A Litmus Test for Syria

There’s plenty of argument amongst Christians whether or not the last decade the US has spent in the Middle East has been good or not. I stand firmly on the side that it has been disastrous for a variety of reasons.

But whatever the stance you take, whether or not you believe that what we did was necessary to keep Americans safe, i think there is a simple litmus test Christians should all adhere to: what is happening or going to happen to our fellow Christians in the Middle East.

While we think of the Middle East as a purely Muslim place, every good Christian has heard of the 10-40 window all but centered on the Middle East, but there are in many countries substantial Christian minorities. Percentages run as high as ten percent. They literally number in the millions: or at least they did.

The sole effect of our Middle Eastern policy has been to crush minorities. Following Western interventions like a shadow, is the spectre of minority oppression. And in particular, persecution against Christians. It’s well documented, but entirely ignored. Iraq:

The lot of Iraq’s Christian population is particularly glum. Though a steady trickle had been leaving for decades, the exodus became a flood after the American invasion in 2003, when radical Islamists unleashed a sectarian onslaught against Shia Muslims, Christians and others.The Economist

Afghanistan, where we’re ready to declare mission accomplished, our supposed successful attempt at nation building:

A democracy enthusiast would anticipate that the Christian community would be thriving now that a “democratic” Afghan government was installed by American military power after the ouster in 2001 of the Taliban regime. After all, Afghanistan’s constitution, adopted in 2004, guarantees freedom of religion. But Afghan Christians today are compelled to worship in secret lest they be accused of apostasy for converting to Christianity from Islam, a charge punishable by death. -The National Interest

And most recently Syria where we are about to start actively providing weapons to the same people who have kidnapped Catholic Priests and beheaded others:

The monastery in which he resided was burnt and looted, echoing the events of a massacre in Homs last month which resulted in the entire population of a Christian village being wiped out and their houses and possessions burnt. Two Christian bishops who were kidnapped by Chechen gunmen in Aleppo earlier this year, are still missing and are not the same persons that were beheaded.-RINF

And the idea that we can control the flow of weapons where it’s not even clear who is who and amidst myriad coalitions and alliances is just nonsense. Not only that, but our weapons aid is so unsubstantial that all it can possibly do is prolong the conflict and the torture of Christians. :

Although the US government isn’t saying how many rebels will be vetted, the program’s success could dramatically impact how the situation in Syria turns out. Three former CIA officials who have spent decades on the ground doing it say the upcoming campaign will be a crapshoot at best. -Quartz

Nor will I forget the Indonesian Priest we had on loan at St. Peter and Paul in Waimea explain in his first introductory homily how the Islamist vandalized his church and destroyed a Christian cemetery because of US foreign policy. Three girls in Indonesia, consider vandalism a light price to pay:

The three girls, Theresia Morangke and Yarni Sambue, both 15, and 17-year-old Alfita Poliwo, had their heads cut off. One of the heads was placed in a bag along on the steps of a church along with a note reading, “We will murder 100 more Christian teenagers and their heads will be presented as presents.” -Frontpage Mag

It is the same in Pakistan where our drone attacks have resulted in further persecution of Christians. It is the same all over the Islamic world and the reason is abundantly clear. Christian’s in the US are firm in their claim and in their belief that the US is a Christian nation. (I wish it was, but don’t agree with this that much.) We proclaim this, and so Muslims lash out at what the Christian nation is doing or perceived as doing to their brethren. And regardless of whether or not we are a Christian nation, if we want to claim it, if we want to hope for it, we might at least in our foreign policy try for something that doesn’t result in Christians the world over dying.

Why mayors should rule the world: Benjamin Barber at TEDGlobal 2013

I like this idea. Though I’m sure the monied interests would quickly find a way to bog down anything with money, the fact is cities are far more honest than any other form of government.

TED Blog

“Democracy is in trouble,” announces political theorist Benjamin Barber as he makes his way onto the TEDGlobal stage. He continues: “We live in a  21st-century world of interdependence and brutal interdependent problems. Yet when we look for solutions in politics and democracy, we are faced with political institutions designed 400 years ago.”

What can one do about this asymmetry between contemporary challenges and archaic, dysfunctional political institutions? “My suggestion is we change the subject,” says Barber: It’s time to start talking about cities. Urban areas, after all, are the place in which civilization and culture were born, the home of public spaces of culture and protest. Think Zuccotti Park, Tahrir Square, Taksim Square, or even Tiananmen Square in Beijing. (This last mention raises a whoop from the audience.) “Those are the public spaces where we announce ourselves as citizens, participants, as people with the right to write our own narratives,” says…

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If You Haven’t Done Anything Illegal, You Have Nothing To Fear

We know what happened in the case of QWest before 9/11. They contacted the CEO/Chairman asking to wiretap all the customers. After he consulted with Legal, he refused. As a result, NSA canceled a bunch of unrelated billion dollar contracts that QWest was the top bidder for. And then the DoJ targeted him and prosecuted him and put him in prison for insider trading — on the theory that he knew of anticipated income from secret programs that QWest was planning for the government, while the public didn’t because it was classified and he couldn’t legally tell them, and then he bought or sold QWest stock knowing those things.

This CEO’s name is Joseph P. Nacchio and TODAY he’s still serving a trumped-up 6-year federal prison sentence for quietly refusing an NSA demand to massively wiretap his customers.

Nope, nothing at all.

The real truth, aside from the obvious fact that yes, you do have plenty to hide, is that this argument is rather tautological and entirely erroneous. The statement is an annulment of all privacy; because it assumes that the only thing that would be kept private, is something illegal, which of course we cannot allow you to conceal. Nothing is private, because everything is either something which you cannot conceal, or something which you’ve no reason to conceal. It is not quite a tautology, the modifiers just narrowly avoid that problem, but the fact that such a statement really means that you have no right to privacy should be terrifying as much as they confirm the real ideology of all of our leaders who use them: don’t worry about your privacy, you don’t have any.