Columbus, Racism, & Protests

Wealthy football players claim America is oppressive. Their protest over the national anthem goes viral. The nation gets thrown into turmoil.

Columbus Day arrives. We have our annual Columbus-was-a-genocidal-maniac theme trumpeted from the mouths of those who, like the football players, believe America is the bastion of systemic racism.

As a historian, I know that our history includes some terrible things. Yet we need some sense of comparative analysis, not emotional outbursts, to deal with what has happened. We also need to see more clearly that many of those things we don’t like have been corrected.

And as a historian, I also know that not many people are well versed on that history. They simply follow the lead of some who claim they know the truth, even though often they are following a political agenda, not truth.

Take Columbus. Who really knows that one of his prime motivations was to spread Christianity? Oh, I know—he was also vainglorious and coveted rank and honor. He loved the title bestowed: Admiral of the Ocean Sea. But how many know that when he returned for his second voyage that all the men he had left in the New World had been slaughtered and that another native chief joined him in attacking those who committed that slaughter?

We have a much-too-romanticized view of what life was like among those natives. Jesus’s comment about how there will always be wars and rumors of wars applied among them as well as European nations. They were not as innocent as sometimes portrayed. They connived politically for advantage over other tribes and engaged in types of behavior not countenanced today.

In other words, they were people just like all other peoples—and where there are people, there are problems.

Just a hint: don’t get caught in a war; your end will be slow and torturous.

Back to Columbus. Here’s a comic I found a number of years ago that probably is closer to the truth than anything nowadays:

I’m no apologist for Columbus Day. I can take it or leave it. But neither do I bow to a modern political correctness that can only see evil in the arrival of the Europeans. I can draw distinctions between those who carried out evil and those who didn’t.

When it comes to American history, I can decry the racism that led to slavery, while simultaneously rejoice that America became one of those nations that put an end to the practice.

I can clearly see that the segregation that followed slavery was evil, yet I can enthusiastically applaud the end of that particular evil empire.

I know that the inner cities of America are a place of disadvantage for success in life. Yet I also know that government programs to “help” have only led to the disintegration of the black family structure, thereby creating more poverty. When over 70% of children born in the inner cities grow up without a father, consequences follow. God intended that all children have both a father and a mother.

So, in an ironic twist, it’s all that government help that has created an atmosphere that some see as oppressive.

If the family structure were to be reestablished and genuine capitalism be allowed to flourish (not the crony type that dominates cities run by so-called progressives), I believe we would see much greater prosperity across the board in our society and much less rationale for the protests we see now.

Where do those foundational beliefs in the necessity of a strong family and a vibrant, free economy come from? They are Biblical principles. Only a return to those principles will bring this about.

Awash in Foolishness

My response to the whole NFL national anthem controversy is decidedly mixed. On the one hand, I have a visceral reaction: who are these spoiled brats making more money in one year than either I or anyone reading this blog will make in a lifetime? What do they really have to protest? What’s “wrong” with the words of this anthem?

I’m an American historian who deeply appreciates the Founding of this nation—its Biblical framework of thinking and its overall goals. I also believe that despite the sins and/or problems of its past, America has tried valiantly to correct many of those missteps and has been more of a beacon of hope to the world than any other nation one can name.

Two world wars ended because of America’s reluctant participation in both; the Soviet empire crashed and burned under American pressure and the Cold War came to a satisfactory conclusion.

So, yes, it disturbs me to witness professional football players who bask in the glow of athletic fame, and who draw rather obscene salaries in light of what they actually produce for the nation, decide to disrespect the nation that gave them this opportunity.

On the other hand, as a Christian, I don’t equate national pride with sacredness. The Constitution, while remarkable and worthy of our esteem, is not on the same plane as Scripture. The flag, while a vibrant symbol of what America says it stands for, is not the emblem of the heavenly kingdom. The Star-Spangled Banner, thrilling as it is when one knows its history, is not the banner of eternity.

Then there’s another factor thrown into the mix that makes it all even more mixed up: Donald Trump.

The protests were already an issue before Trump entered into the cultural battle, but, as usual, his words turned a smoldering burn into a blazing fire. By using his bully pulpit to denounce the protesters and call for their firing, he misused the office he has been granted by the voters.

