Tuesday, February 1, 2011

out of many, one

"we are living with and living in the national rot wrought by the bleak, selfish sentimentality that says our troops are out there solely to insure our continued comfort."
 - david roth, the awl, 1/28/11 

in case you haven't noticed, this little liberal is pretty passionate about the proper use of our nation's military. i think it's just of the utmost importance to respect people who choose to serve. part of that is being extremely careful with what wars we go into. i mean, that goes without saying; you don't want people getting shot at for no reason. but there's more to the story than that. see, there's nothing i hate more - and yes, that includes jewelry commercials - than the largely empty, fake platitude that is "i stand with our troops." it's seen on buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts and campaign materials. it's a favorite right-wing trope, and when it's used that way, it's also used to convey the message that a) the speaker "stands with our troops," so b) anyone who disagrees with the speaker does NOT "stand with the troops."

leaving the despicability of using troops as political tools aside, there's something more distressing about this whole construct. have you ever heard anyone who says "i stand with the troops" actually define what they DO to support military members and their families? anyone can say anything. but do these people actually propose and lobby for policies that help? by and large, no, they don't. in fact, a lot of these people act in ways that directly HARM troops. they're in favor of endless war without a real objective in mind. they don't support benefits for the families left behind and the veterans when they return. they worked so, so hard to keep patriotic people out of the service because of who they love. now how is that "standing" with the troops? it's not.

which brings me back to the quote. we really do have a venal, selfish view of our lives as a nation. selfishness is most assuredly our national malaise. we don't think in terms of a collective national identity, something worth fighting for. we should change our motto from "e pluribus unum" to "MINE! MINE-MINE-MINE-MINE-MINE!" instead of taking a step back and noting that big, giant ammunition clips are really just not necessary, especially in the light of the arizona massacre, some among us cling to those things as if mama was coming to take their blankies away. it's not about what's best for all of us as a whole anymore; it's just about what's best for me, and maybe my family if i'm feeling generous today. what kind of foolishness is that?

we're supposed to be better than this. it's happened before in our history. we used to be really good at banding together and sharing sacrifice in the face of struggle. somewhere down the road, though, we lost that. it's one of our finest qualities as americans - the recognition that we're a crazy-quilt collective of radically different people, connected through our shared belief in that nutty little piece of paper called the constitution. when we remember that it's not all about us (sarah, i'm looking at you), we'll get back to the good stuff again. i know we can do it.


  1. One of my brothers is a Marine getting ready to leave on his second tour in the Middle East. I've been very conflicted about the entire thing: extremely proud of my brother, but hate, hate, HATE why he is going.

    The "with us or against us" mentality is just tiresome. I'm too apathetic to even get angry anymore and that in turn, saddens me. When did I stop debating?

    Ugh...I need a drink.

  2. Hi there, Magnolia... I think this possibly goes back to the point in time when the troops in Viet Nam were looked down upon by a great percentage of Americans. They were called many mean, nasty, and mean-spirited things... they were spit upon on their return, if they got any recognition at all.

    It was sad to be in the military at that time, and not feel respected by 'the folks back home.'

    As for the 'You are either with us, or against us,' I didn't like it when Bush used it, and haven't cared for it when Obama has used it.

    I have never been opposed to people having a viewpoint different from mine, but to say that because I care to differ with someone else's thoughts, that does not mean that I am NOT an American.

    During the Revolutionary War, there were settlers in in the colonies that didn't want to establish a country free from England.

    During the Civil War, there were people in the North as well as in the South that were against the war being waged.

    During WWI and WWII, there were Americans who were dead set against those wars, as was with Korea, Viet Nam, and the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

    I can disagree with the Republicans... and with Democrats, and be a GREAT American, I think.

    Jessica, I understand your feelings about your brother going back over there... *huggles*


  3. oh, i don't mean disagreement. debating with people who are in good faith interested in talking is the height of fun. what i'm talking about is this sense of "if you do disagree, you aren't WITH us."

  4. Yeah... that chaps me too!!!!


  5. Magnolia, I love when you post things like this that make me think.


your turn.