When George Washington made the decision not to seek a third term as president he did something that set the precedent for every president who has followed him; he gave a Farewell Address. However, this first Farewell Address was not delivered on television or before Congress even; it came in the form of a letter published in the American Daily Advertiser about 10 weeks before the electors cast their votes for who would become his successor. In that Address Washington gives a warning to the people of America: Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.
I think people have forgotten, or perhaps they were never taught, what patriotism is. I see cars and trucks around town with these huge American Flags billowing in the wind as they cruise around town and wonder if that is what people think patriotism is. I see people who display stickers on the bumpers of their cars, or wear T-shirts that say, “Support the troops” or “Support Law Enforcement” and wonder if that’s what patriotism means to them. Is patriotism voting in every election; is it paying your taxes faithfully; is it obeying the law?
I believe, with all my being, that the above examples of what passes for patriotism today are EXACTLY what George Washington warned us to be on the lookout for – impostures of pretended patriotism.
Of all the quotes defining patriotism I’ve read, Mark Twain gives the one that comes closest to explaining how I feel about it, “Patriotism is supporting your country all of the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
If people could just disassociate themselves from their idiotic political party biases and take a few steps back and look at government as a single entity they might begin to see that, as a single entity, it is not worthy of their support. Sure the government enacts different kinds of laws when there are either Republicans or Democrats controlling it, and it pursues different agendas depending upon which party controls it; but there are also some things that remain constant no matter which party gets to hold the reins of power; and it is these constants that should have people very concerned.
People are praising Trump because he is moving troops out of Syria, but let’s look at that for a moment. Did the president load these troops onto troop transports to bring them home, or did he simply relocate them to another region in the Middle East? How many bombs have been dropped under the watch of Donald Trump since he became president; how many drone strikes has he authorized?
You see, one of those constants I mentioned is a constant state of conflict, or war. How different is that policy of constant war and conflict than the policy spoken of by John Quincy Adams in 1821, “America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”
Listen, I’m all for defending this country, but these so called enemies we’re fighting are half way around the globe; they’re over there and we’re over here. Unless they attack us HERE, we have no business sending troops over THERE. If they attack us HERE, sure, go in and turn the entire country into a glass parking lot as far as I’m concerned…but no preemptive wars, and seeking out enemies who have no possible means of hurting us here at home.
Unless of course the reason for us being THERE has nothing to do with national defense; instead our reason for being there is for the defense, or possible acquisition of something that threatens the interests of America; like oil or opium poppies.
I want you to read something from one of the MOST decorated generals in American Military History, Smedley Butler, “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
Now tell me, how does that sound remotely like it was defending this country against those who are attacking, or show clear signs that they intend to attack us; which is the ONLY reason U.S. military force should be used against another country.
That is but one of the constants I spoke of earlier; there are many others. How about the fact that regardless of which party has control of our government the National Debt continues to climb? Regardless of which policy, or agenda the government is pursuing, it seems that neither party can live within a budget; so they have to keep borrowing just to keep government financially afloat. The current National Debt is quickly approaching $23 trillion; a number so vast that most people can’t even imagine how big it is.
What about the fact that the government has had, and probably been using, technology that allows it to spy upon the American people in violation of the 4th Amendments restrictions upon searches and seizures without a warrant based upon probable cause? This technology dates back to the time when Richard Nixon was president, and it was U.S. Senator Frank Church who tried to warn the people of the dangers of such technology being turned on them on an episode of Meet the Press, “The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.”
Edward Snowden risked his life and his freedom to expose the extent to which your government is spying upon you, and you called him a traitor. How’s that for patriotism; calling the guy who exposes the crimes being committed by your government a criminal…ooh, that’s real patriotic.
I could go on almost forever with all the things your government has done that it shouldn’t have done; things that violate the supposed limits that are imposed upon it by the Constitution; gun control laws; laws telling you what you cannot, and what you MUST put into your bodies; laws, rules, regulations that worm their way into almost every single aspect of your life.
But I’m just some whacko radical who hates government, so why should anyone listen to me. But that’s not it, I don’t hate government, I HATE BAD GOVERNMENT!!! I hate government that denies me the liberty that is my birthright as a human being. I hate being imposed upon by a government because a portion of the society doesn’t like the way I live. I hate having my income taxed and then spent to support others without my consent. I hate being a slave to a government that is out of control and has absolutely no regard for the limits imposed upon it, or for my rights and liberty. That’s what I hate.
Not only do most people support this beast that deprives them of their freedom, they also support those who enforce the laws that beast enacts. Do you think Donald Trump, Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell are going to make sure you obey the law; fine you, arrest you, or kill you should you resist? No, it is those who wear the uniforms of law enforcement; be it the federal sheriffs; as Patrick Henry called them, or the local LEO’s that pass you on the street in their patrol cars; they are the ones who impose this tyranny upon you for their boss; Uncle Sam.
If those people truly served and protected the people, almost every State Capitol as well as the nation’s capitol, would be a ghost town- for everyone would be in jail or dead for their crimes against the people.
But by golly I wave my flag, I vote, I pay my taxes, and I support the troops and law enforcement; don’t you dare say I’m not a patriot! Which is why the following monologue from the film Easy Rider is just as pertinent today as it was when the film was released way back in 1973:
George Hanson: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.
Billy: Man, everybody got chicken, that’s what happened. Hey, we can’t even get into like, a second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel, you dig? They think we’re gonna cut their throat or somethin’. They’re scared, man.
George Hanson: They’re not scared of you. They’re scared of what you represent to ’em.
Billy: Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.
George Hanson: Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell is wrong with freedom? That’s what it’s all about.
George Hanson: Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s what’s it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it, that’s two different things. I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free, ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.
Billy: Well, it don’t make ’em runnin’ scared.
George Hanson: No, it makes ’em dangerous.
I don’t see many true patriots today. Oh, they’re out there, but they are few and far between. All I see is people George Washington warned the people to be on the lookout for; pretended patriots. Patrick Henry was a patriot and he did not say give me free health care, keep the children safe, or bomb the shit of some goat herders half way around the world; he said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
So, if you wanna prove your patriotism to me, put away your flags and your stickers, and stop supporting those who impose tyranny upon you. If you want to prove your patriotism then you need to resist your oppressors, not support them; and if you can’t do that you’re just a scared little slave who’s afraid to rock the boat, and Samuel Adams had a few words to say about people like you; “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”