Tweetybird and Patriotism

July 3rd, 2013– Independence Day

The Liberty Bell Needs Replacing

First–  I’ve joined Twitter. No, I’m not kidding. I really did. Why would I do thing like that? Well, I have a kind of tech/pr advisor who helped me with my new book and she suggested it would help me to sell books to flock together with the tens of millions of other bird brains. I hope it’s worth the dead brain cells…

But, hey, it shouldn’t be a total loss–the first thing that happened after I joined was…  I saw a puddy tat!

Anyway, I can now “tweet” and be “retweeted”– I can “follow” people and be “followed.
For those interested my twitter address is: @Mike_Feder.
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Followed– Followers…  Makes me think of Abraham Lincoln’s quote: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”
Speaking of which… I was musing on the words and concepts, “Patriot” and “Patriotism”.

Wikipedia has patriotism as love of country. But can anyone love a country? I know I can love my kids, my wife, my best friend–but a country? If I loved America would it be unrequited love?
I know people (and it has happened to me) who love a house or a stream or a patch of land; a mountain, or a valley, or the ocean–some particular location or state of natural being…  I love ten am. on a weekday morning. I love autumn leaves falling on me as I sit on a park bench. I love summer breezes. I love a beautiful solo on a tenor sax…
All kinds of love, I guess.

But I’ve never loved my country. It’s an incomprehensible concept to me.
Maybe that’s a generational problem. I grew up after WW2—never did have to risk my life to save democracy from fascist tyrants. I can understand how the men of my father’s generation could feel that way. Or even my grandparents. They came here from Europe and its inherited class systems and bigotries. In America they got free educations, good jobs, careers, their own homes—they got to vote for FDR.
They LOVED America and so did my parents’ generation. Freedom, opportunity—even a government that occasionally did the right thing and helped promote equality.

But by the time I was growing up, it was Vietnam and now it’s Iraq and Afghanistan. All these immoral, undeclared wars which only benefit power-hungry politicians, weapons manufacturers, oil and chemical corporations and career military men (and now women).

John Glenn (astronaut and senator) used to say: “Every time I see the flag, my eyes tear up.” I could believe it. For him, it was the home of the brave and the land of the free. He was a fighter pilot in WW2.
When I was a kid growing up in the Fifties, we idolized such men. We were steeped in righteous patriotism. We thrilled to photos of the flag at Iwo Jima and GI’s liberating the concentration camps. We marched in the Memorial day parade. When the men set off fireworks on the 4th of July, we imagined we were war heroes just like they were.
But that was then—   Now, every time I see the flag, it makes me either ashamed or disgusted. I see a symbol of empire and greed and mass murder. If my eyes tear up it’s because I feel so sad that America has left it’s ideals so far behind…

Senator Glenn—Senator anybody or Congressman anyone…or President whoever-it-is for the moment…

I’m guessing it’s a lot easier to love your country or tear up at the sight of its’ flag if you are in a position of wealth, power and privilege.
It’s always been easier to love America if you were rich, white, a man, a christian and a heterosexual. But wait, there is progress! Now the blessings of political power and it’s inevitable corruption; corporate riches at the expense of everyone else in the world; shallow celebrity fame and fortune–and the ability to destroy people all over the planet are open to the poor, to women, gays, blacks, and latinos. That’s equal opportunity—American style. Who couldn’t love a country like that?
I can pay a hundred dollars for a mediocre seat at a baseball game, get sick to the point of throwing up on eight dollar hot dogs and drive home in a giant, polluting hunk of plastic and metal. Who wouldn’t lay down their life for that? Probably some Commie…

Flags. Everywhere. All the time. So many you might think it was an invasion of giant red, white and blue locusts…
The further away the country gets from its founding ideals the more pompous and self-righteous and bombastic it’s patriotic stage shows. When you’re really doing wrong, put on a big show. When you’re in the process of eliminating freedom, equality, decency and basic human rights the show has to be really big—  The Romans and the Nazi’s knew about that—and America, with it’s monster flags at sports events, Presidential speeches against a background of seals and emblems, of generals and admirals—and its slick tv commercials for the military, is starting to do a pretty good job of catching up to the all time pros. We even have a “Patriot Act” that excuses every vile form of spying, robbery and murder that men in power can conceive.

While most of America is barbecuing, drinking, texting, shopping for junk, watching race cars smash into each other… While the country is tearing up and saluting and thanking our service men and women for protecting our “freedoms”, let’s try to remember what those freedoms are and why a revolution was needed to secure them.

Skip the flag and the pious belchings of politicians; dial down the jet flyovers and sharp looking uniforms, the war movies and the one billion square yards of polyester stars and stripes made in China by slave laborers…
Tune in to The Declaration of Independence. It’s is the beating heart of the United States of America. The Ideals expressed in the Declaration were/are not very often achieved—but they are the most profound expression of why this country was formed and what it’s supposed to be about.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Dying for your country in a life and death struggle against invading tyrants—that is surely patriotism. But what is patriotism your your own government has become the invading tyrant—both at home and abroad?

Patriotism? Love of country? In America today—as it was during the Vietnam War and the battle for Civil Rights in the Sixties, the real heroes, the true patriots are the people are putting their life and liberty on the line to protest the destruction of those freedoms.
The highest service to America right now is to break the laws of the rich and the arrogant and the murderous. Screw the generals and Seal Team Six. Screw the head of the NSA, CIA and, especially, screw the President (whichever flavor President is currently soiling the oval office).  Daniel Ellsberg was—and is—a real patriot…Edward Snowden is a real patriot. And the people that condemn them? They are the real traitors to the body and soul of America.

The liberty bell is more than cracked, it’s shattered and lying in the gutter. It has been rung too many times by too many false patriots. It’s time to listen to the sound of a new bell.

 

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