The great Paul Harvey passed away today. This is one of those guys that the world will never have again. I don’t know anybody that didn’t like Paul Harvey. He will truly be missed.
There are hundreds of memorable stories he told but one really hit me hard back in the thick of the Iraq war. I heard this driving in south eastern Iowa in June of 2005. It was just perfect at the time and still holds true today. Paul was a great man and definitely a proud American.
June 22, 2005
It’s been a noisy, bloody overnight in Baghdad. Coordinated car bombings, one after another after another. One in a crowded central shopping district – maybe a half hundred dead, I don’t know how many dying.
Sunni Arabs are killing Shiite Arabs and as many of us as possible. Sunni Muslims are dominating Iraq for decades under Saddam Hussein, convinced that they can outlast us now. Defense Secretary Rumsfield goes up the hill this morning to update and anxious Congress.
For what it’s worth, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill told the American people, “We didn’t come this far because we are made of sugar candy.” And that reminder was taken seriously. We proceeded to develop and deliver the time bomb. The bomb. Even though roughly 150,000 men, women, and children perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with a single blow, WWII was over.
Following New York’s September 11th Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill was not here to remind us that we didn’t come this far because we are made of sugar candy. So, we mustered our humanity, we gave old pals a pass. Even though men and women from Saudi Arabia were largely responsible for the devastation of New York, Pennsylvania, and our Pentagon, we called Saudi Arabians our partners against terrorism and we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq – kept our best weapons in their silos. Even now we stand their dying, daring to do nothing decisive because we declared ourselves to be better than our terrorist enemies. More moral. More civilized. Our image is at stake, we insist.
But we didn’t come this far because we’re made of sugar candy. Once upon a time we elbowed our way onto and across this continent by giving smallpox infected blankets to Native Americans. That was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever and we grew prosperous. And yes we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves.
So it goes with most great nation states, which feeling guilty about their savage pasts eventually civilized themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry, up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy.