Total War

In 1959 I was beaten up by a bully and his two friends. I ended up with a black-eye of no small proportion, a lip that would take four stitches to close and an ear that would eventually, after the infection subsided, cause a calcification that has troubled me off and on ever since. I would like to say that I acquitted myself well in the fight but I didn’t, spending most of my time trying to fend off the blows and the kicks directed mostly at my head. Mortified at how I was going to explain this to my father I tried to sneak in the back door stopping on our screened porch to use the outside sink to wash off the blood. My plan was to go directly to my bedroom and hide myself in the large walk-in closet but my father nabbed me in transit.

I have written elsewhere of the conversation and the why of the attack (one of them had stolen my baseball glove and I tried to retrieve it.) Suffice to say that my father took me back to the ball field where the miscreants were still milling around rejoicing in their victory. In a situation that could never exist today he confronted the three informing them that I would fight them one by one. Before I took on the bully, who was the biggest, my father leaned over and reminded me not to mark him. That meant, don’t hit him in the head. So, I didn’t. He came at me with that whirling fist motion so many untrained fighters use and it was easy to step into him with my left forearm blocking his fists upward as I jammed my right fist into his solar plexus. You could hear the air expire from his lungs, including his tidal reserve. He dropped like a watermelon falling off the back of a pickup, wheezing that I had killed him. When I turned to face the second he took off across the field like a beagle on a rabbit’s trail, followed closely by his pack mate. My father’s comment was, “Maybe they thought this was a track meet instead of a fight.”

The bully would recover, I would get my glove back (they had thrown it into the branches of a large oak tree) and I would learn a lesson. The lesson didn’t come from the fight itself but from what my father said when he lifted me into the lower branches of the oak tree. He stooped down and picked up a rather stout limb that had come down in a storm and banging it into the palm of his hand noted, “there were three of them, you should have used this to defend yourself.”

The lesson was that in a fight the object is to win, not to draw by using proportional force. Had I picked up the limb perhaps it would have stopped the aggressors in their tracks. Who wants to get clobbered by a piece of oak? But the bullies would have to have understood that not only could I use that limb, but that I would use it.

Win and then sort out the consequences. Today, we talk about proportional force. You kill three thousand of my people and I bomb an aspirin factory. You attack one of our ships and I blow up an ammo dump trying hard not to kill anyone. The other side wages total war and we respond with “proportional” acts that aren’t anywhere near proportional. There is a story about Hezbollah and the KGB in Beirut in the 1970’s. An undercover KGB officer was kidnapped and interrogated by the Hezbollah. He died during the interrogation and Hezbollah dropped his body in front of the Russian Trade Mission in Beirut with a note cautioning the Russians to stay out of their business. Two days later the bodies of three Hezbollah captains were dropped off in the night at one of the Hezbollah offices with a note that read, “next time it will be ten for one.” The Russians never had any more problems with Hezbollah in Beirut.

And now we have the collectivists waging total war against the Constitution and the History of the United States. We have cancel culture and social justice warriors attacking anyone who opposes them with the ferocity of a Blitzkrieg, taking no prisoners and destroying all who cross their paths. History has proven, time and time again, the only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them; not wave around pieces of paper and proclaim Peace in our time. Force must be met with force and strong rhetoric with even stronger, fact-based rhetoric. Personal attacks must not be accepted. If this is the manner of war chosen by those attempting to take down the United States and replace it with a Socialist Democratic state then they should be met in kind. That’s my take, what’s your’s.

My ear hurts when it gets cold; if only I had picked up that limb.

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