Swastika for Peace or Terror? The Power of Shared Symbols

Swastika for Peace or Terror? The Power of Shared Symbols

With so much anger over NFL protests during the national anthem, the issue of the American Flag and what it symbolizes has become a hot topic. To some, the Flag represents systemic oppression. To others, it represents the hope of freedom and the ideal of human equality. But what happens to a nation when Her people become so balkanized that they no longer have a shared symbol of unity? Hold on to that question and let me tell you a story.

Recently, I was out to lunch with some colleagues. After entering a local Chinese restaurant, I saw the buddha statue (pictured above) decorated with a swastika. I was shocked. I asked myself, “What was the symbol of Nazi hatred doing on a statue here in an Asian-American restaurant?” When I got back to my office, I did some research and found some information that challenged by perceptions of this symbol.

First, it seems I am not the only one who was dismayed seeing these symbols pop up in unexpected places. In this story out of New York, “Sixth-graders at an elite Bronx private school have been caught drawing swastikas in art class, so administrators met with the kids — talking mainly about how the symbols represent peace in some cultures.” Parents, seeing their kids draw these swastikas assumed that there must be some sort of white-supremacist or nazi influence. But was that the only possible response? From a 21st century perspective the swastika is a symbol of Hitlerian hate, yet to countless others throughout history the swastika was a symbol of peace. Really? Is that even possible?

A quick look at the history of the swastika may help us discern a truth outside our limited experience. The Holocaust Teacher Resource Center, writes the following:

The swastika is a very old symbol with use widespread throughout the world. Sometimes referred to as a “Gammadion” “Hakenkreuz” or a “Flyfot,” it traditionally had been a sign of good fortune and well being The word “swastika” is derived from the Sanskrit “su” meaning “well” and “asti” meaning “being.” It also is considered to be a representation of the sun and is associated with the worship of Aryan sun gods. It is a symbol in both Jainism and Buddhism, as well as a Nordic runic emblem and a Navajo sign.

Basil Jackson in this article goes into more detail of just how old the swastika is:

The swastika is one of mankind’s oldest symbols and one of the most powerful in effect. Apart from the circle, the swastika is probably the most widely distributed of all symbols. The swastika has been found on a fragment of Greek pottery dating back to the eighth century, and the use of the swastika has also been demonstrated among Egyptian, Greek, Arabic, and Navajo civilizations.[1]

Would you be surprised to learn then that the swastika was a symbol even used by Jews? It’s true. The swastika has been discovered by archeologists inside of a Jewish 2nd century AD synagogues “paved with simple white mosaics and a swastika”[2] and also among other ancient remains dating back to the 7th century BC:

The most striking types were the bowls and dishes with two handles, and the pottery with Philistine decorations, the concentric whirls, the so-called Maltese Cross, the square cross in use long before the Christian era or its late adoption by the Knight Templars, the swastika, and especially the strange swan-like bird with its neck curled around over its back.[3]

Clearly, these kinds of symbols do not have inherent meaning but can be adopted and used for many reasons—including the manipulation of an entire nation. Hitler was a master of manipulation—using a symbol that spoke peace to the psyche of the German people and then subverting it with his own brand of terror. Jackson concludes:

Hitler recognized the power latent in this symbol, but instead of leaving the swastika spinning “with the sun,” representing the powers of light, he gave it a satanic twist by reversing the emblem and thus causing it to spin in a counterclockwise fashion. This is a significant clue in the understanding of the satanically energized control that Hitler had over millions. He knew and used the power of the symbol to reach into the very depths of the unconscious of his people, and thus gained control over them.[4]

Even today, James M. Skidmore observes, “In places like Pointes-des-Cascades, where pre-Nazi swastikas exist, extra care must be taken to contextualize their presence.” If you happen to be traveling around the world, remember that not everyone shares your point of view. Not every swastika is a Nazi-swastika. You cannot just see a swastika on a statue and assume it means “hate”… even though it certainly has that shared meaning within our own Western context.

So then, back to the original question, what happens to a nation when Her people become so balkanized that they no longer have a shared symbol of unity? 

Without doubt, some people will always look at the American flag as a symbol of oppression, but the problem for us as a nation comes when we are so divided that we lose any foundation for unity—we become broken and polarized. As I discuss in this short video, “Polarization is the ultimate consequence of a Secularized, Pluralized and Privatized society demonstrated in the balkanization of civic, social, religious, and family structures.”

Symbols like the American Flag do not have any inherent meaning, but that is why it is all the more important we as a people have a consensus. The flag should not be a symbol of my experience, your experience, or any one group’s experience. The flag should not be a Christian symbol, a Muslim symbol, a Buddhist symbol or an Atheist symbol. It should rather be used as a symbol that reflects our common ideal of human dignity.

We should not allow the white-supremacists or the Hitlers of our day steal the symbol from “we the people”. No one person owns the right to define the symbolism of the American flag. We don’t stand for the National Anthem to honor a president… or any person. Neither the foolish Tweets of Donald Trump nor the race baiting of Liberals should dull our passion to stand together for something better.

We should not stand in denial of the sins of racism & bigotry that do exist & will always exist because all mankind is sinful. Every nation is scarred by sin. Standing does not mean we deny the bad, but that together we can rise above it.

But I cannot shake the feeling that when people of good will sit or take a knee, we let the wicked think that America belongs to them. We let the wicked become little Hitlers who take it upon themselves to redefine the meaning of a flag that should otherwise stand for something good.

The only people who should be ashamed to stand during the national anthem and salute the American flag are those who deny the truth enshrined in our constitution that all human beings are created equal and worthy of dignity.

Instead of sitting or taking a knee, we should stand together and demonstrate to the world that “we the people” are willing to come together, rise above our failures, work to eliminate the influence of the corrupt, and dedicate our lives to helping every man and women know real freedom. The flag means nothing except the meaning we give to it. And if we lose our common symbol of unity, we will find only discord.


Footnotes

[1]  “Psychology, Psychiatry, and the Pastor: Part,” Bibliotheca Sacra 132 (1975): 201–202.

[2] Avraham Negev, The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990).

[3] Melvin Grove Kyle, “Excavations at Tell Beit Mirsim, the Ancient Kirjath Sepher 1928,” Bibliotheca Sacra 85, no. 340 (1928): 394.

[4]  “Psychology, Psychiatry, and the Pastor: Part,” Bibliotheca Sacra 132 (1975): 201–202.

The Loss of Wonder and the Descent of Humanity

The Loss of Wonder and the Descent of Humanity

What are we to make of the recent attack in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and hundreds injured? What would motivate a man to undertake such an evil?

The investigation into the specifics of his motive are ongoing, and I cannot pretend to have a complete answer. There are; however, some basic facts that can tell us some important things.

The shooter was wealthy. By all accounts, he had enough wealth so that he no longer needed to work, but spent his time in leisure gambling. From the outside, he was a financial success living a life that many people look upon with envy. so why would a man of success, living “the dream” do such a terrible thing?

In part, the answer comes when we realize that setting goals and fulfilling dreams is far different than having meaning and fulfilling purpose. Ravi Zacharias in his book, Recapture the Wonder: frames the question well:

Skeptics would use a tragedy like this to point to the absence of God in the human experience. “Where is God in such disfigurement?” ment?” they will argue. “How can one blame this man for seeing no purpose and fulfillment in being alive?” I think it is here that we make our first very subtle mistake, both in our logic and in our experience. It is shallow reasoning to deduce that because pain or unfulfilled dreams have brought disappointment appointment to experience, life itself must be hollow and purposeless. less. In fact, this conclusion may miss the deeper problem within our common struggle to find something in life of ultimate purpose.

Ravi Zacharias. Recapture the Wonder: Experiencing God’s Amazing Promise of Childlike Joy (p. 3). Kindle Edition.

It was observed by family that the shooter had:

“No affiliation, no religion, no politics. He never cared about any of that stuff. He was a guy who had money. He went on cruises and gambled.”

This, to me, is a picture of depression, isolation, sadness, and sorrow… not success. Ravi goes on to observe something important here we can all take to heart.

You see, fulfilled dreams are not necessarily fulfilled hopes. Attainment and fulfillment are not the same. Many dream and wish for the attainments that would make them the envy of our world. Careers, positions, possessions, romance … these are real goals, pursued sued by the vast majority who are deluded into believing that succeeding in these areas brings fulfillment. But deep within there is some stronger longing, sometimes even hard to pinpoint. We know there is a vacuum, a space of huge proportions that seeks a state of mind that attainments cannot fill. That dream of ultimate fulfillment is intangible but recognizable, indefinable but felt, verbalized but imprecise, visualized but blurred, inestimable but traded in for something less, something daily. I suggest it is the greatest pursuit of every life, consciously or unconsciously, and it is not mitigated by one’s worldly success. That

Ravi Zacharias. Recapture the Wonder: Experiencing God’s Amazing Promise of Childlike Joy (pp. 4-5). Kindle Edition.

Too many people are consumed with living a dream that empties us of our souls. We see poverty as the anti-hope and wealth as the ultimate fulfillment. But if we can learn anything from the shooter in Las Vegas, it is that the size of ones bank account does not correspond to fulfillment. Ravi says:

I believe it is possible that those who have attained every dream may be at least as impoverished as the man at the dump-perhaps even more-as they bask in the accolades, knowing that the charade is shattered by the aloneness within them.

Ravi Zacharias. Recapture the Wonder: Experiencing God’s Amazing Promise of Childlike Joy (p. 5). Kindle Edition.

We can talk about gun control. We can talk about mental health. We can talk about Islamic radicalization or Antifa. These are all important and necessary conversations. But right now, today, we also need to talk about meaning and the value for human life that only comes from God. Without God, there is a loss of wonder that only leads to the descent of humanity. If you are someone struggling to understand why, then the first step is to turn towards Jesus Christ—the one person who has all the answers.

Today, amidst the terror of inhumanity, I am reminded of the old hymn I used to sing when I was a kid.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

What have we wrought?

What have we wrought?

Is God real? Is faith in God delusional? Ravi Zacharias argues three approaches to fashioning a reasonable worldview; Total Objectivity/Transcendence, Total Determinism, and Semi-Transcendence. Only the latter is the hope of producing a systemic coherent scientific and religious worldview. Following are some quotes to consider.

We are living now, not in the delicious intoxication induced by the early successes of science, but in a rather grisly morning-after, when it has become apparent that what triumphant science has done hitherto is to improve the means for achieving unimproved or actually deteriorated ends.
Aldous (Leonard) HuxleyEnds and Means: an Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into Methods Employed for their Realization (1937), 310.
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
Many of the most fundamental claims of science are against common sense and seem absurd on their face. Do physicists really expect me to accept without serious qualms that the pungent cheese that I had for lunch is really made up of tiny, tasteless, odorless, colorless packets of energy with nothing but empty space between them? Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. … Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.
 Richard C. Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons” in: The New York Review of Books, 9 January 1997, p. 31
“Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”
David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions
“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”
Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society
When a general principle is advanced, it collapses quickly into absurdity. Thus Sam Harris argues that “to believe that God exists is to believe that I stand in some relation to his existence such that his existence is itself the reason for my belief” (italics added). This sounds very much as if belief in God could only be justified if God were to call attention conspicuously to Himself, say by a dramatic waggling of the divine fingers.
If this is so, then by parity of reasoning again, one might argue that to believe that neutrinos have mass is to believe that I stand in some relationship to their mass such that their mass is itself the reason for my belief.
Just how are those neutrinos waggling their fingers?
A neutrino by itself cannot function as a reason for my belief. It is a subatomic particle, for heaven’s sake. What I believe is a proposition, and so an abstract entity—that neutrinos have mass. How could a subatomic particle enter into a relationship with the object of my belief? But neither can a neutrino be the cause of my belief. I have, after all, never seen a neutrino: not one of them has ever gotten me to believe in it. The neutrino, together with almost everything else, lies at the end of an immense inferential trail, a complicated set of judgments.
Believing as I do that neutrinos have mass—it is one of my oldest and most deeply held convictions—I believe what I do on the basis of the fundamental laws of physics and a congeries of computational schemes, algorithms, specialized programming languages, techniques for numerical integration, huge canned programs, computer graphics, interpolation methods, nifty shortcuts, and the best efforts by mathematicians and physicists to convert the data of various experiments into coherent patterns, artfully revealing symmetries and continuous narratives. The neutrino has nothing to do with it.
[In Semi-Transcendance] humanity is able to move outside of itself to a legitimate degree and what it ends up doing really in the ability to move out of itself to a legitimate degree it is then able to measure its pronouncements by external testing, external verification for correspondence and coherence. When you make a statement you can check it out correspondingly to be true. When you build a system, you can look at it as a systemically coherent worldview. This is the way it is in our courts of law. This is the way it ought to be in a scientific lab itself. When you make a statement it is measured against a referent. When you put together a system it ought to be coherent and brought together. Total Transcendence is logically, biologically, and ideologically impossible. Total Determinism is self-defeating. The Semi Transcendent way is the only way we are able to half rise outside of yourself make meaningful statements about reality and measure them up against the truth as they really correspond.
The Reporter Who Cried Trump

The Reporter Who Cried Trump

I do not share Trump’s underlying value system. I will wait and see what policies he actually proposes, but I do not have high expectations for the Trump Presidency. I have a feeling it will be an unpredictable bag of some positive and some disastrous policies. That being said, one major reason Trump won the Presidency in 2016 is people do not know what “news” to trust so they end up picking the news that fits their preferred worldview.

This is a dangerous situation when ideology trumps truth in reporting. It is simply the classic Aesop’s Fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf;” too many false alarms and the people don’t know when the alarm is real. Below is my retelling of this fable for our modern world.

The Reporter Who Cried Trump

There once was a reporter who was bored as she sat in front of her computer checking her social media rankings. To increase her followers she took a great breath and typed out, “Trump! Trump! Trump is a racist!”

The American people took to twitter to help the reporter spread the fearful message and drive Tump away. But no sooner did they reshare the warning, they found the news was fake. The reporter laughed at the sight of their angry faces.

“Don’t cry ‘Trump’, reporter,” said the American people, “when there’s no evidence of your charge!” They went grumbling and complaining back to their Facebook accounts.

Later, the reporter cried out again,”Trump! Trump! Trump is a Russin stooge!” To her naughty delight, she watched the American people take to twitter to help spread the fearful message and drive Tump away

When the American people saw the news was fake they sternly said, “Save your frightened tweets for when there is really something wrong! Don’t cry ‘Tump’ when the news is fake!”

But the reporter just grinned as her twitter shares soared and watched the people go grumbling and complaining on Facebook.

Later, she saw a real danger when Trump proposed a terrible law. Alarmed, the reporter jumped on twitter and cried out as loudly as she could, “Trump! Trump!”

