The Two Spies Report

The "Minority Report" from J. Michael Bennett, Ph.D, Emeritus Producer of the Future Quake Radio Show, and Author of the soon-to-be-released book series The Holy War Chronicles – A Spiritual View of the War on Terror

Tag: lost cause

The New “Lost Cause”: What Might Await Us – Part 2: The Ancient Religious “Holy War” Lost Causes, and the Role of the “Prophets” and the “Messiah”

 

Part 1 of this blog post series (posted two days before the Capitol domestic terror event) explored the historical roots of national “lost causes” – whereby a major portion of a nation’s public (or a major region) comes to believe that their political and social power has been unfairly or treacherously “stolen,” the mythology that is cultivated to propagate its message (often exaggerating history and facts or merely fabricating them), the “scapegoats,” “traitors” and other “boogeymen” proposed by demagogues by which to focus the pubic into a frenzy of action over generations, and the eventual underground vigilante and guerilla actions, movements and groups that seek to return the “power to the people” outside the rule of law or democracy. In Part 2 of this series, we briefly further explore some historical examples from our holy and ancient history texts, which reveal that when mythologized “lost causes” become religious-fueled “holy wars,” we see emerge the role of the “anointing priests” and “prophets” that foretell a spiritual, heavenly-empowered restoration and even revenge of prior “lost causes” that have particularly influenced devout monotheistic God-fearers and challenged their faith and self-respect, and the identification of a God-chosen “messiah” to “right the wrongs,” avenge prior defeats and humiliations, and restore a messianic “golden age” with God’s people in control. We will also see what lasting “fruit” is borne from such crusades, and their ramifications, to help us reflect on what to expect in the “Lost Causes” in our era and beyond.       

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following content was not originally intended to be added to this blog post series of this theme, much less Part 2, which was intended to start exploring contemporary events that appear to be taking on a “Lost Cause” motif in America today, with information “pulled from today’s headlines.” However, at the conclusion of drafting a very lengthy Part 2, I found myself reflecting back to the historical events in “Bible times” that put the contents of that study of contemporary religious issues in a timeless context. Thus, near the end of that lengthy work, I elected to add to the end of that study and part of this series a description of similar “lost causes” that were fueled by religion in the era of our holy texts, and excerpted a big portion of an unpublished manuscript I had drafted years ago to include within it, to provide some historical data to bolster it. Afterwards and near publication, I decided (a) it made a very large work even that much more unacceptably long for the average reader, and (b) being of a historical and foundational nature, I decided it best be shoehorned ahead of the contemporary events studies to put the latter into better historical context, as with Part 1 of this series. Thus, the following work is a shorter review of “Bible era” “lost causes,” adopted primarily from my prior written work. Please stay tuned – Parts 3 and some additional parts have already been drafted, and will follow within 5-7 days at most to bring readers into pondering and analyzing our fascinating current events under this framework.

 

There is a prophecy of future events in the Book of Daniel, which may or may not have already occurred, or it might be a case of “recurring fulfillment.” Within its narrative of apparently sequential historical events that occur in the “to and fro” of the battles between God’s peoples and the nations and leaders opposed to them, that at least at some time in these events, “…the violent ones among your people will also lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they will fall down” (Daniel 11:14, NASB). Is that possibly the kind of thing that we have witnessed in recent days in America, as at least some kind of “fractal,” peripheral fulfillment or reflection of such? Did we just see “violent” ones with Christian flags and singing hymns not only bludgeon a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher and impale them with American flag poles, but also engage in other “violent” forms like the “psychological warfare” of “hearts and minds” brainwashing via Christian and talk radio and internet rumors, the “holy war” pronouncements and calls to war from the Church’s “prophets” and bishops, and the aggressive threats I hear in church home groups, between neighbors, or in my local restaurants and supermarkets? Has the “ends justified the means” to “bring Heaven to earth” by conquering the Seven Mountains of Culture by force, or even by illegal means, such as by throwing out peoples’ votes and their electors, or other trickery if they can get away with it, or making “deals with the devil” for short-term political or judicial gain, in order to “help God” to “fulfill the vision”? How “successful” does God’s Word show such worldly efforts will be successful?

The Jews of the First Temple era thought their “exceptional” status with God could help them avoid due punishment previously promised to them for their sins of omission and commission. He told them repeatedly, going even back to the original Mosaic Code, that not only their sins of idolatry would cause them to lose their privileged place of God’s favor, but more importantly, their ignoring of the Mosaic Law commands to ecologically “let the land rest” one year out of seven, rather allowing the poor and immigrant aliens to forage freely on it, or to “redistribute wealth” as the Mosaic Law commanded, in giving the lands confiscated by powerful financial lords in capitalistic fashion over the years back to their original owners every fifty years, the avoidance of the latter two provisions being those Jeremiah said were the cause of their 70-year Exile. God was “easy on them” in allowing Nebuchadnezzar to have a “light yoke” of tribute from them while they dwelt in their own land and worshipped as they liked, but their patriotic pride and arrogance led them to ignore God’s warnings and to rebel against the Babylonian king (who was far more humane than the sadistic Assyrians who took away their Israeli brethren) via inspiring Judean kings to “make Judea Great Again,” leading God to “bring” His “servant” Nebuchadnezzar to Jerusalem to sack it and cart off its political and religious leadership.

The Greeks were eventually welcomed with open arms by the Jewish leadership, flattering them by proclaiming that Alexander “fulfilled prophecy,” and thereby betraying the Persians who had been so kind to them and had let them return to Jerusalem and restore it and the Temple and walls. In due time, the Jewish priestly rivals fought so much and whined to the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes over an inter-Jewish feud over Chief Priesthood rights (which was very corrupt at that time, like other eras), hitting him with their bickering right as he passed through Palestine after a humiliating defeat he just had in Egypt, that at that point the already temperamental king had “had enough” with the always-bickering Jews, and impulsively imposed very draconian restrictions on their priestly and religious rituals to frustrate both factions. In turn they famously decided to “fulfill the vision” by means of the “violent ones” in their midst – the Maccabeus brothers, celebrated in the (non-God commanded) patriotic ceremony of Hannukah. They led a presumptive, deadly civil war with Greece without God’s sanction, while their other brethren laid down their lives without resistance to avoid breaking their religious tenets, without starting a civil war themselves. Ironically, their “enemy,” Antiochus Epiphanes, died (by the hand of God, as the manner He evidently had intended to resolve the problem) shortly after they started – had they waited just a little, all the deadly troubles could have been averted. After considerable bloodshed and upheaval of many years, they chased the Greeks out and took over running the nation as their own Hasmonean dynasty rule for generations of trouble and rivalry. To add further tragic irony, their resolute fight to shed much blood to resist their people becoming “Hellenized” with Greek culture, led them to adopt Hellenized names and culture as soon as they took power over their own countrymen, like the “pigs” starting to look like the “farmer” in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. It also didn’t solve any lasting problems of foreign powers being over them – before long the Romans marched in and took over, just like their own “legitimate” prophets had foretold long before, which they could do nothing to stop in their “own strength.”

They still did not learn their lesson; in Jesus’ era, the Pharisees and many of the people sided with the “violent men of their people,” the Zealots, who were violent men who terrorized not only Rome, but even their own people. In the seminal moment of their peoples’ future destiny, the Pharisees goaded them to accept the patriotic killer assassin and thief Jesus Barabbas over Jesus of Nazareth – just as today’s Christians have been goaded to follow the “patriotic” (albeit self-serving) but depraved Donald Trump and his values over Jesus and His humble ways and teachings today. The “fruit” of their choice was their eternal city, governing authority and society being destroyed a mere generation later, along with the walls and gates of Jerusalem and all they symbolized to them and their independent pride and strength; this is why Jesus told the women He passed to “weep for themselves, and their children” as He drug His cross up to Calvary.

They still did not learn their lesson. A mere sixty years later, their religious leader, the “sage” Rabbi Akiva, whom they still consider “more important to Judaism than Moses,” would anoint Bar Kochba (or Kokhba) as the foretold Messiah of Israel to militaristically deliver them, and a fulfillment of a prophecy of a “star” appearing of deliverance. The following is an abbreviated excerpt of some of what I wrote about him in my soon-to-be-published volume of Judaism and Its Holy Wars:

The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia entry for Bar Kokhba  notes that prior to the appearance of Kokhba on the world stage in Palestine, there had been an “insurrection of the Jews of Cyrene, Cyprus, and Egypt in the last years of the emperor Trajan”, when Hadrian took power in 118 CE, who “immediately after his accession to the throne, pursued a pacific policy toward the Jews, and made concessions to them”.  It also notes that “It appears that Hadrian had already granted permission for the rebuilding of the Temple”, and “the Jews of the diaspora had already begun to return to Jerusalem”.  It adds, however, that Hadrian “requested that the site of the new structure be somewhat removed from its former location – a condition which the Jews of course could not accept”; possibly this was desired to prevent its renewed use as a militarily strategic “high ground” as the Temple had been misused by the Zealots previously.  Subsequently, the article notes that “they took up arms and assembled in the Valley of Rimmon, on the celebrated historical plain of Jezreel, and a rebellion seemed imminent”, although a peaceful Jewish leader named R. Joshua b. Hananiah noted the danger of their rebellious acts and pacified them for a time.

In spite of this respite of sane reconsideration, the article notes that “the Jews remained quiet only on the surface; in reality, for over fifteen years they prepared for a struggle against Rome”.  It notes that “They converted the caves in the mountains into hiding places and fortifications”, and that “Preparation devised on so large a scale could hardly have been instituted without organization, and it may therefore be assumed that the leader, Bar Kokba, was already quietly preparing for this war in the first years of the reign of Hadrian”.  Most importantly, it adds that “It is thought that the travels of the celebrated teacher of the Law, Rabbi Akiba, were made with the intention of interesting the Jews of the most remote countries in the coming struggle, and these travels extended through Parthia, Asia Minor, Cappadocia, and Phrygia, and perhaps even to Europe and Africa”.  Regarding Kokhba’s given name, the article states that “it is certain that the name Bar Kokba is only an epithet derived from R. Akiba’s application of the verse to Koziba: ‘There shall come a star [“kokab”] out of Jacob who shall smite the corners of Moab and destroy all the children of Seth (Num. xxiv. 17)”.  It Is interesting to note that this same word for “star” in this verse (kowkab, Strong’s H3556) is also used in Amos 5:26, in which the prophet says of the Israelites, “But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves”, and cited by the deacon Stephen in Acts 7:43 (and which will be explored again in a later chapter). It is also interesting to note that the article states that “It must have been during this war, when he had already performed miracles of valor, that R. Akiba said of him, ‘This is the King Messiah’,” but that the arrogant Kokhba was said to have prayed to God, “‘We pray Thee, do not give assistance to the enemy; us Thou needest not help!’”.

