Duty, Honor, and Sacrifice

kipling2_1568898cIt’s been an interesting week, hasn’t it? The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, more news about (not charged) deserter Bowie Bergdahl, and the uproar about the movie American Sniper  bookended by the anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death and funeral.

It has caused me to think a good bit this week on some old (and hard) words, like duty, and honor,  and betrayal, and cowardice, and courage. Wordsworth had this to say about duty

Stern Daughter of the Voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring, and reprove;
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations dost set free;
And calm’st the weary strife of frail humanity!

Nothing wrong with any of that, I think. But it doesn’t do much to speak to the sheer terror of doing our duty, in battle, yes but also, for those of us who stay behind and love them. But duty takes many guises doesn’t it? It’s not always our life on the line, sometimes it’s our reputation, and sometimes our livelihood, and sometimes it gets turned on its head and we are threatened if we do our duty. Doing one’s duty is what built the British Empire and the United States as well. One could call it the chief Victorian virtue.

But then as now there were many who failed in their duty. In our relatively soft and relativistic world, many make excuses for them. But our forefathers had a word,and ugly word, for them, which admitted not wiggle room.

That word was coward. And they would apply it even to one who did his duty in a lackadaisical manner, doing just enough to get by, or finding a safe posting. that type of cowardice wouldn’t get you jailed or executed, usually but it would ruin your career, military and/or civilian, and ruin your chances to advance in society.

And the other thing we see in that society is a willingness to pay the price of the policies one believed in, even in blood. And that brings us to todays movie. This is not a happy movie. It is a movie of duty performed, even unto death, set against the Great War, It is also, true.

 

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

That is the kind of discipline and duty that built our modern world, It is also what is required to keep it strong and vibrant.

We’ve some improvements to make, I think.

Alone and Defenseless

The Equalizer

The Equalizer

Although as we have often said here, protection from criminal acts is not, and never was, the purpose of our second amendment, its purpose is to allow ourselves to defend ourselves against a criminal government, it is a comforting side benefit. It is also one that the cousins, who taught us the lesson, forgot and gave away.

But some are thinking about it again, not so much with regard to its real purpose as spelled out here but, in response to the terror threat, which is certainly valid, both currently and historically.

[…]

Whereas the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons assembled at Westminster, lawfully, fully and freely representing all the estates of the people of this realm, did upon the thirteenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty-eight [old style date] present unto their Majesties, then called and known by the names and style of William and Mary, prince and princess of Orange, being present in their proper persons, a certain declaration in writing made by the said Lords and Commons in the words following, viz.:

Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil counsellors, judges and ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion and the laws and liberties of this kingdom;

By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;

By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates for humbly petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power;

By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the great seal for erecting a court called the Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes;

By levying money for and to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative for other time and in other manner than the same was granted by Parliament;

By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law;

By causing several good subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;

And thereupon the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, pursuant to their respective letters and elections, being now assembled in a full and free representative of this nation, taking into their most serious consideration the best means for attaining the ends aforesaid, do in the first place (as their ancestors in like case have usually done) for the vindicating and asserting their ancient rights and liberties declare

[…]

That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;

That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;

That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;

That election of members of Parliament ought to be free;[…]

From the English Bill of Rights, 1689, and if you’ve been paying attention you will hear echoes of Magna Charta here. This is the primary source document for our American Bill of Rights, and why we defend our ancient rights, so fiercely.

But we do so alone, only America still has some most of those rights. But, perhaps some Brits are wakening up finally. This is from American Thinker on 23 January of 2015.

Alone and Defenseless: A UK Citizen’s call for arms

In August 2014 the independent government advisory group in the UK known as JTAC (Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre) raised the threat level for the entire UK (including Northern Ireland) to “Severe,” one step down from the maximum Critical level, where it has remained to this day some 5 months on. In the words of the conservative home secretary two days ago — attacks in the UK are “very likely.

The threat of marauding gunmen in a city, so vividly illustrated at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket, has been clearly apparent to western nations since the horrific Mumbai attacks in 2008. MI5 have confirmed that the Syrian arm of a resurgent al-Qaeda is planning similar attacks against the UK, possibly by British jihadists who have already returned from fighting in Syria or Iraq. They include plans to blow up a passenger jet, employ Mumbai style shootings in crowded places or even hit-and-run attacks using vehicles (an attack style employed in France in Christmas 2014). Andrew Parker (Director General of the security service MI5) said the number of random “crude and potentially deadly” plots from “lone wolf” extremists was increasing. In a stark warning, he said: “Although we and our partners try our utmost, we know we cannot hope to stop everything.”

