Category Archives: Navy

USS Fitzgerald DDG-62 Collision at sea

 

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4612334/USS-Fitzgerald-involved-collision-merchant-vessel.html

An excerpt from the article:
” … An Alabama woman says her grandson contacted her from the USS Fitzgerald to say he’s OK after a nighttime collision off Japan left seven crew members missing and three injured.
Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, tweeted: “Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face. He’s okay. Thank you all for the prayers.”
She says: “It could have been worse so we’re grateful.”

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That comment from a grandmother is the reason why I titled my book “I Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom … (But sometimes it got a little scary and dangerous out there!)”
I was a sailor during the 1960s on a WW-II vintage destroyer – they are often called “tin cans” because of their small size and non-existent armor.
I was witness to a collision off the California coast in the 1960s between a large freighter and a large oiler. We were a three ship formation taking on fuel from the oiler – two destroyers on either side of the oiler steaming at about 12 knots in calm seas, but patchy fog conditions.
My job in UnRep (Underway Replenishment) was to help pull the fuel lines over from the oiler to our ship. When that was done I was free to go below and take a nap, which I did on this occasion. My rack was in the forward part of the ship directly below and behind he foreword most gun mount.
I was abruptly awakened from my nap by the shuddering of the ship and the clanging collision alarm. The shuddering was from us cutting away from the oiler and backing down as fast as we could.
I jumped out of my rack and climbed the forward ladder to the bow of the ship. I gazed off to my right and saw this huge (not as big as todays container ships) cargo ship coming out of the fog and crossing directly across our three ship refueling formation. The other destroyer had likewise cut away from the oiler and with a full left rudder was racing away. This left the oiler and the freighter on a collision course, and I saw it unfold in real-time slow motion. The oiler had no maneuvering space and was too massive to slow its momentum, and the freighter made no observable attempt to maneuver – as I recall, we could see no human activity on the bridge of that freighter as if it may have been on auto-pilot.
They hit. The oiler center punched the freighter right below the bridge and the two ships bounced off one another, again in slow motion.
The collision punched a large hole in the freighter and caused it to list substantially to starboard. Fortunately it did not capsize, and the hole was above the waterline and there seemed little fear of it going over and under.
Back to my book. As I became passionate about such at-sea experiences such as my own and others I read and heard about first hand, I recalled seeing a documentary of a destroyer that was cut in half during WW-II. I eventually found the documentary on the USS Murphy DD-603, and how it was cut in half as it was escorting a large convoy to England in 1943.
The Murphy story became the anchor story of my book, but I soon found out that Murphy’s story was not unique and I discovered other stories of collisions. The USS Frank Evans DD-754, again a destroyer, was cut in half in 1969 by the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne with the loss of 27 sailors who went down with the forward part of their ship.
I was reminded vividly by both Murphy and Evans, that my bunk that day off the California coast was in the bow of my ship – the bows that took sailors to the bottom on both those destroyers..
The book began to take on a life of its own as I discovered more stories where the sailors (and a few soldiers) involved “Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom … “
I invite you to look at my book and a 20 minute video I put together of some of the things our war fighters, and their loved ones at home, face on a regular basis. The USS Fitzgerald DD-62 is the latest such story, and we mourn the sailors lost in that tragedy – they remain “on watch” in the defense of liberty.

 

The video is here:
watch-v=sloZqBsalZc
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The book is here:
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Don Johnson – June 2017

A Navy reunion–and more: a personal walk through history.

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My wife Diana and I have just returned from Budapest Hungary where we visited an old Navy shipmate and his wife Aliz.

Adam and I served together on the USS Porterfield DD-682, a destroyer, in 1965-66. Adam was an officer and I was enlisted, so it couldn’t be said that we were friends or old Navy buddies. But we stood shoulder to shoulder at General Quarters – our Battle Stations – in a small space called IC-Plot from where our five 5” guns were controlled. Adam was a memorable character in those days, with an uplifting attitude and demeanor that helped ease any boredom or tension during long, often very hot, watches during combat operations off the coast of Vietnam.  He had an accent and an  unpronounceable last name beginning with ‘van’ or ‘von’ which was changed by all aboard to Mr. von D. For years I thought he was Dutch.

