Tuesday, July 18, 2023

White Pride... Is that a thing?

Although the first person killed in the American Revolution was a black man with native American blood – Crispus Attucks – the reality is, every man who signed the Declaration of Independence and was involved with the crafting of the Constitution was white.  Simply put, there would be no United States without white men.

After almost 250 years however the life of the average American is not directly impacted by what those white men did in Philadelphia.  Indirectly however, we experience the world build upon their foundations every day… and most of that world was the result of the inventions and innovations of other white men.

If you woke up this morning and did anything other than work on a farm, you can thank Cyrus McCormick.  When he invented the mechanical reaper in 1831 farming hadn’t changed in a thousand years, where one man with a scythe and two helpers could harvest two acres of grain a day.  McCormick’s early reaper allowed a man to double that and his later reapers multiplied that many times.  His introduction of payment plans made his machines the workhorses of a dramatic increase in efficiencies in farming.  At the time of his invention 80% of America’s population was either directly or indirectly involved in farming.  Today that number is closer to 2%.  So in essence Cyrus McCormick freed up almost 80% of the population to go out and do pretty much anything… from becoming entrepreneurs, to florists to baseball players to scientists, to plumbers to Instagram models and, yes, sadly, professional race grifters and activists.

Another white guy who had an extraordinary impact on America today was Henry Ford.  Many people think Ford invented the automobile.  He didn’t.  But his auto manufacturing production line brought the car from a luxury item only the rich could afford to a product tens of millions and eventually billions of people around the world could afford.  With that unprecedented access to cars the universe opened up for Americans.  Transportation limits on where they could work, live or go to school evaporated.  Suddenly they could drive anywhere they wanted, not limited to where public transport went or how far their horse could travel in a day or how far they could walk. Today 250 million Americans drive three trillion miles a year, six times the distance the earth travels around the sun!

There’s also Willis Carrier, the man who invented modern air conditioning.  Every summer as temperatures soar across the country, scorching everything in their path, most Americans can retreat to their homes and relax in air conditioned comfort or enjoy a movie theater or restaurant that would otherwise feel like a sweatshop. The degree to which the air office spaces changed the face of America is hard to exaggerate.  While manufacturing steel or working on a farm might not be impacted greatly by the invention of air conditioning, many of the things Americans do for work would be much more difficult if not impossible without it.  Things like medical research and high tech manufacturing or more mundane things like computer programming or working in a superstore or busy restaurant.

Then there is Elisha Otis, inventor of the safety elevator.  Take a look at the skyline of any American city and you’ll see buildings that stack 30 or 50 or even 100 floors high.  Of the tallest, skyscrapers of 40 or more floors, New York City alone has 250, and there are almost a thousand across the country.  None of those, or even the tens of thousands of buildings of just 10 or 20 stories high wouldn’t be possible without Otis’s safety elevator.  His presentation at the 1853 New York World's Fair helped usher in the advent of skyscrapers by giving much of the public the confidence to ride in elevators.

And there are countless more including George Eastman, the personal camera innovator, Charles Goodyear who put tires on our cars, the Wright Brothers and their airplane, Samuel Colt and his guns, Isaac Singer the sewing machine magnate, Levi Strauss and his jeans, Leo Baekeland who brought us plastic, and thousands of others.  To those historic figures you can add (for better or worse) contemporary white men Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Andreessen and in reality, millions of others. 

The fact of the matter is that these white men built much of the world we live in today. There’s no group of people in human history who have had a greater impact on mankind than white males in general, and American white males in particular.  The world they created may not be perfect, but measured against virtually every culture that came before them the level of freedom and prosperity isn’t even close.

As such, we should celebrate White Male Pride!  Yay!

But here’s the thing, although these white men may have accomplished much, white men have also done extraordinarily bad things… from Jack the Ripper to Hitler to Stalin to Teds Kaczynski and Bundy. 

