Day: November 11, 2017

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George Takei Accused of Sexually Assaulting Male Model…


Accuser Scott R. Brunton says he was groped by the ‘Star Trek’ icon at the actor’s Los Angeles condo.

A former model and actor is accusing Star Trek icon George Takei of sexual assault in 1981. The accuser, Scott R. Brunton, who was 23 at the time of the alleged incident, claims that Takei took advantage of him when he was most vulnerable.

“This happened a long time ago, but I have never forgotten it,” Brunton tells The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. “It is one of those stories you tell with a group of people when people are recounting bizarre instances in their lives, this always comes up. I have been telling it for years, but I am suddenly very nervous telling it.”

Brunton says he was living in Hollywood in 1981, working as a waiter and beginning a career as a commercial actor and model when he met a 43- or 44-year-old Takei one evening at Greg’s Blue Dot bar. The men exchanged numbers and would call one another from time to time as well as run into each other at clubs, Brunton says. When Brunton broke up with his then-boyfriend, he spoke with Takei. “He said, ‘Let me know what your new number is’ and I did. And not long after we broke up and I moved out, George called me,” Brunton recalls.

Takei, as Brunton tells it, invited him to dinner and the theater. “He was very good at consoling me and understanding that I was upset and still in love with my boyfriend,” Brunton says. “He was a great ear. He was very good about me spilling my heart on my sleeve.”

The two men went back to the actor’s condo for a drink the same night. “We have the drink and he asks if I would like another,” Brunton recalls. “And I said sure. So, I have the second one, and then all of a sudden, I begin feeling very disoriented and dizzy, and I thought I was going to pass out. I said I need to sit down and he said sit over here and he had the giant yellow beanbag chair. So I sat down in that and leaned my head back and I must have passed out.”

“The next thing I remember I was coming to and he had my pants down around my ankles and he was groping my crotch and trying to get my underwear off and feeling me up at the same time, trying to get his hands down my underwear,” Brunton says. “I came to and said, ‘What are you doing?!’ I said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ He goes, ‘You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.’ And I said, ‘No. I don’t want to do this.’ And I pushed him off and he said, ‘OK, fine.’ And I said I am going to go and he said, ‘If you feel you must. You’re in no condition to drive.’ I said, ‘I don’t care I want to go.’ So I managed to get my pants up and compose myself and I was just shocked. I walked out and went to my car until I felt well enough to drive home, and that was that.”

THR spoke to four longtime friends of Brunton — Norah Roadman, Rob Donovan, Stephen Blackshear and Jan Steward — who said that he had confided in them about the Takei encounter years ago.

Takei’s rep, Julia Buchwald, tells THR, “George is traveling in Japan and Australia and not reachable for comment.” Takei, now 80, rose to fame playing Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek television series. He is also an author and activist and has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights.

Brunton claims that he met up with Takei years after the incident in Portland, Brunton’s current home, while the actor was there on a book tour. “I wanted to see him,” Brunton says. “I always wanted to ask him — I just felt really betrayed. I thought I was a friend and here I am later, just another piece of meat. So I called him up at the hotel — I figured out which hotel he was at — and he said ‘Hi, Scott. I remember you.’ I wanted to ask him why. We met for coffee, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was just too uncomfortable.”

Brunton says he considered going to the media with the story for years, but he assumed no one would take him seriously. “Who’s going to believe me? It’s my word against his,” he says.

Brunton’s reasoning changed after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and specifically when Takei spoke out regarding allegations leveled against Kevin Spacey.

On Oct. 29, Anthony Rapp, an actor starring in the latest Star Trek series, claimed to BuzzFeed News that Spacey sexually assaulted him while he was a minor in 1986. Spacey later apologized and came out as gay in response. “When power is used in a non-consensual situation, it is a wrong,” Takei said of the Spacey claim in a statement to THR on Oct. 30. “For Anthony Rapp, he has had to live with the memory of this experience of decades ago. For Kevin Spacey, who claims not to remember the incident, he was the older, dominant one who had his way. Men who improperly harass or assault do not do so because they are gay or straight — that is a deflection. They do so because they have the power, and they chose to abuse it.”

Brunton says he found Takei’s response infuriating. “I don’t want anything from him but an apology,” he says. “I am sure he’ll disown all this, I don’t know, maybe not.”



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Tell a Big Lie and Keep Repeating It


If you want to tell a big lie, a good vehicle is “science.” Like a wolf hiding in a sheep’s skin, lies hide in lab coats worn by liars with Ph.Ds. We are gullible because science and scientists have a positive image. The positive image belongs to the science of the past, before the entrepreneurial idea of inventing fake catastrophes to attract vast sums of government money.

When a lie is backed by millions of government dollars, it is difficult for the truth to compete. The truth comes from scientists not corrupted by money, and from small organizations dependent on private donations. The truth is outgunned by government financed propaganda mills. The promoters of fake catastrophe depict themselves as disinterested idealists. The promoters of the truth are depicted as servants of evil industries, or as mentally disturbed crackpots.

Pravda was the official newspaper of the Soviet Union. Pravda means “official truth” in Russian. Pretty much everyone in Russia knew that there was very little truth in the pages of Pravda. But to publicly dispute the “official truth” was a very dangerous step. Often dissenters were sent to insane asylums. In the United States, as a climate skeptic, you may lose your job. Almost certainly you will be vilified as incompetent. But so far, you won’t go to prison or to an asylum, although there are calls to criminally prosecute “climate deniers.” There are also those who think that non-believers in the catastrophe are mentally ill. The obvious solution is to send the skeptics to prison or to an insane asylum. Why should we think that true believers in global warming, if they gain enough power, would be less totalitarian than communists?

Fake science prospers for a number of reasons. Investigative reporters are mostly ignorant concerning science. The average educated person is equally ignorant. Often those who do understand that something is fake don’t dare speak up because they work for bureaucracies that are promoting the fake science.

Solar power is an example of a fake idea that prospers. Billions of dollars are being spent to install solar power. It is often claimed that solar power is competitive with traditional methods of generating electricity — a completely fake claim. There are plenty of people who have exposed the fake nature of solar power, but their side of the story rarely makes it into the popular media. It is not difficult to understand that solar power has severe problems. After all, it doesn’t work at night. If you mention that fact to a believer in solar power he may suggest that batteries can be used to provide power at night. To refute that the argument gets a bit more complex. Batteries are exorbitantly expensive and wear out quickly. Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine in the day, in which case the battery won’t be recharged for the next night. (See here and here for more on solar power.)

