Women and Harley’s and Power and War

rftw-flag-bikesSometimes, in my more cynical moments, I think the Monday Holiday Law was enacted to make us forget the cause of the holiday. Proof, I suspect, if you needed it, that I have my full share of the traditional American distrust of the government and all its doings. It may be misplaced but, I’ve always found it a good guide.

But sometimes it backfires because it gives us more time to reflect, and this Memorial Day is one of those for me. As I mentioned last Saturday when General Logan issued the orders to the Grand Army of the Republic that instituted Decoration Day, he specified that it should be done on 30 May, and frankly moving it to 25 May is nearly too far. But there is nothing really wrong with America’s memory, and we know both what and why we celebrate it.

Bruce Catton in describing a route march of the Federal army observed that march discipline was terrible with stragglers all over the place, where men stopped for a drink and a rest and all. He also noted that when the battle lines were drawn all those stragglers were right there, and no armies ever had better battle discipline.

Not because the officers demanded it, a few thought discipline should be like the regulars, but the volunteers, with their mostly elected officers weren’t having it. He made the comment that Billy and Johnny were very much like GI Joe that he knew in the forties as well. American armies always have a sort of loose-jointed, lanky discipline. Pretty much everything important gets done, and on time, but there’s not much spit and polish in evidence.

And that is about as American as it gets, ad hoc, informal, git ‘er done. And that’s what I’ve been thinking about this Memorial; Day: Rolling Thunder. What could be more American than a bunch of veterans, sick of being ignored because of the war they fought in, getting together to commemorate their comrades, and all the others, from Washington on down to those still ‘downrange’.

Stanton S. Coerr wrote movingly about it in The Federalist.

Yesterday, nearly a million sunburned Americans converged on Washington DC’s National Mall for the Rolling Thunder Run, a combination memorial event and motorcycle rally held since 1988. Hundreds of thousands were mounted, roaring one at a time along the nation’s front yard; more than half a million watched from sidewalks, ice cream in hand, yelling and cheering from the sidelines. Wives rode pillion, and flags snapped and streamed behind the bikes: the Stars and Stripes; POW/MIA flags; Navy unit crests; Marine Corps colors; Ranger flags; the yellow and black of the Airborne.

Devoted to good Detroit steel and unmuffled V-twin combustion from Harley Davidsons built in the heartland America of small-town Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Missouri, these veterans celebrate every year, in booming engines and determined presence, the American fighting man. […]

They started gathering early Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Pentagon, that building which sent them to war and their friends to early graves. Looking up from the rally point, these riders could see the Arlington gardens of white stone, thousands of acres of perfect, serried ranks where their brothers lie. Standing sentinel above those rows of crosses and Stars of David, looking out at Washington, is the house which came through the Washington family to Robert E. Lee, and which the Union took from him, its land appropriated for the graves of the Union fallen in the War Between the States.

Low and right of that house, riders could just see above the trees the American flag flying above the Iwo Jima Memorial, Joe Rosenthal’s photo come to life, commemorating the fallen of the Marine Corps’ wars. Carved into black stone on the base of that monument are the dates and wars in which Marines have fought….but only wars which are complete. Iraq and Afghanistan are absent. […]

The Harleys flowed, too. They passed monuments to America’s best moments and her worst: the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the National Museum of African American History under construction, the White House, the Capitol, the National Museum of the American Indian. Black leather, black bandannas, black helmets, black motorcycles, black POW/MIA flags snapping in their breeze, they motored past the quiet white buildings of the United States: government agencies, art galleries. They passed within feet of the National Archives, engine noise thrumming in the rooms that hold the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta. They passed the block-long glass of the Air and Space Museum, the busiest museum in the world, a monument to the strength and can-do know-how of Americans who conquered the skies, won our wars and put men on the moon.

All of this is America. The roads of Rolling Thunder– Independence and Constitution – are bookends to the ideals for which these men joined and fought, and for which their friends died. […]

Returning to Virginia, the bikers did what Americans do. They shut down the bikes and men, women, and engines cooled. They gathered. Some went to visit their brothers in Bobby Lee’s backyard, leaving totems atop the cool white stone: rocks and unit patches and jump wings and bottles of Jack, cards and boots and bullet casings. They turned for the cameras and left space for their brother between their knees. They put their arms on one another’s shoulders and looked at the frozen lives, carved now into the nation’s stone. And they wept.