We can’t celebrate white male pride because white men are not monolithic.  Some white men are great and others despicable human beings.  The thing that made America great wasn’t the fact that her Founding Fathers were white, but rather it was the ideas they had and the framework they put in place. 

The notion of white pride is simply absurd. But the truth is, so too is black pride and gay pride.  George Washington was no more of a representative of all white males than was Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter.  Equally, MLK was no more a representative of all black males than was Samuel Little, the nation’s deadliest serial killer. 

And while celebrating white males is absurd, we should nonetheless be grateful for the things that some of them bequeathed to us that have allowed Americans to live lives that kings couldn’t have imagined just a century ago. 

And that legacy isn’t due to skin color, it’s due to a culture that developed individual rights, freedom and representative government over more than two millennia, and happened nowhere else on earth. Those basic elements, when combined with free markets and limited government, found their apex in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.  Today the nation built on those foundations is the most robust and prosperous in history. 

But that prosperity can only survive if the fundamental tenants of its culture remain strong. Sadly they’re not, and that’s why America is fraying.  The Democrats’ balkanization of Americans by race and sex have taken Americans’ focus off of creating more prosperity and instead put the focus tribalization and redistributing wealth, with the full weight of the government, media and academia driving the transition.

No nation in history has prospered by redistributing wealth.  It’s against human nature and a recipe for tyranny.  The key to prosperity is creating more wealth and the Democrats have undermined that as they vilify whites, both past and present, for the crime of being white.  The truth is, we don’t need black or gay or white pride. What we do need however is pride in the successes America has achieved and the building blocks of freedom that made that success possible. 

Just as comparison and envy are the roots of evil, gratitude and conscientiousness are the fount of prosperity. Although it’s verboten to mention in woke 2023, the reality is that white men built much of the world we live in today. We can be grateful for their efforts without making them gods or denigrating anyone else.  The beauty of America, particularly in the 21st century is that anyone can succeed.  We should look to history with curiosity seeking to find inspiration in what those men (most of whom happened to be white) accomplished, not with scorn and disdain for their sin of being men of their times. 

Follow me on Twitter at ImperfectUSA

Friday, July 7, 2023

Code Red: Life Lessons from Colonel Jessup and Donald Trump

Movies can sometimes be something of a Rorschach test in terms of how one views the world. Like Rorschach tests, they can sometimes leave an observer scratching their heads. As an example, my top 10 movies are probably, in no particular order, Gladiator, Tombstone, Braveheart, LA Confidential, Valley Girl (The original masterpiece with Deborah Foreman and Nicolas Cage, not that terrible remake!), Lost in Translation, Galaxy Quest, Trading Places, Love Actually and maybe Titanic.

I’m not sure what that list says about me, particularly the inclusion of Valley Girl, but I’m sure some psychiatrist somewhere could say there’s something to be taken from it. The one thing I can observe from my list is that most of my movies have a good guy vs. bad guy conflict, which is of course not a surprise coming from a guy who writes a lot about politics.

Sometimes however in movies, as in life, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy isn’t quite clear. For example, there is A Few Good Men, set in Guantanamo Bay, near the end of the Cold War. The bad guy in the movie is Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup, and the good guy is Tom Cruise’s Lieutenant Kaffee. For those unfamiliar with the 30 year old movie, basically a Marine dies in his bed after being abused by his fellow Marines under indirect orders from Colonel Jessup. Two Marines are charged with his murder and the courtroom drama plays out demonstrating that Colonel Jessup was actually the guilty party.

For those unfamiliar with Guantanamo other than as a political football, it’s an American base on the south eastern end of Cuba. It’s been a permanent American base since the end of the Spanish American war in 1903. It’s about 50 square miles of concrete and mostly brown grass sitting on two sides of a bay and surrounded by a ring of mountains. Christopher Columbus actually spent the night there! I grew up there and it was a spectacular place to be a teenager, with beaches, a golf course, year round baseball, outdoor movie theaters and spectacular scuba diving, all under the glow of perfect weather almost every day.

Of course the resort like experience I had as a kid was ancillary to the actual function of the base itself. The base was surrounded by a fence separating it from Cuba proper. The fence was buttressed by a zone of land mines, with ubiquitous red and yellow triangles warning of the danger of passing a certain point. When I lived there, and the period covered by A Few Good Men, America was in the midst of the Cold War, with Cuba being essentially the front lines, with occasional shots being fired across the no man’s land and the fences being peppered with watchtowers on both sides.

While Guantanamo wasn’t West Berlin, it was always theoretically under threat, and as such the Marines prepared to defend it if necessary. A Few Good Men deals with Marines training to defend the base, and one of those marines was the late PFC Santiago. Apparently PFC Santiago was a subpar Marine who the Colonel felt needed some encouragement from his fellow soldiers to become a better Marine. In this case that encouragement involved what they call a “code red” which is essentially a blanket party, a form of extrajudicial punishment meted out by fellow soldiers / Marines etc. when one of their number is negatively impacting the group.

Usually such punishment is not fatal, but in the case of PFC Santiago, it was. Two privates were charged for the murder but Tom Cruise’s Lt. Caffery is called upon to defend them and eventually places blame on the shoulders of Jack Nicholson’s COL Jessup.

What makes this movie so remarkable is the speech that COL Jessup gives while on the witness stand:

"Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know -- that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall -- you need me on that wall.

We use words like "honor," "code," "loyalty." We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

I would rather that you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand the post. Either way, I don't give a DAMN what you think you're entitled to!”

One can’t help but see the seething rage coming from the despicable Jessup. You can’t help but feel the disdain he had for Santiago and Cruz’s Caffery. He’s a dinosaur from a forgotten age.

Now, most certainly, Jessup is a son of a bitch for throwing those two young Marines under the bus, but on the bigger picture he’s 100% right. While Santiago’s death was a tragedy, it probably would have saved lives. America needs warriors on walls, America needs men who are willing and able to pick up guns and fight and kill to protect the nation, and often that is a dirty, messy business, including the training that goes into making doing so successfully possible.

When you reread that speech it appears that Jessup could be talking to every snowflake, every Democrat, every Antifa coward and every BLM mark in America circa 2023! In the movie of course he’s not interested in Kaffery or anyone else thinks of him. He’s not interested in getting invited to their cocktail parties. He doesn’t care that their noses are turned up at him. He’s interested in one thing, protecting the country. Sound familiar?

Donald Trump can be a son of a bitch. But unlike almost every other politician in America, he understands that the country is stricken with a cancer of wokeness and is paralyzed by a bloated bureaucracy staffed by self important and avaricious apparatchiks. And how did he come to understand this? He lived it. Like Jessup, Trump was responsible for actually doing things, building things, getting things accomplished, and he didn’t have the luxury of pontificating and making idle promises about fixing things. What’s more, he cut his teeth in the rough and tumble world of New York real estate, one inhabited by pernicious unions, predatory mafia and political kingpins wielding confiscatory regulations, yet somehow  he turned his father’s millions into a multibillion empire.

Donald Trump is far from perfect, particularly as it relates to personnel, but at a moment in time when half the politicians in the country want to destroy the Republic and the other half promise to fix it, only to punt when they get the opportunity – i.e. ending Obamacare, building a wall, cutting spending, etc. – the country needs a leader willing and enthusiastic about tearing asunder the Swamp that is destroying America. The country needs a revolution to stop the collapse into tyranny and it would be far better to have someone from the inside take a wrecking ball to the fascist state the Uniparty has built than from the outside. The first will result in lots of hurt feelings and lighter pocketbooks on the part of thousands of functionaries while the second will turn the country into a war zone. I’d prefer lots of unemployed apparatchiks to American cities looking like Beirut.

Trump, like Jessup, may be a grotesque figure to many, but there are times when that which makes one grotesque to the people in charge is exactly what is necessary to protect a nation.  This is one of those times.