Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Politically Correct Christmas

From the archives...

*Note: I ran this on the blog in '05, and it drew heat from 'Tom', who demanded proof that Christians were being denied their Christmas celebrations and symbols (read the paper, Tom); and his gal pal, 'Michelle', whose marginal contribution was the following comment: "public nativity scenes make me want to hurl"*.
In honor of them and their peers (or to piss 'em off, either way), I repost the following:
That festive, overly-commercialized time known as Christmas is nearly upon us once more. A time of mistletoe. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Sleighbells. Colorful lights and decorative trees. Run amok credit card debt and shopping mall riots.
Ah, Christmas time.
Fortunately, the holiday has more traditional meanings for the majority of us, from family and religious aspects. But there is a very vocal minority, for varied reasons and ideologies, who strongly to hysterically disagree, and seek court-ordered means to bend the majority to the tyranny of the raucous minority. Among their well-worn and shoddy arguments include multiculturalism, discrimination and political correctness, among other silly things.

So as we stand on the cusp of yet another Christmas season -- and the ACLU is ramping up to represent the downtrodden squeaky-wheel minority against public displays of Christmas -- I thought I'd bury my tongue firmly in my cheek, and explore what Christmas would become if delivered through the legal system into the hands of the minority "progressive" culture, for the "good" of the rest of us:
- first and foremost, references to "Christmas" would have to end, since it infers 'Christianity', and God knows we can't have that (pun intended). Verbal greetings like "Merry Christmas!" would be severely punished by the PC Police, be it in schools or in public places. Perhaps even in homes, since such corruptive expressions by parents to their easily-impressionable young 'uns would make classroom indoctrination a bit more difficult for the teacher's union, and might be defined as 'child abuse' by Moron.arg's tort division.
- References to the North Pole would be eliminated, as any specific geographical reference that left out any other geographical reference wouldn't be fair, unless it somehow resembled something for the Islamofascists; the ACLU would be okay with that.
- holiday decorative symbolism could only be displayed if there was no possibility of even one person being offended by the intended symbolism. The same would extend to holiday carolling in public or where it might waft from a public venue to a private auditory domain; so too, with holiday plays and shows, wherein script writing would have to be approved by a multicultural committee of societial sensitivitists, to assure not one untoward reference is made to offend anyone (I think I saw this masterfully parodied on South Park).
- Santa Claus -- if allowed to retain that name -- would have to become gender neutral, color neutral, behavior neutral (some folks are offended by the jolly), appearance neutral, and activity neutral (things like "he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake", suggest privacy violations to some and subjective unfairness to others). In other words, he could do absolutely nothing even remotely considered detrimental to the self-esteem and victimization movements. Thus, he'd have to retire (be expunged from the public memory).
- mistletoe would be outlawed, as it promotes sexism (though it might depend in lib circles on what constitutes 'sex', right Bill?).
- The use of reindeer to power the sleigh would have to be halted, in the interests of PETA; whatever alternate power was used to run the sleigh would have to be deemed 'environmentally-friendly' by Al Gore and his carbon-offsets/global warming scam crowd; and the sleigh would have to be jammed with all the latest in safety and noise-abatement features, going through a dizzying array of pre-flight inspections by OSHA, FAA, EPA, DOT, and any other agency with the remotest claim of concern as to how the sleigh is designed, built, used, and operated. By the time all of the safety and environmental gewgaws were jammed in there, there'd be no room for anything else, but that's for later.
- Pre-flight comprehensive flight plans would have to be filed with each respective municipality, along with requisite landing permits issued where such is planned (ie., aerial distribution is prohibited for a plethora of reasons). Roof top landings would have to be cleared after years of environmental impact studies, in case there's a rare or as-yet undiscovered shingle microbe that might be endangered in the process.
- As for gift distribution -- if allowed at all -- it would have to be supported by a 24/7 accessible 800 number with online links, so that anyone who feels shorted, slighted, unsatisfied or undergifted, is quickly and immediately compensated so that not one person has their feelings hurt by not getting "what they deserve", whatever that is.
- Failure to abide by each and every dictate herein (and a multitude more that the ambulance-chasers would not hesitate to interpret or make up) would result in the persondated (more of that gender sensitivity) commencement of litigatory relief for the aggrieved party/parties, against any and all persons not politically, religiously, morally, et cetra-ly conducting themselves accordingly (ie., bowing to the squeaky, tyrannical minority, and selling out their family traditions for some wispy notion of multicultural purism, which is anything but).
Granted, this is a very tongue-in-cheek, poking-fun-at example of full, politically correct control over society for its own good. One that would prove a windfall for liberal control freaks and their lower-than-snake-spit lawyers. Fortunately, it is nothing more than an example in extremis, and meant to poke some politically incorrect fun at an intolerant, hypocritical segment of society that wishes just now to impose the Fairness Doctrine on this blog.
*Uh oh, Michelle must a seed another Nativity scene...she's over in the bushes, hurling*

