Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Reposting, on this day, from last year:


(If that isn't a [presumably] unintentionally ironic sentiment, I don't know what is.)

At the risk of repeating myself, let me say yet again:

Our troops deserve all the recognition they can get. More than that, they deserve all the help they need when they return from our wars. More than kudos for "protecting our freedoms," they need the resources to heal from the devastation of the wars to which we choose to send them, for often obscure reasons. (And as Bernie Sanders recently said about the R senators who voted against funding for veterans' benefits, "If you can't afford to pay for your veterans, don't send them to war.")

I say this as a Vietnam veteran, bearer of a Purple Heart. There's nothing that galls me more (well, nowadays, I'm sure there is) than those who think sticking a ribbon on their car, a flag on their porch, an aphorism on their wall, discharges their duty. While voting, yet again, for those same politicians who agitate constantly for war and refuse constantly to pay for the obligations incurred.

More than that: whereas it's most certainly true that there have been wars (not lately) in which our freedom was at stake, it's also evident to me that in these times the most real threats to our freedom come from within. From those same self-described patriotic politicians who pass laws suppressing freedom of voting; who'd deny civil rights to broad swaths of our citizens because of their sexual preference or (non-Christian) religious beliefs. It comes from broadcasters who constantly lie about and demonize the duly elected (twice) president. Who deliberately suborn revolution. For ratings. It even comes from our current Supreme Court, who equates corporations with people, money with speech, tilling the soil for the seeds of oligarchy, already in full bloom.

I'm more worried about my freedom when I hear about the latest attempt to force religious doctrine into public schools, to remove the teachings of science, than I am from the next terrorist attack. Such an attack can cause pain and economic downturn. Today's Republican party, with its bamboozling of the religious right and Tea Party people, on the other hand, can put an end to democracy forever; and it's trying damn hard to do it.

I'm more worried about my freedom, to enjoy a meal in peace, anyway, from those who feel the need to parade around flashing their guns, forcing their way into the local coffee house, than I am from an al-Queda sniper. I'm worried about the threats of violence received by anyone who speaks up about it, asking even for the most minimal of restrictions. Likewise, I see people like Cliven Bundy, the tax-evading, government-handout-taking lawbreaker and those -- including constitution-loving-but-not-undertstanding Foxolimbeckians --  who rally to his defense as a far greater threat to America's survival than the next people plotting in a cave.

So, yes, our troops have done heroic things. And it's way past time to find a way to fund all of their needs, even if it means -- omigod! -- raising taxes. Which, sorry to say, it does. But it's also time to stop seeing our wars and those who fight them as the only measure of patriotism.

It's time to see a few bumper stickers exhorting support for those willing to take the heat from within our borders; to withstand the cries of traitorism from those Foxolimbeckians while standing up for the rights of all our citizens. Willing to point out, at personal risk, what freedom of speech, freedom of religion really mean. What democracy means, and what it entails.

There are lots of measures of patriotism and love of country. Fighting its wars is, absolutely, among them.* But in my view, it's far from alone on the list. Until we recognize that, our "freedoms" will remain under threat. From us.

And thanks for my service.
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*Except, maybe, to the extent that many people joined the military more out of economic necessity than as a desire to fight in our wars. Necessity born of those same patriots who voted against every job stimulating measure since Barack Obama came into office. Gee. Lousy job situation: people forced to join up. Coincidence? Topic for another day?

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