But the American people thought the reporter was trying to fool them again, and so they didn’t reshare and many more unfollowed her.

During the next 24-hour news cycle, some people wondered why the reporter hadn’t returned to twitter to share more salacious news. They scoured social media to find the reporter’s latest news. They found her unemployed.

“There really was a Trump scare this time! But, the American people have scattered! I cried out, “Trump!” Why didn’t you reshare?”

An old man tried to comfort the reporter as they walked to the unemployment office.

“We’ll help you look for a new job in the morning,” he said, putting his arm around the reporter, “Nobody believes a liar…even when she is telling the truth!”

The Electoral College and the End of Slavery

The Electoral College and the End of Slavery

Electoral College vs. Popular Vote

I have been hearing a lot this past week about how the Electoral College is outdated and we should just go by the popular vote. Most notably political supporters of Hillary Clinton say, “she won the popular vote, so let’s use that to make her President.” But there are a few problems with this idea. The most obvious being that changing the rules after the election is an intellectually corrupt idea.

The best analogy I heard is that the Cubs won the world series which was the best of 7 games. However, the Indians scored more runs during the series. Did the Indians really “win” the World Series? After all, they scored more total runs? Of course, we can’t say the Indians are the real winners because that is not how the rules of the 7 game series were set up. The Electoral College is like the 7 game series. The votes are like runs. The total vote only counts in each state and then each state is given a number of votes based on population. This means each state (like each game in the World Series) is equally valued regardless of how disproportionate the popular vote might be in any one state. Or think of it this way, Trump won the popular vote in 32 of 50 states.

Turning to the election strategies of 2016, neither candidate campaigned in such a way to win the popular vote. Both Trump and Clinton spent time in small states with small populations because that is how they strategized to win the Electoral College. If at the beginning of the election they knew the goal was to win the popular vote, then both candidates would have run a very different kind of election; set policies to attract the largest numbers of people, spent advertising dollars to appeal to large population blocks, and physically campaigned only in the largest cities.

I realize people are upset (and, for the record, I never endorsed Trump or Clinton), but suggesting that we should change the outcome of the election based upon a new set of rules that we invent after the election is over is both irrational and silly.

But what of the larger issue… is the Electoral College (EC) outdated and a bad system? Should the United States of America switch to a popular vote election for President?

An Imperfect System

First, I think everyone can agree that there is no perfect system, but to suggest the EC is bad in every way is an exaggeration that demonstrates a lack of any real understanding of the issue. The founders were rightly concerned with what they called the Tyranny of the Majority and implemented the EC to mitigate that concern.

The founders of our government were fully convinced that no despotism could be more intolerable than a pure democracy, where the majority had unrestricted power. Our national legislature is restricted within very narrow limits by the Constitution. It has not the political omnipotence of the Parliament of Great Britain, which can change the dynasty, abolish the peerage, or the church establishment, and model at pleasure the institutions of the country. Our Congress has no such power. Its authority is limited by a written Constitution. It is held in check by the distribution of power, and by the legislative authority being vested in two houses—the one composed of the representatives of the states without regard to their relative size or importance. In every way, therefore, that human wisdom could devise, the minority is protected from the tyranny of the majority.

“Review of The State of the Country,” The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review XXXIII, no. 1–4 (1861): 24–25.

The founders hoped the EC would protect the rights of the minority from a majority only concerned with their own right. I defer to Mills on this issue,

“Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.”

John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty,” in The Harvard Classics 25: John Stuart Mill and Thomas Carlyle, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 206–207.

Alexander Hamilton warned of the dangers of electing a person who could campaign only to win the popular vote, but lack the ability to represent all people, from every diverse state in the union, equally.

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1998).

So while the EC may have its flaws, I have yet to read any compelling argument from reason or history that supports the idea that a pure democracy would resolve those difficulties without creating a new tyranny of the majority.

An End to Slavery

Still, some argue, the EC has never in the 200+ years of American history shown itself to protect the minority from the majority. This, however, is not true. In fact, history shows that the Electoral College was a significant factor leading to the abolition of slavery. Lincoln won only 39% of the popular vote but was elected by an Electoral College landslide. Allen Guelzo and James Hulme write,

[I]t was the electoral college that made it possible to end slavery, since Abraham Lincoln earned only 39 percent of the popular vote in the election of 1860, but won a crushing victory in the electoral college. This, in large measure, was why Southern slaveholders stampeded to secession in 1860-61. They could do the numbers as well as anyone and realized that the electoral college would only produce more anti-slavery Northern presidents.

"Both Minnesota and Oregon become states during this election cycle which meant that the original 13 States controlled fewer than 50% of total Electoral Votes for first time. Lincoln received only about 39% of the popular vote in a divided nation on the brink of Civil War. The New Jersey Electors split their vote: 4 for Lincoln, 3 for Douglas; Douglas had won popular vote." —270towin.com

“Both Minnesota and Oregon become states during this election cycle which meant that the original 13 States controlled fewer than 50% of total Electoral Votes for first time.
Lincoln received only about 39% of the popular vote in a divided nation on the brink of Civil War. The New Jersey Electors split their vote: 4 for Lincoln, 3 for Douglas; Douglas had won popular vote.” —270towin.com

The EC has protected us from the Tyranny of the majority. The Confederate South, much like modern Leftists who reject Trump and Bush, saw Lincoln as “unjustly” elected because while he won the EC, he did not have the majority of votes.

