Tough gritty American soldiers protect freedom of liberal S.F. columnist? Or is it the other way around?
I get this a lot: Hey Mark, you know what you should do, you pathetic piece of liberal S.F. scum? You should kneel down right now and thank our angry God there's a hard-ass non-pussified non-wimpy U.S. military out there protecting your pathetic little butt, baby. Isn't that thoughtful?
You should be damn grateful, they scowl, that these fine men and women are risking their lives to ensure your right of free speech, your contemptible ability to scribble these pansy liberal words, to call Shrub a smirking daddy's boy, to suggest that God doesn't exist or that Lynne Cheney frightens small children and makes paint peel, all while remaining safe and cozy in your little hippie-happy tofu-licking gay-friendly S.F. cocoon, all protected and insulated and smug.
I get this a lot, too, in response to columns about, say, alternative religion, or spirituality, or progressive politics, or sex, or open mindedness or anything that rubs conservatives the wrong way, which is, of course, just about anything: How can you write such typical lefty liberal drivel while "real" men and women are out there making "real" decisions about "real" issues?
When people are dying from poison gas and are having their fingernails ripped out by evildoers, and you just wait until your pathetic little faggy S.F. and granola Berkeley get "hit" and your family and friends are screaming and burning to death and we'll see how you feel then, won't we, when Dubya tried to warn you and where will your hippie crap be then huh? Huh?
It's touching, truly.
And there are many more, most filled with flaming bile, with a rabid pro-military lust, homophobia like a calling card, aimed at me, at S.F, at progressives, at gays -- anyone, really, who is not in blind lockstep support of everything ShrubCo spins their way, and never failing to leverage the rather inane "be grateful you live in this country" argument, much like saying, be grateful you weren't born in 1347 and suffered serfdom and had boils all over your face and died toothless at age 24. Yes, I am grateful. Every day. Thank you.
Let us now speak blasphemy. Let us point up something no one seems to be mentioning, as Shrub sends in 300,000 of our youth to blast a cheap thug who is, by every account, no serious threat to the U.S., and never has been, and who had nothing to do with 9/11, and whose ties to terrorism are tenuous at best, all while rabid North Korea happily buys more nuke technology from desperate Pakistan and sells the finished product to the highest bidder.
Here it is: The military does not protect my freedom. Our soldiers are not out there right now safeguarding me, or you, or us, from some sort of total, '50s-era, Red Scare-esque dictatorial overthrow of our nation; nor is the military guaranteeing I have the right to write this column any more than it is protecting your right to read it, or to protest the war and speak freely and smoke imported French cigarettes and watch porn and drive really fast. Not anymore, they're not. Not this time.
More than ever before in recent history, the otherwise worthy U.S. military is right now in service not of the people, not of the national security, but of the current government regime and its corporate interests. Has it always been this way? Of course. But this time, with our smirky Enron president and cash-hungry CEO administration, it's never been so flagrant, or insulting, or invidious.
Our soldiers are not protecting our freedoms. They are not preventing more terrorism. They are not guaranteeing continued free speech. Because the only true threat to such freedoms is coming from within.
There is every indication that our own government, more than any other in the Western world, is the one that would like our free speech quelled, dissenting voices silenced, proofs of wrongdoing or proofs of corporate greedmongering that are used as a cheap excuse to massacre an estimated half-million Iraqis, eliminated.
There is every indication that John Ashcroft would love nothing more than to shut down independent thought and snuff out all those dirty pictures and turn off the whole gol-durn Internet once and for all.
There is every flagrant sign that Rummy and Ari Fleischer think the media would do good to shut the hell up and be grateful they're even allowed on the White House grounds. "If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists," they glower, as if everyone were 5 years old, and drugged, and stupid.
There is every indication that BushCo would love nothing more than to fire truckfuls of tear gas into those crowds of 11 million protesters a few weeks ago, clamp down all those millions of negative voices causing him such a global headache, brainwash the media and the populace, continue to turn attention away from that pesky unfindable Osama to that evil easily annihilated Saddam, make you think the two are somehow connected, one and the same, and that if you disagree you are a traitorous baby-killing communist, how dare you, don't you value your freedom?
Of course I do. Which is exactly why this war is so inane, and vile.
This war was never about your safety, or the safety of this nation, or protecting freedom. It is about strategic power bases, oil reserves and control. It is about regional supremacy first, petroleum and military supply industries second, humanitarian and domestic-security concerns, well, about 147th.
It was never about WMD. It was never about terrorism. It was never about Saddam, except insofar as Saddam is a threat to those same corporate concerns. The U.S. military is right now serving ExxonMobil. And Lockheed Martin. And is protecting, unbeknownst to it, our grip on power brokering in the Middle East.
Which naturally might raise the question, What, then, is actually protecting America's freedom? What forces are guaranteeing free speech? Protecting your civil liberties?
It's you. It's millions of independent, resistant voices, in chat rooms and e-mail boxes and magazines and on Web sites all over the nation and the world.
It is staggering and potent protests like the all-time largest global rally of Feb. 15. It is artists and actors and musicians, writers and renegades and thinkers, professors and pundits and op-ed columnists and daring newspaper editors.
Do you see? It is these people, these voices, that are right now keeping the doors of personal freedom from swinging shut. It is those who push back, refusing to be misled, resisting the crackdown. What is keeping America free is not the military -- it is independent thought. It is the progressive provocative evil "hippie vibe" that refuses to let Bush completely molest the nation.
Because BushCo would love nothing more than for everyone to shut the hell up so it can bomb in peace. And they are trying. E-mail snooping, Homeland Security, the draconian Patriot Act, new wiretap laws, the (failed) Total Information Awareness mega-database, expanded powers for the police and FBI, immigrant detention, a raging international blanket campaign to forcibly convince everyone of their warmongering cause, as most of the world just stands there, appalled, insulted, and says no way.
Here's another irony: Major newspapers and TV and magazines, despite regular GOP puling about the "damn liberal media," is largely in lockstep support of the war, giving scant coverage to ongoing world protests, painting Chirac like the ogre Shrub wants you to think he is, hyping up biotoxic threats and downplaying the pathetic meagerness of the Iraqi military, or the hundreds of thousands of estimated civilian casualties and refugees this war will generate, the hundreds of billions it will cost us.
Look. We possess a potent, world-class military. Dedicated and serious and no one questions their ability, their commitment, despite how the vast majority of wary soldiers signed up during peacetime, for the quick money, to help pay for college, or because they couldn't find decent jobs, and not for some noble patriotic cause. But no matter.
Was I supportive of quick, aggressive military action against the largely fragmented and untraceable al Qaeda? Was I glad to see undercover air marshals on civilian aircraft shortly after 9/11? Do I support our military in times of true crisis and need, when there is an actual viable threat? Absolutely. Is this one of those times? No way. Here's how I support them now -- get them out before a single one is killed.
Because here is the freedom our military is currently protecting: The freedom of cheap gas for the next decade. The freedom of expanded power in the Middle East. The freedom of continued American gluttony abroad, of a foreign policy that reeks of isolationism and corporate greed and preemptive fist-to-face threats. It ain't worth it.
Is the military protecting us from terrorism? Doubtful. By most every estimate, Shrub's war will only ignite more anti-U.S. hatred, spark more countries to fuel up and prepare for America's random attack. We are not pouring water on the dying embers of U.S. revulsion -- we are kicking them. As hard as we can.
I understand and value the need for a strong military. I appreciate the necessity. But the war in Iraq does nothing but denigrate the value and integrity of our military. Note to conservatives: Those soldiers aren't out there dying for you, they're dying for strategic political power, for some oil exec's portfolio. They're protecting the American oligarchy. Does that make you feel proud?
This war, then, is a direct slap in the face, an insult not just to progressives and liberals but to the country, and to the very soldiers themselves. I hereby kneel down in my liberal hippie gay-friendly S.F. cocoon and pray to my godless tofu-lovin' universe that they don't die in oily vain.
The Lie Of The U.S. Military
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, March 7, 2003