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A Martian's guide to Politics and Religion

Updated on November 8, 2015
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Roger has been a U.S. lawyer since 1960, involved in international business taking him all over the world and has lectured on history.


A Martian recently dropped by and said "I just moved into the area and I would like to fit in but don't understand your American politics nor the religious fervor in your country or around the world. Can you explain it to me in a few minutes?"

I replied I would not live long enough to the fully answer him but being a senior citizen with an eye on both world and national events I would take a few minutes and summarize my own impressions from witnessing things for over 70 years.

So I said let's take the subject of religion first since that creates the most amount of confrontation and probably defies solution. I said, "in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". To whit, he said that's not what I heard where I come from.

So I decided to leave that part out and start with origins of some of our conflicts and how it began: Jews or Hebrews or Israelites as they were called, were in captivity until they were released from bondage in Egypt a few thousand years ago and made a pact with God becoming his chosen people according to the bible. They wandered in the desert for 40 years and eventually settled back in the area now called Israel which was their roots. While they were the first believers in the one "true" God, it did not stop people all over the world at the time and later from believing in their own multi-gods or deities but the Israelites kept to their faith and God promised to protect them although it appears they lost as many battles with tribes of other faiths as they won as time went on.

A little over 2000 years ago a Jew claimed to be the son of God and had many followers, principally some of his same Jews. The Romans killed him and the leaders of the new Christian faith as it was called, decided to break with their fellow Jews and to do so cast all Jews in a negative light so their Jewish followers would no longer think of themselves as Jews but distinctly as Christians.

Then followed the first division of people of faith because Christians over the years who followed the church blamed Jews for everything negative; Eventually while Christianity flourished Jews were banned from countries, persecuted and blamed for every negative event even accused of bringing the plague to Europe; so many millions over the years were killed over nothing more than their religious beliefs. Of course this is simplistic but meant to show you could believe in God but that did not shield you from being attacked or victimized.

Jews had already been banned from Palestine by the Romans, where they had settled after leaving Egypt, and Christians eventually ruled it. Their most holy places were all in Palestine (the future Israel) and that included their temple that was destroyed not once but twice.

About 500 years later another man, Mohammed, claimed another version of what was the true religion and while he originally befriended the Jews in his youth, he turned on them and Christians as well and the third great religion of Islam was formed.

"So why didn't they all just live in peace asked the Martian?" That would be too easy because both Christians and Muslims each wanted to dominate and there was no place for the other nor for Jews nor for that matter anyone else believing in other faiths.

Religious battles were fought or at least battles claiming to be in the name of religion time and time again as leaders in country after country claimed to be acting in God's name. Christians dominated Europe for hundreds of years and then the Moors, who were Muslims, did the same. Ironically in that brief period of history the Moors tolerated Christians and Judaism flourished only to have everything reversed when Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain wiped out the Moors and set up the Spanish Inquisition as Islam faded from Europe and once again Christianity prevailed. This led to a very militaristic Christianity as people fled from the Church and the far reaches of the Inquisition and started settling in places like America. The age of the explorer came to be and the new world was discovered but this time n many parts to be converted to Christianity even at the expense of death to the non believers as happened in South America.

So once again those in Europe not believing in Christianity were either exiled or killed while the America’s became more Christian including in some colonies religious intolerance.

To complicate matters Christianity divided into various sects as Islam too divided into Sunnis and Shiites so that while they were fighting the other religion, it did not stop them from fighting their own religious brothers each insisting their way was the true way of the Lord.

Everyone claimed God was on their side but there seems to be no evidence God was favoring any religion or sect since in the great many wars that followed, people of all faiths were equally dying on battlefields while claiming God was with them.

Now specifically as it relates to events in the world today, it came to pass that Palestine was then governed by England as the spoils of one more war just as many other countries around the world were conquered and governed by people from another country. The British decided however after the two great world wars that they wanted to give up governing the area and threw the issue of what should become with the holy land to the young United Nations that was admirably set up after the end of World War II.

At the time people thought the United Nations would solve international problems in the future as people of good faith would get together to solve the many issues that would come up and thereby stop people from fighting. They failed to anticipate that in years to follow, while the United States would foot the bill for the majority of its expenses, new members wanting to make a mockery of fairness and justice would control the U.N.

