“America, Britain and Israel have a terrible problem on their hands: violence. Violence from domestic troubles like race riots—violence from terrorist attacks. Many people have been affected by this scourge in these countries. I believe they are much more likely to recognize the seriousness of this issue. If you have not been personally affected, it is easy to want to pass such problems off as isolated incidents. In this chapter, I will show you that this violence is a much more serious danger than most people would ever imagine!”
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote those timely words—in 2002. That was years before London burned and sporadic mobs pillaged American cities in the summer of 2011. And even years before race became a more openly divisive issue in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections.
His first edition of the same booklet strongly emphasized the racial riots in Los Angeles with a bold “L.A. Riots—Only the Beginning!” chapter that proclaimed, “As the economy grows worse, or is under siege, the rioters are going to burn more and more ….” That was written in 1992. Mr. Flurry understood then that this seemingly isolated problem was widespread and bound to grow.
When you measure foresight like that in terms of decades, not 24-hour news cycles, it is worthwhile to ask, how did he know?
Back then, such violence seemed limited, isolated—a 100-year storm, if you will. Nations like the United States and Britain were civilized and wealthy and largely seen as post-racial.
But there was something ugly under the surface. Something less isolated and more dangerous than most of us thought. And someday it could erupt.
That Day Is Here
Racial tension is ingrained in American history, and it is part of a bigger unsolved problem that is getting very ugly, very fast. We do not know how to rule ourselves—or even preserve a stable society. The past year has introduced us to some brazen examples of this: Flash-mob robberies, anarchist-style beatings and vandalism have broken out in cities across the country.
In December, dozens of African-American teens at a Florida movie theater were thrown out by management after another moviegoer told them to stop making noise and talking on their phones during the show. But the throng waited until the man and his wife came out to the parking lot, then battered both of them and even hit police officers who arrived on the scene. Frederico Freire, a marine, had just arrived back in town from a tour in Iraq; the couple were on their first date together since he left.
In February, as many as 50 young people in St. Paul, Minnesota, swarmed into a convenience store, assaulted a clerk, and then looted the store. It was the second time in four months that this had happened in the city.
In April, another mob of about 20 descended on a clothing store in Washington, d.c., and quickly grabbed about $20,000 worth of merchandise before fleeing in every direction.
In May, a group of New York teenagers used social media to coordinate an attack on a restaurant, showing up in broad daylight and just ransacking the place unprovoked, kicking over tables, flinging chairs at employees and destroying equipment. Then they grabbed some food and drink and left as abruptly as they had arrived.
Chicago has also had several recent incidents of hoodlums attacking people unprovoked. The mayhem has been so bad that tourists have been told to avoid the Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue’s premiere shopping and dining district. In spite of budgets and forces being stretched thin, additional police have been called in to Chicago, and some lawmakers have considered deploying the Illinois National Guard.
During a Fourth of July celebration in Milwaukee’s Kilbourn Reservoir Park, some 60 young African-Americans beat and robbed a smaller group who had been watching fireworks. One of the victims remembers being punched in the face before having her debit card and cell phone stolen. “They just said ‘Oh, white girl bleeds a lot,’” she recalled. There is evidence that the same mob had just come from rushing into one or possibly two nearby convenience stores and gleefully stealing everything they could carry as security cameras and shocked paying customers looked on.
In August, Kansas City finally responded to its own ongoing plague: huge crowds of unsupervised teens and children as young as 7 roaming the streets until long after midnight and intimidating visitors in its upscale plaza district. City government finally slapped a 9 p.m. curfew on the kids after the mayor toured the area to see if it was as bad as people said, and shots were fired about 50 yards away, wounding a 16-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old.
The worst race riot in Wisconsin history occurred on August 4 during the opening night of the Wisconsin State Fair. As darkness fell over the fairgrounds, hundreds of black youths swarmed into the parking lot, seeking out Caucasian fairgoers and assaulting them, smashing car windows, throwing rocks and beating passersby with whatever blunt instruments were available. An Iraq war veteran compared the scene to a combat zone. The teens even attacked the few police officers who were on site.
This trend was also encapsulated in “the city of brotherly love,” which has been plagued by mobs of lower-income teens meeting at predetermined locations to rampage through the streets and cause mayhem. In late July, 20 to 30 youths descended on Philadelphia’s Center City after dark to beat and rob bystanders. One man was knocked to the ground and savagely kicked, his skull fractured. In August, after two years of the barbarity, Mayor Michael A. Nutter imposed a curfew on all minors and delivered a blunt message to fellow African-American parents and a stinging rebuke to their out-of-control children, saying they had damaged the reputation of their own race (article, page 33).
Many of these chaotic attacks occurred in the most upscale parts of America’s greatest cities. Some occurred in broad daylight, most were perpetrated by youths who were not so poor that they couldn’t afford smart phones to coordinate the mayhem, and almost all were shockingly senseless.
The Burning of London
Across the Atlantic lies a world city among world cities, once capital of a great empire, center of finance and culture, and a model for civility. It also happens to be scheduled to host the 2012 Summer Olympics in less than a year. But right now, London is synonymous with something else altogether.
On August 4, police officers in the Tottenham neighborhood shot and killed a known suspect who was apparently armed. A group subsequently responded to the death of Mark Duggan, who was black, with a peaceful march to the police station to protest the shooting. But this soon gave way to vicious mobs of young people “demanding justice” L.A. 1992-style, by smashing windows, torching businesses and homes, fighting police, stealing merchandise, assaulting citizens and even murdering people.
Soon looters and their victims included all different ethnicities. It was no longer about anger or justice—it was about getting in and out through a smashed window with a tv. An entire class of people had figured out that if they went wild, only a few of them could be stopped. And if they could coordinate using smart phones and social media, they could really do some damage before calling it a night.
Police were hesitant to respond. Commentator David Green pointed out, “[T]he police have been hyper-sensitive about race. This attitude has now become so paradoxical that they find themselves standing aside when members of ethnic minorities are being harmed. The people who ran shops, or who lived in the flats above, were not given the protection they deserved.”
After quoting some of the awkward guidelines given to police, he wrote, “In this kind of atmosphere, it’s not surprising that officers in charge of a riot think it safer to wait for orders from the top rather than use their discretion to protect the public without fear or favor.”
Authorities feared that a strong response would ignite more riots. Yet more riots ignited. Britain’s cities were officially out of control: Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and about 10 other urban centers. By the end of it, 16 people had been injured and five people had been murdered, including a 68-year-old man whose only offense was trying to stamp out an arsonist’s fire that had been set in a trash bin. The outburst of senselessness also cost hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of damage to a national economy already over the edge.
And the chaos came while times are still good, meals are still easy to come by, and store shelves are still full (of things to loot, apparently). Rampaging British and American youths live in the largest welfare states in the history of the world. So what horror will we see when our economies totter over?
The Minds of Rioters
What goes through the minds of people who self-destruct their own cities? The answer to that question begins to reveal how, two decades ago, our editor in chief so accurately forecast what was to come.
Images of boys as young as 8 smashing windows and stealing trainers and televisions illustrated where this problem is rooted: at home. Why does a young person roam the streets and beat people and take their things and throw a firebomb through someone’s front door just because it happens to be on the way to an electronics store they want to rob? Why do kids do horrendous things for “fun”?
Rioters are not born. Like everyone else, they begin as precious children, not knowing anything unless they are taught it. But what happens when those wonderful minds are wounded by neglect and hatred, dysfunction and lawlessness year after year after year? What happens when they receive little education about life or anything else inside or outside the home? Our divisive, chaotic lives at home eventually spill into the streets.
Britain and America’s violent vandals have simply not been taught how to live.
This is a major key Mr. Flurry used to forecast events like those we are seeing today. And it is written in one the oldest books in print. Isaiah 3 specifically says that our families would be turned upside down and fall apart because we would ignore how family is designed to work. In turn, disintegrating families would lead to a disintegrating nation. As Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “a solid family structure is the foundational bulwark of any stable and permanent society ….”
Mr. Armstrong taught, and Mr. Flurry teaches, that dismantling our families eventually leads to national destruction. More than one Londoner would tend to agree. Mr. Flurry has also written, based on clear biblical doctrine, that human nature is not naturally good but evil: selfish, prejudiced, jealous, envious, competitive, vain, lustful, greedy, resentful and violent.
Haven’t we seen this insight proved right in 2011? This senseless destruction has revealed that our notionally civilized societies are much, much closer to primitive madness than we like to think. We have not advanced so far as we thought. Our human nature is not as “basically good” as we thought. We are capable of horrendous things so long as a police officer is not standing nearby—and sometimes, even if he is.
We actually have to start asking ourselves whether we can even maintain cooperative, self-governed societies. As one horrified onlooker said, “[T]he main reason you are not attacked on the street, shops are not constantly looted and burnt down, and we all don’t take things that don’t belong to us is because someone, when we were little, taught us the difference between right and wrong.”
But that has changed in Britain and America, hasn’t it?
