Monday, September 20, 2021
It's Monday, September 20th, 2021.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Snap Election in Canada: Canadians Face A Choice With Big Worldview Implications — And the World Watching
We're about to find out who Canadians want to lead their nation going forward, either the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party, either Justin Trudeau or Erin O'Toole. We're talking about the fact that 27 million Canadian citizens are qualified to go to the polls today to vote in that nation's snap election. A snap election is an early election. And in Canada's parliamentary system, the prime minister has the option of calling an early election when it is believed the prime minister will do so to the advantage of his own party. In this case, we're talking about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party.
But here's the irony. We've seen it again and again, a prime minister in some nation filled with a sense of his or her own popularity calls a snap election only for it to turn out quite differently than had been expected. That is to say that right now, the polls are so close that it is at least a possibility that the Conservative Party will gain more seats than the Liberal Party in what would become Canada's new parliament. Now, there's also the reality that it could be that there is no absolute party majority, and there has to be some kind of coalition or alliance. We see that happen in parliamentary systems such as Great Britain as well. But there are so many issues for us to consider. We'll have to wait until about Wednesday of this week to give adequate consideration to those issues because we'll know a great deal more after we know the outcome of the election.
But the point is that right now there is a worldview divide. But another point for us to understand is that in this Canadian election, the major choices presenting themselves to the Canadian people do not represent anything like the deep worldview divide that is true in many other nations, including the United States. In the United States, the Democrats and the Republicans run on profoundly different worldviews. But what has happened in so many other nations trending in a more liberal direction is that the Conservative Party has become not so conservative. And that is particularly true under the leadership of current Conservative Party leader, Erin O'Toole. Erin O'Toole comes from a long family of those involved in Canadian politics. The Conservative Party in Canada, at least by pattern and by tradition, is something like the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, in Great Britain, the so-called Tory Party. And we've seen the same thing happen on both sides of the Atlantic.
But in what we're witnessing now, it looks like the Conservative Party in Canada is shifting so much to the left in order, perhaps, to make itself more electable in the more liberal Canadian population that it is becoming less and less conservative, even less conservative than the United Kingdom's Conservative Party. But as we're going to be looking at that election, we're going to see the fact that when it comes to many social issues, there just isn't that much space between the Liberal and the Conservative leaders in Canada. You look at issues like sexuality and abortion, you do not see the same divide in Canada that you would see in the United States. But that's not to say that there is still no difference whatsoever between the Liberal and Conservative Parties. And we're going to find out a lot over the course of, say, the next 48 to 72 hours.
Canadians face a choice, and every election, when you have an electoral process means that every citizen qualified to vote is indeed making a choice, is one way or another demonstrating a worldview. We're going to find out what worldview is demonstrated in Canada, what kind of clash of worldviews is observable. But for that, we're going to have to wait for the next several days. Meanwhile, we'll be watching developments in Canada, our nearest neighbor to the North.
More Than Submarines at Stake Here—Shift in Shape of Global Politics As AUKUS Alliance Created to Curve the Global Expansion of China
You may have noticed that there is a pattern that often on Mondays on The Briefing we find ourselves talking about matters outside the United States. Why? Well, that is because so many issues that we might define as foreign policy issues or global challenges tend really to come to the fore at the end of the week, over the weekend. And thus, we find ourselves talking about them in the early part of our week. One of the issues we need to talk about is something that actually broke in the middle of last week, and that has to do with A-U-K-U-S, AUKUS. That is a new coalition, a new defense coalition put together by Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The purpose of this new coalition is extremely clear; it is to try to counter the influence of China in the Pacific and in the Indo-Pacific region.
This issue is just far more significant than most Americans seem to recognize because Americans, unlike, for example, Europeans, often just don't pay that much attention to international affairs. But in this case, we are talking about the shape of the global system to come. We're talking about whether or not there will be any real check on the global ambitions of China led by its Communist Party. We're talking about the fact that nations such as Britain and the United States and Australia have now banded together in this new AUKUS, A-U-K-U-S, that's supposed to represent Australia, UK, US in an acronym. This new organization is necessary, believe Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, to try to counter China, and that means also to influence others.
