Pseudo Patriotism

PSEUDO PATRIOTISM By David Podvin The United States Senate has voted 72-25 to express “the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, commanding general, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces.”

The resolution was passed by a bipartisan coalition comprised of forty-nine Republicans who emulated Joseph McCarthy and twenty-three Invertebrates who channeled Barney Fife. Congratulations must be extended to Hillary Clinton for voting “no” and to Barack Obama for fleeing in terror. Whatever motivation led her to oppose the resolution Clinton showered herself with glory, and since Obama didn’t have the guts to stand tall he was wise to make himself scarce.

Then there are the rabble rousers who use congressional resolutions as garrotes with which they strangle dissent. Their latest orgy of pseudo patriotism represents conservative politics at its most demagogic: “The Senate strongly condemns personal attacks on the honor and integrity … of all members of the United States Armed Forces.”

Point of clarification: Are we allowed to condemn the torturers at Abu Ghraib? How about the Marines who slaughtered citizens in Haditha? And what of the GI’s who have raped our own female soldiers? Is their honor and integrity also beyond critique? Or is this resolution somewhat rhetorically overblown, and the practical significance is that we are merely forbidden from criticizing generals who spew deceit while promoting the corporate agenda? MoveOn.org was overly kind to General Petraeus. Not only has Petraeus betrayed the American people, history will record that he is a liar and a coward.

The general cravenly deceived the public when he told Congress that The Surge is working: BAGHDAD — Bombings, sectarian slayings and other violence related to the war killed at least 1,773 Iraqi civilians in August, the second month in a row that civilian deaths have risen, according to government figures obtained Friday. In July, the civilian death toll was 1,753, and in June it was 1,227. The numbers are based on morgue, hospital and police records and come from officials in the ministries of Health, Defense and the Interior. The statistics appear to indicate that the increase in troops ordered by President Bush this year has done little to curb civilian bloodshed, despite U.S. military statements to the contrary. Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2007

The patriotic course would have been for Petraeus to tell the truth, a courageous act doubtlessly ending his career. Instead of demonstrating a profile in courage, the general chose the self-serving path of lying for his commander-in-chief. It was an act of cowardice that came as no surprise to Central Command’s Admiral William Fallon, who has reportedly called Petraeus an “ass kissing little chickenshit”. Despite that most perceptive evaluation rendered by a noble military man whose honor and integrity Republicans insist must never be questioned, conservatives still claim that MoveOn has smeared Petraeus.

Yet as grand artisans of the smear, reactionaries recognize that the liberal “assault” upon the general has been meager. After all, conservatives are the world class character assassins who spent eight years falsely accusing Bill Clinton of rape and murder and treason. The right wing ruthlessly slimed Al Gore and then viciously slandered John Kerry and had Petraeus testified against the war he would have learned what it means to be smeared by the masters.

The contrived outrage over MoveOn’s ad is reminiscent of the cynical GOP response following the Wellstone memorial service. After liberals celebrated the life of a deceased progressive leader the right wing threw a well-coordinated temper tantrum, ostensibly because the Left had politicized the funeral of a politician. The diversionary tactic successfully redirected voter attention from the corruption of the Republican Congress. Having been whipped into an hysterical frenzy the conservative rank and file stormed the polls, allowing the Dark Side to maintain power.

Paraphrasing someone truly vile, “Well, here they go again.” This time the diversionary tactic is designed to make Joe Sixpack forget that the Iraq War is crippling the nation he loves. Never mind that the unnecessary conflict drains our citizenry of blood and treasure so that enormous oil conglomerates can get more enormous. Never mind that while we are focusing on Iraq the people who bombed us are safely lounging in Pakistan. The Republican narrative is that only one thing matters: a brave warrior is being criticized by the very same loathsome secular progressives who hate Christmas and love sodomy, therefore every patriotic American must rally ’round the military by supporting the war.

In a more perfect world, our fellow citizens would be offended that conservatives possess infinite contempt for their intelligence. In the real world, demagoguery works more often than not. That is especially true when the response to demagoguery is appeasement. What exactly was the thought process of the Democratic senators who supported a resolution that provides moral carte blanche to soldiers? Did it occur to them that Oliver North was a much-decorated Marine Corps lieutenant colonel while he was implementing the felonious Iran-Contra deal? Did these Democrats stop to think that the resolution they were supporting would stigmatize legitimate criticism of military criminals like North?

Most probably they were not thinking at all. They were flinching, a Pavlovian response Senate Democrats have developed over the last four decades. Progressives who are unwilling to argue that liberalism is patriotism are rendered helpless whenever Republicans start bludgeoning them with Old Glory, and that is exactly what happened here. Rather than making the seemingly viable argument that generals should never lie under oath, nearly half of Democratic senators opted to duck and cover. As a result, the bad guys won this round. Distilled to its essence, the disagreement consists of conflicting philosophical priorities. On one hand, there exists MoveOn.org decrying an unjust corporate war and the seditious deceivers who prosecute it. On the other hand, there exists sixteen trillion dollars worth of stolen Iraqi oil that can be kept only if dissent is suppressed. So in the Greatest Nation On Planet Earth which is the higher moral principle… the truth or the wealth? The Senate has spoken.

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