Our leaders of government, education and culture have consistently, systematically torn down those former absolutes. Husband and wife are bound together for life, fathers should lead their families, laws must be obeyed no matter what, you should work hard in school, criminals should be punished—these are the virtues we thought we were too smart, too advanced for. And now, parts of England look like Libyan war zones.
Isaiah 3 also predicted this. God said there that mighty, judicious, prudent, wise leaders would be removed. “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable” (verses 4-5). Doesn’t this sound familiar?
We have deliberately chosen to be godless, deceitful, sinful and covetous, and to reject any thought of God and any inkling of God’s law. And how is that turning out? Would you rather live in a place where those virtues, based on God’s spiritual law, the Ten Commandments, are kept, or would you rather live in Tottenham?
It is a hard truth, but what American and British youths are doing is exactly what they have been taught: There is no such thing as good or evil, no sin or righteousness, God is a myth, resent authority, do what you feel is right, there are no real consequences. Like coddling parents, our governments have torn down virtues and even absolutes rather than upholding them. Britain’s limp response to the people burning its capital city is an iconic example.
We are stuck with the society our leaders have created, but can we still hope that our politicians and educators will learn the lesson and sort this all out? Committees are looking into it. More unaffordable, ineffective government social programs are on the way. You know that will be the answer. Addressing human nature? Defining good and evil? Turning to God? Out of the question.
It Is in the Bible
But there is an even more specific reason why Mr. Flurry so accurately forecast such violence in our cities. It goes beyond the tendencies of human nature. Believe it or not, the violence of 2011 Tottenham was written about by Ezekiel in the fifth century b.c. Here is what he wrote about the cities of America, Britain and Israel:
“A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them” (Ezekiel 5:12).
The booklet in which Mr. Flurry discussed these matters as far back as 1992 is called Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet. In it he wrote, “Notice that pestilence is mentioned first. In the past, we thought the pestilence would be disease resulting from the famine. In this case, the pestilence is actually the leading cause of the famine!
“The word pestilence just means destruction or death. … So this pestilence could be a plague of violence or burning ….” Mr. Flurry defines this burning and violence in our nations as similar to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, as well as the impact of even worse mayhem: terrorism.
“The Los Angeles rioting is just a type of what is going to happen to major cities in the whole nation!” Mr. Flurry wrote in 1992. “It is a stark prophecy of our future!” How much more accurate could you get?
“Terrorist attacks, rioting and burning are the main thrust of the pestilence mentioned in Ezekiel 5,” he continued. “And this rioting will spread to other Israelite nations—unless people repent! God will get our attention one way or another. The worse the violence and burning becomes, the worse the famine will get. The worse the famine becomes, the more intensive the violence will get. It becomes a vicious cycle.”
Does not this perfectly describe what we are witnessing in Britain and America’s major cities? “[A]s the U.S. and Britain become less and less competitive worldwide, unemployment will steadily increase. As that happens, domestic rioting and violence will become much more prevalent ….
“The seeds of this future calamity have already been sown. The government has lost control. There is a breakdown of law and order. … We are getting dangerously close to social anarchy and chaos!”
We have just witnessed an advancement in this society-wide plague of violence and burning that is to strike our major cities.
The Bible even describes our leaders’ feckless reaction to this implosion of order. But the Bible prophesied these problems, and it didn’t say they were for want of another social spending initiative.
In Isaiah 1:5, speaking primarily about the leaders of America, Britain and Judah, God says the “whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.” Those responsible for leading our peoples simply do not have the heart or strength to confront evil, even when it threatens to destroy our cities.
Therefore, the whole body is sick—head to toe (verse 6). And it’s leading to our cities being burned with fire by “strangers.”
“The Bible also reveals the cause of the riots.” After quoting Isaiah 1:5-6, Mr. Flurry stated: “Neither the leaders nor their followers have the will or the strength to get to the roots of race riots or terrorist attacks and solve them once and for all (see Daniel 12:9; 9:13; and Leviticus 26:19).”
These riots are a warning to the whole world: This is what happens when a nation rejects God’s laws and revolts against His way of building a family. These riots are only going to get worse.
And why is this happening? Because this is what it takes for our peoples to finally come to really know their God. This is what it takes for us to finally admit that the desperately needed solution is not just one more election, just one more law, just one more committee, just one more spending initiative, just one more social program away. This is what it takes to admit that we must turn to God! And believing in Him and obeying His laws will solve these chaotic problems!
“And they shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them,” it says in Ezekiel 6:10. This is the big lesson God wants the latter-day Israelites and the rest of this world to ultimately learn—then “they shall know that I am the Lord.” •