by Mike Seebeck on Saturday, September 10, 2011
Ten years after 9/11, 521 and 5 days, we memorialize those innocent people that lost their lives that day. I’m fine with that. We should do that, and we should commemorate those victims and heroes.
(Sidebar: One of the victims in WTC2 that day was…Michael Seebeck. See http://www.incident0727.com/s_to_u.htm. No, it wasn’t me, but it’s kind of spooky seeing that.)
But what bugs me is the increased rabidness of the people relating to glorifying war, the pledge, the flag, and the military.
I work with the military every day. They are fine people, serving honorably and taking a hard life path that most of us cannot or will not take.
These fine folks who have served, and lost, did so not out of allegiance to a flag, emblem, a bell, a statue in New York Harbor, a religious book, or a bunch of empty suits in DC or on TV.
They did it out of honoring a sworn oath to a document and to the ideals it represents: the Constitution. It represents the novel idea of limited government, with its intended effects of peace, prosperity, equal opportunity for all, and unlimited potential, all brought on based on the simple yet often forgotten (and even more often mistaught!) principle that the individual is sovereign and superior to government, and that government is, to paraphrase Jefferson, “instituted among men, derived its just power from the consent of the governed.” As such, our sovereignty, along with our natural rights, not only trump any and all powers of government, but government is subordinate to US, and its first and ONLY duty is to protect those rights from all infringement–from each other, from others, and even from government itself. Everything else is simply details of implementation.
However, some of those details have been perverted, warped, and twisted to suit corrupt and selfish means. There exists in government today a culture of it, and those possessed by its evil are damned fools that set the policy that the unfortunate honorable service member is ordered to implement. Hence we get foolish wars that cost us our blood and treasure, based on lies and propaganda, get us military interventionism where diplomacy and peace are needed, and destroy our reputation in the world as a beacon of hope and freedom–not to mention oppressing our freedoms at home, burying us sovereign individuals in an unchecked sea of police state and regulatory red-tape suffocation for no real reason except the accumulation of power and wealth at our expense, simply to buttress their own egos and to flailingly attempt to continue a massive mistake of an outdated policy called Manifest Destiny couched in a perversion of another concept Alexis de Tocqueville once called American Exceptionalism. de Tocqueville had it right in referring to our uniqueness among the world, but it has been since warped into ego and hubris instead. It’s one thing to be unique; it’s another to let it go to the head and think it has something to with being chosen by a deity as destined to do things. That’s why “We’re on a mission from God” is so funny–because it’s intuitively silly (The Blues Brothers, 1980).
That’s the real reason why our soldiers pay the price they do. They swore an oath and did the honorable thing by doing as they are ordered, but the orders themselves were dishonorable. Therein lies the problem: people tend to mistakenly and shallowly in thought conflate the troops, who implement the policy, with the policy, which comes from the fools in DC. In Vietnam that mistake was made and the troops were disparaged on their return, and that was clearly wrong. Starting with Desert Storm, there was a conscious effort to do better to separate the two (if you remember, I opposed that war for oil also, way ahead of that curve as usual), but since then, especially in the last 10 years, it has swung the other way to conflate them again, claiming that if you object to the policy that you don’t support the troops, which is just as wrong as what happened in the 1970s. The increased militarization of our domestic police forces hasn’t helped any, and neither has the increase in the Security Theater or police state.
One can and should support the troops while questioning and even disagreeing with the policy. That’s the “dissent being the highest form of patriotism” that Jefferson referred to. The troops are, after all, our fellow Americans–our families, friends, neighbors–while the foreign policy is extremely foreign to American ideals.
To understand the Pledge, one must truly teach its history and what the words actually mean to have its proper perspective–and that teaching MUST include the wise words of the majority in West Virginia v. Barnette, which clearly indicated that when peer pressure causes people to conform, the words become rote and have no meaning–they have to *want* to do it, and to do that they need to know *why*. America the Beautiful is a far better sentiment, undoubtedly. So is My Country Tis of Thee. The national anthem, another homage to the battle flag, written to a British pub drinking melody? Not so much.
To not teach the background so people understand is to miss the boat completely, and teaches nothing more than blind, thoughtless obedience. To know why is to critically think, and that is in very short supply these days.
As for the flag itself, the current version of the flag is a military battle flag, commissioned in war time, never intended to be flown in times of peace except on military enclaves. That being the case, why are we pledging allegiance and singing songs about an emblem of WAR??? That, IMO, is nonsense.
The flag is a symbol, nothing more. Treat it as such. The ideas behind the symbol, not the symbol itself, are what matter.
So what are we left with? The concept of America has been eroded over time because of corruption and the people being asleep at the switch, swiping their plastic for their iTunes, Nintendos, Big Macs, and imported Chinese junk, figuratively fiddling while Rome burns. A select few, including me, have been politically involved over the years to try to preserve what’s left of our freedom and reclaim what has been lost. That battle is not waged overseas by troops anymore, nor has it really been for a while now–at least until the Cold War re-escalates, and that’s coming soon if one looks at the signs from China and Russia. That’s nothing more than another vast and deadly sideshow that must end so we can all focus on the real issue. No, that battle is now fought in the political halls from the city councils to Capitol Hill, and that fight must be engaged by all of us in order to win–to preserve the principles of America that Founding Fathers laid out in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Thomas Paine correctly said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and our vigilance has been awful of late. Lot of work to do to fix that.
Since 9/11, what happened?
– Our financial posterity has been destroyed by a combination of bad policy by politicians and bureaucrats, and bad decisions by the citizenry.
– We are now treated as suspects and serfs instead of sovereigns by public servants and elected officials. The “War on Terror” has been directed now at us instead; we are guilty until proven innocent; and the corner cop, once a sign of safety and respect, is now one of contempt and fear. We can be thrown in jail indefinitely, tortured, and even killed, without trial, and it’s considered allowable and in some people’s minds desired.
– Regulations and laws now make it illegal to grow hay, a child to have a lemonade stand, dance at the Jefferson Memorial, or even to exercise our free speech rights. Our freedom of choice is diminished, our health is at risk, our very way of life is threatened–not by terrorists, but by government agents, bureaucrats, and politicians on egotistical and arrogant power trips.
– Those of us who point all of this out and raise hell over it are deemed “radical”, “unpatriotic”, “terrorists”, and “kooks”. Yet we are not only completely right, but we are ahead of the curve.
Where has everybody been while this happened? Did they even know it happened? I sure did! The 2003 Peace Rally Riot in Colorado Springs (started by the CSPD!) almost cost my pregnant wife our son–we were fortunate to get out before the police launched the tear gas into the parking lot after they told the lawfully-assembled and peaceable crowd to disperse–their “permit had expired”. The First Amendment does not have an expiration date! So much for freedom, eh?
Yeah, it’s kinda personal. It should be for you, too.
We had the ability to rise above such stupidity and re-dedicate ourselves as a nation to be the shining beacon of freedom again. The world, for once, was for us. That was pretty obvious when the Buckingham Palace Guard change played the national anthem instead of God Save The Queen, shocking the world and this grateful nation. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwrX-LN9-L0.
We cleaned up the mess, buried the dead, and the world mourned with us. The best of America came out in those days, and there was hope that 9/11 would unify us in a way not seen before, in brotherhood and peace. “We are all Americans now” meant that solidarity through loss had the potential to make us re-examine our role in the world, towards one of humble leadership and good example–exactly what the Founding Fathers envisioned and tried to implement. It started to go in that direction, as the rest of that week showed in the generosity and support the entire nation gave to the victims, their families, and each other.
But instead, we went to war and embraced the destruction of our freedom and principles that the neocon lies claimed the terrorists wanted in the first place. In simple terms: we blew it.
And here we are, ten years later, no wiser, no lesson learned from it, and if anything, deeper into the morass.
We never asked WHY 9/11 happened. Not the technical stuff of how it happened that the Truthers talk about. (I make no comment on that in any way here–it’s irrelevant at the moment.) We simply bought into the neocon lies.
All that has gotten us is more death and destruction, both at home and overseas. More debt and more unemployment. We can drop a bomb on some Afghani man who’s only life goal is to provide for his family the only way he understands how and had ZERO to do with terrorism or 9/11, yet we can’t house our homeless or feed our hungry or educate our children here in the United States. But we can sent a SWAT team to raid an Amish farm because they don’t pasteurize their milk. Nice priorities, huh?
My allegiance is to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–not death, tyranny, and the pursuit of sorrow! I have no patience nor understanding for those that are not of the same mentality and allegiance.
BTW, that’s my right as a sovereign citizen to be that way. I love my country and what it used to stand for. But I do not love what it stands for now, because what it stands for is not what it really means. It hasn’t for some time, and the glorification of government and militarism is not going to restore it either. Ask 1946 Germany how well that glorification of war and militarization worked out for them. Or any other part of Europe, for that matter.
THAT is what needs to be taught to our children–to rededicate us and them to reach the aspirations of the Founding Fathers once again, through prosperity and freedom at home, peace, humility, and trade abroad–not war, not militarization, not a police state, not corporatism, and certainly not from the corrupt and brainless fools that we inexplicably elect to lead us off the proverbial cliff. We can and must do better. I’ve been engaged in that fight for over twenty five years, and I’m not leaving, either. But it cannot be won alone, nor can it be won by complacency of others.
It is won by changing minds and hearts one person at a time.
Patriotism – Skepticism = Nationalism. Patriotism is good. Nationalism is awful.
In summary, the troops are not fighting for our freedom over there–they are fighting for a corrupt policy formed over here. And while their silence is by choice of honoring their oath, ours is not, so we must be their voice for them, to protect their fundamental rights of life and liberty and property. And ours, too.
Today, we honor the heroes and victims of 9/11: NYPD, NYFD, the people of United 93, the victims and heroes of WTC 1 and 2, and those that perished at the Pentagon. It is just and fitting that we do so. Put the militarization in the background, please!
But do not celebrate what America has become since then. Instead, work to make it better, to make it what it once was–the greatest nation of all time on this planet–while there still is time to do so.
“I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of We the People of the United States, and to the Republic which it forms, sovereign individuals, working peacefully together, with Liberty, freedom, and Justice for all.” –a much better pledge, I think. Repost this pledge (at least) if you agree.
Mr. Seebeck is a long-time activist for liberty and peace. Last year, he served as Southern Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party in California. He has recently moved to Colorado.