This -n- That

There’s been a lot going on this week.  While I haven’t had time to write a long-form post till now, here are a few scattered thoughts on recent developments:

It’s interesting that for a couple days it looked as though Trump were going squishy on demanding funding for border security (the wall).  But as with many issues in this administration, it often seems the news coverage greatly exaggerates the death of the president’s resolve on key issues (and this may the media’s intent).  It says something that within 24 hours the talk went from Trump being stymied by his own party in the House, to Speaker Ryan very publicly bending to the administration’s wishes.  In short, Trump comes out of this with a stronger hand, not a weaker one, even if the Senate fails to follow through.

Meanwhile, in the tradition of Tocqueville’s observations about Americans self-organizing, “we the people” are making a stab at ‘doing the jobs our government won’t do,’ to appropriate a phrase.  In less than 4 days, a private fundraising effort for the wall has drawn nearly 200,000 donors and, as of this writing, over $12.1 million.  While this large sum is dwarfed by the estimated $5 billion to build the wall, the enthusiasm being shown may well have tipped the balance for the actions in the House yesterday.  There is, after all, more than one way for the citizens to make their point, if they are determined to do so.

The departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis set many tongues wagging yesterday.  Mattis was a highly regarded Marine general and military intellectual, known as the ‘warrior monk’ before putting on the suit and taking over as SECDEF.  But as others have pointed out, having operational and tactical savvy doesn’t necessarily translate into strategic acumen.  Regardless, it appears his resignation was predicated on disagreeing with Trump’s intent to disengage from Syria and greatly reduce our footprint in Afghanistan.  If they fundamentally disagreed on these policies, the honorable thing was for him to resign, not to backbite the president from the official perch at the Pentagon.  So regardless whether Trump’s policy proves wise or not, I respect Mattis for his action.  I also respect Trump for following through on a campaign promise to stop policing the world.  Unless someone can articulate a very clear, rational vision of what staying in Afghanistan can achieve, it’s time to recognize 17 years of occupation is long enough.  Let Syria and Afghanistan figure out their own destinies, and let’s free America to do the same by extricating ourselves from all these nebulous multilateral commitments.

That includes immigration.  The United Nations lived up to its reputation as wanting to be a global proto-government by creating a “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”  In other words, facilitating the mass movement of peoples into alien lands.  The United States was one of only five nations who refused to sign onto the compact, correctly noting it was an attempt to create international “soft law” that would infringe on our national sovereignty.  The other four refusals came from Israel, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic — all of whom have been under pressure for months due to their refusal to allow open passage across their borders.  Instead, they are putting the needs of their own citizens first… and what’s so immoral about that?

The real immorality today is the utter lack of accountability shown by the leaders of these various nations to the aspirations of their people and the requirements of the law. Whether it’s Theresa May slow-rolling the Brexit process, Emmanuel Macron trying to tax his people in the name of dubious “climate change” fearmongering or former FBI Director James Comey showing his utter disregard for legal protocols, the attitude is the same.  The main question today is how much longer will these globalist charlatans escape consequences for their actions.

Anticipating change

One of the primary benefits of studying history is wrestling with the question “how could they not have seen that coming?”  As the saying goes, “hindsight is always 20/20,” but foresight usually falls far short of that.  Most people expect things to continue on as they always have in their experience.  Until suddenly they don’t.

Try to remember that Sarajevo once hosted an Olympics. Remember that Beirut used to be called “The Paris of the Middle East.” Remember that women used to wear lipstick and miniskirts in Tehran.

I believe this inability to visualize the possibility of disastrous change is one of the key vulnerabilities of the United States.  Yes, every generation whines about how things aren’t like they were “in the good old days” — mine included.  But few put these vignettes together into a narrative that might be pointing to a larger journey into disaster.  This blindspot in America is likely caused/enhanced by the fact we haven’t faced disaster as a society in a very, very long time by the world’s standards.  Even though we participated in both World Wars, the chance of either posing an existential threat to the United States was extremely low.  The last time American civilians had to fear soldiers on the march in their homeland was the War Between The States — over 150 years ago.

