Tuesday, September 06, 2011

For Love Of Man And Country

When the World Trade Center went down almost ten years ago, pundits were quick to make comparisons with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Nobody makes that comparison anymore, though, because now it's just embarrassing. Ten years after Pearl, the attack wasn't still being cited as justification for the mass suspension of American constitutional rights. Ten years after Pearl, the American government didn't claim the right to shove its collective hand down little girls' underpants, didn't demand that sick elderly ladies submit to inspection of the contents of their adult diapers before flying home to their families, didn't take pride in assaulting law-abiding travelers under the guise of protecting them.

Ten years after Pearl the nation didn't still wallow in masochistic obsession over it, the way we now do over 9/11. Of course, by the tenth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, we had long-since established a more important anniversary to celebrate -- the day we defeated those who attacked us. (Compare that to 9/11, where we mostly ignored those who attacked us; the State Department removed all references to Saudi Arabia from its report on the attack, and we went after Iraq instead.)

As for this 9/11 fetishism ... we have no victories to celebrate so we jealously cling to our defeats instead, and use them as justification for evermore harsh and punitive policies -- not only against the rest of the world, but against our own people. The anti-Muslim hysteria that didn't actually start growing until the economy collapsed, over six years after the initial attack; the complete and growing evisceration of the fourth amendment for travelers; the knowledge that in a presumably free country, the DHS and its TSA subsidiary cite 9/11 as justification to claim the right to strip-search any and all travelers at will ... if someone knocks you down, picking yourself up and cleaning yourself off is a much healthier option than staying down and wallowing in the mud.

But if you want to stay in the mud, or simply lack the heart to climb out of it, then goddammit, don't drag the rest of the country into the mud with you. Bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda defanged, and STILL they are cited as excuses to make this country a little meaner and a little less free every day.

Oh, but I shouldn't say such things. How dare I criticize my country? When asked about 9/11, the proper patriotic American response is "They hated our freedom, not our foreign policy, so let's make some changes to the former." (The Muslim race is a very emotional one, you see, and when you bomb their wedding parties or kill their infants they get extremely cranky, even if you explain how it's all for their own good, to free them from the forces of oppression.)

Yet the rot set in long before 9/11. Maybe it dates back to the Vietnam War. I can just barely remember, as a little girl, seeing cars festooned with faded old "America: love it or leave it" bumper stickers, obviously directed toward anyone who'd dare criticize their country. But what psychosis is necessary to believe honest criticism and love cannot co-exist?

To repeat an analogy I've used before: one day, while giving my boyfriend a backrub, I saw a mole I'd never noticed before, and immediately brought it to his attention. Why? Because I love him too much to say nothing if I see he has a problem which, left untreated, could destroy him. But if I "loved" him the same way certain self-described patriots "love" America I would have said nothing, because "I love him too much to admit he could have anything as ugly and imperfect as a melanoma on his body!" And woe betide any doctor or colleague who brought it to his attention: "Don't you dare criticize my man! He's perfect!" I'd screech before throwing a few punches (or chairs), or adopting some of the other conflict-resolution techniques so beloved by fervent nationalists and Jerry Springer guests. Such patriots would literally love their country to death.


Blogger Dan said...

This. OMFG, this is good. Wow.

7:28 PM  

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