Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Progressivism, Eugenics, Hubris, and Strength through Diversity (the original)

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

(This is the original version of this post, which I believed was gone, and was very depressed about, but then set out to recreate, the result of which is here.  But, then I found this lying in my drafts folder, and thought I’d post it here.  My information on Margaret Sanger is better in the other version, but I still like the feel of this one.  My ideal form would probably be to merge the two, but I don’t think anyone will care that much)

This grew out of a comment in a thread on FB to the point that it is virtually guaranteed to earn tl;dr response from most anybody.  But it says some things I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately, and I prefer writing when the Muse strikes.

Progressivism (as in, the dominant thinking behind the Progressive Era, not the more recent usage synonymous with Liberalism, although there is a connection) and Fascism (as in, the dominant thinking behind the Nazi and Fascist movement in Germany and Italy), are both based in the notion that massive, centralized power in the State can and should be used to alter the nature and state of humanity and improve it. (more…)

Progressivism, Eugenics, Hubris, and Strength through Diversity

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

This is the second attempt to create a post that explains some things I’ve been thinking on for a while now. The original version was essentially complete, and I was just ready to push “publish,” but I decided to spell-check it first, and spell-check crashed FB, and I lost the whole thing. I was very, very sad. And angry. But I really, really liked what I said, so I’m going to try this again. But I’m going to write it in OOo Writer, and paste it in here when I’m done, because I don’t want to try a third time. It came in response to a comment connecting Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and her ideas about eugenics and Adolph Hitler and his ideas about eugenics, where another commenter said that that comment displayed ignorance and lack of insight.

There is more merit to the comparison than you might think. Progressivism of Sanger’s time shares some key core beliefs to the Fascism of Hitler: the biggest of which is a belief that centralized political power, concentrated in the hands of the “better” people (defined, essentially, as the more-enlightened) could alter and improve the world, nature, humanity and human nature. Their differences, when it came to eugenics, were primarily those of method and means. Sanger preferred to keep the less “fit” from breeding by means of contraception, while Hitler preferred to gather them into camps, taking what he could that he wanted from them, and killing them in startling numbers. Clearly, these differences are very significant, and the latter are very (correctly) repugnant by today’s standards. But the goal was the same – improve the human race by stopping the less desirable from breeding. Sanger also shared Hitler’s belief that lighter-skinned people were superior to darker skinned people, but is, evidently, miscast as a vicious racist by several misattributed quotes or quotes out of context.
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The 3/5 Compromise

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I’ve just run into one too many mentions of the Three Fifths Compromise that shows that people know about it, but don’t understand what it was, why it was there, and what it accomplished.  So I’m going to rant about it a little bit.

In the U. S. Constitution as ratified, included this in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

“[A]ll other Persons” refers to slaves, while “those bound to Service for a Term of Years” refers to indentured servants. (more…)

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series Ghosts of the Ostfront

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

This requires more than the usual “Share” on Facebook, because folks would just blow this off as something that sounds like the usual weird thing I post, and it deserves more than that. This series describes the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the Second World War, and shows how the Soviets beat the Nazis, and the price paid by all parties in the process. Dan Carlin makes a point of putting the listener into the situation to help you build images in your mind to help understand how these crucial battles were carried out in all their awful details. Having just finished the series, I am quite aware of the debt all of us owe the megalomaniacal Josef Stalin, and I’m also a bit nauseated by that.

If you’ve seen Saving Private Ryan, you’ve seen a graphic representation of war fought by the rules on the Western Front. On the Eastern Front, the most egomanical and evil leaders of the twentieth century fought a much larger and more vicious war without any rules, and this series tells you that story. If you want to understand how the world became what it is today, this series is worthy of your consideration. Each of the four parts is quite long — perhaps 90 minutes each. It will require quite a bit of your time to listen to. It is most definitely not for children, and is not for those who can not handle violence. But I do recommend it to those who can handle it.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Channukah for Goyim:  Why you’re a goy, and why you should celebrate Channukah anyway.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

As Adam Sandler so eloquently taught us:

Channukah is a festival of lights.
Instead of one day of presents, we get eight.  Pretty nice!

