Being American – A Guest Post by Eamon

Being American – A Guest Post by Eamon

Our gracious host asked me to write a guest post expanding on a comment I made on America Aeterna so I’ve put my shoulder to it, and scrabbled at the hard ground, and here it is:

It’s 9/11/2013 as I write this. It’s become a complex anniversary, one that does not pass easily. Nor should it. It should burn in our blood and resonate in our bones. There’s an unquenched anger compounded by recent frustrations underlying this day. And there’s a pain, when we turn long enough from our daily concerns to see, a compelling pain that won’t leave us. A pull toward the sound of American cries.

But I want to talk about hope, here. There is hope. A dark hope, to be sure. Stained with more than a little smoke, and tears without number, but hope it remains. Walk with me now, the next bit is a little bleak, but I see a glow over the ridge before us. Fix your eyes ahead.

There is a strain in American thought these days which regrets the violence visited upon our culture and our people, but are helpless before it. A belief that it’s horrible and wrenching and hard, but we can’t act in the face of it. This strain is spreading, insidious and cunning in its maneuvers.

Many individuals adamantly defend their right to self-defense and go on to explain how they’ll only exercise that right for them and theirs. Faced with violence, pain and horror they’ll turn away because it’s none of their concern. There are police who say that their number one priority each day is going home safe each night. Confronted with a threat to the innocent, they’ll hesitate and delay. Some in the military have sought to avoid deployments, because it’s not their fight. Faced with an attack against their country and their brothers and sisters, they step aside saying they didn’t want this war.

This corrupted thought is being abetted by many who seek power. They deny American exceptionalism, decry our cultural foundations, and seek to destroy our national soul. Some do this because they seek a ‘higher’ purpose, an ill-conceived greater good. Some because they’ve been taught to hate the very things that brought them to life and prominence. Still others are hollow and cold inside and believe everyone else must be as well.

These misguided ‘leaders’ seek to promote this helplessness in the face of attack, and encourage this turning from the suffering of our fellows. They want this crippled narcissism to continue and spread. Perhaps because it leaves them free to accrue more power. Or they plan to break the American spirit and bend it to their ideology. Maybe they feel broken and hopeless and strike out to render all else the same. Many, no doubt, act on the sincere belief that this is the right path. That reconciliation with the world and our better nature requires us to set aside these ‘arrogances.’ That it is penitence to suffer these incidents and when we’ve suffered sufficiently we’ll be welcomed into the enlightened community.

The dangerous strain in American thought is abetted by others, who hold to the deadly philosophy of low expectations. “This anniversary is supposed to be significant?,” they ask. This has happened before, and worse, and will again. Others before us have mis-stepped and others after will again. Outrage now is pointless because history is long and you cannot rise above our collective past. This and more they say.

These seek to undermine our anger, and pain. And most of all they seek to undermine that pull.

But there’s that glow, beyond the ridge.

***

There’s another strain in American thought. One I think runs deep in our blood and curls about our soul. One which regrets the violence visited upon our culture and our people, and is angry before it. One which believes it’s horrible and wrenching and hard, and we are equal to its challenge.

This strain is in the foundations of our American culture.

To reprise my comment on America Aeterna:

There is a deep, in the bone, tradition in the American military. It is an informal pact. It underlies why, and how, sane and rational people walk into horror of their own free will. We will come for you. We will send many to save few. I may die, but I will walk into that hell to pull you out. And the man beside me will drag us both home. It can be tempered, by the mission, by the needs of our nation, by our deference to civilian authority, but it must be tempered. The urge to act is innate.
…The in the bone tradition was not born in the military. It comes from a strain in our culture, from the heart of being American. Firefighters and Police and Citizens rushed to the Towers. College students walked into the recruitment office during Vietnam. Teachers and mechanics and bakers stormed the beaches of Normandy. Farmers faced down the mightiest empire in the world.

It is this strain that runs through the heart of educators who run to the sound of guns to stand and die between violence and their children. It is in the blood of the people who rush the madman before he can take another life. In the bones of the police officers who flock to the call of distress to interpose their bodies between violent disorder and civilization. In the souls of the military when they shove down their doubts and fears and shoulder the sword and shield of our nation.

I believe it is this strain that prompted Sarah Hoyt to say:

When an American is cut, everyone who is an American at heart bleeds.

And why she felt pain watching the Iran hostage crisis and the failed rescue, even as she sat in Portugal.

It’s not a geographical thing, nor a matter of birth or genetics. It is a deeply American philosophy that calls out to those around the world who would be of us. Those who are American in their bones and blood and soul. Who, despite rabid individuality, feel the call to face violent horror visited upon their fellows with resolve and to step toward that horror in response. Not in retribution, but to stand beside those fellows and do what must be done.

Those who follow this strain of thought feel that pull toward the sound of American cries. That pull comes not because we are invested in nationalism, but because we are invested in individualism. Our founding, our Constitution and our culture are replete with the fundamental understanding that the individual is the unit of value in our society. It is this understanding that shines forth around the world and draws people to our shores. It is this belief that each of us, in ourselves, is worth fighting to defend that gives the desolate hope. It is this truth that threatens the foundations of tyranny.

Seeing this, many nations give service to the idea of individual value, but their actions reveal a different truth. Many play upon our reverence to manipulate us; many co-opt our values to lessen us. They show the truth of their character by attacking the innocent and spilling the blood of their own people. Then they call on us to abide by our reverence. And we do. They take combat to the non-combatants with brutality and without regard, and then dare us to fracture our own foundations by responding in kind. And we do not.

Through all of this we hold to that truth. And through all of this, that light shines and nascent Americans around the globe feel the pull, and they know the promise.

