From the September 2008 Idaho Observer:

History Lessons

Five Star General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was Supreme Commander of all Allied forces during World war II as well as the 34th President of the United States, once quipped, "Things have never been more like the way they are today in history."

Whether he was experiencing a G.W. Bush mental moment (who can forget the classics that have slipped from the lips of our current Commander-in-Chief, such as, "You’re working too hard to put food on your family"), or was purposely being funny, is hard to tell at this late date. However, this humorously perplexing quote uttered by "Ike" admits to numerous interpretations. At first I laughed out loud, thinking he was putting a new twist on, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."

Unfortunately, for a great man who helped to make so much history, you’d think he would have taken greater pains to speak clearly on the subject. Such words make the Yankee baseball legend Yogi Berra’s "It’s de-ja-vu all over again" seem the epitome of precision.

For most Americans, and especially our political class, history in general and, sadly the history of our once great nation, holds little interest. The recent raid on a polygamist group in Texas as reported in the mainstream mind-rinse media as well as this fine fishwrap (May 20, 2008, containing info I find nowhere else) attests to this pathetic state of affairs.

If the Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) had done a little homework in this "information age," they surely would have done a little less home-wrecking. Over a half century ago, in a neighboring state, the same stupid stunt was tried with similar results.

According to author John Krakauer in his 2003 book, Under the Banner of Heaven, which I found in this gulag’s small library, on July 26, 1953, police and troops from the Arizona National Guard (which ain’t the militia, folks) swooped down upon the Fundamentalist Mormon enclave of Short Creek. Scooping up 263 kids, they bussed them 400 miles to Kingman and put ‘em in foster care. Sound familiar?

"The raid made national headlines; it was even reported on the front page of the New York Times, with the same prominence given to a story announcing the armistice ending the Korean war."

. . . a war—termed a "United Nations Police Action"—that Eisenhower ended.

By 1954 the governor of Arizona was voted out of office and, by 1956, with the polygamists out of jail and a sympathetic public on their side, "the arrests and subsequent trials cost taxpayers $600,000 . . ." In today’s legal climate, I can easily see a zero (or two) being added to that number for the current case—all because elected officials refused to refer to history before acting. As Gore Vidal noted, "Happily for the busy lunatics who rule over us, we are permanently in the United States of Amnesia. We learn nothing because we remember nothing."

How many today "Remember the Maine," and the overseas horrors our first foray into foreign imperialism engendered? This WMD, Abu Ghraib generation of servicemen and (God forgive us) women, as well as their completely complicit civilian counterparts obviously do not.

Whether it be Bush’s double debacles in Afghanistan (where’s Bin Laden?) and Iraq, or the Feds and the State authorities increasingly flexing their police powers, a la Waco, here at home, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santayana). They might be "condemned," but unfortunately, it is the innocent who suffer the consequences.

This is not to say I support polygamy. But in an America where two of the 50 states have recently legalized homosexual marriage (the ultimate oxymoron) using the spurious argument that whatever two consenting adults do in private is none of society’s business, how long can we resist extending this "freedom" of choice to two or more consenting spouses? Won’t banning incestuous relationships/unions between adults also crumble before such "logic?" How about prostitution—which many have argued is the ultimate victimless crime?

Philosopher Gertrude Himmelfarb stated, "Liberty, too, can corrupt and absolute liberty can corrupt absolutely. Liberty is not Libertine."

I agree and must point out that it is usually the higher courts and not our legislatures that decide these crucial cultural issues. A form of "judicial tyranny" foretold by Thomas Jefferson negates local, representative self-government by replacing majority opinion with elite opinion, and subjects all of us to a nationwide egalitarian totalitarianism imposed from above. Does the historic term "secession" hold any meaning for us?

The Texas raid, as with the earlier Arizona episode, was sparked by allegations of child abuse. Seems that David Koresh of Waco, Texas, was also so accused, which prompted then Attorney General Janet Reno—an alleged lesbian—to order every soul in his "compound" to be roasted alive. Caligula could not have done a finer job. Psychologists have coined the term, "Elite eviance" to describe the thought and behavior patterns of such rulers.

As a father of three, I have no sympathy for an adult who is truly guilty of either physically or sexually abusing another human being, regardless of their relationship. Such individuals should be prosecuted. But this penchant all too many in power have for group punishment that cannot help but hurt the innocent along with the guilty—especially when meted out by impersonal government—is a barbaric evil unworthy of a civilized society. Whether it be the Trail of Tears, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Wounded Knee, Tudlow, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the polygamist raids, or the War on (some types of) Terror, the results are the same: Avoidable unjust tragedy on a massive scale.

Wayne Costigan

Loretto, Pennsylvania

PS: The same IO also highlights America’s dismal education system. The one problem begets the other. I strongly believe in home-schooling with an emphasis on history. As Soviet-era author Alexander Solzhenitzyn wrote, "To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots.