April 4, 2003
People are falling all over themselves, getting a little hysterical about proving how patriotic they are. The point that the real patriots in this case are the ones who oppose the illegitimate administration's illegitimate war is a good one, but it really is time now to move beyond the issue of patriotism.
The Bush administration and the corporate oligarchy it represents have upped the ante and we can no longer allow ourselves to be manipulated and restrained by phony talk of patriotism. The corporations are global. They are fighting a global war against working people, and it is they who have made patriotism irrelevant.
Real patriotism in the United States was always devotion not to a tribe or a nationality but to a set of principles. Well stated in the Declaration of Independence they are revered because they are universal sentiments of humankind. The longing for freedom, justice and peace springs eternal within the human heart. The greatness of the founders of the republic was in creating a form of government designed to provide the best possible environment for the fulfillment of those human aspirations. Being patriotic in America means above all things devotion to a set of principles.
The principles date back in history far beyond the founding of America. The creators of the republic stood on the shoulders of those before them who brought the world to the point at which they could do what they did.
There is nothing inherently superior about Americans. The greatness of America is in how well it has adhered to those founding principles. And right now -- due in large part to the efforts of the Bush corporate oligarchy -- it is way off track.
Many would agree that America has never been farther off track than it is right now. This is not the moment to go into all the ways that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft et. al. have crammed the Constitution down the toilet and spit in the face of all humane impulses. But there is plenty of evidence in any day's news reports to make the case.
Being patriotic today is not about the flag and the "president" and all that phony baloney. It's dedication to the law. This administration was outside the law in the way it came to power, and is now flagrantly outside of any kind of international law, or universal recognition of the principles of justice in its aggression in Iraq.
It is essential now that we stop allowing ourselves to be restrained by artificial boundaries created by those in power to divide Americans from others who share an interest in stemming the threat to humanity caused by the illegal junta that took over the American government.
Please, away with your flags. The people with flags draped flagrantly on their cars are almost invariably the rudest, most dangerous drivers, and I find that the more flags people display, the more frightened they are. These people hiding behind flags today are extremely frightened people. You can see it in their faces. Fear is an underlying current in American society now. The Bush administration thrives on that fear, and stokes it. Fear is the single most important tool in its exercise of power. It is the essential driving force of its agenda.
Terror is an old, tried and true method of controlling populations. The Bush administration is exercising it aptly, but if the truth ever really got around, the kings would fall like Humpty Dumpty. If people became aware of what the Bush administration is doing to them, it would be over.
It is time for all of us to go beyond thinking of ourselves as Americans and realize that the struggle for justice and peace is a global struggle. The aggressors in the war against the working people around the world are occupying the most powerful positions in America now. It is time to recognize that the battle against tyranny today must begin with a struggle against the Bush administration and the outlaw corporate oligarchy it represents. And there is no more time for confusion or hesitation.
I am against aggressors no matter what their nationality. I am against killing of innocent civilians, no matter who is doing it. I'm against fascists whether they are in Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil or the United States. I believe in self-determination, freedom, democracy and justice and I oppose whoever thwarts them, no matter what country they are from. No matter if they hold the most powerful offices in my own country.
Just because they are American does not mean they can do whatever they want and I must support them. If they don't respect and uphold the law, the Constitution and some minimal standard of human decency, then I oppose them. There are fundamental principles of humanity that are universal and are higher than the Constitution. The Constitution is an elegant document to the extent that it has embodied those principles and created a working plan for a government that will protect them and allow people to exercise them.
The Bush administration seized power illegitimately and then proceeded to exercise it illegitimately. It has taken drastic steps to impair the Bill of Rights and it is now in the process of dragging the United States into a catastrophic war that endangers everything Americans hold dear. The Bush administration began by mocking the Constitution with the Scalian doubletalk suspension of democracy for George W. Bush, and has now progressed to the point at which the junta is committing what are -- by any definition outside of the American media system -- war crimes.
It is time for the people to exercise their legal right and obligation to correct the error by removing the junta from office. The means is impeachment. And the preservation of our American heritage requires us to get rolling on it.