World History Lecture Fourteen
Our journey through world history reaches the present in this final lecture.
The Christian population has steadily increased from 0% in 6 B.C. to 33% today. Although Christians have always been a minority in the world, this minority has led the world in accomplishments and achievements. Ask yourself as you complete this course: What is the future for Christianity?
One word sums up most historians’ view of the world today: “globalism”. That was not even a word 25 years ago. “Globalism” means treating the world as one political unit, as one massive village. Distances appear to be shortening between people, cultures and nations. Travel is more affordable for more people. Mobility is greater. Trade among nations is larger. Television and the internet link the world’s population of six or so billion people like never before.
One invention in late 1947 made most of this possible. Three scientists invented the transistor at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey (exit 44 on I-78, near Berkeley Heights). This tiny invention brought about a technological revolution in computers and communications. With improvements, the transistor permitted microelectronic control and amplification of signals. This greatly advanced communication, in radio, television, telephone and later the internet. This also permitted the storage of massive amounts of information in computers. Bell Labs, then part of AT&T, made this invention available to the entire world. Soon transistors replaced vacuum tubes in radios and televisions, enabling them to work better. The Japanese flooded the market with improved products.
Apple Computer sold a personal computer for home use in the late 1970s and, in 1981, IBM introduced its own personal computer. Time magazine declared the personal (or home) computer to be “Man of the Year” for 1982. Fifteen years later the internet became popular for connecting computers. In 2000, presidential candidate Al Gore attempted to take credit for helping create the internet, and many people ridiculed him. No politician, and certainly not Al Gore, can take credit for all this.
Other inventions have also helped improve the world. The invention of plastics enabled the mass production of inexpensive goods, everything from drinking cups to watches to car and airplane furnishings. Robotics lowered the cost of manufacturing for everything. In the United States unions resisted some of these changes. The Japanese companies, benefiting from cheaper labor and lack of unions, surpassed American companies in many industries. Economic problems later caught up with Japan in the early 1990s, but even today its car industry (especially Toyota) does better than Detroit car manufacturers. Voluntary import quotas have kept Japanese car imports from increasing in quantity more than they would be without any trade barriers, and the Japanese began selling expensive luxury cars (such as the Lexus) as a way of making more money with fewer products.
In addition to Japan, other Asian nations also thrived after World War II. The “Four Tigers” are the prosperous Pacific Rim nations of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. (Hong Kong is now part of communist China but is allowed to remain free until at least the middle of the 21st century.) Even communist China has grown stronger economically by trading with the United States. Malaysia and other Asian nations have prospered too.
There are numerous “multinational” companies having offices in many different countries. Many American companies now have offices or factories even in communist China. These multinational companies are attracted by the low wages and inexpensive raw materials, and by the opportunity to sell their products there. Increased regulation and taxes in America also encourage companies to transfer their jobs to foreign countries, where there is less regulation and fewer lawsuits.
Beginning soon after the end of World War II, the western nations discussed agreements to reduce tariffs for trade among themselves. In 1947, they entered into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in order to decrease tariffs that interfered with trade. This marked a significant change from how nations had used tariffs in the past to protect their domestic industries and raise revenue. Under GATT, western countries first froze the tariffs (preventing them from increasing) and later began reducing the tariffs. In 1995, this approach was taken one step further with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which included non-western countries and also established international courts for deciding trade disputes among nations. There are 150 members of the WTO today, and Vietnam (which the communists won by war in the 1970s) joined the WTO in 2007.
Western European nations also joined the European Common Market after World War II, and then in 1958 joined the European Economic Community (EEC) to reduce tariffs among themselves. The EEC later became the European Union (EU), which includes all Western European countries except Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland, which has never joined anything and fiercely defends its independence. In 2002, many EU countries began using a common currency known as the “euro”, but these EU countries use their own currency instead of the euro: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Notice how many Eastern European countries now belong to the EU, but do not use its currency. A map of the EU is to the right.
The large Muslim nation of Turkey requested to join the EU in 1987, but the EU has never allowed it to join. In 2005, the new Pope Benedict XVI of the Catholic Church emphasized the need to keep Europe Christian, and Muslim riots occurred in late 2006 when he repeated a controversial quote about Islam. One of President Barack Obama’s most significant statements after his election was to call for the inclusion of Turkey in the EU. But now, in 2014, Turkey itself does want to join the EU, and announced that it would not pay a fine imposed against it by the European Court of Human Rights based on an invasion in 1974 by Turkey of Cyprus. The EU is not as popular as it was a decade ago.
