Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Land of the Greed, Home of the Grave
July 4, 2006 means nothing more than another day for the parents of the dead
children in Iraq. Freedom is just an American word meaning death, destruction
Just days ago the U.S. newspapers were headlining the barbaric beheading
of two American soldiers captured on patrol. A few days later we found out
the soldiers captured were members of a unit that had stalked a fifteen year
old Iraqi girl to rape her. After the rape, they killed her and her family.
Iraqi citizens had reported the crime but the official report had listed
the deaths as killings by militants. Only because a soldier of the unit had
developed a guilty conscience about the rape and killings did the truth emerge.
The barbaric killings now look like retribution against a rogue unit of
soldiers by an Iraqi people sick and tired of the American bully. The bully
that had so many reports of soldiers and Marines committing atrocities even the
gutless and shirking press was beginning to tell the stories.
Still the American press lacks the outrage of acts by the killers in American
ranks that it does for the killers of Iraqi or Arabic background. Still the
stories of children crushed and destroyed by bombs of unseen planes fail to be
told. Still American free fire zones are ignored.
Noted historian Howard Zinn rightfully suggests we not wave the red, white
and blue flags of the American flag in pride this year on July 4, 2006. He
points out the catastrophic results of the disease called nationalism that has
driven this nations destiny. A destiny that seems to be forever one of a
nation that has wasted more lives, more natural resources and more potential
than any in the history of the world.
Fireworks continue at this late hour in my neighborhood. The firecrackers,
pop bottle rockets and other pyrotechnics that add up to 610 million dollars in
sales each year continue on without missing a beat while we fail the poorest
and weakest of the nation. Jobs, education, healthcare, mental healthcare,
substance abuse care, clean air, environmental concern, prenatal care, veterans
benefits and vital human programs go without enough funding while we foolishly
spend monies on explosive devices for celebration and incineration.
500 billion dollars spent on the war in Iraq since 2003 and we have only a
more sullied reputation to show for the money that could have done so much to
improve humanity all over the world.
I see the flag of this nation and I feel shame for our greed and
over-consumption. I feel shame for the hatred weve so rightfully brought upon
ourselves with the continued swath of death and destruction weve brought to so
many in the name of freedom.
I hear the self-proclaimed patriots say freedom isnt free and I agree. We
need only to ask the people of Iraq who have paid so heavily for the freedoms
that weve taken with their lives.
I hear the patriots say, America, love it or leave it and I agree. They
should either love our country enough to do whats moral and legal or they
should leave it to the tyrants and the liars who have already stolen much of
the freedom that made this country a beacon to the rest of the world.
The young Americans responsible for the rapes, killings and atrocities
theyve committed deserve jail and punishment for what theyve done. The time
of saying they were only doing their jobs is over. The time of saying they only
did their duty is over. Time has come to accept personal responsibility for
being part of immoral and illegal actions.
Americans thinking the atrocities are anomalies by just a few are foolish
and complicit in those atrocities. Trying to hide behind the flag and
patriotism is deceptive and self-serving.
The citizens of America need to stop fooling themselves about the reasons for
the atrocities by their children in the military. The rotten barrel of apples
begins and ends with a leadership that has allowed torture and illegal actions
to become a norm.
George W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales, Rove and all the stooges
of this administration have given the green light to corruption and immorality
so often its little wonder the soldiers and Marines have seen no limits to
what they should be able to do while allegedly fighting for freedom.
July 4th is not a time of celebration in America. Its a time of
humiliation. July 4th isnt a time for waving the banners of nationalistic
pride. Its a time of distress and shame. The only way the American flag should
fly is inverted to signal a country in distress.
Peace and justice groups arent free of complicity either. At a time outrage
is necessary and the only proper response, timidity and passivity seems to be
the reaction. While young American men and women die and kill and innocent
Iraqis die in ever more obscene and senseless ways, peace and justice groups
spend hours talking about the problem rather than acting on it.
Departments of Peace, letters to corrupt politicians, campaigning for
politicians no different in philosophy than the ruling tyrants and symbolic
actions lacking the power to be meaningful are simply actions to feel good
about things but not actions taking a risk of time, talent and energy to truly
oppose the despots in charge.
The urgency of a nation rotting from within is lacking in a fog of
consumerism, self centeredness and apathy. Rather than change we keep
recreating the wheels of imperialism and nationalism. The same concepts with
slightly different names are the rule not the exception.
America, America, God shed his light on thee
..nothing but words of a
delusional nation thinking their God somehow favors them for their gluttonous
and hedonist ways.
Terry Leichner, RN
Vietnam combat veteran
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