As wonderful as the song is (all three versions), it doesn’t teach much about Channukah other than that you don’t pronounce the “ch” like in “cha-cha-cha” (the “ch” represents a harder “h” sound that sounds a bit like you’re getting ready to spit something).  So here’s a little bit about what Channukah is about and why it’s important to all Christians and, arguably, everyone else in Western Tradition.

Now, I don’t know that everybody reading this is a goy, but I’m quite certain that anybody who doesn’t know that they are is.  “Goy” is a Hebrew word that denotatively means “nation” or “people” and is applied to people who aren’t Jewish.  It’s darn near impossible to be a Jew without knowing it, so, if you don’t know you’re not a goy, you are one.  Embrace it.  And Hebrew makes plurals by adding “im” to the end, rather than “s” like English does, so more than one cherub are cherubim, and more than one goy are goyim. 

Channukah very strictly is a celebration of the purification of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by Antiochus IV, and the lights of Channukah are a reference to the ability to keep the lamps in the temple burning for the eight days of the purification ceremony, even though there was only enough oil on hand to keep it burning for one day.  That was a great miracle, which proved that G-d accepted this effort.

But what was the effort?  How was it possible to purify the temple after its desecration?  And who was Antiochus IV and why did he desecrate the temple in the first place?  And why should you care?  That’s the fun part.

It all starts with Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king who conquered the Persian Empire and most of the world that the Greeks have heard of.  After his death, his generals squabbled among themselves to take control of his empire.  The most stable of which was the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt, which ended when Cleopatra and Marc Antony lost the Battle of Actium to Octavian (Augustus) Caesar, but the next most stable was the Seleucid Empire across what is now Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.  The Ptolemies tended to stick with the name Ptolemy for all of their male leaders, who tended to marry their sisters, who tended to be named Cleopatra, so the Cleopatra I just referred to is referred to as Cleopatra VII Philopator, and her husbands were her brothers were Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV.  The Seleucids were named for Seleucis I, Alexander’s general, and his son Antiochus I who succeeded him.  Seleucis II was the son of Antiochus I, and Antiochus II was the son of Seleucis II, and the pattern continued down the line to our wacky friend Antiochus IV.  These numberings are a modern invention — in the day, they were given surnames.  Ptolemy II, son of Alexander’s general, was surnamed Philadelphos, which literally means “brother lover,” because he was the first to marry his sister.  Antiochus IV was surnamed Epiphanes, (or Theoy Epiphanoy in the Greek) which means “Manifest God.”  Yep, the boy had a big of an ego.  Some of his contemporaries called him Epimanes, which means “The Crazy One.”

Now, the Seleucids and the Ptolemies shared a border between Egypt and Palestine that they loved to fight over, and Jerusalem and the Jewish lands were right in the middle of that fight, exchanging hands several times over the years.  In the 2nd Century BCE, Antiochus IV faced some resistance and rebellion among the Jews (who, unlike their pagan neighbors, wouldn’t adopt the new gods of their conquerors and worship them, starting a trend of pissing people off that has been characteristic of Jews for millenia), and decided that it was time to stomp out all of this silly Jewishness and turn them into Hellenized subjects that would be better subjects.  He outlawed all Jewish religious practice, converted the Temple in Jerusalem to a temple to Zeus and had pigs sacrificed on the altar, among many other violations of the rules of multiculturalism and respect for diversity. 

Now, not all Jews minded this Hellenization.  Many Jews in Alexandria had taken on aspects of this Hellenized lifestyle, and were known for being quite liberal as Jews went, and some Jews in Jerusalem were ready to go along as well.  But, among the more conservative and reactionary Jews was the Maccabee family, particularly Judas “the Hammer” Maccabeus, a Kohen.  He and his brothers led a revolt against Antiochus IV, a guerilla action of raids and continued Jewish practice that was able to drive Seleucid forces out of Jerusalem such that the temple was purified in December 164 BCE, and resumed operation according to traditional practice.  Ultimately, the Maccabean Revolt resulted in Jewish independence in Judea that lasted until Roman dominance shortly before the birth of Yeshua ben Yuseph, also known as Jesus Christ.

The importance of the Maccabean Revolt for Christians is quite simple to explain — without it, there wouldn’t have been any Jewish religious practice for Jesus to be raised in and to build upon.  As someone once put it, without Channukah, there would never have been a Christmas.  Beyond that, this was the first time in Western Culture that the concept of religious freedom prevailed.  It didn’t produce a Jewish nation with deep respect for the beliefs of goyim, but it did produce a space and time where a subjugated people were able to continue worshipping according to their own tradition, rather than having it stamped out by their conquerors. 

So, consider lighting a menorah.  Look into what a dreidel is and whether it’s okay to admit playing with one (most Jewish children have).  Consider giving Channukah presents (eight days — pretty nice).  And consider “Happy Channukah” as a reasonable response to “Merry Christmas,” and accept it as one as well.  Channukah — it’s not just for Jews anymore.

A little perspective on the current “crises’ on the American mind.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

From Michael Yon:

We might take a moment to remind ourselves that we do not live in a land of tribal law or a place where intergenerational feuds are part of the social fabric.  Look at Afghanistan. Widows abandoned and shunned.  Orphans everywhere. People missing limbs from the millions of mines still dotting the landscape.  Millions.  Tribes and warring ethnic factions and police so corrupt they make the Mafia look like do-gooders.  Taliban.  HIG. Al Qaeda.  And a lot more suicide bombers than Senators.  (Trust me on that one.)

The people of Afghanistan are extremely friendly and welcoming.  But let’s face it. They live in a world of constant struggle. Their country was already primitive, and their existence difficult enough before they became a place of conquest, civil war, and now a clash of civilizations (or, to put it more accurately, a clash between dozens of civilized countries and violent anarchy).

The full column.

So eat your spinach and like it!

Arts and Letters Daily Hat Trick.

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

I think I’ve mentioned before that I subscribe to the Arts & Letters Daily RSS feed — It was Blog of the Week in a recent Blaincast — and that I frequently find an article there of interest, but rarely do I read and like all three articles. 

Today is one such day.  Here is the day’s entry:

Arts & Letters Daily (27 Aug 2008)                

               

The Cuban judge sat with his feet up on the desk reading a comic book. The sentence for opposing the Revolution: thirty years… more

Most conquerors try to convert their subjects. Hitler’s empire was built on the idea of exterminating the natives… more

We Americans can adjust our compass heading, says John Lewis Gaddis, if we can make ending tyranny once again our priority, as it was through most of our history… more

All three articles are quite interesting, and I recommend giving them at least a look over, as well as consideration of shoving the RSS feed into your aggregator. 

Claims about Mormonism via Romney Opposition

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

I’m finding quite a few claims about Mormons and Mormonism coming from opponents to Mitt Romney (candidate for President, in case that wasn’t crystal clear). I thought it might be useful to take the claims that are coming up and address them for those who don’t have a lot of background in Mormonism. Feel free to pass links to this around if you wish.

I’m working right now from an article in the Boston Globe entitled “Rival camps take aim at Romney’s religion.”

Workman questioned whether Mormons were Christians, discussed an article alleging that the Mormon Church helps fund Hamas, and likened the Mormons’ treatment of women to the Taliban’s, said participants, who requested anonymity to discuss the meeting freely.

Mormons aren’t Christian
Mormons do not explicitly follow or affirm the post-biblical creeds of Christianity, and, thus, do not understand the basic Christian beliefs in the Trinity, Duophecitism, and some others exactly the way they are understood by mainstream Christian theologians. They do believe that Jesus is the son of God, and that salvation comes through his atoning sacrifice.
The Mormon Church funds Hamas
The Mormon Church doesn’t fund political groups. It appears that the Church may have been involved in an Islamic charity that was found to be siphoning off funds to Hamas. Although the Church (afaik) has not taken an official policy on Israel/Palestine, the Church as a matter of doctrine believes in the literal gathering of Israel (the people), and dedicated the land of Israel for that purpose more than 150 years ago.
Mormon treatment of women likened to the Taliban
If you’re talking about the Church that Mitt Romney belongs to, that’s so wrong it’s humorous. The Church does believe that men and women have different roles to play in the home, church and society, but not substantially more so than Evangelical Christians do. As a practical matter, most of the work that is done by the Church is done and directed by women, under the nominal direction of men. More than likely, the individual was talking about the FLDS Church, run by Warren Jeffs, which involves not only plural marriage, but plural marriage involving teen-aged brides and welfare fraud, but that has nothing more to do with Mitt Romney than David Koresh has to do with Jesse Jackson.

Last year, when Romney and McCain were battling to sign up supporters in key states, Romney’s campaign got word that Chuck Larson, a former Iowa GOP chairman and now one of McCain’s top Iowa advisers, had been calling Mormonism a “cult” while trying to woo state legislators and their staff. One Republican Larson approached, who would talk only on condition of anonymity, said that Larson told him, “He’s a Mormon for crying out loud — that’s essentially a cult.”

Mormonism is a cult.
This claim might have made sence 160 years ago, and would have applied to groups such as the Shakers, the Oneida, the Adventists as well as it did to the Mormon Church, based simply on the size of the movement and its distance from the mainstream of society. Today, Mormonism is a large, global and diverse movement. Mormonism, from the beginning, has merged a strong tradition of authority among leaders and a highly democratic diffusion of that authority not dissimilar to that found in a political campaign in structure. If the Church brainwashed people the way some claim, I’d be a lot more under control by the Church than I am, and we wouldn’t lose in the neighborhood of half of our converts within a year of their conversions.

There have been numerous anonymous attacks, too, such as an unsigned, eight-page screed that arrived last month in the mailboxes of influential South Carolina Republicans charging that Mormonism was a “politically dangerous” religion founded on a hoax. Sent from Providence, the mailing alleged that church members believe in multiple gods, likened its founder, Joseph Smith, to the Islamic prophet Mohammed, and raised alarm about future directives Mormons may be required to follow.

Mormonism is politically dangerous
This claim is about 170 years old, and was used to justify the worst religious persecution the United States has seen, including beatings, tarring and feathering, destruction of and expulsion from farms, murders, rapes, an Extermination Order in Missouri signed by the Lieutenant Governor, the gerrymandering involved in the drawing up of the borders of Utah, and a clause in the Idaho Territorial and State Constitution that banned Mormons from voting simply because they were Mormon. The latter two were because Mormons, as a bloc, voted Democrat, and the powers that were at the time were Republican (think post-Civil War Republicanism). A majority of American Mormons vote Republican, but Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Majority Leader, is a Democrat. The Church does not involve itself in political issues, and the social and moral issues it supports are virtually identical to that of the Evangelical Christians like the person raising this complaint.
Mormons believe in multiple gods
Welcome to the unintended consequences of the Council of Nicea, and welcome to the diversity of Mormon theological beliefs. This could become a lengthy discussion of theological minutia that some might enjoy but most would be bored with. If anybody really wants to go through this, leave a comment and I’ll go into it. For the purposes of this, I can say that many, perhaps most, Mormons believe that multiple gods exist, and without question Mormons believe that the purpose of this world is that our Heavenly Father’s children have the potential, through his power and grace, to be prepared to receive all that he has. This means that some will become gods, and it’s reasonable to derive from this a belief in the existence of multiple gods in a way that would make mainstream Christian, Jewish and Muslim theologians uncomfortable. However, we do not worship any multiplicity of gods.
Joseph Smith was like Muhammad.
There are similarities that can be drawn between these men, and there are significant differences as well. Mormonism teaches that Muhammad was an inspired man, as were Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other Protestant reformers. There were also significant differences between all these men. I can’t be more specific than this with such a vague claim.
Mitt Romney would be required to follow the direction of the President of the Church.
This shows an ignorance of the way the Church works. The last major directions to come from Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley were for people to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover in the last four months of 2006 (with no penalty for not doing so), and, previous to that, to avoid tattoos, that girls should have not more than one piercing, and that to their ears, and boys to avoid piercings of any kind. There is no evidence that Mormon elected officials have been directed in policy by any President of the Church dating back to Sen. Reed Smoot (google it), including Sen. Reid and Mitt Romney during his time as Governor of Massachusetts. Mormon officials are guided to some degree by the morality they learned from the Church, making them no different than any other religious officials, and Mormonism includes an explicit direction toward religious tolerance in our Articles of Faith that other mainstream Christian denominations obviously do not have.

Now, I don’t expect everybody to join the Mormon Church (actually The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nor do I expect everybody to vote for Mitt Romney. I don’t even expect to see everybody refrain from criticizing Mr. Romney on any position he’s stated. I would just like to see a little more truth involved in the discussion. The reason to vote for or against Mr. Romney is the same reason to vote for or against any other candidate — you do or don’t believe they would be capable of doing the job better than anybody else.