Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Covering Up The Killing

How many times have you read about enemies so bad “they picked up babies by their feet and smashed their heads against trees?” A 2006 CBS report describes the Khmer Rouge soldiers doing exactly that in Cambodia. ISIS has been killing babies born with Down Syndrome and Nazis euthanized handicapped children in the 1930s. These are credible accounts, but fictitious portrayals of infanticide abound throughout history as well. They include accusations against WWI Germany, against 17th century Irish rebels, but most frequently against Jews accused of killing babies during more than a thousand years of blood libel accounts in which Jews allegedly use blood of Christian babies to make matzo for Passover.
Baby killing accusations have always stirred up popular outrage or they would not have been used for so long. Twice they came up in recent debates: first between Pence and Kaine, and then during the third debate between Trump and Clinton when the partial birth abortion procedure was discussed. Any neutral witness to the procedure could only conclude that a human baby is killed, yet both Kaine and Clinton used their finely-honed, double-talk skills to deny it.
Donald Trump had claimed: “Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth…” To which Hillary replied: “Well, that is not what happens in these cases and using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate.”
She’s right in one way: the baby is not ripped out. It’s more gruesome than that. The abortionist pulls the baby’s body out of its mother but leaves its head inside. Then he/she punctures the back of the baby’s neck at the base of its skull, inserts a tube, and sucks out its brain. If Trump had described that, could Hillary have called it “scare rhetoric”? It’s the truth, but Hillary and truth are not acquainted. If a baby is fully delivered, it’s a citizen with legal rights and killing it is murder. It’s not murder, however, to suck out its brains a minute earlier. As Hillary said on Meet The Press last April: “the unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.” 
Back in the 90s, Congress twice passed a ban on partial birth abortion and twice Bill Clinton vetoed it. It became law when George W. Bush signed it after Congress passed it a third time. Hillary would obviously like to reverse that, and she can depend on Democrats in Congress to help. It is, after all, the party of abortion without limits. They even support abortionists who kill babies surviving abortions! Back in September of last year, the House passed a bill that would penalize any abortionists who kill babies born alive after a failed abortion attempt. The vote was 248-177 with every vote against from Democrats. Now it goes to the senate as S5506 sponsored by Senator Ben Sasse. President Obama promised a veto because it would “limit women’s health care choices.” Huh? Killing babies after they’re born is “women’s health care” and “choice”? What has become of us?
When Planned Parenthood was caught selling aborted baby parts last year, they were in real trouble. They were caught dead to rights on video and their funding was drying up. George Soros and the whole Democrat stonewalling, obfuscating, lying machine went into battle mode with the Mainstream Media leading the charge. In an awesome display of power, every MSM outlet said the same thing: “The video was edited.” It was like an echo chamber. When Carly Fiorina brought it up at a presidential debate and started rising in the polls, the MSM virtually destroyed her candidacy by accusing her of lying.
Then Democrats really flexed their political muscle:

When a grand jury in Houston, Texas was formed to investigate Planned Parenthood for selling baby parts, it instead indicted David Daleiden, whose team exposed the gruesome sales. Pro-abortion District Attorney Devon Anderson persuaded them to charge Daleiden for using false IDs in his under-cover investigation!
Houston DA Devon Anderson

Daleiden lives in California where the most damning of his undercover videos were filmed. Pro-abortion California Attorney General Kamala Harris — who got $81,000 in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood — refused to investigate. Instead, she invaded Daieiden's home seizing all his remaining unpublished videos, his laptop, and his phone.
Democrats are the party of abortion. It is their single most important issue. Obama was willing to shut down our entire government if Congress submitted a budget without $500 million for Planned Parenthood. Support for Roe V Wade is the biggest Democrat criterion for appointing or approving justices to the Supreme Court. As Pogo put it years ago: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We’re the ones killing babies, and Democrats do whatever is necessary to cover up and keep the slaughter going.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

After November 8th

There’s a huge election looming and Americans hate their choices. How did we get here? Most of us think no matter who wins, America loses. The two major candidates get plenty of exposure and we can’t stand either one, so we look at the others. We see Gary “What’s Aleppo?” Johnson and Jill “Everyone’s racist” Stein and get even more depressed. Who gave us these choices? Well, we did. We’re to blame.
America is divided, but not so much between Democrats and Republicans or between liberals and conservatives. Those divisions haven’t gone away, but they’re increasingly overshadowed by another divide: ordinary Americans against the establishment of both parties who have more in common with each other than with those in the ranks.
Each party is divided within itself as well. Would Bernie have won if the DNC establishment hadn’t conspired against him? Millions think so and they’re furious at Hillary, especially after WikiLeaks document dumps prove what Bernie said all along — that the Democrat establishment conspired against him. Republicans have Trump because they’re not happy with their party’s leadership who they see cooperating with Democrats. Rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans all believe the system is rigged against them — and the leadership of both parties is screwing grassroots America.
There’s a lot of common ground between disaffected Democrats and Republicans in the ranks. Union and small business Democrats hate global trade agreements — and so do their counterpart Republicans. All feel betrayed by Democrats Obama and Hillary as well as Republicans McConnell and Ryan as all cooperate more with each other than with them.
So what if Hillary prevails? Will she win over Bernie Democrats? Can she govern when two out of three Americans don’t trust her? And what if Trump wins? Will he keep on tweeting? Will he keep his mouth shut? Will he stick to the script or will he continue tripping over his own tongue? Can he persuade Americans to like him? None of this seems likely.
Will the two-party system continue? It seems hard to avoid a fundamental re-alignment. Will the Republican Party split? After Obamacare, we saw the rise of the Tea Party, but it was quickly subsumed. After November 8th, will it break away? Some see an overlap between the Tea Party and Trump’s constituency. Will the GOP split with Tea Party/Trumpers on one side and #neverTrumpers on the other?
Might the Bernie Wing of the Democrats discover it cannot live within a Clinton-dominated party after November 8th? Wikileaks may yet cripple a President Hillary Clinton, and make her a one-termer. What will the 2020 election lineup look like after this unprecedented 2016 general election? Whoever wins will not be able to wash off all the mud, and there are three weeks during which to sling still more.
And how about the MSM (Mainstream Media)? What will become of them after November 8th?There are two deeply-flawed candidates running, but the MSM (which includes NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, etc.) has gone out of its way to sling far more mud in the direction of Donald Trump while simultaneously trying to protect its favored Hillary Clinton by playing down the WikiLeaks documents and email scandals. Do they think grassroots Americans are blind to that? The MSM don’t even pretend to be objective anymore. WikiLeaks documents prove the MSM is a public relations arm of the Democrat Party. As a recent Tweet by Matt Drudge put it: “Media CAN'T cover WikiLeaks Podesta sh**storm — because so much of it involves them! Will take a generation to recover from this corruption.”
Just before the first debate, the New York Times published Trump’s 1996 tax return from an illegal anonymous source. Was that Obama’s IRS? Just days before the second debate and barely one hour before a damaging Wikileaks dump about Hillary, NBC put out the 2005 Trump/Bush sex tape it had been sitting on for a decade. Coincidence? Will ordinary Americans buy that? Will the MSM retain enough credibility to protect President Hillary for four years? Bernie Sanders railed against Wall Street billionaires all through the primaries and developed an enormous following. Now WikiLeaks has proven that Hillary has been Wall Street’s girl all along. Yeah, Bernie has endorsed Hillary and even campaigns for her, but what about the millions who were “feeling the Bern”? Will their energy be turned into a flame-thrower aimed at President Hillary?
After this election, who expects anything to remain the same?

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

To Die For

“What does it all mean?” theists ask. Pure scientists believe the question irrelevant. Theism professes one God created the universe, intervenes in it, and sustains a personal relationship with humanity. Science doesn’t look for meaning. Meaning is irrelevant. Unless one embraces religion, nihilism is the default position. Meaningful or meaningless? Western culture is in conflict, and in the early 21st century, nihilism prevails. As I contended in last week’s column, many see the west as post-Christian and maybe they’re right.
Whenever a new principal came along, I’d get a visit. He/she would ask me about my “Beginnings” unit in which I outlined different explanations about the origin of the universe and  of humanity, comparing and contrasting the fading creation narrative and the prevailing big bang/evolution account. It was controversial, they said, and they asked me to drop it. I pointed to the Scopes Monkey Trial covered in the text, and that teaching about evolution was as controversial during the early years of the 20th century as teaching about creation had become in the later years. As the K-12 curriculum in our district existed then, only in a high school elective were some taught the Big Bang Theory. Only in Sunday school were some taught the creation story. Near the end of my career I had some students had never heard of Adam and Eve, for example.
The way Americans understood their origins affected how they perceived other issues, I argued. One principal told me he got flak from both sides: Progressives claimed I taught creation. Jehovah Witnesses complained I taught evolution. I didn’t teach either. I taught about both, and encouraged students to take a position. Some years we conducted formal debates. Students asked me throughout what my position was but I’d demur until the end. Then I’d tell them mine is the Catholic position under which the creation and Big Bang/evolution accounts are not mutually exclusive, but complementary.
Each principal relented and I went on with my Beginnings unit — until September 11, 2001. As part of a current events lesson, I was writing the word “jihad” on the board, explaining to students why Palestinian Muslim suicide bombers were blowing themselves up to kill Jews in Israel when Principal Joe Soraghan knocked on my door. It was about 9:15 am and he motioned for me to step into the hallway. Two planes had hit the World Trade Center, he told me, and that changed everything. Jihad had come to America.
Each September for the next eight years, I’d start with a unit on why we were at war — why radical Muslims wanted to kill American Jews, Christians and atheists. Instead of comparing and contrasting creation and evolution, we instead compared and contrasted Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — in that order, because that’s the order in which each was established — approximately 2500 BC, 1 AD, and 600 AD, respectively. All three share the same creation story. Abraham is a patriarch in all three as well. Christians believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but neither Jews nor Muslims do — and so on. We were at war because Muhammed instructed Muslims to convert the world to Islam — by the sword if necessary. That they did until early in the 20th century, and many were resuming in the 21st — and that’s why we were at war. It was the end of one controversial unit and the beginning of another.
Jews established the State of Israel after the Holocaust — which has ultimate meaning for them, and they’re willing to die for it. Radical Muslims deny the Holocaust and vow to wipe Israel, which they call “The Little Satan,” off the map — then destroy America, which they call “The Great Satan.” Those goals are meaningful enough that they’re willing to kill and die for them.
When Martin Luther Day came around in January, I’d quote what he said in a 1963 speech