But there are two big developments that have come out of this. The first is the announcement of the alliance itself. This comes out of the blue to so many around the world, but the need for it should be abundantly clear. China is representing a clear and present danger not only to its near neighbors but to the entire global system. It is seeking both by coercion and by the enticement of its belt and road initiative to gain favor and basically to buy friends all over the world. But that would make the entire world, if not subservient to, then at least dependent upon China. And China has not only territorial ambitions and economic ambitions, it has ideological ambitions. After all, remember, it is a totalitarian state, and it is the Chinese Communist Party that is in control.
Many neighbors of China have been increasingly nervous, and the most populous of those neighbors include India and Japan. India and Japan have both come to understand that China is a real threat. So do the nations of the Indo-Pacific. You also have Southeast Asia. But now you have this new alliance, Australia, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. Now, what ties those together? Well, not only history but language, not only language but culture. We are talking about three big nations that represent what the late Winston Churchill rightly called "the English-speaking peoples," a common commitment to democracy, a common commitment to a form of constitutionalism, a common commitment to an entire set of moral and ideological principles that represent Western civilization in the English-speaking tradition. And that is exactly as liberty what these three nations now see as directly threatened by China, thus this new alliance.
But the most controversial part of this new alliance is not at first who's in it, but who is not. The first and most important nation that is not in this new alliance and is quite upset about that is the nation of France. France is upset for two reasons. Number one, it has been left out. But one of the issues that has angered France the most is the fact that embedded in this alliance and the news about this alliance is the fact that the United States is going to do what it has not done before. It is in this urgency going to give nuclear submarine technology, although not nuclear weapons, but is going to give nuclear submarine technology to Australia so that over the next several years, Australia will have a nuclear-powered submarine navy.
Now, the impact of that should be clear. It's to the interest of the United States that an ally as close as Australia, now in this new alliance, already in previous alliances, but this is a triple alliance, UK, US, Australia, it is to the advantage of both Britain and the United States that Australia, situated right there in the South Pacific, should have the capability of these quiet, technologically-advanced nuclear submarines. But what's the issue with France? The issue is this: France had a $66 billion contract with Australia to build new submarines that were diesel, not nuclear.
But Australia's been very clear about the fact that it feared that the Chinese would be able to detect even those advanced diesel submarines and be able to neutralize them long before they could be an effective deterrent. Therefore, you see that Australia wanted nuclear-powered submarines. The United States came to the point where, for our own national interest and the interest of security in the region, the United States believe that Australia should have those submarines. But France is left out of the alliance, and France is cut out of the deal. The $66 billion contract that France and French corporations had for the building of those submarines is now gone. It has evaporated, and France is infuriated.
AUKUS Alliance Made Up of Nations From “The English-Speaking Peoples” — It Matters
Now, some very practical issues behind that, some history behind it, some worldview behind it. Let's just think about it for a moment. Practical issues: The nuclear-powered submarines are tremendously more advanced than any other form of propulsion. And underwater, for strategic advantage, one of the most important assets a submarine can have is quiet, and those nuclear-powered submarines are tremendously more quiet than any form of internal combustion engine or a diesel engine. We're not even talking about basically the same kind of submarine. The United States has this massive fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. So does Russia, many of them continuing in service after the fall of the Soviet Union. China developing the very same, for the United States and the United Kingdom to come to the conclusion that Australia ought to have those submarines, that tells you a great deal about the nature of the threat that China is believed to pose.
But when it comes to France, why wasn't France involved in this? Well, you can look at this and say, "Well, for the one thing, France is not an English-speaking nation." That just points to the fact that even as people want to talk about, say, a global identity, a globalist age in which nations aren't important, and the nation state has now become a marginal interest, the reality is that's just not true. And you see it in this case. The commonalities that bind together Britain and the United States and Australia do not at the same level bind us to many other nations. Now, this is going to get tricky for the United States, more so than for Australia, even more so than for England. For the United States, this is going to be a big issue.
For France, another reason why there is such offense is that France still sees itself as an international player on the global scene. It is left out here, and that's a glaring omission. The other issue is French history. In the high watermark of Francis' colonial reach, much of its colonization had to do with Southeast Asia. Of course, that age is gone, but nonetheless, France considers itself to have a particular tie to at least many of the nations in that area. But France is not a part of this alliance, and it was intentionally not a part of this alliance. And that brings us to the most stunning development of all. Over the weekend, France recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the United States. Let's just consider the action about the French ambassador to the United States for a moment. Let's just consider our own national history.
During the American Revolutionary War, there was one nation more than any other that came to the aid of the United States, and that was France. Now, one of the reasons France came to our aid is that France wanted to see Britain weakened not only in North America but also within the European system. Nonetheless, France came to the aid of the United States, and in retrospect, it was an essential aid, especially the aid of the French Navy encountering the power of the British Navy towards North America. France and the United States share a great deal, and that especially means the inheritance of Western civilization, that civilization that was the product of ancient classical civilization plus Christian civilization, modern European civilization. And the United States and France have often, indeed usually, been very close allies.
But France and the United States are separated by many different issues, both of history and of ideology and worldview. At times, the awkward relationship between France and the United States has been headline news but never like this. In the relationship between the United States and France spanning over 250 years, France has never recalled its ambassador to the United States of America. In diplomatic terms, it is almost impossible to exaggerate what that means. It means that France is so offended that it would indicate that offense by calling home its ambassador to the United States of America, meaning that the French Embassy is now without its ambassador. It is a public rebuke, and it has to be the kind of rebuke that wasn't really expected by either President Biden and his administration, or for that matter, our allies in Australia and the United Kingdom. But here's something else to understand. It appears at this time that the resolve of the three nations, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom with China as a looming threat, outweighs the concerns of France, even after the recalling of the French ambassadors from Australia and the United States.
Why not the French ambassador to the United Kingdom? Well, it's because the United Kingdom is not so directly implicated in the now-failed submarine deal between France and Australia. Business is business, no matter what language you speak. And before we leave this, just remember, history is never very far away. For centuries, for very long, very violent centuries, one of the greatest national struggles on the world scene was the struggle between France and its fear of influence and Britain and its fear of influence. Now, remember, the American colonies were, by definition, a part of that extension of the English Imperial and English influence zone. In the American Revolution, French was an essential partner, and there is a deep, deep level of friendship between the United States and France because of that. But when it comes to that zone of influence, there has always been a deeper tie to the common civilization of the English-speaking peoples and our democratic and liberty traditions. And as we see in this headline news, just over the course of the last several days, history is never far behind us, and culture just never goes away as a predominating issue.
War Over Pronouns Is Coming For You — Virtue Signaling of a Quintessential Sort As Yale Law School Professor Calls for Use of ‘They’ For All People Unless Told Otherwise
But next for today, we're going to look in the United States at the coming war over pronouns. It's just becoming hotter, it's just becoming more pervasive. Listeners to The Briefing, let me just tell you, the war over pronouns is coming for you. The most important recent entry into this discussion is by Ian Ayres, identified as a Professor and Deputy Dean at the Yale Law School. The tagline that identifies him at The Washington Post for his recent article includes these words, "Their preferred pronoun is 'they.'" The headline of the article is this: "Until I'm told otherwise, I prefer to call you 'they.'" Now, what we're looking at here is virtue-signaling of a quintessential sort, virtue-signaling on the part of this professor and deputy dean at the Yale Law School in which he is not only following the procedure that he here wants to tell the world about, he is signaling that he's the kind of morally virtuous proponent of the new progressivism that he wants the entire world to know he is first to it and first to make this argument.
And here is this argument. Professor Ayres writes, "With the start of a new school year this fall, I'm adopting a new practice. It is already common for my university colleagues and me to ask our students for their preferred pronouns at the beginning of the semester. In these efforts to thoroughly ascertain how people choose to be described, not enough attention is paid to circumstances when it is most appropriate not to specify gender at all. I would never intentionally misidentify someone else's gender, but I, unfortunately, risk doing so until I learned that person's pronouns." Here's the kicker sentence. "That's why as I begin a new school year, I'm trying to initially refer to everyone as they." The professor goes on to say, "In so doing, I'm employing a default rule, i.e., a concept whose importance I have studied during my career as a law professor." A default rule fills in the gaps in a legal relationship setting a condition that holds generally until a specific value is agreed on.
