“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was.”
A couple of days ago I learned (and wrote here) about the death of Stefan Frederick Cook, a dear friend but one with whom, frankly, I never got to spend enough time. It’s particularly poignant when you make it to your fifties and the occasional death of a person your age can no longer be mourned as “he was so young.” At 51 not quite making it to 52, well, Stefan Frederick Cook WAS way too young to die, but alas, neither one of us are exactly to be mourned in the same way as those who die in the full flower of their teens or twenties. Stefan Frederick Cook was a hero whom I admired deeply, not only for his brilliant military career and renaissance world of personal achievements, abilities, special skills, and talents, which would be cause for awe in any man, but for the incident that brought us together—when he stood up to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States and said—“You are not legitimate, so I cannot serve you; my oath to support the Constitution is much more valuable to me than my career.” Of course, his defiance of an Unconstitutional order to proceed to an Unconstitutional and Illegal War in illegally occupied Afghanistan—where the people know the face of terror intimately (and it is US)—did in fact cost Stefan Frederick Cook his military career. But at least I was lucky enough to have known him, have photographs of him, printouts of his amazing curriculum vitae, handwritten notes and letters, and can treasure his memory.
But the truth is that for many of the people I know in life, my “memory aids” are gone—in an illegal seizure of property that took place in November 2009 in Lago Vista, Texas. Five generations of my own families archives, wiped out. Five hundred years worth of antiques, art, books, fossils, maps, manuscripts, seashells members of my family and I had collected, wiped out. A set of Teacups given to one of my ancestors by Martha Washington after the President’s death, original pieces collected by Michael Rockefeller in Western New Guinea before his untimely death. Books and manuscripts by my most distinguished Academic Ancestor Hugo Meyer (author of Indogermanische Mythen and many other pioneering books in the late 19th century). Correspondence with another of my ancestors who was a Lord Chancellor of England and Viceroy of India. Personal letters to ancestors of mine from the 18th century poet Friedrich Schiller, the 19th century artist Karl Bodmer, C.S. Lewis, Evelyn Waugh, and dozens of politicians. Letters and manuscripts I collected while at Harvard, including from Alfred Marston Tozzer, Sylvanus Grisworld Morley and Alfred Vincent Kidder, pioneers of Maya archaeology, and of course, from lots of memorabilia from more recent living people as well (including my grandfather’s correspondence with such diverse individuals as his cousin Arthur de Carle Sowerby, a British missionary, naturalist, and literary force in Pre-War China and (of later date) with Dr. Wernher von Braun while at NASA, for instance). And literally thousands and thousands more, even such odd items as one of my late Great aunts steaming hot love letters from the 1920s and 30s to the man who later became a preeminent South African physician and married one of Africa’s leading white female politicians). All that is the subject of a lawsuit in which I am represented by my Trustee Peyton Yates Freiman and Texas Attorney David A. Rogers. But my case, of course, is not only not unique, it is typical of the massive destruction of private property going on all over the United States.
And just as surely as I believe that Stefan Frederick Cook’s awareness and memory of the Constitution, of his duty as an officer, and of his obligations to those whom he might command in the field, and to all America, were unique, I think that it is the same gemeinschaft of Barack Hussein Obama and those who brought him to power. That is what relates to the quote from Milan Kundera above—they not only want to destroy private property and family, they want to destroy all our cultural heritage, all our links to our own and community past.
To be human is to collect and it is to destroy this avarice for the collection of things, so innately and uniquely human, that the Communist-Socialist dehumanization of our world strives so doggedly. Accumulation of memory through long-surviving family estates—so long the characteristic of the English Nobility, is everywhere under attack.
Another patriotic military man I have been privileged to know—whose birthday happens to be today is Robert Garvin Moore of Laurel Canyon and Studio City. Owing to the same patterns of illegal seizure and destruction of private (personal) property in the process of an illegal foreclosure, also saw his entire military record dating back to West Point, and his entire family heritage wiped out. Texas Attorney Andrea S. Atalay and her distinguished Cuban-American husband saw their estate library and manuscript collections wiped out in 2006, even before the worst of all this had actually begun. It was a tragic loss to them, as it was a tragic loss to Robert Garvin Moore, his beautiful wife Teresa, and their children. Such reliquaries of family, cultural activity and events, community, individual heritage, associations, friendships, alliances, and lineage are utterly irreplaceable. I think back to my own loss of (among so many other things) a nearly complete run of Bulletins and Librettos from the Metropolitan Opera of New York from the 1890s-1980s, scattered along with more fragmentary “runs” from the operas of Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, London, Paris, Berlin and Milan. I observe that the lawyers and the other representatives of the mortgage companies who do all this take particular glee in torturing people with the deprivation of their personal properties of memory and identity.