But I digress.

At any rate, Christmas -- at least for now -- remains that which we, individually and collectively, remember it as, and make it in our lives. As you enjoy the holiday with family and friends -- or join Michelle in the bushes -- take a moment to remember the deeper, more significant things that Christmas has meant down the centuries, and enjoy a heart-felt "Merry Christmas" amongst you and yours.

Shucks, you might even extend the goodwill to a politically correct activist or lower-than-snake-spit lawyer you might know. By all means -- though it might send them to join Michelle in the bushes -- don't forget to wish them not only a Merry Christmas, but something useful this Yule season: a life.

After all, having the same chance of becoming a human being as a sperm does (about 1 in 100,000,000 or so), you might say that some of those folks need all the help they can get.

Merry Christmas -- no offense intended*

* though if any taken, widdit, putz.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Look Back: Melee

As I'm ending this month, I'm delving into history. I'm going to go back about 65 years, to remember a moment in time that holds special and painful memories even now, to a family from the town I consider my hometown in Iowa.

In November of 1942, a series of naval engagements took place in the distant Solomon Islands, on a waterway between islands that came to be known as "Iron Bottom Sound".

The reason for the nickname was simple enough to those who were there: thus it came to be known for the number of ships -- US and Japanese -- that came to call the bottom of the Sound their final resting place.

A series of three naval battles took place between November 13-15, 1942, forever after known as the Naval Battles of Guadalcanal. When the smoke had cleared in the wake of these engagements, the Japanese efforts to retake Guadalcanal from the Americans were doomed to failure, as were their hopes of turning the tide back in their favor in the wake of the disaster they suffered during the Battle of Midway, several months prior.

But the first engagement of that trio came at a high cost: six US ships and over 1,400 men were lost. Initially, it was viewed as a disastrous tactical defeat for the US.

A Japanese task force of two battleships (Hiei, Kirishima), one light cruiser (Nagara) and eleven destroyers, were sent to utterly destroy the small Marine airstrip on Guadalcanal -- Henderson Field. Loaded with special high-explosive bombardment shells for the purpose, the 14" gunned battleships were intended to thoroughly devastate the field and what American aircraft were based there, preparing the way for another naval task force to bring heavy troop reinforcements to the island. After recent combat and US naval losses in the area, the Japanese anticipated little to no opposition from US surface forces.

Meantime -- and while US support and transport vessels were evacuating the area -- an American naval task force of two heavy cruisers (San Francisco, Portland), three light cruisers (Helena, Atlanta, Juneau), and eight destroyers, set forth to intercept and destroy what they believed to be a Japanese task force of destroyers with light cruiser escort, bringing Japanese troop reinforcements to the island. Commanding the American force was Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan (pictured at the top), along with Rear Admiral Norman Scott (aboard the Atlanta, pictured at the top).

