Monday, May 21, 2012

1 Chron 12:32 report, 106: Recognising and countering the manipulative "mainstreaming" game -- "ends justify means" abuse of "science" and scholarship, Alinsky-ite radical subversive factions and front pressure groups, good cop/bad cop tactics, unethical marketing stratagems and manipulation of the institutional/ cultural consensus to promote ill-informed, destructive and dechristianising agendas

One of the key buzz-word concepts I encountered while working in the environment and development field is "mainstreaming." 

This buzz-word is a bit hard to pin down as to precise meaning (a clue that -- with all due respect to honest scholarship and praxis -- too often, there is something going on that will not bear close scrutiny . . . ) but we can gain an idea of the range of meanings from a few key cases:
What is mainstreaming? The informed inclusion of relevant environmental concerns into the decisions and institutions that drive national, sectoral, and local development policy, rules, plans, investment and action [Cited: International Institute for Environment and Development 2009.]

Gender Mainstreaming is a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. Mainstreaming is not an end in itself but a strategy, an approach, a means to achieve the goal of gender equality. Mainstreaming involves ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities - policy development, research, advocacy/ dialogue, legislation, resource allocation, and planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects. [Cited: UN Women, cf. also here.]

Mainstreaming [HIV and AIDS] . . . is essentially a process whereby a sector analyses how HIV and AIDS can impact it now and in the future, and considers how sectoral policies, decisions and actions might influence the longer-term development of the epidemic and the sector . . . .  In other words, to stay on top of the rapidly evolving epidemics, actions need to be incorporated into sectors’ normal operations while simultaneously continue seeking innovations and extending new partnerships. [Cited: UNDP Guidebook. p. 11. But, cf. Kupelian's remarks on the Kirk-Madsen "After the Ball" strategy, here.]
Mainstreaming the "gay" subculture: Peter Thatchell, an advocate, wrote, c. 2003: "When even The Archers has a gay character, you know that lesbian and gay people really are making serious inroads into the mainstream. Further proof that we are winning over Middle England came last September when an out gay man, Elton John, accompanied by his male lover, was invited to sing in front of The Queen in Westminster Abbey at the funeral of the mother of the future King . . . . Opinion research by Harris in 1992 revealed that 71 per cent of the population believe lesbians and gay men should have the same legal rights as heterosexuals . . ."
If we boil it down, the key idea here is that a given country, community, a "sector" of related activities and organisations, or an individual organisation -- this can be local, regional or international -- has a dominant view of the world, that consciously and unconsciously shapes how decisions are made and implemented. This is its mainstream, its business as usual view. If something is a part of the mainstream, it will have no great opposition. 

So, logically, mainstreaming is about gaining control of the "mind-space" of countries, communities and organisations in such a way that a new agenda is embedded into the decision-making, activities and operations to the point where if something is not on the agenda of the push-groups, it will seem odd, wrong or controversial.

As the UN guide-book on mainstreaming HIV-AIDS shows in an illustration on p. 11, this is often quite comprehensive:

What "mainstreaming" entails (UN Mainstreaming HIV-AIDS guidebook, p. 9, fair use)

 So, mainstreaming is about initiating change, it is about influencing change, it is about shaping perceptions, it is about marketing or public relations or propaganda, it is about shaping policy, it is about power and politics and decisions. So also, it is necessarily about ethics: the question of what is right and/or wrong about both means and ends being used in those contexts. And so, too, in a day where we have been seeing the rise of inherently amoral evolutionary materialism and related radical relativism and secularism, it is going to be about the increasingly widespread problem of ruthless amoral and manipulative factions and their power-games, ends justify means tactics and agendas.

That's where the concerns come in.

As this blog warned on Sept 13, 2010, speaking about how "mainstreamed" porn is being used to benumb our consciences, addict us to evil and open the gateway for acceptance of all manner of evils:
. . .  increasingly, acceptance of "anything goes" amorality on sexual matters seems to be the accepted thing here in the Caribbean and in the wider world. 

Q: Why is that?

A: Kupelian's Marketing of Evil Strategy in action:
1 --> Desensitise to evil (benumb the conscience) by gradually increasing exposure and through glamourisation, making the abnormal, disordered, bizarre and destructive appear to be sympathetic, acceptable or even normal and even attractive behaviour. Once the proverbial camel's nose is admitted under the tent, pretty soon, the whole beast will be inside; and the former owner of the tent will be shivering out in the dark, cold night.

