Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hiatus continuing.

If you are an actual human being reading this blog (as opposed to some webcrawing spider program) please comment to let me know if this blog should come off of hiatus. Thank you.

Monday, February 10, 2014

85 Years: 1929 to 2014

In remembrance of A. Leo Kent Sr., who died 85 years ago today, February 10, 1929.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

REPOST: Tattered Remnants #031:
John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin, and the "Nanking Safety Zone"

(Editor's note: I recently saw a strange movie entitled "John Rabe", which features the Tattered Remnants in the essay below. It included a scene where hundreds of people huddled for safety beneath a Nazi flag. Go figure.)

Tattered Remnants #031: John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin, And The "Nanking Safety Zone"

To read more of the Tattered Remnants series click -->here<-- span="">.

In writing yesterday's discussion of 9/11, while researching the section on Japanese aggression prior to Pearl Harbor, I stumbled across two individuals who are fully worthy of honor as Tattered Remnants: who stood in the face of possibly the most dangerous event known to humankind, the sacking of a city by a victorious army.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, what passed for parliamentary democracy in the Empire of Japan collapsed. Militarist extremists assassinated or drove from power all those opposing the use of military force to achieve Japan's national ambitions; civic organizations built around militarization of the people took control of schools and universities.

Japan had, at the time, a quickly growing population thanks to advances in medicine and agriculture. Japan's leaders also knew that she was a purely maritime power that depended on sea power to feed her growing millions; they also knew, by watching what happened to Britain in WWI, how close to starvation a submarine campaign can bring an island state.

And Japan, even in the 1930s was not capable of feeding her own population through domestically grown agriculture alone; her population outstripped her food production by about 40%.

Japanese militarists saw themselves surrounded by enemies: by Western imperial powers France and England, by the United States which held the Philippines and certain islands in the Pacific, by Stalinist Russia and by a weak and vulnerable China which was had collapsed into warlordism. Furthermore, the Japanese militarists saw a world that was 90% owned and controlled by Western colonial powers, and perceived (as many thoughtful Westerners did) that the hold of the West on those colonies were weakening.

This led Japan on a campaign of naked conquest of her neighbors. First came the fall of Manchuria in 1931, followed in 1937 by an invasion of China proper, which led soon to the Nanking Massacre, better remembered in the United States as The Rape of Nanking, in December 1937.


After the end of the Battle of Shanghai in August 1937, it was clear that the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist) forces would be unable to defend the then-capital of China at Nanking. They withdrew, leaving only a small part of the army behind to fight for the city, while the rest of the army pulled back to the south to fight another day. The Japanese 10th Army advanced slowly from nearby Shanghai, as the army commanders made it clear to their troops that looting and ravishment would not be punished. As a result, thousands of rapes and robberies occurred as the army slowly advanced on the now-abandoned southern capital of China.

The city was surrounded by Japanese forces by the end of November and, by December 13, had fallen to the soldiers of the 10th Army, who overwhelmed the city in a primitive rampage of pillage and rape.

As the Chinese army abandoned the city, the government had left and all trace of civil government had ceased–except for one. An international committee of 19 businessmen, professors, missionaries and one physician was formed to maintain some sort of civil order in the city: the "International Committee of the Nanking Safety Zone." These foreign figures–British, German, American, and Japanese–selected from their number a German businessman, John Rabe, as their leader, as he was a known member of the Nazi Party and thus could negotiate on behalf of the Nazi Reich for moderated behavior on the part of the Japanese.

Over the period from November 22 to the end of the attacks in January, the western quarter of the city–an area approximately the size of Central Park in New York City–was designated the "Safety Zone" and some 250,000 civilians took refuge there. The dozen or so committee members left behind spent the next few weeks trying to moderate the behavior of the Japanese army in Nanking and to prevent their penetration of the Safety Zone.

Rabe and his fellow committee members tried to restrain the Japanese through bluff and determination, by confronting Japanese soldiers engaging in rapine and in contacting Japanese diplomatic personnel at the embassy in the city, trying to get these diplomats to contact the Army to curb the abuses. One diary entry by Rabe gives a flavor of the work the committee did:
Two Japanese soldiers have climbed over the garden all and are about to break into our house. When I appear they give the excuse that they saw two Chinese soldiers climb over the wall. When I show them my party badge, they return the same way. In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital. (...) Last night up to 1,000 women and girls are said to have been raped, about 100 girls at Ginling Girls' College alone. You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they're shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers....
At the Ginling Girls' College, the lead American professor, Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary and a professor of education, worked tirelessly in a parallel effort to preserve the young women of her school from rape. Although not a formal member of the Safety Zone Committee, her efforts to protect her young women from degradation were ceaseless. Her experience was similar to Rabe's:
There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from language school last night, and today I have heard scores of heartbreaking stories of girls who were taken from their homes last night—one of the girls was but 12 years old. Food, bedding and money have been taken from people. … I suspect every house in the city has been opened, again and yet again, and robbed. Tonight a truck passed in which there were eight or ten girls, and as it passed they called out "Jiu ming! Jiu ming!"—save our lives. The occasional shots that we hear out on the hills, or on the street, make us realize the sad fate of some man—very probably not a soldier.... In my wrath, I wished I had the power to smite them for their dastardly work. How ashamed women of Japan would be if they knew these tales of horror.
"The Rape of Nanking" continued until February. On the 13th of February 1938, the Safety Zone was dissolved and the committee renamed itself the Relief Committee for Nanking. By this time, however, normal military discipline was restored and Nanking was now treated, for better or worse, as an occupied city rather than as a lawless free-for-all.

By the efforts of the Committee, it is estimated that some 250,000 people were saved from murder or rape. The Committee itself was, in essence, a great bluff. Members of the Committee continuously transmitted letters to the Japanese leadership, held up badges of office to lower level officers, confronted and deterred raping private soldiers through intimidation and personal confrontation. Miraculously, none of the Committee died, but they witnessed horrors beyond imagination.


Mr. Rabe was a businessman, an executive for the Siemens engineering company; his task in China was to organize factories to produce simple electrical components. During the course of the work of the Committee, he was tireless in his humanitarian work to secure the safety of the people in the Zone. All who knew him testified to his basic decency and his humanity when it came to his efforts to save lives.

And yet, Mr. Rabe was a committed National Socialist, a supporter of Germany's goals before and during the war. One source, , makes the following observations, comparing him to the charmingly deceptive Nazi Oskar Schindler:
He was ... a far more dour figure than the charismatic Schindler, and far more sincere in his commitment to Nazi ideals. Speaking at one the lectures he delivered in 1938, Rabe is reported to have said, "Although I feel tremendous sympathy for the suffering of China, I am still, above all, pro-German and I believe not only in the correctness of our political system but, as an organizer of the party, I am behind the system 100 percent." It is likely that he meant it....

Rabe's colleagues appear to have been impressed by his character but puzzled by his political beliefs. Robert O. Wilson, a missionary and doctor who worked in China in the 1930s, wrote of Rabe: "He is well up in Nazi circles and after coming into such close contact as we have for the past few weeks and discover(ing) what a splendid man he is and what a tremendous heart he has, it is hard to reconcile his personality with his adulation of 'Der Fuhrer.'
It is possible that he may have engaged in a certain degree of mental compartmentalization in this matter. But withal, he loved humanity, so he worked to protect the Chinese of Shanghai; he loved his country, so he supported Nazism until its defeat and the revelation of its evils caused him to break at last with the system that encapsulated him.