“In November, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States by a sectional vote and upon strictly sectional issues. The platform of his party, upon which Mr. Lincoln stood, asserted that ‘the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom.’ It further declared that no legislative body could ‘give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States.’ This claim ignored, or rather set at defiance, the Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court, and indeed the personal liberty bills of many of the Northern States had already nullified that decision and the laws of which it was the interpretation.

The vote by which Mr. Lincoln was elected was a large minority of the popular vote—nearly one million—yet he had a considerable majority in the electoral college. In the Southern States he had no electoral ticket at all; and there, too, was food for grave thought. If, adhering to the mere forms of the Constitution, a man could be elected to the Presidency by a vote strictly sectional and upon one issue, avowedly sectional, why not upon any other, however regardless of the rights and interests of another section? Mr. Lincoln had three competitors for the office of President, and it has often been claimed that his opponents could have defeated him by combining upon a single candidate. This is a great error, and therein is the defect of the electoral system, and it was a threat to the Southern States. The Electoral College at that time consisted of 303 members, making 152 votes necessary to a choice. Mr. Lincoln received 180 votes in all, though in a minority of nearly a million in the popular vote. But in fifteen of the Northern and Western States, having 167 votes in the Electoral College, he had also clear majorities of the popular vote over the combined votes of the three opposing candidates; so in any case he would have had a majority of fifteen in the Electoral College even if there had been but one competitor. Examination of the official figures will prove the correctness of this statement.”

J. William Jones, ed., Southern Historical Society Papers, vol. 32, Southern Historical Society Papers (Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library, n.d.), 279–280.

I have seen signs and tweets from today’s protesters calling for someone to assassinate Trump and petitions calling for the Electors to honor the popular vote and reject their Constitutional mandate. This idea is not new. Some people in Lincoln’s day plotted to overturn the results of the EC to ensure a pro-slavery Democrat could take over.

“A plan was unfolded to me last night by which the election of Lincoln by the Electoral College may be prevented, and a prominent Southern Senator put in his place, If I thought the plan at all feasible, I would give it now.–Perhaps I may do so to-morrow.”

Richmond Dispatch, The Daily Dispatch: 1860, Richmond Daily Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia: Perseus Digital Library, 1860).

And here details of the plot were outlined.

“(Washington, Dec. 12, 1860) The plan hinted at in my letter of day before yesterday, is, in brief, this: So to manage when the Electoral College declares Lincoln elected, that there shall not be acquirer of the Senate as required by law. Breckinridge having resigned his seat as President of the Senate, a President protem, is put in his place, and there being no legal election of President, the Senate declare the then occupant of the Chair to be the President of the United States for the next four years. This plan, it is said, requires only five Northern Senators to carry it into effect, and the name of the man who is to be elected President by this manœuvre has been mentioned to me. He would never consent to such a trick, nor would the people either of the North or South accept it. Therefore, I merely give it as a sample of the plots and intrigues now going on here.”

Richmond Dispatch, The Daily Dispatch: 1860, Richmond Daily Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia: Perseus Digital Library, 1860).

The Confederates despised the EC because it limited their ability to control the Election of Lincoln. Here, just like the protesters and rioters on the streets today, they dreamt of overthrowing the EC because it did not meet with their personal preference.

“(Washington Jan. 31, 1861) A lovely morning, and glorious news. Lincoln resolutely, inflexibly holds on to the Chicago platform.Not a jot, not a tittle of it will he abate, though all creation go to wrack. –This we have by telegraph, and I hope sincerely the news went South last night. Virginia has no excuse for remaining in bondage to the Abolitionists. Her submission must be flat, abject, complete. Nor can she hope to obtain any pretext for submission from the Peace Congress which meets here next Monday. The Republicans will have plenty of Commissioners of their own stamp on hand.–to block that game. The people of Virginia may as well make up their minds to back square down to the nigger equality Despot, or to join heart and soul with the South.

The private interview between a distinguished New York member and a no less distinguished Western Senator, which occurred last night, inclines me to the belief that there is something in the wind, probably in the nature ofcoup d’etat when the time for counting the vote of the Electoral College arrives. But the aforesaid Senators will hardly be a party to it.”

Richmond Dispatch, The Daily Dispatch: 1861, Richmond Daily Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia: Perseus Digital Library, 1861).