2 --> Jam out the messages of those who make objections, by using the classic trifecta rhetorical/propaganda strategy: distract attention from inconvenient truth through red herrings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in slanderous and often cruel ad hominems. Ignite to cloud, choke, and poison the atmosphere, polarising the community against objectors, now increasingly perceived as evil kill-joy hypocrites and threats to "freedom." (It helps to muddy the waters by conflating liberty with license.)

3 --> Convert a critical mass into tolerators, supporters and even advocates, by exploiting the perceived moral high ground captured in phases 1 & 2, so that evil is rationalised as if it were acceptable or even good.
When this is laid out in cold hard terms, it sounds ruthless and mechanical.

Ruthless it certainly is, but it is not mechanical at all; the desensitisation- jamming- conversion strategy works by so framing issues, ideas, alternatives, views and people that our emotions and impressions pull us to support what we would not otherwise wish to support. And if inhaling smoke from shredded leaves wrapped in paper that at first cause us to get sick can be successfully marketed as a mark of glamour, coming of age and "cool" iconic Marlboro Man manhood -- then, sustained for decades in the face of mounting evidence of the deadly diseases that smoking causes --  almost anything can be "sold" to us.

To see what that means practically, let us explore how a tidal wave of porn has been used to help pave the way for sexual orientation amorality, and for the acceptance of a radical redefinition of marriage to include the notion that a man can marry another man, or a woman another woman . . .
In short, we are being hit with a surging tide of deception that subtly enmeshes us in evil and twists our perceptions so that evil seems good and good, evil. 

And, that is where it becomes ever so important for Christian leaders, Christian disciples and Christians in the workplace and community to discern the spirits at work and the signs of the times, to know what we should do. Just as those two hundred men of Issachar in David's day who, as 1 Chron 12:32 described, knew what Israel should do in a time of crisis and danger.

Part of the reason for this post, in that light, is the current push initiated by US President Obama, to radically secularise law and public policy in our civilisation, currently clustered around the sales slogan "marriage equality." 

For instance, in announcing a board decision on Saturday last, the NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said a very strange thing and used this key buzz phrase: “The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”

How does "equal protection of all people under law" translate into we must support the notion that Adam and Eve is suddenly "equal" to Adam and Steve or Eve and Sue, especially where children are to be born and soundly raised and educated, as a mission-critical issue for survival of our civilisation?

It plainly doesn't, and cannot.

But words like equality and fairness and justice are very emotionally moving, and can be powerfully persuasive, if they come from sources that are respected. In this case, we are here speaking of one of the most longstanding civil rights organisations in the United States, with global influence. And, nowhere do we hear the recognition that what is implied here is that if you object to the redefinition -- and thus destruction of marriage by perverting it away from its naturally obvious creation order focus and purpose -- you are going to be stigmatised as a bigot, morally equivalent to being a racist. 

And in this case, with the obvious threat that in the USA activist judges are going to use the constitutional amendment named, to push the homosexualisation of marriage. Of course, in other jurisdictions where equal protection under law is just a legal principle rather than a specific law in itself, this is how it will now be used by activist judges in effect legislating by setting precedents on this matter. So, once sufficiently senior judges have so ruled, the new approach will be set in legal concrete and backed up by police action. Homosexualisation of marriage will be "mainstreamed," in law. Unjust law that will deem people of Biblically informed conscience who see that something is very wrong in so "mainstreaming" that which is "against nature" to be bigots morally equivalent to racists. 

Indeed, in the UK, we have already had a High Court case (cf. video here) where since Christians would be unwilling to promote homosexuality as morally equivalent to normal sexual behaviour to foster children, they were deemed unfit to have foster children. By the usual ways of precedent, that suggests that -- if this ruling stands -- Bible-believing Christians have just been disqualified from any other positions of trust and responsibility over children. In effect, unless sufficient protest blocks extension, we are disqualified from being teachers, social workers, youth and child care workers, etc etc. In short, we are being unjustly shunned and discriminated against, or stigmatised.

Let's back up a bit and look at the key term: "stigma."

Another key buzz-word. 

Over the past few years in the Caribbean, we have been hearing it used to say we should not shun HIV/AIDS victims. Within reasonable limits, this has a point.

But now, over this past weekend, once we accepted the idea that stigma was not an appropriate response to disease victims [never mind that in some respects this is a disease of choice], we suddenly heard that term now being used at an organised protest event in St Lucia for "Gays, Lesbians and Transgenders," it is being used to say how dare you object morally to our sexual patterns of behaviour and habits. (Never mind that some of these are so warning-label dangerous and disordered, that they are deeply implicated in the spread of HIV and AIDS.)

This brings out the progressive nature of radical agendas, and especially how once one threshold has been crossed, there is always another one that was being warmed up in the wings, that had we seen it before, we would have been very wary indeed.

But, there is more. 

Why is it that Bible-believing Christians in particular are consistently being progressively stigmatised and scapegoated as threats to sound social order and the new mainstream? Matthew J. Franck, in his May 2011 First Things article, "Religion, Reason, and Same-Sex Marriage," explains:
In the contemporary debate on the future of marriage, there appears to be, amid many uncertainties, one sure thing. Those who publicly defend traditional marriage can count on being denounced as haters, bigots, or irrational theocrats—and perhaps all of these at once . . . . Marriage only between a man and a woman [in the view of activist judges and others] is a mere “tradition” with no claim on our attention when a claim of “discrimination” is made on the other side. All that this tradition has going for it is the “moral and religious views” of its supporters. But the law embodies moral choices, so why is this moral viewpoint illegitimate as the basis of a law? The problem is that it is driven too much by the religious commitments of those who hold it—and so it must be dismissed from public life and relegated to the realm of “private moral choice,” disallowed from enactment as the view of the majority in a democratic society. So toxic is it to hold certain religious views that merely believing them works a “harm” to other people. Those who hold these views must not only be prevented from enacting those views as the will of the democratic majority; they must, to the extent possible, be silenced in the public square. They must . . . shut up . . . . 

But why do some participants in our public debates—not just gay-marriage advocates but “secularists” of all stripes (and not a few religious people)—believe that religiously grounded arguments must be “privatized”? Why do they believe that faith and reason must be separated by an unbreachable wall? And why are some arguments that are presented entirely in terms of rational precepts of morality, without reference to theological presuppositions or claims about God’s commandments, treated as suspect—as “theocratic,” no less—if they draw the same moral conclusions as particular religious teachings on the same subject?

A partial explanation, offered by the theologian Alister McGrath, is the assumption that religious faith is “invariably blind faith”—unsupported by the evidence of facts available to us, and even contradicted by them. But as McGrath notes, “The simple reality of life is that all of us, irrespective of our views about God, base our lives on beliefs—on things that we cannot prove to be true, but believe to be trustworthy and reliable.” Understood in this way, “faith” is indispensable to all of us, whether we are recognizably “religious” or not. Belief is “not blind,” says McGrath, “it just tries to make the best sense of things on the basis of the limited evidence available.” It is perhaps a touchingly blind faith in the sufficiency of narrow scientific reasoning that fails to recognize this obvious fact of the human condition . . . 
So, at bottom, we are back at the point where evolutionary materialist secularism, dressed up in the holy lab coat, is telling us that religiously motivated or associated views are tainted, irrational and dangerous. Therefore,once "science" -- actually, Scientism -- has spoken on a matter and has told us the "consensus," they must be dismissed out of hand and adherents locked up in safe little cultural and policy ghettos for their own good and the good of the wider society. As philosophy professor Edward Feser informs us in the just linked:
Scientism is the view that all real knowledge is scientific knowledge—that there is no rational, objective form of inquiry that is not a branch of science. There is at least a whiff of scientism in the thinking of those who dismiss ethical objections to cloning or embryonic stem cell research as inherently “anti-science.” There is considerably more than a whiff of it in the work of New Atheist writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who allege that because religion has no scientific foundation (or so they claim) it “therefore” has no rational foundation at all . . . . 

Despite its adherents’ pose of rationality, scientism has a serious problem: it is either self-refuting or trivial. Take the first horn of this dilemma. The claim that scientism is true is not itself a scientific claim, not something that can be established using scientific methods. Indeed, that science is even a rational form of inquiry (let alone the only rational form of inquiry) is not something that can be established scientifically. For scientific inquiry itself rests on a number of philosophical assumptions: that there is an objective world external to the minds of scientists; that this world is governed by causal regularities; that the human intellect can uncover and accurately describe these regularities; and so forth. Since science presupposes these things, it cannot attempt to justify them without arguing in a circle. And if it cannot even establish that it is a reliable form of inquiry, it can hardly establish that it is the only reliable form. Both tasks would require “getting outside” science altogether and discovering from that extra-scientific vantage point that science conveys an accurate picture of reality—and in the case of scientism, that only science does so . . . .

