Saturday, June 06, 2020

Steve Hays (1959-2020)

We just learned that Steve Hays has passed away in a hospice. He had cancer and heart disease. Both conditions were initially treatable, but he declined treatment. He was content to let go and die a natural death. What he lived by, he died by. He was preceded in death by both his parents.

He wrote a memoir titled A Backward Providence. An original edition was written many years ago, but he updated it shortly before his death.

All that Steve provided for an obituary was most of what's in the first paragraph above. But a lot more can and ought to be said. This post will remain at the top of the screen for the next three days, then normal posting will resume. Anybody on the Triablogue staff who wants to start another thread about Steve at that point or later is free to do so. Thank you.

Some coronavirus news

Some coronavirus news. Good news and bad news.

Bad news first.

As many people know, two prestigious medical journals, the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, both had to retract published papers recently. In fact, it's become a scandal.

The Lancet retracted a hydroxychloroquine study, while the NEJM retracted a cardiovascular disease study. The main issue is data integrity; data may have been compromised. Originally data was provided by a company named Surgisphere, but a co-author of both papers co-founded Surgisphere, i.e., Sapan S. Desai, MD, PhD, and Desai's publications history is rife with research misconduct.

Also on the hydroxychloroquine front, a separate study - likewise published in the NEJM but which did not use the Surgisphere database - found that hydroxychloroquine was not significantly different from placebo:

We enrolled 821 asymptomatic participants. Overall, 87.6% of the participants (719 of 821) reported a high-risk exposure to a confirmed Covid-19 contact. The incidence of new illness compatible with Covid-19 did not differ significantly between participants receiving hydroxychloroquine (49 of 414 [11.8%]) and those receiving placebo (58 of 407 [14.3%]); the absolute difference was −2.4 percentage points (95% confidence interval, −7.0 to 2.2; P=0.35). Side effects were more common with hydroxychloroquine than with placebo (40.1% vs. 16.8%), but no serious adverse reactions were reported.

Now for the good news.

There are still many ongoing studies and trials. Such as one on convalescent plasma which was found to be both safe as well as effective in 19 of 25 (76%) severely ill COVID-19 patients.

In addition, there are several very promising vaccines trials under way. Several in phase 1 trials, a few in phase 2, and a couple moving to phase 3 trials. This includes the much touted vaccine from Moderna which is set to begin phase 3 trials as early as next month in July. The Regulatory Affairs and Professionals Society (RAPS) looks like a good website to track vaccine candidates.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Protest and anarchy in black and blue

"Protest and Anarchy in Black and Blue" (Carl F. Ellis, Jr.)

Race first

Double standard?

Sweet land of tyranny

"Sweet Land of Tyranny" (James Hankins)

Is atheism intellectual suicide?

Anderson on TAG and other worldview issues

The philosophy of David Hume

An interview with Prof. James Anderson (mp3).

Grasping for the divine

"Grasping for the divine" (Esther O'Reilly)


The true American way when it comes to kneeling:

Apparent contradictions in the Gospels

From Lydia McGrew, who encourages sharing the following:

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Social justice matters more than social distance

"Suddenly, Public Health Officials Say Social Justice Matters More Than Social Distance"

Floyd's funeral

On the one hand, it's perfectly fine for hundreds and thousands to attend George Floyd's memorial and funeral services. This includes and will include high profile figures like Al Sharpton and Joe Biden. No doubt these services will be broadcast by almost every major media outlet. You know, for maximum exposure, to ensure the right people can take advantage of Floyd's death for their agenda.

On the other hand, there are hard limits for funeral services for average Americans. In fact, many Americans weren't even allowed to see their loved ones pass away from the coronavirus or other conditions due to these hard limits. Many people died alone. But there's no double standard. /s

Will David Dorn get as much attention? Probably not because he wasn't the right kind of black. He was a police officer. Too blue to be black.

