Category Archives: TRIBALISM

No. 12 Bookworm Podcast: Slavery was a blessing for today’s African Americans

Though slavery was awful, for today’s American blacks what would have been even worse was an absence of the slavery that brought them to these shores.

(If you prefer listening over reading, the companion podcast to this post is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcast so, if you like the podcasts, please share them with your friends and on social media. Giving my podcast good ratings helps too.)

My co-blogger, Wolf Howling, has already written two excellent posts savaging the shoddy scholarship and evil motives behind the New York Times’ 1619 Project. He’s right, of course, but that hasn’t stopped the project from benefiting from the fact that the Times, while it no longer even makes a pretense of reporting news (instead it works as a Democrat propaganda arm), still has a disproportionate reach into American minds. For example, at Twitter, Stu Cvrk does a quick rundown of the Times’ decades’-long control over American newsrooms, a power it still holds today — as can be seen from the fact that USA Today has already published its own echo of the 1619 project.

Even the meanest intellect can understand the message that the Times’ and its fellow travelers are pushing: Americans cannot hide behind the Constitution to claim that they are a society founded on a great and colorblind idea (albeit one that was imperfectly implemented for a long time). Instead, from the moment Europeans set foot on America’s shores, they brought with them an evil so great that America is irredeemably corrupt. And of course, the proggies know the only way to purge that corruption: America must be destroyed and rebuilt in a socialist mold.

I’ll repeat here a true family story about this notion of purification: My aunt, along with her siblings (one of whom was my father) managed to escape Nazi Germany before the war. After the war, my aunt found her way to Israel. Israel was socialist, which ought to have satisfied her, but it wasn’t socialist enough. She wanted true communism, so she abandoned her husband and child and returned to Berlin. When she first raised the idea of leaving Israel, her friends asked her how she could return to the land of the Nazis. She confidently assured them that this was not a problem: “They’ve been purified by communism.” Looking at how people in the 20th century suffered under communism, I guess you could call that purification — and it’s that kind of “purification” that the new American Left wants for us so that we can atone for the sin of slavery.

Many people more intelligent and informed than I have pointed to some very obvious problems with the 1619 project. There’s

  • the shoddy, dishonest scholarship;
  • the fact that slavery was the norm throughout the world up until the Enlightenment, something that was a purely Western concept;
  • the fact that Africans enthusiastically participated in the slave trade as a way of ridding themselves of prisoners taken in their endless tribal warfare;
  • the fact that millions of Europeans were enslaved in Africa and the Middle East even as Africans were enslaved in other parts of the world;
  • the fact that slavery continues today across the Muslim Middle East and Africa; the fact that America fought its bloodiest war to end slavery, with the loss of 650,000 men (or 2% of its population); and
  • the fact that, after the 1830s, both slavery and its descendant, Jim Crow, were phenomenons unique to the Democrat Party.

That’s all the obvious stuff.

I’d like to talk about something less obvious, which is the fact that slavery is the best thing that ever happened to the African-American diaspora, by which I mean black Americans whose ancestors were forcibly brought to America as slaves. This is not to excuse the inhumanity of the slave trade nor is it meant to lessen the horrors visited on those Africans whose fellow countrymen consigned them to the slave ships. I’m also not trying to lessen the generational pain, suffering, and humiliation experienced by those who survived the ships only to become slaves, sharecroppers, and people on the receiving end of virulent racism. But what I’ve said is still true.

To begin, I’d like to talk a little bit about life in Africa today. Let’s start with life expectancy. African nations have the lowest life expectancy in the world — pathetically, tragically, horrifically low. No matter the source (the WHO, the UN, or other NGOs), the message is always the same: If you live in Africa, your life will be shorter than the life expectancy of any other people in any other parts of the world, no matter how impoverished. And just as one point of comparison, an African American man in America, although he is unlikely to live as long as a white male in America, can still expect to live 10 to 25 years longer than his African brethren.

What about infant mortality? Once again, Africa lives in the bottom half, nay, the bottom third of any infant mortality chart.

