The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘Western civilization’ Category

HANDS UP, PLEASE SHOOT

With the bad rap that the liberal left in America is generally heaping on the police in this country, it might be useful for the mainstream media to pay some attention to the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia which fortunately has been resolved with minimum injury.The alleged hostage taker, one Man Haron Monis has been captured and his captors released.

“Monis has long been on officials’ radar. Last year, he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service for writing offensive letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He was later charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Earlier this year, he was charged with the sexual assault of a woman in 2002. He has been out on bail on the charges.”  (AP – Kristen Gelineau).

While Australian authorities are downplaying the hostage taking as a “one-off” event, during the course of his occupying the Lindt Coffee Shop, apparently Monis forced several of the hostages to hold up the Islamic State flag within the store, inscribed on which is the Shahada, the first of Islam’s Five Pillars of Faith and required that other of the hostages stand in the window of the store with their hands up in the symbol of surrender.  Is this merely a matter of “shopping center violence” or is there something deeper going on here?

Fortunately, the police were successful in defusing the situation.  But I couldn’t help think, what if, (God forbid) this situation had occurred in the United States and Hillary Clinton were president (double God forbid).  Given her “enlightened and progressive” views and worldview and her recent statements, this situation might well have been handled in a different manner:

 

 

The fundamental problem of the left in characterizing the Ft. Hood shooting, the beheading of the innocent woman in Oklahoma and countless other tragedies is that if you refuse to recognize the reality of what your enemy is about, it is impossible to deal with defeating that enemy effectively.  This applies not only to radical Islamists but to the situation in our inner cities where black on black violence continues unabated and where the focus of the “race mongers” including President Obama and his Henchman in Chief,” Al Sharpton, want to deflect from the real problem and focus our attention on “police brutality” and racism.

I suspect that when the hostages in Sydney were rescued from their captor, thanks to the Aussie SWAT team that liberated them, they probably cried out, “Hands Up, Please Shoot – the hostage taker”

Islamic Flag in Sydney Hostage Siege Analyzed

 

 

 

CALLING A SPADE A SPADE

 

There are those who claim that poker is a game of skill.  Usually, those are people who have just taken down a big pot or won a tournament.  There are those who claim that poker is a game of luck.  Usually, those are people who have just taken what is affectionately known in the poker world as a “bad beat.”  My personal view is that poker is a game of luck combined with an element of skill.  I base that on the fact that if poker were simply a game of skill, each of the sixty-five events at the World Series of Poker would see the same faces at the final table.  That is simply not the case.  Even the greatest marksman is not going to be able to show his stuff if he does not have a supply of bullets.

Back in the days when I played a great deal of live poker I noticed that there were certain days that I could do nothing wrong.  It was as though I were a magnet for the winning hand.  Sadly, those days were few and far between.  More often the rules of random mathematical probability held sway (whether poker is a game of luck, skill or a combination of the two, there is no question that it is a game based on math), and I would receive my share of good, bad and indifferent starting hands.  Then there were the times that I would sit at the table for hours without having a hand that had any high probability of being the best when then final card was dealt.  For some reason, those slumps seemed to last for an inordinately long period of time – once for over a month of daily play.

As I was in my “slump” period, I began wondering why I subjected myself to this sort of abuse.  Anyone who has experienced the phenomenon of consistently bad cards has probably asked the same question.  I was about four hours into the session and nothing had changed when I picked up my cards and saw the six of spades.  I slid the bottom card to the right, keeping my cards sequestered from the player to my left who had a habit of staring over to see if he could make out what I had been dealt when I saw the corner of the top card, a black ace, the ace of spades.  If you don’t play poker you might think this was a good hand – but it isn’t.  In fact, A – 6 is the worst holding with an ace that you can have.  The fact that it was suited only slightly improves the hand.  But as my stack of chips had dwindled through four hours of antes, I decided to play it anyway.  There were four callers so that gave my hand some improvement through what is known as “pot odds.”

The dealer removed the first card from the deck, placing it on the discard pile and turned over the first three cards of the hand, otherwise known as the “flop.”  Much to my delight, three spades came up, the queen, eight and deuce.  I had, at that moment, what is known as “the nuts,” in other words, the best hand that could be held at that particular stage of play.  I kept my poker face and showed no reaction to the cards on the table.  One of the players to my right made a moderate bet and three of us called.  I presumed he held a queen and was betting top pair.

