Assuming the Worst

Sometimes it pays to assume the worst. Jews who assumed the worst about the Nazis in the early days of Hitler’s rule fled Germany to safe havens and survived. Most of those who assumed that the situation couldn’t get any worse stayed put and did not survive.

The disposition to assume the worst goes against the grain for Americans. Except for a small minority of conspiracy theorists, Americans tend to be of the optimistic sort. It would be difficult to convince most of them that bad times lie ahead. That may be because nothing really bad—bad in the sense of large-scale devastation and loss of life—has happened on these shores since the Civil War. The next most trying time for Americans after that conflict was the Great Depression. But very few living Americans have a clear memory of that period. For that matter, few Americans have any sense of history and, thus, no measuring stick against which to compare the present. We could be slipping into the next Dark Ages and many would be none the wiser.

Speaking of the Dark Ages, you may have noticed that they seem to be staging a comeback. Sex slavery, crucifixions, beheadings, and other seventh-century Arab customs now vie for headline space with computer hacking and space probes. The recent resurgence of Islam version 1.0 is just one of many reasons why it might not be wise to assume that better times are right around the corner.

Any event or series of events can be looked at from either a glass half-full or a glass half-empty perspective, but there are a number of trends about which we may be justified in assuming the worst. Take the matter of rising racial tensions and divisions. The optimistic way to look at recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, Tampa, Oakland, and elsewhere is to assume that they result from misunderstandings. Those of a Pollyannaish disposition further assume that those in power are doing all they can to restore calm. That’s one way of looking at it. Another view—more gloomy, yet probably more accurate—is that many of those in power want to exacerbate racial tensions.

 

Why? Because more tensions translates into more power for them. Crime and chaos provide governments with an excuse to expand their power. When things get out of control, law-abiding citizens will gladly cede more control to the authorities. In the worst possible scenario (which from one point of view is the best possible scenario), widespread race riots will create an opportunity for the federal government to impose martial law and assume near-dictatorial powers.

To presume that some of those in power actually desire chaos means that one has already made the prior assumption that these individuals do not have the best interests of the American people at heart. That, increasingly, seems to be a reasonable assumption. Either that, or one would have to assume that their idea of what is good for Americans is radically at odds with what all past generations have believed. President Obama’s promise that he would “fundamentally transform” America suggests that he believes there is something fundamentally wrong with it. And one way to convince others about the fundamental wrongness of American society is to take measures that will hasten its breakdown.

The Obama administration’s attack on law enforcement and its insistence that we live in a racist society is one way to put stress on the system. Another way is Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act seems tailor-made to ensure that health care becomes so unaffordable that the government is the only provider left standing.

The idea of precipitating a collapse in the economic system as a means of introducing socialist solutions was first proposed in the mid-1960s by two Columbia University professors, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. The Cloward-Piven strategy was originally aimed at the welfare system. The idea was to drive up welfare enrollments to the point where state and local governments could no longer handle the strain, and the federal government would be “forced” to take over public welfare.

Obama’s contribution to the Cloward-Piven strategy is to extend it to every area of life. In other words, if you can overload the local welfare system, why not overload local law enforcement? Why not overload the health care system? Why not overburden the immigration system by letting in hundreds of thousands of illegals? Then you can claim that all these systems are broken and have to be totally rebuilt—preferably in the image of some imaginary socialist utopia.

It seems that you can’t go wrong in assuming the worst about this administration’s domestic policies. How about its foreign policy? The worst possible assumption would be that the President and some of his key appointees don’t really like America: that they actually believe all the hype about America being the sum of all evil, and therefore want to weaken its power on the global stage.

