Indonesia’s Strange Kind of Justice

Indonesia’s Strange Kind of Justice
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

He was the Governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city. In an election held in April, however, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama lost his prestigious and powerful post. Was it because he was incompetent? Was he guilty of some form of corruption, a common finding in some other Asian nations? Was he afflicted with ill health or advancing age? No, none of those reasons led to his defeat.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was Governor of Jakarta (photo from Wikimedia Commons by Cyrilobrien CC BY-SA 4.0).

Mr. Basuki’s downfall resulted from a statement he made about the Koran in the nation, which has the largest Muslim population on earth. What happened is that Basuki’s opponents claimed that the Koran, the Muslim holy book, forbids Muslims to vote for a non-Muslim. Basuki is a Christian and his response to that attack included a claim that the Koran issued no such directive. Immediately, he was charged with blasphemy for insulting the Koran, a serious crime in this predominantly Muslim nation.

Whether the Koran does or doesn’t forbid Muslims from choosing a non-Muslim in a political race isn’t this writer’s place to determine. What is of interest is that Basuki had been leading in the polls and was expected to win over Anies Baswedan, a former minister of education who is a Muslim.

One month after being defeated, an Indonesian court found Basuki guilty of blasphemy for his claim. Quickly sentenced to two years in prison in a unanimous decision by the court’s five judges, the former governor of Jakarta now languishes in a prison housing drug dealers, rapists, and other convicts. Indonesian law allows for him to appeal, but not to remain free while his plea is considered. Prosecutors in the case had recommended probation but even they were overruled.

The incident provides a good reminder of the way any similar slur or contrary interpretation aimed at religion is handled in America. Insulting or misinterpreting someone’s religious view is fairly common here, even growing more common. Doing so may properly lead to voter rejection of a candidate seeking office. But immediate prison is impossible thanks to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Human Rights Watch’s Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher, called the verdict and sentence given Basuki “a sad day, even a frightening day.” He added: “If the governor of Indonesia’s largest and most complex city, who is an ally of the Indonesian president, can be brought down and humiliated in this way, what will happen to ordinary Indonesian citizens?” Good question.

The incident in Indonesia should help all Americans appreciate what they have in the U.S. Constitution. Here, slurring or misinterpreting another’s religious views (deliberately or mistakenly) may hurt or boost a candidacy. But it won’t result in being sent to prison.

To help ensure the Constitution is being followed, join the John Birch Society today!

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Liberals In Control of Academia Is Dangerous

Liberals In Control of Academia Is Dangerous
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Boston Magazine’s senior editor Chris Sweeney found hard evidence to back up what some discerning individuals have groaned about for a good while. His online article “How Liberal Professors Are Ruining College,” posted January 2017, carries a subtitle “In New England, they outnumber conservatives 28 to 1.” And he concludes: “That’s bad for all of us.” He’s correct.

(Image from www.pexels.com)

Are conservative professors being pushed to the edge of extinction? (Image from www.pexels.com)

Sweeney’s article mentions Harvard, Yale, Brandeis, Smith, Brown, Mount Holyoke, Wellesley, Hampshire College, and some other New England schools that would happily accept being described as liberal. But the percentages of left-leaners in the faculties of the northeast are somewhat astounding.

Relying on 25 years of research compiled by Sarah Lawrence College Professor Samuel Abrams, Sweeney noted that liberal professors held a 3 to 1 edge over conservatives in the South and Great Plains. Out West, liberal domination came in at 6 to 1. Those figures are bad enough. But within the six states comprising New England, the ratio was an astounding 28 to 1. That includes even some Catholic institutions. His conclusion about the Northeast: “… conservative professors weren’t just rare; they were being pushed to the edge of extinction.” In greater Boston, as one wag regularly concluded, “There are more than 60 institutions of higher leaning.”

The problem stems from the dominance of political correctness about nearly everything, something the proverbial herd is very adept at enforcing once it gains ascendancy. Leftist mentality grew dramatically more than a century ago when socialists from Europe gained teaching roles in the Northeast. But it really took off when Barry Goldwater got swamped in the 1964 presidential contest. Championing a conservative view (meaning smaller government, more freedom) came under increasing attack. Aided by the liberal media (New York Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, and most national news providers), young people found it fashionable to turn leftward. Many never got out of school; they went from one to another institution and became professors. Invariably they tilted leftward, frequently hard left.

Example: A Brandeis professor told students after learning of the death of Phyllis Schlafly, “There’s a special place in hell for people like her.” And that same purveyor of intolerance previously and exuberantly lauded deceased founder Tom Hayden of the Students for a Democratic Society, one of the more raucous leftist groups of the past 50 years.

During the past year, it would have been close to suicidal for a student to let his professor know he or she was unwilling to support Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders – even worse if that stand included an open preference for Donald Trump.

These same individuals will demand “tolerance” for outrageous conduct – as long as it’s left leaning. When some student believers, in their warped idea of tolerance, expressed their intolerance about the Trump victory by burning an American flag at Hampshire College, school administrators reacted by stopping any flying of the flag. The students won – at least for a time. Where tolerance reigns, it’s not just patriotism that suffers; it’s anything resembling virtue.

Professor Abrams himself wrote about the research he compiled. His concluding advice to young people and their parents is: “… if you are looking for an ideologically balanced education, don’t put New England at the top of your list.” Chris Sweeney certainly doesn’t disagree.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Beauty Queen Speaks Out

Beauty Queen Speaks Out
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Anastasia Lin is a Canadian by choice though Chinese by birth. After relocating to Canada as a teen, she has been the entrant for her adopted country in the annual Miss World contest during recent years. Her outspoken criticism of China’s human rights abuses has drawn sharp criticism from Chinese sponsors of the pageant and from the Chinese government, both of whom have sought to silence her. But the campaign to keep her quiet has made her more famous for being silenced than for being pretty.

Anastasia Lin speaks at the National Press Club (Image from Wikimedia Commons).

Anastasia Lin speaks at the National Press Club (photo by Lisa Fan (Email) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons).

As Canada’s entrant to the pageant in 2015, she was prevented from attending the event held in the Chinese city of Sanya. But she continued to speak out about abuses, especially the harvesting of vital organs taken from Chinese critics of the Beijing regime. Noting that China doesn’t have a voluntary transplant program, she rightly concludes that “someone has to die. It’s not like the organs grow on plants.” She considers the Chinese process an exercise in Barbarism.

An actress and classical pianist, she also starred in a movie that dramatizes the grizzly transplant practice. Also a member of China’s semi-religious Falun Gong movement, she knows Chinese officials consider it “an evil cult” and has banned it. So her backing of that sect has additionally angered the Communist government. In 2015, Miss Lin sought to travel to Sanya to take her place in the competition, but she got as far as Hong Kong and was denied entry into the mainland.

The Miss World pageant has often been held in China. Though owned and managed by a British company, it receives financial backing from several Chinese companies. The 2016 event was held in a Washington D.C. suburb over this last weekend. Originally informed that she must keep quiet about her concerns, even within the United States, she has evidently been given a green light to speak to reporters and to publicize the film in which she stars.

But Miss Lin’s father, who is still living in China where he owns a medical supply company, is a new target of the Chinese authorities. Harassed by the government, he has lost numerous customers and faces bankruptcy. The Chinese government also refused him permission to travel to Washington to witness the 2016 pageant.

Miss Lin has asked, “Why is a powerful country like China so afraid of a beauty queen?“ Now able to speak freely to reporters, she comments: “Despite 60 years of censorship, [the Chinese] people don’t believe everything they hear on the news.” After appearing in the pageant, she told the Toronto Star, “My one goal was not the tiara. I just wanted to be on Chinese television … If they can see me on stage, they will know (I have not given up), so neither should they.”

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Nothing New about Fake News

Nothing New about Fake News
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Would anyone deliberately plant and then spread false information on the Internet and elsewhere?  The answer is so obvious that it’s akin to asking if tomorrow’s sun will rise in the East. Of course it will happen. And, of course, deliberate issuance of what is known to be false has lately become a relatively common occurrence.

(Photo by Public Domain Pictures, CC0 Public Domain).

Hillary Clinton recently broke the silence that has been her fate since losing the recent election. She spoke at a farewell party for retiring Nevada Senator Harry Reid. Intoning solemnly about an “epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda,” she obviously hoped that her own use of the tactic wouldn’t be recalled. But she is an expert at issuing falsehoods.

In 1996, she visited Bosnia as America’s First Lady to salute U.S. forces in the region. More than ten years later, she claimed that her plane had landed amidst “sniper fire,” even adding that there “was supposed to be some kind of greeting ceremony at the airport, but we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Several news sources eventually debunked the story, some citing Major General William Nash, the U.S. commander in Bosnia who said there was no such “sniper fire.” The fake news she issued was surely delivered to advance her desire to be known as courageous.

Mrs. Clinton would later tell news sources that her daughter Chelsea narrowly managed to flee the vicinity of the Twin Towers in 2001 as those buildings crashed to the earth. Supposedly, Chelsea was fortunate to run away from all of the destructiveness. But Chelsea was nowhere near the site of the 9/11 destruction on that fateful day.

As Secretary of State in 2012, Mrs. Clinton blamed  an inconsequential anti-Islam video made in in Los Angeles for the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. The U.S. ambassador and three others died in that skirmish. But the privately made video wasn’t the reason for the attack at all. Her planting of that bit of fake news went so far as to tell the mother of one of the deceased Americans that the video alone led to the four deaths. She sought to cover up her own inadequacies with that bit of false news.

Fake news has sometimes spawned enormous consequences. In August 1964, President Lyndon Johnson pointed to an attack on U.S. warships by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. The supposed attack spawned congressional passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that led to a huge escalation of the war in Vietnam. But there was no such attack by enemy torpedo boats according to U.S. pilots flying over the area at the time. The mythical Tonkin incident was fake news used by those anxious to expand the war in Vietnam.

In 1963, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren placed blame for the assassination of President Kennedy on the right wing. There was no evidence to back up that assertion but it did result in a few bricks being thrown through the windows of The John Birch Society headquarters in Massachusetts. Fake news does lead to real action.

Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or with the brick throwing. But her use of fake news for her own purposes makes her a leader in the fake news field. In her speech honoring Harry Reid, she called for congressional hearings and eventual legislation to deal with the “epidemic” of fake news that places “lives of ordinary people at risk.” She places herself as a leader in efforts to cancel the right to – rightly or wrongly – discuss political issues.

She knows what can happen when falsehoods are spread, especially when spread by people who are supposed to be reliable. Her newly outspoken concern about falsehoods may indicate her desire for government control of the Internet where false news has found a home.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


The Downside of White Privilege

The Downside of White Privilege
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In Michael Scheuer’s “Why I’m eager to see the end of my ‘white privilege’ post, he lists why he is sick and tired of being told he was a beneficiary of “white privilege.” So, knowing full well that there are many exceptions to the scenarios he experienced, he listed what the so-called privilege has often meant to him.

“White Privilege” vandalism at the Jefferson Davis monument in Mid-City, (Photo by Bart Everson Flickr, some rights reserved).

Many Americans can identify with what he has stated. But those who do so face being charged with selfishness, racism, xenophobia, and more. The truth is that government-enforced policies have made people far more race-conscious than they might ever have been if government wasn’t forcing its ill-conceived and dangerous policies on everyone.

To the various complaints listed can be added similar favorable treatment accorded to illegal immigrants. And the seething outrage felt by many Americans isn’t waning; it grows and festers. If not addressed properly, destruction of the American dream will continue until the dream turns into a full-fledged nightmare.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Kaepernick Needs to Learn How to Support Local Police

Kaepernick Needs to Learn How to Support Local Police
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

NFL player Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers decided to draw attention to himself at a recent football game. He refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem, explaining that he wanted to draw attention to “the oppression of blacks and other minorities.” Hardly oppressed himself, he somehow thinks his big bucks contract to play football authorizes him to be a spokesman for others.

Photo by Mike Morbeck (Flickr: Colin Kaepernick) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s easy to see that Kaepernick was really calling attention to himself. He could have stayed in the locker room but he wanted personal attention. Many commentators haven’t mentioned the fact that his team seems to have given up on him.

As distasteful as the Kaepernick performance was, he managed to worsen it during another appearance on the field. He wore socks containing pictures of pigs wearing police hats. Was he disciplined for this huge insult? Not at all. In fact, many media commentators saluted him for courage. At least some police have protested. The police union in the Bay Area has threatened to boycott future games.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he recognizes the quarterback’s right to protest but “doesn’t necessarily agree” with him. Earlier, when the Dallas Cowboys players wanted to put decals on their helmets to commemorate five recently slain Dallas police officers, Goodell’s office refused permission. Shame on Goodell and the NFL!