The Jewish Encyclopedia article also asserts that “the statement that the Christians were tortured by Bar Kokhba if they did not deny Jesus, is made only by Christian authors”, such as Justin in his work Apologia.  It notes that while the Christians refused to unite with Jews in the struggle, “Jews residing in foreign countries also flocked in masses”.  Although Bar Kokhba and his fellow Jewish rebels had some early successes, the article notes that after they were defeated, “the land became a desert, and Jews were slaughtered en masse”.  It notes that “According to Dio Cassius, 580,000 Jews fell in battle, not including those who succumbed to hunger and pestilence”, and as a result, “the end of the Jewish nation had come”.  It adds that “This war, designated by the Mishnah (Sotah ix. 14) as ‘the final polemos’, had lasted three and one half years”, ending in 135 – 136 CE.  Letters from this period referred to him as “prince (nasi) of Israel.” Prominent Christian historian Eusebius (260 – 340 CE), in his work History of the Church, noted that Bar Kokhba “claimed to be a luminary come from heaven and was magically enlightening those who were in misery”, and noted in his work Chronicle that he “killed the Christians with all kinds of persecutions, when they refused to help him against the Roman troops”, and even noted the earlier historian Justin’s remarks that Kokhba commanded that the Christians “be punished severely, if they did not deny Jesus as the Messiah and blaspheme him.” The cited website also shows a coin minted by Kokhba that shows the Temple with the “messianic star” above it, which looks very similar to the Star of David, suggesting a common spirit of military rebellion with the secular Jewish nation that resides there today.

The Talmud’s Midrash Rabbah on Lamentations notes that when Kokhba led his men into battle they cried, “O God, neither help nor discourage us!”, to which the Talmudist rightfully quoted Psalms 60:2: “Hast not Thou, o God cast us off?  And go not forth, o God, with our hosts?”.  He was also said in the same Jewish reference as having killed a pious rabbi who prayed for God’s deliverance, fearing he may have allied with Hadrian, resulting in a heavenly voice announcing, “Woe to the worthless shepherd that leaveth the flock!  The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye!” (Zech. 11:17).  In addition to the 580,000 Jews being killed, ten members of the Sanhedrin were also killed, in punishment by Rome for repeatedly starting insurrections.  Most of the Jews resident in the area that were not killed were sold into slavery and dispersed.  Jews were forbidden to worship there except for to mourn their defeat at the Western Wall each year at “Tisha B’Av” (the “ninth of Av” – a day on the calendar that coincided with the destruction of both Temples, the “bad report” of Moses’ Twelve Spies, and the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion – all signifying the fruit of when Israel had acted out of patriotic arrogance, and in defiance of the times and actions prescribed by God).

Further insurrections were attempted by the Jews, including in league with the Samaritans, and even the Persians in the early seventh century against the Byzantine Romans – all bitter enemies (even, as they understood, to God Himself) that they “forgave” in their greater zeal for nationalistic independence.  It also led to the center of Jewish community leadership shifting to those residing in the Babylon area, and their brand of Talmudic, rabbinical Judaism.

There is much more to be gleaned from the ancient historical records, and particularly the Jewish Talmud, regarding Rabbi Akiba’s use of Bar Kokhba’s Revolt to solidify his control behind the emerging rabbinic power center in Judaism, and to launch physical “holy war” attacks against the new rival branch of Judaism that embraced Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah.  Daniel Gruber, who is apparently a figure within the Messianic Jewish movement, as judged from his website (www.elijahnet.net), has written a number of books on related topics, but his book Rabbi Akiba’s Messiah – The Origins of Rabbinic Authority documents a plethora of historical and Talmudic citations that give copious further details of the devious aspects of Akiba’s agenda.  The findings in his book are so immense and compelling that they require an extensive citation in the remainder of this chapter and the beginning of the next.  Regarding Bar Kokhba himself, Gruber quotes the 1971 Encyclopedia Judaica article on the figure, stating that “Bar Kochba regarded himself as holding the authority of the Roman emperor and transferred the lands of liberated Judea to his own possession…he was empowered to exercise control over the lands of Judea and confiscate property for the public good” [Gruber, Daniel, Rabbi Akiba’s Messiah – The Origins of Rabbinic Authority, Elijah Publishing, Hanover, NJ, 1999, p. 51.].

However, the bulk of the book centers on Rabbi Akiba’s use of Bar Kokhba and the revolt for his own purpose of re-molding Judaism and its future, solidifying his leadership and that of his trained rabbinic successors, and launching his attack on Jewish Christians.  Regarding his controversial (and later embarrassingly erroneous) anointing of Bar Kokhba, Gruber notes that through his Talmudic writings “Akiba redefined the Messianic Age.  He separated it from the World to Come.  In so doing, he eliminated the supernatural and the exceptional from the Messianic Age and from the role of Messiah”, noting that Akiba believed no supernatural endorsement from God via signs and wonders was necessary to confirm Messiah, whereas Jesus spoke that “the very works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (p. 262).  Gruber notes that no one during the time is recorded as believing that Bar Kokhba was the Messiah, either before or after Akiba’s declaration, and other prominent rabbis even rebuked him for this pronouncement in their deliberations.  Akiba had not noted any special accomplishment of Bar Kokhba that justified the title, and Akiba was not predisposed against the Romans, and had seen the futility of fighting them as a young man.  The top rabbinic leaders publicly warned the people against revolt, and even Akiba was noted to prophesy (as recorded in the Talmud) that there would be suffering as a result of the revolt, happiness would be deprived them, and that distress was in store for them, rather than Messianic bliss (p. 264).  The great Jewish sage Maimonides noted that Akiba was Bar Kokhba’s aide-de-camp.  Gruber quotes a scholar who notes that the Hagada mentions that the revolt was schemed in the home of Rabbi Akiba with other prominent rabbis on the night of the Passover Seder, where it notes that “the scholars together with their disciples began to chant the old hymn of revenge” (p. 267).

One key provision to further Akiba’s aims with the revolt was the establishment by the rabbis of the term milhemet mitzvah, or “commanded war”.  This term, devised by the rabbis of Akiba’s era and his disciples, rescinded the voluntary participation options of the people as prescribed in the Torah, restricting its use only to what they designated the milhemet reshat, or “war of choice”, which permitted the newlywed husbands and others not so motivated to decline.  The latter category they ruled was akin to the wars of expansion fought by David, while the former included the wars commanded by God to conquer Canaan, and now included the Bar Kochba revolt, as determined by Rabbi Akiba’s henchmen on the rabbinic council.  This new designation, made possible by Akiba’s declaration of Bar Kochba as Messiah, accomplished several things for Akiba’s agenda: (1) it removed any opposition by the Sages (leading rabbis) of a different view, (2) it eliminated the need for Sanhedrin approval, (3) it forced Jewish disciples of Jesus, or Talmidei Yeshua, to fight to support a false Messiah rather than for nationalism, and (4) it enacted provisions for Christians to be thus executed by Jewish officials for dereliction of duty.  Regarding the first two aspects, Gruber notes that Jewish sage Maimonides states in his Mishneh Torah that “In the case of a religious war [i.e. a milhemet mitzvah], the king does not have to obtain the sanction of the Supreme Court.  He may at any time set out independently and compel the people to come out with him.  But in case of an optional war, he can bring out the people only by a decision of the court of seventy one” (p. 274).  This would explain the unity of the people behind Bar Kokhba, since any lack of military assistance would be a capital crime.

Gruber notes that Talmud rabbinic teaching at the time asserted that the Messiah would appear in a seventh year of war during a seven year period of turbulence, and that this war would be known as the ”beginning of redemption”.  For this reason, Bar Kokhba had coins struck during his brief reign that were stamped with the phrase, “Year 1 of the redemption of Israel”.  Gruber also notes citations of Bar Kokhba’s ruthlessness in the ancient records, including reports that he required all of his Jewish fighters to cut off one of their fingers to show their toughness and devotion, his shackling of soldiers and citizens who did not perform as desired, and even the kicking to death of his own uncle the priest when he was falsely accused of complicity with the enemy (p. 275).  This latter incident was said to have resulted in a Bath Kol (voice from heaven) declaring that Bar Kochba was the “worthless shepherd” of Zechariah 11, resulting in his killing and the end of the revolt, according to the Talmud (p.289), and leading his followers to flee to surrounding caves and eventually succumb to cannibalism (p. 290).  Gruber notes that Akiba could have anointed Bar Kochba as king but not Messiah, and the Jewish Christians could have assisted in the revolt.  However, the refusal of the Jewish Christians to fight under a false Messiah allowed Akiba to deftly create a split between them and the am ha’aretz (the common people of Israel) since they would not assist them in battle, for otherwise they would have had sympathies for the Talmidei Yeshua if the Sanhedrin had attempted the kill the Jewish Christians for other reasons.  Gruber cites passages from the Talmud that state that the Sanhedrin would re-gain such authority of capital punishment in the land during the acknowledged days of Messiah (p. 277) – and may yet again in a future “Messianic Age”.

Gruber further notes that the “holy war” persecution of Jewish Christians by the Sages (rabbinic leaders) had been going on for some time leading up to the revolt, using the same techniques now used against Jewish Christians in Israel today, Muslims against Christians, and even Christians against Jews at times in history.  He writes: “The Rabbis decreed that the Talmidei Yeshua [Jewish followers of Jesus] should be ostracized from public life.  Their legal rights were taken away.  Their books were burned.  They were turned over to the Roman authorities to be put to death.  It was lawful to cast them into a pit to die.  As Rabbi Akiba emphasized, ‘one is deserving of death for disobeying the rulings of the Sages’” (pp. 278-279).  He cites the Christian contemporary of Akiba and Bar Kokhba, Justin Martyr, who wrote that Bar Kochba targeted Jewish Christians and commanded them to deny Jesus and Messiah and blaspheme Him, and that “the Jews count us foes and enemies, and like yourselves they punish us whenever they have the power” (p. 279).  He also cites another popular Church Father of the era, Eusebius, who wrote that Kokhba “killed the Christians with all kinds of persecutions, (when) they refused to help him against the Roman troops”.  He notes the Mishneh Torah commented on the rights of a rabbinic court (such as one at Bar Kokhba’s stronghold of Bethar) to change the law itself for the sake of religious unity.  Maimonides is quoted as explaining it this way:

“The court may inflict flagellation and other punishments, even in cases where such penalties are not warranted by the law if, in its opinion, religion will thereby be strengthened and safeguarded and the people will be restrained from disregarding the words of the Torah…So too if, in order to bring back the multitudes to religion and save them from general religious laxity, the court deems it necessary to set aside temporarily a positive or a negative command, it may do so, taking into account the need of the hour.  Even as a physician will amputate the hand or the foot of a patient in order to save his life, so the court may advocate when an emergency arises, the temporary disregard of some of the commandments, that the commandments as a whole will be preserved…The king has a right to execute anyone who rebels against him” (pp. 280-281).

I don’t know about you, but some of these statements and phrases sound disturbingly close to that of many conservative Christian leaders today, in their goals to “take America back” as a “Christian nation”, and to win the “culture war”, doing whatever is necessary to obtain their goal and that they can get away with politically.  Just as the rabbinic religious/political leaders were willing to set aside Torah safeguards securing due process, trials, witnesses and mercy for the accused, many Christian political and religious figures today conveniently ignore Christ’s commands to “love your enemies” and “do unto others as you would have done unto you”, and remember “My Kingdom is not of this earth, lest my brothers would fight”, and “we wrestle not against flesh and blood”.  Even Paul reminded the Corinthian church that they should interact with “fornicators” and “idolaters” in this world and not judge them, saying “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?” (1 Cor. 5:12).  Our Jewish Christian ancestors knew better than to be caught up into another religious, patriotic “holy war” in direct opposition to the teaching of our Lord, and for that they were accused of being unpatriotic traitors and paid the price – sometimes with their life or in other ways.  Do we have Christian leaders in America today who are strong enough to take the same stand?  Gruber cites Talmudic narratives that describe such trials of Christians in Jewish courts, apparently during the brief reign of Kokhba (p. 282).  Talmudic descriptions of their techniques of execution included lowering the condemned person into a pit of dung up to his chest, and then inserting a burning article into their mouth to burn them internally (ironically similar to how Jesus is described as burning in excrement in hell, according to the Talmud), and how a priest’s daughter was burned to death by placing burning faggots around her.  Given these examples and that of the witch and heretic burnings by the Church, is it fair to decry the Muslim religion as being especially barbaric for having used similar techniques?

This Jewish persecution, leading to the death of Christians, led Church Father Justin Martyr to note to the Jews that they then, even after the suppression of the revolt and restoration of Roman rule, were

“cursing in your synagogues them that believe on Christ.  For you have not authority to raise your own hands against us, because of them who are now supreme.  But as often as you could, this also ye did…In addition to all this, although your city has been taken, and our land laid waste, you do not repent, but dare even to curse Him and all them that believe on Him.  And, as for us, we do not hate you, nor them that because of you may repent and find mercy from God the Father of the universe, who is tender-hearted and full of compassion.” (pp. 294, 297)

One development introduced by Rabbi Akiba in the wake of the failed revolt and messiahship of Bar Kokhba fundamentally changed the mindset of Judaism from his time forward, and particularly in the twentieth century.  Before his time, it was understood from the writings of the prophets that the suffering imposed on the Jews by God through conquering nations by proxy (such as through the Exile) was to humble them, help them to understand the gravity of their offenses and their ramifications, and hopefully lead them to sincere contrition, repentance and acknowledgement of their sins, with such commitment to reform leading to their reconciliation with their God.  However, Rabbi Akiba changed the mindset of the role of Jewish suffering, and embodied it in his own supposed martyrdom at the conclusion of the Bar Kokhba rebellion.  Rather, Rabbi Akiba taught that the exile and suffering of a Jew alone, without the need to acknowledge sin or repent, would “earn” atonement and require God to restore them eventually.  Gruber notes this by stating that “Akiba did not attribute the failure, suffering, and exile to sin, but he did believe that ‘Exile makes atonement for iniquity’”, quoting from Akiba in the Talmud; Gruber adds that “He believed there was no sin involved, not even his own Messianic proclamation.  Even if there had been sin, exile would atone for it” (p. 301).  Part of his doctrinal innovation was to make the atoning services of the priests and Temple unnecessary, much less the atoning death of Christ for those who believed on Him.

Akiba added in the Talmud that “suffering is precious because it makes atonement for the sufferer”; Gruber in fact cites sources that state that later rabbis taught that Akiba’s death fulfilled Isaiah 53:12 (p. 301), which states, “he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” – a passage Christians universally associate with Christ.  Gruber also quotes another scholar who explains the modern Jewish view this way: “The willingness to offer one’s life has become a means of effecting mediation between God and Israel, a radical means especially necessary in the face of a reduction in traditional prophecy…The process is linked in turn to the concept of vicarious suffering.  Thus the prophet’s martyrdom is for the sake of Israel”, and explains the Talmudic view of the offering of Isaac in Genesis 22 led Abraham to state, “God will for himself see the lamb” (p. 305).  Note that this implied that God sees an atoning lamb offered by the sacrificial martyr himself, while the actual verse states, “God will provide himself a lamb” (Gen. 22:8).

Modern Christians today, in their embrace of all things Jewish, largely do not understand that the modern Jew does not think in terms of reconsidering prior historical acts as wrong, or in need of repentance before God.  The modern Jew sees his or her own suffering as the “ticket” to demand God’s restoration and blessing, as their own atoning sacrifice.  This is why they placed extreme emphasis upon the Shoah, or the suffering imposed by the Holocaust, as the means by which they were made righteous and therefore deserving of God’s favor by having “earned” it, either by means of privileges expected through the Zionist state of Israel, or other accommodations.  No need for humility or reflection is thus required.  When Christians go beyond regretting the suffering of Jews (and other victims) who endured the Holocaust, and even rightly promoting measures to prevent its reoccurrence, and instead rather “sacredize” the event and elevate the uniqueness of the suffering of the Jews over any other victims of genocide and persecution in history, and thus denote the divine “specialness” and special favors due to the Jewish people as a result, it reinforces the spiritual view of Jews that such suffering is adequate for their right standing with God – even regardless of past sins, and even if they may be atheists today!  It also implies a concurrence to them from their Gentile “lesser” brethren that their suffering has earned them a place of global spiritual leadership in the world at large.  For Christians, it should be obvious that this imposes a terrible spiritual disservice to our Jewish friends by denying their need to “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12).

Gruber concludes by noting several reasons why Jewish scholars and the Jewish community at large have been kind to Rabbi Akiba for selecting a false Messiah, and his role in the devastating Bar Kokhba Revolt and resultant Diaspora from Judea. First is Rabbi Akiba’s stated position in the Talmud, that a Sage, or noted rabbinic expert, is not held accountable for the results of their decisions; he quotes Akiba to declare to another mistaken sage, “You are absolved since you are an expert (Mumche), and whoever is an expert for the Bet Din [rabbinic council] is absolved from reparation” (p. 307).  Secondly, he noted that Akiba taught that the Law was entrusted to the rabbis, and not God, and even heavenly pronouncements could not overturn them (more will be said about his “advances” in Judaism such as this in the next chapter).  Thus, as Gruber notes, “If the Rabbis declare someone to be the Messiah, then he IS the Messiah, even if their declaration is factually wrong, it is still right” (p. 308).  He also notes that Akiba’s Theology of Suffering made the failure of the revolt a good thing, thus becoming a means of atonement.  Lastly, Gruber notes that “Akiba’s teaching was still sought because there was no other Judaism left in Israel.  He had defeated them all.  By various means, he had overcome the Priesthood, the Traditional Rabbis, the Scriptures, Prophetic Revelation, the Talmedei Yeshua [Jewish Christians], and God Himself.  Rabbinic literature exerted control over the synagogues” (p. 308).

As we conclude this chapter on Bar Kokhba and his failed rebellion, and the role of Rabbi Akiba, which not only led to the forced dispersal of the Jews away from Jerusalem, but also provided opportunities to wage a “holy war” on their fellow monotheists the Christians as well as the pagan Romans, we should note that the resultant attacks on their Christian rivals were not merely physical in nature.  Although this final rebellion by a Jewish community allowed them to briefly rule as sovereigns again in their own homeland, bolstered by their pride and self-sufficiency apart from their God (whose help was officially rejected by their anointed Messiah Bar Kokhba), their failure led not only to their loss of independence, but also the use of legal, police and military force against their new “holy war” rivals, the Christians.  As they lost such compulsory tools to subjugate and attempt to quench the Christian movement, they had to develop new tools to wage a more covert, “psy-op” holy war against the rising (yet persecuted) Christian faith that even allowed “unclean” Gentiles to join in sharing the fruits and blessings of God’s favor and fellowship.  It turned out that the significant evolutionary changes in the Jewish faith at the time, by means of rabbinic authority, substituting the Sages and synagogue for the Temple, Torah and priest, provided the tools to wage such a covert but momentous conflict.  In the hands of the all-powerful rabbis, no legacy of faith was too sacred to be changed, modified, reinterpreted or erased to deal with the Christian menace – not even the Torah and the writings of the prophets themselves, as we shall see.

…To put into perspective Rabbi’s Akiba’s role in the “holy war” of physical resistance, both against the Romans via Bar Kokhba and with rival Jewish sects by means of the rabbinic council, one might presume that his vision and efforts were abject failures, with the Bar Kokhba Rebellion a disastrous defeat, the Jews dispersed, and even Akiba himself suffering a painful demise as a result.  However, this circumstance serves as an ideal example of what usually transpires in history’s “holy wars” – what appears to be the “winners” and “losers” when the smoke clears are often deceptive, because the public rarely knows what are the true agendas of the “insider” instigators and supporters of these conflicts, which do not become clearer for many years later, if at all.  Akiba, who permitted himself to become a glorious martyr and venerated at an elderly age, actually accomplished all of his personal goals during these days of tumult.  Yes, he looks like he “bet on the wrong horse” with Bar Kokhba, but in fact he suffered no consequence for his decision, because meanwhile he had established the provision in his faith community that the findings of the rabbinic sage are not to be challenged – even by God Himself.  Rather, he used the ruthless brute Kokhba – who professed no need for God’s help – to force compliance to the rabbinic council and the Sanhedrin populated by his cronies, and put the “squeeze” on Jewish Christians to submit to them or be “unpatriotic” and subject to “Patriot Act”-style persecution.  The overt “Great Patriotic War” afforded Akiba the opportunity to cement the supreme authority of the rabbi “sages”, over rival rabbis and the priests as well as Jewish Christians, and use the draconian conditions of a military “holy war” as just cause for his religious subversion.

At that point in this book volume, I discuss in detail Rabbi Akiba’s historical “info war” on Christians, in describing as “fake news” the Old Testament Bible passages confirming the Messiahship and deity of Jesus from the Septuagint, the landmark translation of the Old Testament books hundreds of years before Christ’s era, and the definitive “Bible” of the Jewish community and the new Christian variant, with it becoming an inconvenient tool of the upstart Christians to successfully argue the prior prophetic fulfillment of Jesus. Thus Rabbi Akiba sought to create an alternative translation of these texts, using a disgruntled Jewish convert to Christianity who quit due to reprimands about his continued astrological pursuits, Aquila of Sinope, who was used by Akiba to develop a scrubbed text that downplays Messianic phrases, and which is largely expressed in our widely-used Masoretic Text. Bible students will often see Paul, Jesus and other New Testament figures that quote Old Testament passages that don’t exactly match most of their translations, but typically they do with the Septuagint, because it was the Bible of the early Church. This “holy war” thus became a “psychological operation” of controlling the “information space” and planting doubt, when physical forms of force, coercion, jailing and capital punishment were no longer available to them.

However, Akiba and his colleagues were not finished with other means of controlling the “information space” as a delayed waging of their prior “lost cause.” Resuming the narrative later in my draft manuscript,

Rabbi Akiba not only has played a central role in the propaganda “holy war” against Christians by means of his brazen intent to change God’s written word; he also influenced a direct disciple of his who produced apparently another fraudulent witness to history that still impacts Judaism today, and may show evidence of manipulating Bible prophecy to give sanction to Akiba’s presumptive act of military deliverance.  This disciple, Jose ben Halafta, was the originator of a new Jewish calendar and historical dating system, the Seder Olam Rabbah, which is still used in Judaism today, replacing a calendar based upon the beginning of the Greek Seleucid dynasty.  The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia entry on Halafta notes that his family was of Babylonian origin,  and according to the Talmud “he was one of Akiba’s five principal pupils…his principal teacher was Akiba, whose system he followed in his interpretation of the Law”.  He was ordained in violation of a Roman edict, and was forced by the Romans to remain in the town of Sepphoris.  They write that “Like his master Akiba, Jose occupied himself with the dots which sometimes accompany the words in the Bible, occasionally basing his halakot [interpretation of Jewish law and practice] on such dots” (one could say he knew how to “connect the dots”). Most importantly, the article confirms that “Jose is considered to be the author of the Seder Olam Rabbah, a chronicle from the Creation to the time of Hadrian”.  The article adds that “One of his characteristic sayings is, ‘He who indicates the coming of the Messiah, he who hates scholars and their disciples, and the false prophet and the slanderer, will have no part in the future world’…According to Bacher…this was directed against the Hebrew Christians”.  They conclude by noting that “Owing to Jose’s fame as a saint, legend describes him as having met Elijah”.

