Memorial Day Thoughts (posted 5/31/21)

Well, it’s Memorial Day.  Or as our leftist elite calls it, “Toxic Masculinity & Colonial Oppression Commemoration Day.”

But screw those guys.  Columbus Day is Columbus Day, Presidents’ Day is for Washington and Lincoln, MLK Day is “judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin” day, and Memorial Day is when we remember those who died in our armed services.

Sidebar:  There are few more sexist and insulting phrases in our culture than “toxic masculinity.”  I did a few moments of research on who first came up with that term, and if you guessed a bitter misanthropist feminist, you’d be wrong.  But you’d be close.

It was first mentioned in a dissertation by an academic (surprise!) named – I kid you not – Shepherd Bliss. A quick skim through some suggestive details in his biography: “educated” at Harvard and taught at Berkeley, appearances on Phil Donahue and Oprah, cries easily, owns an organic Boysenberry farm in Sonoma county, plus a large collection of movies that “do not include violence” (ugh!).  Also – brace yourself – has not fathered any children.

Now I don’t have anything against men who aren’t big fans of masculinity.  It takes all kinds, and somebody needs to agonize over pronouns, and eat kale, and cry all through the fourth act of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  And it probably should be someone named “Shepherd” or “Bliss.”

But is it too much to ask that we also make an honored space in our society for folks who DO exude masculinity? 

Can’t we celebrate the kind of guys who run toward danger instead of away from it?  Can we refrain from smearing as “toxic” the guys who invented dynamite and the Gatling gun, the Cadillac Eldorado and the Shelby Cobra, the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Flying V, the “T” formation and the 46 defense, and most of the other things? 

Must we denigrate those who have memorized entire scenes from Godfather 1 & 2 and No Country for Old Men, and who have dvds of all the John Wick films?   Who can frame a wall, and weld, and blast some jihadis during a low-flying pass in an A-10 Warthog in the Korengal Valley? `             

I know I’m a dinosaur, and a throwback, and a “get off my lawn” kind of guy.  But I appreciate our military, mostly because they undertake the kind of basic, visceral, foundational actions upon which all of our society rests: protecting the weak, opposing aggressors, and killing bad guys. 

In the civilian world we depend on cops, who carry out the essential tasks that they are then condemned for doing.   But our entire civilian world depends on soldiers, who do the same.  People who hate strength and call masculinity “toxic,” hate cops and soldiers both.   They romanticize and side with criminals and our nation’s enemies.  Such people are not worthy of the risks our cops and soldiers take, nor the sacrifices they make.

That’s not to say that all soldiers are saints, anymore than cops are.  They’re human, and have all the flaws that flesh is heir to, just like us.   When they go bad, they can do more damage than most.  But they do the thankless and often dirty jobs that too many of us disdain, even as we depend on them.  And they deserve much better than they’ve been getting in recent years.

The kind of anti-American Marxists who 50 years ago called our soldiers returning from Vietnam “baby killers,” haven’t changed much.  Now they are antifa, and carry “ACAB” signs, and made up a dog’s breakfast of lies and slander called “The 1619 Project.”   They call us a nation of warmongers, even though any real historians among them would be hard-pressed to cite a nation whose wars have been more justified than ours.

In the 18th century, some cocky Brits were a tad too easy with the taxation and not big fans of representation, and they needed a little lesson from some rustics with Kentucky long rifles.  In the 19th century, some Democrat slaveholders needed the newly minted Republicans to give them a little bit of the ol’ Grant-and-Sherman one-two punch.  In the 20th century, socialists in Germany, Russia and China needed some arsenal of democracy-style butt kickings.

And in the 21st century – already – a lot of really bad guys have needed smiting, and have been well and truly smoted.  Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Mohammed Emwazi (aka “Jihadi John”), and Qassem Soleiman are all now as dead as Joe Biden, thanks to our military. 

It’s proper and fitting that we remember our fallen warriors, and their courage and toughness that were toxic only to the Redcoats, Nazis, communists and jihadis who mistook us for a nation of Bradley Mannings, Michael Moores and Shepherd Blisses.  Imagine their surprise – many didn’t live long enough to learn how wrong they were – to find themselves in combat with a nation of Washingtons, Pattons, Pat Tillmans and Chris Kyles.    

In their memory, I’d like to quote a few memorable expressions of the kind of martial spirit that our country has been blessed to see in members our own armed forces, even though these come from different times and places:

Before Thermopylae (480 BC), Herodotus gives us two famous quotes.  When the vastly outnumbered Spartans meet with a Persian ambassador who demands that they lay down their weapons, Leonidas says, “Molon labe” (“Come and take them.”)  

When the Persians threaten that their numbers are so great that their volleys of arrows will blot out the sun, Dienekes says, “Then we’ll fight in the shade.”

U.S. Grant, after the first bloody day at Shiloh (you’ve heard me mention this one before) talked with Sherman, who said, “We’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?”  Grant said, “Yes. Lick ‘em tomorrow, though.”

In 1941, when Bull Halsey heard about the Pearl Harbor attack, he said, “Before we’re through with ‘em, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell!”

In the movie True Grit, when John Wayne is facing four killers and their leader calls him a “one-eyed fat man,” Wayne hollers, “Fill your hands, you son of a b**ch!”

Sadly, some of the quotes that feel most appropriate this year are ones that chastise an anti-military attitude. 

In Kipling’s poem honoring British soldiers, “Tommy,” he mentions those “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep.”

Orwell is said to have had that line in mind when he wrote his famous rebuke to a virtue-signaling subset of pacifists: “We sleep soundly in our beds, because rough men stand ready in the night to do violence on those who would harm us.”

Finally, a little Shakespeare, with a small revision.  In Hamlet’s famous “to be, or not to be,” soliloquy, he contemplates how to respond to violent tragedy. Because he’s a tortured philosophical type, he tends more toward the “’tis nobler in the mind/ to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” side of things. 

But I like to think that if Shakespeare had lived in a time of American special forces troops, he would have been more partial to the “or to take arms against a sea of a-holes/ and by opposing, end them” position.

So let’s raise a glass to those who serve, and those who have fallen.  We appreciate the sound sleep, and the rough men (and a few women, too) who provide it for us.

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