However back to 1948 as the United Nations agreed to partition Palestine and create an official State for the Jews in that part of the land where they had their roots, their most holy places and were exiled by the Romans. Suffice it to say Jews had already established a presence there as they had been moving back to that region since the late 1800s buying land from what had become a backwater area and growing crops, clearing swamps and making it into a worthwhile and productive place to live. Before then it had been inhabited mainly my nomads with no vibrant economy or identity. Now this became official recognition of a country established by the world as a Jewish state for all to respect.

The Arabs, principally Price Faisal of Iraq, had originally welcomed the Jews to establish their own country but then negativity set in and more conservative elements of Islam took control so notwithstanding the creation of Israel by the United Nations, all the Arab nations which by that time had radicalized in their beliefs, attacked Israel and told all Arab residents to leave and wait until they drove the Jews into the sea and then they could return. Of course they never answered how they had the right to object to the creation of Israel because many Arab countries themselves including Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, UAE and parts of Syria as well as Iran and Iraq were n whole or part not natural creations. In fact Saudi Arabia itself was originally Arabia until Ibn Saud and his radical Wahhabis fought those objecting to them and then created Saudi Arabia.

With each successive war started by the Arabs as of 1948, more territory was lost to Israelis until eventually Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties. The other Arab countries however refused to recognize Israel-- even 75 years later-- and continue to fight the concept of Israel in the United Nations which they dominate by refusing to allow Israel to participate fully when they are also a member in good standing. They also continue to support destruction of Israel and financially support those who fight the Jews.

Meanwhile Arabs who voluntarily left the region in 1948 after seeing the big Arab countries lose all the wars with Israel and fail in their promise to dive the Jews into the sea, began to demand the right to return and have a "do over" because they did not like the results. They wanted Jews out, no Israel or at the very least to get back all the land they gave up when they voluntarily left in 1948. So they started their own violence against the world and principally Jews by killing, destroying airplanes, kidnapping and execution even at the Olympics. Those Arabs who had stayed at the invitation of the young Jewish nation had meanwhile become citizens of Israel while continuing to be able to be Moslems and observe their religion which was protected. Those who left were treated as second class citizens by other Arab nations and never prospered in their new countries so they festered hatred not for the Arab countries that told them to leave or took them in and kept them in camps but for the Jews.

Ten years ago Israel signed a peace accord to let Arabs come back to set up their own country in the West Bank and in Gaza thinking this would be the road to eventual peace but that was not the case as they continued to demand more and clashed with the Israelis.

As time has passed, admiration and affection for the young Jewish country has diminished and the world's liberals grow weary and believe the Palestinians deserve everything they want. Of course no one has ever said any other country in the world that went to war and repeatedly lost should get back territories nor have the British ever insisted they get back the original British colonies from America nor has the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) demanded back most of Europe, nor has the holy Roman empire nor anyone else said lets reverse results of any war we did not like. The past was history and they moved on!

With Israel it is different. Palestinians who have never given up terrorism are being told they are in the right and the Israel which was practicing self defense was wrong. That brings us for a moment to politics. When Good president Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, came into office, he was a very moral person and to show his morality, he refused to come to the aid of the Shah of Iran who at the time was an American ally. Instead in what was said were "students", gangs took over the American Embassy in Iran and captured the American diplomats as well as the U.S. Embassy. Pres. Carter in a magnanimous gesture said he would never use force to get them back.

In what history has shown us, Ayatollah Khomeini would never have consented to keep American diplomats until Carter assured him America would merely negotiate for their return. Hundreds of days later Carter still did not get the point his actions culminated in retaining American diplomats so long. The Iranians instead of thanking him for allowing them to hold the diplomats with impunity revered Carter even more.

What followed then was Carter’s further lack of skill in negotiating when he invited the Israelis and Palestinians leaders to the White House for a peace treaty during at which time the Israelis agreed to further peace terms while Yasser Arafat on behalf of the Palestinians left claiming he would never agree to peace with Israel which is the case still to this day.

