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.


From Normal to Abnormal

From Normal to Abnormal
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Early in 2016, President Obama appointed a transgender individual to serve on the Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships (ACFBNP). The Council traces its origin to an executive order issued in 2001 by President George W. Bush. The annual recipient of millions of taxpayer dollars, the group’s stated purpose is to combat discrimination and intolerance based on religious and cultural views.

Image by AnonMoos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

This relatively new federal agency serves as an attack on both religion and virtuous living. If you happen to hold traditional religious views or express yourself in favor of the cultural values that have always shaped our nation’s foundation, be prepared for an attack. Several of the ACFBNP appointees (each appointed for a year) are open homosexuals, promoters of abortion and same-sex marriage, and activists promoting the transgender subculture. The overall effect of such a group as ACFBNP is to force acceptance of what has always rightly been considered abnormal. In the name of tolerance, virtue is being made over into a forbidden, even reprehensible, oddity.

One organization decidedly opposed to all this is Project 21, a conservative policy group that identifies itself as “The National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives.” Critical of our nation’s “civil rights establishment,” group spokesman Emery McClendon insists that so-call “LGBT rights” are a misnomer and should never be included in the category of civil rights. Project 21 backs “entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to family, and commitment to individual responsibility.” McClendon properly counters President Obama’s pro-LGBT agenda, especially the president’s contention that children have a so-called “right” to choose which gender they prefer. McClendon claims that such an unnatural choice won’t “elevate them … it will degrade them.”

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office released a directive from the city’s Commission on Human Rights announcing that it will henceforth be illegal to discriminate against anyone whose gender is male, female, “or something else entirely.” The document listed 31 genders that henceforth must be recognized. In our nation where everyone has been known as either male or female, this Human Rights outfit lists new genders including “drag queen,” “drag king,” “butch,” “gender fluid,” “gender blender,” “gender gifted,” and “femme person of transgender experience.”

The New York directive cautions business owners against making “assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation.” It adds: “If you don’t know what pronouns to use, ask. Be polite and respectful; if you use the wrong pronoun, apologize and move on.” Should someone in business refuse to address a transgender individual with a preferred pronoun, fines as high as $250,000 can be assessed.

This craziness should not be ignored. Unless sanity continues to prevail outside of New York, directives such as the one sent throughout New York City – completely consistent with policies promoted by the federal ACFBNP – will soon impact private organizations, public places, schools, churches, and more.

A few months ago, President Obama used the occasion of his annual White House gathering of Muslim-Americans to single out “LGBT Muslims” here in America. He ignored the fact that half of the nations where LGBT behavior is completely illegal are Islamic states. One can only conclude that our nation’s current leader favors what has always been rightly considered an abomination that should never be encouraged.

Acceptance of the transgender lifestyle amounts to challenging the fact that a person’s gender exists from the moment of conception in the womb. There is no choice involved, either at conception or at any other point in one’s life. Dignifying those who claim otherwise is a gross absurdity even if Barack Obama claims otherwise.

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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 Importance of a Moral Foundation

The Importance of a Moral Foundation
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Yuri Bezmenov defected from Soviet Russia 40-plus years ago. A veteran of years of service in Moscow’s dreaded KGB, he eventually came to the West and then traveled through our country delivering his unique wake-up call. Members of The John Birch Society gathered most of his audiences. The warning he gave is needed even more today.

The Ten Commandments as seen at the Herring family cemetery on Hollow Bridge Road near Autryville, NC (Flickr photo from Gerry Dincher, some rights reserved).

Bezmenov (who adopted the name Tomas Shuman) would freely express his disappointment that so few Americans had any awareness of the steady undermining of their country’s basic foundations. He told all he could reach that America suffered not from espionage, which the KGB considered a minor undertaking, but from “ideological subversion.” What was occurring, he explained, could also be termed “psychological warfare.” Its result brings about a population unable “to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community, and their country.”

“The process leading to destruction of the United States as a free and independent country,” said Bezmenov, “starts with demoralization, the turning away from foundational truths. In place of that foundation, Marxism-Leninism would be subtly but effectively introduced.” The undermining of America, he insisted, was being “done by Americans to Americans thanks to a lack of moral standards.” The fruit of this type of demoralization, he pointed out, is that a person becomes “unable to assess true information, and facts mean nothing to him even if he is showered with authentic information.”

Were Yuri Bezmenov alive today, he would point to the millions who supported Bernie Sanders during that self-identified socialist’s campaign to become U.S. president. He would point to the supporters of Hillary Clinton, who, though she is not an admitted socialist, differs with Sanders only marginally. In some ways, Mrs. Clinton is even more to be feared because of her attitude expressed openly to an assemblage of gay, transgender, and pro-abortion activists at the United Nations. She told her adoring crowd that America’s “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

There is much more that Bezmenov sought to explain to Americans. But his emphasis on the undermining of morality as the starting point in the campaign to destroy a nation deserves attention. Cleared of all its obfuscating wrappings, socialism is theft. Sad to say, many Americans have become captivated by its thievery in that they want a supposed free ride for things their parents worked for. And they want confiscation of wealth because they have been convinced that wealthy people are thieves. They know little or nothing about our nation’s foundations contained in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Nor do have any awareness of sound economic principles. Ask them about these fundamentals and expect to be told to cease referring to the “horse and buggy” days of the past.

About morality, John Adams once stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Government, in his view, should be a negative force, not a positive force for taking care of people who should take care of themselves. The people should guide their own conduct through such oldies as the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.

And John Birch Society Founder Robert Welch frequently insisted: “Morality sees farther than intellect.” What good is there in the efforts of a very intelligent person, he explained, if that person has no moral base and uses his brilliance exclusively for self-aggrandizement?

Yuri Bezmenov hoped there could be some kind of strong national effort to educate people about the real spirit of patriotism.” Along with that, he urged a parallel campaign to explain “the real danger of a socialist, communist, welfare state, Big Brother government.” And he saw in The John Birch Society the kind of institution that could reverse the already widespread demoralization throughout America – if it became large enough. His message, given decades ago, is still very much needed today.

Learn what you can do to Choose Freedom — Support Morality at The John Birch Society’s action project page! 

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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.