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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/8/11

The Old Lie: It is Sweet and Fitting to Die For One's Country

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Message Rafe Pilgrim

In my small town on the bayside of central Florida, our demographics consist of 2 percent Afro-American, 3 percent Hispanic, and 95 percent Other. The Other is more or less equally divided between, on the one hand, Retirees from northern states (whose incomes consist of social security entitlements, pension checks, investment earnings, etc.) and on the other hand, Workers, mostly of local origin, who service the Retirees as electricians, plumbers, mechanics, bank tellers, wait staff, small business operators, grocery clerks and cashiers, etc., many who when losing a job, must immediately depend upon unemployment compensation for their subsistence.

The very latest official unemployment index in my county is in excess of 12 percent, significantly less favorable than the national index, but nonetheless a gross understatement of the county's economic woes since many of our Workers -- once so abundantly employed in the pre-2008 housing construction boom -- have now been unemployed so long beyond the parameters of the government's unemployment rolls that they have disappeared from not only the entitlements of the system but also the embrace of the statistics. Moreover, the local imbalance between the former construction workers and those of other occupations is skewed beyond what is typically the case with unemployment statistics across other areas of the country. This presents us with a deceptively low official unemployment index, with actual unemployment of our local Workers probably ranging from the mid-to-higher twenties percent range.

Addressing this bifurcated milieu, one might expect extreme differences in their socio-economic persuasions, but strangely they congeal in two aspects. One is in their religiosity in which God will provide the answer to all of our problems, and -- make no mistake -- He has no use for Muslims! The other is in their obeisance to Republican political fundamentalism: we've got to put an end to these freeloaders, those unions, the welfare state, all foreign aid, and tell the U.N. to get lost.

In addition, any endeavor to examine issues of American military behavior is to be shouted down with the "Support Our Troops" mantra. Examination of issues or debate becomes unpatriotic, and dissent treasonous. Reasonable doubt becomes "conspiracy theory." So, as with ""the colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady"" our financially cosseted retirees and our jobless who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, are in these respects bizarrely ""sisters under their skins."

We have our share, or more, here of casualties of our historically disgraceful War (What was it for?) in the Middle East, not surprisingly with most of the deaths and amputees from families of economically challenged status. (It is difficult to resist the lure of the $40,000 enlistment bonuses or even the modest subsistence of barracks life above that of crowded survival in a "single-wide" staked off a dirt road.) None of these pitiful casualties is reported as a victim who wasted his life by hazarding to step on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device, the newly coined weapon-of-man-destruction of this war) but always as a "hero protecting us and defending America," or something very similar.

Military funerals here are more than sincere expressions of grief and family loss, assuming a celebratory context. Individual caskets are tracked by the press, out of the Eastern Hemisphere and into Dover Air Base in Delaware, then to the hometown, then to the local church for the service, then to perhaps Arlington National Cemetery. Between stops there are parades featuring military color guards, flags and banners, and large public attendance (in most casual attire) at the local football stadium to celebrate our heroes' sacrifice to preserve our freedoms.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." Horace penned it with an air of idealistic superiority. Wilfred Owen knew it for the exploitive lie it had become. When will we learn -- as he knew -- the cost of this treacherous propaganda? When -- by anyone's God! -- will we spare the deaths and the amputations of our youngsters in the service of the greed masters and those who lust for power?

Our captive media heap napalm upon the vicious fire, extolling the War (of Lies) and beatifying its American victim-soldiers, while suppressing any criticism or even questions. One Florida newspaper, the Citrus County Chronicle, recently featured as its top page-one headline, in expose fashion, the tale of a local high school teacher (who also serves as the school's basketball coach) who dared to show his class in government a video questioning the official version of the cause of the World Trade Center's collapse in 2001. In additional columns further back in the paper, the account ran on of the visits by "mad" parents protesting the teacher's conduct, but it was noted that this teacher had an otherwise outstanding record. Nonetheless, the County Superintendent of Education would initiate an "investigation" into the matter.

The Citrus County Chronicle chose not to print my letter to its editor, wherein I offered my appreciation to the pilloried teacher ""for introducing an exceptional example -- however contrary to popular sentiment -- of the uncompromising importance of inquiry and the supreme need for truth to our students." The Chronicle did several days thereafter, however, feature an editorial headlined: "Conspiracy theories have no place in the classroom."

Where does this leave us? It seems that Inquiry is now Conspiracy. Truth is now Unpatriotic, perhaps Treacherous, as well as Career-Threatening.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." The seductive lie goes on and on -- and very likely will until it destroys us all.

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Rafe Pilgrim, after "a life largely wasted on hard honest work," found himself a jungle of turkey oak, scrub pine and giant palmettos up a dirt road running east of Crystal River, Florida, which neither school busses nor the U.S. Postal Service dare (more...)
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