As the old saying goes, the two most uncommon virtues are Common Sense and Common Courtesy.
I am re-emerging from my Lego Cave to address some pressing issues of the day, and make some language-related comments along the way. I hope to continue to do these multiple issue-blogs more frequently.
Along the way, I hope you enjoy the uniquely engaging drama and comedy that is “History.” There’s so much fodder for HBO and Showtime Series: Let’s go, guys! If anyone tried to pass off what has really happened on our Planet as fiction, they would be laughed off the stage. It is priceless!
The Arizona Anti-LGBT Bill
Last week, my beautiful home State’s Legislature once again disgraced itself and the State with a loathsome and Un-American bill to allow retailers to “act on their religious beliefs” to deny LGBT persons services if they wanted to. Kudos to Gov. Brewer for vetoing this atrocious legislation. Shame on the Legislature, and the Arizona Catholic Conference for supporting it.
Let’s apply the rules of logic, rhetoric, and the lessons of history to this issue.
For much of human history, we have fallen into the temptation to persecute one another on the basis of religion. The Ancient Classical world (the Alexandrian-Hellenistic-Greco-Roman world) was better than most in that the tendency was to syncretize rather than persecute: For example: Zeus Ζεύς = Jupiter = Amon = Thor ≈ Indra, and Hermes Ἑρμῆς = Mercury = Thoth Θώθ (Djheuti) = Odin ≈ Dhatri.
Can Monotheism be Tolerant?
Unfortunately, this did not always work. Especially with the four great Monotheistic Religions (Atenism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), syncretism occurred, but was not overtly acknowledged. Even Buddhism persecuted Shamanism in Tibet and Mongolia. It is a shameful tendency in human history.
Two “exceptions” to this “prove the rule.” This phrase, by the way, is a modern adaptation of Cicero’s principle, used in defense of Balbus: exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis (“the exception confirms the rule in cases not excepted”), and actually alters the ancient meaning. We use it today to mean, “Usually it works this way, and we can see this by some outstanding exceptions.”
In the Christianization of the Eire, St. Patrick and others did not seek to destroy Druidry, but to complement it. Pádraig lit the Bealtaine Fire on The Hill of Tara (Cnoc na Teamhrach, Teamhair or Teamhair na Rí) for Pascha (Easter), correctly identifying the Ancient European Feast with Pascha. St. Columba (Colm Cille, “Church dove”) of Iona, his Scots counterpart, was both an Initiated Druid and a Bishop and Abbot. This was the way it was meant to be: evolution, not revolution.
As a result, Celtic Christianity was really Druid Christianity for centuries. The change came in the 6th Century when the Roman Pope Gregory I (“the Great” in the West, “the Dialogist” in the East, and credited with the creation of the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified used during Great Lent) commissioned Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons to Roman (Western-Latin) Christianity.
Gregory was making a shrewd political calculation. The Churches of Western Europe had grown up independently and were Autocephalous or Autonomous, just as the Churches of Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Arabia, Persia and India were. By the time of the Roman Pope Leo I (“the Great” – see the pattern?), the See of Rome began to envision itself as the Head of the Universal Church.
Leo enunciated this reasoning in his defense of the Council of Chalcedon (summoned by the Roman Emperor Marcian) in 351. In effect, he said, “We know that the Holy Spirit was with the Council of Chalcedon, because I was there in the person of my delegates, and we know that the Holy Spirit is with me.” It is good to note that none of the Seven Ecumenical Councils accepted by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Communions of Churches were convened by or presided over by the Bishops of Rome. No Pope of Rome ever attended one of them, only sent delegates:
- Nicaea I – 325
- Constantinople I – 381
- Ephesus – 431
- Chalcedon – 451
- Constantinople II – 553
- Constantinople III – 680-81
- Nicaea II – 787
One might contrast this fact with the assertion in Roman Catholic Canon Law that an Ecumenical Council is one convened by the Pope (of Rome) and presided over by him. Food for thought.
So…with Leo I, Rome began to aggressively attempt to co-opt the independent Churches of the West. This history is very well documented in Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions. The Church 450–680 AD (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1989). As part of this generational campaign, Gregory I very cleverly realized that the Anglo-Saxon Pagans were going to conquer the Celtic Druid Christians. Rather than defend his fellow Christians, he devised a cunning plan.
Augustine would first convert the Anglo-Saxons to Roman Christianity, and then, once the Druid Christian Celts were under Anglo-Saxon Rule, their Church could be forced to become Roman Christian. This plan came to fruition after the Anglo-Saxon victories, at the Synod of Whitby in 664, when the Celtic/Druid Christian usages were suppressed in favor of Roman Christian usages. Machiavelli would be proud.
Thus came to an end the first counter-example.
Second Exception: Alaskan Orthodoxy
Much more recently, the Russian evangelization of Alaska took the same approach and did Patrick and Columba. When the Russian Orthodox arrived in 1794 they did not force Orthodox Christianity on the native peoples. Instead, Saints such as Herman of Alaska just came to live among them. In so doing, they listened to the native peoples (First Nations) and found that their rituals and religion sought to connect them with the First Times. The Orthodox let them know that their own rituals and religion was about connecting to Before and Beyond the First Times, and invited them to learn about it.
Many of the Inuits, Aleuts, Tlingits and others did so, and freely embraced Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The Scriptures and Liturgy were immediately translated into their languages, and native clergy ordained.
We see in this and the previous counter-example, that Monotheism does not need to dominate. It can share. Perhaps if the natural evolution that was taking place in the Classical World to form a “Pagan” Philosophical Monotheism (à la Emperor Justin II) had been allowed to continue, a kinder, gentler monotheism would have emerged. There are excellent studies of the emerging “Pagan Monotheism” in
Athanassiadi, Polymnia and Michael Frede. Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Mitchell, Stephen and Peter van Nuffelen. Monotheism Between Pagans and Christians in Late Antiquity. Leuven; Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2010.
__________________. One God: Pagan Monotheism in the Roman Empire. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Religious Strife Within Christianity
We don’t need to look far in history to find Christian fighting Christian over religion, but two examples come to mind that parallel the emerging situation in Red States, where civil life was impeded by religious beliefs.
ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν. En pote hote ouk en! There was a time when He was not.
The Trinitarians would respond:
οὐκ ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν. Ouk en pote hote ouk en! There was not a time when He was not!
(The Argument was whether the Logos/Christ was fully equal and co-eternal with the Father, or not.)
The situation would degenerate into fights. The Emperor Constantine convened the First Council of Nicaea in 325 to settle this, and unify the Empire on this question.
Again, in the Fifth Century, the Council of Ephesus in 431 proclaimed that since Christ was one Person with two Natures (Divine and Human), that His Mother was Θεοτόκος, Theotokos, the Bearer of God. The party led by Nestorius, who was Patriarch of Constantinople, held that since Christ had two Persons and two Natures, Mary was only Χριστοτόκος, Bearer of The Christ, not the Bearer of God.
The debate was so heated that when you went to buy a loaf of bread, or other supplies, in Constantinople it was quite common for the retailer to ask,
Ἐστὶν αὐτὴ Θεοτόκος ἢ Χριστοτόκος;
Estin aute Theotokos e Christotokos?
Is She Theotokos or Christotokos?
If you gave the wrong answer (according to the party of the retailer), you were sent on your way…no bread for you today!
And With Arizona?
These examples are directly applicable to the situation which almost took place in Arizona, and is being contemplated in other Red areas. Constantinople was an economy more like our own than we realize, with flourishing middle and mercantile classes.
What kind of society would it look like for retailers, whose purpose is to make money, after all, to refuse service to other citizens who are not breaking any civil laws, but just don’t conform to the retailer’s religious views? Let’s imagine….
Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that Catholics who divorce and re-marry without an Annulment are “living in Mortal Sin.” Would we like to see a righteous Roman Catholic baker refuse to make a Wedding Cake for such sinners?
