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Reflections on Independence Day

By       Message Bruce Toien     Permalink
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As I write this, the 4th of July, Independence Day, is still a day away. The red-white-and-blue American flags will once again flutter brightly and smartly across our land. The sight once filled me with joy and pride because of what it represented: a country based on principles, not nationalism, a country that stood for justice and goodness, not raw power, a country that hewed almost religiously to the rule of law over the passions of men. I don't know about you, but these days I wince every time I see our flag. It has come to represent the antithesis of all that Americans hold dear. Of course, you still hear blustery pseudo-patriotic talk about how Americans fought and died for the flag. They did not. The flag is only a symbolic piece of cloth. To worship the physical flag -- as with the anti-flag-burning amendment -- is idolatry, pure and simple. No, Americans have fought and died for the principles the flag is supposed to represent. "We hold these truths to be self-evident ... "

The sad thing is, in the year 2007, those principles remain but only as museum pieces, and thus the symbolism of the flag has changed utterly. For most of America and most of the world the flag now represents something dark and cruel -- a disdain for the rule of law, torture (torture! - could you have ever imagined that America would be associated with torture!?), military adventurism, an unaccountable executive -- everything it once stood against. If I fly the flag this Independence Day, it will be upside-down (the symbol of a people in distress) and at half-mast (the symbol of mourning).

Thomas Jefferson, author of the very Declaration of Independence that we honor today, once said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance". He wasn't talking about foreign enemies (in fact, he favored disbanding the military during peacetime); he was talking about usurpation of power by individuals within our own government.

Now we have Vice President who not only holds himself about the law, he holds himself outside and presumably above any known branch of government, accountable to none -- not to you and not to me.

This 4th of July, let's declare our independence -- from arbitrary, dictatorial abuses of at the highest levels of government. Let's save our nation, let's make the flag once again the symbol of what is right and good, of the principles of government that we pledge allegiance to. If you believe in the rule of law, if you believe that our top elected officers who presume to speak for you and me should be held to the highest standard not the lowest, then call (better than email) your congressman today at
(202) 224-3121 and urge her or him to co-sponsor HR 333, articles of impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney for lying us into war in Iraq and threatening to start a war with Iran. Go to to find the phone number of your representative.

I want to leave you with this graphic representation of what the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush club has perpetrated IN OUR NAME so far, since the invasion of Iraq. Each X represents 1,000 deaths in what is widely understood to have been an unnecessary war, launched against the wrong country and continued for four years after the mistake was revealed.

Imagine the faces of a thousand people. Imagine all of them killed to further the insane ambitions of a small group of delusional men. That is what each one of the following X's represents. When you get to the end of the X's, consider that you would need to multiply to list several times to account for all those who survived with serious injuries, many of who are completely disabled for life.

In light of what can only be called war crimes, impeachment seems very lenient.

Please call your congressmen/congresswomen. This has to stop. Now, not in 18 months.

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American servicepersons killed (~ 3,500):


American contractors killed (~ 1,000):


Iraqi security forces killed (~ 7,000)

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Iraqi civilians (men, women and children) killed (between 70,000 and 650,000)


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Bruce Toien is a database designer/developer in the Portland, Oregon area, with an interest in the interaction between technology, society and a sustainable economy. Over the years, Bruce has published numerous opinion pieces relating to these (more...)

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