Woke church










From George Orwell's 1984:

The Ministry of Truth—Minitrue, in Newspeak—was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:


Tiananmen square commemoration

Today is the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen square massacre. Hong Kong has been holding annual vigils to commemorate the victims massacred by China for 30 years.

However, for the first time since Hong Kong's handover to China, China has banned Hong Kongers from holding vigils under pain of imprisonment and potentially death. Indeed, Hong Kong has effectively lost its democracy and is under the control of China today, due to the new "security law". No more "one country, two systems"; now it's "one country, one system". It's all communist China. Yet Hong Kongers still came out in droves to commemorate Tiananmen square. This is real protest in the face of a totalitarian regime.

How many rioters (including Antifa) would dare to come out in "protest" if they didn't live in a free and democratic society but instead lived under the thumb of a nation like China? How many rioters would dare to come out in "protest" if they were essentially weaponless (no viable access to weapons like guns and knives) and knew the slightest hint of physical resistance or opposition could result in their deaths? Just how "brave" or "courageous" is Antifa when it costs them so very little to "protest" in comparison to Hong Kongers? (I might not make much of this comparison, but I've noticed some or many on the left comparing their "fight" with what happened at Tiananmen square, our government with communist China, and so on.)

The fragility of black existence

A formulation of the fine-tuning argument

A new paper from physicist Luke Barnes:


A new formulation of the Fine-Tuning Argument (FTA) for the existence of God is offered, which avoids a number of commonly raised objections. I argue that we can and should focus on the fundamental constants and initial conditions of the universe, and show how physics itself provides the probabilities that are needed by the argument. I explain how this formulation avoids a number of common objections, specifically the possibility of deeper physical laws, the multiverse, normalisability, whether God would fine-tune at all, whether the universe is too fine-tuned, and whether the likelihood of God creating a life-permitting universe is inscrutable.

"A Reasonable Little Question: A Formulation of the Fine-Tuning Argument"

Consciousness in split-brain patients

The case of the disappearing posts

The content of some of our posts has been disappearing (e.g. The case for Catholicism, American's Tiananmen square, Some observations about the riots). It doesn't seem to happen when we initially post the post, but it seems to happen if we edit the post after the fact (e.g. nothing more than adding a single label has made the entire content of the post disappear). We're trying to figure out why, and how to fix it, so please bear with us. Of course, if anyone has any idea why this might be happening, please feel free to comment. Thanks.

(At the moment, recovery isn't a huge concern. I believe admins have backed up most of Triablogue.)

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

2nd degree murder

Hardening pharaoh’s heart

From Greg Beale's Redemptive Reversals and the Ironic Overturning of Human Wisdom:

A Preincarnate Hitler

The pharaoh of ancient Egypt is one of the best examples of ironic judgment, since in great arrogance he hotly pursued afflicted Israel but was "caught in the plots which [he had] devised" (Ps. 10:2). Pharaoh's first mistake was to claim to be God. He gave to himself such titles as "savior of Egypt," "Lord of the living," "Universal god," and the sovereign "god of heaven and earth." As such he was also held to be the divine judge after death.4 This is, no doubt, why Pharaoh responds to Moses's message that begins, "Thus says the Lord" (Ex. 5:1), with an equally authoritative, "Thus says Pharaoh" (Ex. 5:10). But, indeed, such a divine claim was farthest from the truth since, ironically, Scripture identifies the pharaoh of the exodus with Satan, "the dragon" (Isa. 51:9; cf. Ps. 74:13–14 and Rev. 12:3–4, 7–9), and the "sea monster" (Ps. 89:10; cf. also Ps. 87:4; Isa. 30:7; Ezek. 32:2). Pharaoh's obstinate claim to deity, even in spite of the plagues that came upon him in Exodus 7–13, was the reason for his judgment.

