God can’t hate revenge that much, or he wouldn’t have made it so sweet!
In 1947, we thought we had the best college football team in America. I was just a senior in high school, headed the next year to the University of North Carolina. I wince every time I recall how openly and shamelessly we selected our colleges solely on the strength of their football teams. The University of North Carolina had the unbelievable Charlie Justice, arguably the best running back in college or the pros. His favorite pass receiver was big Art Weiner, who could catch anything thrown his way.
And in 1947 Texas beat Carolina 35-0!
We felt like we’d lost a war, and it ate away at us for a solid year. Then I was a freshman at UNC, and the first game of the season was a home game against Texas right there in Chapel Hill. At the end of the first quarter Carolina was ahead 20-0. And we went on to win 35-7! Admittedly, it wasn’t yesterday. It was 1948. But if you don’t feel what I feel in my kneecaps right now, what the hell’s wrong with you?
As I walked triumphantly out of Kenan Stadium through the woods toward the campus, the carillon in the Bell Tower was clinking out the melody of “Hark the Sound of Tar Heel Voices.” And I clearly remember saying to myself, “Life can’t possibly get any better. We beat Germany. We beat Japan. And we beat Texas!”
I had to go to one of our classrooms to retrieve a notebook left there the day before. As I walked down the deserted corridors, something resembling a piece of modern art attracted my attention to the blackboard of one of the classrooms. I opened the door to get a better look. It was a chart depicting the rise and fall of all the great civilizations, each one in a different color.
It displayed the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the ancient Greeks, the Persians, Carthaginians, Ottomans and so on. You could see their respective colors rising, rising, rising – and then falling and disappearing. I remember silently “scolding” that chart as if to say, “It can’t happen to our God-kissed America!” About 50 years after telling that chart it can’t happen to us, I began to imagine I was hearing the chart replying, “Oh yeah?”
Historians tell us that when the Nazi defenses against the forward-surging Red Army began to collapse, Adolf Hitler made his logistical priorities not the military reinforcement of the Eastern Front but rather the transporting of Jews in Nazi concentration camps to camps farther west, so they couldn’t be liberated by the victorious Soviets. What does that tell us?
That tells us Hitler hated Jews more than he loved Germans. And we see and hear evidence daily that too many Americans hate President Donald Trump more than they love Americans. We can’t go on like this.
I feel personal betrayal here. If I could keep my rage and disappointment under tight control through eight years of Obama, why can’t you Trump-haters curl up inside all the good things Trump has achieved and continues to achieve, and wait it out? That is, I’m afraid, by now an old-fashioned question that’s been lost in the current riptide of lies and intrigues. Big, damaging lies are no longer the lamentable exception. I have the terrible feeling we’ve become a mendocracy in which you’re deemed too sissy to appear on the playing field unless you’re willing to lie and lie big. Do you remember those horrid tales of “no family escaping untouched by the Plague”? That’s the way it is now when it comes to friends who won’t talk to you any more once they learn you admire the president. Who’s your favorite player in this ongoing saga? Do you really think his or her contribution to the dialogue is limited to the truth?
Charlie Justice, the great running back from UNC, made every magazine’s All-American selection except one. Look magazine ignored him. North Carolina, of which Charlie Justice could have become governor, went wild with rage. A newsstand near the state Capitol in Raleigh hung out a homemade sign that told the world, “Opinions expressed in magazines sold here are not necessarily those of this newsstand!”
America is busy losing moral assets that can never be reclaimed. Will we ever look at our FBI the way we did when they seemed to have stained-glass windows? It’s like trying to regain sexual purity once it’s been handed out along the way.
A fellow once asked his friend if he knew an actress, an actress who was making an absurd effort to come across as untouchable despite many earlier years of sexual licentiousness. “Do I know her?” replied the friend. “I knew her before she was a virgin!“