Category Archives: Patriotism

How to fly a Spitfire – UnHerd

UnHerd, June 23, 2022. By Will Lloyd.

The hangar is patriotically dressed with tiny flags and a large resin model of a Sunderland bomber. Miniature pilots in its cockpit have painted smiles. Sensible women are handing out buns and tea. Forties jazz plays; I might be in a JB Priestley novel, or at a village fete. The war may never have ended. And dotted around the room, unmistakable, unmistakably old are 48 RAF veterans.

This is Project Propeller, today. Every year, since 1999, it has spirited Royal Air Force vets up in the sky again. Younger pilots come for the war stories, and to say thank you. The vets meet their old comrades.

But we are close to the end. This year is the final meeting of Project Propeller. The number of Second World War pilots is dwindling. The last veterans of the last good war are now in their farcically late nineties. Their trademark taciturnity is becoming tombstone silence. The few keep getting fewer.

This was the last time these pilots would be in the same room together. They would be thanked and saluted and coddled to the very end. Their story, the myth — the good war — is where modern Britain was founded. Now, their hair is mercury and silver. Their hands are curled and cubed. Their skin is translucent, tattooed with melodramatic blotches. A whole century laden on their faces. Some are negligibly less ancient than others. All of them wear uniform blazers, and rustle with medals.

People are exquisitely careful with them. Utterly decorous and graceful. They are so valuable, and there are so few of them left. It is as if we are in a room with Henry’s longbowmen, or Nelson’s sailors. Our scope for reverence, usually so limited, is much larger here. There are many quiet grandsons, and great-grandsons, wheeling around their relatives.

Most of the veterans served with Bomber Command. There are pilots and engineers and navigators and gunners and bomb aimers. They had to be bloodhounds; they dropped a boiling furnace down on Germany for years, and fifty-five thousand of them were killed doing it. All of them volunteered.

Bomber Command’s role in the war is ambiguous. Watching footage of German cities obliterated by the RAF in 1943, Winston Churchill asked: “Are we beasts? Are we taking this too far?” He preferred the underdog, classical heroism of 1940. But the campaign never relented. There was no memorial for Bomber Command until 2012.

I speak to Andy Andrews who was wireless operator in a Halifax, and John Bell, who was a bomb aimer in a Wellington. Andrews is 98, still standing, still driving. Bell is 100, in a wheelchair, but terrifyingly unsenile. He chews a ham sandwich, viciously, like it insulted his mother. Another vet toddles shakily over to Bell and asks him how he is getting on.

“About as well as you can be for a hundred not out”, says Bell. “Well, I am completely… buggered” says the other, with a spluttery laugh.

Bell and Andrews start telling me two quite insane stories about their bomber days.

Bell was 20 before he got in a plane. His legs were too long and prevented him from being a fighter pilot. The bombers were crewed by mostly teenage boys who all wanted to fly Spitfires.

“We lost an engine on the way to Hamburg”, he recalls. It was the end of July, 1943. They could not maintain their normal height of 20,000ft; the night air around them swam with flak. Turning back would look like cowardice, so they flew the raid at 10,000ft, underneath the other British bombers. German guns on the ground, and thick gusts of their friends’ bombs blowing above them.

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I don’t understand how he wasn’t scared, but Bell simply says he was “indifferent about his feelings”. He would not worry about what he could not control. “Courage comes over a city at night.”

Beneath his plane, Hamburg was being incinerated during Operation Gomorrah. They set the air alight. 37,000 civilians died. It sounded, said one survivor, “like an old church organ where someone is playing all the notes”. Bell was a vengeful God then, raining fire and brimstone down from the heavens.

He is a more peaceful deity now, a bit more New Testament. “All I did was bomb the targets I was given… I’m quite happy with what I did.” He returns to his sandwich. Andrews bombed Dresden. He does not feel guilty, but he is not comfortable about it either. “I think it was a mistake. It never should have happened.”

Andrews was flying over Denmark in 1945 when his plane was hit by a Junkers Ju 88. Everything was on fire; three of the crew bailed out, two were quickly dead. He woke up after the plane had exploded. “I came to, pulled a rip cord, and my life was saved.” When he tells the story he looks like he might burst into laughter at any moment.

“I ended up in a POW camp in Denmark.” The war would be over in weeks and they all knew it. No need to do any Great Escape stuff. “We were liberated by General Patton. It’s the happiest I’ve ever been to see an American.”

Andrews misses his friends. “I’m the only one left now.” All his close peers were dead, his enemies were dead, much of his family was dead. The world he grew up in had more in common with the Victorian era than the Britain he lived to see. Barely a generation back from Darwin and Dickens. But he flew in the stratosphere.

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These pilots and their machines figured in the stories we’ve been told all our lives. Velvety stories that roll between the spoken memories of relatives and old snapshots of uniformed men, between Where Eagles Dare and The Longest Day; stories that fold into the pewetery weight of a toy Spitfire in your hand… After the war Britain required myths. We were bankrupt, exhausted, confused. The myth we built around the RAF — that it was alone, that it muddled through, that it was uniquely courageous — was a form of compensation. It was the best we could do.

But these are men, not statues. Calling someone a hero is like comparing them to Casanova, or saying they’re a great dancer. From then on they are a greyhound chasing a mechanical hare. Always trying to catch up. If Bell and Andrews are heroes, then their whole existence after the war has been posthumous. Their unsurpassable status makes them less than human. All that mattered happened to them in the war.

Bell says that when the crew were trying to decide whether to turn their queasy bomber around 79 years ago, they thought: “Why not keep going to Hamburg”.

Why not? It was not about heroism — these men were fatalists. It was about fear and survival. To go on without stopping, never looking back, as the world below them cracked and collapsed. They were not destroying an enemy or defending their homes: they were fighting their own terrors. To overcome them was the only way to navigate a course towards life after the war.

When I ask them whether it was all worth it, Bell looks at me like I’ve asked him to describe the bottom of the ocean. An impossible question. “I don’t really want to go down that road.”

I cannot tell whether he means it was worth it, or it was not.

John Bell (second from the right) with his fellow RAF pilots.

It’s one of those June days that cannot decide whether to be warm or cold, so we have both. There is blossom on the grass. All the vets have been brought in now, by light aircraft the same white colour as yachts. I am told that one of them hasn’t made it — he died yesterday afternoon.

A Spitfire sits outside a hangar. Men in deep middle age take selfies with it, as if they have met Kim Kardashian. It is a celebrity. The only Allied plane in service from the first day of the war until the last. So brilliant, so adaptable, so fast.

I speak to a selfie taker. There is a male glee in technical details. He knows the names of the parts. Words decorated with beads of numbers. Rolls-Royce Merlin 61 liquid-cooled 12-cylinder Vee piston engine, he says. Bellcrank hinge control. He smiles. Browning 0.303in (7.7mm) machine guns. He is talking in small prayers.

A plane is an orchestra of parts, playing together, he says. The machine is the point for him. He tells me this Spitfire was bought privately for £3 million. He has spent many afternoons mulling the Spit. You can hold its parts, weigh them, pet them. Machines are more manageable than emotions. When I look at the fuselage of that plane, the metal rounded to a propellered nose, I see slightness and fragility. I look at the sky, fill it with Germans, and imagine the terror.

A tiny man is trundled towards the Spitfire. This is Bill Williams, he is one of the last people alive who flew them during the war. He is 101 years-old, and he is my lift home. He contemplates the Spit. It is like seeing a snail come face-to-face with a past shell.

Bill Williams reunited with his old partner.

His war was not glamorous. Bill is not part of the myth. He missed the Battle of Britain by three years. After training he flew out to Cairo, then to Calcutta.

There he made reconnaissance missions over the Irrawaddy Delta, photographing Japanese railways lines and fuel depots. His real enemy was the weather in monsoon season, which made flying deadly, not the Japanese, whose planes were not fast enough to get near his Spitfire.

Bill remembers it so well that he can take a pencil and draw a map of Burma for me on a flyer. He sketches out hills, rivers, and weather patterns. (I checked it against Google’s satellites later. It is absurdly accurate.)

The only weapon Bill’s plane had was a revolver. “I realised it was for me, if the plane came down and it was a choice between that and being captured by the Japanese”.

In their memoirs, Spitfire pilots often compare the machine to a woman. They were slenderly experienced teenagers. She was a perfect lady. She had no vices. She was beautiful. Most of them only knew sisters, mothers, aunts. They were describing falling in love for the first time.

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“Oh the Spit was a lady in the air”, Bill says. “But a real bitch on the ground.” The undercarriage was narrow and weak. Landing it was never easy. “But it was very, very easy to fly. So light. You could literally fly it with this. With one finger.”

We have to get Bill back in the sky. He is cradled, with care and difficulty, into the cockpit of a Cessna 414. Graham, the pilot, does his checks. The plane begins to shudder and wobble.

Soon we are airborne, buffering and swaying, rapidly climbing over the East Midlands. Graham explains the controls to Bill. He is supposed to be flying three tons of metal in a minute. He has not flown anything bigger than a kite since the war. I am… somewhat concerned that Bill might accidentally kill all of us.

It is all in my head. Bill knows everything. He is taking us on a right turn, towards Nottingham, then levels the plane out. He checks the air speed. Altitude is perfectly maintained.

“It feels heavier than a Spitfire”, he mutters to himself in the headset. Suddenly he is attentive, composed, professional. Bill flew 1000 hours in the war. Suddenly a man who cannot walk has his wings back. I watch him closely, everyone in the plane does. Bill looks younger, visibly freshened. He is 20 again, avoiding purple-black monsoon clouds above a Burmese delta. He is not flying. He is travelling back in time.

Bill flies again.

The land below opens up. The yellow fields give way to rashes of red brick suburbs, ringed with motorways, and further out the south of England, and cities, and millions of people.

At this height everything is simplified and clarified. The problem with the myth around these men is that it makes them peaks. All the rest of us can do is dwell in their foothills. A beautiful, hobbling myth: Churchill as King Arthur, the RAF boys like Bill as his gleaming knights, Spitfire as Excalibur. “Nothing surpasses 1940” Churchill said. But how are you supposed to live if your greatest days are behind you?

All at once the stories seemed ridiculous and naive. Bill, Andy, John, and all the others were not myths or legends or heroes. They were survivors. They were skilled, they were dogged, and they were very lucky.

Up here there is only light, wind, and speed. Nothing else matters. England is streaming below us. I look at the list of questions, of the what was it like back then variety, for Bill on my phone. They seem stupid now. There is only one thing it makes sense to ask him: how does it feel to be back?

“Oh.” He pauses, searching for the right word. “It is wonderful.”[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3&mc_cid=fe15393319&mc_eid=0ff3e7ea29


Norman Podhoretz on the Spiritual War for America

Sounds like I need to read some of Mr Podhoretz’s books! mrossol

The Wall Street Journal, By Barton Swaim,

Norman Podhoretz

Illustration: Barbara Kelley

There was a time—roughly from the mid-1960s to the rise of Donald Trump in 2015—when the American right was more or less definable. No more. Major political parties are always riven by internal disputes, but even during George W. Bush’s second term, at the nadir of the Iraq war, the Republican coalition seemed to hang together better than it has these past six years. Mr. Trump’s candidacy was a sign of that fracturing rather than its cause, but his presidency wasn’t marked by unity in the GOP.

Quite the opposite. A significant faction of the party now advocates aggressive industrial policy as a means of alleviating social ills wrought by “unregulated” capitalism. Another demeans the party’s traditional predilection for hawkish foreign policy as an obsession with “forever wars.” The right’s leading media personalities, meanwhile, would rather talk about the latest cultural outrage—an androgynous Mr. Potato Head!—than explain the perils of turning social welfare into a middle-class entitlement.

Are the challenges facing conservatives really so different from what they were 50, 60 or 70 years ago? Most of the architects of postwar conservatism aren’t around to ask anymore, but Norman Podhoretz—editor of the Jewish intellectual magazine Commentary from 1960 to 1995 and one of the founders of neoconservatism—is 91 and as talkative as ever. I visited his book-laden Upper East Side apartment last month with the vague premonition that he might have something to say about the fractured state of American conservatism.

My timing was good. The day before, voters had elected a Republican governor in a state most observers considered blue, and indisputably blue New Jersey had come within a few percentage points of doing the same. “I wasn’t sure they were still out there,” Mr. Podhoretz says. Who? “The ‘deplorables,’ ” he says, gesturing quotation marks as he employs Hillary Clinton’s famous term from 2016. “I really didn’t know. If the results had gone the other way, I wouldn’t have been that surprised. Our troops were not as visible, at least to me, because the media and the culture are all on the other side . . . The other side has won the culture—that’s one battlefield—but they haven’t yet won the polity. That’s very encouraging.”