Those who follow this strain of thought believe the promise that should have been made in Benghazi was this: You stand. We’ll have fighters overhead soonest. Behind them our bombers prepare. Behind them we have birds in the air bringing special operations personnel your way. Behind them the Airborne and the Marines. Behind them the light mech, and the heavy mech and the infantry. Behind them the American divisions muster, starting now. Pushing toward you, as we speak, churning the water to froth, the American carrier groups. Behind them, running deep, our submarines. Behind them the Coast Guard secures your home. You stand, we will come for you. And know this while you stand: if you should fall before we reach you, before your blood dries on that fallen soil we will stand in your stead in that very dust. We will own the hallowed ground where you lay, even if in the doing we must lay down beside you. And we will bring you home.

Some will call it jingoism. And perhaps they’re right, if you see this as a reverence of the state, of nationalism. Perhaps they’re right if you believe this pull we feel is because our national pride has been hurt. Or our leadership has been embarrassed. But, if you understand this pull…if you understand from where inside you it comes and toward whom it pulls you… then they are wrong. And it is not too late to hold to our promises.

We will come for you.

145 thoughts on “Being American – A Guest Post by Eamon

    1. Figurehead. Though one that causes damage, and does have some power…. fitting with his philosophy, his biggest power comes from abusing the decency of others.

  1. Well said, by jingo!

    Those who sneer at “American Exceptionalism,” commingling it with German or Japanese or Kenyan “Exceptionalism” demonstrate their fundamental lack of intellectual curiosity in failing to consider the meaning of the term. Americans, unlike Germans, Japanese or any of the Old World nations do not define nationality in terms of race but in terms of creed. Though a man be born of American mother or a woman be born on Iberian peninsula does not define them as American or not. What defines them is their allegiance to the American Creed, that all men are Created Equal, that they are Endowed By Their Creator certain unalienable rights and that government of the people, by the people and for the people should not fade from this Earth.

    1. Thanks!

      And yes. Nobody talks much about the ‘mixing bowl’ of America much anymore. Or even the ‘salad bowl’ the cultural anthropologists foisted on us. I think those same anthropologists introduced doubt about the success of the American experiment and took part in undermining our exceptionalism. I well remember the adamant declaration that no culture could blend with another culture, that the mixing bowl metaphor was an illusion and we devalued people by expecting them to adopt the American version. Blech.

      That attitude, from wherever it came, is undermining the American success story.

      1. The term is, or rather was, “Melting pot”. These days “respecting other cultures” means that “When in Rome Do as the Romans Do” and “When the Romans are here, they will still do as the Romans do, and you’ll like it.” They hate American culture so much that the default position is that it should always be subservient to other cultures.

        1. There it is, mixing bowl wasn’t sounding right but my brain didn’t wanna cooperate. I just remember the professor denouncing the idea that cultures could blend, thus salad bowl: many cultures mixed in but distinct. Frustrated me at the time. Frustrates and more now.

          1. It may be a salad bowl, but American Creed is the zesty dressing that unites the flavors.

            As for the racist* idea that cultures cannot blend that professor ought try some of the Cubanese (Cuban-Chinese), Thaixican and Tex-Mex restaurants I’ve dined in. Or just try a 5-way bowl of Skyline chili: Tejano chili with Greek seasoning served on Italian pasta.

            Or listen to Porgy & Bess: African-American jazz derived from Celtic rhythms as interpreted by an American Jew of Russian ancestry.

            Or, sadly, look at our current president: Kenyan father, Kansan mother, born in Hawaii.

            *Racist because a) that idea was first propagated by American racists and its modern advocates cannot deny its ancestry and b) the only logical conclusion of irrevocable irreconcilable differences making cooperation fruitless and demanding sundering of the nation or rule by a single dominant culture.

    2. (By jingo, by the way? You’re a suspect in a subtlety investigation…

      Officer, I felt a dig, I tell ya!)

  2. Yet to our everlasting shame, we did not. America left our people hanging in the breeze. Wasn’t there so I didn’t see it personally, but I know in my heart that many of our brave military must have cried out in anger and frustration when told to stand down, don’t go, we won’t even try for a rescue. Senior leadership, and ultimately our dear commander in chief (written lower case on purpose) failed in their responsibility to people in their charge. If there be justice, such will burn for their inaction, but I’m not expecting justice any time soon.

    Eamon, thank you so much for putting to words what every American feels deep in their gut, and sadly so many current residents will never understand no matter how eloquent the explanation.

    For some strange reason this reminded me of a particularly bittersweet moment in the far gone past. I was a geeky kid fresh out of high school, just shy of 18 when we landed on the moon. Perfect justification for me that my fascination with science and science fiction was not crazy after all, and proof to the world that we were just a little bit better than your average bear. Of course looking back that time only saddens me in that we went, came home, and may never go again, but at the time the major news organizations were doing man in the street interviews around the world getting impressions from common folk. Everywhere was enthusiasm, joy even, for what we the entire human race had just accomplished. Then they cut to several street interviews here in the US, and again and again it was: “why weren’t they spending all that money on us?” Those people, and I use the term loosely, were not and never could be Americans no matter what their citizenship. And here we’ve let folks like that infiltrate our leadership and become decision makers for what once was perhaps the greatest and finest noble experiment ever attempted.

    1. The article is unclear on when this started, whether in the last few days of Rumsfeld’s tenure or shortly after, but this substitution for symbolism over substance seems, sadly, UnAmerican:

      JPAC admits to phony ceremonies honoring ‘returning’ remains
      [SNIP]
      The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, has come under intense scrutiny in recent months after two scathing reports were released this summer.

      In July, The Associated Press ran a story exposing a 2012 internal JPAC report that found the agency to be “acutely dysfunctional” with some missions that amounted to little more than paid vacations for staffers.

      A second investigation released weeks later by the Government Accountability Office found that Pentagon efforts to account for fallen troops missing overseas were inefficient and in need of overhaul, according to congressional sources.

      In 2010, lawmakers mandated JPAC to reach an annual goal of recovering at least 200 fallen troops from overseas battlefields by 2015, but it had failed to build the capacity to do so, the GAO found. Currently the Hawaii-based command averages less than 70 individuals per year.

      Much of the inefficiency found by the GAO researchers comes down to a turf war between JPAC and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, which shares some of the same responsibilities, Congressional sources said.
      [SNIP]
      Jesse Baker, an 81-year-old Air Force veteran of World War II and Korea living in Honolulu, told NBC News that he has been to more than 50 of these ceremonies. He said he’s always been under the impression that the plane had just arrived carrying recovered remains.

      Baker tried to make sense of why the DOD would work so hard to trick him and other veterans. “That’s disturbing. I don’t know when they stopped being honest and switched over to this Mickey Mouse, but whoever did it, I hope they find him a new job somewhere.”

          1. I’ve gotten into trouble several times because I continually stated there were two, and only two, different branches of the military: those that “went in harm’s way”, and those that stayed behind. While most of my service was “combat support” (imagery intelligence isn’t a front-line position), most of my service, and that of my fellow members, was in direct support of the guys at the front, and a bad call could, and sometimes did, put someone else’s life at risk. People who face that kind of responsibility, regardless of what job they hold, are the kind of people that run toward the shooting, not away. Personally, I’ve been shot at, and had the privilege (yes, I mean that) of being allowed to shoot back, hopefully effectively.

            Eamon, great article. I think yesterday’s demonstration showed effectively that American exceptionalism is not dead. I only wish there had been more young people there. Most Vietnam vets are approaching my age, and it would have to have been their grandchildren who would have attended. Every child should know and understand that there are people in this nation that are proud of both their country and their service to it.

            1. Thanks. I believe American exceptionalism is alive. A little beaten and bloody, but still going. And a boxer’s smile, even with blood-sheened teeth, can still be a thing of joy.

        1. It’s not entirely their fault. “Until everyone comes home” is a nice sentiment, and an admirable goal, but if you’re the poor SOB who sets off the proximity fuze on an nebelwerfer rocket or who falls out of your life-raft 30 days after ditching in the South Pacific there isn’t anything to bring home.

          You cannot expect honesty when you give people goals that are harder to achieve than lying.

    2. Here is what I wrote the day after Hillary Clinton’s infamous “It doesn’t matter” speech – a speech that should forever bar her from future government office. We should also note that no less than seven senior officers lost their job because they tried to over-ride their own boss’s p-poor decision. Those men are heroes in my book.

      The “million-vet march” yesterday on the Washington Mall shows that the ideals of American exceptionalism and pride in independence is not dead. My only problem with it was that I could not be there with them.

    1. Far too many of those ‘leaders’ claim to be on our side of the ledger too. Oh, they talk the talk, but they only seem to walk the walk when the election comes (“Gee, sorry for calling you hobbits and whacko birds … remember to vote for me again come next november!!”)

    2. Much appreciated.

      We just have to remember that our leaders are mostly in charge of making sure the bins get emptied and the floors mopped. President of the U.S. is CEO of a large federal bureaucracy but not leader of the American people or head of the American culture.

      If we can remember that, perhaps their abject failure to fulfill their obligations to our cultural principles, our American Creed as RES pointed out, can be set aside and we the people can move forward getting done what’s needs doing.

    1. and our selfish, spoiled cousin, who needed to be spanked more as a kid is sadly running the show.

            1. Except he’s not the President. The President is limited by the Constitution. Barry’s just the schlub who wanders around the White House and who the dumber half of the nation listen to.

      1. Unfortunately, there are far too many people in this nation that pretend to be relatives, but have no clue what the word “family” means. This nation was founded on the belief that everyone deserved the opportunity to succeed, not the guarantee of “success”.

        1. “[T]here are far too many people in this nation that pretend to be relatives …”

          Ain’t that always th’ case when there is an inheritance to be divided? Not that they show up to help change the bedpans or paint the siding.

  3. I’d like to repeat what I wrote a few days ago, why I’d prefer to live in USA rather than my own country (besides the merely practical part of USA being much further south…): When one compares the way things have been going in USA to the way they have been going here, well, no matter how strongly I try to think in terms of what they say about grass and fences the field still sure does look better on that side. You too have places where the grass is starting to look rather sickly (and maybe some spots where its dead already) but you also have a lot more area where it is still green and lush.

    Do not give up. No matter how much the rest of the world whines about USA, we need you. Not the superpower or the world police or the financial powerhouse, although those parts can of course be important too, they keep the bullies at bay, at least to some extent. But what truly matters are the founding principles and the spirit. It will get dark everywhere if those are lost.

    1. Thanks for the reminder. It’s easy to forget that many people around the world do still look to America as a beacon.

      One of the mild shocks for me when traveling abroad was people’s attitude about America. Not the folks that hated us, or blamed us, I expected those. And for a particular group who were struggling to place themselves firmly in the intellectual class that was their mantra (or perhaps koan, if they’d ever try to solve the puzzle…) No the surprising part was seeing how many people still looked to America as a friend, as hope, as proof of a better way. It was refreshing.

      They don’t talk about that much here anymore. So thanks, because i think you’re right, it will get dark everywhere if we lose our way.

        1. As Reagan reminded … “How lucky you are? I had some place to escape to.”

          Should America forsake our liberty, let others remember that we once were, and let that memory be a shining beacon. There is little about with which I concur with JFK’s administration, but these words ought be remembered:

          Each evening, from December to December,
          Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,
          Think back on all the tales that you remember
          Of Camelot.
          Ask ev’ry person if he’s heard the story,
          And tell it strong and clear if he has not,
          That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
          Called Camelot.
          Camelot! Camelot!
          Now say it out with pride and joy!

          [SNIP]

          Don’t let it be forgot
          That once there was a spot

          For one brief shining moment that was known
          As Camelot.

          Go and write your stories of the Human Wave that is America, and let not the canards, lies and slanders of our name stand unrebuked.

        2. What happens if the light of the world fails? It shatters.

          Without that one great hope to bind us, we fall to the most basic of moral centers, the family. One mighty torch against the darkness becomes a cloud of embers, fragile and ephemeral, as each man and woman strives to protect their own, alone. If I’ve learned anything traveling and meeting folks from all around the world it is that yes, we *are* special. One of the most important ways is trust. John Ringo wrote about this in The Last Centurion, and better than I could explain it, but I’ll try to put my own spin here.

          Trust. When you go to the grocery store, and hand the cashier your debit card, you don’t think about “Will they accept this? Plastic, or paper, in return for things that feed my children?” Nor do you wonder, “will I be able to renew my license, now that my cousin doesn’t work in the DoT?” We trust other people in little things, like queuing up in a line when there are many people waiting for something, and big things like believing that those we elect will step down at the end of their allotted term. I may joke about our political system, but it really is remarkable when you think about it.

          We are a nation of laws. When these restraints on uncivil or dangerous behavior become too weak or too strong, we fail, like a lamp starved of oxygen or dry of fuel. We should be chary of introducing elements into our system of laws that could harm us- making violence a recognized and acceptable form of expression for all but the most egregious faults would be such. If we are not *one* nation, indivisible, then each man is an island, vulnerable to the whims of petty warlords and greedy opportunists.

          The light of this nation is the work of many hands. Each one chooses to lend a part of his effort to that greater thing- and that choice is significant. If he is forced to do so, he is a slave. Too many in this country have forgotten that. Those who truly believe in what makes this country great stand in largely silent vigilance to protect Lady Liberty from the hounds that snap at her heels. They are not Atlas, but Sisyphus, endlessly putting their backs to the stone to roll it up the hill once more when the short sighted send it tumbling down on a whim.

          Those of us down in the thick of life, who pay our taxes and try to make life a little better for our families, our children, and those we call friends, we keep the fires burning when the cold wind blows. When the nation stumbles, when our country trips and falls, it is we the people who ignore the pain of skinned knees and raw hands, wipe the blood from our chins… and stand. Again and again, if we have to. Because we trust in the idea that is America, that the freedom to pursue happiness in our own individual ways unmolested is worth that constant vigil and toil.

          Even in the present where we face threats unknown and unknowable to the men who forged our nation in fire and ink there remain those durable ones, those honest ones, those reliable ones. The people that *are* the light of this nation. As long as our government largely lets them be, they will keep making this country great. The light of the world is freedom, and it burns in that uniquely American soul that demands no chains be placed upon him save those that he forges solely for himself and no other- duty, honor, and faith in what is good and right. The light of freedom still yet burns.

          1. First of all, I would like to echo others in congratulating Eamon on a fine post.

            Regarding the comment which this is in reply to, Bill Whittle once wrote an essay on the notion of trust in our culture. It agrees, on the whole, with Dan’s comment, but goes into greater detail. Anyone who would like to read it, can see it here, with the minor drawback that much of the punctuation has been changed to characters that don’t display properly, at least on my browsers.

            1. Thanks for linking that. *chuckle* Bill Whittle has style, and while I’ve not been up to date on what he’s written in a while, I probably stole about 95% of my ideas there from him and Ringo, with the other 3% stole from Dr. Simek, my utterly unflappable instructor in anthropology from some years back (had to put my 2% in).

              Trust and culture have been thunk about and writ on for quite a while. That guy’s got some of the better ideas about it I’ve heard.

          2. ” We should be chary of introducing elements into our system of laws that could harm us- making violence a recognized and acceptable form of expression for all but the most egregious faults would be such”

            Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but I would say we are going in the opposite direction, with the zero tolerance policies; and this is harming us far worse as a nation. Other than that I agree with your mini-post.

            1. Drat. That doesn’t make a much sense in context, does it? Chalk it up to a tired brain trying to flog out a last few neuron sparks before unconsciousness claims it.

              On the (governmental) whole, I think we are closer to going all police state than revolution, as well. But, as Ken shows us in a comment down thread a bit, and is something I’ve heard much worried agreement on, there’s a common thread running in the conversation that another armed conflict is brewing up in this here melting pot. I’d like to avoid that, if we can.

              If I’d been thinking clearer or better the first time (and one of these days it’ll happen- right after I win the lottery with those tickets I don’t buy), I’d probably have said something about the dangers of divisive thinking instead. Instead of being Americans, being Special-Americans, because that’s more betterer and gets us free gubmint monies. Or forcing conformity on us all based on a very narrow interest. Or demonizing opposing opinions, just because they’re not ours.

              Heh. Mini-post. I do run on at the mouth sometimes here, sometimes.

            2. Except, bearcat, they’re introducing another form of violence — the restraint upon free expression, upon behavior that is NOT harmful, and upon elements of society that helped forge our nation over generations. “Political Correctness” is one of the biggest frauds in the world (it is, after all, an offshoot of communism). The people behind these laws wish to rule without having to resort to violence, because they’re afraid of violence unless it’s THEIR violence. The fact that they exercise this violence upon the rest of us through sneaky behavior doesn’t totally hide the fact that it IS violence against what it means to be an American. I refuse to play the game, and I’m willing to use violence – real physical violence – against those that would try to force me to. I’m 67 years old and disabled. I can still whomp the cr$$ out of 90% of the effete pups in today’s society.

  4. The question is, how far are you willing to go to restore America? Are you willing to use violence against degenerate, treasonous Democrats to get there? Personally, this does not bother me. These are sickos who use abortion as their primary means of birth control, who want to make abortion mandatory so that pro-lifers can’t vote away their hedonistic abortion-based lifestyle, who literally tried to bribe Bristol Palin to have an abortion out of spite, who want to ban guns for others because they are too cowardly and selfish to protect their own families, who dodged the draft yet lie that veterans like me dodged the draft. So are we going to weep for America like the beta sissies at NRO? (Aside: I personally think William Buckley was HIGHLY overrated). Or will we reclaim our beloved nation like men?

    1. We are reclaiming our nation, Ken. It starts where they took it away — the culture. Or do you think guns and explosions now are a good idea? You think the rest of the world will sit tight while we solve our internal problems. Brother — we have what they don’t got. They’ll come for us. It won’t end well. Also, I’m not a man. I just checked. But I’ll be double darned if I let these Marxist twats steal the last, best hope on Earth. I am right now involved in at least three groups/efforts/movements to start turning this thing around. It will take time. They started stealing it during FDR’s “reign” long before I was born. Put your shoulder to the wheel and push. Guns and explosions are satisfying and might be unavoidable, but the idea of America is forever and it is our greatest weapon.

      1. The stealing began with the “Progressives” under William Jennings Bryant, in the 1880’s. Woodrow Wilson is just as guilty — perhaps more so — than FDR. And we can’t leave out the biggest disaster to happen to the United States in the 20th Century, Lyndon Baines Johnson (may his soul burn forever in hell). Jimmy Carter was just ineffective — these idiots actively WORKED to destroy the exceptionalism of the United States. We’ve got a lot of housekeeping to do. We’ll do it every way we can. It may come down to guns and bullets in the end. The biggest start we can make is to teach our children our true history, not the watered-down pap they get in the government school system.

    2. Ken, the real battle is not one of violence and armies. It’s as Sarah says, a battle of culture. Of mindset.

      Our media, political, and educational institutions have been thoroughly white-anted by the left-liberal crowd, so thoroughly they’ve induced a kind of weird psychosis in the people who have yet to realize that the sources they trust for information aren’t in sympathy with their values. Heck, those sources aren’t in sympathy with reality – that’s a guest post here someday, when I have the time and brains to write it.

      The question to ask is not “Are you willing to use violence?” it is “Are you willing to be ridiculed and targeted by the institutions that should be protecting you in order to reclaim a culture of individual achievement and excellence?”

      One last point: No Fort Sumters.

      1. The culture has to be part of it. Maybe I’ve become overly sensitized, but I’ve seen quite a bit of it lately from the progressives on TV. Revolution’s new set of baddies are the “patriots” who likely nuked Philadelphia and Atlanta at the end of last season. The baddies call themselves patriots a lot. In the same show, which is about the crack-up of civilization when the lights go out (cough, Dies the Fire, cough), we get a really, really gross, but separate, baddy who extols the virtues of the new way of things because it gives him the freedom to be really bad. And freedom is good, really good, kind of awesome, certainly better than having civilized people tell you what to do, says the gross, vile, bad guy. Not too obvious, any of that.

        Then, cut to Elementary, which I was enjoying until the most recent episode, where the evil do’er of the day was a fan of Ayn Rand, the philosopher–according to our hero–of the morally or intellectually bankrupt. There were lots of shots of her book The Fountainhead, so that we could associate it with the psychopath. Not brave enough to show Atlas Shrugged.

        There is a culture war.

        And, Eamon, great post.

    3. Ken, your second question is the wrong one. For one, you are painting all who call themselves “Democrat” with a broad brush. For another, you are ignoring others who use different labels for themselves but who also sell out American values. We need to look past labels and titles and look at what each of our elected officials stand for and decide if we wish to return them to office. We have to be willing to stand up and speak our minds, no matter what the ridicule we will receive in our homes or offices or at school.

      Sarah talks about losing friends after 9/11 because she dared speak her mind and suggest that this country needed to be proactive in protecting itself. Are the rest of us willing to do as she has and put ourselves out there for others to see and hear? One voice may not seem like much, but each time a voice joins the call for a return to what made America great, that’s one more voice than there was the day before.

      I don’t know how old you are but I’m old enough to remember Spiro Agnew talking about the “silent majority”. It is time for those who have been silent to speak up. It is time to quit buying into the propaganda that the main stream media feeds us. it is time for us to go back and study history and see where things are being repeated, events that are less than a century old in many instances.

      Armed resistance is not the immediate answer. That would only play into the hands of the other side. Our best weapon against them is to speak up, to be brave enough to go outside our comfort zone of blogs and friends and let our voices be heard. I think we might all be surprised by the number of voices that join ours if we do.

      And, as Kate said, No Fort Sumters.

      1. Except that in ruling out Fort Sumter, you are also ruling out Lexington and Concord. You are ruling out the Gaspee Affair.

        And you will find yourselves in the same position that conservatives are in today: freely abused because all you will do is talk…. and your enemies domestic are well aware of it.

        Or do you think the Founders formed the Sons of Liberty as a peaceful protest?

        1. Hah! I knew one would have gotten there ahead of me. Am I willing to use violence? If we must resort to violence our cause is lost, because ample polling repeatedly proves that our principles stand triumphant, it is “us” they don’t like. (Ever and anon, polls show support for positions drops significantly when those principles are identified as “Republican.” Why think thou they were so fast to slander TEA Party? It is to close the ears of their thralls who believe the progressives words while being blind to their actions.)

          Resort to violence means the culture has been lost … Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war*, let it begin here.

          *Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. – Sun Tzu

          1. snelson and RES,
            No Fort Sumters does not mean no violence. All it means is that the party who initiates violence risks loosing the moral high ground. It definitely does not rule out an appropriate though violent response if attacked.
            Lexington and Concord were a militia response to British aggression, not an unprovoked attack like the shelling of Fort Sumter.

            1. The printing press, far from being the property of mega-conglomerates, was the blog of its day, as such relics as Common Sense, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania and the Federalist (and Anti-Federalist) Papers demonstrate.

              1. Broadsheets, single page newspapers intended to be nailed to every available wall and tree in a community were the tweets of their day.
                First documented use was by the Dutch in 1618.

                1. Yep and after the printing press became common, the “local powers that be” started fining (or worse) printing press operators who printed something the “powers that be” didn’t like (even if it wasn’t the opinion of the printers). Kind of puts a different light on “freedom of the press”, it wasn’t just the “newspapers” that were protected. It was anybody who wanted to print a message. [Smile]

                  1. At one point, IIRC, England limited printing presses to only London and Edinburgh. A quick [SEARCHENGINE] failed to confirm recall but produced some interesting information on the history of English/American copyright law.

                    See: the Statute of Anne.