Pharaoh's mistaken belief in his divine sovereignty must have led him to issue the edict that the firstborn males of Israel were to be killed by the Hebrew midwives (Ex. 1:16), and when this failed, he ordered the firstborn to be drowned in a river (Ex. 1:22). Not only did Pharaoh's attempts to overcome Israel fail, but his edicts declaring the killing of the firstborn were providentially reversed so that they fell on him in judgment. Not only did God kill the firstborn of every Egyptian family (Ex. 12:29), but he also drowned Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea (Ex. 15:1–12). His sins came back on his own head, since he was punished ironically by the very things he perpetrated against Israel.

No Truth and No Consequences

Before we leave this discussion of Pharaoh, it is further enlightening to understand his role as the purported savior of those who died and faced imminent judgment. The Egyptians believed that after death, people had to go through a trial in the Hall of Judgment to determine whether they were guilty of earthly sin. If found innocent, a person inherited eternal bliss, but if found guilty, he or she suffered judgment. There were two parts to this judgment process. (1) The deceased person arrived at one end of the Hall of Judgment and was presented with a long list of sins characteristic of human life, which he or she categorically denied. (2) While the denial of sin was taking place, the deceased's heart was being weighed on the "scales of judgment" at the other end of the hall in order to see if its testimony supported the person's denial. The Egyptians believed that all people are sinful and that the heart would tell the truth if it were separated from the bad influence of the body, so when the heart confessed the deceased's sins, it would become "heavy" with sin, and the disequilibrium of the scales would indicate guilt and judgment. Therefore, the heart's confession of sin would demonstrate that the deceased's denial was a lie, with the result of impending judgment.

Since the Egyptians believed in the universal sinfulness of humanity, it seems that no Egyptian had a chance for salvation. This was a tremendous theological dilemma. However, the Egyptians also believed that the heart could be stopped from naturally confessing sin so that salvation could still be possible. This was thought to be accomplished by placing a stone scarab beetle, shaped in the form of a heart, either in the mummified clothes encasing the deceased or tied to the chest. The scarab beetle was a symbol of the sun god, of whom Pharaoh was viewed as the incarnation, and they thought it had magical powers to suppress the heart's tendency to confess sin so that salvation could be secured. Thus it was actually the magical power of the divine Pharaoh that imposed this silence upon the heart and was responsible for the individual's salvation.

There were various magical spells written on the stone scarab heart to bring about the silence of the human heart. The magical power of the sun god (and Pharaoh) was believed to transfer the stillness of the stone heart to the deceased so that the heart's movements to confess sin would be transformed into the stonelike stillness of silence. This suppression of the heart's confession apparently came to be seen as a kind of "hardening of the heart."5

Could this immoral Egyptian concept of salvation through "hardening of the heart" be the background against which to understand the Lord's hardening of Pharaoh's heart? Moses repeatedly commanded Pharaoh to let the people go, but God repeatedly hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he would not release Israel. But perhaps this was not the only purpose of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. Whereas the pharaoh's magical hardening caused a nonconfession of sin and an apparent sinless heart, resulting in salvation, the Lord's hardening of Pharaoh's heart appears to have led to his own heart confessing sin (cf. Ex. 9:27, 34; 10:16–17) and acknowledging his sinfully heavy condition, resulting in judgment (cf. Ex. 14:4, 17–28). Whereas Pharaoh's hardening the hearts of others falsely suppressed sin, the Lord's hardening of Pharaoh's heart rightly revealed the monarch's sin.

The Lord's hardening of Pharaoh's heart may have been intended, in part, to show that the Egyptian way of salvation is a sham and was really the very opposite—a way of damnation. In fact, is it not interesting that the dead Pharaoh was the only Egyptian who did not have to go through the judgment process, but now, more than any other Egyptian in the exodus narrative, he is the focus of God's hardening judgment? It is probably no coincidence that one of the Hebrew words used for the Lord's hardening of Pharaoh means "to make heavy." Ironically, the pharaoh who claimed to remove the sinful heaviness of others' hearts could not remove his own. The pharaoh himself had now "been weighed on the scales and found deficient" (Dan. 5:27) and awaited impending judgment at the Red Sea. Pharaoh's heart became literally like the stone heart that symbolized his power and ironically caused him to be hard and insensitive to God's commands, which led to his destruction. Because of his stone heart, he sank like a stone in the Red Sea.

