Government’s responsibility “is to preserve the independence of property, on which is founded all human liberty and all human excellence,” explained Princeton history professor Lawrence Stone in his book The Causes of the English Revolution: 1529-1642. He continued, “but to govern is to wield power and power has a natural tendency to encroach. It is more important to supervise government than to support it because the preservation of independence is the ultimate political good.”Thus, wise people restrain government to its legitimate purpose: protection of property. To preserve their precious independence, they justifiably distrust when governments overreach, seeking avenues for greater control and intervention. Even if not motivated by love of liberty, they recognize that a government assault on someone today can become an assault on themselves tomorrow.Dr. Stone identifies conditions in which free people must be especially vigilant, conditions that jeopardize freedom: growing class antagonism, psychologically insecure and inept officials, economic crisis, intransigent leaders representing polarized societal groups.Successful operation of government depends “on the maintenance of a balance in which no one faction is ever allowed to establish a grip on either the policy-making or the patronage-dispensing…and in which the favors distributed…were not so inordinately lavish as to arouse the indignation of the taxpayers.”Further, he questions whether a nation “can survive if its educational system is largely in the hands of men who reject the values upon which it is based.”Among the English Revolution’s roots, Stone cites abandoning the Rule of Law and using edicts to mould behavior. “What started as a bold legislative attempt at social engineering ended in a squalid administrative exercise in corrupt exploitation….” Moreover, people “were exasperated with an [unpopular] foreign policy, a hopelessly inept military policy, chaotic public finances and limitless corruption and nepotism….”Citing their ancient tradition of government accountable to the people, Englishmen urged respect for “the sanctity of property and the ultimate supremacy of the law….” They had inherited a set of rules that they could use to protect “private property…and persons from the encroachment of a centralizing state…. The sanctity of individual property rights was to them…the keystone….”The culmination of these and other stresses was “the growing crisis of confidence in the integrity and moral worth of the holders of high administrative office.” There was widespread dissatisfaction with “the increased size and cost, coupled with the deterioration in efficiency and integrity, of the central organs of government.” Fiscal policy embittered the public “because the money was levied in an unconstitutional and arbitrary manner and was used for purposes which many taxpayers regarded as immoral…. Every aspect of economic life suffered from the feverish interference of a bureaucracy whose sole objective seemed to be the extraction of money by the imposition of a multitude of petty and irritating regulations, many of which were of dubious legality.”Stone concludes, “Their political rights were threatened…; their finances were threatened by arbitrary taxation…; their title to property was threatened…; their law the Common Law which protected property rights was threatened….”All these grievances seem perilously familiar.From the hunter-band’s chief to modern heads of state, probably all leaders have met “loyal opposition” blocs that shift in intensity and size. As historian and statesman Winston Churchill wisely recognized, tyrannical leaders only seem strong. Our Constitution’s tri-partite governmental structure and precisely defined powers protect us from such despotism. With our Constitution’s, periodic elections and term limits, we Americans know that we need only wait a few years for our next chance for change.
It's the holidays, college and university students are mostly back at home, and here's a thought. There's a great movie out about Abraham Lincoln, and with no classes to interfere, they ought to go to it and learn some American history. — Many students, you may not realize, don't know beans about their own country's past. Back some years ago, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni commissioned a study of how much seniors at 55 elite universities knew about fundamental, high school-level historical matters, and guess what. A startling 81 percent got either a "D" or an "F" on a test.
This year, the group commissioned another study, this one of college graduates, and found just a sliver knew James Madison was the father of the Constitution or George Washington the victorious general at Yorktown. Only 17 percent could identify the source of the phrase "government of the people, by the people and for the people."
The issue is not one of student stupidity, but of institutional neglect. The council has conducted another study showing you can get out of most institutions of higher learning without taking the kinds of courses that turn on the lights for you as a human being and a citizen, giving you a broad understanding of this world. By the reckoning of the council, schools ought to be requiring courses in U.S. history or government, science, math, literature, economics a foreign language and composition, and most are sloppy about it.
Only 2 percent of 1,070 surveyed schools get an "A" for mandating study in at least six of these knowledge areas, and I am proud to say I have taught at one of them, Colorado Christian University. By contrast, one university that received a "D" is supposedly one of the best in America, a place that is unbelievably tough to get into and proffers a degree that opens career doors hither, yon and in between. I mean Harvard, whose failings are the subject of "Privilege," a splendidly written 2005 book by Ross Gregory Douthat.
