Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

This past Thanksgiving, I explicitly explained to my Facebook “friends” that there was no point in extending holiday salutations to those of them who insist upon viewing the European settlers as genocidal maniacs who were intent upon exterminating America’s first peoples.  Anyone with such a view of the founding of this country and, more exactly, the occasion and the people that gave rise to the American tradition of Thanksgiving couldn’t conceivably be interested in commemorating this event.

Given the extent to which professors of the so-called “genocidal” origins of America and Thanksgiving took offense, I began to suspect that they can’t really believe what they say.  

Consider, if the first settlers were genocidal, then they were, in essence, no different from, say, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or any of history’s genocidal murderers.  And if this is so, then it would be as obscene to celebrate, to give thanks for, the legacy—the country—that they’ve bequeathed to us as it would be obscene for anyone to celebrate, to give thanks for, the legacy of Hitler and company. And if the Indians really were the peace-loving, nature-loving pacifists that the Genocide Truthers make them out to be, then the crime of which the settlers are accused is that much more horrific, as horrific as that of the Nazis marching off scores of docile innocents to their deaths.

A more straightforward example makes the point that much more effectively: A decent person convinced that a grave injustice had occurred wouldn’t so much as entertain the possibility of accepting millions from someone who he knew murdered an innocent to obtain the fortune in the first place.  A good person who was initially unaware of the injustice, but who learned of it later, would seek to rid himself of its poisonous fruits.  No decent person would willingly accept “blood money.”

Similarly, no decent person would willingly accept a “blood country.”     

Yet those who scream loudest about the “genocide” perpetrated by the settlers not only continue living off of the legacy of their ancestors; they actually take offense from, of all things, a person’s refusal to extend to them a simple Thanksgiving greeting.

If their deeds are any indication of their beliefs, they cannot really believe the nonsense they spout regarding genocide.

That injustices were inflicted by Europeans against some of the indigenous peoples of the lands that would later be called “the Americas” is undeniable.  However, for anyone remotely familiar with the complexities of the historical record, it is equally undeniable that Europeans most certainly did not perpetrate anything at all on the order of a systematic “genocide.”

But fiction is simpler than fact, the few principles of an ideology much easier to master than the nuances and intricacies of real history. And the fictions of an ideology are obviously more amenable to the crusade on behalf of which the ideology exists in the first place.

The “Genocide Truthers” are ideologues—whether they realize it or not. In contending that America is rooted in the systematic annihilation of the peaceful peoples of a pristine paradise, they imply that their country’s institutions are soaked in blood. This in turn further implies the need for a program, not of reform, but of a fundamental transformation.  And the latter is simply another way of saying that America as it has always been constituted since its founding needs to die.  The slate needs to be cleansed and a new country needs to be constructed from the ground up.

America is not now nor has she ever been the equivalent of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.  If she was, she would deserve as much as these tyrannical regimes deserved to perish from the Earth.  And America’s founders were not the equivalent of the monsters of the 20th century.

To admit this, however, we must abandon once and for all the invidious fiction that America’s settlers were genocidal murderers.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Given that the entire planet seems to be of one voice in both mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela and celebrating his life, most will find it inconceivable that anyone would think to so much as suggest that Mandela was anything less than the saint that his admirers are working tirelessly to depict him as.  

But truth is truth and Mandela was no saint.

Mandela was a proponent of “democratic socialism” who, along with the South African Communist Party, unleashed a torrent of violence against his political opponents that included the bombing of government sites. He was convicted of “sabotage” and attempting to overthrow the government—charges to which he openly confessed at his trial.  And in spite of having been released from prison in 1990 after serving 27 years and eventually becoming South Africa’s first black president, he remained on the United States Terror Watch list until as recently as 2008.  The late Margaret Thatcher characterized Mandela’s African National Congress as a “typical terrorist organization.”

Ilana Mercer is a writer and former resident of South Africa who knows all too well about Mandela and his legacy.  One of her books, Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, includes a chapter chock full of interesting, but inconvenient, facts regarding the man who is now being lauded as never before. 

