|A FEW THOUGHTS FOR THIS MONDAY MORNING D-Day, 2016||| Print ||
A FEW THOUGHTS FOR THIS MONDAY MORNING
Dear Friends and Patriots,
On this day in 1944 Allied forces stormed the beaches at Normandy. They called it D-Day, and we still do. The D-Day invasion was hard fought and incredibly bloody, but it was deemed necessary. The success of the operation spelled the end of Hitler’s Nazi regime. Thousands of troops sacrificed to end an evil that threatened the world. Those were heroes, all of them. What more needs to be said? We who are still somewhat free will always owe them.
This weekend Muhammad Ali succumbed to septicemia, at the age of 74. We all know Ali. Even young people know who he was, though they may not know his full story. I do.
Ali won a gold medal at the ’60 Summer Olympics in Rome, using his birth name, Cassius Clay. It was the first Olympics I watched, and I recall being glued to the TV every night to watch the replay of the day’s events in Rome. My favorite events were in track and field. My father’s was boxing. He was amazed by Cassius Clay. The guy was lightning fast with his hands, and quick on his feet. Few could touch him. He seemed to demoralize his opponents, who appeared sluggish in comparison.
In 1964 Clay fought Sonny Liston. My father’s referred to Liston as “a thug.” He was no fan. He much preferred Floyd Patterson, whom he considered a nice guy. Clay seemed a bit frightened by Liston, but he didn’t show fear in the ring. Liston was far too slow for him. Clay won, then won their rematch. I remember my father wasn’t all that happy with either fight. There was talk that Liston “layed down” in the second fight. Meanwhile Clay had evidenced a big mouth, a braggadocious style that seemed to offend many. Was that a racist response? I’m sure some of it was. Then again, in the society of the early ‘60s bragging was considered uncouth. So, yes, there was a racial element to the dislike of Cassius Clay, but because he was exhibiting behaviors not usually seen in anyone in polite society, there was more to it.
After the second Liston fight Clay joined the Nation of Islam and announced to the world he had converted to Islam and taken the name Muhammad Ali. That news wasn’t received well. There’s no point in dwelling on the extent of the negative public response. Suffice it to say Ali’s announcement was received with near universal hostility and derision. He didn’t seem to care.
Ali was a handful! He kept fighting, beating my father’s favorite when he fought Floyd Patterson. He seemed unstoppable. Yet, there was one thing guaranteed to slow him down. Ali was 1-A in the draft, and drafted he was. But he did something no one expected. Unlike Elvis, just a few years before, Ali refused to be inducted. Instead he filed for conscious objector status, which seemed to enrage a large segment of the American populace. His famous reasoning for doing so was uttered on 30 Apr. 1967, “I got nothin' against them Viet Congs. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger."
At this point in the story I have to make statements some may question. I make them because they’re the truth.
I remember when Ali refused induction. I wasn’t happy about it at all. But, at the same time I had my own reservations about the war in Vietnam. I didn’t have anything against “them Viet Congs” either. I didn’t perceive a threat to me, my family, my state, or my nation from them. What possible reason did the U.S. have for going to a tropical nation halfway around the world and killing a bunch of pajama-clad farmers? I understood the Cong were supposedly communists, but that was a problem for the Vietnamese government, not us. I was in high school and understood the Domino Theory. But, I didn’t buy it. Not then, and not now. I made up my mind to follow my father’s example and join the Navy. I wouldn’t try to dodge the draft and I wouldn’t apply for C.O. status. But, I also wasn’t going to submit to the political will of the Johnson administration to the point I’d go off to fight in the jungle and kill people who saw themselves as defending their homeland. So, even though I wasn’t happy about Ali’s decision, I realized he and I were on the same page. I just chose a less controversial way of dealing with it.
