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An American Affidavit

Thursday, March 30, 2017

230 Necking In The Guardhouse: The Underground History of Amercian Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Necking In The Guardhouse 

About an hour out of Philadelphia there was once (and may still be) a large U.S. Air 
Force base from which officers being sent overseas to Germany, Crete, and elsewhere, 
were transshipped like California cabbages. During the early 1980s I drove a relative 
there, a freshly minted lieutenant, late on the night before she flew to Europe for her first 
assignment and the first real job of her life. She was young, tense, bursting with Air 
Force protocols. Who could blame her for taking the rulebook as the final authority? 

By happenstance I took a civilian highway outside the eastern perimeter of the base when 
her billet was on the western side. Irritated, I checked a map and discovered to my disgust 
that the only public connection to the right road on the far side of the base (where the 
motel sat) was miles away. It was late, I was tired. To make matters worse, I knew this 
prim young lady would need to be sharp in the morning so guilt prodded me. There was 
just one way to avoid the long detour and that was to take the military road through the 
center of the base leading directly to where we wanted to be. Well then, we would take it! 
But the lieutenant was aghast. It was not possible. I wasn't authorized, had no tag, had no 
permit, had no rank. No! No! Not permitted! Listen to me, the young woman demanded, 
security is maniacal on SAC bases; we will have to take the long way around. What she 
said was perfectly reasonable, but quite wrong. 

One of the genuine advantages of living as long as I have is that you eventually come to 
see the gaps between man-made systems and human reality. Even in a perfect system, 
functions must be assigned to people, and people find a way to sabotage their system 

functions even if they don't want to. Systems violate some profound inner equilibrium, 
call it the soul if you like. Systems are inhuman, people are not. On the principle nothing 
ventured, nothing gained, I drove toward the guard post sitting astride the transverse road, 
all the while listening to my passenger, increasingly nervous, shrilly informing me there 
was "No way" I would be "allowed" to pass. "And don't play games," she further told me 
ominously, "MPs have instructions to shoot people acting suspiciously." 

We pulled up to the guard booth. No one was in sight so I proceeded down the transverse 
like a justified sinner smiling, but the lieutenant beside me was so agitated, I stopped and 
I backed up quite a long way to the lighted hut again and blew the horn. This time a guard 
emerged, his tie askew, lipstick all over his face. Before he could fully collect himself I 
shouted out the window, "Okay if I drive through to the motel? The lieutenant here is 
leaving for Germany tomorrow. I'd like to get her to bed." 

"Sure, go ahead," he waved and went back to whatever paramilitary pursuit he was 
engaged in, repopulating the world or whatever. The temptation to gloat over my 
officious kinswoman was strong but I fought it down in light of her tender age. 

Just outside the far gate across the base was the ghastly two-story cinder-block motel, a 
type favored by military personnel in transit, where a reservation waited in the young 
woman's name. As we pulled into the front parking lot a terrible sight greeted my young 
relative, a sight that reminded me of nothing so much as Monongahela on a bad Saturday 
night around New Year's Eve. At least two dozen men, some half in uniform, some bare- 
chested and bloody, were fistfighting all over the first floor walkway and on the little 
balcony that paralleled the second floor. Dozens more watched, hooting and howling, 
beer cans in hand. Grunts and the sounds of fists smacking heads and bodies filled the air. 
They were all enlisted men, apparently indifferent to official disapproval, for all the 
world as if they had been Chechens or Hmong instead of obedient American soldiers. 

At first I couldn't believe my eyes. The combat clearly had been raging for awhile, but no 
Air Force or local police had moved to stop it. Suddenly to my dismay, from the new 
officer's uniform beside me with a girl inside came something like these words: "I'll stop 
this, let me out of the car. When they see an officer's uniform they '11 take off running." 

"Don't do it," I begged. "They should take off running, but what if they don't? What if 
that pack of fighting drunks goes for you because they like to fight and think it's none of 
your business? Why don't we just find another place for you to sleep? You've got a plane 
to Germany in the morning. Let's keep our eye on the ball." Driving to another motel, I 
said cautiously, "You know, what they write in rule books and how things really work are 
never the same. We all learn that as we get older." She was too angry to hear, I think. 

It's fairly clear to me by now that we engage in our endless foreign adventures, launching 
military forces against tiny islands like Grenada, or tiny nations like Panama, bombing 
the vast deserts of Iraq, a country of 22 million people, or engage in our reckless social 
adventures, too, patenting human genes, forcing kids to be dumb, because our leadership 
classes are worn out from the long strain of organizing everything over the centuries. Our 

leadership has degenerated dramatically, just as British leadership did after Ladysmith, 
Kimberley, and Mafeking. Recently I read of an American newsman who walked 
unchallenged into a nuclear weapons storage facility near Moscow watched over by a 
single guard without a weapon. It tends to make me skeptical about any orderly scientific 
future. Is it possible that those who sit atop the social bell curve represent the worst of 
evolution's products, not its best? Have the fools among us who just don't get it risen up 
and taken command? 

Think of the valent symbols of our time: Coca-Cola, the Marlboro Man, disposable 
diapers, disposable children, Dolly the cloned sheep, Verdun, Auschwitz, Hiroshima, the 
national highway system, My Lai, fiat money, the space program, Chernobyl, Waco, the 
Highway of Death, welfare, Bhopal, hordes of homeless, psychopathic kids filling the 
corridors of the schools put out of sight and mind until their morale is deteriorated; think 
of Princess Di and the Ponzi scheme we call Social Security, the missile attack on the 
Sudan, the naval blockade of Haiti. The naval blockade of Haiti? Is any of this real? 
People who walk the dogs and kiss the grandchildren are all so tired of grandiose 
schemes and restless Utopians I doubt if too many would really care if the planet 
exploded tomorrow. 

Think of the never-ending stream of manufactured crises like the invasion of Panama or 
the cremation of Iraq, principal products of a spent leadership trying to buy itself time 
while the grail search for a destiny worth having goes on in laboratories and conference 
rooms instead of in homes and villages where it belongs. Did the people who arrange this 
sorry soap opera ever take note how green the world really is, how worthwhile the minds 
and hearts of average men and women, how particular the hue of each blade of grass? It's 
the terrible idleness of the social engineering classes that drives them mad, I think. They 
have nothing worthwhile to do, so they do us. 

Tania Aebi 

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