For his part Carter as well as the others were given a Nobel Peace Prize and he later went on to criticize the Jews repeatedly but never his friends the Palestinians. He never understood negotiations were only being used to build up the prestige of Arafat and Carter fell into the trap just as he had done with Iran. For their part Arabs learned that America loves to Negotiate and when America loses, they love to make excuses to claim a success. In fact Americans love it so much, they will even pay benefits to our enemies to negotiate with us as we have seen. This would come to haunt future presidents.

So too has the current American president fallen into the same trap but this time with the Iranians believing they will honor a treaty not to build nuclear weapons when coincidentally they spent 20 years secretly working on the project illegally proceeding behind the back of the world.

The current president believing himself to be morally correct like Pres. Carter, has instead stated that the military option will never be off the table and we will enforce the treaty to show his skill.

Immediately upon execution of the treaty however, it was announced that Iran violated a treaty by developing and firing a new rocket which was not permitted. The prestige of the president being on the line, he can ill afford to say he was wrong about Iran’s intentions so the violation will be overlooked just like his "red line in the sand" statement with the Syrians that the world jokes about.

Negotiations by Americans always mean compromise, begging and then offering financial incentives or rewards to enemies to get them to honor their promises. So using money we provided them, North Korea and Pakistan were both able to develop nuclear weapons while we were pretending our incentives were doing just the opposite. No one believes anything different will happen with Iran and it will be kicked down the path to another President and another time while people delude themselves into thinking the world is now safer.

So my Martian friend, back to the Middle East crisis and we find in the Gaza Strip Hamas fires rockets into Israel by the thousands while Israel is told to use moderation. Even you my Martian friend would understand if someone was firing rockets at your home not for weeks, not for months but for years, you too would be tired of hearing about moderation.

Palestinians believe life is cheap and they put the rockets in civilian areas baiting Israel to retaliate. Meanwhile the current leader of the PLO on the West Bank pays Palestinians to blow themselves up in Israel and then calls them martyrs. He talks in English about wanting peace for the world to hear and then in Arabic tells Palestinians the opposite. They pay to support the people to kill themselves as martyrs

The world's reaction Is always muted and nothing is resolved. You ask “why don't the Palestinians elect people to make a settlement and get on with their lives"? Therein lies the mistake of our leaders in not recognizing the Arab or Muslim mind set. There has never been real democracy in the region, no request for real peace so they can develop their countries into productive societies as was the case with the formation of Israel. They want to destroy Israel, not build Palestine. They want to continue rebellion ,not develop an active vibrant economy. Industry will not go there because they see people looking to the past, promoting continued violence and not wanting a better future for them or their country.

These people have known hatred since birth going back many generations and we will see with the Isis factions, they want to relive the Crusades and get rid of every Western idea entirely. They are being supported by the very Arab countries that still have not made peace with Israel after 75 years and want to continue to inflame the region. So they reward them with money which is then spent on rockets, guns and bribes for the select few but not on development.

The PLO was always corrupt which is why they were voted down in the Gaza Strip. However electing Hamas in their place to govern showed the lack of insight Palestinians had. They got rid of a corrupt administration and exchanged it for one that would store and shoot rockets from homes to encourage Israeli retaliation to kill off more of them because Hamas wanted the world to condemn Jews.

My Martian friend, negotiations are a waste of time as long as Palestinians think they can achieve from the corrupt United Nations what would not normally be possible. United States needs a true leader to say no more aid to the Palestinians unless and until they give up their demands, and reform their education and not encourage suicide bombers nor reward them and believe it is better to develop their homeland for future generations then prolong terrorism.

We should condemn our allies who support them financially such as the Saudis who have fomented violence all over the world and are responsible for the birth of the Al Qaeda and the radicalism it is brought.

The second part of the religious quagmire is the fact that we were incapable of understanding the hatred between Sunnis and Shiites so when the United States overthrew Saddam in Iraq, and put Shiites in control there would be a bloodbath against Sunnis and open the door for radicals to help them. When America left, it then armed the new military to fight the radicals only to find those we armed and trained give up the weapons to ISIS as they fled from battles. There is no incentive in Iraq to fight ISIS or Al Qaeda when Sunnis believe Shiites want to kill them.

