They are veterans not victims. Every once in a while, Hollywood captures the nobility of the American veteran. Coming home may not always be easy, but those who have worn their country’s uniform have done much to nurture, shape, and enrich this nation. Here are 10 movies that tell their story.
1. The Searchers (1956)
This story of a complex and conflicted veteran “hero” fighting his personal demons and a savage frontier is widely regarded as one of the greatest American films ever made. It’s based on a novel by Alan Le May which draws from actual events that occurred in 1836. On film, the story is moved to after the Civil War. John Wayne plays one of the three million veterans who came home after the conflict. When his niece is abducted during an Indian raid, Wayne embarks on a violent 10-year search to find her. In the end, he rides off into the sunset, triumphing over both hatred and adversity.
Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day I have one wish: for Americans to mark these solemn days with as much respect and seriousness as our greatest allies in the Middle East, the Israelis, honor their heroes. Today is Veterans Day, and yesterday was the anniversary of the U.S. Marines Corps. Across the United States, we will honor in some strange ways the sacrifice of those who served in our armed forces in peacetime and during war, with sales on linens and kitchen goods being among the most common. On Memorial Day in the United States, a day in which Americans are given the day off to memorialize those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our freedom, we for some reason “celebrate” with beers and BBQ. The juxtaposition between how Americans and Israelis mark the day is stark, and provides lessons for how we can improve how we honor our troops and those who have given their lives for our country.
In Israel, Memorial Day is called Yom Hazikaron. It falls on the day before Israel’s Independence Day — Yom Haatzmaut. The two days are linked — the day of sadness and introspection leads into a day of celebration. This linkage of the two lends additional importance and gravitas for Memorial Day. One day in the future, hopefully soon, generations of Israelis will grow up not knowing war or conflict. For these Israelis, the pairing of Memorial Day and Independence Day will help explain how it is only through sacrifice that freedom and independence come. The feeling of pure elation on Independence Day is felt through the country and celebrated in a multitude of ways, including dance parties in the streets of major cities, like Jerusalem. Israel is a young country, and each generation has faced war. The celebration of the existence and very survival of the Jewish state is one taken seriously by Israelis and Jews everywhere.
On Israel’s Memorial Day all places of entertainment — amusement parks, golf courses, movie theatres, nightclubs, and bars — are closed. It’s understood that this is a day of solemnity, not fun. While schools and most workplaces are closed, it’s not treated as a “day off” by Israelis — it’s a time to truly honor those who have made Israel’s existence and survival possible.
February 1943 Journal entry: The sound of agitated parrots screeching from the jungle below startles me to a wide-eyed awakening. The morning sun is just above the horizon. I pause for a moment to get re-oriented to the surroundings that have been home for the last six months. Living on top of a mountain in the Solomon Islands may seem like paradise, but in these times, I must live like a reptile, below detection, going about my business, which is also the business of Her Majesty.
My vigil is on a tiny island of the Solomons known as “the Slot.” This island makes for the perfect ammunitions and refueling depot for the enemy, which also makes it the perfect outpost to warn the allies of the approaching enemy fleet.
My camp is high on an overgrown plateau, two miles from the bay. Each day I trek along a ridge where I can look northward, out over the south pacific. If an advance comes, it will come from out there, from the north, from Japan.
I travel light, and as far as I know, never leave a trace. I always take a slightly different route so as not to create a path. I also stage my movements to avoid a Zero who flies over on a routine patrol four times a day. As dangerous as this is and as insect-infested and uncomfortable as it is, I much prefer it to the desk job back in Auckland, where the pests are of the two-legged variety. Here I can make a difference.
There is one pest, however, who was always welcome at my desk: Kathleen O’Hara. She has crystal blue eyes, auburn hair, a face-load of freckles, and her uniform is always pressed to perfection. Oh Kathleen, if you were only here now, we would not get a darn thing done for the war effort. On the other hand, if you were here, I would worry.
But now, I need to investigate those parrots; parrots don’t just go loudly flying about the forest without being disturbed by something or someone. They are better watchdogs than watchdogs.
My camp is accessible only by scaling a vertical wall of rock. When I go out on patrol, I leave a knotted rope hanging over the edge; neatly tucked it into a crevice. The rope makes my return climb easier.
Down on my chest, I crawl to the edge of the drop-off, lie low, and peer over the edge. I look for movement and listen for the singsong of Japanese voices.
My best defense is camouflage. I have not had a real fire for weeks. To keep smoke down, I do all my cooking in a tin over a kerosene lamp and stay well sheltered under the cover of dense foliage where it is not possible for me even to stand. Still, you can never tell what a Zero passing overhead might see.
I would never be able to hold off a full-fledged assault if they discover my location. My carbine, grenades and a few well placed booby-traps would only tend to make them more vengeful if and when they did overtake me.
Well, I do have another weapon, a cyanide capsule. Actually, it was more of an order than a weapon. I keep it as close as my carbine. I figure I’ll take out as many of them as I can, set off the booby-traps, then take the pill.
Hello! Something is moving through the palmettos and along the ledge just below.
I pull some fallen palm fronds over my head and leave just enough opening to see out. Suddenly, I hear that approaching Zero, off schedule. It passes over, low and banking. Confirmation: a search party is on the prowl. They’re onto me.
How could they have seen me? I am well concealed. Did they smell me?
I don’t have the luxury of bathing often; they, on the other hand, are obsessed with it. Every evening they go to a makeshift bathhouse in their camp. They marinate themselves inside and out, all in the same effort. They are either clean or drunk or both half the time. That will change when the lads of 3-Divisionland on the south side of this rock.
It doesn’t matter though, if I am fragrance-free or not; something has stirred them up and they are going to keep searching until they find something.
Maybe HQ will call me in, now that I am compromised.
My only escape from the island is by way of one of the Yank subs in the area. I don’t know exactly where they are, but I have seen three Japanese transports explode as they approach the island.
It must be the Yanks out there stirring things up; that’s gotta be why Tojo is searching now. If I can make it through this day, I will radio for help tonight while the Japs are busy with their compulsive bathing.
What was that?
Something just came up hard against my foot. This is it, Jesus save me and God, save the Queen.
