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REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

3/13/2007

The Politics of Global Warming




Luis, a fellow blogger friend, posted a link here last week to an excellent exposé on global warming that was recently aired on his channel 4 in Britain (The Great Global Warning Swindle). I urge anyone who hasn’t seen it to do so, and I applaud the producers for taking a remarkably courageous stand against junk science.

After we viewed the program, my husband and I forwarded the link to quite a few friends. Below is an excerpt from an e-mail he received in response from one of his friends:
____________________

Who the hell has 1 hour, 15 minutes and 56 seconds to listen to a bunch of Brits! We are planning a trip for the UK in August. I think I'll probably be speaking with an accent by then. I'm no scientist you understand and Co2 may not be a problem, but it doesn't take a genious to know if 6.3 billion people all start to piss in the streams and dump all their junk there that the water sooner or later is going to get dirty and cause problems. Now take that to 12.6 billion people in a short 40-50 years and so on and it sure looks like a problem. So the solution is don't do it! I remember the steel mills in Pittsburgh and Johnstown and believe me air pollution is a problem. Now take that to the air/atmosphere and I can certainly see a problem on the horizon (Co2 or not). Of course if we run out of gas in the next 50 years because of some more stupidity with gas guzzlers and other waste it won't be a problem.... I guess?

Just a thought.

The hell with it! Let’s have lunch in a week or two.


____________________

I believe this e-mail, written by a white-collar professional, political (so-called) ‘conservative’, illustrates exactly what is most wrong with our nation – a stubborn unwillingness by the citizenry to become informed about, and take action against, the forces that are seeking our demise as a free republic. Apathetic malaise will prove to be our undoing, even moreso than the threat posed by Islamic terrorism.

Following is an essay on global warming that has been rattling around in my head for quite some time. It is not a research paper. There are no footnotes, no bibliography. There are no deep descriptions of intricate scientific theory. Simply a recitation of fairly elementary scientific facts, born out by a mountain of evidence culled by an endless list of reputable scientists in the fields of physics and climatology.

All opinions expressed are mine, and are the result of several years of reading scientific articles, applying my own (admittedly very primitive) mathematical models, watching ‘documentaries,’ both pro and con, and observing the (American, especially) political process, especially that involving modern American neo-Marxist ‘environmentalists’. As always, I welcome dissenting opinions, but will not tolerate unfounded leftist propaganda.


First allow me to tell you what I believe is the rationale behind the invention of the theory of global warming. Feel free to precede each of the remarks in the following six paragraphs by ‘I believe’. I do not assert that these opinions are fact, merely educated personal conclusions.

Since the beginning of time, there has always existed a class of people who view themselves as human ‘elite’ – as gods in human form. This class of people believes that it possesses an inherent right to more privileges, more possessions, and more power than the rest of humanity.

Such people have always played the starring roles in the ugly series of oppressions, wars, tyrannies, and even genocides, that have occurred throughout the history of mankind, by seeking to enjoy a life of plenty while also ruling over, and oppressing, their brothers.

The basis for Marxist/Leninist doctrine, and modern socialist philosophy, is rooted in such a mindset.

A majority of those now in leadership positions in modern America, as well as the leadership of most globalist organizations, purport to have the best interests of humanity at heart. But, upon close examination, it becomes apparent that they believe they have an inherent right to enjoy a lifestyle that is a cut above that of the masses, while simultaneously authoring rules that must dictate the boundaries within which the masses must exist.

In order to succeed in such efforts, this elite class must convince the masses that there exist conditions that make necessary a natural suppression of productivity, achievement, creativity, and prosperity, and the resulting fruits of success. In order to do so, fostering ignorance among the populace, and then successfully disseminating disinformation, are necessary.

Both insidious, malevolent agendas are succeeding in America 2007.


In its simplest state, what does the theory of global warming purport and predict?

Supporters of the theory teach (though they do not necessarily believe, since their motive for embracing the theory has little to do with a reverence for truth) that human carbon dioxide emission is demonstrably the major cause of climate warming. If not taken seriously, this human CO2-caused warming could result in worldwide health, environmental, and economic catastrophes.

Proponents of this theory support major reductions in the use of fossil fuels, particularly oil and coal, and a turning toward the sun and wind as sources of energy. And they support Draconian changes in lifestyle and behavior by both individuals, and business and industry, in order to cool the supposedly overheating planet.

In the eyes of global warming advocates, man is an enemy of the earth. In our greed and lack of concern for nature, we have used and abused the natural resources available to us. And by polluting the air with CO2 emissions at an increasingly alarming rate, historically unprecedented global catastrophes are sure to occur. We face dramatic rises in the levels of the oceans as a result of the melting of the polar ice caps. Shoreline communities, and then inland cities and towns, will eventually find themselves under water. The earth’s forests and jungles will eventually be transformed into enormous deserts. Entire species of beautiful and innocent animals (apparently the polar bear, in particular), unable to adapt to the warming of the planet, will be wiped off the face of the earth. Once fertile and productive farmland will turn into desert, resulting in global famine. And insects that once only thrived in tropical climates will migrate north, carrying deadly diseases that, until man disturbed the balance of nature, were unheard of in northern climes.

If we continue to industrialize, and to consume fossil fuels, global apocalypse, because of man’s selfish emission of massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, is a virtual certainty. The culprit is industrialized society, and western man’s selfishness lies at the root of the evil.


What does genuine, non-agenda-driven, science say about all of this?

The power of carbon dioxide to dictate climate change:

CO2 is not a major determiner of climate. It is not even a minor determiner. And, even if it were, man’s contribution to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is negligible.

CO2 forms only a very minute part of our atmosphere, 10 parts per million. Ten parts per million (worth repeating). That might be a significant statistic, if CO2 were actually a pollutant, or a potent poison, but it is not. CO2 is essential to life. Think of the 10 parts per million in this way:

If the entire population of the United States represented the atmosphere, three thousand of us (enough to fill the average large high school auditorium) would represent that portion of the atmosphere comprised of carbon dioxide.

And, since the portion of CO2 in the atmosphere that is created by humans is minute, only about one row of that filled high school auditorium represents the CO2 contribution that we humans produce. One row in a high school auditorium versus the entire population of the United States. Pretty impressive negative power we humans wield, huh? Talk about David taking on the Philistines.

In addition, there have been prolonged periods in history in which the earth and its inhabitants were producing ten times as much CO2 as we are today.

A brief, superficial, but representative, example of naturally-occurring ‘warming trends’:

The present ‘warming trend’ goes back several hundred years to the end of the ‘little ice age’ (the eighteenth century). Not only do scientific studies corroborate the existence of that mini ice age, but illustrations and prints produced during the era consistently portray a cold nature. A prevalent theme is the freezing of the Thames, during which wonderful ice fairs and skating competitions were held on a river that we modern inhabitants of the planet cannot imagine as ever having frozen.

Preceding the ‘little ice age’ there was a Medieval warm period (800-1300), during which humans, animals, and vegetation gradually adapted to a significantly warmer climate. Humans embraced a different lifestyle, and animals and vegetation adapted as well. In Europe, the Medieval warm period resulted in the great age of cathedral builders, and vineyards flourished, even in the north of England.

We have temperature records of Greenland that can be traced back thousands of years to an era in which Greenland was much warmer than it is today. Perma-frost, under the forests of Russia, has melted significantly during past warm eras that lasted hundred of years, and then re-frozen during ensuing cold spells.

Other, even earlier, warm periods have been researched and recorded, with a pronounced and extended one having occurred during the Bronze Age, in what is known as the Holocene Maximum. During this particularly warm period, temperatures remained significantly higher than they are today for more than three thousand years. Interestingly enough, polar bears were around back then, and they adapted, survived, and procreated just fine.

The bottom line in global warming is that global warming is indeed a natural part of earth’s history – past, present and future. It occurs periodically, as does global cooling. And it occurs so gradually that the inhabitants of the planet, both plant and animal, are afforded sufficient time to adapt to the ‘temporary’ (until the next warming/cooling phase kicks in) climate change.

[An aside: I find it fascinating that the majority of advocates of the theory of global warming are also believers in the theory of evolution, and yet, despite the fact that the periodic warming and cooling of the earth occurs over a very long period of time – hundreds, if not thousands, of years -- they do not believe that plants and animals can naturally adapt to the temperature cycles.]

Does industrialization contribute to global warming, as purported by environmentalists?

American industrial production in 1900-1940 was minimal in comparison to the post-WW II era, and yet temperatures consistently rose during those four relatively quiet decades. Indeed, most of the rise in temperature that has been recorded during the earth’s current ‘warming trend’ occurred pre-1940. After WW II, during the unprecedented post-war economic boom, the temperature chart changed. After the war, the earth’s temperatures began a steady, forty-year decline, which spurred apocalyptic predictions of the coming of a second ice age. With the boom in post-war industrial activity, the percentage of man-made CO2 in the atmosphere naturally increased, and yet the earth’s temperature began to fall. And it wasn’t until the recession of the mid-1970s that temperatures began leveling off once again.

Is there any correlation at all between CO2 and the earth’s temperature?

If the production of CO2, or the production of greenhouse gases in general (of which CO2 is only a very small part), is the cause of the earth’s current warming, then, as the CO2 rises, it becomes trapped in the upper atmosphere, and the temperatures in the upper atmosphere should be significantly higher than those on the earth’s surface. There are two reliable ways to measure the temperature in the atmosphere: with satellite readings and weather balloons. And readings taken in both ways always lead to the same results:
Temperature readings taken at both levels (surface and upper atmosphere) consistently show that the earth’s surface is significantly warmer than the temperatures in the higher levels of the atmosphere. Actually, the higher the site at which temperature readings are taken, the lower the readings are.

Most reliable scientific studies that have been conducted in order to determine a correlation between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature of the earth have resulted in one main conclusion: A rise in the earth’s temperature causes the production of increased CO2, and not the other way around.

Many reliable scientific tests can be performed to analyze the specific relationship between the two over time, including arctic ice core data, glacier advances or retreats, analyses of lake or seafloor sediments, tree cellulose, corals, biological fossils, dust or chemical counts, pollen, tree-line shifts, etc. Analysis of scientific evidence thus obtained has consistently shown that increases in atmospheric CO2 consistently parallel increases in temperature with an approximately eight hundred year lag (i.e., when the earth experiences a warming trend, a commensurate increase in CO2 concentration can always be expected to occur approximately eight hundred years later).

Why?

By far, the largest source of CO2 production emanates from the oceans. Human production of CO2, even during major industrialization periods, is insignificant in comparison.

If the surface of the ocean is heated, it emits CO2; if it is cooled, it absorbs CO2. Yet, when the oceans of the world (which comprise seventy percent of the earth’s surface) are heated, because of their gigantic surface area and enormous average depth, it takes approximately eight centuries for the heating or cooling to take complete effect, and to result in either significant emission, or significant absorption, of CO2.

What about the melting of the polar ice caps?

The polar ice caps are always naturally expanding and contracting, sometimes to a very large degree. Ice is always moving. Nowadays, satellites can detect such movement, so it becomes news. News reports regularly show ice breaking off of arctic glaciers. The ‘spring breakup’, which is what is generally reported as potentially apocalyptic ‘news’, is an annual occurrence in the arctic, and always has been. What the international news media do not show are the re-accumulating of the glaciers the following winter.

As for purported rises in the levels of the oceans, such changes can generally be attributed to local factors, such as land development and the accompanying change in the topography, or worldwide thermal expansion of the oceans. When the latter is the cause, it is never the result of relatively recent (as in within the last few hundred years) melting of polar ice, but rather the result of an enormously slow, up to eight-hundred-year heating of the oceans (whose cause will be discussed later), that has no connection with the activities of man.

What causes appreciable heating and cooling of the oceans?

Solar activity. The sun’s activity is always in continuous and enormous flux. And its influence on the earth’s temperature completely dwarfs the effects of all other conceivable warming components.

Sunspots are intense magnetic fields, whose power is barely conceivable by the mind of man, and certainly not capable of being reproduced here on earth. During periods of high solar activity, more sunspots are created and enormous amounts of solar heat are produced.

During the ‘little ice age’ mentioned above, astronomers observed virtually no sunspot activity, and not until sunspots began reappearing did the warming of the earth resume.

More than four centuries of records of sunspot activity and temperature readings indicate that the two graphs, if placed atop one another, are extraordinarily similar.

Sunspots are not the only solar phenomenon that affects earth’s temperature. Subatomic particles from the sun (cosmic rays) combine with water vapor (again, finding its source primarily in the oceans), and clouds are formed. When the solar winds are strong, fewer cosmic rays reach the earth, and fewer clouds are formed. Since clouds produce a cooling effect, strong solar winds produce a cooling effect on earth.

By using ice core analysis, and geological analysis, astrophysicists have been able to compare solar cosmic ray production (largely dependent upon solar winds and the strength of the solar magnetic field) with earth’s temperature going back thousands of years, and have concluded that, when cosmic rays are abundant, temperatures fall, and when cosmic rays decrease, temperatures rise.