Douthat, a conservative columnist at the ultra-liberal New York Times, says being a student at Harvard is more nearly about success than learning, even though, yes, there are lots of brilliant people around, including professors who inflate your grades even as too few offer up terrific classes. One problem is that there's no guidance about what to take, and the choices available in core curriculum subject areas can be leaps and bounds from anything central and substantive.
All of which brings us to the "Lincoln" movie. Let's first get the criticism out of the way, namely that there are some false moments lessening instead of focusing the drama. But the movie as a whole is an intense experience of a great man pulling off the great accomplishment of winning a House of Representatives vote furthering the 13th Amendment that ended slavery in the United States. I am a fan of Lincoln and books about him and found the depiction of him incredibly convincing, as did some historians who have also commented that the movie is basically sound in its wondrously moving portrayal of events.
The short of it is that someone could go to this movie and learn more about a crucial episode in American history than during a four-year stay at one of hundreds of colleges, including the fact that Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was the source of the phrase about government of, by and for all of us. They would not have to spend a ton on tuition, either, or end up owing enough to the federal government's ultra-inflationary student loan program to be in debt for years.
Our universities need reform, serious, tuition-reducing, curriculum-improving reform that also sees professors putting teaching above publishing as the way to keep from perishing. Here and there are hints of steps in hopeful directions, such as Texas and Florida developing online degree programs costing a total of $10,000. Minus some experiments that work, the hurt will be grievous to a whole slew of people, and to something else as well: our American future.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is now a columnist living in Colorado and a Centennial Institute Fellow.
(Salem, Massachusetts) Weather allowing, Salem is a fairly short and pleasant sailing trip from Boston to the Bay State’s rocky North Shore. If a visitor has history on his mind, there is virtue in perusing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables or Jonathan Edwards fiery sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.While most Americans might vaguely associate Salem with the infamous “Witch Trials” of 1692 that episode is but a partial albeit compelling insight into the powerful religiosity of 17th century New England.William Bennett has thoughtfully described America’s “Culture War” as a clash between older more settled values and newer impulses whose adherents view the traditional vision as oppressive and restrictive of their personal liberties and lifestyle. To describe this conflict as “Puritans Versus Libertines” would be horribly simplistic but a sure guarantee of many a raucous argument.A far more riveting perspective is found in President John F. Kennedy’s famous 1961 Inaugural challenge to Americans to “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You, but rather What You Can Do for Your Country”.In the half century since Kennedy spoke Western society has evolved in a direction that goes far towards turning his challenge upside down. In Western Europe we see masses of citizens protesting- often violently- against governments that dared to even marginally reduce their lavish entitlements. Free education – pre-school through graduate school- is not uncommon. Thus individuals can remain students into their thirties and then retire on generous pensions before they are sixty (only the much maligned Germans must labor till age sixty-seven before retiring).In Europe even the political parties of the right are far to the left of America’s Democratic Party. There is an “All Party Consensus” in favor of the full blown Entitlement State. Elections are fierce contests over relatively small differences. The “Conservative” Sarkozy dared to lift France’s retirement age from 60 to 62 and thereby forfeited the Presidential election to the Socialist Hollande who promptly returned it to 60.
In the United States society and the political spectrum has moved in a direction similar to Europe but at a far slower pace.
Currently we are engaged in a Presidential election that partisans on both sides regard as a historic pivot point for the future of the country.
The party of the leftl and their candidate (Obama) has revealed its clear bias in favor of expanding the size, scope, and taxing authority of the Federal government and redefining “fairness”, who is “needy”, and the “proper” distribution of wealth.
The party of the right and their candidate (Romney) views Obama’s record and direction as economically disastrous and dangerous to liberty- nothing less than an outright attempt to impose European style Social Democracy in America.
A cynic might describe Obama as hoping to get re-elected by promising people “lots more stuff right away” and Romney countering with “maybe a little less stuff, but only somewhere down the road”.
In truth, however, these two candidates- unlike their Tweedledum, Tweedledee European counterparts- represent hugely different visions of what America is, and which direction we should be moving in the future.
Romney celebrates “American Exceptionalism” and the “glorious History” that produced it. Obama asserts American Exceptionalism is no different than that of any other nation and views our History as a deeply flawed record requiring repeated apology and the “transformation” he promised but carefully omitted to detail.
While the establishments of both parties maneuver, spend, and exhort in this slugfest of an election, there is discernible a non-establishment community that is usually less engaged politically, and generally quieter.
They are our immigrants. They are a diverse lot. Some people think they are predominantly Hispanic, but in the last ten years the largest group (36%) has been Asian.
