 1944, C.S Lewis wrote:

‘The demand for equality has two sources; First, the noble: the desire for fair play. Second, the mean-spirited: the hatred of superiority. If you seek to appease envy: 1. you will not succeed. Envy is insatiable. 2. you are trying to introduce equality where equality is fatal.
Political democracy is doomed if it tries to extend its demand for equality into the higher spheres of beauty, virtue and truth. Neither of which are democratic. Ethical, intellectual or aesthetic democracy is death.’
(C.S. Lewis, 1944. Democratic Education) [i]

Lewis’ position can be read as a push back against extreme egalitarianism and the quagmire of sameness. The late American political philosopher, Jean Bethke Elshtain, also brilliantly hummed her own critical tune in relation to this issue.

Writing under the heading, ‘Multiculturalism and Democratic Education’ Elshtain stated:

‘Teacherly malfeasance occurs in instances of unreflective, dogmatic politicisation […] This sort of education fails in its particular and important task of preparing us for a world of ambiguity and variety. It equips us only for resentment or malicious naivete [ii]

Lewis and Elshtain come at this argument from different angles. Both add to an argument for the re-balancing of popular ideologies birthed in the 1960’s, and the new societal norms which come from them.

As Elshtain posits, “I wonder if democracy can survive what it has to, by definition allow? Such as, the desires a mob majority,  which works against the democratic voice of the people. Democratic freedom must have a framework of responsible limitations, for example, a just constitution, in order for democratic freedom to exist.

The area where this applies most is forced compliance with ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’ (Elshtain)(E.g.: forced compliance to the failing and flawed ideology of multiculturalism and new definitions of tolerance).

Instead of preserving the vibrancy of a cohesive multi-ethnic society, under one meta-culture, multiculturalism morphs a once united multi-ethnic society, into a multi-nationalist society. This threatens the national sovereignty and stability of that multi-ethnic society, because it breaks with a shared history, agreed upon ideals, civility and common values. It creates foreign enclaves or beachheads, such as “no go zones“.

This is the direct result of tolerance introducing ‘equality where equality is fatal’ (Lewis). The ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’s’ reign of terror.

Disguised as part of the new educational standard, guided by a good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’.  The new definition of tolerance and compliance poses as the only academic essential. Acceptance and legitimacy are only validated by an absolute alignment with approved ideologies. In turn, a form of emotional blackmail follows. The academy is paralysed because the academic focus is reduced to how best education can be forced to fit within the new educational standard of the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Democratic education is reduced to compliance. Academic standards are lowered, while teachers are forced to obsess over appeasing the feelings and fickle sentiments of society.
In not being willing to responsibly discuss differences, for fear of offence or ridicule, democracy wanes.

This narrowing forces everyone into the same box: a secular version of “convert, pay a tax or die.” From here academic indifference and complacency replaces the energy of academic rigour. Genuine progress, and the conservation of hard fought for healthy traditions, are held back by the demand for total compliance to the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Along with a cohesive multi-ethnic society, democratic debate and its ability to preserve the beauty of unity-in-diversity, dies. Political democracy, as C.S Lewis pointed out, is ‘doomed if it tries to expand its demand for equality into beauty, virtue and truth [none of which are determined by democratic vote].’

Society and politics, placed under this good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’, sets people on a trajectory towards tribalism and slavery. People are then forced to stick to their “own kind”: Whites with whites; men with men; women with women; black with black; indigenous Australian with indigenous Australian; Left with Left, Right with Right.

Differences are considered irreconcilable. People are divorced from one an another. Strangers become enemies, and friends become strangers. Thus we come to the  inevitable rejection of differences and the quagmire of sameness.

As Elshtain predicted, this flags a new segregation:

‘As a form of ideological teaching, multicultural absolutism isolates us in our own skins and equates culture with racial or ethnic identity. [In America], the new multiculturalism promotes commensurability: If I am white and you are black, we cannot, in principle, speak to or understand each other. You just won’t “get it […]. Some critics wonder how long it will take to move from separate approaches for African-American children in the name of Afro-centricity, for example, to a quest for separate schools.[iii]’

Extreme egalitarianism is a quagmire of sameness. We arrive at the quagmire of sameness because of envy and (as C.S. Lewis so brilliantly put it) its hatred of superiority.

The quest for equality ends up creating new forms of inequality. Anyone with opposing views or unique abilities is silenced, condemned and shipped off to camps, under the guise of “re-education” or “resettlement.” This is all done “for the good of the collective”.

This is evident in Australian society. Where very early on children are taught to tow the good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Over achievers are called “try-hards.” They’re deemed a threat to the collective and are consequently castigated for it. Rather than celebrate the competency and talent of a person, the majority maliciously turn against them. “Try hard”, an otherwise encouraging term, is used as a shaming control technique. Uniqueness is squashed into the box of sameness, under the name of equality.

For both Lewis and Elshtain, extreme egalitarianism is a ‘phony equality.[v]’ It perpetuates that which it says it opposes. This phony equality levels whatever it subjectively sees as uneven ground. The same could be said about the new definitions of tolerance.

Those who want to walk away from the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’ won’t find it easy.

