Archives For American Politics

Bassist and Co–founding member of KISS, Gene Simmons, did at least two interviews between January and September 2017. In those interviews he gave some surprising  responses to questions about Donald Trump. I stumbled onto these while scrolling through Youtube. I was looking to corroborate a claim that Gene Hackman said, “Donald Trump could be the best President yet.”

So far Gene Hackman’s comments remain “fake news”, and perhaps are a product of wishful thinking.  I get why people are sharing the claims, even though the source does not reference where they go the information from. (The reason for why I won’t share it here)

There’s a lot of people looking for something sane to come from Hollywood celebrities that doesn’t involve demonising the current President, and those who support him. Gene Simmons did what I haven’t heard a lot of celebrities do. He pointed his interviewers to proof of performance. Simmons’ response was well thought out and non-reactionary.

See for yourself:

CNBC:

Sirius XM:


#rockon

John M. Perkins is an American civil rights campaigner. His 2017 book, ‘Dream with Me’, is a brave step forward in seeking to create better dialogue between both black and white communities. Overall, ‘Dream With Me’ is a call for both black and white Americans to unite, in their diversity, under God. This review will focus on two primary strengths of Perkins’ work.

The first strength is the presence of a Theology of Christian Liberation. Perkins refuses to take the easy path of perpetual anger, condescension and resentment – both traits found in Black liberation theology (which is largely tainted by Marxism). Instead, Perkins leans towards the rules of solidarity[i] and subsidiarity[ii]. In doing so, he proclaims a social doctrine, not the social gospel[iii].

The significance of this distinction is, in the former, Jesus Christ remains at the core of the gospel and isn’t replaced by attempts (found in the latter) to synchronise Karl Marx with Jesus Christ[iv]. In addition, a social doctrine allows the freedom to affirm and critique the issues impartially. The social doctrine, in this context, is greater than the social gospel, because the Gospel remains free of any ideological lens (particularly atheist and theistic Marxism).  The Gospel (read Jesus Christ) is allowed to speak for Himself without being muffled by Marx.

Unlike the social gospel, which tends to ‘stray from Scripture’ (D. Bonhoeffer[v]), Perkins’ social doctrine doesn’t respond to injustice through a lens of victimisation, double-standards, excessive-unbridled egalitarianism (dismissive tolerance and irrational equality), dependency on the state, or entitlement. He, instead, advocates for a ‘new alternative’[vi], building on what he calls the ‘three R’s’: ‘relocation, reconciliation and redistribution.’(p.88)  Here, Perkins upholds the uniqueness of Christian liberation, which holds to God’s liberation of humanity from slavery to sin[vii].

‘White people need to take responsibility for centuries of imperialism and failing to repent, but black people  also need to take some responsibility for the breakdown of our families (p.70) […] Things only get fixed – truly fixed – when they are mended by God through faith. Often we have it backwards trying to fix things for God rather than letting God fix things through us (p.81).

The secondary strength of ‘Dream With Me’ is that Perkins doesn’t sugar coat reality. He’s up front about racism, the impoverishment of some Americans (in general[viii]), and is outspoken in his call for the renewal of efforts that move America towards justice[ix]; towards lived reconciliation. Such a lived reconciliation will require jettisoning the shackles of identity politics.

For Perkins, progress towards this goal involves reclaiming the word reconciliation. Perkins believes that

‘‘Issues related to ethnicity and tribalism may divide us, but we are one race – the human race (p.54) […] we have taken God’s definition of reconciliation and made room for bigotry by inserting race into the concept. Racial reconciliation is not a biblical term. People use race as a slave master.’ (p.84)

What he calls for instead is a reconciliation firmly grounded in God’s reconciliation of the sinner to Himself.

‘I will call for – what I believe the gospel calls for – unity across ethnic and cultural barriers’ (ibid)

Perkins’ quest is to attain genuine equality (as opposed to any false utopian idea of supremacy[x] or the fool’s quest of seeking perpetual payback, in order to make things equal). He is adamant that Americans should build on the faith, approach and doctrine of the early civil rights campaigners. This road is difficult, but it should, and must be travelled.

Perkins offers no instant-fix formulas. What he does offer is a roadmap for how this can be achieved.  At the heart of ‘Dream With Me’ are ‘the three R’s: these are relocation where the old informs the new; reconciliation, free of victimization and identity politics; redistribution, not of wealth, but of opportunity’ (pp.74-89). What Perkins means by relocation is a readiness to be available; a readiness to be where, and to do, what God has called the individual to. Redistribution is about ‘stewardship[xi]’ (p.85) and reconciliation ‘is a way of life that displays God’s redemptive power’ (p.84).

Dream With Me’ is a careful discussion about the issues that face African-Americans. Perkins acknowledges (with great care) the historical wrongs suffered by African-Americans at hands of racial hatred. He acknowledges historical abuses by returning to his own experiences. Referring to his own suffering, Perkins sets the example:

‘On February 7, 1970, while I lay on the floor of the Simpson County Jail in Brandon, I made the decision to preach a gospel stronger than my racial identity and bigger than the segregation around me.’ (p.56)

Dream With Me’ brings the civil rights movement out of the museum, and it takes reconciliation out of the hands of race baiters, who seek to keep African-Americans down purely for political advantage.  ‘Dream With Me’ challenges the status quo of racial divisions by inviting change through humility and understanding.

Perkins doesn’t play the blame game. He seeks to end the cycle of abuse by encouraging others to not engage in reciprocating stale responses veiled by resentment and forced tolerance, all of which are underpinned by unrepentant hearts, pride and a fraudulent reconciliation, grounded in toxic identity politics.

In sum, ‘Dream With Me’ brings the practice of reconciliation to life. Perkins provides a viable way forward. This is a brave book written by an elder in the Civil Rights movement. Whether Americans can move beyond stale cultural slogans and tribal segregation; beyond blame and shame[xii], is an open question. It’s one that can only be answered when and where people are freed from the prison of ‘isms’ – racism, sexism, ageism, classism, and so many other divisive systems’ (p.50)

This book is for anyone who has been dealt blows by the hands of injustice, ostracism, abuse and uncalled for hostility. It’s for those who want to move beyond the logical fallacies which manipulatively assume that because someone has a certain type of skin colour, their melanin predetermines their heart, character and how they view the world around them; for those who want to keep Jesus Christ at the centre of justice, reconciliation and stewardship toward our neighbour.

Dream With Me’ is a call to prayer-filled action, which falls in line with Paul the apostle’s command and prayer for the Church in Corinth: ‘aim for restoration.’ (2 Cor. 13:9 & 11, ESV)


References:

[i] Defined as proactive empathy, as opposed to the spectator-sympathy.

[ii] Community and government groups play an auxiliary role in supporting initiatives; helping, not controlling or taking away individual responsibility; ergo offering a hand-up, not a hand out.

[iii] Teachers about Jesus’ teaching, not about Jesus Christ; turning Christianity into a list of ethical principles. In effect, Christless Christianity e.g.: “Who needs Christ? If I follow his example by being a good person, then I’ll be able to save myself, make God happy and get into heaven.”

[iv] See Jacques Ellul’s brilliant criticism in Jesus & Marx, 1988.

[v] ‘The contempt for theology is outrageous. Rauschenbusch’s own “theology for the social gospel” clearly shows, like its successors, that a lack of obedience to Scripture is characteristic for the teaching of the social gospel.’
(Bonhoeffer, DBW 12, Memorandum: The Social Gospel, p.242)

[vi] Perkins, J.M 2017 Dream With Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win, Baker Publishing Group, (p.85)

[vii] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 1984, Instruction  on Certain aspects of the Theology of Liberation, (Source)

[viii] ‘To be honest, I had never given a second thought to poor whites. I still regarded them negatively – as redneck, trailer park white trash. The wealthy white people could help me, but what good were the poor whites to me? But then this poor white couple showed up at my doorstep. My automatic response was to treat them the way whites had treated poor blacks – to patronize them. But these people were teaching me, John Perkins, the guy who was supposed to be leading the church in reconciliation; a lesson in what it really means to be reconciled to one another.’ (pp.56-57)

[ix] ‘Justice is an act of reconciliation that restores any part of God’s creation its original intent, purpose, or image’ (p.207)

[x] ‘Wealthy whites also used the poor whites as tools of oppression — having blacks beneath [poor white folks] made those [folks] feel superior.’ (p.60)

[xi] ‘We’ve gotten away from the understanding that all of resources belong to God, and that we are stewards of whatever portion of those resources He has entrusted us with.’ (p.85)

[xii] ‘…we need to start getting beyond this stuff. Issues related to ethnicity and tribalism may divide us, but we have to start recognizing that we are one race – the human race’ (p.54)

Disclaimer: I did not receive any remuneration for this review, in any form.

Last year I posted a quick response to the hysteria surrounding the election of Donald Trump. I headlined that post, ‘Why Trump is Not Hitler, & Why American Evangelicals Are Not German Christians’. My aim was to counter a lot of what I was seeing posted on social media by people who were usually level-headed and intellectually responsible.

It was disappointing to see normally sane individuals suddenly join the ranks of anti-trump – which really were I’m angry because the Leftist power structures and its monopoly on power, were diminished – riots. (It’s safe to say, that after twelve months, they’ve started to lose their shine as well.)

Worse still, were some Christian conservative academics who took to social media to virtue signal to the all-powerful Left in what I can only describe as a sycophantic attempt to validate themselves in the eyes of those on the Left. Even I felt pressure to censor my view of Trump and the current political scene, so as to not fall foul of the power brokers in my field of academic work and study.

Generally balanced academics picked up Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, forged both into anti-Trump weapons, and started swinging them around in unison with the “Trump is Hitler” chorus. Despite the intimidation, I decided to work a way back towards unity; shared ground.

Informing my post at the time, is the fact that both Barth and Bonhoeffer, who were anti-Nazi theologians, would be unlikely to leap before they looked, when it came to the political scaremongering surrounding Trump. They weren’t fans of labels, generalised slogans, and false doctrines. Nor were they supporters of the imposition of new cultural laws, restrictions on freedom of speech, inciting the mob, Nazi flags in churches and, collective conformity to party-lines. That’s part of what made them anti-Nazi theologians.

Did some Christians commit the blasphemy of looking to Trump as though God Himself had been elected to the White House? Sure, but no differently to how people deify celebrity, or in the relevant political arena, how people fell apart when President Obama was moved on and Clinton lost.

I also agree that there are similarities between the power structures in the 1930’s and today. However, where I disagree is where we draw those parallels. The similarities, as I’ve pointed out many times in my writing, fall parallel with socialism, repression and control of the universities by the Left. Among other points of constancy such as dehumanising anyone who disagrees them. For more on my thinking about this, take for example this quote from an article I published in October:

The danger should be clear enough. From a psychological point of view this rampant ad hominem is recognised as emotional manipulation. Recklessly calling someone a Nazi is a shaming technique designed to control the opponent in an attempt to discredit and silence them. The same goes for those who would paint all white people as racist.
Link both the reckless labelling of people as Nazis and the slogan “all white people are racist” together and the cocktail of hate is complete. All that’s needed are chambers filled with the pesticide Zyklon B, cyclone fencing, and all those determined by the Left as having “life unworthy of life”.
Any well-informed reader who knows the history behind the genocidal rampaging in Rwanda, of the Tutsis against the Hutus, will see that there is good reason for concern […]
Since the Left give us permission to do so, if a group of people calling other people Nazis are doing exactly what Nazis did, shouldn’t those being called Nazis have the right to punch a Nazi?
The answer is a tentative “no”. Those who stand opposed must do better than employ the same tactics used against them. Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Thatcher didn’t bring about an end to the Cold War by feeding the status quo.
(Let the Pharaohs of our Age also Learn: Pride comes before a fall, 18th October 2017)

Another similarity is the indoctrination of those on the Left by their ideological masters. Some may say that this is ridiculous. That those on the Left aren’t indoctrinated. That there is no, as I call it, leftist cult of modern liberalism. If that is true, then why has the past twelve months show the Western world that something is amiss and, although the man has his moments, it’s not Donald Trump or the “Christian right”.

Examples of how the culture of repudiation and its dehumanising has taken hold in the psyche of the average individual are magnified by social media, and those examples are incriminating. Such as the comment to this YouTube video.