Mr. Podhoretz says he uses the word “deplorables” loosely, to mean Americans of all classes who refuse to be told what to do and how to live by the nation’s well-heeled progressive elite. “The question for me was whether the sources of health and vitality I used to know existed in this country were still there. I fell in love with Americans when I was in the Army. I was born in Brooklyn; I lived in England”—Mr. Podhoretz studied English literature at Cambridge on a Fulbright Scholarship in the early 1950s—“but I hadn’t been to very many places in my country. Being in the Army, you get shuffled around. That’s where I discovered Americans. Especially the deplorables. They were great.”

This is a theme, aside from the word “deplorables,” that runs through Mr. Podhoretz’s first memoir, “Making It” (1967). In the Army in 1953-55, he wrote in that book, “usually my closest friends were back-country Southern boys, real rednecks.” (As a Southern redneck myself, I marked the passage in pencil many years ago.) “They’re sane,” he says to me. “They know there’s something wrong, let’s say, when a guy says he’s a girl. They look at that and say, What are you, f— crazy?” He waves as if to suggest this is only one among many instances of insanity. “All that stuff.”

He contrasts these deplorables with something like what the Russians called the “intelligentsia.” “The intelligentsia thought it was wrong that people who’ve made a lot of money in business should be our leaders,” he says. “They resented it. They were not being accorded the power they thought they deserved. But as time went on, they were accorded more and more power—and they stayed resentful. The intelligentsia in America is still resentful.”

This gets us to the subject of Mr. Trump. Mr. Podhoretz’s admiration for the 45th president, when it crept out a few years ago, surprised some observers on the left and right. Hadn’t Mr. Trump harshly criticized the Iraq war, which Mr. Podhoretz fervently supported? Yes, but the pre-eminent themes of Mr. Podhoretz’s journalism were always gratitude to the United States and skepticism of credentialed experts.

“I was, to begin with, anti-anti-Trump,” he says. “I was not crazy about the guy. I had never met him, and still I’ve never met him. But I thought the animosity against him was way out of proportion and, on the right, a big mistake. I went from anti-anti-Trump to pro-Trump. . . . I still think—and it’s been the same fight going on in my lifetime since, I would say, 1965—I still think there’s only one question: Is America good or bad?”

He pauses, leans back in his sofa chair, and restates the formulation. “A force for good in the world—or not?”

Mr. Podhoretz was only 30 when he became editor of Commentary, then a magazine of the left. Over the next several years he began to reject the Marxian attitude of his fellow New York intellectuals. “I broke with the left mainly because of its anti-Americanism. When you’re hanging around with people, you hear things they don’t say in public. I knew what they thought, what they didn’t say except in private. And what they thought was horrendous to me.” Each of his four autobiographical books—“Making It,” “Breaking Ranks” (1979), “Ex-Friends” (1999) and “My Love Affair With America” (2000)—is in some way an account of his estrangement from the left as a consequence of its refusal, as he saw it, to embrace the U.S., its history and its culture.

His essays in Commentary, not only on domestic politics and foreign policy but also, perhaps especially, on literature, were always distinguished by a graceful pugnacity. He takes bold positions, expresses them fluently, and hits hard. So his description of conservative voters as “troops” didn’t surprise me. “It’s a war, in my view,” Mr. Podhoretz says. “Many people are reluctant to see it in those terms. I mean, people say it’s a lot like 1858 and so on, but I don’t see it as a prelude to a civil war and 600,000 Americans dead. That’s not my meaning. But spiritually it’s a war.”

The term “culture war” has been thrown around for 30 years, but Mr. Podhoretz takes the martial metaphor seriously: “We’re in a war, and it’s a war to the death. Now they actually admit it. They used to pretend. Not anymore. ‘Dissent’ was the real patriotism—so being against America meant you were for America, if you remember all that. Now they’re happy to say what they think.”

The left wants to win, he says, but “I’m not sure anymore what our side wants. The right, as I used to understand it, no longer exists. So you’ve got one very clear side, and one very muddled side.”

Would it be accurate to say that the right’s muddled state consists in a division between those who understand that we’re in a war and those who don’t? A sizeable contingent of the right, such as it is, still believes that solid reporting, thorough scholarship and careful argumentation will win the respect of their ideological adversaries on the basis of fairness and merit. Is that way of thinking a failure to understand the nature of the conflict?

“I think so,” Mr. Podhoretz says. “And I think Trump was the only guy who understood the situation in those terms, whether by instinct or whatever.”

What about Mr. Trump’s claim, during the 2016 campaign, that the Bush administration “lied” to justify an invasion of Iraq? “That was one of the main things that kept me from becoming pro-Trump,” Mr. Podhoretz says. “And I still get very angry on that whole business. First of all, it’s not true. It’s also crazy. Why would they lie about weapons of mass destruction? If they were lying, they knew they would be exposed a week after our troops got in. So what was the sense of it? Nobody was lying. Seventeen intelligence agencies, something like that, thought Saddam was hiding them.”

Here Mr. Podhoretz laughs. “Look,” he says, “Trump is a type of person . . . there’s a wonderful Yiddish slang word: bulvan. A bully, doesn’t care, crashes through. Trump’s bad side is a necessary accompaniment to his good side.”

Mr. Podhoretz doesn’t like everything about the populist right. “I heard Tucker Carlson the other day call neoconservatives ‘cowards.’ That’s funny—I never met any neocons who were cowards.” (The term “neocons” in this context refers broadly to those who hold the view that the U.S. and the world are better served by the assertive use of American power abroad.) He takes up the Fox host’s taunt: “I served in this country’s military. Did Carlson? I don’t think so.”

Mr. Trump’s behavior after the 2020 election notwithstanding, Mr. Podhoretz has no apologies. “Maybe Trump’s outlived his usefulness, I don’t know,” Mr. Podhoretz says. “And the way he gave away Georgia”—he means the two Jan. 5 runoff elections that cost the Republicans the Senate majority—“was pretty hard to forgive. But if I thought he could win, I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for him.”

Mr. Podhoretz keeps returning to the theme of war, a war made necessary, in his view, by the anti-Americanism of the political left. Is the hatred of America worse than it used to be? “Unquestionably,” he says. “The left of the 1930s, which was the first time it had significant power and influence, was anti-American to begin with. But it had an alternative—the Soviet Union.” The U.S.S.R. turned out to be a disappointment when it allied with Hitler in 1939, although some on the left never gave up on Russian communism. “Then, after the war, especially in the 1960s and later, they had a series of alternatives—Cuba one week, Mao’s China the next, or Nicaragua, or North Vietnam, or whatever.” The left liked Sweden for a while, he laughs, but Sweden has a market economy. “And”—he laughs again—“somebody found out about the suicide rate.”

But now, he notes, there’s no alternative, no pretense that some other place does things better. “This ‘woke’ business—critical race theory, Black Lives Matter, all of it—is just pure anti-American hatred. And I think [its proponents] would admit that. Which is why I keep saying it’s a war. If you don’t understand that, you don’t know what the hell is going on.”

What about the claim that the war is over, and the right lost? Mr. Podhoretz points out that things were pretty bad for conservatives in the late 1970s, but the reaction was explosive. Magazines like Commentary, he thinks, changed the way intellectuals and academics thought about welfare and foreign policy: “People used to accuse me of being self-important when I said this, but the change in the political culture that the neoconservative movement helped to foster was a necessary precondition for the election of Ronald Reagan.”

That can happen again? “It could.”

Maybe, after all, the right’s internal divisions aren’t fatal. Mr. Podhoretz notes that Henry Kissinger, “who used to call me his worst enemy,” is now a close friend. So, until his death in 2008, was William F. Buckley Jr. , with whom Mr. Podhoretz had several fierce disagreements. Wars, including “spiritual” ones, tend to force co-belligerents back into the same camp.

“People make everything complicated,” he says, “when mostly it’s simple.”

Mr. Swaim is a Journal editorial page writer.


The Patriot Act Wasn’t Meant to Target Parents – WSJ

It was the fear of this kind of administrative action which was one of the reasons I voted the way I did in the 2020 election. I was voting against the Democrat ideals which are on display everywhere these days. mrossol

WSJ By F. James Sensenbrenner  October 12,2021

As principal author of the Patriot Act and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during its consideration, I find it necessary to remind the Biden administration that the Patriot Act doesn’t apply to parents’ behavior at school-board meetings.

In recent months, parents across the country have expressed their views on issues ranging from pronoun selection and Critical Race Theory to the medical basis of certain Covid restrictions and age-inappropriate, sexually explicit curricular materials. Parents have a right—indeed an obligation—to participate actively at school-board meetings to ensure the safety and well-being of their children. In Virginia’s Loudoun and Fairfax counties, moms, dads, and teachers shocked by X-rated reading lists, race-based indoctrination, and anti-Christian instruction have made their voices heard.


