Na­tion in need of an­other mir­a­cle

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Thomas Sow­ell

An in­creas­ing num­ber of re­cent let­ters and e-mails from read­ers strike a note, not only of un­hap­pi­ness with the way things are go­ing in our so­ci­ety, but a note of de­spair.

Those of us who are pes­simists are only a step away from de­spair our­selves, so we may not be the ones to of­fer the best an­ti­dote to the view that Amer­ica has seen its best days and is de­gen­er­at­ing to­ward what may well be its worst. Yet what hope re­mains is no less pre­cious nor any less wor­thy of be­ing pre­served.

First of all, the day-to-day life of most Amer­i­cans in th­ese times is nowhere near as dire as that of the band of cold, ragged and hun­gry men who gath­ered around Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton in the win­ter at Val­ley Forge, to which they had been driven by de­feat af­ter de­feat.

Only the most reck­less gam­bler would have bet on them to win. Only an op­ti­mist would have ex­pected them to sur­vive.

Against the back­ground of those and other des­per­ate times that this coun­try has been through, we can­not whine to­day be­cause the stocks in our pen­sion plans have gone down or the in­flated value that our houses had just a few years ago has now evap­o­rated.

In an­other sense, how­ever, loom­ing ahead of us — and our chil­dren and their chil­dren — are dan­gers that can ut­terly de­stroy Amer­i­can so­ci­ety. Worse yet, there are moral cor­ro­sions within our­selves that weaken our abil­ity to face the chal­lenges ahead.

One of the many symp­toms of this de­cay from within is that we are pre­oc­cu­pied with the pay of cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives while the lead­ing ter­ror­ist-spon­sor­ing na- tion on earth is mov­ing steadily to­ward cre­at­ing nu­clear bombs.

Does any­one imag­ine that we will care what any­one’s pay­check is when we see an Amer­i­can city in ra­dioac­tive ru­ins?

Yet the only se­ri­ous ob­sta­cle to that hap­pen­ing is that the Is­raelis may dis­re­gard the lofty blather com­ing out of the White House and de­stroy Iran’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties be­fore the Ira­nian fa­nat­ics can de­stroy Is­rael.

If by some mir­a­cle we man­age to avoid the fa­tal dan­gers of a nu­clear Iran, there will no doubt be oth­ers, in­clud­ing a nu­clear North Korea.

Al­though, in some sense, the United States of Amer­ica is still the mil­i­tar­ily strong­est na­tion on earth, that means ab­so­lutely noth­ing if our en­e­mies are will­ing to die and we are not.

It took only two nu­clear bombs to get Ja­pan to sur­ren­der — and the Ja­panese of that era were far tougher than most Amer­i­cans to­day. Just one bomb — dropped on New York, Chicago or Los An­ge­les — might be enough to get us to sur­ren­der.

If we are still made of sterner stuff than it looks like, then it might take two or maybe even three or four nu­clear bombs, but we will sur­ren­der.

It doesn’t mat­ter if we re­tal­i­ate and kill mil­lions of in­no­cent Ira­nian civil­ians — at least it will not mat­ter to the fa­nat­ics in charge of Iran or the fa­nat­ics in charge of the in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions that Iran sup­plies.

Ul­ti­mately, it all comes down to who is will­ing to die and who is not.

How did we get to this point? It was no sin­gle thing.

The dumb­ing down of our ed­u­ca­tion, the un­der­min­ing of moral val­ues with the fad of “non­judg­men­tal” af­fec­ta­tions, the den­i­gra­tion of our na­tion through poi­sonous pro­pa­ganda from the movies to the uni­ver­si­ties. The list goes on and on.

The tra­jec­tory of our course leads to a fate that would fully jus­tify de­spair. The only sav­ing grace is that even the tra­jec­tory of a bul­let can be changed by the wind.

We have been saved by mirac­u­lous good for­tune be­fore in our his­tory. The over­whelm­ing mil­i­tary and naval ex­pe­di­tion that Bri­tain sent to New York to an­ni­hi­late Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s army was to­tally im­mo­bi­lized by a vast im­pen­e­tra­ble fog that al­lowed the Amer­i­cans to es­cape. That is how they ended up in Val­ley Forge.

In the World War II naval bat­tle of Mid­way, if things had not hap­pened just the way they did, at just the time they did, the Amer­i­can naval force would not only have lost, but could have been wiped out by the far larger Ja­panese fleet.

Over the years, we have had our share of mirac­u­lous de­liv­er­ances. But that our fate to­day de­pends on yet an­other mir­a­cle is what can turn pes­simism to de­spair.

Thomas Sow­ell is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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