Category Archives: tyranny

For Passover this year, China will take Pharaoh’s role

The Passover story provides us with deep insights into the nature of tyranny. This year, China’s tyranny is the subject of my annual Passover post.

For roughly 3,500 years, Jews have been telling and retelling the story of Passover — which is also the story of the world’s first revolt against a totalitarian dictatorship. The story remains relevant because each generation sees dangerous tyrants abusing their people and trying to expand their reach beyond their own borders. As we stare down those monsters, the thing to remember is that those atop the tyranny pyramid care about only one thing, which is that their tyranny remains stable and protected. And that leads me to this year’s iteration of my annual Passover post.

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A doubting Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as a celebration of freedom (for it celebrates the world’s first successful slave revolt), justice, and morality (insofar as it gave us the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the Egyptian people’s genocide. To support this theory, he points to the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague harming the Egyptian people, a cycle of pain that culminates with the death of the firstborn.

Those familiar with the Bible understand that this objection is predicated upon ignorance. The tenth plague, which saw God strike down the firstborn in every family without the Pascal lamb’s blood above their door, was not a random punishment. It was, instead, divine retribution for the Pharaoh’s own decree, in effect at Moses’s birth, that all firstborn Jewish males should be drowned in the Nile. Still, doubters will argue that God was petty when he later punished innocent people who were not complicit in Pharaoh’s genocidal attack on the Jews.

One argument is that the many plagues, culminating with the firstborn’s death, are nothing more than dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger surrounding the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if the exodus had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. Imagine if Moses had asked, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh had answered, “Sure.”

That narrative lacks punch and heroism. More importantly, God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. Surely it resonates more strongly with the people reliving the narrative every year to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

The above reasoning is silly. The Bible is not so superficial. There is, instead, a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, no matter the burdens he places upon his people. A blood-filled Nile River may, at first, seem appalling, but the red recedes and life went on. Pharaoh still holds power. The same is true for each subsequent plague, whether lice, boils, frogs, darkness, or any of the other plagues. As long as Pharaoh realizes, after the first panic, that he is still powerful, he will always reconcile himself to his people’s incremental destruction.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might have a theoretical concern that a starving and frightened populace could turn on him. However, as long as he is assured that his people will continue to fear and worship him, their suffering is irrelevant. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh the plague struck in his own palace, killing his firstborn* — that Pharaoh is convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed in 3,500 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was not only willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed, he never stopped using military supplies for the Holocaust. The war ended only when Hitler, facing personal humiliation, killed himself and the remaining high command, see their lives at stake, finally gave up. Hitler and his commanders were Pharaoh. Only when they, personally, faced a humiliating death would they stop fighting.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even impressing the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was his advisers telling him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender. Instead, Truman understood that, despite an inevitable American victory, if he didn’t take drastic action, that victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and as many as 1,000,000 Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman had two choices: Wage war for at least another year, killing 100,000 Americans and up to a million Japanese civilians, or end the war instantly, with no more American casualties and an estimated 100,000 civilian Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer.  Not only would he save the military, he would also save tens of thousands of POWs, both military and civilian. One of the Dutch civilian POW saved was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.

The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

The only way to destroy an evil institution is to decapitate it. That’s what God did with the 10th plague. That’s what Truman did when he dropped atom bombs on Japan. That’s what the Allies did when they engaged in total war against the Nazis. In each case, the only way to end a tyrant’s rampage of murder, torture, and enslavement was directly hurting the tyrant’s person.

Those who prefer the stability of tyranny to the risks of freedom are the same people who refuse to accept that, under tyranny, the innocents are always going to die, with the only question being whether they will die quickly or slowly. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, you’re going to end as cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned, and China’s leadership will release a plague on the world and let tens of thousands of people sicken and die, both at home and abroad — as long as the tyrant can retain his power.

People of goodwill must sometimes recognize that the generation raised under tyranny is a lost generation that cannot be saved, whether because it will die under the tyrant’s lash, in the tyrant’s war, or in a war against the tyrant. Sometimes, when slaves finally taste freedom, they fear it. The Bible recognizes this problem, banning the Promised Land to those who were slaves in Egypt. They were a lost generation.

For this reason, when one sees a people groaning under tyranny the most humane thing to do is to destroy the tyranny quickly and decisively even if that process causes people to suffer. Most of them were always going to be lost. Our actions are for the benefit of subsequent generations and, if we are lucky, for those who survived both the tyranny and the liberation.

Protecting freedom for the greatest number of people sometimes demands proactive behavior. And there is nothing more proactive than an overwhelming response when a tyrant starts putting out feelers to see how far he can go. Had Chamberlain done that in 1938, WWII might have been avoided.**

Today, the tyrant is China’s government and, as was the case with Nazi Germany or Bushido Japan, China’s tyranny has suddenly started to reach far beyond its borders. No matter how China’s bought-and-paid-for American media work to cover up China’s responsibility for what happened, John Adams was correct: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

We know the facts: COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab, although we do not know whether this was deliberate or accidental. China, in true tyrant fashion, was so determined to cover up its failure that it willingly let people die by destroying anything (e.g., information and doctors) that might have helped battle the plague early. When Wuhan began to see mass die-offs, China continued to deny there was a problem. As the plague spread beyond China’s borders, its government continued to deny responsibility, so much so that both China and the WHO (which we pay for, but which answers to China) lied consistently about COVID-19’s reach, danger, and origin.

Now that the plague is a world-wide phenomenon, China is sending or selling useless masks and test kits to hurting nations around the world. It is trying to blame America for COVID-19. And it’s almost certain that people are still dying in the thousands in China, even as the government insists it’s tamed COVID-19 and tells the world to start readmitting its people and its shoddy products. The Chinese communist government is Pharaoh.

The only way to stop tyranny is to fight tyranny. Despite media efforts to cover for their Chinese paymasters, Trump is calling China out on its lies and other malfeasance.

China needs to pay. The world must pull out of China: No more cheap Chinese goods flooding the American market and denying jobs to people in America; no more Chinese-made fentanyl killing America’s citizens; no more plague-ridden Chinese citizens hopping on planes and traveling the world, even as China knew they were contagious; and no more rich Chinese students flooding American colleges and buying off leftist college faculties and administrations.

All of that needs to end. Trump is trying hard, despite Democrat and media pushback. Other countries’ leaders are making weak little grunting noises. We can only hope that Trump turns those grunts to roars and builds a great wall around China until the tyrants at the top give up. They give up hurting their people, they give up imprisoning religious people and using them as slaves and unwilling organ donors, they give up funding North Korea’s tyranny, they give up trying to build islands in the South China Sea, they give up using economic blackmail against poor countries, and in all other ways, they turn inward and cure themselves. This is how you end tyranny: you make the tyrants suffer so that they change.

 

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Chag Sameach (Happy Passover). Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

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*The fact that Pharaoh survived the last of the ten plagues tells us that he was not his father’s firstborn son. Either an older sibling died or Pharaoh was the younger child in a family unrelated to the Egyptian ruling family and, through a coup, seized the throne.

**And yes, I am aware of the argument that Chamberlain might not have been Hitler’s dupe. Thanks to England’s anti-War fervor after WWI, which led to disarmament and the drawing down of her military, Chamberlain might have believed by 1938 that England could do nothing to stop Hitler. That belief would have led him to choose appeasement as the only option. I don’t agree with this view because bullies will back down quickly if their intended victim fights even minimally, but I’ll give Chamberlain the benefit of the doubt because he was a decent and patriotic man.

(A couple more things. I highly recommend Dennis Prager’s The Rational Bible: ExodusIf you don’t want to read the whole book, you can just buy his The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, which is a companion to his videos on the Ten Commandments. It’s a quick read and a refreshing one.)

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What’s the real story behind Right Wing and Left Wing in America?

In America, the term Right Wing is misused to imply that conservative Americans are fascists lusting for world domination; in fact, the opposite is true.

Right Wing Left Wing Conservative

(As my regular readers (to whom I am endlessly grateful) know, I was away from my blog for some time caring for a relative who had surgery. Being away that long gave me time to think about “going a little crazy,” as Bob Ross likes to say when he adds another tree to a painting. In my case, “going a little crazy” meant wondering if I could do a video as well as a podcast.

In addition to the time spent researching how to do go about making a Power Point video (I’ve got to start somewhere), it took me six hours to create a 35 minute video and companion podcast. They both are a little glitchy, but not bad for a first effort. I will get better.  But I will never forget my readers, so here is the same content in written form.)

