July 2, 2017

"Yes, it is overwrought and jingoistic. It glorifies war. It trumpets self-righteousness."

Writes Arvin Temkar in a WaPo 4th-of-July-weekend column titled "My fellow liberals hate Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA.’ I love it. On Independence Day, there’s always room for a syrupy salute."

Overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteousness, war-glorifying... really? Why does it make some people feel that's what it says when that's absolutely not in the words? Where does that extra-textualism come from?

Let's look at the words. It begins with a completely personal focus on the nuclear family:
If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife
It then expresses appreciation for the country because of exactly one thing: freedom. If the man had to start again with nothing... Well, actually, he's not up for the hypothetical without keeping his wife and children. But if all that he'd worked for were lost, he'd still be "lucky" to be living in America because he'd have freedom. 
I'd thank my lucky stars to be livin' here today
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away
I always wonder at this point: Yes, but what if you didn't have that foundation of wife and children, would freedom be enough to give you the nerve and the drive to start over again? And also: But they can take freedom away! However you want to interpret the flag — some might think it stands for the glorification of war — symbolism doesn't ensure that the thing symbolized will not be taken away. The problem with the song at this point is naivete, and one suspects faux naivete.

Next we get the chorus, which begins with an underscoring of the importance of freedom:
And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free
The clunker in there is "at least." We go from the idea that a man could rebuild his life if only he has freedom to the idea of being proud about living in a country that might not offer anything else but freedom. (By the way, there's no antecedent for "where." Grammatically, it should be something like I'm proud to live in America where at least I know I'm free, but that would introduce the conceptual problem of non-Americans who live in America.  I'm proud to be a citizen of America where at least I know I'm free... too many syllables.)

The chorus then brings in the "men who died," but maintains the focus:
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me
Not all who fought for freedom died, not all who fought (whether they died or lived) were men, and these people did not give you the right to freedom. The Declaration of Independence — which we celebrate this weekend — says that the Creator gave us these rights and that the people institute government to protect the rights that God endowed us with. Our government sometimes goes to war, and when it does men (and women) may die, and sometimes the war — notably the Revolutionary War — is fought to protect our ability to exercise our rights, but the war dead haven't given us our rights.

That's a little sermon from me about rights and the meaning of The Declaration of Independence. But let's continue with the chorus:
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God bless the USA
That part is simple enthusiasm — love for country (which works for any country, free or not) — and a simple prayer addressed to the God who wasn't noticed in the first line of the chorus. Hopefully, he's used to weathering disrespect and isn't too irked at another demand for blessing.

Now, we get the other verse, the only other verse, and it's that from-the-mountains-to-the-prairies review of geography that we've come to expect in songs and speeches:
From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee
Across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea
From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA
The man who wrote the song — Lee Greenwood — was born in LA. I'm just reading his Wikipedia bio now. I see he's lived his life mostly in LA and Reno and Las Vegas. You might want to factor that into your understanding of the lyrics. As for how Tennessee got such pride of place in the song, Greenwood's wife is a former Miss Tennessee. She's his fourth wife. That makes me think of the first verse in a completely new way. My wondering is over. I think Greenwood would be just fine starting again even without his wife. Divorce still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.

The song's almost over. There's a couple of lines that seem to be written to set up another singing of the chorus. At first glance, they seem inconsequential, merely serviceable, but now that I reread them, I find them really very bad:
Well, there's pride in every American heart
That's plainly a lie, and it's a presumptuous lie that's out of keeping with his supposedly favorite value, freedom. It's not possible that every American is proud to be an American. Speak for yourself. Invite others to sing along if they agree. But don't purport to say how everyone else feels. Our freedom means that we are free to feel humility or even contempt for America. Your enthusiasm for freedom falls flat.

The final lead-in to the chorus is:
And it's time we stand and say that...
Don't tell me what to do. It's a free country.

But it's a song. As Bob Dylan said in his Nobel Prize speech, "songs are unlike literature." "They're meant to be sung, not read." They're "alive in the land of the living." And "God Bless the USA" is a big sing-along song that comes alive when people — free people — choose to stand up and sing, not because Greenwood dictates that "it's time" they stand up and sing, but because they feel inspired by something about the melody and the key words — flag, freedom, proud, love, USA. No one's parsing the words.

I've never parsed the words before just now, and I've heard the song many times and understood the spirit. I was surprised to find what I did in the lyrics. I was only motivated to look closely because of the WaPo column, because I didn't believe the lyrics would support Temkar's assertion that the song is overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteousness, and war-glorifying. I was right, and Temkar is wrong. But Temkar and I share the opinion that the song delivers a real-time experience of expressing enthusiastic love for America. It's alive in the land of the free.

169 comments:

Sam L. said...

These are liberal/progressive/leftist notions. This is the way they think.

Gahrie said...

But Temkar and I share the opinion that the song delivers a real-time experience of expressing enthusiastic love for America.

Which is exactly why the Left hates it so much.

MisterBuddwing said...

"Overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteousness, war-glorifying"... really?

I suspect that's how some people feel about "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Chuck said...

Well to be sure "God Bless the USA" has been panned as a clunker long before we got into the current divisive national battle over jingoism and xenophobia.

I love this Althouse post. I have thought precisely the same thing about these lyrics as long as this song has been kicking around.

I'd rather watch four minutes of 1942's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" -- virtually any four minutes -- rather than watch another staged singing of "God Bless the USA."

Michael K said...

"Which is exactly why the Left hates it so much."

Chuck seems to be trying too hard, but that's not unusual.

This explains a lot of the leftist angst about America.

The weakening of the consensus that the nation-state should remain paramount in world politics lies at the base of the deepening political crisis in Western democracies. Since patriotic civic education all but disappeared from American public schools as well as from Europe’s government school curricula, two generations of Western elites have been progressively unmoored from their cultural roots, often all but bereft of even a rudimentary sense of service to and responsibility for the nation as a whole. As fractured group identities and narratives of grievance began to replace a sense of patriotism and national pride, college educated elites across the West became ever-more self-referential in their pursuits, locked in an exercise of inward-looking collective expiation for the centuries of Western racism, discrimination, and “privilege”—all allegedly the hallmarks of the culture they have inherited, which they must redefine, or repudiate altogether.

Not just "patriotic civic education." All Civics education.

That's one reason the left thinks it can drive Trump from office.

Seeing Red said...

Think about thanksgiving. The same can be said.


How many other countries give thanks?

Greenwoods song gives thanks. I think that's what really screws em up. There like the Commies to praised Russia for what they were doing but would never actually go live there to live their dream. Hypocrites.

I guess white privilege, but it seems a lot of people in the world want a piece of it.

tcrosse said...

"Overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteousness, war-glorifying".

This also describes the Marseillaise.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteousness, war-glorifying... really? Why does it make some people feel that's what it says when that's absolutely not in the words? Where does that extra-textualism come from?

Shame. Especially in light of these lines;

And I gladly stand up
Next to you and defend her still today


Arin Temkar and pajama boy friends know they wouldn't have the guts to do anything like that.

Mark said...

re: "America"

** There is America the nation, together with the levels of government and civil society.
** There is America the place, the geographical location.
** And there is America the idea, the cause.

I was originally going to comment that the song has lost its appeal for me because it no longer rings true. No, we are not as free as when the song was written. This is not really any more "the land of the free" (different song, I know, but the point remains). See, I was thinking of the song in terms of the first two concepts.

But then in reading, "Grammatically, it should be something like I'm proud to live in America where at least I know I'm free," which pointed out that the actual word in the song is not "America," but "American," that realization brought into play the third concept of "America" (and "American"). Before there was the United States, there was America the idea and cause; before we were an independent nation, there were Americans.

As an "American," a believer in freedom, etc., inasmuch as it is ontological and not geographic, one cannot take that freedom away even if this nation descends into some third-world, progressive hell-hole. What our Creator has endowed us with by our nature, no man or group of men can take away, even if that freedom cannot fully be exercised or respected.

But then, back to the point above, the song shifts from "American" to "the U.S.A." and since this does refer to the nation, as lived under government, again, it no longer rings true. (to be continued)

Chuck said...

Christopher Miller at The Federalist -- The Federalist! -- had much the same feeling as Althouse about Lee Greenwood's song. I had recalled something about this, from the time of the Inauguration (the last time I had to suffer through a listening) and it took me a few minutes to find the link.

So much for, "Only the anti-American left hates this song..."

http://thefederalist.com/2017/01/16/god-bless-usa-stupid-song-no-one-ever-play/


YoungHegelian said...

Ya ever wonder why folks whose biggest claim to fame is "nuance" seem so often to be so shitty at actually reading & interpreting texts?

Didja ever wonder why?

Howard said...

He hid behind his wife and kids kept him out of Viet Nam, no wonder he penned"
With just my children and my wife
I’d thank my lucky stars
To be living here today

From Lee Greenwood to Toby Keith, it's chickenhawks all the way down
Greenwood-Snopes Military Record

Mark said...

"God bless America."

Well, I'm not going to go the route of Jerimiah Wright and say, "God damn America," even given that this is no longer really "the land of the free" and it is crashing down all around us.

But I will say "bless," not in the sense that people usually take it when speaking of America, as a term of praise, in the sense that America is good and deserving of God's praise. Rather, what is more appropriate is the more accurate sense, which is conveyed in the confessional, "Bless me Father for I have sinned."

One says this peculiar phrase clearly not to proclaim, "I'm a good person and thus deserving of some divine benefit." Instead, it asks for a blessing in the more traditional sense, that is, in the sense of purifying, of healing, of changing from a corrupt state to a more perfect and holy state. THIS is the kind of "blessing" America needs.

AllenS said...

At my 50th high school reunion (2014), we all stood up (about 140 people) and said The Pledge of Allegiance.

Bob Ellison said...

Oh, give it a rest. It's an excellent melody, with good lyrics. The song has been abused and over-used, but it's still a good song that makes people happy.

Earnest Prole said...

Arvin Temkar wouldn’t know overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteous, and war-glorifying if they bit him on the butt. Here’s Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” — otherwise known as the “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way” song:

American girls and American guys
We'll always stand up and salute
We'll always recognize
When we see Old Glory flying
There's a lot of men dead
So we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our head

My daddy served in the army
Where he lost his right eye but he flew a flag out in our yard
Until the day that he died
He wanted my mother, my brother, my sister and me
To grow up and live happy
In the land of the free

Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack
A mighty sucker punch came flyin' in from somewhere in the back
Soon as we could see clearly
Through our big black eye
Man, we lit up your world
Like the fourth of July

Hey Uncle Sam, put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty started shakin' her fist
And the eagle will fly man, it's gonna be hell
When you hear mother freedom start ringin' her bell
And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you
Brought to you courtesy of the red white and blue

Justice will be served and the battle will rage
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage
And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way

Hey Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty started shakin' her fist
And the eagle will fly it's gonna be hell
When you hear mother freedom start ringin' her bell
And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you
Brought to you courtesy of the red white and blue

God Bless Murka

Browndog said...

Chuck said...

Oh, boy.

Here we go-

Gahrie said...

So much for, "Only the anti-American left hates this song..."

Who said "only"?

I am perfectly willing to believe that lifelong Republicans who are member of the GOP Establishment hate the song as much as the Left does, for many of the same reasons.

Rene Saunce said...

Leftists and the word Jingoistic. FUCK OFF.

mockturtle said...

For "Overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteousness, war-glorifying" nothing beats La Marseillaise.

Michael K said...

"Oh, give it a rest. It's an excellent melody, with good lyrics. "

Yes. I actually like his version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" better.

As for "chickenhawks all the way down," Howard what was your branch ? What years ?

mockturtle said...

Rene, well said. FUCK OFF, ALL YOU ANTI-AMERICAN AMERICANS. Move to Honduras. Or Haiti. Or Venezuela.

Mark said...

re: The Pledge of Allegiance

Is the United States, as a lived reality, still really a republic? Note that we have a large majority of the populace who are in open rejection of the lawfully elected government, together with a "deep state" that is actively sabotaging the lawfully elected executive, as well as non-citizens and people who have never even set foot on this soil demanding and being given a large say in how we run things. Note that sovereignty has long existed not in the people, but in the rulers and ruling class.

Is the United States, as a lived reality, really "one nation" (see above), "under God" (note the aggressive secularist, imposed atheism in the new order), "indivisible" (the nation is more divided and polarized than any time since 1860-65), "with liberty and justice for all" (see my comments above about the song)?

As a lived reality, we cannot say that the U.S. is any of these things. But the flag as a symbol of these things, as a representation of not the tangible country, but of the transcendent idea behind it, that -- maybe -- still applies. But again that butts up against the lived reality of a pervasive relativism in society, which rejects the concept of an objective truth and reality.

Otto said...

ugh :pseudo-intellectual fisking by an old yenta with a conclusion of relative nothingness. Preacher not, photographer yes.

Bob Ellison said...

Try "The Stars and Stripes Forever" this Independence Day. That's musical genius.

JPS said...

Howard, 10:31:

That was an interesting and fair treatment in Snopes.

"the song isn’t written from the point of view of someone who claims to have made sacrifices for his country — it’s an expression of gratitude towards those who did make sacrifices to protect the freedoms the rest of us enjoy"

In a later war I was one of those hawks who dropped a career to serve. Not because I gave a damn that people like you might call me a chickenhawk, but because I could no longer leave it all up to others to fight a war I thought needed winning.

But I was single. If I'd had my family then, and my kids were toddlers, would I have left them to sign up? I don't know. I do know my wife would have left me over it, as Greenwood says his parents split up.

So, and I'm no fan of Greenwood or his famous song, I have to agree with the article's closing line:

"Mr. Greenwood may not be a veteran himself, but neither was he a draft dodger."

khematite said...

Best parsing of a song since John Standley's "It's in the Book."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7qoHdIyUkg

Qwerty Smith said...

Blogger Mark said..."As an "American," a believer in freedom, etc., inasmuch as it is ontological and not geographic, one cannot take that freedom away..."

Likewise, maybe every American qua American is indeed proud to be an American, in the sense that they honor the Declaration's principles. This is wholly compatible with the idea that people should be legally free to despise those principles. In a legal sense, those who do so may be United States citizens. In a moral sense, however, they are un-American.

AllenS said...

I was drafted into the Army in 1966, Howard. I would have never tried to avoid the draft. If I had a child or children back then, I would have accepted a deferment. It shouldn't be too hard to realize why. Did you serve, Howard?

Chuck said...

"Mr. Greenwood may not be a veteran himself, but neither was he a draft dodger."

Agreed; Lee Greenwood's draft deferment was at least more convincing than Donald J. Trump's draft deferment.

Rusty said...

"rather than watch another staged singing of "God Bless the USA."

I'll keep GBTUSA. It speaks more to the real America and American people. Nobody today knows what a "doodle' is or means and that goes for "maccaroni" as well. It also portrays Americans as bumpkins.

rhhardin said...

We need a song glorifying neat airplanes.

Rene Saunce said...

Leftists who whine about draft dodging: FUCK OFF.

Todd Galle said...

Still pretty OK freedom-wise in my neck of the woods, although it could always be better. Went to church this morning passing by my neighbors house who has spray painted red, white, and blue stars on his sloping front yard. My family (minus me as I can't carry a tune in a bucket) sang a hymn arranged by my son in our Lutheran church. My daughter is building a business seemingly by painting wheel covers and leather jackets. We had to check the loading bench, gun cleaning bench, and range boxes before we found the painters tape for her next job. So, before lunch on a lazy summer Sunday, we've hit most of the first two amendments. I'll add that no US military has been billeted on my property at my cost, so throw that one in as well.

JPS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

As a lived reality, we cannot say that the U.S. is any of these things. But the flag as a symbol of these things, as a representation of not the tangible country, but of the transcendent idea behind it, that -- maybe -- still applies. But again that butts up against the lived reality of a pervasive relativism in society, which rejects the concept of an objective truth and reality.

Very nicely done, Mark!

JPS said...

Howard, here's the thing that bugs me with the tired old chickenhawk slur. Michael K and AllenS refer to it above.

By using it you imply that everyone with a hawkish position needs to step up and serve, or be dismissed as a hypocrite.

But even if I buy into that logic, I'm left with this question: What's required of doves? Don't you have to do anything? Or is the requirement only on those who disagree with you?

It's like the Obama aide describing Obama's contempt for Romney, as opposed to McCain for whom he had a grudging respect: "[Romney] was no goddamned war hero." I see: You have to qualify to oppose him.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"It trumpets self-righteousness."
No one is more self-righteous than the modern American liberal. They think that they know all the answers to the hard public policy questions, and that these answers are easy to come by. Jesus.

buwaya said...

Its an odd day when I can so enthusiastically agree with Chuck - "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is a masterpiece. Cagney's best.
And with an interesting depth to it, besides its effectiveness as propaganda. And its value as propaganda, even in foreign lands, is nothing to sneeze at, this stuff works wonderfully.

