We’ve now passed the annual July 4th holiday of Independence Day here in the United States of America, with the holiday falling nicely on a Friday to make an extended holiday weekend of it. It’s little unfortunate that this holiday seems to have fallen into the same rut as most holidays now in contemporary America, which is to have the actual essence and original meaning of the day mostly disappear and be replaced by something else, something not so good.
I hope that people understand what I’m talking about without explanation, but at the same time I’m very aware that for many people, it not only requires explanation, but explaining it to them probably will do little except trigger a response that might be laughing it off derisively, or just plain genuine bafflement, and general wondering what I’m going on about.
The irony is that even talking about it would probably be thought of by some people as “negativity”, even while holidays that are supposed to be fundamentally and profoundly positive have been twisted into something ugly and perverse almost completely devoid of their original meaning and essential character. In something I read about a completely unrelated subject, I found something that really resonates here. They wrote that a society becomes a society of Hollow Men when people speak words and use them in ways that make it seem as if they have no idea of their actual meaning, but use them anyway, in some warped distorted form, because they think they sound nice, or something.
This could become a whole essay on other holidays and how they’ve been twisted, such as Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas, in particular. Today, it’s about Independence Day, which, notably, seems to rarely be called that these days.
The thing that struck me most, and struck me very clearly, so much that it started to become really disturbing, was a kind of general consensus of attitude about the holiday that I found all over, especially any time I flipped on a television, in anything from local TV stations to national network programming. In all that, the theme was constant. Apparently, the holiday was all about being a celebration of US armed forces. Hurray, military! Seemingly everywhere, it was all martial theater, all militaristic jingoism.
It’s virtually impossible to talk about this without quite a large number of people here in the United States having instant nasty reactions to it, having all kinds of behavioral programming pressed into them for a long time. You can expect to find exclamations about “not supporting Our Troops” or something (despite, for one thing, the simple fact of military organization that “the troops” have one primary rule, following orders, and don’t decide what they do and how the military is directed in any way). In this kind of cultural programming, it’s probably impossible to get many Americans today to even consider anything in this realm in any rational and sensible way without some stern words from somebody with significant experience in the military themselves… such as the following.
I was going to include a link to an online essay I read some months ago, titled Don’t Thank Him For His “Service”, written by a former military man, that really hit the nail square on the head, and now, I can’t find it. I had bookmarked it, but the page has disappeared. I don’t know why, and I’ve given up for now on trying to find it elsewhere on the web. (It had appeared on a particular website, and I believe, from memory, it was reproducing a copy of a page from somewhere else, originally.)
Try to even talk about anything about this, and the response from many people is likely to be something like waving around a flag (the larger, the better, apparently) and maybe chanting “U! S! A!… U! S! A!” mindlessly.
Getting further into this, something even more deranged is what happens to people who are, or were, “Our Troops”, after they’ve been used up as fodder for some war that’s not really officially a war (declared by Congress), and certainly not “defending our freedom”, in some ugliness on the other side of the world. Read a column from blogger and, among other things, former Marine Fred Reed. In that essay, Fred includes a note from an attorney who represents military veterans, pro bono, in dealing with the Veterans Administration:
“Secretary Shinseki means well and has done what he can to improve the claims backlog, but no one ever expected that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would lead to the number of service-connected injuries that currently exist. One of the biggest problems is orthopedic injuries caused by the 100-pound-plus combat loads these kids have to carry. I currently have four claims for Iraq and Afghanistan kids for shoulder, hip and knee injuries, usually caused when they fall going up or down hilly terrain with these loads. Then there are the injuries caused by IEDs. The truth is that the President has given more money to the VA in five years than Bush did in eight, but it’s not enough, thanks to Republicans in the House. The new budget proposes a 4% increase to $63 billion, but it does not include enough money to hire thousands of new people to work on claims. Most of the increase is to hire more medical staff, particularly mental health providers. It does no good to offer mental-health services when the vets who are suffering can’t get their claims done in less than a year. It is forcing many to live on the streets, sleep in their cars or they end up in shelters. We see this right here, in Central Oregon.”
