Gleeful Liberal Pundits Arrogantly Bash China’s Covid “Dystopia:” 10 Reasons to Mistrust Them

The war in Ukraine is far from over. Yet already even the so-called “alternative media” are softening us up for the next conflict – this time with China.

That’s the conclusion easily drawn after witnessing a recent Sinophobic segment of “Breaking Points” with Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti (see above). Together they gleefully tag-teamed on China’s Covid-19 “dystopia.” (“Dystopia,” you recall is an “imagined world or society in which people lead wretched, dehumanized, fearful lives.”)

According to Enjeti and Ball, that’s China for you. Under its “authoritarian” regime, the people there lead wretched, dehumanized, fearful lives. A familiar story this side of the pond.

But are such charges valid? To find out, consider first the accusations themselves, secondly the hubris behind them, and finally a real-life example suggesting caution about indictments of cultures and policies few in the west can understand.

Accusations Vs. China

According to Enjeti and Ball, the People’s Republic lockdown strategy, though admittedly spectacularly successful in combatting the first two waves of Covid, is failing miserably with the Omicron version.

“Whew, thank God,” they seemed to gloat. “That was a close one. Imagine, if we’d have to admit that China’s universal healthcare system and prioritization of citizens’ lives and community health over business profits and getting people back to work has something to teach us.” Close one indeed.

Ball specifically expressed her happy relief by observing that she and others like her initially experienced a kind of “China envy” regarding the way the country so efficiently and effectively dealt with Covid since the pandemic’s dawn in 2020.  She then admired the way lockdowns, testing, contact tracing, provision of personal protective equipment, vaccinations, and expansions of hospital facilities kept Chinese fatalities minimal compared with the nearly one million pandemic deaths in the United States where such policies took months to develop. All of that seemed to explain why even though China has four times the U.S. population, over the first two years of the pandemic, it experienced only a fraction of America’s Covid fatalities.

Thankfully, however, in the welcome light of China’s struggles with Omicron, the truth has come to light. According to a chuckling Enjeti, China’s “dystopian nightmarish lockdown” reveals the sad truth. “This is what full communist collectivism really looks like,” he said.

Say what? “Full communist collectivism?” China?

In other contexts, commentators like our intrepid pair explain China’s economic and social successes as “not really socialism.” Instead, China’s capitalist nature is what accounts for its success.

Now however it’s “full communist collectivism” that explains everything.

Such self-contradictory and infantile analysis enabled Ball to chime in that though there’s “a long way” before we in the U.S. have a real true democracy, “at least the say of the people (she rolled her eyes appropriately at this point) “means something. And I will take that and all of the strife and messiness that it entails on a daily basis over drones circling overhead chastising your soul for wanting freedom.”

Ball’s reference was to Shanghai residents’ being admonished by drone loudspeakers to (according to somebody’s translation) “Please comply with Covid restrictions. Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing.”

Oh, the horror! What could be more authoritarian than asking people to control their soul’s desire for freedom and ask them not to sing?  What evil masters the poor Chinese have!

And imagine this: government food deliveries (to Shanghai’s 27 million people!) have been disrupted. Black markets for scarce commodities have resulted. The elderly are especially threatened.

According to a smirking Enjeti, the other end of the mortality table is threatened as well. Officials in Shanghai, he reports, are defending the policy of separating babies and young children from their parents if they test positive for Covid-19. “So, they’re literally taking children, he lamented, who are testing positive for Covid and administering treatment to them in public health centers.

And besides that, “there are people kneeling (sic) in the street and as people pass by, they check their ID passes and swabbing them constantly. This is the full stuff of nightmares of authoritarian lockdown.”

According to the “Breaking Point” hosts, all such horrors are due to Shanghai’s “total zero policy” regarding Covid.

Luckily, Enjeti claimed, we know all about this, while the Chinese people do not. According to young Sagaar, “We probably have a better idea of what’s happening in Shanghai than people in Beijing and in the rest of the country, just because of the Chinese government’s ability in order to crack down. In the Chinese equivalent of Times Square there were signs saying, ‘Don’t believe everything you see on social media and do not share viral videos’.”

Yes, it’s gotten that bad. Shanghai’s government is actually telling its people not to trust what they see on social media. Dangerous advice indeed.

Unhinged Hubris

Please excuse the sarcasm that leaked into my account that I had planned to be simply descriptive. However, the ironies and arrogance of the “Breaking Points” segment was so stunningly slanted and obviously anti-Chinese that I just couldn’t help myself.

I mean, think about the pomposity of young pundits living in a country that has experienced many more per capita Covid deaths than China criticizing a 6000-year-old culture that apparently places the common good above individual “freedom.”  Consider 10 such overreaches by Enjeti and Ball:  

  1. To begin with, they adopt a moral position that amounts to the pot calling the kettle black or people in glass houses throwing stones. To repeat, Americans whose government failed miserably to protect their citizens from a viral pandemic, have no moral right to criticize a government like China’s which did.
  2. That U.S. failure is never seen by commentators like our 2 exemplars as indicating the systemic failure of capitalism. Yet, China’s successes with the first two waves of Covid along with its vigorous efforts to combat Omicron somehow indicate the failure of Enjeti’s “full communist collectivism.”
  3. Enjeti and Ball also naively take at face value a 4 second video (showing buildings somewhere at night with sounds of people wailing in the background). They present the footage as unquestionably demonstrating the plight of Shanghai’s suffering millions. Instead, in the light of recent revelations about CIA and Pentagon deceptions, such easily faked video should have evoked strong journalistic skepticism.
  4. Similarly, Enjeti imagines Shanghai residents’ understandings of complex concepts such as “soul” and “freedom,” and “sing” (and of “government” for that matter) are accurate, non-ideological, non-propagandistic CIA translations of the Chinese terms involved.
  5. He further imagines that such terms have the same meanings for Chinese as they do for Americans.
  6. Moreover, Enjeti actually claims that he, a 20 something American, and the rest of us have a better understanding of what’s happening in Shanghai than the Chinese do. Such hubris needs no commentary.
  7. “Breaking Points” also gives the impression that children separated from parents “to be taken for treatment in a health center” represent permanent involuntary separation of child and parent (like that practiced by the U.S. at the Mexican border) instead of simply taking children (with their parents’ permission?) for treatment.
  8. Perhaps worst of all, “Breaking Points” never explains or even speculates why the Chinese government has adopted its lockdown, zero tolerance policy. The program simply leaves the impression that zero tolerance is a question of the mean communists exercising arbitrary power for the sake of doing so. Could it be however that Beijing actually cares about the health of the Chinese people and prefers saving lives to a return to normal that will increase corporate profits while causing preventable losses of life?  
  9. Finally, the “Breaking Points” hosts assume that the term “authoritarian” is univocal in meaning. China is “authoritarian;” the U.S. is not. “Communism” is authoritarian; capitalism is not. Such misunderstandings fail to reflect the undeniable fact that ALL extant systems of political economy are authoritarian, be they capitalist or socialist. Certainly, it’s undeniable that by definition America’s capitalist “empire” (a term enthusiastically embraced by its politicians) can never claim to be democratic or a respecter of human rights. It’s essentially authoritarian. That is, by nature, empire is imposed upon (not chosen by) its subjects. The same goes for capitalism itself. Yes, it has its Tweedle Dum vs. Tweedle Dee elections. But under capitalism, most of our time is spent working for wages under completely authoritarian bosses who give us no say over how we spend our time and who can fire us at whim.
  10. With all systems sharing authoritarianism, the question is which kind do we prefer – one that takes care of ordinary people or the type that prioritizes the needs of the rich. It’s clear from the examples like “our” allies Brazil, the Philippines, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, etc.., which type of authoritarians the United States prefers. Policies towards China (which has virtually eliminated poverty among its people and enjoys their 85% approval) as well as towards Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, do the same thing.

