Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stolen Sons (UPDATED)

He was his father's "glass" (see photo below): 1 Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Jr. May he rest in God's peace.

In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.”


Professor Andrew Bacevich of Boston University is a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam. He is a scholar of tremendous depth and accomplishment and, what's more important, a serious Christian patriot who has expressed alarm over the direction in which our country has been misled.

Bacevich's recent book American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, is indispensable reading for those who want to understand just how deeply the Military-Industrial Complex is embedded in our culture, and the extent to which it propels public policy. Like any decently informed and morally serious person, Professor Bacevich opposed the Idiot King's war in Iraq and the needless, destructive bellicosity of his regime toward a world that once admired the US, but now looks on us with a mixture of puzzlement, disgust, and fear.

God blessed Andrew Bacevich with one son, who took his father's name and followed him into the military. The Idiot King's war has now stolen Andrew Bacevich, Jr. from his father and family, just as it has stolen tens of thousands of other children, American and Iraqi, from their families.

George W. Bush has never served our country – no, ruling it doesn't count as service. His hands have never known honest toil; his hominid brow has never been creased with the effort of socially productive thought; he has never known the mixture of pride, dread, and anxiety with which American parents – his superior in every relevant way – send their young children off to kill and die in a war produced and sustained by his intransigent vanity; and he will never know the emptiness, deeper than the flesh and too painful for the nervous system to register, of a parent called on to bury his child.

More than three thousand American families have been forced to carry out that ritual in which the shattered body of what was once a young and capable human being is exchanged for an artfully folded piece of colored cloth, presented with the “Thanks of a grateful nation.” This is done as if that benediction from a cold abstraction called the State can somehow palliate the loss of a son or daughter, a mother or a father.

For many, World War I -- the murder-suicide of the Christian West – exposed as a lie Horace's ancient truism, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” Wasting one's life in the service of a ruler's vain ambition is neither sweet nor just, nor is it an act of patriotism.

After WWI claimed his son, Arthur Conan Doyle was driven to bitter reflection on the annihilation of millions of young patriots on all sides. He execrated its architects as “the high-born conspirators against the peace of the world, who in their mad ambition had hounded such men on to take each other by the throat rather than by the hand."

Those conspirators (to use Doyle's expression) have devised a well-wrought counterfeit of patriotism – the natural and commendable love of one's country – in a form of militarist collectivism that treats the death of young men and women as a proper and necessary blood tax collected by the State. This makes about as much sense as the more forthright version of pointless human sacrifice my Aztec ancestors offered on the altars of Huitzilopochtli.

At least the Aztecs didn't marinate their rituals in the mixture of bile and bathos that typify the acolytes of the War God who infest our popular culture.

Few celebrities are more bilious than Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the talk radio shrike who had a brief career in amateur pornography before emerging as the self-appointed moral tutor to American housewives. During a recent stop at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, Dr. Laura rebuked military wives for “whining,” offering as healing balm to their tortured souls the observation that some of their husbands “could come back without arms, legs or eyeballs – and you're bitching?”

[CLARIFICATION: See the comments at the end of this post.]

She also praised husbands who “have the courage to leave their families to fight for the nation,” as the Salt Lake Tribune summarizes her remarks.

When you're in the military, that comes first,” she declared, unwittingly making the case for abolition of the military: Any loyalty or obligation that comes before God and family is an idol.

Some captions just write themselves: Pardoned felon Oliver North with admirers outside a Sean Hannity "Freedom Concert."

For sheer unalloyed bathos, it's hard to top “Arlington,” a hymn to the War God recorded by country schlockmeister Trace Adkins. (Some sense of the wretchedness of Adkins' alleged music can be found in the fact that he'll be headlining at least one of the five cornpone Nuremberg Rallies Sean Hannity has scheduled this summer.)

The song's narrator is a recently deceased soldier whose mortal remains have just been interred at Arlington National Cemetery. It says much about that shrine that part of it was stolen from land owned by the noblest 19th Century American, a man who put his community above the demands of the State. The moral universe depicted in that song is one in which the State is the font of all holiness, and none are to be revered above those whose lives were extinguished in its service – save, perhaps, for the Pontifex Maximus of the War Cult, who dwells at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

I never thought that this is where I'd settle down.
I thought I'd die an old man back in my hometown.
They gave me this plot of land,
Me and some other men, for a job well done.

There's a big White House sits on a hill just up the road.
The man inside, he cried the day they brought me home.
They folded up a flag and told my Mom and Dad:
"We're proud of your son."

And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property.
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company.
I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done.

I can rest in peace; I'm one of the chosen ones: I made it to Arlington.

As the song proceeds, we learn that the narrator's father “brought me here when I was eight; we searched all day to find out where my grand-dad lay....” We're also told that the long-departed grandfather “clicked his heels, and saluted me,” on “the first day I came in” -- meaning, apparently, that military rank and discipline still exist in the celestial realm – as least as heaven is imagined by adherents of the War Cult.

Our National Anthem describes an entirely different vision of patriotism, one in which it is the duty of "freemen ... [to] stand between their loved homes and the war's desolation...."