Members of White Supremicist “Christian” Churches claim that others than Whites are inferior. Should a White Supremicist printer be able to refuse to process a print order for an African American, or a Jewish person?
We could go on and on. This way of arguing is called Reductio ad absurdum. Reduction to the Absurd. It takes the proposition at hand, and shows the absurd consequences that could/would result if it were implemented.
Of course we would not want to live in a society like this, behind sectarian border, like Northern Ireland often is.
We have the Separation of Church and State for this very reason. Let’s review the facts:
- The United States is not a Christian Country, and never was and never should be. The Founding Fathers and Mothers were a diverse lot, with some traditional Christians, and others who were Deists and other renegades. Many were Rosicrucians and Masons, who can be Christians, but are free thinkers. Thomas Jefferson edited the New Testament and cut out everything he disagreed with (all the miracles, in particular), and despised the Jesuits. The Founders very deliberately maintained the Separation of Church and State because they had seen the many abuses in Europe. We are a secular state, in which the majority of citizens embrace one form of Christianity or another. We are a haven for all who believe, and those who don’t.
- It has taken us over 200 years to truly make our Separation of Church and State a reality, and there are still some weak spots. For most of our history, Protestant and Anglican Christianity were assumed to be the norm, and Catholics and Orthodox were “foreign.”
- As an example, when the U.S. bought Alaska from Russia during Johnson’s 19th century administration, the territory was divided up into districts for Protestants and Anglicans to evangelize the “Heathens,” who were, of course, largely already Eastern Orthodox Christians. No Catholic or Orthodox Clergy need apply.
- Just recently in 1995, Roman Catholic and Mormon students and their families in a New Mexico town had to sue the public school district, because the school had virtually institutionalized the Southern Baptist majority religion, and excluded and harassed Catholics and Mormons from participation. The U.S. Supreme Court gave the final word in 2000: the school and the Southern Baptists can’t do that any more.
The fact that the Catholic and Mormon Officialdoms now seek to impose the same kind of discrimination on those they disagree with that they have suffered for most of our history is hard to understand. Christianity as a whole is not united on the Gender issues:
- The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States has full equality for all orientations, including Church marriage and Gay Married Bishops.
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is in the process of creating a Same Sex Union ceremony.
- The Metropolitan Community Church, of course does so.
- The Old Catholic Church (Utrecht) does so.
- The Presbyterian Church of America has non-celibate Gay clergy, but not yet Same-Sex Marriage.
- The Quakers have same-sex marriages.
- The Swedenborgian Church of North America permits Same-Sex Unions at the discretion of the Minister.
- United Church of Christ Congregations are permitted to be “Open and Affirming” and to perform Same-Sex Marriages if they choose to.
- There are Gay Baptist Churches, since each Congregations listens to God’s will for them.
- Outside Christianity, Reform Judaism celebrates Same-Sex Marriages. Unitarian Universalists also do, as do many Neo-Pagans. Some schools of Hinduism and Reform Buddhism accept LGBT persons, and sometime marriage.
So, it is strange that many “Mainstream Protestants,” and Anglicans, long the bellwethers of American religious life, actually accept Same-Sex Marriage, while many that were previously largely excluded from the mainstream of American religiosity, do not!
So What do We do about This?
First, I want to unequivocally state that I oppose, and will vigorously oppose if necessary, any attempt to force Churches or Religious groups to change their doctrines, using the Constitution as a reason. Naturally, human sacrifice or causing physical harm is out. But Orthodox, Catholics and others were allowed to continue to use Wine during Prohibition. The Peyote Church can use Peyote in their Services. I actually believe that Mormons should not have been forced to abandon Polygamy to enter the Union in 1896.
I also oppose forcing Religiously-based Hospitals to perform Abortions or other procedures they oppose on Religious Grounds. Just send the patient to another hospital, unless life is at stake. Roman Catholic teaching would allow an abortion in such an emergency under the principle of Double Effect. I won’t go into the intricacies of Abortion right now… that will be for another Blog.
