RMS (make that USS) Titanic

by Robert Arvay

Royal Mail Steamer Titanic sank in 1912 on the auspicious day of April 15, which has since become known colloquially in the US, as Income Tax Day. Its loss continues to be, more than a century later, the iconic symbol of the large scale tragedy, replete with detailed anecdotes of heroism and cowardice, wisdom and folly, coincidence and predictability. 

Heroic men gave up their lives to save women and children, while cowardly men dressed as women to gain places on the lifeboats, pushing aside women and children who then died as a consequence. Geniuses designed the leviathan scale of the ship, while fools neglected to equip it with sufficient life boats, declaring that “not even God” could sink the ocean liner. The coincidental collision with an iceberg was also a predictable risk, for which more precautions, had they been taken, might have saved many hundreds of lives. 

Columnist George Will, if memory serves me correctly, suggested in an opinion commentary that when Titanic sank, it took with it a cadre of American entrepreneurs who could never be replaced. Let us also note that in the two to ten years which followed, America embarked on the path of progressivism, perhaps in part because of the loss of these men, whose influence might have changed history. 

In some respects, a century and a year after the tragedy, history is repeating itself, but this time it is not a British passenger ship; instead, the American ship of state, which I dub, the USS Titanic, that is swiftly approaching the iceberg. 

Each morning, we Americans awaken aboard the majestic edifice known as the United States. As passengers, we are not allowed into the central control room. Others are given that responsibility. Some of those in control are wise, but others are fools. Some are courageous, while others are craven cowards, seeking only their own comfort, their own gain, their own safety, while sacrificing women and children to their doom. We see ups and downs in our economy, in our murder rates, in election results, as ‘coincidences’ beyond our personal control. However, the end is predictable. 

Only a fool, a coward, an immoral reprobate, could propose an economic policy which consists of these three suicidal impulses:

  1. spending more money than we have
  2. borrowing more than we can repay, and
  3. counterfeiting money (by means of the Federal Reserve Bank) which then diminishes the value of what money we do have. 

But enough of the Titanic analogy. A far more tragic parallel occurred in the 1930s in both Germany and Japan. Year after year, citizens of those two nations watched helplessly as their governments became more and more totalitarian, more and more brazen in their lawlessness, and ever more reckless in their ventures. 

The result was inevitable: war, and war on a scale which the world had never seen. It was not only predictable; it was actually predicted, at least as far back as 1932 by Harold B Rugg, who wrote the junior high school textbook, Changing Governments and Changing Cultures. I have a copy, and I was astounded as I read it, how clearly the facts of those days pointed to a future that has now become past history. 

As I hold that book in my hand, I feel a connection with those German and Japanese citizens who did what they could to save their nations from ruthless dictators and militarist tyrants. Day by day, they must have thought to themselves, it cannot possibly get any worse than this. And day by day, it got worse. Year by year, they must have hoped and yearned, praying that the general population would soon regain its moral sense of duty to humanity, its dedication to honor. Year by year, the populations fell ever deeper into the trance of their political leaders, who came to be worshipped as gods. 

I am reminded of a terrible anecdote. An ordinary German man had done his best, month after month, to persuade his young son to eschew the Nazis. Finally, seeing that that was a dangerous position to take, literally a potentially fatal position, the man reluctantly gave in. Fearing that his son would become a political victim of persecution, the man advised his son to go ahead, join the Nazis. 

One wonders what became of them, that father and son. Did the man die in a bombed German factory? Did the boy freeze to death at the battle of Stalingrad? If so, what were their final words, their final thoughts? 

That anecdote must have been repeated in various forms a million times, as millions of Germans and Japanese died futile deaths while following their charismatic leaders, leaders who cared not one whit for the incalculable suffering they wrought among their loyal followers. 

Now here we stand, a lifetime later, as we daily watch our nation led to destruction by fools and cowards, watch as millions of our fellow citizens chant mindless slogans, heedless that the iceberg looms just ahead.

 Somewhere in Asia and in Europe are the graves of uncounted thousands of Japanese and Germans who dared stand up against tyranny, and who paid with their lives for their heroism. They may have died believing that their cause was lost. 

But I firmly believe that long after the names of the tyrants are forgotten, the names of those heroes will be forever enshrined in the one and only place where honor is eternal. 

May God bless them each and all. And may I, if ever I am called upon to join them, not shrink from the task. 

Robert Arvay is a Contributing Writer to The Bold Pursuit

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