Simply stated, earth’s climate is predominantly controlled by enormous variations in solar activity (in the form of sunspots, solar winds, the solar magnetic field, and cosmic rays).


Who is most responsible for propagating the lie of human-caused global warming?

Neo-Marxist philosophy was dealt a near-fatal blow when President Reagan brought communism to its knees in the 80s. After that, peaceniks and leftist political activists began embracing a pseudo environmental movement – a movement that has much more to do with anti-capitalist philosophy than it does with a desire to preserve the environment.

The International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-funded organization, has provided the basis for many of the ‘facts’ now popular about global warming. Its message (summarized under the first subheading here, and declared in writing in three assessment reports over the past decade … a fourth is pending) is gradually being declared gospel. Its conclusions are unscientific, anti-industrial, anti-achievement, anti-American, and anti-third-world. They are repeated vigorously by the international media and many leftist American politicians, and their complete disregard for all reputable climate science and physics research is blatant.

The sun and the oceans are not mentioned in the committee’s reports, and man and man’s economic and industrial progress are consistently vilified.

In compiling their reports, IPCC officials regularly censored comments and findings by participating scientists when those comments did not support the human-caused warming theory. Entire sections of these scientists’ studied opinions were deleted, and any comments that indicated that man is not the cause of warming were disallowed. The peer review process was entirely corrupted. Many scientists resigned from the panel in protest against the arbitrary editing of their observations, and the requests of many of them who have asked that their names be removed from the report have been denied.

The study of man-made global warming has become a profitable industry, supported by neo-Marxist philosophy. In the less than two decades since the fall of communism, government funding of global warming studies and programs has increased from less than 200 million to tens of billions of dollars a year. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people are now employed in this new ‘industry’. As a result, the large amount of money that has been fed into this incredibly small area of ‘science’ has succeeded in distorting the overall scientific effort. The conclusion has been pre-ordained, and most of the experiments and studies that are conducted, on the government dollar, are geared to support the pre-determined findings.

Computer models are forever being authored, at government expense, in an effort to predict future climate changes. But such climate models are only as good as the assumptions upon which they are based. Nearly all government-funded models assume that man-made CO2 is the cause of climate change. To the untrained eye, mathematical models that predict future events can look impressive. But when a mathematical model has as its foundation hundreds of assumptions (many of them faulty), simply 'adjusting' one or two of those assumptions to your benefit can result in just about any desired result.

In the British exposé mentioned at the beginning of this essay, a respected American climatologist stated that the above state of affairs is equivalent to having a car in disrepair, and looking into the source of the problem, while ignoring the engine (sun), ignoring the transmission (water vapor/clouds), and focusing on one nut on the right rear wheel (CO2). The science is that bad.

The billions of government dollars spent annually in climate science means that there is a huge cadre of workers who are economically dependent upon global-warming dollars. An entire industry has burgeoned as a result of this junk science -- grant-funded scientists, consultants, ‘environmental journalists’, suppliers and developers of alternative energy sources, and some politicians, all depend, at least in part, on the continued popularity and viability of the theory.

Similarly, those climatologists and physicists who speak out against global warming have a lot to lose. It has become next to impossible for such scientists to get government research proposals funded because of their anti-global-warming public stance. They dare not disagree with the ‘consensus’. They dare not speak out against ‘conventional wisdom’. They are routinely ostracized, vilified, and publicly attacked as being on the payroll of big oil, or big business, despite the fact that few, if any, of them have ever received a dime from either source. One once world-renowned scientist who appears in the British exposé has been the focus of several death threats.


What is an example of the environmentalist scare tactics?

As mentioned above, the international media, upon the urging of leftist politicians, is forever predicting environmental apocalypse – disasters ranging from floods, to worldwide famines, to the extinction of broad areas of wildlife, to the spread of plagues and diseases.

Most of the above scenarios can be dismissed by examining the reasons for the earth’s periodic warming/cooling cycles, and by the realization that the animal and plant kingdoms are forever learning to adapt to gradual changes in their environments.

But let’s look at just the last of these apocalyptic predictions, in order to examine a superb example of disinformation posing as science: the spread of insect-born disease.

Many environmentalists tell us that even a mild rise in the earth’s temperature will cause the spread northward of insect-born diseases that were once contained within tropical climates. The spread of malaria is among their favorite doomsday scenarios.

Mosquitoes are not tropical insects. They thrive in very cold temperatures. They are extremely common in the arctic. The worst malaria outbreak in history occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. During that period, in that coldest of climates, there were a reported thirteen million cases a year, and a total of about 600,000 deaths. Large swarms of malaria-carrying mosquitoes have even been sighted near the Arctic Circle.


If the theory of global warming continues to be accepted as fact, what are the perils?

I believe the perils are three-fold:

Universal acceptance of the theory of global warming will cause a gradual increase in the power that government regulation has over our lives. Industry and accomplishment will be stifled. And the individual freedoms that each citizen enjoys will find themselves increasingly eroded, as the jobs we work at, the homes we build, and the general living of our everyday lives will be more and more forced to abide by stringent government dictates handed down as a result of a left-leaning political allegiance to a bogus science that has the amassing of political power at its core.

Economically, it will mean higher prices for food, housing, medical care, and electricity, as well as eventual massive job losses and drastic reductions in gross domestic product, all the while providing virtually no environmental benefit.

Our children are studying, and becoming unnecessarily alarmed about, a ‘science’ that has no real basis in fact. Our science teachers are being forced, by state dictate, to teach a lie. And, as a result, not only is that lie promulgated, but it is being taught in place of subjects that desperately need teaching if we are to survive as a free nation. The teaching of our roots (American history and Western Civilization), the teaching of math and science and language, all of which foster appreciation for our heritage, and develop the tools with which we need to be equipped to face the many enemies that are breathing down our necks, are finding themselves diluted by the increasing, politically-motivated importance that is being placed on ‘environmental studies’.

The environmentalist movement is the strongest force there is for preventing development in the developing countries. As international public policy places increasing restrictions on industrial emissions of CO2, industrial development in the third world is coming under huge political pressure not to develop.

Environmentalist policies are having a disastrous effect on the world’s poorest people. Environmentalists say that, even if the theory of man-made global warming isn’t entirely true, we should still impose Draconian measures to cut carbon emissions, just in case. This philosophy presumes that imposing said measures would have little negative effect on civilization. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Underdeveloped countries, especially in Africa, are being urged not to explore for, or use, oil or coal, but, instead, to base their ‘development’ on solar and wind power – three times more expensive than more conventional power sources, and incredibly unreliable. The world’s poorest people are gradually being forced to rely on the most expensive, and least reliable, forms of power generation.

When international politics dictate that the third world can only use wind and solar power, what they are really telling them is that they cannot develop or industrialize. Solar panels will never power a steel mill or an automobile factory.


I do not believe that the current cycle of warming that the earth is experiencing has anything at all to do with man-made carbon dioxide. And I believe that those who would have us embrace that belief have far-reaching malevolent intent behind their global campaign.

At the same time, I believe that reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil is a wise course of action, for reasons completely independent of the environmentalists’ leftist propaganda. Conserving natural resources, preventing air and water pollution, and protecting wildlife habitats, are noble and necessary intentions that mankind should always afford a place of importance in its decisions. But to author, and enforce, mandatory state-issued Draconian measures that render progress and freedom fragile at best, on the basis of consensus-based science, amounts to nothing more than economic and societal suicide.

~ joanie

3/11/2007


This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper. – The Hollow Men, T. S. Eliot


So here we sit, in the burgeoning decade of the 21st century. With the collapse of the Evil Empire, thanks to Ronald Reagan, America is well into its second decade as the undisputed heavyweight superpower of the world. We are the military, economic, technological and cultural center of our own universe.

Things are great and getting better than ever as we speak. We’re healthier than ever, rich beyond our wildest dreams of avarice, content (for the most part) with our lot in life, and hardly distracted by a global war for national survival, which, if we did sit up and take notice, would probably bore us to tears before the first commercial break. Where’s the remote, honey?

But at the same time, Americans are becoming increasingly uneasy with all the largesse we have accumulated. We’re a little bit disturbed by unsettling trends at home and abroad.

Campaign Finance Reform has set the precedent for the further erosion of our First Amendment rights. But, not to worry; the president only signed the bill to discredit the Democrats’ baseless charges that he serves the interests of international business. Besides which, the Supreme Court will strike down CFR due to its clearly unconstitutional content. Oh? It didn’t? Well, Dubya has an “R” after his name, so I’m sure everything will be all right.

Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) has reintroduced her latest and greatest version of the Assault Weapons Ban a few weeks ago. I must admit, it didn’t take long for the Democrats to start acting like Democrats again. Less than a month by my reckoning. But then, this only targets card-carrying members of the vast right-wing conspiracy, so why should the overwhelming preponderance of Americans be concerned? Who needs those evil black rifles with detachable high-cap magazines and pistol grips? No way do we need them to go deer hunting. Besides which, Kimberly Guilfoyle has the latest dirt on Anna Nicole tonight on Fox News, and she is really hot! (Kimberly, not Anna Nicole. At least not anymore.) So why should we be bothered with the trivialities of hard news when there’s real, honest-to-god tabloid journalism to sink our teeth into? Give me a retired lingerie model with a terminal case of blinding lip gloss syndrome masquerading as a real journalist and I’m one happy camper. By God, I need to Tivo Fox News 24/7. Hard news and soft porn in one fell swoop. What’s not to like?

One of the NAFTA provisions – you remember, the be-all, end-all, international trade agreement that was going to stem the influence of offshore economic competition and raise all boats – has mandated the opening of a super port at Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, whose imported Chinese goods will be offloaded and transported to the U.S. through the soon-to-be built NAFTA Superhighway. And then there are the Mexican trucks which can now roam American highways with impunity. With the stroke of a pen, the Teamsters and Longshoreman’s unions can be broken, and a new state-of-the-art uber-interstate – built, no doubt by cheap, illegal immigrant labor – can rush these latest trinkets to market before we can say North American Union. You gotta love this one! Ayn Rand must be smiling in her frigid little corner in the ninth circle of hell as we speak.

Then there’s the oft-ignored, much-overlooked Supreme Court case of Kelo vs. New London, CT. Never heard of it, you say? Why am I not surprised? So what if your local city government wants to turn your private property into a Wal-Mart Supercenter? I’m sure they’ll offer you pennies on the dollar for what it’s worth. And that’s probably more than you deserve anyway. We’re conservatives, after all. Wal-Mart is good. We love Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is beautiful, baby! POWER TO WAL-MART!! (O.K. I’m calming down now. I just get carried away when I see little yellow smiley faces advertising everyday low prices.) And as far as private property rights go . . . well, in grand conservative tradition, as long as I got mine, who cares if you got yours. Nothing to see here. Move along.

And who can forget the ever-eternal, crowd-pleasing favorite – the ubiquitous illegal immigration issue? It’s such a comfort to realize we have literally millions of illegal immigrants (excuse me, undocumented migrants) in this country, all grimly determined to do the jobs Americans refuse to do: Mowing the lawns Americans refuse to mow, building the buildings Americans refuse to build, and causing the hit-and-run accidents Americans refuse to cause. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the Chinese manufacturing juggernaut that produces the goods Americans refuse to produce, or the Indian engineers who develop the technological innovations Americans refuse to develop. What a deal, eh? They do all our dirty work, and if they get sick, somebody else has to pay for it. Without them, America would cease to exist.

But . . . unless you’re a real estate agent, or a government worker, there might be some cause for concern. And so a kind of post-modern angst is starting to take shape among Americans between episodes of 24. People, some people at least, are starting to get nervous. A certain element of the populace is starting to realize that the good times may not last forever. And if they come to an abrupt end, they may never come back. Some are even losing sleep over the notion that perhaps our new Indo-Chinese/Latino/Islamic masters may not be as respectful of our constitutional rights as we are accustomed to.

And so, an interesting phenomenon is taking root. It’s taking shape mostly on the Internet, particularly in the blogosphere, and related political websites:

The concept of armed insurrection.

I must say, it may not have teeth, but it is sexy. The notion of individual, armed American patriots, taking to the streets as part of a grass-roots rebellion against a globalist government with no concern for the well-bring of its citizens, brings a tear to the eye and a spring to the step. American citizens leading a rag-tag guerilla force against an armed, industrial, high-tech army conjures up scenes from Red Dawn.

The problem is, it’s a fraud and a lie, and will never happen.

As Americans, we pride ourselves as being individualistic, iconoclastic, and independent. We see ourselves as leaders, innovative and bold, living the good life in a land committed to the principle that each and every individual American citizen has the God-given right to rise as far as talent and ambition will take them.

That’s certainly the ideal. And, as with most ideals, there is more than a grain of truth in it. But the sad fact of the matter is that most of us go along to get along. We follow leaders. We do not initiate leadership. And for a people who saw the radical concept of “All men are created equal” take root and bear much fruit, we are perhaps some of the least revolutionary people on this planet. We need only look to our history to find confirmation of this.