He goes on to say, "I have already adopted a number of default rules in my classes." He tells us that he sometimes flips what it means for a student to raise a hand when he asks a question. "I tell the class, 'Raising your hand means you don't want to answer.'" Isn't that clever I add? In the case of identity says this professor, "I'm drawn to default pronouns that don't assume others' gender." Here's another key sentence. "Instead of assuming someone's gender identity based on how they look or dress or act, it is more appropriate to refer to them as they until I know better."
He goes on and says, "And whenever possible, it's important to create early opportunities to learn their chosen pronouns, which has become standard practice in academic and other settings." He goes on paragraph after paragraph arguing for the moral rightness of referring to everyone with the pronoun they until you know otherwise. And, of course, that otherwise is not tied to biology at all. It's not tied to ontology. It's not tied to being. It's just tied to identity politics and self-expression. He concludes his article, "I care deeply about my students and will still ask for, learn, and use their preferred pronouns. But this year, by starting with the default they, I hope to teach my class both the importance of default rules and a better way to avoid misgendering others."
Now, one of the things in The Briefing we look at is the fact that every single worldview, even if it claims to be absolutely secular and devoid of any notion of sin, it is still going to have to categorize some actions as wrong, worthy of being condemned, and other actions that are to be celebrated. The moral revolutionaries have a new set of sins, even if they don't believe in sin. Their new set of sins includes the previously unimaginable term misgendering. But what we really need to see here is that the war of pronouns is coming for everyone, and that it's coming so fast that it's even catching the moral progressive's by surprise. What you have in this article, in this argument by Ian Ayres, is the assertion that you better catch up really fast. The biggest way to catch up with this is just to stop calling anyone he or she unless someone tells you, "Call me 'he' or 'she.' Here are my set of preferred personal pronouns." Now everyone is going to be simply they.
Now beyond the virtue-signaling and the absolute moral confusion of all this, the intentional confusion of gender, the rejection of the gender binary, which Christians understand isn't a social convention, it's a part of creation, male and female created [inaudible 00:20:00] them, the other issue we have to note is that this has far more wide-reaching effects than even this professor seems to recognize. Let's just consider some of the most violent revolutions in world history. Here are a couple of them. One of the most violent revolutions in world history was actually the French Revolution. Well, now we're back to France. The French Revolution was so extreme and so secular and so radical that it sought to eliminate all distinctions among human beings. There were no longer going to be the equivalent of lords and ladies, but there was also going to be no difference between men and women, not only social class but also gender. Everyone was to refer to everyone else simply as citizen. Citizen this, citizen that. By the way, it didn't last.
The other violent revolution I would have us think about is the Bolshevik Revolution in the Soviet Union. And there, there was the attempt on the basis of this radical secular Marxist ideology to deny the differences between all peoples, including men and women. They didn't use the word citizen because that really didn't fit the Marxist worldview, rather it was the word comrade. Everyone was merely comrade, no longer mister, no longer misses. In the Russian language, everything was now comrade. Comrade this, and comrade that. You might notice that really didn't work either. By the way, Christians and all those who are a part of what is the true reality-based universe understand that in order to gain something like, oh, I don't know, a baby, you actually need not just comrade and comrade, not just citizen and citizen, you need mister and misses. You need a male and a female. Any two comrades just won't do the trick.
These changes are just rocketing through the society at such speed that, frankly, it defies our imagination. One of the things we're going to track, hopefully, this week on The Briefing, is the use of that phrase pregnant people now becoming a matter of coerced, public and private policy, hospital by hospital, institution by institution. And again, it's happening so fast that a magazine like The Atlantic will simply run a story entitled, "The Culture War Over Pregnant People." And we'll see what's revealed in that controversy as well. Trust me, it's pretty much the same. I'm tempted in The Briefing today by thanking all you comrades for listening. But you're not merely comrades, you are male and female made in God's image.
That makes it even more emphatic when I say thank you for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
Today, I'm in Nashville, Tennessee, and I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.