Bearing True Faith and Allegiance

The above scene was painted by Norman Rockwell in late 1945, just after the end of World War Two. It depicts the homecoming of a U.S. Marine, who has returned from the Pacific with a captured Japanese flag and now commands the rapt attention of his listeners in a local garage.

The painting represents a time — within living memory, although just barely — when there was still a commonly understood ideal of what it meant to be an American. More honored in the breach than in the observance, perhaps, but nevertheless a generally accepted cultural norm of civic obligation.

The moment was before my time, but only by a decade or so. In my early childhood that view of America remained predominant. Those little boys in the picture were the young men of my time, and the returning servicemen were the fathers of kids like me. What Norman Rockwell presented in that painting and innumerable others was American normalcy, as we all understood it. Yet it might as well have been the time of the Peloponnesian War, for all the relevance it holds in what passes for today’s civic culture.

By the 1970s Norman Rockwell was discredited in the eyes of cultural arbiters in the media and academia. He was dismissed as a hackneyed, jingoistic nostalgia-peddler, an archaic throwback in a time when the most respected artists included Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.

Centuries from now, when the foolish political and social fads of our time are long forgotten, Mr. Rockwell will be regarded with the respect he deserves. Like Rembrandt, he had an uncanny genius for depicting the human form and face in a way that conveyed a reality that the camera could not capture. He will be recognized as one of the great painters of our age — assuming, of course, that we have not by then become an American Emirate in the new Universal Caliphate, with all the graven images of our wretched jahiliyyah faithfully destroyed.

The cultural norms and ideals represented in Mr. Rockwell’s paintings were discarded along with his art. But this was true only within the lofty eyries of our cultural mandarins — he remains perennially popular among ordinary Americans, who revere his work as a reminder of what once was, but is now gone. The memory of the old culture still lingers in flyover country, even as it is deprecated, despised, and destroyed by the post-modern managers of the country formerly known as the United States of America.

For decades after most of the rest of the culture fell, the U.S. military remained a staunch bastion of the old ways. As the battering rams and siege engines of the long march broke down the walls of successive institutions — the media, academia, the public schools, commercial enterprises, the government — the military retained the spirit that was so lovingly chronicled by Norman Rockwell fifty years previously. The armed services functioned as a repository for our civic virtues.

All that has changed, thanks to deliberate, cynical policies implemented by the Obama administration. The top brass in all three services are now more concerned with putting women into combat and salving the feelings of their Muslim enemies than they are with their country’s ability to win a war.

The last walls of the citadel have been breached, and the barbarians are busily looting the storehouses and armories of the inner courtyard.

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Article VI Section 3 of the United States Constitution requires the following of citizens who hold elected or appointed office:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

The wording of the required oath is specified under Title V § 3331 of the United States Code:

An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath:

“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Every officer in the United States Military took that oath. The time will soon arrive when a serving officer will have to choose between keeping his oath and pursuing a comfortable career track in his chosen service.

I don’t envy the lot of a dedicated soldier right now. Maybe that’s why the attrition rate in the armed services is so high — honorable people are making the decision not to re-enlist rather than be a party to the unfolding travesty. Their collective departure leaves the field to ambitious cynics and opportunists.

Things were bad enough when the Pentagon decided that soldiers in Afghanistan had to treat the Koran with greater reverence than they treated the Bible. The situation deteriorated further when the brass ordered officers in the field to be more concerned with maintaining good community relations with the locals — some of whom were actively aiding the enemy — than with the lives of their own men.

Our government reached a new low, however, when it began to collaborate with Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Libya and Syria. The current president’s predecessor identified Al Qaeda as the enemy, but Barack Hussein Obama appears to have different ideas. Unfortunately, even if he doesn’t consider them to be our enemy, the mujahideen in the Maghreb have no doubt they are at war with us. They are manifestly enemies both foreign and domestic — the latter in a more subtle, suave, and dangerous form as infiltrators working for the Muslim Brotherhood. Aiding and abetting these enemies does not support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Under such circumstances, how can a conscientious soldier both honor his oath and obey his superiors?

This is hardly first time in our history that patriotic soldiers have faced such a dilemma. In 1776 George Washington had to decide which he loved more: his homeland and his ancient liberties as an Englishman on the one hand, or his duty to his sovereign on the other. If events had gone differently at Yorktown, he would have been hanged for his treason to the Crown. During those same years many other principled men made the opposite choice and remained loyal to the king. As a result our young nation was riven by deep internal conflicts for decades afterwards.

Or consider Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, who in 1861 had to choose between loyalty to his homeland — the Sovereign Commonwealth of Virginia — and loyalty to a federal government that had ceased to respect the sovereignty of his State. He chose the former. Like many others at the time, his choice divided his family, since his sister was a staunch Unionist. Ironically, the county where he was born and grew up ceased to be part of Virginia during the war, opting instead to secede and join the new state of West Virginia.

Another such hinge of history seems to be at hand. Difficult times lie ahead.

If some form of economic collapse occurs — which hardly seems avoidable at this point — serving members of the military may be called upon to quell the resulting civil unrest. How can a soldier honor his oath when ordered to fire upon his fellow citizens?

Our public institutions have been so corrupted and degraded that we can hardly depend on them to make the right decisions about the constitutionality of such actions. Over the past twenty or thirty years all three institutional guardians — the Executive, the Congress, and the Supreme Court — have displayed a blatant disregard for the clear requirements of the United States Constitution.

An honorable soldier will simply have to follow his own conscience to make the choices necessary to fulfill his oath.

I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes when the time comes. God help us all.

28 thoughts on “Bearing True Faith and Allegiance

  1. I’m a big defender of Rockwell.

    Greenberg in Avant Garde and Kitch railed on him as he promoted charlatans like Rothko and Klein.

    For me Abstract Expressionism was the Jingoism. Rockwell was the genuine expression of American ethnicity if an American ethnicity is possible to represent. AbEx was a By Jingo trump card over Parisian modernism.

    When history is revised and corrected Rockwell will do well.

  2. John Huston, a writer who was a Navy fighter pilot, crafted a series of novels on the premise that a military officer is correct in refusing an order that is unconstitutional. Sadly, his books are generally available only from the used market.

    • Ah well…that may be a genre with a future. More and more officers grow disillusioned with our nightmare military but for the moment they are quiet for they have families to support. Once the children are safe, we’ll see…

      I recommend General Boykin (Ret) who speaks out on a number of issues affecting our security – e.g., EMPs and the cover-up of Benghazi.

  3. The arts were one of the early cultural artifacts assaulted and ruined by the Left and their rich benefactors. People with artistic talent like Rockwell were the first to be thrown under the bus of post-modern/contemporary art. Fredrick Hart(the
    artist who did the bronze sculpture for the Vietnam Memorial) is another example. The hack Maya Lin got all the notoriety.

    The elite replaced them with talentless bozos and degenerates like Seranno(Piss Christ), Annie Sprinkle(you don’t wanna know what she does) promoted by some of the largest art patrons in the world. Modern Art galleries like the Guggenheim are a gag fest of talentless hacks housed in building that exemplifies the wasteland that contemporary art has become. Heck I could go to any grade school arts class and have them replicate the modern garbage that sits in most galleries.

    Architecture has fared just as badly under the assault, Grec0-Roman and other human friendly styles replaced by the brutalist box architecture fit only to house lunatics and heroin addicts. I only have to look at the new public schools built in the last decade here in So. Cal. most are cold and inhuman, most one step removed from a prison. Modern churches fare no better, the Cathedral of Our Lady in LA is a prime example this.

    Philosophy is just dead. Socrates, Aristotle are now despised dead white guys. Others like Gilson relegated to dusty corners known only by a handful.

    The ruination of the family stands though as the high point of victories by the Cultural Marxists. Thanks to the welfare system, the state has become the defacto mother and father. The state educates and indoctrinates the children. All the parents do is provide the genetic raw material and the state does the rest. Men in particular aren’t needed and in fact vilified by the Left and especially feminists. Young boys in state run schools suffer the worst fate, for not acting like a passive drone, they are drugged and kept that way until they graduate.

    The fact that a feminist like Camile Paglia has noticed this should concern people.

  4. No problem with the main point of your article, Baron, and I do like Rockwell and empathise with the emotions he conjures, particularly for Americans.

    But- and this is not to claim any kind of cultural superiority for Europeans- I can’t see in his works the subtlety and emotional depth of Rembrandt, many of whose portraits I’ve been lucky enough to see, here in London and elsewhere.

    • Do you have a current European, or one from Rockwell’s generation, who could evoke that humane environment of everyday European life the way Rockwell did by showing us how ordinary Americans lived in his time and place?

      I would love to see European painters or illustrators from that generation who produced scenes of everyday, filled with ordinary people.

      To have to go back to Rembrandt to find that is unutterably sad. And I say that as someone who is haunted by a more primitive painter- Breughel.

      Rembrandt was indeed a genius. So was Rockwell. Where are the 20th century European artists of the everyday??

      • Sadly not, Dymphna. The last one was probably Rodin (whom I came to appreciate thanks to Heinlein, in “Stranger in a Strange Land”).

        I must confess to finding Rockwell verging on idealising his subjects; I like Hopper, but he is maybe too bleak- one should be able to combine them!

        The finest portrayal I know of Americans (or anyone) returning from WW2, and the difficulties faced by them and their families in adjusting, is the film “The Best Years of our Lives” (1946). The director, William Wyler, was a brave man; not only did he fly missions over occupied Europe in B-17s to make his documentary “Memphis Belle” (he was Jewish, by the way), but he had an affair with Bette Davis!

      • Gerhart Richter.

        He’s extremely good. Betty, 1988 is the best painting made in the 20th century.

        It’s a photorealistic painting of his daughter looking away from the camera.

  5. We face the same in the United Kingdom……

    People will have to choose whose side they are on. The US and UK, share far more than just a language. We are The English People. Scotland will probably get its independence. Our “politicians”, bureaucrats are a disgrace like yours. Our Police just as nasty. They even attempted to overthrow the Governemnt by smearing a Minister of State.

    The EU Soviet is the Elephant in the room, Englishmen and women are demonised by the day as “workshy”, “scum”, “chavs”, “scroungers”, “racists”. MPs were seen on BBC laughing at unemployed stripped of welfare lining up for food parcels.

    1789 is not far off mark my words…..

    Toffy nosed Komrade Kamerov is a shallow marketeer- all show and no substance- described as “British Obama” whom he likes to be seen with in the USA on a visit. Everybody loathes “Dave”. There will be no EU Referendum.

    People are angry. They tell priests things that they would never tell a copper or politician. Very soon the whole lot but especially the bureaucrats with their massive salaries, will feel the heat and wrath of the Mob- a rightfully, angry version of the Bastille. Nothing can save these dopes, so secure in their own arrogance.

    The Police will fire on their “own” so full of diversity crap have they become, their uniforms bulge at the waistline but the Army is a different matter. They come from the sink estates where the unemployed come from and that now live on food parcels. Our welfare system has been bankrupted by mass immigration.

    You never hear of an ethnic disabled committing suicide or dying of starvation, having lost their home and state support. Now they demonise the pensioners as a “burden”. They are already killing them in the British NHS…..130,000 per annum.

    Yep 1789 is on the horizon and an angry Englishman or woman is not soemthing to dismiss, as the French and Spanish found out in the past and the Germans in the last 100 years……

  6. This post is obviously RACIST and SEXIST. All of these MEN are WHITE. Racial and gender solidarity of this sort belongs to an era whose remnants must be destroyed at all costs. Long live the Gramscian, Alinskyite, Obamian revolution!

    • I take it you are being ironic?

      If not may God forgive you!

      • My comment, of course, was a jape
        I’m a jester, not some leftist ape
        But such creatures abound
        And that’s just how they sound
        As our civilization they rape.