The Shot Heard Round The World

There is no doubt that the concept that “All men are created equal” was a radical departure from conventional socio-political thought in the 18th century. It was a natural consequence of Enlightenment thinking whose philosophy was taking root in Europe and America at the time. Scientific, social and political developments of that time which either improved the quality of life generally, or pointed to the value of individual human beings in particular, were ultimately going to take expression. And they did on the North American continent in the form of the American Revolution.

The problem is, while the concept was revolutionary – that the government served the citizenry, not the other way around – support for the cause by which these principles were put into effect was not. What began with a handful Massachusetts militia at Concord Bridge and the shot heard round the world later developed into the Continental Army. However, grass roots support, both for the army and the cause it represented, was mixed at best.

George Washington took command of a collection of rag-tag colonial militias in Boston in the summer of 1775. By the end of the year, he faced a mass exodus of “soldiers” whose enlistments had expired and promptly proceeded to go home. To be sure, a good many remained, and the army was infused with fresh volunteers in the early part of 1776. But the revolving door at the time, which the army’s leadership could do nothing to mitigate, suggests something less than unilateral support for the cause.

Certainly there were committed true believers. Nathaniel Greene, Henry Knox, and those who orchestrated the transport of heavy cannon through freezing weather from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Dorchester Heights in Boston, suggest the value of passionate patriots, and offer dramatic examples of what they were capable of under the harsh conditions of the time.

But, the city of Boston contained patriotic and loyalist elements side by side. When the British evacuated the harbor, they took a great many loyalist residents with them.

New York City was a loyalist stronghold. When Admiral Lord Howe, along with Generals Henry Clinton, Lord Cornwallis and the British army landed on Long Island and Staten Island in the spring of 1776, they were welcomed with open arms by the local citizenry. When the Continental Army abandoned the city and retreated into New Jersey, New York sat out the war as a loyalist stronghold, and none of the remaining citizens there considered themselves any the less for it.

The victories at Trenton, Saratoga, Cowpens and ultimately the forced march through the Carolina woods resulting in the decisive blow at Yorktown to force an end to the conflict, were the mark of a committed, skilled fighting force. And such a force could not have endured the long winter at Valley Forge, the hardships of a long war, and the setbacks that occurred between the early days of the Declaration of Independence, and that long road to victory that followed without a level of support from the civilian population. There was grass roots support. There had to be. It was sufficient. But it was not unilateral.

An interesting side note: The American Revolution bore little resemblance to its French cousin a few years later. America saw nothing of the massive societal upheaval that occurred in France. There was no Reign of Terror. An American Robespierre never appeared. There was no guillotine. No Committee of Public Safety ever emerged. In France, such titles as “Madam,” Mademoiselle,” and Monsieur,” were abolished in favor of the title of “Citizen” – bearing a strange similarity to the ominously similar designation of “Comrade” which would emerge a century and a quarter later in Russia. This did not happen in America.

In France, an entire social order was swept away, the likes of which would not be seen again in Europe until the First World War. America experienced what amounted to a continuation of life as it was, only without the constraints of a mother country three thousand miles removed from the nation. The U.S. Constitution owed its roots to English common law. And while there were frequent incidents of persecution of loyalists following the war of independence, such incidents were not an instrument of national policy. Many loyalists set sail for England. Most people simply embraced the new order and went back to work.

This is not to denigrate the significance of the American Revolution. Quite the contrary. It was a significant, dramatic sea change in how human beings viewed themselves. But the process by which this came to pass was hardly indicative of a populist insurrection. It was top heavy, developed and led by the leadership of the time, many of whom were highly influenced by contemporary Enlightenment thinkers. It had enough popular support to succeed. But only just.

A House Divided

If there was ever an exception that proved the rule, it was the Civil War, particularly in the example of the Confederate Army. The soldiers of the Confederacy stand out in many ways, not the least of which was theirs was truly a lost cause that came oh so close to success. There are historians who argue that the entire weight and fury of industrialized warfare the North had at its disposal was never fully brought to bear against the South. And if there had been a lot more Southern victories, the massive hammer blow of Northern military power would have been fully unleashed.

The debate rages. As it turned out, a much smaller fighting force battled a much larger one to a standstill for four years, and only succumbed when the wherewithal to wage war, not to mention the Southern infrastructure to support it, was destroyed. Soldiers of the Confederacy knew disease, famine, death and defeat the likes of which few Americans could conceive, and fewer still have experienced. But they maintained their cohesion as a viable fighting force until they literally ran out of the resources to continue.

Most Confederate soldiers were not slave owners. Ownership of twenty slaves and/or $300 earned an instant deferment. Hence the phrase “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.” So the Confederate soldier had little stake in defending “The Peculiar Institution” as it was called. What he did have was a tremendous sense of community. As poorly-educated as many of them were, they understood the concept of a country of their own, and knew full well its inherent value.

What other explanation can be offered for the willingness of Pickett’s brigade to charge the entrenched Union positions on the third day at Gettysburg? These men were combat veterans, many of them having served at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg a few months before. They understood the consequences of a frontal assault on fortified, well-defended positions.

Yet they attacked. And they failed. They were cut down by the thousands. Why? For Virginia. For Tennessee. For Georgia. For their country. Robert E. Lee himself declined command of the Union armies in 1861 responding to Lincoln that he simply could not draw his sword against his country (Virginia). Such was their devotion to their homes, their country, their way of life.

As the war dragged on, Atlanta was captured and burned. The Georgia countryside was devastated by Sherman’s march to the sea. South Carolina was ravaged when Sherman turned north from Savannah. And Lee lost men and materiel he could not replace at the battle sites of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. By the end of the summer of 1864, the trench line at Petersburg more closely resembled the western front of the First World War than the rolling plains of Manassas four years earlier (with ominous implications for future conflicts).

The South was starving. The army was in rags. And yet they fought on. It was, in my never-to-be-humble-opinion, the only instance in the history of this nation that a small, beaten down force could very well have engaged in a prolonged guerilla war.

Indeed, Jefferson Davis was calling for it as the spring of 1865 approached. Jay Winik’s book, April 1865 gives an excellent, concise account of the forces at work in the Confederacy at the time. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse and Joseph E. Johnson, being run to ground by Sherman in the North Carolina countryside would not support an insurgency, although Johnston was waffling at the time. And so the war ended.

Could the south have won a 19th century version of asymmetric warfare? It’s a tantalizing question. Certainly, the political and social landscape would have been much different as a result, which begs a more significant question. What would winning have meant? Historians can debate this question as they like. The point of this commentary is that if there ever was a group of armed men capable of sustaining an ongoing guerilla conflict, it was the veterans of the defeated Confederate army. How successful they would have been, and what variety of social change they would have affected, remains to be seen.