We went our separate ways following our Naval service, and I didn’t give him – or for that matter my Navy experience — much thought thereafter. Then at a Porterfield reunion a few years ago I was able to get my hands on the cruise book from that time in the Western Pacific. I was drawn to the ships roster and that strange name von Dioszeghy. I did an internet search for that name and discovered the Facebook page of Aliz von Dioszeghy and sent off a message asking if this lady knew of that crazy Dutchman from the Porterfield. She did, and was married to him. I soon found out that Adam had written a wonderful 440 page story of his life beginning as a 7 year old in the midst of the WW-II Red Army siege of Budapest.  By the time I finished his book I felt I knew this man and his incredible life story.

Then in May 2017 the opportunity to visit Adam and Aliz presented itself at the end of a Baltic cruise.

What follows is a personalized historical account of a tour conducted by Adam through the significant places and events of his life in Budapest. 

January 1945 This first set of pictures show some of the places where Adam and his mother endured the WW-II battles all around and above them. The allied bombers were bombing the city from above, the Germans controlled a square just down the boulevard to the left of their apartment, and the Red Army  controlled the square down to the right. Bombs, bullets and artillery shells flowed in abundance.

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Adam and his mother lived on the third floor of this building.

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And behind this basement window was the bomb shelter where the building residents endured the bombings. 

This is also the window where Adam’s young German soldier friend Hans positioned himself with two machine guns in a futile attempt to hold off the advancing Red Army.

Hans, 19 years old, befriended 7 year old Adam and gave him his last chocolate just before his unit pulled out and left him to delay the Red Army onslaught.  A hand grenade thrown in the basement window ended the life of young Hans.

Adam and his wife Aliz live close by this window, and on their way to church Adam respectfully salutes that window – “Hans didn’t start that war” says Adam. And Aliz invariably tears up. 

The bombing cut off the water supply to the apartment building, so the residents had to traverse the main boulevard to a nearby apartment building that still had water. This was a very dangerous operation requiring Adam’s mother to cross a very active combat zone. 

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The Red Army to the left.

The German Army to the right and the street in front of Adam’s home.

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This is the apartment building from where Adam’s mother carried water in buckets. One day just as she entered the door to get water, a bomb hit above her and collapsed the front of the building causing rubble to bury her up to her neck. Miraculously she was not injured and neighbors removed the debris allowing her escape. 

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This is the doorway to the building where Adam’s mother was buried by the building debris. Adam remembers seeing her in the doorway on her return to the bomb shelter as a ghostly image covered in white plaster dust.

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Walking the streets of Budapest in 2017, 73 years after the fact, makes it difficult to place all of this in the context of the time. The pictures below show a small part of the carnage of the siege of Budapest.

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The bridges of Budapest are beautiful, but not so much during the war.

Post War Budapest to October 1956 – I don’t have any pictures of life for Adam and his mother under the Communist rule following the war, but life after the war under Communism is brutal for Adam and his mother, and especially tough because of his mother’s previous station in life as an aristocrat. Here is how he describes the treatment of his mother in those Communist years:

“ … she … was stripped of all human dignity common to even the lowest of beings. The authorities treated her worse than if she was a leper or a person afflicted with the foulest of communicable diseases, or possibly a criminal. There were only certain places – and not very desirable ones – where she was allowed to live. … Day in and day out, in every conceivable circumstance, it was made known to her that her very existence was bothersome to the “state,” and the sooner she could depart this vale of tears for better climes the better. … “

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October 1956 – Now we move forward to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In the following picture sequence we follow Adam as he walks us through to those places of personal remembrances, and the tragedies experienced by those freedom fighters.

The revolution started as a student solidarity movement in support of student protests in Poland. It began as a peaceful and unarmed demonstration against a tyrannical Communist government. The group drew up a list of 16 requests – not demands as Adam points out – that were brought to the radio station along this very narrow street where 5000 students had marched.

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The government response to the 16 requests was “not only no – but hell no.” Officials in the radio station were armed, and soon a shot rang out from above and a young student was killed in the street below.

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This plaque on the sidewalk opposite the radio station commemorates this first casualty of the revolution, marking the name and date of this young man’s death.

And these plaques on the wall of the radio station commemorate the event – and that is Adam’s hand reaching up to that commemoration.  

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The protests moved to the Parliament building, a magnificent building, and one in which Adam’s grandfather, a Baron,  had in years past sat as a member of the Hungarian Parliament.

Adam recounts that at some point in what was now a revolution, a truck drove up to where the students had gathered and started handing out weapons. Adam recalls when about twenty students gathered in a room, each having a Russian machine gun. They are sitting in a circle facing one another as someone is instructing them on how to use these weapons. Suddenly a shot rings out, and a young student just to the right of Adam falls dead, a casualty of an accidental shot from one of those machine guns. 

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Back to the Parliament, the scene is one where there is a huge crowd gathered in the square between the front of the Parliament building and the building shown above.

There were armed government soldiers stationed on the roof of that building and they started shooting indiscriminately into the crowd.  There were also tanks stationed in front of the parliament, and at one point a tank commander is fed up with the killing from the rooftop, and he shoots a couple of tank rounds to the shooters above. 

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Years later, after the collapse of the Communist regime, the deaths of those brave freedom fighters is commemorated by the placement of these bronze balls on the walls of the building from which those murders took place – one for each death.

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Somewhere along the way Adam is wounded and he is headed back to the Technical University, pictured above, where he was a student.

A friend and fellow student intercepts Adam on the bridge pictured above and warns him to turn back. A wounded and bandaged student is certain to be arrested and most likely to be executed. So Adam turns back and thus begins the next chapter in the life of Adam von Dioszeghy and his mother – a flight to freedom in Austria and ultimately to the United States.

It is important to note that as this revolution unfolded, nearly every segment of Hungarian society joined with the students in the attempt to throw off the tyranny.  This included even the Hungarian military, which had to be removed from the city and replaced by Soviet troops from the interior of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, the Soviets brutally crushed the revolution resulting in many arrests, deaths and tens of thousands of refugees, some 40,000 who came to the United States. 

Again, walking the streets of Budapest in 2017, 60 years after the fact, makes it difficult to place all of this in the context of the time. The pictures below show a small part of the carnage of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The images are brutal.

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Sitting at the breakfast table in our hotel overlooking the streets of Budapest in 2017, it is hard to picture anything different than the people below going to and fro – peaceful and minding their own business going shopping, going to work or school. That is what Budapest and the world should look like.

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The life of a refugee in America.

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Coming to the United States as a refugee; to a foreign land and a foreign culture, not knowing the language was the next huge hurdle facing this young man.

But Adam’s life in America shows the grit and fortitude of this young man who had lost everything in his Hungarian homeland. His family heritage in Hungary was one of aristocracy, land and wealth. Yet here he was, having to begin a new life from scratch.

In 1957, Adam and his mother arrived to an exceptional nation. A nation that afforded him two key elements that make that nation exceptional – liberty and opportunity. Adam took great advantage of that fabric of liberty and opportunity and earned a degree at Stanford University, one of the great universities of America. Then when his new nation called him to military service in time of need at the beginning of the Vietnam War, he gratefully stepped up and became a US Naval officer serving three tours to the war zone of Vietnam.

Following his Navy service, Adam returned to Stanford earning a law degree and practicing law in the San Francisco area for many years before retiring and returning to his homeland of Hungary.   

