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Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Scots-Irish and Swing Voters

Salena Zito has published a column at TownHall in which she notes some learned wonk's discovery that areas of "swing voters" correspond roughly to the parts of the USA settled by the Scots-Irish.

Having a drab of "Scots-Irish" heritage on my mother's father's mother's side of the family or something like that (with Jewish and Scandinavian elsewhere, and married into the Chinese), I was rather amused to see so much attention paid to a population that supposedly melted into the great WASP middle long ago. But, after doing a bit of reading and noticing a few things during my long sojourn as a Presbyterian (still going on, basically), I've come to a few conclusions.

Before the potato famine made the name "Irish" mean "Roman Catholic Irish", the so-called Scots-Irish were simply Irish Protestants from Ulster. Indeed, the early American "Ancient Order of Hibernians" and the first St. Patrick's Day parades in New York were mostly Protestant affairs.

I'm not denying that many Protestant Irish came from Scots (with a number of English and Welsh) planted in Ulster from the days of James VI and I on, but I strongly suspect that there was a considerable native Irish element among people who would become "Scots-Irish" during the 1800's.

I visited old Presbyterian cemeteries in western Pennsylvania and saw names ending in -ehan and others that looked suspiciously native Irish rather than Scots-Irish suffixes. I've read 18th century records of presbyteries that received Irish immigrant ministers and elders whose names began with "Mc-" (admittedly, something found among Scottish Gaels, too)--and don't forget the family of Jane McCrea, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, whose murder by British-allied Mohawks turned the "Scots-Irish" (Irish Protestant?) settlers of western NY to the patriot cause. I've even read an Irish nationalist study of the history of Gaelic use that claimed that in 18th century Ulster, literacy in Irish Gaelic (as opposed to simply a spoken knowledge of the language) tended to be associated with Protestants, who were supposedly "settlers".

I propose that some of the identification of Irish Protestants as all Scots settlers and Roman Catholicism as an inseparable part of "Irish" identity may owe less to who these people actually were and who their descendants are than to the following:

1. the end of penalties against Protestant dissenters in the UK
2. Drift away from Irish separatism among Protestant Irish Presbyterians during the 19th century
3. Identification of "Irish" as poorer, less-acculturated Roman Catholic immigrants after ca. 1840 in America.
4. The search for "racial" explanations of political alignment in Europe, and the export of such ideas to the USA during the 19th century.
5. Late 19th and early 20th century exaltation of the "Anglo-Saxon" in British and American discourse.

This is neither a plea for Irish Protestants to embrace the IRA (filthy friends of Andropov and Qaddafi) nor a disparaging of historical Irish grievances against British rule, nor a call for either a cession of the Six Counties to Eire or the re-incoporation of Eire into the UK. It's just voicing a suspicion I have about how things were before that great roaring engine of 19th century social theorizing got cranked up.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

RUptured Rapture III

Due to the mysterious disappearance of Uncle Cephas, this blog is now in new hands.---not

...All kidding aside, there probably are people who might have taken my last two posts seriously.

Then again, when my brethren of the Dispensationalist persuasion get all excited about the imminent return of Christ every time a bomb goes off in the Middle East, other good friends of mine foul their breeches every time there are a few more tornadoes touching down this season. They believe we're all going to roast to death next year due to human-induced global warming, even though we're still a long way from being able to raise veggies and milk cattle even in the southernmost parts of Greenland (as the Norse settlers did a scant millennium ago). Other people whom I love believe that dungeons and thumbscrews in the basement of the US Capitol are just another bill away the minute the Jumboes displace the Jackasses as the slightly majority party in either house of Congress. Heck. When I waxed sarcastic and said that as a good Evangelical I was going to enjoyed live liberated lesbian stew instead of roast turkey for Thanksgiving, a learned colleague of mine actually believed me! Well, that's one I'll never try again.

The point of the matter is that apocalypticism is a good way to rally the troops and get them fired up for the next campaign, be it evangelistic or political. It's also a good way to get attention, or skew perceptions of the truth in a way you'd like.

Good job, Harold Camping! You had people talking about you from coast to coast! Now, why not study up on the person and work of Jesus Christ, and give them a little more prominence in your ministry?

After all,
That's what Paul
Would have said to steady
Us and get us ready
One the way
To that great day.

Ruptured Rapture II

Well, Harold Camping's predicted date for the rapture has come and gone, proving once more that the time for the end of the world is known only to God.

Yes, there is a large group of Christians who believe that one preliminary event to the Last Judgment is God's removal of Christians just prior to the Great Tribulation. I admit to be one who believes that God puts us here to face the various tribulations that hit, and overcome them, otherwise the Book of Revelation makes no sense.

Going on to explain the idea of the "rapture" to people without a grounding in Evangelical theology or lore, let me say...

Hey! My roof and ceiling are gone! I'm leaving my chair! I'm floating in the air! My bad sense of balance is throwing my heels over my head as I am floating upwards! I'm head down as I type! What the dickens is happening? Uh-oh! It's time for the Halleluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ruptured Rapture?

Atheists--otherwise known as idolators too dishonest or disingenuous to name their gods--are planning to celebrate on Saturday, when, according to a certain Mr. Camping, Jesus Christ will return and rapture his church. Fundamentalist Christian though he be, Uncle Cephas is not about to don ascension robes and wait for the trumpet to sound, but will go about his ordinary business.

For those who do not know what it is, the "raputre" is when Christ removes his church from the world at his second coming. The doctrine is derived from I Thessalonians 4:16-18:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven witha shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Many today believe that this "rapture of the saints" will be a secret affair, to remove the church from earth just before the great tribulation just prior to the end of the world. With this point of view, Uncle Cephas demurs. Paul's passage is one of the loudest in the whole Bible, with shouts and trumpets. It seems to be simply God's way of handling those saints alive on the day of resurrection.

But as for Camping's prediction that Christ will rapture his church this Saturday, Jesus himself says "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36). Hence, Uncle Cephas is fairly certain that the world will not come to its consummation this Saturday, nor, for that matter, any time during 2012.

One would think that we should have learned our lesson back in 1844 and 1845, when, ignoring Brother William Miller's predictions, Christ refrained from returning, despite the elaborate calculations and earnest searching of the Scriptures that preceeded that expectation. But somehow, every age seems to have its Campings, who are more than ready to earnestly and soberly give grist to the mills of those who sit in the seat of the scornful and counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1)

Still, let all Christians watch and pray, and continue witnessing and doing good. After all, we will still be a day closer to the Day of Judgment, no matter what. And let all seekers be aware that the blood of Christ continues to speak better things than the blood of Abel, the latter condemning the sinner; the former being the atonement for the same (Isaiah 53, Hebrews 2), and the bride of Christ (the church) still says with the Holy Spirit "come" (Rev. 22:17).

Unrealistic Obama

President Obama has come out in favor of a return to pre-1967 broders for Israel and an independent Palestinian Arab state on the West bank, as if the indefensibility of the pre-1967 borders had nothing to do with Israel's pre-emptive strike against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in the Six-Day War. Snippets heard on WTOP suggest a wide range of misconceptions, including the belief that the upsurges in the Arab world are really democratic, and that the Hamas-PLO alliance is truly willing to recognize Israel's right to exist.

Again, the onus is placed mostly on Israel, demanding a return to indefensible borders, and criticizing its "permanent occupation" of "Palestinian" lands. But the president ignores the persistent insistence by several Arab and other Muslim states that Israel be dismantled, and the cynical use of demonstrators on the border earlier this month by both Syria and the PA. The alliance between Hamas, Hizbollah, and hard-line Iran is also ignored.

The Peace Process has been dead for quite some time. The frequent rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, Hamas' persistent rejection of Israel's right to exist, and the alliance with Hizbollah to put simultaneous pressure on Israel's northern and southwestern borders suggests that Palestinian Arab noises about peace are less than sincere.

Certainly, the plight of the Palestinian "refugees"--resident in various Arab states without citizenship for four generations now--will also be raised. Again, a US administration absolutely refuses to ask the Arab states to naturalize their refugee populationsl when America itself has given passport-holding, voting rights citizenship to more Palesintian Arab refugees and their descendants than any ten Arabic-speaking states together, excluding Jordan, the PA, and Israel itself. At this point, where all other refugees of 1947-48 vintage have been absorbed into host societies, there is simply no excuse for the Palestinian refugee problem to exist.

All and sundry ignore that Israel itself has a slight majority descended from Jews from Muslim lands, especially the Arabic-speaking countries; and that ancient Jewish communities that pre-dated Arab settlement in Mesopotamia and North Africa were uprooted in the aftermath of an-Nakba. Yet these victims and their offspring are now no-questions-asked Israelis, when Palestinian Arabs--again, four generations removed from Yafo, Haifa, and the Judaean corridor--remain stateless.

Finally, our president ignores the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists in the supposed "Arab Spring". These not only struggle against the relative liberalism of the Ba'ath regime in Syria and the former Mubarak regime in Egypt, but have unleashed further assaults against minorities and women in the lands where they have or are coming to power. In Tunisia, the last functioning synagogues in that country have been attacked. In Egypt, attacks on the Christian minority, 10% of the population, have grown in number and intensity since Mubarak stepped down (admittedly, the role of Mubarak's own security organs in creating an anti-Christian climate in Egypt was also great). Tomorrow, as the Sunnite, Muslim Brotherhood-inspired revolt grows, further pressures will certainly be exerted on Syria's dwindling Christian minority, too.

The US has few stakes in an "Arab Spring" in which anti-democratic forces masquerade as the voice of democracy. Indeed, the US will probably face a multiplication of Iranian debacles rather than see the democratization of the region. We would have been better advised to have taken a wait and see approach.

China takes Uyghurs seriously

Communications from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization indicate that China has demonstrated the capacities of its Snow Leopard SWAT team in maneuvers near Kashgar earlier this month. Visitors from Central Asian states were in attendance. The scenario involved the setting up of a terrorist base near Kashgar and a bus taken hostage.

Perhaps showing this exercise to China's partners in the SCO underscores that they'd better not get any ideas about growing sympathy for another Muslim Central Asian people getting restive under a "Big Brother" who takes seriously his role as the last, best hope for 20th century totalitarianism.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Naqba day

Today, May 15, is the Palestinian Arabs' day of mourning.

All I can say is, get over it. You lost a war, now work to get yourselves naturalized as citizens of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Sa'udi Arabia, and the like. In an age in which, not too long ago, Delhi-born Pervez Musharaf of Pakistan and Lahore-borb Manmohan Singh of India sat down to try to defuse South Asian tensions, it is inexcusable that the member states of the Arab League have not naturalized four generations of Falastin "refugees" in their midst.

Indeed, as the Arab Street curses America as the Great Satan for the plight of the Falastin Arabs, and the Gaza Strip dances with glee over 09/11/01, it is time for America to remind the short-sighted, bigoted, self-righteous Arab world from Mauretania to Khuzistan than America has given passport-holding, voting rights (to say nothing about property-holding rights) citizenship to more offspring of An-Naqba than any ten Arabic-speaking states put together, excepting the PA, Jordan, and Israel itself.

At this point, my only criticism of Zionist policy is that they keep on harping on the Shoah as justification for the creation of modern Israel. That was an event which ended a lifetime ago. More relevant is the fact that a slight majority of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi, people from the Islamic world, who were uprooted from Middle Eastern and North African lands where Jews had been resident for centuries before the Arabic religion was even known outside the Arabian Peninsula. Iraq, the second home of Jewry, burial place of several prophets, the land of the Babylonian Talmud, and where in the 1940's one in five Baghdadis was Jewish, is now Judenrein. Egypt, where Jews have lived since centuries before the birth of Christ, also has lost a once thriving and cosmopolitan Jewish community. Yet the offspring of these flights and uprootings are now no-questions asked Israelis.

Were it not for the Leftist Western cultural death wish,the world would unite as one to condemn the Arab states for keeping the victims of an-Naqba, their children, grand-children, and now great-grandchildren as stateless refugees.

When the Arab world, which translates fewer books into Arabic per year than much-smaller Spain translates into Spanish, looks to its own moral failings towards the Falastin refugees, Uncle Cephas will listen to its argument with much more sympathy. But not before.

