From Matthew Good's blog:
The Ressurection Of Independence Day
Today is a day on which many Americans celebrate not the contents of the document that made the 4th of July an important date in US history, but rather an altogether different, and highly corrupted, view of their nation and their identity. It is one that has been inbred in them since childhood, one that is highly insular, and one that has warped the definition of what it means to be truly patriotic.
If anything, the events of the last few days should demonstrate to Americans just how little the Bush administration cares how it is viewed by most. In fact, it has been operating under that guiding principle for some time now, with little to no opposition. Looking at what it took for Richard Nixon to resign the Presidency, one only has to look at Mr. Bush’s disastrous two terms in office to see why he has little regard for public opinion. Given the lies of his administration, the scandals, and the unwillingness to heed popular opinion, were he a man of integrity that held the nation’s best interests above that of a cabal within the Republican Party, he would have resigned his office after the falsehoods that led the nation to war were revealed. Unfortunately, at the time, a largely complacent fourth estate gave Mr. Bush a free pass, and he remained.
Were I sitting in France, Germany, Italy, or the Netherlands, the transgressions of this government would be cause for massive public rallies. The streets of various cities would be filled with crowds demanding the resignation of the government, and they would most likely continue to do so until such change occurred. But that is not something that happens in North America, be it here in the US or at home in Canada. We have, for the most part, abandoned our sacred responsibilities with regards to keeping government in check, and because of it they have grown to bank on our apathy and complacency.
Prior to the invasion of Iraq we marched through the streets of Vancouver – mothers, fathers, children, people from all walks of life participating in the largest global protest of a conflict (that hadn’t even begun) in human history. Faced with such overwhelming public condemnation, the President of the United States chose to ignore the world and proceeded to illegally invade a sovereign nation, an invasion that has since taken the lives of over 3,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. A year later we marched again through the streets of Vancouver, Professor Chomsky addressed those in attendance at the conclusion of the march, and it seemed that many had not lost focus on what they felt must be stopped. But as the years have passed the marches have grown smaller, interest in them amongst those whose participation is paramount, the middle classes, has dropped off to almost nothing, and many have resigned themselves to the fact that nothing can be done to alter what the Bush administration set in motion in March of 2003. It has become, in many ways, a thing of fantasy to many, something that inhabits our television screens, reaching out only to steal the futures of those directly involved, their families, their neighbours and friends. The same can be said about Afghanistan, and we, as Canadians, should also be focusing more on the realities of our participation in that war than we do.
The war in Iraq is the high water mark of the Bush administration’s folly. It is a war that is in such disarray, that was planned with such carelessness and with such little forethought as to stupefy even the simplest among us. And yet it is allowed to continue. When the President makes speeches regarding it now he employs references to ‘al-Qaeda’ and ‘9/11’ as if they were still representations of the ‘political capital’ that he claimed he had gained in spades following his re-election. They are words meant to detract from the realities of the disaster that now exists in that country, words that still rely on falsehoods championed by his political allies as if they hadn’t been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
Iraq is also a war about money, about the massive expansion of the private sector, and those who profit off of the misery of innocents. According to today’s Baltimore Sun, privately paid contractors in Iraq actually outnumber US forces there. There are, according to the article, more than 180,000 civilian contractors working under US contracts, be they Americans, Iraqis, or other foreign nationals. A single load of laundry costs the US government, via KBR, just shy of $100 dollars – what, in any house hold, would cost little more than a few dollars.
When war is that lucrative for your friends – what does the opinion of the American public matter?
The defense budget of the United States for the next fiscal year is in excess of $600 billion dollars, dwarfing that of the next closest country, China, which spends roughly $60 to $70 billion. The US defense budget is greater than all of the budgets of the nations that comprise NATO plus China and Russia combined, and it remains the most prolific arms manufacturer in the world. Ironically, it is also a debtor nation to Mexico, and owes the Chinese some $1 trillion dollars. In fact, one third of the US foreign debt is equal to that of the entire third world. And yet it continues to spend money as fast as it can print it on maintaining the world’s foremost military.
Look into the cost of a single B2 Stealth bomber and then equate what that money could do with regards to healthcare or education. Doing so will enlighten you to the massively imbalanced sense of priorities prevalent in America’s halls of power.
There was a dream that was a nation, a dream forged into reality on this day 231 years ago. Its intention was noble at its inception, a basis penned that would lead to the creation of a Constitution meant to protect the rights of Americans, most importantly their right to dissent against the inappropriate actions of their own government. It would be foolish to believe that the likes of Thomas Jefferson ever believed that the power of the federal government should, in any way, detract from the people’s ability to demand that those principles that they cherish not be honourably upheld by their elected representatives, and that if and when the powers entrusted the Office of the President were ever taken for granted, or abused, that they could rightly demand that the integrity of the ideals found in the Declaration Of Independence and the Constitution be vehemently protected to the last.
It is Independence Day here in the United States, and that being the case, cause not for mindless celebration, but rather a day on which to remember that independence from all forms of tyrannical behaviour, be it foreign or domestic, is the hallmark of the American dream. Not capital, nor social status, but the belief that this nation once exemplified something of promise that, over the centuries, has been lost.
It is time for the American people to take back what is rightfully theirs. And they should allow no man, nor his henchmen, nor the military infrastructure that has become so engrained in the modern American experience, to stop them. For if young men and women can be sent off to a foreign country to die in a senseless conflict, surely it is nothing to step outside of your front door and protest this administration’s abuse of the American ideal by flying the flag upside down. For in military terms, the presentation of the flag in such a manner signifies ‘distress’, and I can think of no better term to exemplify the state in which the United States now finds itself.
Labels: Matthew Good