Who’s Next?

In 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Four days later Hitler declared war on the United States. The enemy was clearly defined. We went to war. We hated Hitler. We hated Tojo. We had been attacked on our own soil. We would destroy those who dared threaten us.

On May 7, 1945 Germany surrendered. On August 15, 1945 Japan announced it would surrender. Somewhere between 6.9 and 7.4 million Germans died before that happened. About 27 million people in the Soviet Union were killed. Japan lost 2.5 to 3.2 million lives. America lost 419,400, mostly military personnel. (All numbers both military and civilian) [1]

Almost immediately the Communists, represented by our former ally, The Soviet Union, became the new enemy. America grew to hate communists in short order. They were out to destroy us. And that made us afraid.

By June of 1950 we were at war again, this time in Korea. As a result of the division of Korea into two parts at the end of WW II, two governments claimed to be the legitimate government of Korea. The North was supported by China and aided by the Soviet Union (the commies) and the South was supported by a UN force led by the United States.

At home, the Cold War gained momentum. Republican Joe McCarthy began senate hearings, accusing various Americans, particularly in the entertainment business, of being communists and communist sympathizers. Tracts were published urging Americans “DON’T patronize the REDS!!!” “So REMEMBER – if you patronize a film made by RED Producers, Writers, Stars and STUDIOS you are aiding and abetting COMMUNISM…”

The Korean War ended officially in July of 1953. Recent estimates of the total number killed in battle are placed at 1.2 million. The US lost 33,686. [2]

In 1954 we added “Under God” to the pledge of allegiance because we were better than those godless commies who seemed to be taking over everything.

By 1955 we were back at war, this time in Vietnam. This was another cold war proxy fight between the US and communism played out much the same as the Korean situation. Vietnam was another country divided by the result of WWII. The Soviet Union and China backed the North who saw the conflict as a colonial war to reunite Vietnam under communist rule, and the US backed the south, to prevent the spread of communism. We started out with just a few advisers.

In 1957 we put “In God We Trust” on our paper money, apparently because putting God into the pledge didn’t work well enough to discourage communism.

Back at home we hated commies even more. Those communists were out to destroy democracy. By 1958 the John Birch Society was founded. The stated purpose of this group was to oppose communism, socialism, totalitarianism, collectivism, and wealth redistribution. The John Birch Society also opposed the 1960’s civil rights movement, claiming it was created by communists. We’d been hating blacks since they were freed. The leading conservative of his day, William F Buckley, believed that the John Birch Society’s rapid growth could lead to an “ugly, even fascist turn” in the right-wing upsurge. [3]

The JBS was founded by a group of 12 men, among them Fred C. Koch, also founder of Koch Industries and father of Charles and David Koch. These are the same Koch brothers who plan to spend nearly a billion dollars influencing the 2016 presidential elections.

By the time Kennedy took office in 1960 we were deep into the nuclear arms race. Communists were to be both hated and feared even more. They had nukes too. We were taught to hide under our desks to protect ourselves from a nuclear attack by the commie reds. In 1962 it almost came to that when the Cuban missile crises erupted.

Military involvement in Vietnam lasted until August of 1973. Saigon fell in 1975. By that time it had become obvious that it had been a terrible waste of American resources. Protesters marched in our streets. Students were killed at Kent State. As much as we hated communists, we came to hate this war even more. We lost the Vietnam War, although you seldom see that in print in the USA. Vietnam was reunified in 1976 under a communist government. Laos and Cambodia also fell to the communists.

Between 1.4 and 3.6 million people died in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia depending on whose figures you believe. Allied military deaths numbered 282,000. [4] The war lasted 19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks and 1 day.

Meanwhile the US government and its clandestine arm, the CIA, had been busy fighting communism in other parts of the world as well, albeit more quietly. The US had been backing Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, since WWII. By 1979 that support backfired and the Iranian people revolted, exiling the Shah and placing the Middle East squarely in the center of the US media when on November 4, 1979 Iranian revolutionary students took over 60 hostages at the American embassy.

The American people knew about the Middle East because of Israel, the six day war, and the Palestinian “problem.” They knew little about Islam or Iran, but they had our people and we needed to by God get them back. President Jimmy Carter’s failed attempt to do that militarily nearly destroyed his legacy. The hostages were released on Jan 20, 1981, the day after Reagan took office.

But the psyche of America was still focused on the defeat of communism, on the Soviet Union and China.

The US and the Soviets were fighting another proxy war in Afghanistan between 1979 to February 1989 where the US armed and trained fighters known as the Mujahideen, among them Osama bin Laden. The Soviets were eventually forced to withdraw. It may have been a loss for the communists, but in hindsight it was probably not a win for the US and democracy.

In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded and annexed Kuwait. In response President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Desert Storm on 17 January 1991. UN forces led by the United States drove Saddam back to Iraq and freed Kuwait. It was all over by 28 February.

Operation Desert Storm put the Middle East squarely in front of the American people. It focused media attention like nothing since the Vietnam War.

And then on December 26, 1991 we woke up and the Soviet Union had fallen apart. The great communist experiment had failed. We had spent over 40 years hating and fearing and fighting communists all over the world. As a culture we had shaped our lives and our government around it. Entire political organizations had grown up to combat it. Entire political careers had been based on its defeat. We had an enormous war machine designed to wage war against it and a nuclear arsenal amassed to deter it. The Movement Conservatives had shaped a large portion of their ideology on anti-communism. The psyche of an entire nation had been trained to despise communists.

There was a gigantic vacuum to be filled. Oh, we still had plenty of people to hate and fear. There were always the blacks. Racial hatred had gone underground, but it never left us. And immigrants. We had hated all the immigrant groups as they arrived. Irish, Italian, Polish, Chinese – they each had their chance to be the whipping boys for America’s hate. Now we have Latinos.

