Two Kinds of War
|Defense At Home||Defense Abroad|
Where does your “inner” end and your “outer” begin?
“Defence!” That’s what major market basketball audiences scream in the waning minutes when their team is up by only a few.
Everyone will agree you have a right to defend yourself: unless the person attacking you outranks you.
Ask kids what kind of an animal a robin is, they’ll all yell “bird” almost on the instant. Ask what kind of an animal an ostrich is they’ll still chorus “bird”; but they’ll take an extra second. Ask anybody if it’s wrong to kill, they’ll answer Yes: instantly, emphatically. Is it wrong to kill an intruder? No! Is it wrong for a Connecticut suburbanite to go into Harlem, isolate a tattooed, muscled male and shoot him in the heart? Uh … You’ll still get a Yes or two, but not a chorus of them. But, but … the guy might come to Connecticut and assault you, in your house?
When I was a kid the new kid, American but raised in Peru, told me that you could shoot anybody you wanted to in Lima: so long as you dragged their corpse onto your property before the cops came. You could safely kill any “trespasser.”
(Will those same semantic ambiguities work against God at Judgment?)
If Americans have the right to kill little Vietnamese girls that might be Viet Cong, surely we have the right to kill boys in Afghanistan who might someday fly a plane into a skyscraper.
In 1933 Berlin brown shirts isolated a Jewish couple, beat them, killed the pregnant woman. A lot of Germans didn’t mind. A lot of Americans didn’t mind: the contemporary press wouldn’t repeat the story.
Last night Jan and I watched The Man From Laramie.
Jimmy Stewart, holds his own against every kind of frontier bully: they beat him up, kill his mules, burn his wagons, cripple him: that’s all OK until there’s a whiff that repeating rifles were sold to the Apache: with more rifles about to be.
Until then Stewart is the type of male independent: a seeming individual. But, he keeps saying, he’s not a cowboy. We’ll, the more he says he’s not a cowboy, neither is he a foreman, the more people start calling him Captain. And sure enough, by the end we all see hinted, big as the desert, he carries some kind of secret authority: from Washington no doubt: and its manifest-destiny network.
The white men can be as mean as snakes, cheat, steal, kill left and right, that’s just boys being boys, and good for us. Washington didn’t tell a lie (goes the lie), but the CIA is lying for us.
The brown shirts killed the Jews, the real people didn’t mind. We can defend ourselves in Connecticut by killing in Harlem, but the Apache have no rights on their own land: not if we want their land.
first draft, I’ll edit
Don’t we all just love Jimmy Stewart? I sure do, always have. He’s from the perfect age bracket for my worship: approximately my father’s age!
I just learned that he came to Hollywood with his good buddy Henry Fonda! Ditto. What great “every man” men.
And I just realized part of Stewart’s appeal, apropos of America’s peculiar version of the idea of “individual”: Jimmy was lanky, tallish. Sure, we all see that. No, focus: he was 143 pounds! What business did he have boxing, wrestling, gunning with heavies: like Arthur Kennedy?
Our skinny hero, stuttering Jimmy, who somehow wasn’t a runt.
And in our history this loner who was secretly a captain, actually became a colonel (and then a general).
And I further just realized: Fonda and Stewart were very much subservient to John Ford: and Ford was ten years, twelve, their senior!
I love films from the period when I was six, and sixteen, and twenty-six … Somebody from another period will be most open to what they nested against when they were six, and sixteen …
Put a baby in a nest of Samaritans and the man will just love Samaritans while every other Jew hates them.