This is where we find ourselves now. Every citizen in Europe and the UK faces the risk of an Islamic attack merely while going about normal day-to-day business. UK citizens in particular face this risk whilst being denied weapons of self defense. In the past I have fully and enthusiastically supported the UK’s complete ban on hand guns. But immediately after the killing of Lee Rigby I began to reconsider the wisdom of that ban and I now utterly oppose it. As things stand in the UK, hand guns are illegal. For those shotguns you could own, extremely strict licensing specifically disallows self defense as a motive for ownership and so the old adage “In countries where guns are illegal, only the criminals have guns” is the frankly mad situation we now have in the UK.

Articles: Alone and Defenseless: A UK Citizen’s call for arms.

Good luck to him, he’s right but, I doubt he’ll ever convince many of his fellow subjects, let alone HM Government.

And all of us should remember

When you need the police in seconds, they’re only minutes away

and in Britain the armed police may be hours away.

The Last Lion

Fifty years ago yesterday, Sir Winston Churchill died. It was not unexpected, amongst other things he was 90 years old.

He was many things, really. For most of us (British and American) he was the heroic leader of Britain when she stood alone against the Nazis in 1940. Who can forget

And that was perhaps the moment when the sympathies of America began to align with Great Britain, for indeed this was one of the darkest hours for freedom ever seen.

But there was more to him, He fancied himself as a general, with sometimes disastrous effects, such as at Gallipoli in the Great War. On the other side, he took a boyish delight in leading men, during D-Day the only thing that dissuaded him from observing from one of the invasion ships, was when the King said that if Winnie was going, so was he.

In his so-called wilderness years he warned about the dangers of appeasement (to the point that it has an evil reputation today) and yet Dr. John Charmley has said repeatedly, it is very hard to see what else Chamberlin else could have done. Here is a column from a few years ago that he wrote for BBC History.

Kind history

‘History will judge us kindly’, Churchill told Roosevelt and Stalin at the Tehran Conference in 1943; when asked how he could be so sure, he responded: ‘because I shall write the history’. And so he did, in the six massive volumes of The Second World War. The first volume, The Gathering Storm, describes his opposition to the appeasement of Hitler during the 1930s, and provides the text for a BBC TV drama of the same name.

It is a good tale, told by a master story-teller, who did, after all, win the Nobel prize for literature; but would the Booker prize for fiction have been more appropriate?

There is, in fact, nothing very controversial about the claim that Churchill was alone in his opposition to appeasement; it was one he made himself in 1948, and is generally acknowledged. If you want controversy, it must come in the form of an argument to counter the central thesis of The Gathering Storm, namely that Churchill was right and his critics wrong. This is a difficult task, because The Gathering Storm has been one of the most influential books of our time. It is no exaggeration to claim that it has strongly influenced the behaviour of Western politicians from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush.

Its central theme – the futility of appeasement and the need to stand up to dictators – is one that has been taken for granted as a self-evident truth in Western society, both during the period of the Cold War and subsequently. The evidence for this supposed truth is Churchill’s view of the 1930s as ‘the years that the locust hath eaten’, during which the Western powers, by their own folly, allowed Germany to re-arm; never again, the message went, must this be allowed to happen. It is a good tale, told by a master story-teller, who did, after all, win the Nobel prize for literature; but would the Booker prize for fiction have been more appropriate?

Continue reading Churchill: The Gathering Storm

Dr. Charmley also contributed to a current column from BBC News called The 10 greatest controversies of Winston Churchill’s career.

While I can understand the criticism, and some of it is likely justified, much of it strikes me as small minds applying today pernicious standards of political correctness, retroactively, just as we’ve talked about before in shallow interpretations if Kipling.

Churchill believed in the Empire and that it was good both for Britain and for the colonies as well. If we look at the world today, with the current removal of the Empire and now the retrenchment of American leadership, I find it difficult to disagree too much.

So yes, he had his faults, some of them great faults, he also had great virtues, and more because of his virtues, he has become an icon of Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and the United States as well, for not only is he one of a handful of honorary American citizens (less than half-a-dozen, I think) he was half American, his mother was Jennie Jerome of New York. I think that cross-pollination bore very good fruit, and continues to do so, as our countries go forward together.

FVhF8GU

 

Concealed Carry and the Right of Self-Defense

Feb25We haven’t been talking a lot about this lately mostly because other than a few loonies like NYC’s mayor, few are pushing it. But as always, we need to pay attention.

One thing that struck me as we all watched the events in Paris, is how helpless Europeans have become, simply passive sheep awaiting slaughter. Nor was it the first time these thoughts were in my mind.

