I worry sometimes about the radical polarization taking place in America. So it is with that in mind, I was just thinking this morning about the passing last month of Alfred Anderson of Scotland, at 109 years old, the last living man who remembers the guns going silent on Christmas Eve, 1914.
A spontaneous truce broke out across German and English lines on Christmas Eve, 1914, when the troops started singing carols to each other. Anderson enlisted in the Army at 18, and fought for two years before being wounded in 1916, then being sent home to Scotland where he took over his father's boat building business.
It was difficult not to be moved, listening to a audio clip of Anderson being interviewed a few years ago talking about the almost sudden and eerie silence over the front, then hearing the sound of Silent Night being sung in German rising softly from the opposing trenches... For me, the meaning and hope of Christmas resides in extraordinary moments like the 1914 Christmas Eve Truce.
It just seems like lately we have become all about our own anger, cyncism and enmity. I want to remember a time when I didn't feel like this all the time, and hope for a day when I can put that all away again.
If soldiers could look across that "short deadly space" of no-man's land and remember their humanity on Christmas, even for just a few hours, then perhaps I can too...
It reminds me of the line from the Tommy Sands song "Roses:" I don't know what the moral is or how the song should end/but I wonder just how many wars are fought between good friends."
Sorry, didn't mean to moralize or bring anyone down... just seems like it's been a while since we've had any light around here...
In the Washington Post story this morning, it noted towards the end that one of my favorite Republican sociopaths in Congress, Dana Rohrabacher either co-signed or was some sort of reference on the Abrahamoff boat loan.
I was communications director for Jim Brandt, Rohrabacher's Democratic opponent in 2004. Dana barely ran a campaign, namely because he is not the mover and shaker he once was in Orange County GOP political circles. We are going again here in 2006 (which is to say, we are going now).
Could this scandal actually expand to encomass Rohrabacher? Could this be the final bit that makes the Orange County GOP just finally cut him loose?
Here is my big fear from giving in to so-called "identity politics."
This is the kind of thing that leads to civil war.
Sound a bit over the top? I certainly hope so... Last year, I was the communications director for the Jim Brandt congressional campaign against Dana Rohrabacher in the CA46. We had a lot of Republicans tell us they liked Jim, that they liked what he had to say, but that they simply could not vote for Jim.
I heard several variations on the answer "that's just not who we are..." And I have heard this from a lot of different quarters. Commitment to an identity has trumped ideology -- and even self-interest -- in American electoral thinking.
It worries me that the polarization of the electorate seems to be reaching a kind of event horizon, a point of no-return, or at least a point where the resultant energy necessary to return some semblance of balance would make a hell of an explosion.
I feel like many of us on the left and right are starting to feel that there is no "loyal opposition" anymore. Check out Dave Neiwert's blog Orcinus regarding "eliminationist rhetoric.
It just feels like we are getting to a point where the various "sides" feel they can no longer live peacefully with those "others" as their neighbors.
Sorry, this went a lot longer than I meant, it's just been something that has been worrying me. I keep thinking of the words of Abraham Lincoln from his speech to the Young Men's Lyceum in 1849:
"All the armies of the world with a Bonaparte for commander with all the treasuries of the world at their disposal could not in a trial of a thousand years make a track on the blue ridge or take a drink from the Ohio. At what point is danger to be expected then. I say that if destruction be our lot, then we must be it's author and finisher. I say that as a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
Does anyone have information as to whether Brian Hicks (theHicks of Hicks Partners, the Ohio public affairs, wingnut politician factory in league with Schmidt, Noe, et al.) is a relative of Thomas Hicks (theHicks of Hicks, Tate, Muse & Furst; the guy who sold W the Texas Rangers for a song, and long time Texas energy/capital player?)...
Sorry, actually trying to do a little journalism on a sultry evening in Los Angeles...