Saturday, June 25, 2016

Reprise: The Poison Fruits of Hatred

I do not often agree with Washington Post political cartoonist Tom Toles. His left-leaning drawings are usually too much for my moderate Independent leanings. But when he published the above cartoon on June 14, 2016, he absolutely nailed the importance of hatred as the nexus that connects many of the ills that plague society today. I was at once reminded of a blog post on hatred I published last July. I am repeating it today to emphasize that hate is a dead-end street that leads to nowhere.

July 25, 2015: Today’s world appears awash in hatred. From lone-wolf shooters to suicide bombers, the results of hatred fill our newspaper headlines and television news broadcasts. Hatred takes many forms, and all of them are evil: racial hatred, religious hatred, tribal hatred, regional hatred, class hatred, and, of course, personal hatred.

Religious hatred fuels many of the conflicts in the world. The Moslem world is split between Sunnis and Shia, and these groups have been in conflict since the Dark Ages. The fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq let loose a torrent of bloodletting between the branches of Islam that continues to this day. Mass suicide bombings and the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which practices “Shia cleansing” by massacring “enemy” forces, goes on daily. Women are frequently kidnapped into sexual slavery.  No end to this conflict is in sight.

Racial hatred still haunts the world, and not only in the American South. Much racial hatred harks back to the concept of “white supremacy” that pervaded Europe and the Americas during previous centuries. Less evolved civilizations and their inhabitants were deemed to be “inferior.” Lopsided military victories by the better- armed Europeans reinforced that view. And when Spanish priests seeking to save Native Americans from extinction began preaching that African’s black skins were a punishment from God that marked their ancestors’ evilness, generations became doomed to chattel slavery. The concept of world racial equality only began to receive acceptance in the last half of the Twentieth Century. Racial hatred still pervades many parts of this planet.  Racial hatred is a two-edged sword. Any race hating any other race(s) is racial hatred. Any race or nationality that feels itself superior to any other is, by definition, racist.

Hatred for people of Jewish extraction is a combination of religious and racial hatred. During the Middle Ages, Jews were condemned as “Christ killers” by the European churches. During the Crusades, large massacres of Jewish populations occurred all over Europe. These attitudes continued into the Twentieth Century. Anti-Semitists began to decry the “undue influence” of Jews on European history. But it remained for the Nazis of Germany to dub the Jews a “race” that needed to be exterminated. The Holocaust was the result. Creation of the State of Israel in Palestine was the United Nations’ attempt to compensate Jewish survivors for the atrocities they had suffered. Many Arabs viewed the event as the reestablishment of the crusaders’ Outremer kingdom. The attempt by surrounding Arab nations to snuff out Israel in its infancy led to the first of a series of wars that solidified a lasting hatred between the parties.

History is replete with other “holocausts” around the world. Many consider the subjugation of Native Americans by European settlers and their descendants to qualify in this category. The massacre of Armenians during World War One and the inter-tribal warfare in Rwanda clearly meet the standard. Massacres in the wars in the former Yugoslavia, the so-called “ethnic cleansing,” are another example.

Hatred on a personal level results in much of the violence in the world. Many cultures include the concept of vendettas, warfare between families over some wrong or perceived slight done to one of the parties. The cartoonist for Doonesbury captured the absurdity of some vendettas during the Iraq war. A mixed American/Iraqi team is about to go on a raid. The American tells the Iraqi that they must capture the target of the raid alive. The Iraqi replies that he must kill the target because of a family feud. One of the target’s kinsmen had killed one of the Iraqi’s family. The American asked when the killing occurred. The Iraqi replied, “in the Fourteenth Century.”

Hatred is corrosive to the human spirit. No good can ever come of it. Hatred makes a person bitter, paranoid, and spiteful. It consumes valuable mental energy that is better focused on bettering the human condition. It can also destroy the holder as well as the target. Author Jack Higgins likes to quote the old European proverb, “Before beginning a journey of revenge, it is necessary to dig TWO graves.” That sums up the fruits of hatred concisely.

I don’t have enough time left in my life to waste it on hatred. Humans all need to stop hating each other! 