If obvious, stupid lies, like the competitiveness of solar power, can gain popularity, how can more complicated lies be refuted? Frankly, I don’t know. As long as those with the potential to expose the frauds are taken in and those who are not taken in are afraid to speak, it’s hard to see how fake science can be stopped or slowed down.

I spent years going to scientific conferences, reading scientific journals and writing articles to try to expose the global warming/climate change fake science industry. I found plenty of scientists who shared my viewpoint, but most keep a low profile concerning their skepticism. Their children need to eat.

The scientists who openly oppose the climate catastrophe industry are invariably retired or otherwise occupy impregnable positions that protect them from economic retaliation. There are plenty of informed climate skeptics. You can consult a list of 1,000 such scientists that oppose global warming alarmism. There are no young and upcoming climate scientists that oppose the industry. If a young scientist opposes fake science he will be unable to remain in the scientific field. He may not be able to get a Ph.D. and he certainly can’t get a job. Remember, an entire multi-billion-dollar industry is dependent on the public credibility of fake science. Dissent is not tolerated.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a bureaucratic edifice that the Trump administration has apparently neglected to sweep into the dustbin of history. The USGCRP is an unapologetic promoter of climate catastrophe. Its scientific credibility is nil. Its reports are filled with unsupported fantasy and cherry-picked data.

The USGCRP’s most recent report is the Fourth National Climate Assessment | Volume I. The report is nearly 500 pages long and over 100 authors, editors, contributors, etc. are listed. Although the report if filled with dubious claims, bad methodology and just plain scare stories, refuting the report page by page is an impossible task. It is much easier to make wild claims than it is to explain why these claims are fantasies or even to point out reasons for skepticism. Many scientists have criticized this report as deceptive, politicized and containing outright lies. See, for example: here, here, here, here, here and here.

The USGCRP report gives away the game because the “key findings” are based on the “authors’ expert judgment of the synthesis of the assessed literature.” In other words the report is nothing more than the authors supposedly expert judgment. If the authors’ expert judgment does not predict a climate catastrophe, then there is no need for the report and the authors would soon be unemployed.

Predicting the future climate of the Earth by using computer models is not solid science. The predictions are subject to manipulation and uncertainty. Predictions are made by averaging the results from models that don’t agree with each other, and that don’t even use the same climate histories to calibrate the models. At best the methodology is highly dubious, at worst the methodology is simply a pseudoscientific smokescreen designed to produce a predetermined result. The output of the models, in the words of an important scientist, bear no resemblance to the actual climate of the Earth. Yet, to a layman reading the impressive and voluminous reports, it may seem that climate prediction is on a par with using computers to predict eclipses.

Mother Nature is not cooperating with fake global warming science because the Earth has failed to warm for the last two decades. That simple fact is obscured by the propaganda of the climate catastrophe industry.

Back in 2011 I attended several meetings of the Federal Advisory Committee for the USGCRP when the previous report, published in 2013, was in preparation. I wrote an article detailing the fake nature of the advisory committee. Federal advisory committees are supposed to represent a wide spectrum of views, but this committee was specially selected to support a predetermined outcome. In any case, the committee had no interest in discussing, much less disputing, the global warming catastrophe theory. The committee was only interested in the best way to present propaganda supporting the catastrophe theory.

Opinion on global warming/climate catastrophe is split between Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats generally buy into global warming. The green part of their electoral base represented by fanatical believer organizations, like the Sierra Club, practically forces democrat politicians to preach climate catastrophe. The Republicans are generally skeptical, but sometimes favor green policies such as solar power or wind power. A few politicians, such as Ted Cruz, actually show glimmers of understanding the scientific issues.

As the Italian philosopher Wilfredo Pareto pointed out, people form their opinions based on passion. Resort to logic and data is basically window dressing to support their previously adopted opinions. That’s why it is so difficult to make ideological conversions by means of logical argument.

Scientists are supposed to be different and form their opinions based on logical analysis. But catastrophe theories are the geese that lay golden eggs. If a school of scientists can invent a catastrophe theory they will be showered with government money. After all, it is the government’s job to prevent catastrophes. There are plenty of scientists for whom science trumps money, but for the important bureaucrat scientists that exercise power and run things, money trumps science by a mile.

Norman Rogers writes often on environmental and political issues. He has a website.

If you want to tell a big lie, a good vehicle is “science.” Like a wolf hiding in a sheep’s skin, lies hide in lab coats worn by liars with Ph.Ds. We are gullible because science and scientists have a positive image. The positive image belongs to the science of the past, before the entrepreneurial idea of inventing fake catastrophes to attract vast sums of government money.

When a lie is backed by millions of government dollars, it is difficult for the truth to compete. The truth comes from scientists not corrupted by money, and from small organizations dependent on private donations. The truth is outgunned by government financed propaganda mills. The promoters of fake catastrophe depict themselves as disinterested idealists. The promoters of the truth are depicted as servants of evil industries, or as mentally disturbed crackpots.

Pravda was the official newspaper of the Soviet Union. Pravda means “official truth” in Russian. Pretty much everyone in Russia knew that there was very little truth in the pages of Pravda. But to publicly dispute the “official truth” was a very dangerous step. Often dissenters were sent to insane asylums. In the United States, as a climate skeptic, you may lose your job. Almost certainly you will be vilified as incompetent. But so far, you won’t go to prison or to an asylum, although there are calls to criminally prosecute “climate deniers.” There are also those who think that non-believers in the catastrophe are mentally ill. The obvious solution is to send the skeptics to prison or to an insane asylum. Why should we think that true believers in global warming, if they gain enough power, would be less totalitarian than communists?

Fake science prospers for a number of reasons. Investigative reporters are mostly ignorant concerning science. The average educated person is equally ignorant. Often those who do understand that something is fake don’t dare speak up because they work for bureaucracies that are promoting the fake science.

Solar power is an example of a fake idea that prospers. Billions of dollars are being spent to install solar power. It is often claimed that solar power is competitive with traditional methods of generating electricity — a completely fake claim. There are plenty of people who have exposed the fake nature of solar power, but their side of the story rarely makes it into the popular media. It is not difficult to understand that solar power has severe problems. After all, it doesn’t work at night. If you mention that fact to a believer in solar power he may suggest that batteries can be used to provide power at night. To refute that the argument gets a bit more complex. Batteries are exorbitantly expensive and wear out quickly. Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine in the day, in which case the battery won’t be recharged for the next night. (See here and here for more on solar power.)

