What if you gave your life for the wrong cause? Pardon me, I mean, as the left was so fond of asking in the oughts, a question that stopped completely and suddenly as soon as Obama was elected “What if you were the last to die for a mistake?”
What indeed? What do you think that would make, you the lone ranger?
With 2020 — ah! — vision, looking back, it’s possible to question the rationale of every single war.
Sure, Memorial day was established to commemorate the civil war dead. And because it was a civil war, at least half of them were fighting for the wrong cause, right? Because I don’t want to get you people arguing that particular war — there is no win in that either — let’s stipulate that slavery, like rape and murder, is a horror that humanity is prone to. And that here it took a war to get rid of it. That it led to other things, including a more powerful federal government is arguably a bad thing — as we have proof daily. — In fact, while the civil war happened because of the inherent contradiction between “all men were created equal” and allowing some states to keep slaves, it could be said a lot of our present strife is the working out of the big contradiction between “Let us die to make men free” and “we’ll have a federal government large enough to give you everything you need and take away all your natural rights in the process.”
It has become chic in the circles of people whose entire education is designed to make them avoid thinking to tear down confederate war memorials, because in their heads these people automatically stand for slavery and white supremacy. But that was not why most — note I said MOST, we’re humans, there’s always idiots — had monuments put up to them or were celebrated. In fact, most of the monuments were erected to people’s OTHER achievements in life, other qualities. Because after the war a lot of them integrated just fine in post-slavery society, and set about doing sometimes admirable things: careers in law or in philanthropy and even the occasional blinkered career in local politics.
And a lot of the monuments were for the person. For the man himself. “But, you say, if the man fought to keep slavery, isn’t he an awful human being?”
That’s not how war works. Most of the men fighting were probably not fighting to keep slavery going as such. They were fighting because humans are killer apes, and once the balloon went up the North was going to sweep the South (if no one defended the South) which meant…
Which meant that they wouldn’t stop and ask every man on the street (much less every woman) if they were slave owners, or, more importantly, if they agreed with slavery. (There is enough confusion in the biography of our Southern Founding Fathers to know that owning slaves was no covalent to supporting the institution of slavery.) They were going to put the land to fire and sword, everyone.
And there was the other side of it. The one that one is amused the left never brings up, since one assumes in the light of Marx (…. Except that they’re lousy Marxists. They’re people who don’t even know they’re Marxists, except for revering that one dead white male, while not sure why they do. They’re training in not thinking is very thorough.) they’d ask themselves if the North was completely against slavery as such. Because, you know, immigrants coming in, barefoot and destitute (not to mention illiterate) from the shores of Europe were offered citizenship to joint he Northern forces. Some historians (not sure how reputable, but they were quoted in my history books in college, so probably not very) claim that this gave the North the advantage needed to win the war.
Whether there’s any merit in the claim, do you think the South didn’t hear it? Do you think they didn’t hear of the plight of those factory workers? And how much worse it was than slavery, because those using their labor didn’t feel obligated to look after them?
And sure, the South were racist. Actually both sides were racist. Actually pretty much the whole world was racist until the shocks of WWII worked themselves through the culture. And significant portions of the US — not normally those with pale skin, oddly — are still racist. As is the rest of the world by and large. You haven’t met racism unless you go to China as a round eyes.
Racism, like murder and rape, might well be baked into the human race. After all, we now have evidence many different subspecies of our genus “grew up” together. Getting captured by the wrong band could easily mean that you went from being a cherished child or wife, to being a midnight snack. Heck, even within the same subspecies.
So babies are born with a fear of stranger danger, and growing up learn the “right way to do things” — i.e. the way we do it, not like those barbarian over that ridge, who tie their loincloths all wrong — which means they could, in times when hostile bands lived cheek by jowl, get “stranger danger” warnings and run before the other band got close enough to spit roast them.
“But Sarah,” you say. “Racism is still wrong. Slavery is still wrong. I can’t understand why you’re defending them.”
Oh. You must be one of those skim till offended precious darlings, or one of the bots who claims to have the highest IQ ever. Brush up on your English. A dictionary might help. Also re-read what I wrote. Slowly. Ask someone with two more IQ points than you to explain the big words.
I AM NOT DEFENDING EITHER OF THOSE. Just as I’m not defending murder, rape or war.
What I’m saying is that if you’re picking sides in a war in the past, based on having been told a side was “racist” you’re an idiot. It’s like picking sides over whether one was sexist or homophobic. By our definitions? all of them were. And the sides that “tolerated” homosexuality or gave women rights often put twists in both of those that would make you sick to your stomach, such as the implicit acceptance of forced pedophilia, or making women live as men whether they wanted to or not. (Neither of those in the US.)
In the same way while slavery was objectively a horrible thing, and one side was fighting to end it, it doesn’t mean every soldier from the North fought to end it, or that every soldier from the South fought to defend it.
Humans go to war for a complex number of reasons. And again, once the shooting starts, you pick sides for a lot of reasons, most of them not philosophical or high flown. Most of them boil down to “I’m defending my mother/sister/wife/brother/land.” Because that’s why killer apes fight, for the band.
Because here’s the thing, buckos: if we start questioning who was right in what war, it’s not going to end the way people think. Because if we start examining everything now, with our vision of how things turned out? No war was just, ever.
Take WWI. I learned about it as The War Of The Two Defeated. The Portuguese fought on the side of the allies. Barefoot, starving and often with no guns, because the revolution against the king that happened before that was led by anarchists of the leftist variety, which means their plant for paradise started with “First, bankrupt the country.” (Some things never change.)
Until I was in my teens (I think. Or early twenties) a much feted veteran of the first world war lived nearby. He was feted despite the fact that, had he been French, he’d have been shot. You see, “veteran” is an exaggeration. Faced with trench warfare while barefoot, poorly clad, in a climate colder than he’d grown up with, with no gun and no training, he stole the bicycle of a messenger before the Germans attacked, and rode it as far as it went then walked the rest of the way home. Eminently sensible, for an individual, in a situation where his death wouldn’t even slow the enemy.
But then what does that do to the memory of the Americans who died at the battle of the Lys, fighting on foreign soil in a war they could have avoided altogether?
Nothing. It doesn’t even do anything to or for their memory if you know a lot of them were propagandized into fighting, or coerced into going to war by societal pressure. Or even that they had a German name, were known to be of German ancestry and HAD to go fight the Germans or their families wouldn’t be safe in small town USA. (Seriously, read the primary sources of the period.)
It doesn’t diminish their memory one single jot. They still fought and died and gave the final measure for their loved ones and their land. Even if they got there by a roundabout way. And even if we know their sacrifice was only the first step in the long war of the twentieth century which would end with Germany buying its way to power (and more or less being int he process of choking on it) they couldn’t get through force.
“What if you were the last one to die for a mistake?”
What of it? Also, please clarify semantic content: what do you define as a mistake? And are you sure that banner you’re carrying to signal your virtue won’t make future generations recoil? Because I almost guarantee most of them will.
So, you say, if all wars are wrong, shouldn’t we abolish war?
What a beautiful thought. Perhaps Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny can negotiate this permanent unbroken peace. Shall we ask them?
In the history of humans there are many false steps, and many — MANY — good people died on both sides of wars that perhaps never needed to be fought.
So, war, what is it good for?
Well…. We don’t know, see? We are like flies trapped in a bead of amber. Our life is much shorter than that which our minds can compass, backward and forward into the future. We don’t KNOW. We can look back and sneer at the long European war of the twentieth century, and also America even being involved at all. But we don’t know what our time would be like without it. Could it have been better? Sure. Maybe.
But I have this theory that cultures are as alive as individuals. And they change in very slow (and very strange) ways. None of them rational. Which is why the left’s attempts to social engineer entire cultures tend to backfire in wholly unexpected ways.
If I’m right, war is one of the ways cultures change rapidly and on a mass scale. (And not always for the better, mind. But always for the side that will survive better. which in a way is its own morality when it comes to a species.)
We don’t know and won’t unless we can look into parallel universes, what the world would be like if one or all of these wars hadn’t been fought. Perhaps it would be better in some ways. perhaps worse.
What we do know with absolute certainty is that if you convince a culture that there’s nothing in its territory/institutions worth dying for, you’ve just convinced it there’s nothing worth living for.
Look at Europe and its ever-diminishing children, or even rate of marriages. (Yes, I know ours has bottomed also. But it’s a temporary effect of the culture being ordered to commit suicide to “defeat” a virus. When you can’t get a party of relatives together, weddings will be postponed. When you don’t know where the next meal comes from, you postpone having babies. Etc. It won’t stick. The idiots comparing unlocking to being ordered to advance in WWI into enemy fire, have it all backwards. The suicidal move is NOT being allowed to work. It’s being commanded to lock down to escape a fantasy dreamed up by those who will never die from the actions they order. No one is demanding you go out and resume life. You’re free to die. We just don’t want you to take all the rest of us with you into misery and famine. Yes, this madness compares to WWI, just not the way the left “feels” (They don’t think in any sense of the word.)) Look at their inability to believe in much, except of course that those Americans, across the ocean, are somehow inferior.
