One Little Word, and Passover

We going to start this post with one of Jessica’s articles. She speaks here of how Christ chose to send the news of His resurrection by Mary Magdalene, whose testimony would have borne no weight at all under Jewish law at that time. Then I want to speak of something else. Here’s Jessica-

Under Jewish Law, the testimony of a woman was no testimony at all. The first witness to the Risen Lord was a woman – Mary Magdalen. She was tearful. There she was, come to the tomb to anoint Him, and there was the stone moved. Her mind went where most of our minds would have gone – someone had taken Him away. That great stone had not moved itself, and dead bodies don’t walk out of tombs. The grave-clothes were bundled up and there was no trace of Jesus. Hard to imagine her feelings at the point. Only two days earlier her world had fallen apart. The man whose feet she had anointed and whom she had followed so loyally had been taken, tortured and then crucified. She knew that; she’d been there (which was more than could be said for most of those Apostles). It was over. All that remained was for her to do a final duty to the corpse. But even that was to be denied her. They had taken her Lord away.

She ran back to where the disciples were and told Peter the horrible news. Typically Peter, he ran to the tomb, and equally typically was outpaced by the younger John. But John stood at the entrance, and when Peter arrived he it was who, impulsive and brave as ever, went inside to see that the tomb was, indeed, as empty as Mary had said. The men went back home, no doubt to tell the others; Mary, as is the way of women, wanted to stay there a moment longer, perhaps to gather her thoughts, perhaps to mourn a moment alone.

She looked into the tomb again, only to be met by the most amazing sight – two angels asking her why she wept. The answer she gave echoes down the ages:  “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” As she turned away she saw a stranger, whom she took to be the gardener and asked where Jesus was. Then the man spoke – just one word, one word which shattered the world as she had known it and which echoes down the ages, even to the end of all things. ‘Mary’ was that word, the first from the lips of the Resurrected Lord. However much her tears had blinded her, that voice was clearly unmistakable: “Rabboni!” She said. Teacher, teacher, that was what she called Him. She went to cling to Him and He said: ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’  He bade her to go and tell the others what she had seen.

The testimony of a woman was no testimony in Jewish Law, and yet it was to a woman that the Risen Lord first came. He had broken the bonds of death, He had conquered the power of death and of Satan, the hold of sin on mankind was broken; and these things He entrusted to the power of one who in Jewish Law could offer no testimony at all.

She was the first. Let us love and honour her for that this Easter morning: ‘He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!’

[From Neo] A remarkable thing, really, especially when one considers that the Angel had spent the time to convince The Virgin Mary to consent to bearing Jesus. Remarkable in that time and place to show such respect to women. So should we.

I also note that Chalcedon touches on this in his excellent post today.


And something that applies to us Christians but comes from our Jewish (religious) forebearers. Bookworm in her Good Friday post has some good thinking for us.

An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as a celebration of freedom (commemorating as it does the world’s first and, for a long time, only successful slave revolt), justice, and morality (insofar as it gave us the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

As those familiar with the Bible know, his objection is predicated upon ignorance. The tenth plague, which saw God strike down the first born in every family that did not have the blood of the Pascal lamb above their door, was not a random punishment. It was, instead, divine retribution for the Pharaoh’s own ruling, in effect beginning before Moses’s birth, that all first born Jewish males should be drowned in the Nile.

The Jews of that generation were hiding in their houses, fearing death. Sound familiar?

She’s right of course. And how does that apply today? This way –

The Bible is not so superficial. There is, instead, a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, no matter the burdens placed upon his people. A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he could always reconcile himself to the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might have a theoretical concern that a starving and frightened populace could turn on him. However, as long as he was assured that his people, despite the horrors inflicted against them, continued to fear and worship him, their suffering was irrelevant. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed and when the plague struck in his own palace, killing his own first born* — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high,when it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, and when the high command realized that the Americans and Russians were coming after them, personally, did the war on the continent finally end.

Read it all at The news from North Korea reminds is that Passover is always relevant.

That was then, this is now. The threats are ever present and often change, there are plenty of bad actors in the world. But the necessary response remains the same. From Book’s Passover article this year.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, no matter the burdens he places upon his people. A blood-filled Nile River may, at first, seem appalling, but the red recedes and life went on. Pharaoh still holds power. The same is true for each subsequent plague, whether lice, boils, frogs, darkness, or any of the other plagues. As long as Pharaoh realizes, after the first panic, that he is still powerful, he will always reconcile himself to his people’s incremental destruction.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might have a theoretical concern that a starving and frightened populace could turn on him. However, as long as he is assured that his people will continue to fear and worship him, their suffering is irrelevant. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh the plague struck in his own palace, killing his firstborn* — that Pharaoh is convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways. […]

The only way to destroy an evil institution is to decapitate it. That’s what God did with the 10th plague. That’s what Truman did when he dropped atom bombs on Japan. That’s what the Allies did when they engaged in total war against the Nazis. In each case, the only way to end a tyrant’s rampage of murder, torture, and enslavement was directly hurting the tyrant’s person.

Those who prefer the stability of tyranny to the risks of freedom are the same people who refuse to accept that, under tyranny, the innocents are always going to die, with the only question being whether they will die quickly or slowly. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, you’re going to end as cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned, and China’s leadership will release a plague on the world and let tens of thousands of people sicken and die, both at home and abroad — as long as the tyrant can retain his power.

People of goodwill must sometimes recognize that the generation raised under tyranny is a lost generation that cannot be saved, whether because it will die under the tyrant’s lash, in the tyrant’s war, or in a war against the tyrant. Sometimes, when slaves finally taste freedom, they fear it. The Bible recognizes this problem, banning the Promised Land to those who were slaves in Egypt. They were a lost generation.

For this reason, when one sees a people groaning under tyranny the most humane thing to do is to destroy the tyranny quickly and decisively even if that process causes people to suffer. Most of them were always going to be lost. Our actions are for the benefit of subsequent generations and, if we are lucky, for those who survived both the tyranny and the liberation.

Plain common sense, isn’t it?

Today, the tyrant is China’s government and, as was the case with Nazi Germany or Bushido Japan, China’s tyranny has suddenly started to reach far beyond its borders. No matter how China’s bought-and-paid-for American media work to cover up China’s responsibility for what happened, John Adams was correct: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

We know the facts: COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab, although we do not know whether this was deliberate or accidental. China, in true tyrant fashion, was so determined to cover up its failure that it willingly let people die by destroying anything (e.g., information and doctors) that might have helped battle the plague early. When Wuhan began to see mass die-offs, China continued to deny there was a problem. As the plague spread beyond China’s borders, its government continued to deny responsibility, so much so that both China and the WHO (which we pay for, but which answers to China) lied consistently about COVID-19’s reach, danger, and origin.

Now that the plague is a world-wide phenomenon, China is sending or selling useless masks and test kits to hurting nations around the world. It is trying to blame America for COVID-19. And it’s almost certain that people are still dying in the thousands in China, even as the government insists it’s tamed COVID-19 and tells the world to start readmitting its people and its shoddy products. The Chinese communist government is Pharaoh.

The only way to stop tyranny is to fight tyranny. Despite media efforts to cover for their Chinese paymasters, Trump is calling China out on its lies and other malfeasance.

All based on the Exodus combined with the American character. And remember:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety,

deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Sunday Funnies; A Quick Start

Well, 2020 certainly started with a bang.

 

+

And, of course

 

Trifecta!

Now that is a simple message, so simple even an Iranian terrorist could understand it. But not Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, he was a cloud of vapor, along with two other colleagues. It would appear that attacking American embassies might be something the US considers bad form. And since the President and a fair number of Americans are not Democrats, sometimes bad things happen to the perpetrators, especially if you threaten the life of or kill Americans.

It looked like a nice clean operation, no mistakes, I like that, I hate when innocents get killed, even accidentally, and you know, that is one of the big differences between us and them, we fight combatants and protect civilians, the fight civilians and protect combatants.

Of course, they’ll try to respond somehow, that’s why the cavalry of the 82d Airborne saddled up yesterday. I doubt they’ll be gone all that long.

The interesting response was the fairly large numbers of Tweets emanating from Iran itself, congratulating and thanking Trump. It’s a reminder of just how totalitarian Iran is, and just as Hong Kong, who people look to for the protection of their freedom

Rather looks to me as if we are taking out the trash after the News Years Party.

If you’re going to be the world’s sheriff do not go fetal.

The best thing about the whole thing is that they are now reacting to us, not us to them as we have for so long. That’s a loser’s bet every time.

And yes, I agree with Mark Levin about the Democrats:

The modern Democrat Party stands with Iran against America. There’s no getting around it. Of course, they’ll take great offense at this observation. But just listen to and read the comments of its leadership. Iran attacks our embassy, our commander-in-chief effectively responds in real time, and top Democrats trash our president. Indeed, much of the Democrat Party and Iranian propaganda sound all too similar. Same with the Democrat Party-press.