The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia entry on the Seder Olam Rabbah calls it the “earliest post-exilic chronicle in the Hebrew language”, cited in the Babylonian Talmud, and is “a chronological record, extending from Adam to the revolt of Bar Kokba, in the reign of Hadrian”.  It states that “The author probably designed the work for calendrical purposes, to determine the era of the Creation; his system, adopted as early as the third century, is still followed”.  It notes that it followed the Bible texts, and gave some historical dates not in the Bible, but which can be inferred from calculation; it does note that “In many cases, however, he gave the dates according to tradition”, according to “preceding rabbis and of his contemporaries”.  This article by Jewish authors notes that this historical chronological document, still used by Jews today in their calendrical dating system, only accords thirty four years for Persian domination.  As a result, they note that “It will be seen that the allowance, contrary to historical facts, of only thirty-four years for the Persian domination is necessary if agreement with the Biblical text is to be insisted upon” (emphasis added).  Their stated rationale for how this must obtain “agreement with the Biblical text” is based upon their argument in the article that the “seventy weeks of years” (or 490 years) prophesied by Daniel in chapter 9 of his book denotes the period of the start of their exile to Babylon, to conclude with the destruction of the Temple by Rome, thus requiring only thirty four years of Persian reign (since the Talmud stated that the Temple was destroyed after 386 years of Alexander’s domination over Palestine), which is counter to all historical knowledge.

This prophetic interpretation ignores the beginning of the “seventy weeks” to occur with the call to rebuild Jerusalem, as clearly noted in the text (Dan. 9:25).  Most Christian theologians who view this as a futuristic prophecy associate this beginning with Artaxerxes’ call to Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls in 445 BCE; given that the passage asserts that only “sixty nine weeks” (483 years) will occur until “Messiah be cut off”, they extrapolate that end date to approximately 32 CE (adjusting for the 360 day Jewish calendar and no year “zero”), which they assert possibly correlates with the date of Jesus’ Passion Week and His official rejection by Jerusalem.  Halafta and other Jewish scholars apparently also evidently conflate this closing prophetic event somehow with Bar Kokhba’s revolt, because the article notes that “from the destruction of the second Temple, which according to the Seder Olam, occurred at the end of the last week of the Sabbatical year, to the suppression of Bar Kokba’s revolt, or the destruction of Bethar, was a period of fifty-two years.  But the text here is very confused, and gave rise to various emendations and interpretations”.  Although the ancient document deals with the period of Kokhba and Hadrian in a few sentences at the end, the encyclopedia entry also notes that “originally the ‘Seder Olam’ was more extensive, and that it consisted of two parts, the second of which, dealing with the post-Alexandrian period, had been lost, with the exception of a small fragment that was added by the copyists to the first part.  Many passages quoted in the Talmud are missing in the present edition of the ‘Seder Olam’”.  Did the missing pieces attempt to correlate the prophetic Bible passages to the Bar Kokhba rebellion, or were they content to merely interpret the Daniel prophetic passage in a manner to preclude the association of the events of Jesus’ life with it (which had occurred not more than a generation or two beforehand) – even being willing to defy confirmable historical facts by artificially shortening the reign of the Persian kings?  Did the missing pieces disappear by accident, or was it intentional?

Whatever the reason, Jose’s work left an indelible imprint on the Jewish people and their history, by giving them a dating system and calendar significantly out of sorts from similar published Christian attempts to date world history from the time of creation based upon the Biblical record.  The most famous of such works is known as “Bishop Ussher’s Annals of the World”, written by James Ussher, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armaugh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656.  His chronology was added to the King James Bible in its annotated editions at the beginning of the eighteenth century, as well as the later Scofield Reference Bible.  His work was translated into modern English and released as an almost 1000 page hard-bound epic volume in 2003 [Ussher, James, The Annals of the World (revised and updated by Larry and Marion Pierce), 2003, Master Books, Green Forest, AR.].  Appendix G in this work, entitled “The Seder Olam Rabbah – Why Jewish Dating is Different”, by Dr. Floyd Nolan Jones, addresses the discrepancy in dating between these two works.  According to his website, Dr. Jones served as a geophysicist in the petrochemical industry for sixteen years before leaving the field of science to pursue Biblical studies.  He notes his possession of a Ph.D as well as a doctorate of theology (Th.D.), and is an ordained minister with the Southern Baptist Convention.  He served as an adjunct professor at Continental Bible College in Brussels, Belgium as well as Chairman of the Department of Biblical Chronology at Pacific International University.  The contents he wrote in the cited “Annals” reference generally mirror that contained in Appendix I of his own work, Chronology of the Old Testament [Jones, Floyd Nolen, Chronology of the Old Testament, 1993, Master Books, Green Forest, AR.].

In his work in Appendix G of Annals, Dr. Jones notes that Ussher’s Bible-based dating research denotes Adam’s creation (based on its rendering of the Bible passage chronologies) at 4004 B.C., differing by as many as 243 years from the calendar used by the Jewish community today, as dictated by the ancient Seder Olam Rabbah.  He also notes that at the time the Seder Olam was compiled, Jews dated their years from 312 BC – the beginning of the Seleucid era, while the Seder Olam was only used by Talmud students for the next few centuries.  As such, the year 2012 in a modern Gentile calendar would correlate to 5772 in a Jewish calendar (adjusted for the fact that Gentile and Jewish New Years are on different dates, and with no “year zero” in the Gentile calendar).  Dr. Jones, in this document, painstakingly documents that many of these years can be attributed to simple Old Testament interpretation errors in many places, such as regarding the age of Abraham’s father, Abraham’s age at the time of his covenant, and the time of the consecration of the Second Temple.  Most importantly, he notes that the “abbreviated history” of the “Seder” during the period from the consecration of the Second Temple (351 BCE vs. 515 BCE) until its destruction by Rome comprised two thirds (and the remaining amount) of the entire discrepancy in time (164 years) between the two dating approaches, and was predominantly due to a radical shortening of the era of Persian rule (and removing three of the Persian kings).  Dr. Jones posits that this implausible shrinking of the Persian reign (to 53 years (34 after the dedication of the Temple) from the more credible 207 years from other historical sources) was done intentionally, and with the foreknowledge of the Jewish writers.  Further he notes that “present day Jewish scholars acknowledge that there is something enigmatic about the Seder Olam’s dating”.  As evidence, he cites the Jewish writer and commentator Rabbi Simon Schwab, who admitted that “the commonly received dates in the Ptolemaic chronology ‘can hardly be doubted’”, and who proposes in his writings the following reasons for the discrepancy:

“It should have been possible that our Sages – for some unknown reason – had “covered up” a certain historic period and purposely eliminated and suppressed all records and other material pertaining thereto.  If so, what might have been their compelling reason for so unusual a procedure?  Nothing short of a Divine command could have prompted… those saintly “men of truth” to leave out completely from our annals a period of 165 years and to correct all data and historic tables in such a fashion that the subsequent chronological gap could escape being noticed by countless generations, known to a few initiates only who were duty-bound to keep the secrets to themselves” (emphasis original) [Schwab, Simon, “Comparative Jewish Chronology”, Dr. Joseph Brewer Jubilee Volume, 1962, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch Publications Society, p. 188, as cited by Annals, p. 932.]

In turn, Dr. Jones makes the following response:

“This is an astonishing proposal!  Schwab, along with other Jewish commentators, further suggests that the reason God directed the sages of the 2nd century AD to become involved in falsifying the data was to confuse anyone who might try to use the prophecies of Daniel to predict the time of the Messiah’s coming.  This was supposedly done to honor Da. 12:4: ‘shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end’.  He adds that the reason the sages had adopted the non-Jewish Seleucid Era calendar was part of the scheme to do just that – to close up the words and seal the book of Daniel [Schwab, Simon, “Comparative Jewish Chronology”, Selected Speeches: A Collection of Addresses and Essays on Hashkafah, Contemporary Issues and Jewish History, CIS Pub., Lakewood, NJ, 1991, pp. 270-272, as cited in Annals, p. 932.].  Schwab also states that if the 165 years were included it would reveal, ‘we are much closer to the end of the 6th Millennium than we had surmised’ (Schwab mentions this date as the time when many rabbis expect Messiah to come).”

Jones continues:

“But can any sincere reader accept such a flimsy reason as justification for distorting history?  It actually accuses God himself of perpetrating a dishonest deception.  Indeed, it is manifestly apparent that the real reasons for the deliberate altering of their own national chronology in the Seder Olam were: (1) to conceal the fact that the Da. 9:25 prophecy clearly pointed to Jesus of Nazareth as its fulfillment and therefore the long awaited Messiah, and (2) to make that seventy week of years prophecy point instead to Simon Bar Kokhba!”

Dr. Jones concludes by giving evidence bolstering his assertions, such as the role of Rabbi Aviba in “anointing” Bar Kokhba as Messiah as well as mentoring Seder Olam author Yose ben Halafta, and the fact that the destruction of many Persian records after their overthrow provided the Jewish teachers with an opportunity to modify the records of the duration of their rule.  He finishes by saying, “The author offers the conclusions given herein as the only reasonable, logical deductions that can be drawn from the historical and blblical facts”.  Whether he is right in that the intention was to show Bar Kokhba as Messiah, or the Jewish Encyclopedia scholars in that the intention was to comply with their belief that the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel concludes with the destruction of the Temple, one cannot ascertain; possibly the additional material from the Seder Olam, specifically from this period of time, which has been removed from its text would offer answers, and the reason for its removal would be quite curious.  But it can be confirmed, from all sources both Christian and Jewish, that (a) an intentional effort was made to falsify the chronological record of the time, and (b) it involved getting the “desired answer” from Daniel prophecy, which was not that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the prophecy.

The shadows of the “lost cause messiah” Bar Kokhba still hang over the Jewish people, and particularly the militant, patriotic segment that reside in modern Israel. Later in this volume I write that

[According to the Jewish Virtual Library,] In the modern Zionist era, the popular Zionist youth movement “Betar” took its name from Bar-Kokhba’s last stronghold (the group adopted its leader, radical militant Vladimir Jabotinsky’s “Oath” that “I will devote my life to the rebirth of the Jewish State, with a Jewish majority, on both sides of the Jordan”, as “defense training was proclaimed the foremost duty of every member”, while fighting claims by other Zionists of their being fascists. Even a song in Israeli kindergartens today contains the refrain, “Bar Kokhba was a hero; he fought for liberty” [Lomsky-Feder, Edna, and Ben-Ari, Eyal, The Military and Militarism in Israeli Society, 1999, State University Press, Albany, p. 50.].

 

So, have we seen that when a “lost cause” over prior “Camelots” or “golden ages” of a culture that were lost, crumbled or pilfered, and desired to one day be restored, are energized with religious rationale and fervor, with the arguments of “prophesied” fulfillment and the “day of visitation” by the “prophets” of one’s era, there is almost nothing that the religious leadership will not resort to, and the devout people following them not swallow blindly to the point of offering themselves in violent or coercive struggles at the cost of their life or freedom? That “anointing messiahs,” and justifying their “non-messianic” traits to the gullible flock are often quite easy, if a little peer pressure or coercion is applied, only if a profane messiah figure appeals to their patriotic or cultural superiority pride, and energizes them with boastful words of “fights” against the “barbarians” that have previously subjugated them? That the first casualty in “lost cause” struggles is the truth and facts of today’s events and our history, and when they are forcefully made into religion-fueled “holy wars,” that even the sacred scriptures and prophetic promises are contorted to serve the ends of those who stand to profit from it? This work was not intended to merely disparage our Jewish brethren; of course, we can see incidents like the tragic Christian Crusades as such an example of religious and state leaders conspiring to build an external “boogeyman” of another religion and culture, suggest prophetic sanction and spiritual anointing by its religious zealot leaders, and energize an otherwise demoralized and low-esteem underclass of devotees to march off to waste their lives under the direction of insane religious zealots or shrewd, self-serving leaders. We witnessed a milder version 177 years ago, when the evangelicals under Baptist William Miller believed his interpretation of prophecy to await their Rapture in 1844, only to be led into the “Great Disappointment,” leading the failed leader and his cohorts to “move the goalposts” and redefine its fulfillment while still retaining a surprisingly large following, and while many more threw up their hands in disgust on the whole Christian experience. In Part 3 of this series, we will explore how such similar circumstances we are now living in amongst the Christian community during our current “Lost Cause” may witness similar outcomes.

my new book, Two Masters and Two Gospels, Vol. 1 – The Teaching of Jesus Vs. the “Leaven of the Pharisees” in Talk Radio and Cable News, is available in paperback and Kindle ebook here at Amazon, in paperback, Nook .epub ebook and even two types of hardcover at Barnes and Noble, in ebook via Kobo/Walmart and paperback and ebook at Books A Million, and many other places; I also offer a special deal for ebook readers at the Two Masters site at Bookbaby (available here), which provides Kindle, epub and pdf versions together for one price, and if you leave your email there for my mailing list, I will additionally send you a special short work I have done, just for you. You can also catch a few of my recent interviews on my book at Conspirinormal, Iron Show, Binnall of America, Ryan O’Neal’s WQEE Classic Rock, Pastor Mike Spaulding’s Soaring Eagle Radio and Derek Gilbert’s View From the Bunker.

The website that chronicles and makes announcements about my books is www.mikebennettbooks.com.

My publisher website is www.akribospress.com.

 

The New “Lost Cause”: What Might Await Us – Part 1: The Historical Legacy of Perceived Betrayal and Vigilante/Guerilla “Justice”

 

Wikipedia defines “The Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” or the “Lost Cause,” as

an American pseudo-historical, negationist ideology that advocates the belief that the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil War was a just and heroic one. This ideology has furthered the belief that slavery was just and moral, because it brought economic prosperity. The notion was used to perpetuate racism and racist power structures during the Jim Crow era in the American South. It emphasizes the supposed chivalric virtues of the antebellum South. It thus views the war as a struggle primarily waged to save the Southern way of life and to protect “states’ rights,” especially the right to secede from the Union. It casts that attempt as faced with “overwhelming Northern aggression.” At the same time, it minimizes or completely denies the central role of slavery and white supremacy in the build-up to, and outbreak of, the war.

One particularly intense wave of Lost Cause activity occurred during World War I, as the last Confederate veterans began to die out and a push was made to preserve their memories. A second wave of Lost Cause activity occurred in reaction to growing public support for racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Through activities such as the construction of prominent Confederate monuments and the writing of school history textbooks, the Lost Cause movement sought to ensure future generations of Southern whites would know about the South’s “true” reasons for fighting the war, and therefore continue to support white supremacist policies, such as Jim Crow laws. In that regard, white supremacy is a central feature of the Lost Cause narrative. Lost Cause narratives typically portray the Confederacy’s cause as noble, and its leaders and armies as exemplars of old-fashioned chivalry, whose defeat by the Union armies was because the South’s greater military skill and courage was overwhelmed by the North’s numerical superiority and immense industrial power.

In other words, believers of the “Lost Cause,” both at the conclusion of the war and since then, believed it wasn’t a “fair fight,” and that the deck was stacked against them from the start, and their beliefs in traditional values and the superiority of their culture were directly placed in jeopardy. From this, they never accepted the reality of the defeat, clinging (even up to today) with battle cries like “the South shall rise again,” and continue to raise the Confederate battle flag (which is becoming harder to do in more places, even with their modern leader, the Manhattan Yankee Donald Trump’s strong defense of such, but it was prominent at car races and southern rock and country music concerts in the era of my upbringing). They assert that their northern brutish adversaries used technology to steal the fight away from their higher character and ideals, as they then were forced to suffer under their dark and immoral national political leadership.

They quote Mick LaSalle in a 2020 article in the San Francisco Examiner that “They say that history is written by the victors, but the Civil War has been the rare exception. Perhaps the need for the country to stay together made it necessary for the North to sit silently and accept the South’s conception of the conflict. In any case, for most of the past 150 years, the South’s version of the war and Reconstruction has held sway in our schools, our literature and, since the dawn of feature films, our movies.” They have also emphasized over the years that Africans “had it easy” under their “Christian reign” of the antebellum South, and had no cause for complaint or accusations of unjust treatment, when given their “limited” innate abilities that the South tolerated.

The picture at the top of this post is by Henry Mosler, called “The Lost Cause,” and a famous work completed three years after the end of the Civil War.

They quote University of Virginia professor Gary Gallagher as writing that “The defeat of the Confederacy devastated many Southerners economically, emotionally, and psychologically. Before the war, many white Southerners proudly felt that their rich military tradition would enable them to prevail in the forthcoming conflict. When that did not happen, many white Southerners sought consolation in attributing their loss to factors beyond their control, such as physical size and overwhelming brute force [i.e., that it was a “rigged” operation]…They also wanted to provide their children and future generations of white Southerners with a ‘correct’ narrative of the war.” They add that the United Daughters of the Confederacy had been associated with the Lost Cause for over a century. However, Union Army General George Henry Thomas of Virginia wrote in 1868 that

[T]he greatest efforts made by the defeated insurgents since the close of the war have been to promulgate the idea that the cause of liberty, justice, humanity, equality, and all the calendar of the virtues of freedom, suffered violence and wrong when the effort for southern independence failed. This is, of course, intended as a species of political cant, whereby the crime of treason might be covered with a counterfeit varnish of patriotism, so that the precipitators of the rebellion might go down in history hand in hand with the defenders of the government, thus wiping out with their own hands their own stains; a species of self-forgiveness amazing in its effrontery, when it is considered that life and property—justly forfeited by the laws of the country, of war, and of nations, through the magnanimity of the government and people—was not exacted from them.

After 1900, the Lost Cause was perpetuated by the sudden production of heroic Confederate statues by Confederate-sympathetic organizations, and also helped justify the Jim Crow laws in the South to further extend their “benevolent” caretaking domination over African-Americans (the treatment of blacks in their region not being discussed in notable detail in their mythology). One of the best-known proponents of the “Lost Cause” was Southern Baptist minister and author Thomas Dixon, Jr., who proposed repatriation of African-Americans to Africa, with a “race war” a result if they didn’t, which he assuredly knew the white man would win, with three thousand years of civilization and advantage over the black man. He also thought that getting proper education to the black community was dangerous, and that racial prejudice was just “self preservation.” He was heard by millions of people, and his novel and play The Klansman (which includes a national political party taking power by enfranchising (giving the vote) to African Americans to overthrow the rival) was seen by four million people, which later was turned into the iconic film Birth of a Nation. This latter film (about the Klan saving the day), which featured Dixon’s normal narrative in his books of a black man attempting to rape a white woman until stopped by a white posse, was the first film seen in the White House, and by the Supreme Court and Congress the next day; more importantly, this film, considered the first “modern film” in narrative structure, was the inspiration for the founding of the new and far bigger Ku Klux Klan at Stone Mountain Georgia shortly thereafter. White women have since played a very strong role in defending the Lost Cause, through the United Daughters of the Confederacy and similar local organizations to defend their aristocratic values and way of life.

Soon after the Civil War, proud Southerners began to see even their fellow white Southern neighbors who helped bring down the Lost Cause by seeking reconciliation with their political opponents, or worse yet, empowering former black slaves to vote in large numbers and enfranchise them with easier means to vote (and thus unseat their privileged political and power control in their regions) as the most vile of enemy traitors who betrayed their own kind and stabbed them in the back, which they called “scalawags.” Ironically, at that time the party who wanted minorities and blacks to vote to unseat power was the Republican Party. These local Southerners were thought to be in league with the liberal northerners to destroy the South’s “traditional values” (i. e. white supremacy over a large black population in servitude).  It was said then pejoratively that a “scalawag” was a “Southern white man who said he was no better than a Negro.” One of the most prominent people considered then a “scalawag” was Gen. James Longstreet, the deputy general to Robert E. Lee. Even more ironically, this contentious situation of patriotic citizens distrusting and being aggressive to their own neighbors due to their intensely felt superior traditions and culture was eased after the 1876 presidential election, when the Democratic candidate won over 50% of the vote nationally and several percentage points over their Republican rival in an extremely high-turnout election, but lost the presidency by one elector when the Republication state representatives in three southern states and one western one overturned the Democratic majority public vote in each of them, and awarded Republican electors instead, with tension building right up to the reading of the electors by Congress later; war and crisis was averted by the government agreeing to end Reconstruction and the stationing of northern Union troops in southern states in exchange for a Republican presidency.

Scalawags were often threatened with violence by traditional conservative Southerners for violating the “traditional values” they stood for, of conserving who the ruling race and class of people would be in their region, often by means of the vigilante Ku Klux Klan outside of the use of government, law enforcement or legal means. The following picture is from an 1968 Alabama newspaper that showed what the KKK would do to native scalawags and Yankee carpetbaggers if their candidate won the 1868 presidential election:

 

Speaking of the Klan, the “Lost Cause” era after the Civil War produced a reaction shortly afterwards, as it does in all subsequent societal “lost causes,” when political and other “official” power and authority had been lost, under the guise of presumed unfair treachery and betrayal, leading the resistance of such to be taken “to the streets,” as a typical of grass-roots, semi-organized but organic form of dispersed “citizen vigilantism” in guerilla fashion to retain and restore some “power to the people.” The nature of these reactionary vigilante movements outside the bounds of civil and legal authority were meant to terrorize “up-starts” of influence in traditional societies, either from minorities, underclasses or “outsiders” from cultures outside their local traditions within their region, to intimidate them to withdraw from taking a seat at the table of societal influence and leadership. It is to “conserve” who are the “haves” of resources, wealth and influence from the traditional “have nots,” regardless of their resented new-found legal rights and authority, under the mask of defending “traditional values,” which no one otherwise prevented them from honoring within their own homes and circles.

Outsiders were firebombed and arson and terror tactics were used, as well as being directed at domestic “scalawags” of their own clan and culture who assisted them in “meddling” in their operation of the culture, but the most direct targets were African Americans attempting to exercise their new-found rights of voting. Every technique was devised, from “poll taxes” and guessing the number of marbles in a jar before voting, to intimidation by armed white men at the polling stations, to lynchings and other violent means afflicted on those (black and white) who signed up black persons to vote. Today in 2020 it is accomplished by “gerrymandering” districts,” devising additional identification and registration rules and complex means of assuring voter registration, discouraging sign up drives of immigrant and minority-class citizens, and using strange legal maneuvers after the vote to throw out large numbers of votes by legal, registered voters after the voting day has passed. The 2020 presidential election cycle, in which mail-in voting was encouraged during the worse throes of the COVID epidemic to limit its deadly spread with crowded election-day poll sites, these parties (which had discouraged people to mail-in vote, rather preferring they decline to participate due to safety, or be confronted by armed “poll watchers” on election day to intimidate them) even introduced a modern “advancement” in 2020, of setting out voting boxes marked “official voting box” (implying it is a voter ballot collection boxes run by the elections departments of the government) that are actually set up (without identification) by the California Republican Party. They ignored courted-ordered cease and desist pronouncements from deploying such by the state Attorney General and Secretary of State, as they set up 100 “official” ballot collection boxes, with no one knowing if they were forwarded intact to be counted by election officials. Techniques like this were used recently in addition to the scores of dubious lawsuits filed nationwide to throw out their fellow citizens’ votes of another party after the election, regardless of their evidence-free allegations that have not held up to even cursory review in any of these lawsuits, even among judges appointed by the same party. Minority groups of formerly-dominant cultural classes that cling to their stolen “lost cause” have always found such techniques most valuable for retaining power over the majority of their fellow citizens that seek to join the seats of societal influence via the ballot box.

The supporters of this original “lost cause” used terror groups like the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate the far larger ranks of minority and “outsider” underclasses with new-found rights and legal voting privileges by appearing in terror-inducing garb and brandishing weapons conspicuously, and “hunting” in packs, often without interference from “official” law enforcement that was sympathetic to them (and who often had their own ranks in these groups and under the masks), appearing to envy the unregulated power to bring terror and court and legal system-free “justice” on those they opposed that these vigilante groups exercised, and removing any recourse for victims to seek protection from authorities. They killed over 2000 potential black voters and their white sympathizers in Louisiana alone just prior to the 1868 election, whiles hundreds of such voters were killed in each county in Florida, as examples, and widespread votes in the primaries for Republicans by blacks and white sympathizers of minority representation in the electorate totally disappeared once the general election began across the South, as their votes were suppressed, or widely discouraged. Often the intimidation and control was accomplished without continued and widespread violence, and rather by conspicuously displaying their weaponry and ranks, and setting a few horrific “examples” to keep the masses docile. It featured many veterans of the last war, who thought the politicians had “sold them out” or not held out to defend their culture long enough, as well as current law enforcement figures and judges. In essence, these terrorist vigilante grass-roots populist movements became the alternative to earlier government authority to enforce the preferred political, economic and rights status of the traditional ruling race and class over the underclasses they had been exploiting, which was suddenly in peril by their increased voting capacity and legal rights to political participation. The first-generation Klan organization was organized officially during Reconstruction here in Nashville, prominently featuring veterans like Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest (who had massacred over three hundred surrendered black soldiers and white Southern sympathizers at the Battle of Fort Pillow) as its first national leader and Grand Wizard, and who is commemorated with an amazing statue of him on horseback here in Nashville, in view of the interstate, and “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day” is commemorated each year in Tennessee up through 2019.

The next embodiment in 1915, begun in the wake of the popularity of the aforementioned film Birth of a Nation (actually invoking the costumes and rituals invented by the novel and film itself), grew from 5,000 members in 1920 to 5 million members in 1925, or about 15% of the nation’s eligible population. It really grew amongst the grass roots who distrusted the “Swamp” establishment powers when the “Fake News Media” (national newspapers) and Congress condemned its hateful rhetoric and xenophobia, with new founder William Simmons adding thatIt wasn’t until the newspapers began to attack the Klan that it really grew…Certain newspapers also aided us by inducing congress to investigate us. The result was that congress gave us the best advertising we ever got. Congress made us” (emphasis added). This Twentieth Century embodiment was far more savvy in public relations, imagery, symbolism and messaging, and using the new mass media to promote their cause in advanced marketing and standardization of its organization and “franchise product.” Rather than just being vigilante terrorist posses in the night, they tried to project an air of conservative Christian “respectability” of preserving the nation’s Christian values, including to protect the “interests of white womanhood” and the home (and white suburbs and neighborhoods, as it exploded in the growing transplant communities of places like Dallas and Detroit) from ethnic minority community encroachment. Its founding documents explained its goals to “shield the sanctity of the home and the chastity of womanhood; to maintain white supremacy; to…conserve, protect and maintain the distinctive institutions, rights, privileges, principles and ideals of a pure Americanism.” In fact, their national messaging was virtually indistinguishable from the modern Religious Right messaging and priorities today. As alluded to in the pictures of their marches at the top of this post, they portrayed themselves as “Christian warriors” defending “Americanism” and its “Christian values,” such as Bible reading and prayer in schools, the Ten Commandments up in the courthouse, and warnings of the motives of non-Protestant religious groups in America, immigrants, as well as minorities of race, religion and ethnicity that were not Anglo-Saxon based, in their national motive to make America great again. Their ranks included judges and top state officials in both the North and South (with states like Indiana and Maine having some of the most prominent organizations). The similarity to today’s conservative and Religious Right movements don’t end there; the leaders of these movements were able to raise funds off of their paranoid warnings of “outsider” infiltration in America sufficient to obtain quite lucrative fortunes, and the decadent and hypocritical lifestyles out of the public eye that comes with it. By 1925, 40,000 unmasked Klan members were marching to the Washington Monument.

While these tens of thousands of “patriotic Christians,” proudly marching without their masks, got lots of attention of the Washington DC press in 1925 as the “next big thing,” one historical source reports that a few lone Christians dared speak up to this intimidating crowd of ultra-conservative “Christians” in their public show of strength. They note that a Thomas Avaunt there passed out flyers amongst the crowd, stating that “All Christian men and women bow their heads in shame when they know the streets of their city may soon be bathed in blood. Those of us who are Christians and believe in law and order cannot forget the scores of cities where similar parades of the KKK have been the cause of murder and bloodshed and without a minute’s notice men and women have been shot.” They source adds that “infowars”-style rumors of unattributed threats of armed “minority uprisings” and deadly counter-protests also spread around; they write that “Rumors began to circulate that the African American community had been arming itself to combat the parade, buying up all the rifles and revolvers in local thrift shops. The Metropolitan Police investigated the claims and debunked them. In a public statement, they were adamant that no such violence was planned. In fact, in hopes of avoiding conflict, police and African American pastors urged their congregants to steer clear of the crowds gathering around the parade.” They also note that 150,000 spectators watched these tens of thousands of Klansmen march to restore America. As they completed the several-hour march and began to ready the Christian Klan orators to inspire the gathered crowd, storm clouds began to form. They write that a local Klan leader tried to reassure the crowd with “Christian” words, saying that “‘I have faith enough in the Lord that He is with every Klansman,’ he told the restless audience. ‘You ought to have as much faith in Him as I have. We have never had a drop of rain in Washington when we got on our knees.’ Right about then, the heavens opened up.” The next night featured a cross burning there, reported to be eighty feet tall and thirty feet wide, which was lit as U. S. flags were mounted around it and on the speaker’s stand, as they played and sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “America” – a spectacle that stirs, inspires and invigorates the fleshly souls of “Western Christians” like the similarly staged Nuremberg rallies in Hitler’s Germany just a few years later.

Leader D. C. Stephenson made millions in the mid-1920s with an exclusive franchise racket selling Klan uniforms in Indiana, the state with the largest Klan population of 250,000, or one third or more of all of Indiana’s white males, and a governor a presumed Klan member as well as the majority of the Indiana General Assembly and other politicians (confirmed by Pulitzer Prize-winning press investigations), such that politicians needed Klan endorsement to be elected as a Republican, the party in which they focused their efforts (with Stephenson saying publicly that “I am the law in Indiana”), just as modern Republicans need Trump endorsement or face a primary rival in local offices. They emphasized strict morality and exposed “notorious sinners,” but much like today’s religious activist groups, it was found that leaders like Stephenson were exposed and convicted of decadent and violent sexual perversion (including chewing on a young lady Stephenson kidnapped and raped) and assault, leading to their general demise in this “mainstream” form in the late 1920s (he and pro-Prohibition Klan officials were found at trial to be alcoholics and womanizers). Just like today’s Tea Party organizations and “astroturf” fake grass roots organizations behind them, various Klan franchisees fought over assets procured from the lucrative racket funded from merchandise, public donations, fund raising and events, as their primary interest in the movement. During that time, cities like Indianapolis were controlled by the Klan, while smaller cities like New Albany fought them; street fights between Klan “Christian warriors” and minority groups were commonplace. In the community outside Louisville that my family members lived in after I left town, I found the community newspapers of that era show the Klan welcomed with open arms in the community and specifically within its conservative churches, where they had recruiting drives in the services much like the Gideon Bible distributors do today, albeit to arrange “god-fearing” men and pastors to resist dangerous minorities that threatened to move into or burn down white suburbs or rape their white women, as well as immigrants and non-Protestants (and including socialists and other leftists) that threatened their heritage and traditions of Anglo-Saxon Protestant control of America that they had to preserve. They had a major impact in governments across America, particularly in places like Maine and Southern California (future stronghold of the John Birch Society), where thousands of Klansmen were active in Orange County, and were elected in city council in Anaheim, and nationwide they were mostly supported or even led by Methodist or Baptist ministers. In Oregon, where the Klan swiftly took over, they brought in an “escaped nun” to tell made up terrors of the Catholic clergy (which sounds like much of the anti-Catholic, “Satanic Panic” and “Illuminati paedophile ring” whistleblowers I have seen peddled in Christian circles in my day). They bitterly divided every town and city they entered into opposed camps of the public, while ministers and politicians were usually too timid to stand up to them (and their supporters in the voting public) or take a principled stand, as the Klan controlled their seats of government in Oregon with only 2 percent of the population being members.

These prominent first and second generation Klan movements were just indicative of a long tradition of American vigilantism when law enforcement, the legal system or even the military were not “cutting it” in terms of satisfying the passions of the populists, going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. In Civil War times, they were often known as “bushwackers,” and spread death, arson, destruction and terror across the land. While not officially part of any government armed institution, they often coordinated with sympathetic law enforcement and military chains of command, doing their “dirty work” that the laws of policing and war would not let them, as a “force multiplier,” and even getting military ranks awarded at times, without the need to obey rules of engagement. As their movements that followed, often behind masks and at night, collapsed as a “Lost Cause” as feuds increased the body count and escalation, their new-found ability to break down the psychological barrier to and experience in killing in cold blood made these groups into excellent self-motivated violent criminal gangs in the aftermath in the Old West, such as by former bushwacker Jesse James, and subsequent guerilla and militia movements typically devolve from their “cause” and resort to violent, self-serving crime.