It is enough to erase civilization in the manner of Farenheit 451, and require the birth, training, and enrollment of a real generation of “Book People” to try to remember anything at all, except that it is not the great books which we should have memorized—they will surely endure (most of them, anyhow). No it is in the small things forgotten that we are bereft of the “flesh, heart and soul” (soma, psyche and pneuma in Greek) of our special, personalized heritage (ik olal bak in Maya). At least in ancient times, the personal wreckage was at least normally discarded nearby, so that ruined mementos can be archaeologically associated with individual homes in well-run excavations such as those at Pompei or Carthage or Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, or even my little doctoral dissertation project of excacation around Platform Culub at Chichén Itzá in the 1980s. But the middens of the modern world are, like the suburbs themselves, vast wastelands of “landfills”—and to there, supposedly, is most of our individual history and memory consigned—although I cannot imagine that the thieves who broke into my house in Lago Vista did not keep and sell some of the better stuff–how could they possibly be so brutishly stupid?
I know from another aspect of my experience that the war on identity and memory through the possession of personal property is real, intentional, and not just imaginary. Through the arrogance of two U.S. District Court Judges in Texas, as many readers of this blog might know, I managed to spent one week in Federal Custody in August 2006 at the behest of Houston Judge Lynn Nettleton Hughes (who later assured me that he did not intend to accuse me of any wrongdoing whatsoever, “not even the mildest or most modest contempt of court,” he merely wanted to talk to me…..). And then again I did a much longer 54 day stint (December 9, 2007-February 2, 2008) on account of the simply Abominable (I cannot bring myself to call her “Honorable” at this stage) Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi. Lynn N. Hughes actually did want to talk to me, Janis Graham Jack didn’t….and got me out of her court as quickly as possible.
During that longer 54 day visit to some of America’s darkest federally controlled and operated corners, I saw how they abuse the prisoners in thousands of ways. As I’ve written for four years now on this blog—some of the best people I have ever known, and some of the smartest I have ever met outside of the Harvard and Yale Faculty Clubs or Dumbarton Oaks meetings….were also in Federal custody. It’s enough to give one pause. But one constant feature of prison life is: you must not accumulate any personal papers or belongings or other memorabilia—you just need to wipe yourself clean of all possessions—because you ARE a possession—you as a prisoner really DO belong to those who have the keys to your food, your exercise, your health, your fleeting access to sunlight and to your “society”—the other inmates who share your dark space, but who are permitted very little actual time to associate.
And in the spirit of Huxley’s Brave New World, the confiscation of prisoner’s property (toothbrushes, vitamins, bandaids, notepaper, newsprint…anything and everything) breeds a kind of hunger for the commercial rewards and luxuries of the consumerist world. When ketchup, mustard, and pepper are scarce pleasures, and must be acquired through prison “commissary”—well, you get the idea—you the prisoner are being conditioned to be a good law-abiding and very appreciative, and greedy, consumer when you get out. One starves for nice things behind bars, even as one starves for pleasant thoughts or hopes.
And this, of course, is another unstated aspect of the mortgage foreclosure and eviction abuse: people hunger for the nice kind of place where they used to live. They are willing to put up with almost any kind of deprivation of home or comfort in exchange for some nice space….for a little while….to call home. They will pray to the GREAT EXPROPRIATOR to give them temporary access to property which has been expropriated from someone else—but after a while, we get to know it’s only temporary, like having a nice cell-mate you can get along with and talk to in prison…. We are all destined to be like moths and butterflies in the wind, blown around from cell-block to cell-block by those who rule our Prison Planet…. the overlords, the jailkeepers, the guards. While we stay in anyone place, we will enjoy the bits of consumerist luxuries which are sold to us in such very small containers at such very high prices, knowing that it can all be taken away from us on whim, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye…. and since Obama has signed the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate last year with the astounding vote of 93-7, without EVEN a warrant being issued or charges being brought, without EVEN a whisper of probable cause that a crime was committed…. I for one will not rest until America has been restored. If they kill me first or, worse, lock me up again and feed me nothing but tiny packages of ketchup from commissary, well…I will know, as I knew when I was arrested before, that I was the victim of injustice, and that I was arrested fighting for the Right. If I can somehow break into politics—I swear that this mortgage foreclosure epidemic will stop and that private property will begin to be restored, however gradually, and that we will retrace our steps and begin to remember who we are—maybe we’ll even have massive excavations of some of the landfills to discover just how much of our nations memory and desire was swept away….buried, left for destroyed by the emissaries of Communism who have taken over our land…. God Damn them All—from Obama and Roberts and Summers and Bernanke on down through the hierarchy… Whether they appear to hail from the old (like Harvard) or the new (like Kenya), and whether they were appointed by a “Superconservative Republican President” (like Roberts) or were always Socialists (like Obama) or just “good upholders of the economy” (like Summers and Bernanke)….they all have the same goal: to destroy everyone’s private property except their own and to destroy the memory and heritage of us all so that we will have no conscience or means of argument based on our own personal, social, or cultural identity and heritage.