Refusing to stand for the national anthem is small potatoes next to disparaging the work of all police officers. Kaepernick’s ugly performance brought to mind something I wrote more than 40 years ago for The John Birch Society’s Support Your Local Police Committee program. Paying well-earned honor to the men and women in blue, the widely distributed small pamphlet stated:

A policeman is many things. He’s a son, a brother, a father, an uncle, a sister, and sometimes even a grandparent. He’s a protector in time of need and a comforter in time of sorrow. His job calls for him to be a diplomat, a psychologist, a lawyer, a friend, and an inspiration. He suffers from an overdose of publicity about brutality and dishonesty. He suffers far more from unfounded charges. Too often, his acts of heroism go unnoticed and truth is buried under all the criticism. The fact is that less than one-half of one percent of policemen ever discredit their uniform. That’s a better average than you’ll find among clergymen.

A policeman stands between the law abider and the law breaker. He’s the prime reason your home hasn’t been burned, your family abused, your business looted. Try to imagine what might happen if there were no policemen around. And then try to think of ways to make their job more rewarding.

We think policemen are great. We thank God for all the little boys and girls who said they wanted to be police officers, and who kept their promise.

Colin Kaepernick’s insult to police is a disgrace. Any others who follow his lead aren’t heroes; they’re misguided self-promoters. And the NFL officials that don’t discipline them are politically correct cowards.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Trouble Arises in Malaysia

Trouble Arises in Malaysia
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Malaysia is an Asian country situated south of Thailand in the Malay Peninsula. At the peninsula’s extreme southern tip can be found the city-state of Singapore. While Singapore is known for enforcing a strict code of conduct for its people, Malaysia had, until recently, a more relaxed and freedom-prevailing atmosphere. That reputation has been dealt a rather severe blow. But let’s consider some of Malaysia’s history before turning to its current problem.

During the 18th century, various kingdoms located in the area became subject to the British Empire. A Malayan Union emerged during the post-World War II years and the Federation of Malaya won independence in 1957. That federation soon spread to include the northern portions of Borneo in 1963. In 1965, Singapore found itself expelled from the new nation and has functioned alone ever since. It was during the early 1960s that the former Malayan Union adopted the name Malaysia by which it is currently known.

Malaysia’s head of state is its king, currently Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Surprisingly, his royal designation isn’t hereditary; he’s elected. A prime minister who must be serving in the House of Representatives holds most of the nation’s political power. Since 2009, Najib Razak has held this post. But he is now suspected of stashing $700 million in his personal bank account, a charge that has led to massive protests in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

Within the past year, as many as 100,000 have gathered in the capital demanding that government clean up such practices as accepting and hiding ill-gotten money. As a symbol of their dismay, the protesters have worn yellow t-shirts carrying the simple message “Bersih 4.” Translated, the word means “clean” and the number “4” designates that a recent protest is the fourth in a series.

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Bersih 4.0 Rally in Malaysia. Image from the movement’s Facebook page.

The government’s response has been to declare wearing those t-shirts a threat to national security. The nation’s Home Minister actually banned public display of the shirts but the people defied his mandate and defiantly wore them anyway. The Malaysian High Court has now upheld the ban and anyone caught wearing the forbidden garment faces arrest and a fine of approximately $1,200. Tony Pua, a member of parliament who is an opponent of Prime Minister Najib says, “For the government to ban a t-shirt that means ‘clean’ is a farce.”

But it’s evidently more than a farce that can be ignored because a shirt wearer can now get arrested and fined. In reality, it’s a marked step toward tyranny. Along with the ban on yellow t-shirts has come police investigation of a graphic artist who produced an online drawing of Prime Minster Najib looking like a clown. It seems that George Orwell-style thought police have emerged in Malaysia.

With all the troubles we have in America, no one would yet go so far as to ban a t-shirt no matter what message it carries. Nor have we reached the point where caricature drawings of political figures lead to government scrutiny. We still have the First Amendment and its guarantee of “freedom of speech.”

In days gone by, newly formed nations have looked to the United States as a model to guide formation of their own constitutions and laws. But this practice is occurring far more infrequently as our own leaders skirt the U.S. Constitution while devising new ways to usurp power. We are forced to wonder whether the day will come when a t-shirt bearing the slogan “Get US out of the United Nations” is banned. Or when another proclaims “Abortion stops a beating heart,” or still another demands “Bring the troops home!”

Knowing what has happened in Malaysia should impel Americans to resist being silenced by political correctness or by a Malaysia-style exercise in overbearing government. It should also help many to realize that a determination to return to less government and more responsibility is the far better way. Less government can be found in the limitations appearing in the U.S. Constitution, and more responsibility found in the Ten Commandments. If Americans honor those guidelines, maybe even Malaysia will consider them.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.