Later in the 1800s and 1900s it formed the basis of a far-broader citizen-led guerilla culture nationwide known as the “white capping” movement. When communities of people no longer had patience to deal with or confidence in legal institutions of law enforcement or the legal system when court rulings opened up opportunities for rival minority groups (blacks, immigrants and minority religious faiths) to conduct business, work and own property in their communities that went against their wishes of domination, collectives of working class nativist citizens nationwide took matters in their own hands and used their greater numbers, or terror tactics as a force multiplier, and formed groups like the “Night Riders” and “Bald Knobbers” across America, raiding minority families or their white sympathizers at night to whip and kill them, burn their houses or threaten them to leave their community and property behind, and not impact their communities’ economies with their work force or businesses. They also attacked those seen as a “welfare” drain on their communities by not working hard enough. Since that time, more modern groups such as The Minutemen, The Secret Army Organization (a paramilitary group that bombed buildings and shot pro-peace professors and such, being controlled by the FBI and Nixon White House, as it was discovered at trial and congressional testimony, including the planned false-flag bombing of the 1972 Republican Convention to blame on the Vietnam Veterans against the War), the Christian Identity militia movement that “successfully” killed hundreds of innocent civilians with the Oklahoma City bombing, the deadly bombings by the Jewish Defense League for decades, and the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and similar groups have kept up the tradition today, with the consistent help of significant portions of “official” law enforcement, and sometimes even the President. This is why federal authorities consistently report that right-wing anti-government paramilitary guerilla activities are the most frequent source of terror and hate crimes annually, and the greatest terror threat to American society. All these groups outside the law will eventually follow the same path of making killers of normal citizens (with the help of experienced veterans or law enforcement retirees, or even active duty sympathizers), without rules or laws, leadership subsequently devolving to the hands of the most ruthless, and despairing cynicism amongst all the lawlessness until they use their (sometimes newly learned) propensity to use violence and aggression for self-serving ends of crime, just as white supremacist groups, and even the Symbionese Liberation Army, use bank robberies, kidnappings and the like to enlarge their coffers and personal bank accounts, with new tools of cybercrimes and such now available. 

The revived Klan of the 1950s until today has focused on opposing civil rights, desegregation and black residents in communities in which they had a presence. They revived terror tactics, lynchings and hate crimes, including upon white human rights activists (whom they called “N___r lovers”), which included Northern students and civil rights figures who tried to support black and minority voters in Southern states, helping local authorities devise means of denying blacks voter privileges and representation on juries, and conducting bombings and burnings of churches with black members (either as majorities or minorities in white-majority churches), and local judges usually would not convict captured perpetrators. They responded to the newfound power of black and minority communities in removing roadblocks to their voting by means of 1960s legislation, and opportunities of housing outside their confined ghettos, or ability to organize into protest movements and marches to expose communities violating their legal rights. White populations saw this voting power and encroachment in their communities as a direct threat, and in addition to their efforts in trying to stop their votes or otherwise invalidate them, resorted to vigilante action outside the law, but with the common understood support of local law enforcement and judicial system, and with the help of many pastors and religious leaders. In 1979 KKK and American Nazi Party members pulled up by car and shot and killed five communist activists who were supporting black labor workers to join unions in Greensboro, NC; in 1980 three KKK members shot and killed four elderly black women in Chattanooga after a rally, and when caught, two of them were acquitted by an all-white jury, and the other served three months. Around 1980 in the same area outside Louisville, the attendance of some black Christians at a local Baptist church where my brother served for the time as an assistant pastor, resulted in a public threat at a church service by a member known to be a local Klan leader, and when my brother retorted that they would always be welcome in the house of worship, the man’s last threat was followed with deeds within a week, as the new church whose construction was just completed by the parishioners was burned to the ground, with investigators finding evidence of arson.

In recent years the Klan has been in decline, although it is somewhat due to the rise of many rival hate groups which are growing; the Klan has had a sudden rise is chapters opening since 2015. In February 2019, Goodloe Sutton, editor of the Linden (AL) Democrat-Reporter, wrote an editorial entitled, “Klan Needs to Ride Again,” saying they needed to “night ride” because of the “socialist-communist ideology” invading Alabama, and responded to complaints to it that, “The point of the editorial was ironic in that all these years, the FBI and the Department of Justice have been investigating the Klan and now, that shoe is on the other foot. (The FBI and Justice Department) are doing wrong and the Klan needs to investigate them.” He said regarding liberals offended by the editorial, “It’s not their country. It’s our country and if they don’t like it, they can go to hell.” He wrote concerning the aftermath of the editorial that “It got me about $10 million in free publicity. I know I would do it all over again”; the 80-year-old stated in a phone interview that he had resigned, and said “I’m going to drink beer and sex young women,” after receiving praise for the editorial in which he said that the Klan should “raid the gated communities” of Democrats. In the interview he said that Democrats should be lynched, and that ““we’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.” He added in an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser that the “socialist-communists” should be lynched, and balked at ideas the Klan were violent, saying, “A violent organization? Well, they didn’t kill but a few people,” Sutton said. “The Klan wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”

One essential element of fortifying and sustaining such populist movements in paranoid suspicion and contempt of their fellow citizens of other races, religions or economic class, is to control the information space and narrative, and for “Lost Case”-based movements, the historical record of what “went down” up to today, and its justification of the nature of the grievances and aggressive reactionary actions and initiatives. Even in December 2020, Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper reports on how the school textbook contents regarding the South’s “Lost Cause” has fomented these world views and strife for generations, right up to 2020. They write that, “For much of the 20th century, southern classrooms…Teachers taught students to sing Dixie and memorize long lists of forgettable governors. Civil War battles got described in detail. Textbooks celebrated the violent overthrow of democratically-elected, multiracial governments. Lynching went unmentioned. The evils of slavery got cursory acknowledgments — and quick dismissals,” with one 1961 Alabama textbook stating that “It should be noted that slavery was the earliest form of social security in the United States.” They add that “The same forces that took over public spaces to erect monuments to the Confederacy and its white supremacist tenets also kept a tight grip on the history taught to Southern pupils. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) spent decades shaping and reshaping textbooks to put a strong emphasis on Lost Cause views of the Civil War and Reconstruction, which glorified the white supremacist foundations of the Confederacy and was used to justify segregation and authoritarian Jim Crow governance. While the UDC was responsible for erecting many of the Confederate statues that are controversial today during the Jim Crow era, Civil War legacy historian Kevin Levin is quoted as saying that, “With all the attention they received in terms of reference to the monuments, I think their most lasting impact was in controlling and censoring textbooks.” The article further writes that “Efforts to improve history education moved slowly. Lost Cause mythology came under sustained fire from academic historians starting in the 1950s, but that research took decades to reach classrooms. After a long court fight, Mississippi in 1980 adopted the textbook “Conflict and Change,” which confronted lynching and the dehumanizing aspects of slavery in ways previous textbooks had not. Later textbooks provided more information about slave life and abandoned earlier whitewashings of terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. But change came slowly. Textbooks that said Black Southerners were content to be second-class citizens were in use in Virginia well into the 1980s. Mississippi students were not required to learn about the civil rights movement before 2011.”

This concept of a national “lost cause” betrayal, and the resultant populist covert wave of vigilante resistance to the powerlessness it imbued, is not just an American phenomenon, even in the 20th century. One such prominent example is the “stab in the back” myth, in which the Germans from 1981 to Hitler’s reign in the 1930s were led to believe that the vaunted German army did not actually lose World War I, but were “stabbed in the back” along with the German public by Jews and socialists, and the governing Weimer Republic that capitulated by signing the Armistice. This conspiracy theory and disbelief in their movement and ideology ever losing was made possible because the media sources their leader and aligned German media arms of government propaganda allowed them to be exposed to had led them to believe it was “impossible” to lose, that “God was on their side,” and that any events reported to the contrary were merely “fake news” – an alternative reality they clung to until their loss was sudden and inexplicable to them, to the point of disbelief. Actually, the army was well aware of their ultimate loss, and encouraged the settlement with the Allies, but shrewdly did not admit it publicly, and rather had the civilian authorities of Weimer sign the surrender documents, thereby giving them later plausible deniability, and placing all the blame on the hapless new government put in power at the end of the war (with its leader later killed for such “cowardice”). This similar disbelief due to the lack of their favorite leader-in-power-aligned media outlets not reporting the weakness of their leadership or its imminent peril has provided a similar public disbelief in electoral losses and the embrace of laughable conspiracy theories by today’s followers of the “invincible” Donald Trump and his “prophesied” victory in the 2020 election. As the Germans were led by their failing authorities and military heroes to blame scapegoats like socialists and Jews for the sudden loss as opposed to their own incompetence, Trump and his henchmen blame Democratic socialists, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, ballot stuffers, Republican governors, all major big city residents, and even voting machine software firms as all part of some coordinated mega-conspiracy to barely steal the election away, even with all their power, from the “overwhelming” popularity of Trump, who never reached 50% popularity at any time in his presidency, although all polling verifying such by anyone is also part of the cabal as well. The foreign government China is blamed as an international culprit, although no data has provided any evidence of such, and even North Korea is even blamed for bringing in fake ballots to Maine by ship (!) by Roger Stone, but the Russian government that all U.S. intelligence agencies have provided evidence of election tempering, as well as Trump’s own campaign chairman Paul Manafort giving key swing-state polling data to a top known Russian operative Konstanin Kilimnik (who used it in Putin’s Internet Research Agency to perform critical local social media campaigns in swing states) being proven in court to the point of conviction, is never mentioned or disputed. Those German officials who acknowledged the loss were castigated by the public when prodded by demagogues, no matter how patriotic they had been in the past (rather calling them “November Criminals”), just as mainstream Republican elected officials, and even Religious Right leaders like Pat Robertson, are now similarly treated as being “unloyal” for acknowledging the obvious of the major electoral loss and the clean nature of the election process, including the head of the Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, both hand-picked by Trump himself.

This concept of German “betrayal” was first started from a sermon of a Protestant Court Chaplain, even before the war was over. It Germany it was the losing military leaders who originated this false conspiracy theory for the public, to save their reputations; in the U.S., it was the President and his allies who developed a similar conspiracy theory to cover his failure, although retired military leaders like just-pardoned Gen. Michael Flynn have also played a key role. The German military leaders used this lie and conspiracy theory to also delegitimize the new government that had come into power, and asserted that it had entered by duplicitous means, and that the public had experienced a “lost cause” of being cheated by connivers over their noble, unvanquished military heroes they had idolized in the past, just like Southerners in the U.S., or Trump followers today. They made these accusations before parliament inquiries into the matter in their testimony, which further cemented the idea in the minds of the pliable public. Even though the head of the Social Democratic Party that led the government complimented the German army for their valiant fighting and even let paramilitary Friekorps units form around the country (as militias who crushed socialist movements in places like Munich) without confronting them to avoid disturbances, the conservative German press still accused him of being a traitor to the army and the country and a “criminal,” as his fellow government officials who signed the Armistice were assassinated. This conspiracy theory that absolved the German people of soul-searching was exploited by skillful demagogues like Hitler and the Nazis to empower street militias to fight and kill socialists and Jews as the scapegoats, push out experienced mainstream politicians, and justify an extreme movement to avenge these manufactured “injustices” on a mass scale, with atrocities justified by this “betrayal”; what will Trump supporters now be willing to do in the aftermath of this “corrupt” election, perpetrated by leftist elements, local politicians and even accommodated by vile mainstream Republican leaders and pundits?

Not surprisingly, these two modern western “lost cause” movements, one in decline and another on the upswing (and who taught them a more militant and aggressive manner for daylight resistance against the government, and not just small groups of minorities),  would find “common cause” here in America. The online report by the Southern Poverty Law Center on the history of the Ku Klux Klan writes that

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Klansmen and Nazis were beginning to see the value of cooperating with each other. Although they had roots in different traditions — the Klan in the post-civil War South and the neo-Nazis in Hitler’s Germany — they shared the same enemies and the same fanatic obsession with white supremacy. Some Klan leaders, like David Duke and Don Black, started out as Nazis. Former Nazi Glenn Miller incorporated the military fatigue uniform and the Nazi salute into his Klan organization in North Carolina. Ed Fields in Georgia brought both Klansmen and Nazis into the National States’ Rights Party; his virulently anti-Semitic publication, The Thunderbolt (later renamed The Truth At Last), was read by both groups. The combination of the Klan, with its historical foothold in American society, and the Nazis, with a modern militancy that appealed to many younger ideologues, resulted in a racist front whose potential for danger was evident by the early 1980s.

