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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Veterans day seems poised to overtake flag day as "dumbest holiday ever." Of course, the federal government isn't doing much to stop this inevitable slide. Let's just think for a second - if you were in charge of figuring out who you wanted to represent a country's veterans, who had fought and risked their lives, voluntarily or not, in far away lands, who would you choose? Some battle-scarred individual? A congressional medal of honor winner? Nay. If you were the government, your largesse as well as insight would lead you to the only person who could truly capture the storied history of our military. Jennifer Love Hewitt.

That's right. They chose a girl whose biggest strife was deciding whether or not to continue in her role on Party of Five, the show on which she learned the meaning of struggle as a kid whose parents died. Oh, and whose parents happened to leave behind a mansion and enough money for a family of five to subsist on for years with only one of them working, and then only part time, and then at a cushy job with no real obligations.

That's not all we get for this Veterans Day Special. We also have Bush's moving speech where he declares, "Our veterans have borne the costs of America's wars and have stood watch over America's peace. And, today, every veteran can be certain: The nation you served and the people you defended are grateful." Bush, of course, showed his immense gratitute this past March by cutting veteran's benefits by almost a billion dollars, leading the damn hippie liberals to question his beneficence, but we all know that Bush is pro-soldier. After all, it's not like he would leave them in danger needlessly, especially after he ran on a platform which specifically included not using the military for nation building.

But I digress.

See, the reason I hate veteran's day so much is that I have to hear a near constant drone of assertions about how everyone should be grateful to the men and women who have served in the military, because otherwise we wouldn't have any rights. In fact, the argument commonly goes that liberals should be grateful to the military, becuase "they defend the right which you abuse by speaking out against them, you goddamn ungrateful pinko bastards." I find it problematic that this assertion is pretty much taken as gospel, by everyone of either political persuasion. Most people just accept that, yes, in fact, veterans or those who died overseas in wars were doing so defending the American way of life, as if those goddamn Vietnamese were about six fucking seconds from repealing the third amendment, and taking away my right not to quarter soliders in peacetime.

The fact is that soldiers in any modern war (since, say, 1945) aren't really defending any rights. They aren't keeping our shores safe from either an enemy invasion or even the crippling of the American economy. If anything, our constant intervention has actively led to a decrease in freedoms, as we incite hatred from great sectors of the world for taking militant action to achieve policy goals. Does this mean we should stop protecting Israel, or attempting to undermine totalitarian regiemes? Probably not - but it also means that we should seriously question whether or not to view servicemen as a class above their fellow citizens. Using the military to protect financial interests in third world countries is beneficial on the whole, but certainly not by such a degree that it warrents considering them as a group intrinsically deserving of the amount of praise they recieve on an almost daily basis. If expanding and controlling financial markets were the grounds for reverence, Nancy Jacklin would be the one we accorded our respect, not Colin Powell.

On some level, I can appreciate the theoretical gratitute I ought to feel for someone who enlists for the sake of defending the country, and then, becuase the alternative is idleness, goes out and performs some of the other auxillery functions the military happens to. But in reality, nobody really believes that the military is actually holding back the Canadian tide, which would otherwise overwhelm us, from sea to shining sea, do they? A maple-leaf curtain to descend across the hemisphere? Or maybe ours would be a curtain forged of those beads which are so popular to those of a more southern persuasion? In any case - the actual state of the world us such that there's not really a need for a large standing military. No country-based concern would attack us because of that magical "deterrance" we sell in such abundance. No decentralized power (okay, okay, I give, "terrorists") is going to be deterred by a military in either case. Our manpower is just not doing it on the "protecting our freedoms" count.

So salute away, if you want. Make the argument on Memorial Day, when the people who actually died to give you your freedoms are celebrated. I'll just be sitting here doing what Bush appears to believe is my patriotic duty: watching Can't Hardly Wait.

cranked out at 6:39 PM | |

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