PJ Lifestyle begins a new feature in the style of PJ Lifestyle Sunshine, another byline collecting and organizing images and videos around the web. The series now upgrades to a global approach, beginning a series of lists organized by animals and location. Please send in pics and videos of your pets and online favorites to DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com or tweet to @DaveSwindle
The collection so far, future installments will strive to match up videos with their locations:
Chihuahua in Rome
Maura the Siberian Husky in Los Angeles
Dogs and Cats Together
11. Wonder Woman
Her fresh, All-American face premiered on comic book stands during World War II, making her the greatest enemy of the Axis powers. Daughters of original readers would go on to be inspired by Lynda Carter’s televisual portrayal of the superheroine in the 1970s. The Wonder Woman arsenal includes a dual-function tiara with bracelets to match and the awesome Lasso of Truth. Before there was Lara Croft or a chick named Buffy, Wonder Woman proved that strength could be sexy and gave Captain America a run for his patriotism with her flag-bearing style.
John Phillip Sousa on 33 1/3 blasts from the Hi-Fi — yes, you heard right, “Hi-Fi” — conducted by my flag-waving Grandfather, proudly standing at attention at 8 o’clock in the morning in the doorway of his open garage, wondering why it took us so long to get there. We may have been at the shore, but Memorial Day was not about a barbecue on the beach.
My grandparents lived down the street from my Great Uncle and Aunt. My Grandfather idolized my Great Uncle (his brother), naming his only son after his brother who had spent World War II as a gunner on a Navy ship in the Pacific. Having broken his back before the war, my Grandfather wasn’t able to get into the military during the conflict. Instead, he busied himself crafting knives to send to his buddies overseas (yes, they censored letters, but allowed knives to be carried through V-Mail) with the instructions “leave them in the enemy’s guts and I’ll make you a new one when you get home.”
My grandfather also played a key role in the war effort, one that goes overlooked when we take the time to honor the troops on Memorial Day. Recruited by the FBI in 1940, my grandfather and his father played a key role in the creation of the Iowa Ordinance Plant, the largest shell and bomb loading facility in operation during the war.
In the autumn of 1940, when a fairly isolationist population still dismissed the idea of entering into Europe’s conflict, my grandfather was pulled out of his job as a tool and die maker by two fairly typical FBI mugs. They strapped secret plans for a military facility, designed by Day & Zimmermann, Co., to his body and handed him a train ticket and a gun with the instructions, “Don’t be afraid to use it.” At the age of 23, my grandfather was the perfect cover: “If anyone asks, you’re on your way out west to go to college.” His job was simple: Escort his father, recruited by the government for his skills as a tool and die maker, to San Francisco to convene with a number of highly skilled Americans engaged to prepare America for war.
It’s easier somehow, to think of “war casualties” as stark numbers on a spreadsheet, disconnected from the human lives attached to those numbers. Unless a combat death suddenly crashes into our safe little world, we seldom stop to think of the lives represented by those casualty numbers we hear on the news — the families whose lives were shattered in an instant and for whom there will alway be a missing piece. The little boy who was too young to form memories of his father who was killed in action. The father who won’t be there to teach his son to throw a baseball or ride a bike or be a husband. The daughter who won’t have her father there to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. The mother who will grieve the death of her daughter until she takes her dying breath. For those families, there is no list of casualties on a spreadsheet. There is only one casualty that matters — the one that turned their world upside-down and left a permanent void in their lives.
Memorial Day is the time we set aside each year to remember and to show our gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price to secure the blessings of liberty for the rest of us. As we honor that sacrifice, let us also remember the families who bear the terrible burden of carrying on without their loved ones. Those families who will always have an empty place at the dinner table and an ache in their hearts.
“It is well that war is so terrible,” General Robert E. Lee lamented, “otherwise we would grow too fond of it.” On the other side of the Civil War, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman stated more simply that “war is hell.” They knew fighting for a cause always meant good soldiers suffer; some make the ultimate sacrifice; and often innocents get tragically caught in the crossfire. War always comes at a terrible cost.
Here are ten war films to watch this Memorial Day that will make you weep.
#10. Gunga Din
A 1939 adventure film “inspired” by the Rudyard Kipling poem follows the exploits of three British army lieutenants — Cutter (Cary Grant), MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) — on the Indian frontier. The movie is all dash and panache, except for the erstwhile native water carrier, Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), whose only dream is to be a real soldier. In the end, it’s the regimental “beastie,” shot, bayonetted, but carrying on, who saves the day before he falls. Sob along at the end of the film when the colonel declares over the funeral pyre, “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”
Stories about World War II have been a major part of American popular culture for decades. From the Warner Bros. war films of the 1940s to Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and beyond, there is a consistent magnetism towards America’s Greatest Generation and the war they fought against totalitarianism. Many people have relatives who were in the war or have met veterans that have made an impact on their life. Without question, WWII vets are a special, unique group whose stories deserve to be shared.
In The Fight in the Clouds, author James P. Busha organizes the many interviews he conducted with WWII fighter pilots over the years into one volume. Busha, a pilot himself, is also editor of EAA Warbirds of America, EAA Vintage Aircraft Association publications, and contributing editor for Flight Journal. The book opens with specifications about the P-51 Mustang that will be helpful to those new to the topic.
These pilots, like their planes, were tough as nails. The only accepted defeat was death. The tales range from fun practice runs, harrowing fights into enemy territory, and postwar musings. The Fight in the Clouds begins with a powerful introduction about the story of 2nd Lt. James Des Jardins and his brother, who both lost their lives serving our country in World War II. Their story is told, in part, through primary documents in the form of Western Union telegrams. Reading the words of the time always presents a unique and often influential response. This book, according to Busha, was written for those “who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country as they laid their lives on the line to ensure that future generations would enjoy the freedoms and liberties that have been bestowed upon us.”
One of the many stories that stuck out to me was that of Capt. Clayton “Kelly” Gross, who was in a dogfight with “one of Hitler’s wonder weapons,” a Messerschmitt Me 262:
I felt the stick budge as I tried to pull out of my screaming dive. I thought for sure was going to tear the wings off and dive the Mustang deep into German soil! As I pulled out, I found myself right on the 262’s tail. In a split second I lined him up. At a hundred feet away, he was hard to miss. I gave him a little squirt that tore up his left jet engine and shredded his left wingtip. With a moment of greater forward speed than the jet, I overshot him and pulled off to the right. The 262 pulled straight up and I knew the Mustang couldn’t catch him no matter how fast I was going. I thought I lost him as he pulled over a thousand feet away, but I was watching as he stopped in midair and began to tail slide back down. His canopy came off and out popped the pilot. I finally got my jet!
Chief David Oliver put Brimfield, Ohio — population 3343 — on the map with his epic Facebook rants that have gained national attention. The Brimfield Police Department’s Facebook page currently has more than 93,000 “likes.” The police chief started the Facebook page three years ago, hoping to engage with his tiny community, but his blunt opinions mixed with offbeat humor have resulted in a much wider audience and even a book, No Mopes Allowed (“Mopes” is an old-fashioned cop term for criminal types).
Today, Kanye West became the target of Oliver’s acerbic pronunciations when Chief Oliver reacted to an interview in which Kanye compared his career as a rapper to the perils faced by U.S. soldiers and police officers. Kanye told Saturday Night Online,
“I’m just giving of my body on the stage and putting my life at risk, literally,” West said to host Garrett, referring to his tour performances of songs during which he stands on top of a moving mountain.
“That mountain goes really, really high,” he continued. “And if I slipped … You never know. And I think about it. I think about my family and I’m like ‘Wow, this is like being a police officer or something, in war or something.’”
Chief Oliver put Kanye’s flippant statements in perspective with surgical precision:
Dear Kanye West,
I am honored to be writing such an important star. I am a mere Internet sensation. I’m not sure I am worthy to address you, although the Huffington Post did say I was “Humorous and Insanely Popular.” I don’t pay much attention to those things. Anyway, please excuse my interference in your life for a quick second.
I read your interview and also watched it on video. You said:
“I’m just giving of my body on the stage and putting my life at risk, literally.….and I think about it. I think about my family and I’m like, wow, this is like being a police officer or something, in war or something.”
I want to thank you for putting your life on the line for all of us every day. I know that being a rapper is tough work. I have tried to rap, and it is very difficult to keep up with the pulse of the rhyme flow…although when Ice Ice Baby comes on the radio, I can usually keep up with ol’ Vanilla. Anywho, your job is just some very dangerous work. Most people don’t consider… if you rap really fast, without a chance to inhale, you could pass out and hit your head.
That last paragraph was covered in sarcasm. I’m letting you know, just so you do not think I agree with your very ignorant assessment of your career (or any other performer)as it relates to a person in the military or a police officer’s service. You sir, are as misguided as they come. I do have a suggestion for you. Since you are accustomed to danger, from your life as an international rapper, I am strongly encouraging you immediately abandon you career as a super star and join the military. After joining, I would like you to volunteer to be deployed in Afghanistan or one of the numerous other forward locations where our men an women are currently serving. When the Taliban starts shooting at you, perhaps you could stand up and let the words flow. It could be something like “I’m Kanye West, wearing a flak vest.” I’m sure they would just drop weapons and surrender. You could quite possibly end all wars, just from the enemy being star-struck.
Your line of thinking is part of the problem in the world today….which include entertainers thinking they are something more than just entertainers. I know it is supply and demand and the demand for your services is high. I get economics. What I do not get is you EVER comparing what you do for a living to our heroic military members, who are always in harm’s way… and my brother and sister police officers who have to go to work carrying weapons and wearing a bullet-proof vest to protect themselves.
Check yourself, before you wreck yourself….Chief Oliver.
Well done, Chief Oliver. Keep up the good work.
During the weekend before Thanksgiving, thousands of comic book, sci-fi and television aficionados gathered in Boston for the annual Super Megafest. Among those present to greet them were Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Sgt Slaughter, and many others. Joining these stars were a number of the most popular internet models in the business. The guests, many of whom came dressed as their favorite characters, were also met by another common theme: opportunities to give back to our troops though a charity of their choice.
“We’re happy to do it,” said a man selling raffle tickets for an oil painting of Star Wars villains Boba Fett and Darth Maul facing off against each other, signed by the actors who played them (Jeremy Bulloch and Ray Park, respectively) who were also on hand for pictures and autographs. The money from the raffle went toward the Wounded Warrior Foundation.
At the entrance to the event and wandering the corridors were uniformed Marines collecting donations for the Corps’ Toys for Tots Program. At one point a pair of Marines attracted the attention of a number of adult actresses. One of them, Sophie Dee, said that they were big fans of the Marines and Toys for Tots. “We try to give back,” she said, adding that she and her fellow stars often hold fundraisers for the cause.
While a precise accounting is not available, sources say that despite the bad economy the fundraising was a success.
This is all welcome news – especially given the fact that, of all the programs Obama could cut in its sham attempts to look fiscally responsible, the administration is moving to eliminate discount supermarkets that service low-income Military families.
Many commentators, most eloquently Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal, draw a parallel between the appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 and the appeasement of Iran at Geneva. There is another, more chilling parallel: Iran’s motive for proposing to annihilate the Jewish State is the same as Hitler’s, and the world’s indifference to the prospect of another Holocaust is no different today than it was in 1938. It is the dead’s envy for the living.
Dying civilizations are the most dangerous, and Iran is dying. Its total fertility rate probably stands at just 1.6 children per female, the same level as Western Europe, a catastrophic decline from 7 children per female in the early 1980s. Iran’s present youth bulge will turn into an elderly dependent problem worse than Europe’s in the next generation and the country will collapse. That is why war is likely, if not entirely inevitable.
Iran’s Elderly Dependent Ratio
|Year||Elderly Dependent Ratio|
Source: UN “Low Variant”
The table above is drawn from United Nations projections. It probably underestimates Iran’s predicament: the UN’s “low variant” puts the country’s total fertility rate at 1.9 children as of 2015, but it already has fallen to just 1.6. This means in simple arithmetic that a generation hence, there will be two elderly dependents for every three workers, compared to 7 elderly dependents for every 93 workers today. That is a death sentence for a poor country, and at this point it is virtually irreversible.
As the United States Institute of Peace wrote in its April 2013 “Iran Primer”:
“Iran’s low fertility rate has produced a rapidly aging population, according to a new U.N. report. The rate has declined from 2.2 births per woman in 2000 to 1.6 in 2012. This has pushed the median age of Iranians to 27.1 years in 2010, up from 20.8 years in 2000. The median age could reach 40 years by 2030, according to the U.N. Population Division. An elderly and dependent population may heavily tax Iran’s public health infrastructure and social security network.”
In 2005 and 2006, I was the first Western analyst to draw strategic conclusions from this trend, the steepest decline in fertility in the history of the world. Iran must break out and establish a Shiite zone of power, or it will break down.
Iran’s theocracy displays the same apocalyptic panic about its demographic future that Hitler expressed about the supposed decline of the so-called Aryan race. Unlike Hitler, whose racial paranoia ran wild, Iran’s presentiment of national death is well founded on the facts. That is not to understate Iran’s paranoia. In 2013 Iran’s vice president alleged that Jews ran the international drug trade. In a June 2013 Facebook post earlier this year Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei wrote, “U.S. President is being elected [sic] only from two parties while Zionist regime is controlling everything from behind the scenes.” That captions a cartoon showing fat men with moneybags for heads under a Star of David. Iranian officials routinely threaten to “annihilate the Zionist regime.”
As we take a too-infrequent moment to honor the service of our men and women in uniform this Veterans Day, let us consider our language and test whether it does them justice.
Commonly, we refer to the contribution made by those who serve in the military as a sacrifice. Our veterans have given up relatively comfortable alternatives to place themselves in harm’s way and protect our liberties. When we call that a sacrifice, we mean it honorably. Nevertheless, we may be selling our now and future veterans short by continuing to think of their choice in that way.
What is a sacrifice? It’s one of those words, like “love,” which has many nuanced meanings depending upon the context in which one uses it. For our purposes in this discussion, let’s settle upon this definition: a trade of value for something of lesser or no value. In order for something to be sacrificial, it must leave the giver worse off than they were before, right? How often do we lift up as virtue the notion of doing something for others without any expectation of receiving something in return?
Yet many of the things we commonly refer to as sacrifice do not fit that definition. When a college student passes on a night out with friends to stay in and study for a big test, he hardly ends up worse off for the trade. Yet, we call it a sacrifice. When a parent prioritizes the needs of their children above her own personal needs, she rarely thinks of the trade as a loss. Yet we think of that as sacrificial too.
In truth, many if not most of the things we call sacrifices actually stand as rational value judgments. Studying for an important test has greater value than a single night out on the town. Providing for one’s children has greater value than indulging yourself to their neglect. We make such choices in pursuit of our values, not at their expense.
The same applies to our men and women in uniform. Enlistment rationally values the nation’s security and individual liberties above mere safety. That is what makes it so honorable! That is why we stand in awe of our veterans and offer them our thanks, because the choice to protect what the rest of us take for granted declares something of their character. It tells us what they value, and how much they value it. I imagine few if any enlist hoping to lose life or limb as a “sacrifice.” Rather, they accept the risk to life and limb as an affirmation of that which they value — life in a free country. As the beneficiaries of that choice, we ought not diminish it by calling it a sacrifice.
The word brings to mind many things, but for many of us it means but one thing: D-Day. Hollywood has taken the event and made it a continuing part of our collective lives.
We have jumped into Normandy with the Band of Brothers, and shared the confusion, terror, loss, humor, and more that went with that jump. We’ve shared the day, and it’s aftermath, through Tom Hanks’ character in Saving Private Ryan. In addition to those blockbusters, you also have Ike: Countdown to D-Day, D-Day, the Sixth of June, D-Day The Total Story, and a host of lesser films.
Yet, only one movie has focused on the day and captured the public’s imagination: The Longest Day. This 1962 movie has moved from the big screen to being a staple of classic movie and history channels. In it, one sees the different pieces of the operation — from both sides. It’s treatment of the Germans is far more even-handed than one might expect, though it is clear who are the good guys and who is not. The cast is impressive, with Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Robert Ryan, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Red Buttons, and many more.
Just when you thought the intentional infliction of public pain during the partial government shutdown could not possibly get any worse, the Obama administration is now threatening dead people:
Each national cemetery will conduct a reduced number of burials each day. This could cause some families to pay for storage of their loved ones’ remains until burials can be scheduled. Although there may be possible delays in scheduling internments [sic], NCA will continue to provide services to our Veterans and their families during their time of need with the utmost dignity, respect and compassion.
The VA says it will run out of money in late October and will begin to implement its “lapse in appropriation shutdown plan,” furloughing up to 1,063 of 1,809 National Cemetery Administration (NCA) employees. A Veterans Field Guide to Government Shutdown, posted on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, lists interments under “Services to Veterans Impacted by a Lapse in Appropriations,” saying “Interments at National Cemeteries will be conducted on a reduced schedule.” (Incidentally, the “play” and “pause” buttons on the Veterans Field Guide are not operational — has the Canadian programmer group hit again?)
Sean Baumgartner, director of the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, said there will be a “reduced interment schedule” at the Ohio cemetery. Ohio Western Reserve Cemetery (where my husband’s grandfather is buried) ordinarily conducts eight or nine burials a day. Last week there were 17 burials on Monday. The NCA will restrict the number of interments to eight per day at mid-level cemeteries if the shutdown drags on beyond the end of October.
Who wasn’t moved and inspired by this week’s displays of civil disobedience by World War II veterans in Washington, D.C.?
Perhaps we were abashed as well.
Who among us can honestly say we’d have done what they did — defying authority, risking arrest, making a scene — even though we are, most of us, younger and stronger?
Aren’t millions of Americans rather more like this fellow, spotted by Mark Steyn in his travels:
I saw a fellow in a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt the other day. He was at LaGuardia, and he was being trod all over, by the obergropinfuhrers of the TSA, who had decided to subject him to one of their enhanced pat-downs.
There are few sights more dismal than that of a law-abiding citizen having his genitalia pawed by state commissars, but having them pawed while wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt is certainly one of them.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times on Thursday. Putin, using President Obama’s own complaints about the United States against him, lectured Americans about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and decried American exceptionalism. “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote. “There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too.”
Speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News Thursday, Cruz pulled no punches in defending American exceptionalism and reminding viewers about the brutal Soviet regime:
[2:00] It was truly astonishing and I think the final paragraph was the most striking where he castigated the president and Americans for believing in American exceptionalism and I actually think he was right.
Autocrats have reason to fear when Americans focus on our principles and focus on exceptionalism because it’s been American exceptionalism that stood up to the Nazis and stopped the murder from the Nazis and it was American exceptionalism that stood up to the Soviet Union and freed hundreds of millions from behind the Iron Curtain. So Putin is right to be concerned about American exceptionalism.
Cruz said Putin and the Russians have been bad actors throughout the Syrian proceedings and he favors President Reagan’s approach of “trust but verify,” saying he is skeptical of Putin’s motives. “It is a very dangerous time and one of the principles that has been true from time immemorial is that bullies and tyrants don’t respect weakness.”
Other responses to Putin’s op-ed were more tepid and cautious.
Yes, I know, right now you’re wondering what is so surprising about that. Apparently there has been a myth that German Aces of the Air were disciplined and dignified and only the British side kicked it up.
I am not sure how this myth can subsist, since — having studied the biography of the Red Baron for an eventual book — it is mentioned that Freiherr von Richthofen was unusually disciplined by refusing to unbutton his uniform or behave unseemly while in the officer’s mess.
So, this article from The Telegraph and the pictures (there are more pictures with the original article) did not surprise me at all when it said:
The black and white snaps depict the men in uniform having a roaring and raucous time in their mess, far removed from the hell and misery of the trenches on the Western Front.
The officers of the Imperial German Flying Corps are seen smoking cigars and cigarettes and having a good old knees up.
It did however raise some thoughts. The Telegraph also says:
It is thought the album was seized as a souvenir by a British serviceman after the Germans surrendered in 1918 and was kept in his family.
It is being sold by Essex auctioneers Reeman Dansie and has a pre-sale estimate of £1,500.
James Grinter, of Reeman Dansie, said: “I have never seen anything like this photo album before.
“If it was a Royal Flying Corps album, then it would be rare but to have a German one from the same period is unheard of.
“The survival rate of these flyers was terrible and it looks like these men lived life to the full while they had the chance.
I beg to differ from James Grinter of Reeman Dansie. These men were not living life to the full. They were enjoying themselves as much as they could because they knew most of them would not get to live life to the full. They’d never get to have spouses or children, or experience the joy of growing old and respected. The fleeting happiness of champagne and songs were what they could have instead.
Equating revelry with “living life to the full” is what leads to songs about the joys of dying young and with the — sixties — notion of living fast and leaving a beautiful corpse. (All corpses are the same. Dead.)
What is important to remember is that whatever consolations these men — and their British counterparts — sought, they were volunteering to give their lives in service of an ideal each believed bigger than themselves.
And knowing that, I’m glad they got to enjoy a bit of champagne and song along the way.
The latest stand-up comedy “controversy” is one you probably haven’t heard about yet, unless you’re serving in the United States Air Force.
Earlier this month, veteran comic Mitch Fatel performed for the troops at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England.
One audience member — Colonel Mark K. Ciero, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander — didn’t care for Fatel’s raunchy jokes.
According to Stars & Stripes, Ciero’s report on the show up at the Lakenheath website has “prompted Air Force officials to review procedures regarding entertainment provided to troops.”
The performance comes at a time when the U.S. military is reeling from a number of sex assault scandals that have prompted top military and civilian leadership to stress a zero-tolerance policy toward such incidents.
Indeed, although it’s tempting to wonder whether or not the sudden “increase” in sexual assaults is simply a rise in the number of reports filed, due perhaps to changes in the definition of “sexual assault” or any number of other factors.
Given recent history, we’re well advised to proceed with caution when dealing with such alleged sexual “epidemics.”
They often turn out to be fanciful “moral panics” that cause even greater harm to innocent individuals and to society as a whole.
For season 2 of the 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen each weekday I juxtapose book excerpts with a selection of the previous day’s headlines and noteworthy excerpts. The goal is to make fresh connections between the events of the day and the bigger picture of humanity’s place in the universe. Each day also starts with highlighting the contributions of an important writer.
Last week I was frustrated at the oversimplifying in the popular narrative of an alleged Republican “civil war” between the “interventionist,” “establishment” wing represented by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the “non-interventionist,” “libertarian” wing represented by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (son of the publisher of conspiracist and racist newsletters). This isn’t a boxing match, it’s a barroom brawl. Numerous foreign-policy voices with many perspectives fill the “right of center” ranks. A variety of philosophies and ideologies compete for influence.
And so I began naming the ones who had most shaped me, who had inspired me to join PJM two years ago, and whose vivid writing I still wake up eager to edit each morning. Michael Ledeen, Andrew C. McCarthy, Barry Rubin, Claudia Rosett, and David P. Goldman perpetually provide clear-eyed analysis illuminating world events. Through their books and columns we can begin to understand the analytic tools and life experiences that underlie the way they interpret the stories of the day. And we can then weigh the public policies they advocate.
My last key foreign-policy influence among PJ’s columnists is also going to be the first of a second list of PJM columnists I’m presenting this week. He is an important bridge between disciplines: for many years now Victor Davis Hanson’s writings and speeches have been vital influences on my understanding of both foreign policy and culture — two subjects which need to be considered in a more integrated faction. A culture that does not value learning the mistakes that led to the start of wars — and defeat in them — will be doomed to suffer, paying in the blood of the innocent and the heroic.
On Friday I presented David P. Goldman’s conception of Augustinian Realism, an alternative to the foreign-policy approaches of Christie and Paul. Rather than the big government of Christie or the wimpy government of Paul, Goldman advocates for a values-driven government. Augustinian Realism recognizes that the civil society predates a government, and advocates that America must make common cause with those who share her value of the individual as sacred. Goldman argues that societies succeed when they value and empower the individual to be free to create value. Societies that do not, that fail to draw out the creative potential of their people, are doomed to failure — and we cannot force them to succeed no matter how much “interventionism” we attempt. Culture becomes the determinant of the fate of peoples and nations. And what a culture values defines them.
In Victor Davis Hanson’s large body of work and ever-growing, prolific archives of articles we can see the cultural values that formed Western civilization piece by piece. He’s a military historian and classics professor who brings his erudite understanding of Western civilization to his writings of contemporary events. Through VDH one can see the twists of the U.S.’s war against terrorists in the context of military strategies since mankind fought with shields and spears.
It’s one step to learn about the evolution of Western cultural values, but it’s a whole other trek up Mount Olympus to get emotionally excited and passionate about them. What sparked my enthusiasm for VDH’s writing and ideas was seeing him speak at conferences and events. He’s an engaging lecturer who demonstrates the relevance of ancient philosophy and military history to not just politics but our own daily lives. Thus, I’m hoping that with the upcoming release of the new Freedom Academy course “The Odyssey of Western Civilization,” others can begin to see today through the lens of classical wisdom. More on this new project soon at PJ Lifestyle.
One of the concepts that VDH will discuss in the series is an ancient Greek debate that mirrors the Christie vs Paul fight today. Which is a better form of government, oligarchy or democracy? The same question could be restated: which is not as bad, a tyranny of an elite that can execute you (drones and limitless spying went up under Obama…) or a tyranny of a 51% majority who can execute you (democratically elected Sharia states that then sponsor terrorists to attack us)? Paraphrasing their 2016 competition, the former secretary of state, what difference, at this point, does it make?
There is an alternative: Republicanism, the rule of law that checks would-be tyrannies of both the majority and the minority through creating systems that balance powers. This system makes it so that the abstract individual is supreme by dispersing the necessary powers of government amongst different powers. In the upcoming Western civilization series, VDH discusses how the Romans managed to grow much larger than the Greeks for centuries through amalgamating various aspects of the ancient Greek city states, creating institutions of government that could check and balance each other – from multiple legislative bodies to multiple rulers.
The price of failing to balance and defuse power is very real. Wars happen and are then won or lost as a result of the political choices by a state’s leaders. And in our day and age, leaders are chosen according to the whims of cultural sensibilities. Thus to revive a foreign policy that values military strength, and sees the proper use of force as an effective deterrent – often the only option — against tyrannical states and actors, we have to nourish and revive the culture from the ground up.
In addition to the upcoming Freedom Academy course and VDH’s PJ Media blog Works and Days, the first two of his books that I recommend (and will be blogging more excerpts from in the coming months at PJ Lifestyle) are The Father of Us All: War and History Ancient and Modern and Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (co-written with John Heath). Check out an excerpt from each at the beginning and end of today’s round-up of links from last Friday and this weekend. And one last thing: as I start new VDH books I’ll notate them in my Freedom Academy Book Club profile; now’s a great time to join in the Beta test of this new program.
Friday Morning Book Reading:
An excerpt from page 12 of The Father of Us All: War and History Ancient and Modern, explaining a contributor to the mass confusion of our time:
Friday Morning News Round Up:
Lead PJM Stories:
Michael Ledeen: Obama, Putin, and Rouhani: The Sources of War
In short: Rouhani is not in charge, he is a cog in a machine, and he doesn’t seem to be at odds with the hateful doctrines that have defined the Islamic Republic since 1979. It’s hard to make a convincing case that the United States, or the West in general, should make a major strategic investment in friendship with the new Iranian president.
Putin is the opposite. He has much more freedom to act and he has imposed his will on Russia. Leon Aron has laid outthe nature of “Putinism” with admirable brevity and elegance: Putin knows what he wants, both at home and abroad, and he pursues his goals ruthlessly and relentlessly. He truly rules his nation, and there is very little guile in his strategies. With Putin, you get what you see.
The similarities between Putin and Rouhani are doctrinal. Both are contemptuous of democracy, both are resolved to crush opponents of their regime and to eliminate pockets of liberty. Both are therefore profoundly anti-American, recognizing that the very existence of a strong and successful United States is a threat to their own legitimacy.
As with Rouhani, there isn’t likely to be a warm American relationship with Putin. But, it is worthwhile to deal seriously with Putin, precisely because he can deliver if he chooses to.
Clayton Cramer: Take It from Me: Heart Surgery Is Best Avoided
Roger L. Simon: Richard Dawkins’ Islam Problem and Ours
Roger Kimball: Bright Spots in the Bubble: The Case of St. John’s College
PJ Lifestyle Featured on PJ Home Page on Friday:
Paula Bolyard: Matt Damon Questions President Obama’s Manhood
New at PJ Lifestyle on Friday:
Chris Queen: The Dark Side of ‘Happily Ever After’?
Paula Bolyard: Matt Damon Questions President Obama’s Manhood
Kathy Shaidle: Sam Kinison Biopic Back on Track With New Star
Andrew Klavan: Why AMC’s The Killing Is Killing Me
Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin: The Dragon Of the Apocalypse, Ghost Lovers and The Memoirs of The Walking Dead
New at PJ Tatler on Friday:
Bryan Preston: Obama to Hold Press Conference Today. Which Questions Will His Palace Guard Media Avoid?
Sarah Hoyt: Darrell Issa is Winning the Internets!
Stephen Green: VIDEO: Weiner Roasts Reporter
Bryan Preston: Senator Durbin is a…
Stephen Green: Selling ObamaCare
Bryan Preston: MSNBC Goes for the Far Left Crazy Homophobe Demo
Bridget Johnson: FBI Probes Michigan Link in Bulgaria Bus Bombing
Bryan Preston: Matt Damon and Charles Krauthammer Agree: Obama is No Good
Bridget Johnson: Why Has There Been No Effort to Detain Benghazi Suspect?
Bridget Johnson: Contractor Fined $8M for Decade Worth of Arms Export Violations — Yet Still Eligible for Future Contracts
Bridget Johnson: Boxer’s Open Letter to Filner: ‘You Should Step Down Immediately’
Bridget Johnson: Senate’s Only African-American Wants Apology from Reid
Bryan Preston: Obama’s Presser: What the Media Did and Didn’t Ask
Stephen Kruiser: Even Time Notices that Matt Damon Is Full of It on Education
Stephen Kruiser: Cincinnati IRS Official In Charge During Scandal Gets Promotion
Stephen Kruiser: Obama Is Still Lying About Obamacare
Also Around the Web Friday:
Matthew Boyle at Breitbart News: GOP Rep. Shock Claims Majority of House GOP Support Cantor’s Dream Act
Andrew Kirell: Liberal Radio Host Goes After Malkin And Coulter: ‘Hate Hags’ Have ‘Moved The Dial On Creepy’
Matt Wilstein: Christian Radio Host To Voice Of Russia: Your Country Is ‘Not Homophobic, It’s Homo-realistic’
Joan Walsh: Rand Paul’s week of delusion
Whether it helped him or not, Paul’s star turn with major national reporters this week is the clearest evidence yet that he’s planning a 2016 presidential run. What’s also clear is that he hasn’t decided whether he’s going to run as the far-right extremist that he is, or whether he’s going to try to tone down or simply hide his less popular stands. Since his appeal with the Tea Party base lies not only in his extremism but in his candor about it, the latter would seem a risky strategy. He’ll have plenty of competition to his right if he stumbles.
