They strive to achieve uniformity via exclusion

Monday, August 17th, 2020

Out of all the major political movements on Earth, Bryan Caplan says, none is more Orwellian than “social justice”:

[T]he official story of the social justice movement is that we should swear eternal devotion to “diversity and inclusion.” Yet in practice they strive to achieve uniformity via exclusion. The recent University of California scandal is an elegant example. In affected departments, job candidates had to write a “diversity and inclusion statement.” Unless candidates vigorously supported the social justice movement through word and action, the faculty never even got to see their applications. How vigorously? To reach “the next stage of review,” applicants needed a minimum average score of 11 on this rubric. Since a rank-and-file dogmatic ideologue would probably only score a 9, this cutoff predictably causes ideological uniformity of Orwellian dimensions.

More generally:

1. The diversity and inclusion movement is nominally devoted to fervent “anti-racism.” In practice, however, they are the only prominent openly racist movement I have encountered during my life in the United States. Nowadays they routinely mock and dismiss critics for the color of their skin — then accuse those they mock and dismiss of “white fragility.” Just one prominent recent case:

The signatories, many of them white, wealthy, and endowed with massive platforms, argue that they are afraid of being silenced, that so-called cancel culture is out of control, and that they fear for their jobs and free exchange of ideas, even as they speak from one of the most prestigious magazines in the country.

2. The diversity and inclusion movement doesn’t just bizarrely redefine racism as “prejudice plus power.” Since their movement combines explicit racial prejudice with great power, they neatly fit their own Newspeak definition.

3. A popular social justice lawn sign includes the plank, “Be kind to all.” Yet the movement greets even mild criticism from friends with hostility, and firm disagreement with rage. Plus the harshest punishments they can arrange, especially ostracism from high-skilled employment.

Black Lives Matter Yard Sign

4. While we’re on the subject of “being kind to all,” let me point out that making harsh, ill-founded accusations against any large, unselective group — such as a race, gender, or age bracket — is the opposite of kind.* Yet the “social justice” movement hasn’t just heaped collective guilt on whites, males, and “the old.” It has heaped scorn on even mild pushback like “Not all men are sexist.” Basic kindness, in contrast, enjoins you to (a) calmly investigate the validity of your accusations before voicing them; (b) carefully distinguish between misunderstandings and malice; (c) reassure innocent bystanders before you call out the demonstrably guilty.

5. The “Love is love” slogan is comparably Orwellian. Thanks to #MeToo, almost every person who values his job is now too terrified even to meekly ask a co-worker out on a date. Where is the love there? When faced with compelling evidence that male managers were responding to the climate of fear by avoiding mentoring and social contact with female co-workers, the #MeToo reaction was not to mend fences but to make further threats.

6. “Science is real” would also bring a grim smile to Orwell’s face. The diversity and inclusion movement shows near-zero patience for the pile of scientific research that estimates the share of group performance gaps that stem from discrimination versus other factors. Instead, they (a) ignore the science; (b) speak as if science shows the share is 100%; and (c) treat people who discuss the actual science as if they’re personally guilty of discrimination. The same goes for any unwelcome scientific conclusions about gender, sexuality, academic performance, etc. Either embrace the foregone conclusions of “social justice,” or risk the wrath of the movement. Just beneath the propaganda lies uniformity via exclusion.

7. What’s the relationship between Orwellian language and the motte-and-bailey fallacy? Quite distant. Orwellian language amounts to saying the opposite of the truth. Motte-and-bailey, in contrast, is about strategically toggling between moderate and extreme versions of your creed. E.g., sometimes feminism is the moderate view that “Women should be treated as fairly as men”; yet the rest of the time, feminism is the extreme view that “Women should be treated as fairly as men, but totally aren’t in this depraved sexist society.”

8. If all this is true, how come I’m not too scared of Big Brother to write it? Tenure is a big part of it. The official point of tenure is to make professors feel free to voice unpopular truths — and I’m all about unpopular truths. Still, I’m no martyr. If I were looking for an academic job, I would shut up. I hope many tenure-seeking readers feel the same yearning to voice unpopular truths with impunity, though I fear your numbers are few.

9. What’s the least Orwellian feature of the “social justice” movement? Support for illegal immigrants, of course. First World countries really do treat illegal immigrants like subhumans, and to its credit the social justice movement offers them moral support with the poetic slogan, “No human being is illegal.” Yet sadly, the volume of this moral support is barely audible, because the movement has so many higher priorities. If its activists took the immense moral energy they waste on costumes, jokes, and careless speech, and redirected it toward the cause of free migration, I’d forgive their Orwellian past today.

10. Meta-question: Why do Orwellian movements exist at all? Why doesn’t each movement say what it means and mean what it says? “Marketing” is the easy answer: When your true goals are awful, you resort to deceptively pleasant packaging to keep forward momentum. While this story makes sense, it’s incomplete. The most Orwellian movements actively revel in the contradiction between word and deed — and even in the contradiction between word and word. The best explanation is that submission to an Orwellian creed is a grade-A loyalty test. Insisting that all your members admit that “The sky is blue” doesn’t weed out the doubters and fair-weather soldiers. Insisting that all your members admit that “The sky is green” or “There is no sky,” in contrast, selects for fanatics and yes-folk. And sadly, those are the sorts of people movements like “diversity and inclusion” appreciate.

* “Social justice” is of course a selective movement. You can disaffiliate anytime you like — and if you don’t want to be blamed for poor behavior of your compatriots, you should.

The far frontier is not defended with citizens

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

In addition to restraint of objective, T. R. Fehrenbach reminds us (in This Kind of War), the second necessary ingredient of limited war is a professional army large enough to handle any task:

In 1950, even to fight an underdeveloped nation in Asia, America had to fall back upon her citizens. And in this, above all else, lies the resulting trauma of the Korean War.

The far frontier is not defended with citizens, for citizens have better things to do than to die on some forsaken hill, in some forsaken country, for what seems to be the sake of that country.

[...]

A modern democracy was not semifeudal Prussia, or Bourbon France, or Whig England, where soldiers could be swept from taverns, pressed from the ranks of the unskilled and unemployed, the disadvantaged put under the rod of iron, to be broken into grenadiers, to voyage and die for the realm, while the stable and fortunate citizenry said good riddance.

Can the demise of democracy and free markets be far behind?

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

Arnold Kling foresees the Twilight of the Bourgeoisie and The Coming of Neo-Feudalism:

Overall, Kotkin’s thesis that the bourgeoisie is in decline is persuasive and disturbing. It is persuasive because the importance of education in social status is everywhere evident. In the 1950s, there were many corporate leaders who had only a high school education, and there were few with graduate degrees. Today, that is reversed.

The consolidation of economic power in Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google has been sudden and striking. It has confounded those of us who looked at the Internet revolution as a phenomenon that would empower smaller enterprises by decreasing the importance of physical capital.

The first wave of the Internet boom, in the late 1990s, was characterized by feverish entry and vigorous competition in the realms of Internet search, on-line shopping, and the hardware and software that consumers would use to access the World Wide Web. In contrast, the current tech boom seems to have entrenched the leaders in their respective positions.

Deirdre McCloskey has argued persuasively that bourgeois virtues raised the status of innovation and commerce, paving the way for our modern economic and political systems. If, as Kotkin argues, the status of the bourgeoisie is in the process of decline, can the demise of democracy and free markets be far behind?

Their cruel choice was that of cataclysm, humiliation, or surrender

Friday, August 14th, 2020

It was the boast of the great Frederick, T. R. Fehrenbach reminds us (in This Kind of War), that when he went to war neither the peasants of the fields nor the tradesmen of his towns should know or care:

Because Frederick involved his small state of Prussia in wars too big for even his iron grenadiers, he was not quite able to live up to his boast — but it is an accurate statement of the conditions of warfare in the Age of Reason.

In the eighteenth century, men and rulers were sick to death of unlimited war. For almost two centuries jihad had been preached; armies had crossed Europe like ravening locusts; millions had died; and at the end of the savagery nothing had been accomplished. The survivors still insisted on being Calvinists, Catholics, or Lutherans, short of extermination.

In Frederick’s time men were still men, and they must compete — but they no longer trusted the angel’s trumpet, or would have heeded had it blown. Wars there still were, but they developed in a new, a limited, fashion: to snatch a province here, to defend one there, to place a friendly head upon some throne, or to remove an unfriendly one from it.

The statesmen of Europe, even though they fought, wanted a certain order to the world. They called it the balance of power. It was a desperately fragile system, but it was the best they could design.

After two hundred years, and after a new resort to savagery in the period of the “nations in arms,” men had still evolved nothing with any more promise. There was a new hope of an eventual world order through the uniting of all nations in peace, but the hope was still only that, and no more. Power remained the fulcrum of world action. And unless some sort of balance could be maintained, the world would once again erupt in perhaps the last of all “holy” wars.

When the Soviet bloc pushed at the balance of world order in 1950, the men in the United States Government reacted the best way they knew how. So far as they would be able, they would reject resort to cataclysmic war. They felt, in their hearts, that a final test of strength between Communist and non-Communist would in the end decide nothing, except who remained alive in a shattered world. They would accept such a test only as a last resort.

They accepted, tacitly, to play the Communist game of limited war, for limited ends. It must never be forgotten that the game was pushed upon them — they did not precipitate it. Their cruel choice was that of cataclysm, humiliation, or surrender.

Make your own bubble in 10 easy steps

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

Bryan Caplan explains how to make your own bubble in 10 easy steps:

1. Amicably divorce your society.  Don’t get angry at the strangers who surround you, just accept the fact that you’re not right for each other.

2. Stop paying attention to things that aggravate you unless (a) they concretely affect your life AND (b) you can realistically do something about them.  Start by ceasing to follow national and world news.

3. Pay less frequent attention to things that aggravate you even if they do concretely affect your life and you can realistically do something about them.  For example, if you check your email twenty times a day and find the experience frustrating, try cutting back to two or three times a day.  If you need to know about world politics, read history books, not newspaper articles.

4. Emotionally distance yourself from people you personally know who aggravate you.  Don’t purge anyone – that causes more trouble than it saves.  Just accept the fact that you aren’t going to change them.

5. Abandon your First World Problems mentality.  Consciously compare your income to Haitian poverty, your health status to Locked-In Syndrome, your sorrow to that of parent who has lost a child.  As Tsunami Bomb tells us, “Be grateful that you have a brain for thinking/ And legs to take you places.”  For guidance, repeatedly read Epicurus’ Letter to Menoeceus and Julian Simon’s Good Mood.

6. Now that you have emptied your life of frustration, you are ready to fill it with joy.  Start doing things that make you happy even – nay, especially – if most people in your ex-society disrespect them.  Spend $1 a day to filter out annoying advertising and intrusion.

7. Actively try to make more friends with people who share your likes.  In the Internet age, this is shockingly easy.  Don’t try to make more friends who share your dislikes.  You should build friendship on common passions, not joint contempt.

8. Find a career you really enjoy.  Ask yourself, “Will I take daily pride in this work?” and “Are the kind of people I want to befriend statistically over-represented in this line of work?”  If you have to signal for years to get this job, sigh, signal, and see Step 5.

9. If you’re single, stop dating outside of your sub-sub-culture.  Happy relationships are based on shared values and mutual admiration so intense that outsiders laugh.  Let them laugh.

10. Now that your own life is in order, you are emotionally ready to quixotically visit your ex-society.  Maybe you want to publicly argue for open borders, abolition of the minimum wage, or pacifism.  Go for it.  Bend over backwards to be friendly.  Take pride in your quixotic quest.  Then go home to your Beautiful Bubble and relax.

Coda: Many perpetually aggravated people tell me they “just can’t” adopt my advice.  Perhaps they’re right to think that they can’t follow my advice 100%.  But so what?  Anyone can adopt my advice at the margin.  Why not spend one extra hour a day in your Bubble and see what happens?

Communist armies tended to flow like the sea

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

A great and continuing weakness of the United States Army fighting in Asia, T. R. Fehrenbach argues (in This Kind of War), was its tactical and psychological dependence on continuous battle lines, such as had been known in Europe:

In Asia, terrain and Communist tactics made such lines rare — Communist armies tended to flow like the sea, washing around strong points, breaking through places where the dams were weak. The “human sea” analogy picked up and headlined by the press was very real — except that the press always gave a misleading indication of the numbers of enemy involved. Relatively small numbers of enemy flowed around the high ground held by American troops, went behind them, and interdicted their supply roads.

Road-bound, the American commanders became understandably nervous. Invariably, both men and leaders began to think of retreat, falling back to form a new line. This was in many respects a frame of mind. The North Korean forces in the American rear were small, ill supplied, and in effect often cut off from contact with their own bases.

Able to live on three rice balls a day, capable of carrying guns and ammunition over the steepest slopes on foot, this isolation bothered the Communists not at all.

It drove the Americans, hating isolated action, dependent upon wheels, to desperation. Ironically, the Indian-fighting army of seventy-five years earlier would have understood the new form of warfare perfectly. On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare. It had learned to ride hard and march hard, live light, and to operate in isolated columns, giving the enemy no rest.

But even hard lessons can be soon forgotten.

What buildings will look like after the Covid crisis

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

The Wall Street Journal looks at what buildings will look like after the Covid crisis:

The New York-based company found that requests for home offices rose from 0.5% of messages pre-pandemic to 3% once the pandemic hit. Private outdoor space requests jumped by 20%, while in-unit laundry (a rarity in New York City) went up 17%. Interest in gyms plummeted. Requests fell by 10% for in-building gyms and by 50% for gyms nearby.

New Must-Have Amenities

Among the most common design changes made by developers is adding outdoor space or increasing access to those spaces. In a rental project in Quincy, Mass., now in the permit phase, developer LBC Boston is adding balconies to about a quarter of the units, said Margarita Kvacheva, senior vice president. “We are strategically placing the balconies on the south side, because those get the daylight and that’s where people can go out and get vitamin D,” she said.

Ventilation Systems Used by Individual Units

Short of shooting them there was no way to keep the Koreans from using the bridge

Monday, August 10th, 2020

The last unit to flee across the Naktong river had a problem, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

As the rear guard came across the bridge to the east side, throngs of Koreans followed them, filling the bridge with jostling bodies. General Hobart Gay, who had ordered the bridge to be sent up only at his express command, instructed them to go back to the far side, and clear the bridge.

This they did, as dusk approached. Then, with the refugees pushed back onto the west shore, the rear guard turned and pelted across to the friendly bank — but the second they turned, the Koreans dashed madly for the bridge and soon filled it, even before the cavalrymen were across.

Three times, at Gay’s order, they repeated the maneuver, without success. Short of shooting them there was no way to keep the Koreans from using the bridge. Even telling them it would be blown did no good.

Now it was growing dark, and the Inmun Gun was closing. As the rear guard recrossed to the east side for the third time, with the mass of Koreans close behind them, Hobart Gay, his face pale, said, “Blow it.” He had no other choice.

Several hundred Koreans went into the river with the bridge.

Science is probably the best thing humans ever invented

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

Zach Weinersmith (the cartoonist behind Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and Soonishillustrates the ideas in Stuart Ritchie’s new book, Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth.

(Ritchie’s previous book was Intelligence: All that Matters.)

Here are a few of my favorite panels:

Science is probably the best thing

Massage Their Statistics

While ground warfare had changed little, the American society and the American soldier had

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

At the start of the Korean War, the American troops were driven back, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), but they weren’t at all prepared to retreat:

Gay, who had been Patton’s chief of staff in Europe, admitted he did not know how to conduct a retreat — thus far in his military experience he had never been involved in one.

[...]

The land viewed from afar is beautiful, rolling terraces and rice paddies, each a subtly different shade of green. But each paddy is a humid, stinking oven, and the bare hills are like broiler plates.

When they left their trucks and moved up onto the hills and ridges, American soldiers, as one officer put it, “dropped like flies.” Their legs, unused to hard pulls, gave out. The heat and exertion gave them throbbing headaches. During these weeks exhaustion and heat knocked out more men than NKPA bullets.

Short of water, lacking water discipline, they drank from ditches and paddies, developed searing dysentery.

They sweated until their shirts and belts rotted, and their bellies turned shark-white. Salt tablets became such an item of priority that they had to be air-dropped on units, along with vital ammunition.

Korea is a land cut by multiple hills and valleys, lacking roads. It is no terrain for a mechanized army. The principal — and sometimes only — means of getting from one place to another through the hills is shank’s mare. But American troops, physically unhardened for foot marches, were road-bound. They defended on roads, attacked on roads, retreated on roads. If their vehicles couldn’t go, they did not go either.

FEAF soon made the roads unpopular with the Inmun Gun. On the roads, tactical air strafed them, rocketed them, burned them. The Inmun Gun left the roads and went over the ridges, and it seemed to bother them not at all. They went stolidly up the slopes with the patient, sideways, Korean peasant tread, and they carried their machine guns, mortars, and mountains of ammunition with them.

They set their guns up on the high ground behind the Americans, interdicting their supply roads. Americans had trouble attacking up the hills to knock them off. And when their roads were blocked, Americans could hardly drag themselves over the hills to safety, let alone their heavy equipment. Second to the Soviets, the American Army became the principal supplier to the Inmun Gun of guns and ammunition.

The great problem was that in 1950, an infantryman in Korea was called on to do almost the same things Caesar’s legions had done, and to suffer the same hardships. In twenty centuries, infantry warfare has changed but little in the burdens it puts on the men in the mud. But in 1950, while ground warfare had changed little, the American society and the American soldier had.

He disappeared into a room, and you didn’t see him again until it was done

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Ryan Holiday illustrates the best career advice he ever received with a story from the NFL:

At the height of the financial crisis in 1975, Bill Belichick — the now six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach of the New England Patriots — was 23 years old and unemployed. Desperate for a job in football after an assistant position fell through, according to his biographer David Halberstam, he wrote some 250 letters to college and professional football coaches. Nothing came of it except a unpaid job for the Baltimore Colts.

The Colts’ head coach desperately needed someone for the one part of the job everyone else disliked: analyzing film.

Most people would have hated this job, especially back then, but it turned out to be the springboard through which the greatest coach in football was launched into his legendary career.

In this lowly position, Belichick thrived on what was considered grunt work, asked for it, and strove to become the best at precisely what others thought they were too good for. “He was like a sponge, taking it all in, listening to everything,” one coach said. “You gave him an assignment and he disappeared into a room and you didn’t see him again until it was done, and then he wanted to do more,” said another.

Most importantly, he made the other coaches look good. His insights gave them things they could give their players. It gave them an edge they would take credit for exploiting in the game.

It’s a strategy that all of us ought to follow, whatever stage of our careers we happen to be in. Forget credit. Do the work.

For the first time, many Americans could understand what had happened to Britain at Dunkirk

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War) the American retreat at the start of the Korean War:

But most of the heroic actions had been those of individuals, of single officers or men who fought bravely and well. Because without tight discipline their bravery could not be coordinated into a team effort, many of these men died in vain.

[...]

None of them were equipped, trained, or mentally prepared for combat. For the first time in recent history, American ground units had been committed during the initial days of a war; there had been no allies to hold the line while America prepared. For the first time, many Americans could understand what had happened to Britain at Dunkirk.

[...]

Once aroused, a democracy can match a totalitarian state in every facet of strength — it can be stronger, for totalitarianism has built-in bureaucratic weaknesses. A Hitler can command, and men march — but a Hitler can go mad — and there is no one to say him nay.

But the abiding weakness of free peoples is that their governments can not or will not make them prepare or sacrifice before they are aroused.

[...]

Soldiers fight from discipline and training, citizens from motivation and ideals. Lacking both, it is amazing that the American troops did even as well as they did.

[...]

In actuality, the NKPA held a slight superiority in men on 20 July. By 22 July, U.N. and North Korean forces were on a par, and by the end of July United Nations forces actually outnumbered the Inmun Gun, an advantage they never again lost.

[...]

But men are not ciphers, nor do the battles always go to the big battalions.

[...]

But few correspondents saw that officers, giving crucial commands, could never be sure if their orders would be obeyed. A colonel who sends men to hold a vital hill, and who sees them again and again “take a vote on it with their feet” by marching to the rear, is soon apt to be a straitjacket case.

This is what a kiloton looks like

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

If you haven’t seen the massive explosion in Beirut, it is legitimately terrifying:

That’s thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate going off, with roughly the energy of kilotons of TNT.

There’s not much left.

(Hat tip to our Slovenian Guest.)

Demonization becomes a winning Darwinian strategy

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

We learn by paying attention to what others attend to, which is why, Arnold Kling speculates, in-class learning works better than watching a lecture on line:

When I am in a classroom, others are paying attention to the speaker. This makes my attention to the speaker instinctive. I don’t have to use so much willpower to pay attention. But when it’s just me sitting in front of a computer, I have to will myself to pay attention. It uses up more effort and takes more out of me.

That’s not his main point though:

In the twentieth century, watching television or listening to the radio were often social activities. TV and radio could command our attention the way the speaker in a classroom would, through people paying attention to what others were attending to.

