Greed gets the publicity. So does aggression, glory-hunger, revenge, “empire”! But there’s another player seldom noticed that’s busy sharpening its knives while all those others remain fast asleep. Its name is “pride.”
Why did all those Germans in the 1930s go nuts over Adolf Hitler? Did they figure, “At last we’ve got a man who can help us own Europe and plant our flag from the Arctic clear down to the Equator and even knock out the Soviet Union”? No. That came later. From out of the acrid humiliation of their World War I defeat and the brutal Versailles Treaty, Hitler made Germans proud again.
Did you ever wonder why the most anti-Communist Chinese living all over the world revel in Communist China’s command of global respect and fear? The “old” China was carved up and owned by a dozen other countries. The hapless “Chinaman” in San Francisco was the source of wicked fun as the neighboring boys pulled his long “queue” ponytail and ridiculed his inability to speak any language un-comically. Now there’s a New China out there, and even those Chinese who despise the regime plug into its pride-socket for a life-lifting super-charge.
I can taste what I’m talking about. I moved to North Carolina from Maryland at the age of 5. In North Carolina football was everything. In Maryland football was nothing. Really. Lacrosse was as popular as football! Duke, a North Carolina team, used to beat Maryland 50-0. Whereupon I would get beaten up for coming from a state with such lousy football; same thing when Maryland got beaten by the University of North Carolina, N. C. State or Wake Forest.
In 1947 Maryland became a “New China.” They brought in Coach Jim Tatum and got serious. The betting was Maryland and 35 points; unheard of! I wasn’t there “the night they invented champagne,” but I was there in Duke Stadium when Maryland introduced the split-T formation to North Carolina. On the first play, Maryland quarterback Vic Turyn faked to running back Lou Gambino, kept the ball and ran 79 yards to the Duke 1-yard-line. Duke won the game, 19-7; Maryland won respect!
It’s laughable now, but it wasn’t then. The very same boys who used to beat me up for coming from Maryland now politely asked me if I’d please come home with them and explain this “split-T formation” wizardry to their curious fathers.
Maybe the best example of the “power of pride” was on parade the evening of Jan. 19, 2009, the day before the inauguration of Barack Obama as president. We were at the CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) Martin Luther King banquet. The huge ballroom was well over 90 percent black, and they were conservative blacks! Remember the Chinese anti-Communists bursting with pride at the power of Beijing? There was a moment when the entire audience “turned” and became a 1968 “Black Power” rally. You could actually see and feel the pride of American blacks as the awareness rippled across the ballroom that within hours America would have its first black president. Obama merely headed the ticket. Pride was the winner.
Hellenic (ancient Greek) civilization gets a lot of praise. Thraco-Illyrian (ancient Albanian) civilization right next door gets none; zero. The next time you meet an Albanian ask him how the Greeks managed to steal credit for all that Albanian civilization. His eyes will melt with long-unrequited pride. He may follow you home and paint your house.
Why all this?
As an American Jew, I’ve got to tell you something. They say famously, “Pride goeth before a fall.” Pride also “cometh when you stand up”!
Thanks to the Military Channel, the History Channel and others, I dare say Americans know more about Hitler’s Holocaust today than they did a generation ago. How many times have we watched Jewish children, women and men marching into extermination without a fight? Yes, there was a Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and groups like the Bielski Partisans fighting the Nazis in Poland, but there was no competent, feared Jewish fighting force able to foil Hitler’s plan.
Now, thank God, there is. I love America and I love Israel. You say that’s a conflict? Tell it to the Irish marching up Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day, the Italians dancing on Mulberry Street during the San Gennaro Festival and the Chinese, in between firecracker explosions on Chinese Independence Day. It’s easy, if you’re Jewish, to love America and still smile as Barack, Hillary and the whole administration bug Israel and beg Israel, “Please don’t rough up Iran just yet!” Sure, Obama threatens Israel. Let him. The good guys are no more impressed with his threats than the bad ones.
If you’re a Muslim, I understand why you hate it. If you’re a Presbyterian, I understand why you don’t get it. If you’re Jewish and don’t draw pride as Hitler’s ovens morph into Israel’s military might, then you’re not plugged into the right socket.
The split-T formation gave us Maryland kids pride. The Israeli insistence on self-defense enthralls those of us familiar with defenseless Jews being obediently obliterated.
Black pride gives me no problem, Mr. Obama.
Why should Jewish self-defense give you any?