The next card, the “turn” was dealt.  It was the seven of hearts.  Unless you were holding a seven or two of them, this didn’t improve anyone’s hand.  The original bettor made a more aggressive bet, which another player raised.  I figured the raiser either was holding a pair of sevens or a seven and another card that had already appeared on the board.  At that point, I called with all my remaining chips and the original bettor called.  Then the final card, the “river” was dealt.  It was the three of diamonds.  I had survived and my “nut flush” had finally broken my long run of terrible cards.

The first bettor turned over his cards, A – Q for a pair; the second player turned his cards up and, as expected had three sevens; and with glee I turned up my cards, only to discover that what I had taken for the ace of spades was in fact the ace of clubs.  I had mis-read my cards and had nothing.  So I picked myself up from my seat, went home and took a month long sabbatical from playing poker.  That improved my attitude – a great deal – if you’ll pardon the expression.

Was it wish fulfillment that I saw a spade where a club existed?  Was I simply tired and misread the card?  Perhaps it was some combination of the two.  But this episode reminded me of the turmoil in which we in the United States now find ourselves – primarily because we are being fed a line that says that a club is a spade – if it’s more opportune to call it that.  While some call that “political correctness” my name for this form of communication is deceit.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve used the term “senior moment” from time to time to explain why I lost my train of thought or forgot the reason that I went into the cupboard.  Fortunately, those moments are relatively rare and only affect me.  But there is a more pernicious lapse afoot that I have named “an Obama moment.”  Should you wonder what that is, here’s my definition:  Diddling around while a solvable problem festers into a crisis and then, finally, making the wrong decision on how to handle it.

During the past month or so I’ve begun many posts.  But almost as soon as I began, a new issue has arisen which distracted me from my original writing.  This is, clearly, a fast paced world and we no longer have to wait for the evening paper to find out what has been happening here and abroad.  While many hope for their five minutes of fame, that fame has now been reduced to the length of a nanosecond.  It’s almost as though there is a concerted conspiratorial effort to so overwhelm us with “news” that we are being distracted from what is really happening and what events are truly important.  As I am not a fan of “conspiracy theories” I dismiss that – with a modicum of reservation.  So what are the real “crises” that President Obama has allowed to reach their present state?  They are immigration; ISIS and Ebola – although I can’t blame him for inventing Ebola.  More importantly, might these three be potentially interconnected?

The vast majority of Americans support legal immigration and a path to citizenship for those who want to come here.  They also support our having borders that are secure.  While charges of “racism” are lobbed because the vast majority of illegals (or “undocumented people” per Ninny Pepperoni, a/k/a Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi), are of Mexican or Central American origin, there are documented cases of people from Iraq, Iran, Syria and other middle eastern countries where ISIS has grown exponentially, who have also made it across our southern border and were apprehended.  At least some of them were apprehended.

Virtually everyone who has seen the acts of terrorism which ISIS regularly employs would agree that it is an organization based on consummate evil – and something that the rest of us in the world who do not subscribe to its tenets – would be better off without.  Certainly those who have been victims would, if they were still with us, agree with that statement.

Yet while ISIS grows in size and controls a greater amount of territory almost on a daily basis, this administration and its supporters engage us in a debate about whether using the term “Islamic” is a term of racism.  It hardly seems like a worthwhile argument since ISIS or IS (or in the administration’s preferred variant ISIL) uses Islamic as the first word in its acronym.  While we engage in that meaningless discussion, we see the focus of the liberal left applauding the speech that high school dropout Leonardo DiCaprio gave as he waxed eloquently before the UN about the evils of climate change.  Unfortunately, Mr. DiCaprio and his cohorts in Hollywood would have little to fear from climate change as, if ISIS were to prevail in its objective of theocratic domination, they would be among the first to face the executioner’s sword.

Then, of course, we have the West African Ebola outbreak.  We should all feel reassured that the president went on record that no cases would be spawned here – other than the fact that we now hear there may be several people who are  currently under observation for the disease.  Politicians, and the rest of us for that matter, should refrain from using the words none or all, since one exception makes our statements incorrect.  But to the average Joe or Juwanna, making sweeping statements is very reassuring – until the exception manifests itself.

Now what do all three of these issues have in common?

We know that ISIS’ members are so fanatical that they are willing to sacrifice themselves for an assured place with Allah in the afterlife.  I applaud their devotion and wish them all a speedy trip.  One of the ways to make that dream a reality is dying while killing the infidel – namely any or all of the six plus billion people or so who do not subscribe to Islam – and, for that matter, many of their Islamic brethren who do not adhere to their exact interpretation of that faith.

Given the porosity of our borders, the ease of international air travel, what is to prevent these zealots from sending a contingent of their fellow jihadists to West Africa, purposely infecting themselves with Ebola and then travelling to the United States and dispersing among many of our cities?  Purportedly, we have five medical centers nationwide which are equipped to treat patients who are affected by the Ebola virus.  How would we handle hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of such cases?  The answer is that we couldn’t.  And, sadly, that’s true no matter how much Obama, his cronies and supporters claim otherwise.

The nation has endured nearly six years of an administration that is either ineffectual, indifferent or incompetent.  It’s hard to imagine suffering through another two more years of the same.  Should President Obama decide that the greatest contribution he could make to the country is taking an early retirement and heading for the golf course, I’d be willing to chip in to help pay his greens fees.  And while gaffe stricken VP Biden doesn’t seem much of an improvement, at least he would provide us with a little comic relief.  And just about now, based on the pessimistic view most Americans hold of the future, we could all use a good laugh.

And that’s calling a spade a spade.

WHILE AMERICA SLEPT

Below is the Monday 8/05/13, 8:41 a.m. PDT listing of Yahoo News’ ten biggest trending stories:

1 Sally Struthers

2 Tiffani Thiessen

3 Death row inmate hanged

4 Maui shark attack

5 Dancing With the Stars

6 A-Rod suspension

7 Tawana Brawley hoax

8 Game of Thrones

9 Powerball

10 Al-Qaida threat

The individual who reads Yahoo News may not be your typical American – but then again he or she may well be.  If that is the case, it is interesting that probably that only story that has major significance – the “Al-Qaida threat” ranks only in the tenth position of what people consider to be important.  However, should these terrorists actually carry out some kind of attack (which we all certainly pray will not happen), I guarantee that story would be in first place on the list.

This is unfortunately a vivid explanation of our national disease – complacency.  We are long accustomed to feeling safe and secure and approach life in a reactive, rather than a proactive way.  It takes something like 9/11/01 to remind us that we are not immune to the dangers that exist in this world.

Most of us have yet to realize that America and all of Western Civilization is involved in a war.  It is a war against terror carried out by jihadists who believe imposing their personal beliefs on all humanity is not only justified – it is required by their god.  There is no act that is too brutal which they may employ to achieve their goal.  There is no person who is so sacrosanct that he may not be sacrificed to the cause.

Jihadi terrorism is the ultimate expression of “the end justifying the means”.  And it is time that we wake up to that.  It is time that we stopped accommodating those who invited themselves to live in the west and don’t care for the rules which exist here.

If they don’t like living in countries with Judaeo-Christian values, we do not seek to impose them on them and their religious sensitivities.  Our borders were open to them to come here – and they are open for them to leave.  I, for one, wish them a safe trip home and a good life when they get there.

America may be a sleeping giant.  We may be snoring as the gnats and mosquitoes take a bite here and draw a little blood there.  We may swat at these annoyances and continue in our reverie.

But at some point there will be enough bites and stings to awaken us.  And when that happens, beware.  The giant can be awful nasty when he is aroused to anger.

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS

My friend NEO published a piece which deals with a subject on which I had intended to write.  Since he did so, I would refer you to his post as he did an excellent job as always of giving details on the subject of closing our embassies this Sunday because of “fear of al-Qaeda” malevolence”.

http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/leadership-2/

We are, through the month of August under a “high security watch”.  Those of us who remember back to September 11, 2001 will recall how the threat level was indicated by a barometer of varying colors.  We took those indications seriously after the events of that fateful day.

The warning coming from our government is that people who are travelling – especially to the Middle East should take extra precautions.  I would imagine that anyone who had business in the Middle East, which is perhaps the world’s most volatile powder keg, probably already knew to do that.

Together with the traveler’s advisory and the announcement of the closing of a number of our embassies was the statement that “due to NSA electronic surveillance, thirteen potential ‘situations” had been diffused before terrorists could carry them out.”

Perhaps this will sound a bit like paranoia – a mindset I try to avoid – but I find that statement less consoling than I do self-serving.  It is, of course, hard for anyone to prove or disprove that thirteen separate incidents did not occur for any specific reason – electronic surveillance or otherwise.

It’s hard for me not to wonder that if NSA surveillance is so effective, why did we have the tragedy at the Boston Marathon?  And it’s hard for me not to ask the question, is the recent threat warning and the embassy closing really due to any actual threats (real or imagined) – or is this just a dog and pony show to diffuse the rising anger coming from the American people about the surveillance which our government has unconstitutionally engaged in on all of us?

Perhaps that sounds like paranoia to you.  If the NSA scandal were unique – I might question my point of view myself – as I often do.  But as we all know, the NSA is merely the latest in a litany of scandals in which the administration has voluntarily embroiled itself.

But for a moment, and merely for the sake of discussion, let’s take the recent advisory at face value.  The question that we need to ask is, “Is the closing of our embassies the right response?”

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life it is that evil exists.   Closing our eyes to it and attempting to hide from it merely strengthen its resolve to destroy us, taking our “prudent” retreat as a sign of weakness.  In order to destroy evil we must, as much as we would like to avoid doing so, confront it.  This is a principle known as moral courage.  That is a principle that has been a pillar of American action throughout our history.

We may try to placate evil (in this case terrorism), but like the greedy blackmailer who has received his demanded ransom, he now comes back and asks for more.  And he will never stop asking until we stop allowing him to suck us dry.

There is little argument that the terrorists of whom I speak, share a common bond.  That bond is Islam – or what we politely call “radical” Islam.  Is there another version?  Like the blackmailer, Islam treats all who are not believers as though they are second-class people and tolerates their presence only if they pay a special “tax”.  If that isn’t blackmail, perhaps I need to get a better understanding of what is.

And we in America, like most of our friends in Europe have gone along with paying this tax – but we call it “accommodation”.  Take a look at Europe to see how well that strategy has worked.  The recent outbursts in France, the beheading of a soldier in the UK, the list goes on ad nauseam.

You can only deal reasonably with people who are themselves reasonable.  Terrorists are, virtually by definition, not members of that group.  And so it is high time that we stopped dealing with them as though they were.  It is high time that we stopped making excuses for those who have no good will toward us and treat them as the evil enemy that they are.  When reason and logic fail, we need to exert the considerable force that we have to make our statement clear.

The closing of our embassies makes exactly the opposite statement and only serves to further empower this evil.  It can smell weakness, lack of resolve and the abandonment of moral principles.  These are the pheromones it uses to  track down its prey.  And we are that prey.

We know what happened to the first two little pigs when the Big Bad Wolf came to their homes.  They sought shelter with their brother in his well-built house, believing they were safe and secure that all the wolf’s huffing and puffing could not blow it down.

But unlike the third little pig who slammed the door in the wolf’s face, our wolf has already entered our home through the back door and is contemplating his next meal.

The message we should be sending is a simple one.

“We are open for business as usual.  Be advised that we are armed, dangerous and ready to apply deadly force if you provoke us to do so.  Enter at your own risk.”

NO EINSTEINS NEED APPLY

God invented cream cheese for two reasons.  The first, of course, is as an ingredient in Cheesecake.  The second is for the liberal application of that substance on bagels.  (Without cream cheese, bagels have no reason to exist).

Perhaps, like me, you occasionally get a craving for something.  In my case it was for a bagel with a liberal amount of cream cheese applied to its toasted surface.  So I went to the best bagel bakery in town – only to find it had closed.  This shocked me since we have a relatively large and well-heeled Jewish population in Las  Vegas who I would have thought supported such a place.

Well, I’ve tried the bagels before in the large supermarkets but they are simply unpalatable (no matter how much cream cheese is applied to them).  So I went to a bagel bakery/deli very near my house and found that their doors were locked.  There was no sign on the door indicating the reason for that – so I assumed there had been some sort of family emergency which prevented them from opening.

Of course my taste buds were simply going berserk by now – but I decided to hold off until the following day and pick up my bagels.  But when I returned the next morning, a sign had been posted on the door which read “Store for Rent.”  Imagine, two bagel joints going out of business within a week.

Then I remembered there was an Einstein Bros. Bagel restaurant about a mile and a half down the road.  While I hadn’t truly loved their bagels five years before when I last ate one, they were still a step up from the ones at the supermarkets.  So I drove down there.  I needed a cream cheese/bagel fix bad.

It was relatively early in the morning, about 7:45 and I expected the restaurant to be full of customers picking up their “to go” orders as they went to work.  Much to my surprise (and delight), I was the only person in the store other than the cashier and three young women who were standing behind the bagel display.

I saw the sign, hanging from the ceiling that said, “Order Here” which was directly over the display case and I walked over to order.  On the wall there was a listing of the various bagels which one could purchase, though I found it easier to choose by looking at the bagels in the case.  And after a few seconds I had decided on one “Everything Bagel”; one “Garlic Bagel”; and one “Onion Bagel”.  I was ready to order.

Unfortunately, none of the three young women seemed remotely interested in interrupting their conversation in order to accommodate my wishes.  They were thoroughly rapt in discussing where they were going to get their next tattoos done and who did the best “Eyebrow Weaving” (whatever that is).  I checked my watch and waited patiently for two minutes.  Then I made a small, “Ahem” which they managed to ignore.

Finally, in pure desperation, I said, “Excuse me … would there be someone available to take an order?”  One of them looked at me, obviously annoyed that I had interrupted her conversation with her co-workers and said, “Whaddya want?”

I placed my order and she donned a plastic glove to pull the bagels from the case.  “For here or to go?”  She said this with all the delicacy of a hippo in rut.  I overlooked the fact that most individuals, particularly of my size are unlikely to eat three bagels in one sitting so I politely responded, “They’re to go, please.”

“Do ya wan em sliced?”

“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I would appreciate that,” I responded.

She then took my purchase down to the cashier who appeared a bit relieved that she actually had something to do.  As she rang them up I noticed she charged me $1.19 for one of the bagels and $1.29 for the other two.  (Frankly, paying more than $.75 for a bagel is, in my opinion, tantamount to highway robbery.  But I was desperate).

I did question why there was a price difference.  The cashier, armed with the answer to this question went on to explain.

“Well, your ‘Everything Bagel’ is one of our Classic bagels but your ‘Onion’ and ‘Garlic” bagels are Signature bagels.”  Feeling light-hearted that I was soon about to satiate my craving, I responded jokingly, “Well, who signed the bagels and where would I find the signature?”  Needless to say, the humor in this comment was totally lost.  I could see her brain was in a loop as she asked herself a question that had probably crossed her mind many times, “Why do I always get the retards when I’m cashiering?”  As an act of pure compassion I said, don’t worry, I’ll find out for myself.

So I paid for my purchase and slathered lots of cream cheese on my bagel as soon as it popped out of the toaster.  All things considered, I gave the bagel itself about a 6.5 and the overall experience of shopping at Einstein Bros. Bagels about a 3.5.  In other words, it was pretty close to the average of quality and level of service that I have come to find in most retail outlets.

It may be some time until my bagel craving returns.  That is the nature of cravings – they are evanescent.  But I’ve armed myself for its recurrence by finding several recipes for making homemade bagels.  They really don’t sound that tough.  I have all the ingredients but I do need a stylus so that I can sign my work and create my very own “Signature Bagels”.

In the meantime, all the cream cheese that I bought on sale that I thought I would apply over 12 days to the dozen bagels I anticipated purchasing did not go to waste.

You see, I do make a killer cheesecake.

WHO’S GOT THE POWER? (PART TWO)

When the last installment of Marcel Proust’s “magnum opus” was published in 1927, it was the culmination of a writing effort that spanned a fifteen year period.  The work was translated into English as, “A Remembrance of Things Past”.