I would certainly not patronize any retailer who held extremist views. I would never patronize a White Supremicist retailer, nor will I eat at Chik-fil-A (the spelling monstrosity itself is enough to keep me away ;-), of course!). And I never—never—knowingly would buy anything produced by the Koch Brothers (no Brawny Towels!!).
So on the one hand, capitalism would say that LGBT persons should just choose to patronize retailers who are supportive, or neutral. So should every other group. This would be fine in the majority of situations, especially in large Urban Environments.
As an aside, I absolutely loved the Arizona Pizzaria Sign. Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson posted a sign in its window that reads, “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona legislators.” They get it!
But there’s a snag. It is an established point of law in this Country that retailers cannot discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, or gender. Now, of course it happens all the time, but we can sue if needed to punish the wrong-doers. If a Gay couple lives in a small town, there may be only one Baker, one Restaurant, one Marriage Photographer, etc. Or they may just really like the product of that retailer. In our system, acting on prejudice by refusing service to a whole class of people simply on this basis is a crime, and must be punishable.
So, I am calling for some Common Sense and Common Decency here. On the one hand, it makes sense to be smart capitalists and support retailers that support us and our positions, with our dollars. On the other, retailers need to be on notice that we cannot descend in the absurd hell that Constantinople experienced in the 3rd and 5th centuries. If you discriminate, you should, could and will be prosecuted. It is never good business to refuse sales.
And why would retailers worry about this, anyway? Americans in general are “live and let live” people, and good entrepreneurs. Of course, we just need to round up the usual suspects: The Right Wing, and their Media mouthpiece, Fox (fake) News. Fox and other Right Wing outlets create these unreasonable fears in our people, for profit.
Roger Ailes, you are personally responsible for doing more damage to our Nation than almost anyone I can think of. Nixon pales beside you.
Ending Thoughts on this Topic
A penultimate word: Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, you have a right to free speech. You do not have a right to a TV Show, or advertising endorsements. Those are earned by being the kind of person who will attract business to your employers. I suggest you review what Capitalism is all about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism. If you need help with the big words, the State or County can get you assistance.
Last Word for this topic (kind of): My beloved Brothers in Christ in the Arizona Catholic Conference, and to all of the Shepherds of the Catholic Churches. I love and pray for all of you daily. You have a tremendous responsibility. I sincerely believe that in the case of gender-related issues, the time has come to back-off. Pope Francis (no liberal he) has said exactly that. There are more important issues, and let’s be honest, you still don’t realize how much credibility you have lost by (1) Priest molestation; (2) Bishops covering it up, and (3) Support of CA Prop 8. These things actively continue to drive people away from Christ.
I most humbly propose that for now, on these kinds of issues, you follow the advice of one of your predecessors, The Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer of Antioch:
Καὶ ὅσον βλέπει τις σιγῶντα ἐπίσκοπον, πλειόνως αὐτὸν φοβείσθω·
Kai hoson blepei tis sigonta episkopon, pleiontos auton phobeistho;
“Now the more any one sees the bishop keeping silence, the more ought he to revere him;” Ignatius to the Ephesians, 6:1.
If the congregation is bound to you and bound to obey you, as Ignatius also says, then you must be very prudent to bring people to Christ and not repel them. Please.
Now, on to a related but different subject:
The Mormon Grandmother’s Campaign against Frozen.
Last week I ran across a dear lady’s blog posting. She is a Mormon Grandmother, so I will be very very nice. Anyone who is a Grandparent is under the patronage of the Holy and Righteous Ancestors of God, Sts. Joachim and Anne (the parents of the Theotokos), and must be respected.
In summary, she claims the the new Disney retelling of “The Ice Queen” has a hidden message to promote the “Gay Agenda.” She goes on at as much length as I do in my Blogs (LOL), but her essential argument can be summarized as this:
The film promotes disobedience to Society and to Authorities, and teaches that one must be true to one’s own self rather than submitting to authoritative norms, and one must express one’s own inner being. For her, this is promoting the “Gay Agenda”: disobey, and be true to your self. That means, LGBT is OK, and if you are LGBT, you must express it to be honest to yourself.