Unfortunately American diplomats never understood the mentality of people from the region. The results of the so-called "Egyptian spring" could have been predicted as it was started by young people who did not totally understand democracy or freedom and radical Muslims who immediately stepped in to take their efforts from them. Initially the students decided to boycott elections thinking by not participating, the radicals would not get what they wanted only to be outsmarted in the end. So the country is back to military control with the same groups opposed to it and each other.

My Martian friend, one needs a scorecard to try to understand what each of these competing Muslim sects want. There are many Muslims of good faith around the world but you never hear from them because fanatics have taken over at every turn. Having a weak American president does not help because he is enamored with his own negotiation skills and his party seems willing to rest on their laurels and wait out the next crisis.

“why are Americans negative about mainstream Muslims in the country?” Part of the answer is actually fear—fear that under the surface some are terrorists or want to bring about the end of Democracy. Crazy? When you consider a Muslim Major in the Army slaughtered his fellow troops because of this religious beliefs, that two young Muslim boys in the U.S. decided to bomb the Boston Marathon over their religious beliefs and countless other young people have been caught either in or about to participate in violent anti west actions right here at home, it makes Americans feel unsafe and fear sets in.

How is it possible Muslims move to the U.S. to live to get our freedom ability to participate as they want in their own beliefs only to find some complaining about our way or life, our open society, our lose morals, our corruption of young people, our lax sex standards, etc.? Then they are willing to kill themselves and others just to say they want America to be more like where they came from? When we hear people talk about setting up a caliphate here or that they prefer Muslim laws such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, what are people to think? Would you not be suspicious or fearful that some young person is going to be influenced by Muslim clerics here in that direction or reading about it on the internet and decide to act on their misguided feelings?

Main stream Islam needs to fight this battle out in the open and not allow others to predominate!

Are we to decide is Al Qaeda better than Isis or are they both on the same level along with the Wahhabi's from Saudi Arabia and the fanatics in Pakistan? I would end with the realization that they are all looking to the destruction of the Western civilization and bringing us back to a time over 1000 years ago. They are not interested in modern medicine, education, progress, civilization, rights of women or the minorities or even feeding the millions. Their aim is negative and unfortunately they do not lack for followers.

The last part of what you asked had to do with American politics. The reality is that America has always been a divided country. We have only been United twice. First was to get rid of the British rule resulting in a revolutionary war. Second was when America was attacked by Japan December 7, 1941 which united the entire country which at the time was actually pro German , anti British and not anti Japanese.

Fighting the British during the revolutionary war did not mean everyone in America wanted to create the same kind of country and there was much negotiation behind the scene before eventually settling on our Constitution. Some of the new colonies that became States did not even want to participate. However as time has shown, even with the pitfalls, it has become the best system in the world. The problem is corruption caused by our elected leaders of both parties who have manipulated it..

We have allowed the will of the people to be superseded by what our lobbyists want them along with super pacts that buy the votes of our elected people. Neither party has people running who will truly represents the people. They aim in their focus groups to find those who'll follow them on narrow issues and appeal to that. They do not want to govern from the middle but rather to pull us to one end or the other.

So today we have Republicans who can brag about being able to close down government and they are applauded. One candidate wants to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service but if we have no agency collecting taxes that pay for everything, who in their right mind believes some people are not going to cheat? They’re doing it now whether legally or using thousands of lawyers employed to look for loopholes so they don't pay taxes. We need better enforcement, and closing loopholes, not pretending we need nothing.

Any candidate who wants to convince you we don't need money to pay for roads and highways, interstate commerce, transportation, disaster relief, health care, natural disasters , protecting us from foreign and domestic terrorists and the countless other legitimate expenses is just playing games.

Young people on campuses either claim to be too busy to think about politics or the future or are looking for super liberal causes to support because they think it is the right thing to do. That is why for example Israel is losing support of many Jews who tend to be very liberal and believe there is nothing wrong with giving the Palestinians everything they want nor giving into Iran; they are of the mindset of former Pres. Carter or even Pres. Obama. That is not the way! Following the even more progressive democrat Saunders who will bring us more to the left is no answer just as moving further to the right is not either.

