Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Options For Peace

Fort Gorges with Portland Head Light on right

Remnant defensive fortifications are evident all over the approaches to Portland Harbor in Maine. Those from the 19th century like Fort Gorges, Fort Preble, and Fort Scammell are mostly granite. Others from the 20th century are concrete. All were constructed after the British bombarded Portland in 1775. That they’ve never been used should not be seen as a waste of the money spent building them. They accomplished their purpose just by being there because, as Plato observed twenty-five centuries ago, the best way to preserve peace is prepare for war. Would Portland have been attacked again if the defenses were not there? Probably, though no one can say for sure.
Fort Scammell from Willard Beach

While my father and his brothers fought in WWII, I don’t know of any other McLaughlin ancestors in combat. I’m sure there were going way back in Ireland, but I don’t know specifics. Ever since finding out my surname, McLaughlin, translated from Gaelic, means “of the Vikings,” I’ve been consuming information about those notorious raiders. For a thousand years, they were known exclusively as savage warriors, plunderers and rapists until relatively recent historical revisionist efforts to soften their image — probably because so many prominent people in western Europe had, like me, discovered they had a few Viking ancestors. Their savage reputation doesn’t bother me though, especially after learning of notorious exploits by McLaughlins in modern times, like those of the McLaughlin Brothers Gang in Charlestown who were rivals to Whitey Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang.
Edward "Punchy" McLaughlin mug shot

The Vikings” series on the History Channel eschews such revisionism, showing Ragnar Lothbrok and company in their ferocious glory. It’s very popular, having recently been renewed for its fifth season. Bernard Cornwell’s eight-book series “The Saxon Tales” is also quite popular and covers much of the same Viking history The History Channel does. The BBC has recently dramatized “The Last Kingdom” which is book one by Cornwell, who bases much of it on one of the few written accounts of that period: “The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,” which was begun by King Alfred in the 9th century. I’m grateful to Cornwell for fashioning historical novels out of them, thereby making it more enjoyable to learn about that time and I’ll trust his judgement about how best to characterize the Vikings. Viking religion sanctioned their savagery, not unlike the way Islam encourages similar depredations by the likes of ISIS today.
By all accounts, the 9th century was a brutal time in the British Isles as Ireland suffered the same ravages as the Anglo-Saxons, and Britons, and the Scots. There were other invasions prior to those by Vikings, but I’ve not studied them. During our two-week tour of Greece a couple of years ago, I learned that my wife’s ancestors endured many battles with invaders too numerous to count. All my first-hand and second-hand studies of the histories of every time and place indicates that the world hasn’t changed in the last few millennia — and won’t likely improve in the foreseeable future.
It’s the same lesson boys in my neighborhood learned early: being ready to fight at all times will reduce the number of occasions when you’ll actually have to. My wife often points out that it’s the male of the species who stirs the misery of war throughout human history, and I cannot dispute that. It would certainly be better if we could find more peaceful ways to settle disputes, and occasionally we can work things out by negotiation. The recent vote by British citizens for independence from the European Union will likely accomplish a non-violent exit, for example. When we notified the British on the Fourth of July, 1776 that we wanted independence, however, a war was necessary before we could successfully negotiate the Treaty of Paris and actually get it. When the American south wanted independence in 1861, an even more brutal war ensued.
Fort Preble with Fort Gorges behind, Spring Point Light right
from Willard Beach in South Portland

After Pearl Harbor was attacked, we demanded unconditional surrender of both the Japanese and their German allies before we would agree to stop killing them. Only then did we obtain a lasting peace. Is it possible to negotiate with enemies like al Qaida and ISIS who are killing Americans today? Clearly not. The only way to bring that to an end is to thoroughly destroy them and all other radical Muslims, the sooner the better. That’s what Thomas Jefferson did two centuries ago. He sent the Marines to Tripoli to kill Muslim pirates rather than pay tribute the way his predecessor, John Adams did. There’s no other way. I wish there were, but there simply isn’t.
Destroying Muslim Pirates

As I tell my wife, men today may wish they never have to tap their innate capacity for combat, but that’s not possible when other men threaten their families, their freedom, and their way of life. And on it goes.

Labels: , , , ,

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Viking religion sanctioned their savagery, not unlike the way Islam encourages similar depredations by the likes of ISIS today."

Islam does not encourage similar depredations anymore than the Bible does. You buy in to the fear-mongering and repeat it, thereby fueling anger and hate against those who believe differently than you. Thank god you are out of public education. I feel sorry for those you tutor who are being unwittingly poisoned by your ignorance.

7/5/16, 2:58 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

I see you're not familiar with the Koran and the Hadith.

7/5/16, 3:38 PM  
OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 said...

Oddly, Thos, Jefferson WAS familiar with the (Qur'an).
Hence The United States Marine Corp., and "...the shores of Tripoli"
"Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an, Islam and the Founders"
Denise A Spellberg, Knopf-ISBN 978-0-307-26822-8
Trigger Warning:Actual history and stuff, by one of those actual..uh..."academic" folk. NOT an adventure "page turner".
But anonymous contrarian opinion is always fun too!
CaptDMO

7/5/16, 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I see you're not familiar with the Koran and the Hadith."

Nor are you, unless you can read Arabic, which is doubtful. It would also appear that you know very little of the Bible in spite, or perhaps because, of your Catholic indoctrination. Speaking as one who has friends both Christian and Moslem to one who obviously has neither, I call bs on your "research".

7/6/16, 7:04 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Quote from Thomas Jefferson after meeting in Europe with the Ambassador from the Barbary States:

“The ambassador answered us that [their right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Their right to kill, pillage, and enslave that is. I have read the Bible and all relevant passages in the Koran from the translated copy I possess. Jefferson had one too.

7/6/16, 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. This writing is not only informative, but true with respect to history, distorted religion, and man's nature. Plato was correct.

Mr. Tom has mentioned a very important point: men today may wish they never have to tap their innate capacity for combat, but that's not possible when other men threaten..."

An excellent treatise on this matter is John Eldridge' 2001 book, "Wild at Heart", (updated 2010)which correlates faith, man's nature, and popular, recent thematic motion pictures; i.e. Braveheart,"Saving Private Ryan", "The Natural", etc.

The book says all men young and old are motivated by the desire to participate in a Battle to Fight, An Adventure to Live, and a Beauty to Rescue. It speaks to the "Warrior Heart", which is consistent with Tom's enlightened writing.

Show Low Yaqui

7/6/16, 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Sid said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/8/16, 9:33 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

I'm deleting your post Sid, if that's who you are, which I doubt. Use one identity and don't say F***.

7/8/16, 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Johan said...

I read the deleted comment above before it was thrown down the memory hole. Essentially it was saying that if you really look at what is going in in the Middle East, especially as Isis and this war on "terror" is concerned, you see what the neo cons call the project for a greater Israel is in full force. The media is private and corporate. Controlled by zionists, an easily researched fact. Coupled with the power that AIPAC wields and the fact that Israel has been caught aiding Isis you see a completely different picture begin to emerge.
These are very bizarre times indeed. It is easier then ever to do your own research and rid your head of the non sense CNN and fox spew.

And deleting comments is pretty weak.

7/8/16, 5:13 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Profanity is an attempt by a weak mind to make a strong statement. Young people read this blog and I won't have it.

Also, I recognize the rhetoric and it comes under various aliases. I suggest you stay as Johan and not post under different names.

7/8/16, 6:34 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks for the post, Show Low. I'll check out that book.

7/9/16, 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Johan said...

Huh, I guess we have different definitions of profanity. To me, murdering little children is profane, using them as target practice, constantly harassing them and terrifying little kids is profane. Which is what you see in gaza everyday. So words dont bother me. And if you think the f word is going to affect the mind of a teenager in 2016, well, that just proves how out of touch you are.
And it seems to me you find any excuse to avoid engaging the facts, especially where Israel is concerned. Sure, you repeat all the neo con propaganda ( rockets that don't explode, human shields, etc.) but I haven't seen one original thought. FACT, Israel has been caught aiding Isis, repeatedly. It's no secret the CIA and Mossad likely created Isis! Care to comment? AIPIAC essentially runs congress anymore and netanyahus reception when uninvited proves that beyond a doubt. Israel has not signed the nuclear non proliferation treaty yet we STILL give them billions a year. Billions. Which is illegal b/c of said treaty not being signed.
We are the ONLY country that defends their crimes against humanity in international courts. The only one.
Every major media outlet runs a Zionist ideology. Every single one.

So, all that said, how on earth are we NOT victims of an intense anti Muslim propaganda campaign run by zionists? You think we're being told the truth? If so, please explain how in light of the intense Zionist control of information in this country.

We are directing our hate toward the wrong people!

7/9/16, 10:11 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home