The idea for this video came when I ended my trip with a much-needed massage. Because this is Tennessee, my masseur is a liberty-oriented man so, in the midst of a far-ranging conversation, he asked this question: “Why are conservatives called “fascists,” when fascism is a socialist doctrine?” An excellent question, and one I wanted to answer here.

The reality is that, even though the media loves to talk about “right wingers” (although never left wingers), there is no “left wing” versus “right wing” in America, at least as those terms are understood in the rest of the world. Instead, we only have liberty versus tyranny, along with the supporters of both those ideologies.

Ironically enough, although the French Revolution post-dated the end of the American revolution by six years, the terms “right wing” and “left wing” are leftovers from that overseas kerfuffle. Let me explain.

The French Revolution had as its slogan “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Liberty, equality, fraternity! In the context of the French Revolution, those words were always lies.

At the start of the Revolution, France had an absolute monarchy that sat on top of a large, equally absolutist aristocracy. It was not a sustainable system, and the revolutionaries intended to topple it. However, unlike the American revolutionaries who envisioned limited government coupled with individual liberty, that’s not what the French wanted. Instead, the revolutionaries imagined an absolutist commune, with the monarchy and aristocracy replaced by an equally controlling cabal of “the people.”

But what, you may ask, does this have to do with “left wing” and “right wing”? Simple. In the French Parlement during the lead-up to the Revolution, the representatives who sought to retain an absolutist government led by the monarchy and the aristocracy sat to the Speaker’s right. The representatives who sought to replace the existing government with an absolutist government led by “representatives of the people” sat to the Speaker’s left.

And that’s where the terms still used today in American and around the world came from: Those on the right seek to “conserve” the old ways; those on the left seek to upend them. Except, as I’ll develop at greater length, America has not traditionally had any cognates to this European left/right divide.

And now we get to my favorite chart, one that, for convenience’s sake, uses a left/right continuum to show how there are two sides to the political spectrum:

On the left (although it could just as easily be portrayed on the right side of the line) is absolutist, totalitarian government, something with which we are all familiar. It exists under many names – monarchy, socialism, communism, democratic socialism, fascism, theocracy, etc. – but it always plays out the same: maximum government control; minimum individual liberty.

Meanwhile, on the right side of the continuum (although I could have easily placed “liberty blue” on the left), is the political system that has limited government and maximum individual liberty. At its extreme, it’s anarchy. Otherwise, it’s . . . well, it’s really only the American experiment. Everywhere else in the world, government control is the standard.

So what is the American experiment? It was build on Britain’s Magna Carta and its 1689 Bill of Rights. That last document was a statement of limitations on monarchical.  William of Orange and Queen Mary II had agreed to this Bill of Rights in order to to attain the British throne in the wake of 1688’s “Glorious Revolution.” (It was glorious because King James II fled, rather than going to war.)

If you look at the British Bill of Rights, you’ll see many echoes in our own Bill of Rights. However, the British Bill of Rights limits only the monarchy. Parliament was not limited, which is why it felt free to impose all sorts of restrictions on British citizens in the American colonies.

When the Founding Fathers decided to draft a Bill of Rights, they did it correctly. Instead, of stating the items as a negative charter (as Obama wrongly put it), one that simply tells government what it can’t do, the Founders stated our Bill of Rights as a set of rights inherent and inviolable in every individual. No government – no monarchy, no legislature, no judiciary, no official whatever – should be able to impede those rights without a high showing of necessity.

Hold that thought in mind as we look at the three most common forms of government outside of America in the years since WWI.

First, we have socialism, which exists not only as a free-standing form of government (National Socialists), but also as an umbrella term for the evil twins of communism and fascism. Under communism, there is no private ownership. Everything – and everybody – belongs to the government. Examples, all of them tyrannical, are the Soviet Union, China (despite its faux market economy), North Korea, and Cuba.

Back in the 1930s, fascism put a softer face on communism, because it did not nationalize all private property, instead limiting itself to nationalizing a few major industries, especially fuel and transportation. However, there is no freedom in a fascist country. Mussolini provided the ultimate definition of fascism: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” (I also include today’s oligarchies in the list of fascist states, since they function much the same way.) In the World War II era, fascist states sought world domination and, in Germany’s case, included genocide and slavery in the service of an imaginary “master race.”