I am sure you can find many logical flaws here. I’m interested in the concepts of disobedience and expressing your inner self. That’s what fascinates me here, and I thank this dear lady for bringing these issues into such crystal clear focus so that we can examine them.
A Note on My Experience of Mormonism
Since we will be dealing a lot with Mormonism in this section, I should share a few things.
I grew up in the second largest Mormon State in the Union, Arizona. I have never had any mad experiences of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and find their theology interesting, although I am certainly not a Mormon. There is a rich esoteric core to Mormonism, and more than a hint of Process Theology. The fifth LDS President Lorenzo Snow declared in 1840, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”
I realize that their concept of God is distinctly different than the Trinitarianism of mainstream Christianity, and for this reason, many mainstream Churches do not recognize them as Christian. Mormons, however, believe themselves to be the real Christians. I’m not going to worry about that. As a very wise book I once read put it, “Other groups have a variety of relations to Christ.” Good enough for me.
It’s easy to say disobedience is wrong… but whom are we talking about disobeying? “Legitimate Authority,” I presume, is meant here. But who says what is Legitimate Authority?
Mormons believe that the President/Prophet is the Supreme Authority in the Church, and can make authoritative changes in doctrine as directed by God. Two major changes were the abolition of Polygamy in 1890 (as we saw earlier, in order to pave the way for Statehood for Utah), and the dropping of racial barriers for men to be ordained to the Lay Priesthood in 1978. (Mormonism in general has always been generally progressive on racial issues, aside from this prohibition.)
Mormonism itself is a case study in disobedience to he prevailing authority, and a fierce drive to be true to one’s own convictions and being. Joseph Smith and his fledgling community were harassed, persecuted and murdered in Missouri, Ohio and Illinois. In 1847 Brigham Young led the Mormons out west, and eventually settled in what today is Utah. Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game and Gay Marriage opponent, and NFL Hall of Fame athlete Steve Young are among his descendants.
So Mormons fought dearly to be free to be themselves, to practice a different definition of Marriage, and had to disobey what the vast majority felt was legitimate authority.
“Though we or an angel from heaven preach a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” Gal 1:8.
ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρ’ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.
(By the way, the Cathedral of the Madelaine in Salt Lake City is a gorgeous Gothic Church with stunning Pre-Raphaelite and other art. And the current Bishop, John Wester is truly one of the good guys. A better Bishop you couldn’t ask for… he was one of the Auxiliaries in San Francisco during my tenure as Pastor.)
Which is The Religion?
So who is the Legitimate Authority: the Mormon President, the Pope of Rome, an Ecumenical Council, the Southern Baptist Leadership Council … or the Dalai Lama, Ayatollahs, Rabbinical Councils, Wiccan Covens? The list could go on and on. And which Scripture is “the” Scripture, The Book of Mormon, the Catholic/Orthodox or Protestant Bible, the Hebrew Scriptures, the Qu’ran, the Vedas, the Upanishads, Old Avestan Gathas, the Buddhavacana, the Analects of Confucius, the Dao de Jing, etc., etc. ?
Well, you say, “I know that my Faith is the right one, because I have had religious experiences that confirm me in this.”
That’s good, and I’m glad you have had that. So have the adherents of every other religion on earth, and they are as convinced as you are. How is a secular society supposed to figure out which one is right?
The answer is: It can’t. That is why we have the divinely inspired gift of separation of Religion and the State.
So the question is, whom am I supposed to obey, and whom am I supposed to disobey? When I stand before (to use a phrase from my Faith) “the Dread Judgment Seat of Christ…” (from the Divine Liturgy:
Χριστιανὰ τὰ τέλη τῆς ζωῆς ἡμῶν, ἀνώδυνα, ἀνεπαίσχυντα, εἰρηνικά, καὶ καλὴν ἀπολογίαν τὴν ἐπὶ τοῦ φοβεροῦ βήματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, αἰτησώμεθα.
