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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Patriots

Me: “Not interested, thanks”

Her: “Don’t you want to support the war?”

Me: “I gave at the office.”

Her: “If you’re anti-war, you’re anti-American.”

Me: “I beg your pardon? Who are you talking to?”

Her: “We think it’s unpatriotic for an American to be anti-war in this day and age. Un-American.”

Me: “Unpatriotic?”

Her: “We don’t understand why liberals even want to live here if you hate this country so much…”

Me: “Stop. You know what, Lady? How’s about you and your Tea party pals shove it right up your wrinkly gray ass. You’re so enthusiastic about killing people for Jesus? You go do it.”

 

Being against war is unpatriotic?

Being anti-war is Un-American?

Only the filthy hated commie liberals are against war?

Despite the fact that these Tea party asshats  are significantly outnumbered by the rest of us, it’s their country and the rest of us should just pack up and leave? How’s that supposed to work?

Here’s a question for you, what kind of person is pro-war?

No, seriously, what kind of psychopath thinks war is a good idea? And when exactly did enthusiasm for war, war, become a criteria for patriotism or being an American?

According to the TEA Party biddy above who told me I wasn’t much of an American, there is no difference between supporting the troops and supporting the war.  If you’re not pro-war, you don’t support the troops. If you want to end the war, you don’t support the troops. If you question the United State’s reasons for going to war, into this war in particular, you’re not a “patriot” and shouldn’t even be allowed to call yourself an American.

When did peace become unpatriotic?

As most of you probably know, I’ve been to war myself. I spent almost all of my adult life in the uniform of the United States. I believe that war is sometimes a necessary evil.  I believe that the military option is sometimes the only option – when all else has failed. I do not believe that war should be a first option or even the second. I do not believe that war should be waged preemptively. I do not believe that you can bomb an enemy into democracy. I do not believe that war is diplomacy by other means, I believe that it is a failure of diplomacy and an abject failure of civilization.  War has been my profession for more than twenty years, I did it because it was my sworn duty to do so and because it was what I was good at. I’ve lost more comrades in arms than I can remember along the way and seen some pretty terrible things.

To have some feeble old bitch tell me that I’m not American enough is pretty goddamned galling.

It seems I run into these people far too often of late. Maybe I just notice them more. Maybe it’s my demeanor or the fact that I can’t just walk past these assholes without wanting to slap their little Ben Franklin hats off their pointy heads. Or perhaps it’s where I live, the bastion and birthplace of Sarah Palin’s Fuck Yeah America Conservatism. These people not only think war is the answer, they think war is the only answer. Might makes right. Kill them all and let God sort it out. Nuke them till they glow, then shoot them in the dark. Be nice to America, or we’ll have our B-52’s drop some freedom on your country. They think in sound bites and those pithy phrases you find on bumper stickers. They carry guns and drive Hummers and they just can’t wait to declare war, war on drugs, war on the poor, war on terrorism, war on liberals, war on illegals, war on science, war on Islam, war on this and war on that.  To them, war is what General Jesus would do, war is awesome, war is all fireworks and drums and stars and stripes forever. The funny thing is that the biggest most outspoken of these pro-war chickenhawks never seems to have served in actual war themselves.  Not one of the band of American patriots who took us into the current conflict ever served in combat – Bush hid out in the National Guard and did his patriotic duty in the bars and frat houses of the Gulf Coast, the great patriotic warhawk himself, Dick Cheney, spent considerable effort to avoid putting his own ass on the line and the only enemy he ever faced with a gun in his hands was an 80 year old lawyer in a Texas cornfield.

Oddly though, one of the few conservatives with actual and extensive combat experience, John McCain, is commonly referred to as too liberal for conservatives.  They don’t like Colin Powell or Eric Shinseki either.

One of the most fervent pro-war ultra-conservatives I ever met, a local Scoutmaster, once spent an entire hour explaining to me why he couldn’t serve in Vietnam back when the country called him to war (needy wife, poor old mom, the farm, flat feet, bad ear, poor eyesight, college, etc, etc, but he would have served, boy he would have. If he could have. Sure, you bet), but that was different from  the un-American liberal cowards who refused to fight.

They love to wave the flag, these patriots, and they love to sing the Star Spangled Banner and send other people’s kids off to fight and die with parades and fireworks. They love those little yellow ribbon magnets. They love to hear the body counts on the evening news, twenty Taliban killed, fifty terrorists dead in a firefight, American troops victorious again!  God Bless America! They turn their eyes away though, when those flag draped metal boxes come back. Somehow you never see those on the news, do you?  One thousand one hundred and twenty eight US military men and women died in Afghanistan this year, four more today, how many of those did you see come home on TV? Why is it that they never broadcast images of the VA waiting rooms full of the maimed, the torn and sundered, the burned and scarred and blinded?  These patriots love their little bake sales and their little letter writing campaigns and their little tea parties, it makes their little red white and blue hearts sing to see the bombs and the missiles and the sleek fighter planes.  They’ll happily spend their hard earned dollars on a “Piss On Obama” bumper sticker for the back of their giant gas swilling Lincolns, but somehow can’t afford even a dime more in taxes to fund the VA or provide for all those returning soldiers.  Walk it off. Suck it up. Quit whining they tell us.  Our generation didn’t get a parade either – except, of course, they did. Fuck you. Be a man, keep it to yourself.  They can write a thousand enraged letters to their conservative representatives, demanding lower taxes and more jobs and smaller government and more war and Obama’s head on a pike, but somehow the Greatest Generation and the Not So Great Generation and the Fuck You I Got Mine Generation that followed can’t seem to get themselves worked up over inadequate equipment, unfunded VA facilities, eroding veteran’s benefits, lack of mental health and medical support for returning combat forces, and so on. Suck it up. Walk it off. We didn’t get a parade. Fuck you. Here, buy a yellow ribbon, support our troops and don’t forget to support the war!

They’re pro-life, these patriots, oh God are they pro-life.  They tell me that you can’t be both a Christian and pro-choice, oh no sirree.  Life is sacred. God given. Well, sacred as long as it’s in the womb of a liberal. They see the bulge of that belly and they’re all misty eyed and teary with compassion for that unborn American baby. They have to save those babies, for Jesus. This, this is why we go to war, to save the children! Then they go home and turn on the news and sneer with contempt at Iraqi and Afghan children, shattered and orphaned, maimed and scarred. Bastards had it coming for being born to terrorists. When the missiles fall they feel nothing but pride for our technological superiority, when the missiles fall on the wrong target – on innocents, on children, on friendly forces – well that’s just too bad. Shit happens. America can do no wrong, and when we apologize for our mistake these patriots feel nothing but the hot embarrassment of shame – not for innocent life lost, not for innocent life they claim to revere, not for innocent life they claim is given by their God, no they feel ashamed because patriotism means never, ever, having to say you’re sorry. And they just can’t seem to understand why damned near everybody in the world hates our fucking guts, even our friends and allies.

How they love war and war stories. How they love to talk about beating the Nazis and the Japs and Gooks and the VC – well, the ones that weren’t actually there anyway. Those that were, those that landed on the beaches of France, or spent that terrible winter in the black forests of the Ardennes, or at the Chosin Reservoir, or Tet and the Hanoi Hilton, or stood among the burning tanks on the Highway of Death, they don’t talk about it much.  But these patriots never stop to wonder why.

Oh how these patriots love the troops and respect us veterans – until they discover that some of us don’t live up to their myth of America, then suddenly we can just get out, move to a different country, fuck off and die.  Sarah Palin, when she was the Mayor of Wasilla, shook my hand and looked at the medals hanging on my Dress Blues and called me a real American hero – try to guess what she and her supporters think of me today. I voted for Obama and I still believe, I’m the enemy and un-American, yes I am.

Oh yes, how these patriots love us combat veterans. Three purple hearts, Bronze Star, Silver Star, and you’d better not speak ill of our heroes, you liberal bastards – unless, of course, the guy who received those decorations was a democrat, you know, like say John Kerry. He’s only a hero if he supported the war in Vietnam. It never occurs to them to wonder why he didn’t, even though he did his duty there far above and beyond anything these patriots could imagine.

How about Major Richard Winters?  The man who led Easy Company of the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne from the beaches of D-Day to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. A man whose brilliant leadership and raw courage at Normandy saved countless Allied lives and opened the way off that murderous beachhead – tactics that are still taught to this very day at West Point. Two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Service Cross – and there is a movement afoot right now to see him awarded the Medal of Honor before he dies.  He was the principle subject of Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers.  He came home from war and choose never to return. When recalled to active duty for Korea, he offered to train troops but refused combat himself – and indeed went to Washington and pulled strings to get out of it. He was quite adamantly anti-war. Is he a coward? Is he un-American? Is he no patriot?  He’s 92 years old now, and in poor health, but were I you, I’d be damned careful telling this man to his face that he should move to a different county because he’s not American enough to suit the fucking TEA Party.

I’ll ask the question again: what kind of person is pro-war?

And do we really want those people in charge?

46 comments:

  1. These jackanapes remind me of one of my favorite definitions in Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary (and Bierce was no stranger to war, himself, either):

    PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish read to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

    In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.


    Bierce, the brilliant old cynic, also defined a "patriot" as "The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors."