Why do men fight? For the same reason men fought since the beginning of time: to keep their food supply, their women and their children safe. And in those countries where women join the armed forces, those that are worth a damn fight for much the same reason.
Not for high fallutin’ ideals, or philosophies. Not for the things the future will judge the combatants on, but for the immediate and clear perception of danger from the other side, which must be countered or lead to extinction. “Those people over there will kill us or cause us to starve, unless a few (or many) brave men stand up to them.”
That’s it. The white feather was sent to those who refused to join in WWI not because the women (yes, women) sending them felt that war was a material good, or they wanted men to die, but because they’d read the stories of Germans raping occupied towns, and raping and pillaging their way through convents, and they feared what would happen to them if Germans got hegemony of Europe and turned their eyes across the ocean.
The men who went to war went to war, largely to defend their women from such horrors.
Sure. Some were sane enough they deserted. And for some, it would have made no difference had they “fought” because their governments had been more blatant about sending them to commit suicide than the others.
Memorial day was not instituted because the victors suddenly thought that the Confederates had been jolly good fellows and fighting for the right reasons. If you go back, in fact, to the origins of the day, you find there were dueling memorial days for a while, and that each side talked of the atrocities the other committed and kept that memory alive.
Civil wars are horrible things. I grew up with stories of the Portuguese one, received from Grandma who got them from her grandma, who probably got them from her grandma. There is much fuzzying there, too, and I don’t know, these many years past which were of the civil war or which of the Napoleonic war. I do know the war in Portugal, fought by rival claimants to the throne, one for absolute and one for Constitutional monarchy was much like the one fought in the US minus the component of slavery. Which clarifies things immensely. The side of liberty (constitutional monarchy) won. It was also the side of industrialism, and the South (the side that supported industrialism, since they’re arid and their land sucks) plundered the North (the defeated) for centuries. Still does. Also curiously, the North now is more industrial than the South.
Why does that clarify things immensely? Because both wars, ultimately, were fought over new technology and how it changed the old ways, including bringing to the fore beliefs in the inherent value of the individual.
Go back and look at all the great wars and periods of upheaval. Everyone of them has its roots in some change in technology that completely modified the way humans live, day to day. It is no coincidence that in our day and age, we have a faction that wants to abolish technology as much as possible, because in their brutish, untrained minds that means getting rid of strife.
Of course that’s not the way that works. That’s not the way any of that works abolishing knowledge and technology would only bring back older wars, already fought, and older ways of suffering.
The truth is each young man who was thrown into the maw of a terrible war, win or lose, good or bad, just or unjust fought to adapt humans better to changing conditions (some of those conditions being changed by the hands and minds of men) so that the future could happen.
They fought and died for their women, their children, their future. And to an extent, they succeeded, all of them (sometimes after a horrible interval where truly disgusting ways prevailed.) Because humanity is still here.
Bringing that in, closer, to the US only, where it is clearer, every young man who fought and died, since the revolutionary war, fought to bring to life that immortal poetry about the rights of the individual.
And if some were fighting as far as we can tell on the wrong side — or all were, if you squint — that is because some things only become clearer with time and distance, and when everyone who fought and everyone they fought for is long dead. And sometimes, who knows, had they not fought it would have been even worse.
Salute those who gave the final measure. Lay a wreath on their grave, if your local idiot doesn’t think cemeteries — outdoors, in the open — are a high risk of transmission. Cry a tear for those who died for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time, and the future they will never have — even if they died before your grandfather was born.
They will remain forever young, forever a potential unrealized.
Pray that we never run our of young men willing to sacrifice for the land, the ideals and the people they love. Because if we do, humanity might as well pack it in. We won’t last much longer.
And, despite everything, despite the fact that it becomes daily more obvious some among us are willing to destroy people and civilization, to the last human and the last brick, pray that this time passes us by without requiring the sacrifice of young men in senseless wars. All wars are senseless. Some are just less senseless than what peace in those circumstances would have been. And cost fewer lives.
Give us peace in our day. But deliver us from evil.