Song of the day: The fightin’ side of me – Merle Haggard

I am a patriot and a civil disobedient all at the same time. In fact, you can’t truly be one without being the other. If you think you are, then you’re neither. You’re simply a misguided bigot or rebel. This poses a problem when we have to actually call ourselves “Americans”, because we can no longer slide by without thinking, riding the wave of majority opinion because it’s convenient.

That’s what it’s all about, after all, the ability to make a choice. To have an opinion.

Obviously it’s not quite that simple. Our views and beliefs have to mold somewhat to certain rules, otherwise it would be total anarchy. But on the whole, it’s a good system. We’re allowed to practice our own religion, speak our views without being shot in the head, and are able to run for public office without necessarily being related to royalty. True, money always helps, especially in a capitalist society, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Most importantly, we are not oppressed.

We can’t be, and we won’t be. People talk about how they feel oppressed by “the man”. I say that they don’t know what oppression really is. For that matter, I don’t know either. I’ve never had to live that way, and I certainly don’t want to. I enjoy the freedoms we have in our country. I don’t abuse them. I’m reasonably environmentally conscious. I drive a fuel efficient car, opting against the unnecessary SUV (that’s a whole other rant, one that doesn’t have any place here), and I recycle when I can. As a result, I’m sensitive to others who don’t have the same privileges.

One such example would be the people of Iraq.

Before I go further, I want to make it perfectly clear that I don’t think we should be world police. Just because we’ve had success at our “independence” does not give us the right to meddle willy-nilly with the affairs of others. However, at the same time we do have a responsibility – being quite possibly the most powerful country in the world – of seeing that justice is done. Domestic and foreign. If we have the means, it is irresponsible to not use them.

Determining the when is difficult part, and is influenced by a great many things. Mostly money, but that’s just the nature of the beast. Barring that, we have to look at other things. Like quality of life. If you have a people, unable to rebel against an opposing power, who desperately want that, that’s a justifiable situation to intervene. If the people have the means to rebel, and are not using them, it’s none of our business. I’d want the same thing. Now, we have the second amendment, which gives us the right to bear arms and maintain a well regulated militia. If our government tried to take this from us would I fight it? Damn straight. It’s the patriotic thing to do. It’s the American thing to do, because that’s a freedom we have come to expect. Do we as a people have the ability to oppose a governmental oppression? I believe that today we do. Two centuries ago, would we have been able to win if the French hadn’t helped us? If there was a UN council back then, would the French have been given the thumbs up to intervene?

One of the arguments against our involvement in this “liberation” of Iraq, is the effect it will have on civilians. There were plenty of civilians then who didn’t want our very own revolution. Many of them died for a cause they didn’t want or believe in. Today, we don’t even think about them. But if we did, would we decide that our revolution was unjustified because of their deaths?

My friend Feng stated “The best that killing can ever be is necessary. It can never be good or right.” War is sometimes necessary. And while killing in itself isn’t good, it can also be necessary. When does that necessity overwhelm the evil of the death itself to become good? Is the lesser of two evils good? Sometimes, yes. Would it have been good to kill Hitler before he came to power? Yes. There’s a whole conundrum of “what ifs”, but since we cannot determine the future, we have to make educated guesses. I don’t think that Saddam will ever be any Hitler, but who knows what he’s capable of in the future. He is unstable, as is his whole family. He’s an evil man, that I know. What he’s doing to his country is not to be tolerated. Does that mean that I would make the decision to start a war with him? I don’t have all the facts, so probably not. I do know enough to back my country if we do go to war with him though.

Feng also said “Every life is precious. Every death is tragic. There are no faceless masses, no faceless enemies, no faceless crimes.” This is all true. Why do we have Veteran’s Day? Memorial Day? And what should we be thinking about on Independence Day? Those deaths, that’s what.  Howard Zinn writes about this conflict: “The media will be blocked from access to the dead and wounded of Iraq, but the movement will find a way to report on the suffering of real human beings, real children, real mothers and fathers. And when it does, the American people will respond.” I hope that’s all true. I want people to see what going on. I want people to see the deaths. I want to see the deaths. Then it will be real. There will be something to either celebrate or mourn. Time makes memories fade, and at this point, those who fought for our freedom are faceless. We mourn only memories. We as a people need something fresh, because despite our best intentions or wishes, war is not going to cease anytime soon. Whether for or against the war, we need to see its results, all of them, and then we can decide if we still adhere to our beliefs. That may sound horrible, but it’s how I see it. If there’s going to be death, I want to see it, not in some disgusting memorial on 60 minutes, but in all of it’s raw, horrific truth.