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  2. Not one of the band of American patriots who took us into the current conflict ever served in combat – Bush hid out in the National Guard and did his patriotic duty in the bars and frat houses of the Gulf Coast, the great patriotic warhawk himself, Dick Cheney, spent considerable effort to avoid putting his own ass on the line and the only enemy he ever faced with a gun in his hands was an 80 year old lawyer in a Texas cornfield.

    Most of these fucking idiots I have met (fortunately at a distance) have never been in the military.

    As for the Tea Party, these idiots remind me of the Know-Nothing movement of the 1840s and 1850s. Only then it was the Germans and Irish Catholics that were ruining America, instead of the Mexicans.

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  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for stating this. This has been discussed frequently in our house since my husband served for several years (during the good old Reagan era) and is an unabashed liberal who studied with a Marxist historian. In fact, the hubby could very easily be called a socialist/communist/insert your epithet here because of his political bent *but* he freakin' served. Where did Limbaugh serve? He didn't because of a boil on his ass (or some such nonsense). Where did Hannity serve? Not even as an altar boy since he doesn't even know the RC church correctly. What about O'Reilly? Coulter? Malkin? What? None of them served? They have no freakin right to question those who had the huevos to serve who question the status quo.

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  4. It's just a little more than depressing to think that this attitude, this fervent military-centric jingoism is very much the result of years of peace and ease and comfort. It's true that it takes a certain kind of madness to actively encourage the death of people you haven't the least connection to but it's made easier when you live in a disconnected, vicarious state where your daily dose of adrenaline was getting cut off on the highway.

    These dolts live in an idealized version of reality where their bloodthirstiness has no local consequences. These idiots think *hardship* is getting laid off from your job (or more likely finding out that your donut hole has run out of crullers) where *war* is something that happens in TV-land and can be safely cheered on from the couch.

    People who've lived through the shit or in any proximity to the shit know that it's something you avoid *if at all possible* ( I know this because I'm the child of someone who was there...up to the eyeballs and although I've never donned the gear I understand it at a fundamental level because my old man explained it to me, made it clear that people who cheer lead for war are morons, plain and simple). Anyone who gets misty at the thought of our boys (and girls) going off to serve needs a good swift kick in the junk. Heads up sparky! The correct feeling in this situation is solemnity and maybe a touch of sadness. It's OK to wave that flag as a symbol of support but for dog's sake if you've got a big ol shit eating grin on your face I will punch you in the head.

    I sincerely think that what we need for social longevity (which is looking dicey at this point) is some serious hardship to let us get our heads on straight...to have everyone take this kind of shit seriously instead of at some infantile remove.

    Sorry to blather Jim, but your posts occasionally raise my blood pressure.

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  5. Times like these make me wonder if Heinlein's system in Starship Troopers might not be as crazy as many make it out to be.

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  6. I was 7 when my dad went to Vietnam, 8 when he came back (thankfully in one piece). I wasn't really sure what was going on, just that he was TDY for a long time. Thank you for your service, Jim. Your site rocks. Bless all current and former military people, you are all heroes to me.

    knittingbull

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  7. "The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."
    -Douglas MacArthur

    "Could I have but a line a century hence crediting a contribution to the advance of peace, I would yield every honor which has been accorded by war."
    -Douglas MacArthur

    "I have known war as few men now living know it. It's very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes."
    -Douglas MacArthur

    Isn't it funny how only those who have never seen war look upon it as a desirable state of being. Perhaps the warmongering bastards should consider the actions and words of the following political figures who also happened to have extensive military experience: Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur and Colin Powell (all except Marshall were republicans). All were combat veterans whose actions and words actively sought to promote peaceful solutions to international disputes. It is no coincidence that, of all of the times American troops have been committed to combat, only two of the presidents who ordered the troops into the line of fire have been combat veterans themselves (McKinley and Truman).

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  8. "No one is fool enough to choose war instead of peace - in peace sons bury fathers, but in war fathers bury sons." — Herodotus

    I've been with one of those fathers, and I've seen others close up. It's not something you wish for or want.

    During a extended family dinner one of my nieces (one I'm very proud of) asked me how I knew the statistics of how many had died in the wars (I had just thrown it out into a sentence). I explained to her that each one of those numbers was someone just like her, and could very likely be her or her brother and that's why those numbers are important to me.

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  9. That's a great Herodotus quote, Steve.

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  10. Vagabond used the quote I like best.

    Jim, if I ever get up there to visit, we're totally going in search of the biddy so I can punch her in the throat. I know you'd never hit a woman, but I have no such compunction.

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  11. Goddammit, Jim, this should be published in every newspaper in America. Made required reading in our schools. Read from every pulpit.

    I did my service, thank God, during peacetime - too late for Vietnam, too soon for Persian Gulf - and have nothing but the deepest respect for those who saw combat.

    I support our troops, in whatever way I can, but I in no way support war. The idiots that start wars are rarely the ones who actually fight them.

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  12. Thank you Jim, for saying what needs to be said.

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  13. The phrase "sunshine patriots" comes to mind when I think of Tea Partiers. Now that war is "easy" (for them - they're not serving in it or sacrificing for it) they're all for war.

    But should war actually require service or sacrifice, and they'd be singing a different tune.

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  14. sheila, who isn't lurking today,October 15, 2010 at 7:26 AM

    When I was little and asked my father what "e pluribus unum" on American currency meant, he told me that it was Latin for "shoot first, ask questions later."

    Later on, I took Latin at school and I realized that it was a bit of sarcasm, and I learned the true meaning of the motto.

    Dad was on the receiving end of friendly fire during WWII (compliments of the US Navy! ;-D), so I guess he had a right to mock the motto. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that his version has become the de facto US foreign policy. Diplomacy? What's that?

    For the Tea Partiers, it's so much "us" versus "them" -- they are always looking for a new enemy, even when there isn't one. And they don't want the "pluribus" in "e pluribus unum" to include Mexicans, Muslims, gay people, pro-choicers, or anyone else that doesn't agree with their quasi-religious, pea-brained worldview.

    Moving to the other side of the planet wouldn't help liberals, gays, poor people, Latinos, or all the other people that the Tea Baggers despise. As any Iraqi or Afghan person could tell you, there's nowhere on the planet where you can escape the war hawks, once they put you in their sights.

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  15. (Note, I'm manually reposting this comment, since the blog apparently ate Grondzilla's original post. I was able to retrive it from the electronic limbo. I have no idea what happened. //Jim)

    It's just a little more than depressing to think that this attitude, this fervent military-centric jingoism is very much the result of years of peace and ease and comfort. It's true that it takes a certain kind of madness to actively encourage the death of people you haven't the least connection to but it's made easier when you live in a disconnected, vicarious state where your daily dose of adrenaline was getting cut off on the highway.

    These dolts live in an idealized version of reality where their bloodthirstiness has no local consequences. These idiots think *hardship* is getting laid off from your job (or more likely finding out that your donut hole has run out of crullers) where *war* is something that happens in TV-land and can be safely cheered on from the couch.

    People who've lived through the shit or in any proximity to the shit know that it's something you avoid *if at all possible* ( I know this because I'm the child of someone who was there...up to the eyeballs and although I've never donned the gear I understand it at a fundamental level because my old man explained it to me, made it clear that people who cheer lead for war are morons, plain and simple). Anyone who gets misty at the thought of our boys (and girls) going off to serve needs a good swift kick in the junk. Heads up sparky! The correct feeling in this situation is solemnity and maybe a touch of sadness. It's OK to wave that flag as a symbol of support but for dog's sake if you've got a big ol shit eating grin on your face I will punch you in the head.

    I sincerely think that what we need for social longevity (which is looking dicey at this point) is some serious hardship to let us get our heads on straight...to have everyone take this kind of shit seriously instead of at some infantile remove.

    Sorry to blather Jim, but your posts occasionally raise my blood pressure.

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  16. Sheila, it's interesting you should bring that up. I've often thought about e pluribus unum as a national motto when the subject of multiculturalism and closing the borders and our mixed race president come up. E pluribus unum should be a mark of pride to every American. As a national motto, e pluribus unum applies to each and every one of us, In God We Trust emphatically does not.

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  17. Thank you Jim, as usual you are spot on.

    At the other end of my bus route is the regional VA Hospital, and I ride the bus with the veterans heading there nearly every day. What we should really be ashamed of is the number of vets that only get three hots and a cot when they're sick enough to be admitted to said VA hospital. I'm pretty sure many of the vets I see schedule appointments just so they can go get a shower before they see the doctor. The rest of the time they're scraping by on a park bench, huddled in a doorway downtown, or fighting for space in a supstance abuse program.

    The TeaBiggot Party wants to abolish the VA programs. I'd say that denying our veterans the medical care and services they've earned is about as un-American and unpatriotic as you can get. As they also want to abolish the President's health care plan, there would be no where for the veterans, let alone the rest of us, to go for medical care.

    Yup, real patriotic. Idiots.

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  18. "Shoot first, ask questions later..."

    Reminds me of this

    Yep, Vagabond used one of the quotes I like best.

    Spot on, Jim, thanks.

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  19. Thank you, Jim. This post makes me feel weepy with grief and with relief that someone like you actually understands the point-of-view of someone like me. That point-of-view coming from someone like you is so much more powerful, for your “credentials” cannot be disputed (except by shameless and/or moronic cretins).

    In my book, citizens who hold their government accountable, answerable to the people and accountable for its actions, are those who truly understand the responsibility of citizenship in a representative democracy. Involvement in bettering our communities and holding our government to its principles is good citizenship and acts of patriotism; not wrapping one's self in the flag and waving a Bible like a fist.

    The first time I really wept, and wept hard, over our country going to war in Iraq was when the idea was first floated. I was in school with women my age, but also with men and women as young as my children. I was sobbing in the bathroom and a professor and a few of the youngsters came in to ask me why. I told them, and they said, including the professor who should have known better given she was at least ten years older than I, “Maybe it won't happen. They are just considering it. Maybe we won't go.” I said, “No, we will go. This is the Bush administration: the administration most cynically open in its derision and disrespect toward the American people and our system of government, as well as cynically openly power-grabbing and corrupt. The mere fact that they floated the balloon means it is a done deal. There is money in it for the right people; someone probably wants us to have a permanent military base there; and little Bush has been convinced it is the right thing for his God, his legacy, and his problems with his daddy. We are going to war in Iraq.” Sure enough, we did.

    That evening I believed baby-boomers were ravaged by our government in Vietnam, and now our generation was going to be ravaged again through our children and our pocketbooks, but most especially through our children. It broke my heart (and still does) that we’d not learned our lesson. The young people standing in front of me, some of whom had suffered from their fathers coming home from Vietnam emotionally damaged, did not understand that if our troops were stretched far enough, eventually they, and my own children, would face a draft. This time the girls weren't going to get off scot free either. It was and still is beyond their comprehension.

    In my opinion, there are two actions government takes that are sacred in their enormity: to imprison an American citizen, and to send the nation’s children and their mentors in uniform to war. Both actions carry such moral weight they should Never be carried out without certainty of the need when no other avenue is possible. Anything less is unethical, immoral, and shameful. In Christian terms, anything less is a sin. Every time government decides to do either of those things, imprison an American citizen or send our troops to war, it is done in all of our names because our government is a representative democracy. We are responsible for what our government does. Regardless of whether or not we agree with the decision, WE, all of us, are imprisoning that citizen or sending those children to war.

    What else grieves me is that more than before, those without conscience and morals use mass media even more effectively in such a horrific Orwellian way. The result is, we are a nation cannibalizing our country, our communities, our neighbors, thus ourselves; marching over the cliff filled with righteous judgment and indignation toward all those “others” we blame for all that is wrong. As we do, those pied pipers sending us over the cliff laugh all the way to the bank, pass their ill-gotten gains on to their trust fund babies, and feel no respect for the citizens they’ve fleeced and ruined.

    I appreciate the comments of your readers, especially some of the great quotes they shared, and I agree your post should be printed everywhere—spread far and wide.

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  20. I forgot to say:

    "Oh how these patriots love the troops and respect us veterans – until they discover that some of us don’t live up to their myth of America, then suddenly we can just get out, move to a different country, fuck off and die."

    I thought the same thing when Cindy Sheehan and Mary Tillman were taking heaps of abuse over their criticisms of our government leaders and certain military commanders. Yes, we were all supposed to be respectful and supportive of our soldiers' families, unless they refused to stick with the party line.

    Suddenly, those grieving mothers were not entitled to their feelings and opinions. They were not entitled to decide for themselves whether they thought their own precious sons died for a "noble cause," or whether they minded being lied to as their children were used for pro-war propaganda.(I was in AZ during Pat Tillman's memorial and watched McCain grandstandingly soak it for all it was worth, telling the made up story about how Pat charged into the enemy to save his men. When the truth came out, he was silent and remained so.) We should not have enough decency to listen respectfully to all mothers of slain soldiers. No, instead it was okay, even necessary for True patriots, to vilify those kind of grieving mothers of slain soldiers, because their sacrifices and losses were inconsequential. They weren't on the right side, the patriotic side, the never question your government officials side. They were bad and dishonoring their sons.

    Now, I understand why some people need to believe, no matter what, that they lost a child for a good and noble cause. The pain is too much for some people. It is understandable and as a parent I do not find fault but empathize.

    However, I do not agree that public policy should be based on the psychological needs of grieving, traumatized people. Also, I have a hard time with mothers of slain soldiers attacking other mothers of slain soldiers. (Sheehan and Tillman have never attacked the point-of-view of other soldiers' parents, nor criticized them. They've been understanding. Unfortunately, they've not been accorded the same level of compassion.) Still, from a psychology perspective, I understand why it happens.

    Who I do not forgive are members of the public and the government who have held cruel signs, demonstrated against Sheehan or Tillman, and made ugly statements about them. Those people need to have tape put over their mouths and placed in the town square on a stool with a dunce cap on their heads, forced to sit there until they understand how cruel, selfish, hypocritical, and useless their behavior was.

