January 1, 2004
Since this is the first day of a new year my thoughts seem naturally to flow out into the coming twelve months and to remind me of what I'd like to see those months bring with them.
When I get to thinking in that line, I realize there's one thing I want so much more than anything else that all other desirable things fade almost into nothingness.
I'd like, in the coming year, to live in a nation where gloppy, sentimental appeals to patriotism have no power to paralyze the minds of the citizens or to lead them down paths that they would never think of taking unless they were under the influence of emotional brainwashing.
And in the interest of bringing that condition into being, I'd like, on this first day of 2004, to mention just a few simple truths, which I suspect almost everybody knows, but which are nearly banned from public acknowledgement these days.
First, the United States is neither the greatest nor the wisest nation that has ever existed. That's not to say that the United States is a particularly bad nation, but it is to remind us that nations by their nature are neither wise nor great, and that when anybody starts talking about them in that way, he's trying to put something over on you.
Second,the military personnel of the United States are not all heroes, nor are they particularly well-informed about the policies they are directed to carry out. They are, for the most part, modestly educated young men and women of the lower middle classes who joined the military for the advantages they hoped it would bring them. We should wish them well. But it makes no sense, at all, to applaud proposals they had nothing to do with formulating as a means of supporting them. Our military forces, just like all other military forces that ever existed, are being used by men who would never consider telling them the full truth of what's going on.
Third, though we do face some danger from foreign radical forces that seek to strike at civilian groups, propaganda about that danger is consistently manipulated to take our minds away from dangers, just as great, which our political leaders do not want us to think about. They certainly do not want us to think about the poisoning of the American environment in the interests of making wealthy men ever more wealthy. Nor do they want us to think about how their economic polices consistently seek to erode the middle class by replacing as many $20/hour jobs as possible with $10/hour jobs.
Huey Long, the famed kingfish of Louisiana, who was a better politician than most historians give him credit for being, used to say that when the big boys come sweet-talking, you'd do best to shut up your ears. The big boys have been sweet-talking us over the past two years in the most slurpy way possible. I don't think we should shut up our ears, but we would do well to compare what they say with what they do. Then we'd discover that their motives are more closely aligned with the typical power-grabbers of history than they are with the health of the American nation.
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