They often work for wages most Americans would disdain, but they see as bountiful compared to those in their home countries. While many Americans feel cramped with three people in a six room house, they often happily stuff six people into a three room apartment.
With relatively rare exception they came to America not for an Entitlement, but for an Opportunity- a chance to get a job, get ahead and seek a better life for themselves and their families. They came here in pursuit of the American Dream- a phrase that seems quaint to some, a source of mockery to others. But to our immigrants it remains very real and shines with Promise.
In Lenin’s memorable phrase they “voted with their feet”, not for a political party, but for a Country- America. They don’t apologize for coming, they don’t fixate on the country’s admitted flaws, and they certainly don’t want America “transformed”. They want it preserved, and at a very deep level, they understand their vital stake in seeing that it shall be.
William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow and former Colorado Education Commissioner. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, and Human Events.
My time in D.C. with the CCU and Centennial Institute Washington Week clan began with not the greatest of surprises – after driving 1,670 miles from Denver my car’s fuel pump failed just twenty miles short of our destination. Sparing you further details of the dilemma; I had a very interesting discussion with the driver of the tow truck, Kevin. Kevin made it very clear that he backed Obama for re-election. After unsuccessfully prying into his reasoning for such a stance, I began to lose hope for the discussion. Then Kevin introduced the idea of term limits for Congress. Kevin was highly in favor of a possible limit of service on the Hill for both chambers. This proposition is not foreign at CCU, Centennial Institute, or conservative dialogue in general, and provided a needed common ground between Kevin and myself on our short ride to the garage. This conversation would not be the last time that term limits would be raised during this trip.
On Friday, former Colorado Congressman and Senator, Hank Brown led CCU students on a tour of the Capitol. Senator Brown has extensive knowledge of the Capitol’s art, history, and symbolism. As a former Senator, Hank Brown provided CCU students a nearly unlimited access tour of both chambers. One very special place we found ourselves in was the House Appropriations Committee room. In this room, a portion of the fresco is composed of a painting of the Roman Senator and leader Cincinnatus being called from his plough to defend Rome. Senator Brown told us the significance of this lies not in the fact the Cincinnatus heard the call of duty and went to save Rome, but that he returned to his farm and denied the dictatorship of Rome after completing his service. This historical event was repeated in the life and service of George Washington. Both men loved their country, they left their home to serve and defend but returned when their service was no longer required, turning down dictatorial power.
These two men, Washington more commonly, are cited by those who argue for a Congressional term limit. We have seen a handful of men go to congress and serve valiantly at their posts as Senators of Congressman then return to their homes and occupations, imploring others to do the same. But are these self-imposing term limiters to be compared to Cincinnatus and Washington? To know this we must know the enemy in all three cases. In Cincinnatus’s time the enemy was the attacking Aequi forces. During Washington the threat was the British Empire. But today the greatest fight in front of a conservative congressman or woman is the fight to stop & reverse government growth and defend constitutional government. And while universally imposed term limits would theoretically aid that pursuit, Conservatives are not raising the memory of Cincinnatus or Washington when they leave the government in the hands of the entrenched spenders while patting themselves on the back for showing restraint. I applaud the honorable service of these Senators and Representatives, though I feel this is one area where leading by example hurts our cause. These strong conservative members should fight to the end of the battle; until term limits are instated, then leave their posts with dignity.
(Hilton Head, S.C.) As the United States moves through the second of its four years of commemorating the sesquicentennial of its’ Civil War (1861-1865) it is instructive to reflect on the interplay of History and national memory.
For those wishing to visit historic sites or observe various commemorations, South Carolina- the first state to secede from the Union- can be a useful base of operations.
Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor gives excellent vantage for meditating on the critical importance of the events leading up to and flowing from its fall in early 1861.
“The Past is Like a Foreign Country. They do Things Differently There.”
-L.P.Hartley, The Go-Between
A short journey by car or boat to Savannah, Georgia, introduces the visitor to one of the most charming cities in America and also the historically significant terminus of William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous (infamous in the South) “March to the Sea” following the burning of Atlanta- an event so memorably captured in the classic 1939 film “Gone With the Wind”.
Sherman gave to the English language the memorable phrase “War is Hell” and the unforgiving swath he cut across Georgia in late 1864 amply validated his point.
Following resupply by Union ships in Savannah in early 1865 Sherman headed North into the Carolinas his advance slowed but not stopped by small forces of increasingly desperate and depleted Confederates- mostly old men and boys. His object was to link up in Virginia with Ulysses Grant and finally bring to bay the redoubtable Robert E. Lee who through a long Winter of bitter brutal combat- notably Cold Harbor and The Wilderness- had frustrated the designs of the Union’s supreme commander.
