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Fishing Hole Patriotism
March 13, 2003
By Dennis Rahkonen

Some folks think that patriotism is blind acceptance of whatever crazy policy any U.S. president proposes. I see things a bit differently.

I pledge allegiance to my favorite fishing hole, and to this nation's backbone, its underpaid and overworked, wage-earning majority.

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 can't abide.

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

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