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A fitting conclusion to this story is this picture of Adam standing beside the statue of President Ronal Reagan in Budapest’s Freedom Square. Communism had failed and fallen, and the people of Hungary rightly commemorate their liberty with this tribute to this great American leader. 

Leaders like American President Ronald Reagan, Great Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II took note of the evils of Communism, and were finally in a position to defeat it and bring liberty to those many like Adam von Dioszeghy who yearned so strongly for and fought for it.

Adam is engaged in another battle for survival, this time against a cancer that has invaded his body. These kinds of personal battles eventually visit all of us, but I must say, this friend of mine shows a love of life – a joy of living – not often seen. A joy in spite of the tragedies he has lived through. But no … I believe his joy comes not in spite of, but rather because of his experiences. I am honored to be his friend and shipmate.        

Poland likewise recognizes Reagan with similar tributes.

“ … Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. … “

Ronald Reagan

References and further reading:

BRIDGING TWO WORLDS: Memories and Reflections – at https://www.amazon.com/BRIDGING-TWO-WORLDS-Memories-Reflections/dp/1622878663/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

My review of Adam’s book at — https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/bridging-two-worlds-a-book-review/

The Bridge at Andau: The Compelling True Story of a Brave, Embattled People — at https://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Andau-Compelling-Embattled-People/dp/0812986741/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496567578&sr=1-1&keywords=the+bridge+at+andau

Immigration & Assimilation – A Hungarian Model – at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/immigration-assimilation-a-hungarian-model-2/

Statue in Budapest’s Liberty Square credits Reagan for freedom  — at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/29/statue-in-budapests-liberty-square-credits-reagan-/

Ronald Reagan statue unveiled in Warsaw  — at  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/poland/8904456/Ronald-Reagan-statue-unveiled-in-Warsaw.html

Reagan, John Paul II honored with statue in Gdansk Poland – at: http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Reagan-John-Paul-II-honored-with-statue-3707733.php

Make Your Bed!

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(Click above to read the review)

I’ve been making our bed almost daily since somewhere near when Adm. McRaven first gave his speech back in 2014. I like to remember that I started this habit shortly before that now famous speech, but am willing to admit that the Admiral was most likely my motivator. After all, he is the admiral and me a lowly enlisted guy.

In any case, read this review, and better yet read the book. Who knows, perhaps you will start making your bed as well.

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From the Wall Street Journal review of the book … 

Reset Your Life in an Hour

www.wsj.com |

Never give up. Always maintain optimism. We’ve all heard these lessons before—but not from the man who led the bin Laden mission. John Nagl reviews “Make Your Bed” by William H. McRaven.

Navy Seal trainees lock arms in the Pacific during Hell Week. Photo: Getty Images

By

John Nagl

April 3, 2017

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald was completely wrong when he suggested “there are no second acts in American lives.” If America stands for anything, it is reinvention, renewal and second chances. Take the Navy SEAL who oversaw the most important manhunt in history and rose to command all of U.S. Special Operations Forces. What did he do for an encore? Only give the most successful college graduation speech in history—at his alma mater, the University of Texas, wearing Navy dress whites.

In “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life . . . and Maybe the World,” retired Adm. William H. McRaven admits that he was nervous before the address in May 2014. He was afraid that contemporary college students wouldn’t welcome a military man, even one who had once been, just like them, a slightly hung-over Austin senior eager to graduate and get on with life. They loved his speech, and word spread. It has been viewed more than 10 million times online, and Mr. McRaven has expanded the talk into a little book that should be read by every leader in America.

The motto of the University of Texas is “What starts here changes the world.” Mr. McRaven’s book provides instruction on doing 10 little things that aren’t little at all. His first suggestion is to make your bed every morning, because when you accomplish one thing early in the day, you’ll be motivated to achieve more—even if you aren’t having the quality of your work tested by a Navy chief petty officer with a quarter.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle, he goes on, because you can’t accomplish much on your own. And always measure a person by the size of his heart, not by his physical size, skin color, creed or anything else. Tommy Norris, the last SEAL to earn the Medal of Honor in Vietnam, was nearly booted out of SEAL training for being “too small, too thin, and not strong enough.” He proved a giant among men when he infiltrated deep behind enemy lines on successive nights to rescue downed airmen.

