Why did Phanar choose to back American Maidan?
America is now in trouble and turmoil. The Head of Phanar Archbishopric in the US took the side of the protesters. Why did it happen and what does it mean?
On June 3, 2020, the Head of the Archbishopric of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in America, Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) took part in a protest rally in New York in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The hierarch said he had come "to express solidarity with brothers and sisters whose rights have been seriously violated." According to the hierarch, "we must say a big word against injustice in our country." At the same time, Elpidophoros said that "this is a peaceful protest, without any violence, and I thank everyone, because violence causes even more violence."
The participation of the hierarch of the Church of Constantinople in the protest took place after numerous demolitions, robberies, acts of arson, which swept through dozens of US cities in the riots, which have already been called the "Black Maidan". From the words of Archbishop Elpidophoros, we can conclude that all this is due to the fact that black people are oppressed in the United States and their lives are treated like dirt; people at some point realized that they couldn’t go on like this and came out to protests. Archbishop Elpidophoros supported them in this. Looks noble? Of course. But do the words of Phanar hierarch stack up?
The situation of African Americans: racism or “racism”?
The history of the black population of America dates back to 1619, when African slaves were brought to Virginia by the British government. For the period from the XVI century to the XIX century, about 645 thousand blacks arrived in the United States. Initially, they were all slaves who worked hard. The situation changed after the Civil War between the North and the South, which eventuated, in particular, in the abolition of slavery. This was confirmed by the 13th amendment to the US Constitution, which was adopted in 1865.
However, in the southern states discrimination against the black population continued for a long time. In 1950-1960, as a result of the advances of the federal government and the civil rights movement, racial discrimination was prohibited by law. Gradually, the situation changed completely.
Now the authorities and society are trying to show “compensatory” measures with respect to African Americans, designed to correct historical injustice.
For example, Google spends hundreds of millions of dollars to balance the race among its employees, in particular, to increase the number of specialists with black skin color.
There was even such a thing as “reverse discrimination”, when they infringe on the rights of the white population for the sake of the idea of atonement for its “historical guilt”. A case in point is a lawsuit in 2003 against the New Haven City Fire Department in the United States, which refused to promote white men in order not to offend black employees.
Nevertheless, historically, in many cases the black population in the USA lives in separate groups, and the level of education and well-being in the black quarters is lower than in the whole country. As a result, there is a significantly higher crime rate. Despite the fact that the percentage of African Americans in the United States does not exceed 13%, the proportion of crimes committed by them is at least half. Therefore, it is quite logical that a significant number of criminals detained by the police have a black skin color. But does this mean that the police are racists, while African Americans are brutally harassed?
Why did civil disturbances start in the USA?
The rigor of the US police is known to everybody. It is often recalled in Ukraine when commenting on the unsatisfactory work of the police in our country. Thanks to the methods of the American police, the United States until recently was considered one of the safest countries to live in.
However, on May 25, 2020, everything changed. In the evening of this day, Minnesota Cup Foods restaurant employees called the police because one of the buyers tried to pay off with fake money. The cops arrived and laid the suspect face down on the ground, assuming that he was in a state of drug intoxication. The methods were tough; the policeman pressed and held the criminal’s neck with his knee, which led to the death of the latter.
The deceased's name was George Floyd. He was 46 years old. Previously, he was convicted and was in prison – first for the theft and later for the armed robbery of a pregnant woman, whose house he broke into in search of money and drugs.
Precedents with harsh detentions by police of black criminals had happened in the United States before. In 2013, after the policeman who killed the black teenager Travon Martin during the detention was acquitted, the “Black lives matter” movement arose. In 2014, protests caused by the death of two other Afro-Americans were held under this slogan, but they did not gain a wide resonance.
However, in 2020, the death of George Floyd led to unprecedented riots in dozens of US cities. Why?
American Maidan as a trump card in presidential elections
Presidential election will be held in the United States on November 3, 2020. The main rivals are incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The main task of Trump is to maintain stability and order in the country, his competitor is interested in a situation that demonstrates the incumbent president’s inability to ensure this order.
Now dozens of US cities are hit not just protests but real pogroms with robberies, fires and vandalism. The toughest clashes between police and protesters took place on June 2 in New York. Manhattan, the heart of the city, is destroyed. Demonstrators beat showcases and robbed shops on Fifth Avenue. There are many videos on the Web where “protesters” smash windows, take things out of stores, and set fire to what they were not able to take away.
It is extremely interesting to know that there are organized groups of people who deliberately direct the crowd into clashes with the police and demolitions of shops without taking a direct part in them.
During his press conference, US Attorney General Bill Barr said that "it seems that in many places the violence is planned, organized." According to Mr. Barr, these forces "take advantage of the situation to implement their own, violent program."
The New York Post columnist Miranda Devine says, "There are a lot of videos in social media that show ‘mysterious persons’ breaking store windows but not stealing anything, or cutting through the fencing of police stations but not overturning these fences." According to Devine, these are "domestic terrorists who have captured peaceful protests across the country."
Interestingly, not only white residents of the United States, but also African Americans are affected by pogroms – the ones "whose lives matter”. In this video, an outraged black man addresses his compatriots: “You are doing wrong! I'm from the ghetto too. Did you rebel because of the injustice of whites? Why ruin my business? Why did you break my truck? Why did you steal my computer? I tried to live like normal people, tried to feed my family, can’t you understand that?! ”
Meanwhile, Joe Biden is photographed with black demonstrators, kneeling, thereby showing that "he is with the people."
