Bereaved Parents

August 22, 2005

One of life’s sad truths is that parents worry more about their kids than vice-versa. And that a minority of parents who’s kids are killed behave irrationally, turning on the nearest available target. So we should understand the mad grief of Cindy Sheehan and the mother of Jean de Menezes, the Brazilian mistakenly shot by London cops. But keep a beady eye on the lefties using them to advance their own agendas.

I’ve just finished an excellent book on the Brit Navy’s breaking of the WW2 German/Italian siege of the Island of Malta (of which more in a later post), in which over 600 sailors died. The parents of one of them became convinced that he was betrayed by the Brit Navy which they said had a left a crate labeled “Malta” on the dockside where the fleet loaded up in Scotland – thus giving the destination away to any spies that penetrated the dockyard.

It didn’t matter to the parents that the vast Brit fleet had to fight its way along the entire Mediterranean under the eyes of their enemies, that its entry to the Med at Gibraltar was tracked by Nazi-sympathizing Spain, that the North African coast was occupied by the Nazi-collaborating Vichy French, which reported its every move.

The parents had political clout and ran a prolonged campaign, getting questions asked in the Houses of Parliament and forcing a Special Inquiry to be mounted (a big diversion in the middle of a desperate war for Britain’s survival). From which nothing emerged.

I think this reflects a desire in some bereaved parents to get back at any target – they couldn’t get back at the Spanish and French who betrayed their son, or the Germans and Italians who killed him. So they settled for the Royal Navy, which they could reach.

Interestingly the parents of the other 600 dead didn’t react this way. Perhaps they had other children – so the loss was less; perhaps they didn’t want to take resources away from their son’s surviving comrades; perhaps they were proud that their sons had died to relieve the starving people of Malta and turn the tide against the Nazis.

Two current examples show this extreme reaction. Mrs Sheehan’s son, Casey, volunteered to fight, and so she should be directing her rage at his terrorist killers. But she can’t reach them, so the President is the next available target. But she’s the only parent of the hundreds of bereaved who’ve taken this route.

The mother of Jean de Menezes should consider him as a victim of the suicide bombers who killed his fellow Londoners – if those attacks had not happened, her son would still be alive. But she can’t get at them, so attacks the London police instead. Again, she’s in a minority – none of the parents of the other 52 dead and the many maimed are attacking the cops for failing to protect them.

So, this sort of unfocused reaction to bereavement is rare, but it does happen, and I find it hard to condemn.

Of course the usual suspects are exploiting this grief, and Mrs Sheehan has been egged on by lefties of all sorts, including the MSM. Mrs de Menezes’ lead lawyer built her career defending alleged terrorists, initially the IRA and more recently:

defending a number of terrorist suspects detained indefinitely in the UK as well as those who have just returned to the country from Guantanamo Bay.

(Incidentally, Americans bemused by the right-wing Brit MSM following the left on this case (notably the London Times) should appreciate the long & unique Brit cultural tradition of supporting the underdog).

So we should condemn the fellow travelers for exploiting parental grief for their own political ends. But we already know they are moral cripples, and if they weren’t leveraging these folks they’d be doing something equally self-annihilating.

So that’s my take. Pity the bereaved, cut them some slack, go after the fellow travelers.

Finally, Gandalf Junior and The Gandalfette should be aware that in the unlikely event of either them being topped, I will take out the folks that did the deed. Even though they forgot my birthday.


Phony Brazilians

August 22, 2005

To balance my beastliness about the European print MSM, I should compliment Private Eye. It’s politics are all over the map, but it’s a relentless seeker after truth, and it’s funny. And it punctures the ridiculous Brazilian Government neatly.

Here is part of a regular series called “Number Crunching”, in which it ironically juxtaposes statistics:

Number Crunching: 30

* Hours it took for Brazilian Government to announce itself “shocked and perplexed” at shooting of Brazilian citizen by police in London.

* Number of Brazilian citizens shot by police in one night last March in reprisal for crackdown on corruption.

The Brazilian Government is following up!

Wagner Gonçalves, Federal Deputy Attorney General, and Márcio Pereira Pinto Garcia, Assistant Director of the Department of International Judicial Co-operation in the Ministry of Justice, will today meet John Yates, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met, and other senior police officers.

They were despatched to Britain by the Brazilian Government after Celso Amorim, the Foreign Minister, expressed his “shock and bewilderment” at the killing and subsequent reported cover-up.

It will be interesting to find out if the Brazilian Government showed the same solicitude for the 30 civilians their cops shot on one night in March. I doubt it – Brazil rates only a tad less corrupt than Cuba in the Corruption Perceptions Index.

On Leadership

August 22, 2005

I’m still spitting with rage at the Brit general who publicly disparaged the men he’s paid to lead. In my career, ex-military folks have been the best of colleagues – resolute, analytical, calm and brave – regardless of their social origins.

Here’s my advice to young Brit officers.

1. Throughout its history, your Army has been the nation’s engine for converting young people from all levels of society into solid citizens. Your role is not just to produce warriors, but people who, after discharge, will become pillars of society.

2. Your job is to lead, and that means winning the respect of your men and then teaching them teamwork and fighting skills.

3. Leadership requires two-way respect (which you should not confuse with familiarity).

4. Your job is complex, but millions of ordinary predecessors have performed it well, so be of good heart.

5. Oh, and as your first principle, you should never, ever, disparage in public the people you command. Besides being dishonorable, this will cause you forever to forfeit their respect.