A Subtle Tyranny

Tyranny does not always initially come like the wolf on the fold, red in tooth and claw.  Sometimes it comes tip-toeing on velvet little feet, quietly, one soft step at a time.

It often comes in simple guise, as seemingly reasonable requests made one at a time.  Incremental demands accumulate, build up noiselessly and slowly, but eventually with increasingly rapid pace. 

All we want is for you to register your ethnicity.  What is the harm of putting down the fact that your parents are Jews?  Now all we want is for you to wear a gold star.  Everyone should be aware of who you are.  Next, all we want is for you to practice your separate ways within a small section of the city.  (Never mind it is a ghetto -- and by the way, fork over your possessions, as you are too rich and others could use your wealth.)

All we want is for Germans to live under one national entity.  After all, the Sudetenland has millions of Germans living under Czech rule who are yearning to be part of das Volk.  When we have that piece of land, Germany will be satisfied.  (Never mind that you Czechs, including the Jews among you, have no say in the matter.)

All we want is for Israel to return to the pre-1967 borders.  Palestinians have a right to their ancestral homelands.  (Never mind that such a return would render Israel indefensible and open to another Holocaust.)

Honestly, that's all we want.  We're only being reasonable.

And now, a subtle tyranny, an unhealthy smog has crept in on little cat's feet, and sits on silent haunches overlooking San Francisco Bay. 

"Reasonable" folks in San Francisco want an end to circumcision of infant males.  That's all we want!  It's such a simple and rational thing.  A mere proposal for a referendum set for a November ballot.  Let the public have their say.  Let the people rule on this matter.  We're only proposing that circumcision be prohibited among males under 18.  After all, babies have no choice against a practice of mutilation that serves no discernible purpose.  We believe in adult choice.  Further, we think a fine of $1,000 and up should be enforced as a deterrent measure.  And -- ahem -- by the way: There will be no religious exceptions.

Those who are familiar with Jewish history, which obviously San Franciscan Lloyd Schofield, who spearheads the effort against circumcision, either doesn't know or care about, know Jews have much at stake concerning his obviously anti-Semitic proposal.  (See this shocking anti-Semitic literature from the campaign editor.)

What is at risk for American Jews and America itself?  It's what has been at stake for millennia; namely, the forcible Hellenizing of Jews and all Americans, all of whom must resist the attempt to force a unified world view on everyone.

That lure of a unified world view enforced by elites on entire populaces has never died.

The name Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.), whose humble last moniker means "God made manifest," usually doesn't ring a bell except among scholars of Hebrew and Greek history, but his actions have been typical of rulers, ancient and modern, whose desire has been the eradication of Jewish culture and faith and the establishment of a mono-culture.

Antiochus, an heir to Alexander the Great's dream of unifying the entire world by means of the extant Greek culture, was gripped by what he saw as the sophisticated and indubitably intellectually superior Greek culture.  Unlike Alexander, who generally tolerated the Jews, Anitochus decided the Jews were to be forcibly assimilated into the Hellenistic practices of the day.  Ultimately, assimilation would be good for them, he believed, for it would rid them of their superstitious and outdated religious practices, bringing them into the light of progressive Greek civilization, whose mentors included enlightened and elite rulers who knew what was best for everyone.

To that end, Antiochus, The Divinely Enlightened One, began to enforce anti-Jewish laws.  He forbade the observance of the Sabbath.  He declared that the Torah could no longer be studied.  He also banned the practice of circumcision, which he saw as mutilation and thus utterly abhorrent, as Greeks worshiped the body as beautiful, particularly the male body.  Antiochus culminated his persecution of the Jews by erecting a statue of Zeus in the temple and sacrificing a pig on the sacred altar, by so doing not leaving any possibly offensive stone unturned.

Lest anyone think accession to Hellenizing forces was optional or that Jewish religious rites could continue to be practiced within the privacy of one's home, the Jewish historian and Rabbi Berel Wein makes clear in Echoes of Glory, no exceptions were allowed.  When incremental laws and persuasion did not achieve the desired conversions to Greek culture and religion, Antiochus and his henchmen became as vicious as Nazis when it came to enforcing their anti-Jew campaign: 

Women who allowed their sons to be circumcised were killed with their sons tied around their necks. The scholars of Israel were hounded, hunted down and killed. Jews who refused to eat pork or sacrifice hogs were tortured to death ... Even the smallest hamlet in Judah was not safe from the oppression of the Hellenists. The altars to Zeus and other pagan deities were erected in every village, and Jews of every area were forced to participate in the sacrificial services.

Not to be outdone by the Greeks, whose culture they admired and imitated, many Roman rulers followed in the footsteps of the Greeks they conquered, making persecution of the Jews a staple of their governing policies.  For instance, in 40 A.D., Caius Caligula ordered the erection and worship of his statue in the Temple, ordering the governor of Syria to carry out the desecration even if it meant war with the Jews.  While more sensible heads such as Petronius temporarily prevailed over the emperor's insanity, "Little Boots" Caligula most assuredly would have persisted had it not been for his timely demise at the hands of his Praetorian guard. 

Caligula's hostility was imitated by the emperor Hadrian, who also forbade circumcision, putting his law in terms eerily similar to the proposed ban on circumcision now before San Franciscans for ratification.  Simon Be Kosiba, a Jewish historian, writing around 130-136 A.D., made note of the decree, writing:

Hadrian forbade castration and circumcision, making a law against a practice that had offended Greek and Roman sensitivities for a long time. There are indications that he did not forbid circumcision as such, but only the circumcision of boys who had not yet reached the age to consent with the operation; but whatever the precise meaning of the measure, the Jews explained this law as directed against them.

Given their past history, how could the Jews see the measure as anything but "against them"?  After all, the rulings of Antiochus IV and the wars of the Maccabees still lingered in Jewish memories.  But the law seemed entirely rational to Hadrian.  After all, it was a reasonable law, unworthy of a kerfuffle.

Recent history also should give Jews pause, as attacks against their 4,000-year-old foundational religious ritual, believed to be a sign of the covenant between Jehovah and his people, have also been a characteristic of fascist and communist regimes, with both the National Socialist and Communist parties of Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia adamantly opposed to circumcision.

While secularized Jews such as Schofield -- himself a Jew -- may shrug off or even support the proposed ban on circumcision, observant Jews and Christians should take note of and adamantly resist the efforts to forcibly demolish the foundations and symbols of their faiths, now ongoing for at least two generations under the increasing domination of contemporary Hellenists, the Progressives.

The fact is that contemporary Progressives are indeed like the Hellenists of old in thought, word and deed.  Convinced of the superiority of their generally godless worldview, committed to the principle that their view of change and progress is inarguable as well as ineluctably triumphant, Progressive hostility toward Christians and Jews alike has manifested itself in increasing degrees. 

Contemporary Hellenists vigorously and unceasingly attack sacred festivals such as Christmas and Easter, try to silence public prayer, especially in schools; attempt to eliminate the Ten Commandments from display, and seek to ban religious jewelry.  Constant attempts to intimidate and/or silence priests, rabbis, and pastors are evidenced in the convoluted tax codes forbidding political speech, spurious and malicious interpretations of the principle of separation of church and state; and in increasing regulation of church properties by means of zoning laws and "green" regulations.

In and of themselves, one or two isolated incidents of Progressive/leftist attacks on Jews and Christians may seem insignificant; but there is a pattern which has developed over the last several generations which is cumulative in its effect.

The result, should the "progress" continue, will be, and in some cases already is, a sort of dhimmitude, whereby Christians and observant Jews are consigned to second-class citizenship, kept out of public dialogue and influence, and relegated to the fetid and smothering backwaters of civilization, effectively ghettoized.

Velvet step by velvet step, little by little, freedom of religion is being eroded while people of faith are largely silent, acceding to the diminution of their rights as equal citizens.

In the end, will the religious be vanquished by "reasonable" people who only want "reasonable" measures to be followed?  Will they continue to be intimidated by authorities who say, "That is all we want.  Honestly.  If you just do this, we'll be content."?

A new Hellenistic worldview of a unified, global civilization has invaded the Western world, and its progressive proponents desire that civilization be completely unified by their weltanschauung.  Like Alexander, Antiochus, Caligula, Hadrian, and a roster of contemporary tyrants including Hitler and Stalin, their desire that their view prevail is being gradually forced on our country, bit by bit, piece by piece, regulation by regulation.

It may be that Progressives won't resort to burning Torah scrolls, as did the Roman military leader Apostomus in 50 A.D. just before the Bar Kokhba revolt.  Such means as burning Jews in order to enforce their worldviews and eliminate Jewish practices are certainly not yet in mind.  But extermination of a people and their faith traditions does not have to happen by such measures.  What may not be achieved by ferocity can be achieved just as assuredly by incrementalism. 

It is time for Christians and Jews alike to recognize and to rise up against the tyranny being smuggled into our culture on soft little velvet cat's feet.

Otherwise, they may find themselves faced not with a soft little kitten, but with a Spiritus Mundi that will trouble their sight, a hideous chimera whose gaze, as W. B.Yeats wrote, is as blank and pitiless as the sun -- a rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.

Fay Voshell is a free lance writer residing in Wilmington, De.  She can be found blogging at "By Fayth," at www.blogger.com and can be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com.