I hard-a-starboarded and reversed the engines, and I was going to hard-a-port round it, but she was too close. I could not do any more.
− William Murdoch, First Officer, RMS Titanic
The events of the past year, especially the election of a Republican Senate and House, have pundits talking about a national turn to the right. But it takes time and distance to turn a huge, fast-moving ship.
The Titanic was moving at full speed through a moonless night. The sea was dead calm, so there were no waves breaking on the iceberg for the lookouts to see. When they finally saw the berg and alerted the officers on the bridge, only about 37 seconds remained to avoid disaster. But in this short time, the ship had barely begun to turn.
First Officer Murdoch did the best he could, but it was too late. Like the captain and most of the other officers, he went down with the ship. This was honorable, but it did nothing for the 1500 passengers and crew who died that night.
From this tragedy, we can learn about life-threatening recklessness and arrogance − lessons that are relevant to today’s politics:
● We assume that technological advances have made our ship unsinkable.
● We assume that our ship is too large, too modern, and too powerful to sink.
● We ignore repeated warnings of danger.
● We proceed full speed ahead when forward vision is restricted.
● We refuse to listen to suggestions to slow down and alter course.
● We assume we will be able to turn in time, once the danger is clearly visible and can no longer be ignored.
● We remain silent and passively acquiesce to a dangerous course of action, and we feel self-righteous though we do nothing.
● We hear the administration claim that “smart diplomacy” will prevent Iran from completing development of nuclear weapons, but we say nothing, in the vain hope that – against all the evidence of history – this time appeasement will work.
● We watch our military being reduced, but we do nothing, in the vain hope that – against all the evidence of history – it will not be needed again.
● We watch ISIS behead hostages and even burn one alive, but still we do nothing, in the vain hope that – against all the evidence of history – if we ignore evil, it will ignore us.
Before we presume to steer a ship on an ocean filled with icebergs, we must study seamanship and learn the dangers. But before we presume to steer a nation in a world filled with dangers, we are not required to learn the dangers − or learn anything useful.
Like Barack Obama, we can attend a major university, where leftist professors proclaim the evils of capitalism and the benefits of socialism. We can attend a major law school, where we learn that the Constitution is a “living document” that has no fixed meaning, but means only what a judge says it means today.
We can live and work in a liberal enclave, eat lunch with liberal colleagues, and eat dinner with liberal friends. We can hear liberal opinions on ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and NPR. We can read liberal opinions in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and most papers in between. We can live in a self-congratulatory, mutually masturbatory, liberal cocoon.
But we don’t have to learn history. We don’t have to read “The Black Book of Communism,” which describes in painful detail the approximately 100 million human beings who were murdered by communists. Stalin’s Ukrainian famine? Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”? Pol Pot’s Cambodian auto-genocide? The Vietnamese boat people? And what about Castro’s 15,000 dead and 100,000 imprisoned dissidents? Does that stop celebrities from adulating Cuba, or young people from wearing Ché Guevara T-shirts?
When I mentioned these sad statistics, a colleague quoted Lenin: “If you want to make an omelet, you have to break eggs.” But why have Marxists broken so many eggs, and made so few omelets? Would you hire such a destructive cook?
On another occasion, the same colleague parroted, “Pure communism hasn’t been tried.” Yes, it has. It was tried during the first two years of the Plymouth Colony. The Pilgrims nearly starved, so they divided the land into privately owned farms − and prospered. It was tried on Israeli collective farms, but most have been privatized, and they now account for only 2% of the population.
The Soviet Union lasted 74 years. These years were marked by repeated famines, lack of medicines and consumer goods, and harsh oppression of dissidents. Before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, communist East Germany and its East Bloc neighbors were poor, gray contrasts with their free, Western counterparts.
But if “pure” communism has repeatedly proved itself a failure, what about “impure” communism? What about the mixed but heavily socialized nations of Western Europe? Their economies continue to lag behind America in productivity and growth, even though our economy is hampered by President Obama’s anti-growth policies.
Even worse, Western Europe’s populations are not replacing themselves. When people are infantilized by cradle-to-grave government care and control, they fail to have enough children to maintain the population over the long term. And in the short term, there are too few young workers to pay into the health-care and pension funds, so immigrants must be imported from Eastern Europe and North Africa − immigrants who do not share the values of Western civilization, and have no wish to share them.
America isn’t Western Europe, but the liberal “elite” are steering it in that direction. Supreme Court justices claim that they should take foreign law into consideration in making their decisions − a clear violation of their oaths. Liberal politicians repeatedly compare us unfavorably to the socialist nations of Europe.
The birth rate of Americans has now fallen to near replacement levels. If it falls any lower, immigration will no longer be a subject of controversy. We will be in the same predicament as Western Europe − dependent on immigrants to pay into Medicare and Social Security. Is this what the Zero Population Growth activists want? I don’t know. But it is what they are getting.
If we view ourselves as children and the government as our parent, why should we have children? Children don’t have children. Children only want to be taken care of. We want mommy to take care of us when we are sick. We want daddy to give us an allowance.
Eventually, we will become like Western Europeans, aspiring to work 35 hours a week, then take eight weeks’ vacation and 22 holidays − that is, unless we wish to live on generous unemployment benefits and retire in our fifties. As one Frenchman admitted, “The aim is to keep your job without working; it is not to go higher.” Of course, this can’t continue for long, but we will pretend it can – until the economy collapses.
Life-saving drugs are not developed by such people. Technological advances are not made by such people. The onslaught of hostile ideologies is not resisted by such people. Far from defending others, such people are becoming unable to defend themselves.
To paraphrase Mark Steyn: A welfare state or an effective military − choose one. Even a wealthy nation can’t afford both. And the more that people become addicted to socialism, the less they even want to defend themselves. It might interfere with their vacations. Children don’t defend themselves − they depend on adults. Europeans depend on Americans to defend them. But who will defend us if we infantilize ourselves?
America is a huge ship. Changing its direction takes time and effort. When Democrats are in control, they turn the wheel to the left. But when Republicans are in charge, they return the wheel to the center position. “Moderate” Republicans and Republicans-in-name-only never can muster the courage to turn the wheel to the right – even slightly, even temporarily. Obviously, when our ship is heading left, returning the wheel to the center position merely continues its leftward course a bit more slowly.
The election of 2014, with Republican control of both houses of Congress, thus far has caused only a minute change of direction. We are still heading toward the iceberg on our left. We are not heading to the right. We are merely heading to the left more gradually. The hope is that recent events herald greater changes, but only time will tell − time and our continued vigilance and effort.
Otherwise, we will find ourselves in the unfortunate situation of First Officer Murdoch – in charge, but powerless to avert disaster.
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