Reads it all at: In Washington, Motorcycle-Mounted Veterans Remember Their Own

And that too strikes as so very American, veterans parading in good order and discipline without any real semblance of leadership, while the American people cheer. Jess has told us several times that in Britain the military is nearly monastic, separated from the people most of the time. Not here, the American military is the darling of the people, well, the no nonsense folks from the Heartland anyway, it’s quite rare for a soldier out here to buy his own beer. And this in a country that at it’s founding abolished the Army because of its threat to domestic tranquility.

Orwell was right you know, we sleep safe in our beds because of rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.

I spoke above of how the Civil War soldiers always showed up for battle, and here is why, then, and now, they are a band of brothers, who fight for each other, the question really is always, “Who were you with?”

What’s it all mean? Perhaps as usual Kipling put it best.

We cleansed our beards of the mutton-grease,
We lay on the mats and were filled with peace,
And the talk slid north, and the talk slid south,
With the sliding puffs from the hookah-mouth.
Four things greater than all things are, --
Women and Horses and Power and War.
We spake of them all, but the last the most,
For I sought a word of a Russian post,
Of a shifty promise, an unsheathed sword
And a grey-coat guard on the Helmund ford. […]
 
"Heart of my heart, is it meet or wise
To warn a King of his enemies?
We know what Heaven or Hell may bring,
But no man knoweth the mind of the King.
Of the grey-coat coming who can say?
When the night is gathering all is grey.
Two things greater than all things are,
The first is Love, and the second War.
And since we know not how War may prove,
Heart of my heart, let us talk of Love!"

Although perhaps today we should substitute Harley’s for horses, since they perform much the same function, and that throbbing sound of power is also America at its best

I think General Logan would approve

Memorial Day 2015

suvcw1Headquarters Grand Army of the Republic

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If our eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of JOHN A. LOGAN, Commander-in-Chief

N.P. CHIPMAN, Adjutant General

Official:

WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

And so began one of America’s most solemn holidays. It nearly always featured the reading of the names of veterans departed during and after the war. It is very close in meaning to the British (and Commonwealth’s) Remembrance Day, for it too commemorates a lost generation. In 1860 the population of the United States (free and slave) was 31,443,321. Out of that population in the next five years there would be over 600,000 casualties or one out of every 52 people, and they were mostly young men.
They were nearly all volunteers, both sides had a draft but, in both cases it was ineffective and easily evaded. These were men who said what they meant and meant what they said, and proved it with their devotion to their cause. We’ve talked about them before and we shall again but, today let’s listen to some of their legacy, the music of America. This were losses on the scale of what Britain suffered in the Great War, and yet somehow we continued, carrying out our perceived mission.
As other wars happened, the losses in those wars were added to the lists, and the roll of the honored dead lengthened along with the list of faraway places with strange sounding names, which had once seen American soldiers, and their willingness to die for the cause.
And all those people also came to know one of America’s most dread but also most loved tunes, as we said goodbye to our comrades.
And so as you go about your day this Memorial Day, spare a thought and prayer for Johnny Reb and Billy Yank, those Americans who fought so hard for freedom, that they destroyed slavery as a by-product. They are also the only armies I know of that after a battle, or in camp would cheer themselves hoarse for each other.
And in a strange coincidence, today is also the Feast day of the Venerable Bede, that English monk who wrote what is still the standard history of Anglo-Saxon England and has become the patron saint of historians. In these sad days, when many denigrate the Faith of our Fathers, as well as the many virtues of our fallen soldiers, and indeed history itself. It is indeed fitting that we celebrate that these men did indeed once live and continue to inspire us.
Fort McPherson National Cemetery

Fort McPherson National Cemetery

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God
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Planetary Soldiers

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The phrase comes from Robert Leckie’s The Wars of America and has been apt since the Spanish-American War. American Forces have fought just about everywhere and in just about every climate, in defense of freedom. And so this weekend, from Fort MacPherson, Nebraska, to Manila, The Philippines, to Luxembourg, to Cambridge, England and on Robert E. Lee’s own fron lawn, free men and women will honor American soldiers who died for their freedom.

This is Memorial Day weekend when we honor those brave men (and often women as well) who gave their lives to save America, and to keep the beacon that was lighted so long ago, lit. America, the first Revolutionaries, winning our independence in war with the Greatest Empire of the Age, and keeping the torch lit down through the centuries.

On 13 December 1636 a Royal Regiment of Foot was organized in Massachusetts from the pre-existing trained bands. From that regiment once known as the North Regiment is descended the 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts National Guard.

37762_132550020116358_2738621_nThe unit carries battle honors from French and Indian Wars, American Revolution, War of 1812, American Civil War, Spanish-American War, Mexican Expedition, World War I, World War II, Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Iraq War, and Afghanistan War.

Their honors include: Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for actions in the ARDENNES (1944), French Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star (1918), French Croix de Guerre with Palm (1945), French Fourragere (1945).

This is the oldest military unit of the United States formed only 16 years after the Mayflower and in existence for 376 years. From that day till this we have depended on our military for the defense of our liberty and they have never failed us.

Of them, General of the Army Douglass MacAurthur said this

Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefields many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then, as I regard him now, as one of the world’s noblest figures; not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless.

His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast.

But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements.

In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people.

From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage. As I listened to those songs of the glee club, in memory’s eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: Duty, Honor, Country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as they saw the way and the light.

And twenty years after, on the other side of the globe, against the filth of dirty foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts, those boiling suns of the relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms, the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails, the bitterness of long separation of those they loved and cherished, the deadly pestilence of tropic disease, the horror of stricken areas of war.

General MacAurthur’s words seem a bit dated sometimes, his verbiage a bit purple for our tastes but I say the deeds they commemorate are the only justification they need. An example follows.

Some (Unwanted) Advice for Ireland

English: This protester was on his own and let...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of you may not have noticed but Ireland is going to vote tomorrow on ‘Gay Marriage’ That all well and good, I suppose. At least they get to vote on it, as opposed to here, where it is being imposed by non-elected judges with very dubious legal precedents, but we can let that slide for the moment.

There are some lessons here for them, warning: unsolicited advice to follow. First I, like Robert Tracinski, in the quoted article, as far as what the state recognized as marriage, well I can’t get very worked up about it. I too had a strong preference for the term Civil Union with all the attendant rights and privileges of marriage. Marriage is a specific term, based on religion far more than on the state, which is a johnny-come lately comparatively.

In any case, it’s not about ‘gay marriage’ anyway advocates don’t give any more of a rat’s patootie about gay people than they do about women, or blacks, or Hispanics. The gays are simply getting used, still again. It’s all about power and the ability to control the speech and actions of the people.

Ireland is currently engulfed in a bitter debate over a national referendum on gay marriage to be held this Friday. They could draw some useful lessons from America’s own little experiment with gay marriage—which turns out to be a cautionary tale about what can go wrong.

My own position on gay marriage has run the gamut from profoundly ambivalent to vaguely sympathetic. Back when it was still an option, I was all in favor of “civil unions” that would allow gay couples to create the same legal relationship as marriage but without the name. But the idea that gay unions had to be called “marriage” gave me the heebie-jeebies. I was generally willing to acquiesce to the idea of gay marriage, but I feared that gay marriage advocates were seeking to use the power of the state to coerce public acceptance of homosexuality.

Well, there’s no reason to speculate about that any more. We’ve conducted our national experiment with gay marriage and the results are in. After the attempts to force pastors to officiate gay weddings, after that baker in Oregon got fined $135,000, and after the national campaign against Indiana for passing a law that sought to protect religious freedom, I consider those fears fully vindicated.
What we have learned is that, for a very large number of its advocates, gay marriage is not just about seeking a recognition of the rights of gay people; it is also about beating down Christians and coercing them into renouncing their beliefs. If you can brand gay marriage holdouts as “bigots,” that’s all that is necessary to declare them without rights and outside the protection of the state. Their sincere religious convictions are dismissed as a “flimsy cloak of piety” that is “discordant with cultural norms”—as if that were a crime—so everyone must be made to mouth their support for “the law of the land.”

He goes on to make his case authoritatively, I think. Toward the end, he quotes Thomas Paine a couple of times:

There never yet was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once. Time and reason must cooperate with each other to the final establishment of any principle; and therefore those who may happen to be first convinced have not a right to persecute others, on whom conviction operates more slowly.

That was in reference to the lessons he learned from the terror that followed the French Revolution, and it looks very clearly to me that that is where much of the left wishes to take us, we were wise enough the first time around to avoid it. Will we be this time? It’s not looking good lately. The second quote is this:

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

And it is desperately important that we remember that one at all times. And that is exactly what the one promoting gay marriage in Ireland, the US and the UK propose to do. I will never support any person who believes in ‘free speech for me but not for thee’. Then it becomes about freedom, not rights.