Neither party comes out smelling like a rose. The case against the Democrats: Obama draws red lines in the sand and looks like a fool when he ignores them; he releases five terrorists to get back an army deserter who was then promoted to Sgt. and put on trial for desertion; he warns Putin about Ukraine but refused to arm the Ukrainians; when the Syrian crisis started and we could aid moderate Syrians fighting Assad, he stood aside until they became radical; he fumbled on Iraq and Afghanistan and he ignored abuses by Iran because he is now interested in creating his legacy and not concerned about the future of our country. Prestige for the United States is at an all time low.

While Hillary Clinton would go along with most of those decisions, and govern from the left, Bernie Saunders would move us further to the left creating a far less safe America.

As for Republicans, their major concern is appeasing religious group concerned more about women's ability to control their own body then the future of our country. Can the issue of a woman seeking an abortion be more important than attacks on the World Trade Center or the possibility that there are thousands of fanatics in the United States believing in Islamic fundamentalism who would act to destroy our economy?

Cybercrime now includes disruption of our economy, banking system, military and government and yet these politicians talk in narrow terms to garner votes from their supporters who are naïve about the world around them.

The issue of guns is the second biggest drawing card for the far right. With each additional killing of scores of people, you have some saying even more people should be armed. Ben Carson believes if the 2% German Jewish population before World War II had guns, the Holocaust would have happened. How naïve because the huge forces at the hands of Hitler and his anti-Jewish propaganda would have decimated the few Jews with pistols and single shot rifles. Is that reality? Does America need a very nice kindly man as president who does not understand world events or the huge issues facing our country? No. being Nice is not the number one requirement for president.

Carson is moving up in the polls finally overtaking Trump who is so full of himself that people are finally starting to realize the folly of his campaign. However Carson, while mild mannered and a nice person, does not have the depth of knowledge to be involved in the crisis in the middle east, Asia or anywhere else. We cannot assume being nice gets us to the right solutions when we are dealing with people like Putin, the Ayatollah, Kim or any of the other many antagonists we face. He does not need to be a politician but he does need to be more than likable. Look at Rick Perry or Sarah Palin from prior elections and consider what happened when the public realized they lacked the depth of knowledge to understand world events and know what to do.

The Republicans don't win elections because they are busy outdoing each other moving away from center positions with the majority of the electorate to court those on the right with less interest in solutions and more in confrontation.

What does a real candidate have to do for the country although he would probably not get elected?

First, my Martian friend, unless and until the lobbyists are put under control so they cannot buy and sell our legislators, nothing will get done. To that end, a law should be passed that no one leaving Congress or the military with a rank of major or above, can become a lobbyist for five years. Lobbyists not only need to register and pay a fee certify under oath as to what issues they are lobbying on behalf of and who they represent. Legislators must also state what Lobbyists contacted them for votes and not be allowed to accept any gratuities or trips from them.

Super PACs must be eliminated so they too are not buying politicians. Face it, the American public has as much faith in politicians as they do in used-car salesman. They talk a good game but rarely do the right thing for America. The day they are elected, they start to run for the next election and need to raise money which opens them up for bribes or all types.

Surely the founding fathers after having created a democratic republic giving people rights they did have in any other country, did not intend for their efforts to be subverted to allow small groups of people to buy politicians and eliminate the will of the people in favor of corporate greed by very few? While some may say the ability to let corporations avoid taxes and raising prices in unfair ways helps the corporate bottom line and most people are shareholders, that is simplistic. By avoiding payment of their fair share or increasing prices thinking the federal government will pick up the difference for consumers in pharmaceutical price increases, who after all ultimately pays for that? We the people by increased costs, not the ones doing it! By almost destroying the American banking system to allow a small segment of people to profit during the mortgage scam, who suffers in the long run? We the people.

I am not anti-corporate nor want to stymie corporate growth which makes America Great. I want to eliminate the free ride some get thinking they deserve more or that the government should step in and pay it. Mergers should not be approved that stymy competition. Each merger approved is promoted as offering more for consumers until prices increase and the true nature of it comes out and it was to increase costs to consumers with no advantage to the public.

