Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How To Deal With Rats, Terrorists, and Neighboorhood Bullies

It’s time for another summer re-run. I figure that if ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the cable outlets can do it, I can too.

I’ll begin with a bit of recent background. A fella’ named Jay Rosen commented on my post from yesterday. It was interesting. A portion follows:

“Have you lost your mind? All sense of proportion? Get a grip please, before you do some permanent damage to your own intellect.”

It seemed appropriate to read a bit of his blog and so I did. I feel much saner now for having done so.

I also took time to read the transcript to the President’s address last night. I liked what he had to say:

“Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. The commander in charge of Coalition operations in Iraq — who is also senior commander at this base — General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said: “We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.”

While I’m a Democrat and know that my party’s strategy is to denigrate the President and his strategy, I am still with him. Like Dubya, I’m a pretty uncomplicated man. I believe that the direct approach is the best..

To add my “amen” to the President’s words, a re-print of what I wrote in the throes of the presidential election follows:

I found some interesting information posted on Right Voices in 2003, prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom:

“It was France that made a bargain with the PLO in the 1970s that it would not arrest Arab terrorists using France as their base planning attacks on Israel and Jews so long as they did not engage in terrorism on French soil. And it is France at the United Nations that now opposes requests by the United States and Britain for additional sanctions against Iraq for its refusal to admit UN inspectors required by UN resolution.”

“It was the French government of 20 years ago that financed and built the Iraqi nuclear bomb plant that – fortunately for the allies in the Gulf War of 1991 – no longer existed because Israel bombed and destroyed it in 1981.”

Around the same time, as one of seven Democratic Party “hopefuls”,
John Kerry said the threat of terrorism was exaggerated:

“I think there has been an exaggeration,”Mr. Kerry said when asked whether President Bush has overstated the threat of terrorism. “They are misleading all Americans in a profound way.”

“The front-runner for the Democratic nomination said he would engage other nations in a more cooperative fashion to quell terrorism.”

It has been Kerry’s most consistent theme.

The problem with the position is that it is not only naïve, it is exceedingly dangerous.

I thought about gathering information on why the esteemed senator from Massachusetts views are so dangerous, but I believe the best way to approach the absurdity of his views is to put them in a local context.

I’ll use two examples.

First, I’ll take you back to 1964, to my tour of duty in Vietnam. I, like everyone in my barracks, was fortunate enough to have a place to live in and a footlocker to contain my worldly goods. Knowing its value, I guarded my space zealously. But not all my barracks mates did.

One airman, who I’ll call Foo the Farmer to protect his ignorance, tried the Kerry approach to protecting his goods and it nearly did us all in. It all began, for me, when I began to hear high pitched squeals and scratching noises during the night. The sounds came from what I perceived to be close to Foo’s foot locker. The sound continued for several nights and actually started to increase in frequency and intensity. Then in the mornings it would stop.

I resolved to figure the mystery out. The next time I heard the noise I got up and followed the noise to its source. It was coming from Foo’s foot locker for sure. Having figured out the mystery, the only thing left to do was to let Foo know what was going on. So, in the morning when we got up for chow I approached him. “Hey, Foo, I think I figured out where that noise we’ve been hearing every night is coming from. It’s coming from your foot locker.”
“Oh, that noise,” he replied nonchalantly. “I knew about that already.”
“You did?”
“Oh yeah. It’s a rat that’s gotten into my digs.”
“A rat?”
“Why don’t you kill it?”
“Hey man, every time I open my foot locker that thing just squeals away and gives me the heebie jeebies, so I just throw a candy bar in there to keep him happy.”
“Comeon, Foo, that makes no sense at all. Just kill the damned thing and be done with it.”
“I just figure as long as I keep feeding him he’ll leave me alone.”
“You know what, you dummy, all that rat is going to do is want more and more food. You keep this up and we’ll be overrun by rats soon enough. Take my advice and kill the damned thing.”
“How am I going to do that without ruining my locker or without getting bitten?”
I couldn’t believe the stupidity. “Look, you idiot, just shoot him or stomp him to death. Anything. Just get rid of him. And stop worrying about your locker. You can replace that. And if you get him soon enough he won’t be able to bite your fingers or your nose off. Just kill him and be done with it.”

It took some time to convince Foo to do the right thing, but he eventually did. And, yes, it was a bloody mess. But we cleaned it up in no time and everything went back to being as normal as it could be under the circumstances.

That’s one of the essences of the Kerry approach. Keep the rat in the foot locker, feed it a bit, and it won’t bother anyone. The approach makes no earthly sense, but that’s the
smarmy strategy the senator is recommending.

Good sense should tell the senator that his approach is really a “nuanced” way of feeding the mouth that bites you.” But people are doing just that and he’s not listening.

The second piece of anecdotal evidence comes from my teenage years. When I wasn’t playing stickball with my brother, I would go to a park near our apartment to play pick-up basketball or football with other guys from my neighborhood. We would have fun till a group of neighborhood toughs would descend on the park like the barbarians on Rome’s gates. In order to keep things from getting ugly we would have to pay tribute to them in one form or another, sometimes a couple of bucks or a box or two of donuts. For a time it didn’t seem too high a price to pay for peace and stability on the basketball court or the football field. But it time the demands escalated. A couple of bucks became three, then four, then five. And so it went.

I don’t know exactly when I’d had enough, but the time did come. I determined I would pay no more tribute.

The next time they came by the approach was familiar. “Make with the bread.”
The rest of the guys started digging for money, but I refused. “You can go to hell. You ain’t getting’ anything from me,” I snarled.
Their mouthpiece was a teenage tough named Butchie Loder. He was a hulk of a teenager for the late 1950’s, about two hundred and twenty pounds worth. Compared to my one hundred and thirty he seemed absolutely massive. “It’s either the money or a beatin’,” he snarled back.
The rest of his gang of thieves stood back, waiting for Butchie to act on his threat.

The stage was set.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I ran up to Butchie and let loose with a right cross that hit him squarely in the face. Blood spurted from his mouth and he lurched back, feeling the blood with his right hand as he did. He was stunned. I took advantage of my opening and continued my attack. I hit him twice in the stomach and heard him groan as the punches hit their mark. He doubled over and fell to the ground. I pounced on him and hit him several more times. The swiftness of the attack and its ferocity had left him helpless. As I swung away at him I kept repeating, “Your nothin’ but mocking bird mouth. That’s all you are.” When I sensed that he’d had enough I got up. As I looked around I saw that his “allies” had fled the scene and I was surrounded only by my buddies. The battle that we had all dreaded to the point of appeasing the neighborhood bullies was over. We won.

I sometimes wonder what might have happened to our neighborhood if we had continued appeasing our tormentors. Where would it have ended? Thankfully, I only have to wonder, because we were never again bothered by Butchie Loder and his gang.

I really don’t need to tell you the moral of the story, but I can’t resist. It’s simple. Confront the neighborhood bully before he can take over the neighborhood and rule by terror.
It’s all as simple as that. While a rat or a neighborhood bully or a terrorist loves the nuanced approach, the diplomatic initiative, he hates the head-on approach. Why? Because the direct, head-on approach spells his doom. Yes, senator Kerry, it really is as simple as all that. I learned that much in the neighborhood or in the barracks. It’s too bad you didn’t take the time to learn those same lessons. You must have thought that you could debate your way out of every problem. Well, sir, world history and my own journey in life have taught me a valuable lesson – When the rats or the neighborhood bullies or the terrorists are lurkin’ about, the best thing to do is to take care of them before they “take care of” you.


Gone Away said...

They will say your argument is "simplistic". So was Jesus'...

carrie said...

see how negative feedback can sometimes be good?

prying1 said...

I love the blogging community. Gone Away left a link to your post in a comment on my blog. Sure am glad he did. Keep on blogging - Paul - GBYAY -

Allan said...

Phil, as usual you speak from the heart and that can never be wrong.

Regarding Jay Rosen of NYU: at first I chuckled at his arrogance, but then I began to quiver a bit. He taught or teaches journalism at NYU. Think about it.

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

You got two damn good true life stories for two short films and they will sell exactly with the same title of your post.
Sundance Film Festival will love it.

Well you are wiser as you grow older.