5/30/2006

The Day After Memorial Day: At Least Be Thankful You Have The Right To Spend It Saying "Fuck Bush"

Speaking only for me and not anyone else here at this blog regarding Memorial Day..... I was particularly surprised to find the liberal blogosphere full of such venom and politics yesterday. It just surprised me, is all.

Ironically, many liberals exercise the very rights to free speech and dissent that many people have fought for throughout our history. We should perhaps know to have some gratitude once in a while... or am I just crazy?

I mean, I suppose I understand it and I wholeheartedly support the right of people to express whatever feelings they may have- but I wonder about the ways people view the "memorial" process. For me, it was a sad day of reflection and I know many in my family saw it that way as well. I don't think I am condoning Bush or the invasion of Iraq to say that a day in memoriam is appropriate. Some grieved a variety of events, people, disasters...people, both known and unknown.

I reflected on the Fuck-Bush posts, the protests planned, even read the posts by people who felt that they should not respect people willing to carry out "death orders" based on lies. "Why should we honor people that follow this man, and kill for him too?" Some asked. Well in some places you would be shot for saying such things. Let's start there.

There are many people who have been killed for many reasons and have killed for many reasons. Some gave their lives even when they themselves did not agree but told society that it was for their use, in their defense, no questions asked. Unconditional obedience is something we on the left view as absurd, though. But can we say that it does not take a certain person to be willing to do it? I am not that person. But I have my freedom to criticize those choices, in another place or time, I might not have a choice about giving my life. In another society, the decision to die for something might not even be in our hands. Can we not see that? That here, people are not jailed or shot for their refusal to be in the military?

I must be misunderstanding the point of this version of Memorial Day. Anyone who knows me knows that I view free speech as one of the highest societal ideals-of paramount importance. I mean not to begrudge the spectrum of opinions. But I also do not understand why we must make it about Bush, Bush, and more Bush. Its always Bush to the exclusion of all else! Nonstop Bush, 24 hours a day! As though Bush arrived in a vacuum with no population or Senate or house or history! As though no policy, practice, or circumstances predated him. As though no cause was ever moral simply because Bush lacks morality. As though Bush can taint every sacrifice ever made just by his existence.

There have been many wars, many causes, many lives lost on many sides. Bush is not the only person to lie for aggression's sake and this is certainly not the only unjust war that ever happened.

But Memorial Day asks us to consider all of the fallen, and the idea of sacrifice. Do you all think you would be allowed to write "Fuck Bush the Cocksucker" if nobody ever took a bullet for your freedom?

Do you think these things can be said elsewhere? Here's a new idea: spend Memorial Day reflecting on how many of your blog posts you would be allowed to write if you lived in China. Your very right to say "Fuck Bush" is a right that has been upheld by many over the years, from activists to soldiers to everyday Americans around you. I can't help but have some gratitude for that. Saying "Fuck Bush" can be quite beautiful looked at that way.

Do you think that no person or cause is worthy of taking some time out to grieve in solidarity with spouses, mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren? Can we grieve alongside those who think and feel differently? Can we comfort a mother whose son is dead- even if we disagree with politics? Can we not see that her son or daughter had value irrespective?

Now I am not a revisionist, or an apologist. I know full well that societies have many crimes in their history and ours is no exception. I am NOT TALKING ABOUT HONORING THESE CRIMES. I am talking about honoring people who stand on the ready to defend us.

You know people have a funny way of driving SUV's, forgetting to vote, shopping at Walmart, and screaming at the gas pump.But they have little sense about how their actions translate into how we conduct ourselves as a nation. People ignore cuts to VA hospitals, health threats to soldiers, equipment shortages... and place little pressure on their elected officials to do right by them. Yet on Memorial Day, the screeching is deafening. "Look at the smug President!" "Its his fault that people are dying." Perhaps thats true. But he has come to overshadow all dialogue to such an extent that people have forgotten their sense of respect and humanity. And indeed, THEIR OWN role in the making and madness of King George.

What does it mean to memorialize? When I think of someone I loved dearly who was killed- somebody whose loss I consider every day as does his family- I'm sorry but I cannot bring myself to spend Memorial Day on much of the same bullshit that occupies the other 364 days. Or spend the day judging why he didn't run away or why he joined in the first place. I do not spend the day wondering why he died, why we lost him, I spend the day knowing that this was his choice. That he believed strongly in what he was doing in a way I have never seen in another human being- Republican or Democrat.

We talk about peace, some of us every day. But would I put my body on the line, would I die for it? Would I die for anything? Would I stand in defiance for what I believe in- would I get mangled by a bulldozer in Gaza or get slaughtered trying to get food away from warlords? Could I ever do what he did, and what thousands have done?

