Shades of patriotism

Former Sparks resident Karl Rove, a White House political aide (and never mind the issue of what political aides are doing on the public payroll; it’s accepted procedure by both parties) has been in the headlines this week. He was outed as possibly one of those who may have exposed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame in order to punish her husband, an Iraq war critic. We may not know the full truth for a while, since the White House is stonewalling. Remaining silent may seem an odd way to contribute to the political dialogue, but more than once it would have been a better way for Rove to have contributed than he did by opening his mouth.

Stonewalling doesn’t stop the Iraq debate, of course, and we heard a good deal of it both on the Fourth of July and after the latest evidence in London of the success of the Bush/Blair terrorism policies. Not all the contributions to that debate have been pandering or jingoist. I was reminded of this on reading “A Fourth of July Message about War and Supporting War” on the blog The essay was written by guest blogger William Chrystal, a former military chaplain who is also pastor of the First Congregational Church here in Reno. He has a son serving in Iraq. Chrystal’s moving essay speaks of a kind of patriotism that makes all the more sordid such seamy episodes as members of Congress hiding a politically charged and privacy-invading national driver license requirement (that could not get through Congress on its own merit) in a troop funding bill.

As we hear or read self- righteous, arrogant or mean-spirited prose from “patriots” and chickenhawks (those who demand war after having avoided military service in their youth) like Rove, Chrystal’s essay is a tonic and an antidote from one who is in a position to know what’s at stake. I recommend a reading.