Show Trial for a Scapegoat

The kangaroo court in Munich is now in session. John Demjanjuk, 89, in a wheelchair, half-conscious, and with no eye-witnesses testifying against him, is on trial in Germany for crimes alleged to have happened in Poland 66 years ago.

The chief question is whether the German state, in an illegal invasion of Poland, captured Demjanjuk and forced him to become a guard at Sobibor concentration camp. It is not the German state that is on trial, or even any Germans. It is not even alleged that Demjanjuk killed anyone. All of the 27,900 counts against him are for accessory to murder. By being a guard at the camp, he kept people from escaping so that Germans could kill them – in Poland, of which he is neither a citizen nor has he ever lived other than under the control of the German army.

The German are really grasping at straws to find non-Germans to prosecute in Germany for crimes perpetrated by a German government.

I made further observations back in April during the extradition proceedings.

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Hitler’s Educational Legacy

In 1938, Adolph Hitler made it a crime in Germany to educate children at home.

Not only has the law never been taken off the books, it is vigorously enforced. The Germans may be all apologetic about many things that happened under the Third Reich, but as the family of Melissa Busekros know, they are still happy to use stormtrooper tactics when it comes to this. The minds of young Germans belong to the State.

Today’s Observer is reporting that homeschooling families in Germany are fleeing to the UK. And if you read the article, there will be no question in your mind why. One family who fled to Britain had already had their bank account frozen and emptied and their car confiscated. It’s good to know that even though Britian is moving toward totalitarianism, it is still a place of more freedom than Germany.

Sowing the Wind and Reaping the Whirlwind in Kosovo

I’ve debated within myself whether to step into the morass that is the matter of Kosovan independence. After my post on the Rest of the Bible blew away all my previous stats on this blog and overnight became the most read post in the history of this incarnation of my blog and my daily stats doubled my previous high, the return to normal numbers is a bit of a letdown. If I alienate all of my Ortho-blogger friends, the numbers are likely to dry up even further.

Let me say from the outset, that I don’t think the Unilateral Declaration of Independence was a good thing for a least three reasons. First of all, Kosovo is Serbia. It is just one of a number of regions. It happens that ethnic Albanians have migrated there. Second, UDIs create a mess in international law. Invariably some countries recognise it and others don’t. It’s made an even bigger mess when members of the UN Security Council are on opposite sides of the matter. They can (and are perfectly will to do so in this case) block the emerging country from joining the club. Third, as Steve notes, Kosovo UDI is a triumph for terrorism.

The Serb minority in Kosovo have been, and will continue to be, subject to persecution. I think this is a bad thing. Yes, it is a statement of the obvious. So why do I bother?

Because I think was goes around comes around. Or to use biblical language, what you sow, you reap. As Orthodox, ever-persecuted, or at least in the West having a sympathetic persecution complex, we want to see Serbia as the victim – the victim of the Croats, the victim of Bill Clinton, the victim of the Muslims (whether Bosnian or Albania or Turk). Neither am I denying that Serbia and the Serbs have suffered in the past, both distant and recent. But neither have they been keen to turn the other cheek. They have been just as willing to perpetrate genocide when it suited them.

So you say, yeah, sure, but that’s those evil politicians and generals like Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. The Serbian Church has been pure as the driven snow over the mass graves in Bosnia.

Unfortunately, that’s not true either. The Serbian Church has behaved like the Russian Church when communism was overthrown there. It has immediately grabbed ahold of the leverage of the State to persecute other Christians. Like the Russian Church, it is nationalistic and ethnocentric. You can’t encourage violence and oppression against Protestant Hungarians in Vojvodina and then cry foul when Muslim Albanians start wrecking your churches and burning your icons in Kosovo.

Several bloggers have suggested that Russia will come to Serbia’s aid in this latest turn of the Kosovo crisis. Will that be in the form of fascist Putin Youth, fresh from the government-sponsored stadium rallies encouraging them to fornicate to make babies for Mother Russia? Are Orthodox in the West willing to decry American imperialism while supporting the resurgence of Russian imperialism, because it is the imperialism of an ostensibly Orthodox country?

