Saturday, May 28, 2005

Four Enemies for the Price of One

In the spring of 1971 I found myself at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. I was there for the one week of my military carrier, as the Commander of the NJROT unit from Box Elder High School. My senior year had been an exciting time for me. My dreams of military glory seemed to all be coming true – and now I had a week of training, leading, and fantasizing about a future were I would command "my" ships and save the world from Communism. It had been a year of turmoil as well. That Fall someone had thrown a gallon cider jug full of gasoline through the window of our ROTC building and burned it down. Then there was the May Lie massacre to deal with. For a supporter of the war in Viet Nam, especially one with aspirations of military glory, the humiliation Cowley and crew had brought on our nation was heart breaking. It was also dangerous. There were many in the “pro war” wing of American Politics who supported these murders – but my instructors in our NJROTC program had taught us the truth. At the end of the week in at the Training Center I found myself in an interview with the Base Commander and two other officers. I had been nominated as the outstanding cadet. The last question of the interview was, “What do you think about what happened at May Lie?” I knew the answer. “We are fighting Communism in Vietnam because Communists mass murder defenseless people to force their will upon the world; it is unjust to do the thing we have gone to stop." Achilles would agree! So did the review board. I was awarded the Top Cadet banner that week. In the months and years that followed, John Kerry and others enemies of the United States, used the atrocities at May Lie to give credibility to their fabrications against the entire US led efforts to maintain the freedom of South East Asia. In the end the credibility Cowley gave to Kerry and his ilk legitimized the disaster that was America's retreat from Vietnam.

In America’s “Global War on Terror” and particularly the battle being waged in Iraq, I see the defenders of the Right facing AT LEAST FOUR ENEMIES:

Enemy One: The Terrorists. We must never forget that we are fighting a determined enemy who is bent on our destruction and the total subjugation of humanity to its beliefs. Bin Laden and his cronies have stated their objectives, made their claims, and mapped out their plan of attack. Their “victory” leads directly over the lives and rights of the American people; their dream of power consumes the world. The naive fantasy held by the appeasers and pacifists – that, to use Gollum’s words from the Lord of the Ring, “We be nice to them if they be nice to us,” was and is a lie!

Enemy Two: Those in the American military and its “defense” infrastructure, (yes, our own soldiers and spies), who – like Lt. Cowley – commit atrocities which seem to validate the accusations of Bin Laden, Amnesty International, the ACLU, and News Week. If our own warriors commit the atrocities we are determined to prevent, the justice of our cause can be questioned by those who want that cause to fail. Those "sex perverts" that took pornography photos of defenseless, though criminal, detainees at Abu Grab are partially responsible for the death and suffering that continues in Iraq and the rest of the world. They have given a weapon into the hands of Islamic Terror as surly as those who supply the terrorists with explosives, guns, and bullets.

Enemy Three: The Pacifist and Appeasers. Those who, defended by the “Blanket of Freedom” our heroes provide, turn their hate to the propagation of lies and half truths that tear down and demoralize our efforts at self defense. The truth, including the painful revelations about “Enemy Two” above, should be presented; but to present the traitors at Abu Grab as if they were representative of America or its military is to carry water for Enemy One.

Enemy Four: The ignorant and uninformed. Those in America who are more interested in the “American Idol” TV show than in the Ideal of America. To be driven to and fro by the deceits and half truths of Enemy Three, the people of America must be so ill informed and so lacking in understanding of the nature of this conflict that they can be cowed by Enemy One, shamed by Enemy Two, and misled by Enemy Three. When the American people make the effort to know the truth, they will unite in the just defense of freedom and the rights of all men. If there is dangerous weakness in ignorance; there is power in knowledge of truth.

I have not attempted a complete catalog of examples or justifications for the claims I have made above. I invite all to discussion and discovery. History is full of examples of all the enemies above, of their defeat by great and just forces, and of their triumph over equally just causes that could not marshal the strength to defy them. May our nation be the former and not the latter.

Summer is upon us. In two weeks I will be leaving computer terminals and the internet links behind for over two months. I will also be away for newspapers, radios, and televisions. The world will go on without me, but I like to think that I will be doing my part to make it better. I am grateful that such places as the one to which I am going can still be found. I am humbled by the fact that for nine weeks I will be blessed to spend 24/7 in a place of peace and bliss; Heaven with challenges. My thoughts and prayers will always be with those who defend our precious peace and freedom. As I enjoy the privileges that my heroes purchase at such great cost, I will do my best to give to those I serve the joy that America offers to the world. See you in September!

