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January 28, 2010
Automatic for the PeopleBy Greyhawk
My first thought on learning Howard Zinn is dead was "heh - he never saw my contribution to his royalty check." Then I wondered who he might have willed it to...
My daughter is taking a (college) history class this semester, and Zinn's is the textbook of (teacher's) choice. The littlest Greyhawk is something of a rebel, though - a freethinker, and absolutely not the gullible sort - so not a candidate for an A-doubleplus grade in the World According to Zinn. She was born in Korea, lived all over the world and is not the stereotypical American college freshman, away from home for the first time and trained to accept anything teacher says as Gospel. She doesn't confuse credibility with typing ability, or assign motive other than profit (financial or otherwise) to those who choose which typist gets approval, print, binding, and endorsement. (Errors often unrecognizable as such to many a 19-year old assured that the programming they're receiving is "radical," and actually a secret, suppressed and forbidden knowledge denied the less worthy.) In short, she is everything a true-believer isn't (but is told repeatedly they are).
Funny and related side story: "Where was I born?" she asked me while filling out an application for college. "Korea," I replied somewhat puzzled - because she knows that.
"I know. But is South Korea the Republic of Korea or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea?"
She was surprised (in a chuckling way) at the answer - but it's revealing that a Communist hell-hole, one of the worst places on Earth for human beings in the 21st Century, calls itself a "People's Republic." Once you've grasped the reality of that, however, you're ready for a People's History of the United States.
She could have dropped the class, of course. But I encouraged her not to. The experience in dealing with propaganda will be good; she'll reinforce her ability to accept facts, reject fiction, and recognize the twisting of each into the other.
Case in point - shortly after the earthquake struck Haiti, USAF Special Operations personnel had deployed to the Port-au-Prince airport to restore and maintain critical flight services there. Prior to their arrival a gridlock had been established, as plane after plane loaded with relief supplies and workers landed to discover they could neither refuel or - in many cases - offload. It took a while, but our boys (I use terms like that to piss off Communists, by the way) restored some semblance of order.
But almost immediately Hugo Chavez vocalized what was already "the People's" official position on Haiti: the Earthquake was an excuse for US military occupation. At that point all was chaos and no one knew what was going on, but lack of knowledge never kept a Zinndinista from recognizing a "teachable moment" - and my daughter's class was treated to a fine example that day. Not only had the US military occupied Haiti, they were stopping the real relief efforts from coming through. No motive for this behavior was presented - presumably that's just how the US military is. (Later Chavez would claim the US had actually caused the earthquake with some sort of secret earthquake-making weapon; that sort of stuff must be reserved for graduate level Zinndoctrination.)
Above, courtesy of my militant bourgeois friends at Argghhh, US Air Force air traffic controllers bringing order to chaos at Port-au-Prince's airport on Monday, January 18. It would be a couple days before they'd bring in an actual tactical control tower to use in place of the one rendered unusable by the quake.
In short, in about 87 hours they did more good for more people than Howard Zinn could manage in his 87 years on earth.
Then they did more.
She could have asked me "when is my birthday?" too. In Korea it was early on January 28th, but in the States it was still the 27th, 1991. Today, of course. So off I go to participate in that most remarkable of Capitalist traditions - the obtaining of a gift.
A tangible one, I mean.
Previously Haiti relief from USNS Comfort
Next: Sometimes a hero
Posted by Greyhawk / January 28, 2010 4:42 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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