— Carl von Clausewitz
War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.
— Carl von Clausewitz
It’s easy to get lost these days. There are at least three wars raging in America simultaneously. We are being attacked from within and without while at the same time we are immersed in the Revolution that has never fully quit since the founding of the nation.
Someone is always running a poll to name America's favorite President or it's most important President. Sadly, most people can't answer well because they don't know more than a handful of them. Here's an opportunity to simply choose the quirkiest factoid from a list provided. Who knows: You might need this information if you ever end up on a game show...
Are concentration camps a necessary evil or are they simply places where acts of evil must always occur? I once thought I knew the answer; however, after reading One Long Night, author Andrea Pitzer’s global history of concentration camps, I’m not so sure.
If anyone had asked me to guess at the earliest examples of concentration camps, I might have mentioned the reservations used to remove Native Americans from valuable lands that we coveted. Or, I might have mentioned American plantations where African slaves were employed in forced labor. However, Pitzer makes an excellent argument that the modern system of concentration camps began in Cuba during the revolution there during the late 19th Century. Inspired by Sherman’s March to the Sea, the Spanish engaged in Total War, incarcerating and tormenting noncombatants, to separate the rebels from their popular support base thus depriving them of food and war materials. She then shines a bright light into the darkest corners of history and tells a tale that comes full circle, ending like a thrill ride where it began, at Guantanamo Bay.
Let’s ignore simple disagreements. Those are easily explained. But what about those times when you say something like “The sky is blue,” and someone responds, “No! The sky is blue.” That’s the kind of “road rage” I mean.
Let me give you an example. In a discussion about YouTube censoring videos that reflect conservative points of view, I mentioned that “... it isn't the government restricting free speech.” A respondent commented, “I gather you have not read the Constipation for a while. the first ammendment [sic] does not ap[ply [sic] to the actions of private businesses that do not use the pubic [sic] airwaves?”
NOTE: For those unfamiliar with the annotation “[sic]” means that the preceding text was copied meticulously including any errors.
This respondent is well known for comments such as this. Despite the fact that I acknowledged that I was complaining of censorship by a private business and not the government, the user focused on the fact that constitutional protections of free speech do not apply to anyone but the government. Okay, maybe I should have been more explicit. Also, the typing errors are common enough and should not be indicative of anything amiss. However, the use of “Constipation” for “Constitution” could be worrisome. Maybe he was just trying to be funny (although there’s nothing funny that I can see in that word substitution). In another discussion thread he responded, “Anyone decent would gave left atby he fir da t racist or anti-semitic chant [sic]”. I suppose that could be explained by anger.
My father was a Nazi. I don’t know if he actually belonged to the American branch of the Nazi party. I have grounds to suspect he did. In any case, he was a fervent admirer of Adolf Hitler and all that he did. I grew up listening to my father extol Hitler’s dreams. Fortunately, I learned at an early age that my father was bat guano crazy and to ignore him.
Now, before you judge him harshly (that’s my prerogative) remember that many greatly admired Americans shared his beliefs. Charles Lindbergh for one. Joe Kennedy, the father of the famous brothers including President John F. Kennedy, for another. Why not? Der Fuhrer pulled Germany out of the Great Depression and who really cared what he did with the Jews? Everybody hated them.
Thus, I look with more than passing interest on the shenanigans of today’s Nazis. I wonder. How do they compare to Hitler’s minions?
Seriously, what chance do we have communicating effectively when lexicographers can't agree on the meanings of the words we use? Oh, what would you call a person who is an expert with words? Educated? Grammarian? Linguist? See what I mean?
The topic of this essay was suggested by a comic strip that I recently read in which a character laments, “There should be a term for the opposite of ironic.
Well, there is, isn't there? There is, I looked it up. All was clear until my wife looked it up. That's when confusion reared its ugly head.
“A tantrum or temper tantrum is an emotional outbreak, usually associated with children or those in emotional distress, typically characterized by stubbornness, crying, screaming, defiance, angry ranting, a resistance to attempts at pacification and, in some cases, hitting.” – Wikipedia
Recognize this behavior? A large segment of the American population seems to be having a tantrum ever since Donald Trump was elected President. Of course they feel justified. But what is their justification? Well, at first blush it was the unfairness of the Electoral College. That excuse didn't last long because few people actually understand the Electoral College. Then came the Russians.
Now it's the Nazis. What will be next?
Meanwhile, the nation survives. Flourishes, actually. Unemployment down, way down. Stock market up, way up. Consumer confidence high. Federal deficit spending low.
What, then, is the best way to deal with a tantrum? Just ask any competent parent. Don't reward it. Don't even acknowledge it. God help you if you do. You will teach your child (or emotionally distressed adult) that it's a successful tactic and they'll use it again and again.
Most experts tend to agree that they are made-up terms. So? All terms are made up, aren't they? Every word of every language was made up, crafted to express an idea, name a thing, or denote an action. If alt-Right and alt-Left are made up, does that make them any less valid?
The challenge is to understand what they are. Inasmuch as they haven't yet appeared in any dictionary, it's a great challenge. The simple fact that they are being used as pejoratives, used to express contempt for the opposition, I suspect that both are describing strawmen.
What then is a strawman? Fortunately that term has arrived in the dictionary: An intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent's real argument.
Thus, when you hear these terms, beware. You have stumbled upon propaganda. The Strawman Argument is a classic technique of propaganda. The propagandist is attempting to convince you of the correctness of their position or opinion by contrasting it with the obvious weakness or falseness of that of their opponent's (that they have crafted for them).
America's success is the sum total of the successes of millions of individuals free to pursue their dreams according to their own abilities and ambition. Free market capitalism allowed many to build great businesses such as Henry Ford.
The Progressive Left vilifies the most successful among us arguing that only they should be allowed to be the captains of American industry. Well, let's see how well that's worked out in Detroit, the natal home of Ford Motor Company, where the Progressive Left have captained one of the world's great cities for more than 50 years.
These are the same people who have been captains in Washington. They are The Swamp. Now, why are we trying to tear down the one person who was sent to Washington to "drain The Swamp"?
Last year's contentious election and its aftermath as well as my growing involvement with organizations helping active duty military members, retired, and veterans distracted me from creative writing. Now I'm back with a new short story that I hope you'll enjoy.
My immediate plans are to clean up my short stories and publish a book of my favorites, then resume writing my Korean War novel and other projects that have been waiting. Thank you for your patience
Blogs written at Oh-Dark-Thirty
...or whenever the spirit moves me. Enjoy.
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