Thursday, November 11, 2010

War: the national religion

TODAY WAS THE Autumn War Festival, which saw America suffused in the only religious worship allowed in public nowadays: the familiar round of parades and ceremonies and salutes and misty-eyed sentimentalism and flag-waving trumpeting War as the force that gives us Meaning, that makes us a Great Nation.

The observances pander especially to the Greatest Generation, who -- as we of the Lesser Generations are incessantly reminded -- saved us all in World War II.

We are told that it's America's endless war-making that "give us the freedom to celebrate all the other holidays." People circulate chain emails such as the following:
It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
(Sen. Zell Miller, D-GA, at the Republican National Convention in 2004)

Miller's words are't entirely untrue. The freedom of the united States of America was secured by soldiers -- in 1781, with the surrender of Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown, and again in 1814 with the follow-up victory against Britain.