November 28th, 2007
(This series on the Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia held Nov. 14-18 is based on the videos posted on the New Generation web site. Translations from Russian were generously provided by Ruslan Porshnev of the Russian LGBT web site Anti-Dogma.)
By mid-morning of the first full day (November 15) of the Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia, the audience experienced quite a few mood changes. The night before, they saw Pastor Alexey Ledyaev’s open the conference with a call to arms, followed by a much cooler talk by American author Scott Lively the following morning. But while Lively’s tone was a bit calmer than Ledyaev’s, his rhetoric was no less aggressive as he described gays and lesbians as followers of the “father of lies” while repeating the oft-repeated phrase heard throughout the conference, “this is a war.”
And war it was, at least rhetorically. And there’s a rhetorical holocaust going on — at least according to the man who took the podium after Lively’s talk that morning.
Vlad Kusakin is a Russian-speaking immigrant and Sacramento resident. He’s the owner of the Speaker Media Group which publishes a Russian-language newspaper in Sacramento and San Francisco, and he appears on Russian-language talk radio in the Sacramento area. Kusakin is also one of the Watchmen founders.
Kusakin regaled the Riga audience with his account of all of the horrible things that were about to befall Californians since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 777 into law. That law simply adds non-discrimination protections to students based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and disability. But Kusakin’s reading of the law is much bleaker:
Many advocates in California have already expressed their views on this, and one of the comments by our partner, Randy Thomasson [of the Campaign for Children and Families — ed.], is as follows: “Arnold Schwarzenegger has let Californian kids into the arms of the aggressors, and now in Californian schools during lessons there will be a real moral rape of all students from kindergarten (5 year olds) to 12th graders of high school”.
I also commented on this situation the same way. I made a statement and I confirm it now: “More than 60 years ago someone gave an order in the Nazi’s camps to burn the kids in the furnaces. More than 60 years have passed since then, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, by his signature, opened the same furnaces in all of the public schools in California in order to burn and exterminate our kids.”
I am sure it looks exactly like this, and it is precisely extermination — complete moral extermination.
Kusakin then went on with more of his reaction to SB 777, where he apparently reaches a point of helpless desperation:
I was speechless and couldn’t think. I could not digest this information. I could not accept or believe that it’s real. I prayed and fasted and God gave me a message which I’d like to share with you today. I’m tired of living as being defeated. And I want to know, why are we always losing in California? When your pastor [Ledyaev] came to Sacramento, I asked him the same question: why are we losing and you are winning?
… I wanted to know the answer: why are we losing? Why are we just reacting? Oh my God, they signed Bill 777, what do we do now? Make a protest? Do a signature drive? We should do something! It gets scary! And we are rushing from one corner to another while the devil is demonically laughing at us and the homosexuals, who think we are worthless, spit on us.
One thing that is clear in reviewing the videos from the Watchmen conference is that many of the speakers are behaving as though they are in a desperate siege. In fact, the very name of the Watchmen On the Walls refers to the Old Testament story from Nehemiah, in which watchmen were placed on the newly restored walls of a ruined Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile during the 6th century, BCE. Those watchmen were to keep a lookout against the many powerful enemies which sought to prevent Jerusalem’s restoration.
If the modern-day Watchmen’s rhetoric tells us anything, it is that they appear to see themselves as standing amongst the ruins of a latter-day Jerusalem while surrounded by diabolical enemies on all sides. And as with men described by Nehemiah, the Watchmen see themselves as men of action. Kusakin concluded by noting that a long term strategy is needed, and he held the example of California, the modern-day Babylon, as a warning:
Above all of God’s grace, I see the fact of my personal defeat, the defeat of my church, the defeat of Christianity in the land where I live, and I do not agree with this. And I want things to change.
And God spoke to me from this point of view; I am absolutely happy now with his answer. I am tired of being a man who is only reacting. I want to be a man who does something — and not just something, but something he knows and understands. I am not against protests, I am not against letters to the governor, I am not against public events, but now I know one thing. All that should be only a part of a thorough strategy for 30-50 years.
If the Church doesn’t have this strategy, any victories we might have today in Latvia, the Church will lose if it doesn’t have a strategy. If you stood firmly on your positions this year and last year and formed a particular attitude in society, and if there’s no correct strategy for 30, 50, 100 years ahead, we will lose here in Latvia just like we are losing in the USA.
If Kusakin’s warning about the dangers of homosexuality sounded dire, those worries were compounded that afternoon when Don Feder took the stage. Feder is the author of Who’s Afraid of the Religious Right? To give you an idea of what this man is about, he describes himself this way on his web site:
I’m to the right of [Ariel] Sharon on Zionism, to the right of Pat Buchanan on immigration and Americanism, to the right of Mother Angelica on abortion, to the right of Chuck Heston on Second-Amendment rights, and generally make the legendary Atilla look like a limousine liberal.
If any of this appeals to you, read on. If not, look elsewhere.
At least he has a sense of humor about himself, although none of that humor was on display at Riga. Instead, he gave a talk on what he calls the “demographic winter,” which he began by showing a trailer of a forthcoming documentary by the same name. According to Feder, declining birth rates threaten the very future of Western civilization. In fact, Don Feder called this the “most pressing crisis confronting the human race”:
It’s not global warming, it’s not terrorism, it’s not AIDS — it’s not enough children. Too few people are having children today. Population decline is very much a reality.
If that sounds like fiction, it is. In fact, Feder encouraged his audience to read the novel The Children of Men, by P.D. James to understand what he believes the future looks like. In James’ book, the world was struck with a world-wide infertility crisis, and no children had been born for the past twenty-five years. As Feder described James’ book, the world would no longer have baptisms or children playing, and adults would have mass suicides for the elderly and people would loose interest in sex because “sex no longer has an ultimate meaning.” He then spent several minutes dwelling on this book while claiming that life is imitating this particular science fiction, “but it’s happening so gradually that only a few people can see it.” Feder, however, is one of those few.
Feder’s talk was an often contradictory mishmash of half-baked economic and xenophobic theories. Immigrants are having more children than native-born Europeans, and this, Don Feder believes, is the genesis of a non-Christian takeover of Europe. The culprits of this generational suicide include birth control, abortion, later marriages because women are staying in school, Hollywood (which doesn’t portray large families but promotes a “live for a moment ethic”), cohabitation, and homosexual marriage (“the one union that can’t possible produce children!”).
So now it’s mid-afternoon, and the audience had already by this time heard Scott Lively’s account of the battle between the followers of “The God of Truth” against those who follow the “Father Of Lies.” And they heard Vlad Kusakin bemoan the fact that in America at least, his side is losing. Feder reinforced that message with his dark predictions for the collapse of Western Civilization due to its inability to have large families.
But the Watchmen aren’t all about complaining and moaning, not by a long shot. As Kusakin said, they are also about action. We’ll investigate some of what that action looks like later.
(Thanks to Ruslan Porshnev of the Russian LGBT web site Anti-Dogma, for generously providing the English translations of the Russian speakers at the conference. You can read more about his work here.)
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 1: “Become A Missionary To America”
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 2: From Babylon To Jerusalem
The Watchmen In Riga, Interlude: A Pastor’s Prayer
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 3: The “Secrets” Of Homosexuality
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 4: “A Militant Army Marching Against Evil”
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