Friday, November 9, 2007


It's more than just a cute inversion of significant date numbers. November 9 is the day, 18 years ago, that the Soviet Empire died. It fell off a wall and shattered. Along with the wall, which came tumbling down after. The Iron Curtain. The Berlin Wall. Check Point Charley. East Germany. The Second World.

I didn't get it at the time. It sort of looked like hooliganism. Vandalism. Look at them, swarming all over that wall. Order! -- order must be maintained! It just didn't seem like such a big deal. I couldn't conceive of there not being an enemy, you see. The USSR was not yet a kitsch joke. There was no Ebay, on which to purchase their army surplus goods.

I didn't realize that it was another Kristallnacht -- the night of November 9, 1938 when the Nazis uncorked their particular genius for evil and let it pour over the Jews in a way that made the future transparent, shining off the infinite magic-mirror shards of shop windows like a box of gold teeth. A night when the character of the future becomes manifest. A time filled with portent.

Of that wall, the Berlin Wall, hardly anything remains. Much of it was sold off as souvenirs. All that's left would be a raked strip of dust and gravel, weeds perhaps and the occasional marker or plaque. The long gray concrete dragon that symbolized the communist lust for oppression has rotted away and left not even bones. We have watched Ozymandias die, and the scrubbing hand of time wash away his greatness. Some of us didn't even know he was sick.

A year prior to the fall of the wall, I remember kneeling and holding my four year old son, pointing to the television at the out-going President Reagan. I said, "Remember him. He's the president now, but in a little while we'll have another president. " My little boy asked, as was his habit, "Is he a good man?" I don't recall my answer. It would have been something like, I think so. I gave careful answers. Now, these many years later, my answer would be less moderated. Yes, he was a good man.

We have a wonderful capacity to not remember the intensity of physical pain. We just remember that it was intense. A memory about a perception, rather than the pain itself. That capacity is not so good, in societies. A next generation rises up, and the traumas and travails of the prior are old news, boring dinnertime stories and the ramblings of old or middle aged men. Yeah, pops, but this is now. Let the gramophone unwind and pick up an iPod. They'll learn. iPods will be stereopticons. We combat this generational amnesia by kneeling with our little ones in front of the TV, pointing and saying "remember".

But because we cannot live without adversity, without enemies, the holiday from history that was the Soviet-free fiddling-clinton era was just the gestation period of islamism. The eight-year sabbatical was cut short with another sort of Kristallnacht -- one less horizontal, filled with shattering glass of course, but balls of flame and bending steel as well. The Nazis' bastard-child of islamism -- a dark-eyed non-Aryan embarrassment, but genetically linked in its anti-Semitism -- came of age as one born out of time, The Boys from Jeddah cloned as from the hateful DNA of a noxious weed preserved for these generations between the pages of a hybrid Mein Koran. The hollow places of the earth that feed such roots hold demons.

Six years into this new era, some of us still wonder about its nature. Is this a bad time? I think so. But good times in which we are irresponsible are bad times, like a day in which we fail to prepare for the night. If we fail to recognize the nature of our times, we will be buried in the rubble of what we have built. Everything, you see, is connected. You don't believe it? That's because you have forgotten what history is. History is a warning.



G.W.C. said...

I keep having people under 20 years old tell me that they learned in school that communism and the U.S.S.R. were never real threats. Only boogie men created by evil conservatives to keep stupid Americans in line. Each time, I find I don't know what to say. It's not that I don't know tha facts to argue it, I'm just usually struck speechless by the fact that teachers get away with this kind of BS. But, then again, my HS history teacher was a retired Army Ranger. He was the kind who didn't accept "try", "can't", "I don't know" etc. It's because of him that history and historical perspective became minor hobbies of mine. I think my kids are going to go to a private school, if I don't home school them.

Jack H said...

Take a look at anything by Robert Conquest.

The way to handle the kids is to have just a few stories. We learn by hearing stories. A couple of facts, woven into a story will undo some years of indoctrination. Kids have a moral sense -- that's how the lefties get them in the first place. Just let them know where true north is, and most of them will point to it. That's what they're trying to do, now.


G.W.C. said...

Thanks Jack, I'll check him out.