ON THE SUBJECT OF FLAGS...
After 9 blacks were shot down in a Charleston church, there's a growing movement to remove the Confederate flag from flying over South Carolina's capitol along with the US flag and the state flag. Apparently, it was once atop the capitol building but then moved to a less prominent position, so removing it has at least been a conversation for quite awhile. But now even Republicans are calling for it to be placed in a museum, where they say it belongs. I don't trust Republicans, so I imagine that in order to continue their policy goals which routinely shaft minorities, they're forced by this shooting's gruesome nature to finally remove a symbol of South Carolina's virulent racism and history of slavery. I'd see that removal as a tiny victory for civil rights, but that flag is only a symbol. And this symbol wouldn't be so effective at mocking racial injustice if racial injustice itself was a thing of the past. If black men weren't routinely killed by police who get off without charges, if Republicans in several states hadn't pushed through voting laws to make it harder for minorities to vote, etc, etc.
But while we're considering the removal of flags which symbolize large scale violence and oppression, perhaps we should consider taking down the American stars and stripes as well. This land was stolen from native American indians, built on the backs of slaves whose descendants still face systemic oppression today and US military aggression has senselessly slaughtered millions in the last decade alone. Just as the George W. Bush forbade the "news" media from showing images of soldier's coffins on the air to mask the grim nature of what war truly is, our "news" media completely blacked out the recent Body Count: Casualty Report estimating that 1 million Iraqis were killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Which "freed" a million Iraqis from ever having to ever eat, drink or breathe again.) Since the Iraq war was based on lies--I'm sorry! "Faulty intelligence" sounds so much better than "lies" doesn't it?--we killed all of those Iraqis for no reason, along with thousands of US troops who died. Sorry to interrupt your hot dogs and burgers with a little bit of truth, but when a country kills 1 million people in a country which never attacked it, it becomes the world's largest terrorist. ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and Boko Haram combined couldn't dream of topping the carnage of the US military. That's what the US flag represents to the outside world whose brain isn't hijacked by US war propaganda: death and destruction.
After calling it a "dumb war" which he promised to withdraw from, Obama just sent more troops back into Iraq. All Republican candidates call for a more aggressive foreign policy and can't even fathom negotiating a nuclear arms deal with Iran. And Hillary, the Democratic frontrunner, lost the primary bid to Obama last time because unlike him, she voted to attack Iraq while serving as a NY Senator. With the loudest national pacifist voice coming from retiring comedian Jon Stewart, there currently isn't any foreseeable path towards peace. Even leftie candidate Bernie Sanders, who rightly claims that if we can't afford to take proper care of veterans post-combat that we can't afford to attack in the first place, supports giving $3 billion per year to Israel's defense so that they can continue to make life hell for Palestinians. Muslims worldwide see themselves as brothers in religion and an attack on one is an attack on all. Our news media is constantly bewildered over how American or European youth could leave their cushy homes to join ISIS on some dusty battleground with no cable TV or air conditioning. Well, here's how. Some of those youth are mixed up religious fanatics, but some simply want to fight back against the West's constant attacks on muslim countries. Maybe it would soothe the disgruntled kids a little to know that US foreign policy makers don't actually dislike muslims on any ideological basis, we're just greedy and want to butt in, rob and occupy their countries at every opportunity.
Many were comforted when Obama flew to Charleston to sing Amazing Grace, and felt it provided some kind of closure. Even some Republican pundits have claimed that they've never seen anything so moving. I don't share your Christian faith, so all it meant to me was that a politician visited a crime scene to pull a stunt which would distract from what this country is really all about. If murdering people in a religious setting is so abominable, then let's take a look at the 12 civilians in Yemen whose 2014 wedding was turned into a funeral after Obama bombed them with a drone. He wasn't mourning their deaths in a religious setting like a Bible study class or a wedding with a hymn, he was causing their deaths. With your tax dollars. If his rendition of Amazing Grace provides such excellent closure, then perhaps we could play the audio of it from all drones prior to their fatal attacks. There's no closure more final than a burial. Why don't all lives matter, including muslims overseas? Did the page in your Bible that says Thou Shalt Not Kill fall out? But like George W. Bush's hidden military caskets, we prefer not to talk about Obama's drone wars. He actually has a Nobel Peace prize, though the Nobel's chairman responsible for selecting Obama has been ousted for the 1st time in the award's 114 year history because of controversial recipients like our war president.
The US spends more money than most of countries combined on it's defense. So how did we lose the longest war in US history against a dirt-poor country like Afghanistan? (Hint: we don't want to win because peace isn't profitable.) And our destruction, on false premises, of Iraq led to the chaos in which ISIS was created. So now US troops are back there, despite he fact that many wealthy, heavily armed nations in the region could easily squash it without us. But they have no need to defend themselves. The US will always jump forth to provide more money, more weapons, more US lives to fight someone else's battles for them. In Iraq, US forces attempted to train Iraqi forces. And what a great job they've done! When these forces were confronted ISIS in Mosul, they dropped their US-bought weapons and ran--leaving ISIS with dozens of US vehicles and weapons to add to their arsenal. So while the US doesn't always win wars, the real wins are for the weapons manufacturers and military contractors. Who then get to manufacture more arms. And take some of their profits and donate them to hawks like every Republican presidential candidate and Hillary to ensure that more war and more profits are on the way.
The American people have consistently voiced that they're sick of war, and that they'd rather spend some of the fortune we spend on defense on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, free school tuition or any number of sensible aims here at home which don't involve foreign military campaigns. But that isn't in the cards for us if we continue turning a blind eye to what our country's foreign policy actually is. In addition to annually arming Israel and Egypt, we're currently providing weapons to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen into smithereens and lining up US troops and tanks in regions near the Ukraine to protect it from Russia. Wouldn't that be a jackpot? We could take a break from brutalizing muslims and revive a conflict with our old enemy Russia? You know, just as a refresher war to cleanse our palate.
Our flag is forever tarnished by our ugly, senseless displays of military aggression. I'm not saying we haven't fought some noble causes in the past, and it was wonderful to see US troops providing aid for Ebola-stricken countries last year. But we're beginning to hear arguments from wannabe commander-in-chiefs. If we are truly sick of war, we'll pay close attention to their proposed foreign policy agendas and their past voting records. And remember that no one expected George W. Bush to launch two major wars. No one outside the US understood how a mass murderer like Bush would ever be elected for a second term, but mass murder is as American as apple pie. They can hide the coffins from us and they can downplay the drones, but elections are one of the rare times when the people in charge need our votes and at least pretend to listen to us. So we need to make sure that whoever we vote for reflects our alleged desire for peace. Or our ignorance will splash even more blood on the flag.
I'm sure that some of you will read this and think "Why don't you leave this country if you hate it so much?" And my response would be "Why don't you open your eyes and see what is being done in your name with your tax dollars?" I'd like to be proud of this country again. I was proud last year when we expressed our desire for staying out of Syria, despite how hard Obama and John Jerry were gunning for an attack against Assad and our news media alarmed us with images of Syrian babies gassed by their president with sarin. Dying babies are horrifying, as are massacres in Bible study classes in Charleston, civilian drone victims and 1 million Iraqis the US killed for no reason. So let's be a voice which calls to end all violence, oppression and murder--not which supports it with tax dollars and flag-waving. Just remember, as our news tells us there is "chatter" hinting at terrorist threats to the US on July 4th, the constant US military threat to many countries never takes a holiday. A young girl in Pakistan wondered "When they (drones) fly overhead I wonder, will I be next?" after her 68 year old grandmother was killed the year before while gathering vegetables. Now speaking of vegetables, could somebody please pass the potato salad? I do so love to cheer you around holidays!