"Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war. We know that God is not neutral between them."
- President George W. Bush, September 20, 2001
When I was a kid, my relatives from England would come to visit. I was regaled with stories about how much better educated Europeans were than Americans. To be perfectly honest, I was starting to get an inferiority complex about it. Watching "Patton" and simply absorbing truthful facts about America steered me away from that garbage, but I still harbored the general notion that Americans were less informed and not as well educated.
Then I went to Europe on my own, for the first time. I traveled around, like any recent college graduate does. New York, Washington, D.C., then England and France. A few years later, I actually lived in Europe for a whole year, when I was recruited to manage a baseball team in Berlin. I discovered that my relatives were all wet. The perception many Americans have of Europeans is of the wealthy, educated elites who come to America on vacation. They usually speak English (leading us to conclude we are Dumbellionites because we do not speak foreign languages). When you travel to Europe, and especially when you actually live there an extended time, you see that there are bums, Dumbellionites, slackers, ne'r'do'wells and assorted riff-raff, just as there are here. Their citizenry is not better educated than ours. In fact, they are less informed.
Europeans are more cloistered in their worldview. Americans live in a country that, like it or not, basically rules the world. World news is part of our culture. This leads me to an assessment of American youth. Television shows and pop culture - MTV, reality TV, Britney Spears, Eminem, Korn - combined with a real trip to a typical American high school, where girls dress like porn actresses, guys cruise around on skateboards with loose pants showing the crack of their butt, with stupid ski caps on their heads in 90-degree weather, leads one to the "inevitable" conclusion that our youth are hopeless slackers. Our future has gone to "hell in a handbasket" with them.
After 9/11, this country faces new challenges, not unlike what America faced after Pearl Harbor. The reaction of many of us old geezers (anybody over 30) is that "these kids" are not up to the task. This is an absolute falsehood. First of all, older generations have been saying that about each succeeding generation since forever.
During the Roaring '20s, old folks thought the flappers were slackers. After World War II, no generation could hope to compete. The high school kids of the 1950s were crazed on Elvis Presley, swinging around and gyrating to that "Negro music." The Christian ministry exhorted the populace to censor such Satanic rituals. (Elvis, by the way, was a fine Republican who offered his services to Richard Nixon to root out Communists in the entertainment industry.)
Kids in the 1960s were considered unpatriotic, longhaired rabble. The children of the 1970s were probably the least impressive of all generations. They were longhaired rabble like their '60s predecessors, but lacked the political passions, misguided as they might have been.
For the better part of 10 to 15 years, the Baby Boomers have been replaced by something called Generation X. They are a misunderstood lot. My status as an expert on the subject stems from the fact that my daughter is one of them. Kids will surprise you. They know more than you think and are not as dumb as they seem. It has always been that way.
America is the same. My point is that something really incredible happens to our children between the age of 18 and 30. They grow up. Everybody grows up, but Americans really grow up. There is no country in the world in which the contrast between 18-year olds and 30-year olds is as great as in America. Somehow, for reasons I cannot truly put my finger on, kids go from being slackers with stinking pants half way down their backsides to informed, impressive, productive members of society by age 30. They are up to the challenges facing this country in the new century.
This book has posed the question, Is God on our side? It has answered that question with the notion that He is. Larkin Spivey, a decorated Marine Corps officer and respected military professor, wrote a book called "God In The Trenches", in which Spivey shows when the nation's survival seemed uncertain, even doubtful, fate seemed to turn America's way, sometimes miraculously. Some of these events include Spivey's theories about how:
• An unopened note changed the course of the Revolutionary War.
• A phantom attack caused George Washington to win a decisive battle.
• The "unluckiest" incident in wartime history led to freedom for millions.
• " Random" events in the Pacific gave a small American carrier fleet victory.
• A U-2 spy plane and the death of a pilot saved the world from nuclear
Some point to the permissiveness of American and Western society, and state that this is evidence that God is not with us any more. The Reverend Pat Robertson said 9/11 was God's way of punishing us for out sins. Islamic Fundamentalists believe that our anything-goes culture needs to be punished so as to prevent it from poisoning the Muslim world. Former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork warns of the dangers of unchecked liberalism.
