On May 22 I wrote the following innocent letter to the LA Times:
The Republican-controlled Congress has voted to violate established procedures so it could honor its own mock patriotism with Nazi-style propaganda. So what else is new?
I thought that was the end of it, but correspondent Dan responded as follows:
Tell you what Rob, You go find a man who fought in the hell that was WWII to make sure that Hitler and Imperial Japan's fascism wouldn't spread over the globe, and you tell that man who saw his friends die, or his family leave while he was gone to war, you tell him he doesn't deserve a memorial. Then continue your little campaign to make Hitler's dream a reality.
We ask that the Government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living...
...We demand profit sharing in big business...
...We demand an end to power of the financial interests...
...We combat the materialistic spirit within and without us and are convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only proceed from within on the foundation of the common good before the individual good.
Nazi Party political program, as printed in Der Nationalsozialismus Dokumente 1933-1945, edited by Walther Hofer
Remember you can only speak the way you do because we are in a country that, so far, has resisted National Socialism. We've only done so because of men like those who fought WWII. You owe them some courtesy, and a thank you. In the end the memorial will mean little to most Americans, and its cost, though high by our standards, is low compared to truly wasteful government programs meant to save us from ourselves. But it will give a glimmer of thanks to men and women who earned it, and may inspire future generations to aspire to that kind of honor and dignity. They may be the generation that keep our children free.
Patriotism should not be a substitute for thought. A political agenda should not be a substitute for patriotism. No one has done more for this country in the 20th Century than the American Soldier, bite the bullet, put aside your rhetoric, and in the words of Jack Nicholson, extend them some fucking courtesy.
>> You go find a man who fought in the hell that was WWII to make sure that Hitler and Imperial Japan's fascism wouldn't spread over the globe, and you tell that man who saw his friends die, or his family leave while he was gone to war, you tell him he doesn't deserve a memorial. <<
Are you under the mistaken impression that this conflict is about canceling the memorial, not relocating it somewhere more appropriate? And obeying the rules you conservatives set up precisely to avoid this government-led rule-breaking and corner-cutting? If that's the case, you might want to follow the news, friend.
Virtually everyone in my parents' generation—all my older relatives and friends of the family—served in the war or on the home front. If you'd like to talk to my mother, she'll tell you to get that Nazi-style memorial off the Mall and put it somewhere else. All us liberals are willing to spend government funds on an appropriate WW II memorial. The questions are what, how, and where, not whether.
Incidentally, if your conservative/libertarian ilk had their way, there'd be no Washington Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, or WW II memorial. Because these are government actions, of course, justified only by an expansive reading of the Constitution. A libertarian who wasn't a hypocrite—if we could find such a person—would denounce rather than clamor for government-funded memorials.
>> Then continue your little campaign to make Hitler's dream a reality. <<
Every item on your list except no. 2 would be fine with me, FDR, Truman, and JFK. Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, who warned us against the military-industry complex, might've approved most of them too.
>> Remember you can only speak the way you do because we are in a country that, so far, has resisted National Socialism. <<
We've resisted Communism, McCarthyism, and several other -isms over the years. Not to mention your capitalist/libertarian predecessors in the antebellum South who felt their right to own human beings superseded the Constitution.
More American collectivism
Of course, WW II was the greatest example of collectivist action in America. In a stunning example of centralized planning, FDR and others deployed both the military and industry to defeat our enemies. If the US had had the isolationist, libertarian government you seem to want, Hitler and Tojo would've squashed us like bugs.
Besides every single war we've won, other examples of America's collective efforts include our national infrastructure (electricity, roads, dams), the civil rights movement, the moon landing, and the Internet. In fact, the information age wouldn't have happened without government aid. From the LA Times, 5/30/01:
As author T.R. Reid recounted in "The Chip," his history of the microchip: "The government's willingness to buy chips in quantity at premium prices provided the money the semiconductor firms needed to hone their skills in designing and producing [the] circuits....As experience taught ways to solve the most common production problems, the cost of making a chip began to fall."
Three years after the government first started buying, the cost fell far enough that the microchip attracted its first commercial customers. It's been a breakneck race to the future ever since.
Anyway, as I said, I know people who fought for this country in WW II. I'm trying not to chuckle at the thought of you lecturing me on my family history when you know nothing about it. Is there any connection between your arrogance and the arrogance of our military "intelligence" that's failed to predict every war this century?
