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Western Autumn After 'Arab Spring?'

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By Vishal Mangalwadi, Christian Post Guest Contributor
August 18, 2011|11:35 am

Why did Britain burn from August 6-10, 2011?

What made rioters take 5 innocent lives, loot shops, and set them on fire?

How could Anders Behring Breivik murder 91 fellow Norwegians in cold blood on July 22?

Why did Greeks go to the streets in May-June, protesting against euros120 billion being offered to bail out their economy?

Who would have predicted at the start of this decade that in less than two years,

• Pakistan would have better credit ratings (BB-) than Greece (CCC), the so called “cradle of Western civilization, and a member of European Union?”

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• That America’s credit ratings would be downgraded to AA+?

• That Capitalism’s engine – America – would borrow from “Communist” China $4 billion every single day to keep its unemployed from rioting?

• That Tunisians, Egyptians, and Syrians would launch mostly peaceful internal protests for change, while Europeans would loot, burn, and kill without any agenda for political, economic, or social improvement?

It may be already too late to save the euro . . . the critical question is: Can America be saved from the evil that has gripped so much of its family, education, religion, economy, politics, law, media, and entertainment? Or must the Western autumn turn into a winter that freezes the very core of a corrupted democratic capitalism?

What can India learn from the West’s folly?

I would love to see the Arab world liberated and transformed, but I never expected the “Arab Spring” to bring forth the blossoms that the secular pundits anticipated. The secular intellectuals are clever. They have succeeded in turning - Wall Street into a casino that makes them wealthy while bankrupting their nation. If economic success is the key to wisdom than Arab dictators have made much more money than Wall Street gamblers. The secular worldview is far too naïve to understand the West or teach the Arab world how to build a civilization that is free and just with equal opportunity for all. Secular intellectuals think that material factors and accidents of history such as “Guns, Germs, and Steel” (Jared Diamond) or Biology, Sociology, and Geography (Ian Morris) can explain the West. They think that nation-building is about skills or “killer apps” (Niall Ferguson) rather than ideas, morals, and culture. It is the economic pundits produced by ivy League universities that are driving Western nations into bankruptcy.

While I remain skeptical about the Arab Spring, I am more confident about the European Autumn ushering in a terrible winter. My short-term pessimism is produced by the underlying causes of the two phenomena.

The Arab Spring

It was a terrible tragedy that triggered the protests that were naively dubbed the “Arab Spring” on December 16, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor in Tunisia was selling produce when Ms. Faida Hamdi, a city official, came along with her entourage looking for a bribe. He had not earned enough to repay $200 that he had borrowed to buy his goods, but she (reportedly) slapped him in the face, spat at him, confiscated his electronic weighing scales, and tossed aside his produce cart.

Bouazizi went to the governor's office to complain. When the governor refused to see him, Bouazizi set himself aflame. His self-immolation initiated the deadly demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia and forced Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to relinquish the Presidency on January 14, 2011. He had ruled and ruined his nation for twenty-three years.

The fire spread to Egypt, forcing Hosni Mubarak to quit after 30 years of oppressive rule. Libya, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Syria relied on the Islamic tradition of the rule-by-the-sword to fight back the wild fires of freedom. They exposed the naivety of the Liberal expectation that Twitter can triumph over tanks. The protests did depose two dictators, but weeding is not gardening. Bouazizi had burned himself protesting against a civilization that denies human dignity and ridicules the idea of servant-leadership. Guns and Germs did not produce these culture-shaping ideas of human rights and leadership. They came from the Cross of the Jesus Christ.

Renaissance writers Salutati, Lorenzo Valla and Pico Della Mirandella understood the meaning of Christ’s incarnation. If God had incarnated as a human being, then man was different than other animals. He possessed a unique value and dignity that had to be respected by the state. If the Deity sacrificed Himself on the cross to save sinful humanity, then leadership had to mean servant-hood. Human rulers had to be shepherds, not wolves that oppress God’s own children. Islam abhors incarnation and the Cross and secular intellectuals ridicule them. But these historical/theological truths are the seeds that produced the kind of civilization that the Arab people are now seeking. If Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are to liberate Muslims from Islamic tyranny, then the social media will have to be used to challenge not just despots but the very worldview that has dehumanized and oppressed Muslims.

Western Autumn

It was Twitter and Facebook that brought out Social Media rioters, costing Britain at least $300 million. The looters weren’t interested in the bookshops that made Britain great. Nor did they consist of starving masses, looking for groceries and medicine. The gangs were looking for electronic gadgets, trendy clothing, and designer shoes.

The London riots began because Metropolitan police responsible for gun crimes within the black community, shot dead 29-year old Mark Duggan. The police had been investigating him for a while. They believed that he was planning to take revenge on those who had stabbed to death, his best friend, 23-year-old rapper, Kelvin Easton. His killers had used a broken champagne bottle to stab him at the Boheme nightclub in Mile End, East London. The police say that Mark and Kevin were linked to the Star Gang, a part of London’s blooming gang culture that has little respect for the traditional Christian value of of lawful work and family life.

The police claim that Mark was shot in self-defense. He may have been a victim of an officer’s mistake who thought that he needed to fire before Mark fired at him. But, it is more important to ask: Are Mark Duggan and the rioters victims of poverty or of a postmodern secular culture that has killed the soul of a once great civilization?

Mark Duggan was an internet savvy young, black man who used Facebook under his alias Starrish Mark. His homepage had pictures of him in a T-shirt bearing the words Star Gang, He may have been a good person, but messages from friends as well as other reports suggest that he was a drug dealer, linked to Star Gang and allied with North London gangs such as the Broadwater Farm Posse and Tottenham Mandem. It does not appear that Mark had a job. He was not married, but had fathered at least three children from one girl-friend, Semone Wilson. Her fourth child was still born.

Many people loved and respected Mark. Two hundred of them marched on the streets of Tottenham on August 6, protesting against his death. Some of them may have cared enough for him to urge him to be a man – to marry the woman he loved and take responsibility for the children he was fathering. But, at the end of the day such voices, if they were raised, were drowned by the evil that controls Hollywood, glamorizes out-of-wedlock sex, and promotes a heroism that is not heroic enough to love and serve one’s own family. No, the rioters were victims of a secular culture that teaches that the poor have a right to covet the wealth of productive citizens: that a democratic state exists to take from those who create wealth and distribute it unemployed fathers in night-clubs and their children. This “entitlement culture” of the gangs that looted shops is not as damaging as the entitlement culture of the super rich. At the end of July 2011, the Government Accountability Office submitted the first ever top-to-bottom audit report that investigated how Federal Reserve has been using public funds. Its eye-popping report said that the Fed had spent $16 trillion in secretly bailing out the wealthiest banks and financial institutions that pilot global capitalism. Why? Because the managers, who get paid millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses, keep sinking the ships they pilot. They believe that they are entitled to be bailed out at risk to honest tax payers because they are “too big to fail.”

The mobs in London and the captains of secular capitalism are products of exactly the same entitlement culture. Don’t get me wrong: Citizens, including Mark’s loved ones, have a right to demand an inquiry into his death. They had a right to expect that Britain’s law-enforcing agencies will behave better than Libya’s and Syria’s. In a culture shaped by the Bible, the the police and all human authorities must function under the authority of God’s law that says, “Thou shall not commit murder.” But, the question is: why did a group of 200 people that had gathered to demand rule of law, themselves, start an orgy of lawlessness? Were some of Mark’s loved ones hardened gangsters who had neither fear nor respect for law?

On August 7, riots and looting spread to other areas of London as the police stood and watched without interfering. Police inaction encouraged looters to launch their assault on August 8 in cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Bristol, Medway and Leicester. By August 9, when mobs began looting Manchester city centre and Salford, Mark Duggan’s death was no longer an issue. The majority of the rioters, colored or white, were British born and educated “Somali” pirates.