4 For a background of Pharaoh's divine names and functions consult I. Engnell, Studies in Divine Kingship in the Ancient Near East (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1967); S. Morenz, Egyptian Religion (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1960); E. L. R. Meyerowitz, The Divine Kingship in Ghana and Ancient Egypt (London: Faber & Faber, 1960); H. Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948).

5 For an argument supporting this contention see A. Hermann, “Das Steinhartes Herz,” in Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 4 (Münster: Aschendorff’sche, 1961), 102–5. I have also argued this in my "The Exodus Hardening Motif of Yahweh as a Polemic," ThM Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary (1976), 48–52.

The case for Catholicism

1. I recently watched a roundtable defense of Catholicism by the best and the brightest:

2. On the one hand Tomaszewski is unusual among Catholic apologists in having gone to Catholic seminary. On the other hand he's a RadTrad, so his position is out of step with establishment Catholicism. He's a throwback to antimodernist Catholicism. So he's not a representative spokesman for post-Vatican II Catholic theology.

3. They appeal to the tradition of communal interpretation–a living oracle. Don't go it on your own. Rely on authority.

But that generates a Catholic dilemma: if unaided reason is that unreliable then you preemptively disqualified yourself from assessing the evidence for Catholicism.

4. They draw a parallel with the authority of Jewish tradition (oral torah) and the religious establishment (Mt 23), which repudiated Jesus. By that logic, Christians ought to submit to the rabbis and reject Jesus.

5. Tomaszewski mentions Japanese Catholics separated for 200 years, no priests, catechism, just some Bibles on hand.

6. The alleged flaw of sola scriptura is that the canon is not internal to scripture. So Protestants must arbitrarily trust the church regarding the canon. But that's incorrect. We go by evidence for the canon.

Catholic apologists operate with a topdown model where to know or have warranted belief in something you must be explicitly given the right answer. Knowledge by description, propositional information.

An alternative is knowledge by acquaintance. Fostering justified belief by putting someone in the right epistemic environment. In that setting a person will believe the right thing. God guided them to that conclusion. It's more providential, organic, bottom-up. A process by which God cultivates certain beliefs. It's a reliable process because God intended the result. Intended that to be truth-conducive.

7. Not a question of trusting the church but sifting multiple lines of evidence. Internal evidence for the canon based on authorship; external evidence from Jewish sources; from collections of the canon circulating in smaller units (e.g. the Gospels, the Pauline epistles); historical testimony from early or well-connected church fathers; hostile testimony.

i) You don't need a list to know everything. Suppose I'm on prescription meds. Do I need a list? Not necessarily. The pharmacist needs the list. I just need the meds. If those are the only meds I have, no more or less, I just take what I have.

Knowledge by description compared with knowledge by acquaintance. How do I know my parents aren't squatters? In principle, I could see the title deed, but that might be forged. Yet if we've never been evicted, that's evidence that we're not squatters. We pay property taxes. So there's no presumption that we're squatters. Indeed, there's a presumption to the contrary.

ii) How do I know my parents are my biological parents? A birth certificate would be official evidence. But other lines of evidence include family resemblance, shared character traits, and DNA.

iii) If I'm a local, a native, I don't need a street map. I just know where things are by experience, even though there can be ways to back that up through corroborative evidence. When I drive to a familiar location I'm not consciously thinking of directions. That's been internalized.

Suppose the Protestant canon is correct. Suppose I know the canon of Scripture because God raised me in a church with Protestant editions of the Bible. That's my table of contents. That's one reason God raised me in or directed me to that particular church. That's the true canon, and God meant for me to discover the true canon by that means.

