Saturday, February 25, 2006

PAPPY BOYINGTON - SHOT DOWN BY AMERICAN IMPERIALISM

A first-class teapot tempest arose mid-February over the reluctance of the UW Senate to approve a proposal to erect a monument to WWII marine ace pilot Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, UW alumnus.

Blogger Andrews Dad has been following the controversy. Two relevant posts:

http://andrews-dad.blogspot.com/2006/02/university-of-washingtons-student.html

http://andrews-dad.blogspot.com/2006/02/uw-student-senate-meeting-minutes-for.html

Blood pressure time…

I think this argument is a load of crap and has gone far enough. I don't think anyone is 100% right here, but the students are far more "right" than their attackers.

I am quite familiar with this history, and was long before the fracas. A lot is being left out.

Boyington didn't want to be a marine. He wanted to be an engineer. He started out as ROTC, did a few months' gig with a coast artillery battery and then served as a reservist. He chose his other, more noted path partly to escape a bad marriage... Later, when his drunken excesses got him censured, he fought to get a commission with the marines. They didn't want him! But they needed him...

Which is to say he was like a lot of other people in his day, an ordinary man with more than his share of stain on his life.

On 12-6-1941, most Americans didn't want to go to war. On 12-8-1941, they lined up by the thousands to sign a blank check to their Nation because they were needed. They weren't lured to the recruiter with promises of fat bonuses, huge educational payments, or the virtual guarantee of a cushy civilian job after the fact. They were promised nothing except blood, toil, tears, and sweat.

It's a far cry from today...

Why do the students at the U - or at least some of them - think a Marine isn't the kind of person "we" should honor? Because WWII was the last "just" war this Nation fought.

Who shot down Pappy, symbolically? Who changed what he has come to stand for here from a hero to a villain? US Imperialism did this. Vietnam did this.

FWIW, if I had been there, I would have voted for the memorial. If I had been voting on memorials per se at a time none existed, I would have voted no. There is honor in putting down your plow and taking up a gun for your country. There is no honor in what you do with the damned gun.

The students deadlocked on this proposal. As the fat chickenhawk extraordinaire, Kirby Wilbur, noted, a few years back the vote would have been overwhelmingly "no." Make what you want of that.

A couple of the girls in the Senate made stupid little girl comments. And your point is? One uneducated kid thought Boyington was a rich white guy. Oh well. She made a fool of herself. Maybe she has learned to study before speaking.

If you have read the minutes of the Senate meeting that started the fight you know there was a motion to table the proposal. If they had done so, maybe some of the senators would have had a chance to study this matter, which is, after all, something only we students of history know in detail. The vote might have been different after reflection.

Here's the real issue. The Senate did what Senates do: It debated the question. A lot of the things said by US Senators are over the top; it's not surprising the UW Senators said a few wild things. What they did was perfectly reasonable.

But not to the war party. They just couldn't wait to put a jackboot on somebody's neck because they cannot tolerate any more dissent, especially now, that their Iraq escapade is in tatters. It's not quite a NAZI attitude, but it's on the path to it. Since the wars this fallen Nation chooses to embroil itself in no longer have any real honor, the war fanatics fight at every turn to stoke the inherently tarnished, diminished honor of the volunteers who have chosen to follow our misleaders.

But it doesn't matter. They will never meet Pappy's measure or the measure of his peers because the Pappy generation didn't want war yet they fought anyway.

"Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just"... Pappy's generation could sing the anthem knowing they lived up to it. Today it just comes off as a hustle.

Pappy was famously and possibly incorrectly quoted [paraphrase] "Scratch a hero and find a bum," perhaps an appropriate sentiment coming from a man who flew his most famous sorties with a blinding hangover.

Pappy's collegiate descendent, Jill Edwards, said she "didn't believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

I'm not so sure Pappy would have disagreed.

Comments:
Well, I guess it's a compliment to you, that you still manage to surprise me.

Could you possibly give me an example of what you would consider an "honorable" war, in todays age?
 
"Pappy's collegiate descendent, Jill Edwards, said she "didn't believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

I'm not so sure Pappy would have disagreed."

I don't believe Jill Edwards is an example of the sort of person this country wants to produce.

Given his nature, as you just explained, I'm not so sure Pappy would have disagreed.
 
Ha, you played the Nazi card. Outstanding. I, for one, will never tired Hitler branding.

These poorly informed young women made their ignorance known and were called on it. It's how free speech and public debate are designed to work.
 
The crux of the student argument was that Boyington killed people, killing is bad, Boyington is bad.
 
In your post you say:

"There is honor in putting down your plow and taking up a gun for your country. There is no honor in what you do with the damned gun."

