"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Duck & Cover

When I was in grammar school, beginning in the mid 50's, we had periodic fire drills. Everyone lined up quickly and quietly; someone was assigned to close any open windows; someone was assigned to be last in line, and close the classroom door; someone was assigned to retrieve the teacher's attendance register. Everyone moved quickly out of the building to a designated area, and the teacher took attendance to verify that everyone was accounted for.

And children across America continue these drills, necessary for their safety in the event of a fire. But, until recently, schoolchildren didn't participate in that other kind of drill that was routine back in the day.

Just as often we participated in "Civil Defense" drills, through which we learned what to do in the event of an enemy military attack against the United States. We didn't prepare for the landing of Russian marines, of course, but for the arrival of nuclear-tipped Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles. We were taught that a different response was called for: Someone was assigned to close the windows, and someone was assigned to close the window shades; someone was assigned to close the classroom door. Everyone moved quickly to their designated place in the windowless hallway, where we faced and leaned against the wall, in single file, cradling our heads (and protecting our eyes) with our folded arms. No one stood in front of a classroom door (they all had windows ripe for being blown out), nor across the hall from any windowed door.

We've all heard people make light of this exercise, as if those silly, naive fools back in 1957 thought they could protect against a hydrogen bomb. Of course, everyone knew that if such a bomb actually detonated "near" the Warren G. Harding school, nothing that Miss Shields could do would be of any help. Indeed, the joke was that "almost" didn't count in baseball or football, or anything at all, except in horseshoes, and with atom bombs: A near miss would get you points.

But the preparation had two practical effects. First, not every school would be within the radius of destruction so that no measures would be effective. For many schools (and schoolchildren) these few simple precautions might save them from injury, or blindness. The second effect was more important. These drills served to bring home to us, in a practical, routine way, that outside of our cozy classroom, beyond our baseball field, beyond the tracks of our daily lives, there were people who not only didn't like us very much, but had threatened to kill us. And these people had the means of doing so: If the Soviets decided that everyone within 100 miles of New York City should die, then everyone within 100 miles of New York City would die. Perhaps this afternoon.

There was never any confusion about who the enemy was. I certainly don't recall that anyone ever said anything like, "We're going to make believe that the Russians have launched an attack." If anything, it might have been explained, "If the Russians were to launch a nuclear attack . . .," since the Russians were the only folks in the world who had both the ability to kill us, and the expressed desire to do so. There was no pretending about it. And there didn't need to be.

We see that such "Civil Defense" drills have returned to schools in the aftermath of our recognition that we are at war with militant Islamic fascists. They are, after all, the only folks in the world who have expressed the desire to kill us, and they are certainly the only folks in the world who have recently succeeded in doing so. And such drills are a good thing, not only for the practical good they may do when we suffer the next such terrorist attack, but for the fact that -- like those drills of my youth -- they serve to remind us all, and to remind our children, that we are at war with an identifiable enemy, who has the means, the desire, and the will to kill them.

Except not so much. Some such drills are apparently conducted within make-believe parameters that are at best useless but, in some instances, affirmatively demonstrate the moral rot at the center of American culture; they posit that the hypothetical terrorists in today's drill are not Islamic militants, but are instead Christian home-schoolers opposed to public education, or some other Christian fundamentalist sect dubbed the "New Crusaders."

If Osama bin Laden could himself design an exercise calculated to enervate and disarm his only dangerous enemy, this is precisely what he would do.

More HERE.

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