“I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live.” 
Then I’d ask each of my four classes if there were anything they would die for. Only about ten to twenty percent could think of anything. When I asked those few, they said they were willing to die for their families. One said he would die for his cat. Most couldn’t think of anything at all. Are they representative of the rest of America? How many of us have discovered something meaningful enough to die for in this age of existential nihilism? 
Existential nihilism (Wikipedia): “the philosophical theory that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. With respect to the universe, existential nihilism posits that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence.”

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Monday, October 03, 2016

Purging Christ

I think it was in the 1980s sometime that I first encountered the designation “BCE.” The period I was studying was 3000 years ago and it was designated 1000 BCE. Clearly the new acronym was related to the familiar “BC” meaning “Before Christ,” but I wondered about when and why it had changed. Most people are now familiar with “Before Common Era” but it was brand new to most of us back then. I suspected it was part of an increasing purge of Christianity from the public square.
See it?[C. E. 1901]

Also substituted was the designation “CE” (Common Era) for “AD” which my students always guessed meant “After Death” of Jesus Christ, but it’s actually an acronym for the Latin “Anno Domini” meaning “Year of our Lord.” Academics denied anti-Christian bias had anything to do with the new dating nomenclature. They cited its use in the century-old Anarchist journal Lucifer The Light Bearer. They didn’t really think that would pacify Christians, did they? Jewish scholars used it too, they pointed out.
The textbook I used for the last decade of my teaching career used them and I suspect nearly all do now. Astute students would ask how the acronyms originated and I’d explain that there was a time when western culture held the most important event in all of history to be the life of Jesus Christ, so historians measured all of time by what happened before Christ and what happened after Him. 
But that’s changing, or perhaps it would be more accurate to use past tense and say “that changed.” Is the change complete? Do we live in a post-Christian America? Is that particular battle in the wider culture war over now? Maybe we’re in a mopping-up operation as they say in military parlance. When the mopping up is finished, perhaps we’ll go back to using “AD” in the way my students understood it: “After Death of Christ.”
We Christians believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, part of a triune deity and therefore God Himself. Philosopher Frederich Neitzche first declared “God is Dead” not in 1891’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra” but in his 1882 collection: The Gay Science. That was back when “gay” still meant “happy.” In it, Neitzche wrote:

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?
There’s so much in there: “Who will wipe his blood off usevokes Hamlet. “What water is there to clean ourselves?” evokes Pontius Pilate and is ritualized in every Catholic mass said thousands of times every day for thousands of years. His question, “Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” evokes President Obama’s declaration: "I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when...the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Is Obama pretending godlike powers? How about environmentalists who believe themselves capable of halting the extinction of any more species even after 99% of all species that ever existed have become so?
Simultaneous with the purging Christ from our calendar were related efforts to separate Christ from Christmas. They’ve continued to the point where few public schools call the cancellation of classes at the end of our calendar year “Christmas Vacation” anymore. Now it’s “winter break” or some such thing. Those who would purge the life of Christ from history would also purge Christ from everything. They’re careful to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas,” but the English word “holiday” derives from “holy day.” When that fact achieves critical mass in Progressive consciousness, will there be a movement to stop saying Happy Holidays and substitute “Happy Winter Solstice”? Might that be one of the “festivals of atonement” Neitzche predicted we would have to reinvent to assuage our conscience for killing God?
Getting back to measuring time, how long until we throw out the seven-day week? That comes from Jewish Scripture and the first book of the Christian bible after all. Then on to place names? Will Progressives force the city of Corpus Christi to change its name? It’s Latin for “Body of Christ” you know. How about San Francisco (St. Francis) and Los Angeles (City of Angels)?
Then what? Ban crosses from public cemeteries? How far will they go?

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