Democracy has been proven to be a flawed concept bringing to power parties such as the Nazis who have systematically annihilated peoples across Europe. Today we see the revival of the racist spirit as a precursor of what is to come.
Welcome to The Bible in the News, this is Jonathan Bowen joining you.
The Flawed Notion of Democracy
Democracy, we are led to believe is a sacred trust: government for the people by the people. Yet when we look at result of democracy we can see a fundamental flaw. The whole premise is based on the notion that “man is basically good”, and therefore, when enough people make a decision together, the inherent righteousness of the many will overcome the evil of the few bad apples in the barrel.
We were able to put this theory to the test this past weekend. We had the opportunity to visit the United States Holocaust Museum the day before Yom Kippur. It was a moving experience designed to awaken or reawaken awareness about racism and the systematic annihilation of the Jews, along with other ethnic and political groups in Europe. The world is perplexed by fascist movements like Nazism or terrorist regimes like Hamas. Yet both of these were voted in democratically.
How could democracy fail so miserably in these two circumstances. The bible gives us insight into the real nature of mankind and informs us:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
The words of Jesus Christ also echo these sentiments:
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7:21-23)
When we think of the brutality of the Assyrians, Babylonians and Romans we see that mankind is capable of unthinkable cruelty, and rightly did God condemn our nature to death.
Propaganda of Nazi Germany
During our visit the Holocaust museum one of the things that caught our eye was the propaganda that was used to dehumanize the intended victims. If people did not look on the Jews, Gypsies or other targeted groups as humans, but saw them rather subhuman animals the systematic deportation and annihilation would be easier.
The Nazis used the Jews as a convenient scapegoat to blame all the evils of society on including the war. This 1943 anti-Jewish poster reads “He is guilty for the war”.
The Jews were blamed for everything. They were depicted as insects and the cause of disease. Another poster reads “Jews are lice, they cause typhus”.
One area of the holocaust memorial is dedicated to the Gypsies called “Roma” in Europe. Roma are nomadic people scattered all over the world, principally in Europe, and they trace their origins to northern India.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Roma groups left India in repeated migrations hundreds of years ago. They were in Persia by the 11th century, and believed to have reached southeastern Europe by the beginning of the 14th century.
Campaigns against the Jews and the Roma exploited the racial prejudice and popular stereotypes to justify their arrest and internment. A Roma wagon is preserved and on display at the Museum.
The United State Holocaust Museum records:
Drawing support from many non-Nazi Germans who harbored social prejudice towards Roma, the Nazis judged Roma to be "racially inferior." The fate of Roma in some ways paralleled that of the Jews. Under the Nazi regime, German authorities subjected Roma to arbitrary internment, forced labor, and mass murder. German authorities murdered tens of thousands of Roma in the German-occupied territories of the Soviet Union and Serbia and thousands more in the killing centers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. The SS and police incarcerated Roma in the Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, and Ravensbrück concentration camps. Both in the so-called Greater German Reich and in the so-called Generalgouvernement, German civilian authorities managed several forced-labor camps in which they incarcerated Roma.
Speaking of the treatment of the Gypsies during the holocaust, Miriam Novitch of the Ghetto Fighters’ House in Israel stated,
“the motives invoked to justify the death of the Gypsies were the same as those ordering the murder of the Jews, and the methods employed for the one were identical with those employed for the other.”
A Nazi propaganda poster of the day read “Vagabonds: New Ways of Combating the Gypsy Plague.” It was this poster that jarred our minds to attention, especially in light of what is going on in the news.
Reawakening Racism in France
Just this last week, Reuters reported,
French President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a campaign against camps of illegal immigrants in the country. France pays for plane tickets to an individual's country of origin and offers those who leave the country voluntarily cash payments of about $420 per adult and $130 per child.
However, an internal Interior Ministry document that came to light last week showed that gypsies were being targeted. It said 300 illegal camps have to be cleared within three months, "the priority, those of the Roma."
According to Radio Free Europe, as many as 8,300 Romanian and Bulgarian Roma have been deported from France so far this year. A total of 7,875 had been expelled in 2009.
Italy’s Fascist Face
France is not alone. Italy, where close to 150,000 Roma people live, had earlier planned the shutting down of unauthorized camps and deportation of illegal residents. Italy's plan to fingerprint Roma living in camps had invited strong condemnation by the European Parliament. The Independent reported on September 17th:
Italy's conservative premier Silvio Berlusconi has given his full support to France's controversial decision to forcibly repatriate thousands of Roma people to Eastern Europe.
"On the question of the repatriation of the Roma, I support Nicolas Sarkozy," he said. He rebuked EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, saying she should have "confronted the French government privately" instead of making public comments comparing France's expulsion of Roma with the Nazis' deportation of Jews.
Mr Berlusconi's comments raised the prospect of an unofficial anti-immigration pact between the centre-right leaders of two of the EU biggest members, even if the German government appeared wary of the Franco-Italian stance.
Italy has dismantled and burned Roma camps throughout the country just like France. However, what is really disturbing is the nonchalance of the Italian public brought to light when two Roma girls ages 11 and 12 were drowned at a popular beach. The MailOnline reported one eyewitness account:
'There bodies were left on the beach for an hour before being collected, just covered by a beach towel while people just got back to sunbathing and playing football.
'It was very surreal there was this picture of a typical Italian beach with families enjoying the sun and then just metres away were the bodies of these two children. People were completely indifferent about what had happened.'
How much has changed since the Second World War?
Many have begun to liken the mass deportations of the Roma or Gypsies to that of the holocaust. This issue is definitely being used to score political points by rival political factions in Europe.
A caution in comparison came from Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. As a former refugee, Mr Wiesel expressed his solidarity with the Roma and called on French president Nicolas Sarkozy to stop the crackdown. But he also said:
"It is necessary to be careful with the language…. These Roma are sent to Romania, to Hungary, not to Auschwitz.
However, we must remember the holocaust didn’t start with mass killing, but the dehumanization, deportation and internment of “subgroups”.
What is concerning is the reawakening of racism across Europe.
The Bible’s Picture of Latter Day Europe
Europe may pride itself on being a humanitarian powerhouse, but the face of the real Europe is coming back to the surface. After millennia of Church and state sponsored anti-Semitism and racism, Europe is destined to return to these roots.
The Bible likens the society of Europe in the latter day as a beast which is “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly” (Daniel 7:7).
Ezekiel 38 depicts the inner thinking of the nations of Europe, led by Russia:
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezekiel 38:10-12).
The Russo-European invader thinks and evil thought which according to Christ, comes from the heart of man. They will come against a people who have been persecuted for millennia but now are living at peace. They come to take a great spoil or booty. God clearly states:
And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days…. (Ezekiel 38:16)
God’s issue with the Russo-European invaders will be their treatment of his people:
For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. (Joel 3:1-3)
Zechariah describe the invasion:
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (Zech 14:2)
Following the rape and pillage of his city and his people, God will intervene and send Jesus Christ to save his people from destruction:
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof … and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:3-6)
Although we are disturbed at what we witness in the news at times, we should be confident that God will bring about his plan and save his people. As we watch the nations of Europe reveal the evil thoughts that are really in their minds, reveal the age old hatred they have harboured for years, see the rise in anti-Semitism and other racially motivated crimes, we must remember that we are drawing nearer to the return of Christ when the Lord will save his people.
For Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen.