Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Queer Form of Tyranny

Dear Readers,

Pardon this abrupt break from my usual topics of discussion, but I fear current events have reached a point over a certain topic where silence cannot - and should not - be maintained any longer.  As anyone who reads the news knows, the debate over homosexuality has screamed back into the forefront over the recent firing (or, as the mainstream media politically puts it "indefinite suspension") of Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family that serves as the subject matter of the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty.  The reason for his removal is due to a few brief comments he made in a GQ Magazine interview in which he expressed elements of his born-again Christian Faith.  In one of these comments, he included homosexuals amongst a list of other sinners who will not enter the Kingdom of God.  He went on to make some personal musings on how it is even possible for men to be attracted to other men over women.  All-in-all, his comments were remarkably harmless.  Here it is in full:

"Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right ... It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus," Robertson says in the January issue of the men's magazine. "That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."

Although the language is a bit crude (coming from an individual not known for his skill with words), he says nothing in the above that is out of line with what Christianity has upheld and continues to do so in the two millennia of its existence.

As was to expected, the repercussions were swift and severe.  Furious condemnation descended upon Mr. Robertson and he has now become the target-of-choice for every pro-homosexual organization in existence.  GLAAD spokesmen have appeared on almost every major news network practically frothing in outrage over the man's expression of his personal beliefs and unanimously demand that he be stricken from the annals of A&E and the media at large.  His own employers have been only too happy (or intimidated) to oblige.  The volume of the offended has virtually become shrill ... perhaps too much so.  In response to the vicious reactions of the homosexual crowd, many have surprisingly rallied in support of Mr. Robertson.  Many see in the demands for his silencing poorly disguised social tyranny.  Gov. Bobby Jindal of Mr. Robertson's home state of Louisiana perhaps expressed it the best:

"The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don’t agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."

Even amongst the homosexual movement, there was at least one who shifted uncomfortably amidst the firestorm of outrage and censure and cautiously mused whether the controversy said "more about our bigotry than about Phil's."  And he has a very - very valid point, one that almost everyone involved seems to conveniently overlook.

Since it burst onto the societal scene about 10-15 years ago, the militant homosexual movements have assumed the favored societal position of disenfranchised victims.  This enabled them to silence all opposition and literally bully their way to the top levels of social and cultural favor - all by playing the "discriminated victim" card.  However, something they cannot ever really prove is exactly how they are "victims" - or even when.  At no time in US history were homosexuals enslaved, publicly segregated, or trafficked (a major reason why the Black movements have, at best, a cold regard for the homosexual movement).  The only "discrimination" they ever received was usually from religious institutions that promulgated doctrines (under the protection of religious freedom) stating that homosexual acts were unnatural and inherently sinful.  The only semblance of public discrimination was in regards to marriage - an institution that has been regarded as involving only men and women for literally as long as human societies have existed.  Other than that ... where is this great "persecution" that entitles them to claim the coveted "victim status" they so proudly wield over us "breeders?"

In fact, if one looks to contemporary evidence, one might run the risk of finding the opposite is in effect.  Stories of homosexual-instigated persecutions are becoming more and more commonplace since the gay crowd has achieved the rank of favored pets of the social elites.  Everytime any public figure even hints at disagreement or criticism with them, the screaming hordes of the homosexual vanguard demand his/her head on a plate to be served by a subservient and cringing media - a media that only too willingly complies.  Gays are routinely granted special media coverage and their demands for incessant social attention and cultural acceptance are always given top priority - even when blatantly false.  The mantra of victimhood and persecution is beginning to sound a lot less like a plea for acceptance and way more like the jackbooted anthem of a raw hunger for power.  Perhaps, that's what the movement was all about from the outset.

To find proof that the homosexual movement was about nothing more than mass tyrannical control over society, one need not look far.  Since their movement began, homosexuals have employed radical and militant means of acquiring societal attention.  Marches, demonstrations, vandalism, vile rhetoric against opponents - all have been repeatedly employed by a group of people that were never really persecuted to begin with and claim to be solely concerned with "tolerance."  More pervasive is the total control exercised through their greatest ally: the mass media.  Movies, tv shows, celebrities, music, and literature have virtually been mandated to portray homosexuality as positive or, at the very least, as something completely natural.  As covered before, anyone who dares break from this routine is savaged and ejected from the elitist circle of "beautiful people."  Even vocabulary isn't safe from them as they routinely bully people over not only what they can and can't say, but also what words they can and can't use.  In short, the homosexual lobby has achieved the Orwellian powers of "Thought Police" and can dictate what people think, what they say, and how they say it.  And all under the clever guise of "disenfranchised victims."

"Why is this almost paranoid control needed?" one might ask.  Why does this movement seem to thrive on the very sort of tyranny that they accused all others of displaying against them?  Frankly, I believe the homosexual author of the cautiously worded Time Magazine piece may have inadvertently hit upon the reason:

"Why is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them? Why do we dismiss, rather than engage them? One of the biggest pop culture icons of today just took center stage to “educate” us about sexuality. I see this as an opportunity to further the discussion, to challenge his limited understanding of human desire, to engage with him and his rather sizeable audience—most of whom, by the way, probably share his views—and to rise above the endless sea of tweet-hate to help move our LGBT conversations to where they need to go."

The reply to his query - why is forced silence their only response - is frankly because that's they only real response that movement has.  The homosexual movement has so epically failed to find a rational and logical basis for their "lifestyle" that their (few) attempts have bordered on the ludicrous.  The "gay gene" remains as elusive as ever - despite the fact that modern genetic research has split the human genome to such an extent that the genes for everything from autism to red hair are well-known to us now.  The display of certain (extremely rare) instances of "homosexual" animal behavior have either been badly misunderstood (and morally repulsive if applied to human behavior) or outright frauds.  Even the "born gay" argument flies in the face of every principle of modern biological and evolutionary science.  If people truly are, in rare cases, born with homosexual tendencies - they would, scientifically, be aberrant mutations and (like most natural aberrations) be swiftly and mercilessly removed from the gene pool by natural selection.  Mother Nature tends to be a cruel mistress when it comes to eradicating individuals that can't seem to figure out how reproduction works.

Culturally and morally, their argument is just as indefensible.  Trying to claim that homosexual marriage is a normal phenomenon is laughably uninformed - there has been more historical and cultural precedence for incestuous marriages, underage marriages, and polygamous marriages than there ever has been for same-sex marriage ... and those are all still terribly illegal which brings up an interesting moral conundrum.  If "being gay" ie. the sexual preference for one's own gender is a "perfectly normal part of one's identity," then, can the same be said about all the others?  If sexual preference is part of someone's nature, then are pedophiles "born that way?"  NAMBLA has been using that very same argument since the 1970s - why do they continue to be discriminated against?  How about incest?  Incest doesn't even have the pesky issue of consent to necessarily deal with - if two consenting adults are in love, why can't their brother/sister, father/daughter, or mother/son union be accepted and embraced under the warm fuzzy blanket of tolerance?  Bestiality, necrophilia, polygamy ... why did these not "make the cut?"  These questions are only met with vicious outrage and silence from the gay community.  I have yet to hear a coherent rational answer - just more screams for censorship.  Which brings me to my final point - the only real hope the gay movement has is to kick in the doors of any critics and bully/shame/intimidate them into silence.  Like a cheap party trick, they play a slight-of-hand routine of self-victimization, pity-mongering, and social tyranny that causes everyone, friend and foe alike, to glaze over in intimated awe and fail to comprehend the mere farce that it truly is.  However, like all cheap magic tricks repeated too often, this too will soon blunder and reveal itself.  When - not if - but when the homosexual movement collapses in on its own vacuous irrationality, people will gaze upon in ashamed wonder and ask how they could have been so easily duped by something so hopelessly empty.

Perhaps the first cracks are already beginning to appear.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Archer's Tale - Part 6: The Legacy of the Crooked Stick

As the bow and cloth-arrow gradually gave way to the noise and smoke-filled fury of gunpowder, so did the close-knit Medieval societies that had produced the hardened archers of old pass away to allow the modern world to replace it.  Warfare now belonged to uniformed professionals fighting under the flags of nation-states in which aristocratic warrior classes were gradually becoming nothing more than an antiquated relic.  After the French Revolution, it disappeared entirely.  However, to say that the men of the bow left no further influence on the land that had triumphed so gloriously with it would be criminally incorrect.

England never forgot the weapon that had once made it feared across Europe, and the influence of the archer can be seen throughout English history long after the last cloth-arrow had been loosed in anger.  It has already been covered earlier that England's national flag, the Cross of St. George, was first used as the badge worn by all archers serving in France since the reign of Richard II.  Even after the warbow was replaced by the musket, archery became the sport of choice amongst both common and wealthy classes - and remains a highly popular sporting event to this day.  Presently, England is full of Archery Societies and Clubs who compete locally and internationally and, although the longbows used now are vastly inferior to those that wrought such destruction at Crécy and Azincourt, the official terms and language still in use are those that would have been used by the rough-hewn volunteers that practiced for adventures in France on their village greens in "Merri Englande."  The Queen herself still maintains a Royal Company of Archers that (ceremonially) continues to serve as her Majesty's personal guard ... in Scotland.  One supposes that the poor Scots will never cease to be reminded of the weapon that ended - with such fierce finality - any ambitions of being their southern neighbor's equal!

The Queen's Royal Company of Archers mustered for parade in Edinburgh.
In a much deeper sense, the spirit of those desperate adventurers who found comforting familiarity in the crooked stick also left an indelible stamp upon the English identity.  For many ages after they had exited the battlefield, the archer came to embody the stubborn indomitability of the common Englishman when confronted by overwhelming odds.  Every time the English people faced crisis, memories and tales of the archers always resurfaced.  When the prospect of possible invasion loomed during the darkest days of the Napoleonic Wars, Englishmen began to train with their bows again - and no longer for sport.  Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington and future victor at Waterloo, longed for the return of a weapon that would strike terror into French hearts and actually petitioned Parliament to look into the possibility of raising a company of warbows for his Peninsular Campaigns.  Taking him very seriously, an official investigation was conducted for almost two years, finally concluding, sadly, that "none were left alive who possessed the skill."  Had there still been, one wonders how differently the fate of Napoleon's Revolutionary empire would have been had he faced Englishmen wielding France's ancient nemesis - a weapon that (by its 14th Century standards) still would have outperformed the muskets of the day in terms of effective range and rate of fire.  This memory carried on even into the mud and horror of the Great War - as the British Expeditionary Force fought its first major engagement against the German Empire at the Battle of Mons in 1914AD, rumored sightings of ghostly archers bearing the Cross of St. George firing spectral cloth-arrows into the advancing Germans circulated throughout the trenches and in newspapers back home.  Although one could easily dismiss such tales as pure fantasy, it would be an injustice to deny that the spirit of that stodgy "band of brothers" who had held their ground against overwhelming odds was still present within the young men that faced the terrors of modern mechanized warfare for King and Country.

The "Ghost Archers" of Mons, 1914AD.
Despite ushering its world - and existence - off the stage, Modernity has not been all bad for the warbow.  Due to an incredible increase in scholarly interest over the bow and the men who used it, fascinating archaeological discoveries have been made in recent times that give us a vastly clearer look into the world of the English archer.  One of the greatest breakthroughs came with the 1971 excavation of the remarkably well-preserved wreck of the Mary Rose - the pride of the Royal Navy during the reign of Henry VIII.  In 1545AD, the Mary Rose - a heavy carrack class warship - engaged French galleys in the Solent Channel in Southeast England.  As she turned to face the French fleet, she listed too far to one side, allowing water to pour in through the open gun ports.  Within minutes, the Mary Rose capsized, trapping and drowning around 90% of her crew, to include a large contingent of archers.  There she lay for over 300 years, until amateur divers in the 19th Century began salvaging for historical relics.  None of these efforts yielded much due to the technological limitations of the times and the Mary Rose remained largely undisturbed.  However, with the advent of modern salvage technology, it became possible to fully excavate the wreck.  As divers surveyed the ship, it was discovered that the vast majority of it lay under packed layers of silt that had preserved it almost to a miraculous degree.  Once the Mary Rose was lifted and archaeologists sifted through the largely intact wreck, a veritable treasure trove of artifacts were found, to include some of the best preserved yew bow staves and arrowheads ever found from a period when they were still used in battle.  To say that warbow enthusiasts were thrilled would be an understatement and a furious amount of research was poured into these finds.  From the Mary Rose bows, researchers were able to determine how these weapons were crafted, the materials they were made of, the power of their draws, and other key technical elements of these now-extinct weapons.  Today, the Mary Rose and her artifacts, to include the warbows, are housed in their own museum in Portsmouth.

