This is to notify you of a correction needed in my blog of yesterday: A typo slipped in at the very end: Semper Fi is the correct spelling. The typo occurred at the moment I had to move quickly into the house from my deck because of a sudden downpour. While closing my laptop, the blog published itself, uncorrected. I hope you will forgive me.
Regards to all of you,
It did not dawn on me until I was at a Jesuit boarding school in Nijmegen, a city close to Germany and one of the centers of World War II fighting in The Netherlands. During the 1950s, a (strictly forbidden) girlfriend Marijke van Steen (probably happily married now with grandkids like me) took me on a bike ride to the Canadian War Cemetery at a small town called Groesbeek not far from where she lived. Having survived World War II as a child (from about 4 to 9 years old), I had intense and often graphic memories of those awful years of being occupied by Nazi Germany. I had seen aviators fighting in the sky, bombers dropping bombs, and German soldiers rounding up compatriots, including Jewish friends, and beating them up or shooting them in the street.
A downed British pilot once sought refuge in our house and disappeared again with the help of underground resistance fighters. I was 9 when we were finally liberated thanks to all those allied forces who fought their way through German armies, deadly fortresses of machine guns, powerful tanks, Junker fighter planes, Heinkel bombers and later the fierce Messerschmitts jetfighters.
While World War II memories remained lucent growing up, there is nothing more poignant to resuscitate those memories when you visit the warriors’ graves. Marijke showed me around.
Though she was a few years younger than I, she also remembered liberation in 1945. Yes, we were the lucky ones and could smile, like the people in the picture below.
Hand in hand we stood in front of all these white crosses while complete silence reigned around us in the Cemetery. Each white cross represented a scream in pain, a futile effort to fight death, a vain struggle to scramble to safety, grasping a twig before hurtling down a cliff or parachuting into a burning sea. Each white cross had comrades in battle, mortally wounded, or severely injured, alive perhaps but impaired for life.
Sitting together on a bench overlooking the extensive field of bright white crosses, we knew it was thanks to those brave youthful warriors we were still alive and could fall in love. When I was drafted into the army and crept through sand or waded through ponds with a rifle above my head, I remembered those who did this for real and made the ultimate sacrifice.
I am the guy with the broad smile in the middle, cleaning my rifle, all of us having great fun.
I was lucky as it did not happen to me, but for many American soldiers, it did, in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, the wider world. Arlington Cemetery, and the World War II memorial with its European and Asian theaters, are thoughtful places to realize how thankful we must be to those who shield us from harm and keep us safe. It is nice to say ‘peace through strength’, but we must not forget that that ‘strength’ means a lot of brave people, fellow humans, who are willing to pay the ultimate price when they have to, for us to keep enjoying our comfortable lives.
And so Meghan and Harry are married, like “we did.” “Royally.” Meghan, a mixed-race American woman and Harry a royal British prince. A fascinating story many are calling a ‘Cinderella’ story. Well, Meghan was not exactly washing dishes and cleaning house, nor was Joy. Meghan is an accomplished actress and a gifted person, and Joy was a clever and adored World Bank front office staff-assistant. Both are extremely charming. But it does sound a bit like a Cinderella story: Meghan is a mixture of a Caucasian father and an African mother. The gripping marriage scenes under clear skies (what a gift from Heaven to the UK!) beautified this ultimate contemporary event, which would have been impossible some forty-five years ago, when we married.
What a difference! I remember watching just-crowned Queen Elizabeth visiting Amsterdam with her Prince Philip in 1958. (The story goes she met him, a second cousin, in Greece when she was 13 and fell in love with him at that time already, writing letters to each other). The state visit to the Dutch Royal family was all stiff pomp, though cordial. Then followed the problems with growing-up children: Charles and Diana’s disastrous divorce, followed by Diana’s tragic death, Andrew and Fergy’s divorce, and daughter Anne’s divorce from Captain Mark Philips. Her third son, Prince Edward, is the only one remaining married to his first wife (Sophie Rhys-Jones). Queen Elizabeth reportedly acquiesced in Harry’s marriage for love to a US commoner of mixed race because she was tired of facing her children’s unhappy marriages. Harry and Meghan’s wedding pictures show that the royal protocol has fundamentally changed.
I can feel that difference probably more acutely than others: Joy Jaundoo – a Guyanese of East-Indian descent – and I, a Dutchman from Amsterdam, married in Washington, D.C. in 1974.
The only person reacting positively was my mother seeing her picture: “Wat beautiful children will you have.” The majority in stiff Holland was upset and against. “He better stay in America,” one noble uncle said. “Why doesn’t he marry one of our own,” one prominent American uttered (many Dutch said the same). An American friend walked out of the elevator when he saw the two of us together. “Don’t do that! You break your family’s bloodstream forever,” another friend offered. “Why don’t you marry a French girl,” a boss said. In Georgetown Guyana, the reception proved a lot warmer. It was mostly more accepting in the World Bank, an eminent multicultural institution where we worked. “In fifty years the whole world will be brown,” a supportive French girlfriend said. Working in a multi-cultural institution made adjustments to each other’s cultures surely a lot easier!
Guyana beach: Drinking coconut water is an art you have to learn before messing up.
Well, perhaps we had the foresight and were ahead of our time: what would that Dutch uncle say now? However, Meghan and Harry will find that mixing cultures and race does have its consequences. Their children will grow up in privileged circumstances but will still be faced with the fact that they are different from their peers born out of same-race families. As parents, they will have to compromise perhaps more than others. The mixture of different bloodstreams causes unmistakably unintended fallouts: how do the children feel internally towards others, to whom do they ‘belong?’ Do they resent the cards that they were dealt with by their parents’ decision? How do they adjust in their childhood and puberty, can they find a partner in their split world, how do they think about being put on this world still full of bigotry? All children and young adults have growing problems but biracial children perhaps more, requiring close parental attention.