“A Christian ending to our life, painless, unashamed, peaceful, and a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ, let us ask.”)
… I will have to answer for myself. I can’t say “I was only following orders (of whatever authority).” I have to account for myself according to my own Conscience. Most every spiritual tradition has some kind of imagery like this.
So, to answer the first “Gay Agenda” item, disobedience: we must all make the decision as to what to obey and what to disobey. For a Country founded on disobeying King George III, and for relgions like Christianity and Buddhism which had to disobey their parent religion (Judaism and Vedic / Hindu Religion respectively), correctly aimed disobedience is pretty important.
My dear Mormon Grandmother…you, and in fact no one, can define this for me.
Being True to One’s Self
This one is even easier.
This above all-to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
— William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I Sc 3, Polonius’ speech.
The basis of integrity, therefore, is being true to one’s deepest inner self, and in so doing, being true to everyone else.
If being true to your self in the face of societal opposition is a plank of the Gay Agenda, then it is also the plank of the American Agenda, the Agenda of the whole Free World. The Holy Maccabee Martyrs died for this. All the Martyrs of all Religions died for this. Mormons and Catholics fought for most of their histories in the U.S. for this, with tremendous societal pressure to conform to the Protestant mainstream.
As St. Thomas More puts it in Robert Bolt’s Man for All Seasons:
“But what matters to me is not whether is it true or not but that I believe it to be true, or rather not that I believe it, but that I believe it.”
This is the basis of the whole modern world that has been created, largely, by Christianity. If you want to reject that, go ahead. But now who is the dissenter?
Why this Paranoia?
Why should our dear Mormon Grandmother be so worried about this? First, because as we have seen, Fox “News” et al. tells her to be. But beyond that, Homophobia is the latest “Yuck” phenomenon.
In each period of history, as we progress, there is usually one “non-negotiable” that makes its adherents “gag” at the thought. Just to name a few:
- — That Jews could see anything good in Samaritans
- — That Christians should defy the Cult of the State, and refuse to burn incense before the State Gods
- — That Christians did not have to obey the Mosaic Dietary Law
- — That Irish/Asian/Black/Hispanic, etc. people had an equal place in American Society.
- — That Whites could not own Blacks
- — That Italians and Irish could marry
- — That “Whites” and Hispanics could marry (West Side Story)
- — That a Black person and a White person could eat at the same lunch counter, let alone *yuck* get married!
And the list goes on and on and on. Gay Marriage is the latest in this long list, and gullible people are being told, “This is the great evil!” Never mind that those who are telling them this are stealing them blind, and taking away their most basic rights, enslaving them to the rich, powerful corporate culture. “It’s Gays… trust us.” (Snicker Snicker, the speaker laughs.)
My dear Mormon Grandmother, your real enemies are like the Enron Officials who were recorded saying these things (this is the verbatim transcript, cleaned up for family viewing) from http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104×1711340.
This is Bob Badeer (a trader at Enron’s West Power desk in Portland, CA, where all these tapes were recorded) and Kevin McGowan (in Enron’s central office in Houston, TX, as he mentions in the transcript):
KEVIN: So the rumor’s true? They’re f*****n’ takin’ all the money back from you guys? All those money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?
BOB: Yeah, grandma Millie, man. But she’s the one who couldn’t figure out how to f*****n’ vote on the butterfly ballot.
KEVIN: Yeah, now she wants her f*****n’ money back for all the power you’ve charged right up – jammed right up her a*s for f*****n’ 250 dollars a megawatt hour.
BOB: You know – you know – you know, grandma Millie, she’s the one that Al Gore’s fightin’ for, you know? You’re not going to –
And it goes on…
These men have no respect for you, like I do. They are the evil, and children of the Father of Lies. I sincerely hope that Bob and Kevin’s families punished them severely, that their friends told them off, and that their Churches condemned them to their faces from the Pulpit demanding their repentance and that they did so. If I ever run into either man, I will spit at their feet for you, my dear Mormon Grandmother, and for all Grandmothers everywhere.
I sincerely wish you a wonderful Lent and a joyful Easter! From your true and loyal friend, Steven.
Current Events: Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine
Just a quick note about this mess in Ukraine, as I have had CNN on most of the Weekend.
My general feelings about President (on and off for Life) Putin of Russian can be summed up by what his name means in French. I won’t tell you here, as this is a family-friendly blog, but just go to Google it. There’s a reason the French newspapers transliterate the name Пу́тин as Poutine instead of the English Putin! At least Poutine is just a common Canadian dish, originally from Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds, also popular in some Northern parts of the U.S. So he’s President Cheesy Gravy Fries in French. That’s better than what the English Putin means in French!
About this mess in Ukraine. It is clear that Putin has orchestrated the whole thing. The Russophile President Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych (Ukrainian: Ві́ктор Фе́дорович Януко́вич; Russian: Виктор Фёдорович Янукович)—My
Gosh, look at that, the two languages are so close, two letters (і́ and и and е́ and ё and a couple of accents separate them here)…like Serbian and Croatian are… why are these people fighting??—pursued Russophile policies as opposed to the EU-phile policies preferred by the majority. When he faced strong, and even violent opposition, Putin urged him to be strong, and to put down the protests, even at the cost of lives.
Putin knew full well that this would provoke a state of crisis, and he could use that to move into The Crimea and occupy it. This is as calculated and trumped-up an invasion as George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. No wonder GW Bush said that he trusted Putin because he had looked into his eyes. Blood Brothers, just like Herod and Pilate!
All that is clear to anyone looking at this rationally. My point is different.
Why can’t we humans move to the next level of interaction?
It is clear that Russia wants The Crimea. It was only transferred to Ukraine on Feb 19, 1954 (one month and ten days after I was born, so I wasn’t consulted, darn!), probably because the Ukrainian SSR was in a better position to help the area recover from WWII.
On Feb 12, 1991, The Crimea was elevated to its own Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union, but soon defaulted back to Ukraine when the Soviet Union dissolved in Dec 25, 1991, but has been contested for years. The Russian Warm Water Fleet is HQ’d there, their only warm-water fleet.
Why couldn’t it go like this:
Putin tells Ukraine, “We want the Crimea. Let’s negotiate.” And they do, making trades and concessions back and forth. It could be a Win-Win for both. They have many mutually agreeable business options.
The time is past for this stupid, thuggish human behavior. My word to Putin and other world leaders: “Grow up!” Stop this madness. And that applies to the U.S. as much as anyone.
I acknowledge the tragic need for WWII, the Korean War and (sigh!) The Invasion of Afghanistan to fix the mess we made with the Taliban). I am still trying to figure out Desert Storm. Saddam was an As****e, but we created him, and we should have stopped him from invading super-rich Kuwait.
The following 20th/21st century wars were stupid, needless and venal:
- The Vietnam War (supporting French Imperialism vs. a native Nationalist movement inspired by Western Ideals…what were we thinking?)
- The Invasion of Panamá (Oh Come on…Our own client State!)
- The Invasion of Grenada (Clint Eastwood tried to make it look heroic!)
- The Invasion of Iraq for all the wrong reasons for Bush/Cheney testosterone and lots of $$ profit (can we say “Halliburton” and “The Saudi Royal Family”?) Saddam deserved everything he and his thug sons got, but this was not the right way to do it.
Let me say this for absolutely certain. NOTHING in the above should reflect on our Service Men and Women. We have the most loyal and trustworthy military in the world. How my generation treated the Vietnam Veterans was criminal. We should have punished the politicians responsible for each of these debacles, not our soldiers. ‘Nuf Said. Our Veterans, no matter what conflict, are our heroes.
So, let’s grow up, people. Stop persecuting people because they are different, and let’s stop creating trumped up reasons to invade others.
Thank you all for listening. I am grateful!
Your Faithful Correspondent,
Tutoring, Editing and Consulting