Conclusion

I have a Chinese friend who takes part in a prayer circle my wife and I participate in.

Recently, at one of our sessions with our Chinese friend absent, members of our circle were lamenting the plight of Shanghai’s residents as reported by news outlets like “Breaking Points.” “It just all seems so inhumane,” most prayer circle members lamented.

The next night we checked it out with our this-time present Chinese sister. We knew her elderly parents lived in Shanghai. We were worried about them.

“Well, what about the horror of Shanghai?” we asked her.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” she replied. “It’s just the Chinese government overacting a bit to Covid. My folks are o.k.”

“Wow,” was the response of others in the group. “I guess you just can’t be sure whom or what to believe.”

Human Rights, Hypocrisy, and the Beijing Olympics

The entire world is once again being treated to the wondrous spectacle of human potential and achievement at the 2022 Winter Olympic games in Beijing, China.

At the same time, American viewers are being mistreated by an accompanying display of jingoism, hypocrisy, and bias in the coverage of the games by its mainstream media (MSM).

They continually remind audiences that China is an “authoritarian regime” that disrespects human rights up to and including genocidal policies against Uyghur Muslims in China’s northwest. In taking that position, the media typically omit any critical reflection on U.S. human rights shortcomings that in many cases surpass any of those the media attributes to China.

In what follows, let me briefly address that duplicity. I’ll begin by summarizing China’s approach to human rights contrasted with that of the United States. Secondly, I’ll particularize those distinctions by comparing China’s approach to its “Muslim problem” with the way the U.S. deals with its own corresponding dilemma. I’ll finish by drawing some hopefully salutary conclusions.

Human Rights

To begin with, the media’s allusions to “human rights” violations by communists implicitly assume that respect for human rights is an all or nothing matter. In their constant critique of China’s system, the MSM even imply that (in contrast to China) human rights are universally recognized and respected within the national contexts the media spokespersons represent.

Nothing however could be further from the truth.

In fact, few (if any) nations on earth (socialist, capitalist, or any aspiring to communism) respect all human rights as elaborated in the U.N. Declaration. Instead, socialist systems like China’s respect some human rights on the U.N. list, while disrespecting others. The same holds true for the United States. It too respects some human rights, while disrespecting others, even to the extent of denying their validity. (For instance, the U.S. has refused to sign off on a whole host of treaties implementing human rights protocols accepted by most other countries in the world.)

The United States’ refusal is based on the fact that its system of political economy prioritizes human rights differently from that of countries like China.

More specifically, China, like other countries trying to implement socialism, prioritizes material rights to life, food, shelter, clothing, health care, education, dignified work, childcare, and comfortable retirement. All of those are recognized as rights by the U.N. Declaration.

Respect for the right to life is reflected in China’s unprecedented achievement of virtually eliminating extreme poverty within its borders. Since 1981, China has lifted nearly 1 billion people out of such conditions. At the end of last year, President Xi announced that the final cohort of 100 million mostly rural poor had been raised above extreme poverty levels. Such achievement in such a brief time represents a unique historical achievement in the field of human rights.

Additionally, the right to health is a human right enshrined in the UN declaration of human rights. In response, China’s universal health care system leads the world in minimizing its number of deaths due to COVID-19.

At the same time, the United States (alone in the developed world) has no universal health care system. With only 25% of China’s population, the U.S. leads the world in COVID deaths. Of course the U.S. record could be painted as an extreme violation of the UN’s recognition of health care as a human right.  

That violation goes unnoticed in the United States, because with its economy based on neoliberal “free enterprise,” its list of prioritized human rights does not begin with the right to life, health, food, shelter, clothing, and dignified work. Instead, it starts with the right to private property and to have contracts respected along with freedom of speech, press, assembly, voting and religion.

That is, for the United States, the right to private property is paramount. If that right is threatened, all others (including voting and religion) will be suspended — as shown by our government’s support of authoritarian regimes throughout the world.

Capitalist theoreticians regard rights such as to food, shelter, and clothing as “aspirational” and neither genuine nor enforceable. Hence, our country has refused to sign off on the human rights protocols mentioned earlier.

By way of contrast, under socialism, the rights prioritized by U.S. capitalists are far down their list. In fact, rights such as private property and religious expression (in the light of European weaponization of religion in the service of colonialism) are often seen as inimical to the rights that socialism seeks to guarantee.

Policies towards Muslims

This brings us to the subject of human rights violations. They represent a point of convergence between China’s system and our own.  

Sadly, both systems are comparatively unrestrained in their oppressive policies supporting the human rights they prioritize. This leads both to transgress the UN Declaration’s prohibition of torture and unfair detainment as well as the right to a free trial and to democracy.

Both forms of transgression (theirs and ours) are illustrated in the way the two systems deal with shared problems around Muslim dissidents, rebels, and terrorism.

China deals with those problems especially in its northwestern Xinjiang province by confining Uyghur Muslims to what they describe asl “re-education centers.” There, according to U.S. media, Muslims are said to be interned in desperate conditions. They’re forced to take propagandistic classes about the error of their ways. They’re also allegedly mistreated in manners, by the way, that would be familiar to blacks and Hispanics interned in the U.S. prison system and in the concentration camps at our southern border.

Apart from the general fact that the U.S. imprisons a greater percentage of its population than China, and that it maintains those just-mentioned concentration camps for refugees and asylum seekers, Americans deal with their Muslim problems by imprisoning them in detention centers such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and in “black sites” throughout the world. In extraterritorial locations like those, our government has unilaterally decided that human rights (even such as habeas corpus) enshrined in the western tradition since the Magna Carta, simply do not apply.

But detention centers are not the central element of U.S. strategies for dealing with Muslim dissidents and rebels. Killing them is. Since 9/11 2001, the U.S. has bombed and droned in many Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Ethiopia. In Iraq alone, by some estimates, “America” has caused more than one million Muslim deaths. In contrast, Chinese apologists are quick to point out that the last time China bombed any foreign country was 40 years ago.

Conclusion

Thankfully, the 2021 Olympics in Beijing are providing us with a window onto China, its socio-economic system, culture, and values particularly as they impact human rights. Great effort however is required to see all that through the haze of the MSM’s anti-Chinese bias.

Those who make that effort can draw some perhaps salutary conclusions that include the following:  

  • (As if we needed reminding) the western MSM is biased and propagandistic.
  • It is particularly unbalanced in its approach to questions of human rights in China.
  • No nation observes all human rights.
  • Arguably, as a country emerging from Third World status, China’s prioritization of poverty elimination, education, housing, and health care makes more sense than adopting the preferences of the United States and Europe.
  • More China’s prioritization would be welcome even in the United States which (alone among industrialized nations) refuses to recognize universal health care as a human right. (In other words, it violates that right.)
  • China’s health care precautions are helping Americans see the life-saving effects and other benefits of a centralized and coordinated universal health care system.
  • In the process, thoughtful Americans might be moved to reconsider the meaning of the phrase “pro-life.” Discounting any connections with abortion, “pro-life” in China entails adoption of aggressive measures to eliminate poverty and to keep the number of deaths due to COVID as close to zero as possible.
  • Its achievements in doing so are remarkable to say the least. 
  • Somehow re-education of Muslim dissidents seems preferable to killing them.
  • The same might be said for the display of China’s human rights priorities. That is, the right to food, shelter, clothing, health care, and dignified retirement might be more important than those to private property and respect for contracts.

Postscript

For years I worked for a Latin American studies program in Costa Rica. It served evangelical students from the U.S. doing their term abroad in San Jose. Each semester we took them to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Cuba.

Before going to Cuba, the topic of “human rights always came up.” I’d ask the students to define the term. Eventually, they’d get to an understanding that a human right is what’s due a person simply in virtue of being human.

I’d them ask them to share what they considered the most important human right. Many said “the right to life” – and they weren’t talking about abortion.  

I’d then ask about rights to what’s necessary to sustain human life. They’d agree that the right to life implies those to food, potable water, shelter, education, and decent clothing.

Never once did my students (conservative, liberal, or libertarian) say that the most important human right was that of owning property or of having contracts honored.

Hmm.

Cuba Develops and Will Share Its Five Vaccines

Yesterday, on “Democracy Now,” Amy Goodman reported good news for the poor countries of the Global South. In the news headline portion of her show , she said, “Cuba has pledged to donate 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to low-income countries in the Global South. The move was announced at talks hosted by the Progressive International and was heralded as a possible ‘historic turning point’ in the pandemic.”

You’d think that the announcement would be welcomed and celebrated everywhere and be given at least as much press coverage as the one-day protests in Cuba reported so breathlessly last November 15th. However, no such general celebration occurred. Even on “Democracy Now,” the story went undeveloped beyond the just-quoted headline. Meanwhile, in contrast to its hysteria over Cuban protests last fall, the U.S. government itself has been totally silent about this potentially game changing development.

Nevertheless, according to international health experts, Cuba’s achievement could make vaccinations much more available for example to 1.3 billion Africans whose continent has seen only 7% of its population receive even a single vaccination dose. (And this in contrast to 70% vaccination rates in richer countries.)

According to reports even on CNBC’s online source, the five Cuban vaccines in question:

  • Are a uniquely Cuban development among the former colonies
  • Have been administered in three doses to a higher percentage (86%) of Cuba’s 11 million people than in most of the world’s richest countries
  • Are not dependent on expensive mRNA technology using instead a “subunit protein” variety – like the Novavax vaccine
  • Are cheap to produce
  • Require no special refrigeration
  • Enjoy 90% effectiveness against all strains of COVID 19
  • Will have no patent restrictions on their recipes shared with low-income countries
  • Will be made available to them virtually at cost
  • Are a tribute to Cuba’s legendarily efficient health care system

Currently, Cuba’s prestigious biotech industry is awaiting approval for its vaccine developments from the World Health Organization. That approval is expected early this year. According to Helen Yaffee of the University of Glasgow, “. . . many countries and populations in the global south see the Cuban vaccine as their best hope for getting vaccinated by 2025.”

As for cost and distribution issues, John Kirk, professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia added, “The objective of Cuba is not to make a fast buck, unlike the multinational drug corporations, but rather to keep the planet healthy.”

But in news cycles dominated by pharmaceutical corporations that refuse to waive intellectual property rights to their largely publicly funded products, such contrasting humanitarian consciousness goes mostly underpublicized and by such silence, denied.

Denial like that prevails despite the appeals for sharing vaccine recipes by the World Health Organization itself supported by civil society groups, trade unions, former world leaders, international medical charities, Nobel laureates and human rights organizations.

Part of the reparations due Cuba for 60 years of economic embargo and for silence about its achievements is to at last recognize its socialism as a force for global humanitarianism much more beneficial to the world than international capitalism.

 

Cuba: A Frank Response to the President of Berea College

A few days ago, I received a disturbing email blast from Lyle Roelofs, the president of Berea College (where I taught for 40 years). It was about recent “Events in Cuba.” The notice was upsetting because it reflected the one-sided narrative of the U.S. government and its subservient mass media.

This is not to vilify Berea’s president who is sincere and well-intentioned. It is however to demonstrate the effectiveness of U.S. anti-Cuban propaganda that would have even academicians think that “our” government has a leg to stand on in its denunciation of anti-democratic measures anywhere, of intolerance of any dissent, or of police attacks on peaceful protestors.

See for yourself. In his characteristic spirit of compassion, the president had written:

Dear Bereans

Many of you are aware of the ongoing unrest in Cuba as the country struggles with severe blackouts, a food shortage, high prices, lack of access to COVID-19 vaccinations as outbreaks increase, and an unstable economy.  Residents of the island nation have taken to the streets to protest, filming conditions to share with the world. In response, the repressive government shut down the internet.

While we all care about the people of Cuba as our fellow human beings, a number of members of our immediate community have family ties there, as well, so our concern extends particularly to them in this worrisome time.

President Biden addressed the situation on Monday urging Cuban leaders to hear the people and address their needs rather than enriching themselves or trying to repress their human rights.

At Berea College, where one of our eight Great Commitments calls for us to create a democratic society, we align ourselves with the people of Cuba and echo the President’s sentiments. In a democratic society, organizations and the government can cooperate to address the sorts of critical problems currently being faced by Cubans, but which are found to a lesser extent elsewhere as well.  For example, at Berea College our Grow Appalachia program combats food insecurity in Appalachia working to ensure community members have enough to eat and teaching them how to grow their own food.

Globally, the U.S. and Cuba are among the countries that signed the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, a list of 30 rights that every human being is entitled to. The right to free speech and health are most relevant to the current events in Cuba.  It is our hope that tensions will ease soon, the leadership there will work to provide food, access to vaccines, and make improvements to stabilize the country’s economy, and that this crisis will be an opportunity for improved relations with other countries, including our own, allowing urgently needed assistance to flow to the people of Cuba.

In solidarity with Cubans and Cuban-Americans,

Lyle Roelofs

What follows is my response in hopes that it might help Dr. Roelofs and the rest of us to be more cautious in accepting party lines about “official enemiessuch as Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, China, Russia. . .

Dear Lyle,

It was with rather eager anticipation that I opened your recently emailed note entitled “Events in Cuba.” Because of Berea’s commitment black, brown and impoverished communities, I thought your notice would express solidarity with virtually the entire world in its yearly demand that the United States lift the Cuban embargo (Cubans call it a “blockade”) especially in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, I found your comments quite incomplete and misleading. Together they gave the erroneous impression that:

  • All Cubans (“residents of the island nation”) endorse the anti-government street demonstrations
  • That Cuban leadership is ignoring the COVID-19 pandemic
  • That the same leadership is resisting improved relations with other countries including the United States
  • That Cuba should combat the island’s food insecurity by teaching people “how to grow their own food”
  • That Cuba is out-of-step with the United Nations and its “Declaration of Human Rights” by specifically depriving its people of health care
  • That President Biden has satisfactorily “addressed the situation on Monday urging Cuban leaders to hear the people and address their needs rather than enriching themselves or trying to repress their human rights.”

