Giving It All Away

In the course of recent research on my book, I came across political history of which I was entirely unaware. I was looking at information about Cordell Hull, Secretary of State under FDR and known as the Father of the United Nations. I’m sure you’ve heard of the United Nations, that rather useless organisation headquartered on American soil, with 20% of its budget funded by US taxpayers, opposed to most everything the US does or collectively believes. Yeah, that’s the one.

The only relevance of my book to Hull is that one of the characters may have once owned a house later owned by Hull’s father and I was just trying to suss that out. Both of them lived in an area now under Dale Hollow Lake. I get easily sidetracked when I’m doing research.

What I didn’t know was that Hull – in addition to giving away as much US sovereignty as possible – also authored the original Federal Income Tax law of 1913 and the Inheritance Tax law of 1916 when he was a member of the US House of Representatives. He had the audacity to argue that an income tax would restrain Government spending because Congress would realise that it was spending money directly taxed from the American people.

I can’t find what excuse he gave for the inheritance tax. I’m guessing he figured he’d pulled off taxing the living, so why not tax the dead. After all, Democrats vote when they’re dead, so why shouldn’t Republicans pay taxes at the same time?

Yes, that’s right, this man gave away both your country and your money. Cordell Hull influenced Al Gore. He must be Barack Obama’s hero.

Mugabe’s Friends

When you are a vicious dictator known for fixing elections by intimidating and torturing opponents and any of their supporters, while still managing to have time to drive your country further and further into economic ruin, it’s always nice to know you have friends. In the case of Robert Mugabe, it is China and Russia.

As befits a non-democratic institution, the United Nations is run by a council of fifteen countries, five of which are permanent members, each with veto power, because of the nine votes required to pass any resolution, five of them must come from the five permanent members. That’s why when it comes to severe human rights abuses verging on genocide, Russia and China are always there to keep the world at bay. The two foxes always guarding the global hen house.

After all, China has had to lock down the population of entire cities whenever the Olympic torch has passed through, just to avoid the embarrassment of protesters. And of course most of those protesters are protesting about the Chinese takeover of Tibet, something the United Nations did nothing about because the Communist government of China was not the recognised government of China in the UN at the time.

It wasn’t just Russia and China that voted against sanctions for the Mugabe regime. There was Libya. Yes, the chief perpetrator of terrorism in north Africa is also a member of the Security Council. Now isn’t that comforting? Gee, I can’t imagine why Libya would be against international sanctions applied to a rogue government.

Another vote against sanctions came from Vietnam. No bastion of human rights there. Just this week they only allowed a state-sanctioned Buddhist group to organise the funeral services for Thich Huyen Quang, the leader of a dissident Buddhist group which promotes human rights and religious freedom. He spend many years under house arrest.

So there you have it. This is the body created to maintain world peace and stability. Thanks to the UN, Robert Mugabe will continue to maintain his oppression of the majority of Zimbabweans.

Begging to Help

Burma is in the midst of a terrible national disaster. At least 100,000 people may have died as a result of the cyclone, with many, many more in dire straits. It appears that 1.5 people are homeless. Rotting corpses are everywhere. Massive outbreaks of disease are days away. Starvation is imminent. Even if the illegal ruling junta hadn’t destroyed the economy, it would impossible for the Burmese to take care of their own.

If there was ever any question that the junta has no concern for the people of Burma – and, okay, there’s never been any question, but just say there was – it would be answered by the way they have prevented help from reaching those who need it.  The world has come to Burma’s aid. Relief is on the doorstep.

Why should the UN have to beg to save lives? The US military, at the expense of the American people, is waiting to fly in with relief supplies. The broke off military exercises with Thailand to help, but even the negotiating help of the Thai government, the junta budged but then backed off.

“They were very suspicious that the Americans would do more than just distribute relief supplies, but we helped convince the Burmese to allow the Americans in,” Boonsrang Niumpradit, Thailand’s military chief, told Reuters. Then the Burmese junta changed it’s mind again. What do they think the Americans will do?

What it appears to come down to is the junta’s pride. They are refusing help from governments like the US which have criticised their policies. Since that means most of the first world, as well as the UN, they are cutting off their collective noses to spite their collective faces. It is only places countries like Indonesia, which have been careful not to be to critical in the past, which have been welcome to send in supplies.

Pride goes before destruction. It’s too bad that it is not just the proud who are destroyed by it.

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.