2018
April
11
Wednesday

From one vantage point, it’s simply a newly reopened attraction. But there’s a powerful message in the gondola cabs that over the past week have sprung into action once again on Bosnia’s Mt. Trebevic, lifting riders to a commanding and hopeful view of the city of Sarajevo.

Nearly four decades ago, the mountain played an impressive role as what was then Yugoslavia hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. But the 1990s unleashed the nearly four-year siege of Sarajevo, transforming its peak into a deadly perch from which to rain down violence on those who lived below. Some 15,000 people were killed before NATO intervened.

How do communities recover from such conflict? The question resonates from Iraq to Colombia to Northern Ireland, which today marks the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of sectarian violence. While getting to true reconciliation may be a slow journey, many point to important steps along that path – including a willingness to hear opponents’ valid concerns and a commitment to peaceful change.

In Rwanda, vast caves that once hid many Tutsis during the horror of the 1994 genocide are now open to visitors, bearing witness to the tenacity of hope. And now, the gondolas gliding up Mt. Trebevic radiate optimism. As a Sarajevo pop band sang: “A new youth is coming. The gates of the city remember our steps…. Trebevic is coming down into the town again.”

Now to our five stories, showing the importance of transparency, respect, and fighting intolerance.

1. Ryan to give up the gavel: what that means for GOP, midterms

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was widely seen as the future of the Republican Party just a few years ago. But now, his announcement that he will not seek reelection underscores how dramatically President Trump has reshaped the GOP.

Amelia

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No speaker has given up the gavel on his own terms since Democrat Tip O’Neill in 1987. But Wednesday, Paul Ryan announced he will retire at the end of his term this year. Consider the political context: Washington is seeing a young speaker who is third in line to the presidency and who once ran as a vice presidential candidate willingly leave the nexus of power, at the moment when his party controls the White House, the Senate, and the House. The timing is notable for what it signals about a divided GOP and the approaching midterms. President Trump is attempting to remake the party in his image, an image not in sync with an “establishment” conservative like Mr. Ryan – either in demeanor or on key issues such as the Mueller investigation, trade, and immigration. Republicans are deeply divided and sense a blue wave approaching in the November elections. “[Mr.] Trump as president has been a challenge for traditional Republicans like Ryan. He represents a different direction for the party, but also he is a whirlwind of a president and unpredictable,” says Matthew Green, an expert on the speakership at Catholic University in Washington.

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1. Ryan to give up the gavel: what that means for GOP, midterms

Whenever a speaker of the House says he is heading for the exit, it is always about much more than the comings and goings of a single member of Congress.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who announced on Wednesday that he will retire at the end of his term this year, says he is leaving for family reasons and because he has accomplished a big career goal: tax reform.

While politicians often cite their families in such announcements, the Republican from Janesville, Wis., may actually mean it. His dad died when he was just 16 years old, and his three teenagers weren’t even born when he first came to Washington two decades ago.

“If I’m here for one more term my kids will only ever have known me as a weekend dad,” he told reporters. “I just can’t let that happen.”

But consider the political context: Washington is seeing a young speaker who is third in line to the presidency and who once ran as a vice-presidential candidate willingly leave the nexus of power when his party controls the White House, the Senate, and the House. No speaker has given up the gavel on his own terms since Democrat Tip O’Neill in 1987.

The timing is notable for what it signals about a divided GOP and the approaching midterm elections. President Trump is attempting to remake the party in his image, an image not in sync with an “establishment” conservative like Ryan – either in demeanor or on key issues such as the Mueller investigation, trade, and immigration. Republicans are deeply divided, and sense a blue wave approaching in the November elections.

“Trump as president has been a challenge for traditional Republicans like Ryan. He represents a different direction for the party, but also he is a whirlwind of a president and unpredictable,” says Matthew Green, an expert on the speakership at Catholic University in Washington.

Wunderkind past

Ryan’s decision to get out of politics, at least for now, deprives the GOP of one of its stars. When he was first elected to Congress in 1998, he was a boy wonder, still in his 20s. His study of conservative economics, under the mentorship of the late Rep. Jack Kemp, and his ability to articulate his views and master the minutiae of policy made him a Wonk with a capital “W.”

His youthful appearance, commitment to physical fitness, and family portrait made him a poster boy for Midwestern values. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, shocked no one when he made Ryan his running mate. Mr. Romney saw Ryan as a junior version of himself, committed to conservative principles, but also willing to work across the aisle.

By then, Ryan had risen to the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee, and then finally reached what he called his dream job, chair of the tax writing House Ways & Means Committee. But after less than a year, in 2015 he was tapped to become speaker, a position he took reluctantly. He didn't want to spend so much time fundraising for the GOP, and away from his family.

The rise of Trump challenged him like nothing else. Ryan stopped short of withdrawing his support for Trump after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape on the eve of the 2016 election, but he made clear that Trump’s comments disgusted him and refused to appear with him in public.

Nevertheless, he worked with the president on a massive tax cut that passed last year, succeeding also in turning back the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to buy health insurance or pay a fee.

“I’m grateful for the president to give us this chance to actually get this stuff done,” Ryan told reporters Wednesday. When asked about not sticking around to see the trillion-dollar deficits now forecast to follow the tax cut, Ryan pointed to the need to reform entitlements – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Ryan certainly has his detractors. His work with the unconventional president led many Democrats and Republican “never Trumpers” to say that the speaker had “lost his spine.”

Back in Wisconsin, the departure of Ryan means the GOP has a weaker grip on his seat. Since his announced retirement, Ryan’s seat shifted from solid Republican to lean Republican, according to a new assessment by David Wasserman, who watches House seats closely for the independent Cook Political Report. That seat has not been at risk of flipping to Democrats since Ryan was elected, he observes.

Now that the speaker is unchained from a mercurial president who tries the patience of even his friends, will Ryan spend his remaining time in office speaking his mind, as other retiring members are doing? Or will he keep any dissonant thoughts to himself, in an effort to maintain party unity at a time of great challenge?

Will he use 'newfound political freedom'?

On the Senate floor on Wednesday, minority leader Charles Schumer (D) of New York urged Ryan to use his “newfound political freedom … to break free from these hard-right factions” in his caucus that contributed to gridlock and to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats.

But others say that is unlikely. His pending departure only reinforces the conventional wisdom in Washington that lawmakers are now in campaign mode, and except for having to consider Trump’s nominees, their work is more or less done until November. Neither can Ryan be expected to speak his mind on the president if doing so would hurt the GOP’s electoral outlook.

“My guess is he’ll do what he can to help his party,” says Professor Green. “He may feel personally liberated, but I don’t think he’ll want to be known as the speaker who cost Republicans control of the House, either.”

Green warns that the party could get consumed by a leadership battle to replace Ryan. Although the speaker said he did not expect that to be decided until after the election, Green said that “if someone is even remotely ambitious, they will start counting [their] votes now.”

The top contenders at the moment appear to be House majority leader Kevin McCarthy of California, and the party’s chief vote counter, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who nearly died in a mass shooting at a charity baseball practice last year.

Speaking with Politico on Wednesday, Ryan said he is done seeking elected office. But people are known to change their mind.

“Everybody has their time in the sun, and then sometimes they go rest for a while,” says Van Mobley, professor of history and economics at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisc. He is also the top elected official of the village of Thiensville, just north of Ryan’s district.

A Trump supporter, Mr. Mobley believes the president will be in office for another six years. “If I were Paul Ryan, I’d go and do something else for a while.”

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2. Why Facebook flap may finally tighten screw on social media

People's tolerance levels vary widely when it comes to privacy online. But there's another consideration as lawmakers weigh regulating Facebook: What best bolsters a well-functioning society and democracy?

Amelia
Leah Millis/Reuters
Dozens of cardboard cutouts of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg sit outside the Capitol building as part of a protest in Washington April 10. Mr. Zuckerberg testified before Congress Tuesday and Wednesday.

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It’s not likely this year, and who knows how sweeping it will be. But privacy regulation may be coming for social media, as even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged in congressional testimony today. And that marks a shift in public thinking. There’s rising public attention on the risks of this digital era to the health of politics and society, fueled by reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and of a massive leak of personal Facebook data to a political-advertising firm working for the Trump campaign. That’s tilting lawmakers of both parties to consider new safeguards. Congress has yet to settle on the practical steps it might take. But a new data-privacy law for the European Union, set to take effect in May, offers one model, where individuals have to “opt in” before others obtain and use their digital data. Corporations may apply that model worldwide, says Kathryn Montgomery, an expert on internet privacy regulation, because the idea that European customers would get stronger protections than other customers “is going to become increasingly an impossible position to hold.”

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Why Facebook flap may finally tighten screw on social media

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has apologized on privacy issues before. Members of Congress have chastised him before. And, despite all the uproar over a massive leak of personal data from Facebook to a political-advertising firm, the vast majority of Facebook users aren’t fleeing the platform.

And yet, something is different this week, with Mr. Zuckerberg coming to Capitol Hill to confront a bipartisan barrage of questions about whether his company, the world’s largest social network, is doing enough to safeguard data and how it’s used.

Attitudes appear to have shifted, both among policymakers and the technology industry itself. Some prominent members of both parties sound inclined to enact new legislation on digital privacy. And, amid criticism from some fellow entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg himself is voicing at least qualified support for such legislation as well. On Wednesday he told a house panel that regulation is “inevitable.”

That doesn’t mean inevitable this year, given the complexity of the issues and the political realities of an election year. It also doesn’t mean that the digital era’s erosion of privacy will face any fundamental reversal. Yet this moment does reveal what appears to be rising public attention on the risks of this digital era – notably to the health of politics and society.

“This is something I've not seen before,” says Kathryn Montgomery, an American University expert on communications and internet privacy regulation. “It does mark a change in public attitudes and a moment of unprecedented public outrage and criticism of Facebook and digital media.”

A confluence of factors is at work.

First, two story lines in the news have raised alarms for average Americans: evidence of Russian meddling in the US election using social media and – the immediate impetus for Zuckerberg’s testimony this week – the revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm employed by the Trump campaign in 2016, had gained improper access to personal data on about 87 million Facebook users.

Beyond that, “we've been hearing a rising tide of criticism ... about some of the other negative aspects of digital culture, [including] the addictive nature of it,” Professor Montgomery says.

Help from Europe?

A new data-privacy law for the European Union, set to go into effect in May, also may influence corporations, she adds. With that law asserting stronger rights for individuals to consciously “opt in” before others obtain and use their digital data, the idea of stronger protections for some (European) customers than others “is going to become increasingly an impossible position to hold,” she predicts.

Yes, American digital culture isn’t the same as Europe’s. And it’s true that many Americans, especially younger generations, take the loss of privacy almost for granted.

But that doesn’t mean the issue isn’t important to Americans of all ages.

Just over half of Americans call Facebook's response to the Cambridge Analytica data incident unacceptable, and say the company could do more, versus 1 in 5 who say the company's response has been acceptable, according to an April poll of 1,500 US residents by CBS News and YouGov.

The poll found that 6 in 10 Americans think the government should impose new regulations on tech firms to better protect personal data, a view shared by most Democrats and Republicans alike.

But, in a sign of the complex trade-offs that many perceive, nearly 4 in 10 respondents oppose new regulation, saying regulations could limit innovation and growth.

Evolving philosophy

While acknowledging such inherent tensions, Zuckerberg this week said he and his company have undergone a fundamental shift in how they view Facebook’s mission.

“Overall, I would say that we're going through a broader philosophical shift in how we approach our responsibility as a company. For the first 10 or 12 years of the company, I viewed our responsibility as primarily building tools that, if we could put those tools in people's hands, then that would empower people to do good things,” he said Tuesday at a hearing convened by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.

“What I think we've learned now across a number of issues – not just data privacy, but also fake news and foreign interference in elections – is that we need to take a more proactive role…. It's not enough to just build tools. We need to make sure that they're used for good.”

He was addressing what both he and lawmakers acknowledge are difficult questions. Notably, is Facebook a tech company or a publishing company?

Although he said Facebook's core business isn’t, directly, publishing, the firm’s role as a content distributor makes it a major force in politics worldwide. It’s not clear how much his self-described tilt toward greater accountability for Facebook will transform the company’s operations. And the shift has come in the wake of withering criticism and related financial risks for the firm. 

But Zuckerberg recently announced a range of changes aimed at allowing users to better control or secure their data. And he says the company by year-end will have essentially doubled its staff (to 20,000 people) devoted to security or content monitoring to weed out things like hate speech or fake news.

Regulation of the 'right' kind?

At a time when some critics have called for Facebook to be regulated like a public utility, Zuckerberg voiced openness to new regulation as long as it’s what he called the “right” kind. He said at one point that the European Union “got things right” in enacting its privacy guidelines.

A number of lawmakers, for their part, said they’re considering new legislation on a number of fronts, from data privacy and child- or consumer-protection to transparency for online political ads.

“This week has illustrated clearly that attitudes toward regulation of Silicon Valley and the internet are shifting amongst congressional legislators,” says Dipayan Ghosh of New America, a Washington-based think tank. Mr. Ghosh has been a policy adviser to both Facebook and the Obama administration.

“National politicians are coming to the conclusion that they must step in to cease the harms that have spread over the internet,” he adds by email.

For example, lawmakers ​questioned Zuckerberg about Facebook​'s​ news​ ​feed or ad platform ​becoming conduits for things like hate speech, racial discrimination in mortgages, and even genocide in Myanmar. Many Republicans, meanwhile, urged that a crackdown on such content not veer into stifling free speech.

Then there’s the sheer time Americans spend online, and questions that researchers have raised about whether the net result is less than healthy.

Pointing to Facebook’s business model rooted in ads and user engagement, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) of New Hampshire asked “why should we think that Facebook, on its own, will ever truly be able to make the changes that we need it to make to protect Americans' well-being and privacy?”

Privacy erosion won't end

Some analysts doubt Congress will pass meaningful regulation on what's become an impossible-to-reverse trend.

“The horse has not only left the barn” but essentially is an ocean away, says Dewayne Hendricks, a longtime tech-industry entrepreneur in Fremont, Calif., who follows privacy issues. From data-broker companies to government agencies like the National Security Agency, “they gather data on everybody” regardless of steps individuals may take to limit that data collection.

The issues to be addressed go way beyond Facebook itself, he says. A first step is helping people understand that they live now in a world where their actions, location, and behavior are always being tracked, Mr. Hendricks adds. “People can't fight what they don't know about​.” 

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3. Latin America awaits Pence, signs of northern neighbor’s latest stance

As Vice President Mike Pence visits Latin America in President Trump's stead, the region is looking for signs of whether its northern neighbor will sustain what had been a trend toward greater partnership. What worries them is the administration's apparent reversion to old habits of seeing the region as the proprietary backyard of the United States. 

Amelia
Felix Marquez/AP
Central American migrants traveling with the annual Stations of the Cross caravan march to call for migrants' rights and protest the policies of President Trump and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Matias Romero, Oaxaca State, Mexico, April 3.

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Under President Trump the Monroe Doctrine has come roaring back. In February, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson invoked the doctrine as a warning to China to lay off heavy economic investments in the region. Before he was national security adviser, John Bolton implored Mr. Trump to “reassert” the doctrine to halt “Russian meddling” in America’s backyard. And Trump’s threat last year to send the military to take care of Venezuela’s upheaval harks back to the policy’s corollary: America’s assumed right to intervene in its sphere of influence. The doctrine’s resurrection, even if only as a rhetorical tool, is likely to mean a wary reception for Vice President Mike Pence as he stands in for Trump at this weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, analysts say. “The administration needs to understand the realities in the region,” says one analyst, “among which is the dwindling influence of the United States.… If they have a choice, most in Latin America would prefer to deal with the US, certainly over China. The problem is that the US isn’t offering a lot in the way of investments and other incentives, and China is.”

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Latin America awaits Pence, signs of northern neighbor’s latest stance

The political leaders of Latin America may have been justified in daring to hope over recent years that the Monroe Doctrine was a thing of the past.

Indeed it seemed – as a succession of US presidents starting with Bill Clinton in 1994 emphasized hemispheric partnership over backyard dominance – that the 19th-century policy declaring Latin America the sole domain of the United States was a relic that had been retired. Barack Obama had appeared to provide the coda, ending the last cold-war-era conflict in the region by normalizing relations with Cuba.

Hopes deferred, perhaps.

Under President Trump the Monroe Doctrine, first uttered by President James Monroe in 1823 to warn away European colonial powers, has come roaring back. Only now Uncle Sam’s “keep out” sign is directed at expansive powers China and Russia – and to some extent even Iran.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson kicked off a February swing through Latin America by invoking the doctrine as a warning to China to lay off the heavy economic investments in the region. Before taking his White House job, National Security Adviser John Bolton implored Mr. Trump to “reassert the Monroe Doctrine” – which he lamented as a “casualty of the Obama years” – to halt “Russian meddling” in America’s backyard.

And while Trump has not invoked the doctrine by name, his threat last year to send the military to take care of Venezuela’s upheaval and his recent call for US troops on the border with Mexico both hark back to the policy’s corollary: America’s assumed right to intervene in its sphere of influence.

Now, as Vice President Mike Pence prepares to stand in for Trump at this weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, the region is wondering which America to expect, both at the regional gathering and under the Trump administration.

Will it be the America of partnership and engagement in the summit’s long-term goals of hemispheric prosperity and democratic governance – or the “Monroe” America of nationalist economics, confrontational diplomacy – and even military intervention?

Dwindling US influence

The Monroe Doctrine’s resurrection, even if only as a rhetorical tool, is likely to mean a wary and even suspicious summit reception for Mr. Pence, some regional analysts say. Moreover, add others, any attempt by the US to browbeat its Latin neighbors over economic ties to China is certain to be received with a collective “Too late!”

“If [the US] goes down there with the traditional mindset that Latin America is ‘our’ sphere of influence … it’s going to repel the leaders at the summit and relations are going to continue to deteriorate,” says Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank that promotes democracy and social equity in the region. “The administration needs to understand the realities in the region,” he adds, “among which is the dwindling influence of the United States.”

In the run-up to the summit, senior administration officials have been hammering home the message that the region should stick with the US and resist the siren song of Chinese trade and investment.