Today’s Europe is still fascist, although that would no doubt horrify Europeans were you to tell them that. Under both EU rule and the governments of the individual European states, there is private ownership, but major industries, especially transportation, are still nationalized. Moreover, the EU and the individual governments tightly control every aspect of people’s lives.

(When it comes to nationalized services, I have a real bee in my bonnet about these “soft” socialized states’ so-called “cradle to grave” care, something my parents’ European-based friends and family boasted about non-stop. These benefits had nothing to do with socialism. They were available in Europe because American taxpayers funded European defense costs during the Cold War. It wasn’t socialized medicine; it was American medicine. Now that the Cold War has ended and the money isn’t flowing as much, European socialized medicine is cratering.)

The difference between today’s European fascism and Hitler’s is that (a) it’s not called fascism today and (b) it’s not yet engaged in world domination and anti-Semitic genocide. However, given the speed with which Muslims are populating Europe, all in thrall to an Islamic doctrine that calls for world domination and anti-Semitic genocide, I think it won’t be long before Europe starts to repeat the 1930s.

The third type of government in the world today shows up in monarchies or theocracies, both of which thrive, and are often intertwined in the Middle East. Whether it’s Mullahs in Iran or Kings in Saudi Arabia, these are totalitarian governments that use religious doctrine to control every aspect of their citizens’ lives. (In Saudi Arabia, Prince Muhammed bin Salman is slowly trying to change this but, since he holds the tiger by the tail, it’s a very delicate and dangerous process.)

And then there’s America, which has a totally different system, one that, in its purest form, does everything it can both to limit government power and mob rule. There’s nothing else like it in the world.

The American political system as the Founders envisioned it has a limited federal government composed of three parts – executive, legislative, and judicial – each with unique spheres of power, each with some control over the other branches, and each jealous of its own power as a bulwark against any branch becoming too strong.

The Executive branch eschews pure democracy in favor of an Electoral College, forcing presidential candidates to campaign in every state (as Hillary learned to her cost). Without this, all presidents would be elected out of population centers. If the Democrats were able to do away with the Electoral College, something they’re trying to do through the grossly unconstitutional National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, all future American presidents would be elected by California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Washington.

Under the Legislative branch, we have two organs. The Senate was originally meant to have its members appointed by each state’s governors, ensuring (a) that the Senators would be responsive to their states and (b) that no senator would be enslaved to the passions of the mob. The 17th amendment changed that in 1912, probably not for the better.

The House controls the power of the purse and, before the 17th Amendment, was the only branch of government with direct democracy. House members must go back to the voters every two years to make their case. This is why impeachment begins in the House and why the current refusal to have a formal impeachment – which would force House members to make their positions known to their voters — is a direct betrayal of the voters.

Finally, the Judicial branch is the least democratic part of our government, for its members get selected by the President, get approved by the Senate, and then sit for life. In theory, it is impartial and rules only on whether matters are constitutional or unconstitutional, a power Chief Justice Marshall arrogated to the Court in the early 19th century.

In recent years, the federal judicial has boldly grabbed for itself both legislative power and executive power. The legislative power appears in its finding emanations of penumbras to justify federally sanctioned abortion, something never contemplated in the Constitution, and writing whole romance novels to allow gay marriage, another concept far afield from the Constitution. Both these issues belong in the states until such time as the Constitution is formally amended. As for executive power, every time some podunk judge in a Leftist district blocks a facially valid executive order from President Trump based upon the judge’s interpretation about the purity of Trump’s mind and soul . . . that’s an improper exercise of executive power.

Lastly, as I said before, our Founders gave us a Bill of Rights holding that certain rights are vested in the people and that the government cannot infringe them. This is extraordinary and differs from all other constitutions in the world, each of which is an endless book of bureaucratic does and don’ts.

So what kind of cool stuff flows from a limited government and a Bill of Rights? For starters, we have free market capitalism, which has been doing wonders since President Trump reformed taxes to leave more money with citizens and cut back on onerous regulations.

Strikingly, our Democrat Party presidential candidates have no room in their platforms for the free market. Bernie is a stone-cold communist. As an aside, given that he’s been alive for the greater part of the 20th century and all of the 21st (to date), he must know about the tens of millions dead and enslaved under communism (a knowledge sadly denied to uneducated millennials). That he still supports communism despite this knowledge means either that he’s the most stupid man ever to walk the earth or an evil tyrant wannabe. Neither reflects well on him or the voters who support him.