Seeing the “Handwriting on the Wall” and ever mindful of the terrible suffering of his soldiers and his people Lee instead chose to offer his sword in surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House in April 9, 1965.
Winston Churchill in the final volume of his masterful History of the English Speaking Peoples called the Civil War the “grandest narrative and the most powerful drama in all of American history between the Founding and modern times. For the world it defined who Americans were and gave portent of what their great country would become.”
It has often been remarked that the embers of historic memory endure longer in the hearts of the vanquished than those of the victors. The latter more quickly move on while the former- in the words of the southern writer William Faulkner- “are inclined to linger in the embrace of unbearable pain.”
It has also been noted that the South-much more than the North-pays close attention to the rituals and remembrances of what many yet regard as a Lost but still heroic Cause.
This is in part understandable since men defending their homeland against what they viewed as “Northern Aggression” fought all the great battles of the war- Gettysburg excepted- on Southern soil.
More men died in the Civil War than in all other American conflicts combined. Theodore Roosevelt called it the “most idealistic of American wars” and the letters of ordinary soldiers on both sides bear him out.
One hundred fifty years ago this month (April 1862) at a place called Shiloh occurred the bloodiest battle ever fought on the North American continent. The historians Shelby Foote and recently Victor Davis Hanson have written the most riveting accounts of an encounter that swayed back and forth with two armies locked in mortal combat marked by point blank cannonading, repeated bayonet charges, and desperate hand to hand clashes by day and night. In just two days more men perished than have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan in ten years.
The battle is lesser known because the result was indecisive but signaled clearly to both North and South that there would be no sudden victory and quick ending. The war would be long and terrible.
Reflecting on the battle Abraham Lincoln said, “No words can calculate or measure such sacrifices. Yet we must repay these men with enduring honor and ceaseless perseverance.”
On a beautiful South Carolina morning I follow a less traveled road drawn by its’ name: Union Cemetery. I am reminded that in almost all of history’s wars it is only the living who go home. The dead find repose at or near the places they fell
The small grave markers where decipherable reveal but fragments of information known at the time of interment- a name (Johnson), a place (Vermont), or a date (1865).
A small group of local citizens- mostly older women- is busy repairing the ravages of winter. In conversation I learn that they are the same people who lovingly tend a small nearby cemetery of Confederate “Unknowns”.
A sprightly white haired lady demurs when I offer a compliment for her dedicated service. “Oh No” she said. “I just think that somehow what they did then, is part of who we are now”. She smiled, thanked me for my interest, and resumed her work. I departed while thinking of Lincoln’s phrase: “Enduring Honor”.
William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow and former Colorado Commissioner of Education. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Times, Denver Post, and Human Events.
(Rome) If one would conjure in imagination what Gibbon called the “Glory that was Greece and the Grandeur that was Rome” a worthwhile approach is to set sail upon Homer’s “wine dark sea” and in select ports of call contemplate with awe the visible Ruins of those mighty civilizations that are the foundation of our own. On a recent cruise, my wife and I did just that.
In the many centuries since Greece and Rome held sway over the known world visitors like Gibbon have come to view marble remains while parsing ancient texts and searching for clues to the fate of their own world.
In ironic fashion Athens and Rome are once again centers of intense worldwide interest, though not as progenitors of Western Civilization but rather possible contributors to its financial collapse.
Indeed, how times have changed. Places that produced leaders like Pericles, and Marcus Aurelius, now offer only Papandreous and Berlusconis. Peoples who once sent Captains like Alexander and Caesar to bestride the far corners of the earth now reach exhaustion mastering a sand pile called Libya.
At mid-point in our journey my ruminations on all this were enriched by the insights of an old English friend who I first met at Oxford in 1970. Paul, “a former naval person” retired from MI-5 (I think) and his ever elegant French wife Nicole now grow prize-winning roses at their lovely seaside cottage in Cornwall. We became close when our respective governments sent us to a summer “cultural exchange” in Communist Romania, then under the heel of the beastly tyrant Nicolae Ceasusescu. With wonderful English understatement Paul suggested that his only instruction from his sponsor was “Just be alert, old boy”.
The itinerary of this cultural exchange- wandering across Transylvanian countryside, Black Sea coast, Bucharest etc.- allowed ample time for idle conversation between like-minded individuals willing to civilly but enthusiastically criticize each other’s countries and leaders (e.g. Nixon & Heath) and generally pontificate upon all the great political questions of the day.