Another reason I’m not opposed to a war is much more conspiratorial in nature. As I stated before, I do believe in the need to maintain a well regulated (read: trained) militia. Many of the former members of military service are members of this militia. Should the time ever come again when we need to stand up against our government, we need to have experience on our side. Those coming against us will be trained – experienced or not – and every bit of knowledge on the side of the people will be much needed against the might of the military. It may seem like a fantasy, and meaningless when compared to the very real and immediate deaths of human beings, but it’s all part of that foresight and decision making process that I was speaking of earlier. I’m not saying that we should go out and attack countries just to stay trained, but if a situation arises that justifies the use of force, this is a reason I will take into consideration for supporting it.

Why am I against the war? Mostly because of the worldwide political damage that has been don. We’re a democracy, and our system is based on respecting the wishes of the many. If there are a large number of voices speaking out against a war (I’m not speaking just of within the country, but worldwide), we should at least listen. I have to take some of it with a grain of salt in this case, considering that some of the major opposition is coming from countries guilty of perpetrating some of the most horrible and bloody acts of oppression in history, but still, efforts should be made. I don’t think they have. Not really. This hurts everything we stand for, at the same time we’re trying to fight for those beliefs.

And with that, we’re back to square one. Patriotic and civilly disobedient all at the same time. Fighting for what we believe in is hurting us as a country. Both sides – pro-war and the protesters. Let me clarify that. It’s not the protests that are hurting us, it’s where they might lead. There’s a chance that the voices will be heard, and change will be made. There’s also a chance that the voices will not be heard, and they will be forced to get louder. This is when things have gone to far, on both sides. I’m not opposed to free speech at all, I encourage it. However, disrupting normal life to the point of police involvement (i.e. blocking traffic in major cities all around the country) is going further than necessary. Forcing a system that should be spending energy on protecting us from foreign threat internally during a time of war should not be spent trying to figure out how to direct the lives of everyone not involved in the free speech. Yes, I know there’s a whole correlation here to our “uninvolved” lives being hassled just like those of another country, but I’m not buying into it. If you want to stand in solidarity, do so in a way that doesn’t interfere with the system that is protecting you. You will still be heard, and you won’t be pissing people off while doing it.

This has gone on way too long, and doesn’t seem to have any real coherence anymore. But that’s because I don’t think this topic can be coherent. I want the war and oppose it all at the same time. Our president has made his decision, and for now, I’m going to support him. The way I see it, he hasn’t jeopardized our system enough for me to jeopardize it further. And since I’m in full support of our troops, that translates to support for our president. There haven’t been en-masse defections to Canada to avoid being shipped out to this war, which means that our military, many of which are intelligent, thinking individuals, are mostly supportive of our president’s decision as well. Therefore, if I support our troops, and our troops support our president, and our president supports the war, then I support the war.

I think that’s as clear as I can get.

Replies:
2 comments

Excuse me! NO country has the RIGHT to be the judge and jury of another regardless of their so called superpower status. Might does not make right! Furthermore, the USA is the cause of most of the wars and will financially benefit from them(corporations not the people. Ths US military complex is the government and you think these killers should lead the world. Welcome to your new police state. Just hope you do not get a code red warning. Military rule will dominate for many war years. America is not what it used to be. It has died and been replaced with Military and Corporate rule. Keep it and your morality in your own borders.
Murderers
Note: I am NOT anti-American but anti-war, anti-corporation and anti-US world policies. Mind your own business.

Posted by Glen @ 03/23/03 11:11 AM

 

On the contrary, I don’t think any one government should lead the world. I guess you weren’t paying attention, so I’ll say it again. I’m against the “how” of this war. I don’t agree with claiming to be a democracy, and then going against the will of a worldwide organization designed to encompass several different views.

But on the matter of “corporate rule”, you think that no one else has financial gain in mind? You think that isn’t motivating any other countries’ decisions? Please.

I’d honestly be interested in hearing just what you think it is to be American. What you think it is that we “used to be”. And then, if you hate it so much, tell me why you’re still here. I’ve given you my views of patriotism, though obviously you misunderstood, since you seem to be stuck on one word… war. Maybe you should read it again.

For that matter, maybe you should actually listen to the news, because going back and reading your comment I find several quiestionable statements.

You say “mind your own business”, well I say to you, mindothers’ business. Branch out. Actually listen to different viewpoints. You might actually learn something. Maybe not, but at least you will have tried.

Posted by haze @ 03/23/03 02:47 PM

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