Do you think Ali thought less of anyone who did submit to the draft and went off to fight? I seriously doubt it. I’m pretty sure his opinion on that matter was much like my own. I wish no one had gone to fight in Vietnam, but I never had an issue with anyone who did. They were answering our government’s call and doing what they believed was right. It was up to the politicians to justify what our military was doing, not the troops. Our misadventure in Vietnam was never a military failure. But, it was a political failure from the beginning, and it was bad politics that doomed our military efforts. Our troops won the war on the ground. They knew it. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese knew it. But the failure of political will in Washington D.C. did not allow for our military to capitalize on their successes. No, the will was to concede, to withdraw, to quit the field. The less obvious truth of Vietnam was that we never should have been there in the first place. It was a case of military adventurism, a war fought for all the wrong reasons. Ali’s simple declaration was very personal, but very revealing of the greater truth.
In the many years since the Vietnam War ended I’ve considered the experience in all kinds of ways. It took me years to understand I suffered from survivor’s guilt. It was a term that hadn’t been invented. I had it, and it nearly screwed up my life. But, once I realized my problem I got over it, which allowed me to look at the whole Vietnam experience from an economic and political point of view. That was my first realization that something was really wrong in Washington. That was when I understood there were dark forces at work and that people’s lives were being sacrificed for unknown causes.
My own appreciation of Ali’s declaration led me to a later realization of my personal politics. Ali unknowingly referenced George Washington’s position regarding the subject of war. Much later on I heard Ed Clark discussing his Libertarian Party’s platform position on foreign policy and the truth of Ali’s and Washington’s declarations hit me. The totality of the wrong that was the U.S. role in Vietnam War was now much clearer to me. In a way, I have Muhammad Ali to thank for my conversion to libertarianism.
I won’t dwell on this longer. Suffice it to say I believe Ali’s stand against the draft was a principled one; unpopular to be sure, but principled.
Bernie Sanders was making noise this weekend. Yesterday he cited his supposedly massive support among young adults on college campuses. He states that even if he’s not successful in his bid for the Democratic Party nomination the future of the Democratic Party is now evident.
Yes, it is. Think of it. The so-called Millennials are reported to be in the tank for Bernie. That means they’re either advocates or accepting of socialism. They’ve accepted all the progressive blather about social justice, economic justice, ecological justice, and every other kind of justice except “real” justice. To them, justice = free stuff. Justice = equality of outcomes. Justice = Earth first.
Bernie Sanders has declared the progressive campaign to completely capture the hearts and minds of the youth of America, begun in the 1930s, to be a total success. He cites his own campaign as evidence that America is on a pro-progressive trajectory that cannot be stopped.
Is Bernie right? I hope not. But, he may be. The next election will tell us. If the Democrats prevail, Bernie’s opinion will be vindicated and America will continue its transition to a socialist state. If the Republicans win instead, the jury will be out for a time. We may or may not see a continuance of that transition. We may see a roll-back of progressive policies on several fronts. But, we may not. At this point, we can only hope, pray, and work as hard as we can to ensure America is saved and the Constitution is re-instated. If Bernie is right those who truly love freedom will be left with few palatable options. Unlike Al Sharpton, Samuel L. Jackson, Whoopie Goldberg, Jon Stewart, and the many other nitwits who say they’ll leave the country if Donald Trump is elected president, those who love freedom don’t have many places to go. Those “leavers” can go anywhere to get away from Trump, and people like me will shout a hearty, “Good riddance!” But, where does a lover of freedom go if the beacon of freedom on Earth goes dark? Where indeed?
If you read this missive with the right mindset you should detect that my overall theme today is a reflection on freedom. Various aspects of a reflection. Sacrifice is central to the theme. Those who landed in France on D-Day went forward because they believed freedom was worth dying for. Ali believed no one’s freedom was being defended or guaranteed in Vietnam, and he was willing to suffer for his belief. Bernie and the progressive forces believe in perverted notions of justice above freedom. Our question related to the progressives is . . . how much are we willing to sacrifice to prove them wrong?
I’m done thinking today. I have to spend the rest of this day rendering unto Caesar.