At approximately 0125 on the morning of November 13, 1942, the two forces made initial contact. For the Japanese task force commander, Admiral Abe, this unexpected contact was a dilemma: withdraw and replace the bombardment shells for his 14" guns with armor piercing, or continue on? After some moments of delay, he opted for the latter.

As for the American task force, Admiral Callaghan's deployment of his ships prevented his making the best use of the newer surface radar sets on some of his destroyers; and the ships that first detected the oncoming Japanese force both failed to properly notify Callaghan of the contact and to appreciate the size and firepower of the force they were sailing into.

Until, at 0148, when searchlights from the Hiei illuminated the bridge and upperworks of the USS Atlanta. At this point, the two task forces were the naval equivalent of eye-ball to eye-ball, at 3,000 yards or less.

And in that instant, it became a close-quarters, no-holds-barred melee.

In the confusion of the opening moments, an avalanche of shells -- Japanese and American -- descended upon the Atlanta, killing Admiral Scott and his staff, and mortally wounding the cruiser. With the brawl suddenly begun, Admiral Callaghan signalled all ships "Odd ships fire to starboard, even ships to port!". Moments later came a second signal from Admiral Callaghan, who by now realized what he was up against: "Fire on the big boys! We want the big boys!".

At one point in the point-blank melee, the 2,000 ton destroyer USS Laffey came within a mere 50 yards of a leviathan, the 32,000 ton battleship Hiei; too close for the Hiei to deploy her main battery, the Laffey sailed by at spitting range, firing everything she had into the Hiei. Shortly thereafter, the Laffey succumbed to fire from several Japanese destroyers, also at point-blank range.

Once more came searchlights from Japanese ships that illuminated the bridge of the USS San Francisco: in the hurricane of shells that followed, Admiral Callaghan, his staff, and the ship's captain, Cassin Young, were killed, and the San Francisco turned away, grievously wounded.

After 40 minutes of what one naval officer called "the naval equivalent of a bar room brawl with the lights out", the badly cut-up American task force retired: the Atlanta was sinking; the San Francisco, Portland and Juneau were heavily damaged; the destroyers Cushing, Laffey, Barton and Monssen were sunk or sinking. The Juneau would shortly afterward be sunk, victim of a wandering Japanese submarine, that led to the loss of all five of the Sullivan Brothers from Waterloo, Iowa.

On the Japanese side, two destroyers were shot up, one sinking; and the battleship Hiei had been pummelled at point-blank range by everything the American ships had to throw, crippling her. Yet, little remained to stop the balance of the Japanese force from carrying out its mission to wipe out Henderson Field.

Except for a decision by the wounded Admiral Abe, who controversially elected to withdraw, rather than press his advantage.

And with that decision, a tactical Japanese victory became a strategic Japanese defeat: in the next few days, planes from the spared Henderson Field would finish off the Hiei, and wreak havoc on a second Japanese task force bearing reinforcements for their beleaguered troops on Guadalcanal.

On the morning of November 15, the Naval Battles of Guadalcanal would be concluded by a clash of titans: the Japanese battleship Kirishima versus the battleship USS Washington (also present was the battleship USS South Dakota; but she would suffer an untimely power failure early in the fight, leaving the Washington to slug it out with the Kirishima). When the smoke cleared, the Kirishima joined the Hiei in the naval hereafter.

But for the unexpected encounter two nights prior, it might not have wound up thus.

Nowadays, such a battle and initial result would have had a flock of ever-ready critics howling for investigations, a cut-and-run strategy, and all sorts of damnations of the military and civilian administration that sustained them.

But 65 years ago, a different view came to the fore.

Rear Admirals Daniel J. Callaghan and Norman Scott were posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. And the Sullivan Brothers were honored, in time, with two different ships dedicated in their name: one sponsored by their mother and father, Thomas and Alleta Sullivan; the other by the granddaughter of Albert Leo Sullivan, Kelly Sullivan Loughren.

65 years later, memories and honor live on.

Labels: , , , , ,