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First they came for the communists,
but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists
and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they
came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they
came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
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|Brave Hearts...and Others - Thursday, February 19, 2009
Brave Hearts…and Others
David C. Stolinsky, MD
When Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated at the depth of the Great Depression, he told Americans, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He sensed the strength of the generation that went on to survive the Depression, then conquered Nazism and Japanese imperialism in World War II.
When Barack Obama was inaugurated during a lesser economic crisis, he repeatedly warned us to fear disaster if we did not enact his massive program. So we did, without debating it − or even reading it. He sensed the weakness of this generation.
Congress approved the most massive spending bill in history, larded with all sorts of programs that have little to do with economic recovery − but everything to do with advancing the liberal agenda and increasing government power. For example, welfare reform will be reversed, and medical care will be regulated.
True, there are many brave Americans. But most of them are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, or are waiting to deploy there, or have recently returned from there. America is like one of those fancy drinks in which the cream is layered on top, but does not mix with the bulk of the liquid. The cream knows that freedom is worth fighting for. The rest are content to wait for Big Brother to bail them out.
In the climactic scene of the film “Braveheart,” Scottish leader William Wallace as played by Mel Gibson is being tortured to death by the English. The executioner asks if he has any last words, hoping he will beg for mercy and acknowledge the English king.
Instead, with his last breath, Wallace shouts “Freedom!”
But what if the story took place in present-day America? First, we would fire Mel Gibson. He is too much of a rebel. If he were an animal, he would be a lone wolf, not a sheep. Such a person would not be suitable to portray many modern Americans.
Our new star would have muscles well rounded from a fitness program, not stringy and lumpy from actual work. There would be no scars. Scars would suggest that he believed in something enough to fight for it. But there might be tattoos and body piercing. Strong beliefs, no − narcissism, yes.
At school he was taught that religion and patriotism are obsolete, so the chief sources of strong beliefs were removed. And with no God to be the center of his universe, he himself would be the center.
Without strong beliefs, there would be no reason to be a rebel. Besides, one does not advance his career by displeasing those in authority, or by sticking with friends who do.
His teachers insisted, “I don’t care who started it − you’re both going to the principal’s office.” So he learned to tolerate bullies.
He would have remained single, or married and divorced repeatedly, and probably fathered children by other women as well. Lasting commitments were not his “thing.”
Having replaced the star, we would now update the screenplay. The scene would be set in modern-day America, because much of the audience would have learned little history or geography in school, and would have difficulty relating to anyone unlike themselves.
They might have had a “multicultural” curriculum, but it would not have included actual knowledge of other cultures.
The basic theme of an oppressive ruler might be retained, but in the form of an evil corporate executive. However, the relation of the hero to the boss would not be one of rebellion, which would be viewed as bad career-wise and therefore unbelievable.
There could be conflict, but it would be resolved amicably. The hero might regain his boss’s support by stabbing out-of-favor associates in the back − figuratively, of course. Loyalty also wasn’t his “thing.”
Even better, the hero would find new ways to rip off investors. Best of all, the hero would impress his boss by getting federal bailout money through his political connections. There’s nothing like “free” money − taxpayers’ money − to bring a smile to the face of the greedy and the amoral.
There would be no battle scenes. The hero would depend on police to protect him from criminals at home, and military personnel to protect him from enemies abroad. Despite this, he would look down on these brave defenders as ignorant Neanderthals. Gratitude wasn’t his “thing” either.
But he would conceal his cowardice and apathy under the mantle of “nonviolence.” He would see himself as too elevated for such a primitive notion as personal responsibility for defending himself and his loved ones.
In short, the hero would be no hero at all.
On the personal side, the hero would marry the boss’s daughter and dump his pregnant girlfriend. An abortion would solve this trivial problem. The fact that the fetus was viable would not be seen as significant. Why should it, when our new President voted three times against requiring medical care for babies born alive after botched abortions?
The story would end with the hero celebrating his million-dollar bonus in his new luxury townhouse with several scantily clad young women − who would be co-workers with equal salaries. We may not be moral, but we are politically correct. Just as he was climaxing with one or more of these beauties, the hero would shout “Bailout!”
Freedom would not be important enough for him to think about, much less shout about.
This film might not be an Oscar winner, but it would depict characters and situations more in keeping with many modern-day Americans:
· Government agents shoot to death Randy Weaver’s dog, son and wife (in that order), but few complain.
· An unpopular religious cult is surrounded near Waco by government agents, and 84 human beings − including 26 children − are gassed and burned to death, but few complain. On the contrary, one of those involved is our new attorney general.
· Six-year-old Elian Gonzalez is found clinging to an inner tube after his mother drowns trying to bring him to America. He is returned to the communist dictatorship in Cuba at the point of submachine guns, but few complain.
· Consumer debt reaches new highs despite the recession, and unsolicited offers for new credit cards arrive daily, but few complain.
· Democrats approve astronomical new spending for more government programs, but many people ask only how they will benefit personally.
· Many people see themselves as children and the government as their parent, so they expect it to take care of them and make important decisions for them.
· Universities and businesses decree speech codes, and those who express politically incorrect ideas are punished, but few complain.
· President Obama tells people not to listen to Rush Limbaugh, and Democrats propose curbing conservative radio talk with the misnamed “fairness” doctrine, but few protest this blatant attack on free speech.
· The crime rate has fallen, but the government continues its efforts to disarm law-abiding citizens, and few object.
· Almost 3000 Americans are crushed and incinerated as airliners crash into office towers, but many believe we should not react for fear of provoking more attacks.
· When the new attacks do not come, many do not credit the security measures instituted by President Bush, but instead condemn these measures.
· Many complain that security measures taken after 9/11 are decreasing our civil rights. But the complainers said nothing about Weaver, Waco, Elian, speech codes or the “fairness” doctrine. Their concern lacks credibility and is politically motivated.
· Many complain about the living conditions of terrorist detainees. But the complainers say nothing when many American troops live under worse conditions. Their concern lacks credibility and is politically motivated.
· Liberals assert that we must follow the Europeans’ example in dealing with aggressors and terrorists, but why should we emulate failure?
· Deranged dictators in North Korea and Iran develop nuclear weapons. Pakistan, which already has nuclear weapons, is teetering on the brink of an extremist Islamic takeover. But many insist that we should do nothing and not “cause trouble.”
Is it any wonder that the Liberty Bell has cracked?
William Wallace shouting “Freedom!” with his last breath made an exciting scene, but one we have difficulty relating to today. Some of us just don’t have the heart for it.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He can be contacted at email@example.com.