Read more at Ireland, Look to America’s Cautionary Tale on Gay Marriage.

It’s interesting to note, as Fr. Ray Blake has, for all the sound and fur, and all the lobbying strength just how few the gays are on the ground.

We don’t have Irish statistics that I know of. The U.S. Department of Health did a survey of Sexual Orientation and Health Among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2013. The survey of 34,557 adults aged 18 or over was published July 2014. They were asked: “Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself?”’ The replies were: Straight 96.6 %. Lesbian or Gay 1.6 %. Bisexual 0.7 %.UK statistics in 2013 are lower. The Integrated Household Survey (2013) found 1.2% of adults identified themselves as gay or lesbian; 0.5% of adults identified themselves as bisexual.If the US percentages are similar for Ireland, we may project the following numbers of people, based on the 2011 Census: Total population 4,588,252. Of these, 3,439,565 were aged 18 or over.We may then estimate the following aged 18 or over: Lesbian or Gay: 55,033; Bisexual: 24,076. Total: 55,033+24,076 = 79,109.The Central Statistics Office (CSO) for Ireland reported that in 2013 there were 20,680 marriages registered in the State, and 338 Civil Partnerships, making a total of 21,018. The 338 Civil Partnerships are 1.61 percent of the total. The percentages may help in having an idea of how many people in your local parish or area identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual – that is, if numbers are evenly distributed around the country. It is possible that the percentages are higher in urban areas and lower in rural areas, due to migration.Same-sex couples: statistics for Ireland:According to the 2011 Census, there were 4,042 same sex couples living together in 2011. Of these, 2,321 (57.4%) were male while 1,721 (42.6%) were female. These 4,042 same-sex couples are 0.34 per cent of families in the State. The Census was taken on 10 April 2011, so we do not know how many of those 4,042 same-sex couples in the 2011 Census are included in the total of 1304 Civil Partnerships registered 2011 – 2013.According to the CSO, the number of same sex couples living with one or more children was 230 (reply received from the CSO in March 2015). This is 5.69% of all same-sex couples.

Read more at A Minority Interest

Now mind this carefully, just because they are few in number does not mean that it is OK to violate their rights, that would be unforgivable if there was only one of them. I just find it fascinating how so few can through their amplification system make so very much noise that we think the foundations of the Republic are shaking. Well maybe they are but it ain’t the gays themselves doing it.

Progressive Authoritarianism

responsibility-42This is quite interesting, and a fair read of where our society/government is trying to go, and why. It also goes into some detail as to why if we are wise, we probably don’t want to go there. By Joel Kotkin writing in The Orange County Register.

Left-leaning authors often maintain that conservatives “hate democracy,” and, historically, this is somewhat true. “The political Right,” maintains the progressive economist and columnist Paul Krugman, “has always been uncomfortable with democracy.”
But today it’s progressives themselves who, increasingly, are losing faith in democracy. Indeed, as the Obama era rushes to a less-than-glorious end, important left-of-center voices, like Matt Yglesias, now suggest that “democracy is doomed.”

Yglesias correctly blames “the breakdown of American constitutional democracy” on both Republicans and Democrats; George W. Bush expanded federal power in the field of national defense while Barack Obama has done it mostly on domestic issues. Other prominent progressives such as American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner have made similar points, even quoting Italian wartime fascist leader Benito Mussolini about the inadequacy of democracy.

Like some progressives, Kuttner sees the more authoritarian model of China as ascendant; in comparison, the U.S. and European models – the latter clearly not conservative – seem decadent and unworkable. Other progressives, such as Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir, argue that big money has already drained the life out of American democracy. Like Yglesias, he, too, favors looking at “other political systems.” .
. .
Progressive authoritarianism has a long history, co-existing uncomfortably with traditional liberal values about free speech, due process and political pluralism. At the turn of the 20th century, the novelist H.G. Wells envisioned “the New Republic,” in which the most talented and enlightened citizens would work to shape a better society. They would function, he suggested, as a kind of “secret society,” reforming the key institutions of society from both within and without.

