A few things dovetailed over this weekend to really have my blood boiling. First, was an article in Parade Magazine written by the author/doctor Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park fame. The point of his article was that we have to stop scaring ourselves. From global freezing to global warming to overpopulation leading to mass starvation, all predictions of impending doom come and go by the wayside. While the article did not address the current state of global tensions, that is what popped into my head. I think a variety of sources, the government, major media outlets esp. state run media (Fox) realize they have a vested interest in keeping as large a segment of our population in a constant state of fear. Maybe not hiding under the sheets fear, just a dull constant of fear about the "enemy" that can effectivley cloud otherwise clear thinking.
This morning I read an article in my my local paper dealing with a Wash. Post article recounting the death of Pat Tillman. As most recall, Patt Tillman was the multimillion dollar athlete that walked away from it all post 9-11 to serve his country. Sadly, he was killed while serving in Afghanistan, ostensibly by Taliban fighters while searching for OBL. News of his death sent equal waves of sympathy and pride across the country. Here was a real hero that embodied the American spirit. He wasn't one of those pampered, spoiled athletes out of touch with the average America. Tributes were paid over many months especially throughout the NFL. Pat Tillman made us feel good about the American spirit.
Cut to the Post article dated this weekend, I guess 12/3,4, or 5. Pieced together with witness testimony, email, official documents etc., it seems clear Mr. Tillman was killed by friendly fire. More chillingly, it appears he was mistakenly stalked by a machine gunner aboard one of our own Humvees. Upon hearing generally of a friendly fire incident his mother was upset but realized accidents do happen especially in this type of situation. But as more and more details came to light of the series of tactical blunders she seems to have lost a lot of her resignation that "accidents do happen."
Finally, I put Green Day's latest on the jukebox this morning and it opens with the title track, American Idiot. I think the song just captured my thinking over the weekend. Here are some the lyrics:
Don't wanna be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new mania.
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind fuck America.
Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alienation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
For that's enough to argue.
Well maybe I'm the faggot America.
I'm not a part of a redneck agenda.
Now everybody do the propaganda.
And sing along in the age of paranoia.
Don't wanna be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information age of hysteria.
It's calling out to idiot America.
Do we just lap up what is spoon fed to us? Is it really unpatriotic to question the government? Isn't it unpatriotic not to, even in war times? Has our government lied to us before? What did 20+ years and 52,000+ dead in Viet Nam do for us? The Wall is a moving tribute but I bet moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons & daughters would rather have their sons, brothers or dads at Christmas dinner is a few weeks instead
Do I question my thought process on this subject? Certainly, often. Maybe this is the first inning of a really big macro story (the dawn of a new era in the Middle East) and I'm just too caught up in the micro, specifically Iraq. However, if I piece together everything set forth in front of me, I don't think the Bush administration's foreign policy is on the right course. I truly hope I'm wrong and we're seeing the dawn of a new day/century vis-a-vis the Middle East and the rest of the world. However, history in the region is long and lurid. And history to us is different than history to those of that region. They deal in centuries of history, we deal in last month.
Finally, let's put to rest the idea that the sentiment I'm putting forth is an indictment of our troops. Quite the contrary. These men and women are in harms way and have to do exactly
as told my their superiors (winding all the way back to D.C). That's the way the military should and does operate. Thus, because the soldiers have no practical way to dissent, somebody has to ensure that those making the strategic choices that may fatally impact these folks are doing so according to a rational, exacting, viable and, ultimately, succesful battle plan.
And "somebody" is us, every thinking American. Don't exalt or deify government and its servants. They are us, nothing more.