Saturday, December 17, 2005

Who Are You Calling A Patriot?

First of all, it’s apt that the word “riot” is part of the word Patriot and should remind us of our right to political protest. Our country was founded on dissent and the idea that rule by and for the people is the only valid form of government. Dissent turned to riots, which in turn led to war. Independence is what we were seeking and a representative government was the result. We were warned by our forefathers that it would take vigilance to maintain our newfound democracy, and that it was our duty to protest if our government got out of line.

With news surfacing this week that our own military has been spying on Americans who dare to organize peaceful protests against recruitment of our children into this immoral war, it is apparent that our government has stepped out of line. Seattle has been a hotbed of protest against military recruitment in our schools. The PTA of Garfield High School passed a resolution barring recruiters from school grounds and at Seattle Central Community College, recruiters were forced off campus by angry students protesting the war. Only the Pentagon knows exactly how many of these patriots are now being spied upon by the very government that is supposed to serve them.

The two big news items closing out this week are the threatened filibuster by Senate Democrats on the Patriot Act provisions set to expire at the end of the year, and the news that the National Security Agency has been engaging in domestic spying courtesy of new broad powers granted by this President. These two stories illustrate that this is a White House out of control (or after total control). Those of us who disagree with this President and his reckless policies, both foreign and domestic, have been put on notice, voice your dissent and they will use every law that they have put on the books to silence and punish you. Welcome to the New America.

Patriotism is a word that has been bandied about quite a bit since it became readily apparent that the war in Iraq was a disaster before it even started. Right wing rednecks are patriots because they slap American Flags on their trucks but couldn’t find Iraq on a map if their life depended on it, and liberals who question the administration’s case for war and fight for proper equipment for our troops have our patriotism questioned at every turn. Could someone please explain what the hell is going on?

Patriotism is defined as “love of or devotion to one’s country”. The question is, do we as Americans define our country by who is currently leading us, or by the guiding principles on which our country was founded? How you answer that question determines who should be called a patriot and who should be deemed a traitor. Also consider that nationalism is a synonym for patriotism, and is defined as “aspirations for national independence in a country under foreign domination.” That certainly puts our current occupation of Iraq into perspective now doesn’t it?

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