I chose not to have my sun rise and set around George W. Bush yesterday. I chose to simply acknowledge the fallen, all of the fallen, without judgement and without qualification. And consider that while we have much to compalin about, we have many things that other people cannot even read about because they are not even allowed to learn, think, study, discuss, share ideas, think critically, express defiance or dissent.

36 comments:

Left of Center said...

I have been properly shamed.

Kvatch said...

I chose not to have my sun rise and set around George W. Bush yesterday.

I did, and I'm not going to apologize or be shamed for it. Nothing, and I mean nothing, honors fallen Americans more than the vigorous exercise of the rights that they fought for--lest we forget we have those rights, or be cowed into failing to exercise them by an establishment bully, a "speech-zone", or a fake call to silence in the name of patriotism.

If I have to focus on one thing, let it be Bush. It's one thing to defend the nation. Quite another to waste the efforts and the lives of so many good and honorable soldiers, and if I have to spend my Memorial Day calling the administration to the carpet for DIS-honoring the people that we should be honoring on that day, so be it!

(And the frog descends from his soapbox, let the flaming begin. :-) )

glenda said...

Aww, everyone justs does it differently. Kudos to you for your way, but don't fault others for their way.

Carrie Oakey said...

You go, girl! Those who we Memorialize died for our freedoms! My own Daddy died in the first Gulf War defending our freedom from Iraq, and for that I am very proud, and grateful, that he sacrificed himself So that Democracy and Freedom could prevail in the Middle East!So all you liberals should just shut up, because George W. Bush is the Greatest President we've ever been blessed by God with in the United States, and if you not with him, you go against our troops!

Lew Scannon said...

What we really need is a National Collateral Damage Day, to honor all the citizens who died at the actions of American troops fighting for Corporate American interests the world over. The victims of the fire-bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Phoenix Program and the My Lai Massacre in VietNam, the illegal bombing of Cambodia, the invasion of Grenada, the Central American right wing death squads trained in the US at the School of the Americas, the victims of DU in Iraq, and Fallujah and Haditha. Yep, our soldiers having been fighting a noble cause for quite a while now!
And all so we can be spied on by the NSA without warrants or PROBABLE CAUSE, forced into free speech zones, vote on rigged voting machines, sacrifice our representation to a unitary executive while placing a greater tax burden on us, all while sacrificing our work force to the Chinese government, not in the name of Democracy, but in the name of cheap consumer goods and increased corporate profits.
Our troops have long been thugs for interests less than freedom and democracy and more for the enrichment of the corporate elite and for that we should thank them? Meanwhile our country is being invaded by illegal immigrants who flaunt our laws and drain our services that we have paid for use by US CITIZENS.
So my hat goes off to all the bloggers who said FUCK BUSH yesterday. Or to all the bloggers who say FUCK BUSH everyday, at least they have some sense of what freedom really means. Give the rest of Americans an extra day off, and they'll spend it drinking beer, watching cars drive around a circle for five hours, wasting gas driving to the lake to dive the boat they just hauled there for a couple hours, and then driving back home, drinking beer and wearing NASCAR hats the whole way, killing or maiming each other on ATVS or wave runners, doing everything but taking even one hour out of their schedule to pay tribute to those who have fallen. There's your fucking gratitude, "Sorry, I can't go see a parade because Wal Mart is having a sale on Chinese made teapots with frogs on them that I just can't live without." That is more of a slap in the face to the families who have lost someone defending corporate America than some person sitting at a keyboard typing FUCK BUSH. Because at least they fucking care!

Lily said...

I am not saying,and I tried to make it as clear as could be, that the military is faultless. The examples you described are horrible examplesa nd I am not invalidating that.

But I really don't think you understand what I am saying about this. There are places where you would not be allowed to have this conversation!

There are people that have guarded medicine from warlords to make sure it went to the right place, you cannot say that NOBODY is worthy of respect or remembrance. That all who have served are evil people that torture and kill. Not everyone did.

And there are many countries where people are forced to serve, forced to have weapons, forced to kill whether they object or not. Forced to die for whatever their leaders say. That has happened here, and may happen again. But I do not agree with your idea that to emorialize means to criticize.

When I go to a funeral to memorialize, do I stand there and recount all the things the person did? How many cigarettes they smoked, drinks they drank? or do I try to honor the good, and put the bad on a shelf for tomorrow?

Scannon I hear you, and others. I was just hoping you might hear me.

There are veterans that do not agree with Iraq, and there are Veterans that have acted on SOA and other matters. Do they get your respect either? They get mine.

Cartledge said...

I must say, I spent far too long yesterday dealing with viciuous and moronic flaming from, apparently American, right wingnuts.
I say apparently because I was villified for beingn variously; and American type liberal and a Canuck. I'm not Canadian or American, and as an Australian the liberal is a hateful conservitive space. Note our great Prime Minister Howard, if he ever gets his head out of Bush's...
I did not see any respect shown by these vitriolic morons. Not even for those who gave them the right to freely spit their venom.
But I was struck by the considered comments of many bloggers.

romunov said...

In my view, freedom is not something you defend with an army. It's an idea - and idea that every person in a given society should hold. That is the true strenght to freedom, and if god gives, democracy.
That is why indoctrination is such a powerful tool.

Donkeyhue said...

LilIm going to get you into trouble by saying this, but excellent post and response.

Donkeyhue said...

Lew,

I notice you didnt mention the murder of American sailors by the Barbary Pirates, The Bataan Death March, Pearl Harbor, The rape and slaughter of American Nuns in Guatemala, Lockerbie, Achilles Laurel, 9/11, The Bali, Madrid and London bombings, etc etcetera. Interesting.

tp said...

Excellent post? From Donkeyhue? Oh boy the worlds gone mad.

Of course freedom and rights are an idea, but there are always those that would impose their will upon you just as we are doing in Iraq. IF WE CAN DO IT- THEY CAN DO IT TOO. HOW CAN YOU SAY A MILITARY IS NOT NECESSARY JUST BECAUSE YOU DISAGREE WITH THIS ACTION?

I mean is that what you are saying, that a military is not necessary? if it is, you should thank them. if it isn't, explain how we would be a free society. If the Iraqis came to bring their theocracy- and imposed their laws on your wives,daughters, etc. you would stand there and expect the military to come running to your defense. Would words stop them?

Being a liberal does not mean that you have to deny that there was ever a time when men and women did act morally in defending. I too have read much evidence about 9-11 but consider that if the administration is as stupid as we always say- think about how crazy complicated it would be to pull that off without so much as one person getting pictures or real evidence that it was a set up. We are talking not one whistleblower in ten different agencies. how is that possible?

I am not trying to get into a 9-11 debate but the point is that we are all supposed to think about force and its use, and unfortunately some use it more freely than others. But what is so bad about thanking the troops that have done right? Many do try to serve with honor.

glenda said...

I hear you, Lily. I HEAR you.

I just think there are some people who are so angry that they are not through with their emotional response.

That is not necessarily the opposite of being appreciative for what others have sacrificed to create and preserve the freedoms that we have. I am tremendously thankful.

I can't imagine how scary it was sitting in a trench in France with pneumonia in WWI, (every single male relative in France on my mother's side was killed in this war) or being in Pearl Harbor during the bombing by the Japanese (my great-uncle was one of a few navy men who was topside and survived the bombing of the Battleship Arizona in Pearl Harbor that December morning) or being a lone 18 year old first Lt. in the Army during WWII in charge of a troop of soldiers in the Phillipines (my dad and his only brother) or being drafted during Viet Nam (my brother and cousin). I appreciate what they ALL did, all who sacrificed.

But I'm still mad as hell at Bush.

Lew Scannon said...

Dunkey,
The rape and slaughter of American Nuns in Guatemela was committed by the right wing death squads trained and funded by the Reagan administration.Which you fail to mention.
Interesting.
So what you're saying is that the slaughter of innocent Iraqis at the hands of US Marines is justified by events that the Iraq people had nothing to do with? The bombing of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified by events those people had nothing to do with?
And it's funny that you mention Lockerbie just as the Bush administration is cozying up to Qaddafy's regime in Libya.
And you fail to mention the Mossad connection in 9/11, Madrid, Bali, London, etc, etc. Interesting.

Lily said...

Again I say that my point was never to excuse Bush or say that we have always conducted ourselves as a nation in honorable ways. I am also not saying that anger and emotions are not appropriate.

While I could do more, I have done as much as possible (for me) to voice my opposition against this war and to organize events, attend demonstrations, support people speaking out, etc. I know that as a citizen I have done what was in the scope of my ability.

But Memorial Day I think, still, is not a time to take out that anger and frustration on the time set aside to memorialize the fallen. You know, there were vigils for victims of Katrina, 9-11, victims and soldiers. There were many events, and many somber acknowledgements.

And despite thinking that YES,YES,YES the military have done many terrible things in our names, many have also served with honorable intentions. And I still believe that we can remember them without fighting over history the whole time and without using it as a time to criticize.

An example: The Church has a history of persecution, of killing, of hatred and violence. They have a list of crimes. Does that mean though that I should go into churches and disrespect them, and yell out my list of all the things they have done? If I do not, this does not mean that I condone their actions. And it does not mean that every priest is a pedophile, or that they have never done humane things.

What troubles me is this black and white view of everything. No government is without its faults and cruelties.

And Lew, dare I say that when you said you were a registered republican, my gut reaction was to say "How can he support a party of lies, murder, and corruption?" Pointing fingers can be tricky business.