The African continent does top some charts, though. Many of its nations are in the top 20 percent when it comes to lists identifying the most dangerous countries in the world. See here, here, and here, for example. Africa also tops the charts for illiteracy, poverty, and horrific diseases.

Life in Africa is truly Hobbesian: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” — except that, given crowding in African cities, the one thing life isn’t is solitary. Instead, it’s over-crowded, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Just today, I picked up a couple of stories about life in Africa. The first was a tweet showing a South African mob, in full xenophobe mode, beating to death a Nigerian Uber driver and his passenger:

In response, someone tweeted a reminder to me that, just this past June, several thousand miles away on the northwestern side of Africa, there was a little reported story out of Mali:

Bodies recovered from a massacre of almost 100 people by a Malian ethnic militia included at least 24 children, many of them shot in the back, the prime minister said during a visit to the crime scene on Tuesday.

Attackers believed to belong to the Fulani ethnic group raided the rival Dogon village of Sobame Da, in central Mali, between Sunday and Monday.

They killed at least 95 people and burned houses to the ground in an escalation of the tit-for-tat ethnic slaughter that has engulfed the country this year.

That massacre did not get the coverage of a shooting in a Texas Walmart. Instead, it got almost no coverage. That’s because it’s a dog bites man story. Massacres are normal for Africa. Mass slaughter for religious, ethnic, political, tribal, and racial grounds is an ongoing, day-to-day experience. It’s what they do there.

If you want a pithy summary of life in Africa, read Kim du Toit’s post entitled Let Africa Sink. du Toit grew up and lived for 30 years in Africa, so he has first-hand experience when he makes the following points. I’m offering here just a portion of his post, but I urge you to read the whole thing. It makes for both painful and eye-opening reading:

In Africa, life is cheap. There are so many ways to die in Africa that death is far more commonplace than in the West. You can die from so many things: snakebite, insect bite, wild animal attack, disease, starvation, food poisoning… the list goes on and on. At one time, crocodiles accounted for more deaths in sub-Saharan Africa than gunfire, for example. Now add the usual human tragedy (murder, assault, warfare and the rest), and you can begin to understand why the life expectancy for an African is low — in fact, horrifyingly low, if you remove White Africans from the statistics (they tend to be more urbanized, and more Western in behavior and outlook). Finally, if you add the horrifying spread of AIDS into the equation, anyone born in sub-Saharan Africa this century will be lucky to reach age forty.

[snip]

So because of my African background, I am seldom moved at the sight of death, unless it’s accidental, or it affects someone close to me. (Death which strikes at total strangers, of course, is mostly ignored.) Of my circle of about eighteen or so friends with whom I grew up, and whom I would consider “close”, only about eight survive today — and not one of the survivors is over the age of fifty. Two friends died from stepping on landmines while on Army duty in Namibia. Three died in horrific car accidents (and lest one thinks that this is not confined to Africa, one was caused by a kudu flying through a windshield and impaling the guy through the chest with its hoof — not your everyday traffic accident in, say, Florida). One was bitten by a snake, and died from heart failure. Another two also died of heart failure, but they were hopeless drunkards. Two were shot by muggers. The last went out on his surfboard one day and was never seen again (did I mention that sharks are plentiful off the African coasts and in the major rivers?). My experience is not uncommon in South Africa — and north of the Limpopo River (the border with Zimbabwe), I suspect that others would show worse statistics.

[snip]

My favorite African story actually happened after I left the country. An American executive took a job over there, and on his very first day, the newspaper headlines read:
“Three Headless Bodies Found”.
The next day: “Three Heads Found”.
The third day: “Heads Don’t Match Bodies”.

[snip]

More to the point, the West has evolved into a society with a stable system of government, which follows the rule of law, and has respect for the rights and life of the individual — none of which is true in Africa.

Among old Africa hands, we have a saying, usually accompanied by a shrug: “Africa wins again.” This is usually said after an incident such as:

  • a beloved missionary is butchered by his congregation, for no apparent reason
  • a tribal chief prefers to let his tribe starve to death rather than accepting food from the Red Cross (would mean he wasn’t all-powerful, you see)
  • an entire nation starves to death, while its ruler accumulates wealth in foreign banks
  • a new government comes into power, promising democracy, free elections etc., provided that the freedom doesn’t extend to the other tribe
  • the other tribe comes to power in a bloody coup, then promptly sets about slaughtering the first tribe
  • etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

In other words, for vast numbers of Africans, life in Africa is awful, really and truly awful. Not to be in Africa is a blessing.

