Print Story Jean Redpath Tuskeegee Airmen Bitches and the Jooos
By johnny (Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 09:03:23 AM EST) (all tags)
About a month ago I saw Jean Redpath perform at in a small hall here on Martha's Vineyard. Seems she has friends here dating from her early folkie days in the sixties when Tom Rush and James Taylor and Carly Simon and all those dudes and dudettes were young, hippies in waiting, and the world was gay and so forth. She was just visiting & decided to put on a show with 3 day's notice, so, lucky me. She sang a lot of songs in Scots of which I understood a fair amount on account of my mother and grandmother and all my relatives on my mother's side being right off the boat from Loch Lomond & I grew up hearing that stuff, but Dear Wife didnae understand a word, I fear. If you don't know that "dee" means "die" and "eee" means "eye" and "doon" means "down", the refrain from Annie Laurie is mere gibberish. Which is to say nothing of the wee bairns.


T'other night Dear Wife and I were usher and usherette for the Vineyard Playhouse production of the play "Fly" about the Tuskeegee Airmen. It was a "pre-production" "work-in-progress" but it seemed pretty polished to me. Da author was in da house and I chatted with him a little after the show. More cool was that there was an actual Tuskeegee Airman in the audience--he lives on the island--and I chatted with him a little also. He looked about 60, but must be closer to 90. I forget his name, sorry.

I told him that my own old man was a bombadier/navigator on one of them ole bomber planes, which he was, and the guy started asking me about his unit and what he did and so forth and I had to say I had no idea. My father got his commission in July 1945 an didn't serve overseas. The only thing good he has to say about wartime service in the Army Air Corps was that it was easy to get rides if you hitch hiked in uniform. He made a few round trips from Chicago to New Jersey.

Too bad our own Chuckles was not around back in those days. Perhaps his testimony about the racial inferiority of Africans would have been just enough to get the program cancelled--which it very nearly was.


A few weeks ago a certain fellow prominent around these parts made a post in the hole about how great it was that the US military could go in any place it wanted and make the people there "our bitches".  Which I thought a rather fascistic thing to say. There was some discussion in the comments about what was meant by the expression to turn people into bitches, and the gist of it seemed to be that to make people your bitch is to so terrorize them that they'll do whatever you tell them to do, even if it means their own destruction--which it's OK to lay upon them, in turn, because they're no longer people but mere bitches.

By which criterion, of course, the greatest bitches in history must have been the European Jews who walked into the gas chambers, escorted and guided by other Jews.  Right before the aforementioned post was made about how great it is to be able to turn people into bitches, I had finished reading Primo Levi's last book, The Drowned and the Saved.  From Wikipedia:

The Drowned and the Saved is a book of essays on life in the Nazi Vernichtungslager (extermination camps) by Italian-Jewish author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, drawing on his personal experience as an inmate of Auschwitz.
Whereas If This is a Man was autobiographical The Drowned and the Saved is an attempt at an analytical approach. The problem of the fallibility of memory, the techniques used by the Nazis to break the will of prisoners, the use of language in the camps and the nature of violence are all studied.

A good part of the book has to do with the establishment of a master/bitch dynamic and how the Nazis got so good at it. It's a good book.

Anyway, a day or two later there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about the military situation in Afghanistan. Seems that "we" have not in fact made the Taliban there our bitches at all. It's pretty much a stalemate, like in the trenches of WW1. Oh well, even the Wehrmacht had its comeuppance, so it's not surprising that even the mighty U.S. Marines fall short as bitchmasters.

Speaking of Jews and Bitchitude

Last week I rented and watched Defiance (from IMDB)

Plot: Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.

Based on the true story of the Bielski partisans in Poland/Belarus.

I liked the movie well enough. It's a fascinating story and was competently staged and acted. But I found it hard to get past the fact that everybody spoke English.

