Dueling Marches

by Jeremy Griffith

American Millennium Online

 

Dueling marches competed for media attention Saturday, one at the Minnesota State Fair in Minneapolis and one in Birmingham, Alabama; one conducted by #blacklivesmatter, the other by radio talk show host Glenn Beck.

The Black Lives Matter protest march clearly won the media coverage battle, but only garnered 300 or so actual participants. In contrast, the Glenn Beck #All Lives Matter march garnered 20,000-30-000 marchers while being largely invisible to the national media.

Along the mile and a half march route past the State Fair Grounds marchers enjoyed police escort while at the same time chanting the anti-police epithet “pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon”. In contrast, marchers at the Beck rally were peaceful and carried signs with slogans of peace such as All Lives Matter, God is the Answer and Love One Another.

There were no injuries or law enforcement confrontations at either march.

The Birmingham march drew such celebrities such as world famous star and martial artist Chuck Norris and Alveda King, the niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more on the marches in Minneapolis and Birmingham, go to the following links below.

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/black-lives-matter-march/2015/08/29/id/672609/

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/252328-glenn-beck-touts-all-lives-matter-rally-as-biggest-in

 

 

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Build Your Own Temple: Making Sense of the Tragedy in Virginia

By Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium Online

 

Many of you already know that yesterday a deranged young man destroyed the lives of two TV journalists in Virginia. It has been remarked that it is the first Social Media murder ever, since it happened on live TV.

 

Apparently it was the gunman’s goal to create horror and fear in people and to incite a race war. He deliberately destroyed the lives of his former co-workers and every life that touches theirs, who holds them dear.

 

Attempting to make sense of the senseless, I called my brother, a much wiser man than me. He put it to me in this way. He said, we all have to build the temple from our end.

 

It was like an experience he had in Bosnia in the service. There were people in tanks destroying a bridge. They were not able to appreciate the functionality and beauty of the bridge, were jealous of the artistry of those who created it, and in their jealousy and resentment, unable to produce a work of their own as beautiful, they chose to destroy and tear down that which others had built.

 

That is what I think encapsulated the mind of this person who murdered those innocent journalists in Virginia yesterday. A former TV journalist himself, he was never able to enjoy the same success as that of his coworkers. Unable to emulate their success, and unwilling to do the hard work on his own, he chose instead to tear down others.

 

The Bible tells us, “Do you not know that you are God’s Temple, and the spirit of the Lord dwell’s within you?” My brother put it to me this way. You have to do the work to build your life as a temple of God. You are building your end of a great extension bridge that leads to God. And God is building the bridge from the other end. It is futile to focus on the beauty of the bridges or temples of others. While you can appreciate the work of others, you have to work on your own. It is useless to try to tear down the bridges and temples of others and will only lead to your own destruction.

 

My brother’s daughter plays the flute, and plays it beautifully. He goes to her concerts and listens. He tells me he will never play the flute, but he appreciates the artistry and skill it takes to play a piece of music. I have seen some magnificent things in my life, the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Israel, the Great Pyramids in Egypt, the Cairo Museum, Mesada. In Germany I walked through a great museum dedicated to work made completely of porcelain. I will never have the skill to create such artifacts of beauty. I’m not supposed to. But I can appreciate the hard work and skill of others. I’m supposed to be working on my own temple or bridge, such as it is.

 

In many ways the individual who committed those awful murders is not unlike the Taliban, or Isis today, who are tearing down the things that others have built. They don’t believe in the gods of others and so they cannot appreciate the artistry and beauty. In 2001 the Taliban destroyed the beautiful statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Today Isis is tearing down the monuments of others in Syria and Iraq. Moreover, they are destroying the lives of others who are not like themselves, Christians, Yezidis, and even other Muslims. Unable to build the temple from their end, they have to pull down the walls of others. Ultimately they will only destroy themselves, as this young murderer has done.

