Skip to comments.Observations On The War
Posted on 03/28/2003 8:41:46 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
The Real Americans In his latest essay, entitled 'The Long Riders,' classics professor and military historian Victor Davis Hanson explains much of the American anti-war sentiment with this startlingly clear statement
in the last year all those who have bet against the Americans now riding into the desert - elite journalists, out-of-touch academics, and self-satisfied Europeans - have been consistently wrong in their shrill predictions that we were either incompetent or amoral or would fail. Why is this so? It is not merely that so many are so ignorant of history, or that most who are degreed and certified are glib and smarmy, but not educated. No, the better explanation is that they rarely work among, know, see or care about the type of Americans now barreling to Baghdad who are a different, and I think, a better sort of people.
His statement obviously violates the anti-judgmental rule of political correctness and the 'truth is relevant' idiocy of postmodernism. But Hanson thinks for himself, which renders him immune to both blandishments and assaults from ideologues, of whatever political stripe. His simple observation pulls back the curtain of current American social and political orthodoxy, revealing its anti-democratic and anti-reality foundations. How so?
If it's true that the history of war is written by the victors, it is equally true that political thought, public opinion and 'news' is written and, for the most part, created by the educated elite, the media and politicians, by those who some have called 'the chattering class.' It is these who live by words and ideas who set the cultural tone in America. By what they write and what they decide is worthy of publication or broadcast, they determine what is important. By their commentaries they also tell us what and how we should think about these things.
Entertainers are honorary members of this class, by dint of their fame (or notoriety), which also serves as their authority. Unfortunately, many of the talking class lack the good sense to just say 'I don't know' about things of which they're appallingly ignorant they have to prove it. As Hanson points out, these elites know little or nothing of 'type of Americans now barreling to Baghdad.' The America many of us think we've lost during the past several decades is not really lost it just doesn't exist in the hearts and minds of those who shape public opinion and debate. But those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are the living, breathing embodiment of traditional American values and beliefs. No, they don't talk incessantly about them, for talking isn't what they do best. Instead, they live out those ideals; they let their actions and behavior speak volumes about their character and courage, and their commitment to those values.
Strange as it sounds, I consider it one of the blessings in my life that I was raised in a low-income housing project. Working all through high school, four years in the Marine Corps, working full time at night during college as a janitor, factory worker, truck driver, construction laborer, forklift driver, etc. were also blessings, and extremely enlightening. My military and working experiences helped clarify my own values and beliefs and, in many ways, were far more educational than my years in college. (Perhaps our pampered college anti-war protestors could use some 'work therapy'?)
The point is, though I have attained some measure of success as an Instructional Designer and Instructor, I am a working class American. By the grace of G-d I've had the opportunity to meet and get to know people on most occupational levels, and that background enables me to attest to Hanson's claim that the talking class has little contact with working Americans. That's why there's such a discrepancy between what most Americans believe those who live in what Diane Alden calls 'flyover country,' between New York and the Left Coast and what we read in the opinion columns and magazines. The verbal class (professors, teachers, lawyers, MBAs, politicians, etc.) have become 'educated beyond their understanding' and European-ized in their political beliefs. Yet it is primarily these people we hear from and about; the ideas, beliefs and values of the majority of working Americans are left unsaid, without representation.
Except in times of emergency or national need. We saw and heard from those Americans in the aftermath of 9/11, didn't we? But the talking class is uncomfortable with the G-d to Whom most Americans turn, if only in need. And they're certainly uncomfortable with patriotism of any sort, relegating it to ignorance and knee-jerk reaction of the 'Joe Six-pack' and bowling crowd. To be sure, there is plenty of ignorance and sloth, prejudice and mindlessness in the working class. Truth is, though, it isn't nearly as harmful to the nation in the long run as the pseudo-sophistication of the talkers, with their snobbish rejection of anything remotely American.
Those men (and women? see below) in the military are 'talking' with their lives in the Iraqi desert. They are demonstrating the same willingness to sacrifice that the Founding Fathers and their generation displayed. Freedom for the brutalized Iraqi people and for our own people's freedom from the fear of terrorists - is something they understand, and something they value enough to make great sacrifices for its preservation. While the talkers continue to talk.
This nation must come to grips with the undeniable fact that our social, political, economic and cultural 'leaders,' for the most part, do not share the traditional American values held by these brave young people in the military, and by the majority of Americans. Because we've denied or ignored this truth for decades, American society has become something the Founders would not recognize. Hanson has it exactly right those Americans heading to Baghdad really are a 'better sort of people.' Women in Combat - One of the five POWs captured by Iraqi forces is a woman. A sergeant examining captured weapons near Al Nasiriyah looked up at the camera and it was a woman. Whether infantry or part of the mechanized armor group accompanying them was not clear. I've seen women in the video reports from Afghanistan, and assumed they were rear area support troops, but now the question occurs: where in Afghanistan is there a 'rear area'? And another: What in Sam Hill are American women doing in a war zone?
Feminists who bray about women's 'rights' can shut up right now, for I don't see any of them in the military. And that WAC colonel who was herself a POW in the Gulf War, the one who said that sexual abuse was merely 'another way of hurting you,' and nothing more well, that seems a particularly bitter form of denial to me.
We know about the differences in physical ability, the negative impact on unit cohesion and the distraction and disruption women in combat represent. But what does it say about a nation that, in a misguided effort at political correctness and 'equality,' sends its women into harm's way during war? If the war were here, in our streets and neighborhoods, then perhaps it would be necessary but it's not. Have we not enough able-bodied men to fill the ranks?
No, it's simply PC run amok. In 1994, the Clinton administration repealed the 'Risk Rule,' which barred servicewomen from positions with a high risk of encountering enemy fire or capture. This authorized women to serve in any post other than in frontline infantry, special-operations forces, or armor or artillery units. Then who was that sergeant inspecting captured Iraqi weapons? Was that not 'front line'? And was it not on the 'front lines' that the young woman who is now a POW was captured? Just another Clinton legacy, I suppose. But why didn't Bush override it, along with many of the other thousands that Clinton issued that are destructive of our moral fabric?
Betrayal in the Ranks - The American soldier attached to the storied 101st Airborne who threw three grenades into a command tent should be shot. In time of war, aiding the enemy - and how else can you characterize the attempt to murder commanders and destroy unit morale? - is considered treason, punishable by death. That's what this cowardly and despicable act was, and it deserves swift and decisive retribution.
The soldier's race and religion should have nothing whatsoever to do with it. If, as reported, he was 'against the war,' or burdened about 'killing fellow Muslims,' he could have become a Conscientious Objector. In fact, there were several options available to him; he chose murder instead. Imagine the mindset of soldiers serving with Muslims or others who have, as Asan Akbar did, displayed their opposition to this war, and how that affects unit morale and performance.
Assemble the troops and execute this murderer for his actions. Justice, and the faithfulness of all the other soldiers, demands it.
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