They don't make them like that anymore, and the reason why, of course, is as Dr. K says, because those who would create it or produce a mass media form of it, possibly using things like Greenwood's song (as the "Yankee Doodle" creators did from their mass of old songs), are terminally alienated from their own people.

This is NOT true in other countries. This is not true in East Asia. This hatred by the elite vs the mass, against their own identity in fact, is an Anglo-American affectation.

buwaya said...

"song glorifying neat airplanes"

"High Flight" needs a tune.

D said...

The bit about having to start (again) with nothing brings to mind the lines in Kipling "If"
If I was less ignorant, there's probably a line of poems/songs celebrating the virtue of starting over without complaint back to the, er, Stoics.
Given where that line sits, it is possible some listeners dont really care about the rest of the song (...lakes of Minnesota....) but hear that part, and dont immediately change the station.
I wont opine about the song. Its not played much in Canada. They play Wintersleeps "Amerika" more often.

buwaya said...

The "Yankee Doodle" bumpkins are today's "deplorables", hence they are unfashionable.

Virgil Hilts said...

Agree with Bob Ellison (who is almost always right re anything to do with music).
Aside - probably heard Battle Hymn of the Republic 100 times thinking meh. . , and then I heard the version that Robert Shaw put together.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVsNCllEHD0

buwaya said...

As for the intellectual fashion of despising their own country, this crosses party lines. You are getting the same alienation from the intellectual right as from the left, as is often seen in, say, The Federalist, or National Review, or the Standard.

I suspect it is the result of the infection of the meme from the universities, as a sort of diploma of completion. Its a caste marker that neither side can reject, as doing so comes at the cost of amour-propre.

Note also that a great deal of modern anti-americanism abroad is due to the infection of the same meme, in intellectual circles, FROM AMERICA. Educated Americans that dominate the messages sent abroad make it fashionable to despise the US. This is not new of course, but these days its become ubiquitous - and this was already the case long before Trump. Your own intellectuals have been helping create foreign enemies.

Unknown said...

This is a video I took 10 years or so ago of the best setting of the song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miaa2tndgXk

I hope to see the same setting on Tuesday..

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger buwaya said...
. . .
This is NOT true in other countries. This is not true in East Asia. This hatred by the elite vs the mass, against their own identity in fact, is an Anglo-American affectation.

Yes. The most significant political issue of our day is not global warming, or income inequality, or illegal immigration, it is the contempt and hatred the American ruling elites hold deep in their hearts for most Americans.
The elites hate almost everything about ordinary Americans -- what they do for entertainment, how they raise their children, their churches, even their diet . . .

Michael K said...

"song glorifying neat airplanes"

"High Flight" needs a tune."

Here it is.

Fernandinande said...

@ mockturtle

Evolution of Human Altruism

"What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to save a solid gold baby? Maybe we'll never know." -- J.H.

Jupiter said...

"That's a little sermon from me about rights and the meaning of The Declaration of Independence."

The Declaration is a lovely poem. But Freedom, like Power, comes from the barrel of a gun.

Michael K said...

I actually like this version better.

I like Civil War music anyway.

And this one.

Jupiter said...

When I would read, as a boy, of the appalling things the inhabitants of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe had to endure from their Communist tormentors, I always had a sense of incredulity, based upon a rather smug certainty that such things could never happen here, in America. Not just the Land of the Free, but the Leader of the Free World.

Dr Weevil said...

D:
"back to the Stoics"? Further than that. One of the main points of the Odyssey is that Odysseus loses everything - wealth, ships, sailors, weapons, even his clothes - and washes up on an island naked, hungry, and alone. From that low point, the lowest possible point any human could reach, he gets home, rescues his wife and son, kills 100+ young healthy thuggish enemies, and recovers his kingship, using absolutely nothing but his brains - including his enormous skills in speaking and deceit. (Well, he did have a little help from the gods.) I believe he was taken as a model by the Stoics, and that there's a continuous tradition from Homer through the Stoics to Kipling and maybe beyond.

Dr Weevil said...

Lewis Wetzel (11:34am):
"The most significant political issue . . . is the contempt and hatred the American ruling elites hold deep in their hearts for most Americans.
"The elites hate almost everything about ordinary Americans -- what they do for entertainment, how they raise their children, their churches, even their diet . . ."

I just want to remind everyone that the contempt and hatred are mutual, and the ruling elites are just beginning to realize just how much most of us loathe them. I suppose it's too much to hope that many of them will ever figure out why we loathe them, much less change their ways.

Drago said...

Agreed; Lee Greenwood's draft deferment was at least more convincing than Donald J. Trump's draft deferment.

And thank you for your service.

....oh.

Clyde said...

I prefer Merle Haggard's "The Fightin' Side of Me."

n.n said...

Progressive projection. It is progressive liberals with a sincerely anti-native outlook that gave us "clean" wars and refugee crises. It is the left that denies individual dignity and wallows in institutional [class] diversity. It is the left that debases human life and corrupts science for political progress. It is the "secular" left that routinely conflates logical domains (e.g. inference from time and space sampling below the Nyquist Rate, missing links) when it is opportunistic. It is the left that likes war, abortion, displacement, and redistributive/retributive change. It is the left that has a forced regime of transgender conversion therapy that targets prepubescent and adolescent children. Glorifying violence, indeed.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger Dr Weevil said...
D:
"back to the Stoics"? Further than that. One of the main points of the Odyssey is that Odysseus loses everything - wealth, ships, sailors, weapons, even his clothes - and washes up on an island naked, hungry, and alone. From that low point, the lowest possible point any human could reach, he gets home, rescues his wife and son, kills 100+ young healthy thuggish enemies, and recovers his kingship, using absolutely nothing but his brains ..

Nothing but brains and incredible skill with a bow.

Achilles said...

It really comes down to freedom. In the end there will be two sides: People who believe in freedom and people who don't.

And the people that don't believe in freedom are free to leave before we start.

Lewis Wetzel said...

I just want to remind everyone that the contempt and hatred are mutual, and the ruling elites are just beginning to realize just how much most of us loathe them.
Not on my part. I am a Christian. I love these people. God loves them. One day we will all be singing, together, in the heavenly choir.
That does not, however, make what they are now doing good or right.
My contempt I reserve for their poorly reasoned, bigoted ideas.

Dr Weevil said...

Lars:
Thanks. Yes, military skills were a very important part of his mental endowment, including not only archery but generalship (even if he only had three soldiers in the big showdown) and diplomacy (convincing the Phaeacians to send him home).

D said...

Thank you DrW. I didnt think about the Greeks.
I do not think I could write a convincing essay suggesting American Country Music is emblematic of Stoic philosophy, but I may be able to suggest, offhandedly, in a blog comment section that those who are the first to speak derisively of such, are not generally thought to be the most stoic in character.

buwaya said...

Dr. K,
I'm sorry to say that the John Denver effort re "High Flight" is not very good. This isnt a tune that works. The challenge is not met.

mockturtle said...

I suspect it is the result of the infection of the meme from the universities, as a sort of diploma of completion. Its a caste marker that neither side can reject, as doing so comes at the cost of amour-propre.

I fear you are right, buwaya. Back in the turbulent 60's we radicals hated [or thought we hated] Amerika. But we were a bunch of spoiled, self-important college kids. All 'education' and no wisdom. Much like today.

traditionalguy said...

Lee Greenwood's song was the theme song of many a welcome home celebration after the 82nd's 7 months spent in the desert
protecting Saudi Arabia from Saddam's Armored Divisions and Republican Guard, with Nerve Gas Missiles. The first 4 months they had no Armor of their own... just light infantry weapons and courage.

We celebrated them from the heart on their safe return. DJT totally understands us and that is all that matters

Michael K said...

"I'm sorry to say that the John Denver effort re "High Flight" is not very good."

There is supposed to be an AF Academy chorus version but I couldn't find it.

I liked Denver. He was an army brat and I just wish he had turned that valve on the fuel tank of the plane he was flying.

Michael K said...

"DJT totally understands us and that is all that matters"

That video of the Greenwood concert shows that.

I still haven't seen Howard's record of his military service.

I think I know why.

traditionalguy said...

As for Tennessee, it was two Tennessee Presidents that established the military victories garnering the western half of the United States from the anti liberty European Empires of Spain and Great. Britain.

Michael K said...

Speaking of new versions of classic American music.

I love this !

Michael K said...

"two Tennessee Presidents"

I just read a biography of Polk. Interesting guy. Had terrible problems with Whigs that resemble today's Democrats and Trump.

mockturtle said...