 

In the Bible there is a story about the city of Jerusalem. There was no wall around the city to protect it from invaders, and so the people were instructed to build their own portion of a wall, nearest to where they live. Everyone pitched in and built the wall, and so it got done much faster than if it had built by a crew of workman, and everyone had a hand in its construction. We all have a role to play in building the wall around our city. We must each concentrate on doing our part.

 

In our lives we may only lay a few stones in our temple or bridge, and that’s ok, because God is doing the vast majority of the work anyway, from His end. We won’t meet him in the middle; we won’t even make it a quarter of the way. But we must lay as many stones as we can in our lifetimes, and allow God to do the rest.

 

If you are building a temple, why would you let things that are unclean enter? That is what this young man did. Described as a troubled gay, black man, he let hatred and envy into his heart. He was fired over two years ago because he was impossible to work with. Feeling he was wronged apparently, he chose to destroy the lives of those he perceived had wronged him. Unwilling to build his own temple and to continue to work to build his own life, he tore down what he had built and what others had built as well. Envy, hatred, a feeling of victimhood destroyed him. We shouldn’t let it destroy us. We have to make our own temples clean so that the Lord will want to dwell within us and complete the work that we are helping Him with.

 

I challenge you to build your temple and to hold in your heart the lives of the people touched by this tragedy. Pray for the families, friends and coworkers of the dead, so that they can feel our love for them, so they won’t be burnt up and destroyed by their grief.

 

This weekend Glenn Beck and company are marching in Birmingham, Alabama. They are marching for unity in a time when the whole country seems to want to tear it all apart. I think we should pray for him and for the people who march for peace and love that the people who want to tear down and burn and create enmity between us are not successful.

 

Build the temple from your end.

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 NIV

 

10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

Jeremy Griffith at the Temple Mount, Jerusalem 2008

Jeremy Griffith at the Temple Mount, Jerusalem 2008

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Road to Fallujah: a review of the documentary film by Mark Manning

by Jeremy Griffith
American Millennium Online

Captain Jeremy Griffith in Baghdad 2007

Captain Jeremy Griffith in Baghdad 2007

I like documentaries, as everyone knows, and I came upon another one on Netflix that I wanted to review that was different than ones I’ve reported on in the past. This one is Road To Fallujah, a documentary by Mark Manning and it takes place in Iraq during the height of the war.

 

Manning reports that he is a retired underwater construction worker who worked on off shore oil rigs for some 20 years before finding an interest in documentary film making. He left his job, took a night class and armed with a camera, he left for Iraq to as he described it to discover the myths of why we went to war in the first place.

 

In the documentary, he follows a number of family members who lost loved ones in Iraq while they were working in Fallujah as contractors. A number of events were boiling up in the city of Fallujah and a couple of American contractors were caught up in the crossfire. The mob shot and killed the contractors, burned them in their car, then hung their bodies on nearby bridge. The event was well documented on news outlets at the time and led to the Marines’ eight-day invasion of the massive city. Reporters of every network, repeating what they heard from military sources, were calling the city of Fallujah a hotbed of insurgency and terrorism. And it was, but Manning and his team tell another story that has been overlooked. He tells the story of the suffering of the civilian population of that city who lived there at the time and were forced to flee the devastation.

 

The viewer will be bombarded with the stories of families who lost loved ones in that battle. The refugee camps in the surrounding hills were filled with the dispossessed who were living under the worst possible conditions, drinking foul water and finding little food or shelter. It’s heart-rending.

 

Manning and his team interview a number of former military members who were involved in the invasion to get their take, which I thought was fair.  All agree that more could be done to protect and sustain the civilian population, but at the time, they complain that resources were being focused on Baghdad, and not on Fallujah. The people of Fallujah had to fend for themselves.

