Does the National Resolve Exist
Stepping away, I began to wonder how could such a tragedy be prevented from happening again? My thoughts turned to the current presidential campaign. That one side should rail against the others strategy to eliminate those who perpetrate mass murder seemed to me unconscionable. Some even suggest that America was to blame for the violence targeted against her. They brazenly assert that our leadership is more of a threat to world peace than those who plot and carry out barbaric acts against humanity. Such prattling evolves from an ignorance of history. The outspoken critic will be the first to come under the heel of militant Islam once the intended world order is in place. The mulahs do not suffer dissent gladly.
But differences of opinion in a democracy are nothing new. In 1939, at another critical juncture in our nations history, an article appeared in Life Magazine expressing the views of leading journalists on the topic of war and peace. They were the Dan Rathers, Peter Jennings and Bill OReillys of that era. Their writing reached enormous audiences, and exerted great influence on public opinion. They faced important choices then, as we do now. In that Life article, the views expressed by Dorothy Thompson, Walter Winchell and Eleanor Roosevelt best characterized the extremes of opinion at that time.
Walter Winchell wrote, [O]nce again America is asked to play the role of International sucker. The time has come for us to pause and consider. If we must have another Unknown Soldier let us not ask him to die for an unknown reason! And just what will be accomplished by dying in the mud? He will not increase Americas resources; the last war nearly ruined our fertile lands. He will not increase Americas wealth; in the last war we loaned our gold and were gold-bricked in return. . . . America must learn that her sons abroad will bring monuments to her glory but her sons at home are a monument to her common sense. The future of American youth is on top of American soil not underneath European dirt.
Dorothy Thompson wrote, [T]he world is in the most serious crisis in at least 400 years. It is not at all certain that it is not the most serious crisis since the collapse of the Roman Empire. . . . All that has flowed from Christianity in the centuries is being done to death; chivalry; respect for human rights; reverence for the human soul; democracy; freedom; law; truth; civilization; honor. . . . The Nazi-Fascist movement [read today: militant Islam] . . . cannot be isolated except by resistance. . . . We are already engaged in a struggle which will certainly in the end result in war or in the defeat of this whole American way of life without war, unless we are willing to use right now the political and economic weapons which are in our hands.
Eleanor Roosevelt, who best expressed the Democratic Administrations position, wrote, I do not think that the contention that this country is in need of a society to keep us out of war is very well founded. . . . I wonder whether we have decided to hide behind neutrality? It is safe, perhaps, but I am not sure that it is always right to be safe. . . . Every time a nation which has known freedom loses it, other free nations lose something, too. They find themselves undergoing a gradual process of amputation. This country knows that at some time amputation of freedom must cease and the world knows that the weight of our resources must be thrown on the side that will permit us to open a newspaper without wondering what new nation has been enslaved.
There is no question now which of these views paved the way to our survival at that time of national peril. The arguments of 1939 sound very similar to todays rhetoric about war and peace. While differences in opinion then were openly expressed when the nation was at peace, that all changed when we went to war. After the Pearl Harbor attack, these columnists, and the politicians of that era, closed ranks and supported the Administrations efforts to win the war. Politics as usual ceased. Rancor evaporated. There was an end to partisan blather. Wendell Wilkie, the defeated Republican candidate for president, became Roosevelts personal envoy to Winston Churchill in beleaguered Britain. Unfortunately, this experience of all pulling together, left no imprint on the minds of those controlling todays television and newspaper media. It has been lost on the consciousness of politicians as well. Contrast the national resolve that crystallized into action after December 7, with the scapegoat mentality and petty bickering that prevails during the current campaign.
In presidential challenger Kerrys speech to the firefighters union, he asked, whether [the president] has stood with you since that day? He said, You should not have to worry about having to get health benefits and collective bargaining rights that youve earned. And [the president] should never forget that the 343 heroes that we lost on 9/11 were not only parents and children, brothers and husbands, fiancÚs and best friends; they were also proud members of Locals 94 and 854. Health benefits! Collective bargaining! 9/11? Is there any relevance here? For shame!
While it is right during an election year to hold 9/11 in public focus within the context of evaluating our nations leadership, it is wrong to denigrate its memory to the level of agitation for union benefits. But perhaps the challenger does not think that the events of 9/11 are that significant. In the South Carolina primary debate, Kerry claimed that our efforts against terrorism should be, primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation. (Note the focus on intelligence.) If that is what he really believes, why, in an interview the Senator gave to the Harvard Crimson in 1970, did he hope, to almost eliminate CIA activity, and claim he was an internationalist [who] would like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations. Why in 1994, did Kerry support a bill to cut the spending of our intelligence agencies by more than one billion dollars, and why, a year later, did he alone sponsor a similar bill to cut 1.5 billion from the intelligence budget? Will the real John Kerry please stand up?
In his State of the Union address, our President commented on such thinking. He said, I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all. They view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved mainly with law enforcement and indictments. After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. It is true. As we look around, there is little to remind us that our nation is at war. Unlike 60 years ago, there are no anti-aircraft batteries around Boston. There are no coastal gun emplacements up and down the coast, pointing out to sea. We do not hear the whine of air raid sirens sounding test alerts. There is no food and fuel rationing. We do not see half the population on our city streets in uniform, nor do we plant victory gardens to supplement our food supply. It is easy to shove 9/11 to the back of our minds and simply deal with the problems of everyday living. Nonetheless, we are at war against an enemy as cruel, calculating and barbarous as the ones we faced before. We must not become complacent because the only image of war that touches us appears on our television screens. The memory of 9/11 must not fade.
To win this war on terror,
our course must change. The nation must rally to
support our leaders. There have been many parallel
situations in history. We must learn from them and
not repeat costly mistakes. The nation must harden
its resolve to get the job done. Divisiveness among
our people, our politicians, and our newscasters only
serves our enemies.
Send your questions
comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com