What in the world does this mean? Does it mean it is honorable to take up arms in defense of your country, just don’t actually use them? Am I entirely misreading this? If so I have a feeling Im not the only one.

Also, the old chestnut of WW2 being the last honorable war is really getting stale. This is especially so in the light of our present day situation. The Japanese attacked us in a lesser way than we were on 9-11. Sure, we went after the attacker, Japan, but then we also attacked Germany. Sound a little bit like attacking Afghanistan, then Iraq? Eerie aint it? How about this one, after VE day we were hated in Europe. They wanted us out of there. We still are disliked there to one degree or another. Wanna know something else? We lost WWII, it was a total failure. How do we know this? We are still there! By the lefts definition we have lost. Look at how long our occupation lasted? We have been in Iraq around 3 years, We are up to 60 in Europe still with no chance of them coming home in sight.

Remember FDR locking up all the Americans of Japanese ancestry? Wow! I mean .... Wow! How about that one? Sort of makes the whole Gitmo thing seem pretty damn, well, honorable.

Weapons of mass destruction? Well yes, they didnt turn up in Iraq, very true. But Saddam did do everything in his power to make us beleave he had them. But wait a second, they sure did turn up in Japan didnt they? Im not saying it was wrong for us to use the bomb, but please, we used two. No small amount of that decision was to end the war quickly. But lets not pretend that decision has perfect moral clarity.

Lets also remember that we did not get involved in fighting Germany because Hitler was burning Jews. We got involved because we were scared he would take over all of Europe and then come for us. That was true, but please lets not make out that our intentions then were any more honorable than they are now. It was self-interest pure and simple. That is not a bad reason to go to war, but it does start making this endless enshrinement of WWII and denigrating all our other efforts seem a little old.
 
I would say that when your post takes an issue like this and catagorizes one side as "silly" and the other side as nearly nazi jock booted thugs, it is less then nuetral.

And for all your representatoins about Pappy's lack of charactor, the fact remains he fought, and he fought with valour and distinctoin.

Oh, and I will be sure to let my dad know when he fought in Korea, it was not honorable...
 
Pappy's a hero. Does anything you've written in your post negate that? Nope. He's deserving of honor, just like our men and women in uniform anytime.
 
All:

"There is honor in putting down your plow and taking up a gun for your country. There is no honor in what you do with the damned gun."

What in the world does this mean? Does it mean it is honorable to take up arms in defense of your country, just don’t actually use them?"

It means there may be honor in meeting the commitment any citizen has to his/her country, but there is no honor in killing, ever. It may be necessary but it is never good. As to just, frankly, I think it's arrogant for anyone - me included - to make that call.

Which brings to mind a question about conservative thinking: Do you really believe "necessary" and "good" are synonymous? So much of the thinking on the larger issue of the role of war revolves around this question. Pragmatic thinkers realize it may be necessary to commit an evil act, but necessity doesn't change evil to good. It may even come to pass that a good end is accomplished by an evil act. Yet unless you accept that the ends justify the means...

Was WWII Just? Which WWII? WWII in Europe was a direct result of our blundering interference in WWI, an act that is hard to justify by any standard. So the "honor" in WWII / Europe was in trying to undo the blunder... An effort which, as R Ruse notes, may have failed...

WWII in the Pacific was unfortunately something we brought on ourselves over a hundred years time. That war actually began in 1845 when Dewey humiliated the Shogun. Japan was largely oblivious to the rest of the world until we forced them to acknowledge it. It was only after then that the Japanese martial culture found a larger expression. But from their point of view, it was all self-defense.

Still, after Pearl Harbor, we had to fight...

Conservatives need to pull their heads out of their butts while there is still time. Charles Krauthammer, whom I haven't agreed with since 9-11, has a good piece on the port deal which discusses it historically:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ideas_opinions/story/394181p-334218c.html

The link? We're still picking up Europe's colonial garbage! now, you may insist that in the end the world is better for colonialism - I won't argue either way since we cannot know what would have otherwise transpired. Yet this cannot "justify" the downsides of colonialism...

And last, Victoria, do you imply every hero deserves a monument? Oh well. It'll keep the plaque makers happy...
 
Maybe they do. But Pappy surely does.
 
Walter said "The crux of the student argument was that Boyington killed people, killing is bad, Boyington is bad."

Which is why many are negative about the police and the military . . . and choose not to honor them for that they do. They protect us and safeguard our rights . . . but they have to take out our trash to do it. They perform one of the highest levels of service one can, they serve us by endangering their lives for our benefit.

They are willing to get their hands dirty to protect us, unlike our more civilized student senators.
 
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