Ivan Alvarado/Reuters
A policeman works at a security monitoring center ahead of the eighth Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, April 11, 2018. US Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to attend, after President Trump announced he would stay home to coordinate a response to the Syrian chemical weapons attack.

“The United States should remain the partner of choice” for countries from Mexico to Chile and Argentina, one official told journalists in a pre-summit briefing last week. In particular, China’s trade model has “not been productive for the hemisphere,” the official said.

Yet for many regional experts, the warnings emanating from the administration over China’s deep economic engagement across the region are akin to closing the proverbial barn door after the horses have escaped: It’s simply too late.

The region’s reaction to the stepped-up China-bashing is “a collective eye roll,” says Margaret Myers, director of the Latin America and the World Program at the Inter-American Dialogue. With China already the top trading partner of numerous Latin American countries, including regional giant Brazil, any US efforts to demonize China will fall on deaf ears, experts say.

Tall order for Pence

Trump’s last-minute decision to stay in Washington and have Pence fill in for him at the summit – the eighth since President Clinton hosted the inaugural regional gathering in Miami in 1994 – is likely to further dent US standing in the region, analysts say.

Not that Pence is disliked or dismissed in Latin America. The vice president toured the region in August, and reports filtered out that leaders from a number of countries appreciated Pence’s efforts to allay regional fears stoked by Trump’s repeated threats to use the “military option” in Venezuela.

That said, Pence has made clear since being tapped to stand in for Trump that addressing Venezuela remains a top priority for the US. In a statement Tuesday laying out his summit priorities, the vice president said he looked forward to “working with our close allies in Latin America to collectively hold undemocratic actors in the region accountable for their actions.”

That was a clear reference to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who has been disinvited from the summit by host Peru (Mr. Maduro has threatened to show up anyway).

But no one substitutes for the US president, analysts note, especially at a summit that no US president has missed since the triennial gatherings began. And with the White House stating that Trump is staying home to coordinate a US response to the Syrian chemical weapons attack and to “monitor” other world events, summit leaders are likely to double down on the deepening perception that American interest in the region and its leadership capacity are waning.

Pence will also have to try to smooth feathers ruffled by the president’s rhetoric concerning America’s backyard – and as analysts point out, most of Trump’s references to the southern neighbors have been negative, even aggressive.

“Mexico is often a punching bag in the pronouncements of this president, and that reverberates much beyond Mexico into the region,” says Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center in Washington.

Indeed Trump’s threats to militarize the US-Mexico border and his recent tweets renewing his claim that migrants from the south include large numbers of rapists only cement the view shared by many Latin Americans: that with Trump, a nastier Uncle Sam is back. (A recent Gallup poll found that 16 percent of Latin Americans approve of Trump’s performance in office.)

Dealing with US versus China

The irony of the slide in US-Latin relations is that most of America’s southern neighbors aspire to a productive partnership with the US, analysts say.

“The truth is that if they have a choice, most in Latin America would prefer to deal with the US, certainly over China,” says Mr. Shifter. “The problem is that the US isn’t offering a lot in the way of investments and other incentives, and China is.”

The US needs to understand, he adds, that “Latin America is not wild about the Chinese model, but the leaders do want to reduce poverty and deliver greater prosperity” – things that were once more clearly offered by close ties to the US.

Shifter says the summit Pence will attend does offer the US the chance to turn things around – for example by robust engagement in regional efforts to address the summit’s theme of battling corruption through strengthened democratic governance. The US could also enhance its image by spurring a cooperative regional approach to the Venezuelan crisis, he adds.

The White House also announced Wednesday that presidential adviser Ivanka Trump will take part in the summit to launch a new regional initiative fostering women’s economic empowerment.

Mr. Marczak notes that with an estimated 5,000 Venezuelans fleeing daily to neighboring Colombia and Brazil to escape economic collapse and political repression, some regional approach to what risks becoming a refugee crisis of global proportions should top the summit’s agenda.

The trick for the US will be to realize that, whether it’s about addressing Venezuela or the entire region, it can no longer impose its will or apply a one-size-fits-all policy to Latin America, regional experts say.

“The notion [from the first Summit of the Americas] of cementing some broad hemispheric consensus and putting 35 governments on the same page just isn’t going to happen in this day and age,” says Shifter. “The US has an important role to play, and the deterioration of relations with the region isn’t doomed to continue,” he adds. “But it’s safe to say a turnaround won’t come from some nostalgia for the Monroe Doctrine.”

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Special Report

4. US, Europe confront an unsettling rise in anti-Semitism

An aggressive surge of anti-Semitism has alerted many Europeans to the fact that a problem that long haunted their continent has not vanished. That has galvanized more people to start addressing it.   

Amelia

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The story of a French Holocaust survivor, murdered in her own home by her Muslim neighbor, authorities say, has also magnified an already unsettling rise in anti-Semitism throughout Europe and the United States. On the one hand, in countries like France and Germany, growing Muslim populations have indeed added new layers to Europe’s long history of anti-Semitic violence, scholars say. Working class immigrants and refugees have brought their own animus toward Jewish people and the state of Israel, and in some communities radical young men have expressed this animus in violence. Yet even more troubling, many scholars say, is the brazen reemergence of something more ancient, and long woven into the history of Christian Europe: the Jew as an icon of the dangerous “other.” With the confluence of so many different expressions of anti-Semitism, Jews are once again feeling an “existential threat” to their place in their countries, just as generations had in decades past, says Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of the global social action agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. “Until the 1990s, there were still survivors of the Holocaust, and France felt guilty about how it had treated Jews,” says Veronique Bencimon, a Hebrew teacher at a Paris high school, as she marches with thousands of others during last month’s Marche Blanche, or “silent march,” in honor of Mireille Knoll, the murdered woman. “But now people feel freer to say things, and anti-Semitism has come to the surface again.”

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1. US, Europe confront an unsettling rise in anti-Semitism

There were many reasons the murder of Mireille Knoll in Paris last month reverberated so deeply throughout Europe.

As a little girl, Ms. Knoll barely escaped the ovens of Auschwitz, slipping through the notorious roundup of Paris Jews in 1942 with her mother. But last month, two men, one allegedly crying “Allahu Akbar,” entered Ms. Knoll’s apartment and stabbed her to death, and Paris authorities say it was because she was a Jew.

It was in many ways a complicated local crime. But the raw pathos of the story sent a jolt through many in France and other Western nations, touching as it did on the horrors of Europe’s anti-Semitic past while laying bare one of its deepest current fears.

The story of this Holocaust survivor, however, murdered in her own home by her Muslim neighbor, authorities say, has also magnified an already unsettling rise in anti-Semitism throughout Europe and the United States.

On the one hand, in countries like France and Germany, growing Muslim populations have indeed added new layers to Europe’s long history of anti-Semitic violence, scholars say. Working class immigrants and refugees have brought their own animus toward Jewish people and the state of Israel, and in some communities radical young men have expressed this animus in violence.

Yet even more troubling, many scholars say, is the brazen reemergence of something more ancient, and long woven into the history of Christian Europe: the Jew as an icon of the dangerous “other,” a stubborn, willful rebel in the midst of a sacred order.

‘No longer clandestine or private’

“Anti-Semitism has never vanished in Europe or the US,” says Thomas Kühne, director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Indeed, before World War II, anti-Semitic sentiments were both genteel and respectable, even in places like Britain and the United States.

Only after the horrors of the Holocaust did this begin to change. And in many ways, many of the globe’s post-war institutions, including the United Nations and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Common Market and other trade agreements, and eventually even the European Union, were built to prevent events like World War II and the Holocaust from ever happening again. Having lost its credibility, anti-Semitism was pushed to the margins.

“Maybe you would still be an anti-Semite, but you would never admit it in public,” says Professor Kühne, noting that about 30 percent of most Western populations have maintained anti-Semitic views over the past 50 years. “The difference now is that not only has this share of the population been increasing, what I find even more important is that it is no longer clandestine or private,” continues Kühne. “That is the huge difference.”

Today, far-right political parties all over Europe have been finding success breaking post-war taboos, playing on anti-Jewish stereotypes, many borrowed from the Nazis. In the rough-and-ready labyrinths of social media, too, users clothed in anonymity have been reviving racist pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, without the fear of public censure or social ostracization.

And a significant cross-section of the population, especially in Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland, have begun to reassert what they see as the fundamentally white and Christian character of their nations.

It is “an anti-Semitism that remains, that transforms, that reappears, that mutates,” observed Édouard Philippe, the French prime minister, as he and others grappled with the aftermath of Knoll’s murder last month.

Yet here, too, the specter of Islam has played a key if more oblique role. Many right-wing parties in Eastern Europe have been buoyed by their opposition to Muslim immigration, and the early sparks of white nationalism were defined by an antipathy toward Islam, scholars say.

In Britain, where anti-Semitic hate crimes have hit record highs in each of the past two years, such mutations have begun to ensnare the political left, adding another controversial layer to this evolving landscape of anti-Semitism.

With the confluence of so many different expressions of anti-Semitism, French Jews and others are once again feeling an “existential threat” to their place in their countries, just as generations had in decades past, says Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of the global social action agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

“Until the 1990s, there were still survivors of the Holocaust, and France felt guilty about how it had treated Jews,” says Veronique Bencimon, a Hebrew teacher at a Paris high school, as she marches with thousands of others during last month’s Marche Blanche, or “silent march,” in honor of Knoll. “But now people feel freer to say things, and anti-Semitism has come to the surface again.”

“We feel insecure as Jews,” Ms. Bencimon says. “The state does not protect us enough.”

Nationalism and anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe

In the recent election in Hungary, neither a rival nor a policy platform was the focus of incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Instead, in the weeks leading up to his landslide victory on April 8, in which his far-right Fidesz party also appears to have won a two-thirds supermajority in the Hungarian Parliament, Mr. Orbán focused on specter of George Soros, the Hungarian-American billionaire known for his philanthropy for liberal causes.

Plastered along the highway from Budapest to the airport, a campaign billboard displayed a looming picture of Mr. Soros, who with his Jewish family survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary before emigrating to England in 1947.

The billboard warned voters that Soros money would help dismantle the border fence Hungary built in 2015, at the height of the migrant crisis. And in an earlier campaign, posters featured Soros smiling, with the emblazoned words, “Don’t let George Soros have the last laugh.”

For many observers, this image was a direct allusion to Nazi propaganda, posters that depicted “the laughing Jew,” a trope cited often by Hitler. “The anti-Soros campaign is seen as anti-Jewish, even if not overtly,” says Borbala Kriza, a documentary producer gathering testimony from the remaining witnesses of the Holocaust in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe. “Soros was born before the war. He was persecuted in this country, and now he is 87 years old, and he is being persecuted again.”

Hungary currently ranks among the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s global index. But many observers say the country has also begun to reject the traditional liberal ideals of a pluralistic democracy.

“This terrible division that exists, where we don’t accept the other as authentic, it worries me very much,” says Ferenc Raj, founding rabbi of Bet Orim, a reform synagogue in Budapest and one of hundreds of faith communities that can no longer call themselves “churches” under a 2012 law, rendering their assets vulnerable to confiscation by authorities. Rabbi Raj sees the problem as political rather than religious, as much a breakdown in tolerance and equality than a rise in ancient anti-Semitism.

And in both Hungary and Poland, right-wing lawmakers have worked to deemphasize or even erase their countries’ roles in the Holocaust. Earlier this year, Poland's ruling Law and Justice party passed an “anti-defamation law,” making it a crime for any person in any part of the world to accuse “the Polish Nation” of complicity in Nazi war crimes.

In Hungary, Orbán unveiled plans for a new monument to the victims of the Nazi occupation in 1944. Protesters said the monument whitewashed the role that Hungarians played in the deportation of of more than 430,000 Jews, the vast majority who perished at Auschwitz.

“The message of the monument is simple and significant,” wrote Željka Oparnica, a scholar in Budapest criticizing the sculpture. “Hungarians could not resist Nazi Germany and, therefore, should be [absolved] of blame of the terrors of WWII.”   

Hungary still grapples with ambivalence surrounding the labels of “perpetrator” and “victim,” says Gábor T. Szántó, a novelist and the editor-in-chief of the Jewish cultural and political magazine Szombat who deals with the theme in his narratives.  “Our society’s biggest problem, beyond poverty, is a lack of empathy.”