Warren also should know better, but I can attest to the fact that she’s stupid. Maybe evil too, but definitely stupid.

The most recent example of the disrespect the Left has for the free market comes from Kamala Harris, another candidate who is dumb as a rock, only dumber. Her candidacy is in free fall, so she’s promising to seize private property to prop it up. (Incidentally, I don’t think the government should fund private companies, but it’s important to note that, government aid notwithstanding, these are still companies with shareholders, employees, and profits.

Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris on if drug companies do not comply with her mandatory set drug prices: “I will snatch their patent so that we will take over” Audience asks: “can we do that?” “Yes, we can do that! Yes, we can do that! … I have the will to do it” pic.twitter.com/gpU8nnGt6h — Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 23, 2019

Another benefit we have is social mobility of a type that never existed anywhere else in the world before America. I created a little photo montage, just off the top of my head, of people who have attained success in a way that would not have been possible without America:

In America, the fact that your grandparents were rich doesn’t mean you will be, and the fact that they were poor doesn’t mean that is your fate either. We make our own fate in America.

One of my favorite rights – and one that I came to late in life – is the Second Amendment right to bear arms. I think this picture says it all:

In Nazi Germany, the government seized arms as a prelude to seizing people. A government should always stand in awe of its people’s right to defend itself against tyranny.

People should also be able to defend themselves against evil-doers in their own community. Mexico, a rapidly failing state, with appalling gun violence and skyrocketing murders, has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world.

Of course, the Democrat Party desperately wants your guns. Beto, before dropping out, was open about this – and please note the audience roar of delight:

And then there’s the right to free speech. In England, the cradle of free speech, it’s already gone:

Free speech isn’t doing so well in Leftist America either. In New York, you can be find $250,000 for “misgendering” someone. And in California, when it comes to long-term care facilities, it’s the law that you can be fined for “misgendering” residents there too.

So, going back to my chart and the left/right divide, here’s what you need to know about the rest of the world: it’s not tyranny versus liberty; it’s two different types of tyrants fighting each other for total control over citizens. In America, we have half of that equation. The American left wants total control over American citizens:

“We’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money, but you know, part of the American way is, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product.” – Barack Obama (net worth $40,000,000).

“You built a factory out there, good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.” — Elizabeth Warren (net worth $18,000,000).

“I will snatch their patent so that we will take over.” – Kamala Harris (net worth $4,000,000).

“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” Beto O’Rourke (net worth $10,000,000-$15,000,000).

On the opposite side of the political aisle in America, however, things are different. Conservatives don’t crave power. They crave a smaller government that leaves citizens alone to pursue their own lives, and that concerns itself solely with such core issues as national security, a stable legal system, functional transportation across the country, and managing (God forbid) major health crises.

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” – Gerald Ford

“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!” – Ronald Reagan

With the above in mind – American conservatives are the sole political movement in the world dedicated to individual liberty – why are American conservatives called “right wing” or “fascist,” terms that are tied to totalitarian control, while American leftists are called “liberal,” implying a dedication to individual liberty? It’s time for a little history lesson to answer that question.

Back in the 1930s, Hitler and Stalin both presided over socialist governments. The former was fascist (private ownership but government control), while the latter was communist (no private ownership of the means of production). They were hideous, evil fraternal twins of socialism.

As is often the case with sibling rivalry, the two countries (and their leaders) hated each other. Nevertheless, in August 1939, a week before Hitler invaded Poland, sparking WWII, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia entered in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Under that pact, they swore to be neutral vis-à-vis each other in times of war.

When Hitler invaded Poland, Soviet Russia did nothing. Taking their cue from Russia, in America, communists also took a very lukewarm stance against Hitler.

The Pact ended abruptly on June 22, 1941, when Hitler initiated Operation Barbarossa by invading the Soviet Union. When America entered the War, it found itself allied with Russia against the Nazis. On the American home front, communists instantly became staunch and fervent anti-Nazis.

However, when the war ended, with the Allies victorious, and socialist/fascist Germany in ruins, American communists had a problem: Fascist socialism stood exposed as one of the most evil ideologies of all time. How were they to protect communist socialism, which was also one of the most evil ideologies of all time?

The answer was to create a false syllogism that took hold in academia and media, and that now controls American thought:

Communists and Fascists were enemies.

Communists helped win World War II, with the war’s end providing unquestioned proof that Fascists were completely evil.

Communists and American Republicans are enemies.

Republicans are therefore akin to Fascists and, like fascists, must be completely evil.

And what’s the moral of this story?

Next time someone accuses you, or any other conservative, of being “fascist” or “right wing,” object vigorously. You are a person committed to individual liberty as opposed to being a slave to an all-powerful government (no matter how woke, intersectional, and politically correct that government claims to be).

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Passover: the nature of tyranny never changes but freedom is worth the fight

Passover tells us that tyrants fall only when revolution affects them directly and that revolutions are successful only when focused on individual liberty.

Passover, which begins tonight, is about so many things: the Jewish people’s renewed covenant with God; their escape from slavery; the journey that ended with the Ten Commandments and a return to Eretz Israel, the Holy Land of Israel; and — which is the subject of my annual post — the nature of tyranny.

Think about this for a minute: The Passover story, depending upon which Biblical archaeology you’re referencing, places the Passover story sometime between the 16th and 13th centuries B.C. In other words, this is a story that Jews have told and retold for as many as 3,500 years — and it’s a story that is always relevant. Slaves in the South took it as their story in 19th century America. And a couple of decades ago, when I was the only straight person at a gay Passover, the attendees there took it as their story too. The yearning for liberty is a timeless aspect of the human psyche.

It’s worth contemplating for a moment what “liberty” means. In European history, “liberty” invariably means trading one form of tyranny for another form of tyranny — only one in which the revolutionaries will have control. To Europeans, therefore, “liberty” is a gigantic state that will give them, rather than the others, all the goodies government can grab. And if, in exchange, government gets to control what they do, say, and think, well, they’re still “free” if the goodies keep flowing.

Once upon a time, the Americans went in a completely different direction that was more consistent with the original Exodus story. To go back to Exodus for a moment, Exodus might have told how the Jews rose up against Pharaoh, defeated him, took over Egypt, and enslaved their former enemies, at which point everyone who sided with the Jews lived happily ever after . . . right up until the Jews were deemed the tyrants and in turn overthrown.

But Exodus tells a different story: It tells about Jews leaving the old system behind entirely in order to live as a free people, even if that freedom meant the lack of a government safety net. After all, Pharaoh may have been cruel, but he kept them fed and housed. In the desert and in the land of Israel, the Jews were responsible for themselves, for better or worse.

In the same way, the American Revolutionaries, having concluded that England had become a tyrant by taking their money and dictating their actions without giving them a say in government, opted to create a different system entirely: one in which government played as small a role as possible and in which citizens had the greatest control over their lives . . . a notion both exciting and frightening. Ultimately, with fits and starts, failures and victories, tweaks and intransigence, this liberty-oriented system gave birth, not only to the most powerful nation in the world, but also to a nation that lifted more people out of poverty than any other nation ever had. Poverty is its own form of subjugation, so America spread freedom from want around large parts of the world. Indeed, today, those parts of the world most mired in poverty are nations that have systems antithetical to the American principles of individual liberty, small government, and a free market.

Put more simply, America went the Exodus route and traded enslavement for liberty. America did so because Americans, like the ancient Israelites, believed freedom was worth the scary downsides. And just as the ancient Israelites gave birth to a set of rules that changed the world (by which I mean the Ten Commandments), so too did Americans give birth to a political system that changed the world (by which I mean a system predicated upon limited constitutional government allied with a free market).

Both the Exodus story and the American experiment show that freedom is worth the price.

The eternal timeliness of the Exodus story also matters because it reminds us that tyranny never changes: Different tyrants may use different forms of tyranny, ranging from actual enslavement, as Pharaoh did, to oppressive political systems in which people ostensibly have citizens’ “rights” but lack all actual power over their lives. These modern tyrannies can be religious (think Iran), military (think of every Latin American junta), or ideological. In the latter category are fully socialist nations, such as North Korea pr Venezuela; socialist nations that nevertheless have commerce, such as China; and micromanaged liberal fascist states, of the type embodied in the European Union. In all of them, true freedom is illusory but the state, whether as a loving parent or a cruel, minatory parent, hides this lack of freedom by boasting about how it takes care of its citizens’ needs.