[Similarly] we come to the second horn of the dilemma facing scientism. Its advocate may now insist: if philosophy has this status, it must really be a part of science, since (he continues to maintain, digging in his heels) all rational inquiry is scientific inquiry. The trouble now is that scientism becomes completely trivial, arbitrarily redefining “science” so that it includes anything that could be put forward as evidence against it . . . . If “scientism” is defined so broadly that it includes (at least in principle) philosophical theology of this kind, then the view becomes completely vacuous. For the whole point of scientism—or so it would seem given the rhetoric of its loudest adherents—was supposed to be to provide a weapon by which fields of inquiry like theology might be dismissed as inherently unscientific and irrational. ["Blinded by Scientism," The Witherspoon Instittute, Public Discourse, March 10, 2010.]
So, now, we see the underlying reason why in his infamous NYRB January 1997 article, "Billions and billions of demons," biology professor Richard Lewontin wrote:

. . . to put a correct view of the universe into people's heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . .   the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test  . . . . 
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. . . . 

"Science" is now the new oracle of "truth," and whoever rules "science" rules the world. So, science has been increasingly colonised and occupied by evolutionary materialist ideologues, who wear the holy lab coat and announce the unquestionable consensus as the truth or the nearest practical approximation to it that we can get. All the while, ideological a prioris and closed-minded question-begging impositions and agendas are driving what we are being spoon-fed by the promoters and the journalists as "news."

That is why, for instance, so much was made some years ago about the claimed discovery of a "gay gene," and it is why when the ill-founded nature of the claims were later brought out to the point where some of the promoters were forced to walk back on the claims they were making, it somehow did not make such a headline splash. (Cf. the book-length critical survey and report, My Genes Made Me Do It, here, on correctives to this now pervasive myth, which is a main root of the notion that moral objections to homosexual behaviour and mainstreaming are driven by "bigotry.")

Going on, we can see the good cop/bad cop intimidatory and manipulative negotiation tactics and associated radical faction games at work. 

The essence of the tactic is that Alinsky "Rules for Radicals"-tactics extremist pressure groups can help intimidate opposition, using tactics such as public protests, ridicule and slander-laced smearing, to silence those who are designated scapegoats. Meanwhile, more "moderate" voices that are a few steps short of the extremists seem, by contrast to be the very voice of reason and "compromise." The so-called mushy middle, who are ill informed on the subject and who lack critical awareness, can then be persuaded -- frankly, manipulated -- by the sort of talking points that come over in news and views programing, with various duly designated prestigious experts and endorsers telling us the "reasonable" way to go. There may even be bright, shiny new political messiahs who stand up as champions of the new way, the way of hope and change, the obvious way forward to "progress."

Then, since they have had their perceptions and emotions duly moulded by the pressure applied, and since they have reference to "experts" and ever so "reasonable" and prestigious voices, it is "obvious" that there is a "consensus," informed by "science," that tells us the way we must go. And, those who disagree are obviously up to no good. Indeed, look, they are probably irrational bigoted pre-enlightenment theocrats who want to bring back the Inquisition and the torture racks.

Most decision-makers, professionals and officials would fit into the mushy middle, so we can easily see how a radical agenda can be "mainstreamed," even in the teeth of reasons to be dubious or even outright actually decisive evidence that it is ill-informed and positively harmful or foolish.

The march of folly, revealed.

Long ago, the prophets denounced this sort of mass error, rebuking idolatry -- which includes idolisation of political leaders and other popular figures [why is that TV programme called "American idol" again?] -- and the evils it always brings with it:
Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
    who draw sin as with cart ropes . . . . 

20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight! [ESV]
How, then, can we break the march of folly and evil, or at least stand in a principled way in an evil day?

The prophet has exposed the key issue: putting falsehood, folly, evil and darkness masquerading as light, in the place of truth, wisdom, the good and genuine light. 

So, logically, our key response is to discern the spirits at work, and to discern the signs of our times. When we do so, we will know what to do, towards the right the good, the true, the wise.