But ultimately, it didn’t happen. For all the dedication, courage, élan and leadership the South brought to the battlefield, the Southern armies were defeated and the Confederacy destroyed. And the implications of that salient fact were to have huge consequences as the country moved into the 20th century.

Buddy Can You Spare A Dime

Franklin Roosevelt took office as President of the United States in March 1933 following what is considered by many as the rock bottom year of the Great Depression. During the Hoover administration, the stock market crashed, the Smoot-Hawley tariffs knocked over European economies like a row of tenpins, spreading the economic misery abroad, there were some 10 to 12 million Americans then considered to be permanently displaced, and as FDR took the oath of office, banks were failing by the thousands.

Roosevelt lamented in his private papers that if he didn’t do something, and do it with dispatch, he feared a communist uprising would overthrow the democratic form of government in favor of the Soviet system.

He need not have worried. With the exception of the Bonus Marchers in the summer of 1932, there was precious little in the way of overt discontent. President Herbert Hoover dealt with disaffected WWI veterans that summer by turning the hoses on the tent city at Anacostia Flats. And if Army Chief of Staff Douglas Macarthur had had his way, he would have turned the machine guns on them. The tent city was demolished and the Bonus Army dispersed. There was no public outcry

The New Deal did little to mitigate the circumstances, although it had a tangible psychological effect on the electorate. Finally, somebody was doing something, or so it appeared. It did not matter that Herbert Hoover was much more involved in active attempts to spur economic activity during his tenure in office. Neither did it matter that FDR’s radical redefinition of government’s role in American society had precious little effect on the totality of the economic collapse. FDR was the great communicator of his time. And Hoover was no FDR.

Still, there was no grass roots revolt. Americans endured their misery with a combination of quiet dignity and stony silence. Those who suffered through those years did so with a tangible sense of resignation. A sense of despair permeated the landscape.

The War Between the States ended with a committed fighting force which, although thoroughly defeated in a conventional war, was willing and able by all accounts to continue the fight as a guerilla force for years to come. For all the devastation to the infrastructure, there was arguably more than enough support from the civilian population to sustain such a revolt, whatever the outcome. The southern military leadership would not endorse such a conflict and so the war ended.

So what happened between the end of the Civil War and the Great Depression?

Well, for one thing, farms produced a surplus, and did so in a significant way. That oft-overlooked fact of history takes on a significance that cannot be overestimated. Without it, no large urban areas would have developed; neither would the factories that marked the Industrial Revolution in late 19th century America.

The effect this had on the American way of life was no less dramatic than its transformation of American commerce. Men who had previously worked the land – often with their wives and children by their sides – now migrated to the cities to take their place on the assembly line. Where previously they worked at home, they now labored in an environment at once harsh and isolated. And it quickly became abundantly clear that repetitive menial tasks performed on an assembly line where the workers were as disposable as the spare parts they were assembling only served to generate a sense of alienation and despair.

The Homestead strike against the Carnegie steel mills of western Pennsylvania did little to dispel this condition. Neither did the Pullman strike against the railroad a few years later. Labor leaders were quick to recognize the handwriting on the wall. As committed a labor advocate as Samuel Gompers was among the first to cut a deal with industrialists. And Eugene V. Debs, the Marxist activist whose vision of a socialist utopia emerging out of the oppression of the industrial workplace never materialized, went to his grave with a fundamentally flawed perception of the American character.

By the 1930s, this blueprint for the American landscape was firmly entrenched. Americans were well conditioned to selling their souls for a dry room, a full belly and a few dollars. If there was a revolutionary spirit which endured through and beyond the Civil War, it was long gone by the 1930s. If the concept that one man could make a difference endured through the mid-19th century, the factories of the Industrial Revolution put an end to it, and with it, any revolutionary spirit which may have lingered to that point.

For all the efforts of the New Deal, the Depression ended when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. And while Americans were unwilling to rebel against their own government during the 1930s, they were more than willing to take up arms against a global threat to their country in the 1940s. And we can thank God they knew the difference between the two.

The Whole World Is Watching

Can any group of Americans match the baby boomers for sheer narcissism and self-absorption? We’d be hard pressed to find one. And I speak with authority, considering I’m a card-carrying member of the faithful in good standing.

At no time in American history has a group been raised up during a period of such largesse, comfort, stability and wealth as the baby boom generation. As time passes, we are beginning to see how this condition – so long taken as an article of faith among boomers – was more the exception than the rule. If privation, struggle and want are ultimately going to be the lot of the boom generation, they will endure it in their old-age in ways they never did during their youth.

Raised in the golden sunlight of prosperity, imbued with a gilt-edged purview that they were entitled not only to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but wealth, comfort and self-actualization, the inevitable collision between the boomers and their WWII fathers came in the 1960s, the catalyst, Vietnam.

What began with the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, California and a general protest against the stifling of free expression on the Berkeley campus, quickly morphed into more specific protests at the University of Wisconsin against corporate involvement in the Vietnam War. From there, it was a short leap to outright rebellion against the war itself.

Vietnam was the flashpoint for the 60s student radicals in much the same way as slavery was to the abolitionists one hundred years before. Enraged student radicals rebelled against everything from free speech to the draft to women’s rights. And all the while, they gave no thought to the harsh reality of life simply because their insular upbringing (for the most part) gave them no appreciation for its difficulty.

Over and above their opposition to the war – which North Vietnamese officials have since cited as giving clear aid and comfort to their cause – their intent was to re-engineer the cultural landscape. All this came into sharp focus during the hinge year of 1968 in which the country experienced more history than it could absorb. For all the sound and fury, the results signified little more than a hiccup in the American experience.

Let’s look at a thumbnail sketch of some of the events of that year:

  • The Tet offensive, while a military disaster for the NVA and Viet Cong, totally discredited Lyndon Johnson’s “light at the end of the tunnel” mindset.
  • Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in April of that year, further intensifying an already strained racial landscape.
  • Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles two months later, increasing the alienation of the already enraged radical anti-war student movement.
  • Radical campus activists turned the streets of Chicago into nothing less than a war zone during the Democratic convention in August.

But for all the convulsions, Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy, the poster child for the anti-war activists in the wake of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, was ultimately defeated in his quest for the Democratic nomination. Hubert Humphrey – Lyndon Johnson’s vice-president and the one Democratic candidate most closely identified with LBJ’s war policies – secured the nomination. And in the end, Richard Nixon was elected president in a close fall election.

So for all the disruptions at the hands of the war protestors, very little changed in the way of national policy. Nixon began a gradual withdrawal from Vietnam, not because of the passion of the war protestors, but because in a post-Tet environment, any mandate of support for the war in grass roots America was gone. The silent majority of that time had spoken, and the word was “Get out. We’re fed up with this.” But for all the upheavals, there was no armed revolution in the streets.