It is when our homes are threatened -- when we are facing the enemy with our families at our backs -- that war is justified, not when our soldiers are dispatched halfway around the globe on patently false pretexts to invade the homes of people who neither injured nor threatened us. In those circumstances it is our purported enemy who is in the right, fighting on his home soil in defense of his own home -- and the lives of our soldiers are wasted.

Genuine patriots of every nation understand this principle. Authentic American patriots understand that while foreign enemies rise and fall, our eternal enemy is the Regime under which we live, and the rulers who squander lives to which they had no legitimate claim -- lives like that of 27-year-old Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr.

About that Dr. Laura quote...

Thanks to the timely help of a reader who posted in the comments section, I was directed to Dr. Laura's blog, which contains the following clarification concerning the comments attributed to her by the Salt Lake Tribune:

"I am so deeply sad and disappointed that this out of context comment appears to have caused hurt and pain to military spouses - people that I’ve spent so much time helping. I am frustrated that people who haven’t heard my program would be misled as to my attitude and intent. I am a military mom. I whine to my husband every day about how scared I am for my son and how helpless I feel to protect his body and soul. However, I never whine to my son when he is able to call between missions. That, and only that, is my point. Of course military spouses endure fear and domestic burdens. Of course they often need emotional support and practical assistance. As I said to the reporter, and many times on my program, family services, clergy, family, friends, and the camaraderie of other military spouses are available outlets. However, burdening one’s warrior spouse with your fears, upsets, loneliness, etc., is a huge mistake as it demoralizes the warrior and thereby undermines their concentration while they are in life-death situations."

Taken by itself, this point is sound and unobjectionable. In fact, it is very similar to the one made by cartoonist and anti-war activist Gary Trudeau in today's "Doonesbury" offering:

[Click on strip to enlarge]

I respect and appreciate the virtue of stoicism in bearing burdens and making sacrifices on behalf of freedom.

But the occupation of Iraq has nothing at all to do with freedom. Not a single damned thing.

What I find galling is the fact that Dr. Laura, one of the country's most influential pop moralists, is urging military families to bear with docility the burdens inflicted on them by the Regime in a patently and obviously immoral war, rather than suggesting ways that they can use their influence to extricate their loved ones from the Mesopotamian morass.

In his familiar style, Trudeau (someone for whom I'm not excessively burdened with respect) made the relevant moral point: It is life, and not war, that is supposed to "go on." The men (and -- God forgive us -- women) mired in Iraq don't belong to the Regime; their families have an infinitely greater claim on them than any government ever could. Inverting the moral order by placing the Regime above the family isn't patriotism in any sense genuine Americans can recognize.


Anonymous said...

You sound like a nice man who has much faith. That is so refreshing to see on the internet these days. What you said about Dr. Laura and her visit to military moms, you got your facts wrong. This is the terrible side-effect of the current status of our media. They are so centered around making scandal that they neglect to actually report the news. If you would like to learn the rest of the story so you might avoid being embarrassed, here is a link to the blog that explains what actually happened. Also, if you google the event you will see some blogs from people that were actually there and they back up the story that she was supportive of military families. For heaven's sake, she is military family. Her son is over there fighting right now! I hope you are able to find out more about this so you can rest assured this isn't as you view it.
From the "horse's mouth:"
May God bless you, your family and our country!

zach said...

I think we saw clearly the madness of the mainstream during the last Republican debate. When Ron Paul stated the obvious, that the terrorists had a somewhat more nuanced selection criterion for murdering our citizens, rather than Canada's. The boobosie hooped and hollered for the fascist Guiliani. As I look at myself and at the world, the Bible's analogy of men as sheep never looses its power.

dixiedog said...

Absolutely Will. I agree totally and I'm glad you clarified (or updated) your take on Dr. Laura's comments. Even so, I don't pay much mind to any radio personalities anymore, as with the booby, and especially if I had loved ones mired down in this perpetual neocon orchestrated ME conflagration.

And on the debate. Sigh, I'm glad I didn't watch it because my blood pressure likely would've went critical. You basically have two choices, "Rudy McRomney" and Ron Paul. And this reminds me of the fact that the commoners should be paying far more attention to congressional elections where their votes really count instead of the choose-your-next-dictator-wannabe elections. But, sigh, we've already reached the status of democratic republic by now, eh?

Anyhow, once again Will, I predict that the Lizard Queen will be the next commissar [cough, $%^&%##&, President]. As the NR commentariat's post-debate comments, in particular, made crystal clear, style and presentation trumps substance. And however the media puppeteers so desire, the commoner marionettes will be "forced" to dance their desired jig. Ergo, with substance out of the question, the Lizard Queen easily trumps "Rudy McRomney" in style and presentation.

Even though the internet polls are encouraging at a glance, I agree that they likely ARE being spammed to some degree, as some media mavens are claiming, by Paul loyalists and not really a true indicator or gauge of the populace at large. No surprise there.

It all makes me wonder...

...why we don't simply defer to the prevailing reality, change the name of our country to the United Soviet States of Amerika, and be done with it.

Indeed. A cabal of constitutionalists become inevitably fatigued playing the game of Republic governed by socialist rules.