If obvious, stupid lies, like the competitiveness of solar power, can gain popularity, how can more complicated lies be refuted? Frankly, I don’t know. As long as those with the potential to expose the frauds are taken in and those who are not taken in are afraid to speak, it’s hard to see how fake science can be stopped or slowed down.

I spent years going to scientific conferences, reading scientific journals and writing articles to try to expose the global warming/climate change fake science industry. I found plenty of scientists who shared my viewpoint, but most keep a low profile concerning their skepticism. Their children need to eat.

The scientists who openly oppose the climate catastrophe industry are invariably retired or otherwise occupy impregnable positions that protect them from economic retaliation. There are plenty of informed climate skeptics. You can consult a list of 1,000 such scientists that oppose global warming alarmism. There are no young and upcoming climate scientists that oppose the industry. If a young scientist opposes fake science he will be unable to remain in the scientific field. He may not be able to get a Ph.D. and he certainly can’t get a job. Remember, an entire multi-billion-dollar industry is dependent on the public credibility of fake science. Dissent is not tolerated.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a bureaucratic edifice that the Trump administration has apparently neglected to sweep into the dustbin of history. The USGCRP is an unapologetic promoter of climate catastrophe. Its scientific credibility is nil. Its reports are filled with unsupported fantasy and cherry-picked data.

The USGCRP’s most recent report is the Fourth National Climate Assessment | Volume I. The report is nearly 500 pages long and over 100 authors, editors, contributors, etc. are listed. Although the report if filled with dubious claims, bad methodology and just plain scare stories, refuting the report page by page is an impossible task. It is much easier to make wild claims than it is to explain why these claims are fantasies or even to point out reasons for skepticism. Many scientists have criticized this report as deceptive, politicized and containing outright lies. See, for example: here, here, here, here, here and here.

The USGCRP report gives away the game because the “key findings” are based on the “authors’ expert judgment of the synthesis of the assessed literature.” In other words the report is nothing more than the authors supposedly expert judgment. If the authors’ expert judgment does not predict a climate catastrophe, then there is no need for the report and the authors would soon be unemployed.

Predicting the future climate of the Earth by using computer models is not solid science. The predictions are subject to manipulation and uncertainty. Predictions are made by averaging the results from models that don’t agree with each other, and that don’t even use the same climate histories to calibrate the models. At best the methodology is highly dubious, at worst the methodology is simply a pseudoscientific smokescreen designed to produce a predetermined result. The output of the models, in the words of an important scientist, bear no resemblance to the actual climate of the Earth. Yet, to a layman reading the impressive and voluminous reports, it may seem that climate prediction is on a par with using computers to predict eclipses.

Mother Nature is not cooperating with fake global warming science because the Earth has failed to warm for the last two decades. That simple fact is obscured by the propaganda of the climate catastrophe industry.

Back in 2011 I attended several meetings of the Federal Advisory Committee for the USGCRP when the previous report, published in 2013, was in preparation. I wrote an article detailing the fake nature of the advisory committee. Federal advisory committees are supposed to represent a wide spectrum of views, but this committee was specially selected to support a predetermined outcome. In any case, the committee had no interest in discussing, much less disputing, the global warming catastrophe theory. The committee was only interested in the best way to present propaganda supporting the catastrophe theory.

Opinion on global warming/climate catastrophe is split between Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats generally buy into global warming. The green part of their electoral base represented by fanatical believer organizations, like the Sierra Club, practically forces democrat politicians to preach climate catastrophe. The Republicans are generally skeptical, but sometimes favor green policies such as solar power or wind power. A few politicians, such as Ted Cruz, actually show glimmers of understanding the scientific issues.

As the Italian philosopher Wilfredo Pareto pointed out, people form their opinions based on passion. Resort to logic and data is basically window dressing to support their previously adopted opinions. That’s why it is so difficult to make ideological conversions by means of logical argument.

Scientists are supposed to be different and form their opinions based on logical analysis. But catastrophe theories are the geese that lay golden eggs. If a school of scientists can invent a catastrophe theory they will be showered with government money. After all, it is the government’s job to prevent catastrophes. There are plenty of scientists for whom science trumps money, but for the important bureaucrat scientists that exercise power and run things, money trumps science by a mile.

Norman Rogers writes often on environmental and political issues. He has a website.



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The Pox of Materialism


There is nothing wrong with the good things of life: the pleasure of leisure, the joy of good wine and good food, the happiness of dance and music, the comfort of a nice home, the delight of travel and all the other stuff of life.  But there is everything wrong with making these things the center of our lives and the measure of our success. 

This is precisely the attitude of all the hateful totalitarianisms of the last century.  All railed about the wrong allocation of “stuff” or the need for a state plan that would produce more stuff for the masses.  While we are not as evil or dishonest as Bolsheviks or Nazis, the character of our spiritual disease is the same.

Materialism is the worship of the gadgets, cars, vacations, homes, food, and such things in place of the worship of the Creator of these things and the values of honor, compassion, sacrifice, decency, and love.  The more we worship stuff, the less we care about what is really important in life. 

The more we judge our lives by stuff, the more addictive it becomes to us.  Like all narcotics, stuff grabs hold of us, and we must have bigger and bigger fixes of stuff to satisfy, for the moment, our insatiable appetite for more.

We see the consequences of this addiction all around us.  Politicians prattle on about the vital importance of the economy or the proper distribution of national wealth despite the fact that Americans live much better than they did fifty years ago.  No one is really hungry in America anymore, and our “poverty” is largely a lack of relative affluence in a land filled to the bursting point with stuff.

One might think that in a land where the greatest health problem is obesity from overeating and the greatest mental health problem is boredom leading to pathetically puerile electronic games, all of us would see that we are rich by the standards of any other age of mankind.

When your whole universe is simply stuff, however, all perspective is savaged, and all sense of value is warped.  Most of us think like Hollywood stars or sports heroes or wildly successful businessmen and assume that stuff is all there is in life and that no value above economic value can exist.

The inevitable descent into seedy and unsavory lust of stuff slowly dissolves all real hope in life to nothingness, because life inevitably ends in death.  If this is all there is – or, more precisely, if we behave as if this were all there is – then there is truly nothing at all of value in life.  The dismal, shadowy realm of naked materialism will engulf and devour our souls. 