The now-preserved bowstaves from the Mary Rose
Although the discovery of the yew bowstaves in the Mary Rose had been a Godsend to warbow scholars, there were still some key questions that had yet to be answered - mainly, who were the men that wielded these incredibly powerful weapons and what were they like?  Researchers were amazed at the size and draw power in the bowstaves they pulled from the silt in the Solent and deduced that it must have taken immense upper body strength reinforced with life-long training regimens to have wielded such weapons effectively.  With only a few vague references to firing techniques from writers of the time to go from, what the men of the bow would have looked like was still mostly a guess.  However, another key breakthrough came when, in 1991, an English construction crew stumbled upon human remains in what appeared to be a mass grave.  The location was just outside a small town called Towton.  Having unwittingly uncovered a mass grave from the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil, archaeologists and historians descended on the site en masse.  The remains were remarkably well-preserved and the complete skeletons of 43 individuals were identified in the 6m x 2m pit.  As the remains were meticulously researched, it was noted that all were male, the ages varied from teenaged to around 55, and all had died from violent wounds - mostly in the head and face.  Forensics experts called in to analyze the remains also noted that some of the individuals had the same sort of peculiar bone development in the shoulder and back region - denoting an overdevelopment of the back and shoulder muscles of those individuals from a particular sort of constant use and stress.  Warbow experts immediately recognized the sort of activity that would have given an individual that sort of development - a lifetimes-worth of training and combat with the 110-120lbs draw weight of the English warbow.  At last, the archer had been found and now we could see what he would have looked like.  Today, the Towton Mass Grave Project continues to research artifacts found within the battleground site and has made substantial contributions to the study of Medieval warfare in the period of the Wars of the Roses.

Excavating the Towton Mass Grave.
Armed with this new and intimate knowledge of the warbow and its archers, numerous individuals have taken up recreating them for the sake of posterity.  Numerous warbow reenactors and craftsmen can be found today, mostly in England, displaying not only the deadly power of the once-feared weapon, but also the lives and mannerisms of the archers who helped make their nation's story.  One that I know personally is The Free Company of Aquitaine, founded in 2011 and headed by warbow enthusiast Nick Birmingham of Southampton and London.  At the risk of sounding like an endorsement, Nick and his fellow reenactors have done superb work bringing to life the world of the English archer and display some beautiful handcrafted specimens of authentic warbows reconstructed in the style of the period.  Currently, Nick is producing a video series in which he will craft a yew warbow in the fashion that they would have in the Medieval period.

As I finish this series, the immense importance of historical identities upon the nations they helped create impresses itself upon me.  Yes, while the archer has come and gone from the hectic clashes of the battlefield, his character survived in his descendants through the centuries to help them and their country survive the various crises that the passage of time would bring.  That is the real legacy of the men of the bow, who picked up their meager belongings to set forth and make Europe tremble with their "crooked sticks" and "grey goose-wings."  It is a story well-worth retelling, for - as author Bernard Cornwall rightly put it - the longbow's story is, in large part, England's story.  Were you to somehow tell the archer this, I imagine his only response would be to crack a wry grin before laying down amongst the red poppies and closing his eyes for some badly needed rest.

Sources Referenced:

Robert Hardy, Longbow - A Social and Military History, Haynes Publishing, 2012.