I greatly enjoyed and learned a lot from our guest contributor on ISIS and the Moslem view generally. I hope she will return. But it made me think, I doubt they understand what the American people think either, so maybe I should write a bit on that. Last summer in a post on our blog Jess said this:
Neo’s blog is a window on the world. He is part of an America which many of us admire, but which many foreigners (and quite a few Americans) never visit – the ‘fly-over States’. I spent a year in the mid-West twenty years ago, and retain a fondness for it and all it represents; this is one of the reasons I am fond of this place. It is redolent of American virtues: self-reliance; a sense of personal responsibility; but a willingness to do the right thing to help others, even at personal cost. You might say these are human virtues, and I would agree; but they are exemplified by the America which, at great cost, sustained the free world during the Cold War Years, ensuring that the gains from the defeat of Fascism were not lost. Neo, like many of his readers, has an admiration for the ‘greatest generation’ and a keen sense of patriotism. He is proud of America for what it has done and for what it represents. Other countries are countries – America is a dream.
Well she’s right, sort of. We do feel all that but mostly we are just people trying to do our best. But our view is not Washington’s view, mostly it never has been and these days it is far out of synch with us. We are loud and proud–of what we have built (and make no mistake-we built it ourselves with as little interference from the government as we could manage) and what we have done in the world. And she is right about something else, America is a dream–one that we hold in trust, for all people.
We won the cold war, not in 1989, in October of 1962 when Kruschev blinked during the missile crisis. We knew then that if we “kept up the skeer” the Soviet Union would fall, and we did, and it did. That was our final gift to the world in the twentieth century. And it was an expensive one for us. To do so, we allowed the growth of what President Eisenhower called the ‘military industrial complex’, and it has distorted both our government and our economy and has much to do with the rise of corporatism.
There’s an old saying about the Oregon Trail (it’s about two miles from my house, and yes, you can still see the wagon tracks some places). it goes “The weak never started and sick died along the way.” It was true for the trail but more to my point, it describes America itself, as well, whether your people crossed the Bering Land Bridge as Paleo-Indians, swam the Rio Grande last week, or somewhere in between, like most of us. Americans are Americans because someone somewhere decided to be an American. It’s a self selecting society for the ones who dare.
And it’s still a do-it-yourself society, right on up to and including your personal security, and often your food as well. it’s not so much a gun society, as a ‘right tool for job’ society. Where I live, on a good night the sheriff might get there in a half hour, until then, it’s up to you. I doubt I know a man (and very few women either) who don’t know how to handle a gun, or for that matter a screwdriver. For most of us a gun is for varmint control, mostly coyotes and rattlesnakes, but sometimes wolves and even occasionally a mountain lion, and once in a great while a two legged varmint as well. I do remember the last murder in this county though, it was about twenty-five years ago. Like the man said “An armed society is a polite society.”.
In spoken form about the best summary of it was by J.B. Books (John Wayne) in The Shootist:
I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I expect the same from them.
That’s our ideal, both as people, and as a country. It’s gotten more complicated since about 1940 because we looked around and figured out that we were gonna have to be the sheriff in this world, or it was going to go back to the really bad old days. So we picked up that star and we’ve done the best job we could. but we were never very happy about it, and we still aren’t. We’d rather be sitting around the grill eating a two pound T-bone and a drinking a few beers. But we do our duty first.
But to put it bluntly, America isn’t going to mount any crusades. Like everything here is supposed to be, religion in America is a free market, to be sold not forced, at the point of a gun,. America is a secular country by the founders’ design, most of us are Christians, and we’ll willingly give time and treasure out of our own pockets, and perhaps even some volunteers but, it’s none of the government’s business.
Friends? Yep we’ve got some, some very good ones. Who? Glad you asked. Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and maybe India, Japan and Ireland. they’re our friends because they’ve proved themselves to be. We know they, like us, are going to act in their own interest, nobody has forgotten the USS Liberty, but their interests are sufficiently aligned with ours that we can trust them, and they can trust us.
But we’re also aware that Uncle Sugar is tapped out. We’ve had about enough of not only welfare queens in Detroit, but in Berlin and Uganda as well. We remember back in 1944 that just about as soon as the Bloody Bucket (28 ID) finished their parade through Paris on their way to the Huertgen Forest, we were getting swindled on the streets. There is very little support for NATO left here. If Europe wants to be a player it’s time for them to get their noses out of the air and apply them to the grindstone. Most of us think think Europe will be in the Caliphate by 2100. anyway. Prove us wrong, we’d like to be. They could start by having enough kids to replace their parents. Time to grow up.
And that’s pretty much how the world looks from my patch of prairie.