Matt Goulding: Why the French Secretly Love the Golden Arches
John Nolte: Matt Damon’s Elysium in Trouble
William Bigelow: Transgender Celebrity Sues BET for Discrimination
At National Review:
Michael Walsh: Moral Victory Is Total Victory
But the military victories were only part of the triumph. What made the end of World War II definitive was the purging of the mindsets that had occasioned it. In Germany, the surviving top Nazis were executed or sentenced to long prison terms, the Fuehrerprinzip was utterly discredited, and the population that had been held in its sway was forced to confront its destructive reality. In Japan, we hanged Tojo but allowed — allowed – Hirohito to remain as Emperor but publicly stripped him of his “godhood” and made the Japanese see that he was just a man. Only then, minus the Fuehrer and their god, were Germany and Japan truly defeated, and thus free to rebuild and rejoin the family of nations.
We’re way too politically correct to do something like that today, of course, and so we fight pointless wars for speechwriter mush about “human freedom” that are all tactics and no strategy, with no apparent political objectives other than to see “elections” staged, some schools built, and some cups of tea drunk. But we did not fight to “liberate” the Germans from Hitler or the Japanese from imperial militarism: We fought them to crush them and eradicate the root of the evil that animated them. They started it, we finished it. Which is why we haven’t had to refight them.
Weekend Book Readings
“I am your perfected nature. If you wish to see me, call me by my name.” — an excerpt from page 205 of The Hermetic Link by Jacob Slavenburg.
Ronald Reagan: “It is fantastic from my present vantage point to discover what really faces one when the chance comes to put order into the chaos our little liberal playmates have created.” Page 15 of The Reagan I Knew, a correspondence to William F. Buckley Jr. In 1966 after winning the governorship of California:
An excerpt from page 48 of Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy by Angela Franks quoting the founder of Planned Parenthood using the term “human weeds”
Weekend News Round Up:
Lead PJM Stories this Weekend:
Michael Ledeen: There Goes the Judge, Sigh…
Ron Radosh: Political Correctness Run Amok
Rick Moran: Hollywood Protests Russian Anti-Gay Laws but Is Silent About Persecution in Muslim Countries
PJ Lifestyle Featured on the Main Page This Weekend:
Charlie Martin: Climate Change: What Are the Real Questions?
Charlie Martin: The Tomato on My Desk Is Ticking
Chris Queen: Walt Disney and the Fight for Mary Poppins
At PJ Lifestyle This Weekend:
Charlie Martin: 13 Weeks: A Writer’s Workout
Walter Hudson: Do Good Employees Do More Than They Get Paid For?
Rhonda Robinson: How to Slash Your Grocery Budget By $250
Spirituality and Religion on Sunday:
Susan L.M. Goldberg: Girls on Boys: The Body Politic of Goddess Feminism
Charlie Martin: Tomato Buddha
Rhonda Robinson: How the Father of Lies Made Jews Evil and Christians Murderous
At the PJ Tatler this Weekend:
Myra Adams: Why There Will Never Be Peace in the Middle East
Sarah Hoyt: Israeli Drone Strike in Egypt
Rick Moran: Hollywood Protests Russian Anti-Gay Laws but Is Silent About Persecution in Muslim Countries
Bryan Preston: US-Mexico Border Gets the Cloward-Piven Treatment
Patrick Poole: State Dept. Spokeswoman Psaki Denounces ‘Enemies of Islam’
Rick Moran: SNAP Goes Your Temper
Also Around the Web This Weekend:
Maureen Dowd at the New York Times: Madam President
Many Democrats are hungry to make history again, and they see the first woman president as the natural successor to the first black president.
But in other ways, Hillary is not such a natural successor. The Clintons are ends-justify-the-means types with flexible boundaries about right and wrong, while the Obama mystique is the opposite. His White House runs on the idea that if you are virtuous and true and honorable, people will ultimately come to you. (An ethos that sometimes collides with political success.)
It’s odd that Obama, who once talked about being a transformational president, did not want to ensure that his allies and his aims were imprinted on the capital. Instead, he has teed up the ball for Hillary. Some of the excitement about Barack Obama was the prospect of making a clean start, after years of getting dragged into the Clintons’ dubious ethics and personal messes. Yet Obama ushered in the return of Clinton Inc. and gave it his blessing.
Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said Saturday she sided with Rand Paul in the on-going feud between the Kentucky Senator and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Palin was appearing on Fox New’s Cashin’ In.
“I’m on team Rand. Rand Paul understands. He gets the whole notion of don’t tread on me government. Whereas Chris Christie is for big government and trying to go-along-to-get along in so many respects,” Palin said.
At The Blaze:
Oliver Darcy: Report: Apple to Unveil New iPhone on Sept. 10
At the Daily Mail:
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong lashes out and fires his creative director during a conference call with 1,000 employees listening in
English teacher arrested for ‘sleeping with student, 17, more than 25 TIMES – and she was only discovered when the boy’s mother found them in their pool together’
Ramsay’s tax nightmare: Chef faces fraud probe over ‘seven-figure unpaid bill’ leaked to the authorities by whistleblower
Revealed: Bernie Madoff was in ‘love triangle’ with ex-staffers and his corrupt Ponzi scheme office was filled with employee sex romps
Monday Morning Book Reading:
From Page 11 of Who Killed Homer?: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom? by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath on the anti-racism of Hellenic culture:
See the first five weeks of round-ups:
- Week One
- 1. Monday, July 8: “We Ought to Defeat Capitalism With Its Own Weapons, Comrades…“
- 2. Tuesday, July 9: Can We Just Fast Forward to 2040? Please?
- 3. Thursday, July 11: Researching the American Family’s War to Beat Death…
- Week Two
- 4. Monday, July 15: Turning On Mankind’s Magical Machines To Battle Mother Earth’s Cruel Monsters
- 5. Wednesday, July 17: ‘So, You Know How You Felt on 9/11? Yeah, That’s How We Feel When It Comes To Race.’
- 6. Thursday, July 18: ‘… And There We Can Still Maintain Our Mysterious and Dreadful Freedom.’
- 7. Friday, July 19: ‘Evil Always Takes Advantage of Ambiguity.’ – G.K. Chesterton
- Week Three
- 8. Monday, July 22: ‘His Father Urged Him to Study Marxism, But Valentin Preferred Science.’
- 9. Tuesday, July 23: ‘Perhaps The Final Secret of the Illuminati Is That You Don’t Know You’re A Member Until It’s Too Late to Get Out.’
