Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Death Before Bowing

The Colonel has fumed and fussed electronically with friends for several days regarding the image of our President (the democratically elected leader of the greatest nation on the planet) bowing before the hereditary Emperor of Japan, penning explanations of the two century old American tradition of not bowing that arises from our Constitution's explicit prohibitions regarding titles of nobility. But there was something else so fundamentally disturbing about H bowing that I could not put my finger on it. That is until the Colonel's brother wrote, "One can only imagine the feelings of the Greatest Generation as they see him bowing to the emperor of the nation they fought and defeated in the Pacific. And what about the families of those who paid the ultimate price?" Then I knew why the bow bothered me so much.

Excerpt from the account of 2nd Lt. Ben R. Morin, US Army:

"In late March, 1942, Ben and the other [American prisoners of war] were sent to Tarlac. It was there that they came under the control of the Japanese military governor Capt. Tsuneyoshi. He later became the commandant of Camp O'Donnell. The first night at Tarlac, Capt. Tsuneyoshi sent two NCOs into the jail to persuade the POWs to bow. Ben recalled being slugged and beaten. In response to this, the POWs met and decided that it would be best to bow if they hoped to survive. The next morning the POWs bowed to the Japanese. To them, they had achieved a small victory because the Japanese had to use force to make them bow."

Excerpts from "The Watcher," by Peter vanRuyter Schoeffel:

Stratton was all bones, but for a persistent little pot belly. He was so bony he could barely sit or lie down. He could put his thumbs and fingers together in a circle and run them all the way from his ankle to his upper thigh. A half-inch shy of 6 feet tall, 100 pounds. Still, he could get beyond hunger, into some place where the pangs merged into the dull ache of daily existence. But thirst? Three days without water, and you’d kill your grandmother to get hers. In 1967, after some three months of torture, Stratton was photographed at a Hanoi news conference as he bowed deeply to all four corners of the room in front of his captors. The iconic image went around the world. Bowing was a matter of honor to the Vietnamese; a lackluster bow was excuse enough for another round of beating. His bowing, he says, was meant as an exaggerated, cartoonish gesture of defiance. But in America, some wondered if he had been brainwashed, or fallen in with his captors, though those rumors lessened as word of the prisoners’ sufferings leaked out. And upon his release from Vietnam, a wire service reporter wrote that “Stratton’s gaunt, stooped figure and haunted expression” had become “a symbol of the plight of the American POWs.”

Still, the suspicion lingered far longer than that, even as McCain, shortly after his release, took pains to clear Stratton’s name. “He stood up for me when other people were saying things,” Stratton says. “When I was down, people kicking me, he stood up for me, and he didn’t have to. He gained nothing.” As for his captors, Stratton figures most were just doing their job. But every day he sees the thick rope scars they burned into his forearms. His forgiveness knows bounds. “There are two or three, if I saw them today, I’d kill them

The foregoing are but two of tens of thousands of stories from Americans who suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of their captors and yet knew at their very core that to bow was un-American. Untold numbers of Americans were summarily executed by their Imperial Japanese Army captors for their refusal to bow. American prisoners of the North Vietnamese communists, like Stratton above, endured fierce torture before they broke and bowed. When Stratton was trotted out before international visitors to the "Hanoi Hilton" he knew that if he were filmed bowing, it would be an obvious sign back home that the Vietnamese communists were torturing and attempting to brainwash the Americans they held.

Bile rises in the Colonel's throat each time he sees the images of President Obama bowing before Saudi and Japanese royalty. I am personally offended that my representative to the rest of the world is so narcissistic, vain, and pompous that he believes he knows better than the rest of us. His actions are clearly calculated not for American consumption, but for the world's. In a sense that should be the way it is when our president travels abroad.

One wonders what the rest of the world really thinks when Obama abases himself and his country.
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