Diehards, Holdouts, and Blind Fanaticism

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At the end of World War II, in a few rugged locations scattered about the Pacific, a handful of soldiers in Japan’s Imperial Army refused to surrender. Second Lt. Hiroo Onoda was one.

Onoda and three comrades hid out in the jungle on Lubang Island in the Philippines. One surrendered in 1953. Another was killed in 1954 by Filipino police. The third was similarly killed in 1972. That left Onoda on his own until 1974, when authorities finally talked him into surrendering.

Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has cleared President Trump of “collusion” and reported he would not pursue obstruction of justice charges, disappointed Democrats and NeverTrumpers are emulating Onoda’s diehard resistance.

This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen!
First, there came the shock of the news. MSNBC host Chris Matthews nearly cried with frustration. Then came the scrambling. But, but, but! What about Attorney General Bill Barr’s being Trump’s guy? Shouldn’t Congress violate the separation of powers and find Trump guilty because Democrats wanted it to be so? Wouldn’t that be more than enough? Never mind that “obstruction of justice” cannot exist without an underlying crime—but hey, why let that bother anybody?

Maxine “I am not crazy, the voices in my head tell me so” Waters declared: “This is not the end of anything!” Then slightly-less-insane anti-Trumpers spoke up.

On her MSNBC program, a mournful Rachel Maddow announced, “We haven’t ever had to reckon with the possibility that somebody has ascended to the presidency of the United States to serve the interests of another country rather than our own.” Actually, we’ve never had to reckon with the possibility that the media is totally in the pocket of a political party seeking to destroy a constitutionally elected president.

Democratic socialist and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders demanded on Twitter: “I don’t want a summary of the Mueller report. I want the whole damn report.” No need to worry about protecting intelligence sources or secret grand jury testimony, he wanted it all, and he wanted it now.

The responses to Sanders’ tweet were delightful.

And my favorite,

Some of Japan’s generals apologized to the emperor for failing him, then to cover their shame, committed suicide. The American news media didn’t do anything like that for failing America. They chose the holdout path.

NBC was typical: “Mueller does not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice or find that he committed a crime.” Note the order in which the information is presented. The media had accused Trump of colluding with Russia and obstructing justice based on a bunch of garbage and trumpeted it in more than 533,000 published pieces since May 2017. Yet when the investigation concluded the garbage was indeed garbage—that collusion hadn’t occurred—the media and the Left grabbed on to obstruction. Ah, ha! Mueller didn’t exonerate Trump. The battle can go on!

What Comes Next Will Be Worse
You don’t have to be a Trump supporter to worry about what may happen next. Mob justice isn’t something that only occurs in Old West towns where Gary Cooper must stand alone or in towns where mockingbirds aren’t supposed to be killed. It can happen today on websites and cable news channels and in newspapers that spread the kind of darkness where they insist democracy dies. In our legal system, the accused don’t have to prove their innocence. Prosecutors don’t have to exonerate. Prosecutors must prove guilt.

That the media and the Democrats would obfuscate this point—a fundamental pillar of American justice—is obscene. When those pillars are toppled, they don’t get set right again so easily. But it was all so thrilling for the media and the Democrats. It seemed to pay off so well. They won’t let it all go without a fight.

To keep the Russian smear alive, congressional Democrats will employ any committee, whether it’s a committee dealing with the judiciary, foreign affairs, appropriations, agriculture subsidies, interstate highways, or that one charged with overseeing the standardization of the capacity of insect-resistant filing cabinets in federal archival annexes. They will happily subpoena 80 or 90 or 100,000 members of the Trump Administration or his family or his business associates or his first grade T-ball team.

If Russia finally peters out, there will be other allegations and insinuations to summon up to smear President Trump. Maybe Mike Pence spent too much time talking to some yak breeder from Tibet or Ivanka bought a hat from a sinister-looking Swede. If they can’t cut Trump down, they will make it hell for anyone who gets too close to the president or his administration.

Lessons Never Learned
Lt. Onoda eventually was persuaded to surrender and he returned to Japan where he was welcomed. He wrote an account of his experience and became a celebrity. This status eventually faded, as he criticized Japan’s failure to adhere to its old values.

The public also learned that during Onoda’s long years in the jungle, he had conducted a violent guerrilla war against the civilians of Lubang. He had burned rice supplies, engaged in running gun battles with local police, and killed several people. President Ferdinand Marcos pardoned him for those killings, but his conduct played poorly with some in Japan, who correctly felt the pointless deaths wouldn’t have occurred but for Onoda’s fanaticism. His kind of thinking had led to Japan’s starting the war and to its consequent suffering. Onoda never seemed to understand this. While he promoted Japanese traditions, he associated himself with a group that sought seeks to restore the political power of Japan’s emperor and its military. He died in 2014 of heart failure at the age of 91.

What can we learn from Onoda’s fanaticism and the resistance to Mueller’s findings?

Thirty years from now, will we find a centenarian Chris Matthews reporting that some U.S. attorney in New York uncovered evidence that Donald Trump VI sat down to tea and soylent green with a robot lawyer linked to Vladimir Putin VI, and she winked a red electronic eye at him? Or will the ghost of Dan Rather contact the Washington Post-New York Times-Trenton Penny Shopper via Ouija board to place a piece about how he’s interviewed George Washington and he really didn’t like those red Christmas trees Melania chose back in 2018 (“Christmas trees are green!”). Or will Rachel Maddow’s clone appear via telepathic transmission to shake her head just so and snark about Ivanka’s great-great-grandson taking a spring break trip to Mars when most Earth kids can’t even afford to go to the Moon?

No, that’s all fanciful and pleasant to laugh at. But . . .

What we should learn is that fanatics just won’t give up. Like the diehard, fanatical 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda, they will keep their rifle oiled and their ammo ready, and even if they are dragged out of the jungle, they will insist they served honorably.

Photo Credit: Loren Elliott/AFP/Getty Images

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About Ed Morrow

Ed Morrow is an author and illustrator who lives in Vermont with his wife Laurie and their son Ned. Morrow’s books include “The Halloween Handbook,” “599 Things You Should Never Do,” and “The Grim Reaper’s Book of Days.” His work has appeared at National Review Online, The American Spectator, the Daily Caller, and Front Page Magazine, among others.