It occured to me the other day, as I browsed, that most people in the United States have a fundamental difficulty … a blind spot, if you will… when it comes to understanding the conflict we are engaged in.
Some of you, I trust, are familiar with the Gadsden flag of the Revolutionary War period:
The rattlesnake flag was apparently very popular, giving rise to several variations.
One of those variations was the first US naval flag, the Navy Jack:
The slogan, in turn, has been used in broadsides and posters, and now can be seen on bumperstickers and T-shirts. Almost any literate American will recognize the sentiment as part of our heritage, in some wise or another.
That sentiment is quintessentially American. Leave us alone. Let us make our decisions, believe as we wish to, live as we choose to. Let us BE.
Now, not all Americans think that we have been left alone. There are all manner of people, across the political spectrum, who think that they’re not being allowed the freedom to be make their own choices. Some are, perhaps, more accurate in their perceptions than others. But for the moment, let’s just note that all these pundits appeal to the same notion: that people are being subjected to some kind of interference with their freedom. That they are being denied their rights by some interfering busybody.
As philosophies go, this is not exactly the stuff of empire. It is hard, in fact, to imagine a LESS “imperialist” philosophy. The “Don’t Tread on Me” meme does not thunder for the inevitable expansion of the US. It doesn’t call for hegemony, dominion, or conquest. It does not call on its adherents to subscribe to the One True Way. The “Don’t Tread On Me” meme is a call to be free of interference, a call to make choices freely, in accordance with people’s personal beliefs.
That notion is, to put it gently, highly unusual. Throughout most of history, societies taught their people that some group had a right to intrude on others’ lives, to order them about, for their own good. Whether this authority derived from naked force, or governmental needs, or religious mandate, this belief system ultimately held that Someone Knew Best… and if you weren’t Someone, you had to bend to the will of those who Knew Best.
That’s not our way. Even as we accede to a government presence in our lives, there is the deep-seated, quiet belief that we have a right to be left to our own beliefs, to choose for ourselves. Few things make us more restive than the notion that we will be compelled by force of law to follow someone else’s religious or philosophical beliefs.
But now, that assertion is being challenged by our enemies. And make no mistake; these are not opponents at debate, but enemies. We are challenged by people who believe that we have no right to behave as we choose. These people believe that we must all submit to the will of their God… whether we like it or not.
These enemies are convinced They Know Best. They are convinced that they are righteous in their actions… blessed as they killed innocent women and children.
They Know Best, and we have no right to do anything else but submit. Let us alone, while they live by their beliefs? Not a chance. They Know Best.
In such straits, discussions of “root causes” miss the point. Calls to “walk a mile in THEIR shoes” are misinformed.
We are not in a debate with people who wish to live, and let live.
We are faced with people who are bent on making us submit to THEIR beliefs.
We want to be let be. Our enemies want our subjugation, our obedience.
I note, with some satisfaction, that the US Navy is now flying the Revolutionary era Navy Jack, which bears the rattlesnake, and the American wish…
Don’t Tread On Me.…
Having been a speaker at several science fiction conventions, I have had the pleasure of meeting a variety of celebrities in my time… and a distinct lack of pleasure, after meeting others.
Celebrities are just as prone to idiocy as the rest of us. (If that comes as a surprise to anyone reading this, I would like to suggest here and now that this might not be the blog you’re looking for…) I have learned this over the years from personal experience, and as a rule, most “news stories” about the earnest political beliefs of Major Industry Figures bore me.
Every little once in a while, though, one of these stories catches my eye… and this one is a prime example of the vocalizations of the species Celebritus Cranio-Rectalis:
“… Harrison Ford launched a broadside at US policy on Iraq, his country’s gun laws – and the film industry for producing “video games” for teenagers.
Of the three issues, the one area where I am willing to grant Mr. Ford professional credence is in his views on the film industry. As to the rest… well, he’ll have to take his chances like any other idiotarian citizen:
“I’m very disturbed about the direction American foreign policy is going,” said Ford, with US post-war casualties having exceeded those during the actual conflict.”I think something needs to be done to help alleviate the conditions which have created a disenfranchised and angry faction in the Middle East.
“I don’t think military intervention is the correct solution. I regret what we as a country have done so far,” said Chicago-born Ford, 62.”
I am at a loss to know how to respond. Does Mr. Ford think that, oh, the Iraqi people are somehow less “enfranchised” than they were under Saddam? Or was I asleep when the memo went around that changed the meaning of the word “enfranchised” to mean “subjugated to a brutal psychopath and his murderous offspring”?
Or perhaps Mr. Ford is talking about the Palestinians, whose “heroes” vent their anger at being unable to commit genocide with frequent bombings directed against innocent women and children?
Or maybe he is in sympathy with the Taliban, who have been “disenfranchised” in Afghanistan, and thus prevented from exercising their right to stone women to death for adultery, without even following their own religion’s legal precepts on due process, required witnesses, and the burden of proof?
Or is Mr. Ford worried about the plight of Osama bin Laden, who hopefully is not only disenfranchised, but disemboweled?
One hopes Mr. Ford is worried about his memory. Because he seems to have forgotten THIS.
I have not.
Given what Mr. Ford appears to be using for memory, I marvel at his continued success as an actor.
Not being content to be known as a purely internationalist moonbat, Mr. Ford continued to regale the press in Madrid with equally …cogent… comments about US domestic policy:
“Although on screen Ford has starred in many action-packed, gun-toting thrillers – his Hollywood Homicide alongside 25-year-old Josh Hartnett is, in fact, more designed as a comedy – Ford abhors liberal US gun laws.”
For my part, I abhor US liberals’ attitudes about guns. But I admire Mr. Ford’s almost CAIR-like chutzpah, given the nature of the roles in which he has had the most success.
(“CAIR-like chutzpah”. I cannot tell you how much I hope that gets back to some CAIR types… )
“I’m very troubled by the proliferation of arms, at the fact so many people in the United States carry guns. “
Like Indiana Jones? Or Jack Ryan?
It must be lovely to have such a supple conscience.
“….It obviously contributes greatly to the crime problems we have. I’m sure gun laws should be strengthened in the United States. I just don’t know the correct mechanism.”
No, I suggest you don’t know your American History.
Or your American Civics.
Hint to Mr. Ford: A Google Search on “Constitution US 2nd Amendment” would be a fruitful start, as you remediate these weaknesses.
After that, may I suggest a refresher course in statistics? That you might examine… oh, the difference in violent crime statistics between states with restrictive concealed carry laws, and states that have “shall issue” statutes which make concealed carry permits easy to obtain?
After THAT, perhaps a beginning course in logic, so you can examine the fallacies inherent in the assumption that felons who commit violent crimes care about gun laws?
If I didn’t know that celebrities are no saner, no wiser, no more learned or virtuous than the general run of the citizenry, I’d be depressed.
Ah, well. The article wasn’t a total loss. The author of this piece wins the “money quote” no-prize for the week:
“…. At a safe distance from his homeland, veteran Hollywood actor Harrison Ford launched a broadside at US policy on Iraq, his country’s gun laws – and the film industry for producing “video games” for teenagers.”
That hissing sound? Oh, it’s just the air being let out of Mr. Ford’s pretensions.
“At a safe distance from his homeland…”
I would love to be able to claim I wrote that.…