They will face the same hostile reaction, French philosopher, Albert Camus faced, when he ‘was virtually excommunicated from the French Left by Sartre, and his comrades, because he expressed a strong disapproval of the passion for unity that saw any opposition as treason.’[iv]

In not being able to celebrate unity in diversity or find and maintain common ground, democracy fails. The cohesive elements of a vibrant multi-ethnic Western society are then consigned to the prison of a good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’. If left unanswered, Western society will descend into the terror of fascist rule, the shared poverty of communism or the destructive anarchist vacuum of pagan tribalisation.
________________________________________

References:

[i] Lewis, C. 1944, Democratic Education In Walmsley, L. (Ed.) 2000 C.S Lewis Essay Collection Harper Collins p.190

[ii] Elshtain, J.B. 1995 Democracy on Trial Basic Books, Perseus Books Group p.83

[iii] Ibid, p.79

[iv] Ibid, p.120

[v] Ibid, p.74

Originally published 5th January, 2016 & on The Caldron Pool, 2nd November, 2018 under the headline: ‘Multiculturalism has failed: Identity politics sets people on a trajectory towards tribalism and slavery.’

Photo credit: rawpixel at unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018

 

Kagawa_Columbia Univertisty Library Union Theological SeminarySomething not often heard about is Japanese opposition to war, both during and before World War Two.

I was introduced to Toyohiko Kagawa, a Christian Pastor, poet and theologian, during my study as an undergrad.

Being born in an era still very sensitive to war crimes committed by the Japanese Imperial Forces during the war, it intrigued me enough to learn a little more about him.

Kagawa’s faith and work reached into pacifism, economics and international affairs. He was born in 1888 and became an orphan before he was four. Kagawa was raised a Buddhist, yet gave his life to Jesus Christ at the age of fifteen.

He lived his theology. Becoming known for the ‘conviction that Christian witness must include social service to meet the material needs of people…His desire to express Christ through social concern was first articulated when he moved into Kobe’s Shinkawa slum in 1909 to live among the poor[i]

In ‘Letters from Kagawa to America’ it clearly shows his belief in the compatibility of the Church with fair economic management:

‘As you know I am much interested in the organization of co-operative societies, because I believe that only through them can the necessary economic foundation of world peace be laid. These co-operatives must be imbued with the ideals of Christian love and service.’[ii]

In 1935, after arriving in San Francisco, he was detained for health reasons. He had contracted trachoma whilst working the slums of Japan. President Franklin Roosevelt was made aware of the issue and requested that ‘appropriate steps be taken to reach a final decision concerning admission of the prominent church leader without delay.’[iii]

Roosevelt, after receiving a letter of thanks for Kagawa’s admission into the United States, responded:

‘My dear Mr. Crane : I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated January 31, 1936, enclosing a copy of a letter addressed to you by Miss Helen F. Topping, in regard to Mr. Toyohiko Kagawa. I am glad to have the information concerning Mr. Kagawa’s activities, contained in Miss Topping’s letter, and appreciate your courtesy in sending it to me.’[iv]

Kagawa went on to speak in both the United States and Canada.

In the summer of 1941 he visited America again on a peace mission with the Japanese Christian Fellowship Deputation.[v] In June of that year, Kagawa met with Stanley Jones, a senior pastor in the American Methodist Church, discussing their ‘concerns about a possible conflict between Japan and the United States.’[vi]

Attempts made towards the Japanese embassy in America, to mediate peace and avert any potential conflict were rejected, Kagawa returned to Japan and later that year lamented:

‘I went to the {Japanese} parliament and urged them to be peaceful and not go to war. I told them that I had just come from America. I said I knew that the American people wanted peace – and so did the Japanese people. But it did not do any good. On December 7th, 1941 I felt like all the lights had gone out. My heart was broken.’ [vii]

After writing over 150 books, experiencing a life of achievements and setbacks, Kagawa died in 1960.

In January, 1963, Karl Barth, sympathetic to Kagawa, wrote:

 ‘What needs to take place today in the interests of peace is in the first place…a spiritual Reformation and thus a conversion of Christians and of the Christian churches themselves-a conversion to the truth of their own message. Among other things…a good deal of better theology is needed! And so…we come to the contribution which…I have to make to peace among the nations.’[viii]

Barth’s words and the efforts of Kagawa are highly relevant to advent. It is here that the angelic proclamation, “Peace on earth, good to will to men[ix]”  is again heard.  They form into a kind of challenge to seek first the things of God. Such words also remind us that although waves may rise, God remains capable of calming them[x].

It is no small feat that in Jesus Christ, God steps up, speaks and in his free choice claims us as his. If we hear this good news and act on it. Even in limitation, as Mary did, perhaps we too can hear in the words “Do not be afraid”, the response: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” [xi]


Sources:

[i] Ericksen, P.A Kagawa, Toyohiko in Elwell.A.W, (Ed.) 2007 Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Ed. Baker Academic Grand Rapids, pp.648 & 649

[ii] Friends of Jesus Kagawa in Lincoln’s land Sourced 9th December 2014 from: archive.org

[iii] ibid

[iv] ibid

[v] Kagawa, Toyohiko Papers 1929-1968 Sourced 9th December 2014 from: The Burke Library Archives, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, N.Y

[vi] Source: http://www.sdh-fact.com/CL02_1/56_S4.pdf

[vii] Toyohiko Kagawa working for peace sourced 9th December 2014 from spotlightenglish.com

[viii] Barth, K. 1963 Letters 1961-1968 cited in Gorringe, T.J. 1999 Against Hegemony Oxford University Press pp.217 & 221

[ix]  Luke 2:14

[x] Psalm 89:9

[xi] Luke 1:30-33

Image: Kagawa – Columbia Univertisty Library, Union Theological Seminary.