Monday, September 25, 2006

"Alternative Methods"

I was once a patriot. I welled with pride at the sight of an American flag fluttering in the breeze. During my brief stint as a JROTC cadet, I filled with a sense of purpose and honor as I put on a uniform consecrated with the blood of heroes. As a Southerner, as a descendent of a conquered people, as a woman, as a gay person, I could never pretend that our past was lily white or that our present was perfect. I saw the blood quite clearly that flowed through our past and my own freedoms slip away.

But I was proud. Proud of the progress we'd made over long years of struggle. Proud to be amongst the first generation of Southerners to live in a fully integrated neighborhood and attend fully integrated schools. Proud to be a woman whose future was not determined by my lack of a Y chromosome. Proud to be a citizen of a country that had led the world in demanding that all human beings be treated as human beings. We were better because we didn't give in to brutality and horror.

We didn't torture people. We didn't set up gulags where our "enemies" could languish in the darkness, invisible to the prying eyes of those who demanded justice for all. We didn't give one man power over the rights and freedoms of millions. We didn't.

We do now. To those who say I hate my country, I wish that you were right. I wish I could merely hate it, because then I wouldn't have to feel the overwhelming grief at watching it die. I would not have to mourn as I watch good men, sworn to uphold our Constitution, stand by while the president of the United States destroys the honor and pride of the American people. I would not have to mourn as I watch the American people either stand silent or scream for more blood. I would not have to mourn as the land of the free becomes The Lord of the Flies writ large. I would not have to mourn as my people stand loyal to the president of the United States at a time when doing so is an act morally treasonable to the American public. I would not have to mourn...

But I do. If we are to do these things, commit atrocity upon atrocity without conscience or regret, America is no more. My America, your America, the America that once shone the lights of freedom, respect for human dignity, and reverence for the rule of law on the entire world is gone. Perhaps she never was. Perhaps it was all a carefully constructed fiction, a convenient self-delusion. If so, even the loss of that foolish dream is worth mourning.

2 Comments:

Blogger Canardius said...

I forget the original latin, but wasn't it Cicero [or Suetonius] who said, "in time of war, the law falls silent"?

6:17 PM  
Blogger Canardius said...

inter arma, silent leges.

in war, law [is] silent.

william h. rehnquist, former chief justice, wrote a book on wartime civil liberties..... and he cited this latin

6:23 PM  

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