Such commentary appears to simply repeat the U.S. official story about Cuba without even once mentioning:

  • The U.S. economic embargo of more than 60 years
  • The blockade’s intensification under President Trump
  • That the Biden administration has kept all of the restrictions in place despite the pandemic and the president’s campaign promises
  • The resulting devastating effects of those measures
  • Cuba’s world-renowned health care system
  • Its development (unique in the former colonies) of several WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines
  • The U.S. policy of blockading sale of syringes to Cuba thereby preventing the country from administering its own COVID-19 remedies
  • Cuba’s long-standing attempts to feed its own people by extensive, government sanctioned urban gardening projects and by environmental policies that make it arguably the greenest country in the hemisphere
  • The fact that similar demonstrations are happening all over the world including U.S. allies such as Brazil, South Africa, Haiti, Lebanon, Colombia, India, Ethiopia, Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan (not to mention Black Lives Matter in the U.S. and the January 6th assault on the Capitol) — without comment on your part or emphasis in the mainstream media at large
  • The allied fact that “a number of members of our immediate community have family ties” in the countries just mentioned.

I am making these observations as a longtime friend of Cuba and (of course) Berea College. I have visited the island many times, never as a tourist, but always as an educator and researcher. In fact, the last course I taught at Berea (Summer 2014) had my wife Peggy and me leading another study tour of Cuba.

I have published many articles on Cuba including here and here about the country’s vaccine research and development. My daughter was treated for appendicitis while visiting Cuba two years ago. After spending five days in the hospital there, she was released virtually free of charge.

With Jose Gomariz (a Cubanist scholar, Jose Marti specialist, and former Berea College professor of Spanish) I once taught a Berea Short Term course at Havana’s Instituto de Historia de Cuba. The course was entitled “The African Diaspora in Cuba.” When I visited Cuba with the Greater Cincinnati Council of World Affairs, I was befriended by a family outspokenly and fearlessly critical of the Castro government. And in my many stints with the Latin American Studies Program of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, we took students to Cuba each semester to meet government officials, opposition forces, and diplomats at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. In all, I’ve been there around a dozen times.

During the Fidel Castro years, I vividly recall a U.S. Interests Section spokeswoman revealingly lamenting the fact that Cuba (as she put it) did not hold presidential elections (thereby demonstrating her misunderstanding of Cuba’s electoral system). “As everybody knows,” she admitted, “he’d win hands down.”

What I’m suggesting is that there is much more to the Cuban story than we’re led to believe by United States propaganda against that beleaguered country.

By simply rehearsing the U.S. official story, Lyle, I suggest that (uncharacteristically) you are not helping the Berea community understand Cuba, its history, and the role of the U.S. in creating misery there, or what our government could do this very day to relieve it – namely lift the embargo and allow the import of syringes into the country.

Respectfully, Mike Rivage-Seul

The Biblical Roots of Our Pandemic Response: The Chinese Alternative

Over the past week, three approaches to the widespread availability of anti-Covid-19 vaccinations have crossed my desk. One was the comical music video (above) celebrating a supposed post-vaccine normalcy including a return to restaurants, movies, gatherings with family members, friends, grandchildren and mask-less interaction with the world at large. I couldn’t help smiling and laughing at my own relieved celebration of freedom’s prospect after more than a year of quarantine restrictions.

The second approach however was more sobering. It was an essay by Ernesto Burgio published in the Wall Street Journal’s Science and Technology International Magazine. Its basic message was “Not so fast; the human race is not nearly out of the woods.”

The third slant on the expected end of our current crisis returned me to the world of comedy and entertainment – to Bill Maher of all people and his recent riff on China’s competition with the United States (see below). He called it “We’re Not ‘Losing’ to China – We Lost.” Without saying so, Maher’s thesis implied that China’s system of governance holds much more promise of dealing with Burgio’s dire warnings than does our own.

Finally, and speaking specifically as a theologian, the three pieces just referenced caused me to jump to a fourth level, a spiritual one. The leap had me concluding that nothing less than a China-inspired change in the West’s guiding spiritual mythology will save us from destruction.

Let me explain.

The 1st Anthropocene Pandemic

In his Wall Street Journal piece, Burgio pointed out that scientists have been predicting something like SARS-CoV2 pandemic for the last 20 years.  In fact, Covid is merely the most dramatic manifestation of a long-expected more general biological crisis resulting from a two-century long “War on Nature” – from what Pope Francis has called a systemic attack on humankind’s “Common Home.”

In recent memory, pandemic precursors have already surfaced as outbreaks of:

  • Ebola
  • Nipah
  • Hendra
  • Marburg
  • Flu-Orthomyxoviruses
  • Bat-Coronaviruses
  • SARS 1
  • H1N1
  • HIV AIDS

Covid-19 and those predecessors along with the pandemics to follow are the consequence of climate change, deforestation, and the creation of mega-cities that pack humans together in circumstances redolent of our related mistreatment livestock on factory farms.  The upshots of it all were prepared by related culturally induced comorbidities such as obesity and diabetes exacerbated by unhealthy diets dominated by sugars, salt, oils, and chemical preservatives.

According to Burgio and in view of such systemic causal links, it is senseless to seek salvation primarily in pharmaceutical remedies (including vaccines). What’s demanded instead is systemic reform of the post-modern lifestyle including rejection of fossil fuels, adoption of environmentally friendly diets (with drastically reduced meat consumption), and careful restoration of animal habitats and ecosystems.

The problem is, such radical lifestyle reforms are virtually impossible for capitalist cultures like the one found in the United States, the most powerful causal engine of environmental destruction. Especially here, where private enterprise is king, there is simply no central authority powerful or effective enough to institute the rapid comprehensive changes required to head off future pandemics, much less to save the planet. Indeed, half the American population cannot bring itself to even recognize that the pandemic is real, that human activity causes climate change, or that we’ve indeed transitioned into a new (Anthropocene) geological age.

And that brings me to Bill Maher’s observations suggesting that any hope that the human race might have lies with China.

The Chinese Promise

The title of Maher’s piece says it all: “We’re Not ‘Losing’ to China; We Lost.” That’s because (in Maher’s words) unlike us, when Chinese authorities see a problem, they fix it. For example, and specifically relevant to Covid-19, when the pandemic hit, they threw up a quarantine center with 4000 rooms in 10 days. They made robots to check children’s temperatures and got them back in school almost immediately. As a result, China has returned to something close to normal. It will be the world’s only major economy to register significant growth during this extraordinary year.

In fact, Maher’s rant echoes what Burgio himself pointed out in his essay when he said:

“. . . it is an indisputable fact that Asian countries, first of all China, but also South Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore have been able to stop the pandemic in the bud. It is also clear, to refute those who say that only authoritarian governments have been able to stop the pandemic by limiting civil liberties in a coercive and sometimes violent way, that Cuba, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland have done the same and have had very few deaths and minimal economic costs. All these countries have implemented precise strategies to contain the chains of infection, tracking and monitoring systems, organized quarantine areas and departments specifically dedicated to medium-severe and critical cases, implementing the gold standard in the management of pandemics: focusing on and strengthening primary health care.”

So, if it wasn’t because of the “authoritarian” character of its government, how explain China’s flexibility not only in dealing with Covid-19, but with its short-order elimination of extreme poverty, its rapid development of infrastructure, and its uniquely effective “foreign aid” as demonstrated in its Belt and Road Initiative?

Answering that question brings me to the earlier-mentioned realm of theology and spirituality. The answer is that China’s “Civilization State” (and eastern culture in general) is more effectively spiritual than anything found in western “Nation States.”