North America has also created a free trade zone (free from tariffs) with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was never ratified by the Senate as a treaty but which Congress passed into law anyway. NAFTA establishes international courts that have already been used to force the United States to open its borders to Mexican trucks, which are less safe than American ones. The importation of drugs into the United States from Mexico has increased since NAFTA went into effect.
There are other free trade zones. LAFTA is the Latin American Free Trade Agreement passed in 1961, and replaced in 1981 by the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI). ALADI has not been very successful and therefore several Latin American countries decided to form new free trade zones. The most successful free trade zone in Latin America is the South American Common Market (Mercosur) which has Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela as members. Other trade zones in the Americas include the Andean Community, the Central American Common Market (CACM) and the Caribbean Common Market (Caricom). Supporters of these agreements assert that they help Latin American countries develop economic independence from foreign powers. There is CAFTA, a recently enacted Central American Free Trade Agreement that the United States joined. There is ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, founded in 1967 by Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines to combat communism. ASEAN signed trade agreements with Japan (1977) and the European Community (1980). All these agreements and associations seek to reduce tariffs between member states and promote so-called “free trade.”
The promotion of “free trade” has many opponents. Conservatives object to sending money to foreign countries and the resultant loss of American manufacturing jobs to near-slave labor in foreign countries. A consequence of “free trade” is an increase in illegal drugs from foreign countries into the United States, often hidden within other goods. Foreign countries, particularly China, have been putting cheaper but dangerous substitutes into goods that result in injuring Americans, including children and pets, who end up using them. Unions object to their loss of jobs that result from “free trade,” as it is cheaper to have goods manufactured outside of all the expensive regulations and lawsuits that occur in the United States. Many inside and outside the United States also object to a culture of “consumerism”, such that people are encouraged to buy more than what is healthy or necessary. Brand names like McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Nike dominate television and the culture of teenagers. “McDonaldization” is when American advertising (as in the case of McDonalds) has an influence on the world culture, causing distant children (like Chinese) to repeat a McDonald’s slogan they heard on television.
Americans discovered crude oil (petroleum) near Titusville, Pennsylvania, and drilled their first oil there in 1859. It began yielding 25 barrels a day. The world would never be the same again. By 1906, American oil production had reached 126 million barrels a year. Today petroleum constitutes 40% of Americans’ overall energy consumption in the United States, with coal being the other big source of energy. But most of the cheap, readily accessible oil in the world is under the control of Muslims in the Middle East.
To keep the price of oil higher than it would be in a free market, Middle Eastern countries formed OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) in 1960. The original members were Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and also the Latin American country of Venezuela. African and Asian countries later joined OPEC too. Angered by American support of Israel during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, OPEC placed an embargo on the shipment of oil to the United States. Prices jumped by a multiple of four in two years, and there were many long lines and shortages at American gas stations. The worldwide economy was hurt by this shock in energy prices, aggravating a problem with inflation and unemployment late in the 1970s. Japan, which relies heavily on oil imports, was hit hard. But OPEC’s influence has steadily declined due to increased competition by other countries. Mexico and Russia have become large oil-producing nations, and they have not joined OPEC. In 2007, the net revenues from oil to OPEC nations will be about $500 billion, while the non-OPEC nations will have net oil revenues of about $225 billion. The United States imports about $170 billion-worth more of oil than it exports.
In late 1990, Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded and conquered Kuwait, a large oil producer. In January and February 1991, the United States (with the support of the United Nations) responded with Operation Desert Storm, and liberated Kuwait in this Gulf War. Saddam Hussein, in retreat, lit fires on the Kuwaiti oil wells and dumped two million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf. This seemed to anger environmentalists more than the loss of life did! The environmentalists called this action by Saddam Hussein “environmental terrorism.”
In the 1990s, politicians and some scientists began to insist that there is a “global warming” caused by the burning of oil and the release of chlorofluorocarbons, a chemical. They blamed factory smokestacks and automobiles, and especially refrigerators and air conditioners. The loss of trees in rain forests was also supposedly a cause of global warming. Regulators began banning the use of certain chemicals in hairspray, and the Kyoto (Japan) Treaty was proposed to limit the pollution each country could generate each year. But the United States Senate has never ratified the Kyoto Treaty.
