Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We Don't Need No Stinking Heroes

Our Heroes are dead, or even worse they never really existed at all.

At least this is what the media and the left (I know, I’m being redundant) in this country would like us to believe. Why we aren’t allowed our heroes in this post-modern age is beyond my comprehension.

This morning, on page 3 (page 3!) of the New York times I was greeted by a grainy picture of the fabled Sergeant York, and an extensive article that took a critical look at this hero’s exploits in WWI. For those of you who haven’t heard the tale or seen the Gary Cooper movie, the story is one of legend. Sergeant York, on patrol with 16 other fine American doughboys unexpectedly encountered a vastly superior German force, but through sheer will, courage and determination, won the battle, capturing over 130 Germans. Sergeant York himself is credited with single handedly taking out 35 German machine gun nests through the employment of his sharp shooting skills. So adept was this ex-Tennessee mountain man at picking off Nazi vermin that the German leader reportedly offered surrender if Sergeant York, would just stop shooting! The good Sergeant became such a hero as a result of these exploits that he was feted with a NY ticker tape parade.

At the time that the story was reported there were some members of the Sergeant’s platoon that disputed the tale, but the media at the time didn’t seem to think that alternate facts, particularly those that might have contradicted such a fantastic tale needed to be overly reported. In fact, according to the Times, contrary opinions were brought up only to the extent necessary for them to fully discredit. Yet, any level headed view of the York legend was most likely accompanied by a healthy amount of skepticism anyway; lets face it, one man taking out 35 machine gun nests in densely wooded hills is a bit much to swallow.

Despite the story’s implausible nature, the York legend was not only told, but celebrated at the time, and subsequently used for a cinematic example of U.S. heroism at the start of WWII when the Gary Cooper movie was made. Why, I think we have to ask, were this and other similar tales allowed to surface in the past? Certainly, in our post-Vietnam period, such fantastic exploits would never see the light of day. In fact, we live in such a cynical time that the Times feels compelled to tear down our heroes of yesteryear, lest we look to the past for patriotic inspiration.

The difference between now and then, I think, is that a large portion of the left no longer believes in American exceptionalism. In previous wars Americans were free to disagree politically, but we held a common view that our country was different; in fact we believed our country was better than other countries. For proof of this fact we looked to our ingenuity, our freedom, and the growth of our industrial base. I suppose we also created certain myths as further proof of our country’s greatness. One of these was the Sergeant York story, but there were also others. The Father of Our Country, George Washington, could not tell a lie. Abe Lincoln grew up as an industrious rail splitter in the Indiana and Illinois countryside.

There were others, of course, and we may still believe some of these myths. That is until our betters at the New York Times feel it’s necessary to destroy them for us.

It is astounding to consider how different things are today. Myths, and we still are treated to many, are still told but they tend to be used to underscore how bad America is. This war all by itself has treated us to many such myths: We were lied to about the war, The Jews knew about 9/11 ahead of time, the Koran was abused at Gitmo, Saddam wasn’t trying to buy yellow cake in Nigeria, Iraq had no ties to terrorism. These tales are accompanied by other stories that, while they contain elements of the truth (to be generous), are over emphasized to paint the U.S. in the worst of lights. We’ve had the Abu Gahrib story, the hysterical tales of torture, the secret prisons and many, many more.

All of these tales are told by the left in this country, and the temptation is to believe that they do this out of political spite or hatred of George Bush for beating Al Gore. In my view this really doesn’t go to the core of the issue though. While the left has increased both the intensity and frequency of its attacks on American excellence in recent years, the trend pre-dates George Bush and goes back to the Vietnam era.

Vietnam was when everything began to change for this country. I don’t think it was the war so much as it was the new way in which people followed the war. Where most Americans in previous global conflicts got their news once a week in newsreels at the local movie house, Americans were for the first time treated to nightly reports from the battlefield in right, square in the middle of their living rooms. The immediacy of the reporting, and the reality of the carnage were, for the first time in human history, an undeniable presence for citizens who otherwise would only have been treated to the romanticization of the conflict.

As most conservatives are well aware, our brothers on the left have built their political beliefs through their emotions. For this reason, the Democrats have been extremely successful in selling political programs with the imagery of victims and down trodden special interest groups. Similarly, the Democrats fight Republican reforms with images of starving children, coat hanger abortions and grandmothers cruelly thrown out of their homes into the snow. None of this squares with facts, but liberals generally aren’t all that concerned with facts, especially when the story evokes all the appropriate emotions.

I mention this because I think all those images of patriotic heroes led, over time to a certain piety on left. Where members of the right might have heard the tales of Sergeant York and George Washington and gone along with the stories because, while they themselves weren’t completely factual, the reality they represented was. Members of the left though used these stories to feel good and invested in the stories on an emotional level that made the stories their reality.

This is why Vietnam became a turning point for the left. The images of war with all its attendant horror and violence created a level of cognitive dissonance in the members of the left which could not be reconciled with their pious beliefs about the country. Conservatives, a more reality based community, were able to distinguish the awful means from the noble goals. Liberals had no such ability.

The logical result……the only result possible was for liberals to revolt. The sense of betrayal was profound and liberal’s need to strike back was not unlike that of a child full of anger upon finding out that there never was any fat man who flew around the world delivering presents to every boy and girl. The sad lesson that the left learned was that if our heroes weren’t exactly all they were supposed to be, then by emotional extension, neither was our country

Thus began the liberal crusade; never let any child ever again be fooled by the worship of false idols. Our heroes must be brought back to earth lest they be used to fool others about our country’s greatness, and we must look everywhere for the corruption and deceit that is surely present at the rotten core of our leadership.

Most ironic in all of this is that liberal piety continues to this day, but with a small difference. Where once liberals worshiped our heroes as evidence of our greatness, they today worship the great liberal warriors who have “brought truth to power”. Woodward, Bernstein and many others are the false idols that they now embrace with the desperate grip of a drunk on his last bottle of hooch. That Woodward sources anonymously, is overlooked. That Bernstein hasn’t produced much of anything in years is not mentioned. That Rather was involved in a very shady looking Memogate problem is simply not mentioned. After all, even if stories aren’t purely true, they certainly are representative of the awful truth that liberals know exists.

Frauds, such as the historically unfortunate Sergeant York are out of luck. W simply can’t have their kind around anymore.

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