Do keep that in mind as we go to the polls.

As some of you know, I think there is a theme song for this:

Ah-ah, ah! Ah-ah, ah!

We come from the land of the ice and snow

From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow

The hammer of the gods

W’ell drive our ships to new lands

To fight the horde, and sing and cry Valhalla, I am coming!

On we sweep with threshing oar Our only goal will be the western shore

Ah-ah, ah! Ah-ah, ah!

We come from the land of the ice and snow

From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow

How soft your fields so green Can whisper tales of gore

Of how we calmed the tides of war We are your overlords

On we sweep with threshing oar Our only goal will be the western shore

So now you’d better stop and rebuild all your ruins

For peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing

Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh

Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh

What’s Going On in Iran?

Have you been following the (mostly non-) news from Iran? Interesting isn’t it? China and Hong Kong, Iran and the Iranian people, plus the Iraqis and the Lebanese, it’s almost like people like being free. The best I’ve seen is Michael Ledeen in FrontPage Magazine.

The country is on fire. All classes, all tribes from the Persians to the Kurds are fighting the security forces and the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and an increasingly divided Hezbollah. The leaders of the regime are unrestrained in their crackdown. In order to keep their actions as far as possible from public view, the leaders have killed off the internet links with the outside world, and despite American boasts that Washington can turn on the internet at will, the regime has kept communications with Iranians at historic minima.

The proximate cause of these demonstrations was an overnight increase in the cost of gasoline. I say “proximate cause” because the anti-regime outbursts had been ongoing for months, if not years. The increased price for gasoline was significant, but not decisive. So far as I can determine, the crowds of demonstrators chanted political slogans, not economic ones. They wanted an end to the Islamic Republic, not lower prices for gas.

The Iranian eruption is only one of many in the region, as Lebanese and Iraqis also joined the protest against Tehran. Iraqis, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, called for an end to the Hezbollah domination of the country as part of a general demand for a thoroughgoing political transformation.

The most radical demand is the downfall of the whole sectarian, political Islamist system. This is the first and most important demand in Tahrir Square — they want a separation of religion and politics. This demand includes the government resigning, especially Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the prime minister.

Now mind, these guys aren’t asking for American boots, they want to be free, but on their terms, which are unlikely to be anything acceptable to Washington, let alone the heartland. But it’s their countries and their people. We can, perhaps, aid and abet a bit, but it’s up to them, to structure their lives as they see fit.

Because make no mistake, Iran under its present rulers is an implacable foe of the United States and keeps us from doing other things in the region that we should be doing. But this isn’t something, like Hong Kong, where one side is demanding democracy on the Anglo-American model.

Why that warning? Morris Ayek witing in en.qantara.de may have that answer.

Here, too, the distinctiveness of Arabic – although it has the same meaning in other languages – is useful in looking at Arab civil wars as wars between social entities. Non-Arab civil wars such as the Russian, the French, the Spanish, the Greek and so forth were between citizens. Groups that identify themselves through modern ideologies and institutions aim at the triumph of these ideologies. Indeed, they may be seen as a concomitant struggle in transition.

Arab civil wars, on the other hand, are wars between kinsfolk, however they may appear in their early stages. The social group becomes partisan, whether sectarian, tribal, party political or ethnic. The key difference between the two types of conflicts is that Arab civil wars have no end. In the non-Arab world, it is the ideology which is defeated, whilst with us Arabs, there can be no end. The Sunni, the Shia, the Alawite and the Christian will remain, like the Arab, the Kurd and the South Sudanese.

Social ties are the true driver

The only point of Arab civil wars is dominion, which is characterised by warlords who live by perpetuating war as a source of wealth, subjugating and plundering. They differ from other civil wars, in which each warring party has sought to build an economy with which to replenish resources and to guarantee victory. Ironically, this revenue-generating model is similar to the normal workings of an Arab economy.

Quite a lot more at the link, and I think it summarized pretty well why Anglo-American style democracy is not going to break out any time soon in the Middle East.

 

Veteran’s Day

In 2012, as we gathered to salute our veterans, and the rest of the Anglosphere gathered to remember their war dead, there was no one to take our salute for the Great War. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynne. She was the very last veteran of World War I. And so, while we remember them, never again will we see them on this side.

Maybe it’s just as well, they likely wouldn’t be impressed with the mess we have made on both sides of the Atlantic. But we have an advantage, we have their example for a guide. They were indeed our best, equal in every way to those who came a mere twenty years later, and even in the conflicts, hot and cold, that followed that war. Only a fool thinks there will ever be a war to end all wars.

But 101 years ago, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the war we still call the Great War came to end, first by an armistice and then by treaty. The things left undone in the negotiations would have much to do with the Second World War, but that is nothing to do with the warriors.

Interestingly, it is also Old Michaelmas Day, the day when St Michael the Archangel threw out Devil out of Heaven. St Michael the Archangel is, of course, the leader of the heavenly army that will defeat Satan at the end of days. He is also the Patron of Paratroopers, and some say the Infantry. So a very appropriate day, wonder if they thought of it in 1918.

The date of July 4, 1917 marks a watershed. It was the day that a battalion of the 11th US Infantry marched through Paris, proclaiming “Lafayette, we are here”. A recognition that we owed France much for their help in the Revolution.

It marked a watershed in the war, as the promise of new fresh troops, lifted the morale of the Allies, and hurt that of the Central Powers. But more than that, it was a watershed for America, too. For the first time, we put our soldiers in harm’s way to save other people. The world changed.

It took us till about 1942 before we realized that now we were the leaders of the free world, that the British and the Empire had impoverished themselves in the Great War, and could no longer control events. In 1945, we took that mantle, somewhat unwillingly, but decisively. And thus was born both the Pax Americana and “The American Century”.

And all through the century, our troops have been everything we could have wished, and the best ambassadors America could have wished for. A good many years ago now, Robert Leckie called them “Planetary Soldiers”. It was and is an apt description.

 

Admiral Nimitz rather summed up our armed forces when he said after Iwo Jima:

Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

The Real Heroes Are Dead

One of the heroic men I often write about around 9/11 is Rick Rescorla. The man whose foresight saved all but thirteen Dean Whitter Morgan Stanley employees (he was lost that day, and his body was never found) on that dark day. So do others, Powerline, like here has a recurring post on him, and The Victory Girls often do, as well. But we all have something to add now. Colonel Rescorla, born in Cornwall, veteran of the British Paratroopers who served during the war in Cyprus and Rhodesia, and an American veteran of the 7th Cavalry in the First Battle of Ia Drang, in Vietnam. If you have seen the cover of We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, that man is Rick Rescorla. He was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously this week. Watch.

 

I really like the write up that Nina Bookout gave him at The Victory Girls.

There is so much more to Rick’s story. He was a British paratrooper who served with the British Army on Cyprus and then in Rhodesia. Not long after that he emigrated to the United States and joined the Army. This man, who had already been in battle, joined up in time to go to battle again. This time at the Battle of la Drang. The loss of the men he served with never left him.  It is his photo that is the cover of “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young.” 

“In 1965 Rescorla knew war. His men did not, yet. To steady them, to break their concentration away from the fear that may grip a man when he realizes there are hundreds of men very close by who want to kill him, Rescorla sang. Mostly he sang dirty songs that would make a sailor blush. Interspersed with the lyrics was the voice of command: ‘Fix bayonets…on liiiiine…reaaaa-dy…forward.’ It was a voice straight from Waterloo, from the Somme, implacable, impeccable, impossible to disobey. His men forgot their fear, concentrated on his orders and marched forward as he led them straight into the pages of history: 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry…’Hard Corps.’”

Years later, as head of security for Morgan Stanley, Rick found himself in another fight. One against terrorism. After the first attack on the Twin Towers, Rick instituted mandatory evacuation drills. He KNEW that another attack would happen. He wanted every person who worked in those offices to be prepared. He wanted every person in those offices to be able to react immediately.

On that day, that fateful day when terrorists tried to bring us to our knees, Rick Rescorla’s planning and training saved lives. 2,700 lives in fact. While building personnel were ordering people to stay at their desks, Rick bullied Morgan Stanley employees into moving out to safety.

THEN…he went back UP the stairs!

“”Everybody said, ‘Rick your folks are out. You’ve done what you need to do,’ but he pointed up the stairwell and said, ‘You hear those screams? There’s more people up there. I have to help get them out,’” Lt. Col. Andrew Watson said at the conference room dedication, as reported by Military.com. He said he would run to safety only once he had gotten everyone in the building out.”

Probably the best write up from the time is by James B. Stewart in The New Yorker.

The title as you’ll find in the New Yorker article is a quote from Rick Rescorla.

“”Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming
Can’t you see their spear points gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready.
STAND AND NEVER YIELD!
– “Men of Harlech”
Sung by Rick Rescorla in the Ia Drang Valley 1965 and in the stairway of WTC Tower 2 on September 11, 2001″”

 

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