The Old Lie

Alright, I tend to see things differently from a lot of people. I have a tendency to ask questions in situations where I’m expected to just nod in agreement. Yesterday, the meme below crossed my Facebook page, forwarded by a friend whose political views run toward the ultra conservative range. At first, I just blipped past it, but this morning, I awoke with it still on my mind and something just didn’t sit right with me.

Increasingly, I believe that we have become a nation of “receptors,” people who have been groomed to receive and accept information for storage like the hard drive of a computer. We often do not question that information; we just let it seep in and take up residence in our sub-consciousness. But, in a rather insidious way, that information coalesces into globs of ignorance, pseudo-knowledge, and party-speak which causes us to take stands, railing against perceived injustices with a self-righteousness that only the truly uninformed can possess. It is a form of mental mal-ware.

Let us assume that the contents of the meme below accurately reflect a statement by the late Fred Thompson. Slap the Statue of Liberty in the bottom corner and you have an iconic image of the American world view that the far right wants us to believe. “We were put here to be the saviors of the world and we will carry that mission into every region of darkness to spread American light.” Sound good?

It would be more instructive if Thompson’s quote read like this: “This country has shed more blood for the freedom of other people than all the other nations in the history of the world combined. Why?” Did we do this because it was the good Christian thing to do? Did we sacrifice our young people because we are more moral than anyone else? Are we just the good guys in the white hats, consigned by fate to ever ride to the rescue of damsels tied to train tracks?

If so, I would ask why only one (Lindsey Graham, now out of the race) of the current crop of Republican candidates chose to serve in the military. These are the most righteous, holier than thou, proud to bleed red, white and blue people you could ever hope to meet. Why then, did they take great pains to avoid military service? Trump and Cruz, in particular, want to “bomb the shit out of” and “carpet bomb” respectively, the psychos in ISIS. Will they lead from the front or the rear? It has been a long time since anyone with political aspirations from America’s 1% got their hands dirty in combat.

Friends, the real answer to the question of why we shed our blood for other people is rather obvious. We do not send our young men and women off to die in foreign lands from a proud or even misguided sense of altruism. We do it because it is good business and “the business of America is business.” America exists to sell Coke and Ford Mustangs, disposable diapers, frozen fish fillets and brainless reality TV bimbos on a global scale (for now, wait until we colonize Mars), and we will come to your door, kick it in and napalm the piss out of you until you agree to buy.

The Cold War is remembered as the pitting against each other of two political ideologies, Capitalism and Communism, in a grand, strategic chess match of global proportions. Looking back, we can see that it was in actuality a battle over commerce, a head-to-head between the two biggest retailers on the block. Vietnam was less about stopping the progress of Communism and more about securing access to the Southeast Asian market. In the end, we lost that battle but won the war, because our retailer had a better selection of goods and cleaner bathrooms. Now, we are engaged in the winning of hearts and minds in the Muslim world, not because we want to stop the rise of radical Islam, not because we want to save them from themselves. We see them as billions of buyers, living in the dark ages while we are overstocked on light bulbs. And, in terms of oil reserves, they are sitting on a heap of spending cash.

The far right, the group that stole the Republican party from moderate voices under the gentle nom de plume of the “Tea Party,” corrupted it and remade it in their own image, goes to great lengths to keep portraying us as the guys in the white hats. They are the Koch brothers and a group of select billionaires who have carefully orchestrated a re-education of the current generation of Americans, a newly minted ad campaign to convince us to buy into “the old lie.” And if you believe it, if you have not bothered to learn from the history of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq and the future which looks to be named Syria (and maybe even Mexico), get yourself down to your local recruiting station and sign up. You’ve just been reclassified from 4F to Canon Fodder. Messieurs Trump and Cruz will be there to administer your oath.

Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori. – Horace

American Bloodshed