Spiritual Resources

The fact is that Chinese culture deeply influenced by Marxism recognizes more clearly than do westerners the truth of Burgio’s starting point – his approving reference to Pope Francis’ recent encyclicals (Laudato Si’, and Fratelli Tutti) with their defense of the earth as humankind’s “Common Home.”

Instead, the West’s individualism and emphasis on competition prevents it from embracing anything resembling Francis’ appeal to the common good. This has been especially so since its endorsement of Margaret Thatcher’s dictum: “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first.”

Regrettably, Thatcher’s point is supported by the fundamental Judeo-Christian myth of creation. As interpreted by Augustine, it spins the tale of our first parents’ “original sin” that corrupted all humans and all of creation as well.

If we’ve been told from birth that we’re all corrupt and that nature itself has been vitiated, why would we be surprised to see one another as enemies with whom cooperation (vs. competition) is impossible? Why would we be surprised that we harbor rapacious attitudes towards Mother Nature herself or that we easily excuse governmental depravity?

Obviously, China (along with most eastern cultures) does not believe any of that. As a result, in the name of the common good and with support from the vast majority of its people, it can turn on a dime when faced with problems like the Covid-19 pandemic. As Maher says, “When the Chinese see a problem, they fix it.”

By contrast, our culture with its crippling spirituality and adversarial conception of democracy finds itself gridlocked into a syndrome of discord and immobilizing cross-purposes.

Conclusion

As Burgio says, Covid-19 is not a mere bump in the road. Instead, it represents a “syndemic” – an entire set of health-related problems involving myriad interacting afflictions that cannot be cured by hospital-centric health systems whose ultimate response is technological and pharmaceutical.

Ultimately, the response must be spiritual and civilizational. We must face the fact that normalcy is gone. “Vaccine Day” happy talk won’t save us. Nor will attempts to defeat, stifle, control or replace China as the world’s emerging leader not only economically, but spiritually as well. Only fundamental change along the lines of China’s flexibility and efficiency inspired by notions of common good and common home can save us now.

Should Progressives Be Inspired by the DC Rioters?

Last week, Michael Moore asked an important question on OpEdNews. He wondered “Why Are We Not Uprising?” His revolutionary issue was the lack of single-payer healthcare so relentlessly highlighted by the worldwide covid-19 pandemic. Why no revolution, he asked, when so many are dying from clearly remediable causes – when the vast majority of Americans want single-payer?

Response to Moore’s article showed that he had indeed touched a revolutionary chord.

But then last Wednesday, when an actual uprising took place, everyone, it seemed, wanted to join hands across the proverbial aisle separating left and right. They jointly lamented the shocking breakdown of law and order. (The “Risings” Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti provide an example of that shared reaction.)

Think about it, everyone said: the rioters actually “desecrated” the Capitol Building’ “sacred” space! They broke some windows. They took selfies of themselves standing at the podium of the House of Representatives. They ransacked poor Nancy Pelosi’s office! They forced Mitch McConnell and Co. to run for their lives.

Washington policemen responded with a wink and a nod.

The horror of it all!

Something similar (with important differences) happened this summer, when Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrators took to the streets. Theirs’ was a largely peaceful uprising in the spirit of Martin Luther King. But then, agents provocateurs (and perhaps some demonstrators themselves) had the temerity to break into and loot Wal-Mart’s “sacred” precincts. Windows were smashed; fires were set.

That time, police responded with an iron fist. Demonstrators were beaten, tear-gassed and arrested.

Yes of course, there were those important differences between the two insurrections just cited. The DC protagonists were Trump supporters and right-wing fanatics. Their issue was election fraud. The cause of the BLM demonstrators was police brutality directed towards black and brown people.

Despite those distinctions however, don’t you see what’s happening? Michael Moore’s wish has come true! The first phase of the revolution is unfolding before our very eyes. But even its protagonists don’t recognize its portent and promise.

That’s because they’ve been hoodwinked into seeing each other as the enemy. Rather than joining forces against their common overlords, they’re punching down. The rightists think their enemy are blacks and immigrants whose numbers are rapidly changing U.S. demographics. Meanwhile, leftist demonstrators are the very ones mistakenly vilified by the rightists and their sympathizers among the police.

The empowering solution is for all of us to see the common revolutionary terrain on which we’re standing, namely:

  • Citizen anger, be it left or right is entirely justified
  • Both what happened In DC this week and in streets across the country (and world) last summer are the initial stirrings of a widespread working-class revolution.
  • Michael Moore is right. He’d agree, I think, that the real violence in question here is not breaking windows or setting fires. It’s a system that in the midst of a worldwide pandemic refuses (despite agreement between Democratic and Republican majorities) to refund our taxpayer dollars in the form of single-payer healthcare and guaranteed income for workers displaced by forces beyond our control.
  • That’s our money they’re not returning to us in this emergency!
  • Everyone can also agree with Trump supporters that our election system is entirely fraudulent. Voting machines are completely questionable; they should be replaced by paper ballots. Campaign contributions are nothing but legalized bribery. Voter suppression’s many forms (from unnecessary ID laws to the dismantling of the U.S. post office) are a sad fact of American life. Gerrymandering is hideously anti-democratic. So is the Electoral College. The list of fraudulence goes on.
  • Pelosi and McConnell do not represent us, but their donors. Following the example of our Founders (cf. Jefferson on this!), we should force them all to flee for their lives from outraged citizens and their pitchforks whether the attack comes from the right or the left.
  • The offices of our mis-representatives deserve to be ransacked.
  • Ordinary people should seize congressional podia and make their voices heard.
  • The police too are working class people misled into identifying fellow workers as the enemy while defending their own natural enemies.

I’m currently reading Barack Obama’s autobiography, The Promised Land. It’s an account of a well-meaning ambitious young black man whose rise to the pinnacle of political power gradually but inexorably transforms him into the servant of a class he initially identified as inimical to the interests of the people he wanted to help. It’s the story of an imperceptibly slow cooptation, early-onset blindness, and betrayal of ideals and common sense in favor of power, profit and prestige.

A similar cooptation threatens all of us at this pre-revolutionary moment. It will succeed if we allow our overlords to sell us a narrative that covers up the workers’ revolution that has the Pelosis and McConnells of the world frightened out of their wits. Like young Mr. Obama, we’re overlooking how the rich and powerful are blinding us to our common cause as wage-earning Americans.

Michael Moore (and the rest of us) should take note.

My Confusion & Fear of Walking on Water

Readings for 19th Sunday in ordinary time: I KINGS 19: 9A, 11-13A; PSALMS 85: 9-14; ROMANS 9: 1-5; MATTHEW 14: 22-23

In today’s Gospel, we hear Matthew’s iconic account of Yeshua walking on water – and of his invitation to Peter to follow the Master’s example.

The story is relevant to our times filled as they are with turbulence, polarization, and uncertainty. Those were the disturbing characteristics of Yeshua’s time as well – and of Matthew’s early church. In both contexts, there was turbulence everywhere. But despite it all, the early followers of Yeshua were asked to do the impossible – to walk on water themselves.

Before I get to what that might mean, here’s a reminder of how our own tempestuous times mirror those of Yeshua and Matthew.

My Own Confusion

If the truth be told, I must admit that I hardly know what to think anymore. The polarizing spirit of the day has me pretty upset. I can barely listen to the news each day.  And the mere images of the politicians I have come to despise cause my stomach to churn. I can’t stand to hear their voices – or those of their ever-harsher critics. And besides that, I see no alternatives. (How much better is Joe Biden than Donald Trump?)

