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The Dark Charisma of Donald Trump

FARIAS ON CRUZWhat follows below is a slightly truncated & edited email I sent to Rev. Bert M. Farias in response to a 5-4-16 article of his concerning the ever-growing embrace of Donald Trump by many Republicans, evangelical Christians and others.   

Good Thursday (May 5, 2016), Rev. Farias!

I perused your 5-4-2016 Flaming Herald entry titled How Cruz’s Dropout Exposes the Corruption of the American Soul and thought you might welcome some feedback on it.

First off, I have no doubt but that some of your readers and even supporters (especially any diehard Trump supporters) will take exception with your article and make an exit, stage far right (of course). As you yourself stated, “I know I may lose followers, readers and even friends over this article, but that’s OK”.

I am not a Trump supporter or fellow traveler — quite the opposite actually (I’ve been a democratic socialist since 1986). But even if I were, I would not head for the door after reading your article. One of the things I discovered early on in my work as a theorist is that truth, not only in science but in most other areas of life, is arrived at haltingly in the form of what famed astronomer Edwin Hubble characterized as “successive approximations”.

As such, I accept that none of us has truth all wrapped up in any realm, secular or sacred, but instead possess a mix of beliefs, facts and insights that vary in terms of the degree they approach what is “indisputably true” (in the absolute or final sense).

This way of approaching reality tends to put brakes on becoming so polarized (politically or otherwise) as to stop listening to worthy contrary opinions. And even when a particular belief, conviction, prophecy or what-have-you turns out to have little or no merit, I do not turn my back on the speaker, writer or such and head for the proverbial exit (Unless the speaker, writer or such consistently doles out material that is so intellectually and/or morally bankrupt as to lead only to error or harmful deception).

Sadly, I think many in the community of believers cling to an Americanized Gospel which equates what is biblically true and reliable with being part and parcel of various right wing political agendas. Actually, Christianity itself in the US and many other nations has been interpreted (and by virtue of this) rewritten to gel with  sentiments and ideas that actually run contrary to what Messiah taught and advocated (Torah based Judaism), e.g., unbridled capitalism and the greed it is predicated on and the corruption it engenders and promotes.

I dare say if Yeshua HaMashiach physically visited most American churches he would not recognize what was being taught and advocated as being remotely like what he articulated and lived.

Now, off my soapbox and back to your article:

In your article you mentioned that “Benny Hinn prophesied on New Year’s Eve 1989 that a woman would one day be president of America and would destroy this nation. It seemed like a far-fetched prophecy then, but not so much anymore.”

Whether this is a genuine word of prophecy or not, I can’t help but think Hinn’s pronouncement was in some way influenced by the fact Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic Party VP candidate in 1984. Many of us back in 1984 speculated that her nomination presaged a woman becoming President at some point in the near or far future.

Of even greater concern is Hinn’s very disturbing track record: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/bhinn.html

Be this as it may, the Almighty has (at various times) used very imperfect vessels to transmit prophetic words. Maybe he spoke to Hinn — or maybe Hinn is like the proverbial broken clock stuck on a single time reading — right twice each day no matter what.

Whether Hinn and others who have said similar things about a future woman President heard from God or their own mental processes (i.e., subconscious thought streams bubbling to the surface which may or may not be a divine mechanism for weaving prophecies), I actually am fearful of having Hillary Clinton become this country’s chief executive. I base this on her track record which simply does not encourage confidence she is honest or a person possessing the kind of integrity one associates the leader of the free world. On the other hand, Senator Bernie Sanders is her almost polar opposite in terms of being consistently honest and an individual of unwavering integrity [His actions are IMO closer to the “care and share” core of Torah and (later) Rabbinic Jewish teachings, which the Messiah wholeheartedly embraced and exemplified in word and deed].

Of course, the alternative (now) to Hillary appears to be Trump (I am still holding out hope Bernie Sanders will get the Democratic nomination as this would shake things up in the best possible way and change what follows so as to avert the road Hillary or Trump would likely take America down). To be honest, his “fruit” has to be the most nauseatingly rotten to pop out on the political tree in many moons (The closest American equivalent I can find is Huey Long, who was not exactly unsympathetic to fascism). As you noted:

The crowds clamored for Trump no matter how arrogant he got, or how much he lied, or cussed, or was exposed for his filth and fraud. He told you what you wanted to hear and you believed him. Now you will pay and be held accountable for your most unwise choice. Standing up against one of the most electable and upright candidates of our lifetime, you have continued to use your mouth as a weapon to defend your idol against the opportunity gave you.