Remember, too, that his membership in the Nazi Party and his connection to the German government was precisely what gave him the power to bamboozle the Japanese into respecting the Zone to the extent that they did.

And yet, even though he was a committed Nazi, he also kept meticulous records, including a diary, of the events in Nanking and he spoke out against the Japanese massacres in highly dangerous public speeches in Germany in 1938 and 1939. Finally, he made a public and direct appeal to Hitler (of all people!) to ask the Japanese to moderate their savagery. The Gestapo arrested him, and instructed him to cease speaking out on the subject; however, in an unusual move, they allowed him to keep his materials, which became key historical documents after the war.

He was closely examined by the British and the Russians in the days immediately following the war; his was declared blameless and officially de-Nazified on both occasions. In the days of privation that followed, he received a small stipend and food packets from a grateful Chinese government, which continued until the fall of the Nationalist Chinese government in 1949.

John Rabe died of a stroke in Berlin in 1950 at the age of 64. His headstone was eventually moved from Berlin to Nanking where it takes an honored place in the museum to the Rape of Nanking. A Nazi he may have been, but he was also a man of conscience by whose fruits we have come to know him.


Little is known of Minnie Vautrin. She was born in 1886, raised in Illinois, and worked as a high school teacher there before going to China as a missionary in 1912. She founded two schools and eventually founded the Ginling Girls College in Nanking, where she eventually took over as Master of Studies. Ginling became a refuge like (but separate from) the Safety Zone, and she limited rapine incursions into her college through sheer courage and judicious use of the American flag.

When the Japanese army invaded Nanking in December 1937, she and the other foreigners in the city, including John Rabe, worked to protect the civilians in the Nanking Safety Zone. Ginling Girls College became a haven of refuge, at times harboring up to 10,000 women in a college designed to support between 200 and 300. With only her wits and the use of an American flag, Vautrin was largely able to repel incursions into her college.

After the attacks, she was forced by what we would now call post-traumatic stress to leave her post as a teacher and return home. She attempted suicide on the passenger ship returning her to the United States; she was held for a time in an asylum, and returned home. She committed suicide in her home in Indianapolis through breathing in gas from her kitchen oven in May of 1940. Later that same year, her home county named her as one of the county's 10 greatest citizens in its hundred-year history.

As Wikipedia puts it: "After the war, Vautrin was posthumously awarded the Emblem of the Blue Jade by the Chinese government for her heroic sacrifices during the Nanjing Massacre. Her work saving the lives of Chinese civilians during the massacre is recounted in the biographical book, American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking, written by historian Hua-ling Hu. In the documentary film Nanking, Vautrin was portrayed by actress Mariel Hemingway, who recited excerpts from Vautrin's diary."


There were other members of the Committee; their names should be remembered as well:

Miner Searle Bates, American professor, University of Nanking
George Ashmore Fitch, American missionary, Nanking YMCA
Ernest Forster, American missionary, St. Paul Church
J.M. Hansen Danish businessman, Texas Oil Co.*
J. Lean, American businessman, Asiatic Petroleum Co.*
Iver Mackay , British businessman, Butterfield and Swire
John Magee, American missionary, American Church Mission*
Rev. W. Plumer Mills, American missionary, American Church Mission
James McCallum, American missionary, Ginling University Hospital*
P. H. Munro-Faure , British businessman, Asiatic Petroleum Co.*
J.V. Pickering, American businessman, Standard-Vacuum Co.*
Charles Riggs, American professor, University of Nanking*
P.R. Shields , British businessman, International Export Co.
G. Schultze-Pantin, German businessman, Shingming Trading Co.*
Lewis S. C. Smythe, American professor, University of Nanking
Eduard Sperling, German businessman, Shanghai Insurance Co.
Robert O. Wilson, American doctor, Nanking Hospital

Those indicated by asterisk (*) were withdrawn from Nanking by their employers after the city fell, the remaining dozen or so remained through the city's agony.


As the reader may know, I often offer counter-examples of my Tattered Remnants: For Solzhenitsyn, I describe Madelyn Murray O'Hair; for James Pouillon, John Brown; for the Titanic heroes, the thankfully fictional Rose DeWitt Bukater.

Here, if I could, I would describe in greater detail the opposite of the Nanking Committee: namely, the "United Nations Safe Area" of Srebrenica, formed in 1993 by decree by a French general who immediately fled its confines, the cowardly and worthless "DUTCHBAT" mercenaries brought in to protect its 25,000 inhabitants, who shamefully cut and ran when the Serbs attacked it; and the massacre of its male inhabitants after the city fell, some 6000 prisoners shot in the back of the head and an additional 2000 unarmed men attempting to flee.

It's all on Wikipedia, here, if you want to read about it.

Forgive me for not describing it myself.

But even now, a decade after spending more than two years as a Bosnia peacekeeper, I still cannot think about this event without wanting to vomit.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

REPOST: Mystic Men Who Eat Boiled Owls

(Time to run this one again, given that we're up to our hienies in Ooobleck these days.)

I have just re-read what must be called a most prophetic story about a nation's leader who wanted, well, CHANGE.

It is astonishing how much truth this sixty-one-year-old-plus children's book carries, how much foresight, how much punch.

It starts like this:

"They still talk about it in the Kingdom of Didd as The-Year-The-King-Got-Angry-With-The-Sky. And they still talk about the page boy, Bartholomew Cubbins. If it hadn't been for Bartholomew Cubbins, that King and that Sky would have wrecked that little Kingdom."
I am sure that you must have read it, either as a child yourself or to your children, for Dr. Seuss, one of the great gifts to American culture, often spoke far more truth that he knew in his silly poems and sillier drawings.

The story goes like this:

King Derwin of Didd, a mighty King, begins to growl at the weather. He growls at the sunshine, and at the rain; he growls at the fog, and at the snow. He is bored: it's the same four things every year.

King Derwin wants something NEW!

So he storms back and forth in his bedroom, very angry as Bartholomew Cubbins, his pageboy--the only person in the entire Kingdom of Didd who dares speak the truth to his face--warns him that
"You rule all the land. And you rule all the people. But even kings can't rule the sky."
The King goes into a rage.
"You mark my words, Bartholomew Cubbins, I will have something new come down!"
But how....?

Finally King Derwin decides .... to call the royal magicians!

           "'Oh, no, Your Majesty! Don't call them!'"

But summon them the King does. And one at a time--in one of the most frightening scenes in this former child's memory--they come up from their secret lair beneath the dungeons.
"Shuffle, duffle, muzzle, muff.
Fista, wista, mista-cuff.
We are men of groans and howls,
Mystic men who eat boiled owls.
Tell us what you wish, oh King,
Our magic can do ANYTHING!"
And so the King consults with these wise men, who assure the King that they can do as he wishes--except that they haven't a clue as to the consequences.

For a moment they stood thinking, blinking their creaky eyes. Then they spoke a word ... one word ... "Oobleck.""Won't look
like rain. Won't look like snow.
Won't look like fog. That's all we know.
We just can't tell you any more.
We've never made oobleck

"We go now to our secret cave
On Mystic Mountain
There, all night long, we'll work for you
And you'll have
oobleck when we're through!
"'They'll do something crazy!' whispered Bartholomew. 'Call them back, Your Majesty! Stop them!'
"'Stop them? Not for a ton of diamonds!' chuckled the King. 'Why, I'll be the mightiest man that ever lived! Just think of it! Tomorrow I'm going to have OOBLECK!'"
And so he did.

But he didn't like it.

I won't tell the rest of the story; not only do you probably know it, but the Widow Seuss is very possessive of her copyright perogatives and she's a leftie to boot. Therefore, and particularly as I have pushed Fair Use here to its uttermost limit, I will not tell of what happens when the Kingdom of Didd encounters a storm of Oobleck.

I promise you, however:

Things do not go well.

Friday, January 10, 2014

REPOST: Nullifying Nullification
(Or: Killing the Zombie of John C Calhoun)

I first posted this in 2009. It appears to be necessary to repost it again based on a number of lunatics advocating "nullificationism" that I'm encountering on Facebook.

Many of my fellow Republicans, in these "time that try mens' souls," are looking for new sources of strength. Unfortunately, some of them are looking to the writings of John C. Calhoun, a slaver, an advocate of white supremacy, and the most wrongheaded disinterpreter of the Constitution imaginable. In short: anathema sit. Or as Snoopy might say: Bleah.

I'm seeing a great deal of despair and desperation in the conservative movement these days. Andrew Breitbart said here that the conservative movement is so irrelevant these days [2009] that when it comes to people listening to their message, "A.C. Nielson doesn't count that low."

He further goes on to state that Hollywood's influence on the radical-leftist Obama administration is so overwhelming that
If "the medium is the message," as Marshall McLuhan formulated 45 years ago in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man," then Hollywood-style liberalism is America´s current and future message. And conservatives have no one to blame but themselves for not investing their collective efforts in the pop cultural and the greater media experience.
So what is the weird edge of the Conservative movement offering up as an alternative to Hollywood's bread and circuses?  The answer appalls: Warmed-over neo-confederalism of the John C. Calhoun variety.

Already these neo-Confeds are on the march. For instance, it was reported here that "Today the Bay County Patriots marched for their rights. Over 150 people showed up for the Bay Patriots walk and rally."

The piece continued:
The supporters marched from the Panama City Marina to McKenzie Park. The rally remained peaceful as participants showed support for the military and listened to speakers such as Bay Patriots President Derrell Day. § They chose Sunday, George Washington’s birthday, because he was the leader of the country’s first revolution. § Bay Patriots member Bob Thompson says they are rallying to request the state legislature to fight to regain sovereignty rights.
Sovereignty rights! Ah, sovereignty! A word, as the brilliant but flawed science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein once said, "is [an] entry found in [the] dictionary between 'sober' and 'sozzled.'"

What do these people mean by "sovereignty"? What do these folks stand for?

"Interposition." "State's rights." The revival of abominable political theories that were crushed in 1865. And yet, a number of those who claim to speak as members of the Party of Lincoln make noises as if they were the Party of Jefferson....Davis.

One example of this can be found, here, in Human Events, once a major voice of the conservative movement, we see one A.W.R. Hawkins conjuring up the zombied corpse of John C. Calhoun as a model for the movement to emulate:
The use of the 10th Amendment in conjunction with nullification garnered much attention in 1828, when the federal government passed a tariff that southerners believed affected them disproportionately. When the 1828 tariff was complemented by another in 1832, Vice President John C. Calhoun resigned the Vice Presidency to lead his home state of South Carolina in pursuit of an “ordinance of nullification,” which was no less a declaration of the sovereignty of each individual state within the union than the declarations now being made.
This is, frankly, disgusting. John C. Calhoun, a stone-cold racist of the worst sort, a backward-looking devotee of human depravity and slavery, did more to contribute to the start of the Civil War, the total and complete destruction of the Old South, the burning of Atlanta, and the overthrow of the antebellum South, than did U.S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman combined. He looked backwards, not forwards; he sought a world in which the chains of the black man would remain forever unstruck and where all those protesting that enslavement would be rendered dumb, silenced, and be forever crushed. Five minutes perusal of William Lee Miller's 1997 masterpiece Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress should show that this is an exercise in madness. An hour's reading of it raises the desire to hit these neo-Calhounists over the head with a clue stick.

This new love affair with Calhoun is pure, unadulterated Bad Craziness. For a number of reasons:

1. First and foremost it gives the Obama worshippers the opportunity to paint all opposition to his socialist policies as being a bunch of (a) kooks, (b) cranks, (c) racists, and (d) neo-Confederate south-will-rise-again crazies.

2. Secondly, it puts the conservative movement in the same position it was in the 1950s, when St. William Buckley first arrived on the scene: riddled through with water-purification nuts and John Birch Society conspiratists who had to be told to shut the hell up in the name of the common good of the movement. Like the GOP in the early 1950s, we now have a bunch of fools blovating a morally repugnant romanticism with no basis in either reality or truth. We need to encourage them to be silent, and we need to do it soon, lest they overwhelm the conservative movement and leave the Obama socialists free to run rampant while we fight a nasty civil war of our own, banging heads between allies when we should be huddling them.

3. Most important of all, it encourages the Conservative movement to declare itself in opposition to the Constitution and to call for replacing that Constitution with some sort of states-rights rag that is not only unworthy of loyalty but not even viable. Gettysburg and eventually the March to the Sea revealed the hell that the state's rights mantra would lead--a dead confederacy forcibly reconstructed into the Constitution. If Conservativism falls back on secessionism, then Conservativism will fail. Utterly.

Jefferson Davis, in his memoirs, stated that the main cause of the destruction of the Confederacy was its own internal divisions, caused by its own adherence to the principle of states' rights. He suggested an epitaph for the Old South: "Died of an Idea."

That "idea" is that of John C. Calhoun, of state sovereignty. The United States is a federal republic, a national unity where the States are clearly subordinate to the central government (and, I would argue, are almost all* creatures of Congress). Replace it with state sovereignty and you replace it with a one way ticket to endless civil war, oppression, and evil. The fire of Calhoun's thought lit the cannons that fired on Fort Sumter: cannons which eventually fired a salute to the rising Federal flag four years later.

If you ever had any doubts that John C. Calhoun was an evil man with an evil philosophy, this should end them:

I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good, a positive good..... I hold then, that there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other. ... I may say with truth, that in few countries so much is left to the share of the laborer, and so little exacted from him, or where there is more kind attention paid to him in sickness or infirmities of age. ... I fearlessly assert that the existing relation between the two races in the South, against which these blind fanatics are waging war, forms the most solid and durable foundation on which to rear free and stable political institutions. ... The condition of society in the South exempts us from the disorders and dangers resulting from this conflict; and which explains why it is that the political condition of the slaveholding States has been so much more stable and quiet than that of the North. . .

Like John Brown's Body, John C. Calhoun lies a moulderin' in the grave. Let his spirit rot there as well, for if fully reanimated it can only lead its followers to the fiery gates of Hell--and through them, forever.

