An incredible story

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The author peeks up from behind her mother’s back around 1980.

I READ A LOT because I’m smart, or maybe it’s the other way around.

Aside from my frequent mentions here that I often read a spell during the late afternoons down on the plaza, accompanied by a café Americano negro, I don’t do book reviews nor do I plug them, usually. But I’m gonna make an exception.

The Girl With the Seven Names.

girlIt’s written, along with a Welsh ghost writer named David John, by Hyeonseo Lee. I believe all Koreans are named either Lee or Park. That’s not the name she was given at birth but one of the seven she picked up along the escape route.

She fled North Korea. It’s not the first book I’ve read by North Korean defectors. It’s the second or third. But it’s by far the best, the most gripping, the most incredible.

This book was on the New York Times Best Seller List in 2015, so you may know of it. I pay no mind to best-seller lists anywhere, so it was new to me.

Kindle recommended it.

Something I did not know was that although North Korea’s southern border, the one with South Korea, is heavily guarded and difficult to pass through, the northern border with China is a walk in the park to cross. The problem with escaping that way is that the Chinese will send you right back if you’re caught.

Lee was just 19 years old when she crossed into China. The years-long, often harrowing tale of her trek to South Korea and then the added, equally gripping, story of how she managed to get her mother and brother to South Korea too is something you don’t want to miss. It’s a story of terror, love, deceit, cunning and sheer luck.

It takes you through China, Laotian prisons, Vietnam and tense bus journeys.

North Korea is usually referred to as communist, but it’s about as communist as I am. It’s an old-school Oriental despotism that’s totally misplaced in today’s world. A bit more communist, but not all that much, was Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s Red China.

These facts support the common leftist claim the communism has never really been implemented, and that is quite correct. When the pie-in-the-sky notion of communism is tried, human nature swiftly comes into play, and despotism follows.

This is a wonderful book. It ends happily, and Lee is beautiful. How has this not been made into a movie? She’s in her late 30s now and lives in South Korea.

Tread with caution

WITH ALL THE condemnation of Western Civilization — read white people — currently bouncing about the Western world, one wonders if anyone has considered the alternatives.

If the multiculturalists and diversity worshipers manage to stomp out Western Civilization, we’ll need another of the world’s civilizations to replace it, right?

We cannot live in a void, and starting a culture from scratch would be dicey. God knows what we’d end up with.

Being a Mexican, I’m inclined to look first at the Latino world. Should Western Civilization be replaced by the cultures of, say, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay or Honduras?

I don’t think you’d like that very much.

So let’s move on to Africa. Should Western Civilization be replaced by the likes of Uganda, Cameroon, Chad or Rwanda? Those are very different cultures. Perhaps interesting places to visit, but would you wish to live there?

Don’t bet on it.

Well, let’s look at the Middle East. Apart from Israel, which is a Western Civilization transplant to a large degree, the Middle East is ruled mostly by Mohammedans, and they won’t let women drive cars or walk outside without a sheet. They toss homosexuals off buildings and behead infidels.

If you think the Mideast culture — aside from democratic Israel — merits copying, well, there’s no hope for you.

You are a knucklehead.

Asia? Maybe we’ll find a superior culture there. There’s communist Vietnam, communist China, dictatorial Burma, chaotic India, despotic Russia, or maybe vociferously unicultural Japan which loathes diversity.

Which of these often-dreadful cultures  would you like to see replace Western Civilization?

If you think Donald Trump is bad or Barack Obama or Ted Cruz or George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton or Bernie, remember who other cultures have placed in their catbird seats:

Kim Jong-un, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, Vladimir Putin, Augusto Pinochet, Evo Morales, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein.

The list goes on and on.

Okay, so forget foreign cultures. Let’s stick to America, specifically Native Americans, peace-loving people cultivating the land, at one with the universe. Kumbaya in buckskins.

Let’s return to our original culture.

indianFirst, you might want to read Empire of the Summer Moon. You’ll be thanking God you weren’t born a Comanche. Or worse: an opposing tribe.

Be careful what you criticize. Tread with caution.

Because you’ve never had it so good. All U.S. citizens are “privileged” no matter the color of their skin.

Defective defender

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THE NINCOMPOOPS have stormed the academy and the government. Not all governments, mind you, just those run by the NDP*

NDP stalwarts like Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, Barry Obama, Samuel L. Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Rachel Maddow, entire liberal arts faculties in Ivy League universities, the NAACP, the ACLU, Sarah Silverman, “the Reverend” Jeremiah Wright (Quote: “Goddamn America!) — oh, the list is so long — will tell you that America is an evil oppressor that invades innocent nations.

This is all poppycock.

People who believe this, and they are many, simply do not know history.

(Aside: A cable TV news crew headed to the beach for Spring Break recently and quizzed the young people, most of whom were students at the University of Maryland: “Who was George Washington? Who was president during the Civil War? Whom did we fight in World War II? What was the Cold War about? The Revolutionary War was against what nation?  Who won the Civil War?”  Almost no one knew!)

Americans know little of the past, theirs or anyone else’s.

And yet zealots of the NDP, having taken over the academy and much of government, have convinced people, especially clueless youth, that America is bad and has done bad things. Sure, bad things have been done, but far more good things were done. Far more.

Tip of the day: All nations sometimes do stuff they shouldn’t. America has done far less bad stuff than most.

Start at the beginning of the last century. America reluctantly entered World War I, putting an end to the ongoing bloodbath and stalemate in the trenches. Then the doughboys came home. A bit over 20 years later, Hitler decided to take over the world. Tojo and his pals decided to take over Asia. Without warning, Hitler invaded his European neighbors. Without warning, Tojo attacked Pearl Harbor.

(Aside to PC types: Hitler was a white guy. Tojo was not. Lesson: Bad dudes come in all colors and eye shapes.)

America entered the European and Asian wars by necessity, a question of survival. After defeating Germany, America initiated the Marshall Plan, a massive aid program (U.S. taxpayer dollars) that played a primary role in rebuilding the crushed European economies. In Germany, the United States put it back on its feet, establishing democracy. Japan got the same American postwar gift. Then the GIs came home, leaving some in Europe to counter Soviet communism. Someone had to do it.

After nuking the Japs! … you say. This is a common complaint of collectivists, the PC people of the NDP. Yes, the Japs got nuked, but consider this: Who attacked whom in 1941? What military was the most brutal of World War II? Not the Germans but the Japanese who were heartless murderers far beyond normal military necessities. Ask the people of Nanking and Bataan. The Nazis were pussycats in comparison.

The Japanese would not surrender. They almost invariably preferred death to the white flag, no matter the hopeless odds. The book to read is With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. It will turn your stomach. Harry Truman faced two choices: a land invasion of the Japanese homeland, which would have killed thousands more American soldiers. Or drop the bombs.

He did the right thing.

* * * *

That brings us into the postwar era, the late 1940s, which is when the Cold War began.

Communism, a totalitarian philosophy, had seized a huge chunk of global real estate. Red China and the Soviet Union may not have made up half of the world, but they came pretty darn close. This was very worrying to the United States, a land of liberty.

This is the context of Korea, (the Domino Theory, which seems like hula hoops and miniskirts now, but was a very reasonable idea in its day), Vietnam and U.S. incursions in Central America, the Caribbean, Chile, etc. America did not want communism to spread, and it took harsh (and understandable at the time) measures to prevent it, sometimes allying itself with right-wing dictators. It was self-preservation.

Again, this made good sense at the time. It is only in retrospect, now that communism has imploded, that it’s easy to take pot shots at the thinking in those days. By the way, I’ll take a right-wing dictator over communist despotism any day. And so would you.

* * * *

America murdered the Indians and stole their land. It also stole a sizable chunk of Mexico. Yes, it did, almost two centuries ago. At the same time, before and after, nations and peoples were invading neighbors, seizing land, oppressing folks, in Africa, Asia, Europe, all over the place. And people of all colors. The United States has never cornered the market in these activities. But it quit long, long ago.

By the way, if you think American Indians were peace-loving environmentalists, the book to read is Empire of the Summer Moon. Have a barf bag nearby or a cast-iron stomach. Those (non-white) Comanches were real cutups! And not just to white people who, of course, had it coming, you say. Indian tribes were at each other’s throats long before whitey came along. They were real nasty.

Anyway, it’s ancient history. But the partisans of the NDP love to point to it, as they love to point even further back to the 12th century Crusades (!) to illustrate the brutality of Christianity, no different than today’s Mohammedan atrocities, they claim. Sure … 900 years ago.

* * * *

America invades countries for oil! Well, yeah, if need be. If America did not do it, somebody else would have to do it. Alas, oil is the building block of the world’s economy. Without oil, we’d all be back in the 17th century. Unfortunately, much of the world’s oil sits in nations ruled by Mohammedans, an unruly lot in the best of times.

It rests below ground in other parts of the world too, but environmentalists put up obstacles. Not in their backyard.

There are other options. I favor nuclear power, which would help, but it’s also opposed by tree-huggers. Only a workable, generally acceptable alternative to oil will cancel the need to occasionally invade for oil.

* * * *

Americans and most Europeans are a flaccid, spoiled collection of fun-loving children focused on high-tech toys. Virtually no one alive today under the age of 80 has known famine, falling bombs, collapsing buildings, sliced throats, blown-off limbs, invasions of their homeland. But these things are well-known in the human experience. Just not recently. And why not? America is why not.

Since we don’t know history, as those Maryland students stunningly demonstrated, we not only have not suffered these horrors, we don’t know that they ever existed anywhere. We live in a fantasy world, and we’re easily duped.

*  * *  *

Nations and peoples have never lived in peaceful coexistence, and they never will. There will always be a top dog, regionally or globally, a keeper of the peace (or not) by its overwhelming presence. Since the mid-20th century, the United States has filled that global position, and it’s done an excellent — if imperfect — job. Some single power will hold that post. It won’t be a multicultural coalition of utopian tree-huggers.

It will be some big, beefy individual who eats raw meat.

America sits in the catbird seat now. Count your blessings. The alternatives are far worse.

* * * *

* The New Democratic Party, which is quite different from the old Democratic Party. Barry is the face of the NDP. Much of the federal government is run by the NDP. Ditto for many states and cities like stone-broke California and dead-broke Detroit and violence-wracked Chicago. You want a solvent, peaceful entity, go where conservatives win elections and govern.