Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth!

You really have to wonder what exactly that means: happy Fourth! I am a perennial nay-sayer when it comes to these flag-waving holidays. We have two religious, or I should say, formerly religious holidays: Christmas (which is now Santa and an orgy of materialism) and Easter (bunnies, little chickies, and an orgy of materialism). We have three flag-waving holidays: Memorial Day, July 4, and Veterans Day. The first and the third of these are basically about glorifying our wars, and they essentially are about the same thing. Hurrah for all the guys--our guys, not the guys they killed and maimed--who got sent to war and were either killed there, maimed there, or got out of it alive in some form or fashion. Today we are celebrating the basic America-is-the-greatest-country-in-the-world-day. Everybody knows this. Why, we invented freedom and equality. And we have sent our men and women all over the world to die for freedom and equality, and by God, we should celebrate what wonderful people we are.

My life span has basically witnessed my country involved in one war after another. I was born during World War II, Korea before I was ten, Vietnam, a whole series of interventions during the 80s and 90s (Grenada, Panama, Bosina, etc.), the Cold War which spanned 1946-90, Afghanistan, Iraq. And waiting the wings: Syria, and who the hell knows next? Facing such a history, basically the trajectory of empire, we do what every empire before us did: we glorify our conquests. We brand anybody who ever wore or now wears a military uniform a "hero" and fall over ourselves glorifying them and their bloody trade.

My life span also witnessed people being lynched and murdered in my section of the country because they stood up for simple basic human rights and dignity, much less the rights supposedly guaranteed in our Constitution.

So, sorry, I cannot wave the flag. I cannot not see how we lie to ourselves as a country, how we fail to see what's plain: we're no better than people we hate, no better than our allies or enemies. It really just makes me sad: this orgy of patriotism. I forget who it was now who said "Patriotism is the last refuge of scondrals," but it's a statement worth pondering.
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