Naturally many people have found parallels between Trump and the patron saint of mass  manipulation, Adolf Hitler. Some of their analyses are deeply flawed, but there are elements and parallels that hold up and are very troubling. Trump’s pitches to evangelical (and other) Christians is very reminiscent of Hitler’s to the Church in Germany in his day, something very cogently laid out in the CBN segment “God & Hitler”: http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/

And when people talk of Mr. Trump’s charisma, I am reminded of Hitler whose own charisma emanated from his ability to discern what people wanted to hear and then feed them this in ways that mesmerized them. The BBC laid this out quite well  in a documentary titled “The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler” which is available online:

The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler – BBC – links to parts 1, 2, 3

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x12expq_the-dark-charisma-of-adolph-hitler-episodio-1-bbc-hd_school

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2zauo4_o-sinistro-carisma-de-adolfo-hitler-ep-2-the-dark-charisma-of-adolf-hitler-historia_shortfilms

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2zeca7_o-sinistro-carisma-de-adolfo-hitler-ep-3-the-dark-charisma-of-adolf-hitler-historia_shortfilms

Along this line, I ruminated on Hitler and his dark ways in “How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it” at https://biotheorist.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/how-do-you-kill-12-million-people-evil-then-and-now-recognizing-containing-it/

I would be remiss if I did not add this personal note:

My maternal great aunt-by-marriage, Val, was born and grew up in Germany under Hitler. She like most virtually all young ladies in Nazi Germany was a member of the Bund Deutscher Mädel and, as I recall, attended some of those massive Nazi rallies back in the 1930s. After her father surreptitiously witnessed the SS wipe out a Jewish community including women and children, he returned home and told his family that, “Our country is finished. The SS is murdering Jews, which means our Fuhrer is mad.” [I would say evil, but not mad — not until near the end of his days maybe.] Anyway, Val’s father smuggled Jews out of the evil empire from 1942 to 1945 — often with the Gestapo chasing him all the way. He was a cobbler, BTW — owned his own shop and made and lost a fortune many times over. Val inherited his wealth.

Val married my maternal great uncle, Horace, in August 1952.  Horace was a US soldier during WWII –a  Military Policeman  — later a high official in the Lubbock, Texas fire department (I was born in Lubbock).

What my great aunt Val and so many other Germans experienced and got caught up in the 1930s and 1940s carries all kinds of warnings about what is prophesied for the “end times”. The fact the core of Hitler’s evil and the Holocaust especially took place over a 7 year period with the last 3.5 years being devoted to the industrial scale murder of the Jews in Europe has convinced many Rabbis that this was the great tribulation period predicted in the book of Daniel. I consider the Nazi period an experiment in which HaSatan essentially tested and refined many of the methods & instruments for achieving total domination over people (I also contend that God is an experimentalist of sorts in this essay). Armed with insights gained during the Nazi period, he will recreate this wheel but without the obvious and largely rejected elements that characterized Nazi Germany. I personally tend to believe the anti-Messiah will have a neurotronic implant in his brain that will connect him to one or more supercomputers (Such an expanded intellect will make him appear all knowing). Hitler on biochips magnified many-fold. His “magic” will be largely technologically facilitated & enacted but will be more persuasive than anything Hitler pulled off or could have conjured up in his wildest imagination.

With this background and bit of commentary in mind, let me now return to Mr. Trump: I have heard many former members of the Hitler Youth — and understand my great aunt Val, who is now 89 or so years of, has said something to this effect too — that America is on a path that is very reminiscent of the one Germany was on just prior to the rise of Hitler.   In December 2015, New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen captured this eerie “reinvented (evil) wheel” (–> history repeating itself) in an article he wrote titled “Trump’s Weimar Americahttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/opinion/weimar-america.html?_r=0       

And with this, I will draw this lengthy missive to a close. Perhaps there is something in my verbiage (or in the articles and videos I provided links to) that will prove helpful in terms of your own ruminations and future writings.

Dr. Anthony G. Payne

Below: links to articles of mine on various eschatological topics which may contain insights & ideas you can adopt & adapt to spin future articles & teachings on prophetic especially “end times” topics:
Biblical prophecy is primarily about Israel & the Jewish people, not the US!

Is the Shemitah upon us? (Divine judgment in the form of economic collapse)

When these specific events happen, you will know “doomsday” is near

Déjà Vu: Muslim extremist evils should sound familiar

Is global upheaval knocking at the door? (Red moons, ancient prophecies, and more)

Book recommendation for Rev. Farias’s “Purity of Heart”: “You shall be holy, for I am holy”

Buy Rev. Farias’s book “Purity of Heart” on Amazon.com by going to http://www.amazon.com/Purity-Heart-Rev-Bert-Farias/dp/0615722148?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00 or on his ministry website at http://holy-fire.org/books.html

© 2016 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

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Is the Shemitah upon us? (Divine judgment in the form of economic collapse)

By

Anthony G. Payne

Lightning from Blue Cloud

Reports are beginning to surface indicating that retail sources for emergency preparedness or survival gear, dehydrated foods, seeds and such cannot keep up with demand. It isn’t hard to figure out why with articles and tweets and such appearing almost every few minutes on what is happening or lies ahead in term of climate spawned global upheaval, tectonic activity that is triggering volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and other calamities, fracking induced quakes, super droughts and massive wildfires, epidemics, increasing social conflict & unrest and gun violence, economic instability in nations great and small, the unrestrained barbarity of ISIS, not to mention terrorist acts taking place worldwide by people of every extremist stripe, and a seemingly endless litany of calamities both human-made and natural that are sending millions of refugees streaming into Italy, Hungary, and elsewhere. And this hardly begins to scratch the surface of how many ways life is now making various doomsday movies, books and such that appeared in the 1950s,  1960s and beyond almost prophetic.

As you might expect, many well known televangelists and other prominent figures in the evangelical world are frantically linking  headlines to their reading of ancient prophecies in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelations and other biblical books. Some are even offering emergency preparedness or survival supplies for donations.

At this moment messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s books such as “The Harbinger” (2012) and especially “The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked” (2015) are selling like hotcakes and keeping him booked on various religious programs aired on TBN, CBN and such. Just in case you haven’t read anything by Cahn or about his spin on prophecy, he basically claims that certain laws, principles and promises originally given solely to Israel and restricted to her, apply to the United States.

Of course, it is almost a given that any attempt to tie in “end times” prophecies to America (which isn’t remotely alluded to anywhere in the Bible according to both Jewish and Christian scholars, historians and others), requires building a house on speculation and linkages that are typically tenuous at best.

Mind you, I very much believe that the ancient prophecies will be fulfilled. And yes, I see many, many patterns and events unfolding that indicate that what was promised will be fulfilled. But this does not lend credence to futurist predictions that are based on reading prophecies that apply solely to Israel into unfolding events in the US (and the EU for that matter).

Now let me sit back and throw a few thoughts at you:

(1) As I write this (9-2-2015) world economic markets are in upheaval. Economists and others see this as an expected “course correction”.  Many proponents of “The Shemitah” thesis argue that this signals a fast approaching economic tsunami and all the chaos and sociopolitical insanity this would likely unleash.

While it is possible Rabbi Cahn and those in his camp could be right, I would not see such a major economic crisis as prophecy fulfilled at all, as the “Shemitah” has no connection to the US. I would put it on the same level of prognostication as the old joke that “even a broken clock is right twice a day”.

If you need convincing that spinning predictions that plug America into biblical prophecy is problematic, go online and buy used copies of prophecy-based books such as Hal Lindsey’s “The Late, Great Planet Earth“. Then go through historic records and see how much of the speculation in these tomes came to pass.

(2) Now a word about ministers and others who are urging their congregants and TV/virtual viewers to donate money to get literally years of dehydrated foods, grains, etc., plus solar power generators and such: I think having a preparedness stash to make it through a 3-14 day power outage or such is a prudent move (Hurricane Katrina and other recent natural disasters alone argue for this). But for most people buying and storing years of supplies and solar generators and such is not only cost prohibitive, but would actually make them targets if our society was plunged into total chaos. I have often wondered how long these people think it would be before roaming hordes of hungry people would break into and pilfer their stockpiles. Some of these “Christian survivalists”, yes, are probably setting up underground bunkers to hide in and also have enough firepower and ammo to fend off scores of the desperate, but it is doubtful they can hold out interminably (The last 3.5 years of the “Great Tribulation” anyway, when evil has its way on a grand scale). And how, I ask, is this living out the Bible and Yeshua/Yehoshua’s admonition to share with those who are hungry, cold, etc.? It amazes me that neither the ministers and Bible teachers who are feverously hawking these survivalist supplies or their supporters see the inherent problems and (biblical) contradictions in what they are advocating and doing.

If you are interested in reading exposes on the biblical difficulties presented by Rabbi Cahn’s books (“The Harbinger” and “The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked”) read these articles:

“The Shemitah” (A critical response)

THE MYSTERY OF THE SHEMITAH: Is it real?

That God expects or will impose a Shemitah upon any nation other than Israel has no scriptural basis. Neither do the Scriptures provide any indication that the Shemitah is some sort of universal principle that operates throughout or even at various times in history.

And these “yours truly” penned:

Biblical prophecy is primarily about Israel & the Jewish people, not America!

When these specific events happen, you will know “doomsday” is near

Is global upheaval knocking at the door? (Red moons, ancient prophecies, and more)

If you are a believer who is fearful the “end times” is fast approaching — and it may well be (But be aware of those things that must precede it as laid out in When these specific events happen, you will know “doomsday” is near) — my advice is to steep yourself in faith-edifying teachings and prayer, bring your conduct and actions into obedience to what the Almighty requires, learn to discern what is evil from what is not (And yes, they are getting increasingly confused these days, i.e., evil is called good and good, evil), and connect with other believers who worry less about “worshipper friendly” banter and political correctness and more about holiness and empowerment (Spirit baptism, Grace, the fear of God). I highly recommend these books as a sort of “Faith & Empowerment 101” crash course:

Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything is Possible by Larry Sparks

Go and Sin No More: A Call to Holiness by Dr. Michael L. Brown

Good or God? by John Bevere

But let me add this caveat: A lot of Christian theology and beliefs (including portions of the books above) draw on the very flawed letters (epistles) of Paul (Saul of Tarsus). It is therefore important that you also acquire the knowledge and insight to identify what is edifying and true from what is not. These two free, online resources will help you mightily in this regard:

http://www.judaismvschristianity.com/

Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (Free online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.

I am, by the way, a novice monk in the Knights of Prayer Monastic Order (Full monk in 2018) as well as in service as a monk to several other religious communities & monastic organizations which are part of the New Monasticism movement, and have my own website devoted to spiritual matters and resources at http://summerclouds.weebly.com/ which is geared to help people “sort the wheat from the chaff”. Unlike some believers especially clerics you might have read, watched or listened to (especially fundamentalists and many evangelicals), I do not have all the answers in every area of life and faith. I have come to adhere to certain core truths and am morally conservative, yes, but like many of you am still wrestling with and working out some aspects of what is most consonant with God’s word (Hebrew & Christian scriptures).