Mercer informs us that long before apartheid came crumbling down, the government of South Africa offered to release Mandela from jail as long as he promised to renounce violence.  Mandela, though, “refused to do any such thing [.]”  Mercer adds that Mandela’s “TV smile has won out over his political philosophy, founded as it is on energetic income redistribution in the neo-Marxist tradition, on ‘land reform’ in the same tradition, and on ethnic animosity toward the Afrikaner.” 

In 1992, two years after Mandela was set free, he was videoed at an event surrounded by members of the South African Communist Party, his own African National Congress (ANC), and “the ANC’s terrorist arm, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), which Mandela led.”  Courtesy of YouTube, all with eyes to see could now witness “Mandela’s fist…clenched in a black power salute” as the members of MK sang their anthem, a little song according to which they reaffirm their pledge to “‘kill them—kill the whites.’”

Mandela remained a socialist to the last, Mercer assures us, even though he cleverly—but transparently—“rebranded” it. Mandela’s was a racial socialism, a point established beyond doubt by the remarks he made in 1997.  Mercer quotes Mandela insisting that “the future of humanity” cannot be “surrendered to the so-called free market, with government denied the right to intervene [.]”  Mandela also declared the need for the “ownership and management” of the South African economy to reflect “the racial composition of our society” and criticized “the…capitalist system” in South Africa for elevating to “the highest pedestal the promotion of the material interests of the white minority.” 

For the conceit of those Westerners who assume that Mandela’s thought is a justified response to the evils of apartheid, Mercer has just the treatment. She reminds us that Mandela and his ANC “had never concealed that they were as tight as thieves with communist and terrorist regimes—Castro, Gaddafi, Arafat, North Korea and Iran’s cankered Khameneis.”  Mercer further reminds us that in addition to once cheering, “‘Long live Comrade Fidel Castro!’” Mandela referred to Gaddafi as “‘my brother leader” and Arafat as “‘a comrade in arms.’” 

Moreover, though awarded by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the Medal of Freedom Award, Mercer observes that Mandela couldn’t resist issuing the harshest of indictments against America.  “‘If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world,’” Mandela said, “’it is the United States of America.’” He added that “‘they,” meaning Americans, presumably, “don’t like human beings.’”

And what is Mandela’s legacy to his native South Africa?  It is the purpose of Mercer’s book to show that it is nothing to write home about.  “Since he [Mandela] came to power in 1994, approximately 300,000 people have been murdered.”  “Bit by barbaric bit,” she writes, “South Africa is being dismantled by official racial socialism, obscene levels of crime—organized and disorganized—AIDS, corruption, and an accreting kleptocracy.” 

Mercer’s book is a rarity inasmuch as it supplies us with a brutally frank account of the real South Africa that Nelson Mandela helped to bequeath to the world. While the rest of the world is busy singing hosannas to Mandela over the next few days, those of us who are interested in truth would be well served to visit it.      

        

    

A couple of weeks ago, in lamenting the future generations of Americans that will be forced to shoulder the burden of our government’s fiscal irresponsibility, Sarah Palin likened their condition to one of slavery.  MSNBC host Martin Bashir blasted her for her “rank ignorance.” Moreover, he suggested that she deserved to undergo the same brutal punishment as that dished out to a couple of Jamaican slaves in the eighteenth century.

Palin, Bashir contended, deserved to have someone urinate and defecate in her mouth.

Last week, after pressure was brought to bear upon his employer, Bashir expressed regret over his remarks.

If ever there were any doubts that conversation truly is a lost art, Bashir should dispel them once and for all.

Those wise men of the eighteenth century Anglo world knew all too well that a Republic of liberty is impossible unless its citizens were “conversible.”  That is, unless the members of a “free society” were educated in those virtues essential to conversation, liberty would promise to perish from the Earth, for unlike the subjects of tyrants who labor under coercion, conversation is the coin in which free citizens trade.

Yet conversation is possible only between men and women who are mutually truthful, respectful, and, in short, civil.  Just as importantly, to prevent a conversation from degenerating into a monologue or a cacophony, the partners in a conversation must be willing to listen to one another.