        • As witness the quote from Tobias Hübinette in the post on Breivik:

          “To feel and even think that the white race is inferior in every conceivable way is natural with regards to its history and current actions. Let the Western countries of the white race perish in blood and suffering. Long live the multicultural, racially mixed and classless ecological society! Long live anarchy!”

  7. During a school term long past, we discussed at length the divergence between the American realist painting schools & abstract expressionism, because the 2 movements co-existed with mutual respect for some years. As it turned out (forgive me for lacking the reference, as it was a couple of decades back), during the cold war, the decision was made by one of the alphabet agencies to bankroll & promote abstract expressionism as a counterpoint to the communist bloc’s “socialist realism” which had the side effect of sidelining the American realist schools. Sad but true.

  8. As I see it, the John Birch Society had it pegged some 50 years ago. There’s a power elite wrapped up principally, though not exclusively, in the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR)*, which pretty much controls most of the wealth and therefore the power in this country.

    This group sets an agenda. The left follows.

    *Most of its members come from NYC or DC and who have a lot of money and influence.

    • This is apposite for all readers of Baron’s analysis as the CFR is where American Colonels hang out for a year or two — or else at Harvard’s JFK School of Mutlicultiglobal Governments at Harvard — as an obligatory step before they can qualify for the first generalship star. It’s no wonder that many of America’s best fighting colonels, from Hackwoth to West, part with their uniform rather than become a poodle of Madeleine Albright and Fareed Zakaria.

  9. I am an admirer of fine art, that is anything that has a touch of realism to it, be it by landscape, portraiture or what is termed ‘still life’.

    I loathe with a passion anything that pretends to be artistic!

    I have seen several Rockwell ‘paintings’ and the one thing that has always impressed me is his ability to draw the onlooker into the subject. That depicted scene of the returned Marine giving his account of his war to eager listeners is so representative of what may have occurred in hundreds of garages or sheds around America, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, that the only thing that Rockwell has not been able to achieve with this depiction is the audible conversation.

    But your post is also about those who have taken an oath and refuse to uphold it or at some point in the future may be tested on it.

    Many top brass within the military have now been ‘purged’ by Barry’s Boys who are more interested in ‘domestic’ circumstances than in winning foreign wars. There is much to be pessimistic about come the time when the ‘troops’ are ordered to fire on their own countrymen, but I believe the clincher for this possibility will be when it becomes obvious that there is an updated version of, ‘cowardice in the face of the enemy’ to be used against those who may refuse to shoot American citizens.

    Barry’s Boys are already killing American citizens outside of the United States without due regard for their ‘civil and legal rights’, while American citizens are being spied on through electronic and aerial surveillance techniques, so I believe that within this context it is just a matter of time before the killings start within the American nation.

  10. Yes an earlier poster has nailed one particular problem with the USA military: the brass has become a part of the “ruling class”, no longer in touch with tradition etc

  11. The genius of Rockwell is that you can imagine the conversation, the smell of oil, the pipe, you can feel the metal vise, the cork gaskets. I find myself drawn to each detail and wonder about the people depicted. I never get those feelings from Picasso or Worhal.

    • Picasso and such art are a jumble of weirdness to me. I am a realist and need to see art as Rockwell and others created it. I love art, all different types but it is such realism that speaks to me. One other commenter said they were drawn in to the artwork, indeed.

      @Mt Top Patriot: Agreed and even if it is just the ground beneath my feet, they will have to kill me to claim it.

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  13. It all begins with each of us, there is no voting our way out of this, no oaths will save us now, we all must make a choice, be manifold in our Liberty, fight and possibly die as Freemen, our submit and bend a knee.
    No knee for me. I’ll make em pay in blood or die instead of supplicating to tyranny.
    The psychopaths running things and their ilk can kiss my free ares.

  14. I was a former NCO and advancing officer in the military. By the time I made Major, I began to realize that war is indeed a scam and that if I was to honor my oath, I would have to arrest the government. So I retired.

  15. Pingback: A moral dilemma

  16. Rockwell will ALWAYS be my favorite artist.

    The young soldier was my Dad’s generation, as well. Semper fi

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