70 – Once upon a time, in America. . .

In Uncategorized

Thoughts while waiting for a train to pass. . .

Once upon a time, in America. . .schools were a place where our children were educated. They learned to read and write, and do math. They studied American history, and learned how a few farmers and store clerks, armed only with swords and muskets, defeated what was at that time the largest, best-equipped, best-trained army in the world.

They studied American government. They learned how the Founding Fathers had created a totally new form of government in this New World. The world had previously known only monarchies, aristocracies, and a few democracies. Our children learned how the drafters of the U.S. Constitution combined those three forms of government into something that had never existed before—a republic.

(See my Commentary No. 5, published in December of 2010.)

They studied the American economic system. They learned everything from how to make change after a purchase to how a free-enterprise system works. They learned why America has become the most prosperous nation in all of world history. They learned about the American Dream—start from nothing, work hard, and achieve anything.

Today. . .none of that is true. Children today are taught that the Founding Fathers were rich (strike one). . .white (strike two). . .slave-owning (strike three). . .men (they’re already out). . .who were interested only in maintaining their wealth and power.

They’re taught that capitalism is an unfair system because it concentrates most of the wealth and power in the hands of an undeserving few, while leaving most people to struggle to survive. They’re taught that socialism is a better system, because it’s based on “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

In most schools they don’t study American government at all. They’re told that the government exists to take care of them—provide them with free healthcare, a free education, a job, a place to live, and anything else they might decide they want.

And in all of this there is a subtle, overarching message. The message is that America is evil. America is racist. America bullies the rest of the world. America needs to be brought down, punished for our misdeeds, taught that we’re nothing special and, in fact, are inferior to much of the world.

Once upon a time, in America. . .sporting events were contests between incredibly talented athletes. Before the game there was a prayer by a local minister. It wasn’t a sermon, preaching Hellfire and damnation to sinners. It was simply a plea to the Deity to protect the athletes from injury. Some of the people in the crowd were undoubtedly atheists, or Muslims, or whatever, but their sentiment was the same. Protect the athletes.

Then the National Anthem was played, and everyone stood respectfully with their hand over their heart. Some sang the words, some didn’t, but I daresay each of us felt pride that we were living in the greatest, freest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world.

Professional players, recognizing they were role models for young athletes, tried to encourage their young admirers to be good people. Work hard at everything you do. Study, and get a good education. Help those who are weaker than you.

Today. . .none of that is true. Prayers are no longer allowed, lest atheists and/or members of a non-Christian sect be offended.

Many players, some coaches, and even some spectators kneel during the playing of the National Anthem, their way of showing disrespect and contempt for America and all it stands for.

At the opening game of the NFL season on September 10, 2020, the host Kansas City Chiefs played what has come to be called the “Black National Anthem,” something called “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The black athletes, most of whom had knelt during the playing of the National Anthem, stood and placed their hands over their hearts during the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” So did many of the white athletes.

Personal Opinion: we are “one nation, under God.” We only need one National Anthem. But given the divisiveness that is rampant in our nation today, I suspect the Black National Anthem is going to become widely accepted, and played on many occasions when the real National Anthem is played.

Back to the Commentary. When the players take the field, some of their jerseys carry the name of radical anti-American organizations like “Antifa” and “Black Lives Matter.” Some of the fields carry the names of those same organizations emblazoned on the end zone or the sidelines.

Professional players no longer offer encouragement and advice to their young admirers. They ignore America’s young people, preferring to offer their social and political opinions to the adult (i.e., the voting) population.

Professional players no longer care about their status as role models, either. When they’re in the news it’s frequently for something like drunk driving, beating their wife or girlfriend,  or shooting someone in a bar-room brawl.

And team owners and league officials wonder why ticket sales, viewership, and sponsorship is declining every year.

Once upon a time, in America. . .concerts were musical entertainment. Musicians like Ray Charles and The Kingston Trio sang their songs, with perhaps a little humorous chatter between songs. The songs themselves were humorous, or about love, or heartbreak, or something the audience could relate to.

Today. . .none of that is true. The lyrics of many of today’s songs are vulgar or antisocial, making reference to things like killing, raping, rioting, and looting. Between songs the performers talk of the same subjects, making references to bombing the White House, killing Congressmen, and sexually molesting women.

Once upon a time, in America. . .entertainers were entertaining. People like Bob Hope, Justin Wilson, and Shelly Berman took the stage and told stories that had the audience laughing uproariously.

Today. . .none of that is true. Many so-called “entertainers” today can’t be told from politicians. Their “comedy” routines consist of criticizing whatever politician they disagree with (usually President Trump or members of his Administration). That that doesn’t resonate with most people is shown by the fact that the viewership of many programs, like the Academy Awards, goes down every year.

Once upon a time, in America. . .late-night TV was enjoyable. People like Johnny Carson and Jay Leno told jokes, acted out skits, and interviewed celebrities. We got a chance to “peek behind the curtain” at some of our favorite people, like John Wayne, Don Rickles, and Lucille Ball. In those interviews we discovered that despite their wealth and fame, those people were just human beings like us.

Today. . .none of that is true. Gone are the days of the comedian, the singer, the movie star interview. Today’s late-night hosts are all radical left-wing liberals. Their guests are all radical left-wing liberals. Their “interviews” are a non-stop bashing of President Trump, his Administration, his policies, and conservatives in general.

Once upon a time, in America. . .newscasts were informative. You could tune in at six o’clock in the evening or ten o’clock at night and find out what had happened in the nation and the world that day. No opinion, no slant toward the right or left, just the events as they happened. “Just the facts, ma’am,” as Jack Webb used to say on the Nineteen Fifties program “Dragnet.”

Today. . .none of that is true. The mainstream media, what I call the “alphabet soup networks,” has become the propaganda arm of the radical left-wing liberals. On any given broadcast, on any given day, the reports are 95 percent promoting the liberal agenda and five percent talking about conservative issues—usually critically.

Once upon a time, in America. . .we lived by the rule of law. If you broke the law, you were prosecuted and sent to jail—no matter who you were. Rich person, poor person. Politician.  Movie star. Rock star—or ordinary citizen.

Even an American President was forced to resign when he broke the law, and he probably would have gone to prison if his successor hadn’t pardoned him.

During the Vietnam war in the Nineteen Sixties and ‘Seventies, several anti-war groups staged what started as peaceful protests but turned into violent riots. People were beaten, buildings were ”occupied” and trashed, stores were looted, cars were overturned and burned, traffic was stopped on major thoroughfares.

When that happened, the police moved in quickly. Rioters were arrested and taken to jail. Those who resisted were subdued by whatever means necessary—tear gas, rubber bullets, whatever. The rioters stood trial and were sentenced to jail terms.

Today. . .none of that is true. There are two sets of rules now—one for liberals, and one for everyone else. When liberal politicians break the law now, it is ignored until everyone forgets about it.

Hillary Clinton deleted thousands of potentially incriminating emails after they had been subpoenaed by Justice Department investigators. To make sure they couldn’t be recovered, she had her staff smash the computer hard drives with hammers, then pour acid on the rubble.

If you or I had done that we would have been prosecuted for destroying evidence. We would have gone to jail. But nothing was ever done to her, and nowadays no one even mentions it any more.

Several anarchist groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter don’t even pretend to hold peaceful protests any more. On any pretense—even if they have to make one up—they descend on a city and stage a riot. Windows are broken, buildings are set afire, stores are looted, and people are attacked and beaten.

The government officials of these cities—the mayor, the police chief, and in some cases the city council—forbid the local police from trying to stop the rioters. “Stay out of their way,” the police are told. “Let them do whatever they want.” Police are specifically prohibited from using the “non-lethal” methods available to them, like tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets.

The rioters have no such limitations, though. They are attacking the police with bricks, Molotov cocktails, and paint guns.

Just as I was preparing to publish this Commentary, two policemen were shot by rioters in Louisville, KY.

Realizing they aren’t going to be opposed or stopped, the rioters have started going into residential neighborhoods—breaking into houses, beating the occupants, and stealing whatever they can carry away.

In my opinion (standard disclaimer), that’s where the war will start. People are not going to stand by and let a mob of anarchist thugs threaten them, their family, and their property.

Some final comments, all personal. . .

First—I started this Commentary by calling it “thoughts while waiting for a train to pass.” The fact is, I don’t remember the last time I got stopped by a train. I suppose there are still a few small towns where the railroad goes thru the middle of town, but I haven’t been in one for many years.

Second—you may have noticed that in this Commentary I referred to “radical left-wing liberals,” rather than “radical left-wing Democrats.” That was deliberate. Our nation has become so politically polarized that I believe the divide now transcends political parties.

There are Democrats who are genuinely moderates, leaning toward conservative. They may (or may not) have voted for Hillary in 2016, but they have rejected the increasingly-radical anti-American stand of the Democrat Party and will vote for Trump this year.

There are Republicans who voted for Trump in 2016 but plan to vote for someone else this year. They will rationalize it, to themselves and to others, as “voting against Trump,” but they know that a vote for anyone else—the Libertarian candidate, the Green Party candidate, whoever—is a vote for Biden. As is always the case, this election is between the Republican candidate and the Democrat candidate. The other dozen or so names on the ballot don’t have a realistic chance. If you don’t vote for either the Republican or the Democrat, you’re voting for the other by default.

These people know that only by putting a radical left-wing liberal in the White House are we going to get free healthcare, free education, a guaranteed income, and all the other benefits that socialism promises—and they’ve convinced themselves that all those things can be had without socialism and an eighty percent tax rate. That’s a byproduct of not teaching economics to our children for two generations.

Third—and remember, I’m expressing personal opinion here.

My earliest memories go back to the late Nineteen Forties. In those days, black people were called “Negroes.” Then, in the Nineteen Seventies, the term “blacks” came into popular use.

It was in the Nineteen Eighties that Jesse Jackson (I refuse to call him “the Reverend”) started urging the use of the term “African-American.” The first time I heard that term, I knew the nation was headed for trouble.

At the urging of my family, I recently did one of those DNA testing things. It found that my ancestry is almost exclusively Scotch-Irish. But I’m confident that my ancestors never referred to themselves as “Scottish-Americans” or “Irish-Americans.” They left Scotland and Ireland and came to America because they wanted to be Americans.

I’ve read that many immigrants start referring to themselves as “Americans” the minute they step off the boat that brought them from their birth country. They voluntarily left their families, their customs, their traditions, and in many cases their native language, because they wanted to be Americans.

To describe themselves as “Polish-Americans” or “Italian-Americans” would dilute their pride in their new homeland.

Very few people who call themselves African-Americans have ever been to Africa. Very few of them can trace their family tree back to its African roots. But in calling themselves African-Americans they are diluting their pride at being Americans. They’re saying that they’re somewhat proud of being Americans, but they’re also proud of being Africans—even if that ancestry is buried so far back in the mists of time that it can’t be traced.

For the record—somewhere back in the darkness of antiquity, I had ancestors in Scotland. And Ireland. And a few other places.

But that was then. This is now. Today I’m an American. Not a hyphenated American.  Not a sort-of American and sort-of something else.  An American, and damn proud of it.