Saturday, August 30, 2008

Frustrated Reader, Frustrated Writer

Today is Saturday, 30 August 2008.

Thank you for your reasoned thoughts, Frustrated Reader (see comment on “Happy 72nd Birthday”). Please continue commenting. Civil discourse is a wonderful thing.

Yes, my father was in the American military. During World War II, he was in the Army Air Forces, as a waist-gunner in a B-24 bomber in the European Theater of Operations. From 1948 to 1952, he was a radar technician in the U.S. Air Force, which he joined solely to learn electronics, which he thought was the up-and-coming thing. (I was born while he was still in, and thus am an Air Force brat.) He was right: IBM hired him the moment he mustered out. He began, as was customary in those days, as a computer repairman (I love vacuum tubes to this day!), then became a programmer and systems analyst.

My father thrown in the slammer? I make a distinction between people who were forced into the military, and those who embraced it as a path to power and glory.

By the time my father testified at my draft resistance trial in 1972, he’d come to some terms with what he’d done in WW2. He acknowledged that, in carpet bombing locations in Europe, he’d participated in the war crime of killing civilians. He told the court that, were he called up again to bomb, he’d go to jail or Canada.

People can change.

McCain refuses to do so.

McCain has eagerly climbed on the bandwagon of American wars of aggression all his life, once as a personal killer, numerous times as a militaristic civilian who cowers in the corridors of power while sending others to murder and be mutilated or killed. Climbing on the corpses of innocents to ascend the trash heap of power.

Life without parole would be a gift of mercy.

As the man said: “Let the punishment fit the crime”.

I don’t think this is extreme. (I wouldn’t be seen as “extreme” in Western Europe. Scary “Europe”, where lurk the French, etc. Note that this country was founded, and is largely still dominated, by Anglo-Saxons, the scions of the English, and is properly the major westernmost outpost, on this side of the International Date Line, of Europe.)

It's my habit to say: As a youngster, I was present in Sunday School when they taught, “Thou shalt not kill”, but I was out of town, visiting the grandparents, the following Sunday, for the follow-up --- "Here are the exceptions, Happy Hunting”".


Anonymous frustrated reader said...

I am commenting again as "frustrated reader" to be recognized as the writer of the previous comment; I'm not sure why I chose that appellation but probably will not use it again. I am considerably discouraged and baffled by many things, but your commentary is the least of my frustrations.

I understand your distinction between your father and McCain, of course, but again I think you go too far. Your father was hardly forced into service if he chose to enlist for the education. McCain doesn't necessarily deserve life without parole for choosing to serve.

It would be wonderful to live on James T. Kirk's earth, where humans no longer used money and did not go to war with one another (if you can quote the Mikado, I can use Star Trek as a reference); but since we do not, I'm not sure we are ready for a country without a military. As long as it is necessary (even a necessary evil, if you will), we can hardly punish each enlistee.

I appreciate your ideals but I still think your solutions sound extreme, and I would be surprised if it didn't seem so to Western Europeans as well. You are entitled to your own expression of justice, but I am not convinced that it is a reasonable course. When your opinions were deemed harsh by another writer, I believe it engendered a comment along these lines: Of course you don't think you yourself are harsh. Duh!

Although I despise the "duh!" slang (I guess I have the school marm/librarian gene), I have to admit it is succinct and I agree in this instance.

My heart is hardly in this argument because I agree with you in principle more than you know. Maybe your passion is enough to convince others. I hope it is, but I fear when your proposals are, shall we say, "cutting edge" that you may lose a convert or two.

5:04 PM  
Blogger HH said...

Thanks for the well-thought comment. I'm frustrated out for today, so please forgive if I ponder and reply tomorrow.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I totally agree with "Frustrated Reader's" comments. I, too appreciate your ideals. But, I, too, think your solutions sound extreme. As I read your comments, I picture you standing on a stage, screaming into a microphone. Yes, you get people's attention, but do you persude? Consider the saying - you get more flies with honey than vinegar. I say you get more results with rational discourse than screaming-extremism.

Yes, you want what you want - a world with no conflicts and a socialistic approach to the most important issues - education, healthcare, job equality, etc. But, damn it, stop insisting that someone who operates on the opposite end of the spectrum from you is worthy of jail. From your actions (draft resistance) you were, in some people's eyes, worthy of jail time.

You are frustrated and you feel that writing in your blog is the only thing that you can do. Are there not like-minded people in your city? Band with them and do something that may have an affect.

8:40 AM  

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