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The Sgt. Schultz Generation

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Ponder with me how we went from “The Great Escape” (1963), a film of heroic tragedy set in World War II, to “Hogan’s Heroes”(1965-1971), a television comedy that enjoyed six years of prime-time success.


“The Great Escape,” based on a true mass escape from a German POW camp, tells of enormous determination and risk-taking. In “Hogan’s Heroes,” no one dies as the prisoners each week bamboozle their captors. The star of the show was Bob Crane, playing Hogan, but the most-remembered phrase -- “I see nothing, NOTHING” -- came from John Banner, who played Sgt. Schultz, a bumbling German guard.

The premise of the show was that Hogan and his buddies control their prison camp because Schultz and commanding officer Col. Klink want to avoid at all costs transference to the bloody Russian Front, so they overlook problems that could push German higher-ups to make a change. Hogan is thus able to turn the prison camp into a base of operations for Allied espionage, sabotage, and resistance.

If we call the heroes depicted in “The Great Escape” the “greatest generation,” what should we call my generation of Baby Boomers? In our 20s many of us took advantage of the abortion liberty provided by the Supreme Court. In our 50s and 60s many of us voted for gauzy hope and change. Today, when Carly Fiorina dares us to view the Planned Parenthood tapes and contemplate cutting aborted babies into pieces, many of us look away and say, “I see nothing -- NOTHING.”

We’re certainly not the greatest generation. We’re not even a pretty good generation. We’re the Sgt. Schultz generation.

On abortion, Sgt. Schultz reporters don’t give specific detail about abortion procedures and don’t even inform Americans that abortion receives total legal protection through 26 weeks of gestation and almost the same up until birth. As the Planned Parenthood tapes show, some of our countrymen can smile about cut-up babies as visions of Lamborghinis dance in their heads, but others who until now have seen “nothing -- NOTHING” may legitimately be surprised.


On drugs, many Coloradans voted to legalize marijuana because they had gauzy thoughts of high times as undergraduates. Plenty of evidence -- see William Bennett and Robert White’s “Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana Is Harming America” -- shows that today’s weed is many times more potent than that consumed during bright college years. But, Schultz-like, many in my cohort “see nothing -- NOTHING.” (Disclosure: I smoked pot twice as an undergraduate, became high once.)

On pornography, the statistics are sobering: Many young men delay marriage or avoid it entirely, preferring visual fantasy to reality. Just as today’s marijuana is not the milder kind of old, much of today’s pornography goes far beyond erotica to abuse and assault. How freedom of the press (designed to allow open political debate) turned into freedom for sexual oppressors is a tragic story, but Schultz-like judges and many others say, “I see nothing -- NOTHING.”

John F. Kennedy in 1961 spoke of the greatest generation. In his inaugural address he said, “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage -- and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”

Kennedy warned, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”


Today our leaders say, “any price that’s small, any burden that’s light, any friend who’s not too much trouble.” As Francis Schaeffer prophesied, nothing gets in the way of “personal peace and affluence.”

By the way, when “Hogan’s Heroes” ended, star Bob Crane fell hard. His NBC series, “The Bob Crane Show,” received poor ratings and a cancellation after 13 weeks. He performed in dinner theaters while engaged in massive adultery until 1978, when police found him bludgeoned to death in Arizona. Some potential witnesses “saw nothing -- NOTHING.” That murder remains officially unsolved.

Reprinted with permission of WORLD. To read more news and views from a Christian perspective, call 800-951-6397 or visit

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