 

I liked this documentary in that it showed me a side of the Iraqi invasion that I hadn’t seen before, that is not often reported on, the civilian casualties. At the same time, I think it unfairly attacks the soldiers who fought there and their leaders who made decisions. Remember that Fallujah, while important and strategic was one eight day battle in a larger campaign to rid the country of insurgency. The reason why the battle was so brief was to prevent civilian casualties from ballooning out of control.

 

A lot of blame has been lain at the feet of the first American Ambassador to Iraq, Paul Bremer, who made the decision to disband the Iraqi Army and recruit a new army in its place. That put a lot of career government officials and soldiers out of a job, many of whom were Bathist party officials loyal to Saddam Hussein. Bremer worried that in leaving those officials in place, the future of Iraq would be jeopardized. Perhaps when the Americans were gone, another Bathist, perhaps a friend of Saddam, would rise to power and take over, governing much the way as Saddam did. Bremer hoped for better and that’s why he did what he did. Was it a mistake? Perhaps. But Bremer’s actions weren’t the only factors. The mistakes of Iraq were compounded by mistakes made by the Iraqi government, with president Al Maliki, who deliberatively separated Sunnis from Shia and alienated them from participation in their own government.  In the film, Bremer gets all the blame. Maliki isn’t even mentioned.

 

And there are other factors. Fallujah didn’t happen in a vacuum. It was a hotbed of the insurgency and they were getting arms and munitions from the Iranian Quds force which they were using to kill Americans and members of the Iraqi provincial government. That had to stop. According to the film maker, American soldiers were terrorizing locals in Fallujah, taking over a local school as their headquarters and preventing school children from going to school. I guarantee nobody was going to school in that environment at that time. Parents and students would have been justifiably upset and would have wanted to protest. Which they did. But, it’s never a good idea to throw rocks at soldiers, they’re libel to fire back, and they did.

 

Manning and his team mates have done a relatively good job putting together this movie and showing that you can’t just paint everyone with the same brush. There was collateral damage with a face and Manning shows that face to you. I don’t like how he relies overmuch with war footage from the news sources, but I suppose it was necessary to tell the story. It would have been dangerous to get his own footage and he wasn’t imbedded with combat units. His safety would not have been guaranteed. It’s important to know what locals in Fallujah felt about the war. It’s also important that that may not have been the same in every area of the country. The Kurdish north for example would have a far different outlook then people living in the center of the country or the south.

 

Sure leaders have made mistakes in the war, but it was a complicated situation. If any one of us had been given the reigns of that operation today, would it have turned out as well, better? Who knows. It’s pointless to speculate. I think that some people would have liked never to have gone over there at all, which is the real point of this movie.

 

Fast forward to today. Whether it is former Saddam Bathists running the country or Islamic Jihadis, the result is much the same, suffering for the Iraqi people with no relief in sight. Someone should do a documentary on that.

 

Desmond Tutu makes a poignant appearance in this film. He says basically if you go to strike your neighbor ultimately you will be surprised that you will injure yourself, and I think that is true. Americans know this instinctively and that is why we hate war. We hate evil too and when evil rises we want to help, which is why we choose to keep our military strong. It’s not simply enough to refrain from striking, what if you see someone striking your neighbor, do you stop them? Or do you stand by and do nothing? We’ve done both. In Rwanda we refrained from action, in Bosnia we stepped in. In both we were criticized.

 

I would recommend this movie to anyone who wants to understand the human cost of war. I give it a 6 out of 10. I think the social political issues are bigger than this one film which is why I recommend you take it with a grain of salt.

Find out more about Road To Fallujah here at http://www.theroadtofallujah.com/.

 

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White Shame: MTV Documentary Special Holds Millennials Responsible for Racism They Didn’t Cause

 

By Jeremy Griffith
American Millennium Online

 
 

Jeremy Griffith, the creator of The American Millennium Online.

Jeremy Griffith, the creator of The American Millennium Online.

Last week, MTV released a one-hour special documentary produced and starring by documentarian and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. The documentary, while interesting and technically well shot and produced, fell short of its goal in my estimation.