The politician also claims that the “peaceful protesters” are now on the streets of the USA: “When peaceful demonstrators are dispersed on the order from the threshold of the People’s House, the White House, using tear gas and stun grenades, when they want to organize a photo session at a noble church, one can forgive us for the conviction that the president is more interested in power than principles.”
Ukrainian and American Maidans – is there any difference?
Now a joke is spreading on the Web: “In connection with quarantine, color revolution specialists are forced to work at home.” We will not evaluate the level of wit of this phrase; we recall only that in every joke there is some truth.
There are a number of obvious analogies between the current situation in the USA, which we have already dubbed the “Black Maidan”, and the events of Euromaidan in Ukraine.
1. Both Maidans began shortly before the presidential election in their countries.
2. In both cases, the opposition of the ruling power has a vested interest.
3. Both Maidans were accompanied by large-scale media support, in which citizens are made to believe in justified protests and even their necessity.
4. The presence of organized groups streamlining protests in the right direction.
5. In Ukraine and in the USA there were no unconditional reasons for mass protests and especially riots. The level of prosperity of Ukrainians in 2013 was an order of magnitude higher than after Euromaidan, while the accession to Europe promised by the protest leaders did not happen. In the United States, there is no problem of racism, at least inasmuch serious as to cause such widespread unrest.
It is obvious that the events of both countries are triggered by political strategists who are skillfully inflating the indignation of citizens and pushing them in the right direction.
On June 3, another analogy with the Ukrainian Euromaidan emerged in the USA – support for protests by some religious organizations, in particular, by the hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Archbishop Elpidophoros.
Phanar and US Democratic Party
One of the key components of the organization and the victory of Euromaidan was the participation of the Uniates and the Kyiv Patriarchate there. Both structures actively urged Ukrainians to protest and are still proud of this fact. After the victory of Euromaidan, both the UGCC and the UOC-KP received a lot of preferences from the “winners”. Uniates, from the local Church, concentrated mainly in Galicia and turned into a structure that instantly spread throughout Ukraine. The schismatics, as a result of the super-energetic actions of the past president Petro Poroshenko, received the Tomos for the OCU. Not the last role in the Tomos-granting process was played by the current Head of Phanar’s Archbishopric in the USA, Archbishop Elpidophoros.
The scheme of cooperation between the UGCC and the OCU with the leaders of Euromaidan was simple but effective: "scratch my back – and I’ll scratch yours."
It is logical to assume that the hierarch of Phanar decided to go the same way and copy the symbiosis of religion and power which was successfully implemented in Ukraine. At this point it is necessary to remember that literally the day before, on June 2, the Archbishop intended to meet with Donald Trump, but at the last moment the US President canceled the meeting. Why this happened remains unknown, but in the end Phanar obviously decided to support the rivals.
And this is quite consistent, because the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have a long and fruitful cooperation with Joe Biden. Patriarch Bartholomew has repeatedly visited the current candidate for the US Democratic Party, Mr. Biden paid visits to Phanar. The head of Phanar also met with the previous Trump’s rival from the Democrats in the presidential election – Hillary Clinton.
But still, why did the Phanar hierarch, who until recently worried only about the future of Hellenism in the USA, suddenly become preoccupied with the rights of the black population of his new homeland?
What dividends can the Patriarchate of Constantinople receive from the support of “peaceful protesters”?
First of all, it must be remembered that in the genes of the Patriarchate of Constantinople there is a desire for cooperation with the powers that be. Ukrainians could once again be convinced of this fact just recently, when Patriarch Bartholomew wrote the name of Poroshenko in the Tomos of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Of course, now the most “affluent” are based in the USA, and beginning with Patriarch Athenagoras, the primates and hierarchs of the Church of Constantinople have persistently sought friendship with the leadership of this state. If Biden wins the presidential election, Phanar’s position will be further strengthened.
The second argument is promotion of their Church in the eyes of the local population, being an unusual creative form of missionary work. Indeed, despite the fact that the Archbishopric of Phanar in the United States is comparatively (with Turkey) numerous, for most Americans it remains a completely unknown ethnic Church for the Greeks, which embraces no more than 0.5% of the population.
The third argument is personal recognition and popularity. Given the great attention to the develpments around the "Black Maidan" and the ambition of Phanar hierarchs for public contacts, participation in the protests will significantly add "political weight" to Archbishop Elpidophoros.
The only question remains – where is faith and the desire to bring the Truth of Christ to the people in this scenario?
Recall that one of the points of the notorious decision of Phanar’s Synaxis on October 11, 2018, which launched the creation of the OCU and marked the beginning of the persecution of the UOC, was a wicked call "to refrain from seizing churches, monasteries and other property, as well as from any other violent actions and revenge so that the peace and love of Christ prevail.” Why was it wicked? Because Phanar couldn’t but know that their actions on legalization of the Ukrainian schism would definitely lead to the “seizure of temples, monasteries and other property, as well as any other violent acts”.
Currently, Phanar’s hierarch in the USA likewise supports one of the parties to the conflict and at the same time speaks about the inappropriateness of violence, saying that “violence causes even more violence.”
It is not difficult to understand that the affiliation of representatives of the clergy with one of the parties to the conflict will not at all contribute to its resolution. Ukraine has already proven it.
The true position of the Church cannot consist in supporting wicked projects of behind-the-scenes political technologists in the hope of securing friendship and support from the powers that be.
Unfortunately, we have to admit once again that representatives of the most glorious and authoritative Church are taking very ambiguous steps. And we can only hope that these steps will not lead to an escalation of the conflict either in American society or in the Orthodox Church.