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On the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, veterans and their wives converged on Normandy from America, Britain and Germany. They were the veterans of that battle, and they pulled out battle maps and champagne and swallowed and wallowed for days in all the “Now-It-Can-Be-Told” stories of when they were trying to kill one another.
“How good a job did our Air Force and French Underground allies do preventing you from bringing up more tanks after our landing?” “We thought Normandy was a diversion for too long. We expected your main force to hit across the Pas-de-Calais farther north.”
There was a similar meeting in Havana of representatives of America, Russia and Cuba 25 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, to play that fascinating cards-face-up game with history.
If America collapses, I don’t want to wait. I want an immediate meeting of all the players to determine whether our demise was planned – or natural and organic. In 1947, I saw an Ingrid Bergman movie, fell madly in love with her and went to a bookstore immediately and told the clerk, “I want a book in whatever it is she speaks.” “She speaks Swedish,” replied the clerk. “We have ‘Hugo’s Swedish Simplified’ for two dollars and 50 cents.” I only had two dollars. “Do you have anything similar, cheaper?” I asked. “Yes,” replied he. “We have ‘Hugo’s Norwegian Simplified’ for ONE dollar 50 cents.”
Show me that octane of over-the-counter intelligence in America today. So, I’d want to know if our public education bloated and wheezed and died, or if those annoying right-wingers had a point when they warned us “enemies” were deliberately dumbing us down to make the plucking easier.
Where did patriotism go? I meet a lot of younger people who know America “attacked” Vietnam, but none who know there were three “Vietnam Wars,” and our side won two of them. We failed to defend South Vietnam against Communist aggression, but we did defend South Korea against Communist aggression, and the British successfully defended what is now Malaysia and Singapore against Communist insurgency. And look at them today. South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore are among the most prosperous on earth, while North Korea is a theme-park for hell, and Communist Vietnam is virtually living an apology for having been so stupid, as it “normalizes” relations with America.
I meet lots of kids who know of America’s racist past but few who’ve been taught the glory of our overcoming it. I meet many who know we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq but few who’ve been taught those people may now choose their own government. Many know of America’s “Islamophobia.” None knows we paid blood and treasure to save Muslim lives in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan. And forget about trying to find kids who’ve been taught there would be no democracy anywhere were it not for America. Show me one who’s aware that America’s the only country that ever won a war and wound up with less territory than when they were attacked. We gave the Philippines their independence after fighting and paying a huge price to liberate them.
Ignorance is the sperm of apathy. If you don’t know, you can’t care. Were our youth deliberately kept from knowing all the pro-American history, or did it just accidentally get lost? In the 1970s, I remember the jaw-dropping discovery that Americans did not rally behind American automobile manufacturers. After World War II, when foreign cars first appeared in America, we thought the whole idea was cute. We wanted to pat their little heads. The idea of a Swedish car in Greensboro, N.C., was like a Burger King on Mars. And then it got bad for Detroit. And the battle-cry of “Buy American” was as successful as a ham sandwich at an Orthodox Jewish picnic. Americans wanted the best deal! You who think I’m an idiot for expecting anything else are not bad people. You just don’t remember Pearl Harbor. Did patriotism fall, or was it pushed?
And, hey! Did they deliberately turn sexual education into sexual incitation? In the 1940s, my friend Bobby accidentally dropped a condom in front of a teacher. They almost put Lindley Elementary School under lockdown. The sexual message then was one four-letter word: “Don’t!”
Dress code! Songwriter Irving Caesar was asked why he always wore a fresh carnation in his lapel. “It gives me something to live up to!” he replied. Shabby dress is low. Neat is high. My father used to have Sabbath dinner on Friday night with three of his high-school friends and then play bridge deep into the night in tuxedos! Did tacky just come, or was tacky part of the deliberate “Decline” package?
Didn’t we know just about all there was to know about the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton et al.? How much do we know about Barack Obama?
After America’s daring 1942 raid on Japan, we met Jimmy Doolittle. After the victorious surge in Iraq, we met David Petraeus.
After America’s defeat, will we meet whoever managed to turn patriotism into the new obscenity and hard-core pornography into the new “freedom of expression”?