But these were petty hatreds, short-lived (except for the blacks), and as these groups began to talk more like the white majority and look more western, we forgot to hate them as much. We moved on. And these little hatreds, these little fears, could not begin to fill the void in the American psyche left by the demise of communism. We were a nation driven by hate and fear, and we had no enemy worthy of the overwhelming power of that emotion. Who could we wage war on now?

And then it happened again.

Sixty years after Pearl Harbor, on September 11, 2001, we were attacked on American soil again, and we found our new enemy in al-Qaeda. And we found our new ideology to fear: Islam. The Iranian hostage crisis and Desert Storm had prepared the way.

It was a cathartic moment in American history as an entire nation took a breath and rededicated their pent up hatred and fear in a new direction. And the fall of the Twin Towers had amplified that hatred ten-fold. Where we had hated communists because we had always hated communists and been raised to hate communists, we hated Muslims and al Qaeda because we had watched our people die on television that morning; we felt powerless and afraid that this was just the beginning. How do you defend against people who will do something that awful?

We went to war once again.

But this was different. The Germans wore uniforms and marched in columns. You could tell them from the good guys. The Japanese had the rising sun on their planes and you could spot them a mile away. They both used artillery you could bomb, ships you could sink.   Al Qaeda looked like everyone else and they were willing to blow themselves up to kill their enemies. They lived in caves if they had to and taught children to kill. Al Qaeda wasn’t a country.

They would not be easy to defeat and the American psyche demanded action. They weren’t even easy to find.

So we did the next best thing. We made up excuses and we attacked Saddam Hussein. He had an army that was easy to spot; they still wore uniforms. You could tell the good guys from the bad guys on television. He controlled massive oil resources. The Iraqis were all Muslims and it was Muslims who attacked us, right? And Papa Bush should have finished him the last time.

We would also deal with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but this was bold and this was to prove that America was still the greatest nation on earth and you couldn’t screw with America.

It was shock and awe time.

And we were just so damn blindly awesome. We had no real understanding of the Iraqi culture, no real understanding of Islam, but we brought the hammer down and in just 21 days we defeated the Iraqi army and deposed the Ba’athist government of Saddam Hussein. USA! USA! We also set off a chain reaction that has turned the entire region into a nightmare of epic proportions, alienated Muslims across the region, and sent hundreds of thousands of Muslims seeking shelter in non-Muslim countries.

But that’s ok, because Muslims are now the enemy. We hate Muslims now. Muslims are terrorists like the ones who flew planes into the Twin Towers. It doesn’t matter what Muslims think. Muslims are worse than communists because communists and Muslims both want to take over the world, but communists never blew people up in office buildings because someone drew a cartoon of Lenin.

We have to hate Muslims. We are powerless if they come for us. They’ll come pouring through the Mexican border and they’ll bomb our marathons and they’ll poison our children’s minds over the internet. Their women will smuggle guns in their burkas to kill us while we eat at McDonalds and we’d never see them coming. We need our open carry permits and our concealed carry permits because we have to protect ourselves from middle school electronics projects.

We have to hate Muslims because we are afraid of Muslims and we always hate what we fear. It doesn’t matter that the Muslims who attacked us were a very tiny (compared to Islam as a whole) group of extremists whose radical views are not shared by the majority. They are Muslims and the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. We learned that when we exterminated nearly the entire Native American population.

We can quote three verses from the Qur’an that prove Muslims want all American infidels dead!

Most of us don’t know anything about the Qur’an. We don’t know anything about the culture of Islam either in the Middle East or in our own country. We don’t know anything about the Hadith or how Sharia Law is actually practiced. We hate an imaginary Islam created out of bits and pieces, primarily chosen by those who are most afraid.

But the depth of our hatred is very real. You see it in the media and you see it even more on social media where “the only peacefull part of there relligion is the silence after the grenade goes off in there pocket, give each and everyone of them one and then listen, boom silence, dirty pedo scumbags.” [sic] Apparently the depth of our hatred is much greater than the depth of our education.

Islam is a very complicated subject. It is practiced differently in different places and it doesn’t have just one source of authority. If we have learned anything by now it should be that you can’t understand what you can’t abide.

Look at the history of our country since Pearl Harbor. We have been waging war on what we hate and fear for over 75 years. Millions have lost their lives in that process, most of those on the other “side.”

Is it any wonder that the world sees the United States as the number one threat to world peace? [5]

If we continue in this hatred of Islam we are going to wage war on one quarter of the world’s population. We are going to continue to interfere in cultures we don’t understand well and to displace populations who should not be displaced. We are going to continue killing millions of people.

This is madness.

It is madness and it is perpetuated by a segment of our population that has historically deeply rooted interests both politically and financially in seeing that it becomes the new normal.

And if we kill all 1.6 billion Muslims, who do we hate next?

There are problems to be faced as the Muslim population in traditionally non-Muslim countries increases, but no problem has ever been solved through hate and fear. Not one. Ever.

“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.”  Eric Hoffer – “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements”

Your Humble Servant,
Roger A. Shipley, The Willowbrook Curmudgeon

3 thoughts on “Who’s Next?

  1. I am a curmudgeon too. I am a rather highly educated computer dunce. I am spending my last few years trying to have a small effect through my writing. I enjoyed this very much. On 9/11 I was still bedridden after a two year bought with sepsis due to a MRSA infection. I self-described as a “liberal” after our more perfidious citizens began using the term as a pejorative. My sister came by my house to see me and found me crying. She thought I was crying because of all the Americans killed in New York and the Pentagon. Actually I was crying because I thought this would be another excuse that would add to our violence against the world. Well there you have it. May I copy your tome to my wall?


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