America First

I was accused of seeing too much of the big picture the other day. Guilty, I answered.

The march last weekend to protest Trump’s agenda reminded me of the marches and vigils against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We, the protesters, were told we were unpatriotic. Saddam Hussein was a threat, a bad guy who had to be removed for the good of the world. Afghanistan needed to be punished for shielding OBL and his organization.

I was skeptical then. I saw a lot of lies and patriotic zeal being organized in support of a fraudulent crusade. Yes, I supported the troops, an expression that still fills me with anger. I’ve never envisioned yellow magnetic ribbons or lights of any color really being a supportive move for people killing and being killed far, far away. Perhaps that’s my cynical streak. I’m angry that so many of them died in false causes, and that we destroyed so many Afghani and Iraqi lives and families. Worse, I felt the pursuit of war to end violence doesn’t work, and that we ended up creating larger numbers of enemies through our military actions.

When, later on, Judith Miller’s bullshit became more fully exposed, and President Bush came out and said, “Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11,” and when weapons of mass destruction were never found, everyone said, “Gosh, how were we all so fooled?”

Number one, not all of us were fooled. Number two, you stopped thinking and remembering; that’s how you were fooled. You were fooled because you wanted to believe. Then you had buyer’s remorse.

Because I see the big picture, I don’t automatically put America First. In no general order, I put freedom, equality, human rights, and the planet and environment first. I question those who assert ‘America First’ without thinking about what it means and the greater ramifications of a policy predicated on America First. As I understand it, the United States of America was established to create a more perfect union, a place where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were rights we were born with, along with a bunch of other rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In other words, the United States is not an end in itself, but another step along a greater path, and a sanctuary from those who had their rights taken from them..

Besides not putting America first, I don’t put men first, nor whites. I do see it as a weakness to imprison others in order to restore ‘your rights’ and privilege. Our weaknesses are what will keep us from improving our country and our world, and from solving our problems. If we don’t nakedly bare our problems and address them but instead blind ourselves with mindless propaganda, we will create larger problems. Especially if, under guise of America First, we begin torturing and imprisoning people; we begin building walls and establishing a larger military at the cost of arts, education and the greater public weal; if, under the guise of America First, we morally, ethically and financially bankrupt our nation; if, under the guise of America First, we destroy precious resources and kill others because they are not Americans; if, under America First, our servants in the Federal government are told they are not allowed to interact with the citizens they were hired to serve.

Some will have already quit reading, writing me off as another soft liberal; others will urge me, “If you don’t like America, why don’t you leave it?” I’ve never said I don’t like America, and indeed, the United States of America was founded upon a huge liberal experiment, the idea that we could have a government of, by and for the people. I want a better nation, a nation that is a true, principled leader for freedom, democracy and equality, not a land of killings, walls and slogans.

 

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