Saturday, December 31, 2005

An American Flag on a Water Tower

Today I saw an image of an American flag painted on a water tower in our town. I usually have warm, patriotic thoughts when I see that flag. I think of the nobility and high ideals of our founding fathers, the courage and character of Abramham Lincoln in fighting to preserve the union. I think of Teddy Roosevelt busting the trusts, fighting big business and providing for the common man, and in working to conserve public lands for the public good. I think of Franklin Roosevelt, leading this nation to defeat the most odious threat to humanity ever in the form of Nazi fascism. I think of the nobility and eloquence of John F. Kennedy, who faced down the Soviets with nuclear missles and inspired our nation to greatess, in word and deed.

Then I think of today. I think of president George W. Bush, invading a country on false pretenses, a land that was no threat to us. I think of millions of people around the world simultaneously protesting the actions of our nation. I think of Abu Ghraib. I ponder our status as an occupying power, a nominally Christian nation invading, conquering and controlling a fervently Muslim nation though military force. I think of Guantanamo, where we hide enemy combatants away forever, with no recourse to fairness of any kind. I think of 'rendition,' where we export detainees to other countries with shady civil rights records so we can interrogate them free of the prying eyes of a public that demands fairness.

I think of "No Child Left Behind," which in fact leaves many children behind for lack of funding. I think of "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests," which are neither, which are instead a handout to big business. I think of Cheney's energy policy, crafted behind closed doors with no regard to the environment or those who would protect it. I think of a vice president lobbying for permission to torture.

I think of a president whose administration lies to the people and relentlessly crafts false propaganda for consumption at home and abroad. I think of a president who was crafty enough to turn 9/11 into political capital even though this most heinous of failures happened on his watch, a president who STILL has not managed to make America properly ready for a similar terrorist attack after four years and billions of dollars. I think of an administration more than ready to smear political opponents, many of whom served honorably in the military, with insulting purple band-aids, while he himself avoided active service through a series of frat-boy associations. I think of a country now turning it's back on the world and it's obligations to it.

So now when I look at this flag, I no longer see truth, justice, democracy and fairness. I no longer see might in the service of right. Instead, I see arrogance and power. I see a callous disregard for the poor, the huddled masses. And I am sad, and angry. The flag I loved so has been soiled, corrupted. I can not look at her again in the same way.

I love this country and would defend it with my life. I have served in the military and would do so again, were there a real threat and if they'd take me. But now the greatest threat is from within, from this damnable president and his lying coterie of political operatives, so adept at politics, so fumblingly inept at actual governance.

I am utterly outraged, and disgusted, and saddened. Our name, our reputation, our very flag is soiled because of this man.