Rather than embracing a renaissance of spirited and nonviolent civic engagement, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe recently said: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Democrats’ hostility toward parents seeking a voice in their children’s education is not new. Of greater concern is the recent attempt to weaponize our criminal laws to eliminate these voices.

When asked this week whether the Patriot Act should be used to monitor parents at school-board meetings, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded: “The attorney general has put out a letter. They will take actions they take, and I would point you to them for more information.” Ms. Psaki’s nonresponse—and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memorandum directing federal counterterrorism agents to monitor parents at local school-board meetings—is emblematic of the Biden administration’s unparalleled effort to transform federal laws and agencies into instruments of domestic political repression.

The Patriot Act was enacted into law following the mass terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Its central purpose was to prevent additional foreign terrorist attacks on American soil by enhancing the collection and sharing of foreign intelligence information, restricting terrorist financing, and enhancing border security. The legislation defined terrorism as unlawful acts of violence or acts dangerous to human life intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to affect the conduct of government by “mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” Some provisions, particularly Section 215 and the issuance of National Security Letters, occasioned spirited and necessary debate to ensure against their misuse by federal agencies.


When considering the Patriot Act, I sought a bipartisan consensus that was reflected in its unanimous committee approval. Aware of potential abuse—and over the objection of the Bush administration—I ensured the legislation contained sunset provisions and wrote a bill to amend and reauthorize the Patriot Act in 2005. In 2015, I was the author of the USA Freedom Act, which restored the original intent of the Patriot Act by reforming key federal surveillance authorities.

Freedom of expression is a touchstone of self-government. Our laws and jurisprudence draw a clear distinction between acts of terrorism calculated to influence a civilian population and the robust expression of views that sustains democratic self-government. This awareness has informed legislative consideration of the Patriot Act and subsequent revisions.

When debating the Patriot Act and other federal antiterrorism laws, nobody in either chamber of Congress could have imagined these laws would be turned against concerned parents at local school board meetings. Yet on Oct. 4, Mr. Garland issued the memorandum that will live in infamy. It directs the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. attorneys to develop “strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” This memorandum followed a Sept. 29 National School Boards Association letter to President Biden urging the administration to use the Patriot Act to monitor parents at school board meetings.

Federal agencies lack roving jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute noncriminal conduct. They also lack authority to invoke federal antiterrorism laws to chill protected expressive conduct. The Justice Department’s school-board memorandum violates the letter and spirit of federal law approved by bipartisan, bicameral congressional majorities. Unless it is immediately withdrawn, the memorandum will chill free speech, undermine civil liberties, erode public confidence in federal law enforcement, divert resources from actual terrorist threats, and weaken congressional support for key antiterrorism laws. All of these developments would make Americans less free, less secure and less safe.

Ours is a government of limited and enumerated powers. The attorney general is America’s top law-enforcement officer; his words have consequences. The press secretary speaks on behalf of the White House. Mr. Garland’s memorandum and Ms. Psaki’s silence speak volumes about this administration’s approach to the constitutional rights of all Americans. Mr. McAuliffe’s hostility toward Virginia’s parents must not be backed by oppressive and unlawful federal mandates calculated to stifle free speech throughout the country.

Members of Congress have an obligation to ensure laws they write are faithfully applied, not intentionally subverted. Congress should demand the immediate withdrawal of the school-board memorandum, bar the appropriation of funds to implement it, and directly challenge the administration’s efforts to misuse federal laws to silence political opposition. Respect for our laws, Constitution and citizens demands no less.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, a Republican, served as a U.S. representative from Wisconsin, 1979-2021, and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, 2001-07.


Stuart Scheller: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know |

Stuart Scheller: Video Criticizing Military Leaders on Afghanistan Goes Viral

This post speaks for itself. mrossol

Stuart Scheller is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps who was relieved from duty after he shared a video on Facebook criticizing military leadership for their handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

“I can’t possibly respond to the overwhelming response,” Scheller wrote on his Facebook page after his dismissal. You can watch his video later in this article. It’s gone viral, and it’s led to a flood of support on social media for him as the country reels from the deaths of 13 Marines and service members in Kabul (you can see tributes to those fallen service members here).

“Facebook has stopped allowing me to accept friend requests. But I’ll offer you one more thought… Last night when I posted the video I immediately had multiple Marines call and ask me to take down the post. ‘We all agree with you Stu, but nothing will change, and it will come at a huge personal cost to you.’”

