FRESNO -- By now, every unemployed Muslim on the planet is demanding that Den-mark be beheaded. On the news every damn night you see more of those Islamic demonstrations, with hordes of hairy guys raising their fists and chanting some crap.
Makes me wish for a divebomber, or better yet a cropduster -- if only I could have passed a pilot's physical.
Every time I see one of those crowds I can't help but think of the smell there. That would be the worst thing about getting caught in an angry Muslim demonstration, worse than even getting attacked and beaten. It's the smell I fear. All those unwashed armpits right over your head, bashing you and chanting about their Allah. You'd beg for death, you'd be moaning, "O believers, in the name of Allah, the Great, the Unshowered, the Never Heard of Speedstick, Whose Armpits Stink Like Anchovies in a Broken Fridge, will one of you find a rock or a sharp object to finish me off, already?"
So far the biggest action's been in Lebanon and Syria, where Danish embassies were burned down. As soon as I heard that I knew the burnings had been ordered by Assad's intel service, because NOTHING happens with "Islamic" on it in Beirut, never mind Damascus, unless the Syrian colonels in sunglasses OK it. Assad doesn't give a damn about Danish cartoons -- in fact, his Alawite clan doesn't even count as Muslim by most Imam's standards. He just wants to remind Bush that taking down Syria may be a cakewalk in stage one, just like Iraq was, but stage two, the occupation, will be way worse than Iraq is now, because Assad's spies are smarter and tougher than Saddam's goons ever were.
So in a way I'm kind of glad those Danish embassies burned, because maybe Bush will take the hint and not land us in another tar swamp. One's plenty. But let's be realistic. Bush's last contact with reality was his senior-year report card at Yale. He didn't enjoy it and hasn't been back since. He'll jump into Syria unless one of the Joint Chiefs draws a pistol and changes the C-in-C's mind.
I've seen the Danish cartoons online, and they're as tame and lame as you'd expect from 21st Denmark, a whole country working 24/7 to make sure it doesn't offend anybody, terrified it might be accused of being pro-Danish. God, we can't have that!
Scandinavians are so worried they might offend some third-worlder that they make perfect prey animals for any murderer or rapist lucky enough not to be blond and tall.
But I wonder, do you Danes ever feel pride in who you once were? I sure hope so. Because you truly were great, the most mobile and greedy (I mean that in a good way) of all the Vikings. You had the best of all worlds; you'd farm your little Danish pastures happily half the year, then when Summer came Dad would kiss the wife and kids (and cow) goodbye and sail off to slaughter any settlement their longboats could reach. And thanks to their shallow draft, the longboats could sail far upriver, so even inlanders so far from the ocean that the whole village had goiters were within range of the Danes.
"The Danes!" If somebody called out "The Danes!" in Northern Europe a thousand years ago, they didn't mean that some scraggy gloomy hippies were arriving at the backpacker hostel. Back then Danes weren't ashamed of being a warrior tribe, hacking lesser breeds from Ireland to Russia without mercy. It was a classic example of how you can combine socialism and entrepreneurship: all the men from a peaceful Danish village would polish up their axes -- most Vikings used axes, because they were cheaper than swords and useful around the farm -- and row off together.
Nobody could stop them. The sea was the only way to travel fast in those days, so the Vikings could burn, rape and rob any town long before the local lord could muster his garrison, never mind reach the town under attack. And then, like the good little social democrats they were, the Vikings would head home to cuddle the kids, pamper the livestock and spend the long nights making sure the wife produced another generation of raiders. If there's a better life, I can't imagine what it is.
Historians these days always emphasize how "the Vikings were essentially traders, not mere plunderers." Yeah, right. What that means is (a) professors hate to admit there was ever anything as glorious as the Vikings; and (b) if you met the Vikings' longboats with a huge army and looked ready to fight, the Danes were smart enough to switch to sales mode: "Hi there! We're peaceful visitors here to, uh, what's the word? 'Trade' -- yes, 'trade' with you wonderful people!" But let your guard down for a second, and they'd cut out the middleman -- literally. It was just good business. Nothing makes your accountant happier than hearing you got your stock at the ultimate wholesale price.
Like all good raiders, the Danes thrived on tricks. If feeding the enemy a flattering line of bullshit would bring an advantage, the Vikings could spread the verbal cow-pies better than a DoD "official spokesperson."
There's a famous case, the Battle of Maldon, 991 AD. For once, the locals -- in this case, the English -- had the advantage. A Viking raiding party was stuck on a little offshore island. The only way ashore was a causeway so narrow three men could hold it. The Vikings tried the John Madden approach first, bulldogging the causeway. But the Anglo-Saxons had put their best men there, and the Vikings limped back to the island, where some Dark Ages PR whiz came up with a great idea: appeal to the Anglo-Saxons' notion of a "fair fight."
They flattered the old Earl, reminded him of the noble Anglo-Saxon tradition of fair combat, and the old idiot finally agreed to let the Vikings march unopposed to shore so the two sides could stage the first, last and only Maldon Bowl. The game ended when the Vikings showed their gratitude to the old nobleman by hacking his head off and showing it to his men-at-arms. Which just shows, amateurs think about fair play, pros go with Al Davis's rule: "Just win, baby."
The Vikings showed the same practical attitude when one of their own leaders got killed. Most Dark-Ages European armies fought for a particular guy, and if he was killed they broke and ran, like the Earl of Maldon's men did. Not the Vikings. If Sven, the raid leader, got his head lopped off, the Danes shrugged and kept fighting. In fact, Sven's head probably mouthed the change in lineup as the enemy held it up: "Olaf, you take over, I think I've got a medical problem!"
That practical attitude freaked those superstitious villagers so much they broke and ran as if their own leader was dead.
Eventually coastal defenses improved enough to make Viking raids an unprofitable way to spend your summers. But the Danes still had plenty of fighting spirit left, so they applied it to wars closer to home.
Medieval Scandinavia was almost always at war, with either Denmark or Sweden trying to unite the three kingdoms -- including Norway, which was kind of the retarded little brother of the three -- into one big blonde war machine. Too bad they didn't manage it. A mighty kingdom of the tall blonds could have gone on a world-wide pillage tour, filling the world up with their tall blond genes, which could have made me a bit more appealing.
Instead it was the Mongols who raped their way from Manchuria to Bavaria, leaving little Genghises to grow up getting some very funny looks from their surviving neighbors.
I'm serious about these Mongol genes. DNA studies show that in Central Asia, 1 of every 200 men has a gene linking them to Genghis Khan. Not his army, but Genghis personally. Which means he got to know their great-great-great (etc.) grandmothers real well in those long evenings after a day's massacring. Every war nerd in the world likes to quote Genghis's famous line about how great it is to kill your enemies "and clasp their women to your chest," but now we know he wasn't just giving pep talks. He was one of those player-coach guys, never asked anything of his men he wasn't willing to do himself.
While Genghis was spreading himself around, the Danes were busy fighting other blondes, especially Sweden. Like I've said before, Sweden used to be a real military power, a beautiful force -- those amazing pikemen who walked into one of Peter the Great's fortress at Narva in the middle of a blizzard, vastly outnumbered, and astonished the Russian garrison so much they just surrendered out of sheer admiration. Yeah, those blue-and-yellow cross stickers used to fly proudly, not just signal "I'm a Swede, please don't hurt me!" on a hippie's backpack.
And the Danes used to whack those tough Swedes around pretty regularly in their non-stop family fights. Take the Sweden-Denmark war of the 1560s. Just to show you how much esprit de corps these countries used to have, the war was fought over Denmark's right to use three crowns on its flag! The Danes kicked the Swedes' "numerically superior" asses on land and sea, in a major naval engagement (1564) and land battle (1565). The war didn't "settle" anything; when countries are young and strong, wars are for their own sake, a matter of pride, staying in shape, keeping limber.
That's how it should be, and still is in the few decent places (like the Horn of Africa). But little by little, the Danes got depressed and progressive -- those two things are the same, if you ask me.
But I was surprised how late it happened. As recently as 1864 Denmark took on Prussia and Austria -- pretty much all of Germany. They lost, naturally, but there's no shame in that. The Danish army was only 40,000 men and fought pretty well in a series of holding actions that made the Prussians pay for every inch they pushed up the peninsula.
They sure made a better fight of it than the French did six years later, even though Denmark was in a hopeless position with none of the French army's money, manpower and strategic depth. The Danes were just overpowered by a much bigger opponent; the French were humiliated by a smaller one. (Sorry, French people. You know I'm not one of these fools who call you cowards, but facts are facts, and you know yourselves the Franco-Prussian War wasn't exactly your finest hour.)
Once the 20th century arrived, Denmark pretty much melted into liberal mush. I blame the Nazis, because they made militarism look bad. They ruined it for all of us except the jocks and business jerks who own the world now.
The one really interesting thing I read about recent Danish history is that one of the most important men in subatomic physics, Nils Bohr, was Danish. Hey, does that give any physics majors up there in Copenhagen any ideas? How hard can it be to cook a few nukes, especially when that Scandinavian welfare state will let you take a year or two off to surf the net looking for info? Just remember, make up a web identity before you hit those sites. Just pick the name of the most famous Imam in Denmark and use it as your avatar. Your pissant government won't take the hint, but the NSA will quickly take note. You get the info you need to make your nuke, and the Imam gets an all-expenses-paid vacation in sunny Cuba, and everyone comes out ahead.
Somebody up there must have the guts to do it. You can't all be hippie ghosts. Just think how amazingly cool it would be to put your homemade nuke into one of those disgusting Eurotrash backpacks. Doesn't your axe hand itch sometimes, Danes? Honor this Nils Bohr, and do it the way the Vikings would. Vikings with nukes. Dream of that as you fall asleep to the sound of the foreigners you've welcomed and coddled smashing your cities -- and maybe you'll wake up sane again, to a dream of nuclear-powered longboats heading south to turn the Holy Land into a glowing wasteland, like God intended. And by God, I mean Odin, not that Palestinian smooth-talker whose armpits are stinking up on the cross. When you had gods fit for Vikings, you were feared and respected; now you're just fucked.