This person is a victim of the times. So rather than argue with them online, I decided to write a general response outlining five reasons why their statement was flat-out wrong:

1. Unlike, North Korea, People aren’t risking their lives to escape America into Mexico, Cuba or Canada.
2. Unlike Zimbabwe, North Korea or Turkey, soldiers aren’t defecting from the United States, nor are America’s defences forces attempting a coup.
3. Unlike Syria, the United Nations is not monitoring the Government because of previous gas attacks on the Syrian people.
4. Unlike Turkey, the media and academics, despite their vicious and continued harassment of the Trump administration have not been rounded up and arrested.
5. It’s a logical fallacy, involves a poor reading of theology and it’s reckless labelling. One just doesn’t name-drop the anti-Christ or Hitler without qualifying the accusation in order to say why.

The real tragedy in all of this is that by crying wolf about Nazism, the Left desensitises people to the heinous crimes of Nazism. It reduces Nazism to the absurd and reduces the ability for anyone to call out the real thing, when and if it, or an equivalent, God forbid, rises once more.

False accusations turn the blood brother of Communism into a joke, potentially doing great damage to the legacy of the millions who fell and suffered at the hands of both their Nazi and Communist oppressors. The meaning and reverence in the words “never again” and “Solidarity” are not the battle cries of cultural Marxists, Antifa, Leftists or Trump haters.

Those words are prayers, and their meanings are forged in the fires of hell on earth, something far removed from the Nike Air, Apple iphone, iMac, ivory tower professors, millennials, and anyone else, sucked in by those on the Left who feed them lines about oppression, privilege, the need for safe spaces and all manner of pejorative phobias used to conveniently dismiss opposing opinions.

Like its Marxist brother, Nazism is pure evil. We cannot allow these attacks on the legacy of its victims. We must not let their memory fade at the hands of those who would rather use the fallacy of moral equivalence, for cheap applause, or to maintain the power structures of the Left, than think through what it really means when they accuse Trump of being Hitler, and most Trump supporters of being fascists.

Perhaps the best statement about Trump, I’ve read so far, comes from Mark Landsbaum,

‘Yeah, his style is rude, crude and clumsy, to say nothing about childish. But we’ve tried polite, considerate and grownup and guess what – that’s what got the country where it was a year ago. I don’t much care how crude and clumsy he is as long as he continues on the trajectory he’s charted: millions of babies saved and 150 victories in 10 months. He’s not my pastor. He’s my mechanic.’

I am, when it comes to President Donald Trump, as I have been from the beginning, a cautious optimist. I see him as a diamond in the rough. I’m not yet a fan, but the person and thousands like them on the internet, who are quick to call Trump another Hitler, should be called out for what they are mindlessly repeating. Word for word, Leftist dogma and its party-line propaganda.


References:

Artwork otherwise not tagged: author unknown

amphitheatre-1004396__180Some academic internet interlocutors recently tried to stick some historical parallels on Donald Trump and American Evangelicals. They were attempting to link the precedent set by the German Christian movement and its support for Hitler, to that of American Christians and their support for Trump.

While I don’t disagree that there are slight similarities within the rhetoric, their conclusions were too easily settled upon.

Hitler was a seducer with a total grasp on the passions and faith of a people. Trump on other hand appears incoherent and at other times inconsistent in his message. To put it simply, he’s proven more to be kryptonite than an advocate for any “Aryan super-race filled with the Übermensch – superman”. As most people would agree, Trump repels rather than attracts.

I wont go into more precise differences because I believe that anyone with a basic education in social etiquette, even before its takeover by the parochialism of the excessively politically correct, knows the truth in the axiom, that “you catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar.”

Hitler put this into practice and seduced a nation. Eventually bending that nation towards his, and his political movement’s libido dominande (will-to-dominate). The German Christian Movement utilised similar tactics in gaining support for the NSDAP, which was in turn used against the remnants of the German Evangelical Church, the Pastors Emergency League and their justly rebellious descendant, the Confessing Church.

Instead of Trump and American Evangelicals, there are a spate of more relevant current events to choose from. The loudest of which concerns Islamism and the growing militancy of Leftists.

Both of which do violence to classical liberal rights, such as free speech, freedom of religion, and, in the case of the Left, families and thousands of unborn children every day. It’s concerning that academics are falling over themselves to denounce Trump. Yet fail to acknowledge the more pertinent historical parallels, which share a closer affiliation with a Nazified Germany and the compromised Church of the 1930s and early ’40s.