The Nazi influence radicalized traditional Klansmen. In secret camps across the country, white supremacists of all descriptions began training in the use of assault weapons, grenades, rocket launchers and explosives — all in preparation for what they believed would be a nationwide race war [which is what President Trump has been insinuating recently via Black Lives Matter and Antifa; Ed.]. In 1981, more than 1,000 people learned advanced guerrilla warfare techniques at an annual paramilitary training camp sponsored by the Christian Patriots Defense League in Louisville, Illinois, which had ties to the white supremacist pseudo-religion, Christian Identity. At a Posse Comitatus “survival school” in 1982, members received instruction in the demolition of roadways, dams and bridges. At the covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord Survivalist compound, members stockpiled weapons and explosives, and trained in urban warfare, martial arts and wilderness survival in preparation for “the coming war.” An FBI raid on the compound in 1985 yielded hundreds of weapons and bombs, and enough cyanide to poison the water supply of an entire city.

…In 1985, Glenn Miller changed the name of the Carolina Knights to the Confederate Knights and preached the need to secure the Southern United States for a white homeland. He told his followers at one rally, “We’re building up a white Christian army. We’re going to get our country back. We hope to keep bloodshed to a minimum, but anyone that gets in the way is going to be sorry.” With the name change, Miller’s group took on a new look — instead of wearing Klan robes to rallies and marches, members wore camouflage uniforms and army boots. Not only was Miller conducting the training he wrote about in his newspaper, he authorized his second-in-command to purchase a whole array of weapons that had been stolen from military bases. They included dynamite, claymore mines, grenades, plastic explosives, AR-15 rifles, gas masks, night scopes, chemical warfare items and light-weight anti-tank weapons capable of piercing up to 11 inches of armor. Miller also hired a military weapons expert to train his men in small teams at night, sometimes as often as twice a week. In the summer of 1984, Miller later admitted, he had received $200,000 of money stolen by members of the revolutionary group, The Order. In late 1984, Miller hooked the Carolina Knights into the Aryan Nations Liberty Net, a computer bulletin board which listed activities of various radical white supremacists around the country….Several months after his conviction, Stephen Miller and four other white patriots were arrested after they plotted to rob a Fayetteville, North Carolina, restaurant, buy stolen military explosives, blow up the Southern Poverty Law Center and kill Law Center Director Morris Dees…In April 1987, Glenn Miller, then in hiding, issued a “declaration of total war” against the government, blacks and Jews. In his declaration, Miller assigned a point system for the assassination of key minority, government and civil rights leaders, with Dees heading the list. Ten days later, Miller was captured in Missouri along with three other White Patriots and a cache of weapons that included grenades, pipe bombs, automatic rifles, shotguns, pistols and crossbows.

One last historical “lost cause” in the West that reveals further facets of modern populist resistance to the loss of a “Camelot” existence for one’s culture when perceived as being oppressed by a rival culture that had wrested political and institutional power from them by disputed means, is the struggle in Northern Ireland for many decades, commonly referred to as “The Troubles.” In fact, a bombing this week in my own hometown of Nashville caused my good friend Adam Sayne to suggest to me the potential of such an element of ideological violence to be featured in the years ahead within our own nation. The table was set for such cultural, political, economic class and even religious strife hundreds of years before “The Troubles” were officially recognized as such, with the forced colonial settlement of Protestant British subjects in the northern counties of the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Ireland, just as Africans were forcibly settled in America hundreds of years earlier to be exploited for literal slave labor, and an inevitable clash of cultures and interests. Eventually, Catholic Ireland won her independence from Great Britain via civil war after World War I, but the Irish Catholics in six northern counties were denied their desire to have a “traditional Irish Catholic” government in their region, and subject to Protestant votes and politicians in the equivalent of their “states” that secured governing authority. The multi-generation indigenous Catholics were often of poor and working class status, with positions of authority, privilege and wealth reserved for the British-sympathetic Protestant “unionists” (i.e. for remaining in “union” with Great Britain, rather than the “Irish Republicans” (who wished governance in line with their traditional Irish Catholic culture)). Both sides used their education (or lack thereof), wealth and professional class, and their religious tradition as grounds for animosity. Old religious partisan groups like the Protestant “Orangemen” from the late 1700s would still parade in Catholic neighborhoods in the attempt to provoke unrest (which my wife and I observed in our visit there in the mid-1990s), just like groups have done in our cities in 2020 to incite violent confrontations.

This long-term, guerilla-style resistance movement (short of full-blown civil war) is typically considered to have lasted in earnest from around 1969 until 1998, with usually a few hundred killed each year having direct connection to “the troubles,” with many, many more injured and maimed. However, this moderate to low-intensity insurrection had so many facets of violence – from police harassment, whippings, torture, forced suicides, false-flag terror, bombings, shootouts, conflicts between different sides of belligerents, and Faustian cooperation at times and outright personal selfish agenda “hits” and criminal activities of personal or group enrichment under the guise of “resistance” on either side, it is hard to ascertain the true number of casualties in the conflict, which was not restricted to colliding armies, rifles, and missiles. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and Northern Ireland Defense Forces defended the Protestant dominance, and was assisted by the deployed British Army, in their longest deployment in their history. To resist them, paramilitaries were formed like the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO). To counter them beyond “official” government and military forces, the pro-Protestant citizenry also formed their own citizen militias, including the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV), Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Red Hand Commandos (RHC), and the “official” British military units would collude with these “extra-legal,” loyalist paramilitaries “off the record.” These days also resulted in public riots, mass protests and civil disobedience, with the formation of segregated communities and “no go” areas (which we witnessed while there, as it was painted right on the neighborhood sidewalks). Of the 3,500 people killed in the region during this period that was attributed to the struggle, just over half were non-participating citizens, and split almost evenly in perpetration by both sides.

While this land graft from native Irish Catholics and resettlement of Protestants in the 1600s caused an expected conflict of communities, that being between the native and transplanted colonist (as they have in America and elsewhere, and currently in Palestine), the Penal Laws by the British Crown removed the religious, political and legal rights of non-Anglicans, both Catholic and Protestant Dissenters. The era of extreme restriction, and then relaxation of Catholic rights (in the “wisdom” of the British government) that suggested a new imposition of Catholic rights on a new generation of Protestant residents unaccustomed to them, led to the formation of fighting factions back into the late 1700s. Ireland was forced into Great Britain in 1801, abolishing the Irish Parliament, and united Anglican and non-Anglican Protestants as “loyalists” of mutual cause, and although Catholics were officially given status to prohibit their discrimination in the 1800s, a “Home Rule” movement was started by native Irish Catholics to restore the Irish Parliament, and from the late-1800s to early 1900s, the political divide in Ireland was along native “republican” vs. “loyalist/unionist” grounds. As the “republican” independence movement gained strength and neared “home rule” status, the minority Protestant residents feared Catholic government and formed in 1912 the Ulster Volunteer Force (ULF), the first extra-constitutional militia paramilitary force. In turn, republican forces founded the Irish Volunteers to counter them in 1913, but before civil war broke out, the First World War took precedence, and the planned Home Rule for Ireland by the British government was also suspended. While many Irish republicans left to help Great Britain in the War, civil disturbances broke out back home, and in 1918 the Irish republican Sinn Fein party won the majority of seats in Ireland, which launched the Irish Parliament and set up the 1922 War for Irish Independence and the establishment of the Irish Free State in the 26 counties where Sinn Fein won, but the six northern counties where they did poorly were left out, as the Protestant leaders there “opted out” to become the Great Britain-affiliated state of Northern Ireland. Between this time and 1969, Catholics in Northern Island were intentionally kept from the best housing and jobs, and Protestant politicians gerrymandered districts to keep Protestant parliamentary representatives for Catholic communities, and ignored calls for respect of the 35% Catholic minority to prevent future acts of desperation.

In 1966, the Protestant fundamentalist preacher Ian Paisley, praised profusely by contemporary Christian documentarian Chris Pinto in his recent works, formed the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC) and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV) paramilitary wing, opening the raising of potential conflict with armed hostilities. The UPV was a loyalist and fundamentalist Christian paramilitary group who in the spring of 1966 bombed an all-girls primary school in Ardoyne, where talks to better relations between Protestants and Catholics were to take place. Soon thereafter in that year they killed a 70-year-old Protestant woman they thought was a Catholic next door, and then two Catholic men nearby, using firebombs and firearms, and declaring “war” on the IRA, as a fundamentalist Christian group successfully initiating a lengthy, deadly national conflict. By 1969 they were targeting the water supply and electrical grid used by Catholic communities, and often blamed on the IRA as false-flag events. Meanwhile, a non-violent civil rights movement had started to get more proportional job opportunities and housing for the large Catholic minority, an end to “one vote per household” which was meant to neutralize large Catholic families as well as the gerrymandering, and laws that had allowed arrests without warrant, imprisonment without trial and ban on assemblies and publications. Civil rights marchers began to be beaten routinely and without provocation by the police. What followed beyond that was a veritable melee of Northern Irish police, military and British military forces, along with republican and loyalist paramilitary groups, with children, woman and the elderly often the targets, large numbers of displaced civilians (mostly Catholics driven from their damaged homes), and a major refugee problem. Walls were erected separating Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, like the Berlin Wall or the rest of the Iron Curtain. “Bloody Sunday” in 1972 described the killing of fourteen unarmed civil rights marchers by the British military. Outside nations and groups began funding and arming the various factions (such as from Libya for the IRA, and South Africa for the loyalists). British troops were often found colluding with loyalist forces, against their deployment mission, and helped them off-hours or smuggled them weapons. The society began showing all the social decay effects of an extended war zone, including increases in nihilistic behavior such as greater promiscuity, suicides, substance abuse and a distrust of social groups by young people growing up during the period. It also trained a generation of bombmakers and mercenaries, comfortable with remorselessly taking life, that also later found use as soldiers of fortune, criminals, corporate security commandos, and terrorists for hire around the globe.

 

Is this picture of sustained domestic bombing, rioting, kidnapping and sniper operations a possible scenario as an outgrowth of the extreme ideological conflict and schism our nation now experiences, in the near future? Will today’s “lost cause” of lost (or perceived stolen) political influence and cultural erosion trigger a reactionary aggressive and violent response from a people who feel they have no other options nor desire to evolve with changing times, to make such a dystopian struggle come true in our own land in the days ahead? If so, who will be the possible religious figures or group to start it, or other cultural icons or institutions as the catalyst? Or is this all just more paranoid conspiracy mongering and unjustified “Chicken Little” hand-wringing? Or – are its beginnings – the “shots on Ft. Sumter” – already underway?

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will discuss the seeds of such tensions in the last few years in our own country that mirror the elements and facets of such “Lost Cause” guerilla violence in the streets and towns that we have documented in this historical review. Please also check out my book, Two Masters and Two Gospels, Volume 1 – The Teaching of Jesus Vs. the “Leaven of the Pharisees” in Talk Radio and Cable News, which is available in ebook, paperback and hardcover in places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the usual suspects.