Because the majority is not always right, we need the Electoral College to preserve the rights of the minority. It may seem convenient in our modern context to reject the EC in favor of the popular vote, but remember this majority only vote will not always run in your favor. If you lived in the South, would you have accepted slavery just because the majority of people accepted it? Lincoln did not win the “popular” vote in the South, but the EC guaranteed he would become president and help end slavery.The issue at hand is the EC and is there a “better” way. Other than your opinion, you have not made any argument why a majority vote would be an improvement. I

The issue at hand is the EC and is there a “better” way. Other than political opinion, I have not read any transcendent argument why a majority vote would be an improvement. I am loath to embrace such a significant change without a strong argument rooted in both reason and history. Until that time comes, it seems the Electoral College is still the best possible system in a flawed and broken world.

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana

Elections, Fear, and the Loss of Empathy

Elections, Fear, and the Loss of Empathy

If I could sum up the response to the 2016 Presidential election, it would be fear. The rhetoric from the candidates, their surrogates, and the media has fostered a culture of fear that has led to terrible violence. Some voted out of fear for what a President Clinton would do to destroy their life. Some voted out of fear for what a President Trump would do to destroy their life. Too many of us voted out of fear.

In an effort ameliorate fear and elevate empathy, I offer the following posts from two very different people; each one giving their unique perspective on the elections. My goal is not 100% agreement. My goal is to foster meaningful dialogue. The only way we can overcome the irrationality of fear is to look each person with whom we disagree as humans beings. Human beings made in the image of God. Human beings who have fears. Human beings trying to make the best of a bad situation. Their choices may not be your choices, but that does not make them evil or racist or stupid… it just makes them human. If our starting point begins with respect for the dignity of each individual, maybe, just maybe, we can turn fear into something positive.

The Morning After...

By: Stan

I made an effort to speak to all of my closest friends yesterday via telephone, email, or facebook chat. I woke up, unhappy with the election results, but with a huge grin on my face. Unhappy that because of this election there are significant losses to come in climate change, science, and social progress, but excited to find out “why?” America has spoken, and we must pay attention. We must find out why the country feels the way it does. Burdened with a bit of a hangover from attending the election “party” at Brooklyn Bowl last night, I jumped out of bed at 7am and couldn’t wait to spend the next two hours at my favorite local coffee shop. I couldn’t wait to talk to the owners, baristas, two random, teary-eyed customers and anyone else I had the opportunity to listen to.

My opinion tonight was that most liberals came off as sore losers, licking their wounds in disbelief. I’m totally fine with that, my goal was to hear what they thought, not judge it. After all, this is all part of being an American, and a New Yorker. I have to say I am quite displeased with what I heard during this incredibly flawed experiment. I kept hearing things like “Sexist” “Misogynist” “Racist” “I’m moving to Canada.” These explanations, although common, are not what I see as the primary motivators of why America overwhelming gave control of the Presidency, House, and Senate to Republicans. I will try to address each of the common “excuses” below, and finally offer what I believe are the most likely explanation for the human behaviors, of not just the American election, but all elections in modern western democracies that have taken place this year.

Almost all the females I spoke with stated Hillary lost because of her gender. I heard “women can’t get ahead” talk of non-Louvre “glass ceilings.” Other females, friends and strangers alike went off on tangents such as “women can’t get jobs” “the wage gap” and “women who negotiate are treated unfairly.” Really? Again, the question is: why did America vote overwhelmingly Republican? More specifically America voted for a man who has NO EXPERIENCE in politics, spent almost NO MONEY on his campaign, and very little effort on “strategy.” Yet many women are suggesting, the explanation for this is a conspiracy against women?

Yet many women are suggesting, the explanation for this is a conspiracy against women?

  • A country where Hillary won the popular vote, is entirely made of misogynists?
    A country where the CEO’s of Hewlett Packard, Pepsi Cola, and Yahoo are all female?

This country hates women?

  • The first female campaign strategist to win a Presidential election ever was in charge of Team Trump.
    231 women ran for office in this year’s election, 89 got elected. That is the most ever.

Yet America hates women?

Certainly there is work to be done for women in the U.S., but compared to what? America in 2016 isn’t perfect, but there is no perfect system. Europe and Scandinavia are more progressive than us on social fronts, but they have small homogenous populations that all share very similar backgrounds and world views. America is 320 million unique individuals held together by nothing more than a story of Paul Revere’s ride, The Constitution, and that old guy with wooden teeth who had a hellish winter camping trip in Pennsylvania. It’s important for us to be critical of the U.S. and to strive for the progressive societies of Germany, and Sweden, but we cannot attribute the rebuke of the Democratic party, and Hillary’s loss to America being made up of sexists.

The next major response I have heard, read, and witnessed is the new game of “blame white people for everything.” Every time we don’t get the result we want “It’s racist.” Again unless you have clear evidence of that. That is not likely the motivation. I saw friends and acquaintances post “f*ck white people” “white people can die” on Twitter. Really? That is how you explain this election? The country that overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama twice is entirely made up of “racists?” We appointed the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, the first Latina senator, the Black Female Senator, and the first ever openly LGBT governor this year. Yet America’s more racist than ever? The constant attack on “white people” and “white males” is regressive, and hypocritical. It’s committing the act we liberals claim to hate most- judging large swaths of people based on things they cannot help- their heritage and sex. They also happen to be the largest group of individuals in the country, so it’s easy enough to bash 70% of the population, make excuses, and say they only reason they have anything is because it was given to them. This is false, incredibly divisive, and morally unacceptable. “Racism” and “F*ck white people” are not an explanation for the 2016 election results. They aren’t an explanation for anything, they’re just lazy excuses. Perhaps the explosion of social justice warriors, safe spaces, anti-white, and anti-male rhetoric is part of the reason the entire country that wasn’t on a coast or part of a large city voted for Trump.

