Friday, May 26, 2006




My sister recently forwarded me a piece of e-mail that was sent to her from a friend.  The e-mail suggested that we all wear red on Fridays as a show of support for our “heroic troops in Iraq.” In response, I pointed out to my sister that if she really wanted to support our troops, she’d stop buying into this kind of manipulative nonsense.  If we all wore red on Fridays to support our troops, every neo-con in the country would spin it as proof positive that, “regardless to what the polls say, deep down inside, the vast majority of the American people support the war in Iraq”—the very war that’s killing our young people, and destroying their families.

The neo-conmen and chicken hawks of this world stay up all night trying to conjure up little schemes like this. They need a constant flow of nonsense to try to drum up support for this illegal war. They’d do, or say anything to keep this war going for just one more day, because with every day that passes, their cash registers go “Ka-ching.” With each day that passes, they pocket more money than any of us will see in our entire lives—300 million dollars a day. And much of that money is going to Halliburton, the company in which Cheney served as CEO before becoming Vice President. No other company was allowed to bid on the contracts when we went to war in Iraq, and two years ago the contracts were estimated to be in excess of 11 billion dollars. There’s nothing that takes place in Iraq that Halliburton doesn’t have it’s hands on—from feeding the troops and providing “security” for the most awesome military force that ever walked this Earth, to repairing everything that we blowup.  If ever there was a sweetheart deal, that was it.

But what is at least as unconscionable as this mercenary war itself, is the fact that they use the very victims that they’re sacrificing for their avarice and greed--our beloved troops--as human shields against criticism of their motives.  That’s why with every speech that Bush gives on this war he’s either verbally wrapping himself around our troops, or using the troops as a backdrop at some military base.

These neo-cons have been expert in confusing issues before the American people—after all, they’re businessmen, so they bring they’re marketing expertise with them: If you happen to be anti-Bush, they say you’re anti-American; if you’re against the war, they say you’re against the troops; and when they want to suspend the United States Constitution, they call it “The Patriot’s Act”—which is to say, if you’re against it, you’re unpatriotic.  But just one moment of uncluttered thought on the part of the American people would unravel their entire game, because for them to say that coming out against this war is undermining the troops, is the same as saying that being against gang activity is undermining our young people—both are needlessly placing the lives of our youth in jeopardy.  And further, just ask yourself, were the German people who were against Hitler, and hid Jews from the Nazi death camps during WWII unpatriotic, or were they the ultimate patriots?  After all, a patriot is not one who blindly follows party lines or the demagogic whims of an individual, but one who is loyal to the ideals upon which the nation was founded.

The American people has fallen for the oldest game in the book—“Don’t believe your eyes, you don’t have any sense, just believe what I tell you.”  If that weren’t so, Americans would be asking themselves a few fundamental questions like, if this is, indeed, such a heroic crusade, then why don’t I see any of the Bush or Cheney family members over in Iraq?  And if they hold our troops in such high regard, why did they send them over there to die needlessly, before they provided them with the proper equipment?  Of course, the answer to that is that they underestimated the stupidity of the American people.  They thought they had to rush over there before we had time to think.  But as it turns out, they had nothing to fear—here it is three years later, and some of us still haven’t seen the light.

There’s a couple of other questions that we should be asking ourselves: Why does a wounded soldier who has to leave his equipment on the battlefield have to pay for that equipment before he leaves the military?  And why does a wounded soldier have to pay for his own meals while in the hospital, even as Bush is signing a 70 billion dollar tax cut for the rich?

So we need to stop buying into the political rhetoric of these neo-cons, because words are a very powerful tool, and if you buy into the words, you’ll begin to embrace the concept.  Another example of that is always referring to the troops as heroes. Our troops aren’t heroes, they’re victims.  Of course, we appreciate the fact that they’re willing to place their lives on the line for what they’re told is in the best interest of this country, but calling them heroes serves to push Bush’s agenda. First, since a hero is one who places his life on the line for a noble cause, referring to our troops as heroes serve to endorse Bush’s ignoble and blatant war of aggression.  And secondly, it serves to entice impressionable young people to yearn to become cannon fodder.  

What young people want more than anything else, especially young men, is to be considered strong and capable adults.  Now consider that young man who has always come up just a little short—he’s a capable and loving son, everyone likes him, but he never quite made the “A list.”  He was never the brightest or the most handsome guy in school, and the girl he was secretly in love with was crazy about the captain of the football team, while he could never get past second string. Then he hears all the talk about our heroic troops, and like a flash he has an epiphany: “This is my chance to shine--I’ll show ‘em all what I’m made of.  No more second string for me—I’m going to the Super Bowl, baby!” But once he gets there, he realizes a little too late, that they’re not throwing footballs, they’re throwing live grenades—and unfortunately, this time out, he’s the wide receiver.

Then, as the Sun goes down over the hood, another proud Black mother goes to bed not knowing, she’s a mother no more—and the George Bush family says, yet again, “Ka-ching!”

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.


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