In our times, Wells’ notions foreshadowed the rise of a new class – what I label the clerisy – that derives its power from domination of key institutions, notably the upper bureaucracy, academia and the mainstream media. These sectors constitute what Daniel Bell more than two decades ago dubbed a “priesthood of power,” whose goal was the rational “ordering of mass society.”
Increasingly, well-placed members of the clerisy have advocated greater power for the central state. Indeed, many of its leading figures, such as former Obama budget adviser Peter Orszag and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, argue that power should shift from naturally contentious elected bodies – subject to pressure from the lower orders – to credentialed “experts” operating in Washington, Brussels or the United Nations. Often, the clerisy and its allies regard popular will as lacking in scientific judgment and societal wisdom.

Unlike their clerical forebears, this “priesthood” worships at the altar not of religion but of what they consider official “science,” which often is characterized by intolerance rather than the skepticism traditionally associated with the best scientific tradition. Indeed, in their unanimity of views and hostility toward even mild dissent, today’s authoritarian progressives unwittingly more resemble their clerical ancestors, enforcing certain ideological notions and requiring suspension of debate. Sadly, this is increasingly true in the university, which should be the bastion of free speech.

I find that there is a lot of truth in this concept, unfortunately like any other closed society, it breeds corruption. Who hasn’t noticed amongst this ‘elite’ a huge amount of influence peddling, not mention pandering, to obtain funding. In Wolf Hall, we watched as Thomas Cromwell curried favor with Henry VIII, do we not see the same process underway (for quite a while now) in Washington?

The killer “app” for progressive centralism, comes from concern about climate change. A powerful lobby of greens, urban developers, planners and even some on Wall Street now see the opportunity to impose the very centralized planning and regulatory agenda that has been dear to the hearts of progressives since global “cooling” was the big worry a few decades ago. This new clout is epitomized by the growing power of federal agencies, notably the EPA, as well state and local bodies of unelected regulators who have become exemplars of a new post-democratic politics.

Of course, this is in large part the model presented by postwar Europe, and we are watching as it demonstrably fails, which makes it less and less likely to be a model we should follow. Most likely the free-est country in Europe is the UK, not least because they share our suspicion of government (although it is not nearly as virulent). But the UK has, since 2008, created more jobs than the rest of Europe combined.

The fly in the ointment here, of course, remains the electorate. Even in one-party California, local constituents are not always eager to follow the edicts of the nascent “new Republic” if it too strongly affects their lives, for example, by forcibly densifying their neighborhoods. Resistance to an imposed progressive agenda is stronger elsewhere, particularly in the deep red states of the Heartland and the South. In these circumstances, a “one size fits all” policy agenda seems a perfect way to exacerbate the already bitter and divisive mood.

Perhaps the best solution lies with the Constitution itself. Rather than run away from it, as Yglesias and others suggest, we should draw inspiration from the founders acceptance of political diversity. Instead of enforcing unanimity from above, the structures of federalism should allow greater leeway at the state level, as well as among the more local branches of government.
Even more than at the time of its founding, America is a vast country with multiple cultures and economies. What appeals to denizens of tech-rich trustifarian San Francisco does not translate so well to materially oriented, working-class Houston, or, for that matter, the heavily Hispanic and agriculture-oriented interior of California. Technology allows smaller units of government greater access to information; within reason, and in line with basic civil liberties, communities should be able to shape policies that make sense in their circumstances.

This is, of course, nothing less than the federalism the founders designed into our system, which wasn’t new, even then, the catholic Church calls it subsidiarity, although it, like politicians, has always had trouble practicing it. In the eighteenth century as in the twenty-first, America is simply too large to be governed by an elite, centered in the capital, let alone by a clerisy without the requisite skill to understand even the concepts of what most people do.

One possible group that could change this are voters, including millennials. It turns out that this generation is neither the reserve army imagined by progressives or the libertarian base hoped for by some conservatives. Instead, notes Pew, millennials are increasingly nonpartisan. They maintain some liberal leanings, for example, on the importance of social justice and support for gay marriage. But their views on other issues, such as abortion and gun control, track closely with to those of earlier generations. The vast majority of millennials, for example, thinks the trend toward having children out of wedlock is bad for society. Even more surprisingly, they are less likely than earlier generations to consider themselves environmentalists.

They also tend to be skeptical toward overcentralized government. As shown in a recent National Journal poll, they agree with most Americans in preferring local to federal government. People in their 20s who favor federal solutions stood at a mere 31 percent, a bit higher than the national average but a notch less than their baby boomer parents.