You cannot explain the choices of this many Americans as “racist” “whites” “white men.” So although you’ll get points from other commiserating liberals, you get none from any self-respecting rational adult. Clinton lost because less people voted for her in crucial states. In Detroit, 80,000 registered democrats did not vote for her, she lost Michigan by a total of 12,000 votes. Compared to Obama, fewer women, fewer Hispanics, fewer Blacks, and fewer 18-29 yr old voters turned out for Hillary. Hundreds of thousands of would-be Democrat voters cast ballots for third-party candidates or wrote in other candidates names. It is not that angry straight white males showed up in droves- total voter turn-out was lower than 2012, and 2008- it is that Democratic voters did not show up for Hillary Clinton.The constant attack on “white people” and “white males” is regressive, and hypocritical. It’s committing the act we liberals claim to hate most- judging large swaths of people based on things they cannot help- their heritage and sex. They also happen to be the largest group of individuals in the country, so it’s easy enough to bash 70% of the population, make excuses, and say they only reason they have anything is because it was given to them. This is false, incredibly divisive, and morally unacceptable.

“Sexist” “Racist” “Misogynist” These terms just can’t be used to explain ALL human behavior. A pretty effective strategy I am guided by this principle, ”If one is not certain that malice was the motivation, what are the other more straightforward, and therefore more likely reasons for these results?”

Today, the day after the election, we live in same exact America that gave you marriage equality, the patient protection act, the affordable care act, progress on science, climate change, carbon emissions, Iraq, Afghanistan, Justice Sotomayor, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Bernie was a self-proclaimed socialist, and he came incredibly close to being the Democratic candidate. You don’t get to condemn the America that provided all these liberal successes, and progresses over the past eight years as being made up entirely of misogynist racist, sexist Nazi war criminals.

You are hypocritical for harshly critiquing the very system that gave you eight years of what you wanted the very instant it provides what you deem to be unsatisfactory results. Think of the conservatives last week who said “the system is rigged” when they assumed they would lose. Yet those same conspiracy theorists got everything they wanted through the simple act of voting. Is the system still rigged? Today we complain about the electoral college, campaign finance, and the “money in politics.” The same electoral college gave you eight years of Obama, and “Citizens United” has benefitted Obama and Hillary more than any other candidates in history. One’s political party losing can’t be explained by “the system is rigged” any more than President Trump can be explained away by “racism.”

So what is the underlying reason? Our election followed the emotional trend of all modern western democracies this year. Merkel’s party lost by a landslide in Germany. The U.K. voted for Brexit. Does that mean that those entire countries are made of sexist, racist misogynist a**hole boogiemen too? Or is there another way to explain these behaviors?

Why does this trend in voting exist? People are afraid. They feel uncertain about their jobs. About their basic needs to provide for their families. They feel terrified of Islamist Extremism and the Arab worldview. None of that is sexist, racist, or “Islamophobic.” It’s just human. We are by nature emotional, and tribal creatures. It’s in our DNA, and millions of years of evolution ensure it is not going away anytime soon. Before you jump to conclusions, emotions are not always bad. They are incredibly effective at protecting us from harm. They do this in a much faster way than our higher order cortical functions. Always sad, upset, and anxious about your relationship? Your limbic system is creating pain to show you, that this experience is not beneficial for you. You get a knot in your stomach every time you have to interact with a particular teacher or coach? Maybe that isn’t the best mentor for you. Emotions are an intelligent way for humans to survive.

Hillary Clinton did not lose because of sexism, racism, misogyny or any other ridiculous whiny excuse. She lost because she was a candidate with a tragic flaw- she’s unable to galvanize large groups of people emotionally.

For those of you who don’t know, I started my career as a research scientist developing drugs for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, but now I spend my time crafting marketing campaigns for luxury brands in New York City. I have spent time on the brand teams of Krug Champagne, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, BMW, and Bushmills as well as many others. Believe it or not, what I love about this job, and where it overlaps with my neuroscience background is the understanding of people, their behaviors, and motivations. Following is the most simple explanation I have for the U.S. election results in the form of an email from me to my Brand Director and C.M.O. this morning.
_________________
The U.S. Election and Marketing…

Hey All,

It’s important for us to remember, the candidate with the largest financial support ever in the history of politics, an incredibly well thought out strategy- Hillary spent her entire life preparing to run for President- failed b/c she was unable to galvanize humans emotionally.

The candidate with zero political experience, who spent less money than any major candidate before him, and who only had one policy- “make voters emotional” – wins the Presidency, House, and Senate handily.