The tonic is faith in something greater than stuff, but that trust in the transcendent instead of the transitory is harder and harder to find in our world today.  Europe is almost totally materialistic, and faith has dwindled into almost nonexistence in many European nations.  The other English-speaking democracies like Britain, Canada, and Australia are just about as interested in stuff rather than spirit. 

Dreadfully, Islam has more support in our world today than Christianity or Judaism, which means that when people look for something greater than stuff, they find it in Islam.  The prospect of an increasingly atheistic Europe surviving an invasion by radical Islam grows more hopeless by the day. 

The contempt young Muslims have for stuff-mongers in Europe, who are concerned more about their pensions than their souls, has a perverse logic to it.  Why respect someone who behaves like an amoral and gluttonous rodent and not a divinely created man?  If these Europeans behave as if they had no souls, then why treat them as if they have souls?  This seems cruel to us, but we permit – even fund – each year the murder of half a million unborn babies based upon equally macabre reasoning.

Stuff can never make us good, never make us happy, never find us peace, and never provide meaning to our lives.  In its proper and narrow place, stuff serves a purpose, but when we make it the center of our lives, we lose everything.

There is nothing wrong with the good things of life: the pleasure of leisure, the joy of good wine and good food, the happiness of dance and music, the comfort of a nice home, the delight of travel and all the other stuff of life.  But there is everything wrong with making these things the center of our lives and the measure of our success. 

This is precisely the attitude of all the hateful totalitarianisms of the last century.  All railed about the wrong allocation of “stuff” or the need for a state plan that would produce more stuff for the masses.  While we are not as evil or dishonest as Bolsheviks or Nazis, the character of our spiritual disease is the same.

Materialism is the worship of the gadgets, cars, vacations, homes, food, and such things in place of the worship of the Creator of these things and the values of honor, compassion, sacrifice, decency, and love.  The more we worship stuff, the less we care about what is really important in life. 

The more we judge our lives by stuff, the more addictive it becomes to us.  Like all narcotics, stuff grabs hold of us, and we must have bigger and bigger fixes of stuff to satisfy, for the moment, our insatiable appetite for more.

We see the consequences of this addiction all around us.  Politicians prattle on about the vital importance of the economy or the proper distribution of national wealth despite the fact that Americans live much better than they did fifty years ago.  No one is really hungry in America anymore, and our “poverty” is largely a lack of relative affluence in a land filled to the bursting point with stuff.

One might think that in a land where the greatest health problem is obesity from overeating and the greatest mental health problem is boredom leading to pathetically puerile electronic games, all of us would see that we are rich by the standards of any other age of mankind.

When your whole universe is simply stuff, however, all perspective is savaged, and all sense of value is warped.  Most of us think like Hollywood stars or sports heroes or wildly successful businessmen and assume that stuff is all there is in life and that no value above economic value can exist.

The inevitable descent into seedy and unsavory lust of stuff slowly dissolves all real hope in life to nothingness, because life inevitably ends in death.  If this is all there is – or, more precisely, if we behave as if this were all there is – then there is truly nothing at all of value in life.  The dismal, shadowy realm of naked materialism will engulf and devour our souls. 

The tonic is faith in something greater than stuff, but that trust in the transcendent instead of the transitory is harder and harder to find in our world today.  Europe is almost totally materialistic, and faith has dwindled into almost nonexistence in many European nations.  The other English-speaking democracies like Britain, Canada, and Australia are just about as interested in stuff rather than spirit. 

Dreadfully, Islam has more support in our world today than Christianity or Judaism, which means that when people look for something greater than stuff, they find it in Islam.  The prospect of an increasingly atheistic Europe surviving an invasion by radical Islam grows more hopeless by the day. 

The contempt young Muslims have for stuff-mongers in Europe, who are concerned more about their pensions than their souls, has a perverse logic to it.  Why respect someone who behaves like an amoral and gluttonous rodent and not a divinely created man?  If these Europeans behave as if they had no souls, then why treat them as if they have souls?  This seems cruel to us, but we permit – even fund – each year the murder of half a million unborn babies based upon equally macabre reasoning.

Stuff can never make us good, never make us happy, never find us peace, and never provide meaning to our lives.  In its proper and narrow place, stuff serves a purpose, but when we make it the center of our lives, we lose everything.



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Remembrance Day and Lessons Forgotten


Rupert Brooke, perhaps the literary dandy prototype, product of Rugby and Cambridge, before his death in 1915 while an officer for the Royal Navy, penned the typical overwrought elegy, exhorting gallantry, elevating the supreme sacrifice as a handmaiden to duty, and fealty in his “Soldier”:

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s
some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air…


 

Wilfred Owen, whose literary education was more hand hewn than Brooke’s, but who was a more gifted writer, was an infantry officer that suffered multiple near fatal concussions from artillery shell blasts, finally was killed four days before the Armistice in 1918, after being awarded the Military Cross for bravery.

Owen’s immediate taste and smell of the unvarnished wretchedness, and raw terror of battle is front-and-center in his “Dulce et Decorum Est”, drafted in 1917, published posthumously in 1920:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,


Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, 


Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, 


And towards our distant rest began to trudge. 


Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, 


But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; 


Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots 


Of gas-shells dropping softly behind. 


 


Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling 


Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, 


But someone still was yelling out and stumbling 


And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—


Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, 


As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 


 


In all my dreams before my helpless sight, 


He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 


 


If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace 


Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 


And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 


His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; 


If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 


Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 


Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud 


Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,— 


My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 


To children ardent for some desperate glory, 


The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est 


Pro patria mori.


 

Note: Latin phrase is from the Roman poet Horace: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”

Source: Poems (Viking Press, 1921)

Nearly thirty years later, the American sometime poet but mostly literary critic Randall Jarrell, who served in the WWII US Army Air Corps based in Britain, seized the summit of the genre in a terse five stanza Caravaggio style declaration, revealing the brutal clarity of war, and the men summoned to fight, and perish, alone and undignified in his “Death of the Ball-Turret Gunner”:

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.

Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,

I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.

When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

It has been one hundred years since American soldiers were sent to France. Like Great Britain, the only other steadfast bastion of civil liberties since the late 18th century, America sought to confine its necessary military campaigns to foreign lands in preserving a constitutional democratic republic, and a constitutional monarchy, sparing America’s continent, and Britain’s island.

The sum of Great Britain’s sacrifice is staggering. Death in the trenches, amongst the icy waters of Scapa Flow, and Dunkirk. All to protect an island from the ravages of dark, and Godless ideologies.

