Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Here Come The Cronkite Moments.

Living in Maine I often have to make my own entertainment, and one of my favorite fogeyish pursuits of recent years has been sitting down at the kitchen table on a Friday night to make something (cranberry vodka, soup, seedling trays, etc) or drink something while listening to the radio.

Thanks to the invasion of the channel snatchers (Clear Channel, Cumulus, et al) commercial radio playlists are more sychronised than the menstrual cycles of women jail inmates, as without fail all of them play the Allman Brothers at 7pm nightly. On the other hand, the local community station's offerings of Bambutu M'tba's Xylophone orchestra etc can be a little too earnest for a Friday night. The CD player on the kitchen stereo is broken. Therefore my default listening is Maine Public Radio, and in particular a charming and gentle big band/trad jazz show called "The humble Farmer."

The host, humble Farmer (aka Robert Skoglund) is a genial type; much given to puns and wordplay. He can be annoying; the expression of his "humbleness" by using the lower case for his nickname is a case in point. He certainly is not a controversial character nor professional agitator. Therefore I am very sad that I missed last Friday's show, as humble offered up some telling and significant insight into the thinking of middle class America. My good friend Richard was kind enough to forward me humble's thoughts from Friday night. I have reproduced it below; I hope you find the eloquent unarticulated parallels to the situation in Iraq and the United States as arresting as I did.

"Did you see Rommel's grandson on TV? Must have been Public Television, because no other channel would carry such an interesting program. Brought back memories. When I was a kid I heard about Rommel, The old Desert Fox. My grandfather Skoglund would crank up the radio as loud as it would go and then he'd sit next to it with his hand behind his ear to find out what Rommel was doing.

Which reminds me that someone sent me an email that explains why some Americans are now wearing red on Fridays. The email says, Quote: "When Norway was occupied by Germany in 1940, Norwegian women began to knit RED caps for children as a way of letting everyone know that they did not like what was happening in their country, that they didn't like having their freedom taken away by the Nazis.

My great aunt, Karin Knudson Myrstad, was one of the women who knit red caps for her children and others. Similarly, in Denmark, women knit red-white-and blue caps (colors of the Allies) for the very same reason.

The result was that whenever Norwegians and Danes left their homes -- to go to the store, to work, etc, they could see that THE MAJORITY opposed what was going on in their country. As you know, both countries organized effective Resistance efforts and changed history -- everything that happened began simply by wearing red! (or the colors of the Allies, in Denmark)." End of quote.

I think that the person who sent out this email should remember that the young boys that Hitler sent into Denmark and Norway did not think that they were taking away freedom. You can't blame the kids. They had been told that they were bringing freedom and a new and better form of government to some backward people who were ruled by kings. For years, Hitler's troops, these young kids, had been taught to believe that they were the freedom fighters. So when they finally went into Norway and
Denmark, they knew they were part of Hitler's glorious effort to
establish order and free an enslaved people from archaic and oppressive governments. Of course, there are always a few puppet sympathizers, and Vidkun Quisling, who welcomed the occupying German soldiers, is the Norwegian Benedict Arnold.

Resistance efforts? The Danes and Norwegians might have thought that they were defending their homes and country in a resistance effort, but Hitler's troops didn't see as resistance these people who schemed and plotted in cellars. The Danes or Norwegians who opposed Hitler's soldiers were fanatical insurgents who should be shot on sight.

If you were one of Hitler's brighter soldiers, and you told one of your superior officers that in spite of what you'd been told, you were getting tired of helping Danes and Norwegians set up a better form of government, what do you think would have happened to you?

And imagine what was going on back home in Germany. What would have happened to a German citizen who refused to pay taxes to a government that tried to protect Germans by sending tanks into Africa. "Hey Hitler, what you doing way down there in Africa with all them tanks you bought with my tax dollars? When you started this thing, you said you were protecting us from crazy people in Austria and Poland. How many crazy Poles you expecting to find in Africa?" That tax payer would have seen his property auctioned off and Hitler and Rommel would have bought even
more tanks with the proceeds.

Anyway, I want to thank whoever it was that produced that TV show on Rommel, because it gave me an excuse to read up a bit more about Hitler and how he snuck up behind a very intelligent people and slipped fascism in on them before they knew what hit them. Mein Kampf and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich are some of my favorite reading. If you ever want to understand the basic principles of propaganda, if you ever want to read something scarier and more unbelievable than Stephen King, read
what it's like to live under a fascist dictatorship. Read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. They burned books.

And movies. You can't appreciate the freedom we have here in America until you read how the Nazis censored movies. Do you think that the Nazis would let the German people see a movie that criticized the way Hitler was spreading his brand of freedom?

Young people might not understand why some of us old folks, who survived Hitler and his friends, still talk about the war, but people of my generation, and that probably includes Rommel's grandson, --- we can't forget that the fascists were very scary guys."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Social Scholars,

I enjoyed seeing The humble Farmer's perceptive comments on the Wisdom Weasel and want to thank the Weasel himself for providing a great public forum.

Here is something else you might find interesting:


And here is something that humble wrote this morning. You can hear him read it on his Public Radio show on Friday, June 11, 2004 at 1900 EST. Thank you for listening and my heartfelt thanks again to the Weasel for his impeccable taste in literature.


It is the nature of city people to laugh at those of us who have maintained our rural roots. Because this generality is constantly perpetuated by the media and our culture in general, even a few husbandmen have the impression that the only place innovative, creative and perceptive thought can take place is in a city. I am not one of them. For example, for years art scholars at our universities have parroted the mantra that Van Gough was depressed. How many of them have had the opportunity to consider that early one morning Van Gough might have been out cutting rhubarb when, forgetting what he had in his hand, he slapped at a black fly on his ear.

Robert Skoglund
785 River Road
St. George, ME 04860


Here are your directions to our farm


You are welcome to stop in for supper anytime.