Mutated anti-Zionism in Britain

When Jeremy Corbyn, head of Britain’s Labour Party, defended a politically-charged mural in East London six years ago, he probably had no idea his defense of a wall painting would ignite one of the most explosive scandals of his career.

He now says he was defending free speech when he endorsed the work, which depicted six stereotype-laden Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of the poor. But his party has since been hit with more scandals.

Some of his most fervent supporters have participated in Facebook groups in which members express violent and abusive anti-Semitic sentiments, praise Hitler, and threaten to kill Prime Minister Theresa May. Other Labour officials have shared posts denying the Holocaust, forcing some top leaders to resign.

At the end of March, nearly 1,500 protesters gathered outside Britain’s Parliament to protest Mr. Corbyn’s associations with people expressing anti-Semitic sentiments, and prominent Jewish donors to the party have stopped writing checks.

“In the United Kingdom, you already have a quiet exodus of younger Jews,” says Rabbi Cooper at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “The traditional home for Jews in this socio-political setting was always Labour. And right now, the bottom has fallen out.”

As politics has become more polarized and vitriolic all around the Western world, the left’s deep antipathy towards Israel and its occupation of the Palestinian territories has morphed at times into full-scale anti-Semitism, critics say.

“Israel has become a pariah to the left,” says Mehnaz Afridi, head of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College, a Catholic institution in New York. “In most Muslim views, Israel is understood as a colonial power, and Zionism is seen in a purely political frame.”

SOURCE: Anti-Defamation League; Executive Council of Australian Jews; Forum Against Antisemitism; Antisemitisme.be; Federation of the Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic; Mosaic Religious Community; French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights; Amadeu Antonio Foundation; Action and Protection Foundation; Observatory of Contemporary Anti-Jewish Prejudice; Information and Documentation Centre Israel; Community Security Trust
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Jacob Turcotte and Rebecca Asoulin/Staff

An online incubator

In the United States, hundreds of tiki torch-wielding men chanted “Jews will not replace us” and openly displayed Nazi symbols at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August – even as the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States surged nearly 60 percent in 2017.

That was the largest single-year increase on record, according to a February report by The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which noted that all 50 states saw an increase in anti-Semitic incidents for the first time in at least a decade.

“Charlottesville was definitely a tipping point, and definitely a wake-up call,” says Cooper.

But having launched a digital “report card” that surveys the amount of hate speech and terror-related content online more than two decades ago, Cooper continues to see the web as the most fertile space for spreading anti-Semitic ideas.

“The internet is a great incubator,” he says. “You can keep ‘The Protocols of Zion’ on life support, and there are new strategies and new languages, new ways to formulate old hatreds. And for the person who once upon a time would never think of saying anything this like this, the internet gives them a chance to express those views without any accountability whatsoever.”

“Remember the bad old days when you just spray painted a church or a synagogue or a mosque, and there was at least a chance that you’d get caught?” Cooper continues. “Today? Do whatever you want, and maybe, if places the Wiesenthal Center and others are doing their jobs, we can get a couple hundred thousand accounts suspended. Well, in a world in which Facebook has 1.5 billion, that’s just a drop in the bucket.”

‘We share a common fate’

Still, over the past year, even in the midst of one of the most significant surges in both anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim violence in the United States, Dr. Afridi has marveled at the corresponding surges in her own work to counteract it.

As a Muslim, she notes her unusual position as head of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at a Catholic college like Manhattan. And as a scholar who analyzes the tangled intersections of religion and personal identity, she’s made it her ambitious goal to try “to eradicate anti-Semitism in the Muslim community,” she says.

In many ways, Afridi, author of “Shoah through Muslim Eyes,” has focused so much of her life to a typically Jewish cause because of her commitment to one of the most difficult of civic virtues in a liberal democracy: the value of sharing a common life together as equals, even amid the unavoidable human tensions that arise from difference.

Yet despite the growing sense of alarm that has followed the increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US and Europe, there has been a new sense of purpose around the globe, she says.

“I believe what’s remarkable, as Jews are under attack, as Muslims are under attack, instead of segregating our two communities, it has galvanized us to recognize how we must be fighting for the other – and that is a very, very unique phenomenon,” says Rabbi Marc Schneier, who launched the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in 1989 to help foster better relations between Muslims and Jews around the globe.

“Because we are both under attack, particularly from right wing extremists, we recognize that not only do we share a common faith as sons of Abraham, but we share a common fate,” says Rabbi Schneier. “Our single destiny must strengthen our bonds of concern, compassion, and caring for each other.”

Staff writer Peter Ford contributed to this report from Paris.

SOURCE: Anti-Defamation League; Executive Council of Australian Jews; Forum Against Antisemitism; Antisemitisme.be; Federation of the Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic; Mosaic Religious Community; French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights; Amadeu Antonio Foundation; Action and Protection Foundation; Observatory of Contemporary Anti-Jewish Prejudice; Information and Documentation Centre Israel; Community Security Trust
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Jacob Turcotte and Rebecca Asoulin/Staff
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5. Young Kansas debaters showcase a generation’s urge to engage

More leadership from the high school set? In a moment where many find civil exchanges difficult, young debaters are modeling the skills that can lead to fruitful, rather than hostile, discussions.

Amelia
Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor
Isaiah Eaton, who qualified for the national high school debate tournament, rehearses a speech in his living room in Andover, Kan. His mother, an attorney, encouraged him to join the debate team as a way to come out of his shell after moving to a largely white suburb of Wichita, Kan., freshman year.

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Has America forgotten how to have reasoned arguments? Not if you look at the ranks of high school debaters, who can argue both sides of an issue – a rare skill in today’s increasingly polarized political environment. And among the strongest states in debate is Kansas, which just won the college championships and supplies 5 percent of high school participants in the National Speech and Debate Association, says NSDA Executive Director J. Scott Wunn – not far behind California, which has 13 times as many people. “We punch above our weight,” says Isaiah Eaton, a senior at Andover High School outside Wichita, Kan., who recently qualified for nationals in congressional debate and aspires to be a US senator. While he and his peers are still just gangly teenagers, they are doing something that many polished politicians rarely do today: understand and articulate both sides of an issue. “That’s the thing that we don’t do well as people anymore is looking at the other person’s perspective and understanding their position,… and then finding a way to engage in that productively,” says Mike Harris, coach of Wichita East High School, one of the country’s top programs. “And that’s what debate creates.”