Who remembers those sacrifices? Who remembers Winston Churchill’s speech in 1940 to the House of Commons, right after the ignominy of the evacuation from Dunkirk:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Is it all in vain, seventy-five years later? In the 20th century over a million British servicemen, and women, perished to preserve their island and a way of life. The generation that came of age in the 1940s has been replaced by their children, and grandchildren, now infected with the incurable morbid diseases of politically correct progressive collectivism, socialism’s path of least resistance, and secular laziness.

National security, and fidelity to a nation’s sovereignty is now labeled xenophobia, and worse. 400,000 Britons perished in WWII to rid the world of Nazism, Churchill’s nemesis.

Today radical Islamic barbarians — free ranging Muslim anarchists — are given a hero’s welcome, with open border immigration policies that invite unmitigated and abject dread, the most recent evil visiting the innocent concert goers in Manchester, the bombing victims primarily children.

The Times of London now reports that some 23,000 Muslim jihadists are in Britain, all recent émigrés — numbers roughly equivalent to two German WWII divisions. Imagine not a shot fired, nor a single Sptifire or Hurricane fighter sent aloft. Two WWII German divisions given BritRail passes from Dover to London to Durham.

Who will remember? Who will defend that island, and our continent from the unspeakable horrors of an indiscriminate assault on western civilization?

When the State, governed by an elite faction in a temporary protectorate, shall no longer remember its ideals, indeed repudiate foundational principles, who shall defend the rest of us?

Well, Wilfred Owen, and Randall Jarrell had it right. Dying for the State is grievous, not glorious, when the State is willing to stuff its children into its own ideological ball-turret, then wash them out with a hose.

Who is Winston Churchill to this generation? An historical trifle, another dead white guy reeking of privilege, and toxic masculinity?  Or instead will anyone remember Churchill as the last defender of the western canon, his singing Sunday service hymns with FDR in 1941 on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland? Who will remember?

If the generation born in this decade can somehow recall the exploits of their great-grandfathers, and the reasons why those exploits mattered, they may be willing to emulate those historical offerings of a holy gift, for a noble purpose. If not, submission will lead to subjugation, and slaughter. And no one will remember.

On this Remembrance Day 99 years later, recall that some 750,000 British soldiers, marines, and sailors were killed in WWI; nearly 400,000 more in WWII.

The most heralded British war poets, emerging in 1915, were not practitioners of armchair verse. They were officers, and men, at the front in the trenches. Over four years their tone changed from lofty patriotic apologetics, to stark portraits of everyday horrors, and instant death within arm’s reach.

The British Legion commemorates Remembrance Day

Rupert Brooke, perhaps the literary dandy prototype, product of Rugby and Cambridge, before his death in 1915 while an officer for the Royal Navy, penned the typical overwrought elegy, exhorting gallantry, elevating the supreme sacrifice as a handmaiden to duty, and fealty in his “Soldier”:

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s
some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air…


 

Wilfred Owen, whose literary education was more hand hewn than Brooke’s, but who was a more gifted writer, was an infantry officer that suffered multiple near fatal concussions from artillery shell blasts, finally was killed four days before the Armistice in 1918, after being awarded the Military Cross for bravery.

Owen’s immediate taste and smell of the unvarnished wretchedness, and raw terror of battle is front-and-center in his “Dulce et Decorum Est”, drafted in 1917, published posthumously in 1920:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,


Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, 


Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, 


And towards our distant rest began to trudge. 


Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, 


But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; 


Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots 


Of gas-shells dropping softly behind. 


 


Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling 


Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, 


But someone still was yelling out and stumbling 


And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—


Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, 


As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 


 


In all my dreams before my helpless sight, 


He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 


 


If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace 


Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 


And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 


His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; 


If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 


Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 


Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud 


Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,— 


My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 


To children ardent for some desperate glory, 


The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est 


Pro patria mori.


 

Note: Latin phrase is from the Roman poet Horace: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”

Source: Poems (Viking Press, 1921)

Nearly thirty years later, the American sometime poet but mostly literary critic Randall Jarrell, who served in the WWII US Army Air Corps based in Britain, seized the summit of the genre in a terse five stanza Caravaggio style declaration, revealing the brutal clarity of war, and the men summoned to fight, and perish, alone and undignified in his “Death of the Ball-Turret Gunner”:

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.

Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,

I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.

When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

It has been one hundred years since American soldiers were sent to France. Like Great Britain, the only other steadfast bastion of civil liberties since the late 18th century, America sought to confine its necessary military campaigns to foreign lands in preserving a constitutional democratic republic, and a constitutional monarchy, sparing America’s continent, and Britain’s island.

The sum of Great Britain’s sacrifice is staggering. Death in the trenches, amongst the icy waters of Scapa Flow, and Dunkirk. All to protect an island from the ravages of dark, and Godless ideologies.

Who remembers those sacrifices? Who remembers Winston Churchill’s speech in 1940 to the House of Commons, right after the ignominy of the evacuation from Dunkirk:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Is it all in vain, seventy-five years later? In the 20th century over a million British servicemen, and women, perished to preserve their island and a way of life. The generation that came of age in the 1940s has been replaced by their children, and grandchildren, now infected with the incurable morbid diseases of politically correct progressive collectivism, socialism’s path of least resistance, and secular laziness.

National security, and fidelity to a nation’s sovereignty is now labeled xenophobia, and worse. 400,000 Britons perished in WWII to rid the world of Nazism, Churchill’s nemesis.

Today radical Islamic barbarians — free ranging Muslim anarchists — are given a hero’s welcome, with open border immigration policies that invite unmitigated and abject dread, the most recent evil visiting the innocent concert goers in Manchester, the bombing victims primarily children.

The Times of London now reports that some 23,000 Muslim jihadists are in Britain, all recent émigrés — numbers roughly equivalent to two German WWII divisions. Imagine not a shot fired, nor a single Sptifire or Hurricane fighter sent aloft. Two WWII German divisions given BritRail passes from Dover to London to Durham.

Who will remember? Who will defend that island, and our continent from the unspeakable horrors of an indiscriminate assault on western civilization?

When the State, governed by an elite faction in a temporary protectorate, shall no longer remember its ideals, indeed repudiate foundational principles, who shall defend the rest of us?

Well, Wilfred Owen, and Randall Jarrell had it right. Dying for the State is grievous, not glorious, when the State is willing to stuff its children into its own ideological ball-turret, then wash them out with a hose.