                    On November 16, 1538, Henry VIII decreed that all new books had to be approved by the Council before publication, a requirement that remained in effect in some form until 1694. Use of governmental bodies for censorship had its obvious disadvantages in an age that was becoming increasingly resentful of royal control. The solution was simple: exercise indirect control through the grant of an exclusive charter to the printing and book trade, which would carry out royal wishes in order to benefit from monopoly status. Thus, on May 4, 1557, to check the spread of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Queen Mary and King Philip granted a royal charter to the Worshipful Company of Stationers of London, thereby concentrating the entire printing business in the hands of the members of the Stationers Company. The Stationers Company charter was confirmed two years later by Queen Elizabeth, but this time with the goal of suppressing Catholicism.

                    The Statute of Anne was limited to “books,” i.e., literary works. For existing works, “authors or their assigns” were granted the exclusive right of publication for 21 years from the effective date of April 10, 1710. For new works, the right ran for 14 years from the date of publication; the author, if living at the expiration of such term, was granted the privilege of renewal for 14 more years. Due to a belief that “many Persons may through Ignorance Offend against this Act,” protection for the original, but not the renewal term, and, of course, penalties, were conditioned upon entry of the title of the work in the register books of the Stationers Company before publication as evidence of ownership (but, importantly, no longer in the name of a member of the Company). Somewhat later, as a further security to the general public so that “none may offend through ignorance of the copyright,” a provision for notice of entry in the register books of the Stationers Company was required to appear on every copy of the published work. Assignments of rights had to be similarly recorded. These requirements kept the Stationers Company involved in the administration of rights, and became an unfortunate precedent for our registration system.

                    “decreeing that only [the Stationers’ Company]’s publishers could print and distribute books. Their Wardens were given the power to enter any printing premises, destroy illegal works and imprison anyone found manufacturing them.”
                    per Wiki

        2. “And you will find yourselves in the same position that conservatives are in today: freely abused because all you will do is talk…. and your enemies domestic are well aware of it. ”

          Yes. It is not that I want to see blood in the streets, I don’t. But I firmly believe we will in my lifetime. The problem is win or lose America won’t be the same, if we win perhaps our children will see not just our liberties restored, but the pride to be Americans, and the bone deep knowledge that they can freely exercise those liberties without fear of retribution, but I don’t believe this will happen until those that have done the watering of the tree of liberty are retired to their rocking chairs. If we lose? Well France would be a best case scenario, Cuba would be more likely.

        3. Where did I say I was ruling out a Lexington or Concord? Check out Uncle Lar’s comment below for what I meant. Also see Sarah’s comment below.

          Frankly, I believe we should all be prepared to act. But that doesn’t mean taking up arms against our government — yet. It may never come to that. But before it does comes the time when we do have to ask ourselves what we are willing to do, what risks we are willing to take on for ourselves and our families and friends. We need to open our mouths and speak, eloquently and loudly, about what we believe and how it is part of our founding documents.

          We need to tell the country that emperor is naked and his court jester is a buffoon and not in the way he is supposed to be.

      2. “One voice may not seem like much”???

        The Emperor has no clothes. What he does have are skinny calves, boney-knees, flabby thighs and a scrawny behind.

      3. Civil disobedience! The radicals used it in the ’60s to promote the crap we have now. It’s time to turn the tables on them, and restore the central values that formed this country.

        One of the prime sources of information on our early years can be found at the Federalist Papers (http://www.federalistpapers.com/). They have over 60 documents that can be freely downloaded. Another one is the Library of Congress online documents archive (i’m sure barry is doing his best to restrict that, but until he does, download at will!). We also need to accept and apply George Patton’s famous statement that the best defense is a good offense. We need to take it to the ba$$$$$$ that created this mess, and we need to do it with superior knowledge about the truth behind American exceptionalism.

    4. Ken, I don’t want to presume against your meaning (you did have modifiers on Democrats) but there’s a danger in civil discourse in assuming a monolithic enemy. And that danger is vastly greater in a civil war.

      The Democrats are no more heterogeneous than any other group in America and civil conflict based on political differences runs the grave risk of becoming a slaughterhouse based on minutiae. There are Americans on both sides of the arbitrary political lines and sell-outs as well, as Amanda points out up-thread. I don’t believe we need another ‘war on a label’ to right our course. But we do need to oppose those challenges to the fundamental values of our culture and Constitution, wherever they are found.

      As regards violence, I’ve proven quite to my satisfaction which way I will run at the sound of the guns, and what stakes I am willing to place in favor of America. But I’ve also seen something of the toll of violent civil conflict and have no desire to rush it to these shores. A civil war in America is likely to be a bath of blood and carnage not often seen and in the winning we’ll likely lose.

  5. The problem with changing the culture is that it isn’t just the Left that is corrupted. Look at evangelical churches, for instance. Once you take away abortion and gay marriage, they are thoroughly feminized. I heard recently that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod-the church in which I was confirmed, and supposedly a conservative church, is on record as telling its members never to have a gun in the home. They do honor our troops, but this compartmentalization of defense of self and others is, IMHO, a harmful concept that needs to be abandoned. When the troops are the only ones who are even remotely allowed to defend others, you end us with armies like those in western Europe.

    1. And that is what needs to change – the culture. It’s a long, slow haul which could take years. Generations perhaps. The constant stream of Marxist-influenced propaganda has left many people with no idea how to express what they actually feel, so they keep quiet, thinking that they’re the only ones who are out of step.

      Until we can effectively defeat the propaganda and win back the people who rush out to help others but don’t realize that their churches, schools, movies, TV channels and everything else has been corrupted, we will be on the losing side. The one thing the communists and marxists have always done better than us is the propaganda. We might have won the cold war, but we lost the propaganda war without even realizing it existed.

        1. Secession before rebellion. As Col. Crockett said to the Congress: “You can all go to Hell and I’m going to Texas.”

          Those who haven’t yet ought read Tom Kratman’s A State of Disobedience. When the Republic of Texas joined the Union it did so with explicit right of withdrawal. They could put the legal wrangling on PPV.

      1. There is one cheery bit there, in spite of the fierce resistance and occasional setbacks you seem to be gaining ground at least with gun rights, and seem to have also reached the point when the harder efforts from the liberals usually only mean harder resistance to them. And even many of those who may be liberal in most other ways will come to stand on your side when the talk turns to guns.

        So it can be done. And frankly, I think you have Hollywood and their ilk, in recent years the game producers, to thank for that, in a way. Action and adventure are too profitable to do away with, and persons facing overwhelming odds but winning are more believable and more easy to identify with when they are using a gun than when they rely completely on something like advanced martial arts. The audience may admire the martial artist but they are more acutely aware of the effort it takes to get to that level of skill. But a gun seems like something they might even, themselves, be able to master, and the fact that would make the David a match even for the Goliath is easy to see whether you consciously admit or not.

        So even in those people who may talk the talk of gun bans there may remain a hidden desire to possess one of those tools, a desire getting maybe daily reinforcement by seeing stories where the hero uses one of those tools to overcome the bad guys – and no matter how often even those stories may talk about the danger of guns in the hands of the ordinary people that will still be overcome by the spectacle of the hero using his, and us identifying with that hero. We’d want to be him, not one of the victims.

        And when the desire is there it will be a lot easier to coax it out in the open, and to help them to change their mind about at least this one thing.

        So yes, I do think the people crying about the effects of violent movies and games in the minds of people actually are right, only maybe not quite in the way they think they are. 😀

        1. And I guess that leads to one other point – in order to change the minds of people about something you should probably make your alternative seem more desirable, more fun, at first, rather than concentrate on the fact that it may be more admirable, work better or just be more right. Make them want it first. The rest can come later.

        2. “So even in those people who may talk the talk of gun bans there may remain a hidden desire to possess one of those tools”

          Ahem…Mark Kelly

    2. Many years ago the Lutheran preacher at our church gave his entire sermon on loyalty to the Church, how members could not have any other allegiances. My grandfather, a member of the Loyal Order of Odd Fellows, and my grandmother who proudly wore her Eastern Star ring every day, sat politely, got up at the end of the service, and never set foot in that church again. Next sunday we showed up at the other Lutheran Church in town after grampa determined that their preacher was tickled to death to have our family attend no questions asked.
      In these days of aging and diminishing congregations I’d say the Missouri Synod has stuck a boot where the sun don’t shine and will perhaps not survive to regret their actions.

      1. Loyalty to God, certainly, but the Church? And no other loyalties? Not *before* God, certainly, but no other affiliations?

  6. *stands, applauds* One of the most heartening things I’ve seen is the response to the “shutdown.” People ready, and in some cases eager, to step in and take over when the feds throw a tantrum. The storming of the Barry-cades, the ridicule of the Jobsworths in the Park Service (not all rangers are jerks, I know), Wounded Warriors and others picking up the death benefits. A whole lot of people are fed up with the naked emperor, which gives me hope that if enough of us write our stories, and tweak our lesson plans, and laugh at pants-less politicos, we can start turning the tide.

    1. Noted on Instapundit: Veterans are removing barry-cades from the memorials and carrying them to the White House today…

      Sometimes it gets lost in the noise, but our culture still exists.

      1. With the usual misrepresentations on the part of NBC, CNN and other partisan “news” outlets.

        Get out the word that “Barrycades” are un-American.

  7. Nicely done, Eamon.

    Our friends and our enemies both would do well to read this, and remember. True courage is not looking at the odds against us and always seeking the easiest, safest path. It is a frank assessment of the risks and accepting the consequences come what may, because the goal is worth the sacrifice.

    Again, well said.

  8. Off-topic, but important. I was just talking with a friend’s sister, who is a junior in high school, about books. She said that she keeps getting other kids asking her for book recommendations, because the recommendations they get from their teachers are too often… she didn’t use the phrase “grey goo”, but it’s clear that’s what she meant. And she was running out of YA novels to recommend.

    I pointed her in the direction of Diana Wynne Jones, Heinlein’s juveniles, and the Young Adult section (or rather, tag) of the Hoyt’s Huns bookshelf on Goodreads. But I noticed that that tag only has 33 books in it — and if my friend’s sister is anything like my friend, she’ll read her way through those in just two weeks.

    So I’m sending up the Hoyt’s Huns bat-signal. Please help me flesh out the Goodreads bookshelf with more young-adult novels, either by adding new ones, or by going through the existing books and tagging appropriate ones with the young-adult tag. Mary Catelli has been doing excellent work keeping the recommendations shelf stocked (thank you, Mary!), but if more people can pitch in, we can surely get more than 33 books tagged as young-adult. (I won’t be doing anything on it for the next 8 hours at least since it’s 11;15 PM here and I’m about to go to bed, but I’ll be pitching in tomorrow.) Let’s do another small part to create the next generation of Human Wave readers, and save more teens from grey goo.

    1. Part of my reluctance is that when I was growing up, YA wasn’t really a “thing”. I just read the grown-up books because that’s what we had so…
      I’d love to recommend L. Sprague deCamp’s Unbeheaded King series, and Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger books, but it’s been so long since I’ve read them that I don’t know how appropriate they are.

      Of course, with all the angsty “oooh, we’re SO DARK and TORTURED” stuff going on in YA, maybe my concerns are totally misplaced.

    2. FWIW, I believe that anything not labeled “LOOK OUT!” is young adult OK– and even then, depending on the kid, it might still be OK. (Like Weber’s War God series– I would’ve read it as a teen, but it does have torture, cannibalism, sentient-sacrifice to a Dark God, death of good guys, off-camera rape, on camera injury, etc.)

      1. One thing Heinlein got ABSOLUTELY RIGHT is when he said, “when writing juveniles write just like you would for adults, but leave out the sex and bad language.”*

        *paraphrased from memory

        1. Andrew Klavan has written several excellent YA thrillers which I heartily recommend. The four book “Homelander” series (starting with The Last Thing I Remember) as well as If We Survive and Crazy Dangerous are all worth reading, addressing fundamental moral issues at a level appropriate to all audiences.

          I trust I don’t need to endorse Klavan’s writing chops.

    3. I gave my boys Sharpe’s Rifles when they were thirteen, and they are pretty violent. Thoughts as to appropriateness of using them as a general recommendation for kids one doesn’t know?

      1. Well, I’m a big fan of Bernard Cornwall’s Sharps series but it is a fairly explicit telling of warfare.

        When I’m not sure of a parent’s sensitivities or a particular child’s maturity level ( 13 years old can span a range of emotional development in my experience ), I usually use Heinlein juveniles, H. Beam Piper (Uller Uprising is especially fun to use to trigger PC antigens), and “Doc” Smith.

          1. Ooh, yeah, his Treecat series is especially written as young-adult. Gotta add those to the shelf.

            1. Wasn’t to impressed with those myself (and I like both authors) but pretty much anything by Weber or Jane I would deem acceptable for young adults.

            2. Y’know, an awful lot of pre-Sixties SF would qualify as YA by today’s standards. Most Heinlein, Ted Sturgeon (e.g., The Dreaming Jewels), Pohl & Kornbluth, Fred Brown (What Mad Universe?) and Henry Kuttner. Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Dickson (even early Delaney) Foster. Garner & Garrett, Hoyle, Ing, Diana Wynne Jones, Knight, Laumer, Matheson, Niven, Offutt Pournelle, Vance, Williamson (either Jack or Michael Z.), Yolen and Zelazny — to pick just a few.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_science_fiction_authors

              I would also recommend some of the classic Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books (published before WWII) and such series as the Chip Hilton and John R. Tunis sports books for those so inclined.

              Might put some History on that shelf, too. Historical Fiction is great and I’ve no doubt we can find aplenty, but such books as Sterling North’s Rascal, Jesse Stuart’s The Thread That Runs So True, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Cheaper By the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes by the Gilbreth offspring make history present in a spectacular way. Lawrence Ritter’s The Glory of their Times seems to be about baseball in the first quarter of the 20th Century but is a portrait of America in that era as well. Of course, Bruce Catton and Shelby Foote are highly rewarding and should be accessible to older YA readers.

              I wouldn’t hesitate about the E. Nesbit or George MacDonald fantasies, nor shy away from the Hornblower books, either.

  9. There are two ways to read that “we will come for you”. Just pointing it out.

    I’d also say that we have a large number of people who are Americans by birth, but not by spirit, temperament or disposition. Even making the argument about striving for “American Exceptionalism” seems gauche to them.

    I like Adam Smith’s view – Virtue is moral excellence. And that’s the exceptionalism that I hope we find our way back to.

    1. Yep.

      Many born here have been lead down a dark path…we need to get ’em back. (There are more than two readings of the phrase.)

    1. Not yet. Playing with stories and studying craft and trying to make sure I’m ready to commit and do it right.

      Alternately read above as: too scared!

      1. Understood. Based on the above, I wouldn’t worry about style if I were you. Your post was very, very nice.

        1. Well, I’ll up my earlier appreciation to ‘many, MANY thanks.’ And maybe a *blush,* as well. But let’s keep that between us…

      2. And we’ve heard rumors of at least two he’s got knocking around.

        Start setting out traps and bag you some betas, feed them snippets, hammer out the plot, go back and take a look at some of the indie drek that folks’s *paying* for already (this feeds the confidence), screw your courage to the sticking point, click publish, wear gloves to save your fingernails for the next month.

        Like so many things, it can’t be as bad as you’re imagining. If you need to keep professional and private separate, publish as Sumdood Anyguy and call it done.

        *steps down off soap box, shakes finger one last time*

        Write! You know you’re gonna do it anyway…

          1. Great big piles of money. Ignition core for 1994 Mits. 3000GT (*not* the ’93, ’95-’99, or the Stealth). Unattatched, kindly bombshell blondes, brunettes, redheads of the homo sapiens kind (sapient is a necessity!). I would say pizza and beer, but I quit drinking since the ex and I split and haven’t really felt the need to go back to it. *chuckle*

            Or you could drop a line to nlane at mail period com. Put “Eamon” in the subject line, my spam filter is aggressive and occasionally needs a link taken out of its choke chain to keep it in line.

            1. Those 3000GT’s were fun to drive, but like most such cars seemed to need worked on too often. (Says the guy who just fixed one truck, and needs to finish cleaning it up to sell it, as soon as he gets the replacement he just bought for it fixed up and street legal.)

              1. Which is why I also have an ’84 F150. Easy enough to work on with shop tools I’ve scrounged over the years, cheap parts. Gas mileage sucks even on the 351 Windsor, but its paid for itself over the years, haulin’ for folks that don’t have a pickup.

                The 3000GT isn’t the best car I’ve driven for bombin’ around the twisty curves, but yeah its quite fun. Got that one for a song from a guy in Alabama who was going to junk it. Had few problems out of it once I rebuilt the powertrain, but some things wear out after about a quarter million miles.

            2. I might know where there’s piles of money but the exchange rate ain’t favorable, any mechanical parts I had laying around went into the spaceship, I know of some bombshells with the right hair color, but kindly…hmmm.

              Guess that leaves me with line dropping.

        1. I still have a space waitress mystery knocking around in my brain, by the way. Do you feel guilt?

          1. Nope. Not one blessed bit. I have no sense of shame or guilt, got them surgically removed back in the late ’90s. *grin*

                  1. I would never imply our host had such large…protuberences? as to require a grinder. That might be rude.

                    1. You know I read this comment first, and then had to scroll up to figure out why we were discussing our hosts… protuberances.

                    1. Depends. Not too much for an archangel but it would crisp those cherubim something terrible. As always, you most adjust your cooking methods to the entree.

                    2. #6 heating or #0 welding head works best for this on standard AO rig. Cutting head goves you a nice focus, but tends to char the meat too quick.

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