Sunday, February 19, 2006

Support our Troops Freedoms

And if we do torture, it's only because we need to preserve our freedoms:

"It is the Soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press,
It is the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag."

From a mural at the Armed Service YMCA, Killen, Texas.

In his preface to Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut wrote that in civics class in the 1930's he was taught the difference between America and Europe was that European nations required standing armies, and America functioned quite well without one, because it had no imperialist ambitions, and needed no army to stave off the ambitions of other nations. It seems a positively whimsical notion sovereignty compared to the positively Hobbesian sentiment of that verse, written by a Marine Corps chaplain. And yet how many in America today would disagree with it? How many would challenge its basic assumption that soldier stands on a wall, protecting we the hapless citizens, from the evil on the other side?

Sometimes I think this is what Dwight Eisenhower was warning us about. Sometimes I think about how quickly we forget. We weren't afraid, once.

Now fear is our only excuse for the very things we cherish. And it seems that what we cherish is our fear.

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