He added: “Obviously I didn’t take it down. Now that I’ve had time to process… I’ll offer this… we can’t ALL be wrong. If you all agree… then step up. They only have the power because we allow it. What if we all demanded accountability?” He then shared this quote: “Every generation needs a revolution”✊🏻🇺🇸 Thomas Jefferson.”

In the video, Scheller chastised military leadership.

“I’m not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan forever, but I am saying: Did any of you throw your rank on the table and say ‘hey, it’s a bad idea to evacuate Bagram Airfield, a strategic airbase, before we evacuate everyone,’” he said in the video.

“Did anyone do that? And when you didn’t think to do that, did anyone raise their hand and say ‘we completely messed this up.’”

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Scheller Told Military Leaders, ‘I Demand Accountability’

Scheller started his video with the caption, “To the American leadership. Very Respectfully, US.”

He started out explaining his experience. He served in Marine infantry for 17 years. He was the battalion commander with the advanced infantry training battalion at the time of the video. Scheller recorded his video just as news broke about the explosion in Kabul.

“One of those people who was killed was someone I had a personal relationship with,” he said. He did not go into additional details about that. I’m not making this video because it’s potentially an emotional time. I’m making it because I have a growing discontent and contempt for…perceived ineptitude at the foreign policy level and I want to specifically ask some questions to some of my senior leaders.”

“I feel like I have a lot to lose,” he said, adding that he thought through “what might happen to me…if I had the courage to post it. But I think what you believe in can only be defined by what you’re willing to risk.”

“I have been fighting for 17 years,” said Scheller. “I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders: ‘I demand accountability.’”

He said he was “willing to risk my current battalion commander’s seat, my retirement, my family stability to say some of the things that I want to say.” He said that would give him “some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity, accountability for my senior leaders.”

He read from a letter written by Marine commandant David Berger, who wrote, “was it all worth it?”

“I’ve killed people, and I seek counseling and that’s fine,” Scheller said. “There’s a time in place for that. But the reason people are so upset on social media right no is not because the Marines on the battlefield let someone down that service member has always rose to the occasion and done extraordinary things, people are upset because their senior leaders let them down. And none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘We messed this up.’”

He said lower level soldiers get fired.

“We have a secretary of defense [Lloyd Austin] that testified to Congress in May that the Afghan national security force could withstand the Taliban advance. We have [the] joint chiefs [of Staff], the commandant is a member of that, who’re supposed to advise on military policy. We have a Marine combatant commander. All of these people are supposed to advise.”

Scheller said he was “not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan for ever, but I am saying: ‘Did any of you throw your rank on the table and say, hey, it’s a bad idea to evacuate Bagram airfield, a strategic airbase, before we evacuate everyone?’ Did anyone do that?’ And when you didn’t think to do that, did anyone raise their hand and say, ‘We completely messed this up’?

“I’ve got battalion commander friends right now that are posting similar things, and they’re saying, wondering if all the lives were lost, if it was in vain, all those people that we’ve lost over the last 20 years…Potentially all those people did die in vain. If we don’t have senior leaders that own up and raise their hand and say, ‘We did not do this well in the end,’ without that we just keep repeating the same mistakes,” he said.

“This amalgamation of the economic-slash-corporate-slash-political-slash-higher military ranks are not holding up their end of the bargain.”

2. Scheller Wrote That He Was ‘Relieved for Cause Based on a Lack of Trust & Confidence’

Scheller revealed he was “relieved for cause” on August 27, 2021, the day after he posted the video.

“To all my friends across the social networks,” he wrote. “I have been relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence as of 14:30 today.My chain of command is doing exactly what I would do… if I were in their shoes. I appreciate the opportunities AITB command provided. To all the news agencies asking for interviews… I will not be making any statements other than what’s on my social platforms until I exit the Marine Corps.”

He continued, “America has many issues… but it’s my home… it’s where my three sons will become men. America is still the light shining in a fog of chaos. When my Marine Corps career comes to an end, I look forward to a new beginning. y life’s purpose is to make America the most lethal and effective foreign diplomacy instrument. While my days of hand to hand violence may be ending…I see a new light on the horizon. Semper.”

3. Scheller Served in Iraq & Helped Evacuate Americans From Beirut

According to his Facebook page, Scheller “studied Military Sciences at Marine Corps University” and “studied Accounting at UC Lindner College of Business.” He went to Anderson High School and lives in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

In earlier August, he wrote on Facebook, “To every school teacher who told me violence was never the answer… I wish you were teaching in Afghanistan right now to see the depth of your misguided world view.”

According to his bio, “LtCol Stuart P. Scheller graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelors in accounting. He began Officer Candidate School in January 2005. After completing Officer Candidate School, The Basic School, and Infantry Officer Course, he checked into 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in December 2005.”

“After checking into 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and assuming the duty of platoon commander, LtCol Scheller conducted a deployment on the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He participated in the Non-Combatant Evacuation of American citizens out of Beirut during the 2006 Israeli/Lebanese conflict. Then the following year, he was assigned the role of Alpha Company Executive Officer and deployed to Ramadi, Iraq. Of note, during that time the infantry companies moved to a four infantry platoon construct, so LtCol Scheller, in addition to his Company Executive Officer duties, was also the Fire Support leader, and also served in this capacity during a Mojave Viper and the Ramadi deployment.”

The bio adds: “In 2008 LtCol Scheller checked into the School of Infantry East, Infantry Training Battalion. He spent six months as the Weapons Instructor group OIC, and a year and a half as the Echo Company Commander.”

It continues, “In 2010 LtCol Scheller sought out an Individual Augment deployment to Afghanistan. He was the Counter-IED team leader for the organization JIEDDO. He spent a year in Paktika and Ghanzi provinces while supporting the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade. He was the infantry subject matter expert for EOD and Route Clearance Platoon operations. From July 2011 to June 2012 LtCol Scheller attended resident Expeditionary Warfare School. Following Expeditionary Warfare School, LtCol Scheller augmented Officer Candidate School as a platoon commander for a 10 week class.”

The bio continues,

In September 2012 LtCol Scheller checked into 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines and served as the Company Commander for Headquarters and Service Company. During this Company Command tour, he completed the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment. Following the deployment, in November 2013, LtCol Scheller assumed the duty as Weapons Company Commander. During his Weapons Company Command tour, he completed an Infantry Training Exercise and a Unit Deployment East.

In August 2015, LtCol Scheller checked into The Basic School. During his three year tour, he served in many capacities, to include Operations Officer, Company Commander, and Warfighting Director.

In July 2018, LtCol Scheller attended resident Command and Staff College where he earned a Masters in Military Science.

In July 2019, LtCol Scheller checked into Marine Special Forces Command and assumed the duties as the Executive Officer of 2nd Support Battalion. Of note, the Battalion Commander spent the majority of the tour deployed on a Special Operations Task Force, allowing LtCol Scheller the opportunity to lead the battalion stateside.

In June 2020 LtCol Scheller checked into 6th Marine Regiment and assumed the duties as Operations Officer. During this time the Regiment supported four battalions and completed a Service Level Training Exercise.

In June 2021 LtCol Scheller checked into the School of Infantry East, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, as the commanding officer.

4. Scheller Helped Invent a Mold to Make Ribbons Attach More Easily to Uniforms

On Facebook, Scheller wrote that he was “owner and Founder at The Perfect Ribbon” as well as “Infantry Officer at U.S. Marine Corps.”

An article Scheller shared on Facebook from Military explained The Perfect Ribbon. It said that Marine Maj. Stuart Scheller came up with a product to take “the hassle out of uniform preparation.”

He helped create a mold that “would allow a service member to put attachments on ribbons easily and in regulation.” He made the mold with a military officer friend named Zach Rohlfing.

The invention “caught fire,” he said.

5. Scheller Is Receiving a Lot of Support on Social Media

Scheller’s video has received hundreds of comments and many shares as it’s started to go viral on social media. “This is what happens when you speak the truth! You knew what would happen going into this but you had the courage to do the right thing and stick to our Corps Values! Semper Fi,” wrote one person on his Facebook comment thread.

Here are some of those comments:

“Absolutely honored and proud of you for saying what needed to be said. The cost of incompetence is permanent for those young men.”

“You threw it on the line and if big government takes it away. Many service members / veterans are willing to give. We have your back financially and any other way.”

“Real leaders are hard to come by, we must stand with them.”

“Thank you sir. This is the example of a leader of character I look to.”

“Thank you for so eloquently stating what we civilians are asking ourselves. Thank you for your service. I am the wife of a retired Army officer and mother of two army officers.”

“Thank you for voicing what so many of us feel. Semper Fi! I’ve got your 6, Sir!”