Geronimo in old age.A friend suggests that now is a good time to re-post this from four years ago.
Some of you I know have already seen this piece by Sara Robinson at alternet.org entitled, "Does the Right Want a Civil War?"
I decided to reply to Ms. Robinson and that reply, sent to her via email, is below. The thing that amazes me is how blithely liberals talk about civil war. It's as if they have no concern for the butcher's bill -- the stench of burning bodies, the sight of dead babies in the ditch, fires in the night. You'd think it was antiseptic. But to invite one just to try to intimidate a political opponent?
Of Civil Wars, Apaches and "Social Futurism."
By Mike Vanderboegh
For the Chiricahua, as for all Apaches, revenge was not primarily a matter of personal spite. It was a means of redressing an imbalance in the state of things. To kill members of the enemy after they had killed one's own was almost a sacred duty -- though a leader such as Nana had no right to order any warrior to fight. The Apache ideal of revenge bears a kinship with the Greek notion of Nemesis. As Kaywaykla put it: "Ussen had not commanded that we love our enemies. Nana did not love his; and he was not content with an eye for an eye, nor a life for a life. For every Apache killed he took many lives." -- David Roberts, Once They Moved Like the Wind: Cochise, Geronimo and the Apache Wars, Simon & Schuster, 1993, p. 192.
My dear Ms. Robinson,
I see from your blog that you, like me, are a student of the Apaches. You proclaim these words from Geronimo to be your "favorite quote": "All the free men are dead or still fighting."
The quote from Geronimo that I best remember are the words he spoke to General Crook when he surrendered to him: "Once I moved about like the wind. Now I surrender to you and that is all."
My "favorite" Apache, if that is the right word, was Juh, their greatest tactical genius. Afflicted with a terrible stutter, and dead long before Geronimo, he is not remembered for eloquent speeches. But his name, Juh, was a corrupt Spanish rendering of the Apache phonetic pronounced "Ho," meaning "he who sees ahead." As Roberts describes his premonitions:
As long ago as 1876 . . . Juh had been seized with a sense of doom. Even as he recruited his warriors, he told them time and again "that he could offer them nothing but hardship and death." He reminded them that "they would be hunted like wild animals by the troops of both the United States and Mexico." On day . . . Juh received a vision. Out of a thin cloud of blue smoke seen across a chasm, thousands of soldiers in blue uniforms marched into an evanescent cave. Juh's warriors saw the vision, too. A medicine man explained it: "Ussen sent the vision to warn us that we will be defeated, and perhaps all killed by the government. Their strength in numbers, with their more powerful weapons, will make us indeed Indeh, the Dead. Eventually they will exterminate us." Yet there was no alternative in Juh's pessimistic soul but to fight on toward that inevitable end. -- Ibid., p. 207.
As you probably recall, Juh married Geronimo's favorite sister, Ishton. Uncharacteristically for an Apache, Juh was over six feet in height and stockily built. A member the Nednhi, southernmost of the Chiricahua sub-groups, Juh's home ground was the high mountains of the Sierra Madre in northern Mexico. Roberts says, "The Nednhi were to remain throughout the Apache wars the most mysterious, the 'wildest' of the Chiricuhuas." (p.62).
On 5 May 1871, Juh demonstrated his tactical brilliance and iron purpose in a carefully targeted and orchestrated ambush of U.S. Cavalry near Bear Springs in the Whetstones -- an action which for almost a hundred years was attributed by historians to Cochise. His target was no shavetail fresh out of West Point, but the best Indian fighter the Army in Arizona had, LT Howard Cushing. Before this day, Cushing had been responsible for killing more Apaches -- mostly Mescaleros and Pinals -- than any other officer. He was brave, determined, resourceful, cool, energetic and already famous beyond his years all over the southwest. He had also sworn to track down and kill Cochise. In any case, he was no match for Juh.
Suckered into an arroyo by following the trail of a lone Apache woman, Cushing's unit was ambushed and the three man advance party cut off. But as the Apache fire was not too severe, Cushing rushed forward to extricate his men. At that moment, as SGT John Mott later recalled, "It seemed as if every rock and bush became an Indian." The Apaches' fire was concentrated on Cushing. First he was wounded, then he was killed:
For a mile, the Apaches kept up a running fight . . . It seemed however that with the death of the lieutenant, the Indians had accomplished their aim. At last they let the rest of the soldiers go. . . Mott's men staggered westward . . . Besides the lieutenant, the patrol lost only two men, with a third severely wounded. But the army's finest Apache fighter had been coaxed into a trap, then slain with selective precision. . .
Cushing had made it his personal vendetta to hound Cochise to his death, and as he crisscrossed Arizona killing apaches, he was convinced he was close to cornering his worthy adversary. At the same time, Juh -- a chief Cushing had never heard of -- had made it his own mission to bring the gallant and cocksure lieutenant to his downfall.
Juh's antipathy had formed when he learned of an army attack on a camp of peaceful Mescaleros in New Mexico, apparently led by Cushing. The soldiers had left everyone dead except two women . . . Enraged by this treacherous attack, Juh developed a personal obsession with Cushing. He sent out scouts who spied on the lieutenant's maneuvers. Three times Juh engaged Cushing's column in indecisive skirmishes -- the very firefights in which the lieutenant thought he was closing in on Cochise. At last Juh lured Cushing into his trap in the Whetstones.
As Juh's son recalled many years later, "Other White Eyes were killed, too; I don't know how many. We weren't all the time counting the dead as the soldiers did. Juh wasn't much interested in the troops -- just Cushing." -- Ibid., pp. 61 - 63
I thought of Juh when I read your essay, "Does the Right Want a Civil War?," the other day. (http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/140623)
Now, you may be a "social futurist," but how you intend to see the future clearly when your present knowledge and assumptions are clouded by deliberate conflations, elisions, simplistic analysis, unreasoning prejudice and spectacular lumping of all your perceived "enemies" into one is beyond me.
Take me for example. I am a small "r" republican. I believe in the constitutional republic of the Founders, in individual liberty, free markets, God and the deterrence of tyranny through preparedness. Not in that order. I am proud to say that I have been on the enemies lists of three consecutive White Houses now. I vehemently opposed the PATRIOT Act. I despise Rush Limbaugh, Dubya and Sean Hannity. I have fought -- literally fought at street level -- green-teethed Ku Klux Klan sheetheads, neoNazis and anti-semites all my life. During the Clinton Administration, we in the Constitutional militia movement had to embarrass the FBI into arresting some of the Aryan Republican Army bank robbery gang who were being allowed to walk the streets of Philadelphia free as birds. Just ask Eric Holder, he'll remember. For my pains I was called "anti-government" and blamed for the Oklahoma City bombing, as was Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and others. Your technique is by no means original.
I despise collectivism in all its forms. And yes, Ms. Robinson, the Bush-hating, 911 Truther, Holocaust-denying anti-semite and Nazi who killed the guard at the Holocaust Museum was a collectivist, just like fascists are collectivists, socialists are collectivists, and communists are socialist collectivists with guns. So for that matter are tribalists, Jihadis and other religious fanatics. The Holocaust Museum shooter isn't one of ours, he's one of yours. He was and is a collectivist.
I know all the the similar collectivist lies, common recruiting and operational techniques because I am an ex-communist myself. That makes me the most virulent anti-communist you can find. Now, I understand why you want to lump us all together. You think that the lie makes our repression more palatable to the public. But here's the deal: you don't, you can't, convince US. And WE are who you need to be worrying about when you invite us to a civil war.
Look, I've spent almost twenty years now first arguing and then shouting across an ever-widening divide between our two respective sides (and remember ALL the collectivists are on your side, as I see it). I am tired, I am hoarse and frankly, I'm convinced that we have come to the point where it cannot possibly help.
When educated journalist lawyers like Bonnie Erbe call for "rounding up all the haters" simply for expressing their opinions and when supposedly bright "social futurists" like you try to still diverse voices by lumping us all together with neoNazi terrorists and inviting us to civil war, I'm simply more convinced that further discourse, beyond one critical topic, is now futile. As Jayme Evans wrote in the Canada Free Press yesterday, we have come to the point where "one man’s Constitution is another man’s toilet paper."
We are, we must admit, two peoples sharing a common language, the same national border and not much else. You are seeing through a glass darkly when you perceive looming civil war. This much I will credit you. But you are foolish to demand that we put up or shut up, for I assure you, we WILL put up if forced to it. And, thus for the sake of preventing the civil war whose prospect you so irresponsibly invoke, it is THIS critical topic which must still be discussed.
First, you may not have noticed, but you must deal with this fact, among others:
June 15, 2009
“Conservatives” Are Single-Largest Ideological Group
by Lydia Saad
PRINCETON, NJ -- Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004. The 21% calling themselves liberal is in line with findings throughout this decade, but is up from the 1990s.
These annual figures are based on multiple national Gallup surveys conducted each year, in some cases encompassing more than 40,000 interviews. The 2009 data are based on 10 separate surveys conducted from January through May. Thus, the margins of error around each year's figures are quite small, and changes of only two percentage points are statistically significant.
To measure political ideology, Gallup asks Americans to say whether their political views are very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal, or very liberal. As has been the case each year since 1992, very few Americans define themselves at the extremes of the political spectrum. Just 9% call themselves "very conservative" and 5% "very liberal." The vast majority of self-described liberals and conservatives identify with the unmodified form of their chosen label.
OK, get that? We outnumber you two to one, and our numbers are increasing. From your perspective, this is worse than the Revolution -- the FIRST American Civil War. Back then, a third of the population agreed with the Founders, a third sided with the King and a third blew with the wind and took what came. The revolutionary combatants in the field amounted to only three percent of the population, actively supported by perhaps ten percent more.
Second, we are the ones with the firearms. There are something on the order of 250 million firearms in this country, and as Clausewitz stated, "In military affairs, quantity has a quality all its own."
The American armed citizen's rifle is the bone in the throat to any potential tyrant. And not to put too fine a point on it, but what you're selling is collectivist tyranny from our point of view. You disagree, of course, I understand that. But if what you are tempting is civil war, Ms. Robinson, you'd better bloody well try to understand our point of view for a moment.
WE are not trying to make YOU do anything. WE do not want your property, as you covet ours. WE don't want to tax you or put your children into indentured servitude. WE are not trying to tell you how to think or what to believe. Heck, as much as I despise the racists in this country I understand that they still have the right to speak their pus-filled beliefs whether I like them or not. The same goes for your opinions, or Bonnie Erbe's. This evidently makes me more enlightened than Bonnie Erbe or you. Oh, well, I have long known that if you scratch a liberal, you'll get a fascist.
But, no, we don't want you to be anything you don't want to be. I wish I could say the reverse was true. If it were, we'd be one country instead of two.
But here's our creed, and if you insist, our battle cry:
LEAVE US THE HELL ALONE!
We are done being shoved back from the free exercise of our God-given, inalienable rights. It is you, not us, who are pushing, shoving, tempting, even demanding that this country descend into its third civil war. But it is we who are more ready to prosecute that war than you.
This is true not only because we outnumber you.
This is true not only because we are armed to the teeth and know how to use those arms.
This is true because our side doesn't think of the noble surrender that was Geronimo's, but rather of the deadly efficiency of Juh's strategy and tactics. In military affairs, Juh was Geronimo's superior in every way.
So here it is.
Start a civil war, and we will win it. It's that simple.
That may not agree with what you see in your "social futurist's" crystal ball, but it is nonetheless true. Be careful what you solicit, Ms. Robinson.
You might get it.
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