In my mind, there is this comparison that is always present: Trump vs. Reagan. I ask myself how Reagan would have handled such a situation and, from what I know of his character and history, I come away thinking that he would have defused it with his humor and adult behavior. Not so Trump. Adult behavior, in his case, is rarely witnessed.

Those last two paragraphs will raise the ire of Trump defenders, I know. Yet I can’t help but wonder why he won’t simply attend to the weightier issues he was elected to deal with and avoid getting involved in lesser controversies.

It always comes down to character, or the lack thereof.

Due to Trump’s involvement, the protests increased, and now no one really knows if those protests are against the anthem itself or against a president who unwisely inserted himself into the foolishness.

Foolishness. I guess that’s the word that stands out to me as I survey this mess. The NFL players who are protesting are foolish. The president of the United States is being foolish. We are awash in foolishness.

Christians, this message is for you: don’t get carried away by any of this. Focus instead on the eternal. Pray for all those invested in this foolishness, on both sides. Pray that knowledge, understanding, and wisdom may prevail—for the sake of what has been, historically, the best country on the globe.

Higher Education’s Sad Spectacle

I’ve been following events on our nation’s campuses where higher learning is supposed to take place. From one perspective, one could say the faculty and students have performed a great service for making the nation laugh again, what with their “safe spaces” and tears over the last election.

However, my desire for higher learning to be appreciated makes the spectacle more a reason for sadness than laughter. Denying conservative speakers the right to be heard is a type of fascism, which is ironic because the deniers claim to be combating fascism. Their totalitarianism is fascistic; the speakers hold to limited government and the right for every position on the issues to be aired publicly.

The fascists are the student protesters; those who value liberty, decency, and civil discussion are the conservatives who are being shouted at and slandered.

I sit in a fairly “safe space” of my own since I teach on a Christian evangelical campus. I have yet to witness a riot on my campus, and people are allowed to speak without being shouted down. Each year, I bring a speaker for Constitution Day who extols the virtues of our form of government and the Christian basis for understanding government.

If you want to find where higher education is occurring, may I suggest a campus like mine? I invite all potential history majors to come and study under me and others who grasp the importance of Christian faith to education.

I have experienced other campus scenarios, however. Both my master’s and doctoral degrees were earned at typical secular universities. Some of what I received was excellent; some was biased. I learned to tell the difference.

For a few years, I even taught as an adjunct history professor at a large, well-known university in Virginia. I brought my Christian perspective into the classroom, along with my conservative political interpretation of American history. Course evaluations from my students were an affirmation that they believed I was a good professor.

Then I had a class in which one student, a radical feminist, complained to the department chair about my teaching. That led to a phone call from the chair (I never met her in person). She asked about how I teach and I told her. She seemed very civil and even noted that every professor teaches from his/her own perspective. I thought the conversation went very well.

I was never invited back.

The open mind is always closed at one end. That’s what Whittaker Chambers said about his mother when he asked her once about when God created the universe. She froze, he related, and in an icy voice, informed him that someone must have told him that, and that he was to keep an open mind. She then lectured him that the universe was created out of gases, not by God.

He learned a lot at that moment; that’s when he realized that those who proclaim to be so open are often the most close-minded.

That’s what we see at this moment on our campuses, and it’s a sad reality. Of course, I know this is not new. I was on a campus myself as a student during the Vietnam War. That era was ripe with protest, potential anarchy, and violence.

As has often been noted, the radicals of the 1960s-1970s are now teaching the current generation. The cycle continues. Back in my college days, the mantra was not to trust anyone over thirty. Only the younger generation really knew what to believe.

The more time passes, the less things change. That arrogance is still the cornerstone of radical protest today. They walk in blindness. The Christian mission on campuses is to shed light on that blindness and lead them into true Truth.

The Ultimate Safe Space

In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, some really sad and silly things have been happening. Now, keep in mind that I was as solid a critic of Trump as anyone might want to find. I’m still distressed that he has become the titular head of a party (Republican) and a movement (conservative) with which I always have been aligned.

Yet I accept election results that are not fraudulent and work with those results as best I can.

Not so on the Democrat/Fantasyland side of the political spectrum.

First, we’ve had all those protests that have exceeded legitimate protesting since they are undoubtedly coordinated and funded by individuals such as George Soros. The goal? Create chaos and make people regret the election results.

Some of those protesting actually believe their actions will overturn the election; they are wrong. Others have no real idea why they are protesting; they just like getting paid for acting out their pent-up anger.

trump-protests

Colleges are particularly susceptible to this fantasyland because their students are being taught by the radicals of yesteryear. “Safe spaces,” crying times, and suspension of classes and exams are all the rage.

Democrat politicians like Sen. Barbara Boxer want to do away with the electoral college system for electing a president. I won’t go into all the reasons right now why that’s a foolish idea. For her, it’s just a political expediency because she’s upset Hillary lost.

By the way, 3/4 of the states would have to approve an amendment to do away with our manner of choosing the president. That’s not going to happen.

Now we have others advocating that we get rid of states. We’re all just one big happy country, they say, and the existence of states gets in the way. We all pretty much think and act alike, we’re told.

We do? Fantasyland emerges again.

To all the protesters who manifest their displeasure, let me remind you that the only reason you can do what you do is that there is still a semblance of the concept of rule of law and protection of minority viewpoints. The instrument for your protection is the Constitution you seem to disdain. If you were thinking clearly, you would recognize it for what it is:

ultimate-safe-space

What Academic Freedom?

Radicalism on university campuses has changed somewhat since the 1960s. Back then, the radicals were fighting against what they perceived were conservative administrations and professors, and their protests often turned violent.

What they didn’t really understand is that most of those administrations and faculty members weren’t philosophical conservatives at all. Liberalism was dominant in the academic realm. It’s just that liberals at that time still professed a belief in honest debate over ideas.

Today, it’s those who were protesting in the 1960s who are running the universities. They haven’t lost their radical tinge even though they are now the “establishment.” That’s why the new wave of student radicalism is allowed and even supported: as the old cliché goes, the inmates are running the asylum.

reading-list

Here are some examples.

Marquette University is a Catholic institution. Presumably, it would hold to Catholic teachings. Presumably. You would never know it.

When one student objected that a teaching assistant had cut off students’ criticism of gay rights and same-sex marriage in a classroom discussion, the TA said “some opinions are not appropriate.” The student was then accused of homophobia.

That student then told his tale to a professor at Marquette, John McAdams, who, after hearing of the incident, published a blog post calling out the TA for shutting off debate.

The administration’s response? Prof. McAdams was placed on indefinite academic leave and banned from campus. McAdams is a tenured professor, which shows what tenure actually means in practice if one runs afoul of the “proper” attitudes.

McAdams was informed he could be reinstated only after writing a letter of apology. He was instructed to affirm his commitment to the university’s “guiding values.” He responded that he was doing just that. The university didn’t like his response. He remains banished.

no-sarcasm

Then we have the silliness taking place at Oberlin College in Ohio. Oberlin began as a Christian community devoted to holiness and abolition of slavery back when Charles Finney was its professor of theology and later its president. How times change.

Last December, student protesters sent Oberlin’s president a long list of what they called “nonnegotiable” demands. Among those demands were the following:

  • An activism wage of $8.20 per hour for protesting.
  • Banning any grade lower than a C. After all, what can one expect of a student who is devoting so much time to activism? The college should recognize that students so devoted to improving society cannot be expected to spend a lot of time on classroom studies.
  • Replacing midterm exams with a conversation with professors during thier office hours. Such a substitution should be mandatory, the administration was told.

The administration apparently is taking these demands seriously and contemplating changes.

Meanwhile, one Oberlin professor has suggested on her Facebook page that Zionists orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, the rise of ISIS, and various terrorist acts that everyone else knows were perpetrated by Islamic radicals. While the board of trustees condemned those remarks, Oberlin’s president has only stated his firm commitment to “academic freedom.”

About the only freedom allowed on some campuses these days must be within certain constraints:

tolerance-news

Every time I read reports of what is occurring at many universities, I thank God I have an outlet for true academic freedom where I teach.

Campus Insane Asylums

On the higher education front, welcome back to the 1960s. Well, sort of.

College Protests

Yes, the latest round of protests from people with great experience in the world (aged 18-22) isn’t quite what it once was. Not that I cared for the 1960s protests, you understand. I was in college at the time myself. But this new protest movement from those who think they know everything is even more self-centered than the previous one.

It’s all aided and abetted by those who are doing the teaching, though:

Vivid Imagery

The professors who now continue the indoctrination of young minds who have been already been indoctrinated in our public school system have created some rather unrealistic expectations. Combine self-centered immaturity with a skewed view of reality and here’s what you end up with:

Can't Believe It

Socialism Will Work

The problem is that this immaturity spills over into society at large, escaping from the campuses to do greater damage. Of course, there are many adults who have the same worldview. One of them lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind this particular protest if he were completely open and honest with us:

Rainbow House

Free speech and open discussion are becoming endangered on campuses. It’s sad to witness those in charge (supposedly) cave to the pressures:

Yet Another

I’m grateful for some of our Christian colleges and universities that have not yet bowed to the new cultural sensitivity. One Christian university president made news recently, calling out a student who tried to force him to go along with the culture.

Everett PiperDr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, related how one student wrote that he was offended by a sermon at the university that told students they needed to be more loving. You see, that sermon made the student feel bad because it seemed to indicate he was not loving enough. Thus the basis of the complaint.

Piper’s response was right on: students are being too coddled, he remarked, and then added, “This is not a day care; this is a university.” Our culture, Piper continued, “has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic.”

Piper also took a shot at fellow academics, noting,

A liberal arts academy is about learning. It’s not supposed to be a place to suppress controversial ideas. My point was to challenge my own industry — to look my academic peers in the eye and say: “We’ve caused this.”

How refreshing to hear a voice of Christian sanity in a college world that all too often looks like an insane asylum.

That’s the voice all Christians are called to be in this culture. How many of us will stand up and be counted as one of those voices?

Liberal Education Isn’t Liberal or Education

I was a college students during the turbulent years of the Vietnam War. My campus, Purdue University, probably wasn’t too different than others, caught in the wave of dissent over the war and in revolt against Biblical morality. Yet no violence ever erupted there, no one was kept from studying, professors were not publicly abused verbally, and no administrators resigned after massive protests over alleged grievances.

All of that is happening now, though, and college campuses are once again becoming battlegrounds that are, unfortunately, rather void of the intellectual firepower that they should be engaged in. Instead, what we see is an attempt to substitute slogans and anger for genuine solutions.

The latest eruption stems from perceived racial insults, but evidence for those insults appears to be thin, about as thin as the skin of those claiming to be harmed. And if you disagree with their viewpoint? Well, you should just shut up.

Suppression

By the way, we now know that the black student who started the disturbances at the University of Missouri and who went on a hunger strike to protest “white privilege” is the son of a multimillionaire. White privilege? There are a lot of white people in America who would jump to take advantage of the privileges this young man has had. He has also stated that his university education is what radicalized him.

And we still keep sending our children to these universities?

I’m blessed to be teaching at a Christian university where none of this has boiled over. I know for a fact that I would be one of those whose speech would be suppressed if I ever tried to teach at a typical public university. What’s ironic is that professors who have fomented this attitude—who euphemistically refer to themselves as “liberal”—are now seeing their words and actions come back on them in ways they never imagined. Many are probably still blind as to how they have created what we now see:

Out of Hand

Created a Monster

All the rhetoric about “safe spaces” has another unintended consequence—a “safe space” from thinking:

Safe Spaces

A segment of our population, both in so-called higher education and outside of it, is so perpetually aggrieved by everything that one cartoonist believes he has come up with the perfect editorial cartoon, one designed never to offend anyone:

Editorial Cartoon

Actually, that will be judged rather offensive, too, I believe, because it pokes fun at those who are so easily offended. Such insensitivity!

The height of the crybaby mentality surfaced this past weekend when some of the Black Lives Matter protesters were outraged over news coverage of the Paris attacks. You see, that distracted people from the REAL attacks on the feelings of college students.

Here’s a word of caution for those whose feelings are so hurt:

No Lives Matter

Time to get a grip on reality and the real problems we all have to face together.