 

In the film, Vargas, an undocumented Filipino immigrant, flies around the country and recruits millennial youth to join in a group conversation about race, an interesting premise. In the process of these discussions, Vargas asked the kids to define their beliefs about the meaning of the term ‘white privilege’. In offering their definitions in this heavily edited film, it is not clear if they are just answering the specific questions or they are defining the way they actually feel about being white.

 

In one discussion, a young white college freshman expresses frustration in her efforts to obtain scholarships for her university of choice. The reason, she feels is that far too much emphasis is made to give people of color those scholarships that someone like her should get by merit. When Vargas points out documented evidence that no, whites still get more scholarships as a percentage of population than do people of color, the student became uncomfortable. “I feel like you’re attacking me, “ she confesses.

 

In other conversations it becomes clear that many of the students, especially young males, are unwilling to open up about their feelings of race. They parse their words carefully so as not to come off as being racist.

 

And, that is the over all problem I hade with this short documentary film. Vargas asks carefully crafted questions about race that the young millennials, who don’t have the intellectual tools to recognize the tactics and fight back, are unable to cope with. Vargas’s technique is subtle, but real. He lays all of society’s problems with race squarely at the feet of white people and their white privilege and the youth are unable to fight back because they don’t want to be labeled as racist.

 

The strongest moment in the film happens in a rural white home where a young man is an instructor on the topic of white privilege in schools. His stepfather is a staunch conservative who has no idea of the kind of instructional program his stepson is involved in. Vargas and the young teacher reveal this to the old man and his wife over supper at their home. You can feel the tension in this particular scene as the young teacher expresses his frustration over attempting to talk to his step-father topics where the two men have vastly different views. Any one who has a difficult relationship with his father knows how this feels. It is clear by the look on the older man’s face that he is surprised by his stepson’s comments, and though he doesn’t agree on much, he listens politely. One wonders what the conversation would have been like if the participants were not aware they were being filmed. I feel like this was a great moment in this film, but it is one of only a few. Vargas could have done so much more with moments like this.

 

I would have liked to have seen more interracial interaction. But Vargas chooses to interview young white people almost exclusively, which I think is an opportunity missed. There is one scene where he does have an inter-racial discussion as a white southern gay man invites his black friends home to his mostly white southern community. There is a discussion about race and the black guests react emotionally when some of the young white students cavalierly use the word ghetto in conversation. We’re meant to automatically connect with this emotional young black woman as this supposed ‘trigger word’ is used, but like so much of this film, it falls flat. The word doesn’t have the same emotional impact as the N-word and the filmmaker fails to give back story about why there is such an emotional tie in to this word for this person.

 

There is one more scene that I want to mention. A young man is attempting to organize a city block party in his community but is running into roadblocks. There is a city requirement for a certain number of neighbors to sign off before the party is authorized. Much of this traditionally white community has given way to a huge insurgence of Asian American immigrants. The new immigrants have a sort of closed off community and decline to interact to this man and his petition. “Do you mind that this community has changed so much?” Vargas asked, implying the influx of so many Asians, who apparently don’t speak English and don’t choose to interact with their white neighbors.

 

“No, this is my home. I don’t mind that it’s evolved,” he says.

 

Overall this is a well-organized, well-shot documentary worth seeing. But I think it falls well short of it’s goal of having a well thought discussion about race. The difficulties of race relations in America today are not clear cut and this film makes light of the complexities, unfairly putting most of the blame on white people and unnecessarily shaming white millennial kids who had nothing to do with racism in this country.

Ultimately I feel that we will have an end to racism if we just people in academia and the work place by applying the standard enunciated in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, that we all be judged not on the color of our skin but on the content of our character. In order to realize that dream we must do away with artificial programs of favoritism such as affirmative action and base our judgement for everyone on merit and hard work.

Watch the full episode of White People here.

http://www.mtv.com/shows/white-people/white-people-full-episode/1736982/playlist/#id=1736982

 

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