    They sicken me.

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  21. Mr. Wright,

    First time reader directed here by an in-law cousin's hubby.

    To say I am amused is an understatement. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were channeling my father, a man of limited education but in possession of a tremendous amount of common sense, a man who did not tolerate fools or charlatans.

    It is refreshing to hear a veteran who isn't in lockstep with the subject of this essay. I work at the local VA hospital, and there are way too many people, both employees as well as veterans and their families, who subscribe to the very sentiments you lampoon.

    I'm not yet in a position where I can give the yahoos the business. I'm still working. This talk about shutting down the VA has been going on for 30 years. I finally got on at the VA just before Reagan was elected. Reagan talked about shutting down the VA, putting me into a panic. Wiser heads said the VA would still be in operation long after I retired. They were right. I don't see the VA going away any time soon, regardless of what the current crop of "reformers" say they are going to do.

    With your permission I will continue to be amused here, and from time to time, I will twist the tails of some of my acquaintances by dropping a few well placed links to your columns in their email boxes.

    Very nice to meet you, sir.

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  22. Jim, a book you and some of your readers may find interesting is Dangerous Peacemaking by Helena Meyer Knapp.

    Helena was my Favorite professor and she's spent many years studying and researching conflict, war, and culture. It was an interest we shared (but I was a newbie to serious academia on the topics) so she was a wonderful mentor. I just wish I could have taken more full advantage of my access to her when I had the chance, to do projects one on one with her for the benefit of my learning, but family life and all...

    What makes this book different from any other, even well researched books, is that it isn't about war, battles, and so on, but about how peace is really made between factions and countries. She notes how easy it is to enter into war, and how leaders manage to shepherd the public into agreement, but ending a war is much more complex and even dangerous than most people know. Getting in is easy. Getting out is a problem.

    The parties actually ending war are not who we usually think they are. She also looks at the role of peace activists and she does so with a balanced, non-idealogical eye (one of her personal characteristics I so admired). It is a very well researched book and well worth reading.

    For a detailed review of Dangerous Peacemaking, you can go here: http://www.globalcommunity.org/timeline/72/index.shtml

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  23. sheila, who is not lurking today,October 16, 2010 at 4:40 AM

    Jim,

    I so agree with you that "E pluribus unum should be a mark of pride to every American."

    It amazes me that the Tea Partiers are against immigrants (illegal and otherwise). After all, who the hell were the ancestors of the Tea Party faithful? Surely they were not Native Americans! And who helped to build this country and its institutions? Yep. Immigrants and their descendants.

    Unity in a larger sense is sadly lacking these days, when it is ever so popular to shame and blame others and even to physically attack them. Unity of the many should include everyone, not just those who are straight, white, conservative, believe in Jesus, and like country music. As you said, "In God we trust" certainly doesn't apply to everyone. I know it doesn't apply to me.

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  24. Welcome aboard, ShickShinny. Mind the white cat, he has a bad attitude and he bites.

    beemodern, I'll add the Meyers book to my read pile. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Sheila, they're against immigration, both legal and otherwise, for a number of reasons - and for the same reasons that their ancestors were feared and hated when they came here. The new immigrants don't speak English, they're coming to take what's rightfully ours (and always has been, right?), and worse - this crop of immigrants isn't white. And that's what conservatives fear more than anything else - a loss of culture, a loss of power, a loss of identity. They fear the alien. I know many, many conservatives who have never traveled outside the US, or even outside their own region. They find it frightening - but feign disinterest rather than admit that fear. They're called Conservatives for a reason.

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  25. Thank you for writing this. It needed to be said by someone like you, someone who KNOWS, someone who has BEEN THERE and seen it firsthand. You said it perfectly, eloquently, angrily. You said it as I wish I could have, but I'm not qualified. I haven't been there. I only observe and conclude, from the comfort of my safe and secure life.

    Thank you.

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  26. The problem with "E pluribus unum" is that it often gets translated with the wrong spin.

    When I was a kid, I was generally told that it meant "One of out many," and I'll bet that this is what those Teabaggers etc. are working with as well. "Aren't we special? Out of all those Others, we're the One! USA! USA! Amurrica! Hell yeah!"

    I think the better translation is "Out of many, one."

    It takes a lot of many to make this one, and we should be welcoming those who want to do so. That's how my ancestors got here, and it would be churlish in the extreme to deny someone else's future ancestors that right.

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  27. Maria, I've read your blog - I'm not sure I'd call what you do safe and secure ;) I've had the Deck (command of a warship's bridge) for helicopter landings on the flight deck, it astounds me that those things stay in the air. What's the phrase? Helicopter: a loose cluster of parts moving (usually) in roughly the same direction.


    David, agreed. "Out of Many, One." This concept defines the military itself, made of up many diverse people and yet a unified whole capable of great things. And on a larger scale, this statement defines the United States, both in its original concept and in its existent form. Conservatives would prefer to replace E Pluribus Unum with "Plures Totus Edem Eadem Idem"

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  28. I did 10 in the USN. I've been shot at, though we weren't permitted to return fire (i.e. combat operations have many different asepcts, eh?).

    "Si vis pacem, para bellum," by Vegetius, a.k.a. Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus.

    Loosely, "If you would have peace, prepare for war."

    The Tea Party idiots WANT war. Only IDIOTS want war. Reasonable people see war as a last resort - hopefully avoidable, sometimes not. BUT, if you're going to war, kick them until their down and then grind their bones into dust. Waging a 'half-way' war is idiocy to the extreme. If you're prepared for war, fewer countries are going to mess with you.


    Personally, I think Heinlein had it right in Starship Troopers. I can't say that I agree with all the veterans I know, but I'm certainly going to give them the benefit of a good listen when they have something to say - especially about politics.

    /rambling rant

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  29. As eloquent as ever Jim, I always find it truly amazing how folks like you maintain your demeanor when surrounded by "Patriots".

    The thing that is constantly obvious to me, is that these people who call themselves "Patriots", and compare this administration with that of Nazi Germany, would have been devout followers of Hitler.

    Oh they'll stamp their feet in denial or laugh coyly at the accusation, because they're smart enough to know that to admit to such a thing would be suicidal.

    But let me ask you, how hard would it be to imagine Glen Beck in the bombastic role of Hermann Goring or even Hitler himself? He certainly has the delusions of grandeur necessary for the role.

    Yeah there's plenty of talent out there in the spotlight, all of whom could perform the roles of as if born to them.

    Oh here's a good one, Christine O'Donnell as Eva Braun? She's certainly seems to have the role of airhead down pat.

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  30. Well thought out, and well said. Thanks.

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  32. Jim,

    Many, many thanks for saying what needed to be said. Way to many ""patriots" are sick with war fever - as if nearly 10 years of continuous war has not solved all our problems already! (Just like tax cuts that would blossom into job expansion!!! I'm still waiting to see that happen...)

    And thanks for giving it back to these jacka$$s. I have little patience for their crap; thus, neither they nor I spend much time in close proximity.

    Keep up the good work and BZ.

    Retired(once-Serving)Patriot

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  33. who exactly are you talking about? Is this a fictional character or someone you met? They CERTAINLY do NOT represent the real 'tea party' ideals...those ideals took shape in 2007 (you know, when George W. was prez??) and mostly were in response to a bloody foreign policy that murdered people on behalf of large, multinational corporations...

    If you think that war-mongering is part of the real 'tea party' mindset then you've pretty much been brainwashed by the media...hmm, who owns the media? Oh yeah - large, multinational corporations...

    You can either do what the plutocracy wants from we the sheep and put more energy into the fake left vs right theater or you can try to find common ground with people who might have different opinions about the role of gov't.

    Quite a LOT of us 'tea party' types actually hold those values because of our socially-liberal/antiwar/peaceful ideals...don't believe everything the TV tells you my friend.

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  34. let's not forget that the real 'tea party' movement got it's start from Ron Paul's campaign - check out what Ron Paul has to say about the wars that the U.S. has been involved with in the past few decades.

    Not all people who vote Republican are warmongers (and not all people who vote Democrat are doves either).

    Do some research on the genesis of the neocons; they were mostly spawned by people who considered themselves politically 'liberal' (mostly in the sense that they believed in big government...probably because they were career politicians).

    Smedley Butler is one of my heroes; mostly for his bravery on the field of battle but primarily for his work towards exposing the corruption that was rampant between government and corporations...and this was almost a century ago - things have not changed that much since then.

    The more we spew hatred at our fellow Americans because they have different views on the role of gov't, the more that the large corporations who own our gov't win (and consequently, the more we can expect to see military action that profits ONLY those corporations).

    Let's work towards finding common ground and retiring the plutocracy...one of the first steps is to avoid inciting hatred towards other Americans who happen to have a different view on the role of gov't.

    Don't get me wrong; if someone spews a bunch of neocon/nationalistic/war-mongering crap, I will definitely call them out on their misanthropic BS...but I will *NOT* try to correlate their dysfunction with a political view.

    Not all Republicans are neocons...

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  35. Joel S Henderson,

    Starting out by calling me a brain-washed lying sheep in thrall to big corporations doesn’t do much to bolster your argument against Tea Party stereotypes. Just sayin'

    Do you honestly think you’re the first Tea Party type to show up here? Do you honestly think that I’ve never met you people before? You can claim to have been a Tea Partier before Tea Parties were cool all you like, but I live exactly 8 miles from your queen here in Tea Party Central, Alaska. I’m surrounded by the goddamned Tea Party, every single day. In fact, this morning, one of your most ardent members is down on the main corner of my town, waving a giant sign with a picture of my president with a Hitler mustache. He’s typical of you people, his name is Sidney Hill, he’s a gun-totin’ mental patient who hates the government and liberals and progressives and entitlements and screams "Traitor!" at every car that goes past with an Obama sticker on it - and who lives on Social Security and Medicare and government assistance. Do I know any Tea Partiers? You bet I do. I can't turn around without running into one of you people. I’ve met plenty of you tea party types, I’m up to my ass in the Tea Party. You can claim that your movement is not made up of ignorant, racist, gun toting, homophobic, war mongering religious extremists all you like – and maybe that’s even true over there in your little part of Massachusetts where sweet little old ladies bake pies and bring them to the meetings and you all sit around talking politics in a gentlemanly fashion while the bunnies fart sunshine and rainbows, but out here in the rest of the world it just isn’t so.

    I know, I know, Sarah, Glenn, they’re not really your leaders, they don’t speak for you. Nobody speaks for the Tea Party – well, except when somebody like you here on my blog does. It’s all the media’s fault. Or the Great Left Wing Conspiracy. Or writers like me. It’s NEVER the company you’re keeping. Never.

    Let's work towards finding common ground and retiring the plutocracy...one of the first steps is to avoid inciting hatred towards other Americans who happen to have a different view on the role of gov't.

    That’s great advice, your fellows in the Tea Party should try following it. You can start by logging into any Tea Party forum and telling all your members who continue to call my president an illegal alien, and a communist, and a nazi, and a nigger, to shut the fuck up. Let me know how that works out for you. After that, you can get all your pals in the movement to call their Tea Party senators and representatives and tell them to stop acting like spoiled children and compromise with the President and their fellow congressmen, start with your little buddy Rand Paul or, better yet, Paul Ryan. Don’t give me this crap about the Tea Party bringing people together, the Tea Party’s version of freedom is Orwell’s 1984 version of freedom - i.e. we're all free to believe as you do, or we can all fuck off and die. You know how many Tea Party types have come here and told me exactly that? How many have come here and called me a fucking traitor to America? I can't count the number of you people who send me hate mail and death threats every single goddamned day. You want me to believe that the Tea Party isn't exactly what I think it is? Then you can start by addressing the beam in your own eye, Joel.


    The Tea Party is the single biggest divisive force in modern American politics, hell bent on fomenting revolution and war on their neighbors and I will continue to call you people out on it, over and over, for as long as it takes.

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  36. Thank you for saying things that needed saying a decade ago--and for speaking truth to the petty, stupid would-be tyrant Teabaggers when you encounter them.

    Here's hoping more folks will take it as a clarion call to do the same: the truth can't be refuted...and this country's got some damn hard truths to face up to.

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  37. Jim You handled that Tea Party fanatic perfectly.Why do those people never let something small like the facts get in the way of their ever increasing irrational thoughts? After this 4th of July parade with floats of Tea party participants wrapping themselves in the flag and attempting to belittle everyone who disagrees with their skewed outlook by calling us un American, has sickened me to my core.They should return to the silent minority and stay there.Have you noticed that a liberal believes that everyone has a right to their own opinion but that a conservative believes that everyone has a right to their own opinion as long as it agrees TOTALLY with theirs? Keep hammering away at them and pray they go by way of the dinosaur.

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  38. One of my favorite quotes on the subject, courtesy of Bill Hicks:

    "People ask me, "Are you proud to be an American?" I dunno... I didn't have a whole lot to do with it, my parents fucked there, that's about it... I hate patriotism, it makes me fuckin' sick, it's a round world last time I checked."

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  39. Super editorial, Jim. I am a little older, having gotten a commission in 1977, but count me another Navy retiree in your corner. Wish you could be taken on for pay by one of the major services....please keep writing!

    Please note for correction toward the end of your piece that the word should be principal rather than principle.

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  40. Hadn't read this one before, I love the way nuggets keep showing up in this stream.

    Have a good year.

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  41. Thanks for nailing all points solidly to the wall.

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  42. A couple of years ago, I was wearing a shirt that said "Support our troops". Admittedly, it was a Star Wars shirt with storm troopers on it, but aside from that.

    My grandmother asked if I did support our troops. I said "Yes, I support our troops whole-heartedly, but not so much the person who was giving the orders or what they were doing." Mind you, Dubya was in office at the time.

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  43. I do so love it when a teabagger gets nailed.

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