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What Would George Washington Think?

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Today America celebrates Presidents' Day, with George Washington's traditional birthdate falling later in the week, on February 22.

On this day, I am wondering what George Washington would think of the current state of affairs in this country he helped to found.

Legend has it that a young George Washington admitted to cutting down a cherry tree by saying that he "cannot tell a lie." What would he think of a president who led this country into a war of aggression justified only by lies?

During the Revolutionary War, George Washington instructed his troops to treat their captured prisoners of war humanely. "Treat them with humanity," he told his troops, "and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren." What would he think of Abu Ghraib, and the Bush administration's fetish for waterboarding?

Last year on Presidents' Day, George W. Bush said that George Washington's example "guides us in our time." In that same speech, Bush seemed to compare himself to the first President, praising how Washington had fought for freedom, and then segueing into a song and dance about how he, George W. Bush, is now working "to advance the cause of freedom around the world."

What nerve!

George Washington must be spinning in his grave.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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