Most of you know that I have many friends in Britain, and a while back when Drummer Rigby was butchered in Woolwich, we talked about it both on the Watchtower and I expanded on those comments here. It was very interesting to see the differences in  the American viewpoint contrasted with the British, and I suspect continental Europeans are even more passive.

In fact, the passivity contained in the comment by a distinguished British educator chilled my blood.

We are entirely dependent upon the Police”

My response was as follows:

It’s true of course, most of us have read of British subjects sentenced to life in prison for defending themselves in their home from an armed assailant. And I’m certain I speak for most American when I say, with that system, you are not free. To me and most likely to my compatriots it brings to mind a phrase that Thomas Jefferson used.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.”

Which translates as,

“I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.”

This was brought to mind this morning as I read from Dave “the Sage”, in his usual, calm rational style the case for the armed citizen, which is as true today as it was when the right was written into Magna Charta 800 years ago., thereby codifying an existing right. Here’s a piece  of it:

“A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.” 

–  Sigmund Freud

[…]

The truth is often very simple. The law-abiding, gun-owning citizen is not the problem but for some reason is often the target of those who seek to disarm the populace.

When I received my concealed handgun permit it required little more than having the right sheriff, taking a hunters safety course, filling out a questionnaire, not having a criminal record, and writing a check. They have since tightened the restrictions a bit, but not by much if you know the right NRA instructor. Seventy-five dollars can get you an afternoon of target practice, training, and your ticket to the coveted concealed-carry permit if you are willing to do your homework.

Think of the growing number of concealed handgun permit holders as thousands of walking safety bubbles moving throughout society and undoubtedly crossing your path while potentially protecting you and your family without you even knowing it. You can live as a victim subject to the whim of criminals and crazies or you can live as a free man and have the potential to protect yourself, your family, and your community. I choose the latter.

[…]

No one should insist on leaving entire sections of the community open and helpless to the predations of murderous psychopaths. It is important to attempt to help change a culture that has wandered hopelessly off the path of logic and common sense, and help to rectify the pathetically failed policies that cost some people their lives. I can think of nothing more important to address than that. People are dead because of others stupidity and continual striving for a utopian nanny state. That cannot be excused or allowed to continue anymore.

Free Americans should have the right to defend themselves from the more unsavory elements of society that attempt to prey upon or outright kill them.

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms… disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

— Jefferson’s “Commonplace Book,” 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764

Concealed Carry and the Right of Self-Defense ⋆ Dc Gazette.

It strikes me that the main problem with the Europeans, and with some segments in America as well, is that they have abdicated the right to be a free person, along with (or perhaps because of) the concomitant obligation to act in their own interest. And so they sold their freedom for a little temporary safety, and as always, they soon shall have neither.

Farmers and Senators

So I see that Luke Russert managed to play the fool (again) on twitter the other day with this tweet:

Joni Ernst’s meteoric rise continues. This time last year she was an unknown pig farmer, on Tues she will deliver GOP SOTU response.

Like so many of our elites who have never worked for anything, or learned anything including history, he simply sounded stupid.

Senator Ernst had this to say about her upbringing:

I was born and raised in Montgomery County. I grew up walking beans and feeding hogs. My mom made all of my clothes. We went to church every week, helped our neighbors when they needed it, and they did the same for us. These were the values I was raised with, and they’re the same values I have fought my entire life to promote and protect.

I remember thinking that I like this woman when her first ad came out (yeah, this one)

I’d add

Ernst served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 where her unit was sent to run convoys through Kuwait and southern Iraq. Ernst is still on active duty, currently serving as a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, commanding the largest battalion in Iowa.

In the linked article, Nina Bookout comments:

We know adversity because of weather, banks, taxes, and more. We are resilient and adaptable. We are practical, frugal, knowledgeable, and have a knack for looking at the big picture while taking care of the details. Our day starts at the crack of dawn and doesn’t end until the sun goes down. We check on the livestock and take care of them and the land in every type of weather you could imagine.  We help our neighbors out and don’t expect compensation in return.  In times of adversity we pull together and don’t take the time to wait on the government to “help” us.

Luke, Senator Ernst is all of the above and more.  She is a wife, a mother, a farmer, a solder, and a United States Senator.  You may not be, but this rancher’s daughter is more than pleased to have an “unknown pig farmer” serving her state and this country in the United States Senate.

Senator Joni Ernst: More Than An “Unknown Pig Farmer”.

I would be hard pressed to agree more, as the fourth generation involved in support of production agriculture. She’s one of us, and if she can remain so, she’s going to be a great asset.

And you know there are  precedents in history as well, for a farmer to be a great Senator. quite a while back Jessica reminded us of a very famous farmer/senator, by the name of  Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (519 BC – 430 BC) , one of the greatest of the heroes of the Roman Republic.