During the next four years, Nixon mandated the 18-year-old vote. During the lead-up to the 1972 elections, many on the radical left anticipated a sea change in voter demographics. Here was the seminal moment when the youth vote would sweep the old guard from power and usher in the brave new world of liberal egalitarianism. Except young voters emulated their older cousins. They avoided the polls by the thousands and those who did show up, vote overwhelmingly for Richard Nixon.

But in a larger sense, the boomer radicals were more successful than they could appreciate as 1968 drew to a close. The postwar generation tore down much of what their WWII fathers had built. The home, the workplace, the family and the church all underwent significant transformations. Of course, they offered nothing in the way of better ideas with which to replace these institutions, but then, narcissism does have its limitations, short-sightedness chief among them.

Divorce rates skyrocketed as baby boomers moved into adulthood. Where the concept of divorce was infrequent and largely unthinkable but one generation removed, it now became commonplace and a widely accepted practice as the former student activists sought to throw off the shackles of marriage in pursuit of their self-actualization.

The unwritten contract between employers and workers that what was good for one was good for the other shattered in the brave new world of the postmodern world. Business owners soon came to offer nothing to their workforce but an ever-diminishing paycheck, and workers developed a sense of entitlement and currently have no sense of obligation for a job well done.

One of the strongest pillars upon which American culture was built – the Christian faith – has been attacked, eroded, watered down and secularized to the point that the Bible means anything anyone thinks it means, if it is taught at all. Once traditional denominations have embraced gay marriage, gay and lesbian priests, radical political activism and liberation theology as a means to further erode the American identity.

Richard Nixon abolished the draft at the stroke of a pen. It was a political masterstroke at the time. By doing so, Nixon immediately took the teeth out of radical anti-war activists, suggesting that the idealism of student protestors was rooted more in the practicality of saving their own skin rather than some ethical crusade to seize the moral high ground and usher in ideological world peace.

The long-term consequences are just now being felt. Every American president since that time has never failed to see the value in Nixon’s action. With an all-volunteer fighting force, there will be no grass-roots opposition to any regional conflicts that arise in the future. And so it has been. What protests that occur on university campuses pale in comparison to the explosion of the 60s. Why? Because college students no longer live under the cloud of compulsory military service, and as such, they don’t care.

But, the nation is working on its second generation of American men who have never seen the inside of a military base. They have never served their country. They have no sense of what that means, or that their way of life is something precious, valuable, worthy of being defended, and bought and paid for by the blood of those who preceded them. Freedom isn’t free. And every generation up to and including the men and women of WWII knew this hard fact of life, not to mention its deadly consequences. Sadly, the current generation – particularly the men – has little comprehension, much less appreciation for this simple fact.

As a consequence we see nothing of a country united and galvanized to defend itself against global Islamic terror. A handful of citizens – volunteers all to be sure – are engaged and committed to the country’s defense. But this is a far cry from the citizen soldier en masse, and more significantly, that every individual American citizen will be called upon to serve their country in some way when it is threatened.

Start The Revolution Without Me

So, with apologies to Bud Yorkin, Lawrence J. Cohen and Fred Freeman, forgive me if I just don’t buy it. Start the revolution without me. The idea of American civilians taking to the streets in open revolution is something I don’t expect to see. Such an insurgency would require organization, commitment, courage and above all leadership. And I just don’t see it. At least not enough of it. It would require outrage on an unprecedented scale that would ignite a flashpoint. And I don’t see that either.

Perhaps Thomas Paine said it best in his essay The American Crisis. We all know the famous few lines that resonate down through the centuries – “These are the times that try men’s souls. . .” etc., etc. But it was the next few sentiments that I believe are appropriate for this commentary:

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.” – Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

Strange indeed. And yet we’ve come to an age where Americans indeed do not rate freedom highly. At best, we take it for granted. At worst, we don’t give it any consideration at all. Keep our bellies full, a roof over our heads, and a steady diet of distractions, and we’ll cut a deal with anyone.

Americans have precious little idea of what an insurgency would mean. Veterans of Vietnam perhaps have as good an insight into its costs, albeit from the other side of the rifle sights. It means fear, hunger, heat, cold, privation, failure and above all, death and suffering in numbers that often defy comprehension. And above all, it would take total, complete, absolute commitment and the certainty that the cause is not only just, but worth sacrificing everything for. And America just doesn’t have that capacity anymore.

Our leadership is a reflection of who we are. In this, the second term of our second baby boomer president, the policies of George W. Bush reflect the values of the electorate that put him in office.

We have a global war for survival that the vast majority of citizens pay little heed to. Why? Because it costs them nothing beyond a few extra dollars at the gas pump.

Our southern border, or lack thereof, makes a mockery of the war on terror. And the invasion of the country continues unabated because people don’t care. Indeed, Americans are just thrilled to have their toilets cleaned and their lawns mowed on the cheap, and if the workers who do the dirty work get sick, somebody else has to pay for it.

If America makes nothing of value, well so what? Our gadgets are cheaper than ever, and who needs those dirty manufacturing jobs when the Chinese do it so much cheaper? We can be about the more meaningful pursuits of selling real estate, insurance, or if we’re truly blessed, trying out for American Idol.

Having trouble with your PC? No problem. Dell’s crack hardware support team from Bangalore, India will be happy to assist you. And if the military needs any smart weapons, I’m sure the Chinese will be happy to provide them with an uninterrupted supply.

During my college days, a very wise history professor told me not to put too much faith in historical analogies. He took exception to the idea that history repeats itself. Well, history may not, but human nature does. Never underestimate the power of sloth, greed and complacency. There’s a reason why they are listed among the seven deadly sins. And that theme resonates throughout the history of humanity. Generations of committed patriots can take centuries to build a monument to human freedom, for all its flaws. It can take but a few short years for it all to be swept away.

To bring this latest exercise in verbosity to a conclusion, I am reminded of a scene from Red Dawn. I know. That film has got to be something of a pop culture icon for conservatives of all stripes. But for all the bad acting, and sometimes hokie dialogue, there are a number of scenes that stand out, one in particular:

The American insurgent leader is faced with having to execute a Soviet invader taken prisoner, not to mention one of his own who sold the group out. (Note to the weak of stomach: an insurgency has no room for the taking of prisoners, nor the capacity for mercy to traitors. But I digress.) He is challenged by his own brother who offers the classic liberal observation as his brother prepares to execute the condemned:

“What makes us different from them?” This conveniently ignores the hard fact of life that all causes are not created equal and all killing is not on the same moral plane.