If so, and I tend to agree, they may well save us all, simply by thinking for themselves, and acting in their own self-interest. Because I think it self-evident that being ruled by a distant, connected (to each other) is not in our best interest, either individually or as a society.
Hat tip to Gene Veith at Cranach, The Blog of Veith

View from the Trenches: Open Letter to the SARC

Screen-Shot-2015-05-14-at-9.33.52-AMI’m a senior electrician and operations manager. In both roles, my major function is to lead, and to get people to do their best, as well as to get the job done: on time and on budget. In other words its up to me to get the best my people can do, whether they are white, brown, black, or purple; male, female, or other. I just don’t care.

Are you a competent electrician, able to do all of the duties of the position? That’s my only question. Granted there are parts of the job that require physical strength, there are parts that require a certain type of intelligence. If I need five hundred feet of trench hand dug in wet clay, I’m unlikely to (if I can help it!) send a five foot two, 98 pound electrician (whatever their gender) to do it. To me that’s common sense. But it happens, it also happens that I end up doing it myself, I don’t like it either, but that’s life. The mission is the thing. And my mission is to get the electrical done, come hell or high water.

One of the places I learned that was in Air Force ROTC way back in the age of steam airplanes, and I learned it from men who had driven airplanes from England to places like Schweinfurt, and from islands like Saipan to Tokyo. They understood the costs of the mission very well and accepted it. That mission (unlike mine), projecting through air power the overwhelming force of the United States, cost them the loss of many of their friends. They, and their friends, willingly paid it. They were warriors.

And we are lucky, we still have warriors but, it seems to me that the Air Force has forgotten their mission, and become a touchy-feely, don’t hurt me outfit. If so, it has become a flawed weapon, not to be trusted, and that is the point of this article.

I start with the original poster’s explanation of the author because it is right to do so.

Kayce M. Hagen is a pen name assumed by an active duty enlisted airman. She wrote the following words to capture her thoughts after attending mandatory annual training given by her base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordination (SARC) office. I’m publishing her letter here not just because it captures in visceral form a sentiment I’ve heard repeatedly from airmen who are frustrated by increasingly tone-deaf and overwrought approaches to this issue, but also because I believe her input raises (or renews) two important questions. First, what is the current Sexual Assault Prevention program doing for the Air Force? Second, what is it doing tothe Air Force? Kayce’s input explores these questions in a powerful way. Enjoy and respond. -Q.

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Dear SARC,

I got up this morning as an Airman in the United States Air Force. I got up and I put on my uniform, I pulled back my hair, I looked in the mirror and an Airman looked back. A strong, confident military professional stared out of my bathroom mirror, and I met her eyes with pride. Then I came to your briefing. I came to your briefing and I listened to you talk to me, at times it seemed directly to me, about sexual assault. You talked about a lot of things, about rivers and bridges, you talked about saving people and victimization. In fact you talked for almost a full ninety minutes, and you disgusted me.

You made me a victim today, and I am nobody’s victim. I am an American Airman in the most powerful Air Force in the world, and you made me into a helpless whore. A sensitive, defenseless woman who has no power to protect herself, who has nothing in common with the men she works with. You made me untouchable, and by doing that you made me a target. You gave me a transparent parasol, called it an umbrella and told me to stand idly by while you placed everything from rape to inappropriate shoulder brushes in a crowded hallway underneath it. You put my face up on your slides; my face, my uniform, my honor, and you made me hold this ridiculous contraption of your own devising and called me empowered. You called me strong. You told me, and everyone else who was listening to you this morning that I had a right to dictate what they said. That I had a right to dictate what they looked at. That I had a right to dictate what they listened to. That somehow, in my shop, I was the only person who mattered. That they can’t listen to the radio because they might play the Beatles, or Sir Mix-A-Lot, and that I might be offended. That if someone plays a Katy Perry song, I might have flashbacks to a night where I made a bad decision. I might be hurt, and I’m fragile right? Of course I am, you made me that way. […]

When you isolate me, you make me a target. When you make me a target, you make me a victim. You don’t make me equal, you make me hated. If I am going to be hated, it will be because of who I am, not because of who you have made me. I am not a victim. I am an American Airman, I am a Warrior, and I have answered my nation’s call.

Help me be what I am, or be quiet and get out of my way.

Read it all: One Airman’s View: Open Letter to the SARC : John Q. Public.

There is nothing to add to that, except to thank God for women, no warriors, like Kayce.

Lead her

Follow her

—or—

Get the hell out of her way!

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