Many and many a year ago I asked an attractive young woman out.  She replied, “That would be great.  There’s a new movie out called ‘Bridgett Ramoan.’  Maybe we could see that.”  And so it was agreed.  A little comedy set in Paris would be great.  I didn’t want to see anything that involved shooting.  My life in those days was full enough of bad stuff.  We went to the theatre, where I had a little difficulty with the ticket agent about the pronunciation, but we got in anyway.  When the movie started there was a shot of a river.  I fully expected next to see Bridgett flouncing along in her finery and a romantic comedy to follow.  But here was a problem.  It wasn’t the Seine.  It wasn’t even the Marne.  It was the Rhine.  Before the implications set in, a bunch of trucks with soldiers came barreling along the road beside the river; a bridge exploded.  Machine guns lit up, tanks crashed through buildings and the title came: “Bridge at Remagen.” 

I hate war flicks.

So it was with a heavy heart last night that I discovered the nearest thing to a watchable program on television was a WW II documentary.  I don’t watch much TV, but I hadn’t made alternative plans.  The theme was the Normandy invasion.  Patton had been taken out of command and was put in charge of a dummy invasion force to distract the Germans.  The ploy worked largely because the Germans recognized Patton as the best Allied general.  The invasion was a success in that it established a viable beachhead but the allied advance more or less stalled out.  Then they brought Patton back in.

According to my father it was common to see descriptions of British generals in the newspaper.  Usually they wound up with a remark that the general really liked to raise geraniums or whatever.  Daddy said, “What we need is a general who likes to kill people.”  He thought we had found such a man in Patton.  I’m not so sure.  The reason Patton had been sidelined was because he had slapped a soldier, maybe more than one, who was suffering from shell shock.  This won Patton enemies.  In the portrayal by George C. Scott, I read perhaps to carelessly something else.  I thought that Patton had slapped the man because it made clear to Patton what he was doing to people.  He loved those men; officers do.  To see the wreckage he was making of the men made him snap.

They brought Patton back in, gave him a real army and told him to secure Brittany, a dead end peninsula to the northwest of Normandy, occupied by the Germans but no longer of much use to them.  Patton sent a detachment to take care of Brittany and then threw his army against the main German force.  He looped around behind the force that was holding the allies at bay and captured the Germans.  Then he turned south to meet up with allied forces coming up the Rhone valley after an unopposed landing from the Mediterranean.  In short order Patton had basically conquered France.  There were more problems to come, but strategically it was over. 

Some time later Eisenhower had a similar chance to capture a significant number of German soldiers.  He declined the offer and simply pushed ahead.  Where Patton had minimized losses Eisenhower apparently was interested primarily in maximizing the number of Germans killed.  I hate war even more than war flicks.

The situation was more perilous than I am making it out.  The Germans by the end had deployed a fighter jet that was unmatched for many years after.  It bid fair to eliminate allied air superiority.  Meanwhile the Germans were developing the flying wing – a stealth bomber – and the atom bomb.  There really wasn’t an unlimited amount of time in which the allies could win.  Still the documentary made it clear.  The American soldiers did it.  At terrible cost and with enormous valor they shut down a threat that one can only tremble at now.  Then they went home. 

It wasn’t many years later before they were called on again.  The Korean conflict was supposed to be a UN police action, and as initially envisioned it should have been an easy win.  North Korea was formidable but no match for the UN.  Then Red China got into it.  The police action now turned into a duel between China and America.  One bit of wisdom I have learned is, “Don’t get into a war in Asia.”  But the GI’s fought China to a standstill.  That’s really pretty good.  America could still do it.  The boys came home.

There was a baby boom going on.  The economy grew.  It was a happy country to come home to.  Russia was a threat, but she was a paper tiger.  We had the bomb.  We had the Snark.  It was a cruise missile with a five thousand mile range.  It was not invulnerable, but it didn’t have to come home.  Russia could never have stopped it.  A generation later some rash young man flew a little Cessna single engine plane from Germany and landed in Red Square.  The Cold War was smoke and shadows.  We were being misled.

We got into more wars.  There were Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Gulf War two and Libya.  Those wars, it seems to me, were evil. 

And now look at what they boys face.  I met a man the other day who is a first responder.  He works for the government in security.  He went to work with only the promise of pay when everybody who was not vital was sent home because the government was shut down.  After several years of impeccable service he makes just enough to keep himself and the rest of his family of four a tiny bit above the poverty line.

Two children per family are not enough for a population to survive.  It needs to be about 2.1 under the best of conditions.  Do you follow that?  Our government is not paying people who are absolutely necessary to its survival enough for them to survive in the long run.  They bring in foreigners to make up the shortfall. 

What’s a nice way to say, “The government is killing your babies”? 

Sure enough, my own perspective is, “It’s just fine to marry somebody of a totally different background.  No harm done,” and, “If you don’t marry kin – like fifth cousins or closer – you will within a few generations not have enough babies to maintain your population.”  Both those statements are true.  But it is extremely difficult to believe both at the same time.  People function on the basis of little fairy tales we accept.  Those tales must be simple.  Either of the two propositions can serve as a fairy tale.  But a tale that encompasses both is too complex.

And the government, that institution that sent the boys (yes it was pretty much boys in those days) out to fight one incredibly critical war, then to fight an unwinnable one and then to fight evil wars, that government has used its armed men to force the first proposition on us.  But that proposition, although true, is not important.  It is the second that is important.  That is the one that nobody can hold because it superficially conflicts the one that is maintained at gunpoint.  There is a little cottage industry of people calling each other racists.  You can make a living doing it.  And you can be shunned, have your career ruined if you say, “But racism is right,” and I don’t say that.  I do say that there is more to the story than we are allowed to believe.

So when the boys came home the real slaughter of their children was at the hands of Mr. Eisenhower, the nice guy who sent storm troopers against civilians to enforce proposition one.  But you don’t even need to go there.  Just look at the pay scale. 

There have been 56 visitors over the past month.

Home page