"Our popular culture has gone far beyond propagandizing for fornication," wrote Bork in "Slouching Towards Gomorrah". "That seems almost innocent nowadays. What America increasingly produces and distributes is now propaganda for every perversion and obscenity imaginable. If many of us accept the assumption on which that is based, and apparently many do, then we are well on our way to an obscene culture. The upshot is that American popular culture is in a free fall, with the bottom not yet in sight. This is what the liberal view of human nature has brought us to. The idea that men are naturally rational, moral creatures without the need for strong external restraints has been exploded by experience. There is an eager and growing market for depravity, and profitable industries devoted to supplying it. Much of such resistance as there is comes from people living on the moral capital accumulated by prior generations. That capital may be expected to dwindle further - cultures do not unravel everywhere all at once. Unless there is a vigorous counterattack, which must, I think, resort to legal as well as moral sanctions, the prospects are for a chaotic and unhappy society, perhaps, by an authoritarian and unhappy society."
We have seen what is great in America disavowed in favor of what is worst. In "America's Elites Take Their Cues from the Underclass", by Charles Murray, he argues that this has been the harbinger of doom for all great civilizations.
"Gertrude Himmelfarb sees it as a struggle between competing elites, in which the
Left originated a counterculture that the right failed to hold back," writes Murray. Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it "defining deviancy down," by de-valuing morality in order to make it fit the lowest common denominator.
The late historian Arnold Toynbee wrote "Schism in the Soul" In it he says that a "dominant minority" imitates those at the bottom of society. An example we see are middle class white kids imitating violent, repugnant black rappers.
"The growth phase of a civilization is led by a creative minority with a
strong, self-confident sense of style, virtue, and purpose," wrote Toynbee. "The uncreative majority follows along through mimesis, a mechanical and superficial imitation of the great and inspired originals. In a disintegrating civilization, the creative minority has degenerated into elites that are no longer confident, no longer setting the example. Among other reactions are a lapse into truancy (a rejection, in effect, of the obligations of citizenship) and a surrender to a sense of promiscuity (vulgarizations of manners, the arts, and language) that are apt to appear first in the ranks of the proletariat and to spread from there to the ranks of the dominant minority, which usually succumbs to the sickness of proletarianization."
Once-despised behavior that could be attributed to "low-class" or "white trash" individuals are today mainstream among a segment of our society. Larry Flynt is no longer relegated to his place in the pornographic corner. He is an important voice in the Democrat party who was a candidate under their banner for Governor of California. This says a lot about the political face of the sick proletariat, who used to be called the underclass.
The old ruling upper crust of liberalism now imitates these new codes of behavior.
In 1960, swearing was uncouth in public. Today the language of "South Park "or MTV is commonly quoted, providing tacit approval of the stupid and ignorant. Hookers cannot be distinguished by girls-on-the-town who refer to their Saturday night escapades as "slutting up."
Divorce is utterly common today, as is children being born out of wedlock. In the black community, young men consider knocking a girl up and leaving her to her own devices to be a badge of honor. They justify it because their "fathers" did the same to their mothers.
The good news is that the collapse of decency has left a vacuum and there are those who step forward to fill it. They are, by and large, conservative in nature. While the Dumbellionite Class may make up a majority that might represent potential political and social opposition, it is the conservatives who organize while the rest are unorganized.
What the conservatives realize about things like race is that asking minorities to live up to their standards benefits the minorities, just as a football coach who asks his players to live up to a higher standard of work ethic and competitiveness, rather than let his players wallow in mediocrity, is making them better players.
The hip-hop code of the streets nowadays is to take what you want, be violent, lord over weaker opponents, view women as sex objects, cheat, lie and exploit. Blacks in the inner city, confronted with these accusations, may respond that this describes slaveowners of the 19th Century. Fair enough, but it does not change the fact that those people are long dead, and the people being hurt in the 21st Century by this behavior are their people.
Those who stand against this are said to be racist and closed-minded. Like Fundamentalist Islam it is not going to be changed by outsiders telling them how to act. It must come from within their own ranks. White rappers like Eminem have taken the hip-hop mentality into the white community, where one hopes that its exposition will result in large segments of that community rejecting it. What is hoped is that at the end of the day, the elites of society will have an understanding for the lower classes, but are the lower classes permanently exempt from societal standards? Those lower classes allow the likes of Bill Clinton to emerge. Going on four years after Clinton's Presidency, a disturbing trend has emerged. Promiscuity is at an all-time high. I have said it before, and I will say it again. I am no prude. My reaction to the sight of a beautiful, scantily clad woman is no different than any other red-blooded American man. It is not all Clinton's doing, either. AIDS is no longer the threat it once was, and the myth that it was not a gay or a drug addict's disease has been fairly well dispelled. A new "sexual revolution" like the one we saw in the 1960s and '70s is upon us. Sex is a healthy thing, as far as I am concerned, but that does not make it any easier for us dads.
The existence of so much vulgarity may be true, but there always has and always will be an element of society that disdains it, preferring instead to be "ladies and gentlemen." I am the first to admit I am occasionally guilty of activity and behavior that may be vulgar, but I will say this for myself. I have discipline about it, I confine it in segments, and do not justify it beyond what it is. By and by, I choose to proceed with class. I am not alone. The difference is that the kind of shock and outer judgment of the upper classes towards the lower is no longer expressed. Rather, it is observed in silence, but the "upper classes" seem to acknowledge each other, as if in secret societies. Interestingly, good behavior is made more powerful this way because sometimes things need no commentary. Res ipsa loquiter means "the thing speaks for itself." In other words, vulgarians simply identify themselves by their own behavior without you or me judging them to their face. I sometimes say something like, "the thing is true and I have knowledge that it is," or "the thing is a lie and I have knowledge that it is." Therefore, I operate on the higher premise. The power is not in wry commentary, but in action. Leaders have always "led by example." Take politics. The Republicans generally just go about their business in a gentlemanly fashion, while the Democrats sometimes flail about like low class types. This behavior is seen, observed and noted by all. It has more resonance just as an existing fact than by Republicans making a big point of talking about it. It may seem the slow approach to social change, but it s the best way.
Bill Clinton and Larry Flynt may be spokesmen of the Democrat party, and in Clinton's case, the G.O.P. got in trouble judging him, because his case was too important to just let go. But by and large, just let the Democrats hang themselves by putting forth these low lifes as their examples, and the populace will see through it.
There will always be a place for educated people of culture. I look at this way. If most of the people were smart and acted well, then those of us who are smart and act well would not be special.
That being said, I am of course concerned at the hip-hopization of America, but realize this. I live in a liberal place, but if you travel America you will see a very different set of cultural standards. Most of these writers who describe these cultural trends are from big coastal cities. There are many places in this fine land where country music, God and patriotism are the norm. My baseball years opened my eyes to this early on. It was an education for me worthy of any documentary or book.
The rapper mentality will work itself out for the better, as hard as it is to believe. It is associated with blacks. If whites spend too much time de-crying blacks for their crimes and their music, it just comes off as racism, which is never going to be the popular argument. Blacks, however, are already becoming disgusted with themselves in large numbers. It will take time, but I have faith that in America they will choose to reform themselves, to some extent, by telling each other how to be.
All cultural change comes this way (unless it is America conquering a country and imposing good where only evil stood, i.e., Nazi Germany, Japan, etc.). Christianity was reformed from within, as was Judaism. In this century Islam will go through this transformation.
Goodness will prevail because it is the better way, more efficient, and causes fewer problems. Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once told me that being nice was not just the right thing to do, but it was easier and more efficient in the long run. We will see a new, better goodness, not the rigid, all-white, racially rigid kind that represented the British Empire or segregated America. Let me correlate it with economic change, because in the long run it is about a better model; behavior and capitalism are intertwined.
Take the economy. In the 1980s, we had a strong economy based on two things: A touch of greed and military spending. The Cold War was won and the military complex broke up, the economy went down, but it rebounded. This time, we learned from mistakes. The economy was more egalitarian and socially conscious in the 1990s, and less about military spending and more on high-tech, utilizing in large part former military industrial workers using their skills and education to fuel the dot-com boom.
Mistakes were made regarding overfunded IPOs and prognostication of the Internet, salaries were too high, and 9/11 really ended the boom times. Now we are coming back, again learning lessons from past mistakes. We may get it right this time. Less greed than the '80s, but some return to a military readiness that will never be out of vogue, combined with the high-tech breakthroughs of the '90s. A more realistic stock market that will not explode falsely like before, but grow based on a return to old style financial models, with lessons about what the Internet can and cannot do now. A business climate that is now more socially conscious, and also able to make environmentally safe products.
The problem is in Europe. By and large, Europe is in a funk because all their greatness is gone. Outside of Great Britain, their contributions to the world have been eclipsed by the United States for 100 years. America is so far and above them in every way that they find it hard to compete. Think of a Class A baseball team in the same division with the Yankees. The Class A guys are going to give up. The result is new socialism in which Europe just exists without incentive. The good news is smart people populate the place and new post-Cold War generations will improve upon the doldrums of the current dunderheads. A generation of European kids will come along who look at America and are inspired by us, not defeated by us.
Getting back to behavior and how best to change it, I say just show it and people will make their judgments. Nixon called them the Silent Majority. Never underestimate them. For example, if you wanted to show why America is better than France, you are not going about it the best way by yelling and screaming, "America is better than France. France is a bunch of frogs." That just make enemies.
Instead, show two documentaries. The first is on the American Revolution. Just give it straight, it needs no embellishment. Then show a documentary on the "reign of terror" in Paris. My guess is if a reasonable person saw both he will arrive at the conclusion "America is the better country" just based on the straight facts without a lot of advocacy. Those with a little "get up and go" will choose to emulate the better model.
Apocalypse Now? Drawing U.S. into world conflagration is terrorist's goal
The Arab world has been on the "back burner" of history for much of the past 100 to 200 years. This place is the "cradle of civilization." It spawned Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in that order. It is the home of some of the greatest antiquities extant. To study Mankind is to study the Middle East. The Crusades were a "clash of civilizations," and the Byzantine Empire was ahead of its time. In the first half of the 20th Century, events in the Middle East took a back seat to events in other parts of the world.
Religion tells us that Armageddon, or the Apocalypse, if they are one and the same (which we do not really know) will emanate from the Middle East. We think that if there is an anti-Christ, he will emerge from the Middle East (if he has not already). Politics, religion, terrorism and world war seem inextricably tied to oil in this region. If one gives any credence to these Biblical concepts, then one must confront one of two outlooks. There is the negative view, which is that it will come down and we will blow each other up. Then there is the positive view, which is that it does not have to happen. This is my opinion. I believe the United States was charged with the ultimate task of making peace in this land of war. I do not discount the idea that the anti-Christ has already been born, and the U.S. eliminated him in some manner, which may or may not be publicly known. Now that this region is again front and center, some hard questions need to be asked of it. These questions need to be addressed in light of Biblical prophecy.
6 1. What do Arabs want?
7 2. What do terrorists want?
8 3. What has the Arab world contributed to humanity in modern history?
4. What is their complaint against the West?
Let me start out with the third question. It is hard to answer this without insulting
the Arab world, but truth is not always easy to accept. The Middle East has contributed a natural resource called oil. The fact that they have oil is just a by-product of their natural environment. We need the oil and are grateful that we can buy it from them, but it does not count as a "contribution" to the betterment of Mankind.
Take Arab antiquities. It was mostly Western researchers and archaeologists who found them and made sense of it all. The Arabs mainly just let their treasures sit around and gather dust until mostly English and Americans came there, dug them up, and studied the treasures.
In World War I, the Arabs (the Ottomans) officially sided with Kaiser's Germany. A few disparate tribes fought under Lawrence, but for mostly ignoble goals. Where was the Arab world (not to mention Latin America and Africa) when the world needed everybody to stand up against Hitler? On the sidelines, cheering for…?