As always,


Monday, May 09, 2005

School Spirit and World War Three

After going for over a year with out a victory in football, the team from Layton High won a game. It was before school starts, Friday night, a non-league one, when nobody was watching, but it was still a win. The first week of school went by with the regularity of ritual which makes watching it the definition of deja vu. At the opening assembly, the Lancer rose from the mist. It is one of the sweetest bits of luck that the mascot of the school at which I teach is the Roman Lancer. So year after year, with tears of pride starting in my eyes and heart rushing with enthusiasm, I watch the breastplate clad and helmet masked hero rise from the fog covered stage; search out his lance and shield; and mount the steps between the columns to raise his arms in triumph. The strobe light pulses, the music soars, and the crowd roars. On this particular fall morning as we sat, still tingling with “school spirit”, the captain of the football team stepped to the podium. Perhaps I saw him as beautiful because of the way I was feeling at the moment. Maybe it was the result of long weeks of working out under the hot summer sun, but as he stood there with his shaggy mane, shirt stretched tight by muscles, he was beautiful. But more that the way he looked it was the purity of his humility that made a sob rise in my throat. He thanked everyone for their support, and then with quiet dignity he made a promise. “I can’t promise you we will win tonight,’ he said, “but I promise we will do our best.” I thought the tiles would peel off the sealing, torn free by the sonic blast of cheers and applause. I had never felt more pride in being a Lancer. Our team won the game that night. The stands were filled, I was even there, or at least playing with my children on the lawn beside the bleachers. That next week we had a pep rally, again! We cheered and stomped in the gym; and our school’s new, young coach, called “Buns” by the girls in his classes, spoke of the return of the glory days to Layton football. Sure enough, that Friday night brought another stunning Lancer victory. The newspaper referred to us as “that upstart suburban school.” It was good to be alive! And that week; another pep rally. This one much more elaborate – no doubt Buns was earning his keep! This time we met in the auditorium and once more the strobe lights pulsed, the music blasted. But what a wail of anger, boos, and hisses, filled the air as the “Weber Warrior”, complete with red cape and large W painted in red on his bare chest rose from the mist and mounted the “marble” steps. He stood between the papier-mâché columns and shook his sword at us. The wails of anger and dismay turned to a defining shout of joy as a swirl of fog revealed “The Lancer”, muscles bulging beneath cape and plate, rose to defend our honor. Spear raised and shield advanced he marched up the stairs. The Warrior crumbled beneath the Lancer’s advance and, accompanied by an explosive burst of joy and lust, he walked across the Warrior’s prostrate body to turn and lift his arms in weapon brandishing triumph!!!! The shouts of Kill, Kill were straight from Lord of the Flies. Now as our sun-tinted and muscle covered quarterback stood to speak, there was no hint of humility in his delivery. He trumpeted past victories, and punctuated by wild acclamation, described the destruction our superior training and “Lancer Pride” would reek on Weber that night. It was a bit much. I looked about; mine were not the only eyes nervously downcast. But the gods seemed to overlook our hubris. That night the Warriors were trampled; Buns’ head grew bigger than his backside. Monday morning’s announcements brought a play by play description of “our” victory. At the end of the narrative the voice panting over the intercom intoned, “We’re Layton Football, and we’re back.” The gods rolled their eyes and smiled, and so did I. That week’s pep-rally was something I had never seen at Layton. We all assembled on the football field, packing the “home side” bleachers. The dancing girls danced, the cheer leaders exhorted us to kill the Darts, and the band played on! At last Buns rose to speak to us. Did we really display the awe he deserved? There was no young quarterback with stretched tan skin and a sun streaked bush of hair; this speech could not be trusted to a boy. The coach himself took the mike. Buns told us how much we hated Davis High, how all our dreams of greatness had been trampled by their unworthy deceptions of football glory. He told us how the people who moved to Mutton Hollow just to call their children Darts would soon regret their high priced houses; how truth and justice would at last prevail, revealed to the universe by another stunning Lancer Victory. “And,” he cried, “Tonight, when we have broken their dreams and crushed their team, we invite you all to come down onto their football field and dance our victory dance, and RUIN THEIR HOMECOMING!!!! If the sky could have cracked, it might have. The cheers were that loud. I was at the game that night. My family squeezed into Davis High’s visitor bleachers, among the masses and amid the splashes of brown and gold. By halftime, there was no joy “in Mudville”; not, at least, on the Lancer side of town. The score was 20+ to two, when the Davis Marching band took the field. Every kid in Kaysville must have been in that band; all but the football team. Back and forth and round and round they marched. The west side bleachers rose to their feet as the Darts sang their school song and then the band member executed brown and yellow patterns on the field. A young man began a celebratory lap around the green grass field. He held high a long silken banner, brown and yellow, and it streamed behind him in the wind of his speed. It sparkled in the bright lights of the football field. As he passed the Layton bench there was a flash of blue and blue. The team was not on the field, so it must have been some pep person, a representative in student government, or a Buns toddy that tackled the color bearer and brought him down. Police and sheriff’s deputies rushed the field, every vice principal in Utah converged on the spot, and out of nowhere Mini Cam Five from KSL TV appeared to record it all for the evening news. I can’t remember the final score. It didn’t matter; no Lancers danced that night. The next Monday, the vice principal came to visit me. Rather an honor, as I now look back. He was a good friend; his children had worked for me at camp. He had tears in his eyes as he talked to me. “How,” he asked, “how could anyone embarrass our school like that? On state wide TV?” I replied, “Have you been to our own pep rallies?” To me the embarrassment was not the issue. Even worse than this specific “tackle on the field” was the week after week bitterness and dislike that is routinely spawned between schools and communities in the name of school spirit. I am particularly saddened by the fights that go on after games. Here students who have put no effort into developing skills to make the school and themselves “proud” gather, to pick fights and bully and beat up on kids, always weaker and smaller than themselves; behaving shamefully to redeem their “honor”. I was not, am not, innocent, when debate season came I couldn’t help making my dig – at the football team at least. Hoping Buns was listening, I ended each Monday morning announcements of the Debate Team’s successes of the weekend with the line, “We’re Layton Debate, and we never left!!!!”