The most significant parallel’s being Islamism’s closeness to the doctrine of “blut und boden – blood and soil” and Leftism’s selective outrage. Outrage that is often positioned between one selective set of protests and another. The targeted call to inclusion, for instance, shows up as a front for the more sinister goal of picking and choosing those who will have to be excluded; which is potentially those who disagree. It’s not far to jump from this to the assumption that such selectivity could result in the doctrine of “Lebensunwertes Leben – life unworthy of life.” (or in a more milder dosage, people unworthy of an opinion)

The secular and sometimes Christian left, for example, are  quick to write-off and then propagandise any dissent against its position. Anyone who does is automatically treated with the suspicion, or worse, the accusation, that their questioning is rooted in a “phobia” of some kind. As is well established, the pattern of behaviour is to denounce any disagreement and then shame anyone who raises honest questions about serious social, theological or political issues, that the Left would claim to be the only answer to.

The pattern is consistent. Shame into silence anything that challenges Leftism. Intimidate and then threaten all who speak out against its narratives. Such as, the use of a politics of diversion and evasion, when it comes to the dangers of Islamism and their bizarre placating of those who’s own self-interests lie in controlling the debate over gay marriage; and in controlling those who oppose the Leftist construct of “gender fluidity.”

The pattern is clear. The Leftist will allow all criticism and violence against those things Leftism hates, but will remain complacent in the face of more urgent historical parallels that demand fair attention.

I get the criticisms of Trump, but as far as historical parallels go, only the short-sighted, given the contexts, would be ignoring the relevance of those historical events to the intolerance of Leftism, ISIS, Islamism and the connection of the latter to these more recent developments:

1. Turkey seizes ALL Christian churches in city and declares them ‘state property (Express.uk)

2. Attacks on Christians in Egypt raise alarms (USA Today)

‘Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally’ on Sunday in Istanbul, marks the climax of three weeks of nightly demonstrations by Erdogan’s supporters.
Banners read ‘You are a gift from God, Erdogan’ or ‘Order us to die and we will do it’ […] [i]

If in mentioning the past we seek to passionately avoid its mistakes, we must answer the  storms of today by shining a light on the folly that enabled those mistakes.

As Churchill, C.S Lewis, and George Orwell pointed out in regards to pacifism and appeasement; and for Dwight Eisenhower, complacency:

“The handicaps were many. The greatest obstacle was psychological— complacency still persisted! Even the fall of France in May 1940 failed to awaken us— and by “us” I mean many professional soldiers as well as others— to a full realization of danger.
The commanding general of one United States division, an officer of long service and high standing, offered to bet, on the day of the French armistice, that England would not last six weeks longer— and he proposed the wager much as he would have bet on rain or shine for the morrow. It did not occur to him to think of Britain as the sole remaining belligerent standing between us and starkest danger. His attitude was typical of the great proportion of soldiers and civilians alike.
Happily there were numerous exceptions whose devoted efforts accomplished more than seemed possible.
Despite the deepening of congressional concern, the nation was so unprepared to accept the seriousness of the world outlook that training could not be conducted in realistic imitation of the battlefield.
We had to carry it on in soothing-syrup style calculated to rouse the least resentment from the soldiers themselves and from their families at home. Many senior officers stood in such fear of a blast in the headlines against exposing men to inclement weather or to the fatigue of extended maneuvers that they did not prescribe the only type of training that would pay dividends once the bullets began to fly.
Urgent directives from above and protest from the occasional “alarmist” could not eliminate an apathy that had its roots in comfort, blindness, and wishful thinking.” [ii]

It must be said, then, that the path to the resurgence of fascism doesn’t begin with Trump, or the rhetoric of Trump’s campaign. Nor does it rest in the endorsement of American Evangelicals.

Granted there are small similarities in rhetoric between Nazism and the German Christian movement, Trump and American Evangelicals. That link, however, if it can even be called that, is weak. No more so then when it is compared to the greater examples of Islamist ideology and Leftist militancy, which appear on the horizon as this century’s very own gathering storm.


References:

[i] Erogden Stages Mass Rally In Turkey sourced August 8th 2016 from Skynews.com

[ii] Eisenhower, D.D. 1948 Crusade in Europe: A Personal Account of World War Two Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Ed. (Loc. 251-256;260-262 ).