Telefunken and Character

12.05.05 | 11 Comments

Today is kind of a busy day, so this post will have to be short. Just a couple of items of interest. First, I am now in possession of a Telefunken Princess 5186W cabinet radio, built sometime in the 50s or 60s. It’s a pretty radio in mostly-working order. It needs a little bit of work (only half the speakers work), but I’m looking forward to learning all I can about it. In addition to being a neat gadget, it has a lot of sentimental value for me.

In other news, I’d like to draw your attention to a post by Ed. One sentence in particular stood out for me, and I think it’s a defining question for our individual and national character. The question, very simply, is “What’s worth fighting for?” What is so important that it is more important than our very lives? I think the differences we have over the war in Iraq stem from either differing beliefs in what is worth fighting for, or differing beliefs in what we are fighting for. It seems like some folks are caught up in the past, still arguing over the WMD justification for the war—as if that’s a reason for leaving now. Others are convinced we’re only fighting for oil. If that’s what you believe, then I suppose I can see how you’d want America out of there ASAP. But remember not everyone feels that way. We’re fighting for something much bigger and more important than oil or what weapons may or may not have been there. We’re fighting for the freedom and democracy of a nation in a region in which freedom and democracy are in short supply. If we leave before freedom and democracy are secured, it WILL be overrun by forces who want to hide their own activities in a swirl of larger chaos.

So here’s your homework. Speak out in the comments section and share what you think is worth fighting for. This is an open-ended question and can have absolutely nothing to do with politics. What, on a personal level, is worth fighting for? On a national level?

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Comment by Martin Dawe
2005-12-05 20:25:22

Freedom and Democracy are worth fighting for; however, they aren’t something WE can fight for THEM. It isn’t our place to spread what we think is right to the rest of the world, no more than it is our responsibility to spread our religion–if we had a single, national religion. As a nation, we have a holier-than-thou approach to the rest of the world. If you look at history, all the great empires had that attitude, and the other thing they all have in common is they are history.

What is worth fighting for is our personal safety. The United States has never had to hold off a foriegn invader. We’ve never fought a war on our shores (I’m excluding the Civil War). We’ve never even come close (remember, Hawaii wasn’t a state when the Japanese attacked).

However, when they took the towers down, we did–and should have–taken that as an act of war. The problem is that it wasn’t a recognized government that did it. So, we had to do what all the empires did in these cases: we had to make an example.

It’s also much more complicated than that because of our economic ties with the rest of the world. We can’t, and shouldn’t close our borders. We can’t, and shouldn’t start profiling to try to find terrorists. As soon as we do we reduce ourselves to their level; furthermore, we start down the same path all the other great empires did. And we know where that ends.

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Comment by Prest0
2005-12-06 10:37:25

Freedom *is* worth fighting for. However, while you think it is wrong to spread our ideas to the rest of the world, I think it is wrong to turn our backs on a people who need help in securing their own freedom. This is not a case of America forcing our culture on someone else. (We don’t have to–MTV does it for us and they beg for more.) Remember, most of Baghdad cheered when we first rolled in. It was only the lawlessness that followed immediately thereafter that we lost our ground.

Finally, let me leave you with this thought. If “Freedom” and “Democracy” are so important as to be worth fighting–and possibly dying–for, then how can they not be values worth instilling elsewhere?

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Comment by Martin
2005-12-06 12:56:34

Finally, let me leave you with this thought. If “Freedom” and “Democracy” are so important as to be worth fighting–and possibly dying–for, then how can they not be values worth instilling elsewhere?

Because you can’t instill your values on other people. They are YOUR values, not necessarily theirs. Remember, freedom is hard. You have to work for it. It isn’t necessarily something everybody wants, needs, or knows how to handle.

If France had fought our revolution for us then we wouldn’t have been our own country: we would have been part of France. We can’t liberate Iraq for them without the rest of the world thinking it will be part of the United States.

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Comment by Prest0
2005-12-06 14:26:55

Because you can’t instill your values on other people.

Of course you can. Not instantly, but with persistance, absolutely.

And your example is excellent, because France DID help us fight our revolution. They extended us credit and provided us with the means to keep on fighting long after our own meager resources dried up. Without gunpowder and other necessities, the revolution would have quickly been over. They also provided field “observers” who helped train the American revolutionaries to fight their own battles. Sound familiar?

Remember, freedom is hard. You have to work for it. It isn’t necessarily something everybody wants, needs, or knows how to handle.

Mostly no arguments there. Freedom is hard and it’s messy. And certainly not everyone knows how to handle it. It took America almost the first 150 years to come to grips with slavery, women’s sufferage, and other hypocrisies. We can’t expect other people to get it right off the bat. BUT, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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Comment by Martin
2005-12-06 14:43:50

OK, symantics: you can, but you shouldn’t. Systems of government are just like religion: what may be right for me may not be right for you. So, you shouldn’t try to impress your governmental system upon me any more than I should try to convert you to my religion.

I didn’t say France didn’t help us. I said if France had fought our war for us, which is what we’re doing over there. We’re not loaning them weapons and money and credit: we’re giving them troops (and in turn losing troops in battle). We’re not supporting their effort, we ARE the effort. Yes, we’re training, but we’re also fighting. That, to me, is where the line should be drawn.

As a country, we are young, idiotic, invincible punks. We have to learn where we can rule with an iron fist and where we can’t. We will–probably not in our lifetimes.

So, you quote a document, hyperbole, meant to inflame people into actions they would not have otherwise taken. A document that isn’t part of our government. We obviously didn’t believe it ourselves because it took us 75 years to address slavery and another 50 or so to address women’s sufferage. We’re still fighting with that belief now, i.e. immigration.

And, for that matter, if we REALLY believed it, we would be invading many other countries.

Equality to everyone in the world; usurp every evil dictator in the world; overthrow communism everywhere it exists. None of these things are our job until one of them threatens our security. When that happens, we unleash the dogs of war and wreak havoc so the next unequal, evil, communist dictator realizes that the moment he even smells an inkling of an idea to piss on the United States he realizes that we’re going kill him, kill his family, and burn his house to the ground.

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Comment by Ed Wetterman
2005-12-06 16:25:38

Wow. Martin I appreciate your views on the matter, and I think we simply must agree to disagree on it. The Declaration of Independence is a part of our government, as it established the enlightenment ideals so ingrained in our Constitution. I also agree that we have not in the past, nor are we now living up to the standards we created in the Revolutionary years. However, we do need a standard. We do need something to believe in, to strive for, to make things better. I do believe that a Republican form of government is the best form of government. It is the pinnacle of civilization and has proven to be so over time. I also believe that it is important to the safety and security of America to create a democracy in the middle east. Do I think we can “civilize” the rest of the world? No. Should we conquer and force our standards on the rest of the world? No. I’m not even sure, knowing what we now know, that we should have invaded Iraq. However, we did do it, and it would be a HUGE mistake to withdraw now. I agree the Iraqi’s must take charge, and I think they will once the government is firmly established. I think we should withdraw and turn it over to the Iraqi’s at that point. Then, their freedoms and govermental choices will be up to them. If we leave now, and show weakness, we in the US will surely suffer more attacks like that of 9-11.
Finally, I totally agree with your last comment. My opinion is that any nation that supports terrorism, or attacks US citizens should be blown away. We don’t rebuild them. But we are in too deep in Iraq to tuck and run. At least that’s my opinion.

Ain’t Republicanism wonderful. We have the right to disagree, hold our leaders accountable, and express our opinions.


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Comment by Martin
2005-12-06 17:04:34

I was oversimplifying the issue by stating that the Declaration wasn’t a part of our government. Technically, it isn’t. It is, though, as you said, a big part of the theology they used as a means to an end, along with the Federalist papers and many other documents, probably long lost. They had to forge a government from nothingness. To do that, they had to create an evil so to convince a not-necessarily disgruntled populace there to rebel. In addition, they used strong rhetoric to instill a hatred of the current ruling body so as to change their entire philosophy on government.

You believe that a republican form of government is the pinnacle. Personally, I agree with you. Where I disagree, though, is in how we should disseminate that belief. I personally believe that others must do what we did. They MUST fight on their own. They MUST create this government on their own. We can’t give it to them. We can’t write it for them. It is our folly if we do.

As I said, as a government, we are young and brash. It is time for us to get over that and move on. As a populace, we are stupid, selfish, and lazy. We won’t get over that and we will end up paying for it.

Personally, I don’t think the Middle East is ready for the responsibility that our form of government imparts (Neither are many U.S. citizens either, but there’s little we can do about that).

I think that part of the world still needs to be ruled by a strong, and fair, ruler. That part of the world needs to mature more. We had the luxury of living in a fairly remote, unconnected, unrelated part of the world during our maturation process: communication was lengthy, at best, and we had strong, intelligent, and most of all wise rulers to lead us through that process.

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Comment by Jason Chapman
2005-12-07 00:14:33

One quick point: After WWII, the US wrote Japan’s Constitution (giving women rights for the first time there ever)and set up their gov’ment. It seems to be working well now for, um, over 60 years.

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Comment by Martin
2005-12-07 17:37:09

Right, and we completely, 100% conquered the Japanese people. They lived on an island and we could complete the job. We interned their immigrants in the U.S. We dropped the atomic bomb on them, twice.

Do you think we have the stomach to do this in the Middle East? Do you think we have the capabilities to dominate and conquer almost 200 million people. Do you think we would be able to make the rest of the world believe it wasn’t an all-out war on Muslims?

Also, we’re in Iraq now because the person we put in charge decided he didn’t want to hold our hand while we crossed the street. We’re there now because we THOUGHT we could do to Iraq what we did to Japan.

Finally, Japan had a strong leader that everyone believed in enough to die for. We conquered Japan because the emperor let us. If he had said fight, the women, children, and dogs would have fought us tooth and nail for ever square inch of land on the Japanese islands. We would have had to fight all 100 million Japanese and we would have lost. You could argue they would have lost more, but in the end, we would have lost.

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Comment by Cray
2005-12-08 00:10:28

You all have made some valid points, and you can discuss until you are blue in the face and that is a good thing. I would like to add that the current situation in Iraq and the situation around the birth of our country are completely different. We take for granted that we got a fresh start, and were able to learn from a few hundred years of mistakes by other peoples. Some consider Iraq the birthplace of civilization, and they have centuries of problems to overcome.
Taking a new land, conquering the indiginous inhabitants, fighting for freedom from oppression, and creating something special is relatively easy compared to changing the way generations of people have had “the way it always has been” ingrained into their core beliefs. But the important thing that we might be remembered in history for is that we precipitated that change. If we provide hope for the hopeless, and show them that they can fight for themselves, then maybe they will take up that charge and take control of their own destiny. Of course, it might be a colossal failure, but who is to say at this point.
All of this will be a moot point for the future if the good ole USA don’t change her ways. We are following the same patterns of the other great civilizations, i.e. Rome and are causing our own eventual demise. We will be tested as a country one day and we will have lost our desire to fight for ourselves. We are easily swayed by the dollar, we are near morally bankrupt as a nation with convienient ethics, and our children are learning not patriotism, but only how to look after themselves.
It’s a shame that the WW2 vets are all dying off, we could stand to learn about what freedom is from them in our future generations. They knew what to fight for, and they did it without complaint.
Yes, a bit of a ramble, but if one can’t ramble in a blog comment, then where can one ramble?

Cray Crouse, Proud ‘Merican, Proud Texan

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Comment by Jason Chapman
2005-12-08 13:14:28

We (Americans) can do any goddamn thing we set our minds to. It’s the pussy-footed among us that have lost the “American Spirit”. I’ve been in several conversations with liberal-democrats that say ‘we shouldn’t be in Iraq by ourselves becasue we can’t do it on our own… we need help from other countires’. That’s complete and total bullshit.

The reason Hirohito surrendered because he didn’t want all of his cities destroyed with atom bombs. He did not know that we were out. If he didn’t surrender after Nagasaki the good-ole hard working men and women in Oakridge would have worked overtime making more fissable material to save more American lives. The reason we used the a-bombs in the first place was to prevent the estimated 1,000,000 US casualities on taking Japan.

You asked if ‘we’ had the stomach to repeat what we did then? Probably not because the “American Spirit” is dying. As a nation, we no longer have a ‘can-do’ attitude. That sense of spirit is no longer needed because there’s always someone who will help us and hold our hand – whatever the task.

Here’s a question: If back in the day, Europe had the mind-set that we have now whould they have ever left to discover America? Even if they did, would future generations go “Out West”.

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