To be sure, Paul and I had our biases. He believed that his country would always be a major force in world affairs. I believed that my country would never be afflicted by that strange “civilizational fatigue” that seemed to be leaking into the bloodstream of much of Western Europe. During our recent struggling ascent up the slopes of Europe’s last active volcano-Mt. Etna in Sicily- we reached the rueful conclusion that we both had been wrong.
For those who love History roaming through Greece and Italy is a delight since they have so much of it crowded in very compact spaces. The entire flowering of Greek civilization took place in an area just a third the size of Colorado. In a single city- Florence- is the greatest concentration of Western Art in the world, and the finest museum-The Uffizi. Three giants of Western Art, Science, and Philosophy-Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli-are at rest in the same darkened Church. Nearby one can gaze upon Michelangelo’s David, arguably the most nearly perfect expression of Western Art anywhere in the world.
What Gibbon did for the Ancient World in his Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire (5 vols. 1776-1788) the German philosopher Oswald Spengler sought to do for the Modern World in his darkly prophetic Decline of the West ( 2 vols. 1918-1922) which argued that all cultures are subject to the same historically predetermined cycle of growth and decay.
Spengler wrote in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophically self-destructive First World War, the initial act of a European Civil War (1914-1945) which prematurely ended that continent’s global ascendance and inflicted a devastating spiritual wound upon the Western psyche that is unhealed to this day.
What one sees in Florence particularly and the Renaissance generally is an extraordinary amalgam of Greek, Roman, and Christian civilization the salient characteristics of which are the boundless dynamism, energy, and self-confidence that simultaneously produced the world’s greatest art, the birth of modern science, and unleashed the Age of Discovery.
The present generation must answer whether those characteristics remain in sufficient abundance to meet the stern challenges of this time of Doubt and Divisiveness. To find that answer, however, they will need the guidance of History, and the resource of Faith to first fully understand the question.
William Moloney’s columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, Human Events and Denver Post. He is a Fellow of the Centennial Institute in Colorado.
Friday, 20 May 2011 15:23 by Admin
A dozen scholars and commentators convened as guests of the Centennial Institute on May 17 for a luncheon seminar on Benjamin Wiker's survey of modern intellectual history, Ten Books That Screwed Up the World.
After Wiker, formerly a professor of philosophy and ethics at several Catholic colleges, lectured about his book at CCU on April 15, Centennial director John Andrews suggested there should be a followup discussion to probe the validity of his thesis.Two CCU faculty members, political scientist Greg Schaller and historian William Watson, reflected afterward about some of the differing perspectives that emerged at the luncheon. Their comments included the following:
=======================SCHALLER:Some at the table seemed to desire the absence of state interference in soul-craft. In my opinion, this is not the same good they seem to think it is. While I certainly agree that the absence of brutal states is superior to the cruel dictator, I disagree that it is an either/or proposal. The state can and should play a role in the forming of social mores that are essential to self-government success.It is indeed a great thing that we have the liberty to debate and discuss these ideas, free from state persecution and I wouldn't want to live under a different regime. The problem with the absence ofguidance is that the liberty that was won, based on the principles of natural right, has been corrupted into license. And this is a terribly dangerous development, that does indeed connect back to Wiker's argument. There is no denying the fact that Hobbes does indeed refer back to Machiavelli, and Rousseau to Hobbes, and Marx to Rousseau, and Nietzsche to Marx. To ignore how this lineage has built on itself, and the negative impact it has had, is wrong.===========================WATSON: I was surprised there weren't more voices supporting Wiker's understanding of historical causation, that ideas have consequences. Have we dispensed with Intellectual History? Is there no historical development of ideas? Didn't Rousseau influence Robespeirre and Marx, or Darwin and Nietzsche influence HItler? Isn't there an assumption in teaching Western Civilization, in the way CCU is now doing, that Western ideas developed gradually over the centuries by the influence of Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and Christians?
Didn't positive developments like the Magna Charta, Martin Luther, John Locke, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and the founding fathers culminate in the production of the rights, freedoms and democratic institutions we enjoy? Couldn't there also have been negative influences leading us astray of these values, influences like the authors mentioned by Wiker: Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Hitler, Freud? I differ on a few particulars of Wiker's positions, but his general thesis of a drift away from the worldview that produced human dignity, rule of law, free markets, limited government and individual freedom cannot be written off. We should defend (and train our students to defend) the ideas that have produced our liberty.