And then there is the American president who epitomized those very same virtues, the one who when King George III of England was told by the American Ambassador that at the end of his term, he would retire to his farm said this, “Then he will be the greatest man in the world.” That man was George Washington.

Now to be honest, I doubt Senator Ernst will give either of them a race for their place in history but, she has surely picked an honorable path, and I find it rather scurrilous for her to be mocked by useless mouths like Russert.

Res Publica

Toffee-Nosed Snobs and Colonial Wogs

FVhF8GUWe’re going to lighten up considerably today, although I do have a point. Toby Young had an article in the Telegraph yesterday. It was in the world news section although it would have fit better in the comic blogs section. Here’s a bit

I sympathise with the people of Birmingham. It must be galling to discover that so little is known about your hometown in America that a “terrorism expert” can appear on national television and describe it as a “totally Muslim” city where “non-Muslims simply don’t go”. That claim was made on Sunday on Fox News by Steve Emerson, self-proclaimed terrorism expert and founder of The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

But Brummies can take some comfort from the fact that at least Emerson had heard of their city and knew it was in England. My wife, who lived in New York for a year in her twenties, got a blank look when she told the man running the boxing class at her gym that she was from London. “Is that in Australia?” he asked.

British visitors to America often report how shocked they are to discover how little is known about their country. It’s not that Americans get their facts wrong, although they often do (more about that later). It’s that they rarely think about Britain at all. For the vast majority of Americans, we’re simply not on their radar.

What do Americans really think it’s like in Britain? – Telegraph.

Well, yeah, it was a pretty stupid comment, and I noticed my British friends on Twitter were having a grand old time, mocking Fox News. Of course, we could likely do the same daily to the Beeb, if they weren’t so afraid of letting us see their work.

And in truth, I know many Americans who completely avoid our cities as well, for much the same reason. In fact,  I tend that way myself, if you don’t know the territory, you can get in trouble pretty fast.

The real problem with his article wasn’t the facts, it was the tone. And it was noticed, by me and by Fr. Dwight Longenecker as well. Here’s some of his response:

[…]Notice the way he drops into the conversation that he was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard….the English snobs just LOVE name dropping. They have this expert way of bragging by assuming that you are in the same social class as they are.

My wife, who is from Sussex in the Southeastern part of England, went to an ordinary state school. She once met one of these folks who the English called “toffee nosed”. The girl had gone to one of the most prestigious private schools in the county of Sussex called Roedean. When she met my wife and learned that she was from Sussex she feigned delight and said, “Roedean?” To really get what was going on you have to understand that the toffee nosed gal knew very well that Alison had not gone to Roedean, and by that one word she asserted her social superiority, rudely put Alison in her place and (this is the real killer) considered herself wonderful for doing so.

When I lived in the damp lands I was always tickled by the way the middle and upper class English would use Americans as their favorite racial minority. For them all Americans went around England on big tour buses. They were all in their fifties and named Fred and Doris. The men chomped on cigars, had big cameras slung around their neck and wore plaid bermuda shorts. The women all had a big boobs, big butt, big jewelry and big hair. They laughed at the Americans stepping off the bus in Parliament Square yelling, “Get the camera Sidney! We’re in Paris France!”

It’s certainly true that many Americans are ignorant, but at least for the most part they are cheerfully so.

I used to point out to the English who were laughing at American tourist stereotypes that perhaps they thought this sort of American was typical because they were the ones who stood out. “It might be,” I opined, “that there are many sensible, intelligent, educated and really quite nice Americans who are also here in your country, but because they are ordinary and the fit in you don’t see them.”

Once I got them going I’d push the envelope, asking if they had, perchance, had any experience of the English tourist abroad. In fact the British in the resorts of Greece and Spain are notorious for their drunkenness, lewd behavior, brawling in the streets, vomiting and copulating in doorways. Then I’d remind them of the scourge of the English football hooligans. If the English team was playing anywhere in Europe the other country would board up their shops, close their bars and have the riot police standing ready. “At least fat American tourists from Long Island or Miami are polite and cheerful even if they’re sometimes a bit stupid. The English abroad combined stupidity and ignorance with drunken rioting in the streets of the country their visiting.

English Snobs and Yobs

And that’s how it struck me as well. It also struck me that if Mr. Young had ever crossed the Hudson or better yet, the Appalachian Mountains, he might have found the real America, where we might not be current on the racial structure of Birmingham (England, not Alabama) but we damned well recognize our relationship with our cousins. And we are damned glad they are there.

So it’s a tempest in a tea err coffeepot.

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