Friday, 03 July 2009

A rambling, incoherent Sarah Palin celebrates Independence Day by disrespecting the troops. Sarah Palin closed her confused resignation speech by quoting a famous American general: In the words of General MacArthur said, “We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”* Of course, given the depth of Palin’s erudition—like Reagan, she’s “dumb as a fox” to those who watch her press conferences on mute—it should surprise no one that she grabbed the first patriotic-sounding quotation about “advancing” that Google returned and tacked it onto her speech. This is what passes for knowledge among some conservatives: the ability to quote-mine the internet for something that sounds patriotic. (Google may not be making us stupid, but the same cannot be said for many of them.) Because their paragon of intellectual achievement is a woman who cannot remember what newspapers she reads every day, it is only fitting that Palin’s last words on the national stage—intended to demonstrate that the “easy path” in life paradoxically involves “plod[ding] along” by “sit[ting] down and shut[ting] up,” because everyone knows that “a quitter’s way” is one of perseverance in the face of adversity—should be a misattributed misquotation ripped from its context in a way that conservatives would, under normal circumstances, consider insulting. In attributing the quotation to General MacArthur, she is disrespecting the life and service of the man who actually spoke something similar to those words; and in analogizing her plight to that of the men who served under the General she disrespected, she is belittling the memory of their sacrifice. In the winter of 1950, General Oliver Prince Smith and his 1st Marine Division were ordered to march north to the Yalu River, on the border between China and Korea. The order was given by Major General Edward “Ned” Almond, an obsequious lackey with an ego to rival Patton’s who functioned as “MacArthur’s MacArthur [by taking] MacArthur’s vision of what was supposed to happen and [bringing] it directly to Korea, where he employed it, whether it fitted the Korean reality or not” (The Coldest Winter 163). Smith, called “Professor” for his deliberate manner and attention to detail, surveyed the land and determined that the Korean reality didn’t fit MacArthur and Almond’s vision at all, and though he obeyed the command to press north, he did so in a manner that befitted his nickname: General Almond had already begun to notice that the spearhead was hardly moving at all. We were in fact just poking along—deliberately so. We pulled every trick in the book to slow down our advance, hoping the enemy would show his hand before we got more widely dispersed than we already were. At the same time we were building up our levels of supply at selected dumps along the way. (432) When the Chinese attacked the 1st Marine Division (19,000 soldiers) with six divisions (60,000 soliders) of its own in the Chosin River Basin, Smith and his soldiers were prepared: by day, they would avoid the roads by moving south through the mountainous terrain, shelling the advancing Chinese from the high ground;...

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