Those who long for the halcyon days of a kinder, gentler, smaller, more rational government already realize that problems which have been created over long periods of time cannot be remedied with short-term and short-sighted solutions.  Attempting to repair society by applying Band-Aids to deep, festering sores may staunch the flow of blood for the moment but this approach will not remove the cancer from the body politic.

It is essential that those who recognize the deadliness of the path on which America has set its footing (and by implication much of the Western civilized world as we know it) are not merely passing through time and history.  We are the ones who have the opportunity to take action and write history through the steps we take today to make ours a better country and a better world.

History provides us with a great deal of nurturing guidance.  And one of its most important lessons is that it takes time to unfold.  From Plymouth Rock to The Declaration of Independence, 156 years of history had to pass.  If we embark on a path of real change today, many of us who start this process will not live to see its fulfillment.  But we will leave, as did the Founding Fathers, a legacy which those who come after us will enjoy.

Those of us who are educated, rational and pragmatic have spent far too much of our time and resources in an effort to convince those of a different opinion that we offered a better way than the one to which they subscribed.  Underlying our arguments was the assumption that these people were also educated, rational and pragmatic.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

When Governor Romney made his famous “47%” remark he was immediately attacked and lambasted for telling it like it was.  His statement was, of course, correct – but the emphasis should have been that meant that there were 53% of the populace who still had the dignity, desire and self-esteem to work toward changing things for all of America’s population for the better.  We’re still here today, despite our war injuries.

So how do we regroup, rearm and begin?  The first thing must be to define our goals and to keep them in mind as our frame of reference.  If we don’t know our destination, it’s difficult to determine a travel plan.  And too many of us are buying into our opponents’ strategy of distraction, holding up minor issues as talking points so that we ignore the real, fundamental and root causes of society’s malaise.

We also have many talking points.  But if we waste our efforts critiquing the opposition on Benghazi, the economy, the general level of unemployment, or a myriad of other subjects we only serve to weaken ourselves and thus give aid and succor to our opponents.

While those criticisms might be valid and well-documented, they mean nothing to an uneducated or under-educated mob whose only concern is surviving today and hopefully tomorrow.  And they mean nothing to those who, through intention, have helped to formulate this permanent under-class so that they may continue their own agenda which is to rule and dominate.

Perhaps the simplest way to define the goals of our war is to say that most of us who are reading this believe that a return to limited, Constitutional government wherein the individual has personal freedom based on a moral code would be a desirable goal.  Implicit in that is our ability to elect people to office who share that view.  And this leads us to a practical way to approach our ongoing battles.

It’s many years since presidential candidates rolled into town on a train, gave a speech and took off for their next destination.  Campaigns were financed with a few dollars here and a few dollars there.  Today, getting elected is a function of how much money can be raised for advertising and whose content slams the opponent the harder.  “Media is the message,” to misquote Marshall McLuhan.

It should be obvious that if those who contribute vast sums of money to get our opponents elected were to have their incomes reduced, they would have less ability to fund them in the next election cycle.  This is nothing more than the boycott strategy which worked so successfully in the 1960’s and 1970’s for the migrant farmworkers under the leadership of César Chavez.

There is a reason that I do not insure through GEICO or Progressive Insurance, or buy See’s Candy or eat at Dairy Queen.  By choosing to spend my money with them, I am supporting those who have helped foster our present policies and contributing to those who want to advance them further.  Why would any person who shares my view, rationally and willingly support those who would make us target practice?

Obviously, this is hardly an inclusive list of companies or services which I avoid.  But it should give you the basic idea.  The fact is that there are alternatives, often better alternatives to these companies’ products and I would rather spend my money with those who share my philosophy.

One person boycotting a company’s products is a personal statement.  But hundreds of thousands doing so will have an impact.  And if that number escalates to the millions, even the most hardcore liberal businessman will take notice and re-consider his thinking.

One of the most consistently generous groups in their views and their financial support for the liberal agenda comes to us from Hollywood.  Arguably, their products are also contributors to the violence which has become so commonplace on the American landscape.

