Thin Red Line for America

By | May 6, 2019 | 0 Comments

Scots’ thin red line, Crimea, 1854

Image result for washington high school san francisco murals

Americans’ thin red line, San Francisco, 2019

Originally the term referred to a real red line in Crimea, over which someone could not pass, because of muskets and bayonets – and men with guts behind them. It referred to the “thin red line of heroes,” the red-coated Sutherland Highlanders, who repelled a Russian cavalry charge at the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854.

We used to value this “thin red line” only in wartime, but then soon forget the heroes and how much we owe them. As Kipling put it:

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ’is country” when the guns begin to shoot.

But now, many of us, especially “progressives,” do not value the “thin red line of heroes” even in wartime. As our troops fight and die in Afghanistan, these people fantasize a world at peace. But they do not fantasize a future world, at peace because aggressors have been defeated or deterred. Instead, they imagine that the world today is at peace, merely because everyone senses our good intentions. This qualifies as a delusion – a dangerous one at that.

The second image represents murals depicting George Washington and other founders of our nation. The murals adorn the walls of George Washington High School in San Francisco, from with I graduated back in the Jurassic Era. These murals are now considered “racist” and “imperialistic,” and are said to make students feel “threatened” and “unsafe.” Really?

Ironically, the murals were funded by the WPA, the public works project initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a liberal icon. They were painted by a leftist who had been born in Russia, then later returned there. The murals were intended to teach a counter-cultural lesson. One panel shows frontiersmen advancing past the body of a Native American. Further along, a white man sits smoking a peace pipe with a Native American, with both having laid their weapons aside.

If even these murals, painted by a leftist and funded by a liberal icon, are intolerable to current students and teachers, what does this say about how far we have strayed?

In the three years I attended that school, I noticed the murals for perhaps the first two or three days. Then, like other aspects of the building I passed every day, they became too familiar to notice. If you asked me whether I felt “threatened” or “unsafe,” I would have thought you were insane and moved away as rapidly as possible. Back then, normal people avoided abnormal people – we did not take them as role models, much less as leaders. Back then, we knew we had the right to our own feelings – we did not allow others to tell us how to feel.

Yes, things were different then. We were required to take a year of American history and a half-year of civics – that is, study of American government. If we did not meet these requirements, we could not be admitted to the University of California system. And we sang patriotic songs at assemblies. If we did not remember the words, they were projected on the screen for us.

More than that, I took ROTC for three years. Our instructors were master sergeants with combat decorations. I was taught to field strip the Garand M1 rifle, the BAR, and the Colt .45 pistol. There was a rifle range in the basement, where we fired .22 rifles, not air rifles as is done today. I was handed my first rifle by Master Sergeant Lee, who wore the Combat Infantry Badge, the Purple Heart, the European Theater ribbon with battle stars, and the French Fourragère, indicating that his whole unit had earned the Croix de Guerre.

Do you suppose that being handed my first firearm by such a man gave me a different idea of a gun than if I had received it from the local gang leader or drug dealer? Do you imagine that this implanted the idea that the purpose of a firearm is to protect freedom, rather than to rob convenience stores?

Despite the rifle range in the school basement, or more likely because of it, there were no shootings during my years there. There were no stabbings, either, though most of us boys carried knives – Boy Scout knives. Yes, I was luckier than today’s young people. I attended an American high school, where I was taught to be a good citizen. I was not taught to disrespect our flag, disdain our national anthem, despise our president, disregard our founders, and take offense at anything I disagreed with. I was taught to listen respectfully to those with whom I disagreed, not to shout them down. Who knows? I might learn something.

I was taught to be calm at the sound of gunfire and even to enjoy the smell of gunpowder and gun oil. The idea that mere murals could make me feel “threatened” or “unsafe” I would have found absurd.

The Sutherland Highlanders formed the original Thin Red Line at Balaklava in 1854. By their courage and steadfastness, they stopped the Russian cavalry charge. If we hope to remain living in a free nation, we must also show courage and steadfastness. We must form our own Thin Red Line to stop the erasing of America. A good place to start is defense of the murals at George Washington High School in San Francisco in 2019. If not now, when? If not there, where? If not us, who?

First they took the rifles from the ROTC armory in the basement. Now they want to take the historical murals from the walls. Might there be a lesson here? First take the means of defense. Then take anything worth defending. Without weapons, and without a shared history, we will be mere subjects of an all-powerful state.

Author’s Note: For a well-written, enlightening review of this vital subject, read “Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past” by James Robbins.

Contact: You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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