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Waking up in Fright
News From Around the World
Friday, August 26, 2011
Alf Cengia

Having spent the last week away from the news media I sat myself down with my third cup of coffee and scoured the headlines to catch up with the world.  

One of the first stories I happened across was titled The Fearful New World.

But it was the shocking photo of a recent London riot accompanying the article that struck me. I muttered a ‘Wow!” The graphic scene brought immediately to mind aspects of the French Revolution, courtesy of Ann Coulter’s vivid portrayals in her latest book Demonic”.

Frequently citing Gustave Le Bon’s “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind”, Coulter (whether rightly or unfairly) compares the liberal mind-set with the out of control mobs that called for blood letting and unrestrained violence during the French Revolution.

Coulter also deftly compares the precursors leading up to the French Revolution; how it was conducted and its aftermath in striking contrast to the relatively peaceful American Revolution.

England’s Melanie Phillips appears to concur with Ann Coulter’s comments regarding liberalism’s direct relationship to mob mentality. She takes a slightly different approach to the problem of the riots by citing the “three-decade liberal experiment which tore up virtually every basic social value.

Of the London riots, she states:

“What has been fuelling all this is not poverty, as has so predictably been claimed, but moral collapse. What we have been experiencing is a complete breakdown of civilised behaviour among children and young people straight out of William Golding’s seminal novel about childhood savagery, Lord Of The Flies.” (Emphasis and link is mine)

She believes that the welfare mentality; the erosion of the family unit and moral values and general self-centeredness - encouraged by the so-called “intelligentsia” of society and ignored by the church in general - finally culminated in the shocking anarchic riots.

It’s interesting that she holds the church accountable by accusing its leaders of “prattling like soft-headed social workers” instead of “preaching”. I agree, but the problem isn’t restricted to England. Refreshingly, and out of step with most other commentators, she adds:

“Repairing this terrible damage also means, dare I say it, a return to the energetic transmission of Biblical morality.” (Emphasis mine)

But it isn’t just London and it isn’t just the decline of Western moral values that is triggering these riots - it’s humanly derived ideology. Liberalism must be classified under the umbrella of ideology, and so does Islam.

Keeping all this in mind, the violent parallels with what happened in London; and has occurred; and is occurring in the Middle East, are both terrifying and a warning to all of us in the West.

In “The Fearful New World”, Joseph Puder writes:

“A visitor arriving to our planet from outer space would discover a world filled with chaos and anger and, parenthetically, a world that is leaderless and rudderless. The world order that was so familiar to most of the world just a few years ago has deteriorated, leaving many of its inhabitants scared, confused and concerned for the future of the globe. Ironically, people are less concerned about a nuclear exchange or an intercontinental world war – though, no doubt, these issues are at the periphery of their thoughts. Most are concerned with such basic issues as personal safety, jobs and, law and order in their respective urban centers as, for example what we have seen of late in London, Philadelphia, or Cairo.”

The demonstrations that toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were violent. The plethora of videos that recorded clashes between police and demonstrators evoke scenes of war and anarchy. Wiki called it “mainly a campaign of non-violent civil resistance”. Yet, in the same breath, it writes that at least 846 people were killed and 6,000 other injured.

And can we forget the circumstances of CBS reporter Lara Logan’s rape?

Some cultural apologists and/or appeasers are quick to point out that rapes also happen everywhere in Western nations and that it was an unfortunate case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, there’s a noteworthy difference in the Lara Logan rape compared to other rapes. Many reports and videos show that crowds of up to 200 men separated Logan from her security while they shouted, “Jew, Jew!”, and “American b---h!” Logan is, in fact, a South African native.

We can find parallels of violent behavior in both the Libyan and Syrian protests, along with the corresponding willingness of their respective governments to quash the protests with unrestrained force. As I write this, Gaddafi has fallen – how will the future governing body compare with Gaddafi’s regime?

Is Egypt in a better place now that Mubarak is gone? Was the Iranian revolution a social success? Do violent revolutions evolve into benevolent governments? Where are the success stories - the French Revolution?

Wiki (and others) points to several socio-economic and human rights factors that helped precipitate the Egyptian revolution. David Bukay suggests the primary cause may be found elsewhere even though those circumstances existed:

“The demonstrations and riots erupted through Egypt, were neither a revolution (a total change in all political, social and economic realms), nor a rebellion (a mass movement upheaval). However, they were an excuse of an (sic) successful internal coup d'état within the military regime, perpetrated by Tantawi, the Defense Minister against Mubarak.”

There certainly were human rights concerns in Egypt. The same is true for Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and a host of other nations. But, perhaps, Egypt is an example of political opportunism. Hitler rose to power, ostensibly, via a legitimate constitutional process - though he covertly eliminated his opponents. He appealed to certain disgruntled groups:

“The Nazis won their support primarily from the lower middle class and the peasantry. These voters were strongly nationalistic in their political views and feared that the depression would deprive them of their standard of living.” (Emphasis mine)

Hitler’s rhetoric concerning “the Jews” has disconcerting modern parallels. Just insert the word “Israel” for “Jew”. We’ve seen it all before yet it sneaks up on us again.

The American Humanist Manifesto is an interesting read. Take the 11th affirmation:

“Man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.”

And the 14th affirmation:

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

Yes, we can see all that coming together nicely in the London and Middle East riots! The recent missile attacks on Israel, which coincide with a renewed push for a Palestinian State, demonstrate just how illusory the Humanist Manifesto is.

I think Alva McClain expressed it well when, speaking of the American Constitution, he said:

“The founding fathers of our own American state, approaching their task with a deep suspicion of human nature, designed and ingenious system of checks and balances to separate these three [government] functions and keep any one of them from usurping too much power. Although it seems clumsy and inefficient at times, lacking in both unity and economy, nevertheless our government has furnished a welcome refuge for political liberty in a sinful world, and will continue to do so – if we can keep it. (Greatness of the Kingdom p 207)

The founding fathers of America were an exception to the rule.

Unfortunately, as Pruder has noted, the world is changing and these changes are coming rapidly. Dire economic circumstances coupled the violent fall of regimes will ensure that those who wish to take advantage to gain political control - will do so.

Will this leadership be benevolent?

Will we one day wake up in fright wondering how we got to the place we find ourselves in?

About Alf Cengia

Last article: Theology & the Arab/Israeli Conflict

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