Memorial Day 2014: what freedoms did our soldiers die to protect?
Some of this neglect is due to legitimately responsible grownup reasons: I've been spending the bulk of my weekday waking hours working as a consumer journalist, writing about the virtues of frugality or warning about the latest credit card hacker attack du jour. But when I'm finished work for the day and ready to turn my attention to matters political ... I burn out.
This is Memorial Day 2014, the day which (as various patriots keep reminding me) commemorates all the American soldiers who died to protect American freedom. This includes soldiers from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 (aka Revolution 2.0: when we said we don't wanna be Britons anymore, we meant it), the Civil War (Union side only), and World War Two.
But what about the many American soldiers who died for causes less noble than that of American freedom? Don't they deserve holidays too? I say they do, and offer a few suggestions:
Territorial Expansion Day: honoring the American soldiers who died in the Mexican and Spanish-American wars.
Resource Acquisition Day: honoring the Americans who died to ensure oil-exporting countries did so on terms favorable to us.
What The Hell Was THAT All About Day: honoring the Americans who died in World War One and Vietnam, plus our various blink-and-you'll-miss-it "humanitarian" interventions a la Somalia.
Treaty Obligations Are A Bitch Day: honoring the future Americans who will die defending Taiwan from the rapacity of the mainland Chinese. Not sure if the Korean War falls under this day or WTHWTAA Day, and I'm too lazy to look it up.
The Carpal Tunnel Hour: Only an hour because it's not worth a whole day; honors the front-line fighters in America's drone-bombing wars.
In all seriousness: what freedoms should we celebrate today? The one solid advancement on the personal freedom front lately is in the matter of gay rights: some time ago I stopped keeping track of just how many states have legalized gay marriage, but at the rate we're going I wouldn't be surprised if the Feds recognize it before the end of the decade.
That's a measurable improvement, but everything else is worse. As I type this, I can pretty much take for granted that the government has access to all of my private emails and phone conversations. Whistleblower Edward Snowden remains in lonely exile somewhere in Russia, and I am still a northern Virginia resident whose mood turns foul whenever I drive down a certain local highway and see the two glittering glass skyscrapers emblazoned with the name BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON, Snowden's former employer, given generous chunks of my tax dollars each year in exchange for spying on me.
The TSA's mandatory molestation policy is now in its fourth year of existence. American children whose parents take them on airplanes are raised to believe "Government agents have the right to see me naked or touch me in intimate places anytime they want, so long as they cite 'security' as an excuse." The children are raised to believe this is normal, and living in a free country does not include the freedom to decide for yourself who is and is not allowed to see and touch your naughty bits.
Over in California, twentysomething sociopath Elliot Rodgers murdered some attractive women because they wouldn't sleep with him, and also murdered some men presumably because women did sleep with them. Rodgers' parents knew he was about to snap and reported this to the police, who visited Rodgers at his apartment, had a friendly little chat and then left him alone.
His parents meant well, but calling the cops to report a possible upcoming murder spree was absolutely the wrong action for them to take. Here's how American law enforcement works in 2014: Anytime cops hear a rumor of possible drug use in a home -- even when the rumor turns out to be completely false -- they send a SWAT team in to raid the residence, and the innocent people killed by trigger-happy cops are considered acceptable collateral damage. The moral of the story is: if you think someone is a mass murderer, do not report this to the cops. Instead, tell them "I think he's selling dime bags of weed out of his apartment, and by the way: he and his family are waaaaay too poor to ever afford a lawyer."
Happy Memorial Day.