Monday, February 28, 2011

Patriotism 2011

Anthony Maschek, an Iraq war veteran and former US Army staff sergeant, is also a freshman econ major at Columbia. He was hospitalized two years while recovering from 11 combat gunshot wounds.

Recently, Maschek spoke at a student meeting to support returning reserve officer training to Columbia after a 40-plus-year absence. New York Post columnist Bob McManus called the student response to Maschek’s remarks “disgraceful.” After Maschek said, "It doesn't matter how you feel about the war. It doesn't matter how you feel about fighting. There are bad men out there plotting to kill you," he was greeted with laughter, catcalls, and retorts about gay rights, economic justice, and America's overseas aggression.

The exchange prompted McManus to write:
the academy . . . hates the military and has for more than a generation. [It] institutionally began to sour on the military back when so many of its then-rising young stars were exploiting student deferments to dodge service in Vietnam. Their arguments were not dissimilar to what Maschek heard last week -- they weren't behaving badly, America was -- but deep in their souls many understood that better young men than they were dying in their stead half a world away, and that the only way personal peace could be found was in demonizing the military.
Don’t know McManus, but he’s hit the nail on the head. Vietnam was “the bad war,” in sharp contrast to the “Greatest Generation’s” World War II-- “the good war.” In a nutshell, World War II, heroes, Gold Star mothers, John F. Kennedy. Vietnam, cowards, anti-war parents, Bill Clinton. Because the elite did not want its sons turned into cannon fodder for a pointless cause, it turned on the patriotic America that still believed in duty and sacrifice. America hasn’t been the same since.

Listen to Peter Kirsanow, writing in the National Review:
elite classes . . . see little special about America: Senators take to the floor of the Senate to compare American soldiers to Nazis; a president bows to despots, apologizes for America, and remains agnostic about its exceptionalism; schoolbooks are scrubbed of the extraordinary sacrifices, accomplishments, heroism, and generosity of Americans, concentrating instead on the myriad failures and depredations — real and imagined — of this purportedly rapacious republic; Hollywood broadcasts to the world a picture of degenerate America and Americans, reinforcing the vilest propaganda and conspiracy theories of our enemies;

disparate schools and town councils order the removal of the American flag, lest it offend those convinced it represents little more than racist imperialism; our elite universities bar ROTC and military recruiters from campus, apparently oblivious to (or contemptuous of) the fact that the freedom to act childishly was bought at a steep price by those evil soldiers; politicians ignore the integrity of our borders as if American security and sovereignty are less important than an approving nod from the editorial board of the New York Times; elected officials in the enlightened regions of San Francisco refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

[All this] promotes division rather than encouraging unity.
And listen to James Piereson, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism, which qualifies him to write these thoughts:
the 1960s, in particular the assassination of President Kennedy, the urban riots, and the war in Vietnam, produced a psychological change among liberals and leftists toward American society and traditional ideals of reform and progress. [Previously], liberals viewed reform as an instrument of progress through which the ideals of liberty and justice might be more perfectly realized. But in response to these shattering events, liberals began to recast their idea of reform from an instrument of progress to one of punishment.

When liberals looked about, they did not see progress but rather blighted cities and ghettoes, a despoiled environment, discrimination against women and minorities, and a national government that coddled dictators in the name of anti-communism. The idea developed in their minds that instead of self-congratulation the nation deserved punishment and chastisement for its manifold failures to live up to its ideals. In this way reform liberalism gave way to "punitive liberalism" and . . . policies that [punished] the middle class for winning success at the expense of higher ideals[--]school busing, race and gender preferences, the coddling of criminals who were "victims of society," and a legal culture [believing] that every wrong can be remedied by a lawsuit. . .

a popular philosophy [under FDR through JFK thus became] a "vanguard" movement today with great support among experts, academics, journalists, and government workers but with far less support among voters whom these elites purport to serve and who increasingly must pay for the programs they propose. Liberalism has always relied upon its "vanguard" classes to supply it with new problems to solve and new programs for doing so. . . . What is different today is the extent to which . . . environmentalism, feminism, homosexual marriage, high taxes, and income redistribution are dissociated from the practical aspirations of the middle classes. The liberal vanguard once claimed to speak for the middle classes but most of the time no longer even pretends to do so.

liberalism exchanged its broad support among the middle classes for the security and political leverage it found in . . . influence over leading colleges and universities, major newspapers and broadcast outlets, public sector spokesmen, and public employee unions, which in combination can shape . . . the national political debate in the space between elections. . . [having] retreated into impregnable redoubts encircling the state from which positions it fights a defensive struggle against voter sentiment increasingly skeptical of its programs of high taxes and public spending.

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