Once again, the worst assumption is the one that best fits the facts. Let’s start with the fact that the administration has been radically cutting back our military force at a time when world threats are on the rise. There are fewer troops, fewer tanks, fewer ships, and fewer planes than at any point in recent history. That should raise a red flag even for the most optimistically inclined. Moreover, at the same time that we were reducing the size of our own army, the President was planning to even up the global balance of power by sending F-16s and Abrams tanks to assist the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Fortunately, the more moderate forces led by General el-Sisi were able to topple the radical Morsi government before Obama was able to prop it up. Undeterred, the Obama administration embarked on a series of steps seemingly geared to improving our enemies’ standing in the world while weakening our own. Among other things, the administration has:

  • Lifted the ban on Libyans attending flight school in the U.S. and training in nuclear science.
  • Traded five high-level Taliban leaders for one low-level private, Bowe Bergdahl.
  • Released Mohammed Zahir, a nuclear terrorist who had, before his capture, been working on the production of an atom bomb for the Taliban.
  • Conducted negotiations with Iran in such a way as to practically guarantee that Iran will soon have nuclear weapons.
  • Prematurely pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq, allowing ISIS to take control of large swaths of the country and to wreak havoc on Christians and Yazidis.
  • With the results of an abrupt Iraqi withdrawal staring him in the face, Obama decided to do the same thing in Afghanistan.

Whatever your views on the wisdom of sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place, you don’t have to be a Nostradamus to predict what will happen next in Afghanistan. It will fall back into the hands of the Taliban, who, with the help of all the top-level talent Obama is returning to them, will soon be back in the business of exporting terror to the rest of the world.

It’s not just paranoid right-wingers in America who worry about the intentions of the Obamites. So do many of our allies—including allies in the Middle East. Obama’s terror-friendly policies have convinced them that they can no longer rely on the U.S. For example, in August 2014, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist forces in Libya without, as would normally be the case, informing the U.S. or asking for its consent. Apparently, they were worried that Washington, still in the grip of Arab Spring fever, would give the Libyans advance notice. So Obama trusts Libyans to study nuclear science in the U.S., but the Egyptians don’t trust Obama to keep secrets from Libyan Islamists.

The Saudis are also having second thoughts about their fickle ally. Along with Egypt and the UAE, they have been working to undo the effects of Obama’s Arab Spring policy. One of their initiatives is to convince the Emir of Qatar to discontinue his support for the Muslim Brotherhood and to shut the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera TV network, which, critics say, is a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt has already shut down its own Al-Jazeera channel.

Whereas Obama has done everything in his power to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The UAE list of terrorist organizations also includes the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society—two Muslim Brotherhood affiliates which have long worked closely with the White House and the Justice Department. Meanwhile, Egypt and the Gulf States are also deeply concerned about the administration’s continued outreach to Iran and its seeming unwillingness to thwart Iran’s nuclear agenda.

The Saudis and the Egyptians seem to be assuming the worst about the current administration. Maybe the rest of us should do the same. Among the possibilities we should contemplate are the following:

  • President Obama and his closest advisers want to weaken America’s position in relation to the rest of the world.
  • They want Iran to have nuclear weapons.
  • They want Islamists (such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban) to prevail over more moderate Muslims in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

That’s only on the foreign policy front. On the domestic front, it’s difficult to avoid concluding that:

  • They want dumbed-down schools which will produce dumbed-down citizens who will have no idea that their rights are being hijacked.
  • They want to encourage racial division and animosity.
  • They want to wreck the health care system.
  • They want to overload the immigration system—not because they see it as a justice issue, but because they see it as an opportunity to “fundamentally transform” America into a different kind of society.

For many Catholics, such conjectures may seem overly cynical, if not over-the-top. After all, many Catholics support administration policies which purport to help minorities, migrants, and the marginalized. According to various polling data, a majority of Catholics voted for Obama in the last two presidential elections. All that talk about social justice, hope, and change was difficult to resist. On the other hand, Catholics who gave Obama the benefit of the doubt over issues that are often considered (mistakenly) as specifically “Catholic”—birth control, abortion, same-sex marriage, religious liberty—have been proven to be more than a tad naïve.

Catholics have, so to speak, been fooled once. According to the old adage, the blame for being fooled once can be assigned to others—in this case, dishonest politicians and manipulative media. But Catholics who persist in believing that Obama and his left-wing machine have the country’s best interests at heart when it comes to racial matters, health care, immigration, and foreign policy will have no one to blame but themselves when the next bill comes due.

Sometimes, assuming the worst is the best policy.

(Photo credit:President Obama, State of the Union address, 2015 / AP Photo / Larry Downing.)

William Kilpatrick

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William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

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