Lemmings? Or honest debate? Our choice.
This column was written in an attempt to pull together several basic ideas, some of which I had drafted complete columns for, such as the "Four Freedoms." It was published on the op ed page of the New Bedford Standard-Times November 9 under the headline "Patriotism doesn't mean we have to be suckers.".
Let me get this straight. As of September 11, all politicians, editorial writers, and TV pundits are supposed to put their brains in park and approve of whatever our country is doing or has done? That seems to be what I'm reading from some writers objecting to a few S-T editorials, as well as all those who seem to have made a collective mantra of the word "unity."
Snap out of it folks! As Bill Moyers warned recently, there are plenty of politicians and lobbyists who are " . . . counting on you to be standing at attention with your hand over your heart, pledging allegiance to the flag, while they pick your pocket!"
Anyone for the Taliban?
Or as Bob Harris, a freelance commentator, recently put it:
Assuming you've chosen to stay here instead, here are a few questions you might want to ponder:
Do you think the folks who just awarded a contract worth in excess of $200 billion to Lockheed to develop a Joint Strike Fighter ever heard Dwight Eisenhower speak? Remember him? The president, general, and Republican who in 1953 told us:
And while we're on the subject of soldiers and politicians, how about Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret? He's got a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering; he flew 101 combat missions in Vietnam; and he led the "Star Wars" project. He was the presidential candidate of various small parties in 2000.
Clinton and truth
He also was the guy who lashed out at Mr. Clinton in 1998 when the president tossed a few missiles at bin Laden:
Ouch! . . . wonder what he's saying today? (Hint - only the name of the president has changed.)
Why did the House vote to give gigantic tax rebates to our country's largest corporations? Why don't we put more money in the hands of the people who need it most - by extending health and unemployment benefits, for example?
Could it be related to why we still let people buy elections? (We can't seem to listen to John McCain, the only well-known hero on the political front who has enough guts to say what he actually thinks. I don't agree with him on many issues, but honest disagreement is a refreshing change.)
and our own terrorists - uh, freedom fighters
Why do we continue to support the once-and-future School of the Americas? (Yes, I know it changed its name.) Here are a few comments from an English columnist, George Monbiot of the Manchester Guardian. (Remember, England's on our side.)
The column goes into lengthy detail about who has been trained at the School of the Americas over the past several decades and what atrocities they committed. It concludes:
Shaking the foundations
So is there a way out of this morass? I think so. But we need to shake the foundations of this country to dislodge some of the tripe that has been passing for democracy within and foreign policy without and replace it with something that better reflects the true goodness and greatness of the American people.
On the inside we need campaign finance reform on a major scale. We cannot continue to sell our liberties and security to the highest bidder. As for the rest of the world, why don't we build a foreign policy based on real American values instead of propping up oil sheiks who don't serve their people, or us, well? Franklin Roosevelt's words captured the soul of our country, and Massachusetts artist Norman Rockwell transformed the words into unforgettable images. In 1941 FDR said:
And we can start right now by encouraging the Standard-Times
editorial writers and anyone else to speak out. We don't need a country
of lemmings. We need people who will engage honestly in vigorous debate,
not for personal or political gain, but to build a world in which our
grandchildren can look back and say "thank you for securing freedom
. . . everywhere in the world."
Comments - email to: email@example.com
Last updated November 7, 2001
The School of the Americas