Some of the lessons won’t make perfect sense at first. “If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.” A sugar cookie is a wet SEAL trainee who has rolled himself in sand as punishment for some infraction of the rules—or for no reason at all, purely at the whim of the instructor. Life isn’t fair is Mr. McRaven’s point, and that’s no reason to cry. Keep going, even if there’s sand in every crevice of your body.

Embrace your failures, because every life has them, and what you learn will make you stronger. Dare greatly, because life is a struggle, and without challenges you’ll never know the limits of the possible. Stand up to the bullies, whether they are sharks circling you as you swim (sharks literally circle you in SEAL training during the deep-water swims) or Saddam Hussein. The latter was detained under Mr. McRaven’s watch for 30 days after his capture, and the SEAL firmly broke the deposed dictator’s self-confidence. Dig deep and rise to the occasion when all seems lost, whether working underwater in absolute darkness or responding to the deaths of those you lead in combat.

Mr. McRaven believes that good leaders are optimists even in the darkest times and make their teams believe in a brighter day. This is one of the best lessons of the book, illustrated by a story about Marine Gen. John Kelly, the current secretary of Homeland Security. Mr. Kelly’s son Robert was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010, and when a Special Forces helicopter was shot down killing 38 in Afghanistan in 2011, he was the right man to comfort the families. “More than any other visitor that day,” writes Mr. McRaven, “Kelly’s words resonated with every parent, every wife, every brother and sister, and every friend.” He had lived their pain and could give them hope.

Make Your Bed

By William H. McRaven
Grand Central, 130 pages, $18

Finally, never, ever quit. One hundred and fifty SEAL candidates began Basic Underwater Demolition School with Mr. McRaven in 1978; 33 graduated. As tough as these survivors were, even stronger was an Army Ranger named Adam Bates, who lost both of his legs to a land mine in Afghanistan but a year later was standing tall in his dress uniform on prosthetic legs and challenging his Ranger buddies to a pull-up contest. If Ranger Bates wouldn’t quit, which of us has an excuse?

These are not complicated lessons; we’ve all heard them before. But we haven’t heard them from the man who led the bin Laden mission. And we haven’t had them illustrated so memorably with stories from SEAL training, universally regarded as the most difficult course in the U.S. armed forces, or from a 35-year career leading men in combat.

Eight months after giving the talk that spurred this book, Mr. McRaven became the chancellor of the University of Texas System, overseeing 14 institutions with more than 200,000 students. There he has continued to demonstrate the courage, wisdom and spirit of service that he extols in “Make Your Bed.” In January, he released a statement decrying President Trump’s executive order on immigration, stating “that the talent, energy, and ideas flowing into the United States of America . . . from countries around the world are among our greatest strengths. The men and women who show up at our shores and our doors—ready to study, work, and participate—make us stronger, smarter, more competitive.” Reading that statement makes one hope for a third act in Mr. McRaven’s life, one that would affect the largest number of Americans.

“Make Your Bed” is a book you can read in an hour. It is a book to inspire your children and grandchildren to become everything that they can. It is a book to discuss with your executive leadership team as a spur to meeting shared goals. Most of all, it is a book that will leave you with tears in your eyes as you ask yourself: How does this nation find men and women like Tommy Norris and Adam Bates and William McRaven, who willingly risk their lives and their limbs to keep us safe and to protect our way of life?

Follow their example. Dare greatly. Don’t ever give up. And make your bed!

Mr. Nagl is the headmaster of the Haverford School. A retired Army officer, he is the author of “Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War.”