And that loops me back to my earlier point, which is that those American blacks whose ancestors were enslaved here, are the lucky ones. This idea is not original to me. Instead, I first learned it when I stumbled across a book by an African-American, former Washington Post correspondent named Keith Richburg. Back in the early 1990s, Richburg was thrilled when he was appointed to be the Post‘s African bureau chief for it would give him the chance to return to the land of his ancestors. That thrill did not survive the African experience, especially given that he was in Africa during the Rwanda massacres.

In 1997, after returning to America, Richburg wrote about his experience in a book entitled Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa. I cannot recommend the book highly enough. The fact that it was first published in 1997 does not make it one whit less relevant to what’s going on in the world today and, indeed, given the iniquity of the 1619 Project, it makes the book more relevant than before. If you have $12 lying around for the Kindle edition, do yourself a favor — follow the my link to the book and get yourself a copy.

Rather than trying to summarize Richburg’s core point in the book, I’ll let him explain in his own words the staggering realization he had about America once he had done his time in Africa. Richburg begins by describing the overwhelming horror of being in Tanzania and watching bodies from Rwanda float down the Kagera Rivera by the thousands. That was not the only time he was confronted by dead bodies in Africa. He saw hundreds more, whether the people died from Nature’s aggression, poverty, ordinary African violence, or all-out war.

Maybe now you’re asking yourself: How does he deal with it? How does he cope with seeing those horrific images every day? Does he think about it? Does he have nightmares? What on earth must go through his mind?

I’ll tell you, if you’ll let me describe it. Revulsion. Sorrow. Pity at the monumental waste of human life. They all come close, but don’t quite capture what I really feel. It’s a sentiment that began nagging me soon after I first set foot in Africa in late 1991. And it’s a gnawing feeling that kept coming back to me as the bodies kept piling up, as the insanity of Africa deepened. It’s a feeling that I was really unable to express out loud until the end, as I was packing my bags to leave. It was a feeling that pained me to admit, a sentiment that, when uttered aloud, might come across as callous, self-obsessed, even racist.

And yet I know exactly this feeling that haunts me; I’ve just been too embarrassed to say it. So let me drop the charade and put it as simply as I know how: There but for the grace of God go I.

You see, I was seeing all of this horror a bit differently because of the color of my skin. I am an American, but a black man, a descendant of slaves brought from Africa. When I see these nameless, faceless, anonymous bodies washing over a waterfall or piled up on the back of trucks, what I see most is that they look like me.

Sometime, maybe four hundred or so years ago, one of my ancestors was taken from his village, probably by a local chieftain. He was shackled in leg irons, kept in a holding pen or a dark pit, possibly at Goree Island off the coast of Senegal. And then he was put in the crowded, filthy cargo hold of a ship for the long and treacherous voyage across the Atlantic to the New World.

Many of the slaves died on that voyage. But not my ancestor. Maybe it was because he was strong, maybe just stubborn, or maybe he had an irrepressible will to live. But he survived, and ended up in forced slavery working on plantations in the Caribbean. Generations on down the line, one of his descendants was taken to South Carolina. Finally, a more recent descendant, my father, moved to Detroit to find a job in an auto plant during the Second World War.

And so it was that I came to be born in Detroit and that thirty-five years later, a black man born in white America, I was in Africa, birthplace of my ancestors, standing at the edge of a river not as an African but as an American journalist—a mere spectator—watching the bloated bodies of black Africans cascading over a waterfall. And that’s when I thought about how, if things had been different, I might have been one of them—or might have met some similarly anonymous fate in one of the countless ongoing civil wars or tribal clashes on this brutal continent. And so I thank God my ancestor survived that voyage.

