The superb Neptunus Lex has a very revealing piece over at his place. Complete with his usual witty, cogent, brilliant commentary. Seems a teacher in the San Francisco school system voiced his opposition to the Blue Angels in the SF Chronicle. His reasons are quite telling, and his is an opinion that is all too close to the norm among those who educate our children, both in secondary and higher education.

Of late, the phrase “Civil-Military Divide” has been the topic of much discussion and publication. Varying theories and opinions for this “divide” are offered and bandied about. However, I would suggest that the Civil-Military Divide is in great measure a result of things like THIS and similar events. Four and a half decades of such a viewpoint being front and center in many of our nation’s classrooms. It is a viewpoint that embraces the moral relativism that says those fighting for freedom are no better than those who fight to oppress. That war, in all its forms, is composed of not soldiers but terrorists, who murder without conscience both innocent non-combatant and enemy soldier alike. The above bumper sticker is visible on a number of cars belonging to professors at the nearby Ivy League college, as well as those who teach at all levels of public school. To assert that such opinion does not color what is presented in the classroom, and how it is presented, is to be willfully blind to the realities of human nature.

Here in my small town some years ago I was a bit disturbed to see American soldiers on a mural in a High School classroom portrayed as SS Stormtroopers. When I asked the teacher what the purpose of such a display was, I was informed that he encouraged “self-expression”. I suspect strongly that neither he nor his students knew very much about the symbolism being “expressed”, nor why it was so egregiously offensive and inappropriate.

There is no breaching the divide between those who espouse such a philosophy as the writer of the Chronicle column, or the drivers whose cars are festooned with the bumper sticker, or the teacher who allows such a display in the classroom of a public school, and those who serve in our Armed Forces. Such cannot be reconciled. The great irony of a society that has been so safe for so long is that the absurdity of such a viewpoint as expressed by those people is never laid bare, but instead is allowed to perpetuate and gain legitimacy. The author of the Chronicle piece goes on to assert the following:

I was sitting in a seminar on the Holocaust at the University of San Francisco, completely mesmerized by the personal testimony of William Lowenberg, a Holocaust survivor now recently deceased. As he closed his incredible presentation, reminding us of how important it is to investigate and teach about the past, the Blue Angels flew over Lone Mountain, interrupting with their own thunderous narrative. I wondered what associations such sounds from the sky had in Lowenberg’s mind. I could not fathom the gravity.

Were Mr. Lowenberg still with us, he might have been asked if the roar of the Packard-Merlin engines of the American Mustangs that signaled the defeat of Nazi Germany, and his liberation, indeed his salvation, was quite so offensive to his ears as is the roar of the Blue Angels to our teacher in San Francisco. And whether he considered the strong young men in olive drab uniforms who fought their way across Europe to free him, to have been terrorists. Not surprising that it never occurred to Mr. Hill to make the connection.
A common shortcoming of those who mistake knowledge for wisdom.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Air Force, Army, History, Marine Corps, Navy

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  • Byron

    Excellent, my ugly Marine, excellent! And the reason why these people despise those who stand between them and the barbarians? It’s because real history, the stuff that actually happened is no longer taught in school. College students who believe themselves quite bright don’t have a clue as to how government is supposed to work much less have an understanding of our Constitution.

  • Derrick

    Totally agree with this article and the above comment. Real history is no longer taught and is normally twisted to not offend special interest groups.

    I do have issue with a classroom being used to communicate such offensive ideas that US military servicemen are equivalent to SS stormtroopers. That’s an opinion, not fact. And a classroom should not be used to push a political agenda.

    And to be blunt: I hate war of all forms, but I am not an immature and obnoxious bigot that takes it out on people just because they wear an uniform. I accept the responsibility for their actions because as an informed voter, I elected politicians that ordered them to go to war, and I realize the military is only just doing what I indirectly told them to do. Perhaps those who blame the US military for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be asking themselves and their fellow voters why they voted for the President that put the troops there twice?

  • I took a late BA from San Francisco State, so I believe I have some insight into the professor’s attitude. Call it calcified cynicism about the motives and methods of the last half-century of American intervention, and the moral compromise in the phrase, “the business of war.” Francis Coppola crafted the most eloquent statement of this view in “Apocalypse Now”:

    Are you an assassin?

    I’m a soldier.

    You’re neither. You’re an errand boy,
    sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.

    Until that narrative changes, younger genrations will not ‘grok’ the necessity of warfare or its place in human affairs. No military person I know relishes the true carnage of modern war, though many are honest about war’s visceral power. We need other stories, and Veterans Day is a good time to start. Cdr. Salamander’s Fullbore Fridays amaze me with true tales I was ignorant about to my loss.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    I cannot give someone who is purported to be a learned and educated intellect a pass for not looking any farther than a Hollywood narrative when teaching this nation’s youth. If such is the narrative, it is willful laziness or lack of intellectual curiosity on the part of the very group of people who should be the most interested in learning all they can learn, in order to impart it to the young minds they shape.

  • Matt Yankee

    John P. Murtha was one of them blabbing about Marines killing civilians before he knew what he was talking about and the Navy has been kind enough to name a new ship after him. These people are just repeating BS they hear from such immature leaders. The problem is the dribble from the top…it all slides down hill.

  • UltimaRatioReg,

    I meant that the professor’s viewpoint, and Coppola’s, grew out of a shared cynical narrative about American power, rather than that the professor parroted the film. I also didn’t make clear that I understand the man’s point of view without condoning it. I met many folks in academe whose opinions were formed decades ago and haven’t kept up with the times.

    The presence of veterans on campus, exercising their GI Bill benefits, could improve matters, as would the inevitable consequences of faculty overturn. Change and growth are possible; after all, I wouldn’t be posting here if I still believed everything I did in college.

  • Bob Sippel

    My father’s teacher in grade school in the 19030s said of Hitler, “he will afect the lives of all of you”. They all laughed and said how could he affect us we’re here in the US. All were affected.

    Some don’t notice because of the mega entriging story etc that Sept 11 happended in an American neighorhood, on an American street, with Americans civilians working at their everyday jobs.

    Without the US military Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Sadam, Bin Laden, Castro, Qadafi, al-Awaki, etc would rule the world.

  • Paul P

    As a history teacher, I can tell you that I have to fight several prejudices right off the bat:

    The texts that are available are horrible. I create my own materials for my classes because of this. They’re not politically correct, they’re just watered down and try to avoid any sense of judgement.

    Most “history” teachers that I’ve met are not historians, they’re Social Studies teachers and don’t have the passion to delve deeper into their subject area than they are currently doing. Many I’ve met don’t read beyond what they are given, don’t read history outside of the class and don’t like challenging what the school says they’re supposed to teach. I’m also certified in English and many of the English teachers I meet love to read beyond what they have to teach, love debate about topics in literature and enjoy the give and take. Not so much with social studies teschers.

    If the dynamic is to change in schools there’s a simple answer. Most of my former history teachers were either veterans or children of veterans. Encourage vets to get their teaching license, step into the classroom and share those experiences.

    Get involved with local schools. Go to back to school night with your kids, talk with the social studies teachers and ask to see their materials. What do they do outside of class to keep informed? Do they encourage debate with respect. Do they live by Voltaire’s statement “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it…”?

  • Byron

    That’s a hell of an idea and I like it a LOT.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    Here’s a little ditty that some may find applicable:

    A reading of Kipling’s Tommy.

    Since I am on the topic of literature, Neptunus Lex makes an interesting point. In the end we may find them quite tasty – I can’t wait.

    – Kyon

  • Paul P

    Course now I see another irony. Any “historian” who compares the US military to SS stormtroopers obviously knows nothing about either the US military, Nazism, SS, Waffen SS or the Third Reich.

    Favorite debate with students who like WWII– “What’s your favorite tank?” Most of them answer “The Panther”– which always leads to a discussion about effectiveness vs. legacy and then role in history. Same with the AKM. Most of my students like it, because you “can throw it in the mud and it works” until I point out that they shouldn’t be doing that to a weapon and why use something commies-built to kill Americans in industrial strength quantities? Gives them pause…