Sunday, March 23, 2008

JMO - Patriotism

I was watching Lou Dobbs today (Sunday) and Lou and the media journalists or analysists, aka pundits, talking about the last week's news, especially Barrack Obama's speech about the Reverend Wright. By the end of the session I was almost ready to strangle all of them, even Lou Dobbs, whom I respect as well as his show. They've been watching and analyzing the candidates too much they missed the message the common person gets with only the slightes attention to the media about the candidates.

They kept criticizing Obama for the speech, but their reasons seemed to be more about their opinion than anything actual, even being well respected journalist with decades of experience in politics and with politicians. Or, it's the case I misunderstood Obama's speech? I don't think so. While I saw their points, it seems the just overanalyzed it. Obama wasn't presenting it to them but to the American people who understood and accepted his explanation.

They did touch on one subject that touches the issue of the war. The candidates on both sides have made this campaign, as all of them since 9/11, about patriotism. But they didn't touch on the issue of patriotism that isn't being discussed. What is patriotism?

I'm angry our political system, especilally with George Bush and Dick Cheney, have hijacked the term patriotism from what it really means to something it's not. And I'm personally tired of the consistent argument many politicians and others use that their position on Iraq and the war there is patriotic and anyone who disagrees with their view or criticizes them is unpatriotic. Nothing could be farhter from the truth.

Patriotism, to me, is believing in the good of your country and the good of the people. It's about the freedoms and civil rights and liberties we have and our system of government, in and with all it's flaws and problems. And that's the key to me. It's not about one view anyone thinks or expresses as right, but the diversity of views and the freedom to express those views, no matter how conflicting and divergent.

And what's even more important to some, and me, is that I believed in my country enough, despite disargeeing with the President and his Vietnam war policy, to serve my country (1969-73). I am and always will be proud I served, and that also gives me the privilege to say I support my country. I don't believe you support it right or wrong, that's what the public forum and freedom of speech is about, but you will when called or needed, serve.

But I also respect the rights of those who haven't served, decided not to serve, or express their view by refusing to serve. That's the beauty of our republic and democracy, personal freedoms, even when we disagree with the majority and our government, and we're willing to accept the responsibility as well as the consequences of our decisions and actions.

To believe and support that is patriotism. It's about standing in the public forum and express your view, then listen to the view of others, and then discuss the facts, the reality, the views and whatever else to come to a compromise. Not that we all have to agree with it or have to agree to its entirety, but something we can accomplish to work toward if not actually accomplish a solution.

And that's what 9/11 and the war in Iraq has changed. Like many I saw the invasion and occupation of Iraq in the 2003 State of the Union address by President Bush. It was clear to me he was setting the stage for the invasion announcement, and it was just a matter of time when he made the decision to act, to invade another soverign nation without provocation or truthful reasons, as we now all then presented were lies.

The war was about global geopolitics and energy, nothing else. And now we're in the sixth year of this war with 4,000 soldiers dead, tens of thousands permanently injured or disabled, billions of dollars down the toliet and unaccounted, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, the same or more permanently injured or disabled, millions emigrated or displaced, a country destroyed, a civil war now well established, millions in arms and weapons lost to the insurgents and terrorists, and our international reputation gone.

And if you were to ask if the person or persons responsible for this was patriotic, they would deny the facts and reality and say it was and they are, and anyone who disagrees with them is unpatriotic. Or so, our President, Vice President, many Congressional representatives, and other politicians would say. They would not only deny the truth but deny those opposing them the truth (we all know the secrecy now in the false name of national security) and their right to say it.

The truth is we're all patriotic. It's just some have made some really big blunders and have decided denial of the reality and rejection of opposing views is the better choice that stand in the public arena and not only hear the dissent, but listen and understand other patriots believe them to be wrong, badly wrong.

These same people who profess a false sense of patriotism are also the ones who think power and control make them better people and especially better patriots. Being a patriot isn't a lapel pin and espousing your sole right to be one, but about being humble to know without saying you are one. To respect the rights of all, especially to be and express. And to say we say we are all equal as is our views, and our patriotism.

And so, to anyone, especially politicians, and the President if necessary, that is my view of patriotism, and I'll fight for that view and my right to express my view. Plain and simple, I'm as patriotic as you.

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