High life

Despite everything, America is beautiful — especially at West Point

18 November 2017

9:00 AM

18 November 2017

9:00 AM

What is left to say after the church shooting in the Home of the Depraved? Those killed in Texas included a toddler, several children and eight members of one family at prayer. It is almost too hard to fathom. I’ve been here for six weeks and three mass-murder sprees have taken place, two perpetrated by deranged male shooters, the other by a disciple of Allah from Uzbekistan, who unfortunately survived a cop’s bullet and demanded an Isis flag be raised in his hospital room. Nice.

At least that ghastly man Jann Wenner has not plastered the Uzbek scumbag on the cover of Rolling Stone. After the Boston marathon massacre, he put the murderer, a Kyrgyzstani-American of Chechen descent, on the cover and carried a story that presented him as a typical American teenager. It takes a very sick mind (and Wenner sure has one), coupled with great greed, to put a mass murderer on the cover of a magazine and present him almost sympathetically. I used to know Wenner and now I read that he stands accused of offering the writer Ben Ryan work in exchange for sex (he denies it). Wenner is one bad dude.

Bad dudes seem to be everywhere nowadays. There is so much violence in movies and on TV — and even more in those stupid video games — that it almost seems normal. And so much hatred. Don’t forget that after the Las Vegas massacre, a senior CBS lawyer wrote on Facebook that she didn’t feel bad because the victims were country music fans and ‘country music fans are often gun toting Republicans’. (She was fired for it.) But she sure let the cat out of the bag: an educated senior executive disregarded the mass murders of innocent people because they were Republicans. The story hardly got any coverage, as bi-coastal elites do not pile in when one of them makes a gaffe.

How can we stop violent movies, unbridled savagery on TV and ultra-violent videos? Easy — the same way we stopped portraying minorities as monosyllabic step ’n’ fetch-it servants, with a little bit of willpower. Of course leftists will scream about the loss of artistic freedom and the meaning of obscenity, but when was the last time the left got it right? People look at screens all day. Violence begets violence, and something must be done. But absolutely nothing will be done. New York has just re-elected the most useless mayor ever, and it looks as though the bad old days will be back — badder than ever: unchecked crime, racial tensions and fiscal anarchy. You can see it getting worse every day. Bikers don’t respect the rules and speed on pavements. Cops avoid high-crime neighbourhoods as they are not allowed to frisk on suspicion. Soon the place will be inhabited by those who live off the public payroll or are on welfare, and Chinese billionaires who mostly stay way up in their ghastly glass penthouses, thank God.

That was the lousy news. The good news is that I went up to West Point on Armistice Day for a football game, one that the army won, and watched the long grey line of cadets, among the best and the brightest and most decent men and women in America, parade. It was like taking a very good shower after wallowing in shit for six weeks.

Major Chuck Pfeifer, a 1965 graduate of West Point and highly decorated Vietnam veteran, was my host. We were four very old and good friends — Chuck, Richard Johnson, a Post columnist, Michael Mailer, the only movie-maker who takes his pants off in the privacy of his bedroom, and yours truly. There was brilliant sunshine but it was colder than a witch’s tit. Chuck was in an ebullient mood and had asked us to wear coats and ties because there were generals galore who had expressed a desire to meet us. Once we got to the Point, our flimsy suits were absolutely useless, so we decided that the George Patton taproom might fortify us enough to withstand the Aeolian attack. We shoulda stood in bed.

Two very large double bloody marys on an empty stomach at ten in the morning did the trick. Staggering among the cadets, I approached a military police officer, a woman, and demanded she arrest me. ‘You’re awfully cute,’ I told her. ‘Please handcuff me.’ She shrieked with delight and asked us where we were from. I suppose that’s what proper women do when they receive a compliment. In Hollywood they call a lawyer; in West Point they smile and wish you a good day.

More troubles followed. During half-time, a flag that covered the whole 100 yards of the football field was unfolded, and the band played the most rousing version of ‘America the Beautiful’ I have ever heard. The four of us sang louder than 2,400 cadets, or so it seemed. It represented the pinnacle of the American spirit. As Michael said, the trouble with patriotism is that it has been warped by politics. Well, not last Saturday in Highland Falls, at West Point, school of Patton and Grant and MacArthur and Eisenhower, and the greatest of them all, Robert E. Lee. Needless to say, we were in no shape to meet top brass, so we beat a hasty retreat. By the time we got back to the city we looked like survivors of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. So we opened some fresh wine, followed by Tequila, and finished with vodka. America is beautiful, especially at West Point.

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