Another thing that never changes about tyranny is that, no matter how tyrants talk about what they do for the people, they hate the people. The only thing that matters to the one(s) atop the tyranny pyramid is that the tyranny remains stable and protected. Which gets me to my annual Passover post which, as always, I’ve edited it to reflect current concerns.

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An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as a celebration of freedom (commemorating as it does the world’s first and, for a long time, only successful slave revolt), justice, and morality (insofar as it gave us the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

As those familiar with the Bible know, this antisemitic Jew’s objection is predicated upon ignorance. The tenth plague, which saw God strike down the first born in every family that did not have the blood of the Pascal lamb above their door, was not a random punishment. It was, instead, divine retribution for the Pharaoh’s own ruling, in effect beginning before Moses’s birth, that all first born Jewish males should be drowned in the Nile.

Still, an atheist could argue that God was petty when he enacted retribution against innocent people who were not complicit in Pharaoh’s genocidal attack on the Jews. I know that the antisemitic Jew who gave rise to my thoughts about Passover would have made that argument had he been just a little bit more knowledgeable about the Book of Exodus.

Some people try to explain away the escalating plagues in Egypt, culminating with the first born’s death, by saying that the plagues are nothing more than dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger surrounding the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if the exodus had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. Imagine if Moses had asked, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh had answered, “Sure.”

That’s not a narrative with much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. It’s much more dramatic, and resonates more strongly with the people reliving the narrative every year, to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly. The Bible is not so superficial. There is, instead, a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, no matter the burdens placed upon his people. A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he could always reconcile himself to the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might have a theoretical concern that a starving and frightened populace could turn on him. However, as long as he was assured that his people, despite the horrors inflicted against them, continued to fear and worship him, their suffering was irrelevant. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed and when the plague struck in his own palace, killing his own first born* — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high, when it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, and when the high command knew that the Americans and Russians were coming after them, personally, did the war on the continent finally end.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option. Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices: another year of war, with the loss of 100,000 Americans and up to a million Japanese civilians; or an immediate stop to the war, with no more American casualties and an estimated 100,000 civilian Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer. The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, not to mention the lives of British, Australian, and Dutch troops. The atom bomb also saved the lives of the civilian prisoners of war all over the Malayan peninsula. One of the Dutch POWS, incidentally, was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.

The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

The only way to destroy an evil institution is to decapitate it. That’s what God did with the 10th plague. That’s what Truman did when he dropped atom bombs on Japan. That’s what the Allies did when they engaged in total war against the Nazis. In each case, making sure that the tyrant felt the pain personally was the only way to end that tyrant’s rampage of murder, torture, and enslavement.

What my antisemitic friend, and others who prefer the stability of tyranny to the risks of freedom, refuse to accept is that, under tyranny, the innocents are always going to die, with the only question being whether they will die quickly or slowly. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, whether or not you support it, you’re going to be cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned, and Maduro will let his citizens eat garbage — as long as the tyrant can retain his power.

People of good will dedicated to freedom sometimes have to recognize that the generation raised up under tyranny is a lost generation that cannot be saved, whether because it will die under the tyrants lash or in a war against tyranny, or because, when it finally attains freedom, it is afraid to use it. The Bible recognizes this latter problem, because it bars from the Promised Land those who were slaves in Egypt. Even when Pharaoh no longer lashes his whip over them, they are incapable of freedom. One can remove them from the lash, but one cannot turn them into a free people. They are a lost generation.

For this reason, when one sees a people groaning under tyranny the most humane thing to do is to destroy the tyranny quickly and decisively even if those same people will suffer through the destruction. Most of them were always going to be lost. Our actions are for the benefit of subsequent generations and, if we are lucky, for those who survived both the tyranny and the liberation.

Protecting freedom for the greatest number of people sometimes demands proactive behavior. And there is nothing more proactive than an overwhelming response when a tyrant starts putting out feelers to see how far he can go. Had Chamberlain done that in 1938, WWII might have been avoided.** Had Obama done that in 2009 . . . . Well, think about it:

Thanks to Obama’s inaction during the 2009 Green Revolution, the Iranian people have suffered ten more years of fearful tyranny than they would have when they were willing to face down the tyrannical mullahs. Moreover, if Obama had acted and the Mullahs had been deposed, it’s entirely possible that Syria’s civil war, which Iran financed on Assad’s behalf, might never have happened. The 500,000 who died in Syria would still be alive. ISIS, which was birthed in Syria’s bloody war, might have died a’borning, saving thousands of lives in the Middle East, Europe, and America from its sadistic energies. And of course, the refugee crisis that is destroying the last vestiges of Western Enlightenment civilization in Europe might never have happened. One can credibly argue that Obama’s cowardly refusal to face down the Mullahs means that he has the blood of hundreds of thousands of people on his hands.

