Long, But One Of the Best I've Ever Read
By: Frank Miele
Daily Inter Lake, Kalispell, MT.
One of the reasons we should know that we are in a world of hurt as a nation is that we no longer speak the same language. No, I am not talking about making English the national language, although if you want to have that debate, I am more than willing to take it on. Nor am I talking about the intrinsic problems created when a large segment of a nation’s population refuses to learn the common language such as we have seen recently with many Mexican immigrants, legal and otherwise.
No, what I am talking about is the absolute, unbridgeable linguistic chasm that exists between so-called liberals and so-called conservatives. It’s the old “you say puh-tay-to, I say puh-tah-to” problem made famous in the Gershwin love song. It’s not that we can’t understand each other; it’s that we don’t like what we are hearing.
This cultural barrier stretches across every important issue in American life, from illegal immigration to education to secularism to mass media to civil liberties, and most importantly — because most divisively — to the war in Iraq, which I guess you could call the hot potato of the language wars.
President Bush, poor man, is expected to bridge the chasm between these two branches of the body politic, and so he has learned to say “puh-tay-tah-to” and “puh-tah-tay-to,” which of course pleases no one.
When he says “potato” to a liberal it inevitably comes out sounding like this: “We are going to stay in Iraq because I am a tool of Big Oil and they told me I had better do it or I could wind up like Kennedy with my brains on the windshield, and besides, what does it matter if some more soldiers get killed, we have plenty to spare, and all I am really interested in is spreading American hegemony around the globe so that Wal-Mart can get richer and if you don’t believe me, I can tap your phones and read your mail and by the way, the Constitution is just a piece of paper, and by the way when you call me King George III, you better say that with a smile, pardner, cause I may just have a nuc-u-lar bomb in my pocket and if you don’t think that’s a weapon of mass destruction, think again, buddy.”
But when he says “potato” to a conservative, it sounds more like this: “We’re gonna win this here war in Iraq because we have to, we have no choice, but I just can’t go in there and win the war with weapons because weapons are scary and I don’t want to scare anybody because I have to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people because they have purple thumbs and if our boys have to get Purple Hearts from going in there and getting shot, then that’s OK because that is their job and nobody is going to tell me how to do my job, because I am commander-in-chief and that means I can tell everybody except the generals what to do, and if the generals want more troops they will get them, and if they don’t want them, they will get them too, because I am afraid to win the war, but I am afraid to lose the war, too, and I don’t want to make anyone mad at me because I am really a nice person and why doesn’t anyone love me anymore?”
You say puh-tay-to, and I say puh-tah-to, but when it comes to President Bush, liberals say “demagogic dictator,” and conservatives say “wimp.”And because of the huge divergence between the two streams of modern political thought, it is unlikely any other president would fare any better. The “legacy thing” just makes it too hard for a president to act presidential.
Can you honestly imagine a contemporary president deciding to drop a nuclear bomb on a major city like Harry Truman did? Even if it were clearly the best military policy, it would be determined to be politically risky, and when the National Intelligence Estimate was leaked by the New York Times there would be a loud national discussion about would we? should we? how could we? blow up hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and then the president would come on TV and announce that “no military option is off the table,” but our enemy is the government of Al-Qaidastan not the people of the republic of Al-Qaidastan, and so we will not be blowing up anybody at this time".
On the other hand, if somehow the New York Times did not get its hands on the secret reports and the president actually decided to drop a nuclear bomb in order to demonstrate once and for all the terrible might of the United States, we can pretty much foresee the outcome. No, not submission by the enemy, but rather an impeachment of the president for war crimes. How dare he blow up innocent people? After all, our enemy is the government of Al-Qaidastan not the people of the republic of Al-Qaidastan!
Heck, even by raising the possibility that an American president should consider using an atomic weapon, I will be branded a warmonger and a racist xenophobic troglodyte who wants to kill innocent people. Which makes me wonder what those same people would call Harry S. Truman. Because if dropping a nuclear bomb today is a war crime, then dropping one 62 years ago was also a war crime, and so we lose one more American hero to political correctness.
Perhaps we should not drop a nuclear bomb today; perhaps that is too extreme. But if I were president, here is what I would do — make a public pronouncement on my first day in office that if any American city were attacked with a weapon of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical or biological), then the following cities would be targeted for possible destruction if we established an Islamic connection to the plot: Tehran, Damascus, Islamabad, Riyadh, Baghdad, Jakarta.
We used to have a similar policy in regards to the Soviet Union and it safely delivered us through the dangers of the Cold War. In this case, there would still be plenty of madmen who would be rushing to deliver suitcase bombs to San Francisco and New York, but there would also be hundreds of millions of Muslims suddenly working with us to find and destroy the terror networks. Cool. But of course that isn’t going to happen.
For some reason which I can’t quite fathom, many Americans seem to be incapable of recognizing the threat we face from abroad. Perhaps it’s because conservatives are from Mars and liberals are from Venus, as a popular book describes the language gap between men and women. Mars, in case you don’t recall, was the god of war, and Venus was the goddess of love. But the fact is that many conservatives practice a religion that teaches “God is love,” and many liberals have served in the military with distinction and honor.
So the answer must lie elsewhere. Perhaps, it’s because we have convinced ourselves that progress is inevitable, that reason is universal, and that nightmares only happen in our sleep. But such a viewpoint would only prove that we ARE sleeping. We certainly have been blessed in the United States the past 50 years, but let’s face it, folks, that’s just a very short 50 years in the big scheme of things. Fifty years of prosperity and freedom doesn’t guarantee anything.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, it was just 150 years ago when you could own a human being in the United States of America — yes, THAT United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave. It was just 60 years ago when virtually the entire German nation fell into a trance and called an evil madman “The Leader” as it followed him blindly into a war of expansion and empire-building while thousands of its own citizens were being locked up and killed.
Sixty-two million people died in that war, in World War II — yes, 62 million! — compared to the 3,000 plus Americans who have died in the war in Iraq, but if you don’t look at history, if you live in a world that begins with the “Today” show and ends with the “Tonight” show, then you don’t have to worry about perspective, you don’t need to consider consequences or worry about fascist death squads. You just close your eyes and somnambulate from one false syllogism to another: “The war in Iraq is longer than World War II, so it is worse than World War II” (3,000 American deaths compared to 418,000 American deaths). “More Americans have died in fighting since 9/11 than during it, so the war against terror is a foolish mistake” (by which inane logic the 415,000 American deaths that followed the 2,400 deaths during the attack on Pearl Harbor made WWII a horrifically foolish mistake).
But there is no need for opponents of the war against terror to make sense as they clamor with Chamberlain for “peace in our time.” They simply need to pander to the selfishness of a largely uneducated citizenry and wait for hedonism to prevail over heroism. It doesn’t take long. Heck, it just took 50 years of prosperity and domestic tranquility to turn us into a nation of sleepwalkers who could no more defend ourselves against a serious attack than the French could keep out Hitler’s Panzers with their imaginary Maginot line.
The only thing most of us are interested in anymore is protecting our own butt; the country can take care of itself. Oh yes, we can get behind a police action like the first Gulf War, where death looks like a video game from 30,000 feet. We can even get behind a ground war like the Bosnian War if the United Nations or NATO runs it, so we know that we can run for cover at the first sign of danger. Something like the Bosnian War, indeed, allows us to exercise our befuddled belief in the inevitable triumph of good over evil, and of the march of progress.
But the first war in Iraq and the Bosnian War were just little eddies and whirls in the great sea of history. They may have looked like progress up close, but to get the big picture, you need to look at history from a more distant point. Consider, for instance, that the Bosnian War of the 1990s is really just the latest eruption of a war that dates back more than 600 years.
Those who would dismiss the expansionist tendencies of the Islamic civilization should do themselves a favor and read about the Ottoman Empire’s war against Europe from the 14th century to the 17th century. I have written previously about Muslim domination of Spain, but it was the Battle of Vienna in 1683 which preserved Western Europe as we know it. Thanks to the Hapsburgs, the army of Kara Mustafa Pasha was turned back, and by the end of the century, the Ottomans had been forced to withdraw from Hungary and Transylvania as well. They didn’t withdraw from Bosnia and Herzegovina until 1878, however, and the Muslim influence there remains dominant to this day.
Of course, the United States defended the Muslims in the former Yugoslavia from being massacred because of our respect for human rights and our love of peace, but we should not lose sight of the larger lessons to be learned from history. Bosnia is part of Europe to you and me, but to the Islamic world it is part of the Caliphate, a transboundary, multi-national federation of Islamic states and people who are devoted to the concept of establishing Muhammad’s law across the face of the earth. They suffered a setback at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, but they are patient, and today they are staging a nice comeback.
They see the big picture much more clearly than we do, and they have no reason not to be optimistic about their success in the next 100 years, especially since they are ruthless and we are guileless. The threat of Koranic law (or sharia) being imposed across the formerly free countries of the world does not even faze most Americans. To raise the specter of such a narrow-minded religious law being applied to nations such as the United States and Great Britain is considered an appeal to fear, a mere rhetorical device that could not possibly reflect a true threat. And so we walk unconcernedly toward our doom.
Women who would basically lose their status as human beings and who would be reduced to chattel under sharia do not seem to be afraid. Homosexuals who would be killed do not care. Adulterers who would be stoned to death do not care. In general, Christians and non-Muslims do not seem to care either, although they would have to accept the rule of Islamic law and pay a tax to their oppressors, or else fight and die.
To liberals, this statement of fact is called fear-mongering. To conservatives, it is called a history lesson. But it doesn’t matter what you call it because we can’t hear each other anyway. Conservatives are from Mars; liberals are from Venus, and there is no love doctor on the “Dr. Phil” show who can tell us why we just can’t talk anymore.You say sha-ree-uh and I say sha-rye-uh; let’s call the whole thing off.