In particular, since we often will encounter evil in the name of justice and equality, and falsehood in the name of science as "the only begetter of truth," we will need to learn how to think straight on matters of ethics and warrant for scientific truth claims, knowing the strengths and limitations of various approaches and theories or claims being made. (Did you notice how those who are calling for letting high school students learn the strengths and limitations of scientific methods and theories are being denounced as "creationists," and anti-science zealots, etc? No surprise, that: resisting correction and smearing those who object.)

For science, perhaps the easiest solution is to learn about Lord Russell's inductive turkey: a very scientific turkey on a farm, on long observation, formed and came to accept as highly reliable, the law of nature that every morning at 9:00 am sharp, he would be fed outside the door of the kitchen.  Then, one fine morning in December, it was Christmas Eve. Chop! Christmas Dinner!

That is, science works by making observations, inferring models, laws and theories that make sense of the observations by fitting them into a pattern that may describe causes and effects, and then on testing such theories, they may be deemed empirically reliable. To many minds, that means practically true. But, such an inductive generalisation faces the problem that maybe there are circumstances that are not being reckoned with, where it is not wise to over-extrapolate the uniformity of the course of the world. For example, our scientific turkey would have been well advised to flee if he had understood that the exception to the pattern he saw was the wider pattern that he was being fattened up to become dinner come Christmas Day.

Just so, the Apostle Peter aptly warns:
2 Peter 3:3 . . .  scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 

 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly . . . [ESV]
Similarly, in Job, we can hear the answer of the Almighty out of the storm, after men have exhausted themselves with futile questions and speculations:
Job 38:“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action[a] like a man;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy? [ESV]
Similarly, we can note how John Locke, in grounding the principles of liberty and justice in government of the community in his famous second essay on civil government, Ch 2 sect, 5, cited "the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker" in his Ecclesiastical Polity (1594+):
. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]
Let us notice, how carefully Hooker draws upon the Golden rule and the principle of equality by Creation order and purpose that is obvious from the equality of human nature (without simplistically saying "the Bible says X . . ." ), then how he draws upon a pivotal remark by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics that shows just how evident the principle is to the eye of the reasonable and informed, reflective man. That is, he here grounds the reasonableness of the biblical principle on common ground, appealing both to learning and to common sense reasoning and reasonableness. So, he who would rail against the Scriptures and their author, is here exposed as the one who is truly irrational, unfair, foolish and unreasonable.

While evolutionary materialism as ideology lacks grounding for moral principle, the scriptures teach us that:
Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16  on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus . . . [ESV]
In short, the way of the right, the just and the true is the way of "reasonable service."

Consequently, we should expect that reasonable and informed people can reason correctly about moral matters. Especially, where they are not being blinded by their own passions or whipped up false perceptions and hostility. Which in turn tells us that such abuses and errors will reveal themselves by the fallacies and tainted perceptions and emotions involved. Thus, it should be possible to stand on the premise of reasonable common sense, and appeal to common ground that can build a bridge to reach across the growing divide, before it is too late. And, where we deal with unreasonable, agenda-driven, abusive extremists and their "good cop" partners, we can also expose this intimidatory tactical partnership, breaking its power to deceive. Therefore, with wisdom, courage and discernment, we can challenge the mainstreaming of evil, deception and folly with some reasonable prospects for success.

Indeed, Paul also counsels on this point:
2 Cor 10:For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . . [ESV]
Notice, the apostle here identifies that spiritual warfare in significant part is about dealing with deception, misleading arguments and so also the agendas that carry such into the community, with the intent that such folly becomes the dominant mainstream. 

That means that church-planting, culture-reforming missionaries, prophetic intercessors, evangelists, pastors, teachers and apologists -- a special class of Christian teacher -- alike are front-line troops in the church's ongoing work under the great commission that carries the well-warranted and transforming truth of the gospel to a hurting lost, deceived, demonically dominated world.

But, if that work is to go forward effectively in the Caribbean today, in the face of the two tidal waves . . . 

. . .  we will have to be ready in good time, we will have to be equipped to see and understand what is going on, and we will have to have the courage, wisdom, credibility and organisation to stand up, act and speak out for good in the community.

(Which brings my personal focus back to the proposed AACCS programme.)

So, let us reflect: if not now, then when? if not here, then where, if not us, then who, why? END