Who is Winston Churchill to this generation? An historical trifle, another dead white guy reeking of privilege, and toxic masculinity?  Or instead will anyone remember Churchill as the last defender of the western canon, his singing Sunday service hymns with FDR in 1941 on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland? Who will remember?

If the generation born in this decade can somehow recall the exploits of their great-grandfathers, and the reasons why those exploits mattered, they may be willing to emulate those historical offerings of a holy gift, for a noble purpose. If not, submission will lead to subjugation, and slaughter. And no one will remember.



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Roy Moore Gets the Herman Cain Treatment


It was déjà vu all over again as the Washington Post, who has endorsed his opponent in the Alabama Senate race, brought forth 40-year-old sexual molestation accusations against Judge Roy Moore. From Clarence Thomas, to the Duke lacrosse team, to the University of Virginia rape case, to Herman Cain, we have heard such charges before and the rush to judgment that follows.

Moore’s accusers issue the boilerplate caveat that if the charges are true, he should exit the public stage immediately in shame and certainly that is true. Then they quickly throw him under the guilty-as-charged bus that just ran over his presumption of innocence.

It matters not that Judge Roy Moore has been in Alabama politics for decades and his accusers were silent — silent until he threatened the establishment by being a credible candidate for the U.S. Senate, having dispatched the establishment candidate, Luther Strange, in the Alabama primary. Had Moore lost the primary, it is doubtful these accusations would have surfaced. If he withdraws as his critics urge, his accusers will likely vanish into the woodwork as quickly as the accusers of Herman Cain did, their mission accomplished, after he abandoned his presidential run that was clearly gaining momentum.

In Moore’s case, as with others like his, it’s sentence first, trial later.  Sen. John McCain, who opposes all things Trump, leading the charge of those grabbing some rope and heading to the nearest tree:

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) called on Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore to “immediately step aside” on Thursday, faster than you can say “Anita Hill.” in the wake of a report that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney….


 “The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying,” McCain wrote. “He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.”

Some, like Jion Street at the anti-Trump RedState, have taken to sliming those Moore supporters who believe in the presumption of innocence by comparing them to defenders of Bill Clinton:

For years, multiple women have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexually harassing them. Some have even accused him of rape. But, to date, none of those accusations have been tried in a court of law. Therefore, none have been formally proven…


My point in relitigating the Clinton scandals is to draw a correlation between these incidents and the Washington Post’s report on Thursday that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore allegedly made sexual advances on a 14-year-old girl in the late 1970s, when he was 32-years-old.

Daresay that the allegations against Bill Clinton, the man who lied when said he never have sex with “that woman… Monica Lewinsky,” are more credible and documented than the decades-old charges against Judge Roy Moore. Maybe we should ask Juanita Broaddrick about that.

We have seen it all before. Accusations of being a sexual predator were leveled against President Trump during the campaign.  So-called feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, who showed up with a group of Herman Cain accusers in 2012 to similarly attempt to derail the presidential run of a powerful and successful Republican businessman:

It doesn’t matter if the charges are false. Accusations make page one while the truth later winds up at the bottom of the classifieds. Cain’s candidacy was derailed after repeated and unproven sexual harassment allegations by former employees. But like Harry Reid’s tax lies about Mitt Romney, it worked. That is the goal of Judge Roy Moore’s accusers. Why raise the charges now after being silent for decades?

Trump accuser Jessica Leeds’ accusation was accepted as credible immediately. Smear first, prove later. Guilty until proven innocent. It worked with Romney and Cain, why not Judge Roy Moore? But the rush to believe the claims of Moore’s groping stand in contrast to the blind eye given to the claims of Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, and others, claims backed up by contemporaneous witness testimony and a victorious lawsuit by and with a cash settlement to Jones.

As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized in 2011, righteous indignation and claims of victimhood are a one-way street for the liberal grievance industry:

The age of civility, like the era of post-racial politics, is a mirage created by liberals to mute criticism of their policies by committed conservatives. Otherwise, we wouldn’t see the continued abuse heaped by liberals on women and minorities who dare to be conservative, members of the Tea Party or the GOP, or all of the above.


The latest example of leftist vitriol has Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, current radio talk-show host and possible 2012 GOP presidential contender, as its — dare we say? — target…


Where are the Jesse Jacksons and the Al Sharptons and the rest of the racial, gender and ethnic grievance industry amid the chirping crickets? Maybe it’s the self-made successful entrepreneur part that bothers them.


Cain challenges the liberal orthodoxy by saying people should find inspiration in “God, yourself and the greatest country in the world,” not from the government. On that score, he says “stupid people are running this country.”


We are burdened, he says, by “too much regulation, legislation and taxation,” and the “only way to fix our messed-up tax code is to throw it out and put in a whole new system.” He denounces a regulatory burden that places $10,000 in compliance costs on business for every worker hired as we wonder why businesses aren’t hiring.


His is a government that allows wealth creation rather than redistribution and promises a better life for our children rather than an unconscionable burden of debt.

One does not try to drain the swamp without the swamp creatures turning on you. Herman Cain was a threat to their power. So was Mitt Romney. So too is Judge Roy Moore.  If the charges against Moore are true, he should get all that such a person deserves. But if they are not true, where, as Labor Secretary Roy Donovan said, where does he go to get his reputation and political future back?

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

It was déjà vu all over again as the Washington Post, who has endorsed his opponent in the Alabama Senate race, brought forth 40-year-old sexual molestation accusations against Judge Roy Moore. From Clarence Thomas, to the Duke lacrosse team, to the University of Virginia rape case, to Herman Cain, we have heard such charges before and the rush to judgment that follows.

Moore’s accusers issue the boilerplate caveat that if the charges are true, he should exit the public stage immediately in shame and certainly that is true. Then they quickly throw him under the guilty-as-charged bus that just ran over his presumption of innocence.

It matters not that Judge Roy Moore has been in Alabama politics for decades and his accusers were silent — silent until he threatened the establishment by being a credible candidate for the U.S. Senate, having dispatched the establishment candidate, Luther Strange, in the Alabama primary. Had Moore lost the primary, it is doubtful these accusations would have surfaced. If he withdraws as his critics urge, his accusers will likely vanish into the woodwork as quickly as the accusers of Herman Cain did, their mission accomplished, after he abandoned his presidential run that was clearly gaining momentum.