Politicians who do crooked things should go to jail!

A constitutional amendment needs to be passed to put term limits on members of Congress. Two terms for the Senate –and eight years for Congressman.

The age of people being eligible for Social Security needs to be raised. That cannot be avoided. Additionally we need more money coming in for Medicare.

Runaway profits which from greed can no longer be tolerated. While America was built on people rising up to achieve success, that should not include pharmaceutical companies raising the cost of a drug from $4.00 to -$1000. Pharmaceutical companies claiming they need higher prices because of costs should not get away with it when they pay billions in advertising , marketing and lobbyists that have nothing to do with the development of the drugs. We need competition, not buying up generic companies to avoid those selling for less money. That is anti completion.

Out and out greed at the expense of all Americans is not the American way. Banks should not be permitted to make investments such as they did with the last banking crisis. Americans wanted those responsible to go to jail not be rewarded. Instead both parties have avoided the fact that Americans in general suffered just so that greedy people could make more.

The situation with our veterans is a disgrace. Men and women who served in the armed forced and are entitled to medical care are not getting it. We lack thousands of general practice doctors and other medical care workers and government is stymied to find solutions as some are in small cities. The answer: offer scholarships and grants to those who would go to medical school provided they sign a contract to serve the VA for five years after they graduate. At least we can start the process now of finding the ever increasing demand of health care professionals we lack.

I'm absolutely not suggesting we move to the left and reward people for not working or punish people for working hard and succeeding. I am saying people abusing the system cannot be rewarded.

The tax code needs to be scrapped. The rate could be lowered to 15% and with exception of a few deductions, no tax avoidance schemes. Big corporations who decide to abandon US citizenship should be penalized with penalties developed to discourage them. While I have had an Apple computer since its inception, I am disgusted they and thousands of other corporations abandon citizenship just to make more money but take advantage of the benefits of operating and making money in the United States. That is un-American and it doesn't matter what party you are from.

Eliminate all the loopholes in the tax code. Increase the number of IRS employees to enforce payment because dishonesty does exist not only from tax cheaters but with Medicare abuse. Go after mediocre cheaters and send them to jail.

That leaves minor issues like marijuana, gay marriages, and things in which the federal government should not be involved. we have our hands full with major issues that defy solution and we do not need candidates who want to tell you how good they are solving problems to get the nomination while not being the type of president our country needs

We need a leader, not a showman. We need someone who is forceful and can be respected but also knowledgeable about world issues so we don't repeat the performance of the bad presidents we have had in the past.

Republican front runners besides the mild mannered Carson and self promoter Trump who has no qualifications, include Cruz whose claim to fame is he can shut down the government and not work with members of the other party and got rid of his own Speaker of the house. He wants the nation to follow him on a very narrow understanding of issues and would be a disaster. Unfortunately Marco Rubio probably would join him because besides being a skillful speaker he would lead the nation farther to the right.

Finally my Martian friend, you see the task ahead of us is so great and most available candidates are not up to the task that I don't admire you if you are sticking around for a while because we can talk about how America can be great again but not with what most who want the job have to offer.

We need someone who can unify people, not force them to the right or left. We need someone who can act on major issues and not pander to their supporters who seek solution for only their own issues. That includes also Democrats who are also ring to appeal to voters over social issues like inequality and thinking the huge world crisis issues will just go away.

My friend, the American public with all the resources that are available to them, fail to grasp the huge issues facing our nation. As bad as the Islamists wanting to being us back to the middle ages are, many Americans are so self obsessed with their own narrow objectives that they do not care about the nation—and that includes the world. One missile fro the other side of the world arrives here in minutes; one virus on a plane from the other side of he world gets here the same day; one attack on our internet can wipe out all service that includes banking, medical, emergency and the economy. The electrical grid is vulnerable, the drinking water is vulnerable, agriculture is vulnerable and we are vulnerable.

That is why Republicans do not win the National election because they want to dwell on shutting down government, bringing in more conservative values and keeping government out of our lives. However democrats are equally as dense about these world problems and now is the chance if Republicans just understood and changed their objectives.

Roger Lippman


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