THE INTERNET MONK SATURDAY BRUNCH
”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
SPECIAL NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION EDITION
The main news event of this week featuring (nuclear) warlike language from Washington and Pyongyang will dominate our Brunch discussion today. Not only because it’s what everyone is talking about, but also because this whole subject was a formative influence in my life and in the lives of many who read this blog. A person of my generation can’t hear the phrase “nuclear weapons” without experiencing a serious wave of dreadful nostalgia.
And it all started, kids, in what we used to call “The Cold War.”
Oh, what memories! Donald Trump and his followers have expressed their deep nostalgia for the days when America was great. I can only assume they are referring to the post-WWII era, when the U.S. had played a major role in saving the world from fascism and then her soldiers returned home to produce and enjoy the greatest prosperity boom in world history.
Oh yeah, those were the days, but there was also…the Cold War! That’s right, you know — US vs. USSR, the Red menace, the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, Sputnik and the Space Race, the Cuba Missile Crisis, civil defense and espionage, etc., etc., etc.
And with all that — the threat of nuclear annihilation!
Those were, indeed, the good old days. But amid all the peace and prosperity, these were also times when we needed great wisdom and preparation, so our beneficent government promised to keep us safe by instructing us how to protect ourselves when “the fire and fury” of the atom bomb fell.
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And remember those fun school drills, performed to the piercing sound of air sirens? I know you boomers do.
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In fact, entire cities had civil defense drills.
Did you know that, in New York City, “By 1963, some 17,448 buildings had been identified by the military as nuclear sanctuaries”?
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Remember when people built personal nuclear fallout shelters to protect their families, and stocked them just in case?
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Do you recall that this was the time when the Emergency Broadcast System was put in place?
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Remember when this guy was encouraging us to look out for Commies everywhere? Remember the Red Scare? The House Un-American Activities Committee? Black lists? The FBI under the paranoid eye of J. Edgar Hoover?
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Many people, especially on the right, thought there was a Communist conspiracy behind the Kennedy assassination, making JFK a “casualty of the Cold War.” After all, as the article states: “Lee Harvey Oswald, [was] a self-described Marxist, defector to the Soviet Union, and admirer of Fidel Castro.”
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Some people knew that if we didn’t laugh a little, we’d cry a lot. As we reflect on that great era, how about we listen to one of the clever songs from the political comedy that sprang up back then?
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Now, let’s take a peak inside the War Room, where nuclear attacks would be ordered, as the film Dr. Strangelove portrayed it back then. In 1964, with the Cuba Missile Crisis fresh on our minds, the Cold War at its coldest, and prospect of the new and terrifying hydrogen bomb, Stanley Kubrick imagined this conversation in the War Room:
(By the way, I thought the line about “getting our hair mussed” was especially funny and relevant, given the current situation with these two guys and their great ‘dos:
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Another popular film presented a more serious scenario, in an effort to question the sanity of considering nuclear war. This was 1964’s Fail Safe. Here’s Walter Matthau making the argument for killing them before they kill us — nuclear-ly.
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One mainstay of popular culture throughout my lifetime has been the James Bond character and films. There would be no Bond without the Cold War and the imminent threat of mad enemies working deviously to annihilate the world.
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Did you know that the U.S. military even enlisted Santa Claus as a tool of propaganda during the Cold War?
Here is an article that includes an AP story from Christmas Eve, 1955. It tells how the U.S. (and Canadian) defense system would protect Santa and guarantee his safe passage, so that American’s children could have their abundant Christmas.
Colorado Springs, Colo., Dec 23 (AP) — Santa Claus Friday was assured safe passage into the United States by the Continental Air Defense Combat Operations Center here which began plotting his journey from the North Pole early Friday morning.
CONAD said first reports of its radar and ground observer outposts indicate Santa was traveling about 45 knots at an altitude of 35,000 feet and should arrive in the United States early Saturday night for his annual visit.
U.S. and Canadian defense units will steer him into the prevailing jet stream which should double his speed, and around stormy weather west of the Hudson Bay areas.
CONAD, Army, Navy and Marine Air Forces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas.
And Santa’s track, being plotted here on the main surveillance board, is a very wide one, indicating that his sleigh is heavily loaded with toys and goodies.
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One of the most famous, influential, and controversial Presidential campaign ads had a sobering Cold War theme. This was Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad (1964). Though it aired only once, this powerful ad proved to be important in his campaign, which won a landslide victory over Barry Goldwater.
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Finally, a “Christian”(?) perspective: We can’t leave this week without mentioning what the little Baptist Trump groupie from Dallas had to say in support of nuclear war or “whatever it takes.”
Thankfully, they enlisted another point of view to counter this crap.
//video.foxnews.com/v/embed.js?id=5537349963001&w=466&h=263Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
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How refreshing to wash our hearts and minds out by reading my friend Mark Galli’s counter piece in Christianity Today, “The Use of Nuclear Weapons Is Inherently Evil.”
Here is a wise and sane perspective, firmly and unequivocally stated. Nuclear weapons are, by nature, indiscriminate, designed to achieve one thing: a massive level of death and destruction. Even if we hold to just war theory, a common “Christian” view to which many appeal, we must recognize that it ascribes to a doctrine of proportionality, which states that the use of force must not exceed what is absolutely necessary. In this light, soldiers are never to target civilians. However, that is not an option with nuclear weapons.
This is not the place to argue the fine points, but it is the place to reiterate that we stand in that stream of Christians who find no justification for the use of nuclear weapons. This is not a politically radical view. Some of the most conservative of Christians and politicians, including evangelist Billy Graham, have also concluded that nuclear weapons are inherently evil or, to not put too fine a point on it, “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization” (Ronald Reagan).
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago, former secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, along with William Perry (former secretary of defense) and Sam Nunn (former chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee) wrote, “We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.”
A hearty “Amen!” to Mark Galli and a categorical “No!” to those who foolishly foster even the remotest possibility of using nuclear weapons as instruments of war.
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Let’s end with a little post-nuclear nuclear family song from a guy I really miss, especially at times like this. I just know if he were here today, he would be treating us to some new songs about the “fire and fury.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the late Mr. Steve Goodman. Let’s laugh a little with him so we won’t cry too much over all the bluster and bombast in the news this week.