- 10. Wednesday, July 24: Is Anthony Weiner a ‘Deviant’ or a ‘Normal’ Male?
- 11. Thursday, July 25: ‘The Most Ancient Conflict in Western Culture, Between Jew and Egyptian, Continues…’
- 12. Friday, July 26: Weiner’s Wild Women: Are Sydney Leathers and Huma Abedin His Succubi?
- Week Four
- 13. Monday, July 29: Malcolm X: ‘The Jew Cries Louder Than Anybody Else If Anybody Criticizes Him.’
- 14. Tuesday, July 30: ‘My Father Was a White Man.’ – Frederick Douglass, the Archetypal Anti-Slavery Republican
- 15. Wednesday, July 31: Why Is It Evil to Murder Unwanted Children?
- 16. Thursday, August 1: Nihilism Defined: ‘When You Realize Your Life Has as Much Meaning as Your Dog’s…’
- 17. Friday, August 2: Pastafarianism Is a Real Religion. Benghazi Is a ‘Phony Scandal.’ Hillary Will Be President.
- Week Five
- 18. Monday, August 5: ‘War, and Preparation for War, Are the Normal Conditions of Mankind, While Peace Is Extremely Rare.’ – Michael Ledeen
- 19. Tuesday, August 6: Muslim Brotherhood Operatives Have Infiltrated America’s Political and Cultural Institutions to Conquer Us from Within
- 20. Wednesday, August 7: First We Define Anti-Americanism, Then We Crush It Again Even Harder
- 21. Thursday, August 8: The United Nations is a Corrupt Failure That Does Not Unite Nations
- 22. Friday, August 9: No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism
There’s a movement afoot to encourage Israeli Christian Arabs to serve in the Israeli army. The movement is led by a group called The Forum for Drafting the Christian Community. It includes Christian army officers, soldiers, and businessmen.
At the helm of this forum stands Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest in the town of Yafia near Nazareth. For his efforts, though, Father Nadaf is under fierce fire from elements of Israel’s Christian Arab community and its Arab community in general.
Arabs are exempt from army service in Israel except for the small, non-Muslim, Arabic-speaking Druze and Circassian communities. Some Bedouin Muslims also volunteer to serve. Israel’s Christian Arab community numbers about 130,000, or about 10 percent of the larger Arab community that is mostly Muslim. For decades, Israel’s Christian Arabs more or less subscribed to the Muslim Arabs’ ambivalent-to-hostile attitude toward Israel as a state.
But those were the days of pan-Arabism, an ideology that sought to unite the Middle East’s diverse Arab communities under a common, secular, Arabic-speaking banner. Eventually pan-Arabism succumbed to today’s Islamic trend — and one result has been severe persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East and their massive flight from Muslim-majority countries.
That leaves Israel’s Christian Arab community as the only one in the region that is actually growing. Father Nadaf, in recent statements to Israeli media (see reports here and here), shows an appreciation of the reality:
We want young Christians to become totally integrated into Israeli society, which also entails shouldering their fair share of the burden of national service. Our future as a Christian minority is intertwined with that of the State of Israel.… We feel secure in Israel…. Most of the young Christians here view Israel as their country.
If you cherish peace, you should cherish the American military. The greatest peacekeepers in the world are not “peace activists” or UN “peacekeeping” forces, but American soldiers. From World War I (Prussian Fascism) to World War II (Nazism) to the Cold War (Communism) to our modern day struggle (Islamism), the brave souls of America’s military have stood up against the forces of evil. We at Prager University are thrilled to welcome renowned British historian Andrew Roberts to our faculty. In his debut course he explains why the world needs a strong American military. Learn and enjoy!
image courtesy shutterstock / Adam Ziaja
There is still time to head over to Amazon to place an order in time for Father’s Day delivery! I’ve linked the images below to help you out.
by John McPhee
“The Swiss Army has served as a model for less languid nations. The Israeli Army is a copy of the Swiss Army. … They are a civilian army, a trained and practiced militia, ever ready to mobilize. They serve for thirty years. All six hundred and fifty thousand are prepared to be present at mobilization points and battle stations in considerably less than forty-eight hours.”
This book, written at the end of the Cold War, gives a compelling view of the Swiss military system. The pastoral views in the Alps don’t reveal that beneath those mountains are bunkers stocked with munitions caches and that the winding roads all have bridges that can be blown to pieces at a moment’s notice to thwart an attack.
The book might provoke some intriguing thoughts and conversations about forced conscription, responsibility as citizens, what some like to call “military adventurism,” and the implications of heavily armed neutrality.
“Arming teachers” with guns is a subject often fraught with emotion and one that can divide communities into different “camps” — usually into the stereotypical left vs. right, NRA vs. gun-control arguments. But the issue is much more complex and nuanced, and even those usually on the same side of the gun-control debate disagree about whether teachers should carry guns in classrooms.
Ohio is no exception as the state grapples with school safety a year after T.J. Lane killed three classmates and paralyzed another in a shooting at Chardon High School.
Twenty-two seconds from the time he shot the first shot until he left the school building. Twenty-two seconds.
That’s how Superintendent Joseph Bergant described the shooting at Chardon High School. He spoke at an Ohio State Board of Education (SBE) meeting recently and said that Lane fired the first shot through his backpack and killed the student next to him.
“How do you guarantee the safety of 3000 students in a school building?,” Bergant asked. “You can’t.”
The Chardon district had a comprehensive plan for what to do in the event of an active shooter. They practiced so that students, parents, and teachers knew exactly how to respond. That training included role playing — even discharging a firearm in the building — practice reunification with parents, and parents receiving text messages to make sure the notification system was operational.
Bergant said, “Teachers had more anxiety when we did the crisis drill than on the day of the shooting.”
Despite all the preparations, the shooting only ended as quickly as it did because of the heroic actions of teacher and football coach Frank Hall, who risked his own life by charging Lane — while dodging bullets — and chasing him out of the building.
Metal detectors. Uniformed police officers (euphemistically called “school resource officers”), buzzer systems at the school entry, armed teachers, brave and burly football coaches, duck and cover drills. No single solution or combination of protective measures will guarantee the safety of children when there is an evil murderer bent on snuffing out human lives. Arming teachers is not “the” answer to preventing — or stopping — active shooters.
But are they one solution that could help to make kids safer? Are there legitimate safety concerns about arming teachers? And who should decide if teachers should be armed with guns in schools?