The Korean War Marine and I, a 1964 to June ‘67 Army vet, were the only ex-military among the 75 or so standing on the corner of South Virginia Street and East Peckham Lane, on the northwest corner of the Reno-Tahoe Convention Center’s parking lot. The group’s purpose was to offer some counter to the message being delivered by President Bush to the American Legion’s 10,000 members within the convention center.
“Add some legitimacy,” was the reason the 75-year-old fellow in the red baseball cap, emblazoned in gold with USMC.
That was also why I was there. Although I intensely dislike any form of mob-think, which is an oxymoron, I felt I had to stand up for what I’d been preaching for the past six years. Taking a stand isn’t something I wanted to do, especially amidst folks who had not much (if any) greater inventory of thoughtfully assembled information upon which their opinions were based than those inside the center, cheering on someone who at best should receive only jeering.
I’d never been to a protest gathering before. Were it not for the fact that I have been seething for such a long time, feeling incredulous how any moral person could welcome and applaud someone who is the genesis of such widely broadcast miserly and corruption, I’d never have stood in the 95-degree heat. Adjacent me was a white-haired senior lady caterwauling a melody of “Give Peace a Chance” and “Let There be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin With Me.” Also among the aggregation was a fellow on stilts in a red-white-and-blue Uncle Sam costume, complete with an Uncle Sam stovepipe hat. Everyone, including me, had signs with a variety of messages assaulting one aspect or another of Bush policies; the lies, the rending of our Constitution to near meaninglessness, and Iraq, Iraq, and more Iraq. It wasn’t the 60s. But then it wasn’t quiet acquiescence either.
A couple principles apply. One is that not all opinions are equal. If they were, no one would go to medical school because they wouldn’t be paid for theirs. The next is that there is no honor in being unnecessarily ignorant on matters of basic citizenship. Then, today, because of the Internet, it is just so simple to be informed there simply exist no excuse whatsoever for not being reasonably well informed.
Read the Constitution. Okay, you can skip Article IV (The Federal Article), Article V (The Amending Power), Article VI (Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land), and Article VII (Ratification). But do not ignore the Amendments. Including the first 10, the “Bill of Rights,” there are currently 27. The longest are Amendment 12, 14, 20, and 25. The rest are fairly brief, generally less than 75-100 words.
Know what the hell habeas corpus is, where it’s located, and why it’s the most important protection of all. As you’ll hear fools, or those trying to make one of you, attempt to justify Bush’s partial end run around it by referencing Lincoln’s suspension of it, I commend you to the six conditioning words within Section 9 of Article I.
Familiarize yourself with the Federalist Papers. They compose the foundation of many of the constitutional law arguments that make their way into court. Understand that Madison wrote the Constitution as he did precisely to protect the United States of America from the dictatorial and imperialistic abuses George Bush and his blind and/or ill-intended right-wing, conservative Republican ilk have been pursuing. Also know the definitions of “dictatorial,” “fascistic” and “imperialism,” and some world history how and why the three definitions have been the dominant governing modes. Once you have the preceding in your grasp you will know why Madison was anxious and why your Republican “conservative” friends are no friend to the fundamental spirit that was intended to suffuse America. If you place any value whatsoever on the most fundamental principles that compose “America,” you will not so quickly acquit those whose beliefs, if genuinely given the full weight of governing authority, would crush the grand experiment.
(Never forget that Hitler was democratically elected by a loudly cheering populace. They got exactly what they wanted. He was their champion whose Deutschland Uber Alles was all to “Victory.”)
Finally, if one’s acts and words are intended to mislead, George Bush IS A LIAR. Read James Bamford’s A Pretext to War. The administration knew, at least back to well before they were an administration, that Iraq had no WMD. The administration did not care, only insomuch as it was able to persuade the public and intimidate the press to compliance and silence and inaction, almost to the letter as had Adolph Hitler persuaded the German people that everyone else was to blame and that everyone else was a threat that had to be preemptively dealt with.
Those tragic souls in the arena scare the living hell out of me. They are trying to relive a fantasy that never approached reality, or trying to build one, vicariously living some perverse notion of egotistical triumph by sending legions of our very best to repeated, endless tours in a cruel contest where “victory” is without definition, and where intervention may in fact be equivalent to the injection of a horrible virus. Thing is: they don’t have to go and walk the walk. It’s not their brains that will be concussed by an IED. It’s not their psyches that will be shattered by interminable stress. It’s not their marriages that will be destroyed by protracted absences. It’s not their faces that will be mutilated to some ghastly abomination. And to add insult to these horrific injuries, not to mention too early deaths, they’re not even paying a dime of the financial costs. It’s all on their grandkids; 100%.
And by cheering George Bush they are encouraging him, and the continuation of every other evil he and his supporters are hell bent toward, taking everyone one of us and the grand experiment that is America to hell with them. There will always be George Bushes and Cheneys and Rumsfelds and the rest, just as there will always be Ken Lays and Jim Jones (People’s Temple fame). And there will always be a Saddam Hussein and an Idi Amin and a Hitler. It is only via the kind of blind, enthusiastic support provided by the VFW and the American Legion, and by the silence of those who abide their family and associates on the presumption it’s “just a difference of opinion” that tyrants gain sway in the first place.
I wonder how many Germans in the cold winter of 1945 any longer contended it was just a matter of a “difference of opinion” who their neighbors voted for in 1932.
Yeah . . . those in the arena scare the crap out of me. And that is why I was on the corner of South Virginia Street and East Peckham Lane with 95 degrees of heat beating down.
— Ed Tubbs