Speaking of new versions of classic American music.

I love this !


Wow, Michael! Just WOW!!!

Lionheart said...

Blogger Otto said...
ugh :pseudo-intellectual fisking...

Agree. "fisking" songs for grammar (Tsk tsk, Proud to be a American WHERE.!! omg !!) or specific words is just silly when
the words may often be chosen for their sound/rhyme as much as their specific meaning. It is a song, not a legal brief.

Etienne said...

In church today, the choir sang La Bannière Étoilée

Ô dites, voyez-vous
Dans la lumiere du jour
Le drapeau qu'on saluait
A la tombee de la nuit

Dont les trois couleurs vives
Pendant la dure bataille
Au-dessus des ramparts
Inspiraient notre pays

Et l'eclair des fusees
Des bombes qui explosaient
Démontraient toute la nuit
Que le drapeau demeurait

Est-ce que la bannière étoilée
Continue toujours à flotter
Au-dessus d'une nation brave
Terre de la liberté


I had some Hot Cats (sort of like Hot Dogs, but they have whiskers
made from tooth-picks by the kindergarten children).

And then, even though the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy
prohibit filthy pig meat, I had Croissants Au Jambon
slathered with Crème Fraîche.

mmmph... mmmph...

Unknown said...

And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free

I've never been able to listen to the song because of this line's grammatical shortcomings. Thank you for your critique.

mockturtle said...

And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free

I've never been able to listen to the song because of this line's grammatical shortcomings. Thank you for your critique.



Maybe it's: And I'm proud to be in America where at least I know I'm free.

tcrosse said...

Est-ce que la bannière étoilée
Continue toujours à flotter
Au-dessus d'une nation brave
Terre de la liberté

Ainsi soit-il.

MSB said...

"A song to glorify aircraft"

Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer

JAORE said...

I know an ex-soldier who was detailed to greet homeward bound soldiers as they left the plane. Every flight was met with "God Bless....".

He hates that song. But you'll never meet a more patriotic man.

southcentralpa said...

Memo to WaPo staff: I beg of you, do not do a piece on "Dropkick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life". I really do not feel like a piece from a retired law professor parsing the lyrics.

In all seriousness, have you ever read A Sub-Treasury of American Humor, edited by EB White with his wife ... ? Besides having some really great pieces, it has some prefatory notes on the nature of humor that would apply equally well to some aspects of songs ...

Michael K said...

mockturtle, isn't that version of the Star Spangled Banner terrific ?

Goosebumps but I'm a sucker for that stuff.

"a Wing and a Prayer"

Also I like "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition."

I'm a fan of WWII songs. When I was little, the girls in the family would teach them to me.

I was also taught to say "Dougout Doug is a ratout rat."

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

The song would be a lot more accurate if the verse read:

"And I'm proud to be an American
Where I tell myself I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
At the corporate state's decree"


Michael K said...

"At the corporate state's decree"

Cookie still has not gotten over Stalin's death.

You and Bernie, Cookie.

Fen said...

Arvin Temkar... what a stupid name... should watch Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven.

(Smack!)

You talking about the Queen again?

(Smack!)

On our Independence Day?!

(Smack!)

-----

These jacjasses never fail to bash America on July 4th. Just like they never fail to bash our troops on Memorial Day.

Really sick of their shit.

And for the record, I was on board with inflicting violence on these jackasses long before Trump. They really need a good kick to the teeth.

Fen said...

The chicken hawk argument is especially stupid. He can't support war unless he served? Fine. Then you can't oppose the war unless you served.

It also goes against the concept of civillian control of the military.

Liberals are so stupid.

And cowardly.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Dr K - always somewhat of a purist/traditionalist with Battle Hymn of the Republic, preferring all male voices. Maybe because I always envisioned it being sung while the Union Army was marching off to war. We used to sing it a time or two each year in church, where we had a surplus of strong sopranos in the choir, and it always bothered me that they overpowered the male voices. Just me. Sorry.

Sebastian said...

"Overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteousness, war-glorifying... really?" Well, yeah. And the fisking proves the point. To progs, "enthusiastic love of country" is ipso facto "overwrought, jingoistic," and since we all know that the US is a cruel and violent country, "war-glorifying."

"Why does it make some people feel that's what it says when that's absolutely not in the words? Where does that extra-textualism come from?" Why oh why? Where oh where? You mean, the generation-old leftist hatred of the US, revulsion against patriotism, and sustained effort to vilify the "love" isn't sufficient explanation? The song is one long dog-whistle to progs, who never need anything "in the words" to fight the culture war. They'll make up anything they need.

But I do appreciate the fisking, which clarifies the predicament of the snobbish conservative patriot.


Bruce Hayden said...

Via Instapundit: Losing The Nation State:

The liberal international order cannot survive the unraveling of strong national communities that are the baseline of democratic government.

It is not difficult to recognize that the West is in flux. Eight months after the presidential election in the United States, partisan rancor has reached a fever pitch and continues unabated. Europe seems trapped in a collective leadership paralysis in the face of the greatest mass migration crisis since 1945. Public anger against elites keeps rising. The people seem less and less willing to listen to the explanations and admonishments of their leaders and the media, nor to accept that their nations are merely a transitional phase before the emergence of a multicultural, globalized world.

Beneath the popular resentment and frustration bubbles a longing for a vanishing sense of community, mixed with an often deeply felt democratic impulse to reclaim ownership of the state. Signs of a popular rebellion across the West abound. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the Trump movement in the United States, and the emergence of national and populist parties across Europe (though their support fluctuates) are all symptoms of a deeper yet seldom articulated structural problem that has been straining democratic politics in the West: the progressive fragmentation of the nation-state....

grackle said...

But Temkar and I share the opinion that the song delivers a real-time experience of expressing enthusiastic love for America. It's alive in the land of the free.

Lefties like Temkar are unable to comprehend a simple, unqualified expression of patriotism. It confuses them and makes them uncomfortable. So much of their bubble is anti-American.

Now … a pop song about climate change? Or the virtues of diversity? Campus rape? The benefits of Globalism? Such would be more to Temkar’s taste.

Here's Mika and Joe’s music video, entitled, “Mystified.” Greg Gutfeld has named the band, “The Bleeding Facelifts.”

Char Char Binks said...

I heard Greenwood sing it at Rhythm and Booms in 2002, and he half-apologized for singing it in Madison, saying he knew not everyone would agree with the lyrics, even that soon after 9/11. I didn't know he was from L.A. and not Louisiana or some other patriotic state that once fought against the USA.

The song is clunky, and overwrought, but it's not jingoistic or war-glorifying.

Bruce Hayden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hayden said...

There is an ever-expanding terminology generated to describe the current vortex engulfing the West—be it “illiberal democracy,” “populism,” or (from the extreme Left) “neo-fascism.” But all the terms are attempting to grapple with the same truth: The weakening of the consensus that the nation-state should remain paramount in world politics lies at the base of the deepening political crisis in Western democracies.The weakening of the consensus that the nation-state should remain paramount in world politics lies at the base of the deepening political crisis in Western democracies. Since patriotic civic education all but disappeared from American public schools as well as from Europe’s government school curricula, two generations of Western elites have been progressively unmoored from their cultural roots, often all but bereft of even a rudimentary sense of service to and responsibility for the nation as a whole. As fractured group identities and narratives of grievance began to replace a sense of patriotism and national pride, college educated elites across the West became ever-more self-referential in their pursuits, locked in an exercise of inward-looking collective expiation for the centuries of Western racism, discrimination, and “privilege”—all allegedly the hallmarks of the culture they have inherited, which they must redefine, or repudiate altogether.

This decomposition of elite national identities across the West has already had noticeable national security consequences. After decades of debates over identity politics, collective group rights and cross-national institutions, the erstwhile assumption that, when it comes to national security, state sovereignty trumps other considerations has become ever more tenuous. The immediate result has been the declining systemic cohesion of democratic states, and the diminishment across the West of the principle that democratic rights carry with them the obligations of citizenship.

Historically, a nation-state stipulated the primacy of a nation brought together by a common culture, which in turn went on to generate an overarching national identity strong enough to attenuate regional, ethnic or religious differences. In both their American and European systemic varieties, democratic institutions have preserved and protected the rights of the people, while the culturally grounded dominant national identity has given the nation-state its requisite resilience, while also imbuing it with the power to make demands of its citizens. So long as this shared national identity remained strong—call it patriotism, love of country, or belonging beyond one’s immediate family and local community—the nation-state retained its cohesion, resting on a sense of reciprocity between the government and the citizen....

