Get Shorty: Surviving Okinawa but not America

By | August 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

Delbert “Shorty” Belton

“Get Shorty” is a movie based on a novel of the same name by famed crime-fiction writer Elmore Leonard, who just died at age 87. The story involves a mobster who comes to collect a debt from other nefarious characters – and they are understandably reluctant to pay him. Much violence and some humor ensue.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. The “Get Shorty” I refer to also has plenty of violence, but it’s regrettably real violence. And it has no humor whatsoever.
Delbert “Shorty” Belton was an 88-year-old Army veteran of World War II. His nickname comes from the fact that he was barely over five feet tall. He saw action on Okinawa, receiving a gunshot wound in the leg. But he survived the bloodiest war in history. He survived 33 years of work for Kaiser Aluminum. He survived the death of his wife. Despite his advanced age, he drove to the Spokane, Washington Eagles Lodge, where he enjoyed playing pool.
Shorty was waiting in his car for a friend to arrive, so that she would not have to walk alone. At that point, two 16-year-old males attacked him, beat him severely about the face with flashlights, and robbed him. He died later in a hospital. Both of the males were arrested and will be tried as adults, though the death penalty cannot be applied under the age of 18. Others were arrested for harboring the fugitives.
One thug added insult to injury by claiming that Shorty stiffed him on a crack deal. This seems less likely a pig being taught to sing “O Mio Babbino Caro” and appearing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In case you missed the irony, that means “Oh my beloved daddy.”
And to add more insult, reportedly Spokane Police stated, “Our information is that the individual fought back and that may have made this, you know, a worse situation.” In other words, Shorty was partly to blame for his own death for not handing over his wallet more quickly.
Of course, police rejected the idea that this might be a hate crime or that race might be a factor. And President Obama did not announce that Delbert Belton looked like his grandfather. It all depends, you see.
Shorty survived so much for so long, but he could not survive America in 2013. This says a lot about Shorty’s toughness and resilience. But what does it say about us?
A strong nation can tolerate some citizens who do not share its fundamental values. But then a time comes where there are just too many of them to counterbalance. Then the balance tips. The nation spirals downward. And people look back and say, “That’s when things went wrong.”
No. Things went wrong long before:
● Things went wrong when liberals began calling conservatives “Nazis.” They forgot what real Nazis did, so they don’t recognize Nazi-like policies when they see them.
● Things went wrong when “pro-child” people ignore the million American babies aborted every year, and they even voted for a man who three times approved killing babies who survived “failed” abortions.
● Things went wrong when a judge ordered that brain-damaged Terri Schiavo be put to death by dehydration and starvation, and 300 million Americans stood by for 13 days and did nothing.
● Things went wrong when many people see nothing wrong with cutting off care for the elderly and the disabled − even veterans. They view the elderly and the disabled as “useless eaters.”
● Things went wrong when we exaggerate the number of returning veterans who have mental disorders. The alleged purpose is to increase awareness of PTSD, but this may subject veterans to suspicion and job discrimination.
● Things went wrong when we abandoned Judeo-Christian values. Contrast the response to two men born without arms: One played the guitar with his feet for Pope John Paul II. The pope stepped down from the platform and kissed him on the forehead. The other tried to cash a check. The bank refused because he could not give a thumbprint. Our response to the disabled reveals much about us.
● Things went wrong when the president declared that the elderly should get cardiac pacemakers only “if we’ve got experts…advising doctors across the board that the pacemaker may ultimately save money…” No doctors and patients deciding together what is best in that individual case. Only “experts’ deciding what will save money “across the board” – that is, for all patients with that condition.
● Things went wrong when positive aspects of our history were downplayed in schools, and teachers belittled our country and its founders.
● Things went wrong when we indoctrinated a generation to view their country with shame and their flag with disrespect.
● Things went wrong when we taught a generation to have self-esteem not because they are unique individuals created in God’s image, not because they are proud bearers of America’s heritage of freedom, and not because of their own accomplishments − but merely for breathing. We forgot that unearned self-esteem is narcissism, and the extreme of narcissism is sociopathy.
● Things went wrong when “intellectuals” proclaimed that there are no permanent ethical principles, and many people began acting as if this were true.
● Things went wrong when we became so afraid of intolerance that we tolerated anything − even the intolerable.
● Things went wrong when we taught young people to think not what was right, but what was legal – that is, what they could get away with.
● Things went wrong when we told kids to think of themselves not as Americans, but as members of ethnic, gender, or economic groups. We forgot “E Pluribus Unum” and replaced it with “multiculturalism.” Then we were shocked – shocked! – when social cohesion broke down.
● Things went wrong when we stopped teaching school children what is the right thing to do in a particular situation, and began asking the children how they felt about the situation. No ethical principles derived from religion – only their own feelings to regulate their behavior. We see the results all around us. Shorty saw the results as the last thing he saw on this Earth.
Rest in peace, Shorty. You risked your life to defend us. But who defended you?


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