Closer to home, look at the Russia collusion hoax. Nixon’s Watergate was a one-time theft involving non-government actors in an effort to sway an election, yet it appropriately stirred an entire nation, both Democrats and Republicans. Russiagate was different: It was an ongoing spying and intimidation action involving the White House, the DOJ, the FBI, and the CIA. These extraordinarily powerful institutions worked together, first, to sway an election and, second, to take down a duly elected president. Moreover, when their conduct come to light, rather than stirring the outrage of an entire nation, one political party doubled-down on this illegal and un-American activity.

Mueller’s report, although it finally exonerated Trump and the people around him from colluding with Russia, nevertheless seeks to keep the tyrant’s hold over the attack on Trump and the election. It does this by focusing minutely on all the things that, ultimately, Trump and Co. didn’t do wrong, building them up into a laundry list of actions that imply to credulous, biased people that something bad really did happen. (As Scott Adams said in one of his podcasts, only deluded people look at a laundry list of zeros and conclude that ten zeroes makes one hundred, rather than . . . zero.) All the while, the report ignores entirely the Clinton camp’s collusion with Russia to get that Steele dossier and the Obama administration’s reliance on that manifestly partisan, faked dossier and its use of a covert police state to get Trump and overturn an election. And that’s not even to mention the icky stench the Mueller report deliberately left by refusing to acknowledge the obvious fact that Trump’s openly tweeted anger at a witch hunt, when coupled with his decision to do nothing to hinder the witch hunt, cannot amount to “obstruction.”

The Mueller report therefore, does not promote freedom; it is, instead, part of that same refusal to make a principled stand against illegal and un-American activity. If that’s not creeping tyranny that’s more Soviet in nature than American, I don’t know what is.

The only way to stop tyranny is to fight tyranny. That’s why I am happy to see that the Trump government will not let these bad actors slink away. Instead, it is turning a gimlet eye on these Leftist bullies. Moreover, rumor has it that many of those being investigated are saving themselves by selling each other out. This is how you end tyranny: you make the tyrants suffer.

Never forget, though, that those who are dedicated to freedom must never let their righteous anger turn into a corrosive rage that destroys them. Kay Wilson, who was almost murdered by Palestinian terrorists, and saw her friend hacked to death before her eyes, speaks about this:

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Chag Sameach (Happy Passover). Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

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*The fact that Pharaoh survived the last of the ten plagues tells us that he was not the first born son of the previous pharaoh. Either an older sibling died or Pharaoh was the younger child in a family unrelated to the Egyptian ruling family and, through a coup, seized the throne.

**And yes, I am aware of the argument that Chamberlain might not have been Hitler’s dupe. Thanks to England’s anti-War fervor after WWI, which led to disarmament and the drawing down of her military, Chamberlain might have believed by 1938 that England could do nothing to stop Hitler. That belief would have led him to choose appeasement as the only option. I don’t agree with this view because bullies will back down quickly if their intended victim fights even minimally, but I’ll give Chamberlain the benefit of the doubt because he was a decent and patriotic man.

(A couple more things. I highly recommend Dennis Prager’s The Rational Bible: Exodus. If you don’t want to read the whole book, you can just buy h is The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, which is a companion to his videos on the Ten Commandments. It’s a quick read and a refreshing one. Also, here’s the link for Wilson’s book, The Rage Less Traveled: A Memoir of Surviving a Machete Attack.)

The post Passover: the nature of tyranny never changes but freedom is worth the fight appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Steve Hilton: Beware the populism of the left (video)

In between dozing off last night with the television on in the background  I caught tidbits of The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton which airs Sunday night’s on the Fox News channel.  One such block was Hilton’s discussion on “The Right kind of Populism” and populism of the left’

The post Steve Hilton: Beware the populism of the left (video) appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.