Does that sound shocking? Does it sound almost like a justification for the terrible crime of slavery? Does it sound like this black man has forgotten his African roots? Of course it does, all that and more. And that is precisely why I have tried to keep this emotion buried so deep for so long, and why it pains me so now to put these words in print, for all the world to see. But I’m writing this so you will understand better what I’m trying to say.

It might have been easier for me to just keep all of these emotions bottled up inside. Maybe I should have just written a standard book on Africa that would have talked broadly about the politics, the possibilities, the prospects for change.

But I’m tired of lying. And I’m tired of all the ignorance and hypocrisy and the double standards I hear and read about Africa, much of it from people who’ve never been there, let alone spent three years walking around amid the corpses. Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my African brothers and I’ll throw it back in your face, and then I’ll rub your nose in the images of the rotting flesh.

I’ll stop there, but let me say again that Richburg’s is one of those books you should read, indeed, you must read, if you want to understand the flip side of the sudden Leftist hysteria about the slave experience. Yes, slavery was bad, but America was scarcely unique. What is unique is that, out of that awfulness came something good: An African diaspora in which descendants of slaves can be Keith Richburg or Barack Obama or Beyonce, rather than the two Nigerians beaten to death on the street in South Africa or the 24 children killed in yet another tribal/religious battle that is day-to-day fare in impoverished, diseased, corrupt Africa, a place profoundly hostile to life.

Moreover, you need to understand that today’s American Left is trying to import wholesale Africa’s horrors to America under the guise of socialism — and by that I mean that the Left is trying to reinstate tribalism.

Keep in mind that Marx’s idea was anti-tribalism. He was all about class divisions that he believed uniformly encircled the globe. Thus, he envisioned a world in which, eventually, the whole world would march under one banner. For those who read Marx in the late 19th century, WWI came as a shock. They had assumed that, when the capitalist powers went to war, the workers of the world would unite, resisting national borders and combining instead to bring down worldwide capitalism and replacing it with one-world communism. Instead, the only uniting the workers of the world did was to march behind the national banners.

(As an aside, one can say that nationalism is tribalism on a larger scale and therefore equally dangerous. This is one of the proggie arguments against Trump. However, as Milton Friedman and other economists have pointed out, truly capitalist nations, especially those built around the type of liberty-oriented principles that animate the Constitution, tend not to go to war. They enrich themselves through trade and the spread of liberty; not through conquest and the spread of tyranny.)

America’s socialists are not working for a unified America. To achieve power, they are doing their best to divide America into as many warring sub-parts as possible. In other words, even as the world is finally leaving behind the tribalism that led to chronic violence (a type of violence I described here), America’s progressives, through initiatives such as the 1619 Project, are doing their best to reinstate it. Think about my post, read Richburg’s book, and resist the pernicious, evil, ill-informed, dangerous 1619 Project.

A note about the picture: An image from the Ethiopian famine in the early 1980s, which killed between 200,000 to 1,200,000 people.

The post No. 12 Bookworm Podcast: Slavery was a blessing for today’s African Americans appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

No. 11 Bookworm Podcast: The Left is returning us to the horrors of tribalism

In their desperate grab for power, the Left is abandoning the unity of America’s ideas in favor of tribalism, with all its attendant violence.

(If you prefer listening to reading, the companion podcast is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcast so, if you like it, please share it with your friends and on social media. Giving it good ratings helps too.)

One of the books I’ve recommended for some time now is Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. The title pretty much says it all: We live in a safer, less violent world than at any time in human history. It’s the kind of book people should read if the news is getting them down. While our media operates on the “if it bleeds it leads” principle, the real world operates on an “it’s never been better” principle even in the worst parts of the world.

Pinker wrote the book in 2012, before the world felt the full effect of Obama’s lead from behind policy in Syria, his attack on Libya, and his passivity regarding the Arab Spring, all of which turned large parts of the Middle East and North Africa into blood-soaked hellholes, with Angela Merkel then helping the violence to leak into Europe, which means that his book is based on a less violent time than the one in which we live. Nevertheless, his greater point is still a good one: Over the centuries . . . no, over the millennia, we humans have become less violent. We’ve become less violent in warfare, less violent in daily life, less violent in dealing with criminals, and less violent in entertainment.

