March 13, 2003
By Dennis Rahkonen
folks think that patriotism is blind acceptance of whatever
crazy policy any U.S. president proposes. I see things a bit
I pledge allegiance to my favorite fishing hole, and to this
nation's backbone, its underpaid and overworked, wage-earning
The former is getting polluted, and the latter is being screwed.
Plus about to have its sons and daughters killed in Iraq.
The dirty-dealing party in both instances is the same --
a hierarchic, arrogant, military-industrial complex mired
in corruption at home and having grandiose, neo-fascistic
conquest fantasies abroad.
Of all the things I've aspired to in my life, being cronies
with corporate crooks who rip off our own people and the rest
of humanity -- while entertaining outlandish imperial dreams
that Alexander would never have dared imagine -- simply hasn't
been among them.
Call me "funny," but an absence of war, and societal fairness,
are the things I care about most.
War isn't some sanitized video game, despite the poofy, nerf-ball
characterization of battle the Pentagon disinforms us with.
It's bloody mass murder, and the complete undoing of Shakespeare's
belief in the magnificence of our species: "What a piece of
work is man..."
War is a little girl running down a Vietnamese road, naked,
smoking from a napalm attack. It's bullet-riddled civilian
bodies (babies included) in a ditch at a place called My Lai.
It's huddled noncombatants incinerated together in a packed
air-raid shelter in Baghdad. It's Johnny and Ted, Billy and
Walt -- or that skinny red-haired kid you'd see in the hall
but never got to know -- going from being carefree high schoolers
one day... to body-bag filler not that many days later.
All this because some wayward rodeo clown like George Bush
comes along to gladly do the evil bidding of the greediest
and most viciously reactionary monopoly capitalists around
-- the white men who want brown men to kill yellow men to
"save" the land those white men stole from the red man. (Thanks
to the musical "Hair" for that insight.)
Yeah, I love my fishing hole, but I'm not terribly partial
to the conservative uppercrust's swimming pools, or the selfish
scheming that goes on over drinks in adjacent gazebos. And
the elite's manipulative euphemisms are something I truly
Instead of "regime change," please come straight out and
say, "We're gonna overthrow your government." Pre-emptive
attack? Isn't that what the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor?
I'm tired of avarice masquerading as appropriate values,
and I don't want tainted Enronites or twitchy warmongers trying
to define our "proper" patriotism.
It's the physical American land -- also water and sky --
that we'd do well to give our protective loyalty to.
And we'll never go wrong by fighting for what's best for
our country's workingclass multitudes, who'll always benefit
when peace and justice are prioritized national issues.
Let's remove those red, white and blue blindfolds from our
eyes...and start waving Old Glory for what's genuinely best
for our country.
Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, WI, has been writing commentary
and verse for various progressive outlets since the '60s.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org