Visiting home in Holland in 1979
We are blessed with two good-looking and successful children, with each showing the ‘remnants’ of our individual backgrounds. At my and my sister’s eightieth birthday anniversary last year in Holland at the Maarten Maartens House in Doorn, they were a tribute to today’s changing world. The pictures below of Joy, our children, family and friends clearly show that we and they are no ”exception” anymore. That has been royally confirmed.
Below follows a slightly revised column I wrote in 2014 at the time of the Hamas intrusion into Israël. I repeated it in 2017 in view of the anti-semitic resolution adopted by the UN Security Council, orchestrated by the outgoing Obama Administration and the disturbing anti-Israël speech by John Kerry. I repeat it again in the face of the Hamas riots regarding the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Noticing the continuing appeasement themes of the ‘liberal left’, it seems many still don’t see Hamas is mistreating its people by throwing them into the line of fire.
The UN is generally biased when it deals with Israël. Jerusalem was from millennia times in Jewish hands and was overrun by Arabs when Islam emerged in 630. The Holocaust was instrumental in assuring the Jews a State of their own in 1948. Jerusalem became “Arab” in 1949 when Jordan’s King Husain’s superior army overpowered the then still small Israëli army and annexed the Jewish capital. Israël took it back in the 1967 six-day war. The UN Security Council condemned this in the famous Resolution 242 which required Israël to “withdraw from the territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
ENCHANTÉ has Palestinian and Islamic friends. We sometimes agree to disagree but remain good friends. At a personal level, it works. At the political level, the Israeli-Arab conflict seems insoluble. Much is due to the anti-Israël media of the West, but also American and European antisemitic political forces. (more…)
The Hullahoo Bar is crammed with patrons at the counter. Ted, Frank and their regular raucous friends crowd around the half-circle, arguing testily.
“Yes,” Ted says. “I am writing a new book titled ‘Killing Deep Throat’. I’m fed up with this DC bureaucracy boiling up all this crap. I’m going to drain that swamp with the successful Killing Libido Pill and write how we did it.”
“You mean if you suck out all the libido from the system you actually will stop it from regurgitating hatred, obstruction, resistance and fake news?” Frank roared, laughing.
“Exactly,” Ted confirms. “You saw the results of my KLP book: the anti-viagra virus. Much better than that stuff about aging young. Tell me, you guys, don’t you feel relieved after taking the KLP, that you don’t have that urge anymore to go after women ?”
“I give you that,” Bert says. “But how do you apply that to killing ‘Deep Throat’?”
“I have researched it in-depth,” Ted explains. “Deep-throat people are the ones that constitute the megacenter of the swamp. They are all sexually frustrated by ED, inability to perform in bed or having to fake it, and jealous of men that are successful with women or women successful with men. Just look at the mainstream media anchors, always a man and a woman, each competing for being the most obnoxious gofer on the screen. If the guy takes the KLP, he instantly loses his drive to be more obnoxious than the female anchor.”
“But then you’d be left with those pesky females and nothing would change,” Bert says.
“The female anchor will lose her nerve because she’d feel she is no longer pursued. That frustrates her natural instincts. Look at our female friends here, how annoyed and inoperative they are because they get no free beers or Martinis anymore. True, Angie?”
“Don’t put me on the spot, Ted KLP,” Angie retorts. “All that gallantry you guys were displaying was only with one purpose in mind and that’s bedding me or her.”
“How would you impose that KLP on anchors?” Henry of The Washington Post asks.
“By mixing it in their coffee machines,” Ted says. “We have an army of paid KLP operators that serve these studios, government and newspaper offices. You don’t drink coffee? No problem, they mix it in the watercoolers. Just watch your offices at the Post, Henry. Don’t feel that horny anymore? You may already have been swallowing KLP.”
“And who pays for that?” Cindy asks, always on the money.
“The National Health Institute,” Ted says. “They have a stake in the matter because the growing political divide in the US is ruining the country’s national health and sharply increasing Medicaid and Medicare costs for psychiatrical care and domestic disputes. We’re expanding into the FBI, the Justice Department, even the Defense Department and the catacombs of the White House. You will soon hear that that FBI lover couple will disband because that stork guy has been klpeed and the whole case will come tumbling down.”
“This is pure subversion of democracy,” Henry says. “I’ll expose you and your group as underminers of the Me 2 movement, the new platform of the Democrat party.”
“What nonsense,” Ted balks. “You mean I undercut Me 2 if I KLpee the guys they’re fighting, the Weismans, Roses, Lauers and Cosbys? You mean that to remain relevant M2 needs these guys back into the limelight somewhere so that they can continue barking at them?”
“Precisely,” Henry says. “Your group must emanate from the right that opposes sinful movements. Me 2 welcomes freedom.”
“What has that got to do with Killing Deep Throat, Ted?” asks Frank.
“I’m positive that all this political wrangling is sex-related,” Ted says. “Why is the special prosecutor so interested in that playboy girl instead of that silly Russian collusion? I’m sure that if we klpee him he and his case would disintegrate.”
Henry slammed his fist on the counter. “I oppose that because it would destroy all the media fun.”
“You see?” Alicia yelps across the counter. “You perverts only like to write about porn to sell your paper and you don’t care a fig about making America great again.”
“Hah!” Henry yells back. “We write it because you want to read it, and if we wrote only about the low unemployment rate you wouldn’t buy the paper.”
Ted scoffs. “Watch your Keurig coffeemaker, Henry. Soon you’ll be only interested in writing about the unemployment rate.”