Let me pose some questions about School Spirit:

1. What role does competition play in developing feelings of love and support for your school? (Think country)

2. Can we have competition without competitors? (Think victories without enemies)

3. How does it improve us to tear down our advisories? (Think France or Russia or China)

4. Are there other ways to promote excellence and school spirit than in picking fights? (Think!!!)

5. What if the kids that attend “Davis” attended our school? How would we feel about them? (What if we lived in Mexico?)

A point of interest might be to note that Layton’s number one rival is North Ridge High – when I started teaching at Layton half the kids at Layton lived in the part of town that would someday attend North Ridge.

Now let’s turn our attention to the hate and rivalry that places the world in daily danger. Some will argue that Nationalism came into existence at the end of the Napoleonic era, others that its seeds were sown during the Hundred Years War. I tend to believe that Abraham was a nationalist; that nationalism drove the Roman Empire; that every Greek City State throbbed with nationalism. Be that as it may; let’s consider Nationalism. My thesis is that there are TWO VIEWS OF NATIONALISM. I will present them in outline form, hoping our readers will fill in all the blanks in dialogue.

I. Nationalism based on Emotional, Romantic, and Relativist Ideas such as:

A. Factors:
1. Religion
2. Race
3. Ethnicity
4. Mythology

B. Examples:
1. Balkanization
2. European History since the fall of Rome
3. Genocide/Ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
4. France
5. Collapse of the USSR
6. Chechzen separatism
7. Pakistan vs. India since independence
8. Anti- Semitism
9. Palestinian Terrorism
10. Zionism

C. Negative effects on many aspects of history:
1. Crusades
2. Jihads
3. Inquisition/Reconquista
4. Imperialism
5. African Slavery
6. Extermination of the American Indians
7. The failure of the British Empire
8. The disintegration of the USSR
9. Genocide in Tibet

II. Nationalism based on Reasonable, Classic, Enlightenment, and Absolutist Ideas:

A. Factors:
1. Cicero’s ideas that gods and men are all one commonwealth
2. Equality before the law (civil rights) – freedom of religion, speech, assembly, press, etc.
3. Human rights _ Life Liberty< Property, etc. The separation of Church and State; integration of opportunity of all regardless of race, color, creed, gender, sexual preference, etc. See George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address.

B. Examples:
1. The positive side of many of the World’s “great religions” Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, etc.
2. Hellenistic Culture
3. Pax Romana
4. The United States of America
5. Free enterprise
6. Scientific advancements – agriculture and medicine
7. America’s sacrifice to save the world from Fascism, Communism, and Islamic Fundamentalist Terror.

III. Conclusion: There has only been one successful multinational (ethnic) state in the modern world – The United States. This was made possible by setting aside the Relative definitions of Nationalism and adopting a reverence for and allegiance to the ideas of the Enlightenment which are universally applicable to all people. We are thus approaching a new world order, Cicero’s Commonwealth of men and gods.