In fact, worldwide temperatures (as measured by satellites) have not increased in nearly 20 years, and record cold temperatures have been recently recorded in many parts of the world, such as in the United States during this past winter. Proponents of “global warming” (including Al Gore) refuse to debate this, however, and insist that the science is settled in favor of their theory, and that more governmental controls of energy are needed. This is a familiar pattern by liberals: they always seek theories for expanding government and their own power.
President Barack Obama has called on Congress to pass a laws to place limits on energy production, particularly the production of coal, supposedly to help reduce the so-called “global warming.” After years of evidence that the world is not warming, liberals began to use the term “climate change” instead.
Advances in communication technology, such as the internet and cell phones, have created a worldwide culture that increasingly prefers English over local languages. English is easier to type into a computer than Asian languages, for example. At the same time, the cultural varieties of distant places such as India and Southeast Asia can be appreciated more in the Western world. Restaurants featuring foreign food are prevalent across the United States now.
Improvements in jet propulsion and rocketry made travel faster and easier than ever before. Such advances were spurred on by the World Wars. The urgent need for pressurized stratospheric bombers like the B-29 and advanced ballistics like the V2 missile resulted in technological progress. By 1956, airliners replaced ocean-liners as the primary means of trans-Atlantic travel. Remnants of Nazi Germany's scientific community fueled both American and Soviet space programs, ultimately culminating in the first manned spaceflight, by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961.
Technology has brought some medical advances, most notably in the expanded use of antibiotics after World War II. Physicians say that most of medicine today was discovered in the past 70 years. The modern inventions of the MRI and CAT scan have improved the ability to view the human body, and treat illness. Other modern developments, such as widespread vaccination and insecticides, are more controversial. Preventive vaccination is credited with eliminating the terrible diseases of polio and smallpox, but other, newer vaccines are opposed by many parents.
Proposals to spend taxpayer money on embryonic stem cell research, which entails the destruction of human embryos, are opposed by all who are pro-life. In Germany, where the people experienced the horrors of the medical experiments connected with the Holocaust, the people are strongly against embryonic stem cell research. Private investors show little interest in spending their own money on this even in the United States. But a political movement linked to the abortion industry demands that taxpayer money be spent on this research, without any evidence that any good will ever come of it. If embryonic stem cell research were so great, then why wouldn’t there be many private investors spending money on it?
The United Nations promotes abortion worldwide through its U.N. Fund for Population Activities. Even though the world population will peak and begin to decline in the 21st century, the promoters of abortion continue to demand more and more killing of unborn children. This is promoted using taxpayer money. The United Nations also pushes its pro-abortion agenda through the World Health Organization (WHO).
The “green revolution” was a worldwide effort to increase the food supply through better farming, particularly in undernourished regions like India and South America. By increasing the amount of farmland and obtaining better crop yield from existing farms, the food supply increased such that India began producing more food than it could consume, and exported its surplus. Worldwide, the crops of rice, wheat and maize (corn) all increased.
Popular and easy-to-grow in the Asian climate, rice was historically the world's most popular crop. But maize (corn), wheat and sugar cane have surpassed rice in popularity. Here is the list of the most popular crops in the world today:
- sugar cane
- maize (corn)
- sugar beets
- oil palm fruit
Pesticides and fertilizers were used to increase production during the green revolution, and many wonder if they are harmful to our diet. A massive market has developed in “organic” goods grown without the use of pesticides. Today, there is also controversial use of genetic engineering of crops to increase crop yield (the amount of food produced per a given area).
Environmentalists complained that increased irrigation for crops has depleted ground water and caused an increase in the salinity of the soil. Many ground wells in the United States may be polluted from hazardous waste (such as dumped oil), or possibly from fertilizers or pesticides.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States and Soviet Union engaged in a “Space Race” to see who could explore and perhaps claim outer space first. In 1957, the Soviet Union shocked Americans by being the first to launch spacecraft (“Sputnik”) into orbit. The first astronaut was a dog named Laika, which sadly did not return alive. The name “Sputnik” inspired the name chosen by a hippie-like leader of a new counterculture movement in San Francisco: “beatnik”. The beatniks in the late 1950s laid the foundation for the hippies in the 1960s.
Sputnik, which was hyped in the media, alarmed some Americans, and politicians vowed not to remain in second place in this Space Race. America launched a project in the 1960s to land a man on the Moon, and used a series of spacecraft named “Apollo”. In 1969, with the immortal words “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the Moon. Some conservatives felt that the Soviets never intended to go to the Moon themselves, but wanted Americans to waste money on the project. It’s unclear what good came of the lunar project. Some schoolbooks and promoters of the space program teach that the space program led to the invention of Teflon, now widely used in cooking, but that claim is false.
The Soviet Union continued a more limited space program, and in the 1970s the two superpowers began to collaborate on docketing their spacecraft together in orbit, creating space shuttles, and even building space stations. In 1975, the Apollo spacecraft and the Soviet Soyuz successfully docked together in space.
Americans continued to explore planets with the Hubble Telescope (to explore distant space in 1990) and the Pathfinder space probe (landing on Mars in 1997). For most of the 20th century scientists (and popular movies) claimed that life must exist in outer space. Claims of life existing in outer space may have anti-Christian motivations and effects, as they tend to contradict the Christian view of the creation of life and the redemption by Jesus Christ. No extraterrestrial life has ever been found, despite all the exploration costing billions of dollars.
Security and Terrorism
As communications and travel make the world seem like a smaller place, security issues become more important. America can no longer rely on the vast distance of the oceans to protect herself from her enemies. A terrorist is only a few hours away by plane, or by car in crossing a border.
Terrorism is the main threat. It has existed long before the 20th century. The Crusades were a reaction to medieval terrorism in Jerusalem. The anarchist movement that began in the late 1800s, and which claimed President William McKinley as a victim (to assassination) in 1901, used terrorism. In 1920, a bomb exploded in a crowd in the Wall Street district of Manhattan, killing 40 and injuring 400. A warning note read, “Remember we will not tolerate any longer. Free the political prisoners or it will be sure death for all of you. American Anarchists Fighters.” The criminals were never caught.
Both terrorism and violent anarchism seek to disrupt and defeat authority. In 1995, a Japanese cult released poisonous nerve gas in a Tokyo subway, killing 12 and injuring thousands. In late 1996, Marxist terrorists captured and held hostages at the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru. The oldest active terrorist group in the world is the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which has attacked and bombed Britain in an attempt to force it to relinquish control of Northern Ireland.
No sane person wants a terrorist to obtain a nuclear bomb. Most developed countries signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 as a way of keeping nuclear arms out of the hands of terrorists and rogue nations. India and Pakistan never signed this treaty, and in 1998 both successfully detonated nuclear explosions in tests, proving that they have atomic bombs.
Ireland is an island slightly northwest of England. “Northern Ireland” is in the northeastern one-sixth of the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland has about a million people, with slightly more Protestants than Catholics. It is part of the United Kingdom rather than the country of Ireland. Its Northern Ireland Assembly has 108 elected officials, of whom 59 are “Unionists” (who support remaining in the United Kingdom) and 42 are “Nationalist” (who seek joining the independent Irish Republic). The other seven do not specify their allegiance. The largest Christian denominations are Catholic, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Anglican Church of Ireland, and the Methodist Church, with the total number of Protestant members outnumbering the Catholics.
Irish rebellions against British control date back to rebellions in 1798 and 1803, and several secret Irish societies (such as the Defenders and Ribbonmen) played roles in those uprisings. There was an Irish Republican Army that fought the British at the Battle of Ridgeway. There was the Easter Rising from April 24 to 30, 1916, during which Irish rebels capture key locations in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The British suppressed this and executed its leaders. But on 1919, the Irish Republic was declared through the efforts of its leader, Michael Collins (1890-1922). Unfortunately, Michael Collins was killed just three years later during an Irish civil war.
Northern Ireland remains in control of the British, despite the objections of the growing Catholic minority. On “Bloody Sunday” (1972), the Irish held a peaceful march for freedom in Derry, Northern Ireland. The British soldiers responded by shooting thirteen unarmed protesters dead, including six minors, and another died from the wounds a few months later. Five had been shot in the back. Army vehicles ran over two protesters. The British never punished those responsible and several songs (one by John Lennon, and other by U2) commemorate the tragedy. There is a Christian rock group that dedicates its name to the event, calling themselves “Bloody Sunday.”