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Young Kansas debaters showcase a generation’s urge to engage

Isaiah Eaton takes the Senate floor with a three-ring binder in his hand and braces on his teeth.

His mission: to convince his fellow senators in this high school congressional debate to support a resolution for Puerto Rico to become the 51st  state in America.

“Democracy is the lifeblood of a functional society,” begins Senator Eaton, referencing the late Yale political scientist Robert Dahl. “As the Congress of the United States of America … we must allow Puerto Rico to have statehood because firstly, the people want it and they are part of our democracy. Secondly, the only reason they aren’t a state is because of misguided 1920s policies.”

Four years ago, Eaton joined the speech and debate team here at Andover High School as a new African-American kid trying to fit into an affluent white community. Today he performs so well in the competition that not only does the Puerto Rico resolution pass, but he is also one of two student senators chosen to represent his district at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) tournament this June. The other is Mel Tamhane, who is just a sophomore at Wichita East – one of America’s top schools in speech and debate, where the team is set to grow from 72 to more than 100 members next year.

Last year, 5,200 students competed in speech and debate events at the high school national championship, which has more than doubled in size since the 1990s. Some 140,000 students around the country are now involved in NSDA. At a time when the country seems to have forgotten how to have reasoned argument, these participants are displaying skills their coaches say are even better than adult politicians’. 

Qualifying for nationals is no small feat in Kansas, where the competition can be fierce. For a state with more cornstalks than people, it has done extraordinarily well on the national stage for nearly a century. The tight-knit community of dedicated coaches, many of whom have been involved since they were in high school, cultivate students in a pipeline that stretches from 9th  grade through college graduation. A pair of University of Kansas debaters just beat Harvard and Georgetown to win the school’s sixth national collegiate debate championship in late March. 

“We punch above our weight,” says Eaton. “I believe there’s a stigma around Kansas that we’re just a bunch of farmers…. They’re like, ‘Oh, you grow corn – and the Wizard of Oz.’ ”

Why Kansas?

Kansas accounts for less than 1 percent of the US population, but it supplies 5 percent of participants in the National Speech and Debate Association, says NSDA Executive Director J. Scott Wunn. It is not far behind California, which accounts for 8 percent of total participants but has 13 times more people than Kansas. Overall, the Sunflower State is one of the top five states in the US in terms of per capita debate participation. 

There are various theories as to why Kansas has so many home-grown debaters. For starters, the state itself was conceived amid a debate over the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, which forced residents to take sides over slavery. The situation turned violent and led to the seven years known as Bleeding Kansas. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas drew massive crowds debating the merits of the act in 1858. And in high-school debate, Kansas has a strong tradition going back to the 1920s, when it established some of the charter chapters of what later became the NSDA, and from there developed a robust local circuit.

“My argument has always been – I can go 20 miles with my best teams and we can get beaten,” says Pam McComas, who coached Topeka High School to an eight-year winning streak at state championships and also produced five national champions before retiring several years ago.

Kansas debate teams attract everyone from competitive swimmers to budding thespians. Some wear red Make America Great Again hats; others participated in the recent walkouts over guns. They come from schools where every child has a laptop, and others where the coach scrounges together a dozen computers for 40 students.

But everyone works hard. They spend up to 30 hours a week or more on debate. They immerse themselves in the Constitution, quote Noam Chomsky, and cart around plastic tubs full of research, while their underpaid coaches spend lunch breaks poring over law reviews. They want to be senators and judges, and maybe even president. Famous former debaters range from Vice President Mike Pence and Malcolm X to former Attorney General Janet Reno and Oprah Winfrey.

Seeing both sides

While they are still just gangly teenagers, they are doing something that many polished politicians rarely do today: understanding and articulating both sides of an issue.

“I do think debate forces you to talk about it, to hear the other side,” says Ben Engle, a student at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School in Wichita, Kan.

“Not just hear them, but defend their beliefs,” says Kapaun student Bobby Phillips, who along with his partner Dominik Lett is one of the top nationally ranked policy debaters.

“That’s the thing that we don’t do well as people anymore is looking at the other person’s perspective and understanding their position, and what their arguments are, and then finding a way to engage in that productively. And that’s what debate creates,” says Mike Harris, who coached Mr. Phillips and Mr. Lett last year before taking over Wichita East’s program. “So hopefully you’re creating a model for young people to try to transcend some of the nastiness in the world we live in today.”

They bring that home, too.

Amit Tamhane, who drops Mel off at Wichita East by 6:50 a.m. every morning for debate and picks him up between 5:30 and 6 p.m., says he’s learned a lot from the discussions they’ve had about issues, such as genetically modified organisms. He even concedes that his views have changed as a result.

“It’s good to see things from a different perspective – good for all of us, not just the kids,” he says.

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The Monitor's View

Hungary plants two kinds of seeds

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has long been been cultivating his authoritarian rule. With his party’s election victory last Sunday, he is now tightening the screws on nongovernmental organizations that champion freedom. Yet while the election is a worrisome example of a country rejecting democratic values, it is also clear that Mr. Orbán has forced another kind of seed to sprout in Hungary: corruption. The country shows “one of the most alarming examples of shrinking civil society space in Eastern Europe,” according to Transparency International. Corruption’s rise often drives a demand among the people for clean and accountable governance. With more corruption in Hungary, Orbán may simply ramp up his rhetoric against immigrants, which has won him support. But ultimately the corruption will be too real and the rhetoric too empty for his supporters. A swing back to democracy will bring Hungary around. A country’s long-term stability lies in honoring individual rights and freedoms. 

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Hungary plants two kinds of seeds

Democracy’s decline in recent years has been a slow-moving trend, one marked by a steady erosion of rights and rule of law more than military coups. About 60 percent of 129 countries have seen a decline in political rights since 2006. A good example of the trend is Hungary. An election there last Sunday was heavily tilted in favor of the ruling party after it cracked down on media and civic activism.