Not only is conversation indispensable to a liberty-loving people. Conversation is an analogue to liberty.  Indeed, insofar as it disperses power and authority among several different branches and levels of government, allowing each its own “voice,” so to speak, it is with justice that the politics signified by our Constitution can be said to be a politics of conversation.

The Constitution is as formidable an obstacle to tyrants and utopians everywhere as any set of political arrangements is anywhere.

And it is this fact that reveals the impossibility of engaging tyrants and utopians in conversation: there can be no conversation with those who insist upon everyone’s speaking in the same voice.

This brings us back to Martin Bashir.

Slavery was a trans-racial, trans-cultural, universal institution as old as humanity itself.  Furthermore, its immorality stems solely from its essence, from the fact that slavery consists in human beings owning human beings.  Bashir is either ignorant of these truths or he deliberately tried to obscure them. Either way, inexcusable ignorance and dishonesty are both vices without which ideologues can never hope to advance their dreams.

They also constitute bad faith, thus rendering conversation impossible.

Bashir is no tyrant, but he and his fellow leftist ideologues are most certainly utopians. This, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that they have some grand, comprehensive scheme of the world that they’d like to see implemented.  It need only mean that if they aren’t utopian in outline, they are nevertheless utopian in detail: Bashir and company are convinced that there isn’t a problem that individual liberty—“negative liberty”—didn’t cause and for which a more centralized, more powerful government isn’t the solution.

The Constitution is a standing impediment to the designs of the Bashirs of the world.

And this as well explains why they have no use for conversation.

It is not by accident that for at least the last two centuries, what we today would call “the left”—radicals or “political metaphysicians,” as Edmund Burke referred to the philosophes of the French Revolution—have, to some extent or other, embraced violence for their ideological purposes.  After all, it is the radical who needs a large and powerful government to force his ideology upon a people who either have rejected it or would reject it if left to their own devices.

Liberty and conversation preclude force or coercion.

This explains why there can be neither liberty nor conversation with ideologues laboring under delusions of grandeur.

 

 

 

More so than anyone else, it is those on the political left actively promoting the fiction that “bullying” is both something new as well as a social problem—that is, the type of problem for which government alone can supply “the solution.”

My sympathy for the victims of bullies is as unqualified as is my contempt for their tormentors.  However, no discussion of this issue can afford to neglect the following facts.

First, what we today refer to as “bullying” is scarcely a recent phenomenon.  For as long as there have been human beings there have been bullies.

Second, not only is there nothing distinctive, much less unique, about our generation as far as bullying is concerned.  For as hurtful, nasty, and destructive as they undoubtedly are, today’s bullies can hardly be said to be as savage and merciless as the “bullies” of those times and places of centuries and millennia past.

Simply put, while the world remains broken, it was a much uglier place in the past when, for example, it wasn’t at all uncommon for people to diligently guard themselves and their families at every moment of every day against being kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Third, literally speaking, there is no more a “solution” to bullying than there is a solution to lust.  And a government-imposed “solutionto the former is surely bound to be as abject a failure as a similar “solution” promises to be for the latter.

The ideal “solution” to bullying consists in victims standing up to bullies.

Finally, it is more than a little ironic that the biggest bullies of them all are those who presume to lecture the rest of us on bullying.  For all of the rhetoric enlisted in the service of advancing it, the left’s agenda is an agenda of bullying.

After all, what is bullying but an activity by which the bully attempts to intimidate others for the sake of coercing them into doing his will.  To the extent that the leftist’s program requires ever greater concentrations of government power, i.e., government force, for its execution, the leftist differs from your run of the mill bully only inasmuch as he has far more opportunities to wreak havoc.  But the leftist is also a bully par excellence inasmuch as he spares no occasion to assassinate the characters of his opponents—you know, those who wish not to be coerced into parting with their legally acquired resources in order to subsidize someone else’s ideas of what is “really” best for them.

If those on the left are genuinely concerned about abating bullying, they need to start by removing the boulder in their own collective eye.

They can do something about bullying, in other words, by abandoning their leftism.