Just think that a “mere” 2,000 years ago, the Romans were the apex of civilization, complete with their “Pax Romana” (or Roman Peace). For those who forgot to pay attention in Roman history class, the Pax Romana was a relatively peaceful period from about 27 B.C. to about 140 A.D. when there was minimal strife within Rome itself.

Of course “minimal strife” is a relative term. Rome expanded rapidly during this period, so there was actually constant warfare. Indeed, it was during this time — in 70 A.D. — that the Siege of Jerusalem took place and it proved to be one of the bloodiest wars in which the Romans engaged. Josephus, who wrote the history, believed that over 1.1 million non-combatants died in Jerusalem alone. He was probably exaggerating, but a good guess is still about 350,000 non-combatant deaths.

This was also the time during which Tacitus said of Rome’s conquering tactics, “They make a desert [or desolation] and call it peace.” In other words, it was not “peace” as we think of it.
This so-called peaceful time also saw crucifixion — which is one of the cruelest forms of execution — routinely used as an ordinary punishment, including against Jesus. Entertainment during the Pax Romana consisted of up to 80,000 Romans gathering together in the Colosseum to watch gladiators fight each other to the death or, for a change of pace, enjoying the spectacle of seeing wild animals tear apart prisoners who had been sentenced to death. During big celebrations, thousands of people would die before a delighted crowd. (The same was true 1,500 years later under Aztec rule.) And of course, there were the depraved Roman emperors, who delighted in torture, especially sexual torture.

Cruelty was the name of the game — yet, as I said, Rome was the apex of world culture and its idea set European standards for centuries to come.

(As an aside, I’m very tempted to buy Jerry Toner’s new book, Infamy: The Crimes of Ancient Rome, which takes a close, and apparently very colorful, look at just how awful the Roman empire was for those not lucky enough to live at the very topmost rungs — and given how frequently emperors were assassinated in Rome’s waning days, even the topmost rungs weren’t very nice places.)

Outside of Rome, life was just as awful. Large chunks of the world — most of Europe outside of Rome’s borders, the Americas, Asia, Africa — were tribal.

Of course, given the Left’s relentless attack on Western civilization, that’s not what our children learn. In schools today, our children are routinely taught that Native America tribes were peaceful tree huggers. They were not. Sure, there were some tribes that really were peaceful harvesters (the coastal Miwoks in Northern California, for example), but for most of them, life was a series of endless battles with other tribes over scare resources.

Beginning with one of the proto Leftists, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was in love with the idea of the “Noble Savage,” and continuing with early anthropologists such as Margaret Mead who, in the wake of WWI and WWII, were in love with the idea of anti-civilization, we’ve been instructed that Stone Age tribes, especially the indigenous people in the Americas, were peaceful compared to modern man. And this is the point at which I loop back to the start of my post, to Steven Pinker. He addresses the type of violence attendant upon Stone Age tribes, whether 10,000 years ago or 5,000 years ago or, in the Americas, even 200 years ago (and do keep in mind that Native American tribes were devoid of writing and books, devoid of math and science, and devoid of smelting and metallurgy — in other words, they were Stone Age).

Pinker begins by noting that it’s easy to think of Stone Age tribes as relatively peaceful. In our imagination, neighboring tribesman face off against each other across a river, trash talking and shooting a few arrows. A couple of men are wounded or die and then the two sides retreat, having proven their honor and honored the process. As one historian, William Eckhardt, wrote, “Bands of gathering-hunters, numbering about 25 to 50 people each, could hardly have made much of a war. There would not have been enough people to fight, few weapons with which to fight, little to fight about, and no surplus to pay for the fighting.”

Those are all assumptions, though — and they are all wrong. In fact, Stone Age tribes were exceptionally deadly, opting for unending stealth warfare with an appallingly high attrition rate:

A party of men will slink into an enemy village before dawn, fire arrows into the first men who emerge from their huts in the morning to pee, and then shooting the others as they rush out of their huts to see what the commotion is about. They may thrust their spears through walls, shoot arrows through doorways or chimneys, and set the huts on fire. They can kill a lot of drowsy people before the villagers organize themselves in defense, by which time the attackers have melted back into the forest.

Sometimes enough attackers show up to massacre every last member of the village, or to kill all the men and abduct the women.

In North America, William Bradford, who arrived on the Mayflower, described how the Native Americans dealt with their enemies:

Not being content only to kill and take away life, [they] delight to torment men in the most bloody manner that may be, flaying some alive with the shells of fishes, cutting off members and joints of others by piecemeal and broiling on the coals, eat collops of their flesh in their sight while they live.

Pinker provides other examples of indigenous people brutality, whether the Yanamamo’s in Venezuela in the 1930s, the aborigines in Australia in the early 19th century, or the Inuits in the early 20th century.

So how bloody was all this tribalism — that is, one tribe fighting for resources or vengeance against another tribe? Pinker has the answer to that: Very, very bloody. While modern societies have killed in greater numbers, simply because we have a larger population, the percentage likelihood of death in pre-modern tribal society was tremendously greater. Men of fighting age had a 25% chance of dying in some form of tribal warfare.

For society as a whole, Pinker tries to give a relative sense of the risk of violent death. In pre-2015 Europe, before Merkel’s migrants raised the violence rate, Western Europeans had a homicide rate of about 1 per 100,000 per year. America, at its most dangerous in the 1970s and 1980s, had an average homicide rate of about 10 per 100,000 per year, with Detroit leading at 45 per 100,000 per year. (In 2107, by the way, Baltimore had a murder rate of 56 per 100,000, which is why President Trump characterized it as a hellhole for those poor people trapped within its borders.)

Pinker notes that a society with a rate of 100 homicides per 100,000 would mean that “violence would start to affect you personally: assuming you have a hundred relatives, friends, and close acquaintances, then over the course of a decade one of them would probably be killed.”

With the above numbers in  mind, what does Pinker was happening in non-state tribal societies, i.e., tribal societies? “The average annual rate of death in warfare for the nonstate societies is 524 per 100,000….” Oh, my!

Pinker devotes a lot of time and words to explaining how and why violence has dropped. One of the main reasons was the creation of the state, which did away with constant Hatfield-McCoy types of revenge killings.

Another reason is one that Pinker doesn’t address, but that Nicholas Wade did in A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, the book that got him fired from the New York Times. In his book, Wade explains that Western society has bred out some of its most violent DNA. Because we created civil societies with the rule of law, violent people (especially violent men) ended up either imprisoned, executed, or simply socially disfavored, which prevented them from passing on their DNA. Meanwhile, in societies that remained tribal, violence continued to be a survival advantage, meaning it was also a genetic advantage.

Even though tribalism was eventually constrained by the state in most parts of the world, it continued in the form of nation-state battles. Across Europe, tribal battles were the norm, although they were on a grander, national scale. England and France were at war with each other for hundreds of years. The Serbians fought the Croatians, the Russians fought the Poles, the Italians fought the Yugoslavians and, of course, the Germans fought everyone. . . . The list of intra-European battles to death is the history of Europe.

The same is true for Asia — China versus Japan versus the Koreans versus the Vietnamese. . . .

And Africa! Oh, my Lord! Don’t get me started on Africa. The reason the African slave trade thrived was because Africans were busy selling their tribal enemies to Muslim traders who then sent those prisoners of war out to the rest of the world as slaves.

All of this was tribalism, which can be summed up in the Bedouin expression, “I, against my brothers. I and my brothers against my cousins. I and my brothers and my cousins against the world.”

There is something, though, that can stand against tribalism and that is the binding ties of ideas. And once again, this takes me back to Steven Pinker.

One of the things Pinker does not discuss in his book about violence is the rise of the Judeo-Christian ethic as an antidote to violence. To the contrary — in his first chapter, Pinker devotes a lot of pages to describing the terrible bloodshed in the Bible. He’s right that the early chapters of the Jewish Bible describe an a society riven by violence, but that’s because the stories are a history of pre-modern Stone Age societies. When it comes to the Biblical world, we don’t have to try to divine the past from bones and fragments of pottery. We can just read about it.