>> You owe them some courtesy, and a thank you. <<
We already paid them back with the GI Bill and other veterans' benefits. These programs are the responsibility of "big" government and would never have happened under a libertarian regime. I usually vote for veterans' bonds when they appear on the ballot. I wonder if you and your conservative brethren can say the same.
These WW II vets can thank their lucky stars we've kept the radical right from destroying the country my people and yours have worked so hard to preserve. In contrast, your conservative brethren have done everything they could to gut programs like Social Security and Medicare. These programs are doing infinitely more to help our veterans than you and your empty thanks are.
When you put your money where your mouth is, then you can talk about supporting our veterans. Until then, we liberals are doing it while you conservatives are merely talking about it.
>> But it will give a glimmer of thanks to men and women who earned it, and may inspire future generations to aspire to that kind of honor and dignity. <<
If it's built in its present configuration and location, I'm guessing it'll inspire a lot of vandalism.
>> Patriotism should not be a substitute for thought. A political agenda should not be a substitute for patriotism. <<
To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, patriotism is still the last refuge of the scoundrel.
>> No one has done more for this country in the 20th Century than the American Soldier, bite the bullet, put aside your rhetoric, and in the words of Jack Nicholson, extend them some fucking courtesy. <<
Is that from A Few Good Men? If it were Nicholson vs. me on the stand, I'd kick his butt, rhetorically speaking.
Again, do your patriotic duty as a citizen and learn to flippin' read. The controversy is about what, how, and where, not whether.
The debate continues....
>> If I am under a mistaken impression, then I have you to thank for it, Rob. <<
No, you have your ignorance of the news to thank for it—as I said. The purpose of a letter to the editor isn't to recount the whole history of an issue. It's to stake out a simple position for the readers' edification. The readers presumably know the history because they, unlike you, have been reading.
>> I was responding to your little letter in which you deride the Republicans as building a piece of propaganda, and you offer no alternative. <<
Do I need to spell out the alternative to pushing through a design in violation of the legislated review process? The alternative is to follow established procedures, as my letter implied.
>> I could care less what the Liberal plan is, I was responding to you. <<
And I was responding to the news—hence the relevance of your ignorance of same.
>> And now, you make a statement that can only be interpreted as against the WWII memorial, but now you say you were talking about an alternative plan. <<
What part of "violate established procedures" are you too stupid to understand? Please specify the word or words so I can help you with your impairment. My original complaint specifically mentioned this violation of procedure, and I specifically mentioned it in my first reply to you, when I said:
"Are you under the mistaken impression that this conflict is about canceling the memorial, not relocating it somewhere more appropriate? And obeying the rules you conservatives set up precisely to avoid this government-led rule-breaking and corner-cutting?"
If you don't understand the continuity between violating "established procedures" and disobeying "the rules you conservatives set up," I'm not sure I can help you. Your reading comprehension level may be too low for me to assist.
>> I've already claimed being a bad Libertarian. Pardon me for thinking for myself and not immediately spewing the party line. <<
You're bad, all right. You hew to the party line most of the time, spouting the same tired slogans. And your occasional deviations from it are patently illogical. "Thinking for yourself" apparently means making up views that often coincide with the libertarian dogma but have no rational basis.
Teddy Roosevelt, a libertarian?
>> No argument, with the exception of Teddy- he was into logical conservation, and "carrying a big stick." If his Bull Moosers were still around, I'd be registered with them rather than the Libertarians. <<
That's funny considering you deplored Clinton's "imperialism." Roosevelt was arguably more imperialistic than any other president. And he was into conservation, period, which would put him at odds with the present administration. There's nothing "logical" about establishing a national park system if you're a libertarian capitalist who believes in exploitation.
Of course, Roosevelt would disagree with you about the role of government and the need to regulate capitalists who run amok. Every good libertarian would be up in arms at his efforts to reign in monopolies and trusts. How about you?
>> Read your Constitution, it supports slavery in three different places. <<
No kidding, soldier-boy. Tell me something I don't know.
I argued that slavery was a capitalist consequence and you respond that it was legal. A lot of things were and are legal but still immoral. Look who's changing the argument now.
>> Of course, you will probably assume now that I support slavery. Just stating a fact, thanks. <<
The fact being that capitalists enshrined slavery in their laws because they found it profitable to own and sell human beings.
>> I don't recall lecturing you on your family history, if you can show me where I did, please show me. I was lecturing on YOU. <<
You go find a man who fought in the hell that was WWII to make sure that Hitler and Imperial Japan's fascism wouldn't spread over the globe, and you tell that man who saw his friends die, or his family leave while he was gone to war, you tell him he doesn't deserve a memorial.