Anonymous said...

I was sharing with folks last night about how ingrained is the mentality within our nation that it will not speak ill of the military even when it clearly is anti-Christian, anti-family etc. Just how is one supposed to blindly "support the troops"? Using that sort of illogic anyone can justify anything so long as its sanctimoniously wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. Lest we forget that even "good" Germans, not all that long ago, believed they were "Christians" (of a sort), and dutifully marched off to kill people who hadn't done a damn thing other than come into the cross-hairs of nation-building nuts! Sound familiar? The only way for America to ever set itself free is to once and for all drive a stake through the Military Industrial heart, but because it is so ingrained throughout our nations economic and social fabric, given what the country has become, its a recipe for suicide. Would a country born and bred on evil fantasies, and the lucre they subsist on, give this all up willingly? I wouldn't count on it. Only the King of Peace can resurrect a dead body, my own or a nations, but first you'd have to die.

Frank said...

Dear Mr. Grigg,

You wrote:

"The men (and -- God forgive us -- women) mired in Iraq don't belong to the Regime; their families have an infinitely greater claim on them than any government ever could. Inverting the moral order by placing the Regime above the family isn't patriotism in any sense genuine Americans can recognize."

A very similar thought occurred to me when our pastor preached on Mark 12 a couple of years ago. While discussing vv. 13-17, he revealed to me a gem — one of those gems that was right there in front of me all along, yet one I’d never noticed before.

In contrast to the Roman denarius, which bore both the image and inscription of Caesar, Pastor Jeff asked rhetorically, “Whose image and inscription do you bear?”

"Why, the image of Jehovah, and the inscription of the Triune God," I thought. It suddenly occurred to me that, while all men bear the image of God, it is His people alone who bear His inscription — the mark or seal of baptism.

Pretty basic stuff, yes? But something worth considering the next time Caesar claims the authority to conscript citizens to murder for him. (A claim, I'm sad to say, I expect to be renewed in the very near future.)

So he who currently occupies the chair of former Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt can have my pennies and dimes. But neither I nor my children belong to him. He has no authority to snatch us up, hand us a rifle, and compel us to violate the Sixth Commandment.

For “whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge” (Acts 4:19).

And incidentally, I was amazed and heartened this past Mother's Day to learn that Julia Ward Howe —whatever her other theological misprisions — comprehended well this doctrine, as evidenced by the following excerpt from her Mother's Day Proclamation:

"... As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

"Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God. ..."

An anti-THIS-war evangelical conservative

"Cursed are the proud, for they shall inherit the quagmire.
Cursed are the warmongers, for they shall be called sons-of-bitches."

MrsWilson said...

I just wanted to make one more comment about this...
I'm the one who originally directed you to Dr. Laura's blog. I believe you misunderstood where Dr. Laura was coming from. When she was speaking and, I feel, when she is speaking to military families, she is trying to convey how to act in order to give them as much strength, support and courage as possible. You stated or inferred that there is a blind following of support for this war. This is not even part of this disccussion. We are speaking of our soldiers and their families. The issue of this war, is a completely different topic and I feel you have used it to once again attack. Which I will say again, is a by-product of a society that only has the computer monitor to contend with. Please act as though you are speaking to people's faces, I think your point of view would be better sympathized with or better understood.
With best wishes...

William N. Grigg said...

Mrs. Wilson, once again I appreciate your comments and the sincerity and courtesy you've displayed in posting them.

It is my desire to express myself as candidly as possible, whether through the keyboard, the microphone, or face-to-face -- while making it clear that my opinion of an individual is not always based on agreement between us regarding political matters.

My parents vehemently disagree with my opposition to the Iraq war, as do most members of the church my family attends. I've found that while I continue to respect those on the other side of this issue, that view is often not reciprocated -- not that this troubles me, mind you, but this should be acknowledged.

Having said all of this, I must also say the following:

I desire the safe and IMMEDIATE return of our military personnel from Iraq. I do NOT wish to impart strength or support to them in waging a consummately immoral and un-Godly war of aggression and occupation. I do NOT want to see the government that rules us prevail in its war against Iraq.

Our men (and certainly our women) in uniform should never have been sent to Iraq, and those who sent them there should be on trial for crimes against our Constitution and laws.

Anybody who presents him- or herself as a public moralist, as Dr. Laura does, should understand and acknowledge the immorality of lying, and of killing without cause. Our rulers committed the first crime and have suborned good men and women into participating in the second. The Iraq war is the moral equivalent of armed robbery on an immense scale, and there is nothing decent, patriotic, or Christian about pretending otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a serious student of our Lord's teachings, but abhor violence and so have always been conflicted on subservience to the government when it promotes warfare. My church teaches that wars can be just, and that Paul's Letters to the Romans dictates that I do as commanded by our leaders, even as their dictates pertain to war. But several months ago, I came across the good folks at the Center for Christian Nonviolence ( I read everything they generously offered. And now I know better. Christ would never have advocated war against one's enemies. We are to love even our enemies. There is no such thing as a "just war."

Keep up the good work, Wil. We're all struggling through these days, and the nations require people like you for clarity of sight.