In Moore’s case, as with others like his, it’s sentence first, trial later.  Sen. John McCain, who opposes all things Trump, leading the charge of those grabbing some rope and heading to the nearest tree:

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) called on Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore to “immediately step aside” on Thursday, faster than you can say “Anita Hill.” in the wake of a report that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney….


 “The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying,” McCain wrote. “He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.”

Some, like Jion Street at the anti-Trump RedState, have taken to sliming those Moore supporters who believe in the presumption of innocence by comparing them to defenders of Bill Clinton:

For years, multiple women have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexually harassing them. Some have even accused him of rape. But, to date, none of those accusations have been tried in a court of law. Therefore, none have been formally proven…


My point in relitigating the Clinton scandals is to draw a correlation between these incidents and the Washington Post’s report on Thursday that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore allegedly made sexual advances on a 14-year-old girl in the late 1970s, when he was 32-years-old.

Daresay that the allegations against Bill Clinton, the man who lied when said he never have sex with “that woman… Monica Lewinsky,” are more credible and documented than the decades-old charges against Judge Roy Moore. Maybe we should ask Juanita Broaddrick about that.

We have seen it all before. Accusations of being a sexual predator were leveled against President Trump during the campaign.  So-called feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, who showed up with a group of Herman Cain accusers in 2012 to similarly attempt to derail the presidential run of a powerful and successful Republican businessman:

It doesn’t matter if the charges are false. Accusations make page one while the truth later winds up at the bottom of the classifieds. Cain’s candidacy was derailed after repeated and unproven sexual harassment allegations by former employees. But like Harry Reid’s tax lies about Mitt Romney, it worked. That is the goal of Judge Roy Moore’s accusers. Why raise the charges now after being silent for decades?

Trump accuser Jessica Leeds’ accusation was accepted as credible immediately. Smear first, prove later. Guilty until proven innocent. It worked with Romney and Cain, why not Judge Roy Moore? But the rush to believe the claims of Moore’s groping stand in contrast to the blind eye given to the claims of Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, and others, claims backed up by contemporaneous witness testimony and a victorious lawsuit by and with a cash settlement to Jones.

As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized in 2011, righteous indignation and claims of victimhood are a one-way street for the liberal grievance industry:

The age of civility, like the era of post-racial politics, is a mirage created by liberals to mute criticism of their policies by committed conservatives. Otherwise, we wouldn’t see the continued abuse heaped by liberals on women and minorities who dare to be conservative, members of the Tea Party or the GOP, or all of the above.


The latest example of leftist vitriol has Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, current radio talk-show host and possible 2012 GOP presidential contender, as its — dare we say? — target…


Where are the Jesse Jacksons and the Al Sharptons and the rest of the racial, gender and ethnic grievance industry amid the chirping crickets? Maybe it’s the self-made successful entrepreneur part that bothers them.


Cain challenges the liberal orthodoxy by saying people should find inspiration in “God, yourself and the greatest country in the world,” not from the government. On that score, he says “stupid people are running this country.”


We are burdened, he says, by “too much regulation, legislation and taxation,” and the “only way to fix our messed-up tax code is to throw it out and put in a whole new system.” He denounces a regulatory burden that places $10,000 in compliance costs on business for every worker hired as we wonder why businesses aren’t hiring.


His is a government that allows wealth creation rather than redistribution and promises a better life for our children rather than an unconscionable burden of debt.

One does not try to drain the swamp without the swamp creatures turning on you. Herman Cain was a threat to their power. So was Mitt Romney. So too is Judge Roy Moore.  If the charges against Moore are true, he should get all that such a person deserves. But if they are not true, where, as Labor Secretary Roy Donovan said, where does he go to get his reputation and political future back?

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.



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What We Owe the War Dead


Back in the days before moral relativism and progressive historicism rendered all war (except communist revolutionary war) an unambiguous evil – that is, before “giving peace a chance,” regardless of the conditions upon which that peace was to be purchased, became an unqualified (and therefore non-relative?) good – art about war was expected to comprise both the pain of loss and the legacy of heroism. 

Today, by contrast, “serious” art about war must focus only on the absurdity, emptiness, or futility of it all.  Thus, in an age that conflates its petty materialism with righteous sophistication, we are losing the compulsion to keep faith with those who traded everything earthly on our behalf, in exchange for a bit of eternal dignity.  In neglecting this compulsion, we lose that part of ourselves whence also derives such old-fashioned concerns as conscience, responsibility, and loyalty. 

If death in war is only to be lamented, and its cause decried, then far from paying honor to the “victims” (i.e., dead soldiers), as our self-righteous lamenters claim to be doing, we are actually only absolving ourselves of the truest and ultimate honor we owe the dead, which, to paraphrase the most popular war poem from the age before the folk music leftists got at the topic, is to take the torch from their failing hands and hold it high – that is, to honor the fallen by honoring their cause and their sacrifice with similar, though perhaps never equal, moral seriousness.

This does not mean we must support an unsound or wasteful political decision about a particular war of which we disapprove, merely because soldiers have died in that war. (“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it,” as Oscar Wilde wrote.)  What it means is that men who died, even if unnecessarily, in the name of the general cause of defending the freedoms we enjoy – or rather the freedoms upon which our societies were founded, though we have largely forsaken them today – ought to serve as reminders of the true value of those freedoms, and also as inspiration to rededicate our own lives to preserving or revitalizing them.

In other words, if we feel no obligation to keep our dead defenders alive in spirit through our own choices and actions, then our laments over their sacrifice are nothing but empty self-absolution and self-aggrandizement.  Such, sadly, is the moral position of the so-called free world today, having gradually, or rather “progressively,” bartered away most of the freedoms, traditions, virtues, and wisdom that defined our civilization and made its cause worthy of the blood of heroes.

The West clings to life as a shadow of its former self, so proud of its miraculous material comforts and ceaseless physical gratifications that barely a moment is lost reflecting on our degradations in character, independence, responsibility, and genuine self-determination.  Freedom, for many today, consists of having more TV channels than ever to choose from.  Meanwhile, meaningful opportunities for more substantial forms of self-determination are allowed to narrow and dwindle year by year under the rule of progressive soft despotism, while we smugly flip the channel on our civilizational heritage from the comfort of our easy chairs.

To see the difference between the self-congratulatory “peace-loving” attitude of our time and the properly human perspective that honors the war dead by refusing to let their lives and deaths become meaningless grains in the sands of time, let us take a moment, on this November 11, to read the famous poem paraphrased above, Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” (1915):

In Flanders fields the poppies grow

    Between the crosses, row on row,

  That mark our place; and in the sky

  The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

  Loved and were loved, and now we lie

      In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

  The torch; be yours to hold it high.

  If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

      In Flanders fields.

As McCrae, who wrote this while sitting in the very midst of one of the most terrifying and “futile” wars ever fought, makes clear in his final verse, keeping faith with the dead soldiers consists not in crying, or screaming at gods or politicians, but in taking up the soldiers’ quarrel – their quarrel on behalf of the idea of freedom, that is.

Not the idea of comfort, which those who trekked in worn-out boots through cold mud obviously valued less highly than we do.

Not the idea of pleasure, as surely they felt none while their bodies bled to death in lovely fields of grass.

This is the idea of freedom – for those still capable of grasping a little of what that word meant to our forbears, in the age before the mutual enslavement of progressive entitlements, and moral submission to the collective (i.e., the state), became the norm throughout the supposedly civilized world.

A final note: McCrae’s original handwritten poem uses “grow” at the end of the first line.  Editors changed it to “blow,” as it is still often taught today.  But “grow” is better, and not only because it creates a proper symmetry with “though poppies grow” in the final verse.  “The poppies blow” expresses only that the flowers are moved by the winds, whereas “the poppies grow” is moral philosophy.

The war dead are not simply gone, marked by static crosses in a windy field.  The Earth sends new life forth as a symbol of their living spirit, and a sign to those left behind of our obligation to keep that spirit among us through our own earthly lives.  The poppies – fire-red flowers on long stems – grow from the graves of the dead as Nature’s torches, which, if we refuse to accept them from those “failing hands,” will burn as lonely symbols of our broken faith.

Daren Jonescu writes about politics, philosophy, education, and the decline of civilization at http://darenjonescu.com.

Back in the days before moral relativism and progressive historicism rendered all war (except communist revolutionary war) an unambiguous evil – that is, before “giving peace a chance,” regardless of the conditions upon which that peace was to be purchased, became an unqualified (and therefore non-relative?) good – art about war was expected to comprise both the pain of loss and the legacy of heroism. 

Today, by contrast, “serious” art about war must focus only on the absurdity, emptiness, or futility of it all.  Thus, in an age that conflates its petty materialism with righteous sophistication, we are losing the compulsion to keep faith with those who traded everything earthly on our behalf, in exchange for a bit of eternal dignity.  In neglecting this compulsion, we lose that part of ourselves whence also derives such old-fashioned concerns as conscience, responsibility, and loyalty. 

If death in war is only to be lamented, and its cause decried, then far from paying honor to the “victims” (i.e., dead soldiers), as our self-righteous lamenters claim to be doing, we are actually only absolving ourselves of the truest and ultimate honor we owe the dead, which, to paraphrase the most popular war poem from the age before the folk music leftists got at the topic, is to take the torch from their failing hands and hold it high – that is, to honor the fallen by honoring their cause and their sacrifice with similar, though perhaps never equal, moral seriousness.

This does not mean we must support an unsound or wasteful political decision about a particular war of which we disapprove, merely because soldiers have died in that war. (“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it,” as Oscar Wilde wrote.)  What it means is that men who died, even if unnecessarily, in the name of the general cause of defending the freedoms we enjoy – or rather the freedoms upon which our societies were founded, though we have largely forsaken them today – ought to serve as reminders of the true value of those freedoms, and also as inspiration to rededicate our own lives to preserving or revitalizing them.

In other words, if we feel no obligation to keep our dead defenders alive in spirit through our own choices and actions, then our laments over their sacrifice are nothing but empty self-absolution and self-aggrandizement.  Such, sadly, is the moral position of the so-called free world today, having gradually, or rather “progressively,” bartered away most of the freedoms, traditions, virtues, and wisdom that defined our civilization and made its cause worthy of the blood of heroes.

The West clings to life as a shadow of its former self, so proud of its miraculous material comforts and ceaseless physical gratifications that barely a moment is lost reflecting on our degradations in character, independence, responsibility, and genuine self-determination.  Freedom, for many today, consists of having more TV channels than ever to choose from.  Meanwhile, meaningful opportunities for more substantial forms of self-determination are allowed to narrow and dwindle year by year under the rule of progressive soft despotism, while we smugly flip the channel on our civilizational heritage from the comfort of our easy chairs.

To see the difference between the self-congratulatory “peace-loving” attitude of our time and the properly human perspective that honors the war dead by refusing to let their lives and deaths become meaningless grains in the sands of time, let us take a moment, on this November 11, to read the famous poem paraphrased above, Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” (1915):

In Flanders fields the poppies grow

    Between the crosses, row on row,

  That mark our place; and in the sky

  The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

  Loved and were loved, and now we lie

      In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

  The torch; be yours to hold it high.

  If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

      In Flanders fields.

As McCrae, who wrote this while sitting in the very midst of one of the most terrifying and “futile” wars ever fought, makes clear in his final verse, keeping faith with the dead soldiers consists not in crying, or screaming at gods or politicians, but in taking up the soldiers’ quarrel – their quarrel on behalf of the idea of freedom, that is.

Not the idea of comfort, which those who trekked in worn-out boots through cold mud obviously valued less highly than we do.

Not the idea of pleasure, as surely they felt none while their bodies bled to death in lovely fields of grass.

This is the idea of freedom – for those still capable of grasping a little of what that word meant to our forbears, in the age before the mutual enslavement of progressive entitlements, and moral submission to the collective (i.e., the state), became the norm throughout the supposedly civilized world.

A final note: McCrae’s original handwritten poem uses “grow” at the end of the first line.  Editors changed it to “blow,” as it is still often taught today.  But “grow” is better, and not only because it creates a proper symmetry with “though poppies grow” in the final verse.  “The poppies blow” expresses only that the flowers are moved by the winds, whereas “the poppies grow” is moral philosophy.

The war dead are not simply gone, marked by static crosses in a windy field.  The Earth sends new life forth as a symbol of their living spirit, and a sign to those left behind of our obligation to keep that spirit among us through our own earthly lives.  The poppies – fire-red flowers on long stems – grow from the graves of the dead as Nature’s torches, which, if we refuse to accept them from those “failing hands,” will burn as lonely symbols of our broken faith.

Daren Jonescu writes about politics, philosophy, education, and the decline of civilization at http://darenjonescu.com.



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