Disturbed and overwhelmed

A self-described “occasional reader” was disturbed by a recent column on patriotism. Anybody who reads my work is bound to be disturbed eventually.

This particular reader is “immensely disturbed” because he thinks I disrespect and disregard the sacrifices made in the name of the United States and the burdens borne by various goons over the course of its existence. He’s right.

Many people seem to expect all of us to respect what they respect, and to be disturbed when that doesn’t happen, sometimes enough to hurt the heretics for saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing or being with the wrong people or just thinking the wrong thoughts.

The reader in question says that the depth of my “lack of gratitude is overwhelming.” I thought you either have gratitude or you don’t. He seems to think that I have negative gratitude. This is not the case. I’m glad and grateful to be here in the U. S. of A., and I appreciate all the easy and good things I enjoy by being here, from a lot of freedom of speech to indoor plumbing, free public libraries and Thai food. All that’s good. That Dad’s an asshole doesn’t mean his gifts are worthless.

Still, I don’t think much of the stuff for which this one guy thinks I should be thankful. For instance, I’ve never run across anything to make me think that Abraham Lincoln went to war with the Confederate States for any holy reasons. I’m not much on chattel slavery, but I’m on the side of popular rebellions, because, the way I see it, the rebels usually just want to be left alone to do things their way—to secede, set up a new structure, form a new government, whatever—and, as a default, I’m in favor of leaving people alone. Rebels are fine with me.

This reader, like a lot of other people, also thinks of the Second World War as a justifiable war against fascism and imperialism. I guess the perpetual imperialism and currently galloping fascism of the United States don’t count, since they’re in the cause of democracy, another scam if you ask me.

He seems proud of, or at least pleased about, the decades-long Cold War because it was to prevent “world domination by a totalitarian regime.” I think the Cold War had nothing to do with totalitarianism, a political system based on absolute power of a single party or dictator. As long as they were the ones in power, I think that’d be just fine with either the Republicans or Democrats. And with legislatures all over the country adding to each of our legal burdens, political authority will eventually exercise absolute control over all aspects of life, public and private, another definition of totalitarianism.

Any ideological conflict in the Cold War seems to have been between the adherents of communism and capitalism. Democracy had nothing to do with it. Everybody votes. Soviet leaders were elected at least as honorably as George Bush was, twice.