Take as just one example the story of Dinah: The son of a neighboring tribal leader rapes her, but then offers to marry her. Her brothers agree, provided that all the men in the other tribe get circumcised. Then, when the men are disabled by the procedure, Dinah’s brothers slaughter everyone. That’s Stone Age tribalism with a vengeance.

But the Bible is really two books. One of the books is a history of pre-modern man, a violent, bloody, vengeful, often extremely ugly history. The other book is the history of ideas, primarily those ideas expressed in the Ten Commandments. These are transcendent ideas that are not tied to tribes. Indeed, the Bible makes clear over and over and over again that the role of the Jews is to bring these transcendent ideas to the rest of the world. They are ideas about justice and the mandate for human goodness. When applied to society, any society, that society will be a better, more stable, safer society in which to live. It will be an imperfect society, because humans are imperfect, but it will be raised above a Stone Age, lawless society.

It may take centuries for people to incorporate the ideas into their day-to-day lives, but eventually they’ll back away from the norm of Roman violence and figure out Enlightenment civility. In this regard, let me point out that the worst violence in modern history — the 20th century violence of Nazi Germany and the endless, aching Cold War played out in one country after another — was triggered by nations that affirmatively rejected the Judeo-Christian doctrine in favor of what Americans once called “Godless communism.” (And need I point out that the Nazis were socialists and fiercely hostile, not just to Judaism, but to traditional Christianity, preferring instead their own version of Germanic paganism?)

In America, as an outgrowth of the Enlightenment, we had another blinding burst of binding ideas. Our Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, is not written for Germans or English or Irish or or blacks or whites or Asians or Hispanics. It was written as a set of abstract principles that could apply in theory — and have applied in fact — to all people, regardless of race, color, creed, sex, or country of national origin.

I’m not arguing that imperfect men sought to deny these abstract principles to various peoples over America’s history and more shame to them. I’m just saying that the principles are color blind and sex blind and creed blind. Like the Ten Commandments before them, they are ideas that any people can embrace and, if they embrace them properly, all people will benefit from them.

That’s been the amazing compact of America: If you come to our country and embrace our creed, nothing else about you should matter. If you go to Switzerland and, slowly and laboriously, finally gain Swiss citizenship, you’ll still be an American, albeit one with legal rights unique to Swiss citizens. However, if you’re a Swiss citizen and you gain American citizenship — voila! you’re an American. By embracing our ideas, your DNA, your lineage, your natal land, all are irrelevant.

It’s that binding force of American ideas, though, that allows the Left to engage in the ridiculous fiction that there’s some homogeneous white mass of people in America that are all alike in their privileges and hatreds. Tell that risible fiction to every white Britisher, Frenchman, Dutchman, Pole, Russian, American, and Belgian who died at the hands of a white German. Tell that to every white Serb who died at the hands of a white Croatian. What unites white people in America isn’t skin color; it’s Americanism — it’s embracing the truths that we hold self-evident.

The same holds true for people of other races in America: Leftists try to tell us that blacks are just as homogeneous as whites, but we have only to look at Africa’s history to know how ridiculous that is. As I noted above, African slavery was made possible by the hatreds of African tribalism. It wasn’t black racism that caused the Tutsis to slaughter the Hutus. It was tribalism pure and simple. But here, if blacks will embrace the American credo, tribalism is irrelevant.

Given the violence inherent in tribalism, the Leftist desire to divide Americans once again by race, color, creed, sex, etc., is utterly appalling and, indeed, quite evil. Leftists are inviting onto American shores the horror that most Americans gratefully abandoned when they waved farewell to blood-soaked Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa (at least those Africans who, in recent years, have come voluntarily), and headed for America.

Whenever tribalism has set foot in America, whether whites against blacks, blacks against whites, established whites against Irish whites, blacks against Hispanics in the inner cities, or any other tribal combination, bloodshed has followed. It’s only when we’ve embraced the notion that we, the American people, are one nation, indivisible, that we have thrived and achieved a level of peace and success that has made America the envy of the world.

We must reject the Left’s tribalism in favor of American homogeneity, or we are doomed to relapse into a history all of us should be grateful we’ve left behind.

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