This event made many Irish feel that complete independence is the only solution, and that armed revolt is the only way to achieve independence. Membership in the IRA then soared. At one point they launched missiles from a van, directed at the headquarters of the British prime minister, in the hopes of killing John Major. He escaped injury. More recently, violence in Northern Ireland has subsided, but there is no end to the controversy over whether the Protestants or Catholics should rule that northeastern corner of Ireland.
Islamic terrorism has long plagued the Middle East. Palestinian terrorists grabbed and murdered eleven Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, shocking the world. A suicide bomber drove a truck of explosives up to a barracks of American Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, and detonated an explosion that destroyed their building, killing 241 of them in 1983. Within a year President Reagan pulled American troops out of Beirut. In March 1998, terrorists bombed American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Most suspected Osama Bin Laden as the mastermind behind these attacks.
But it was not until September 11, 2001 (9-11) that Islamic terrorism hit American soil. A group of 19 Muslims, most from Saudi Arabia, hijacked American airlines and flew one into each tower of the World Trade Center, a third into the Pentagon (probably after the pilot had trouble locating the White House from the air), and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania as the passengers attempted to retake control of the plane from the terrorists. Nearly 3,000 people died when the World Trade Center collapsed from the resulting fire, as millions watched it live on television. An outpouring of support for American followed, with only Saddam Hussein of Iraq refusing to fly his flag at half-mast at the United Nations.
Led by America, a number of nations (mostly NATO members) responded by attacking Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, after the Taliban in charge of that nation refused to hand him over. Bin Laden is the leader of the terrorist organization called "al Qaeda" (there are different spellings of the name in translating it from Arabic). Bin Laden fled, but al Qaeda was broken up in Afghanistan, the Taliban was overthrown, and many of Bin Laden’s top aides were killed by the end of 2001. Bin Laden himself was eventually caught and killed by American soldiers (Navy Seals). Although a democratic provisional government has replaced the Taliban there, the persecution of Christians continues. In 2006, one Christian was targeted for execution by the Afghanistan country merely for converting from Islam, and the United States did not intervene. International pressure causes a suspension in the punishment.
In 2003, a coalition (made up mostly of American and British soldiers, with support from various other nations) invaded Iraq after Saddam Hussein refused to cooperate with inspectors of his nuclear facility and Americans feared that he had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Iraq War was initially very successful for the coalition, as Baghdad was captured quicker than expected. The use of new body armor by American soldiers saved many lives that would have been lost at an earlier time. At the end of 2006 Saddam Hussein himself, after being captured by an American soldier and tried by the Iraqis, was hanged for his crimes. But in early 2007, three years after President Bush had announced victory in the war, he asked the American people to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq to try to finish the job. Terrorists there have caused a continuing stream of violence and killings for over three years.
In the second half of the 20th century, people increasingly migrated to the United States and Europe. In Europe, the immigrants were first welcomed with jobs and became “guest workers,” but when the jobs became scarce the governments would welcome the immigrants with welfare. Some migrated to Muslim countries in the Middle East to work on oil wells.
“Push-pull factors” caused the massive migration. The “pull factors” are those described above: better jobs and welfare. The “push factors” are poverty, violence, or religious persecution in a homeland. Hindus fled Muslim Pakistan, Afghans fled the Taliban and Cubans fled Castro. Sometimes refugee camps were necessary to take care of all the migrating people, as done in the Middle East for Palestinians and in Albania during the Kosovo crisis. Congo also established refugee camps for those fleeing from the ethnic cleansing of the tribal wars in Rwanda.
When immigrants failed to learn and speak the local language, tensions arose. By the end of the 20th century, there was growing opposition in both the United States and Europe to the large amounts of immigration.
The EU removed most internal border patrols, so people now flow freely from one country into the next, such as from Austria into Germany. The Muslim influx has been particularly high. In past centuries, churches would play a central role in integrating the immigrants into the local activities and culture. But churches, which have become largely empty in Europe anyway, cannot integrate the Muslim immigrants. In France, politician Jean-Marie Le Pen demanded tougher controls against immigration. But the media then labeled him as a racist and he was badly defeated in the election for president in 2002. But meanwhile Islam is overtaking the Christian French culture, as the mosques are more vibrant than the churches in France now. In 2004, France desperately banned the wearing of the Muslim hijab (headscarf) girls in state schools.
Many European nations now face the controversy of whether to allow women to wear the Muslim coverings. In late 2006, the Dutch government announced its plan to ban Muslim head coverings in all public places. In Germany, many teachers are forbidden from wearing the hijab. A Belgian town banned the burqa (full-body covering) and niqab (a veil that covers only the face) entirely from its streets. In Britain, schools were allowed fire teachers for wearing face-coverings. Even in the Muslim country of Turkey, its military rulers have banned any wearing of the Muslim veil in public buildings since the 1920s, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the modern Republic of Turkey.
Liberals are alarmed by this Muslim clothing because they frustrate the liberal desire to create a secular, atheistic society. It becomes difficult to complain about a cross somewhere when women are wearing burqas in glaring display of their faith. Also, some feminists object to the burqa as discriminatory towards women, subjugating them to an inferior position in society. Only in the sanctuary of the home do Muslim women remove their coverings.
In the United States, the largest group of immigrants is from Mexico, and they are pouring into Catholic churches. For example, Catholics comprise less than 10% of Utah’s population, which is predominantly Mormon, but an influx of immigrants from Mexico is boosting church attendance there. But much of this immigration is illegal, and has created a subculture of 12 million people – close to 5% of the American population – that is not even supposed to be here. Illegal immigrants are winning robotics science competitions and garnering top prizes at universities. Many become self-employed due to the laws making it a crime for companies to hire them as employees. Congress proposed creating a “guest worker” policy that would allow the illegal immigrants to stay. President George W. Bush said he would build a fence to stem the tide of illegal immigration, but much of the promised fence was never built. Those caught for illegal immigration are typically returned to Mexico, only to return again illegally to the United States. Some have gone back and forth over a dozen times. Public schools welcome illegal immigrants, and some come here to obtain free benefits like schooling and medical care. Some heinous crimes and also fatal car accidents, perhaps due to a lack of an ability to read English signs or understand traffic patterns, have been caused by illegal immigrants.
There has also been much migration within a same country. In developing countries, migration from rural areas to big cities caused huge increases in city population, and tons of pollution. Mexico City has become one of the most populated cities in the world from this type of migration. In developed countries like the United States, there is substantial migration in the opposite direction, from the city to the countryside, where it is easier to raise a family.
In Africa, ethnic cleansing plagued the nations of Rwanda (where the Tutsi minority was slaughtered by the Hutu majority) and in the Middle East, where the nomadic Kurds have been persecuted by Turks, Iranians and, most recently, Iraqis. The former Yugoslavia has also been accused of ethnic cleansing.
International, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) formed in the 1960s to combat human rights abuses. The most prominent is Amnesty International, which has sought release of political prisoners and also opposed use of the death penalty. Sometimes these groups can obtain publicity and results more effectively than governments can. But these groups are often biased in what they complain about, and rarely publicize human rights abuses by communist or Islamic governments. The persecution of Christians is unlikely to generate any outrage by NGOs or the press, unless (as in Afghanistan) the persecution is an embarrassment to Republicans.
The United Nations issued a Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It included in basic human rights “life, liberty, and security of person.” In the United States, Rev. Martin Luther King led a movement in the 1950s and 1960s to establish civil rights for African Americans. There were many protests and arrests, and Rev. King himself spent time in jail at one point. But he and his supporters overcame the opposition and established equal rights regardless of race. Ever since, virtually every other movement has attempted to claim authority based on this major civil rights movement. Yet some movements today that claim to be civil rights movements actually conflict with Rev. King’s own Christian goals. For example, Rev. King spoke out against the black Muslim movement, but this criticism by him is almost never quoted by the media.
Public praise of Christian human rights workers is also rare. An exception was in 1979, when the Nobel Prize committee broke from its own tradition and gave an award to an outwardly religious woman, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India. She was recognized for her work on behalf of the sick and poor of India. When the government of India announced its intention to tax her award, thereby preventing her from contributing it to her work, an international outcry caused the Indian government to allow her to receive her award tax-free. When Mother Teresa died in 1997, Indians gave her a funeral with full military honors!
In the present day, genocide against native Africans in the Darfur region is one of the greatest human rights violations in the world.
- ↑ By the end of 1859 the flow of oil from this first well had slowed from 25 to 15 barrels a day.
- ↑ See http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ahrpa/opa/kids/calendar/kidfeb.htm and http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2007/mar/05/business/chi-0703050135mar05