Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Extreme Patriotism

I'm feeling fairly well flag flogged this morning. It happens every Veteran's Day, but this morning's paper worked especially hard at driving the message home.

It always puts me on a narrow balance beam – recognizing the validity of giving thanks for those veterans who have put their lives on the line whether actually in defense of their country or only in the belief that there was good reason for them to risk their lives when it wasn't true as in the case of every war I can think of other than the World Wars I & II – and I'm not knowledgeable enough to be sure about WWI.

During the time when we were working so hard to try and get folks to understand that going to Iraq was a gigantic misstep, I was amazed and appalled at how many folks on the other side of the issue were equating Bush's push to Iraq with WWII. It is even more amazing that this feeling persists to this day.

How anyone who takes a hard look at why we went to Iraq and the impacts that decision has had on our own well-being can still think there is any similarity between the two wars is totally beyond me.

We went to war with Japan because they attacked us. We went to war with Iraq after that country's enemy, Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida attacked us. We went to war with Germany because their totalitarian government wanted to take over the world and was willing to torture and exterminate people in the process. Now we are engaged in a war designed to heighten our control over the world and its resources and WE are willing to torture and kill innocent people in the process.

America – the world's liberator during WWII – has become the world's oppressor. At the time of WWII we hated the very thought of imprisoning people without just cause, detested any nation that would torture prisoners, and went to war only when the nation was attacked. Now we house thousands of uncharged prisoners whom we routinely torture and we espouse a doctrine of pre-emptive warfare. That has traonsformed us from the most admired nation on the globe to the most detested of the superpowers. The world has learned to fear us and hate us.

On the domestic front, legislation has been passed that puts the freedom of the American people at great risk and most citizens appear to be completely unaware of it.

President Bush has spoken over the past few days about his distaste Pakistan President Musharaf's declaration of martial law, but even that rings false. Many people I know fear that a body of legislation run through by the Bush Administration has been aimed at exactly that goal in this country. For a good, clear discussion of their reasoning, take about five minutes to read the two pages written by Frank Morales. (Sorry reference lost in translation from MySpace.)

We've looked at some extremes in this discussion this morning, but I wish that more people could discern that the kind of flag waving patriotism that glorifies the sacrifice people are willing to make for their country is also an extreme. It rightfully thanks those willing to wear the uniform and protect their fellow citizens, but it wrongfully glorifies doing so without first questioning whether or not the cause is worthy of that sacrifice.

I wore the uniform during Viet Nam. When I went in, I was willing to blindly follow and was an advocate of "just nuke 'em and get it over with". By the time I got out, I had learned that all of us in those uniforms were being asked to put our lives on the line for no good reason. Time has proven the latter to be correct.

Unless the citizens of America learn to discern between just causes and false patriotism, the kind of governance offered by the Bush Administration will eventually cost us our freedom. At that point, we will once again have something truly worth fighting for. Sadly, we will have realized far too late that we are our own worst enemy.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls

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