Anthony G. Payne (American Indian name “Summer Cloud”)

© 2015 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

What begins with the Confederate battle flag ends where?

By

Anthony G. Payne

Battle_flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_svg

Judging from articles such as this, this and this, there is now almost a mania sweeping the land to remove every vestige of the Confederacy (Even TV Land got swept up in this by cancelling airing of old “Dukes of Hazzard” episodes) . Don’t get me wrong, I understand why so many people are incensed by Confederate flags and monuments on public lands. And although my ancestors on both the European (paternal) and American Indian (maternal) sides of my family tree lived in the CSA and in some instances served in its armed forces, I have never displayed a Confederate flag in any form anywhere at any time. Nor was the N-word ever uttered by my parents or any expression of religious, ethnic or racial bigotry or elitism. And as for my Civil War era forbearers, most were simple farmers and none owned slaves. As a boy I was told by various relatives that those who donned the grey in our family did so to repel Northern aggression and preserve the rights of individual states to chart their own destiny.

With this said many of my fellow Southerners — and some African-Americans as well — do have the Southern Cross (aka “Stars and Bars”) on display in various guises. And although various incarnations of the neo-Nazis and KKK and other white supremacist groups have waved the Confederate battle flag about for decades, I dare say most Southerners, especially those who had ancestors who served in the Confederate army or navy, are angered by this (At least those I grew up around in Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana felt this way).

But ask Southerners with Confederate ancestors whether slavery was one of the main reasons for Southern secession and many will say “no”. I’ve studied the writings they cite to support this point-of-view but do not find them convincing. History clearly shows that preserving slavery was part and parcel of the Confederate cause, although state’s rights and other issues also figured prominently as well. This is reflected in the lyrics of one of the CSA’s earliest marching songs, “The Bonnie Blue Flag” (1861), which opens with these lines:

BONNIE BLUE FLAGWe are a band of brothers and native to the soil

Fighting for the property we gained by honest toil

And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far

Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!

Chorus:

Hurrah! Hurrah!

For Southern rights, hurrah!

Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

And just to drive home the fact slavery and “white privilege” figured in the new Confederate government, consider this except from a speech by CSA Vice President Alexander H. Stephens that was reported in the Savannah Republican on March 21, 1861:

But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other — though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind — from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just — but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.

In the conflict thus far, success has been on our side, complete throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world.

I realize, of course, that some Southerners and others will continue to downplay or even deny that slavery was an integral part of the government of the Confederacy and its policies and vision. I have read more than a few lengthy articles and books by writers and authors who managed to weave incredibly elaborate arguments that pretty much shove slavery to the backmost burner on the proverbial historical stove. How is this possible? Are these men and women evil, delusional, bigoted, ignorant or just plain stupid? Most are none of these in my opinion. Consider how murder case plays out in court: Both the prosecutor and defense attorney or attorneys posses the same facts and information, but basically filter, weave and pitch them differently (One to leave no doubt of guilt in the minds of jurors, and the other to create doubts about this). When this all too human approach to analyzing and presenting historic chapters and events plays out in books, articles, movies, plays and such, the end result is invariably skewed one way or the other (Some come closer to capturing what transpired while others deviate to varying degrees from this).

There is also the all too human propensity to spin tales and myths that cast darker chapters in history and current events as well in a favorable light. So long as this sort of thing does not marginalize, ostracize, condemn or otherwise inflict harm on people or incite others to do such reprehensible things to others, it can and often does serve as a sort of collective coping mechanism and a means of preserving a shared conviction and some sense of the honor or dignity attached to it and its proponents or champions.

Think we Americans do not have our own sacred myths or make objects of honor (heroes) out of people unworthy of this? If so, you do not know American history.

To my way of thinking there is little doubt but that Confederate ancestors should be honored by their descendants for having the courage of their convictions. This doesn’t mean endorsing all they stood for or believed, only those aspects of them that were honorable and decent. For some this includes hanging a Confederate flag outside their homes or in their cars or trucks, or wearing clothing articles emblazoned with the “stars and bars” or tattoos bearing this or the like.

Now the argument has been raised in some quarters that the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Waffen SS who fought for Hitler had the courage of their convictions and if “sons and daughters of the Confederacy” can honor their ancestor’s for this, so descendants of those who served under the crooked cross should. Before I touch on this, I simply must point out that when it comes to honoring ancestors who fought for a losing and even vile cause, the waters get very muddy indeed. For instance, in Japan, where I lived and worked for more than four years, honoring ones ancestors includes an annual visit to the Yasukuni Shrine by the Prime Minister where the cremains of 1,068 war criminals including 14 Class-A war criminals are interred. The same rising sun flag that flew over Imperial troops sailors and pilots in WWII flies in various guises today over Japanese defense forces.

After WWII the German government, of course, outlawed displays of the swastika as well as use of the straight-armed Nazi salute and for good cause. The sheer magnitude of intentional, calculated evil committed in Hitler’s Third Reich and by its many puppets and willing supporters made permitting public displays of the swastika (outside of museums, documentaries, movies and special exhibits) or the giving of the Nazi salute anathema.

But does this mean that, say, a German today whose grandfather, great grandfather or other relative served honorably in the Wehrmacht (Army), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Kriegsmarine (Navy) or Volkssturm is amiss in honoring their individual courage or valor? Is not the courage and valor shown by those German servicemen who had no part in any atrocities or other evils and were not members of organization that did such as the SS and Waffen SS, any different than that of allied servicemen who fought bravely and brought down their malignant empire?

You may be tempted to say that even honorable souls who served a failed, dishonorable and especially evil cause must be utterly renounced or at least never mentioned. In-a-sense, bury the past except in museum displays and politically correct books, movies, plays and such. “Tear down those flags and statues and erase every trace of these people and their cause”.

If you are inclined to say “amen” to this, I am now going to show you how its application to flags and heroes many, many Americans admire would require their purging from American culture.

Consider this: If we are going to remove all CSA symbols, flags and statues and such from public lands, then why not go one step forward and tear down Custer tributes (such as Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument) and others associated with the genocidal treatment of my American Indian ancestors and their brothers and sisters by the US government, the US military and many of its Presidents, especially Andrew Jackson?

After all, many of these so-called sacred icons and symbols are a painful reminder to we American Indians of the forced marches, reservations, massacres and others forms of calculated murder including attrition by intentional introduction of diseases such as smallpox, that were visited upon American Indian peoples by “fine American patriots” who felt God (“manifest destiny”) and being “racially superior” entitled them to do whatever it took to make America a white dominated empire that stretched from “sea to shining sea”. And just to underscore how profoundly evil all this was, no less than the patron saint of evil, Adolf Hitler, drew inspiration from abominable racist US genocidal policies and the reservation system it spawned in crafting his own version of hell on earth (Click to read more).

Should not the flags, statues, historic markers and such associated with these evils be tossed into the fire?

My question to you then is this: If we should elect to cleanse our land of the reminders of its darker chapters and failed experiments, what will be left? And isn’t forgetting the lessons of history not one of the surer ways to insure we repeat them?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anthony G. Payne, whose American Indian name is “Summer Cloud”, is a native born Texan and an American Indian (Bureau of Indian Affairs CDIB card holder) and member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Despite having grown up in the “reddest parts” of North Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana, he is a political liberal who embraced democratic socialism in the 1980s. He is also a religious and moral conservative but no friend of fundamentalism/creationism or those pet beliefs of evangelical Christians that run contrary to what the Rabbi from Nazareth advocated and lived (Click to access Summer Cloud’s spiritual watering hole website).

In addition to having ancestors who fought in the armed forces of the Confederacy, one of Dr. Payne’s maternal line was an army officer (Lieutenant) in the Revolutionary War who fought British forces in South Carolina.

Additional Reading on various subjects touched on in this op-ed piece

Abraham Lincoln, Racist (New York Times)

There’s facts and then there’s facts. See how easy it is to create your own reality!

How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it

Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria, Jr.

 

©2015 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

 

The road to hell is paved with appeasing evil

If you stayed awake though your high school or college history of western (or world) civilization courses, you may recall lessons concerning the many instances in which ambitious, sometimes wantonly evil leaders probed for weakness in those they opposed and acted decisively when they found it. In light of these dark chapters in the human experiment, what do you think of our administration’s penchant for striking deals with regimes and groups whose expressed political and territorial ambitions are nothing short of one day obliterating those they consider their nemeses?

I am a political liberal, a democratic socialist since 1985, and am perplexed and distressed to see many of this country’s leaders working frantically to appease evil at almost every turn. No, I am no fan of war but I’d be pretty stupid not to realize that evil men tend to sit tight or retreat when confronted by armed opponents who will not back down. Don’t think this is so?  Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine for a moment and set the dial to early 1936:

Nazi Germany’s leader (Fuehrer) Adolf Hitler ordered his army to remilitarize the Rhineland but later remarked that “The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance”.  No one stood up to Hitler. Afterwards he made territorial demands on one country after another, always threatening war but confident that his enemies would do little or nothing to stop him beyond saber-rattling talk while frantically appeasing him in order to avoid war.

BDMMy reservations about “governing by appeasement” are shared by more than a few folks who personally experienced the bitter fruits of this. One is my great aunt-by-marriage, now 88, who grew up in Nazi Germany and was a member of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (The League of German Girls) (She married my maternal great uncle who served as an MP in WWII and was stationed in Germany from 1945 into the early 1950s). She experienced firsthand the exhilaration Germans felt as Hitler’s successive territorial demands were met with “diplomacy (appeasement) meant to preserve peace and prevent a second world war”, and then lived through the horrific war this actually helped facilitate. She is naturally not especially happy with the acts of appeasement many major western powers are using to contain modern day evil regimes and prevent new wars.

She is in very good company. American WWII veteran Bill Langfan, who fought Hitler’s forces in Europe and helped liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp, sounded off about the pitfalls of appeasing evil rulers in an interview aired on CBN on December 23 2014:  WWII Veteran Warns About Dangers of Appeasement 

Watch the Bill Langfan interview (link above), read the Wikipedia entry on appeasement at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeasement, and then speak out and vote accordingly.

Additional/supplemental reading penned by “yours truly”

Dark times and the allure of evil

How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it

CBN video “God & Hitler”: http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/index.aspx

Why does God allow evil (Theodicy)? See Are you an atheist, religionist, deist, fideist or ???

What to do with militant extremists in our midst? It’s a question Americans have faced before

cropped-choices-ms-photo.jpgA lot of people are wrestling with how this country should deal with militant Muslims in our midst. I think most of us have no issue with American Muslims who do not advocate for anything at odds with our US civic virtues and democratic traditions and practices. Concerns naturally arise with US-based Muslims who post, preach and otherwise advocate for the things we hear being said by members of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) and other radical Muslim groups. Many advocate deporting anyone who engages in this sort of thing. Of course, we have homegrown militants in our midst, among them neo-Nazis and Klansmen who preach things that inspire hatred and sometimes violence on the part of their members and sympathizers. One could argue are they are citizens and enjoy certain legal and constitutional protections which renders deportation or “quarantine” a nonissue, but then some extremist Muslims in the US also are citizens (Some born here). Deporting a US citizen to the country their ancestors came from might be emotionally satisfying to some folks but it would open a door that could quickly be abused by the state.

Has America faced the issue of how to deal with antidemocratic, intolerant ideologues in modern times (20th century forward)? Sure thing. In the 1930s there were more than a few individuals and organizations that wanted to see Nazism replace democracy in the US. Some were immigrants (many of these, Germans), others naturalized citizens and others US born. More than a few spokesmen for and leaders of prominent pro-Nazi organs wound up running afoul of the law and in jail or prison. A few were deported and others interned in camps built to house enemy aliens and such after America went to war with Japan and then Germany.  The solution then was pretty much this: Outspoken Nazis were rebuffed by their fellow citizens, monitored by law enforcement especially the FBI,  and prosecuted when they did anything illegal and were caught. Yep, the people back then were doing pretty what we are doing now with extremists and antidemocratic elements in our midst (With the exception of establishing internment camps).

Should we do more? I guess your answer to that depends on how much freedom you are willing to sacrifice for your sense of  security. It’s not an easy equation to work out without risking opening the floodgates to terrorism on one hand — and turning American into a police state on the other.

Whatever your answer, I’d wager many of you reading this will find certain remarks made back in 1938 by Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Henry (on the heels of the conviction of a group of Nazis in Suffolk County,  NY State) appealing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYWlSmn2Ou4

The salient part is 45 seconds into this 1m:23s video. Quoting Mr. Henry, “If these persons prefer some other form of government let them get out of the United States and stay out.”

 

“Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!”

At the tail end of Stanley Kubrick’s satirical and brilliant 1964 anti-Cold War movie “Dr. Strangelove” the wheelchair bound German scientist (played by Peter Sellers) manages to stand up and take a step or two forward and then excitedly proclaim, “Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!” (This was reportedly an unscripted improvisation on the part of actor Peter Sellers) People in the throes of extreme excitement, passion or even religious ecstasy sometimes yell out to God, their mate or, in the case of Dr. Strangelove, to his leader (The American President whom he not infrequently calls “Mein Fuhrer” during the course of Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece).

I suspect Sellers added the dramatic final touch not as an expression of the neurologic malady which landed his character in a wheelchair but, rather, as an upwelling of Dr. Strangelove’s impossible to suppress fascist sentiments and loyalty to Hitler.

In addition, I would offer a slightly different take on Dr. Strangelove’s outburst: I believe it was meant to represent the transcendent march of evil across time. That is, Seller’s was acting out the fact that evil, like death, haunts humankind and is impossible to totally suppress, manage or banish. Of course, we all know that those who do not resist and oppose evil not infrequently find their lives overshadowed by it.

The late writer-director-producer Rod Serling actually captured this theme very adroitly in a 1963 episode of the Twilight Zone titled “He’s Alive” (“He” being Hitler) that focuses on a “bush league Fuhrer” named Peter Vollmer.  

Of course, we all are cognizant of the fact that evil permeates the human experience and has countless modern day incarnations. It is certainly one wheel that gets reinvented without ever showing much wear or loss of perpetrators and victims.  Sometimes, though, the expressions are so continuous across time they appear to come out of some kind of historical-cosmic Xerox® machine. Click these links and reflect for a moment:

 http://weirdthings.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/skitched-20120111-150835.jpg

http://theheartthrills.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/north-korean-soldiers-drilling-2.jpg

OK, so evil is perennial. What we can do about it? Laugh at and ponder comic portrayals such as Seller’s, yes, but never make the mistake of viewing evil people as clowns or easy to control (A mistake many German pre-Nazi leaders made with respect to Hitler and his cronies). But above all learn everything we can about the nature of evil and its subtlest expressions and then work to expose and oppose them.

How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it by Choctaw Doc

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen

Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it

Color photo from TIME, Inc.

Color photo from TIME, Inc.

