Lessons of History and Philosophy

Mr. Fredrickson was my History teacher. Naturally, he was old. After all, how can a young man know– much less teach– History?

Perhaps you may have had a particular teacher who inspired you when you were growing up. Perhaps you had the feeling– as I did every day– that time spent with that teacher was a break from “school” and an hour to have fun. Reading assignments didn’t seem like homework; hell, I looked forward to them. They were the kinds of things I’d read in my spare time instead of doing other homework.

Mr Fredrickson had worked in Intelligence in World War 2. His personalized license plate was SIGABA, something he obliquely referred to as having to do with his work in the war. “That’s not something I’m going to go into, but sometimes when I’m driving another old man like myself will see my license plate and wave. And I know that he too was in the Signal Corps.”

Some of us– all boys– would occasionally linger after school and walk by Mr. Fredrickson’s classroom. He would invite us in and we’d talk to him about History, warfare, weapons, etc. We were spellbound by the things he told us.

He had a knack for encapsulating large historical movements into simple terms. For example, he spent several days covering the rise of Islam. While I don’t recall all the details, I do recall his “executive summary” of Islam. I can still hear him saying it, many years later.

“Islam is a religion of the sword. Over the centuries, Mohammed and his followers offered conquered people a very simple choice: convert or die.”

Sometimes, you are forced to choose a side, even when you’d prefer to not get involved.


Several years later, in college, I was in a Philosophy class when the subject of being forced to choose sides came up.

The professor said that sometimes circumstances can force you to choose sides even in a conflict that you would prefer to avoid.

As an example, he asked me to imagine being an apolitical farmer in Vichy France in 1942. One night, there is a knock at the door. I open it, and the Maquis are there, one of them is wounded. They ask if they can spend the night in my barn. I reply that I cannot get involved, that I am a poor farmer struggling to make ends meet in the midst of all this uncertainty, that I am trying to provide for my wife– recently pregnant with our third child– and our young children whom we can barely feed. I say that I do not know how the war is going, but it looks like Germany has won and in any event I don’t want to get involved. The Maquis commander says that he understands. He and his men leave.

Early the following morning, there is a sharp knock on the door. I open it. It is the Gendarmerie, accompanied by two Gestapo officers. One of the Gestapo officers asks, “Did the Maquis come here last night?”

No matter how I answer the question, I’m involved.


Islam is taking over Europe and North America. We don’t have to posit or assign motives or otherwise explain the actions or inactions of our elites. We can see it. Like it or not, every one of us is going to have to get involved, to choose a side.

Convert or die; Crusade or Jihad.


Sometimes, you are forced to choose a side, even when you’d prefer not to get involved. The time is approaching when we need to ask everyone we meet which side they have chosen, and to act accordingly.


2 thoughts on “Lessons of History and Philosophy

  1. Pingback: Lessons of History and Philosophy | Reaction Times

  2. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/12/06) | The Reactivity Place

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