Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Judaism, Christianity, Environmentalism

Dennis Prager

As I have often noted, the most dynamic and influential religion of the past hundred years has not been Christianity, let alone Judaism, the two religions that created the Western world. Nor has it been Islam. It has been Leftism.

Leftism has influenced the literary, academic, media, and, therefore, the political elite far more than any other religion. It has taken over Western schools from elementary through graduate.

For most of that time, various incarnations of Marxism have been the dominant expressions -- and motivators -- of Leftism: specifically, income redistribution, material equality and socialism. They are still powerful aspects of the left, but with the downfall of most communist regimes, other left-wing expressions have generated even more passion: first feminism and then environmentalism.

Nothing comes close to environmentalism in generating left-wing enthusiasm. It is the religion of our time. For the left, the earth has supplanted patriotism. This was largely inevitable in Europe, given its contempt for nationalism since the end of World War I and even more so since World War II. But it is now true for the elites (almost all of whose members are on the left) in America as well.

This was most graphically displayed by the infamous Time magazine cover of April 21, 2008 that altered the most iconic photograph in American history -- Joe Rosenthal's picture of the marines planting the flag on Iwo Jima. Instead of the American flag, the Time cover depicted the marines planting a tree. The caption on the cover read: "How to Win the War on Global Warming." In other words, just as German and Japanese fascism was the enemy in World War II, global warming is the enemy today. And instead of allegiance to the nation's flag, now our allegiance must be to nature.

This is the antithesis of the Judeo-Christian view of the world that has dominated Western civilization for all of the West's history. The Judeo-Christian worldview is that man is at the center of the universe; nature was therefore created for man. Nature has no intrinsic worth other than man's appreciation and (moral) use of it.

Worship of nature was the pagan worldview, a worship that the Hebrew Bible was meant to destroy. The messages of the Creation story in Genesis were that:

1) God created nature. God is not in nature, and nature is not God. Nature is nothing more than His handiwork. Therefore it is He, not nature, that is to be worshipped. The pagan world held nature in esteem; its gods were gods of nature (not above nature).

2) Nature cannot be worshipped because nature is amoral, whereas God is moral.

3) All of creation had one purpose: the final creation, the human being.

With the demise of the biblical religions that have provided the American people with their core values since their country's inception, we are reverting to the pagan worldview. Trees and animals are venerated, while man is simply one more animal in the ecosystem -- and largely a hindrance, not an asset.

On February 20, a pit bull attacked a 4-year-old boy, Kevin Vicente, leaving the boy with a broken eye socket and a broken jaw. Kevin will have to undergo months, perhaps years, of additional reconstructive surgeries. A Facebook page was set up to raise funds. But it wasn't set up for Kevin. It was set up for the dog. The "Save Mickey" page garnered over 70,000 "likes," and raised more than enough money to provide legal help to prevent the dog from being euthanized. There were even candlelight vigils and a YouTube video plea for the dog.

The non-profit legal group defending Mickey is the Lexus Project. According to CBS News, "the same group fought earlier this year for the life of a dog that fatally mauled a toddler in Nevada."

This is the trend. Nature over man.

This is why environmentalists oppose the Keystone pipeline. Nature over man. The pipeline will provide work for thousands of people and it will enable Canada and the United States to increasingly break away from dependence on other countries for their energy needs. But to the true believers who make up much of the environmentalist movement, none of that matters. Just as they didn't care about the millions of Africans who died of malaria as a result of those environmentalists' efforts to ban DDT.

One of the fathers of the green movement is James Lovelock, the scientist who originated the Gaia hypothesis of the earth as a single living organism. This past Sunday, the British newspaper, the Guardian, reported that, "Talking about the environmental movement, Lovelock says: 'It's become a religion, and religions don't worry too much about facts.'"

He also told the interviewer "that he had been too certain about the rate of global warming in his past book ... that fracking and nuclear power should power the UK, not renewable sources such as wind farms."

As G.K. Chesterton prophesied over a hundred years ago: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything."

Now it's the environment.



How Foreign is Our Policy?

Thomas Sowell

Many people are lamenting the bad consequences of Barack Obama's foreign policy, and some are questioning his competence.

There is much to lament, and much to fear. Multiple setbacks to American interests have been brought on by Obama's policies in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Crimea and -- above all -- in what seems almost certain to become a nuclear Iran in the very near future.

The president's public warning to Syria of dire consequences if the Assad regime there crossed a "red line" he had drawn seemed to epitomize an amateurish bluff that was exposed as a bluff when Syria crossed that red line without suffering any consequences. Drawing red lines in disappearing ink makes an international mockery of not only this president's credibility, but also the credibility of future American presidents' commitments.

When some future President of the United States issues a solemn warning internationally, and means it, there may be less likelihood that the warning will be taken seriously. That invites the kind of miscalculation that has led to wars.

Many who are disappointed with what seem to be multiple fiascoes in President Obama's foreign policy question his competence and blame his inexperience.Such critics may be right, but it is by no means certain that they are.

Like those who are disappointed with Barack Obama's domestic policies, critics of his foreign policy may be ignoring the fact that you cannot know whether someone is failing or succeeding without knowing what he is trying to do.

Whether ObamaCare, for example, is a success or a failure, depends on whether you think the president's goal is to improve the medical treatment of Americans or to leave as his permanent legacy a system of income redistribution, through ObamaCare, and tight government control of the medical profession.

Much, if not most, of the disappointment with Barack Obama comes from expectations based on his words, rather than on an examination of what he has done over his lifetime before reaching the White House.

His words were glowing. He is a master of rhetoric, image and postures. He was so convincing that many failed to connect the dots of his past life that pointed in the opposite direction from his words. "Community organizers," for example, are not uniters but dividers -- and former community organizer Obama has polarized this country, despite his rhetoric about uniting us.

Many were so mesmerized by both the man himself and the euphoria surrounding the idea of "the first black president" that they failed to notice that there were any dots, much less any need to connect them.

One dot alone -- the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose church the Obamas attended for 20 years -- would have been enough to sink any other presidential bid by anyone who was not in line to become "the first black president."

The painful irony is that Jeremiah Wright was just one in a series of Obama's mentors hostile to America, resentful of successful Americans, and convinced that America had too much power internationally, and needed to be brought down a peg.

Anti-Americanism was the rule, not the exception, among Obama's mentors over the years, beginning in his childhood. When the young Obama and his mother lived in Indonesia, her Indonesian husband wanted her to accompany him to social gatherings with American businessmen -- and was puzzled when she refused.

He reminded her that these were her own people. According to Barack Obama's own eyewitness account, her voice rose "almost to a shout" when she replied:

"They are not my people."

Most of Barack Obama's foreign policy decisions since becoming president are consistent with this mindset. He has acted repeatedly as a citizen of the world, even though he was elected to be President of the United States.

Virtually every major move of the Obama administration has reduced the power, security and influence of America and its allies. Cutbacks in military spending, while our adversaries have increased their military buildups, ensure that these changes to our detriment will continue, even after Barack Obama has left the White House.

Is that failure or success?



Democrats: The REAL Party of the Rich

Democrats, led by the President, have resorted again and again to the rhetoric of class warfare -- you know, "the party of the rich" and all that.

That's why it's ironic that Democratic Party is the actual party of the rich. Democrats represent the richest district in the country -- and the richest Americans.

In shorthand, they represent the very rich and the very poor . . . those needing or wanting the benefits procured by a big, active, high-taxing government, and those who can pay those high taxes without even noticing (or find creative ways to prevent them from biting). They are also rich, powerful and connected enough to influence government policy in their favor, and often stand to benefit from government regulation that serves to stifle competition.

The GOP has become the party of the strivers, of the middle class, of small business, and of all those who have aspirations to prosperity. And sadly, they are the only ones who are serious about protecting what Paul Ryan has described as "the right to rise" -- what used to be universally known and embraced as "the American Dream."



New Virginia law protects farmers from meddling local officials

In a hard-fought and stunning victory for family farmers and property rights throughout the Commonwealth, Gov. Terry McAuliffe on March 5 signed into law legislation solidifying Virginia’s status as a right-to-farm state by limiting local officials’ ability to interfere with normal agricultural operations.

The governor’s signature marks the latest chapter in a swirling controversy that attracted nationwide attention in 2012 when the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors forced family farmer Martha Boneta to cease selling produce from her own 64-acre farm. No longer allowed to sell the vegetables she had harvested, Boneta donated the food to local charities lest it go to waste.

Fauquier County officials threatened Boneta with $5,000 per-day fines for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit, and advertising pumpkin carvings. Seeing the county’s action against Boneta as a brazen effort to drive her off her land, Virginians from all walks of life rallied to her defense.  Supporters gathered in Warrenton, the county seat, for a peaceful “pitchfork protest” to vent their anger over what an out-of-control local government had done to a law-abiding citizen.

In the 2013 session of the General Assembly, Rep. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, spearheaded an effort to undo the injustice inflicted on Boneta, and to protect other small farmers from similar abuse, by strengthening Virginia’s Right to Farm Act.  What became known as the “Boneta Bill” passed the House by an overwhelming margin but was killed in a Senate committee.  Undeterred, Boneta and her supporters came back to the General Assembly in 2014 and won wide bipartisan approval for legislation protecting the rights of family farmers.

The bill signed by Gov. McAuliffe grew out of legislation developed by Rep. Bobby Orrick, R-Thornburg, and Rep. Richard Stuart, R-Montross, and supported by, among others, Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax.  Backed by the Virginia Farm Bureau, the new law protects customary activities at agricultural operations from local bans in the absence of substantial impacts on public welfare.  It also prohibits localities from requiring a special-use permit for a host of farm-related activities that are specified in the bill.  The law takes effect on July 1.

“I want to thank Gov. McAuliffe, the members of the General Assembly, and all those who have rallied to the defense of family farmers,” Boneta said.  “After all my family and I have been through, it is gratifying to know that an injustice can be undone, and the rights of farmers as entrepreneurs can be upheld thanks to the work of so many dedicated people.”

Successful Grassroots Effort

Passage of the Boneta Bill was all the more remarkable, because it was entirely a grassroots effort.  Supporters of the legislation, none of whom received any compensation for the time and effort they devoted to the cause, flooded the state capitol in Richmond with emails, phone calls, and personal visits with lawmakers to ensure enactment of the legislation.

By contrast, opponents of the bill, including well-funded environmental organizations and power-hungry county governments – both determined to preserve strict land-use controls – reportedly employed lobbyists to kill the bill.  In the end, highly motivated citizens triumphed over highly paid lobbyists.



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