Love and War

Mary Grabar

5/26/2008 12:00:00 AM - Mary Grabar

“All’s fair in love and war.”

For men of a certain ideological stripe that’s true.

One of my 80-year-old relatives tells about her experiences as a teenage girl during World War II. Her family was one of those who opposed the imposition of an atheistic communist regime, so had to flee to Austria. The women were left with an uncle and together with the next-door family (left with women only) they combined their efforts and hitched each of their cows to a wagon, and formed a European version of a wagon train.

Whenever a Russian soldier was spotted, the girls and young women hid in ditches, sometimes filled with water. An aunt would sing in Slovenian, “Just stay a little longer, girls,” or “Come on out, girls. It’s safe now.”

The “wagon train” stopped at an inn and a young woman there overheard the inquiries about getting lodging. Her husband was off fighting and she was left alone with two young children in a large house. So she invited the little party to stay with her.

One day, alas, they saw two Russian soldiers walking up the hill towards the house. It was too late. The soldiers demanded that the woman show them what was upstairs. She took her two children with her, thinking that surely with children present--

Rape, of course, is a weapon used by the cowardly, those who don’t fight fair.

My relative recalls the young woman coming backs downstairs and crying about what she would tell her husband.

History tells us about the crimes perpetrated against innocents in times of war, and in that part of the world, most recently of the rapes during Yugoslavia’s civil wars of the 1990s.

The way my relative told this, the possibility of rape was so accepted that strategies were devised to protect those who would be targeted.

What the young Austrian woman was counting on was a code of honor, a code obviously missing with those two Russian soldiers.

But it is a uniquely Western code. Nowhere else in the world do codes of honor apply to women as they do in the West.

At one time codes of honor towards women were disparaged by feminists who took even a door being held open as an affront.

I think of photos of women shoveling and sweeping streets in the Soviet Union. The communist propaganda that I saw during a visit to Prague showed male and female “workers” smiling more giddily than Lawrence Welk’s Bobby and Cissy while they danced atop farm machinery.

Codes of honor are absent from atheistic ideologies and a certain parallel exists between the soldiers of the communist revolutions and their ideological kin, the men of the sexual revolution. Intent only on their own rights and freedoms, they have essentially left women and children to their own devices. Whatever it takes to fulfill their own immediate sexual needs is presented as a right, not only for themselves, but also, and quite ingeniously, for women. This is the “right” to have unencumbered sex regardless of the effect on children, in these cases, children whose lives are ended before they are born. Both camps strive for a worker’s paradise of presumed “equality.”

Yet, these same people are critical of our brave men fighting in the Middle East and are quick to pounce on an anomalous infraction, even before it is proven. From the Vietnam War on, they have been quick to cast their own countrymen as murderous rapists. John Kerry, of course, famously brought up these charges after he returned from Vietnam.

Indeed, so desperate are they to paint our own in this light and so much has the government capitulated to such vigilance that a soldier using the Koran for target practice made national headlines. The guilty sniper has been sent home and military officials have apologized to the point of kissing a Koran in front of Iraqi tribal leaders.

Conversely, we rarely hear about the code of honor and chivalry that exists at its highest level in the U.S. military. This is a code that many Americans have adhered to as well in other areas of life, in the face of overwhelming societal pressures.

I had the privilege of knowing such an American while in the graduate program at the University of Georgia and teaching freshman composition to a student body that too often whined and demanded a B in order to maintain their Hope scholarships. Noah Harris, in contrast, would bring in a B paper and ask how he could improve it. It was at the beginning of the semester, and I was reluctant to hand out A’s, knowing from experience that students tend to get complaisant. It had been a difficult year for me and I was not at my best as a teacher. Often, I was in physical pain. The baser instincts of humans propel them not to display sympathy but to exploit such situations. But Noah always acted like a gentleman. When I told him during one conference that he was a good writer, he gave all credit to his mother for teaching him.

Noah also was the cheerleading captain and used his athletic abilities to catch cheerleaders, who commented on his trustworthiness. They knew that he would hurt himself before he let one of them get hurt.

It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I learned about the path that Noah’s life took after he left my class. His photo in uniform graced the alumni magazine that came in my mail. After graduating and being accepted into a prestigious business program he joined the Army. 9/11 had motivated him. In Iraq his Humvee was attacked by rocket- propelled grenades and he died on June 18, 2005.

One of the things that the article noted was that Noah had a special connection to children. He reached out to the children of Iraq and gave them soccer balls and stuffed animals.

On this planet, such generosity and concern for those weaker is exceptional. It is by no means universal, nor innate to the man left to his natural devices. The atheistic ideologies promote a biological view of man, as simply a more clever animal, but one nonetheless driven by his biological urges. The Law of the Jungle is that the strong exploit the weaker. The weak are never more vulnerable than during wartime. But that is not the code of the United States, a civilized nation that operates under a higher code based on a belief in a Judeo-Christian God, a code of chivalry.

Noah Harris, a Christian gentleman, scholar, and soldier, displayed his code of honor everywhere--in the classroom, the football field, and the battle field. He is a fine representative of our military. The fibs and exaggerations made up by the leftist enemies are really projections of themselves.