Why I'm Not Waving the Flag
By Don Monkerud
The media is filled with stories of war and newspapers print American
flags with the legend, "United We Stand." Flags fly from houses,
businesses and pickup trucks.
Americans are pulling together out of a deeply felt need for
connection. Grief touches us all for the wanton killings in the WTC
and only the most hardened fail to shed tears. Some say it is too
early to voice dissent in the midst of such appalling catastrophe,
others claim it is unpatriotic.
While Americans certainly have a right to feel sadness, outrage and
even seek vengeance, there's a nasty undercurrent in flag waving that
should cause us to consider the deeper meanings such patriotism has
for our society. There's a real danger of war hysteria.
Dissent and calls for peace and reflection are being turned aside as
illegitimate. For example, General Alexander Haig told CNN that we
have to combat "moral equivalency." He means that just because the US
does bad things in the world, it's not okay for others to do the same
Pointing out that the WTO bombing is no worse than what the US has
done to other countries and peoples around the world does not excuse
the bombing, but it does place the conflict in different terms. It
also places a great responsibility on the American people to be aware
that our actions in the world have repercussions. And it doesn't
allow us to easily dismiss others as "evil" and place ourselves on
the moral high road.
This is not to suggest that those responsible be allowed to go free.
Each individual involved needs to be hunted down and brought to
justice. It's far easier to bomb a country in retaliation, but who?
Although Bush focuses on the Taliban, the WTO bombers appear to be
from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. Other radical
Islamics come from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, former Russian Republics,
Sudan, Pakistan and make their homes in such places as France,
Britain and the US. Obviously there's no country that can be held
When we start looking for "the enemy" we discover that the US helped
create bin Laden and armed and funded the Muslim extremist who
support him. Remember President Reagan's "freedom fighters" that we
supported in Afghanistan because we wanted to defeat Russia, "the
evil empire?" Maybe tracking down those responsible for the WTO
bombing should reach into the State Department, Defense Department
and the CIA. Why do policies developed by these folks make others
want to kill American citizens?
US policy makes enemies around the world and too often does as much
harm as good. The US supported the Contras that killed thousands in
Nicaragua, invaded Grenada, and burned and bombed Panama City. We
send helicopters, tanks and jets to Israel to be used against
stone-throwing Palestinians, bomb Iraq regularly, and support
repressive regimes in the Middle East and around the world. Designed
to benefit multi-national corporations, globalism leads to poverty
and starvation on these countries.
There's a picture in the newspaper of people carrying a banner saying
"Americans, Think! Why you are hated all over the World." While
propaganda, the banner points out that the US represents an
oppressive domineering capitalist force for much of the world. We
recognize this before we can understand what happened at the WTC and
build toward peace.
Mentioning such facts shouldn't create a backlash against those truly
concerned about the role of the US in the world. War rhetoric can
easily be turned to nefarious purposes much like it was in both world
wars and Vietnam. Recall that the US government jailed socialists,
communists, utopians and others who didn't jump aboard the war
bandwagon. Dissenters suffered jail and ostracism, they lost jobs and
were beaten. Civil liberties were suspended.
Hopefully we've learned something since Vietnam and realize that we
need a wider perspective that doesn't foster hysteria and reaction.
We must realize that making" war on terrorism" does nothing if it
perpetuates policies that caused the terrorism in the first place.
The American people just paid a very heavy price for our support of
US foreign policy. Although there is a strong good streak in
Americans, too many of us are asleep, watching TV or merely shopping
when US policy is being formed. Making war on the people of
Afghanistan will not put an end to terrorism. Our actions could lead
to a wider war in the Middle East and escalate terrorism at home.
It's a treacherous time-the end of innocence in America-and a wake up
call that as citizens, we need to pay more attention to what is being
done in our name.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Sep 21 2001 - 19:04:32 EDT