Bruce Hayden said...

Today after decades of espousing multiculturalism and group rights buttressed by the politics of grievance, the foundations of a larger shared national identity have eroded such that governance—or better yet, governability—has become an increasingly scarce commodity across the West. We are at an inflection point, where a growing systemic disorder is stoked not just by shifts in the global power distribution, but by the progressive decline in governability. The dismantling of the core principle that the national homeland should be under the sovereign control of its people lies at the root of this problem.

The hypothesis that institutions ultimately trump culture has over the past quarter century morphed into an article of faith, alongside the fervently held belief that nationalism and democratic politics are at their core fundamentally incompatible. The decades-long assault on the very idea of national identity steeped in a shared culture and defined by a commitment to the preservation of the nation has left Western leadership frequently unable to articulate the fundamentals that bind us and that we thus must be prepared to defend. The deepening fight over the right of the central government to control the national border—which is at the core of the Western idea of the nation-state—is emblematic of this situation.

The deconstruction of the nation-state across the West has had consequences beyond the national security of individual states. It has directly diminished the durability of the liberal world order, which not so long ago was heralded as the zenith of our globalized future. Though its fundaments are still in place, the era of the post-Cold War triumph of liberal internationalism is more than a decade behind us. The liberal international order cannot function without strong national communities acting as the baselines for democratic government. Regrettably, in the last half-century we have witnessed the gradual unraveling of the cultural foundations of this compact—the idea of the nation as an overarching identifier linking peoples across space and time.

Today, in addition to the shifting global power equation and surging transnational threats, a key factor in the deteriorating security of the collective West is our inability to appreciate the vital importance of the nation-state to the security of a self-governing people. National identity, national culture and history, and the sense of belonging to a distinct community are not antithetical to the notion of an interdependent international system. On the contrary, when bereft of the core building blocks of consolidated nation-states, the system will grow less stable with each passing year.

Michael K said...

"He can't support war unless he served? Fine. Then you can't oppose the war unless you served. "

I just have observed that the ones making the "chicken hawk" slur are usually draft dodgers.

I haven't seen chuck show us his DD214, either. Trump may or may not have angled to get out. Heel spurs are still disqualifying. There is a specific test we use for that condition. It's called "heel walking."

"@Dr K - always somewhat of a purist/traditionalist with Battle Hymn of the Republic, preferring all male voices."

I agree. The Army band is pretty good. Julia Ward Howe noticed the troops singling raunchy marching songs and write the Hymn to give them something else. One example of a raunchy marching song is in "Heartbreak Ridge." Eastwood would get it in.

I understand many southerners hate the Battle Hymn.

Michael K said...

I linked to that essay on "The Nation State" in another thread.

Livermoron said...

Denver was , as I was, an Air Force brat. Not Army. Our paths crossed once or twice in my youth. His real last name was Deutschendorf. My Dad told me John's Dad was one hell of a pilot.

William Chadwick said...

I often wonder why American "liberals" (using the once-honorable term "liberal" in its current a-historical, bastardized meaning) celebrate the Fourth at all. A tax revolt fought by armed white guys, touched off when the Big Government of its day sought to seize their arms and ammunition? I've heard some "liberals" say, "We're celebrating the fact that we can choose out own form of government<' with the implication that--yay!--now we get to CHOOSE serfdom! If that were the case, I think the people of Concord and Lexington, hearing Paul Revere ride by shouting, "The British are coming!" might have been justified in just rolling over and going back to sleep.

Michael K said...

"Denver was , as I was, an Air Force brat."

Thanks for the correction. I didn't look it up. I knew he was a military family kid.

I think his carelessness about the fuel valves in his plane did him in, as I recall.

Livermoron said...

As far as a great airplane song, may I suggest the Air Force Hymn?

I do love all the military's official hymns. Each one makes me well up. And yes, I served in the Army. So maybe I've earned that right?

Chuck, Howard, what service branches were you in?

John's Dad set some flying records IIRC.

mockturtle said...

I have no military record but my father served with the Coast Guard on an LST in the Pacific in WWII and my brother was in the Army in 'Nam. Many of my ancestors were Civil War and Revolutionary War veterans. I am crushed that neither of my grandsons has seen fit to enter the military.

Michael K said...

"I am crushed that neither of my grandsons has seen fit to enter the military."

I was disappointed when one of my sons almost joined the Coast Guard and then backed out. I've forgotten his reasons.

I have one grandson and think that his father could think hard about encouraging him to join the military before college.

I was an enlisted man before medical school as were both my partners in practice. I seriously considered a military internship and residency because the pay of interns was so low then. I talk to my students suggesting they should consider the military which will now pay medical school tuition. They all rely on student loans but medicine does not pay as well as it did in the old days and they are going to be in hock for decades.

Two of my great grandfather's brothers joined the Union Army in 1862 and both died. One died of measles contracted in army camp, common at the time, and the other was wounded at Vicksburg on May 22, 1863 in the last assault before Grant started the siege that ended July 4. The second left a wife and children. I have tried to find what happened to her.

She wrote nice poetry and I have some of her poems and letters.


Fen said...

"Heel spurs are disqualifying"

It's funny you say that. I have them. They were very painful for me as a kid playing sports. I became a child expert on Orthopedic heel inserts. Low to no arches too.

When I was in pain, my Dad would console me: "at least you'll never be drated"

Then I joined the Marines. Infantry too. I remember at medical pre-check (I forget the name for it) being nervous about the heel spurs, but the doc didn't blink twice.

mockturtle said...

I was an enlisted man before medical school as were both my partners in practice.

As did my stepson.

Quaestor said...

Liberals who hate Lee Greenwood's song have the same mentality as those woe begotten conspiracy theorists who re-wired their audio turntables in order to listen for phrases like Paul is a dead man and Hail, Satan!

openidname said...

"'Well, there's pride in every American heart'

"That's plainly a lie . . . ."

Not if you read it, as I do, as meaning every true American (as in every true Scotsman).

Quaestor said...

I understand many southerners hate the Battle Hymn.

Please don't interpret "many" as a significant number. There are a few Confederate revanchist types, but they are cranks. I have a friend who fits this category, however, he's a bit of garden variety crank who also goes off on the subject of industrial hemp (whatever that is) which is the cure for whatever ails ya. Besides being a crank he is also a talented musician and a gifted poet, and therefore charming for all his eccentricities. Southerners (capitalize, thank you) sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic with more gusto than the typical progressive of any region.

We take pride in the valor of our troops and the genius of their generals, but we are saddened that their courage and sacrifice was spent on such an unworthy cause. The Germans often have a similar attitude to the Wehrmacht.

Quaestor said...

openidname wrote: Not if you read it, as I do, as meaning every true American (as in every true Scotsman).

openidname would probably benefit from a flea collar.

Michael K said...

"being nervous about the heel spurs, but the doc didn't blink twice."

Some MEPS are pretty casual about the physical. If you could heel walk, they would pass you.

The LA MEPS does a much more rigorous ortho neuro exam than Phoenix or Seattle.

LA also says it has the lowest number of kids failing basic training in the country.

I passed the physical for the Air Force two years after I had a three level compression fracture in my back. It was picked up on the medical school chest x-ray. I didn't say anything and they didn't look too hard.

35 years later it ended my career at age 55.

Of course, those were the days of the draft when guys were trying to get out. Now they are trying to get in.

Michael K said...

"we are saddened that their courage and sacrifice was spent on such an unworthy cause."

I had seen it but had no idea how many felt that way. The complaint I saw was about thinking God was on the Union side.

German belt buckles said "Gott Mit Uns."

Sherman, in his famous letter, said, in addition to having no industry, the South had a "bad cause."

Lewis Wetzel said...

however, he's a bit of garden variety crank who also goes off on the subject of industrial hemp (whatever that is) which is the cure for whatever ails ya
I recently had a friend diagnosed with cancer. It fell to me to inform the young man who was his only living relative. When I broke the news to him, he immediately went off on a rant about the cancer-curing properties of cannabis. My friend had lung cancer that had metastasized and made its way to his liver.
"This guy is going to be totally useless in this situation" I thought to myself.

Bay Area Guy said...

God Bless the USA, Baby!

Brexit 1776!

Bruce Hayden said...

@Dr K - my great-great grandfather fought for the Union, but survived. My mother somehow got the original page of his enlistment and had it framed. He somehow hit his tailbone or something during the war, and had chronic pain for the next 50+ years. Thrown from his horse in his early 80s, somehow his back got straightened out, and lived another decade without the pain. In his autobiography, noted Civil War historian Bruce Catton listed him as one of the veterans of that war who inspired his choice of career, by their marching on patriotic holidays, when growing up in Benzonia, MI. These vets similarly inspired my grandfather, who received a battlefield commission during WW I, rose to full colonel, retiring after serving as a judge on a Nazi war crimes tribunal after WW II. Catton is buried in the next family plot over from my mother's family (including that GG grandfather) there. The thing that I remember distinctly about that cemetery was the number of metal GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) grave markers there.

David Begley said...

Independence Day weekend genius from Ann Althouse. And, yes, she is right and the pathetic WaPo is wrong again. Thanks, Ann.

hombre said...

Lewis Wetzel (12:19): "Not on my part. I am a Christian. I love these people [the elites]. God loves them. One day we will all be singing, together, in the heavenly choir."

You lost me at the last sentence. I though there were conditions precedent to "singing in the heavenly choir." If so, I don't see much hope for the secular progressive elites.

mockturtle said...

Lewis Wetzel (12:19): "Not on my part. I am a Christian. I love these people [the elites]. God loves them. One day we will all be singing, together, in the heavenly choir."

You lost me at the last sentence. I though there were conditions precedent to "singing in the heavenly choir." If so, I don't see much hope for the secular progressive elites.

Without Christ, they'll be singing a different tune in the Lake of Fire. Maybe, "Too Damned Hot", or "Heat Wave".

mockturtle said...

Or 'Light My Fire', or 'Ring of Fire' or 'Great Balls of Fire'.

Lewis Wetzel said...

You lost me at the last sentence. I though there were conditions precedent to "singing in the heavenly choir." If so, I don't see much hope for the secular progressive elites.
I know that Christ is working every second of every day to secure the salvation of sinners (including me). Prodigal son and all that.

Fen said...

MEPS, yes thank you. That was bugging me since I posted.

Michael K said...

He somehow hit his tailbone or something during the war, and had chronic pain for the next 50+ years.

We mostly have no idea about how the wounded suffered for the rest of their lives. I have a lecture on Civil War Medicine that I give from time to time.

One example of a famous soldier is Joshua Chamberlain, who was a great hero at Gettysburg.

Beside him as he died was Dr. Abner O. Shaw of Portland, one of the two surgeons who had operated on him in Petersburg 50 years previously. A full study of his medical history strongly suggests that it was complications from the wound suffered at Petersburg that resulted in his death.[21] He was the last Civil War veteran to die as a result of wounds from the war and considered by some the last casualty of the war.[22]

What the Wiki article does not mention, and is not well known is that Chamberlain, as a result of a war wound, had a bladder fistula all his life which drained urine continually.

There was no successful repair of an intestinal wound in the war and those that survived mostly had fistulas that drained bowel contents, either colon or small intestine. I have photos of some of them in my lecture.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

'Nuf to bring a tear to the eye.

Etienne said...

Sadly, Baseball died when the players went out on strike, and the fans were abandoned.

That's all I know about Baseball.

Chuck said...

For the umpteenth time, I am asked about my military service.

Like Donald Trump, I never served in the military. Unlike Donald Trump, I never used college deferments and then "heel spurs" to evade 1A status.

I was too young for the draft. By a year. I had a draft card. In those days, we got cards that classified us as 1H, I think. Which meant, "presumptively 1A, but there is no draft at this time." I never had to report for a physical. I would have been 1A. I had good eyesight and was an all-league athlete.

I was close enough to the draft to know what I would have done if there had been a draft. I would have served. Like my father, a WWII draftee as an 18 year-old in 1943, did. I had all of the early 1970's to think about it.

But with no draft, and without any urgent need for financial assistance as an undergrad, I did not volunteer or enter ROTC. The Vietnam war was winding down very quickly, and the military wasn't begging anybody to join.

I've said a number of times that I wish I had. I'd favor a universal national service requirement. None of my friends (none of them quite as conservative as me) had any interest.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Etienne said...
Sadly, Baseball died when the players went out on strike, and the fans were abandoned."

That was 23 years ago. Most of us forgave them a long time ago.

I've gone to games at Miller Park, Wrigley, Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium within the past few years. The game and crowds look very much alive to me.

Etienne said...

When I went through the AFEES induction center in 1971 I was there to get my physical after joining the Air Force delayed enlistment program. (side note, I even got an honorable discharge from that program).

It was a fantastic experience. We were there at 7:30 and told to wait in the Red Cross picnic area. At 8 am the doors opened and the draftees were lined-up in four columns by Army and Marine Corps drill sergeants.

Then the drill sergeant said that Army draftees would follow the blue line on the floor, and Marine draftees would follow the red line. Then he started selecting men, and going Army, and pushing a man to the blue line, and Marine corps, and pushing the man to the red line,

Then all hell broke loose, and men started shifting around in back so they wouldn't get the Marine corps. But the drill sergeant was smarter than that. He started pushing five men at a time to the lines.

The whole time I'm looking at these men, and they are like the scum of the Earth. They look like homeless people, or Hobo's. Many of them have hair down to their asshole, and even 10 feet away we could smell them.

It dawned on me, that America was probably the cruelest country on Earth. Sending the bottom of the barrel to fight for us. No wonder we lost.

Later, I would meet some of these scumbags when I was in active duty. They were always in the Brig. I remember escorting four of them to Lawton, OK and the Fort Sill Brig. They were charged with AWOL and Desertion.

I was very glad when the draft ended. It's a great feeling when everyone in your outfit not only wants to be there, but they want to be the best.

Paul Ciotti said...

Liberals basically don't like America. But they won't leave. They want the rest of us to leave.

Quaestor said...

Chuck wrote: I would have served. Like my father, a WWII draftee as an 18 year-old in 1943, did. I had all of the early 1970's to think about it.

We note the self-righteous tone, Chuck.

The real truth is, like President Trump, you DID NOT SERVE, though you were of military age. You say you would have served if called. But you weren't called, and therefore we have only your word on this, and since it serves your purpose, we have reason to doubt your sincerity. Nothing prevented you from volunteering. I gather you became eligible in the early seventies when Nixon's Vietnamization of the fighting was taking hold, so why not volunteer? If the prospect of infantry combat made you shit your pants you could have volunteered for the Air Force or the Navy, couldn't you?

mockturtle said...

At least Trump attended a military school. ;-)

Etienne said...

A buddy of mine from high school, avoided the draft by joining the Coast Guard. He was born in 1952.

This was actually pretty hard to do, as the Coast Guard was filled with kids from wealthy parents, and it was harder than hell to get in. These outfits spent all their time cruising the Caribbean islands.

After his training was over as a medic, he was sent to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

So much for avoiding the war :-)

Chuck said...

No Quaestor, you've got it all almost completely wrong.

I mention my opportunity to have thought carefully about the draft, because a lot of people had a lot of different thoughts at that time. People thought about going to Canada, which was right across from Detroit where I was born. Other people thought about fighting. Uppermost in my mind, was that dodging the draft was a felony. That's about it. I had the chance to think about it, for several years. If I had been drafted, I'd have served.

You are wrong about how old or young I was. Vietnam was going through very large troop reductions before and when I turned 18. The fact that they had officially ended the draft at that time tells you about what was happening. The year I turned 18, Nixon resigned, Ford became president, the 1974 midterm elections produce a huge antiwar Democrat majority and they were pulling troops and decommissioning whole units as fast as they could. Nixon had already signed off on the "peace" accord.

Again, like Trump I never served. And unlike Trump, I never employed anything like "heel spurs" to evade the draft.

MadisonMan said...

Perhaps the Liberal Friends of the WaPa author would be more accepting of the song if it were penned by that dreamy Justin Trudeau and contained a lot more apologies.

Both of my grandfathers served in WWI. One was an ambulance driver in France -- I have his picture in a uniform in the entry hall of the house -- he was 18 when he enlisted. (18!!) The other was an aviator -- but he was finally commissioned an active pilot in November 1918. On the 10th.

My great-great-grandfather in the Civil War (Union Side) lost a couple inches of one leg. Two years later it discharged about a quart of pus. But he still lived and worked 'til the 20th century.

Livermoron said...

I volunteered for the Army in 1971. My draft number was 316...I wasn't going to be drafted.

Flat feet and asthma. I hid the asthma and Army boots do wonders for flat feet. I still wear mine around the ranch.

I think Chuck should shut the fuck up when he criticizes others for not joining the military. He doesn't have that right.
What a shitheel he is, our Cuck.

JML said...

In '82 or '83 Lee Greenwood visited the Philippines with the USO. I had his CD (still do) and knew the people in billeting. One of the NCOs asked if I wanted his room number so I could go ask him to sign the CD. I said no way, I didn't want to disturb him, he just flew in from a long flight, jet lag, etc. He said, "Hell, I will, he's a nice guy." He stomps down the hall, returns and hands me the signed CD. He told me, "Mr. Greenwood sends his regards."

JML said...

And yes, it is sappy. And we didn't care; we loved it.

Fen said...

Chuck: "and I never employed anything like heel spurs to avoid the draft"

But you didn't volunteer either. So sit down and shut up. You never earned the right to judge people for draft dodging. Only those of us who have served did.

Besides, by your own account, it was felony fear that kept you from dodging, not any patriotic duty.

But I'm stunned that Chuck is an old man. I thought we were debating with a naive youngster with little life experience.

Now I feel dirty.

Fen said...

Sorry guys. It's nice to hear everyone's account of their draft experiences and their family members who served in war. Chuck had to turn it into another boring bash about Trump.

You should apologize to everyone for doing thst, Chuck.

My own story is funny in a way. Karma. My Grandfather's served in WW2, one in the Navy in the Pacific theater, one in the Army in the European.

There's a family rumor that I was born earlier than planned to get my Father a deferrment so he could stay in law school. Odin and Tyr allowed this, but only on condition that his firstborn become a United States Marine. Haha. :)

JML said...

Quaestor, I was in Huntsville taking a Defense Acquisition University class that had several local Army National Gaurd and Reserve officers in it. I asked about local Civil War sites to go to and it lead to a discussion of tactics. The locals were discussing the sad fact that the Union Army burned churches and homes when the came into 'our' country. I pointed out that the South did start the war, where upon one of the officers stated something like, "Yes, but your side went too far"...I interrupted: "You do realize that you are wearing the uniform of a US Army soldier, and you are on "your side" now, don't you?" There was a long pause..."Well, this is different...."

Fen said...

What strikes me about Catton's historical works is how many times the Northern Army almost lost the war. Now I am NOT a civil war expert, but it seems that there were 3-4 times when the Union Army was about to route in an uncontrolled retreat. And in rides a mid-western officer who rallies them get back on the line and hold.

My ancestors fought for the Union, but I'm a native Texan so my sympathies are with the South.

But objectively, if the South had won, there would have been no strong Federalist nation. Which means no America to stop the Nazi or the Soviet global domination.

So I can almost imagine these handful of reversals by the North as temporal nodes. So lucky. Almost as if a few time travellers were sent back to change the timestream.

Fen said...

The South didn't start the war. The North chose to reinforce Ft Sumter inside our border, as a staging point for future warfighting operations. We had no choice but to fire on that resupply ship.

If they had simply abandoned thaf fort and ridden that ship home... imagine how different our history would be.

And the butterfly effects. No America in WW2. And so a young German corporal immigrates to a land of opportunity and invents the popsicle. Inspired by his best-seller: My Struggle With Arizona Heatwaves.

Livermoron said...

Fen, that is just a disingenuous statement. Ft. Sumter was a Federal possession. Lincoln sent only victuals so as to provide the minimal 'provocation' to South Carolina, a state which had already declared secession. The Southroners (Yes, that is the correct term of the time) fired the first shots.
Frankly, reading such nonsense from you is surprising and deeply disappointing.

I hope you don't believe that secession from the Union is a valid option. Armed revolution before disunion!

I believe in this experiment.

Big Mike said...

Merle Haggard had it right in 1977:

"If you don't love it, leave it:
Let this song I'm singin' be a warnin'.
If you're runnin' down my country, man,
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me."

Lewis Wetzel said...

The real Lewis Wetzel was a courageous and skillful Indian fighter. He had mastered the skill of reloading a muzzle loader while running, which made him something of a legend on the frontier. The first-hand recollections you read of the frontier battles of 1780-1830 are an eye opener. The settlers were hard bitten Scots Irish descended from the Ulster Plantation colonists & bandits from the English-Scottish Borderlands. They gave no quarter and expected none. Lots of whites were taking Indian scalps. The usual "battle" consisted of one or two dozen on each side. They dismounted to fight because they weren't pros, their horses weren't cavalry horses, and they couldn't fire from the saddle with any chance of hitting the enemy. One shot from the muzzle loaders and then it was close quarters with knife and hatchet.
The ancestors who share my real surname were not quite so brave as the Indian Fighters. They were Pennsylvania Dutch, and I suspect that they were Tories, out of gratitude to William Penn and a fear of a congregationalist, Episcopalian, and Baptist American regime. In the Civil war I had an ancestor who signed up as a paid substitute in April, 1865, when the war was over. My grandfather spent WW2 at Hickam teaching marksmanship -- never fired a shot in anger. In Korea he was a gunsmith, and, again, never fired a shot in anger.
On the other side of the family, a grandfather was preparing to embark on a troop ship for Europe when the WWI armistice was signed.

Be said...

This is a Wonderful Song, and a Nostalgic one. Most likely not Nobel-Laureate-worthy, but Up There on a National Level.

I'd much rather hear this at the local fireworks than, Say, be in France for the 14th, and hear Tchaikowsky's "1812 Overture" playing while the fireworks went off (which I have experienced, by the way).

mockturtle said...

again, never fired a shot in anger

Nothing colder than a mirthful shooter.

Fen said...

"disingenuous... Ft Sumter was a federal possession"

It was until the South seceded. Then it belonged to the Confederacy. Kinda like how Baltimore stopped belonging to the Brits once America declared its indpendence.

So imagine if the redcoats had set up shop at Fort Whetstone, overlooking Baltimore Harbor. Would you have had a problem with that?

Fen said...

I'm just saying - try to look at it from their perspective.

You have British troops squatting on your property. Key terrain in one of your major trading ports.

You tell them to leave. They refuse.

And now, not only are they refusing to leave, they are resupplying so they can dig in.

So you fire across the bow of the supply ship to make it turn away.

It refuses, so you have no choice but to light it up.

Mark said...

The very act of attempting to destroy the Union by their pretend "secession" was itself an act of war against the Union. As was all the active resistance against the lawfully elected government of the United States.

Mark said...

No. You weren't giving us "their" perspective. You were giving us your own.

A perspective agreeing with and justifying war against the Union. As well as justifying resistance against the lawfully elected government.

You sound an awful lot like not only a 19th century Democrat, but also a modern-day Democrat.

Livermoron said...

Fen, someone steals something does not mean they own it. Yours is one of the stupidest answers I've seen in quite a long while and I now have a modicum of sympathy for Inga.

Kevin said...

"Yes, it is overwrought and jingoistic. It glorifies war. It trumpets self-righteousness."

You know what is overwrought and self-righteous? The use of the word jingoistic.

Fen said...

"One of the stupidest answers"

I don't understand why you are so angry. This is not a current event, we are not refighting the civil war. We both agree it was best that the Union prevailed.

And you've completely ignored the parallels to thd American Revolution . Did the people of Baltimore own Baltimore or did the Queen?

The argument was that the South shot first, as if they were the agressors. But they simply wanted to secede, it was the Union that employed force to prevent that.

Fen said...

And Livermoon, your opinion and respect mean less to me now that you've littered an intellectual debate with personal insults. What the hell is wrong with you?

You need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why my difference of opinion turned you into an asshole.

And you should apologize for that.

axelhose said...

You might be right that Tennessee is in the song because of his wife but he is a country music singer and his songs that mention places must have either Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee or Texas in them. The others are too hard to rhyme.

Inkling said...

Some people are so committed to themselves that their minds short circuit at any expression of commitment to country. And it's not just the U.S. Many Germans think that two of the three versus of "Das Deutschlandlied" are so Nazi, they will sing only one of the three. Listen to all of them and see if you can figure out which two are Nazi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhQwLeMcbRY

Hard isn't it? The song echos the liberalism of the time it written, 1841 and champions nothing worse than a united German whose borders are far smaller than those of Nazi Germany. And it has none of the wartime flavor of either the American or French national anthems. Indeed, the second verse could hardly be more harmless, merely praising German women and wine. And yet that's one of the two allegedly Nazi verses.

If you're still in doubt, read the commentary that accompanies the video. The only one devoid of alleged Nazi influences is the third. Third verses in songs tend to be the most banal, and that's true of this one.

Pity the Germans. The simpletons who found the first two verses Nazi-like carried the day and had them purged from public singing. Personally, I find the first verse perhaps to have perhaps the best lyrics of any anthem. And the sentiments, "Germany above everything," are precisely the sentiments everyone should have about their country. Indeed, this anthem beats out many others in that it raises up German without putting down any other country.