I might observe Memorial Day and attend events and show respect, but I would never put my name on the rolls of a party that is not only accelerating the earths decline but is responsible for MUCH of what you rage about!

You will be a "member" alongside Republicans but you won't acknowledge veterans? Thats just weird to me.

Diane S. said...

Even though I loathe all things military, I still believe there are few more honorable things a person can do than agree to risk their lives protecting the safety and liberty of their countrymen.

I usually write a "Thank you" memorial day post, but have been under the weather, and this year's got away from me.

But I agree with you completely. Both in "Fuck Bush" and "Thank all of you who died to allow me to say that."

Donkeyhue said...

I will say it again. Excellent post by Lily. Hate does not negate hate. I think thats what she was saying. She made a point, and its a shame it was lost.

douglass said...

Scannon, I got the impression that donkey was pointing out that you seem one-sided in your reviews of atrocities and crimes.

also, a mossad connection??

[please contact the ADL's protocols of Zion buyback program office. for a paperback, you get $8 dollars, for the hardback $25}

(ok, i know how much you like brooding against the Zionists, but you could make like, $500 if you sold your collection]

p.s. There is no Mossad connection. Your moonbat guru is wrong.

Donkeyhue said...

The Yanks are to blame and we'll leave it at that. Seems to make people happy. Eh comrade eh?

Lily said...

Mossad connection? Well I am not going to go there. Not today. I've stated my views on that to the best of my ability and also given that we do not have information and a proper constructive inquiry was not forthcoming..

douglass said...

Donkeyhue, comrade, you picked the wrong American.

I accept only one version of the events. [That of the news organizations and that of the American government.] (in my mind 9-11 was the work of Osama)

Otherwise, I'd think that every American action that benefits Israel was a repeat of operation Susannah and the Lavon affair and I’d become an anti-Zionist moonbat like Scannon. ;)

chillblaine said...

Thank you for speaking out! I've bookmarked your page (nice title!) to savor later. Best regards, matt (chillblaine at Prior Engagements - www.chillblaine.blogspot)

abi said...

Before the accusation grenades started being tossed, this was an interesting dialog. Thanks for kicking it off, Lily.

Donkeyhue said...

Who did I pick, I didnt notice.

douglass said...

donkey,

all of them, including me, the wrong one to pick,

Hhana&Dhana said...

Hhana:The chauvinistic implications of this post are staggering.
Dhana:Simpled minded lower life forms can only grasp the wrong done to them, not the wrong that has been done in their name.

Lily said...

Chauvinistic implications? How so? Sounds kind of arbitrary and cryptic, if you ask me. If you are going to accuse somebody of such things, should you not at least give an example?

And "Dhana's" conclusion is based on???

douglass said...

Don’t worry, Elizabeth.

I have shown the work of Hhana&Dhana to Professor Ramsay Octavius Wellington IV, PHD PHD PHD PHD.

He tells me that Hhana&Dhana are inferior life forms whose views are ‘crestfallen'.

EmascuMan said...

Well chauvinism is something I know little about, but I have observed that the least compelling feminists are so because they themselves don't understand the accusation.

I like feminists that talk straight, kick my ass around a bit, and can back up their remarks. There should be a special training for 'how not to look hysterical and hurt the cause'.

EmascuMan said...

By the way Douglass I am married to a quadruple PHD women's studies professor.

Who should not go near chainsaws by the way. And now I must go wash her car.

spooky said...

Lew says,
"Our troops have long been thugs for interests less than freedom and democracy and more for the enrichment of the corporate elite and for that we should thank them?"
In my biased opinion Lily, what Lew means, is that soldiers are the bad guys, or at least the arm of the bad guys. It doesn't matter where they died. Lew would define those handing out MRE's and protecting medicine in Somalia as thugs trying to capture the port capabilities of Africa, or maybe steal there oil rights. In my opinion, he has problems seeing good, but no problem seeing evil. I am glad I don't look through his eyes, it must suck.
Nice post, worthy of mainstream publication.

Elizabeth Branford said...

Well maybe the idea of trying to see good and honor- that was where I was trying to go with it. Not be controversial about it. Not suggest that criticism is without merit.

I read a few military bloggers, and we were discussing this idea. Its easy to get into negative thinking since there is so much to be critical of, perhaps it can overshadow the good things about America. I can dislike the actions of my government and even some of the actions of its citizens such as excessive consumption, but I have a lot of love for our country too.

Somebody came along at one blog and said that I just wanted to believe that people I have lost died with honor to feel good about it. Its not really about me, and how I feel.I thought alot about that, and also the controversy when there were families complaining about the "Iraqi Freedom" designation at burial. Of course we want to believe that death has purpose. But how much purpose will my death have? What will it achieve? I've done very little after all. I'm not sure we need to look at valuing people in that way.

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