I am a citizen of this country because of conflicts in other places — Amador Cantu, Nov 11, 2018.
Few Germans in 1933 could imagine…It is hard to blame them for not foreseeing the unthinkable. Yet their innocence failed them, and they were catastrophically wrong about their future. We who come later have one advantage over them: we have their example before us.”
Tomorrow was created yesterday…….And by the day before yesterday, too. TO IGNORE HISTORY IS TO IGNORE THE WOLF AT THE DOOR. John LeCarre
I have a friend, Amador Cantu. We’ve known each other since early 77, I think, when he escaped from an insane assignment with the old 8th Infantry Division (Pathfinders) at Coleman Barracks in Mannheim and came to join the happy rocket cockers at 69th ADA
Group in Wurzburg. He was my new boss, the first time the group had captured a real live Chemical Officer and got to keep him. He was suffering from some cultural acclimatization issues and a bit of PTSD from the benignly insane 8th Infantry Division.
The various people we worked with, largely on NATO Evaluation preparation and readiness watched him work and decided that “SGT Farrell, the boy ain’t right. Curb your Lieutenant.” What could I say to the Group Commander but “Yes Sir.” Not doable, but we got along fine over two years or so we served together, caused no major chemical accidents and were pretty successful as a team with a bunch of senior rocket cocker types. I recall one night in a Gasthaus near Hanau where we were eating dinner while TDY, and he got involved in a discussion with a local German farmer. For some reason, he decided my German was up to explaining to this guy some complicated Geo-Politics. “Farrell-Man, tell him that a little bit of maneuver damage is better than a lot of communism, to which I replied, “No.”
“Think of history as a giant old jukebox. The many records it contains play the same music over and over, time after time, year after year, no matter where you take it. From Rome to Constantinople; to greater Europe, to America, the songs are the same. The knowledge of history can be used by the people to prevent the mistakes of the past and in due course, advance the human condition.” ―
He went off to the Officer Advanced Course, did something someplace for a year or so and then ETSed to go off to Graduate School, planning on getting a PhD in Biochemistry at University of Texas. Discovered that PhD programs are every bit as political as every other thing involving people. We stayed in touch, and our paths crossed off and on. He got involved in cancer research, being in charge of about 2500 lab rats at a place in suburban Austin. Ok, that was weird.
Well he also stayed in the National Guard, and was a branch qualified Chemical Officer that
Texas Guard couldn’t find, and served at all levels in the Texas Guard, ultimately qualifying for reserve retirement as a Colonel. Logical thing to do in your early 50s was to quit your job and take off to go to Med School, which he did. Now, he’s married to another doctor who minds the ranch and runs a practice in rural Idaho while he commutes from a federal job in Oregon some place. The boy still ain’t right, but I’m not 100% any of us are, and he is probably a good physician but remains a highly curious, cynically idealistic, and OCDish type of guy.
For some reason, he decided to do a video on Veterans Day morning today while shaving and did so. It was something that surprised me — because it was thoughtful, deeply felt, sincere and timely. There is humor, but it was more gentle, thoughtful and ironic than I would expect after knowing the guy and his sense of humor for 40 years. On a day when the President of the United States continued his humiliation of the nation before the world’s leaders, old Colonel Kangaroo chose to reflect on his family’s story, his father’s national service and the importance of service. Here it is, and with a President and half the country confused about lies about immigration and invading armies of Honduran and Guatemalan refugees told as a way of exciting the President’s Base (and sadly, they are that), it’s something everyone should share.
As we look at the world wide refugee crisis, what we’re seeing are the inevitable results of changes in the world wide distribution of wealth, of food, of water and security. If you go back to basic Leadership Studies, Maslow described this in 1943 as “the hierarchy of needs” later refining it to include another need, the innate human drive to satisfy curiosity.
The theory begins with a simple observation, that we have different needs but they are not equal. The things necessary to sustain life — oxygen, water, food, warmth, clothing and safety — trump the other needs. However, we have observed again that at certain times for certain people, something else can add additional power to those needs.
Think of the mother who picks up her infant and herds her three year old child along north, from Guatemala through Mexico to the American border. She could probably give in to the thugs and the terrorists and survive, a bit like Brecht’s Mother Courage. But her children probably will not — so she heads north. Should she actually gain legal status, she’ll work hard and it’s really likely her children will enlist and serve, partially as Amador describes his father saying to validate, and partially as a path to something more.
My ancestor’s could have survived in 19th century Connaught in Black 47, since the fishing didn’t suffer from the potato blight. But the uncertainty not only of food but also of shelter since the landlords and British Army were tearing down shanties and huts as fast as the locals could put them up. The two things the poor in Ireland didn’t have to worry about was lack of water. So, they took another version of the hillbilly highway, and headed to Galway and took ship for Nova Scotia. Those that didn’t die of typhus or cholera or general illness because of starvation and weakness, staggered off the boat and went to work in the fishing fleets of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island; or worked on the farms, or logged or whatever to scrape up the money to continue their journey.
Some eventually took ship for New York or Boston. Some, like my ancestors, walked across Canada in a “caravan” I guess, until they could cross the St Lawrence and enter the United States. And, the wave of Irish who came to the USA in 1844-1863 and beyond built a lot of the place and served in the Civil War — both sides, some went to Savannah and Charleston as well as to Boston and New York and Philadelphia — and continued to serve. Partially to validate and partially because it was what you did.
Even Donald Trump’s family came here like this. In his case, his grandfather was in danger of conscription into the new Imperial German Army, and that seemed like a bad idea. Draft dodging seems hereditary in his line. So, he went off to New York, landing when he was 15 or so. He stayed with a cousin, worked and headed west to Seattle, and the Yukon and Alaska, running a string of boarding houses, bordellos and bars. For some reason, he decided to go back to Germany with some of his new found wealth, and then decided when he got there, he wanted to stay. The Germans threw him out, and he went back to the states. He probably would have been safer in the Imperial German Army, and we’d have been spared this. Oh, and unlike a lot of Germans and Italians and Poles who were in a wave in those years, his children didn’t serve and his grandchildren didn’t serve and unless Barron likes his look in a uniform, his great grandchildren will not serve.
Amador is absolutely correct. WE ALL ARE CITIZENS HERE BECAUSE OF CONFLICT IN OTHER PLACES. The fact that a lot of Americans have forgotten that, or don’t care should be a problem for them, not for the people who are just following the rules of nature. When things are bad, you move on and go someplace else; and the worse they are, the more willing you are to take a coffin ship or hire a coyote or wash towels in your whorehouse’s basement.
Bob Corker, the Tennessee Senator who occasionally has shown some glimmers of integrity in this administration, supposedly said at a recent dinner with party donors in Nashville that, “Since I know you people, I can say that a lot of us in this room would be heading north too, if our children were hungry and in danger.”
What we know is that these migrations are more common than not. Caesar’s Gallic Wars begins with his arrival in Transalpine Gaul and confronting an entire nation of perhaps a half million people, a confederation of Swiss tribes, the Helvetii, who intended to cross Roman territory enroute to a supposedly better place. The Romans worried that they’d tear up the the place en route, and stopped them. Caesar’s wealth, fame and power had a foundation in the spoils of that war and his victory and enslavement of most of the Helvetii.
Indeed, the history of the late Roman Republic and the Empire is militarily a long list of attempted and successful migrations, until the really bad guys like the Visigoths and the Huns and various German tribes decided to join in the fun. Russia and much of easter Europe as well as the middle east have a history that addresses migrations, wars, slavery, horrors and failures as well as few successes, in dealing with hordes of Mongols, Tartars, Huns, and various other bad actors, including Germans and Poles and Austrians as well. Hell, Hitler planned on taking Poland and Russia and making it a part of the Reich, the source of the necessary “Lebensraum” or “living room.”
So, what we’re seeing on Macro level and that my old friend and co-conspirator is telling a Micro story about is the history of human beings on earth. You’d not be alone to think that we’d have figured out better solutions. Well, we have; the United Nations is supposed to be in charge of it. Great idea, but it bumps up against human nature, which is an odd thing. It bumps up against Maslow’s hierarchy, because there are people on both sides of whatever wall stands between them, and they all have the same needs.
As Marx put it in his study of the fall of France’s Second Empire,
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
Well, it may that time again. By the time Marcus Aurelius was emperor, the pressure on the empire by emigrating tribes and nations and individuals was so great that he spent most of his reign away from Rome, leading forces along the Danube and the eastern Main so that they would be kept from the walls. By the time of the Huns invasion of the Western Empire, the Romans under General Aetius were faced with difficulty raising legions because the upper classes, the officer class, was doing every thing to eliminate the opportunity to serve. Roman equites and patricians were encouraging sons of age to serve as legionary tribunes to have accidents and cut off their right thumb so that they couldn’t hold a sword.
Not much different between a rich prick cutting off his thumb and another rich prick claiming bone spurs, is there? At least the thumb chopping coward had some skin in the game.