Monday, March 13, 2006

Cruella/Bumper Sticker/Chicken Poem

(P1) Political

Mary & Cruella

Until Arianna Huffington ran the following image, I wondered why Mary Matalin had annoyed me so much more than merely because she procures for right wing so diligently. But now, following the Academy Awards, she'll get some respect considering that the winner of Best Song was Three/Six Mafia's immortal "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp!"

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(P2) Philosophical

Bumper Sticker

A bumper sticker I saw several days ago on the back of a pickup got me to thinking. It read "Land of the Free Because of the Brave." Reflexively, I gave myself an unwarranted pat on the back for having spent a year in Vietnam. I also had visions of the young men, throughout the Twentieth Century who had fought bravely in ....and then it hit me..."in defense of our country." But, I asked myself (unpatriotically? heretically?) had these men fought to "defend" America? Let us review the wars from approximately the start of the century.

Spanish American War - ostensibly to bail out the suffering Cubans at the hands of the "mighty" Spanish. Actually a Hearst-provoked newspaper war.

World War I - How many American boys had even heard of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef assassinated by a Serb. How many of our boys had even heard of Serbia?

World War II - The closest thing we've got to a "noble cause." We fought to liberate Europe. Certainly, the Japanese played right into our hands affording us with a better excuse and, perhaps a real sense of a "defense" mission. However, how likely would it have been that the Japanese would have invaded the mainland? Just about zero. A farfetched argument could be made that, had the Germans kept Europe, they would have invaded us. Really? How? In any event, U. S. participation in WWII may have been our most selfless and lasting gift to the world (along with what the U.S. constitution once inspired).

Korean War - North Korea invades South Korea. China joins. Thousands of Americans die, but not to defend America.

Vietnam - Ditto with different country names. Our participation ruins our national unity for decades

Iraq Number One - We ostensibly defend Kuwait.

Afghanistan - This one is close to a "defense" of our homeland by going after the perpertrators of Sept. 11th only to see that the real purpose was to go after

Iraq - again and its oil.

So, I decided, the next time I see or hear jingoistic slogans, I intend to take a closer look especially when the slogans might result in more American men and women killed under false pretenses, and more and more billions of our tax dollars going to something misnamed "defense."

However, rather than completely rule out the "brave," I thought back to those who had died securing our freedom during the American Revolution and preserving the Union during the Civil War. Following this, my wife Joyce further called me to task by asking me to take another look at the bumper sticker's words, "Land of the Free, Because of the Brave." Couldn't it also refer to those brave enough to "fight" for freedom by calling attention to attempts to stifle it? What of Edward R. Murrow and all those who resisted McCarthyism, and those of us today who resist and call attention to government snooping and other attempts to curb our basic constitutional freedoms?

So let's also give that pickup driver some benefit of the doubt. There may be more to a bumper sticker than meets the eye.

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(P3) Poetical


Katherine H. said...


In tombs of gold and lapis lazuli
Bodies of holy men and women exude
Miraculous oil, odour of violet.

But under heavy loads of trampled clay
Lie bodies of the vampires full of blood;
their shrouds are bloody and their lips are wet.

-- Yeats

Duncan said...

I like bumper stickers, myself. Here's a recent one:

If Life Made Sense, Men Would Ride Side Saddle

Ed, Your bumper sticker piece reminds me of something I sent you some weeks ago that appeared to be advocating isolationism. After writing your piece here, whaddya think now?

Thomas Jefferson would have never become involved in any of those wars, except maybe with Japan. How did anyone know at the time that Japan did not intend to invade the US? In fact, history shows that some Japanese military leaders did indeed advocate invading. During the planning of the attack on Midway, which was to destroy the US' ability to launch air attacks against Japanese fleets in the Pacific, at least one planner mentioned that with Midway gone and the US Pacific fleet in shambles after Pearl Harbor, the way was clear to invade the West Coast. The Japanese fleet was routed anyway, so it didn't matter.

Further, the Spanish-American War was more than a Hearst folly, it was the beginning of US international expansionism, and, insterestingly, using gunboat diplomacy. We now use stealth bomber diplomacy.

In none of those wars and conflicts, including the present "War on Terror" (shouldn't Stephen King be locked up? he's the present king of terror. Why has no journalist that I've seen of heard corrected that horrible grammatical error?)have the country's borders been secured. Today we can't even secure our ports. We are not defending the United States from anything. We are running around the world killing people. As I've said before, some people like to do that kind of thing. Whether that is bravery or not, I don't know, but I don't think so.

Bravery is also standing up and saying it's time to stop killing people.

joe said...

Excellent piece, Ed - and wonderful contributions from Katherine and Duncan. Thanks, all.

War, it seems to me, is almost always about loot, in its many forms. Chomsky once said: "Nations don't seek defence, as such, they seek power."
( Which, of course, is also about loot... )

And, I suppose, "freedom," is a relative term, here. This country, and much of the world, has been to a great extent designed by wealth and power - to suit wealth and power. Just a few quiet moments in a day-dream can identify an almost infinite number of relatively arbitrary limits to our "freedom." Freedom from war would be a wonderful start...

Duncan - great bumper sticker. Makes you wonder why all cowboys don't sing falsetto, eh?

PS - About Germany and the Japanese:
I guess I agree that we had to fight the Nazis. Yet, their comming to power is an interesting study. I read a few pieces, sometime ago, about the funding of the Third Reich. I'd never thought of that before. Of course it takes serious money to take over the most advanced nation in the world. I guess I always figured they passed the hat during their many, now famous, psycho-rallies, all over Germany. But, no. They were funded by several giant corporations - German, and American! One of the major US figures involved? Prescott Bush, grand-daddy of our current Fuhrer. Without American corporate and banking involvement, they could never have taken or held power. And we continued to trade with them even during the fighting, till a “trading with the enemy” law was passed! The banks and corporations were making money from both sides, as the war went on. ( Banks, and many corporations, have done such things for centuries. It’s horrible, but brilliant. )

The American business community seemed / seems to like
Fascism very much. Mussolini once said: "Fascism should really be called 'corporatism,' for it is really the merger of government and corporate power... " Chilling, eh?

The precursors to Pearl Harbor date back to turn of the century China, if memory serves - when Western European powers, the US, and Japan were wandering through Chinese waterways raping and looting to their hearts content. Eventually, it came down to the US versus the Japanese. They interfered with our "national interests" there, and we began a long, official, very intense and passionate effort to destroy them.
Eventually, we made it almost impossible for them to get the metals and raw materials they needed to continue to grow their industry. To a considerable extent, we had already declared war on them quite a while before Pearl Harbor...

Edward Coletti said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edward Coletti said...

Thank you, Joe Carpenter.
As usual, your comments are well-considered,insightful, and illuminating. Likewise, Katherine and Duncan for your interesting contributions. Katherine, my appreciation of Yeats knows no bounds. Sometimes a poets' politics are pigeonholed at the expense of his work (eg. Ezra Pound). Yeats went beyond suspect political views to write transcendently