*Almost all: with the possible exception of the Original 13, Texas, Hawaii, and Vermont, the latter three of whom were originally sovereign.

(Afternote: At least one good friend of mine is a devotee of Calhoun. If you're reading this, old chum, I hope you understand me. You are a friend; but, I aver, your ideas in this matter would, if unleashed, do you and the Movement a grave disservice. We can only win by seizing the center, not occupying the fringes.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

REPOST: Tattered Remnants #019: Irena Sendlerowa (Irene Sendler)

"Well done, O good and faithful servant!"

(Read all about the Tattered Remnants by clicking {here}.)


Irena Sendlerowa (known in English as "Irene Sendler") was a social worker in Poland who was among the tiny minority of Polish Catholics who took direct action to save those trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto from death at the hands of the Nazis during the German Occupation of Poland (1939-1944). Specifically, she headed a group of individuals known as Źegota; approximately two dozen of whom cooperated in the salvation of some 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

For her efforts, she was captured, tortured, interrogated, was sentenced to death, was beaten so severely by her would be executioners that all her limbs were broken–escaping only when her designated executioners threw her broken body to a Polish underground hideout. It appears her German executioners, having been bribed, had secretly cooperated with the Polish underground to enable her escape.

Poland's long history of anti-Semitism has many bitter incidents to its history, long before the arrival of the German army in 1939. But through that long night of bigotry, many names shone who resisted the popular prejudice against the Jewish people. One of those resistors was Irena Sendlerowa.

Her Catholic father, a physician, died in 1917 of typhus, contracted from treating his Jewish patients, who were suffering from an epidemic in that dark time of the First World War. Others would have used that as an excuse to become anti-Semitic. Irena, on the other hand, remembered her father's sacrifice and became a Judeophile in a land where Jews were held as a bitterly hated and feared minority.

She first showed her courage during the so-called "Ghetto Bench" controversy when in university in the 1930s. In those dark days between the wars, Poland was a dictatorship, run by a shadowy coalition called Sancja ("Sanation" or "The Healing Coalition"), under the iron fisted rule of Jozef Pilsudski, the general who, holding various high political offices, was the true ruler of Poland until his death in 1935. After his death, "Sanation" split into three weak parties as Poland tried to come to terms with the growing Nazi threat to its west.

During this period, German anti-Semitism found a dark echo among students in Polish universities. This resulted, starting from the death of Pilsudski, with demands among nationalist students that Polish Jews in the universities be forced to sit apart from the main body of students, to the left hand of each lecture hall. Organized harassment of Jewish students by nationalists became an ongoing problem, particularly as those running the universities, jealous of their independent status, would not allow local law enforcement to intervene to stop the beatings. Starting in December 1935, Lwow Polytechnic instituted a policy whereby Jewish students were forced to sit in these "Ghetto Benches." Jewish–and Catholic–students who resisted the order were ordered suspended, then expelled from the Universities, in the name of "preventing violence."

Irena Sendlerowa thought the system unconscionable. As a result of her refusal to submit to this organized humiliation of a minority, she was suspended from Warsaw University.

For three years.

When the war broke out, she was working as a social worker in the countryside surrounding Warsaw, and watched in horror as the Germans began to segregate the Polish Jews–first by expelling professional Jews from their work and ordering all to wear a Star of David, then, more ominously, by forcing them to live in a segregated area, the Ghetto–as it developed, the largest in Europe.

The Germans coopted the local Polish city government bureaucracy, and Irena was given an assignment almost unique among Polish Catholics. She was ordered to enter the Ghetto on a regular basis to monitor the appearance of typhus and other diseases–not because the Germans cared if the Jews of the ghetto got sick (they didn't) but because they feared its spread to the civil populace in the rest of the city. She therefore had special papers allowing her to come and go freely in the Ghetto.

While she was inside its walls, she freely chose to wear the Star of David on her arm–both out of sympathy and solidarity for those confined there and out of a desire not to be conspicuous.

What nobody at the city bureaucracy had noticed was that Irena had made contact with the Polish underground.

The Polish underground during the war was actually many "undergrounds." Although most were associated with the Government-in-Exile in London, some were Communist controlled; furthermore, there was much internal division even among those under the London Poles. Most were dedicated to armed resistance against the Germans and thus had few resources (and even less desire) to assist the Jews caught in the grip of the Nazis.

Irena, however, joined a small group, known today as Źegota, the Committee of Aid to the Jews. As part of that group, she began to organize a quiet underground of some two dozen people to assist the Jews in their time of darkest need.

In 1941 and 1942, she commenced an organized effort to remove children from the Ghetto and place them in surrounding farms and families, with convents and parishes. While it was the policy of many to convert Jews in their care to Catholicism, she was determined that these children would retain the birthright of their identities once the war was over. Accordingly, she kept the names of the children she hid, the names of their families, and the places they were hidden in buried jars, so that when the war was over she would be able to reunite them with their birth families. Furthermore, she made specific promises to these children she cared for that they would one day, if possible, be reunited with their parents.

In 1943 the Gestapo captured her, tortured her severely, and sentenced her to death. She was taken to the woods outside Warsaw, where her executioners, possibly having been bribed by Źegota operatives, forewent shooting her, instead beat her severely and left her for almost-dead, breaking both her arms and legs. She was rescued by the Underground and assumed a new identity until the war was over. The Germans listed her among those executed.

The end of the war came and she kept her promise; she dug the jars up and used the information to try to reunite the children with their parents. Alas, however, the parents were almost all killed at Treblinka death camp.

Her work with Źegota was recognized by the new Communist regime: as an agent of the London based Government in Exile, she was declared an enemy of the new Polish state. During this post war period, she lost a child to miscarriage.

In 1965, however, Yad Vashem had obtained enough information to verify her status as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. She was not allowed to travel to Israel to receive recognition for her wartime work until 1983.

It was only in her old age that her work began to gain the recognition it deserved. Again, Wikipedia:
In 2003 Pope John Paul II sent [Sendlerowa] a personal letter praising her wartime efforts. On 10 October 2003 she received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration, and the Jan Karski Award "For Courage and Heart," given by the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C..

On 14 March 2007 [Sendlerowa] was honored by Poland's Senate. At age 97, she was unable to leave her nursing home to receive the honor, but she sent a statement through Elzbieta Ficowska, whom [Sendlerowa] had saved as an infant. Polish President Lech Kaczynski stated she "can justly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize" (though nominations are supposed to be kept secret). On 11 April 2007, she received the Order of the Smile[, an international award recognizing adults who performed special acts of heroism on behalf of children] as the oldest recipient of the award.

In May 2009, Irena [Sendlerowa] was posthumously granted the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award. The award, named in honor of the late actress and UNICEF ambassador, is presented to persons and organizations recognized for helping children. In its citation, the Audrey Hepburn Foundation recalled Irena [Sendlerowa]’s heroic efforts that saved two and a half thousand Jewish children during the German occupation of Poland in World War Two.
In 1999, a group of high school students in Kansas were inspired to write and perform a play based on her life, entitled A Life In A Jar. This has led to the creation of The Irena Sendler Project, an ongoing educational program to teach children about the Holocaust. The funds raised by this project are being used to raise a statue to her memory in Warsaw in 2010, the 100th anniversary of her birth.

The best monument to her efforts remain the children she saved. Although they are not remembered as a collective in the way the Schindlerjuden are known, their numbers are even greater than Oskar's accomplishment. Generations will thrive because of her efforts.

Her work with the Warsaw Ghetto children was truly worthy of honor. I must admit, however, that I am almost more impressed with her willingness to resist the segregation of Jews in her university days. One small advantage of resisting tyranny such as Naziism is that the evil is naked and undeniable, with life and death and salvation and damnation all clearly at stake. But who would risk expulsion in this day and age from university studies over a matter of principle?

In the end, only one award, alas, eluded her. In spite of Lech Walensa's and others' enthusiastic support for her nomination that year, the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize was granted to Albert Gore, Jr., a noted science fiction/fantasy film maker.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Rules of Bureaucratic Warfare (Repost)

...learned at great personal expense and compiled only after I ticked off my Honcho for the last time.


The following is a repost of one of my earliest entries on this blog, from February 2009. It should be carefully reviewed by anybody who wants to make a career in the Federal or State bureaucracy. BE FORWARNED.


"Thus Always to POLADs"
00. Always check thy six.* This is rule zero as it cometh before any and all other rules. [Six: n. Your immediate rear; "six o'clock", the part of one's aircraft most likely to acquire an enemy fighter.]

01. Rememberest thou the Principle of the Most Holy Peter and forget it never.

02. Thou hast two bosses, Thy Honcho and The High Honcho whom Thy Honcho doth serve; when there is a conflict between them, servest thou Thy Honcho over The High Honcho.

03. Forgettest thou never that Thy Honcho can fire thee at any time, and that thou must always serveth him first before all, yea, even before the High Honcho. Rememberest thou that The High Honcho can fire thee immediately and more permanently, but has many other targets and his attention is divided amongst them; thou therfore hath a much reduced chance of receiving a smiting by his lightning bolts from on high than from Thy Honcho.

04. Nobody can be the servant of two masters; he will either love the one or hate the second, or love the second and hate the first. Noone can be the servant of both Thy Honcho and The High Honcho. (The fact that thou must do so anyway is thy problem.)

05. Remember that thou art what thou art only because thou makest Thy Honcho happy and makest Thy Honcho look good; forget this not, lest thou committeth a CLM (Career Limiting Maneuver) and be shitcanned.

06. If Thy Honcho is male and Thou art female, be nice and pleasant, but never too familiar and never, never dress in a manner too physically revealing (female receptionists/low rank secretaries can ignore this rule, but only before their 30th birthdays).

07. If Thou art male and thy underling is female, never shalt thou dippest thy pen in her inkwell. Forgettest this rule at thy eternal peril, for lo! this rule doth apply triply regarding receptionists/low secretaries; rememberest also that even if thou thinketh that the relationship is consensual now, twenty years from now it won't be if she retroactively changes her mind. (Corollary: keepest thou thy lust always, always to thyself; bureaucrats by definition hath no need to screw any but the public.)

08. Discretion is the better part of not getting caught. (See Rule 30 below.)

09. Choose Thy Honcho even more carefully than he chooses thee, for his sins are thine or very quickly shall become thine unless thou shalt quit in a few weeks. Yea, even those sins that occurred before thou beganst to work with him shall be thine, now and forever, amen.

10. Always check thy six. This rule is not repeated by accident.

11. Always check Thy Honcho's six.

12. When checking Thy Honcho's six, double check thy own, in case thou hast annoyed Thy Honcho recently.

13. Always check thy underlings' sixes lest they not check thine.

14. After checking thy underlings' sixes, recheck thine own in case they haven't.

15. Thou shalt act as a shit-screen for thine underlings, lest they fail to check thy six.

16. Honorest thou Thy Honcho in public. Never forgettest thou that, Peter Principle aside, he may not yet have reached his level of incompetence; even his decisions which appear nonsensical may have context of which thou art unaware.

17. It is thy job to determine what that context doth be before he does.

18. Diss Thy Honcho to anyone other than thy spouse at thy eternal peril; and disseth Thy Honcho not even to thy spouse if thy marriage is rocky.

19. Fearest thou not to keep thy wagon hitched to Thy Honcho's, unless and until it is clear that he has met St. Peter and has risen to his level of incompetence. When that doth happen, thou must then find a new Honcho. Discreetly.

20. Be diplomatically frank with Thy Honcho in private, and never in front of a co-underling and never-never in front of thine own underlings. Failure to do this is a major CLM.

21. Always check thy six. (Like I said.)

22. Forgettest thou not that, the longer the title, the lower the weenie doth be on the totem pole.

23. Disseth thou not the individual with the long title, lest thou find thyself under him at a later time with a higher position and a shorter title.

24. Today's junior SOB is tomorrow's Honcho. Diss the junior therefore at thine own peril.

25. Never forgetteth that thy underlings, thy compatriots, and Thy Honcho are all as ambitious as thou art, and that fact can be made to serve thee.

26. When something goeth wrong and Thy Honcho doth inquire about it, tell everything. Thou art likely screwed regardless, but Thy Honcho may yet be able to pull thy chestnuts out of the fire if he/she is fully informed about it. (Corollary: If he knows about problem x before he is asked about it by the High Honcho, he may forgive problem x, particularly if problem x is fixed forthwith.)

27. When something goeth wrong and thine underlings inquire about it, tell them no more than they need to fix it.

28. Thou shalt not keep Thy Honcho in the dark about anything with the exception of thy personal life and thy lust for Thy Honcho (if applicable); these latter, yea, must remain eternal mysteries, amen.

29. Know the art of keeping thine mouth shut.

30. Rememberest thou the Eleventh Commandment and keep it wholly.

31. Rememberest thou that when Thy Honcho is replaced as replaced he must be, thy chance of thy career coming to an untimely end after a CLM goes up dramatically. Thy new Honcho will always weigh thine usefulness against the degree to which thou shalst annoy him; if the latter unduly outweighs the former, he will replace thee with one of his former underlings from a former job who will not do thine job as well as thou--but who will at the very least well know how not to annoy him.

32. Learneth thy Honcho's pet peeves ASAP and avoid them like thou shalt the plague.

33. Richard Friedel's Law: When outside bureaucratic forces come to 'investigate' a CLM by thine Honcho or thyself, (a) Admit nothing. (b) Deny everything. (c) Make counteraccusations. (d) Take hostages only when necessary. (e) Do not fear to take hostages if necessary. (f) Never, never call the Inspector General.

34. The rule immediately previous applieth not if the investigators art from law enforcement or the I.G. If this is the case, STFU and contactest thou thine lawyer forthwith.

35. When the choice is between thee going to jail and Thy Honcho or Underling going deservedly to jail, thou shall choose the Honcho or Underling. Loyalty hath its limitations. (Remember this even if the price of Thy Honcho going to jail is thy being shitcanned; it is forsooth better to be shitcanned and have to get a real job than to wind up in the federal tennis prison at Danbury.)

36. Security enforcement nazis are to be respected and feared but not overly so; they are like unto wasps who can be swatted if thou shalt move carefully enough.