Dr. Anthony G. PayneMy good friend Jim Haverlock recently asked, “How do you kill 12 million people?” He was,  of course,  referring to the Shoah or Holocaust. He wasn’t asking about the nuts & bolts of pulling off mass executions but, rather, how did so many ordinary and even extraordinary men and women willingly take part in Hitler’s Endlösung (Final Solution). This is a question that has intrigued and haunted me since early boyhood actually. In fact, as part of my quest for answers I read all of Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels diaries as a young man plus vol. 1 of “Mein Kampf” (Vol. 2 was unknown when I was a youngster), watched archival film of the Nuremberg & Doctor’s trials, and read just about every substantive book on Hitler, the Nazis and fascism that existed at the time (And everything worth reading on the subject since as well). As anyone reading this who ever took a course in World History knows, both Hitler and Goebbels stressed the use of propaganda and the “big lie” as integral to the creating and sustainment of the Greater Germania they envisioned. And both were extraordinary in their zeal and abilities to forge a monolithic state predicated on a shared national myth, and induce the German people to embrace it via lies, artful use of imagery and symbols, fear, rewards and appeals to entrenched biases that went back not just decades but centuries (Particularly in the case of antisemitism which sadly had its roots in early Christian teachings especially the Hellenized spin on Jesus and his message crafted & promulgated by Saul of Tarsus aka St. Paul. Learn more by reading Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity  by scholar & historian Dr. James D. Tabor).

One place to turn for insight is historian Dr. Daniel Goldhagen’s books plus those of psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo. They do a smashing good job of laying out the historic, sociological, psychological and economic forces, currents and mechanisms that set the stage for the rise of the Nazis and then sustained them once they were in power.

But, even after you’ve read and mastered these works and others like them you likely find yourself still perplexed by the fact so many people down through the millennia and especially during the heyday of fascism could ignore and in many instances take an active hand in wanton cruelty. After nearly a lifetime of studying human cruelty and complicity in cruelty and evil I know there is no simple answer to “why”. Certainly lack of empathy or reduced or impaired empathy for targets/scapegoats is vital to evil and, yes, lies play a powerful role as well, but there is so much more that works to foster wickedness than lies and people’s failure to detect them or act on them or neglect to search them out and deal with them. However, with this said it certain behooves Americans to be vigilant and to call out wrongs and evil as soon as they come to light.

Things are complicated by the fact that evil and good rely on similar mechanisms and tools to govern (God, too, relies on these – see my op-ed piece on this subject titled “Hitler & HaShem at http://www.healingcare4u.org/hitler-hashem.pdf). Heaven knows our government has used lies of varying magnitude to govern across the years of our country’s existence. Probably Nixon and his “Imperial Presidency” took this to a whole new level and set certain wickedness in motion that has grown in scope to this day. In theory, yes, a super crisis or series of crises could lead to martial law and suspensions of Constitutional guarantees. During the Civil War (or as it is better known where I came from, “The War for Southern Independence”) Abraham Lincoln threw many folks who questioned his administration and policies into jail and kept them there, thanks to his having suspended the writ of habeas corpus. However, people rebelled, the press raised hell and the Supreme Court ultimately undid some of the more egregious acts of hegemony. I think any move to contain social disorder by imposition of a police or ultra-authoritarian state would, at the very least, result in the formation of tens of thousands of militias and resistance groups across the land that would make keeping the lid on the pot problematic if not impossible.

Naturally, best to act now and prevent a quasi-police or full-fledged police state then try to overthrow one that is in-place. Keeping our representatives working and honest is certainly part of that.

While no one has knows the full rhyme and reason behind human evil and its various incarnations, it helps to be aware of and reject ideas, movements, and acts that arise from and feed evil: Among them being intolerance, the marginalization and dehumanization of others especially minorities and other vulnerable groups, and unquestioned belief in authority figures and an unwillingness to call them out when they violate the very civil virtues and Constitutional guarantees they are charged with upholding.

I would add this: Although I’ve been a democratic socialist since 1985 I find some ideas and notions articulated by conservatives and even some right wingers of merit. As a Southerner whose ancestors go back to Revolutionary War times (and beyond) in South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi, and whose paternal and maternal forbearers lived under the Stars & Bars (Confederacy) and in some instances fought for the C.S.A., I inherited a mix of ideas and notions, some worthy of consideration if not embrace, others that had no substance when they were articulated long ago and never will.  Of those that I deemed worth hanging onto was the longstanding Southern distrust of a powerful central government running everything including many aspects of people’s everyday lives. Although you might think a democratic socialist would welcome an all powerful centralized government, I emphatically do not. History shows all too clearly that the concentration of power in the hands of strongmen leads to abuses and skullduggery of the worst sort. Actually there are at least a few liberal thinkers who would prefer to see a decentralization of power in the US and other countries, and even the break-up of powerhouse countries into small nation-states (Especially those that are unstable or might become so and with this attempt to retain order and stability by imposition of a police or authoritarian state). I’m sure a world comprised of small, less powerful nations, say, the size of Switzerland, would by no means avoid many of the ills that plague major powers today, but I can’t help think they would have less influence and thus less ability to work evil in the world. And for those that do, their neighbors could form temporary confederations and impose various kinds of sanctions or, when regrettably necessary, military containment (Hey, sometimes the only way to stop a thug is send in the police).

But until power shifts from Washington to the states (if it ever does), best to keep an eye on the politicians on Capital Hill and do everything possible to keep our representatives working, honest and limited in the evil they can do. The same applies to the press and other so-called sacred American institutions.

Dr. Anthony G. Payne (waxing philosophic from his porch swing)

RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING

My spiritual watering hole website: http://summerclouds.weebly.com/

Why does God allow evil (Theodicy)? See Are you an atheist, religionist, deist, fideist or ???

CBN video presentation “God & Hitler”: http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/index.aspx

Restoring Abrahamic Faith by Dr. James D. Tabor

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity by Dr. James D. Tabor

The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity by Rev. Jeffrey J. Bϋtz

How Jesus Became Christian by Barrie Wilson, Ph.D.

Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are by Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D.

Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose by Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D.

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen

Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

Frankl & Custer: We are all headed to the Little Big Horn

MONTANA VALLEY TOO - Free MorguefileOne of the most beloved verses in the Hebrew Scriptures comes from the 23rd Psalms:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For you are with me”

In Japan, where I lived and taught for many years, a general sense of “gloom & doom” pessimism pervaded the lives of many folks. This was especially evident among my university students. Japan’s protracted economic woes had apparently sapped the vision and vitality out of many of these otherwise industrious, tenacious souls. A great many kids spoke of there being “no real future” for them. Needless to say, depression and despair reared its ugly head fairly often. 

Now reactive depression is a wholly expected and understandable response to intractable adversity or woe. We all have a tendency to get sorely vexed when our lives are turned upside down and held there by trials and tribulations. In such a situation, one tries to console and counsel the suffering as best one can. (A touch of satire and self-deprecating humor sometimes doesn’t hurt either). And this I ably extended to my angst-ridden student charges with varying degrees of success. But more was needed.

The “more”, I reasoned, had to lie in something that would get these kids to change their outlook or perspective on certain aspects of life. To do this I looked to a tried-and-true source for generating insight and encouraging change: history. Specifically, I had my students tackle and examine two notable chapters: Famed psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s account of his years of struggle in various Nazi concentration camps (as recounted in his timeless classic, “Man’s Search For Meaning”), and the saga of Gen. George Armstrong Custer.

Dr. Frankl and his imprisoned compatriots suffered cruelly at the hands of sadistic SS guards, all the while struggling with scarcity and living conditions so calculatingly appalling as to beggar the imagination. Mindful that he could not change his circumstances and that his Nazi tormenters could snuff out his life at any minute, Frankl nonetheless felt empowered by a single fact: They could take everything from him but his power to choose how he would react to their brutal actions! And it was this realization that essentially helped buoy up Dr. Frankl during his agonizing walk through the “valley of the shadow of death”!

Frankl emerged from Hitler’s reign of terror intact and went on to establish an influential school of psychotherapy called logotherapy (http://logotherapy.univie.ac.at/). He died in 1997 at the ripe old age of 92, having survived the Third Reich by 52 years.

While Dr. Viktor Frankl was the victim of totalitarian oppression and a state-sanctioned policy of malignant racism and genocide, Brevet Major Gen. George Armstrong Custer stood on the other side of the divide, so to speak. Custer played a somewhat pivotal role in the United State’s 19th century pursuit of lebensraum (“living space”) and its calculated program of conquering and containing indigenous peoples (American Indians). It was not Custer’s successes in the so-called Indian War that helped advance the narrow social and political agenda of his time, but rather his death along with that of over 200 of his soldiers at the Little Big Horn (June 26, 1876). The “massacre” of then Lt. Col. Custer and his troops elicited a massive military response that ultimately led to the total subjugation of American Indians during the early years of the 20th century.   

After my students had fully acquainted themselves with the lives and feats of Dr. Frankl and Lt. Col. Custer, I had them conduct an open comparative analysis of the two (men) for the purpose of extracting principles they felt to be especially insightful and personally meaningful.

Of course, these bright, eager young people came up with an illustrious roster of “goodies”. Among them: The power of choice; how evil seduces people by playing up to their basic desires and egos; the futility of life spent focused on narrow, self-serving and self-aggrandizing goals; the nobility of service to others informed by prior suffering; etc.

After we had reviewed their litany of ideas and comments, I asked them to sum up what we had learned from the lives of Frankl and Custer. The general consensus was that we must all have the power to make choices that will steer us through life; choices that may decide whether we end our days with a tally sheet that favors having achieved something worthwhile,…..or its opposite.

I had only one thing to add to what their conclusion, which was this:

“Each of us is headed into the valley…to our own “last stand”. Whether you get there as a young person or during middle-age or as a very old man or woman,….we all have to the enter the valley and depart this world. No one escapes this fate. But as you correctly surmised, it isn’t that final battle alone that determines the meaning and value of the life you have lived, but what you do in the days, weeks, and years leading up to it. And yes, the impact of your life and the ripples it sets in motion are determined by the choices and subsequent actions you take while en route to the valley.

“Now I have but one final point to make – an admonition, really – which is this:

“If Dr. Frankl could exercise choice in his dire circumstances and by so doing not only survive the fiendish horror that was Nazi Germany, but set in motion ideas that have transformed countless lives ever since,….then certainly you can lay hold of the promise that lies in the abundant choices and options you have in life.”

Of those students who have stayed in contact with me in the intervening years, most appear to have made prudent choices that have helped them forge personally meaningful, productive and fulfilling lives. 

How goes your journey to the valley? 

 http://www.examiner.com/article/frankl-custer

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