Let’s back up a bit and read what Fred himself said at the beginning:
For a country always at war, the United States is remarkably not interested in taking care of soldiers it has broken in its wars. Having bankrupted the country, Washington sinks every available penny into the two purposes of the military: funneling money into the arms industry, and fueling imperial ambitions, in large part of pasty fern-bar Napoleons at National Review and Commentary. The Veterans Administration is way back in the chow line. It doesn’t work very well. As best I can tell, nobody cares.
One ironic element in this general subject is how often people will self righteously respond to anything in the realm of the martial madness gripping the present day United States by saying something like “oh yeah? so did you serve?”, implying (or explicitly suggesting) that an American citizen can only talk about anything if they’ve served a stint in the military. It’s very possible that the next item I’m about to mention has already just popped into your mind.
That would be that one of the most prominent and most aggressive of the warmonger cult dominating government in recent history is none other than former Vice President Dick Cheney, a man who was a young man of prime military service age during the era of US military involvement in the regional civil war in Vietnam, and who dealt with this by getting multiple draft deferments to avoid the possibility of being drafted by the military and sent to Vietnam. Once past that period, and into positions of power in national government, he has always been quite enthusiastic, even adamant, about sending other people serving in the US military into combat situations (even while never having a declared war), and even proclaim the United States of America to be in a new era of perpetual endless war, anywhere and everywhere, at any time, deemed fit by the warmonger cult ruling Washington.
It’s just bizarre that after everything that has happened over the past dozen years or so, Cheney has once again popped out into public view, and, incredibly, been granted all kinds of serious attention in TV and print media, to squawk about the situation in Iraq that, essentially, he created.
The situation in Ukraine remains, getting worse, and the nonsense we get from government officials, and the meek stenographers we euphemistically call “reporters”, keeps shoveling out the reality warp about how it’s all about Russian aggression and invasion. Check out the superficial “news” programming now and. more likely than not, anything about Ukraine will include some casual offhand reference to this supposed “Russian aggression” or “expansionism” or something of that sort to keep the idea planted in people’s heads. The actual reality, which actually has been and is being reported, by people still practicing journalism as a free press, is much different. The reporting of actual reality is having a hard time getting through on that subject (like many others), dismissed as “Russian propaganda”, regardless of where it’s coming from.
For the most part, Americans casually doing the sort of light grazing of acting as “news consumers” are not going to be getting reports about quite a few things. Good luck finding any acknowledgement of the US support of the overthrow of an elected government in a country on the other side of the world, with all the ugliness that came with that coup d’état, or putsch, or junta (choose your favorite term).
The Russian government, at this point at least, didn’t invade Ukraine, they were pretty much always there in the Crimea region of Ukraine, where the Russian navy has always had a base on the coast of the Black Sea (if you include the USSR era when it was the Soviet navy and Ukraine was part of the USSR), and the presence there includes a large number of Russian military troops allowed by the agreement between Russia and Ukraine, for the base itself and maintaining security of the base. By all reports I’ve seen since the trouble started a little over a half a year ago, the number of Russian military people there has never been more than the maximum allowed by agreement between the Ukrainian and Russian governments.
The “Russian seizure of Crimea” that’s incessantly “reported” consisted of the parliament of the autonomous (or at least semi-autonomous) region of Crimea choosing to separate itself from the national government of Ukraine after the coup in Kiev, followed by a voter referendum that, by all accounts, resulted in a huge, massive majority of people in Crimea agreeing with the parliament and wishing to part ways with Ukraine and ask to rejoin Russia, going back to the state of things when Crimea was part of Russia (before 1954).
All this drama has been played into a narrative of reality warp, nonsense, and flat out blatant lying by the government here in the US, relayed by submissive transcriptionists serving as “news media”, and there is no small amount of irony in the presentation of this as a renewed struggle between the Russian government (subtly or not so subtly portrayed as if it’s still the Soviet Union) and the US government (an entity increasingly separate from the American people), with the irony being that the reality of presenting it as that actually ends up as being as a struggle of a corrupt oligarchy versus a corrupt oligarchy.
Turning to a different front, I thought it was an interesting coincidence that on July 3, the day before the big holiday, in the stock market, the magic number of the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a peak of over 17000 for the first time, whatever that actually means.