This photo was taken on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It shows British – yes, British – troops going ashore during the Normandy invasion. American, British, and Canadian troops began the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi tyranny. The photo shows troops of the First Special Service Brigade.
The man whose back is shown in the foreground is Bill Millin, the personal piper of Lord Lovat, the commanding officer. Bagpipers accompanied British forces in former wars, but they were banned as anachronistic in World War II. When Private Millin pointed this out to Brigadier Lovat, the latter replied, “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.” That’s the traditional relationship of Scots to the United Kingdom – grudging respect mixed with irreverent impudence. Interestingly, Millin was born in Canada of Scottish parents, who took him to Scotland as a child. This prototypical Scot was actually a Canadian immigrant. All members of the Commonwealth are cousins.
Millin stood on Sword Beach piping rousing tunes, while men fell all around him. Later a captured German sniper said that he had not shot Millin because he thought the piper was insane.
What has this historical detour to do with Scottish independence? Everything. As William Faulkner observed, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, himself a Scot, opposed Scottish independence. Brown pointed out that one cannot forget the tens of thousands of Scots, English, Welsh, and Irish who lie side-by-side in military cemeteries across Europe and Asia. Or rather, one can forget them, but one should not. Of course, current Prime Minister David Cameron also opposed independence. It would be impossible to find a name more Scottish than Cameron.
After an intense campaign, Scots voted 55%-45% to remain in the United Kingdom, in an illustration of the bagpipe tune titled, “Happy We’ve Been All Together.” This was despite the fact that 16-year-olds, who are believed to favor independence, were allowed to vote. An electoral map shows that only urban areas, mainly Glasgow, were pro-independence. The “yes” vote may have been influenced heavily by urban poor who wanted more “free stuff” than even the socialist government of the UK was able to promise. How this “free stuff” could be paid for is another question entirely.
But in order to speak about independence, we first have to define what the word means.
Some people are best described as infantile. They regard the government as their parent. They expect it to provide for the needs of their young children, their elderly parents, and often themselves. In these respects, many Americans − and most Western Europeans − act like children.
Children recognize that they need their parents to protect them, provide for them, and make important decisions for them. But then they become teenagers. Many people resemble teenagers. They depend on their “parent,” the government, to protect and provide for them – but they resent their dependence:
They want to spend their money on clothes, electronic toys, and entertainment – but they want “mom” to provide health care.
They want their own apartment – but they want “dad” to help with the payments.
They want to be safe – but they resent rules and look down on the police and military.
They insist on being treated as adults, but they do silly and sometimes dangerous things – then expect real adults to clean up the mess they made.
They want to drive without seatbelts while talking on cell phones or texting. But if they have a crash, they sue the other driver and the car maker – while lawyers profit from their irresponsible behavior.
They want to drive wherever they please – then blame others for traffic jams and air pollution.
They want to be safe on the streets, but they hobble police with unrealistic restrictions – then complain about violent crime.
They want to be safe in their homes, but they push laws to disarm law-abiding citizens – then complain about home invasions.
They want to be safe from foreign threats, but they oppose appropriations for new weapons, better training, or adequate pay for the troops.
They want to be safe from terrorism, but they oppose searching for terrorists as “profiling” and oppose security measures as “intrusive.”
They want economic opportunity, but they vote for politicians who promise more socialist benefits – and controls that stifle economic growth.
They want relationships without commitment, sex without consequences, and fun without strings attached – then whine about feeling lonely.
They want to plunge into careers – then whimper about lack of family or friends when they hit forty.
They want to spend their money on anything but health insurance – then weep and wail about lack of coverage.
They want to eat and drink to excess and exercise little – then moan and groan about health care when they get sick.
They want to spend their time watching TV sports and sitcoms – then complain when politicians pick their pockets.
They want the government to make important decisions for them – then gripe that no one consulted them.
They want to bask in the phony warmth of pacifism and nonviolence – then expect others to defend them from fanatics who want to behead them.
They confuse feeling good with doing good. They “visualize world peace,” then do nothing to achieve it. They condemn terrorism, then do everything they can to obstruct those who fight terrorists.
They can’t believe there are people bent on world domination and killing “infidels.” In effect, they say, “Who could want to kill me?”
They want to attend church rarely if ever – then criticize mercilessly when the church runs into trouble.
They want to be free without being responsible. How’s that working out?
They want adults to do the difficult, dangerous work. But they are the adults.
They want security without the trouble and expense of providing it.
They want more “free stuff” from the government – and vote accordingly.
They want to be free – then have government bureaucrats make life-and-death health-care decisions for them and their loved ones. The massive contradiction escapes them.
They want to give little to charity, then claim to be kindhearted because they vote “correctly” – for Democrats in America, and for Labour in Britain. It is noteworthy that Scotland has two giant pandas, but only one Conservative member of Parliament. Conservatives in Scotland are an even more endangered species than giant pandas.
Many Scots want to be “independent” – that is, independent of the government in London. But at the same time, they want to be utterly dependent on their own government for crucial aspects of the lives of themselves and their families. How can that possibly work out?
The film “Braveheart” shows independent people who wanted an independent nation, and who were willing to fight for it. But their descendants are dependent people who want an independent nation, and are willing merely to demonstrate for it. William Wallace would not be impressed.
“Independence” is often used to describe nations. But more deeply, it is intended to describe people. An independent nation composed of dependent people is something that never was, and never will be. That is a fact that both Scots and Americans should remember well.
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