37. Forgettest thou not that thy tongue is thy gravest enemy, particularly when Rules 33-36 are applicable.

38. Remembereth that even thy most junior underlings have one nuclear bomb at their disposal, to wit, thy underling's race resentment doth trumpeth thy Honcho's displeasure. An incompetent underling who cries racial discrimination hath enormous power to screweth thine resume (and trigger Rules 33-37) and get thee shitcanned. The fact that such cries are baseless or have been repeated by the same underling in previous positions will not save thee.

39. Kicketh thou not a former or lateral Honcho on the way down, no matter how much of an SOB he doth be, lest he later return the favor; Honchos have an unfortunate habit of bouncing back.

40. When given the choice between offending thy God and offending the bureaucracy, offend God; unlike the bureaucracy, He may forgive thee.

41. Model thyself on the Vogons, forgetting not that they were amateurs compared to what thou must become.

42. Rememberest thou the Klingon rule: if thou wouldst not have a thing heard, say it not. As regard thy tongue there are no do-overs.

43A. Thy Honcho is responsible for and always gets all credit for thy work.

43B. Thou art personally responsible for all thy honcho's failures; if thou does not wish to be, find someone junior to thee to be the scapegoat.

43C. If thou loveth not making thy junior underling responsible for thy and thy Honcho's failures, don't work in a bureaucracy, or in the alternative, become a Honcho thyself.

44. Did I mention to always, always, ALWAYS check thy six?

Richard L. Kent, Esq. is former Deputy Political Advisor (POLAD) to the Commanding General of Multinational Division North, Stabilization Force, Bosnia. (See Rule 22) until he did piss off his Honcho and was thereupon consigned to the stairs. He is now a solo attorney, and hath nobody as a Honcho, for which he doth thanketh his Creator.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A New Game.... Catch the Phrase!

Okay, in recognition of today as Boxing Day, where nothing significant gets done, it's time to play Catch the Catchphrase.... Go down this list and identify the sources (and if possible the characters) wherein these lines are spoken. Answers given well below. Ready, set....GO!

1. Inconceivable!
2. Fascinating.
3. Nyever mind!
4. To infinity and beyond!
5. It's showtime!
6. It's showtime, folks!
7. Jane, you ignorant slut!
8. I have a bad feeling about this.
9. As you wish.
A. More power!
B. Carbonated life forms! Yaaaaay!
C. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
D. Uh-oh! Chongo!
E. Boy howdy!
F. Mister Nacherel sez.... keep on truckin'!
G. Excuuuuuuse meeeee!
H. Nov schmoz ka pop!
I. Holy frak!
J. Catafract! Nyctaclops! Bashi-bazouks!
K. Make it so.
L. There's a snake in my boot!
M. The cowbell, as a symbol of unbridled passion, ladies and gentlemen....
N. Nobody calls me chicken!
O. Do you feel lucky? Well ... do yuh?
P. Wherever you go, there you are. Q. You'll shoot your eye out, kid.
R. A man's got to know his limitations.
S. Go ahead, make my day!
T. Get. Off. My. Lawn.
V. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!
W. Where’s the beef?

1. Inconceivable! < Fezzini, THE PRINCESS BRIDE

2. Fascinating. < Spock (Star Trek) (if you get this one wrong... (((smh))))

3. Nyever mind!< Emily Litella (Gilda Radner, SNL)

4. To infinity and beyond! < Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story)

5. It's showtime! < Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles)

6. It's showtime, folks! < Joe Gideon (All That Jazz)

7. Jane, you ignorant slut! < Dan Ackroyd to Jane Curtin

8. I have a bad feeling about this.< About half the cast of all six Star Wars flix

9. As you wish. < Darth Vader and The Man in Black in The Princess Bride

A. More power! < James T. Kirk, naturally

B. Carbonated life forms! Yaaaaay! < Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

C. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father.Prepare to die.< The Princess Bride, source of many wonderful catch phrases

D. Uh-oh! Chongo! < Danger Island, a short series part of H.R. Pufnstuf and/or The Banana Splits

E. Boy howdy! < Cover of CREEM Magazine (R. Crumb)

F. Mister Nacherel sez....keep on truckin'! < Mr.Natural, R.Crumb cartoon character

G. Excuuuuuuse meeeee! < Steve Martin from his second album

H. Nov schmoz ka pop! < The Little Hitchhiker, from The Squirrel Cage comic strip, 1935 (Gene Ahern)

I. Holy frak! < everyone in Battlestar Galactica, except for the Cylons

J. Catafract! Nyctaclops! Bashi-bazouks! < Captain Haddock from the TinTin stories

K. Make it so.< Captain Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation

L. There's a snake in my boot! < Sheriff Woody, Toy Story

M. The cowbell, as a symbol of unbridled passion, ladies and gentlemen... < Frank Zappa, Bebop Tango (Roxy and Elsewhere album)

N. Nobody calls me chicken! <; Marty McBride, Back to the Future franchise

O. Do you feel lucky? Well ... do yuh? < Dirty Harry

P. Wherever you go, there you are. < Buckaroo Banzai

Q. You'll shoot your eye out, kid.< A Christmas Story

R. A man's got to know his limitations.< Dirty Harry

S. Go ahead, make my day!< Dirty Harry, Magnum Force

T. Get. Off. My. Lawn. < Grand Torino

U. MORE COWBELL!< Saturday Night Live (the Don’t Fear the
Reaper skit, ca. 2002)

V. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing! < Alka-Seltzer commercial, ca. 1970s

W. Where’s the Beef? < Annoying Wendy’s commercial, 1988

0-10 You need to play more Trivial Pursuit
11-20 You're probably American born.

21-30 You spend too much time watching TV.
31-35 You probably write for TV GUIDE.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Little Good News

Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people....

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Repost: A Srebrenica Christmas:
History is What Happens To You

This was first posted in 2010. I reposted this on December 21, 2011, my fiftieth birthday.

Looking back, I can say that I've been fortunate to have had many adventures, and many extraordinary events in my life, some wonderful, some, well, not so much.

But if I had to pick the most amazing event (other than my wedding day), it is the following.*

PFC Rose Kowalchuk, camo'd elf.

Christmas Eve 2000, Eagle Base, Tuzla, Bosnia. The last few days prior to Christmas, I had been in a foul, indeed nearly blasphemous mood. The weather conditions in Tuzla had taken a turn for the worse: foggy and foul, thus precluding a hoped-for trip to cheerier climes. With my family back in the States, I had a remarkable opportunity to indulge in self-pity.

It took an off-post mission on Christmas Eve to knock me out of my funk. This mission would be different: today we would not be meeting with local political figures or Very Important People or discussing Key Issues. Not a single opinion would be offered, assessment made, or prediction required.

On this day, we would be playing Santa Claus.

Our mission was to Selo Mira, the "Peace Village" orphanage in Lukavac municipality, twenty-two miles west of Tuzla, Bosnia. The Rudolf Walther Foundation, a German-Austrian concern, ran this orphanage, built to care for one hundred fifty children. At the time, it housed ninety-five.

As we exited Lukavac city -- a small resort community on Lake Modrac, and remarkably reminiscent of my hometown of St. Clair Shores -- we approached the village of Turija. At the foot of the village (for Turija is built on a hillside), there stands a large, open meadow the size of a football field. Within it are built twelve identical buildings, facing each other in an oval, connected to one another by a loop road. The buildings are surrounded by a tall chain link fence, topped by triple-strand barbed wire high enough to exclude those who would still come to harm the children.

This is Selo Mira. This is the home of ninety-five Bosniac, Croat, and Serb children, orphans of war and castoffs from what remains of the Bosnian social care system. Two-thirds are Bosniacs -- that is, Bosnian Muslims -- from the Drina River valley on the border with Serbia. Of these, some thirty children are war orphans from Srebrenica. Another thirty are orphans of other wars, the children of fathers killed in action and mothers dead, lost, or incapable of caring for them alone. The remaining thirty-five or so children are referred to with a shrug as "social cases." These are the children of the latest holocaust and its ongoing aftermath.

Here lives a nine-year-old Bosniac girl whose father disappeared inside Srebrenica and whose mother was killed two years ago by a landmine left on her property. They still do not know if the landmine was left over from the war or planted by hostile neighbors attempting to prevent the family from returning to live in their own house.

Here lives an angelic three-year-old boy whose mother gave him up after she started showing classic signs of schizophrenia.

Here live five Croat children from Posavina Canton, near the Croatian border in the north. Their parents were killed four months ago by a drunken neighbor in a rage. The oldest of the five children, who witnessed the death of his parents, is six years old.

Here live four children, Serbs from Brcko. Three girls, aged ten, nine, and seven, and a five-year-old boy. They were forced to hold candles during a blackout so that their father could see what he was doing as he killed their mother with a knife.

And these are the children whom we were visiting to give toys from America.

Sled, Santa's, U.S. Army All Terrain, one (1) each.

The true Santas in our story were some Maine National Guard members, a small group of military policemen who were serving a six-month tour on Eagle Base. The key organizer was Sgt. Scott Durst, age 47. He found out about this particular institution from one of our translators. Sgt. Durst contacted his wife back home, and they organized this Christmas gift drive through their church and their circle of friends.

For each child, a specific toy would be found and given. The toys were collected and wrapped in the United States, and then shipped in boxes to Bosnia. Along with the fifteen boxes of toys and gifts, and additional thirty boxes of children's clothes, new and used, were gathered for donation to the village. They even had an additional box of toys, also sorted by age group, so that any child not remembered, any child who had not been on the list sent to America in November, would still receive a gift on this special day. The boxes filled a school bus to the roof.

Our little convoy of three vehicles pulled up the loop in front of the door. Our group walked into the lunchroom, a large collective dining area where the children take their mid-day meals. Today, there was row upon row of children's chairs, each filled with a grinning, excited child, ranging in age from maybe three years old in the front row to a half dozen or so over-eighteens in the back. As we entered, the children broke out in applause.

Soon the boxes were all inside: the fifteen treasure-laden boxes in the lunchroom, another thirty or so in a huge heap in the hallway outside. We were ushered to our chairs, and we took our seats.

Before us came an exquisitely lovely girl of fifteen in a pink dress, and a tall and slender young man, perhaps the same age, in a secondhand suit and tie. A hush fell. The two elders opened notebooks. The boy gave a short speech in Bosnian.

When he finished, the girl took up for him, reading from a script in heavily accented but perfectly understandable English. "On behalf of the children of the Peace Village, we would like to extend our very deep thanks to you, our friends from America, who worked so hard so that we might have a happy Christmas this year. We would especially like to extend our special thanks to Mrs. Scott Durst in Portland, Maine, in America, for her hard work on our behalf. We have all suffered the pains of war, but we also have come to know the love that comes with peace, and we hope always to have a special bridge in our hearts between us and you in America. God bless you, and thank you all so very much. As a token of our appreciation, please enjoy our little program we have done to thank you."

She curtsied at our applause, and she and the young man in the suit stepped aside. Two seven-year-olds then came on stage, dressed in the silliest costumes you could possibly imagine. The little girl wore orange tights, an orange sweater, deeley-bobbers on her head, and little cardboard wings with dots on them: the Ladybug. With her was a little boy, the Elephant, wearing a wrinkly gray sort of gym suit, huge gray construction paper ears, and a long paper "trunk" tied to the end of his nose.

The Ladybug and the Elephant bowed to the crowd, faced each other, and began to recite. It was in Bosnian, of course, but I could tell that it rhymed: each child would recite four lines, and then be answered by the other with four lines, back and forth for about three minutes. Their solemn visage and the keen concentration with which they recited contrasted sharply with the warm affection of the crowd, who chuckled as each line was chanted -- especially at the elephant's "trunk" that waggled comically as he spoke.

Our translator explained later that this poem, "The Ladybug and the Elephant," is a traditional Serbo-Croatian children's rhyme. The story of the poem goes something like this: The Ladybug sees the Elephant and says, I like you; would you like to play with me? And the Elephant says, No, I will not play with you. I am the Elephant. Elephants do not play with Ladybugs. The Ladybug asks, How do I know that you are an elephant? The Elephant replies, I have a big nose and big ears, and thick wrinkly skin, and I am very big. And you are very small. The Ladybug replies, I like big ears and a big nose, and I am not afraid of how big you are. Won't you play with me? And of course the Elephant replies, Yes. And the Ladybug takes the hand of the Elephant and they skip off stage together to play.

This brought the house down.

Next, ten older girls came back on stage, five in blue, five in pink. Tall and slender, around twelve years old, they were at that adolescent growth spurt that would give them the lanky and slim physiques most common to young-adult Bosnian women. Off to one side, a teacher turned on a CD player -- the 1980s hit song from the movie Back to the Future, "The Power of Love," by Huey Newton and the News -- and the girls began to dance.

The dance was vigorous and not particularly graceful, but that wasn't the point. They were dancing for the sake of the dance itself, nothing more -- and in a way that surely caught the attention of the boys in the crowd. Thus they reminded us: Soon we will be women. Soon we will have families of our own. Rejoice with us!

In watching these girls dance, I suddenly knew I was doing something that their own fathers could not and would never do. And tears welled in my eyes as I began to think and remember.

This is Srebrenica in 2001, six years after the war. The holes in the walls were *not* formed by wrecking balls.

I remembered the briefing I received when I first came to Bosnia. In 1995, Srebrenica, an isolated mountain town, was Muslim-held and had been under siege for four years. Thirty-five thousand people took refuge here from the war, cut off by surrounding Serb forces but disarmed, as it had been deemed a "U.N. Safe Area." A small, lightly armed Dutch force guarded them. In July 1995, as the Serbs began to lose the war, they bowled over the U.N. force without a fight and took the city.

The city's 25,000 women and children were shipped by truck or on foot to Tuzla.

The men were murdered. More than seven thousand in three days.

The "Agricultural Warehouse" at Kravica.

I remembered the agricultural warehouse in the village of Kravica, where many of the executions took place. The building riddled with bullet holes -- from the inside out -- and covered with a black mold that five years later still silently testified to the violence that had occurred there.

I remembered the official visit our team made to the Srebrenica Victims Identification Center at the Tuzla city morgue. I remember the huge refrigerated room within, where four thousand bodies lay in plastic bags, each awaiting processing by the international forensics team assembled to determine their identities. I remember the black plastic bags, each holding the bones of one of the lost.

I remembered the British doctor describing his latest responsibility, a gray skeleton on a table before him. "He's a Bosnian Muslim, thirty-five to forty years old. Judging by the dental work, he's working class or a laborer. The thigh and arm bones show signs that he was very muscular. The ribs are cracked in six places, and the tip of his hipbone is broken, so he may have been beaten. He was shot at close range through the back of the head."

As I looked at the girls dancing, I could only think: Thirty-five to forty.

He might have been a father to one of them.

It was difficult not to shed a tear looking at these girls, at these beautiful faces who'd known such tragedy.

Presently, the dance ended with applause, and appreciative wolf whistles from the back row. After the children gathered to sing us the Bosnian national anthem, Sgt. Durst, our organizer, took the stage and began a speech of thanks in response.

"My friends," he said, "I just wanted to say how much of an honor and a joy it has been for us to provide for you these gifts this Christmas. On behalf of my wife, our church group, and the Ninety-Seventh MP Company, I just wanted to wish you all our best wishes on this joyful Christmas." We then distributed the gifts, all fifteen boxes...with a dozen or so gifts to spare. Not a single child went without.

The felicitously named Staff Sergeant Paschal--who was present with the equally felicitously named Sergeant Mass--gives a gift to a tiny one.

Each of the troops would reach into the box, pull out a gift-wrapped package, and call out names. They mispronounced them terribly, of course, but the children didn't seem to mind. They came up and took them from us greedily, but then they smiled and almost always gave us a happy "Ha-vaala" (thank you). They then ran back to their seats and hurriedly ripped off the wrappings, showing their prizes off to their friends. Dolls, coloring books, trucks, kitchen toys, soccer balls, stuffed animals, teddy bears.

Upon the giving of the final gift, the young woman in black, the one who had read to us the speech in English, stepped up to the front of the room. Next to her was the young man in the suit, carrying an exquisitely detailed (if childishly executed) cardboard-and-construction-paper model of Peace Village. "This is for you and your wife. Thank you again so very much," she said, as Sgt. Durst took the model village, fighting back tears. He was not the only one.

Afterwards, as we drove back to base, I remembered what John Degrandis, my high school history teacher, taught me in school some twenty years ago: you cannot escape history, he said, for history is not what happens in books. History is what will happen to you. And here was the proof: a whole village of children who struggled to live and grow in joy despite their harrowing inheritance, in the aftermath of that day when History, like a runaway freight train, smashed their ordinary lives.

And yet, in this village where the children of the dead grow in peace, where the sons of the missing live to sing and where the daughters of the murdered live to dance, we have learned that in spite of the hideous odds against it, we are confronted with the reality of how love still triumphs against death.

And triumph it does: even in as sad a place as this transplanted bit of Srebrenica, the city that taught us that when the world said, "never again," it didn't mean it.

Richard L. Kent, Esq. was Deputy Political Advisor to the Commanding General, Multinational Division (North) at Eagle Base near Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 2000 to 2002.=====

NOTE: I had the great honor to be present at this ceremony on December 21, 2000 and December 21, 2001, my 39th and 40th birthdays. The text describes what happened in 2000, featuring the work of the Maine National Guard; the pictures above were from the essentially identical event in 2001, featuring the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia National Guard.

An abbreviated version of the above text was posted on the Silverback on Christmas Day 2010.

An abbreviated version of this essay, but with many more pictures, can be found here. 

(The foregoing is dedicated to my very dear friend Julie Gorin at Republican Riot.)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Resurrection: Now Available on WESTLAW!

It is a well known fact that Thomas the Twin (aka Didymus) was not present at the first appearance of the Risen Christ to the Apostles. His absence was attributed to his being in private mourning. However, recent research into Roman legal archives, and their incorporation into the WESTLAW database, reveals that it is apparent that in the days immediately following the Crucifixion, St. Thomas was filing an emergency motion before the Imperial appeals court at Caesarea......


(Cite as: XXXIII Imp. Supp.2d xxiv, XVII Med.Rep. ix.)
In the Name of the Senate and People of the City of Rome

Estate of Decedent Yeshua ben Iosef, AKA Yeshua ben Yahweh, By and Through Next Friend and Executor Thomas DIDYMUS, Esq.,


Ides of April, Year of the City CCCCLXIII

Representative of decedent's estate, Thomas DIDYMUS, on behalf of surviving immediate family of executed defendant-decedent, Yeshua ben Iosef, a Galilean subject, convicted of sedition and executed under Imperial authority, brings habeas corpus action against Imperium in the Imperial Territorial Court In and For the Territory of Judea at Caesarea for relief from judgment and for release of body of executed seditionist.
Representative also moves for review of case and reversal of judgment on grounds that trial below was null and void, in violation of Imperium procedural guarantees, violated norms of imperial jurisdiction, violated rights to counsel, right of silence, and separation of Imperium and religious court authority wherein sedition case was improperly brought below and charge of blasphemy, unenforceable in imperial court, improperly held as grounds to grant capital punishment by crucifixion.

Held: While profound procedural irregularities abound in this case accused's failure to object in face of both accusations and of irregular procedure constituted adoption by  silence of both accusations against him and acceptance of irregular procedures.  While many irregularities clearly violated Imperial judicial and procedural norms, allegations of improper pendant jurisdiction rejected on grounds of adoption by silence by defendant. Furthermore motion rendered moot by reason of fulfillment of capital sentence. Finally, release of corpus of decedent, otherwise grantable to family on compassionate grounds, cannot be completed due to lack of continued imperial control over corpus delicti at issue.
Motion dismissed as moot.

West Headnotes

In a diversity action, personal jurisiction is governed by the law of the forum territory.

In responding to a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, defendant in criminal law action bears the burden of proving at the time of trial by a preponderance of the evidence that personal jurisdiction does not exist; silence in face of assertion by the State imputing jurisdiction constitutes adoption by silence of claims by representative of State.  Imp.Rules Crim.Proc.Rule 12(b)(2), 28 Imp.C.A.

Where court had not held a hearing on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, defendant in criminal action had to make a prima facie showing of lack of  jurisdiction, with all pleadings and affidavits to be construed in the light most favorable to the defendant and all doubts would be resolved in the criminal defendant's favor; however, defendant's lack of response in face of challenge by Imperium indicated adoption of Imperial position by silence and defendant or succeeding interest thereto would not be later heard to gainsay same.  Imp.Rules Crim.Proc.Rule 12(b)(2), 28 Imp.C.A.

Possible impropriety of transfer of venue from Imperial to Galilean royal court rendered moot upon refusal of Galilean royal court to accept jurisdiction and return jurisdiction of case to Imperial authority. ImpRules Crim.Proc.Rule 12(b)(2), 28 R.C.A.

Dismissal of charge of blasphemy brought by local religious authority against defendant held proper when Imperial court lacked jurisdiction to prosecute same; however, preservation of secondary charge of sedition against defendant held proper, based on imputed defendant's claim to be 'King of the Jews,' in spite of belief of Roman judicial authority in innocence of party in question, when silence of party in question in face of questioning by court constituted adoption by silence of charge of sedition.

Roman statute permitting general exercise of personal juris-diction over seditionist engaged in a continuous and systematic course of sedition within realm of authority of Judean protectorate requires that the defendant be present in Judea not occasionally or casually, but with a fair...