It seems to me impossible to deny the historical development of ideas which had consequences --specifically, the catastrophes of the 20th century. If someone claims, for example, that there was little or no difference between Genghis Khan and Adolph Hitler, I would say there is a great difference for the worse on Hitler's side, not only quantitative in terms of the death toll, but also qualitative in terms of the evil ideology
The world is full of people waiting eagerly to sound the death knell for the American era. America is perceived as a beleaguered nation, beaten down and falling apart. Yet it's possible for our nation to return to greatness even after the struggles of the past decade. My essay, The American Demise?, explores the situation. Read it here. Grenier American Demise.pdf (154.10 kb)
Like a sick person who seeks medical help for a problem, only to find that it's really a symptom of an even greater problem, as a nation we need to look deeper if we really want to get well and thrive again. The American Demise? analyzes our current economic situation for its root causes, not merely the symptoms. Major sections look at the shrinking world, our lost heritage, misguided economic dreams, government overreach, popular culture, and debt addiction.
My essay's conclusion is our current economic and political struggles are symptoms of a national lack of character. The best answer is promote, once again, the concepts of morality, nobility, and virtue in our nation. Once more, here's the link where you can read and download a full copy of The American Demise?Grenier American Demise.pdf (154.10 kb)
Kevin Grenier is a graduate of the Air Force Academy. He has been an intelligence officer, military chaplain, pastor and non-profit director. He has also taught at CCU and Denver Seminary. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Castle Rock with their five children.
On the night of November 9, 1938, Nazis unleashed unimaginable violence on the Jews of Germany. The wave of atrocities became known as Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass. Adolf Hitler, in one of his frequent cynical attempts to cloak pagan barbarism with Christian respectability, declared that the horrors were inflicted in honor of the vehemently anti-Jewish Martin Luther’s birthday the next day.Editor: Anti-Israel divestiture efforts this week at the University of Colorado prompted this historical essay by our friend Pamela Zuker, a scholar and writer in Aspen, on the long and shameful history of Jew-hatred. As she notes, it is a legacy in which Christians have sometimes participated, though without any valid theological warrant - in repudiation of which, we at Colorado Christian University solemnly vow, in much the same words as Dr. Zuker quotes at the end from our brave Jewish friends: “Never again.”Until Kristallnacht - despite the enactment of laws prohibiting intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews, a national boycott of Jewish stores, the exclusion of Jews from respected professions, the expulsion of Jewish students from German schools, the revocation of the German citizenship of all German Jews, and even the requirement that Jews wear yellow “Jude” stars on their clothing - many Jews had refused to flee the country, believing that German anti-Semitism would abate.In the immediate aftermath of Kristallnacht, however, virtually every remaining Jew in Germany attempted to emigrate. Sadly, even after the Nazi atrocities were known to the world, few countries would provide Jews asylum. When asked how many Jews his country could accommodate, a high government official in Canada replied, “None is too many.”? The British, bent on thwarting Zionism (the desire to create a sovereign Jewish State in Israel), imposed a prohibition on Jewish emigration to the Land of Israel, and even refused safe passage to a ship that arrived in British-controlled “Palestine” bursting with Jewish Holocaust refugees. By escorting them back to Europe, the British ensured that when Jews needed their ancestral home the most, it would not be their safe haven.That dismal chapter in Jewish history finally cemented in the minds of the world’s Jewry the urgent necessity to return to a world with a sovereign Jewish State. In 136 C.E., Romans forcibly expelled the Jews from the Land of Israel (then called Israel, Judea and Samaria). This expulsion brought to an end more than one thousand years of Jewish reign (with several intermittent periods of external rule by conquest), compelling the global dispersion of the world’s Jews, and inaugurating eighteen centuries of cruel oppression and genocidal persecution. In the nearly two thousand years between Jewish expulsion from Israel and their return, Jews were variously subjected to forced conversions, confiscations of land, money, and personal property, expulsions from several countries, slavery, prohibitions on the practice of Judaism, frequent massacres, the burning of sacred books, the burning of Synagogues, and being burned alive. Several countries attempted to obliterate their Jews, resulting in the annihilation of a third of the Jewish population of Germany and Northern France, during the first thousand years of exile. The entire population of Jews in England was murdered and/or imprisoned in the 13th century, and in 1472, when all Jews were expelled from Spain, even the descendants of Jewish converts to Christianity were prohibited from attending university, joining religious orders, holding public office, or entering any of a long list of professions. One third of Poland’s Jews were slaughtered in the 1600s, and during the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, Jews there were massacred to complete elimination. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered in Russian pogroms in the 19th and 20th centuries. The pogroms that accompanied the Revolution of 1917 alone orphaned more than 300,000 Jewish children.The staggering Jewish genocide during what Jews have come to call the “Shoah” (calamity) of World War II, saw approximately six million Jews sadistically tortured and murdered at the hands of Nazis and their collaborators. At the war’s end, fully one-third of the world’s total Jewish population had been brutally butchered.The history of Jews outside of Israel until the end of World War II is largely a history of oppression, genocide, and expulsion – punctuated by burnings at the stake, public torture, and insidious, malicious libel. Remarkably, Jewish “displaced persons” continuously assimilated into other cultures around the world while retaining their unique religion and identity as a people, a feat that Jews all across the globe are somehow still able to accomplish.Eighteen hundred twelve years after Rome exiled the Jews from their homes in Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel), and changed the names of the Jewish lands to Palaestinia (the land of the Philistines – so named in an attempt to sever Jews’ ties to their land), descendents of 2nd century Jewish refugees returned home as 20th century Jewish refugees. In the first year of the existence of the State of Israel, roughly 500,000 homeless European Jews emigrated. Within ten years, the population of Israel had grown to two million. The majority of the Jewish immigrants, including 700,000 refugees from Arab countries, arrived with no possessions.In contradistinction to neighboring states, Israel established free and fair elections, universal suffrage, a free press, and the right to a fair trial with an independent judiciary. Arab citizens of Israel, regardless of religious affiliation, are afforded the same rights and privileges as Jewish citizens, and all women who are citizens of Israel, regardless of religious affiliation, are afforded rights equal to those of men. In Israel, Jews created a country that allows both the freedom of religion and full access to Jerusalem’s Jewish, Christian and Muslim Holy sites that were denied Jews when Jerusalem was not under Jewish rule.Despite this, in the rest of the world, particularly in difficult economic times, antisemitism rears its ugly head. Even – or perhaps more accurately, especially – in the world’s most respected international forum, the United Nations, antisemitism is rampant.On November 10th, 1975, the 37th anniversary of Kristallnacht, rather than issuing a statement in memory of the Jewish victims of Nazi savagery, the United Nations passed Resolution 3379 branding Zionism, the reestablishment of a Jewish State in Israel, “a form of racism.” Although renounced by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., as “obscene,” it was through this resolution that Jew-hatred was sanitized, repackaged, and propagated globally as politically correct “anti-Zionism.” It took the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had voted in lockstep with Arab nations and other countries with anti-Jewish interests, for the U.N. to officially revoke the resolution, but the damage had been done and the precedent set. As a particularly ludicrous example of the United Nations’ stance toward Israel, at the International Women’s Year Conference in 1975, a resolution denounced Zionism as an enemy of all women (despite women’s equal rights in Israel) but did not denounce sexism as an enemy of all women because the call for women’s rights was seen as an attack on the Arab-Muslim world.Appallingly, on June 8, 2010, a Syrian representative at the United Nations perpetuated a modern version of the ancient blood libel to the United Nations Human Rights Council: “Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school,” he said, “and I quote, ‘With my teeth I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood.’” As shocking as this is, it should not be surprising given that these myths persist not only in Muslim countries, but even, according to anthropologists in a 2008 study, among Catholics and Orthodox Christians of all social classes in places as far from the Middle East as Southeastern Poland. In November, 2010 the annual UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People featured speeches from Libyan and Syrian demagogues that referred to Israel as, “the cancerous settlement in all the Palestinian territories,” and included statements such as, “Zionism, in reality, is the worst form of racism,” “Israel shows and rears its ugly face,” and, “the word Israel has become synonymous with words such as aggression, killing, racism, terrorism.”Words like “butchering,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “racism,” “brutality,” “crimes against humanity,” “torture,” “killing in cold blood” and “barbarism” were invoked not to describe the reasons for the creation of the state of Israel, but to condemn it. Opposition to “Judaization” – Jewish presence on what is perceived as Arab territory – was proclaimed and by default, legitimized.For some reason, the depictions of a “cancerous” Jewish state with its “ugly, bloodthirsty” Jewish occupants – utterances that would be recognized as unambiguously anti-Semitic if spoken elsewhere – are not considered beyond the pale at the United Nations. By the end of 2010, half of the country-specific condemnatory resolutions and decisions ever adopted by the UN Human Rights Council targeted Israel. Yet somehow, in the face of this, in the 1970s, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had the courage to sign a peace treaty with Israel. In advance of the Israeli-Egyptian peace talks, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously remarked with sadness to Sadat, “We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.” Today in Colorado, Palestinian advocate Michael Rabb and his group “CU Divest” hope