Smedley And Ernest On Our Friend “War”; The “Racket” Continues (September 7, 2015)
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_ “Four score years ago this month, the world of arts and letters and the world awoke to a pair of trenchant commentaries on our friend “War” written by two scholars who had spent time in the trenches and developed the ‘street cred’ to command attention and respect. Smedley D. Butler was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history who also should have won a Nobel Peace Prize. Ernest Hemingway wrote stuff. We should listen.”
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[See the e-commentary presented on a prior Memorial Day on this Labor Day at In Memoriam (May 26, 2014).]
Bumper stickers of the week:
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” Smedley D. Butler in a poem in the September 1935 issue of the magazine “Common Sense” that later become an overlooked classic.
“They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason. . . . The only way to combat the murder that is war is to show the dirty combinations that make it and the criminals and swine that hope for it and the idiotic way they run it when they get it so that an honest man will distrust it as he would a racket and refuse to be enslaved into it.” Ernest Hemingway in “Notes on the Next War: A Serious Topical Letter,” in a September 1935 issue of the magazine “Esquire”.