The protest that turned into violent riots were not in demand that the police be law-abiding. They were an expression of a secular education that had systematically destroyed the respect for law, moral conscience, love for nation, and fear of God. The mass criminality of the mobs exposed the foolishness of the cultural elites, who thought for decades that they could use education, media, and entertainment to destroy the fear of God, and the biblical ideas of truth, morality, conscience, self-government, sex, love, marriage, family, personal responsibility, social discipline, work, good neighborliness, nation, and patriotism, and, at the same time, retain virtue, freedom, and a social order that fosters economic growth.

By 13 August, police had arrested 2,275 people of whom more than 1,000 have been charged. The riots took a toll of five lives. Three men keeping watch outside their locked shops, were run down, when a driver hit them at full speed and drove off.
Rioters knocked down a 20-year old college student for his bicycle. With a touch of sadistic gentleness, they helped the bleeding youth up on his feet, only to humiliate him by ransacking his backpack for his phone and wallet.

A teenage girl explained the riots to a BBC correspondent: We are looting, she said, “to tell the rich and the government that we can do whatever we want.” That young woman needs to be heard. She was informing the world that Britain’s secular culture has bred plenty of women who are no different than Tunisia’s Faida Hamdi, whose corruption forced Bouazizi’s self-immolation and the Arab Spring.

Admittedly, the riots are not Britain’s most pressing problem. They expose the folly that is destroying the West from within. Riots are a recurring phenomenon in France. By the time they begin in America, they could be much worse. After all, the UK has only about 2 million single-parent families. America has approximately 14 million. Over 40 million American youth are growing up without a father. Officially, nationwide unemployment in America is just above 9%. But in the nation's capital, Washington DC, the unemployment among black youth has reached 51%. American government has just set up a 12-member Super-Committee whose job it is to reduce government spending by $2-4 trillion over the next decade. That is exactly the kind of dismantling of the entitlement culture that David Cameron’s government has been forced to undertake in the UK. Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy are now facing the need of economic discipline that will reduce the entitlements of those who have been taught to believe that the government exists to take care of them from the cradle to the grave.

Thankfully, the British government did not treat the rioters like “rats and cockroaches” (Muammar Gaddafi). However, Anders Behring Breivik, did treat fellow-Norwegians exactly as Gaddafi said they should be treated. Why did he do so? Because Western universities have raised a whole generation now that actually believes that human beings are nothing but evolved cockroaches. What Breivik did as an Individual, Germany did as a state, barely seven decades ago, under Nazi rule. But racism is not an Aryan monopoly. The Syrian state is treating protestors as cockroaches today, as well. The man who drove into three shopkeepers in Britain was black: the shopkeepers were Asians. Race will become a menace unless education teaches people to obey the command, “love your neighbor as yourself.”

India, and other developing nations, must learn from the West’s Autumn. India is on an economic trajectory that can take it to the very top of global economic pyramid. Yet, our economic success has already bred a 100,000 strong battalion of Maoist guerrillas, who control thousands of square miles of territory. Our urban gangs may be no different than the British gangs, but our guerrillas are ideologically motivated, trained, and equipped for bigger battles. India has plenty of neighbors who do not believe that God commands them to love their neighbors as themselves. Therefore, they will gladly partner with our gangs and guerillas, to our demise. Together they can create much greater havoc than Mark Duggan’s friends.

The West’s decline must teach us the lesson that Moses taught a bunch of slaves in order to transform them into a mighty and prosperous nation. Moses said, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Europeans who went to colonize South America were looking for gold. The Puritans who went to North America were seeking God. North Americans ended up with God as well as gold. America is now running out of gold because its universities began teaching that gold (Lakshmi) was the only god worth seeking. . Secular, greed-driven economics has bankrupt the West’s soul and stalled its progress. The way to avoid that trap is to follow the exhortation, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness then all these (material) things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Vishal Mangalwadi is the author of “The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization.”
 

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