to convince the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado to divest its portfolio of any investments linked to our staunchest ally in a troubled and increasingly less stable region. While we have every right to choose to disagree with Israel’s policies, it is essential that we protect, defend, and support its right to exist and to defend its inhabitants from virtually unceasing violent incursions. One can only hope the University will recognize that weakening Israel will not facilitate peace in the Middle East. In fact, only a strong and globally acknowledged Jewish state of Israel with widespread support from the world’s democracies will allow others in the region to enjoy the human and civil rights taken for granted in the U.S., Israel, and Europe. In the decades since the Holocaust, the haunting mantra, “Never Forget” serves to define the Jewish people’s role and responsibility to humanity as a constant reminder of the moral imperative to treat every human being – regardless of race or religion – justly and with decency, dignity and compassion. The existence of Israel is a necessity for the world’s Jews as a safeguard against a recurrence of the horrors of the last two thousand years and a protection of Jews’ human rights. But it is also a necessity for the human rights of those surrounding that tiny island of democracy. It is how the world treats Israel that will determine whether it is possible to move toward a world with universal human rights. The citizens of Israel along with the citizens of other democracies across the globe share a fervent hope that Israel’s neighbors will one day know freedom, prosperity and true peace. Until then, Israel is their last best hope.Psychologist Pamela Zuker is the author of "A Year of Kindness," a guided journal for anyone who would like to be kinder, happier, and lead a more meaningful life that draws on years of social and psychological research about kindness and giving. Her research at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) focused on Positive Psychology and happiness, and her PhD is in Human Development and Psychology from the University of Chicago. She also holds degrees in clinical psychology and anthropology, and consults for nonprofits, foundations, and philanthropic families. "A Year of Kindness" is available at aYearofKindness.org, Amazon.com, and Explore Booksellers in Aspen, CO.
('76 Contributor) It hurts me deeply to see good, hard working Americans struggling to find jobs. These Americans don’t want a penny from the government; they want a job. They want to experience the self worth and sense of accomplishment that comes with putting food on the table on one’s own accord, not on the forced benevolence of unknown taxpayers. They want to talk about their kids’ days, a family vacation, or the quintessential football family rivalry but it is apparent that family finances, how are we going to pay the bills, how are we going to send the kids to college, am I going to get laid off, have come to dominate dinner tables around our nation.
Editor: On this 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth, we asked young Karthik Venkatraj, son of immigrants, Army officer, and currently a John Jay Fellow working at the Centennial Institute, for his thoughts on the legacy of the 40th president. He filed this heartfelt essay.
Our nation is hurting and her people are shouldering the hurt. Families around the nation are having to make tough choices, cut out any expenses that are not completely essential, hold on to their jobs, or begin the most arduous and taxing task of finding a job. Younger folks are struggling to find jobs after college or after graduate school. Worst of all, our nation’s children and their children are already mired in debt, after years of government spending and profligacy. Folks are hurting and our nation’s leaders are searching for solutions in an almost circuitous fashion.
What has come of our nation? Most Americans are in utter frustration mixed with disbelief to see our nation in this state.
This problem is far larger than conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, or any sort of party or political affiliation. Our nation and her people are crying out for leaders who care about her prosperity and perpetuity over that of their re-election. We are crying for principled leaders to make tough decisions to provide a better future for us and more importantly, our children. Each and everyone of us are making the tough choices, isn’t time for a government indicative of the decisions we have to make? Isn’t that the duty of our generation, to provide a better future for the next generation? I have been able to lead soldiers, who have deployed two or three times to make ends meet in their households. Is that the nation we aspire to be or do we seek to be that “shining city upon a hill”? So we call on our legislators to follow through on their oath. But let us not predicate our hope on select men and women; rather, let us remember that our nation was constructed on the hard work and dedication of Americans moving together as one. As we come together as a nation to honor and celebrate President Reagan and his legacy, let us be reminded of the charge he gave to the American people of an exceptional nation.
Reagan was often referred to as the Great Communicator but in his farewell address, Reagan refuted this claim, stating : “I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries." And within this statement we find the key to our nation’s challenges - - our timeless ideals embodied by the American people. It is why I am convinced that although my generation will face the greatest challenges our nation has witnessed since the post World War II era, we will also find our greatest triumphs.
It’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and win one for the Gipper.