But we use 21st-century media in isolation. That means that the media need other means to command our attention. They cannot rely on our use of social cues. Instead, they have to rely on dopamine hits. Porn. Games. And demonization.

We get a dopamine hit by seeing the demonization of people with whom we disagree. So demonization becomes a winning Darwinian strategy in the age of contemporary media.

The whole point of writing The Three Languages of Politics was to describe demonization rhetoric under the assumption that people would not want to demonize. I thought that if you recognize the rhetoric, you would back away from it.

Instead, the religion that persecutes heretics justifies demonization. To criticize demonization is to be a heretic. In a world where people consume media in isolation, an ideology that justifies demonization has an advantage.

It was much easier to get a message to the rear than it was to get one carried forward

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

Major General Dean found himself trying to hold back the North Koreans at Taejon, but, as T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), he had almost no communications:

If he wanted to know what was happening to the front-line troops, he had to be on the front lines. He had found, sadly, that it was much easier to get a message to the rear than it was to get one carried forward.

[...]

He had three basic reasons for remaining inside the beleaguered city; one, to keep up the crumbling morale of the 34th Infantry and the other defenders by the sight of their commander moving shoulder to shoulder with them; two, to set an example for the ROK officers and staffs fighting alongside the Americans, who by now had all virtually climbed on the Pusan Express; and three, Bill Dean wanted to see close up just what kind of fighting cat the North Korean was.

[...]

The North Korean assault on Taejon was like all other North Korean attacks — they crashed into the defenders head on pinning them down, forcing them back, while at the same time they flanked or infiltrated to the rear and blocked the defenders’ retreat. At any given moment, it was impossible for Dean or any other commander to know what the situation was to his rear; this was a kind of tactic that the Europe-trained American officers, who liked to keep tidy lines, could not grasp until too late.

As it developed, Dean kept what he wanted of the 34th in the city, and sent other elements of the division, including his own HQ, to the east. As he would say much later, what he did afterward could have been done by any competent sergeant — but in saying this, Dean was thinking of the old Army, not the forces of 1950.

[...]

He decided to go tank hunting. He did not know it, but Colonel Beauchamp, to whom he had just given command of the 34th, was doing the same. Like Colonel Martin, Beauchamp had found everyone deathly sick of the T-34’s, but now things were just a bit better, for a few of the new 3.5-inch bazookas, designed to stop any known armor, had been flown in from the States.

With Beauchamp guiding and directing a team, the 3.5’s knocked out one tank west of Taejon.

[...]

Meanwhile, hundreds of North Korean soldiers, disguised in the white robes of farmers, were infiltrating into the city. Once inside, they threw off the misleading civilian attire and opened fire on American troops. Soon snipers were everywhere.

Using HQ and service personnel, American officers were having very poor success in rooting them out. Most American boys no longer knew how to play cowboys and Indians, particularly with live ammunition.

By afternoon, Dean had located another bazooka man, this time with an ammo bearer.

Dodging sniper fire, shooting a few snipers on the way, his party hunted up another tank. But this target was covered by North Korean infantry, and rifle fire kept them from getting close. Dean and the bazooka men sneaked back through a Korean courtyard, and climbed up to the second story of a house facing the street.

Here, cautiously looking out the street window, Dean saw the muzzle of the tank’s 85mm gun pointed at him, not more than a dozen feet away.

The bazooka man aimed where Dean pointed, and fired. The blowback from the rocket shook the whole room. The shaped charge burned into the tank at the juncture of turret and body

From the tank came a shrill, horrible ululation.

“Hit ’em again!” Dean said.

After the third round, the screaming ended abruptly, and the T-34 began to smoke.

[...]

Because he took the wrong turn, Bill Dean would not rejoin the American Army until September, 1953. Thirty-five days later, after wandering lost in the hills, after making heroic attempts to reach his own lines, Bill Dean was betrayed to the Inmun Gun by Koreans. When they jumped him, he tried to make them kill him, but they put ropes around his wrists and dragged him to a police station. There they threw him in a cage, the sort reserved for the town drunk.

Only much later did the Inmun Gun realize that the old-looking, filthy, 130-pound emaciated soldier they had captured was an American general.

General Dean once said that he wouldn’t award himself a wooden star for what he did as a commander. His country saw more clearly.

It gave him the Medal of Honor.