Appeared in the Apr. 04, 2017, print edition as ‘Reset Your Life In an Hour.’

 

Vietnam Veterans Day: Department of Body Bags…

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(Click on the picture above or on the link below)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/122086120374/permalink/10158386310075375/?comment_id=10158386949260375&notif_t=group_comment_reply&notif_id=1490810174199347

Excerpt:

“I was a twenty-year-old Navy journalist in the summer of 1967 aboard the aging World War Two aircraft carrier USS HORNET. We were steaming in the gentle blue waters of Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin some forty miles or so from the coast of North Vietnam.

It was noon, and after chow on sunny days (when there was no flight activity on the flight deck) some of the Public Affairs Office crew would gather topside to catch some rays.

We’d strip off our dungaree shirts and use them for pillows and we would absorb the tropical sun, or sit and chat or write letters home or listen to Chris Noel on Armed Forces Radio or Hanoi Hanna on the shortwave radio. … “

A twenty year old journalist!  What could a 20 year old know about much of anything, let alone journalism? Read his story and I think you might see the talent this young man had back then, and still retains.

Today is the first ever Vietnam Veterans Day.  I didn’t know that yesterday, did you?

I read Michael Wheat’s heart breaking story just a bit ago, and then read it again out loud to my wife. It wasn’t long before, like Michael, I was weeping.  This is what I wrote back to Michael:    

“I too weep at this remembrance. There was a time, also on Yankee Station, when a fallen Navy flyer lay on the main deck of our tin can. I weep over him as well.
Thanks for this remembrance.”

Michael wasn’t in the heat of battle, yet these many years later he remembers … and weeps.

I wasn’t in the heat of battle, yet these many years later I remember … and weep.

 

 

Don Johnson – March 2017

Phone Calls I Don’t Like To Make

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Perhaps it’s my age.

In recent years I’ve been accumulating some new friends, like Gene Beckstrom above.

I met Gene a few short years ago at a Navy ship reunion in 2013. Gene was a WW-II Navy veteran who served from 1943-46 on one of those small destroyers – they call them “tin cans” because that’s kind of how they are built. Fast but fragile when under attack by enemy ships or a howling sea.  But the young men aboard were as tough as steel.

Then in 1946 Gene joined the Army, and in June 1950 his unit was called to the Pusan Perimeter to stave off the North Korean invasion of South Korea. Gene was  a Combat Engineer and fought that brutal war up and down the Korean peninsula.

Gene served 20 years in the Army, including a short stint in Vietnam.

On retirement Gene went back to school and became a Baptist pastor serving the northern Minnesota border region where he and his wife started 19 ministries over a 25 year span.

You can’t help but fall in love with these guys … these guys from that “greatest generation.” They saved freedom in the world by pushing back … by resisting  the tyrannies of their day.  Pushing back and resoundly defeating Fascism, Nazism and Communism.

I put Gene on my call list and would call him now and then. Around Christmas time I got my phone out to call a few of these old friends. I knew that one of those times I would dial and there would be no answer.

As I picked up my phone, Gene’s was the first number. I knew and was thinking it at the time I dialed “one of these times I would call and Gene wouldn’t be there.”

These are the Phone Calls I Don’t Like To Make.

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Sam Thomas served on the USS Porterfield DD-682 with Gene Beckstrom through those many sea battles of the South Pacific. I met Sam at that 2013 ship reunion.

Sam, as far as I can tell was the founder of the Balch/Porterfield reunion association and had attended 40 straight reunions to 2015. He called me a month or so prior to the 2016 reunion and told me his body just wouldn’t allow him to make 41.

I talked with Sam just after learning of Gene’s passing late in 2016, and then again just a week or two prior to his passing in January 2017.  A real gentleman … a friend and a shipmate although we served on Porterfield two decades apart.

These are the Phone Calls I Don’t Like To Make.

Bitter-sweet friendships. Sweet in knowing them … bitter in knowing the friendship would be short.