8. In Jn 14,16, Jesus never said the Spirit will guide the church into all truth; in context the disciples in the Upper Room are the immediate recipients. Certainly nothing about Roman bishops

The church fathers are not analogous to founding fathers. The founding fathers drafted the Constitution. The church fathers didn't draft the NT.

9. Koons confuses eternal security (19C innovation) with perseverance of the saints. To my knowledge, eternal security was promoted by certain Dispensational Baptist circles in the 20C. It's not equivalent to perseverance.

10. Koons raises the stock objection objection to sola fide as a legal fiction. If so, that reduces the treasury of merit to a legal fiction. At the same time it leaves no room vicarious atonement–much less penal substitution. Yet the distinction is no more fictional than the distinction between ascribed status and achieved status. The royal son inherits the throne by virtue of his relationship with his father.

11. Koons accuses evangelicalism of theological innovation, which is self-defeating inasmuch as Catholicism is rife with theological innovation and reversal.

12. Tomaszewski asked what the manna/eucharist stands for if we deny the real presence. In what is that fulfilled? The answer is the crucifixion. In that regard the manna is forward looking while the eucharist is backward looking.

13. They say vicarious atonement is inferior to actual righteousness. What's required is a reversion to status quo ante. But that overlooks how a fallen and redeemed world is so much richer than a world that never fell.

14. They trot out the last rites, but it's not as if everyone anointed by a priest on their deathbed receives physical healing.

15. The participants are confused on the sufficiency of Christ's work. They fail to distinguish between the forensic work indexed to his redemptive sacrificial death and renewal through the regeneration, sanctification, and glorification by the Spirit. We're not saved by the work of Christ alone but in conjunction with the work of the Father and the Spirit. There's a division of labor in the economy of salvation.

16. There is no Petrine office in Lk 22 or Acts. There's Peter in his apostolic office, just like the other apostles. A generic apostolic office.

17. It doesn't occur to them that, in context, sitting on the throne of Moses (Mt 23) is sarcastic. Conversely, if we take it a face value, then we should be rabbinic Jews rather than Christians. Christian laymen lack the authority to make those judgments. So that appeal disproves Catholicism.

18. There's no exegetical evidence that the beloved disciple is a stand-in for the church in Jn 19.

19. Pace Tomaszewski, there's no exegetical evidence that Mary is omnipotent by grace (whatever that means), so that God cannot deny her or refuse her.

20. Technically it's true that natures don't have mothers. In context, nature is shorthand for a concretized nature or property instance that exemplifies nature.

21. Even if it happened as described, the "miracle of the sun" is not in itself a Marian apparition. Rather, it's reported in association with purported Marian apparitions at that time and place. Wasn't Lúcia dos Santos the only surviving witness to the apparition proper?

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Some observations about the riots

(Thanks to Jitt Teng for helping to restore this post!)

1. Will people be as outraged about 77 year old retired police captain David Dorn's death as they are about George Floyd's? Will, say, CNN cover the brutality of rioters as much as they cover police brutality? Otherwise it sounds like some black lives matter less than other black lives. (Not to mention other injuries and fatalities.)

2. Also, I guess property damage is acceptable, but not when it hits too close to home.

3. As others have noticed, it may be one thing if the rioters are the poor who have no voice, or if looters are stealing out of hunger, but many rioters appear to be from affluent backgrounds and stealing high-end goods. It's not as if they're all stealing bread because they're starving.

4. Related, many of them are taking selfies of themselves participating in the protests with their own smartphones, then immediately posting their photos or videos on places like Instagram or TikTok. I guess to show that they've done something? I guess they're virtue signaling? Some of it may even be fake. Like this woman.

5. Many rioters seem to be led by liberal whites from middle class or better socioeconomic backgrounds. This makes one wonder if liberal whites are the ones really in charge. Consider Antifa.

