“Note: This might not be for many of you because it’s about history, politics, and war. In it I’ll attempt to tell some of the complex story of how I think this country got to where it is in as few words as possible. I’ll be back to my usual stuff next month.”
Happy 4th of July !
This month we celebrate the birth of our nation and the sacrifices that many have made to ensure that this nation continues. But this nation, as we now know it, has had a rather checkered and confusing past and even the term “patriot” is hard to define.
Those whom we now call “patriots” were, when this country was first formed, considered to be traitors by most fellow Englishmen, and rightfully so. They not only gave sanction to the enemy of their king, they WERE the enemy.
Anarchy is defined as mayhem without purpose or plan and exact doctrine, other than to overthrow the existing state. And for the most part these early subversive revolutionaries HAD no plan or exact doctrine because nothing like this had ever been attempted before. That plan and doctrine was to come later....years later.
These people of all ages (but mostly younger) blatantly disobeyed the law and demonstrated against all legal authority. In short, they were angry radicals committed to destroying rather than working within the established governing structure. They not only engaged in civil disobedience, they were literally traitors even later enlisting the aid and support of the King’s enemies (like France). They often met in taverns where they guzzled ale, spoke out against the king, and went so far as to plan selective sabotage and even intentional murder of not only the King’s military personnel, but also the King’s loyalist civilians and appointees. After an army was formed and actual war broke out, those hostilities escalated until England’s defeat in 1783 and things were seemingly resolved with the birth of our nation. But that wasn’t final in any sense of the word.
Just twenty nine years later England tried to reclaim some of what it had lost, and the “War of 1812” saw England going so far as to invade New Orleans, burn our capitol in Washington DC (including the White House), and sink several of our ships while capturing and imprisoning many of our sailors, which went on until Commodore Perry captured an entire English fleet near here on Lake Erie and a deal was worked out. This war lasted until 1815.
In the West, many conflicts resulted when Mexico invited Americans to settle a “buffer” zone between our two countries and called it Texas (or Tejas). These so-called “Texicans” didn’t like living under Mexican rule so they decided to simply take that land, establish their own independent government and form another new country of their own, which they did formally soon after the “Battle of the Alamo” in 1836. Nine years later they abandoned the idea of a “Republic of Texas” and in 1845 Texas became our 28th state. The Mexican American war then broke out in 1846 over all this. THIS war ended in 1848.
Were these people “Patriots” and if so, of what country? Certainly not of Mexico who rightfully owned that land and opened their arms to American immigrants.
Less than thirteen years after that, Texas joined Florida and five other states (people forget about Florida) who had decided that they wanted to secede from the Union for financial reasons as well as ethical and moral differences regarding basic human rights. Once again a different country was to be formed calling itself the “Confederate States of America”. Soon four more states joined them, then later parts of Kentucky and Missouri. The ensuing hostilities resulted in horrible carnage and death for hundreds of thousands. Just as in our war of revolution from England (who supported the South by the way), those who survived and those who died on both sides of this “Civil” War were considered by their respective governments and fellow citizens to be “patriots”.
So what exactly IS a patriot?
WWI and WWII were both crammed with slaughter, death, and destruction, but they were sorta cut and dried for the United States regarding patriotism. It was us against them and they were the bad guys. I think most of the world agrees with that, not just because our side (the “Allies”) won, but because (militarily anyway) we weren’t the original aggressors.....we didn’t draw “first blood” and actually start shooting first (though it’s certainly not as simple as that). In fact WWII was even called “The Good War” by many. Any of our citizens who served and/or supported our country’s efforts during both of them (which was just about everybody) were deemed “patriots”. Those who didn’t support the efforts for those wars were labeled “non-patriotic” traitors.
Just four years after WWII ended we became involved in what was at first called a “police action” in Korea mostly to fight the aggressive actions of the communist North Koreans who were supported and aided by the communist Chinese and Russians (who actually hated each other). It wasn’t until many years after that war ended in 1953 that it was even formally recognized as a “war”.
Two years after the Korean conflict ended, we started to become involved in Viet Nam. THAT conflict had originally begun in 1946 (the year after WWII ended) as the First Indochina War between our recent ally France (who called it their colony of French Indochina) and the Communist Vietnamese led by a guy named Ho Chi Minh. We joined in and started sending “advisors” in 1955, then soon more and more troops until we were committed to, well, Viet Nam. Once again for many years it wasn’t even called a war but a “police action”. This war finally ended in 1975. Since then, keeping track of our military interactions and involvements in other countries has been too jumbled for me to even begin to break down and list here.
Of course all this confusing bullshit (and I didn’t even mention Native Americans) only serves to illustrate that it seems the world is almost always in some kind of conflict somewhere that might easily suck in others of the world community eventually. So in this regard the term “patriot” during war is simply (I think) referring to anyone who supports the military efforts of their own country against its enemies. I think it’s safe to say that much is obvious. But what about what I would call “social” patriotism practiced here in this country?
What about those people who truly want to guard our citizens’ freedom from harm caused by the enactment of repressive laws, to protect our collective safety from terror, or even to protect us from those who care only about their own financial gain at the cost of American jobs or our standard of living? Wouldn’t these people be “patriots” guarding against those who are NOT practicing patriotism? What about “whistleblowers” who expose corruption of government? What about the men AND women who had to fight for every woman’s right to even vote? What about those who insist that EVERYONE has the right to live freely in this country as they were promised constitutionally? Shouldn’t they be considered patriots? Shouldn’t anyone who actively strives to protect any of our rights and to promote the principles of our intended legislative process be called “patriots”? Because if that isn’t patriotism, then I’m not sure that I know what the term means. I DO know that waving flags and making enthusiastic speeches is fine, but that isn’t very far from what high-school pep rallies might accomplish.
So for this Fourth of July holiday here’s to you and me..... here’s to ABATE: Sure, our sacrifices and efforts are minimal compared to those who have served in uniform and have put themselves at risk (or more) for this country, but supporting ABATE is one way we can show ourselves to be, and earn the right to be called, “patriots” too.
ABATE might not be very important to those who are not in this lifestyle, and it might even seem sort of silly to be so enthusiastic about specific rights that many might think are unimportant. But ya see, ALL rights are important.....and what we strive for regarding those rights is VERY important because I think to be a true patriot you have to DO something (if need be) to preserve your freedom and your independence from any kind of oppression legal or otherwise. In that regard every single member of ABATE is more patriotic than a hundred assorted groups of flag waving hypocrites.