Don Johnson – March 2017

Middlebury’s Statement of Principle

Middlebury College students protest Charles Murray, March 2. Photo: Associated Press

Middlebury College students protest Charles Murray, March 2. Photo: Associated Press

Middlebury’s Statement of Principle

[Note from Don Johnson – author of this blog Read what many of my generation thought about such actions by clicking the link below – AYFP]

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/i-may-not-agree-with-what-you-are-saying-but-i-will-defend-to-the-death-your-right-to-say-it/

Learning is possible only where free, reasoned and civil speech is respected.

By Jay Parini  and  Keegan Callanan  March 6, 2017 7:36 p.m. ET   615  COMMENTS

WSJ | 2017-03-07T00:36:00.000Z

Middlebury, Vt.

On Thursday roughly 100 of our 2,500 students prevented a controversial visiting speaker, Charles Murray, from communicating with his audience on the campus of Middlebury College. Mr. Murray was silenced by loud chants and foot-stomping; the commotion lasted nearly half an hour before college officials moved him to a private room to deliver his address into a camera. But even the simulcast to the auditorium was silenced by more protests and multiple fire alarms.

As Mr. Murray was leaving, a group of as-yet-unidentified assailants mobbed him and seriously injured one of our faculty colleagues. In view of these unacceptable acts, we have produced a document stating core principles that seem to us unassailable in the context of higher education within a free society. Many colleagues have joined us by signing their names to this document; the full list of signatories is available online. [Emphasis – AYFP]

***

The principles are as follows:

Genuine higher learning is possible only where free, reasoned, and civil speech and discussion are respected.

Only through the contest of clashing viewpoints do we have any hope of replacing mere opinion with knowledge.

The incivility and coarseness that characterize so much of American politics and culture cannot justify a response of incivility and coarseness on the college campus.

The impossibility of attaining a perfectly egalitarian sphere of free discourse can never justify efforts to silence speech and debate.

Exposure to controversial points of view does not constitute violence.

Students have the right to challenge and even to protest non-disruptively the views of their professors and guest speakers.

A protest that prevents campus speakers from communicating with their audience is a coercive act.

No group of professors or students has the right to act as final arbiter of the opinions that students may entertain.

No group of professors or students has the right to determine for the entire community that a question is closed for discussion.

The purpose of college is not to make faculty or students comfortable in their opinions and prejudices.

The purpose of education is not the promotion of any particular political or social agenda.

The primary purpose of higher education is the cultivation of the mind, thus allowing for intelligence to do the hard work of assimilating and sorting information and drawing rational conclusions.

A good education produces modesty with respect to our own intellectual powers and opinions as well as openness to considering contrary views.

All our students possess the strength, in head and in heart, to consider and evaluate challenging opinions from every quarter.

We are steadfast in our purpose to provide all current and future students an education on this model, and we encourage our colleagues at colleges across the country to do the same.

***

The list of signatories is available at FreeInquiryBlog.wordpress.com.

Mr. Parini is a professor of English and Mr. Callanan a professor of political science at Middlebury College.

Copyright ©2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Crass Capitalist Marketing Campaign – Part 1

You’ve seen Springsteen’s memoir — look at mine, it’s more interesting — see below.

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It’s time for a crass Capitalist marketing  campaign – meaning I’m trying to sell a few of my books here. So take a look and if you see something you like, buy 40 or 50 copies to give away to your friends and relatives — or at least one for  yourself.

They’re really good.

First watch the following video which is a companion to the book which follows:

Life at sea

And here is the book:

http://www.blurb.com/books/6608466-i-didn-t-want-to-worry-you-mom

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Then there is this dystopian short story I wrote a few years back.

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/5113602-the-old-man-in-apartment-620

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And now along with Bruce Springsteen,  I’ve written my own memoir:

7247513-d385add08429a7c1988d8c4a82c81e2a

http://www.blurb.com/books/7249256-a-yearning-for-publius