Humans are emotional, tribal creatures. Any marketing strategy that does not resonate on these levels is a waste of time and money 😀

What are your thoughts on the election?

Moving forward from here...

By: Liz

I am a 4th generation American born, but I was still a Chinese child in an all white town less than an hour away from San Francisco during the Vietnam war. I grew up being called, a Chink, a Jap, a Commie, a yellow skinned Chinaman who eats dogs, and various other things. This is all by 1st grade. I’ve visited some small MidWest towns during college where people had never seen an Asian and would point and gawk or approach me and touch me (without asking) because they were so curious or shocked to see a “yellow” person. I went to graduate school in the 1990’s in Houston where I had college educated classmates who would cross to the other side of the road if they saw a Black person. I had classmates who openly used the N word. I had classmates who thought interracial relationships were biologically wrong. Just last night I had a white male older colleague make a dumb ass comment to me about having a “Sugar Daddy”. Yes, sexism is alive too. Thankfully I’ve never had anyone shout or throw something at me.

These stories of post-election racism are so sad and unfortunate and awful. And it’s sad that there is a segment of society that feels this kind of belief and behavior is acceptable. I hope I can convey this properly and my thoughts aren’t misconstrued, but, respectfully, I have to kind of disagree with the conclusion that “If you voted for Trump, you encouraged this.” I think it’s really sad that a parent is teaching her child to be racist. I think social media is partly to blame for the uncensored behavior and fueling the awful beliefs of a lot of people despite Trump. Facebook and Twitter and all have made it easy for anyone to say and do so many things without thought or repercussions. I don’t think most people think it’s okay to punch another person, but young people see it so often in the media or social media that their young minds normalize it. Sadly, yes, the fixation on his awful racist unfiltered behavior has made a lot of people feel it’s okay to behave this way too. But, sadly, some people behave this way anyway. But I know a lot of non-racist people who voted for him, and they weren’t voting to encourage racism. I don’t think the majority who voted for him believe it’s okay to be racist. Many of them were voting against corruption, against the ridiculous rising costs of healthcare, or are really mad that their manufacturing/tech job went overseas.But I know a lot of non-racist people who voted for him, and they weren’t voting to encourage racism. I don’t think the majority who voted for him believe it’s okay to be racist. Many of them were voting against corruption, against the ridiculous rising costs of healthcare, or are really mad that their manufacturing/tech job went overseas.

But I know a lot of non-racist people who voted for him, and they weren’t voting to encourage racism. I don’t think the majority who voted for him believe it’s okay to be racist. Many of them were voting against corruption, against the ridiculous rising costs of healthcare, or are really mad that their manufacturing/tech job went overseas. My high school and college Ethnic studies have educated me the history of new ethnic groups into America and the blame and racism by the general population that goes along with it (my Irish Catholic high school history teacher wisely used the immigration of Irish Catholics as an example so as to not offend anyone). A lot of blame is directed towards minority/Asian/Latino groups at the loss of the majority/white jobs.

My high school and college Ethnic studies have educated me the history of new ethnic groups into America and the blame and racism by the general population that goes along with it (my Irish Catholic high school history teacher wisely used the immigration of Irish Catholics as an example so as to not offend anyone). A lot of blame is directed towards minority/Asian/Latino groups at the loss of the majority/white jobs. But it’s the large employers who offer lower pay so that either they fire the majority to hire

But it’s the large employers who offer lower pay so that either they fire the majority to hire cheaper minority or overseas labor or the majority “American” won’t take that job as the pay is beneath them. No, this isn’t all of racism, but it’s part of it.Lisa, considering you and Jeff are from the MidWest, I’m sure you know many who voted for him and I’m sure you don’t think they are all racist. A lot of people are tired of the establishment. I don’t think anyone who voted for Mrs. Clinton voted for corruption or big money. And a lot of people really loved Mr. Clinton but I’m sure a lot of people look the other way at his own personal behavior. A lot of people are tired of the establishment. I don’t think anyone who voted for Mrs. Clinton voted for corruption or big money. And a lot of people really loved Mr. Clinton but I’m sure a lot of people look the other way at his own personal behavior.Yes, I was stunned and I cried my eyes out at the election results. I fear for myself and my children and our country. My healthcare costs are supposed to go down, but under his stated policies and the GOP legislative

Yes, I was stunned and I cried my eyes out at the election results. I fear for myself and my children and our country. My healthcare costs are supposed to go down, but under his stated policies and the GOP legislative majority my taxes will go up. I see corporate America trying to take my small business away from me. My friend is the manager and lead recruiter for a large corporation coming into CA that will threaten my profession and my small business (and he’s still my friend).For myself, now that the shock has worn off, I choose to pray and have hope. I tacitly accept the process. I pray that we all will have hope and will work together to try to change our Society to be

For myself, now that the shock has worn off, I choose to pray and have hope. I tacitly accept the process. I pray that we all will have hope and will work together to try to change our Society to be a better place.

Ok. I’m done with my ramblings. Thanks for listening.

 

Pin It on Pinterest