For eight years, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been planting seeds for authoritarian rule, such as stacking the courts. He even admits his view of democracy is “illiberal.” With this latest victory, he is now tightening the screws on nongovernmental organizations that champion freedom.

Yet while the election is a worrisome example of a country rejecting democratic values, especially in Europe, it is also clear Mr. Orban has forced another kind of seed to sprout in Hungary: corruption.

Over the past six years, Hungary has risen 10 places in an index of countries with the most corruption. It represents “one of the most alarming examples of shrinking civil society space in Eastern Europe,” states Transparency International, which surveys for corruption worldwide. In the capital, Budapest, the Corruption Research Center estimates the ruling party, Fidesz, has distributed $8 billion to $12 billion in favorable contracts to the party’s close associates in business. Last year, a group of young people organized a campaign against a government bid for Hungary to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. The group’s main worry: money to construct the sport facilities would flow to cronies of the ruling party.

If anything might reverse autocracy in a nation, it is a rise in corruption, or rather a demand among the people for clean and accountable governance. “In the long run, ruling by coercion and not by dialog always leads to a dead end,” says Aart De Geus, chairman of the German think tank Bertelsmann Stiftung.

In a global survey, Bertelsmann found that 12 democracies have combated corruption successfully while only one autocracy did so. In hybrid democracies like Hungary, “corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak. Civil society is weak ... and the judiciary is not independent,” finds The Economist Intelligence Unit.

With more corruption in Hungary, Orban may simply ramp up his rhetoric against immigrants, which so far has won him votes. But ultimately the corruption will be too real and the rhetoric too empty for his supporters. A swing back to democracy, as in many places of the world, will bring Hungary around. A country’s long-term stability lies in honoring individual rights and freedoms.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

All creation is made to live in harmony

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Today’s column comes from a woman with a love of nature and of God who explains how she was quickly healed after a horse kicked her.

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All creation is made to live in harmony

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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A gray whale mom and her baby of two months swam to the small boat we were in to see what was up with us. It was a transcendent moment of interspecies nonverbal communication. The mom watched as the baby whale put its head up right next to us, and we reached down to pet this enormous creature.

Baby rolled, cavorted, and scratched its back on the bottom of our boat while diving under it. Finally mom nudged the boat gently a couple of times and we separated, leaving those of us on the boat with the sense that we had experienced a profound moment.

There’s a wonderful and clarifying idea in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, which reveals that God created all and His creation is good – harmonious. The peaceful experience with the whales brought to thought something written in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, which expands on this idea: “All of God’s creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible” (p. 514).

That’s a pretty radical way to think about the world around us. It urges us to go beyond the surface, to see “creatures” as more than physical animals – as fundamentally spiritual and peaceful creations of divine Spirit. And as Spirit’s creation includes us, too, it’s natural for interactions between us and our world to be harmonious and free from senseless ferocity.

There are positive implications to this deeper understanding of the true nature of God’s creation, to a fuller sense of the supreme governance of God, of good. For instance, it lessens fear of attacks, bites, or stings and even brings healing and safety.

When the biblical king Darius cast a man named Daniel into a lions’ den, Daniel was protected through his trust in God. To the king’s amazement, Daniel was unharmed, illustrating the dominion of spiritual strength over viciousness (see Daniel 6:16-23). The Apostle Paul was bitten by a poisonous viper and remained completely free from any aftereffects (see Acts 28:3-5).

Science and Health explains, “Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless” (p. 514). Still today we can find healing through a willingness to acknowledge divine Love’s, God’s, absolute power to govern its creation harmoniously.

Some years ago, the day before a long horseback riding activity, I was kicked by a horse, and my thumb was broken. I immediately began praying, having seen the effectiveness of such an approach many times before.

I felt no anger toward the horse. I recognized that his intention had not been to harm me but simply to catch up to his buddies. And thinking about the “harmless, useful, indestructible” nature of the horse as God’s creation, I glimpsed something of what Daniel and Paul must have known about the lions and the viper: that a creature of God couldn’t truly harm me. Because we are God-created, truly spiritual in nature, we live in God’s loving care, safe and secure. Despite the pain and disjointed appearance of my finger, I felt I could hold to the understanding that harmony and wholeness were my spiritual reality, because that’s how God governs – and that this realization in my thought would result in healing my thumb.

Throughout that all-day ride, I kept this in mind. Praying from this basis – acknowledging, celebrating, and affirming the power of God, of good – I felt free from fear about my thumb or my ability to finish the ride, and by the end of the day my thumb was completely back to normal.

A favorite prayer of mine is the Lord’s Prayer, articulated by Christ Jesus, which states in part, “For thine is the kingdom …” (Matthew 6:13). To me this means that creation is always in God’s hands. This is where we and all creation actually dwell in harmony with each other – in God’s kingdom, under His peaceful control.

It is possible to witness evidence of this spiritual reality, as I did on that horseback ride and as the group did with the gray whales. As we separated from those magnificent creatures that day, another woman in the boat whispered a perfect refrain into the warm salt air: “Vaya con Dios” (“Go with God”). This embodies the holy feeling I had felt we experienced and, to me, points to the spiritual unity of all God’s creation, existing together in God’s harmony.

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Viewfinder

Remembering a breakthrough

Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and and former US President Bill Clinton join hands at an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 10. Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was seated with the two, as was former US Senator George Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell chaired the 1998 talks, which helped end 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland. He also chaired the panel discussion Wednesday at Queen's University. 'Today ... it's considered fashionable to demean and insult political leaders, and certainly much is deserved,' Mitchell said, 'but we don't pay enough attention or tribute to those political leaders who do dare greatly and succeed.'
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Jacob Turcotte. )
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In Our Next Issue

( April 12th, 2018 )

Thanks for spending time with us today. Here's one more story you might want to check out: Why Naoto Kan, a former Japanese prime minister who saw his country through the Fukushima nuclear disaster, is now traveling the globe to warn against nuclear power's dangers. We caught up with him on a visit to France. And come back tomorrow, when the Monitor's Story Hinckley looks at what the nation's "report card" tells us about the benchmarks we use to evaluate proficiency in a subject. 

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April 11, 2018
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