I don't speak Yiddish, German, Hebrew, Polish or Russian, so if the movie had been made with actors speaking in the languages that were actually spoken by the people the story is about, much of the impact would have been lost on me. But on the other hand the movie would have not seemed so fake, and I'm sure that at least some of the social complexities, interactions, and power relationships implicit in the languages would have come through.

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Jean Redpath Tuskeegee Airmen Bitches and the Jooos | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Bitches making by duxup (4.00 / 2) #1 Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 11:32:41 AM EST
I think the view of the US military and such largely is based on the concept of war between modern nations where they battle it out, someone ends up in a bad spot and everyone gives up all nice like. The real world, like just about every big kick ass military learns thru history, just doesn’t work that way.

There are still folks who don't get it.  I still see common comments about N. Korea about how the US Military could roll over them.    Cripes we can’t finish off some poorly trained dudes in the mountains as it is. So let’s try a huge ass military, in the mountains, with plenty of training. The costs military and civilian would be horrific, but no some folks think we’d make them our bitches.

Iraq was supposed to have a quite decent army... by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 05:47:12 PM EST
Fortunately its generals understood that there are battles better not fought.

I believe the North Korean generals would reach a similar conclusion (hopefully).

[ Parent ]
I hope so too by duxup (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:31:11 PM EST
but I'm not sure everyone in that military part of a state that thinks itself in a constant state of war would see it the same way.  Also Iraq's military was largely if I remember right largely poorly trained and armed with just a small percentage receiving more than the most basic of training. N. Korea could be the same but what limited info there is seems to indicate otherwise. Plus they have the North has the advantage of mountainous terrain (unlike the desert that seems made to deploy technology against large forces, at least outside the cities) and at least at the start the North has superior numbers.  From what I’ve seen from senate testimony by the military if the North chose to come across in force the US commanders in the South say their plan is to retreat ASAP with cities like Seoul expected to be lost in such a situation.
[ Parent ]
Iraq, pre war by johnny (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:17:28 AM EST
Was a fairly cosmopolitan place. There was a well-developed Western-oriented middle/upper-middle class. There was TV and internet and radio that connected Iraqi soldiers and officers with the outside world. Not to mention, there were lots and lots and lots of people who had suffered greatly in earlier wars with Iran and the "Coalition". It's easy to understand why so much of the Iraqi military just said "fuckit" and cut out.

North Korea, on the other hand, is famously isolated. Its leadership is famously paranoid, and the society is famously totalitarian. For me, it's much harder to imagine that military saying "fuckit" and walking away from the battle. It's much easier to imagine them fighting to the bitter end.

I'm not a military strategist, but on the other hand I was a lot more right in my prognostications about Bush's big adventures then were the "experts" of the day in the War Department and on TV.

If it comes to war of USA et al against North Korea, one fucktone of damage is going to be done and several fucktones of people are going to get dead, very many of them in South Korea.

As to how to prevent that war from happening, I haven't a clue.

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

[ Parent ]
Afghanistan by jimgon (4.00 / 2) #2 Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 08:40:36 AM EST
Anyone with a cursory knowledge of Middle Eastern history knows that since the Great Khan no one has successfully conguered Afghanistan.  Them people are fucking tough.  Naturally we're talking about the Bush Administration and I wouldn't accuse any of them of having cursory knowledge of anything more than the alphabet.  To fail in that basic knowledge and then throw out the Powell Doctrin and go in with a token force was arrogance at it's best.  The Taliban won a fucking fifteen year civil war and fought against the Soviets prior to that.  Twenty years of battle hardened bad asses against a bunch of kids who joined the military to get money for college. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Mel Gibson has shown ..... by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 05:44:39 PM EST
... that nowadays it is pretty stupid to do movies in a non English speaking context that are spoken in English.

If people can go to watch movies in Mayan, Arameic and Latin (I loved that part of the Passion of the Christ, where the Roman centurions speak in Latin).I thinkg they will watch movies in other languages.

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