6. If it's really the fact that there's systemic racism against blacks by whites, then it'd make sense to think the racism is largely led by rich and powerful whites. As such, why not call for protests at places where rich and well-connected whites live, like Beverly Hills and the Hamptons? Why not destroy their property, like slaves destroying their masters' plantations (cue Django Unchained)? Why not call for the overthrow of rich and powerful politicians? Leftist politicians, professors, and Hollywood entertainers are more than willing to support the "revolution", but why couldn't they be viewed as part of the system and part of the problem too?

7. Finally, it looks like liberals regard large crowds gathered to "protest" as necessary and morally justifiable, but church services are somehow "non-essential".


On the Origins of the African Slave Trade

I posted this article in August of 2019, but it seems more than helpful in today's context.

With all the talk of “intersectionality” “privilege” and “oppression” and “reparations” and “racism” coming from the left, I’ve felt inclined, again, to look to the beginnings of what people are talking about.

I’ve located three excellent historical sources on the African slave trade – I’m open to reviewing more, but these are three that I’ve found:

Inhuman Bondage—David Bryon Davis, 2006. New York, NY and Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800—John Thornton, Second Edition, 1998 (Twelfth printing, 2006). New York, NY and Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440–1870—Hugh Thomas, 1997. New York, NY: Touchstone (Simon & Schuster).

These are (generally) long books, but here are a few relevant points:

Slavery is not simply the problem of one race, it’s a human problem. The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, “Romans established the status of a slave by law and distinguished him from a serf” (Thomas, p. 26).

A white slave trade existed in Europe before the west coast of Africa was ever explored by the Portuguese. “In the early 1400s this white slave trade from the Black Sea foreshadowed almost every aspect of the African slave trade, which was about to begin, including complex organization, permanent posts or forts for trade, and long-distance shipment by sea to multinational markets” (Davis, p. 82).

The term “Slavs” – from Slovak to Yugoslavia – is derived from the word “slaves”. I’ve already written to the effect that my own ancestors were likely slaves at some point.

“African Americans” should be at least as incensed with “African Africans” about the on-going capture and sale of fellow Africans, as they are with anyone else. “Virtually all of the enslavement of Africans was carried out by other Africans” (Davis, p. 13). On the other hand, Europeans did not conquer the Africans, nor could they. “Not only did African naval power make raiding difficult, it also allowed Africans to conduct trade with the Europeans on their own terms, collecting customs and other duties as they liked” (Thornton, p. 38).

A series of popes – all prior to the Reformation – authorized the entire African slave trade enterprise, prior to Columbus’s voyage to the Americas. Popes “Eugenius IV” (Illius Qui, 1442), “Nicholas V” (Dum Diversas, 1452 and Romanus Pontifex, 1454), and “Callixtus III” (Inter Caetera, 1456), (Thomas, pp. 64–66) ostensibly felt a “need to act forcefully against Islam, seen, after the fall of Constantinople, as now menacing Italy itself” (66). But it was the fall of Constantinople in 1453 which left the pope “the uncontested first prince of Christendom” (65). The slave trade was, in its beginnings, purely a Roman Catholic enterprise.

Fewer than “5-6%” of all Africans who came to the New World came to North America. “By 1820, nearly 10.1 million slaves had departed from Africa for the New World” (Davis, p. 80). “Yet the region that became the United States … received less than 4 percent of the slaves shipped to the New World” (Davis, p. 61). But conditions were such that these thrived to the degree that “by 1850 over 30 percent of the African New World diaspora” lived here.

This is not to say that there wasn’t “inhuman” treatment of some – even of many slaves. But inhuman treatment was rampant everywhere, at all times prior to the 20th century. Ancient Rome first captured its empire and then protected its borders by brutal, even savage means (though couched in “honor”, as it was at the time). This empire fell through invasions of external peoples who attacked, raped, pillaged, and enslaved those they conquered every bit as brutally.

That is just human-on-human treatment, and it’s not to take into consideration at all treatment by nature through “climate”, famine, disease, wild animals, and other ravages of nature. By those standards, no human being faces “oppression” today. You might say we are all (even the most “intersectional” among us) “living the dream”.

“White Privilege” and “Dum Diversas” – the Papal Bull that Authorized the African Slave Trade

I posted this article more than a year ago, but with race violence fairly prevalent right now, this seems like a useful bit of information that can help us get our bearings with respect to race issues in the western world.

The left-wing popular culture wants to attribute racism and slavery to “white European males”, and in fact there is now a whole derogatory category called “white privilege” that exists and that seeks to castigate every white person for the evils of racism and slavery by positing an ongoing “systemic racism” that still exists today, sort of like a headwind to “people of color” but a tail wind to those of white European descent.

But they ignore the fact that human slavery is as old as the human race itself, and that the Black African slave trade within that continent long pre-dated the arrival of “white European males”. It was, in fact, a concerted effort by more than a few “white European males” (for the most part, Protestant Christians) that ended the slave trade and eventually abolished slavery in the Western world (but not in the Muslim world). A little discernment will go a long way toward modifying and even dismantling the left’s narrative on this topic.

At this point, I don’t believe that too much qualification or explanation is needed to define “the political left” in the US. There is a stark and quite evident divide on the political spectrum. One qualification that is needed is to distinguish what I’ll call “classical liberalism” from “the political left”. “The political left” seems to have very little concern for “classical liberal” ideals such as “advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press [and speech], and international peace based on free trade.” If anyone has any questions about this, I’ll be happy to comment further on it.

I myself am for the most part a second-generation American. My parents were born in the US, but three of my four grandparents were born in eastern Europe and migrated to the US prior to World War I. My maternal grandmother, who was born in the US, was the third child of grandparents who had their first child in Slovakia. More, this part of the world knew nothing of enslaving people, but it knew all about being enslaved, primarily by Muslim invaders of the Ottoman empire, who historically had made a number of incursions into that part of Europe.

My hope here is to try to provide some broader context for some of those fires that continue to rage on in our day.

A Brief History of the African Slave Trade

America's Tiananmen square

(Thanks to Jitt Teng for helping restore this post!)

I notice some people are comparing the riots to Tiananmen square. I suppose the idea is Trump's administration, the military, and the police are akin to the communist Chinese government, while the "protesters" are akin to the democracy-loving Chinese people. I guess George Floyd is Tank Man.

1. The Chinese people couldn't and didn't fight back against their government. Rather, the communists government massacred the people. Men, women, and yes even children were murdered. They were gunned down. Tanks rolled over them. Tiananmen square literally ran with blood. The entire area was aggressively "cleansed" by an army group that was notoriously vicious. It was called upon by the CCP leaders precisely because the army group was known to be so vicious.

2. By contrast, protesters are allowed to protest. The Trump administration hasn't silenced their voice. If anyone wants to see silence, then consider how China has ended Hong Kong's democracy just days ago. And consider what's still happening in Hong Kong:

Trump hasn't unilaterally sent in the US military. And the US military certainly hasn't massacred anyone.

3. No doubt police brutality is a legitimate concern. It should be dealt with. But how is "protesting" by rioting helping deal with police brutality? The rioters are behaving anything but peacefully. They're looting stores, burning down buildings, and violently attacking innocents. They're shooting police officers (e.g. here, here).

4. I don't know if rioters in general have any sort of ideology. (However, I think organized groups like Antifa do have an ideology.) At the very least, rioters aren't respecting democracy. In fact, I suspect many if not most rioters are ignorant about our system of government. That's quite unlike the student-led protests at Tiananmen square. Many of these students were well-versed in the intellectual history of democracy. Many of them could argue for democracy, but how many rioters have ever read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, even some of the Federalist papers?

5. If anything, the rioters seem to want anarchy. Evidently they want to live out Alan Moore's twisted vision in V for Vendetta and Watchmen.

6. Some intellectuals are defending the riots. However, as George Orwell said: "Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them".

The Navy SEAL that killed Osama bin Laden may have a truer perspective when he calls the protesters "terrorists".

7. It looks like the left is actively supporting and perhaps inciting rioters like Antifa (e.g. here, here). If so, I presume the short-term goal is to bring down Trump. To make his administration seem impotent to do anything.

Yet leftist politicians like Biden may be playing with fire. If they start a revolution, the revolution may not necessarily end with them in charge (e.g. here, here). Consider whether Bernie bros ever wanted Biden. Even Robespierre the guillotiner was guillotined.

John Paul II's legacy

Leonardo De Chirico writes about John Paul II's legacy.

Studies in Semitic vocalization

Niche, but in case someone might be interested:

Monday, June 01, 2020

Fathers matter

Review of Michael Licona's Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?

Lydia McGrew recommends the free version of her "Review of Michael Licona's Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?" (pdf).

It's also available on Amazon, but Lydia has mentioned "I do not receive a single penny and never have" from the Amazon version. I believe the content is identical.

The military has no role in stopping the riots

A most unlikely revival

The following is from the foreword of Greg Beale's little book Redemptive Reversals and the Ironic Overturning of Human Wisdom:

A Tribute To Peggy Hodgson

(From left to right: Janet, Billy, Peggy, Johnny, and Margaret Hodgson.)

(I'm going to be citing Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's Enfield tapes below. I'll use "MG" to refer to tapes from Grosse's collection and "GP" to refer to those from Playfair's. So, MG12A is Grosse's tape 12A, GP58B is Playfair's tape 58B, etc.)

The one person involved in the Enfield case who probably witnessed and suffered more than anybody else, and contributed to the good that's been done through the case more than anybody, is Peggy Hodgson. Her story ought to be told more than it has been.

In early November of 1977, apparently while at his own house one day, Maurice Grosse recorded some of his thoughts on the Enfield case:

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Don't catch you slippin' now

Coram Deo asked a good question about why people riot. In general, I presume there are many different reasons. I offered a brief response in the post, but I'm sure it could be expanded and improved.

However, in the case of George Floyd, much of it is due to perceived racism. The kind of thing epitomized in Childish Gambino's "This Is America". George Floyd is coming on the heels of Ahmaud Audrey and Breanna Taylor too.

Yet, perception isn't necessarily reality. Is it only black folks and other minorities targeted by the police? Consider the tragic case of Daniel Shaver only a few years ago. The officer who killed Shaver was found not guilty.

Anyway, there's a lot of pent-up frustration against authorities in general, especially the police, police brutality, the blue wall of silence. A lot of it justified, in my view. There are a lot of corrupt cops. Cops who don't serve and protect. Of course, I'm not suggesting riots are the answer. Not at all. I don't defend the riots.

That said, I want to come to my main point: I think the left is fomenting a lot of the riots. Leftist agitators. Take arguments like this which attempt to justify violent protests. Likewise take how some argue "black rage" is a "spiritual virtue". Take the house that Obama built (e.g. Obama arguably inciting blacks against authorities). Take the fact that "Biden's staff is donating to a group that funds the release of rioters" (source).

It's as if leftists are using Floyd's death as a pretext to push their agenda. It's as if leftists want a second civil war. A revolution.

If so, I suppose that'd be in line with what socialists and communists have always wanted. To build a new world atop the ash heaps of the old world, the world of their fathers. They don't honor their parents, but wish to commit patricide and matricide. They're not their grandfathers' sons, but their grandfathers' slayers. Destroy Amerikkka, arise Utopia.

I don't think the US today can be defeated by external forces (e.g. China), but I think we could defeat ourselves by tearing ourselves apart. Many on the left are like a fifth column in the US.

Update. Andy Ngo, who himself was a victim of Antifa, makes good observations which overlap with mine.

Are white cops more likely to shoot minorities?