However, the immediate cause of my upset and confusion is the video I posted here last week – an interview by Jason Dean of Sacha Stone, the founder of the International Tribunal for Natural Justice. It generated a lot of controversy when it appeared on OpEdNews on Thursday.

Subsequently, a whole ZOOM meeting of the site’s editors, contributors, and readers had everyone arguing about the interview’s truth claims. Is the coronavirus a pandemic or a “plandemic?” Does wearing a facemask make sense? There was wide disagreement during the call.

Those questions and emotions generated by the video were rooted in the polarizing figure of Sacha Stone himself. He’s charismatic, articulate, extremely outspoken, and given, I fear, to hyperbole. On the one hand, he is deeply spiritual and reflective of the best of the mystical traditions shared by all the world’s great faiths. His passionate concern about and energetic action against the trafficking of children for pedophilic purposes is unmistakable and genuine.  

On the other hand, he somewhat off-puttingly fills his discourse with references to evil, Satanic cults, the deep state, and to ruling class rituals devoted to drinking the blood of fear-adrenalized two and three-year-olds.  

Obviously, then Stone himself is controversial. He illustrated, I said, the difficulty of classifying people today on the basis of the traditional categories of “left” and “right,” liberal and conservative.

For instance, he is a supporter of President Trump. But he has long despised, he says, all politicians as liars and sell-outs to the rich 1% that govern our nation through the lawmakers they have long since bought and sold. Nonetheless, Stone sees Trump as one of the two modern-era U.S. presidents of true human worth. The other one? John F. Kennedy.

In all of this, Stone finds prominent support in a former CIA operative, Robert David Steele. Steele was described by one OEN ZOOM call participant who knows Steele well, has corresponded with him, and has interviewed him formally as “a brilliant guy.” In fact, as an elite insider, Steele not only backs Stone’s claims about cults and blood, he serves as Commissioner and Chief Counsel on Stone’s International Tribunal for Natural Justice. Steele says 22,000 children are disappeared each day for purposes of pedophilia and employment in those blood rituals.  

Is all of that disturbing and confusing enough for you? It’s almost more than I can bear. It has my head spinning with questions I thought resolved long ago about Trump, his portrayal in the media, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more seriously, it makes me wonder if our world is indeed controlled by sexual perverts who seem (in Stone’s words) “soulless” and as if they were aliens from another planet.

My only hope is that despite Steele’s endorsement, Stone’s claims about trafficked children are false or exaggerated. Failing that, my hope is that the truth of Stone’s accusations will all unmistakably come to light in the context of the explosive tip-of-the-iceberg saga of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Such revelation has world revolutionary potential.

Yeshua’s & Matthew’s Confusion

In the context of this Sunday homily, my thoughts about national and personal upset and about revolutionary solutions return me to the social and political circumstances of Yeshua’s own day and of the Gospel writer, Matthew some fifty years later. Both contexts were no less turbulent than our own. As a matter of fact, they were even more so.

Yeshua, of course, lived under Roman occupation. As a good Jew, he surely hated that. The four Gospels are filled with indications of his antipathy towards Rome. However, as a reformer of Judaism, the Master was even more upset about the collaboration between Rome and the Temple Establishment’s scribes and priests. In his estimation, they were even worse sell-outs than our own presidents, congresspeople, judges, media, police, and military.

I’m sure that Yeshua along with his inner circle and his poor and oppressed audiences hardly knew what to think.

The same was true for Matthew’s audience. More than fifty years after Yeshua’s death, tensions with Rome had exploded just as Yeshua had predicted they would. In the year 70, Rome had finally punished Jerusalem’s Jews for their insubordination. In fact, the genocidal Romans had attacked and brutally destroyed the Holy City of Jerusalem, killed more than a million of its inhabitants (including the entire leadership of the emergent Christian community) and razed its temple to the ground. Fifteen or 20 years later, when Matthew wrote his Gospel, his community was still reeling from that defining act of devastation.

It’s in that context that Matthew spins his iconic story of Yeshua walking on water.

The story goes that following Yeshua’s feeding of the 5000 (last week’s Gospel focus), Yeshua forces the apostles to get into their boat and row to the other side. [The text says, “Yeshua made (emphasis added) the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side.” Perhaps these experienced fishermen (as opposed to the land lubber, Yeshua) saw a storm was coming and were reluctant to set sail despite Yeshua’s urgings.] In any case, a storm does come up and the apostles fear they are all about to drown. You can imagine their cries for help.

Then they see a figure walking on the water in the midst of high threatening waves. At first, they think it’s a ghost. Then they realize that it’s Yeshua. He’s walking on the raging waters.

Peter, ever the impetuous leader of the apostles, doubts what he sees. So, he says “Prove to me that it’s you, Yeshua; let me walk on the waves just as you’re doing.” Yeshua says, “Join me then over here then.” So, Peter gets out of the boat and, like his teacher actually walks on water for a few steps.

Then, despite the evidence, he begins to doubt. And as he does so, he starts sinking below the water line. “Save me, Lord!” he cries out again. Yeshua stretches out his hand and saves Peter. Then he asks, “Where’s your faith? Why is it so weak? Why did you doubt?”

Of course, this whole story (like last week’s “Loaves and Fishes”) is one of the dramatic parables Matthew composed. If we get caught up in wondering whether we’re expected to believe that someone actually walked on water, we’ll miss the point of this powerful tale. It’s about Yeshua’s followers doing the unexpected and irrational in the midst of the seriously threatening crises life forces upon us.

You see, Matthew’s Jewish audience shared the belief du jour that the sea was inhabited by dangerous monsters – Leviathan being the most fearful. And courageously walking on water was a dramatic way of expressing what Matthew’s community believed about Jesus, viz. that he embodied the courage and power to do the completely unexpected in the midst of crisis and subdue the most threatening forces imaginable – even the most lethal they could think of, the Roman Empire.

Yeshua’s invitation to Peter communicates the truth that all of us have the power to confront monsters if we’ll just find the courage to leave safety concerns behind even in the most threatening conditions, to confront life’s monsters, and join Yeshua in the midst of its upheavals.

Problem is: we easily lose faith and courage. As a result, we’re overcome by life’s surging waves and by the monsters we imagine are lurking underneath.

Conclusion

So, what does it mean to confront today’s angry waters and invisible monsters. What are we to believe before those who tell us that everything’s fake, there is no truth, and that the world is run by leviathan beasts hiding below the waves boiling all around us? What are we to think for instance, when the police and military we were taught to trust, betray us utterly? What do we make of the fact that there are no leaders we can follow – when we fear that talking heads, pundits, and even the spiritually astute are only sowing confusion, spin, falsehood and doubt? What’s entailed in stretching out our hand towards our Great Teacher inviting us to walk on water and ignore the threatening confusion and fear engendered by our uncertain times dwarfed by those he himself and his followers endured?

Frankly, I’m not sure. As I said, I remain more confused than ever.

However, I do think that walking on water today means desperately grasping Yeshua’s hand in the sense of getting back to the basics of our Great Master’s message about the Kingdom of God. That’s the anchor for many of us. He told us that despite all appearances to the contrary – despite the engulfing waves:

  • We humans are not truly in charge. Life Itself is working things out in an evolutionary pattern that is beyond any of our thought categories (Matthew 6:25).
  • A New Era is in the process of birthing – a new heaven and a new earth is about to dawn (Matthew 3:2, 4:17; Mark 1:15).
  • In that order, empires of all kinds (including our own) are doomed (See the entire Book of Revelation).
  • The new heaven and earth are destined for everyone – not merely for the 1% (Luke 4: 14-22).
  • In fact, the present reality will be turned upside down. Those now considered “first” will be last (Matthew 20:16).
  • The dawning Kingdom will prioritize the needs of widows, orphans, immigrants, the poor and the oppressed.
  • It will be governed by a politics of love (not fear or hate).
  • There, the identity of those now despised (the poor, hungry, thirsty, houseless, naked and imprisoned) will be revealed as embodying Yeshua himself (Matthew 25: 40-45).

Embracing those truths promises to save us from being overwhelmed and drowned. No matter what the “informed” or “experts” might say, living by those convictions represents what it means to walk on water in these uncertain times.

Do the Terms “Left” & “Right” Still Have Meaning? The Case of Sacha Stone

At last week’s ZOOM meeting of OpEdNews contributors, editor-in-chief, Rob Kall, noted that some people have questioned the continued relevance of the terms “left” and “right” to designate positions on the political spectrum. Rob asked, have those categories outlived their usefulness? 

Appearing to be in accord with Rob, one ZOOM contributor recalled that even Ralph Nader seemed to agree that the terms no longer serve. According to Nader, “left” and “right” classifications even impede concerted action for meaningful political reform by polarizing debaters and blinding them to the areas of agreement that they share. 

All of that took on high relevance for me, when I came across Jason Dean’s YouTube interview of Sacha Stone.   

Stone is a Zimbabwean blogger, activist and founder of the NewEarth Project whose purpose is to “create a new way of conscious living.” His International Tribunal for Natural Justice focuses on human trafficking and child sex abuse. Stone is also a close colleague and collaborator with CIA whistleblower Robert David Steele

In Dean’s hour-long, wide-ranging interview, Stone’s dynamic, articulate and intriguingly faith-centered statements exemplified a thinker one would be hard pressed to classify. I finished wondering whether he was left, right, conservative, liberal, radical, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Trumpian, apolitical, Christian, New Age, anti-Catholic, ecumenically religious, irreligious, or simply an anti-vaxxer and anti-mask provocateur (both of which he certainly was). 

In any case, however, Stone came across as a potential ally and thought leader that someone like me (a progressive left-wing activist and spiritually based critic of the corporate establishment) could learn from and work with. And this despite Stone’s many initially questionable assertions including his description of Donald Trump as “absolutely perfect.” 

So, I suggested that at the following week’s ZOOM meeting, we might discuss the Stone interview. Rob agreed. The interview’s highlights follow. 

A Hippie or Libertarian? 

Stone began with a description of the world’s ruling class as completely degenerate. And that included the leaders of national states, financiers, and religious establishments like the Catholic Church with its corrupt popes and hierarchy. (Stone was particularly hard on the Jesuits and the Catholic practice of sealing off women in convents and sending young, innocent boys to seminaries.) All of those institutions, along with their secret intelligence agencies (especially the CIA, Mossad, mi6, etc.) represent the world’s obscenely rich who comprise no more than 10% of its population. 

Those positions seem “left,” don’t they? But there was more. 

The hell of it is, Stone continued, that the policies of such miscreants prevent humans not only from meeting their physical needs. Their unquestionable dogmas and programs, rules and regulations also make it impossible for most of us to realize our human vocation as self-determinative creators of community, beauty, meaning and art.  

And so, Big Pharma has us consuming poisons instead of respecting our bodies’ own natural healing processes. Big Ag leaves little alternative to ingesting similarly poisoned non-foods in place of our growing gardens and eating locally and only what is good for human health. Official state educational institutions indoctrinate all of us into thinking that what’s natural is harmful, while artificially produced products are preferable.  

Doesn’t all of that sound like a back-to-nature hippie and home schooler?  Or maybe Stone’s a libertarian. 

The applicability of that latter category came through in his extremely strong positions on vaccines and facemasks during the present COVID-19 pandemic, as well as on taxes and on signing official certificates: 

  • Never allow authorities to vaccinate you or your children with serums whose media of transmission are not only harmful but will enable our watchers to even more efficiently track our every move. (In fact, our keepers’ ultimate goal is to similarly mark for identification and tracking every single creature on earth – for purposes of profit and control.) 
  • Never wear a face mask, he emphasized. Don’t purchase anything from any store requiring masking. Show your outrage and make sure shop owners know why. 
  • Never sign anything without fully appreciating the meaning of your mark. It’s a sign that you approve of the transaction in question. So many of them are actually questionable at the very least.  
  • Birth certificates are an abomination – a transfer of your offspring’s future into the hands of the state. And death certificates are only intended to establish actuarial tables for rapacious insurance companies.  
  • Yes, pay sales taxes. But don’t fill out those 1040s. They are used for purposes no conscientious human being can approve.   

So, that’s it maybe. Perhaps Sacha Stone is a libertarian. After all, he admits admiring Ron Paul.  

A Trump Supporter? 

But maybe not. . . Further statements made him sound like a white evangelical Republican. Get ready: this is where Stone’s designation of DJT as “absolutely perfect” comes in. 

Echoing those evangelicals, Sacha Stone affirms that Donald Trump is God’s anointed. He’s doing God’s work, Stone says, through executive orders whose intention is to eliminate the human trafficking that is the focus of Stone’s activism and that he claims represents the very heart of the international economic system. No one knows about those executive orders, Stone said. 

Neither has anyone else in government dared to question the foundation of U.S. policy since 9/11/2001. On that very day, Trump alone recognized what happened and immediately said so on camera. He said, “That was a controlled demolition, folks. I know; I’ve built skyscrapers.” In Stone’s words, Trump was the first living soul in America to make that call.  

Moreover, Trump has done what no president had done before him – he has reached out in friendship to designated enemies like North Korea, Russia, and China. And you know what? For those heroic acts on behalf of world peace, Mr. Trump has been roundly vilified by the mainstream media, and by TV pundits from MSNBC to Fox, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal

Trump is doing God’s work, Stone insists. He’s not only signing those executive orders that are saving children’s lives. He’s also laying the groundwork for the complete collapse of the entire system by embodying and thus exposing its unreality, deception and unviability.  

And it’s working. All of our false idols: Hollywood, academia, the central banking cabal, along with every organ of government are crumbling before our eyes. That is by definition the grace of God. Good Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and other people of faith and no faith at all should be applauding Mr. Trump, rather than attacking him.

Stone’s Spiritual Grounding 

Say what? Trump is God’s anointed? But doesn’t he embody government corruption, lies and deception? Isn’t he mistreating children at our southern border? Isn’t he himself money-driven, corrupt and an inveterate liar? 

Despite his earlier statements, Stone seems to agree — in a backhanded sort of way.  