They aligned themselves with the Soviets, and now they are the home field for terror. What great technological, scientific, medical and humanitarian achievements have come out of the Middle East in the past 60 years, benefiting its fellow man. The West has provided oil, and in return provided the Arabs with riches beyond the wildest imagination of man for this "service." They Arabs have benefited from science from the West, technology from the West, medicine from the West, aid from the West, protection from the West, and handouts of all kind from the West.
This leads to questions number two and three. What do Arabs want, and what do terrorists want?
We have to address the psychology behind their lack of "achievement," their failure to "contribute," and their status as welfare recipients. They are jealous. Religion is not behind their terrorism or their "disagreements" with the West. That is a smokescreen for the fact that they do not achieve or contribute much to the world. Are we to truly expect these people, who are proud, to just live in a world in which all their advancements come courtesy of the West, while they have nothing to hold up as their own, and have them just say, "thanks"? That is not how people think.
Instead of competing, participating, or getting "in the arena," as Teddy Roosevelt said, they withdraw into the most basic, out-dated aspects of their religion, using that as an excuse to withdraw. Unable to compete with the West, they say that we are "poisoning" them with our modernity.
They have found passage after passage in the Koran which seems to justify violence, and even "modern" Imams in the West do not thoroughly discourage terrorism. There is no explanation for the lack of outrage from the responsible Muslim world except to conclude that at some level they agree or sympathize with the terrorists. Not all of them, but a significant number of them. 5-7 million Muslims live in America. I would be lying I said I do not have some fear knowing this.
So, what is the Arab/terrorist complaint with America and the West? Think about this. They talk about the Crusades, but that was centuries ago. Besides, Arab atrocities and guilt are just as great as Christian. This is a non-issue. Israel? This is an "excuse issue." It is obviously huge in the minds of Palestinians, but in reality it has little effect on most Arabs. British hegemony after World War I? To some extent, yes, but the British ruled peacefully and eventually handed over power, peacefully. American manipulation of political events? Sure, it is part of it, but is limited. Obviously the CIA propped up the Shah and "controls" oil, but is this legitimate reason to hate us? After all, we are doing business with them, pouring huge amounts into their economies, and providing jobs in the process. Complaining about this is like rural Tennesseans hating FDR because they suddenly modernized after the TVA was put into place.
Americans invaded Kuwait and part of Iraq to liberate Kuwait, but did not occupy, colonize or take over the oil supply, which is the great "complaint" whenever we contemplate going in there. We rid Iraq of Saddam. We have troops in Iraq but want to get out of there as soon as we can. We have a few troops in a small number of other places. Overall, there is no great army of Americans holding the boots to the region like the Romans once did. Overall, there is no real history of American occupation and American war. Are we to believe that the Arabs and the Fundamentalists truly hate us because of TV shows we watch, or the way our women dress? This is just an excuse for their own failures. Instead of engaging the world, they withdraw, and they hate.
Will the Arab world explode? This may very well be what the terrorists want. They may be pining for one mass suicide. This is where the larger Arab world differs from them. What the larger Arab world must do, to overcome this terrible possibility, is to contribute in the 21st Century. Contribute love, peace and maybe even some Democracy. Earn some respect from the rest of the world, and some self-respect for themselves. They have to give themselves something to live for.
If the Arab world fails to control its most inhumane, evil elements, then there will be war, and I have news for them. They will not win that war. The United States, and the West in general, will protect itself. We will do what we have to do to survive.
The goal of the World Trade Center terrorists was not just political, but religious. The great conflagration religion has warned us about since pre-Christian times may be their goal. That goal could be a world Apocalypse of death, destruction and anarchy that spares no one, whether they are Christian, Jew or Muslim.
Osama bin Laden was behind this tragedy, and the terrorists were Muslim extremists from the Middle East, bin Laden’s confederates and cell splinter groups acting on his general orders. What was in their warped minds?
