Jay Am­brose: What a D-Day hero can help teach us

Calhoun Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Why in the world would Ralph Frang make me think of Colin Kaeper­nick?

I mean, look, Frang is 93 years old, Kaeper­nick just 30. Frang, who sits in a wheel­chair, is a World War II vet­eran who be­came a car­pen­ter. Kaeper­nick is a mus­cu­lar for­mer quar­ter­back for the San Fran­cisco 49ers who earned $ 20 mil­lion a year. Frang risked his life for his coun­try. Kaeper­nick ex­hibits dis­re­spect.

So there, in the last two sen­tences, we see the rea­son Kaeper­nick came to mind as my church paid trib­ute to Frang this past Sun­day.

Here we were head­ing to­ward the June 6 an­niver­sary of D-Day and Frang had just re­cently re­ceived France’s high­est award, the Le­gion of Honor, from Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron. In an ac­com­pa­ny­ing let­ter, Macron said thank you for help­ing to save France from the Nazis.

Frang was just 17 when he de­cided he had to “go out and beat those sons of guns,” as he him­self has put it. He had to fib about his age, but was soon enough an Army para­trooper fly­ing to­ward Nor­mandy as part of the al­lied in­va­sion of Europe.

He was get­ting ready to jump from the plane when, wham, some­thing hit it and he fell out, open­ing his para­chute just in time to avoid fatal con­se­quences. He was alone but clicked his cricket, a de­vice used to lo­cate fel­low sol­diers. He was soon part of a group that fought the fight on D-Day and then through­out Europe. While many of his com­rades were killed, he was only wounded and got the Pur­ple Heart along with other medals be­fore he came home and ended up in Golden, Colo.

At the church cer­e­mony, we had Ea­gle Scouts march for­ward with flags as we all stood to say the Pledge of Al­le­giance, and, at the end, Frang said this should not be about him but about those who lost their lives.

Kaeper­nick does not like to stand. His thing is dis­re­spect­ful kneel­ing, at least when the na­tional an­them is be­ing played at foot­ball games. Most of us do stand when we hear the mu­sic. We do it as a way of say­ing we love our coun­try, that we em­brace our other pre­cious ideals and ap­pre­ci­ate a his­tory ex­cep­tion­ally pointed in right di­rec­tions de­spite egre­gious faults we have per­sis­tently con­quered.

Kaeper­nick’s ob­ject is to protest black op­pres­sion, which he sees as in­ter­wo­ven in all we are. And some de­fend what he started, namely the kneel­ing of so many other play­ers. He brought at­ten­tion to po­lice abuse of power, it has been said, but that theme was al­ready get­ting plenty of at­ten­tion. In fact, he alien­ated many, a likely fac­tor in the NFL re­cently say­ing play­ers shall not kneel on the field again and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump play­ing to the crowd.

Martin Luther King Jr., maybe the most suc­cess­ful pro­tester of the 20th cen­tury, praised Amer­ica, say­ing it should do more to live up to what it stands for. Mean­while, as a show of dis­re­spect, con­sider Re­pub­li­can Rep. Joe Wilson who shouted, “You lie!” when Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was giv­ing a speech to a joint ses­sion of Congress. Did that serve Wilson’s pol­icy ends?

Much of the left does not ap­plaud Amer­ica, sum­ming us up by what’s gone wrong with lit­tle men­tion of what’s gone right. Racism is def­i­nitely part of what has gone ter­ri­bly wrong and there have been po­lice killings of blacks that are ab­so­lutely hor­rid, but so are some shoot­ings of whites. It has been shown by the scholar Heather Mac Don­ald that po­lice have saved thou­sands of black lives by their work. Stud­ies say they are not racially bi­ased in their shoot­ings.

One de­fender of Kaeper­nick has said kneel­ing is ac­tu­ally a meek, prayer­ful thing to do. But not in all in­stances, for heaven’s sake, and Kaeper­nick has re­ceived awards from a branch of the ACLU (for courage), from Amnesty In­ter­na­tional ( for con­science) and from GQ mag­a­zine ( for ci­ti­zen­ship).

I be­lieve the Le­gion of Honor mat­ters far more.

He was the most pow­er­ful man in the world. She was a 21-year-old in­tern. They had an il­licit af­fair in the White House. He went on to make mil­lions of dol­lars and was revered by mil­lions of peo­ple while she was shamed into si­lence and di­ag­nosed with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

And yet, if you lis­ten to many Democrats, what hap­pened be­tween Mon­ica Lewin­sky and then-Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton was just a pri­vate re­la­tion­ship be­tween two con­sent­ing adults. It’s what Democrats say any time some­one points out the dis­turb­ing par­al­lels be­tween the way Democrats ex­cused, and even­tu­ally ral­lied be­hind, Clin­ton and what Re­pub­li­cans are do­ing for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. It’s an as­tound­ing de­fense, given what the #MeToo move­ment has taught us.

It’s no won­der Clin­ton seems to have learned lit­tle from his past dis­cre­tion, even though he has in the past pub­licly apol­o­gized. Why learn when peo­ple keep mak­ing keep mak­ing ex­cuses for you? Clin­ton, who is on a media tour tout­ing his lat­est book, was asked if, in the age of #MeToo, he has re­assessed his ac­tions in the late 1990s. It was a pre­dictable ques­tion. Clin­ton could have sim­ply said that times have changed for the bet­ter; that he has ad­mit­ted his wrong­do­ing mul­ti­ple times; that he hates how Lewin­sky and other women like her have been treated; and that he and other men need to com­mit to soul-search­ing. He could have even asked for for­give­ness again for good mea­sure. It would have been the po­lit­i­cally as­tute and morally cor­rect thing to do.

In­stead, he said he did the right thing by “de­fend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion,” men­tioned the $16 mil­lion of debt he ac­cu­mu­lated de­fend­ing him­self, chided the re­porter for sup­pos­edly leav­ing out im­por­tant con­text, then claimed #MeToo pro­po­nents were “frus­trated that they got all these se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions against the cur­rent oc­cu­pant in the Oval Of­fice and his vot­ers don’t seem to care.”

I get why it is a sore sub­ject for Clin­ton and other Democrats. The Re­pub­li­can Party used an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into real es­tate deals – which es­sen­tially turned up noth­ing – to im­peach Clin­ton be­cause he lied un­der oath about his re­la­tion­ship with Lewin­sky. He should not have been im­peached over such an in­frac­tion. (In 1998, I ar­gued Clin­ton should have re­signed be­cause he was di­vid­ing the coun­try with un­nec­es­sary lies and low­er­ing stan­dards for our lead­ers that we’d come to re­gret. I still be­lieve that. But im­peach­ment was the wrong course.) And it’s par­tic­u­larly grat­ing given that the Re­pub­li­cans who gid­dily voted to im­peach Clin­ton – many of whom are in of­fice to­day – are pro­tect­ing Trump from even worse be­hav­ior.

Still, Democrats would have been wise to fol­low the lead of Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York, who last fall said she rethought the Clin­ton era and now be­lieves he should have re­signed. It’s OK to change your mind when new ev­i­dence emerges, and #MeToo has pro­vided us all nu­mer­ous rea­sons to re­think gen­der equal­ity, and not just when it in­volves ques­tions of sex­ual as­sault. While Lewin­sky was an adult when she en­gaged in an af­fair with a mar­ried man, some­thing for which she has taken re­spon­si­bil­ity, we should not dis­count the enor­mous power im­bal­ance be­tween her and Clin­ton. What’s worse is that the per­son who had the least power in the re­la­tion­ship has suf­fered the most.

That wasn’t OK in 1998. It’s not OK in 2018.

White evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians, es­pe­cially faith lead­ers such as the Rev. Franklin Gra­ham, and Re­pub­li­cans have shown that pol­i­tics trump their pur­ported prin­ci­ples. Democrats, when it comes to their han­dling of Bill Clin­ton, have proven to be no bet­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.