Frankly, I think that rather than looking to them for spiritual guidance, Orthodox in the West need to start asking some hard questions about the “Orthodox homelands”. Let’s set aside the blatant Phyletism, if we can for a moment ignore the elephant in the room. Why is the abortion rate in Russia only exceeded in Europe by (you guessed it, another Orthodox country) Romania, that only legalised after the fall of Communism what the Church has always recognised as the intentional killing of an innocent human life, when the Church was once again free to proclaim and propagate the Tradition? Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine and Greece are not far behind.

I do not for a minute want a single person, Orthodox or otherwise, in Kosovo to suffer persecution in any form. I do not want to see the historic churches there to suffer even worse than the churches of this country did under Oliver Cromwell. But neither will I blindly support the Serbs just because they are Serbs or Orthodox, nor will I ignore the whole political and spiritual picture.

Government Not Helping Children

A two-year review of primary education by Cambridge University has discovered that starting school at age 4 is not helping British children. Even though they don’t start school until age 7, children in Sweden and Finland outperform Brits by age 11. In other words, British children are learning less in seven years than Scandinavians in four years.

This is also despite being tested more than in other countries.  Everyone recognises that emphasis on testing is way out of whack. Everyone except, of course, the Government. As a spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said, “The idea that children are over tested is not a view that the Government accepts. The reality is that children spend a very small percentage of their time in school being tested.” I mean, technically, the DCSF spokesman is correct. The tests themselves take very little time.

But as the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers said, “When it comes to testing in England, the tail wags the dog. It is patently absurd that even the structure and content of education is shaped by the demands of the tests.”

Or as the DCSF spokesman said, “Seeing that children leave school up to the right standard in the basics is the highest priority of government.” The Government sets “the right standard”, which is a particular test score. Therefore the priority of the Government is that children achieve a certain score. The only way for children to achieve this score is to stop teaching them how to read and write and instead teach them how to take the test.

Schools that assume that teachers should teach lose. Schools that keeps kids mentally goose stepping toward achieving test results win.

The more government gets involved in education, the worse it gets. The results get manipulated to show the government and its policies are making progress. Thus, what was already a flawed means of assessment becomes fraudulent product of the need for political spin.

The only problem is that children at the real losers. They get the damaging stress of the examination environment together with a (when compared to the rest of the world) substandard education.

What If . . .?

Philippa’s response to the 123 tag was from a book about Richard Nixon. It got me thinking about the Nixon presidency.

If there had been no Watergate affair, Nixon would have served out the full second term. Even with Ford as vice-president, I have doubts that he would have run for president. And even if he had, I think Ronald Reagan would have given him much more of a run for his money in the primaries.

Though we can never say with any certainty what would have happened if key historical event had not occurred, I think Reagan probably would have gotten the nomination. If the Democrats didn’t have anyone better than Jimmy Carter in 1976, and I can’t think of anyone better they could have had, Reagan probably would have won.

Had Reagan won in 1976 and 1980, this may have had a profound effect on the world. Soviet Communism wasn’t ready to  collapse by 1984. Would his successor – again, probably a Republican – have presented the same iron will that helped precipitate the events of 1989-90? Or were the agitations within eastern Europe enough with the backing of the American aadministration? Or would the system have collapsed under it’s own weight anyway?

Perhaps the bungled burglary at the Watergate triggered events that led to the freedom of eastern Europe today.

Appreciating Freedom of Religion

I was talking to someone from Solvakia today. She was ten years old when the Communists fell from power in Czechoslovakia.

Somehow we got onto the subject of church. She talked about how people who were known for going to church had very limited prospects under the Communist regime. She talked about how people passed down old family Bibles because that’s all there were. She remembered that people met secretly in homes.

Now that people are free to worship, the churches are packed. The Catholic church in her village had people packed so tight at the back of the nave every mass that they had to put speakers outside. This is in the High Tatras. While it may be nice to sit outside in the glorious scenery in the summer, tomorrow the forecast is a high of -2°C (28°F) after a low of -7°C (19°F). There’s snow skiing until May.

She told me that if you have been christened and don’t attend church, people look down on you. I’m not saying that it is good for anyone to look down on someone, but she did note she felt it was almost the opposite here. People look down on you for attending church.

People who have never known sacrifice often don’t appreciate what they have. Make public worship very difficult for 41 years, and some people who can’t be bothered now might feel differently.

I’m guessing that when Communism is no longer a part of living memory, the churches will begin to empty.