On the May 11 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson advised viewers during the "My Word" segment of his program to "do your duty. Make more babies." He then cited a May 10 article, which reported that nearly half of all children under the age of five in the United States are minorities. Gibson added: "By far, the greatest number [of children under five] are Hispanic. You know what that means? Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic." Gibson later claimed: "To put it bluntly, we need more babies." Then, referring to Russia's projected decline in population, Gibson claimed: "So far, we are doing our part here in America but Hispanics can't carry the whole load. The rest of you, get busy. Make babies, or put another way -- a slogan for our times: 'procreation not recreation'."
As The Washington Post reported, the U.S. Census Bureau recently released population estimates that found that nearly half (45 percent) of U.S. children under five are racial or ethnic minorities, and that "the percentage is increasing mainly because the Hispanic population is growing so rapidly." The U.S. Census notes that, "estimates usually are for the present and the past, while projections are estimates of the population for future dates." The U.S. Census last released its population projection in March 2004 and found that, by the year 2030, Hispanics will account for roughly 20 percent of the total population in the United States.
A second story, today, reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin is so concerned about the declining and imploding population of Russia, he is paying couples to have babies. Imagine, procreating for cash in Mother Russia. Putin has taken this step because at the rate things are going, Russia will lose close to 45 million in population in the next 45 years. Russia will be two thirds of today's population.
So the argument goes in conservative Christian churches that Christians must have more babies. If Christians do not keep pace with the rest of the world’s populating they will become a minority. This will lead to being in a Christless world. Because we all know Christianity cannot exist well as a minority. This is preached and talked about among many of our conservative Christian churches. The President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Al Mohler has espoused this view and has said it is a disobedience to God to not be fruitful and multiply.
Interestingly enough the alt-right says whites need to have more babies. If they do not we will be overcome with other racial and ethnic groups. They say they cannot be expected to convince other races they are the superior race and join their movement. Whites must be actively reproducing.
This may be considered fringe-group thinking, which it is, but it is thinking that is already present in the halls of power. The Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, while not necessarily using the alt-right thinking, essentially said a similar thing using an economic justification. The problem with Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare is the baby boomers are joining the retired ranks. This large group needs to be offset by a new baby boom if we want to have these old-age programs.
So you may say to me: what they have is an unusual solution to their problems. And yes that would be fine if left there. But this thinking can be found throughout the GOP platform. We need to divest our country of the non-whites so that the racial balance is kept in place. No DACA, the right kind of immigrants are who we want, build a wall, and do not allow Muslims to have power. Meanwhile in the black world you imprison in huge numbers young black men to counteract their youthful virility. All of this is congruent with the alt –right agenda: we need more white babies. First do your best to control other groups’ procreation in this country and then you have all the babies you want.
In their sexual health agenda, they are against abortions and birth control. We must not waste potential for white babies. They are adamantly opposed to homosexuality being normalized. This would mean good healthy men are not providing much needed sperm for procreation. This would also explain the rights blocking the agenda of equal pay for equal work for women. Women need to be discouraged from the workplace and encouraged to the home. That is why one of the few tax breaks in the new tax law that benefits the middle class and poor is the increased child tax credit.
All of these groups may have a different angle they prefer to use to raise their causes but ultimately they are all for many of the same policies. And I have a hunch if you pull back the curtain you would find, despite their public personas, they all have similar views.
So now we are hearing from the far right that diversity is bad. “Diversity is not our strength.” Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one. Assimilation has become a dirty word to the multiculturalist Left. Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength. "I'd ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you're talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?" These are the words of Iowan congressman Steve King. He is part of the alt right conservatives who are attempting to take over our country. They think this is not racist tripe. And what is even more befuddling is they think they are the Christians and the rest of us are either heretics or pagans.
So in this season of Christmas I choose to remind everyone that Jesus’ birth is one of the most diverse stories ever told. It begins with a Middle Eastern couple. A young woman is pregnant and apparently the child is not her betrothed’s, Joseph. Joseph the father is a blue collar carpenter without much money. But the Roman government (the white elite folks in this drama) want more taxes from the citizens of this invaded country. So Joseph and his pregnant betrothed travel to their homeland Bethlehem. They are homeless and cannot find room at the inn and have to stay with the animals in the cave.
Shepherds, the poor laborers of the day, hear of this baby born in a cave and rush to see and offer the family gifts. But they are not the only ones. Three wise men from different countries come to bring gifts to this child. They ask the white man in charge where this baby might be. And he sends them off with a “let me know if you find this special baby.” The white man in charge is not one to take chances so he plans to kill off all of the babies under two in the land so that a rebellion might not take place. A rebellion might not have taken place immediately but I am sure this attack left many a family with hate in their hearts against this imperialist government from afar.
The wise men take a different road on the way back to their various countries. Joseph gets wind of the white man’s scheme to kill all babies under two and he and his family leave Israel to go to Africa/Egypt which takes in the refugees. They appear to have been taken care of and when it is deemed safe they returned to the Middle East.
This is a story full of different classes and ethnic groups, none of whom seem to assimilate but offer the treasures they have from their coffers. They give a little of themselves and the story is said to be the beginning of the redemption of the world.
But it is not just the story of Jesus’ birth that shouts appreciation of different cultures; it is the stories he lives and tells throughout his life. The good neighbor (a Samaritan) is from across the border from Israel. The centurion is a white invader from another land that he offers healing to his son. He has prostitutes, women, lepers and even tax collectors (which of you would take an IRS agent into your home) into his inner circle. His life is full of diversity. He does not demand anything from anyone but that they love their neighbors and their God. For this radical idea he is crucified on the white man’s cross with his own people agreeing to the punishment.
But this is not the Christ the alt right would know. Their Christ is seen somewhere: not in a manger or on a cross, but in Trump Tower or Wall Street. Now that is some messed up thinking! Merry Christmas to all and may the spirit of the babe in a manger come once to live in our hearts. O Come, O Come Emanuel.
Who would have thought it, in 2017 over one hundred and fifty years later the causes of the Civil War are debated by some. And yes the discussion does have its nuances. The North and Lincoln were more for stopping slavery from spreading to the new states and territories when the War started. The strategy was, if limited to the current states in the South slavery would eventually die. This was valid thinking. Cotton was king in the South mostly because of slave labor and the abundance of good arable cotton land. These two factors made the South’s cotton the cheapest and best in the world. Thus, the textile factories in Manchester and Liverpool in England were anxious to acquire southern cotton.
The problem for the southern cotton growers was cotton depleted the soil in three to four years. They were constantly in need of new land to grow more cotton. So they needed to expand their cotton empires further and further west into new territories. And with the spread of cotton to grow it economically efficiently, they had to use slavery. The North adamantly opposed the spreading of slavery west into the new territories. The North also knew if they did this the Southern economy based on slave labor would die and slavery would eventually die on the wicked vine it grew.
The secession of the South brought this slavery strategy and question in the current states into play. The question is often asked if this is so why didn’t Lincoln declare immediate emancipation of the slaves? And the answer to that is quite simply he was being strategic. If he had declared emancipation of the slaves a border state such as Maryland would have sided with the South. This would have made Union victory harder and made the invasion of the North by the South more likely [as it was only one significant invasion in the North occurred during the war]. Also Lincoln was at first holding out hope that the South would come back into the fold and the United States would have reverted to the non-violent means of not allowing slavery to spread into the new territories and eventually dying. Of course this did not happen.
Yes at first Lincoln was for preserving the Union. This was a more palatable cause for all sides and he hoped the conflict would end quickly. It was thought the South once they experienced a few losses would concede and come back in the Union, and the old status quo would return. It did not happen this way. And in fact the South won most of the early battles. Lincoln waited for a significant Union military victory to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation. This was to show that eventually the Union would win the war. This would keep the border states in line knowing this. They would want to be on the winning side. But it also would help with recruiting soldiers in the North which had waned and now dramatically increased after the Emancipation Proclamation. This increase in signing up for the Union Army after the Proclamation would, in and of itself, prove that a large part of the North was for ending slavery.
So why after so many years is it hard for many Southerners to admit slavery was the primary cause of the war? Because for white Southerners the antebellum period was the zenith of economic and cultural wealth of the South. To say that this wealth was earned on the back of slaves and that we lost this wealth because of our defense of slavery would place the zenith of our heritage in moral jeopardy. So the war was not about slavery.
Maybe it is time for us white southerners to not define ourselves by the white wealth and culture of the antebellum period. Maybe it is time to look at other things about our culture to highlight. Maybe the plantations are not our only southern heritage story to share and elicit pride about. Maybe the music of blues, jazz, zydeco, and country, maybe the varied cultural expressions Gullah, Cajun, Creole, Appalachian, and Cherokee, maybe the heroes like Clarence Jordan, Will Campbell, Wendell Berry, Jimmy Carter, MLK Jr., John Lewis, Martha Berry, the Grimke sisters, and others are the proud heritage we expound. There is more in the South than a now historically mixed bag to share..
Trump has brought us into his world of chaos and noise. He is leaving no room for silence in the public sphere. Trump equates noise with action and results. So he bombards us with tweets, distortions and constant disturbing headlines even in the wee hours of the morning. It seems there is never time for a breath between stanzas. This is the world in which Trump thrives. He is afraid if we pause for a second and examine him we will realize this is a world in which we do not want to live. What has assisted this ‘Age of Trump’, is we already live in a society of noise, distractions, and disturbing images unlike any before. The noise of social media, internet, video games, twenty-four hour news cycles, and the fact we are never without our smart phones has left us addicted to stimuli and Trump is constant noisy stimuli.
Yet matters of governance not only take action; the actions must be made in the pause to breathe and think deeply. We know that our lives must be punctuated with silence. This is how we discover ourselves and our desires. Yes trying new things helps us in discovery but it is the moment after that we think about the new thing we realize if it is what we want to be about. If we are constantly overwhelmed we can only think with the most primitive part of our brains. This is where our instinct of fight or flight and instinct not reasoned activity takes place. It takes about ten seconds for our neurons to flow through the more primitive parts of our brain to the higher functions of the brain. The parts of the brain where we think, do we really want to do that which our instinct is telling us? It is a step beyond the instinct level to think: what do I want to do? Then after this part of the brain is activated, if we are not distracted, we travel to the deepest functions of the brain which ask questions of what do I believe and how should I correlate my beliefs with my actions.
The problem is if we are constantly being stimulated by noise we will only use the primitive parts of our brain. We will be going from one instinctive, low level effort thinking to yet another one because the chaos and noise keeps our neurons stimulated never allowing the breath between the notes to guide our actions. So to put it another way we are always making kneejerk reactions to everything and not thinking deeply about what we do.
I write this as the Senate passes a tax bill that moved so fast through it that the final version had some sections scratched out with pencil and handwritten corrections in it. This is the first action or bill they have been able to pass. They did it so they did not have to return to their constituents with no action while they were in session. And their followers will be pleased with the action at last even though it will not have their desires for a more fair tax program in it. But this will not be a problem because the noise of Trump will not let the deeper functioning parts of their brain consider what they have done. It will be on to the next stimuli which will have distracted them.
Silence is golden some say. Or in this case lots of noise brings the gold to those who already have more than they know how to spend.