Friday, June 19, 2015


Tonight I pulled out an old movie that I long ago transferred from tape to DVD, called Battle Cry. As I watched this Marine Corp fable, crafted by Leon Uris, for the fourth or fifth time, I was telling Mertie that if she wanted to know me as I existed mentally when I was 17, that movie had it all. It encapsulates all I believed about men, women, sex, marriage, courage, honor, love, faithfulness, war, children, prostitutes, America, WWII, male camaraderie, extra-marital sex, family relations, barroom behavior, smoking, drinking and love affairs. Battle Cry was released February 8, 1955 when I was a high school senior. Influenced by that movie and too many John Wayne movies to list, four months later, on June 15, 1955, I was on a train to Great Lakes Naval Training Center. I also told my wife if she wanted to understand my smashup and alcoholic drinking I suffered through from around 1964 through 1976 when I stopped drinking, all she has to think about is how the 1960s and early 1970s interacted with my outworn beliefs. The movie is one cliche after another from start to finish, yet I found myself crying from time to time as I watched it. I suppose I was crying over the lost innocence of the young man I was. Later, another movie followed me into the sort of person I became with a college degree in English after I dropped out of graduate school. That movie was Five Easy Pieces with Jack Nicholson as Robert Dupea who also had college degrees, drank too much and worked strictly blue collar.

I write this not to invite my friends to check these movies out but, like most writing, to remind myself about who I was and who I am and about the growth of consciousness and awareness that comes with a good education and a much better grasp of normative human values and reality. What happened during the middle decades of the 20th Century divided forever those who never gave up that false fable of reality offered by Battle Cry and those of us who suffered through and got beyond the movie Five Easy Pieces.

Modern Teapublicans live in a world about 60 years out of date, some even 2,000 years out of date. This is why they are full of the same kind of fear I was filled with during the 1960s. Let us hope that their fears do not destroy the American Dream by trying to return us to a heroic myth about the past much like Hitler and Mussolini wanted to return their nations to a mythic reality that never existed. When I put it this way, I realize we must not be naive enough to imagine that the far right could not impose some fascist reality onto America. If our society became unstable enough and if the middle class became fearful enough, America could easily slip into a fascist nightmare. I fear the modern Teapublican by trying to destroy and destabilize our American government hopes unconsciously to bring about a return to mythical times they thought were so much better than modern times. Fascism cannot come from the liberal dream any more than liberals brought fascism to Italy and Germany. Liberals support modernity not ancient myths. They were persecuted in those two nations right alongside the Communists.

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