It’s here that his self-confessed “inverted logic” and deep spirituality enter the picture – all within the context of COVID-19. Here’s Stone’s line of reasoning: 

  • We are now living at the greatest moment of civilization. 
  • In this unique context, COVID-19 is actually a Godsend – but not in the sense that it was authored by the Universal Mind that presides over everything that is.  
  • Instead, the human soul is forged within that Mind’s dispensation of freedom that allows us to self-harm and then self-heal through our own action — to absolve and resurrect ourselves. 
  • In this quadrant of the omniverse, there are no rules; only karma and dharma, the laws of cause and effect – what we sow, we reap.  
  • In the midst of the pandemonium we ourselves have caused, each of us and the entire human community must forge our souls like nuggets of coal pressured into diamonds by our self-inflicted sorrow, pain and hurt which has made us both the poisoner and the poisoned. That’s what causes the Christed light suddenly to emerge. 
  • At this moment of evolution – through our manufacture of pathogens, through the machinations of the pharmaceutical and agrochemical food system, we are experiencing an “orchestra of evil.” But we must remember that it is our orchestra; and we are the conductors. 
  • Collectively and at the civilization level, we have reached a fulmination point – where it’s time to absolve all the poisoning at every level.  
  • A small group of people consciously and intentionally standing in that flame can lift the entire human race. The spark we stubbornly hang on to will eviscerate the now-prevailing darkness. It is only a holographic projection that of itself has no soul – no Christed light. 
  • The bottom line is that we all must practice right action and pure truth in our own lives. 
  • We must live in the NOW, because that is all we have. It is always perfect – the point of perfection, absolution and forgiveness, transcendence, and transmutation. “It’s when you choose to forgive the trespass against you, to extend the hand of friendship, to build that bridge and be the mender of broken things in this world.”  
  • All of us must live in that space. 

It is Sacha Stone’s emphasis on the perfection of the NOW that provides the key for his judgment about Donald Trump’s own perfection. Since the NOW is all we have, and since it is always perfect calling us to absolution, forgiveness, transcendence, and transmutation, everything within that moment (including Mr. Trump) is calling us to create the world we all desire – a world of personal responsibility, beauty, art, and love.

Conclusion 

So, what is Sacha Stone? Do the categories of “left” and “right” apply to him? And even though he supports Donald Trump, is an anti-vaxxer and rages against facemasks in the midst of a pandemic, can “progressives” dialog with a person like that? 

Indeed, is Stone correct that in this extraordinary moment in our personal and collective histories, we are called to at least suspend our judgments, to recognize common ground, and join with brothers and sisters on the “right” to bring down our common deceivers and exploiters? 

Join with us next Saturday from 8:00 to 9:30 on ZOOM to discuss it all. (Write to OEN editor-in-chief, Rob Kall at rob at opednews.com and put OEN ZOOM Meeting in the subject heading and he will provide the link.)

Trumpty Dumpty’s Great Fall: His Unwitting Support of Black Lives Matter

It’s happening now. And it’s irreversible. It was promised to us in the 1960s as the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius” – a world where harmony, understanding, peace and trust would abound.

The Mayans reiterated the promise in 2012, when they predicted that the perfect alignment of the sun, the earth, and the center of the Milky Way (for the first time in 26,000 years) would inaugurate the “sixth era of the sun.” It would bring to humanity and the Earth itself a positive physical and spiritual transformation.

It’s happening now before our eyes.

And the agent of this profound change? Its polar opposite! A Trumpty Dumpty sitting on a “great and beautiful” wall symbolic of resistance to everything promised to us by Mayan wisdom.

Yet, Trumpty prepared us for the “great fall” of the entire world that his wall of separation symbolized – a white supremacist patriarchy that now lies in pieces impossible to reassemble despite the best efforts of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.   

Trumpty came, remember, specifically calling into question everything we were taught to revere. He said the news was fake; so was history, political polling, our voting system, Constitution, and even science. His very language patterns – repetitive, incoherent, and verbally challenged – called into question accepted standards of grammar and eloquence we had become accustomed to in smooth talking politicians and “respected” public figures. In Trumpty’s eyes, all of that was bunk and fake too.

And he was right.

However, the rude irony is that the accuracy of Trumpty’s demythologized iconoclasm has been underlined by the very people that the wall he’s been sitting on promised to exclude. It’s immigrants and especially the Black Lives Matter activists who are successfully joining him in questioning (but from the other side) his white supremacist understanding of the world as well as our history, laws, language, and implementation of democracy.

Think about it: before BLM, who would have thought Americans would even consider demolishing statues of Christopher Columbus and Confederate generals, let alone of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other revered “Founding Fathers?”  Impossibly, Americans are seriously rethinking the “official story” of their nation and engaging in righteous iconoclasm.

But the movement goes much deeper than that. As Robin DiAngelo has pointed out in White Fragility, the world’s ruling Caucasian minority is now coming to realize that society itself is rigged at its intellectual core – and in the favor of the white supremacists Trumpty promised to restore to greatness.

According to DiAngelo, it’s all a mirage – white culture’s beliefs in

  • The supposed superiority of some forms of knowledge over others:
    • White Eurocentric knowledge over non-White, Indigenous and non-European ways of knowing
    • Written expression over oral
    • History over memory
    • Rationalism over wisdom
  • Acceptance of the supremacy of scientific linear thinking that recognizes as true only what can be quantified, and peer reviewed by scholars
  • The assumed neutrality of the white European Enlightenment
  • The Ideology of individualism
  • Meritocracy

For DiAngelo and Black Lives Matter, such convictions and white values themselves are arbitrary. And that includes its reverence for the king’s English. So is its philosophy of “work before play,” “planning for the future,” adherence to rigid time schedules, and governance of life itself by Apple watches.

Before BLM and COVID-19, none of that was questionable for the cultural mainstream.

Now it is. American culture, if not the entire world, is questioning its basic world view and way of life.

The whole turn of events has opened for humanity what Indian scholar Arundhati Roy has called “a portal” – an opening from old discredited ways of thinking and acting to new more credible ones. A door has opened to the other world Mayan wisdom has told us is now possible.

In other words, humanity is ceasing its efforts to reassemble Mr. Trumpty’s shattered reality and to reject his wall and all it stands for. We’re telling each other that the time has come to finally walk through today’s open doorway into the promised Aquarian Age that (at least unconsciously) we’ve all been longing for.

Money for Nothin’: Why Pay Federal Taxes?

The do-nothing approach of the know-nothing Trump administration to the COVID-19 crisis has raised a fundamental question for me. Why are we paying federal taxes?

I mean, if (unlike countries even such as South Korea and China) “the greatest country in the world” can’t even make sure that its citizens have enough cotton swabs for coronavirus tests, what is it doing for us? Why am I paying taxes?

And I’m just talking cotton swabs – not to mention low-tech items like test kits themselves or plastic gloves, protective clothing for nurses and doctors, face masks for the rest of us, hospital beds, or ventilators. Cotton swabs!

Of course, the answer is that we’ve somehow bought in to Reaganism. To use his words, it somehow convinced us that “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Remember that? I do.

It was Reagan’s version of the Edmund Burke quote: “That government is best which governs least. . .” Or as Republican operative, Grover Norquist, put it, “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Whatever the phrasing, its bottom line over the last 40 years has the government doing less and less for its citizens – and we end up paying more and more.

It’s as if we had two choices: (1) pay taxes those who provide us with the services we need (like healthcare, education, affordable housing, serviceable roads and bridges) or (2) pay them to those who on principle do nothing for us. Pay for something or pay for nothing! By electing Republicans (and many Democrats too), we’ve been making the latter choice.

Is that crazy or what?

And what’s the government doing with my tax dollars – and yours? It’s like we’re paying protection money — to our representatives — to protect us from the services we’re paying for.

I thought government’s first duty was to keep us safe. Right now, though, in the face of the biggest threat to our safety in the last 75 years, our “representatives” are doing nothing – absolutely nothing to that end.

And they’re proud of it.

In fact, we’re on track to re-elect the lot of them again next November.

Go figure.