His brother is contorted with anguish, because, believe it or not, executing unarmed prisoners is not something for the weak-hearted, not to mention that it erodes the humanity of the executioner as well. For all the misery of the task ahead, he offers a simple and passionate reply:

“Because We Live Here!!”

And that is perhaps the final lament that would doom a real-world revolution to defeat. Americans don’t care about America. Our homes mean nothing to us. At least, not to the point that we are willing to sacrifice our creature comforts to preserve who we are. Or were.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. . .
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

– The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats


Upon first glance of The Second Coming – in its entirety, not merely this excerpt – one gets the impression Yeats may have seen too much combat in the trenches of the western front during the First World War. Or maybe, just maybe, Yeats was more farsighted than anyone dared imagine. Perhaps he had the ability to see the inevitable collapse of civilizations however vibrant and enlightened, because men are weak, and vigilance is a quality that cannot be sustained.

One thing is certain: The beast he wrote of is awake. That beast is hungry. And that beast is going to be fed.

God help us all.

by Euro-American Scum
(contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

3/03/2007

On Courage and Humility ...


I work as an elected official in my township. Right now I am sitting in my office in the municipal building preparing to go home after a brief morning’s work.

This morning I met with an elderly man who grew up in Boston, moved to Brooklyn, where he spent most of his adult life, and then moved out here to rural Pennsylvania when he retired about twenty years ago.

Tony comes in to see me generally once a year, and we usually wind up talking for a half hour or so … and then he leaves my office until the next late winter/early spring rolls around.

I’ve always considered Tony to be an intelligent, pleasant older man, who is somewhat lonely after having lost his wife quite a few years ago. And I’ve always enjoyed our yearly conversations, focusing on somewhat superficial subjects, from the difference between city and country life to the general state of the world.

Today when Tony came into my office I couldn’t help but notice that his Parkinson’s disease has progressed significantly since his visit of last March, his gait is more deliberate and slow, the wrinkles on his face are much more pronounced, there’s a lot more gravel in his voice, and I have to speak much louder in order for him to hear me. Tony will be eighty-four next month.

As he sat down in the chair by my desk, he took the cap off his head and placed it on the nearby counter. When he did so, my eye caught the inscription on the face of it: ‘Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb-Mar 1945’. I asked, pointing to the cap, ‘Were you there?’

It turns out that Tony was indeed there. And, in the ten or twelve years that the two of us have been talking about the weather, he had never thought it appropriate to tell me that.

It seems that Tony’s nephew gave him the cap this past Christmas. At first he was hesitant to wear it, feeling that being a part of that invasion is something one doesn’t go around advertising. It was a duty thing, not a pat-on-the-back thing.

I asked him whether many people comment on the cap, and he said that just earlier this week he was in a local diner picking up pastries for his grandchildren, as he does every Sunday morning, when a man, who was standing at the counter to pay for his breakfast, saw the cap and asked whether Tony had actually been a part of the invasion. When Tony responded in the affirmative, the man insisted on paying for Tony’s pastries. (Tony told me, with a sheepish grin, that, had he known that, he would have bought a dozen more. :)

It seems that Tony’s Marine unit (the 5th Marine Division) left Hawaii in late November of ‘44, rendezvoused with two other Marine divisions (the 3rd and 4th) on Ulithi, and landed on Iwo Jima on February 19th. Tony’s division, and the other two, measured twenty thousand strong, and suffered fifty percent casualties in the invasion. He was there until March 16th, at which time the island was still not secure, but the Army came in and took over operations.

At that point, Tony’s division was sent on to Waikiki for a week’s leave. In August, he served six month’s occupation duty in Nagasaki after the dropping of the bomb and the Japanese surrender, and the following March he was discharged.

I asked him what memory is most striking of his Iwo Jima experience, and he said, humbly and apologetically, that he cannot bring himself to talk about many of the specifics, but, after appearing to attempt to extract something from the long-ignored corners of his mind so as to satisfy my curiosity, he said that he wanted me to know that the island had no real buildings on it, other than those that were part of the air strip. There were no surface installations, simply an elaborate labyrinth of miles and miles of underground caves and tunnels and enormous subterranean chambers, so ferreting out the enemy was much more difficult than it would have been if they had not been thus hidden and fortified.

As he was getting ready to leave, I stood and shook Tony’s hand and thanked him for what he did for me those sixty years ago. At which point, without apparent stimulus from any source other than the fact that we were saying good bye and that I was genuinely grateful for his courage and sense of duty, both of us simultaneously began to well up with tears. Tony sat back down, clearly embarrassed by his small display of emotion, and the two of us sat here in complete silence for a minute or two, with my hand on top of his. Words didn’t seem appropriate. Then, just as spontaneously as the tears came, we both knew that it was time to get on with our day. We shook hands again, promised to talk again next year, and he walked slowly out the door.

3/01/2007

A Glimpse into America's Future


Thought for the day:

Agnishka, the au pair who cares for two of my young piano students, is a twenty-seven-year-old Polish gal who holds a magister title (the equivalent of a masters degree) in Economics from Warsaw University, and who is in America working as a nanny, in the hopes of one day being able to remain in America and become a citizen.

Her degree in economics was more or less ‘chosen’ for her by her family and the Polish government because of the way the education system works there. Her passion, instead, is to become a registered nurse.

She cares for the boys during the day and spends her evenings in classes at a local community college, where she is taking courses in public speaking and creative writing, both of which she decided to take in order to perfect her mastery of the English language – although, speaking to her, you would never suspect that English mastery poses a problem. She has a distinct Polish accent, but her use of the English language is superior to that of many native-born Americans.

In short, this is a lovely, extremely intelligent, hard-working young woman seeking to educate herself in order to establish a career in a field for which there is a crying need here in America. She loves America, is embracing our culture, and desperately wants to make a life for herself here.

I asked her tonight whether she will be staying in our community, and with her current American family, when this year runs out. Her response: ‘I have applied for a student visa, but have been told that, because of current conditions, it is uncertain that I will be granted one – and, if I am not, I must go back to Poland.’

It seems to me that Agnishka must reconsider her priorities. To hell with education ... responsibility ... striving for excellence ... work ethic ... assimilating … respecting America ... playing by the rules. A pox on those antiquities!

I suggest that she abandon her dream of wanting to provide legal and caring medical/health care to hurting Americans. The key to her success is to be a part of the growing network of new age entrepreneurs intent on providing illegal drugs to American addicts, by sneaking them into America from the south. And if she can also manage to obtain a superficial flesh wound in the process, and then testify against a Border Patrol agent, citizenship, and immediate entitlement status, will be automatic.

(Gotta remember to tell her that next week.)