Since “terrorism” is not a nation with an army, a government, a population, territory, and an economy, their end game is different from the goals of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, or even Afghanistan. Bin Laden may be evil, but he was not stupid. He therefore knew that the world, namely the United States, shall never permit Israel to be destroyed and the region completely de-stabilized. He knew that if pushed hard enough, we will attack. If this occurs, we have the power to virtually wipe out entire civilizations through conventional, nuclear and biological destruction. Should we choose, we could virtually eliminate rogue states, and with them the terrorists sheltered within their borders.
This may be just what he wanted.
Since Zionism will not be destroyed, just as secularism shall not be eliminated, and Iraq was not allowed to dominate the region, bin Laden's goal was a worldwide jihad, or holy war. He has supporters, they are Fundamentalist extremists, but their numbers are still relatively few. He may believe that the only way to generate enough hate and passion to create the real jihad that is a worldwide nightmare scenario would be to draw a huge U.S. military response. He may have been willing to sacrifice millions of Muslim lives in the process. Even Anwar Sadat once said he was willing to sacrifice 1 million Egyptians to eliminate Israel.
Bin Laden may want a post-nuclear world of anarchy, a world without borders or governments, a world of chemical weapons and horror. The United States must caution against setting this kind of world in motion.
The Axis Powers wanted territory and natural resources. We knew how to stop them from getting it. Communism could be contained. Saddam Hussein was a politician with political and economic goals. Since bin Laden believed he was doing God’s work, and had nothing to lose, this makes his kind a most dangerous enemy.
There also may be no good “fate” for him. If he was or is to be killed, he could be a martyr. If he is imprisoned, it could be worse. He could be used as a tool for further acts of terrorism, mostly of the hostage variety.
The United States turned the crisis into a window of opportunity. For the first time since Pearl Harbor, we evoked some sympathy from most of the world. So far, we have not built the kind of coalition we would have liked. This is our challenge over the next years.
Many have discredited the idea of getting a United Nations consensus, but this is our best chance to build a coalition. Even extremists in Damascus and Baghdad are human beings with feelings, and the concept of thousands of dead innocent civilians surely evokes at least a little sorrow.
However, a greater instinct than sympathy is self-preservation. The rogue states must have seen what happened and possibly realized, as Yamamoto did after Pearl, that a sleeping giant had been awakened. The last thing countries with much to lose want is to have the United States, armed with the will to do so, invade their countries in wholesale pursuit of the destruction of terrorists and terrorism.
If the terrorists persist, if they up the scale of destruction by using chemical and biological weapons, they will force us to strike back in ways that Middle East countries may not survive.
President George Bush can go to these states and tell them that either they are with us or they are against us. If terrorists harbored within their borders continue to hurt innocents, Bush will, to paraphrase “The Godfather”, “blame some people…”
Iran and like nations do not need to make a big show of their cooperation. They can play their games for show, demonstrating their hate for America, but they are still a nation with much to lose if bin Laden or his successors, who do not, sees jihad to fruition.
The best way to root out these terrorists is not by full-scale military action. Rather, it would be through internal intelligence, aided by Muslims with love in their hearts eradicating hate in everybody’s best interest. Furthermore, there must be bin Laden lieutenants who are sickened by terrorism. Not everybody has the stomach for that kind of killing. Some of these people turn.
Surely, too, some people have enough human instinct to realize that being on the side of the killers of thousands of civilians is to be on the wrong side of the moral equation.
We took Afghanistan and Iraq with a minimum of civilian casualties, which gives us the moral edge we need to use to our advantage. Bush should eventually attempt a real coalition. What happened was the logical conclusion of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. We have been studying terrorism and predicting for some time that it is the greatest threat of this new century.
Nations like China and Russia have a role to play, as well. China may feel safe from terrorism for now, but they could be a target when they host the 2008 Olympics. For this reason, they have a vested interest in joining with us. As America plans for the future, we need to address questions about our past.
Who are we? How did we get here? What does history teach us? Why is America special? How did Communism rise and why was it opposed in America? What did we learn from Gandhi? What lessons did we apply in the post-World War II years? Throughout history, conquering nations had enslaved and colonized. We left Europe and Japan with a legacy of goodwill never seen in the annals of Mankind.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism