Many folks have given up regular reading of newspapers and books. Why?
An ongoing blitz of celebrity-based electronic froth makes young folks believe they’re “getting plenty of news.” They do have at their command many facts. It’s just that what they care about seems to center on starlets having babies and/or cheating on their boyfriends, and whether the Philadelphia Eagles’ playoff chances are threatened by injuries.
As John Taylor Gatto has pointed out, our society now rewards talkers. If those who can barely read — or even speak beyond blurting the cliches of the moment — are paid millions, then complex literacy in English will increasingly be regarded on the level of being able to read ancient Greek or teaching your dog to dance on his hind legs — briefly cool, but finally weird and not worth the trouble.
They further believe wading through a lot of heavy reading on economics or constitutional law to sort out which politicians are lying may not make much difference, because they’re all lying, and no matter which ones get elected we still get higher taxes and stupider laws.
They may have a point.
The problem is that the truth does lie out there. One of those voices, competing for your attention, is the modern Noah, warning you to build a boat. Which one?
Last year, I read a diary written by an “average Joe” in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
I was amazed to see him remarking, in the summer of 1930, that he was beginning to have doubts about the official pronouncements out of Washington that “prosperity was just around the corner,” etc.
Last week, I stumbled on a monograph written by a college professor in 1937, referring in the past tense to “the Depression of the early 1930s.”
In hindsight, we tend to figure the Great Depression was monolithic — that it started in the fall of 1929, and everyone knew it — that it was still going strong in 1937, and everyone knew it.
In fact, people smart enough to know better kept insisting it either hadn’t started, or that it had ended, when with the benefit of hindsight we now know all the government interventions intended to “fix things” only made things worse, under both Hoover and FDR, for years and years.
The gang in Washington today is, if possible, even more hostile to businesses and those who own them — more anxious to punish “the rich” — than were FDR’s brain trust of the 1930s.
What if the business entrepreneur on whose shoulders our economy rests, in the same manner as the Greeks once pictured our globe resting on the shoulders of Atlas, simply said enough is enough, shrugged off his burden and quit? Someone should write a book about that.
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A few folks wrote in to protest a passing reference, in my column of Nov. 14, to Israel’s defensive wars, including the 1967 Six-Day War. They say Israel started it.
This is a bit like arguing Poland started World War II.
If a bellicose neighbor follows up a long series of death threats against me by finally drawing his gun in a public place, but I manage to beat him to the draw and plug him, did I “start it”?
What is the contention, precisely? That little Israel decided to attack all its surrounding Arab enemies simultaneously in 1967, just because the Israelis thought it would be a fun way to spend the summer?
In just the first four months of 1967, 37 armed attacks were launched into Israel by the Palestinian Liberation Organization — always targeting civilians.
The Syrian army at this point was using the Golan Heights, which tower 3,000 feet above Galilee, to shell Israeli farms and villages. Children living in the Huleh Valley had to sleep in bomb shelters. The United Nations, which was supposed to police the 1948 cease-fire, did nothing — though Israel was condemned by the United Nations when it retaliated.
On May 15, Israel’s Independence Day, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai and massing near the Israeli border. Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdul Nasser ordered the U.N. Emergency Force stationed in the Sinai since 1956 as a buffer between Israeli and Egyptian forces to withdraw on May 16.
After that withdrawal, Netanel Lorch reports in “One Long War” (1976), the “Voice of the Arabs” radio station proclaimed on May 18, 1967: “As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the U.N. about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.”
On May 20, Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad added: “I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”
Egyptian forces took up the UNEF’s former positions at Sharm el-Sheikh, overlooking the Straits of Tiran. Israel reiterated declarations made in 1957 that any closure of the Straits would be considered an act of war. Nasser declared the Straits closed to Israeli shipping May 22-23.
This blockade cut off Israel’s flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran. The blockade violated the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, adopted by the U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea on April 27, 1958.
President Johnson said the blockade was illegal and tried, unsuccessfully, to organize an international flotilla to test it. He also said the blockade, which was an act of war, started the war.
Nasser challenged Israel to fight almost daily. “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight,” he said on May 27. The following day he added: “We will not accept any … co-existence with Israel. … Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel. … The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.”
That is, literally, a declaration of war.
By this time, approximately 465,000 troops, more than 2,800 tanks and 800 aircraft ringed Israel. On May 31, at Jordan’s invitation, the Iraqi army began deploying troops and armored units in Jordan.
On June 4, realizing they couldn’t keep their troops on alert status forever, the Israelis decided to comply with Nasser’s demand for war. The next morning, Israel launched Operation Focus, a large-scale surprise air strike that wiped out the Egyptian Air Force on the ground.
Within days, the vast Arab armies were running away. Israel conquered the Sinai, all of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. When Israel agreed to a cease-fire, the roads were open to Cairo, Amman and Damascus. Little Israel had 777 soldiers killed — a highly significant portion of her population. The Arab death toll has been estimated above 18,000, most of them Egyptians.
The Arab militaries, who had forced little Israel into war at the time of their own choosing, became the laughingstock of the world.
Ever since, these characters have been strapping on explosive belts and blowing up pizza parlors and trying to set fire to their shoes and underpants while whining for someone else to “fix it” for them.
And claiming Israel started the 1967 Six-Day War.
What a bunch of losers.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, and author of “Send in the Waco Killers” and the novel “The Black Arrow.” See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.