BTW, happy birthday, Israel. This comes from a Christian.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A great photo and caption.

After the ridiculous Libyan intervention on behalf of a mob of anti-American zealots fighting to bring down another anti-American zealot (who nonetheless has the saving grace of looking like he might be Harpo Marx's illegitimate son), the above-referenced photo matches my feelings to a tee.

Thanks to DiploMad for posting it first.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No Photos of Dead Bin Laden

Well, I'm proud of the Navy Seals and their work, and of the CIA and its legwork in this operation. OBL was an evil man and deserved to die, and, as I've posted elsewhere, his death made me think of some Scriptural passages on God's just judgment of the wicked.

But I sympathize with the president's decision to refrain from publicizing photos of the corpse, even if I'm probably going to vote Republican or Libertarian in 2012; and think that release of some photographs for the historical record probably would have been in order.

It is appointed to men to die once, then after that, the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Death is a very major thing, and the judgments of God upon those who love sin and hate truth is a frightening thing. Further, all of us must one day give account of ourselves before God's judgment seat. If we are Christians, we know we have an advocate in Jesus Christ, the God-man, Messiah, and Righteous One; but my guess is that OBL (barring some last-minute conversion) faced the judgment alone and in his sins--such as his lies, cowardice, and hypocrisy in living in luxury while telling young men to live in caves and sacrifice themselves in suicide missions.

I guess I'm proud of our government in that it didn't indulge in displays such as the one we saw in Somalia. That's what separates a responsible government from thugs in power.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is Dead

I recall 9/11, with people jumping to their deaths from 100 stories up, and NYC emergency workers covered in dust and grime until it was impossible to tell the color of their uniforms. I thought of the terror that must have gone through the minds of the passengers on the doomed airplanes as they went to their fiery deaths.

And I remember watching broadcasts of the eruptions of joy across the Islamic world, including "poor, martyred Falastin", where a fat lady in hijab and ugly glasses jigged for the cameras. Bin Laden crowed that "only Muslims" could be so brave and daring. But then, the bombs started falling on the great Mujahed's hideouts, and OBL and all his fans started wailing how 9/11 was really the work of the [**Drumroll!**]----JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOZ! (For the record, Uncle Cephas is a Christian). Oh, how wondrous were the brave lions of jihad as soon as things got just a little bit hot for them! Not only do they blame the people they accuse of being the kin of apes and pigs (Qur'an 5:60), but, I understand, either OBL himself or one of his guards hid behind a woman when the Navy Seals burst in.

And now, the forces of Jihad are going to take vengeance! Ten-year-old Coptic girls in Egypt will be raped. Dirt-poor Christian farmers in Pakistan will be forced off their smallholdings or tenancies by the mujaheddin of the people's justice. Maybe a 150% PeeCee EmCee female aid worker or journalist in some impoverished Islamic land will also be gang-raped for being a Westerner. All this, plus the murder of a few Christian shopkeepers, the stoning of Tunisia's last synagogues, and the like will surely vindicate the honor of Islam against the "crusaders".

But, thanks, OBL. Your disciples' actions forced me and many other Americans to consider the teachings of your violent, supremacist, misogynistic, bullying, so-called religion that sanctifies every unclean lust of young males, from theft (if it's from the Kufr) to rape in detailed passages on Qur'an, Hadith, and their classical commentaries. Now I raise my middle finger to all the Western moral equivalence mongers who, without having cracked the Bible in years, whine that "the Bible is also violent!" No, you folks know all too well that Christianity gave you much of what you value from art to constitutional government, even as you mock us Christians and cringe lest you haply insult a Muslim.

To Noam Chomsky and all his Troofer crowd, to the learned doctors of Al-Azhar who are now saying that OBL's burial at sea was a sin while ignoring his mass murder, EAT CROW!

And, congratulations to our Navy Seals, intelligence workers, troops everywhere, and even to Mr. Obama, our CINC.

Finally, a Scripture for OBL and his fallen comrades:

...For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh (Isaiah 66:24, echoed by Jesus Christ in Mark 9:48.)