November 22, 2006

living in the wreckage...

Jeff Jacoby has a fine column on the SF School Board's decision to end our JROTC program...

...So what is the problem with JROTC? There isn't one. The problem is with the anti military bigotry of the school board majority and the "peace" activists who lobbied against the program on the grounds that San Francisco 's schools should not be sullied by an association with the US armed forces.

"We don't want the military ruining our civilian institutions," said Sandra Schwartz of the American Friends Service Committee, a far-left pacifist organization that routinely condemns American foreign policy and opposes JROTC nationwide . "In a healthy democracy . . . you contain the military." Board member Dan Kelly, who voted with the majority, called JROTC "basically a branding program or a recruiting program for the military." In fact, it is nothing of the kind: The great majority of cadets do not end up serving in the military.

But then, facts tend not to matter to smug ideologues like Schwartz and Kelly, who are free to parade their contempt for the military because they live in a nation that affords such freedom even to idiots and ingrates. It never seems to occur to them that the liberties and security they take for granted would vanish in a heartbeat if it weren't for the young men and women who do choose to wear the uniform, willingly risking life and limb in service to their country...

I just wrote a couple of snarling paragraphs, and then deleted them. You've already heard that stuff—fake pacifists are a peeve of mine. What occurs to me, beyond the stupid local issue, is that we are seeing is wreckage, similar, though less extreme, to the wreckage left by the former communist regimes. We in America and the West are living amidst the results of embracing socialism. Less here than other places—there is a gradation of destruction we can see in the world today, with the worst damage in Russia, and grievous damage in the rest of Europe, and less in the US. Wreckage? What do I mean? Well, I'll betcha dollars to donuts that that "Sandra Schwartz" is a member of my generation, and helped send a few million South Vietnamese off to death or the "re-education" gulag. And that she doesn't feel the least bit sorry.

And the wreckage seems to be something we are stuck with. One of the salient facts of our time, is that there isn't the bounce-back, the recovery that one expected, that we assumed to be normal. We don't learn from our mistakes, not nearly enough. For instance, I grew up thinking that Germany and Italy had recovered from their years of nationalistic socialism. That they were rejuvenated, made young again, and that their past was becoming like a bad dream. Turns out, not so. Have you read anything in recent decades about how Germany is youthful, innovative, exciting? A fun place? Happy? Nuh uh. It's always stories about how the mood is sour, about maternity hospitals that are eerily empty, about economic stagnation, demographic implosion and extreme over-regulation. About the decline of Christianity and burgeoning populations of unassimilated Muslims.

One of the strange, and, I think, portentous facts about our world, is that there was never a rejection of Communism the way there was of Naziism. It's something to think about. Stalin and Mao killed and imprisoned lots more people than Hitler did. Yet people still wear hammer and sickle T-shirts—I saw one just this week. The horrors of the Gulag are well known, yet no statesmen or religious leaders make pilgrimages to Soviet camps like they do to Auschwitz. Why? And remember how leftists drooled over the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger had (briefly and against his will) been a member of the Hitler Youth? Remember how that was a big deal? So, would it have also been a big deal if he'd been a member of Komsomol? Or any sort of supporter of Stalin? No. People would have called that "youthful idealism!" Just as they do now for those Americans who helped Ho Chi Minh wage aggressive war and mass-murder.

And the same people are now helping Islamo-fascist terrorists and thugs in every way they can. And calling it "peace activism." And getting away with it! For instance, the recent fighting in Lebanon and Gaza was started, deliberately and cold-bloodedly, by Hamas and Hezbollah. (And started after Israel had withdrawn form those places.) Yet no "peace-activists" condemned them for this, no "Quakers" held candle-light vigils, there were no giant puppets to protest this war. Insane. Yet, somehow, our society did not reject these people as the obvious frauds they had shown themselves to be! (Well, there's some rejection. The gray hairs and dated hippie style typical of "anti-war" protesters is a good sign. But if our society was healthy Jane Fonda or John Kerry would not dare to even show their faces in public. Their hands are dripping with human blood.)

That's what I mean by saying that we are living in the wreckage. The moral wreckage of socialism, which is itself a small part of what de Lubac called "atheistic humanism." And I think we don't learn much from our mistakes because we are still inside the big mistake, and when forced to, we just shed a layer of skin, like a reptile, and cast it aside and pretend that it's old history. That's what happened when the world "learned" from its mistake called Naziism or Fascism—the learning was mostly a matter of socialists turning upon one flavor of socialism, and pretending that it was the ultimate evil, and that they were some sort of counter-force to it. While the real evil remained, and the long march to nowhere continued.

Same with "learning" from the mistake of Communism. Most leftists, if pressed, will shed the Stalinist skin, and pretend that they are rejecting the real evil. Or shed the whole Soviet skin (or even, rarely, the Mao skin) but still give us ludicrous bullshit about how happy people are in Cuba! (And, by the way, they are now starting to claim that Saddam was a father-figure, who provided stability and made the trains run on time!)

Oh, and back to San Francisco. I've seen the kids in their JROTC uniforms. They always look sharp and clean-cut and confident. I bet our hippie-leftists would hate the program just for that reason alone. The very body-language of it is a rejection of nihilism.

Posted by John Weidner at November 22, 2006 9:18 AM
Weblog by John Weidner