Why would I need to "go find a man" when I'm already familiar with WW II veterans and their beliefs? Telling me I need to "find" someone is the same as saying there isn't someone already like that in my circle of family and friends. Ergo, you lectured me on what you presumed to be my family's makeup, its history, and its familiarity with WW II.
The word "lectured" is particularly apt since you told me what to do, rather than suggesting what I might or might not want to do. Precise word usage is why I'm the professional writer and you're the professional grunt.
Correspondent admits he's arrogant
>> My arrogance as you call it comes from respect for the American Soldier, a legacy which I only aspire to in my own service. <<
I respect the American Soldier too, unless we're talking about you.
>> BTW, you will probably call it a fallacy, but many believe MI predicted Pearl Harbor, and in the name of getting America off it's collectivist ass FDR let those Americans die. <<
I don't take a position on that because I haven't studied it. But I think you mean off its "individualist, isolationist" ass, since isolationism was the major constraint FDR faced.
>> Do you hop on the slave reparations band-wagon too? <<
Did you hop on the pseudo-patriotic "soldier" bandwagon? I guess you get more promotions and back pats if you parrot the company line? You must know all about unoriginal thinking, since you've chosen a profession where you can exist comfortably without having to think at all.
Nope, I haven't come out for reparations in my many writings. In fact, I once argued that there was no feasible way to identify and pay only those whom slavery hurt. But I consider the subject an interesting talking point. It raises issues that people like you would like to dismiss.
>> Sounds like Liberalism. <<
Sounds like Samuel Johnson, one of the preeminent scholars of his day.
>> And you do yours and learn to flippin' write. <<
"The Republican-controlled Congress has voted to violate established procedures so it could honor its own mock patriotism with Nazi-style propaganda. So what else is new?"
I'll put my education up against yours any day, lightweight. What do you have...a BA in religious studies from Podunk U.? When you start making a living as a writer, meeting professional standards every day, let me know. I'm guessing you're far, far from that mark.
>> You did have to do thesis papers when you got that big education, right? <<
Yep, and I always got A's or B's on them. Which probably explains why I graduated cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, before getting my two master's degrees from a top 5 university. How about you, sonny?
>> Our universities are in worse shape than I thought. <<
Our armed forces are in about the shape I thought, since they're relying more and more on high school graduates. If that shoe fits, feel free to wear it.
Why debate the memorial?
People are still fighting battles over World War II, more than half a century after its end. Japanese Americans have demanded reparations for the property the US government stole from them. The Smithsonian canceled its Enola Gay exhibit because we didn't want to admit nuking Hiroshima's innocent people. Disney's Pearl Harbor movie showed few Hawaiian or Asian Americans, even in the background.
The latest skirmish is over the Nazi-style WW II memorial proponents rammed through Congress, which I've written about here. It's part of my increasing effort to cover not just America's multicultural battles, but also the sociopolitical battles Pat Buchanan called the culture wars.
Yes, proponents of a progressive, multidimensional society are at war with the powers-that-be, who are generally white, male, Christian, old, and rich. Although extremist Republicans (if that isn't redundant) have intensified the war in recent years, it's been going on for centuries. When Bartolome de las Casas tried to stop the Spaniards from ravishing the New World, he was fighting a culture war.
This war may never end, but at least we can push the enemy back. A century and a half ago, the culture war was over whether Americans could own human beings. Now we're fighting to protect the environment, curtail society's racism and violence, and level the economic playing field.
We've made progress, thankfully, but there's still a long way to go. Recently an LA Times reader got upset when someone called the Japanese internment camps "concentration camps." Another reader pointed out that not only were they concentration camps, but so were the Indian reservations.
Like Holocaust deniers, these reality deniers want to whitewash history to make themselves and their ancestors look good. But "truth is truth, to the end of reckoning" (Measure for Measure, Shakespeare). Columbus didn't discover America; it was already inhabited. The Pilgrims were religious fanatics who stole land and executed "witches." Washington and Jefferson were racist slave owners. Lincoln wanted to send blacks back to Africa. And almost every president continued the genocidal policies of his predecessors.
I trust the point is clear. We debate these things so we can establish the facts. Or as James W. Loewen put it in his Lies Across America:
America's concentration camps
Mom says: "I certainly agree with you about the WWII memorial."
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