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I Pledge Allegiance to the Pole (some thoughts on the Fourth of July)

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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 08:30 AM
Original message
I Pledge Allegiance to the Pole (some thoughts on the Fourth of July)


(Photo: Micah Taylor)

I Pledge Allegiance to the Pole
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Monday 04 July 2011

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

- Maya Angelou


There is a telephone pole outside my house - seven steps down the front porch, one step across the sidewalk, and there it is - that leans only slightly enough to the right to raise concern. It does it's job tolerably well, as least as well as its sagging brethren that hover along and above my tired old Brighton sidestreet. It offers no complains. It does its duty.

Take a close look, however, and all of a sudden this simple, slightly splintered nondescript thing makes you think. There are at least three hundred nails sticking out of its old hide, and some of those nails look old enough to have held the Son and Savior Himself, in His well-documented agony, had this particular piece of pine been available on Golgotha.

Once upon a time a utility worker planted that pole in that spot, another utility worker strung the wild carnival of electrical wires that are still festooned above my house, and now I get to enjoy electricity and cable television and all the nonsense that goes along with both.

The nails in that pole will get you thinking if you look at them long enough. Hundreds of them, in spirals and straight lines and T-shapes, all over and up and down the thing. Buried deep, rusted to the quick, part of the essential wood now...and each one of them once carried a message. Lost Dog. Lost Cat. Ride Needed. Have You Seen This Girl. Concert Tonight. Strike Tomorrow.

Each message, once upon a time, was important enough to nail up, and each message is remembered now only by the nails left behind. The paper wound up in the river long ago, along with whatever message that was so important at the time, but the nails are still there for the counting in the old skin of the pole.

I feel like posting something up on that pole, you know, for the Fourth.

Something patriotic, straightforward and strong. "Eat The Rich" has been done, and there are children next door, so "F-----g F--k The F-----g F-----s" probably won't do. But the old, hoary history of that pole, all those nails and all those old, lost messages, seem to sing out for another post, another message, a simple shout nailed to the wood, nailed up and out there for all to see, like a blogger speaking his piece before anyone was stupid enough to come up with things like blogging in the first place.

What should I put up there next to all those old nails?

What, indeed?

I remember everything we aren't supposed to remember anymore. Things like "Free Trade" isn't free at all, that the "Free Market" is just another way to screw me and you out of a lifetime of labor and saving - might as well scrape the sweat off my brow and drink it right in my face - but be sure to vote for the Republican when you hit the voting booth, because we are all going to be rich like him someday. The American Dream says so, and as it turns out, so does he.

Funny how that works out. For him. Not so much for us.

I look at that old pole outside my home, at the lines of communication ranging from it to my house to the next house to the next pole, and beyond. A marvel of modernity. I can hear the low thrum of activity along those black, low-hanging wires, and I wonder...who else is listening? I have to ask, because, well, yeah. It isn't right, listening in on private conversations, but you see, we do that now. Been doing it for quite a while. Right here in America.

It's OK. The government says so. Shhh...not so loud. Someone might hear.

I remember America, and it was not always this way. I count on my fingers all the ways it is different now, and I run out of fingers before I am even half-started in the counting. And the spooky thing is all the people walking around who don't seem to see the difference like I see it. It is this way because it has always been this way, don't you know that, didn't you see the news last night?

I think about all those old nails in the wood of that pole. What messages did they carry? Were they important? Rust may never sleep, but it certainly tells no tales. The nails lie mute in the wood, slowly mouldering in time, their purpose long spent, and whatever word they were meant to carry is in the wind now. Along with so much else.

So much else.

Maybe I'm just a bad person. A bad American. A bummer. After all, it is a great country if you're rich, or white, or employed, but God help you if you're gay and in love, or a member of a Union, or a public-sector employee, or a teacher, because apparently this whole Godawful mess is on your head.

Never mind the bankers and the mortgage-lenders, never mind the hedge-fund hucksters, and for sure never mind the whores, frauds and snake-oil salesmen of our illustrious House and Senate who, in Congress after Congress and year after year, happily re-wrote the rules again and again so as to let the rabbits guard the lettuce...no, no. Shhh....

Never mind eight years of idiot rule by an idiot "president" empowered by an idiot "mainstream" news media. Never mind the two wars and two tax-cuts-for-rich-people that are basically every reason we are down in this ditch...but shhh....shhh...we don't talk about that.

Every single "responsible" person in the American power structure went along with what Mr. Bush was selling, because he peddled it neatly between solemn lines about how terrible 9/11 was for everyone...and now that the bill for Mr. Bush's bullshit has come due, and come due with a lethal, nation-shattering vengeance, all those "responsible" people are suddenly looking around like someone trying to avoid getting the check at the restaurant at the end of the night.

I remember America, and it was not always like this.

Pretty soon now, the fireworks are going to go off, and the Souza march will play, and the flag will be unfurled, and we will all be joined in an act of habitual adulation of God and country. We will cheer what was, and what was supposed to be, here in the ashes and dregs of what is. We will pledge allegiance to something that has been sold on the cheap right out from under us.

Want to know who really celebrates the Fourth of July? Look for the smiling ones in the limousines on Beacon Hill and Madison Avenue, the ones who raise toasts to their unimaginably bright future on the broken back of your American Dream. Pomp and circumstance, roll the fireworks, lights out, good night. They got their bailout, right?

I'm sure it must be nice to sleep so well.

Lousy communists, I say. Living off the public tit. Right?

Right?

Shhh...

I remember America. Once upon a time, before a corporate-owned tsunami washed away everything that matters, there was this idea. It was dirty and unwashed and espoused by slave-owners and woman-haters, but it was an idea that became America. The genius of those stuffy old geezers was their uncanny ability to create a self-improving democracy. Slaves? Fixed. Women can't vote? Fixed. Separate but equal? Fixed. Reproductive Choice? Fixed.

Messy? Bet on it. Much left to be done? Damn straight. A long, grueling struggle? Indeed. Light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to that self-improving quality at the heart of the idea itself?

Well...it was there, once upon a time. The bastards have done an admirable job of snuffing out any genuine chances at self-improvement, but democracy keeps managing to bust out at the seams. Just ask the great state of New York.

Yeah.

Oh yeah.

I remember.

I'm going to nail something up on that old phone pole outside. Something simple. The pole won't begrudge me one more nail.

How's this grab you?

"I Remember America"

What the hell, right? Maybe someone else does, too

http://www.truth-out.org/i-pledge-allegiance-pole/1309419020
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GoneOffShore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 08:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thank you Will.
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 08:43 AM
Response to Original message
2. k&r..
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greytdemocrat Donating Member (614 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 08:48 AM
Response to Original message
3. Amazing Will.
That is what I have come to expect from you!!! Cool.
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BlueJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 09:04 AM
Response to Original message
4. Once again...you get my lazy ass thinking. Good for you.
:) :)
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Yon_Yonson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 09:30 AM
Response to Original message
5. Good read and thanks for doing it
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Mnemosyne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 09:45 AM
Response to Original message
6. I remember too, Will. It is gone. Thanks, good piece. K&R n/t
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obliviously Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 10:24 AM
Response to Original message
7. I have a fantastic Idea
on where to put that pole!
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Yoruhime Donating Member (1 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 10:30 AM
Response to Original message
8. I remember...
And I want my country back! This made me cry, because I've felt the same way for a long time...and to see it so plainly spoken by Mr. Pitt was just more than my poor heart could bear. It's sick what has happened here. Sick that I cannot believe that my children will be better off than I am, no matter how hard I work. All of it is sick, disgusting. Such useless people running our country...and how in the HELL do we take it back?
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
9. Excellent!
kick
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SalviaBlue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 10:45 AM
Response to Original message
10. K&R
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rustydog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
11. I was going to be smart-ass and ask why you "Hate America"
But your essay is much deeper than a cheap humor shot.
Excellent piece, love your writings.
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 11:06 AM
Response to Original message
12. A world without poles?
America has forgotten what the little things mean.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 03:24 PM
Response to Original message
13. Kick
.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 05:17 PM
Response to Original message
14. Yet another shameless kick
I really enjoyed writing this.
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Plucketeer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. This is really great, Will!
I wrote a piece like this the other day. It doesn't even pretend to be as good as this, but it could be an echo of it. Thanks for sharing. The money of this country has figured out how to have legalized slavery where slavery isn't legal.
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madamesilverspurs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 05:45 PM
Response to Original message
15. Thanks, Will ~
From a spot of blue in a deep red town, thank you!


-
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
17. Truly Masterful, Will
Good for the 4th, or any day....up to and after the next Revolution.
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russspeakeasy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 08:56 PM
Response to Original message
18. Thanks will.. I once made a poster that said,
"Name three politicians that care about your welfare". Not many people stopped, but of those that did, most told me, "they couldn't". .....Pretty sad...I wonder how many people on the board can do it..Personally, I can't. .
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Zorra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 09:14 PM
Response to Original message
19. Yeah, for sure I remember.
Knocked it over the Green Monster again, Will.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-04-11 10:29 PM
Response to Original message
20.  "I Remember America" Good choice, Will. REC. nt
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 08:51 AM
Response to Original message
21. One last kick
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LongTomH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 12:04 PM
Response to Original message
22. Eloquent in a tragic way!
Yes Will, I remember America too, and I cry for my lost country!
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BobbyBoring Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
23. I wish I had read this yesterday
but I was too busy sofa surfing and reflecting on what a great country this used to be. It's sad, but a huge segment of our population knows THIS, as in what we have become, as America....................
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Zax2me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 04:13 PM
Response to Original message
24. Snooze....
Using the 4th to point out how bad this country is - cliche - think I just witnessed another marriage proposal on the big screen at a sporting event.
BORED with it.
Had a GREAT weekend with no pissers.
Sue me!
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WillyT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
25. Most Excellent Will !!!
:applause::applause::applause:

:kick:

:hi:
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deaniac21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 07:02 PM
Response to Original message
26. I would post a sign that says simply, "Indict Rove!"
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Thanks for the kick.
You always come through.
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