Any advanced and thriving civilization has large numbers of people – especially at the top of the pile – who are comfortable and safe, and are so for generations. This lack of meaningful threats, from birth onward, causes the amygdalae structures in the brain to not fully develop compared to prior, more stressed, generations because of a lack of stimulation; thus, the ability to recognize actual threats has atrophied. This leads to the society as an aggregate, and the leadership class in particular, taking actions that they do not recognize as dangerous, which result in the collapse of the civilization.

When gun controllers say the 2nd Amendment is outdated, they are reflecting the atrophy described above.  The Holocaust is well-known; the various Communist purges less so, but far too many believe that’s just what happens to “other people.”  It couldn’t happen in America, right?  Some people know better but choose to seek disarmament anyway, the better to advance a political agenda.  But a substantial number simply have no personal frame of reference of an experience where they were in mortal peril, and needed to defend themselves.  Media coverage of the topic emphasizes criminal use of firearms, neglecting the far larger number of cases of defensive use.  This is one reason why veterans and many civilians are separated by a wide gap on the 2nd Amendment.  The handful of veterans who are celebrated for advocating gun control are either those whose work never exposed them to danger, or who know better but desire public acclaim more than common sense.

The same dynamic is at work in the issue of mass migration.  The millions of current Muslim “refugees” (an abused term if there every was one) trigger a much different social memory in Eastern and Central Europe than it does in the West.  The advance of Islam in the Middle Ages was largely stopped at the Battle of Tours, so Western Europe, Scandinavia and England never dealt with the threat on any large scale.  Not so with the East, Islam’s initial momentum culminated in two sieges of Vienna (1529 and 1683), and sectarian violence and discrimination between Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic ensued for generations.  This is the origin of the term “balkanization,” and if you’ve paid attention you’ve heard it applied to modern demographic trends in the U.S.

That is why Polish, Hungarian and Czech attitudes toward the current wave of Muslim migration differ considerably from those of the Germans or French (though the latter two are starting to realize the consequences).

In the United States, immigration has become enshrined as part of the national experience.  The downsides of previous waves of immigrants (ethnic tensions in the cities, cramped living conditions, crime, etc) are rarely examined except to try to place the blame solely at the feet of Anglo-Americans.  That’s why those who oppose mass immigration (especially the illegal variety) today are accused of being “on the wrong side of history.”  Those who know their history, however, realize today’s wave of invaders “immigrants” bear little resemblance to those of Schoolhouse Rock fame.  For starters, immigrants in the late 1800s understood they were leaving most all ties to their homeland to become immersed in a new one, which required adaptation to language and culture.  They were scrutinized carefully by U.S. authorities to screen out political radicals, the diseased and those who would likely become a burden on society.  Today, millions have entered the U.S. without permission or scrutiny (the largest contingent by far being from Mexico and Central America).  In the U.S. they can watch Spanish-language TV, demand translation services for all official business, and largely insulate themselves from adapting to their new home if they so choose.  There is no incentive to assimilate; indeed, many ardently proclaim their greater loyalty to their country of origin.  As one person put it online:

“Too many people are coming to America just to be in America. They aren’t coming here to be Americans. That needs to change.”

In short, immigration today bears only a passing resemblance to the immigration of decades past.  It more closely resembles the settling of the Goths within the Roman Empire.

The point of this post is to emphasize that America is not immune to disaster, despite her long history.  Over the decades, many planks have been removed from the platform our Founders carefully constructed – overturning the prohibition of an income tax, allowing direct election of Senators, and so forth.  Each of these, while debated at the time, were considered incremental in effect.  But decades of such increments eventually add up to something substantial.  Our politics today are not about degrees of policy anymore.  There are irreconcilable differences in the worldviews in play, and a desire to use the machinery of government to enforce an orthodoxy at odds with our traditions.  We are at a tipping point in our history.  Those who would disarm and displace the historical American body politic now hardly disguise their intent.  Those who recognize what is at stake are more energized to resist it than ever before (hence the previously inconceivable election of a man like Donald Trump).

Many Americans assume those who are preparing for possible disaster somehow are looking forward to it.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  They fail to realize the ability to visualize potential futures and make preparations to meet them are the best ways to prevent America from suffering the fate of other nations.

What do YOU see ahead?  What are YOU doing to prepare?  What are YOU willing to do to prevent disaster?

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Molon Labe