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.

Economic Freedom & the Culture of Work

Those of us at Southeastern University had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to hear from Mr. David Azerrad, Associate Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, a research arm of Washington, D.C.’s Heritage Foundation, one of the key public policy think tanks in the nation. Mr. Azerrad spoke on the topic “Defending the Dream: Why Income Inequality Doesn’t Threaten Opportunity.”

It was an excellent presentation of the contrasting concepts of the American Dream as seen from both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum. Azerrad spoke eloquently on economic freedom and the culture of work that is a necessary complement to that freedom. He showed how the liberal worldview stresses statism and egalitarianism over liberty. He did so in a scholarly, civil manner that pointed out some of the foibles of the conservatives as well as the liberals. He particularly noted that conservatives sometimes promote business rather than economic freedom—the two are not necessarily identical. Capitalism, he said, is a word so loaded with misconceptions now that it is better to avoid the term and emphasize instead free enterprise. The reason capitalism has gotten a bad reputation is because big business has too often joined hands with statism to protect itself and stifle free enterprise. This is known as crony capitalism.

Azerrad is optimistic about America’s future because he still senses we have more of a culture of work than many other countries. We are not Greece or France. Individuals in America do not get nine weeks’ vacation in their entry-level jobs. So he sees hope. I “hope” he’s correct, but I admit to being more skeptical about it; the entitlement mentality, coupled with the destruction of the family, offers a bleaker picture to me. But I welcome his analysis. It was also good to spend more time talking with him at lunch and afterwards as we walked on campus.

I was especially pleased with the turnout for this event. The room was packed, and we had to find extra chairs to accommodate the overflow. Further, the audience was attentive and and seemed to appreciate his message and the manner in which he delivered it—just right for the type of audience he was addressing, relaxed and informal, yet direct and substantive.

We need more such days at SEU, where sharp public policy dialogue can be offered to the students.

Clear Distinctions

I’ve been storing cartoons dealing with the upcoming presidential election. I think it’s time to unleash them. Some have done a fine job at showing the clear distinctions between the two candidates. Here are a couple of my favorites:

In his criticisms of Romney, Obama has tried to have it both ways. All that does is undercut his criticisms. Hopefully, hypocrisy won’t play well:

There’s been talk about Romney’s Mormonism. If you have read my ponderings for any length of time, you know I have concerns about that as well. However, we have to consider the alternative:

I agree—no matter how off-base theologically I believe Mormonism to be, there’s nothing worse than worshiping a mere mortal. Certain things have begun to be revealed about this mere mortal, things that should have been vetted in the media four years ago. What’s fascinating is the source of the revelations:

Naturally, the president wants to scrub his record clean with the voters, but he may find that task more daunting than he realizes:

May sanity return this November.

The Real 99%

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez has been highlighting some really stark comparisons in his political cartoons lately. The other day I shared his view on modern society’s upside down perception of heroes and villains. He’s back today with another poignant contrast:

I’m kind of fed up with this “we’re the 99%” baloney, which casts millionaires and billionaires as the other 1% who are ruining the world. In actuality, anyone making just above $300,000 per year is part of that 1%, which means that it’s not made up primarily of the super rich. To me, $300,000 is super rich, but compared to the Warren Buffetts and Bill Gateses of the world, it’s just a very good salary. What’s really going on with the Occupy Wall Street movement is simple Marxism, dressed up in different clothes. The goal is to overturn American society as it exists today.

Well, there are things I would like to see overturned, but not capitalism or the significance of private property. Property and liberty go hand in hand. Our Founders knew they were inseparable. If individuals don’t own property, who will? Answer: the government.

It’s time to see these occupiers for what they are and respond accordingly. Breaking up the unsanitary tent city in New York was a good start. What will that achieve? Fewer murders, rapes, thefts, and harassment of honest business people. I don’t normally think much of NYC’s mayor Bloomberg, but in this case, he finally did what was necessary.

I’ll stand with those who believe in Christian foundations, fiscal responsibility, and constitutional government. They are the hope for the future.

Flagrant Immaturity

It’s hard to leave the “Occupy Wall Street” story this week, especially when the cartoonists keep coming up with outstanding depictions of the true nature of the protest. One takes aim at what he considers to be the typical protester:

Others poke fun at the half-baked political philosophy that seems to dominate:

Songs appear to be a theme:

Far too often, slogans and chants [of the old, stale variety] serve as replacements for rigorous analytical thinking. What’s doubly sad is that most of them are probably college graduates—or at least they hung around college for a while—where they were indoctrinated into a pseudo-intellectualism that displays itself as flagrant immaturity. Their professors never grew up, and now they are creating disciples in their own mold.

We reap what we sow.

About Those Occupiers

The “Occupy Wall Street” protest/1960s nostalgia tour continues. Some of it is funny, while other aspects are kind of sad with respect to the incoherence of the protesters. Let me be clear [to quote a current president]: I have my concerns about Wall Street malfeasance as well, but those concerns center on the manner in which some Wall Streeters conduct themselves, not the capitalist system itself.

Capitalism cannot control all greed. The system works beautifully when it is carried out with Biblical principles; it fails when selfishness takes over. But that still makes it better than socialism, which fails every time. If you don’t think so, just remember the former Soviet Union, all the Eastern Bloc countries that it controlled, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, etc. The story is the same wherever it is tried—utter failure.

Yet these protesters seem to want [as much as one can make out at all what they really want] a large government to take care of them. They call for the destruction of the capitalist system. They claim that profits are somehow immoral. But if you look closely, you see a lot inherent contradictions:

There’s something more than a little juvenile about their attitude:

They’re attempting to turn back the clock to the anti-Vietnam, anti-establishment protests of the 1960s, which were in themselves rather juvenile. The current protests come across similarly immature:

One might wonder what’s become of common sense. One cartoonist captured that sentiment:

Ideology, angst, and rage were on display rather markedly the other day, yet most of the mainstream media ignored it:

The hypocrisy of attacking corporations was most clearly depicted in a photo that has been making the Internet rounds:

Foolishness personified.

The Dewey Factor (Part I)

Let’s take a break from purely political anaysis today. Instead, let’s look at one of the reasons we are where we are as a nation, and why some of our political problems exist. To do so, we need to recognize what has happened to our education system over the past 100+ years.

We have to start with John Dewey, who has earned the title “Father of Progressive Education.” That “progressive” label is almost always poison. What were Dewey’s contributions to our current ills?

First, Dewey was one of the principal architects of the 1933 Humanist Manifesto. What are some of the key planks in this Manifesto? Here are some samples:

First: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.

Second: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process.

Fourth: Humanism recognizes that man’s religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by that culture.

Fifth: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values.

Eighth: Religious Humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man’s life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now.

Tenth: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the supernatural.

Fourteenth: The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life are possible. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently co-operate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.

Summary: the universe was not created, but just somehow existed; man is not a special creation of God but a mere result of a continuous process (translation: evolution); religion is a human construct, gradually developed over time; there is no such thing as the supernatural (i.e., nothing above nature); there is no life after death, so everything we do is for the here and now; capitalism is a source of evil, so we must switch to a socialist system.

These points form the foundation of Dewey’s worldview. No problem if he doesn’t influence others, but Dewey’s influence has been vast. More on that in a later posting.