Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: political correctness

The Emperor’s New Clothes and Donald Trump

In the tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen, a vain emperor is approached by two men who claim to be master weavers. They offer to make him a marvellously fine set of clothes from material that only they know how to make. This material has a unique characteristic, it is invisible to those who are unfit for office or not very intelligent.

After many days they present this new garment to the Emperor. He cannot see it, but is afraid to appear stupid or unfit for his office, so he praises its beauty. All his courtiers do likewise. A great parade is announced for the Emperor to display his marvellous new wardrobe and all the people are informed of its magical quality.

The parade begins well, the people exclaim about the beauty of the emperor’s garment. Then one little boy yells “The emperor has no clothes!” Slowly the people catch on that they have been duped; but the emperor and his courtiers, afraid to admit that they too have been duped, continue the parade, stepping more proudly than before.

This tale is an apt metaphor for the current state of our Western democracies and Donald Trump is the bratty little boy who called out the flim-flammery of our intellectual, cultural and political elites. Most media outlets are willing participants in this effort to portray the direction pursued by these elites as the only right way to think.

A photo from the Republican convention has stuck in my mind. It showed one of the attendees holding a placard that proclaims “Trump digs coal.” I think that neatly captured the appeal of Donald Trump. While the elites were talking about climate change and clean energy, they never said anything about how that might affect the livelihood of people in the coal mines and coal-fired electricity plants. Trump understood the concerns and fears of the people so casually dismissed by the elite and aimed his campaign at them.

Conrad Black writes a weekly column in the National Post, one of Canada’s national newspapers. When Trump first announced his candidacy Black was almost a lone voice in considering this to be a serious run for president, with a good chance of succeeding. Black wrote that Trump was not a buffoon, he had the understanding and skills to win, and that he would make an effective president. Now he has published a book: Donald J. Trump, A President Like No Other. The book details Donald Trump’s early life, his business career, the presidential campaign and his first year in office.

It becomes clear from the book that Trump’s bid for the presidency was not a spur of the moment decision, or just another publicity stunt. In fact, the activities of Trump that were dismissed by the elites as publicity stunts were actually a calculated plan by Trump to make his name known to ordinary Americans. This includes his TV show, his sponsorship of beauty pageants and pro wrestling and other activities that kept his name in the public eye.

He was willing to bide his time for years until the opportune time when he would have the best opportunity to win. Meanwhile, people were becoming more and more dissatisfied with the lack of direction in the country. Jobs were exported to Asia, unrealistic programs were announced to combat climate change, twelve million people were in the country illegally, governments alienated traditional allies and tried to cosy up to enemies, and no one would publicly admit that most terrorists were Islamic.

Trump is not anti-Hispanic; he just wants people to enter the country legally. He received a larger portion of the Hispanic vote than Hilary Clinton. He is not a misogynist and most women recognized that; he received more votes from white women than did Hilary Clinton. He is not anti-Muslim; he just doesn’t want to open the borders to anyone who is radicalized and a potential threat to the country.

Trump has let North Korea and Iran know that he is not going to play the diplomatic game by their rules. He is not a bully, but is not willing to let the USA be bullied by erratic and dangerous dictators.

Conrad Black does not portray Donald Trump as a thoroughly admirable person; he does not gloss over any of his past or present missteps. On the other hand, Black points out the hypocrisy of those who are opposed to Trump and are still trying to portray him as a dangerous and erratic madman. The elite is not willing to admit that they have no clothes, they still say that things would be better if people would just listen to them. Black’s conclusion about Trump is that “he is a man of his times, and his time has come.”

Something similar has happened in France, where Emmanuel Macron, who had never been elected to any political office, ran for President a year and a half ago, without the backing of any political party, and won. He then formed a new party that won a large majority in the French parliament last summer. Macron is a smoother man than Trump, but has many of the same objectives.

I am not writing to urge political activism, rather to urge Christians to avoid jumping on popular bandwagons of political correctness. Most of the programs advanced by the highly educated and sophisticated elite, in Canada and other countries, are not ways to make life better for the general population. They are simply means to convince us poor ignorant people to trust them to run things, for their own benefit. Pray for our governments, we live in treacherous times.

Donald J. Trump, A President Like no Other, © 2018 by Conrad Black. Published by Regnery Publishing, Washington DC

What is wrong with the world?

Yesterday at the Walmart checkout there was a lady with three children ahead of me. The oldest child, a boy of about eight, was sitting in the shopping cart. The mother kept asking him what happened to a small toy that he had picked up, and he denied knowing anything about it. Finally she wrestled him up and pulled it out from under him and placed it with the other items on the checkout belt. The boy wailed his frustration.

A little later, while I was eating supper at Tim Horton’s, a mother and a boy of about ten were standing in the lineup to order. She gave him some money and he immediately barged up in front of others who were waiting to order and ordered a hot chocolate. He repeatedly called his mother to join him, but she refused and waited her turn. I noticed the design and printing on the back of the boy’s jacket: “bad boy,” ” bow to no one,” “warrior.”

There are children in our cities who dare not go home at night for fear of drug and alcohol fuelled violence. Many children are removed from homes where they are not properly cared for and placed in foster homes. At the first hint of trouble they are moved to another foster home. Many who would make good foster parents are afraid to try because of the heavy hand of the social service agencies.

Violence against women is increasing, there are many unsolved disappearances and murders. Violence against police is increasing. Police officers are more heavily armed than ever before and occasionally they overstep their authority, yet instances of assault and even murder of police officers far outnumber instances of assault by police officers.

Where can we look for answers to set aright the things that are going wrong in our society? To the schools? It is the schools that are teaching children that all ideas of right and wrong are only someone’s opinion. That is the source of the problem, not the cure.

What about the news media? They have succumbed to following every turn of the wind  of political correctness.

Politicians? They rule by public opinion polls and the polls reflect what the schools and media teach.

The churches? There was a time when the churches stood for something, now most are like the politicians: they stand for what they think the people want to hear.

Yet if there is any hope for our society, it will have to come from those who have convictions based on reality. The Bible understands us better than we understand ourselves, because it was inspired by our Maker who understands what we really need in order to experience peace and happiness.

But we cannot help the world by continually pointing out what people are doing wrong. People already know that things aren’t working out quite like they hoped, yet they continue to hope that the same “experts” who got them into the current mess can lead them to happiness.

The Bible has better answers for people’s needs. They are not easy answers, but they work. Let us be clear though that we do not have the answers. If we talk and act like Pharisees we will not be any more useful that they were.

What the world needs from Christians is compassion, understanding and a conviction to teach and live the basics of the faith which we claim. Simplistic answers and pep talks will not help. We need to steadfastly refuse to be swept along with the madness of the world and we need to have the courage to explain why. Many will consider our explanations scandalous, but some will listen.

France this week

Today is the release date in France of a new novel by Michel Houllebecq entitled “Soumission” (Submission). In the book, the French presidential election of 2022 pits the candidate of a new Muslim political party against the candidate of the Front National. The Muslim candidate wins, then goes on to transform the public schools into Islamic schools, bans women in the workplace and promotes polygamy. This improbable scenario is an attempt to capitalize on current fears and the book had a massive first printing.

Le Point, a weekly news magazine, has just published a special edition this month which promises to tell the real story of the personal  life of Mohamed.

This week, the front page of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical newspaper, carried the headline “Still no attacks in France.”  Beneath it was a cartoon of a jihadist saying “Just wait – we have until the end of January to present our New Year’s resolutions.”

Today, two men forced their way into an editorial meeting of Charlie Hebdo with Kalashnikovs and gunned down all those gathered there. Ten are dead, eleven more are in hospital. Two policemen are also dead. Other than shouting “Allahu Akbar!” they spoke impeccable French. They made their escape, but last reports say the driver of their car is now in custody.

What are we to make of all this?

First, it would appear that the Anglo-saxon malady of political correctness has not yet infected the French.

Secondly, the editors of Charlie Hebdo are on record as stating that humour and religion are incompatible. Islamists are in complete agreement with this, but their method of making their point is much more brutal.

Thirdly, those who found Charlie Hebdo’s brand of humour to be distasteful could simply ignore it. No one was compelled to buy it or read it. Radical Islamists do not want anyone to have freedom of choice.

Fourthly, as Christians we should mourn the deaths of fellow human beings, whether we agree with their philosophy or not. We should also mourn the twisted minds of those who believe they are doing service to God by killing others.

Outside the box

We are being influenced every day by  authoritative voices telling us how to think, and what to think — about education, about tolerance of minorities, about justice, about the environment, about religion, about science, about most everything we do or want to do.   Some years ago we spoke of political correctness, often with derision.  A better word to describe this phenomenon is zeitgeist.

Zeitgeist is a  word adopted into the English language from German.  The literal meaning is “the spirit of the times,” and it denotes the prevailing pattern of thought or feeling during a particular period of time.   It feels like we are in a time of a particularly rigid zeitgeist where there is little tolerance for those who dissent from the prevailing beliefs of our society.  Do you feel boxed in?

Those of us who are older have seen a dramatic shift of the zeitgeist in our lifetime.  Ideas about what is right and wrong seem to have been turned upside down.  Were the old days better than these?  Was the old box more comfortable than the one we find ourselves in today?

“Do not conform yourself to the present age, but be transformed by the renewal of you understanding, so that you may discern what is the will of God, that which is good, acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, my translation from the Louis Segond French Bible).

“The present age” is just another term for zeitgeist.  The apostle Paul is telling us not to let ourselves be boxed in by the prevailing attitudes, but that we should allow God to renew our understanding so that we can think outside the box.

This is freedom, even though those who are fully in the zeitgeist box will try to tell us it is bondage.  There are even some Christians who have built a comfortable little box for themselves and are afraid to step outside into the full light of the gospel.  The gospel demands obedience to the Word and to the Holy Spirit and it is a hard life when one has one foot in the zeitgeist box and the other in the kingdom of God.

The renewing of the mind will set us free from fear, anger, hatred, envy, jealousy and pride and offers us a fellowship with others who are likewise renewed in their heart and mind.  This kind of freedom and fellowship is only found on a narrow pathway, but it is genuine freedom and fellowship.  If we stray from this narrow way, we find ourselves once again ensnared by the zeitgeist. The love, joy and peace of the narrow way will slowly be squeezed out of us and replaced by suspicion, anger and a desire to find someone else to blame for our problems.


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