Setting aside the fact that from an artistic standpoint, Hollywood offers little in the way of output that appeals to me, this is an issue which every conscientious conservative thinker should examine for himself.  Do I want to support an institution that actively seeks both to erode my personal freedoms and expose myself and my children to prurient violence and standards of morality which do not meet my personal expectations and example?

Again, one person boycotting the movies is a personal statement.  But millions, committed to a boycott would not only have a financial impact but just might cause those screenwriters to create material that is actually worth viewing.

History is not merely something that has happened before.  Its pages are being inscribed even as I type this post.  But the question is will it be written by those people of conscience who believe in the freedom of the individual or by those who believe in the power of the state?

The answer to that will be determined by what each of us does because, at least for the moment, the power is still in the hands of the people.

AN AMERICAN DEATH

Jeb was a college friend of mine.  It’s hard to believe that 45 years have passed since he was sent to Vietnam and died there, performing his duties in the Army as a medic.  He was a Conscientious Objector.

The two of us met in a History of Western Civilization class and would frequently study together.  He was from Rhode Island, one of two children from a small family who belonged to The Society of Friends or, as most of us know them, Quakers.  He was one of the most gentle, kind and thoughtful men I ever met, a man who truly lived his brief life in a spirit of peace, caring and non-violence.

When Jeb graduated he was drafted, despite his Conscientious Objector convictions.  He was not one who chose to flee to Canada and was willing to do his part in our terribly misguided war effort, but he was not willing to do that while holding a gun – and that is how he ended up in the Medical Corps.  The fatalities among medics ran higher than for your typical armed soldier – and he knew that.

The War in Vietnam divided the country in the 1960’s.  It was one issue on which virtually everyone had a point of view – whether that was one which supported our military actions or one which opposed our involvement and escalating our efforts there.  What started as a grumbling from our college students escalated to a roar as more young Americans died and their mourning siblings and parents started writing letters to Congress and took their places in the swelling ranks of those who marched in protest.

Perhaps one of the starkest contrasts between then and now is that our print and television media had their own points of view on the subject.  Certain papers actively advocated our efforts in Southeast Asia and others as vehemently opposed them.  The same was true for commentators who reported the day’s events in Vietnam.  We had not yet grown accustomed to the “mind meld” in which our reporters had abdicated their responsibility as journalists, had accepted an official government version of “the truth” and dutifully repeated it for its audience.

And there was one even more significant difference between those times and these.  Underpinning this sometimes heated and angry debate, all of us understood that we had the right to our opinion because of the First Amendment to the Constitution and, protected by this governing document, could say just exactly what was on our mind.  It was precisely because of that document which The New York Times considers “antiquated” and should be abolished, that what began as the song of a small but vocal minority became the theme song for the country and the choir swelled to include the majority of Americans.

In many ways, I attribute my many years of non-gun ownership to the gentle example my friend Jeb set for me.  In many respects, his and my philosophies were identical.  I was not tempted to change my position that violence solves nothing even after I had been criminally mugged by three thugs and beaten unconscious and spent five days in the hospital recovering from a concussion.  By the way, they were able to carry out their violent act while threatening me not with guns but with switchblades.

So why has my position on this issue of guns and one’s right to own them, or perhaps more correctly one’s responsibility to own them, evolved?  Precisely because of the advocacy of The New York Times that we should abandon or, at the very least, modify our ancient relic of a Constitution to reflect today’s world.

There is little doubt in my mind that when the Constitution was adopted there were violent people in this country and throughout the world.  That has not changed.  But if there is no longer any protection for the voices of those in the minority to be heard, then history has shown that the majority, engorged on its own popularity, will have little difficulty suppressing those who have a different viewpoint from their own.

And if, as seems to be the case, they are successful in electing a government which shares their view that dissent is disloyalty, then those conscientious few who wish to hold on to their individual freedoms and their souls had best be prepared and be willing to do battle.

I wish that my friend Jeb had not died in Vietnam.  He was a source of great insight and wisdom and counsel – and I am sorry that I cannot ask him for his guidance.  But he lived his life and gave it up because of something he considered the essence of being a human being – living according to principle.  And I guess that is, in itself, sufficient guidance.  And now it is our turn.

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