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Warren Bell is an author of historical fiction.  He spent 29 years as a US Naval Officer, and has traveled to most of the places in the world that he writes about.  A long-time World War II-buff, his first two novels, Fall Eagle One and Hold Back the Sun are set during World War II.  His third novel, Asphalt and Blood, follows the US Navy Seabees in Vietnam.  His most recent novel, Snowflakes in July, is a Pentagon thriller about domestic terrorism.  He is currently working on a new novel, Endure A Cruel Sun, the sequel to his best-selling novel, Hold Back the Sun. For more about Warren Bell, visit his website at: wbellauthor.com or see him on twitter @wbellauthor.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Reprise: A Day That Changed The World

Soldiers Storm OMAHA Beach
I originally planned to write about another subject today, but the significance of June 6th led me to change my mind. What happened on the coast of France seventy-two years ago today was one of the turning points of history. Here is a reprise of the thoughts I expressed on the subject last year.

June 6, 2016:  Seventy-two years ago today, the greatest fleet ever assembled in history launched the largest amphibious invasion ever undertaken.  Over 100,000 American, British, Canadian, French, and other Allied troops stormed ashore on five beaches in Normandy.  American and British airborne divisions preceded the landings by a few hours to disrupt the German lines-of-communications.

On some beaches, the invasion plan worked smoothly despite opposition from the defending German. But the American beach called OMAHA became a slaughterhouse. The defending positions were formidable, and German resistance proved almost fanatical. The beach became littered with dead and wounded attackers and destroyed equipment. The filmmakers of Saving Private Ryan vividly captured what these men endured. The situation seemed so dire that General Omar Bradley, the American commander, considered evacuating the beach entirely.  Then American leadership, training, initiative, and ingenuity turned the tide.

One on-site commander told his soldiers that there were two types of men on the beach: those who were already dead and those who were going to die. He admonished them  “Let’s take that hill and die inland.” Then he rose and led his men from the front. Engineers breached barriers holding up the troops, and the few tanks that made it ashore surged forward. Hundreds of soldiers overcame their terror and braved fierce fire to attack the defenders. They took the high ground, and the crisis was overcome.  By nightfall, all the landings were securely established.  Although much hard fighting still lay ahead, the fate of Nazi Germany was sealed.

D-Day occurred ten days before my eighth birthday. I still recall President Franklin Roosevelt’s somber radio announcement of the event to the American public and his solemn prayer for the success and safety of our fighting men. As I recall, the mood of the country was grim but determined.  The Axis had started this war, and they deserved whatever they were getting. We were damned well going to finish the war with total victory.

Almost every family in the United States had someone directly involved in World War II. Although my father was too old to serve, I had uncles and many cousins in the armed forces.  Some served in the Army, others in the Navy. Several served in the Army Air Forces. My close relatives endured combat in North Africa, Italy, Northwest Europe, New Guinea, the China-Burma-India Theater, and in the Pacific. One helped sink Japanese carriers at Midway to turn the tide of war in that region. He was one of the few torpedo plane pilots who made it back to his carrier. He remained on the USS Enterprise for the remainder of the war and fought in almost every major battle in the Pacific. My oldest brother-in-law flew 8th Air Force heavy bombers over Germany. It seemed that everyone studied world geography. Our family experience was typical of the entire country. We were a united nation, focused on the single purpose of victory. As I said in a previous blog post, we would not be so united again until the days immediately following September 11, 2001.

The Normandy landings cost the Allies over 9,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen killed or wounded. Those of us in succeeding generations owe these men an enormous debt of gratitude. Their sacrifice in lives lost or maimed freed the world of the gruesome specter of Nazi conquest. Western Europe and the Americas remain free today as a result of their efforts.


Warren Bell is an author of historical fiction.  He spent 29 years as a US Naval Officer, and has traveled to most of the places in the world that he writes about.  A long-time World War II-buff, his first two novels, Fall Eagle One and Hold Back the Sun are set during World War II.  His third novel, Asphalt and Blood, follows the US Navy Seabees in Vietnam.  His most recent novel, Snowflakes in July, was released on September 15, 2015.  He is currently working on a new novel, Endure the Cruel Sun, the sequel to his best-selling novel, Hold Back the Sun. For more about Warren Bell, visit his website at: wbellauthor.com or see him on twitter @wbellauthor.