Wednesday, July 06, 2011


From CounterPunch:

But what I am constantly amazed at is how these "patriotic" holidays are observed ONLY by honoring the military. What about other people who have more directly defended our liberties, such as civil rights lawyers and the parties in civil rights cases, and, yes, even the parties and lawyers in criminal procedure cases?

These people often fight without fanfare, alone, and even as outcasts. Ultimately, though, they fight for all Americans' freedom from oppression.

Many Americans don't seem to know that the Constitution protects our rights from infringement by OUR GOVERNMENT. The right of free speech, religious freedoms, freedom from unreasonable search, etc., are rights the Constitution keeps our government from infringing.

The Constitution wasn't written to limit other governments, or private parties.

Sure, the military protects our borders, but we have not been under the danger of enslavement by a foreign power for years (yes, due in part to our powerful military). But whether we have freedom inside our borders is not entirely up to the military.

More here.

Yes, yes, we need a military to defend our nation from potential invasion, yadda yadda. Everyone gets that. Everyone gets war, fighting, violence, victory. After all, war is a favorite subject for Hollywood movies and video games. We're continually deluged by WWII images, Vietnam, too, if only to show what happens when the American people don't have enough bloodlust, you know Forrest Gump, Rambo, and on and on. War is easy to conceptualize, and we conceptualize it all day long, every day of the year.

What's harder to conceptualize is freedom and democracy. It's harder still when the notion of "freedom" is conceptually tied to war--that is, "freedom" is what happens after you've kicked the other guy's ass, not an abstract notion played out in the real world in countless ways that matter to countless people, at home, at work, on the street, in the alleys. The public schools have profoundly failed us. We have a citizenry that has very little working knowledge of what the word "freedom" means, at least in terms of American history. And without such knowledge, Americans are totally vulnerable to jingoist false equivalencies between freedom and the armed forces.

Indeed, for the last decade or so, this nation has been descending into a culture of military fetish. Since 9/11, we've watched as any latent cultural notions about our country being populated by builders and thinkers were replaced by our new self-image as a warrior people, even though the vast majority of us don't serve at all. I mean, it probably goes back to post-Vietnam WWII glorification as a sort of politically driven psychic salve, but it kicked into overdrive once Bush was in office. Now "freedom" means "war."

I, for one, don't accept this. Being warriors is only a part time job for the American people. Our full time job is continuing to figure out how to be the greatest nation in history, building, researching, contemplating, caring, loving. War doesn't simply get in the way of our full time job. Rather, it's a total disaster for our full time job. It drains resources and makes us bloodthirsty. I'm not saying we should avoid it at all costs--we must, after all be realistic.

But war is truly the worst case scenario. I'm all for honoring the men and women to whom we must resort as a last ditch effort, but we really ought not confuse them and what they do with the principles and culture for which they do it. That is, the military does not equal freedom. They protect it when it is necessary. But they aren't what makes us great.