JDH said...

Hi Ann - Thanks for the careful reading of the words, but I disagree with you too. It is a wonderful and great song. First, your nitpicking on the words - "men who died" and "gave that right to me" is overblown. You can certainly salute the ones who died without excluding there were others. And the substitution of "men" for "men and women" is certainly (outside of liberal U.S. campuses) allowable.

Certainly the true source of rights is God, but as a person, I cannot practice these God given rights without men (and women) who are willing and able to defend them. They did not ORIGINATE the rights, but they certainly were instrumental in guaranteeing my exercise of them. A right that can not be exercised is useless. So someone who is instrumental in ALLOWING me to practice that right did "give" it to me.

I think you really blew it on the second verse, though. The geography lesson is not a throw away as you suggest. It is a building of a vision. This is a particularly patriotic vision that encapsulates the ideal, not the current reality. It is often done in literature and song, where in order to discuss a "hope it would be" or a "this is what it should be", you conduct a ceremonial flyover. (cp. "This Land is Made for You and Me", and "America the Beautiful") What you label as just a "presumptuous lie" is part of that patriotic vision. It certainly is not a command, "You must think this way," but an ideal, that if we were truly honest, "We all would think this way." Yes it is sermonizing, but I think the sermonizing is good here because the real lie that needs to be defeated is the lie told by the left. It is foolish to claim anything other than that America, despite its flaws produced by being a land inhabited by flawed human beings, is a GREAT country worthy of standing up and saluting. GOD BLESS THE USA.

mistermoleman.com said...

Two thoughts:
1. Orwell In his 1941 "Lion and Unicorn", wrote that "almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during 'God Save the King' than of stealing from a poor box."
2. The one place you can count on an enthusiastic audience for Greenwood's song is at any rodeo, anywhere in the country.

Greg said...


Overwrought, jingoistic, self-righteousness, war-glorifying... really? Why does it make some people feel that's what it says when that's absolutely not in the words? Where does that extra-textualism come from?

Gramscian damage.

Ken B said...

Fen, I am a Canadian, and I know the South fired first, on Fort Sumter.

This "oh they're not the aggressor" meme is out of control with Souther sympathizers. I had this argument on another blog, where the neo-confederates there denied Germany fired the first shots in 1914!

I recommend either The Scorpion's Sting or the (much longer and more detailed) Freedom National, both by Oakes to anyone tempted to think Fen has a point.

LilyBart said...

The left despises my values. They hate what is important to me.

How then are we to get along? How can we survive as a cohesive society?

Meghan Daly said...

"The clunker in there is "at least." We go from the idea that a man could rebuild his life if only he has freedom to the idea of being proud about living in a country that might not offer anything else but freedom. (By the way, there's no antecedent for "where." Grammatically, it should be something like I'm proud to live in America where at least I know I'm free, but that would introduce the conceptual problem of non-Americans who live in America. I'm proud to be a citizen of America where at least I know I'm free... too many syllables.)"

I'm proud to be an American, 'cause at least I know I'm free.

Lee Moore said...

And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free

Althouse’s complaint about the grammar here is, er, overwrought. This is an example of (unmarked) ellipsis, where [a native of a country] has been omitted. Very common in ordinary speech, perfectly grammatical and entirely acceptable in song, poetry or prose. Even in prose, including the omitted words would be so clunky as to make the sentence pompous.

And talking of Bob Dylan, what a good Trumpian / Sandersian song “North Country Blues” is. I love the Joan Baez version, but I recently listened to Dylan’s own version and I thought it suited the song better. Joan Baez’s voice is beautiful and mellifluous. Dylan’s is rusty and raspy. North Country Blues seems to work better with a rusty, raspy voice.

Lee Moore said...

The argument between Fen and Mark about Fort Sumter, and Mark's difficulty in spotting the analogy between the American rebellion of the 1770s and the South's rebellion of the 1860s, reminded me of a good line from "Shogun" - the historical novel about seventeenth century japan, which was turned into quite a good TV mini series (a long time ago.) which I shall now misquote :

Lord Toronaga (Big Japanese Cheese) : "There can be no justification for a rebellion against your lawful sovereign !"

Blackthorne (English sailor) : "No my Lord……unless you win !"

Fen said...

Ken: "I'm a Canadian. I know who fired the first shots"

I agree that the South fired the first shots. Is English your native language, because I made it very clear that the South fired the first shots.

Ken: (something about neo-confederates arguing whether Germany fired the first shots in WWI)

What are you on about? Look, I think it's really great that you won an argument somewhere else with some other people about something else. Grats.

The point I was making was the South fired in self-defense. They wanted to leave the party peacefully and the north refused to let them, and threatened violence by occupying a Confederate Fort to use as a staging point for future attacks.

For months South Carolina requested that the Union abandon the fort and pull its troops out of South Carolina, nd the Union refused. Then the Union ttempted to resupply and reinforce the Fort. A shot was fired over the bow of the supply ship to make it turn away. Still the North refused. So the South, having no other choice, fired on the invaders. And for that they are tagged as "starting" a hot war. Bullshit.

Imagine if 300 Americans marched on Quebec to burn it too the ground. For 2 months you ask us to leave. As we approach with torches, you fire warning shots over our heads to demonstrate you are prepared to defend Quebec. But we keep coming, so you shoot. Are you the ones who "started" the war?

Fen said...

Never had a problem with the grammar. It's a jump, subconsciously, to set up the next line.

She twirled left, she twirled right - it's assume that she stopped twirling left to start twirling right, the laws of physics state she came to a brief stop in between, but I don't need another line to faithfully detail it. It's assumed.

She twirled to the Left
(and then came to a stop and)
She twirled to the Right.

I'm proud to be an American
(a citizen of America)
Where at least I know I'm free.

See? Subconsciously corrected, for the benefit of rhyme and meter. And I never really liked the song to begin with.

Trashhauler said...

Re taking freedom away: "You cannot conquer a free man. The most you can do is kill him."

MarkJ said...

"Chickenhawk"? Hmmm, guess that gets rid of Lincoln (sole military experience was two weeks as a Illinois militia captain during the Black Hawk War of 1832, did not see action). That pretty much also disposes of FDR (no formal military experience, did serve as Asst. Secretary of the Navy, 1913-1921).

Incidentally, Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, did have extensive military experience (USMA, Class of 1828; served as an infantry officer in Michigan Territory, 1828-1835; served again as Colonel of a Mississippi regiment during the Mexican War and WIA at Buena Vista, 1846-1847; Secretary of War, 1853-1857). Say what you will about Jeff Davis, but the man was definitely tough and decidedly no coward...or chickenhawk.

Jack Sherman said...

Like performing barking seals Proggies are trained to react to certain words in specific ways. It doesn't imply that what they're saying actually means anything.

Nashveganite said...

First, let it be known that I am of a mind with the likes of Mark Steyn, Tucker Carlson, Glen Reynolds and most of his contributors at Instapundit, as well as Breitbart and Milton Friedman. In short, I am what they now call an arch-conservative. So I do not find patriotism or patriotic sentiment hard to bear; believe me, I'm all in.

Problem is Lee Greenwood and his song. As a bona fide failed songwriter living in Nashville for over 30 years, I can tell you that God Bless the USA is widely reviled, both for its construction, the timing of its release, and its author. It is a horrible, terrible, amateurish song about on the level of If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me (Bellamy Bros. from about the same era). Putting aside for a minute the fact that Lee Greenwood is the very epitome of an oily Vegas lounge singer (which is what he was), the song itself is an embarrassment, chock-full-o' patriotic phrases poorly strung together, poor rhymes you can see the writer stretching for from a mile away, and bad grammar (not on purpose). There is no build up in either the melody or the lyrics.

As someone who actually cries when reading the Gettysburg Address and who loves quality songs from He Stopped Loving Her Today, to Georgia on My Mind, to Yesterday, to I Just Wanna Be Sedated, I cringe whenever God Bless the USA comes on. It is so transparently a piece of merch and so poorly constructed at that, it just makes my teeth hurt.

I'll stick with God Bless America.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Nashveganite.

I'm going to put your comment on a new post on the front page so people will read it.

John Burger said...

I agree with Ann and Nashveganite. I, too, cringe when I hear this song. It is down right awful.

And to the person kind enough to post the lyrics to Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”: Thanks a whole lot. Ten years of therapy down the drain. That song is one of the more unforgivable musings on patriotism and citizenship. I quickly turn the station when it comes on the radio.

jvb

Meade said...

Here's a comforting song for cringers.