Monday, July 25, 2005

Do You Feel Like a Loyal Patriot? A Political Rant

There's been a torrent of Op-Ed pieces over the red state/blue state split in America. After the 2004 election, the San Jose Mercury News printed a slightly tongue-in-cheek picture of a U.S. map with all blue states attempting to escape to Canada. How divided are we? I'm uncomfortable even writing that last sentence. There is no we; there's only two bitterly divided groups: the blues who consider themselves cosmopolitan and educated and the reds who hold themselves up as the last bastion of morality. One could argue that there's a large group of apathetic centrists who have little interest in even voting, but they're not the ones who drive the poltical debate. Except for our blowhard politicians, when was the last time that you heard anyone say "we Americans"? When was the last time that you wrote "our government"? Most Americans would say that the government is controlled by right-wing Republicans but they would be wrong. The U.S. is controlled by corporations and demagogues who, while enriching themselves and their friends at government expense, seek to distract the general public into fighting one another in a verbal civil war over issues like gay marriage and abortion. This wouldn't matter as much if it was just a question of government corruption. As any historian will tell you, corruption is the price of democracy; only absolute dictatorships can ensure total accountability. No, it's the death and destruction in Iraq that matters. Except for a few yellow stickers haphazardly placed on bumpers, there are few visible signs that the country is at war. The public feels little or no direct effect which would distract from the usual media babble; the pain is primarily borne by a thin demographic section that supplies the military recruits. U.S. deaths are closing in on 2,000 but there is little outcry. Casualty reports have been banished to the back pages of newspapers or relegated to the thin ribbon crawling along the bottom of the television screen. At best, they're worthy of a three-second sound bite, accompanied by appropriately sad music. The Bush administration orchestrated the unseen war by rigorously preventing the press from reporting honestly on the blood soaking the ground in Iraq. The "news" consists of press releases handed out by a military spokesman and some sanitized video taken by Iraqi cameramen, the only news employees who dare to leave the Green Zone. There is no blood, no screaming soldiers and civilians whose limbs lie twisted and mangled; sensitive viewers might complain and real life might become too real. None of this is lost upon the U.S. soldiers in Iraq. I can't bring myself to call them "our" soldiers; my soldiers wouldn't fight a war based on a lie, torture innocents because they might have information about terrorists, or continue to support a president who has cost them lives and credibility. Those soldiers in Iraq are correct when they worry whether the public still supports them. If Iraq is Vietnam-in-a-desert, what will U.S. veterans face after Iraq dissolves into a morass of civil war, terrorism, and butchery? Will returning soldiers be welcomed home with parades? Or will they be scapegoated as failures? That's what happened after Vietnam. It took decades for public opinion to acknowledge that the leadership was the failure; it was far easier to blame the foot soldiers for "not being good enough, not like the dedicated soldiers in World War II". The soldiers will be an easy target for the Bush administration to use to deflect responsibility because the public doesn't really care about them. They may wave a flag on July 4th but how many people care about the lack of body armor? They care more about the price of gasoline and that's because they aren't our soldiers. As far as the public is concerned, they're just a group of people who volunteered to join the military and tough luck that they got sent to war. The United States is not a country. It is a collection of special interest groups with so little patriotism that they don't even blink an eye when they see their politicians commit treason.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A perfect assessment Lady Tarantula. The American military can see through all the "Support the Troops" hypocrisy. We know darn well that when the neocon wingnuts who set us up for this failure, decide to blame us as they blamed the military 35 years ago after Vietnam, the American sheeple will willingly follow.
Cries of "baby-killer", "war criminal" and showers of spittle, urine, and feces at airports is just around the corner.
-Soldier in SW Asia

9/06/2005 01:16:00 AM  

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