Monthly Archives: December 2012

What This Country Needs is a New Evil Empire!

Near the end of the Soviet Union, Premier Gorbachev said, “I’m going to deprive you Americans of something you value very much.” “What’s that?”, asked the American diplomat or journalist. Gorbachev replied, “An Enemy!” And think about it. Ever since we lost the Communist bogeyman, we’ve turned on each other. This is a very common story in history. See the Greeks when they drove out the Persians; they then turned on each other in the Peloponnesian Wars and self-destructed. See the former Yugoslavia after their feared dictator Tito died. The wide variety of ethnic groups slaughtered each other in a genocidal civil war. See how our own Democratic-Republican Party turned on itself after the Federalist Party disappeared. We would be wise to realize the source of our discomfort with each other today lies in the absence of a common enemy. If we could see and understand the larger picture, if we could learn from history, we might avoid similar tragedies in the future. I find it ironic that in the absence of the Soviet bogeyman, we’ve got Red folks calling Blue folks “socialists” and “communists”!  Blues call Reds “fascist”! That’s just too funny given where we’ve been with the former “Evil Empire” or “Red Menace” and before that the fascist Nazis, Italians and Japanese. How quickly we forget, almost to the point of mass stupidity on all sides. I think Hegel had it right though, “What experience and history teach is this – that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”

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Nonsense from The Conservative Club: Japanese Invasion of the U.S.Foiled by Armed American Civilians in WWII

As an argument against gun control, The Conservative Club makes the following absurd claim:” The Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!” As a historian for some 30 years,  I must take issue with this blatant nonsense.

Why didn’t’ the Japanese invade America? Here are some actual historical reasons not just NRA myth :

1) The Japanese never intended to invade America in the first place; they were quite content to control Asia and the Eastern Pacific Ocean*. Beyond that they had no plans to invade. However, if the wars against Japan and Germany had both failed, one can imagine the Japanese- German Axis powers dividing up the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. into respective, fascist spheres of influence. Would Lone Ranger Americans have stopped that, the combined assault of victorious Japanese and German militaries? Highly improbable, probably impossible!

2)  The Japanese could have easily overrun the U.S. immediately after Pearl Harbor;** the weakest we’ve ever been in history due to our nearly total disarmament after World War I. General Joseph Stilwell said, “If the Japs had only known, they could have landed anywhere on the coast, and after our handful of ammunition was gone, they could have shot us like pigs in a pen.”*** I find laughable in the extreme the notion that armed American civilians could have defeated the mighty Japanese army. We couldn’t even handle H.G. Wells imaginary “War of the Worlds”!

3) Practically speaking what made such an invasion totally out of the question were three extremely significant American victories and one Australian one:

a. the defeat of the Japanese at Midway

b. the defeat of the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands

c. the defeat of the Japanese at Guadalcanal

d. the defeat of the Japanese on the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea

From Guadalcanal and Midway forward in time, the U.S. Armed Forces advanced in the opposite direction, towards the Japanese home islands.

Finally, for some comic relief on the subject of the Japanese invasion of the West Coast of America, I recommend everyone see John Belushi in the film “1942” That comic rendition of such an event has about as much truth to it as what the Conservative Club proposes in their statement above.

*see Professor Gary Gallagher’s “History of the United States”

**  Ibid.

***from Robert Cowley’s “What If? Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been” chapter titled “The Boys Who Saved Australia, 1942”

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Let’s Put the Lunatics Back in the Asylum

Here’s a modest proposal to deal with the problem of gun violence in our culture, an idea that will solve several other problems as well.

It goes all the way back to the 1960’s and 70’s and one of the worst well-intentioned ideas in history–the deinstitutionalization of mental patients. When the state hospitals were closed, the patients spilled out into our cities and communities. They ended up in halfway houses, minimal care facilities, places where they might or might not take their meds. Frequently they ended up on the street. We’ve seen our homeless population burgeon since the closing of those institutions. Today the seriously mentally ill comprise about 25% of America’s homeless population.*  For the healthy freedom is grand; for the seriously mentally ill it’s a hellish nightmare.

Furthermore, our jails and prisons are being misused as warehouses for the seriously mentally ill. For every one mental patient in a hospital there are three doing time in our jails.** For the sick, this represents a form  of cruel and unusual punishment. For the corrections system it’s an unnecessary burden and, for the taxpayer, a costly one.

And now we know all too well that some of these seriously mentally ill can easily acquire automatic weapons and go on wild shooting sprees. If we brought back the state mental hospitals, at least some of these people would be off the streets and incapable of buying arms.  Some innocent lives would be spared. How much is a child’s life worth?

I propose that we bring back the state mental hospitals because:

1) it will give the mentally ill more help than they’re getting now.

2  it will reduce the number of helpless, mentally ill people roaming our streets.

2) it will reduce stress on  correctional facilities being used for the wrong purpose.

3) it will save the lives of the sick and those they can harm.

4) it will take some of the potential shooters off the streets, put them in a place where they can get their meds regularly and, most importantly, keep them away from the guns.

5)  it will probably be cheaper, in both treasure and in blood, than to continue paying the high price we are paying now.

Stated crudely,  let’s put the lunatics back in the asylum.

http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/Mental_Illness.pdf

**http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/final_jails_v_hospitals_study.pdf

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