rn: Patriotic Stupor: Flag as Fig Leaf!


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

Happy International Women's Day!

While this article does not mention the significance of March 8, I find it
somehow appropriate. The Bush administration is testosterone politics at its
worst, and we must not let it get away with using the flag as a fig leaf! Right?

all the best, Jan
From: "Janet M Eaton" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 00:32:22 -0400
Subject: Patriotic stupor: White House junta is undermining democracy

The Daytona Beach News-Journal
March 2, 2002 

Patriotic stupor: White House junta is undermining democracy    

In the months following Sept. 11 the debate about waging war on 
terrorism has been understandably mute. With rare exceptions, the 
question boiling out of the nation's anger hasn't been whether to 
fight a war or where to fight it, but how quickly. Once it began, 
President Bush's strangely paradoxical promise that the war would 
certainly be won but that its duration would be open-ended should 
have been the first warning that such a colossal national 
commitment deserves less vagueness and clearer strategy, if not 
accountability. Nothing of the sort has happened.  

The president has instead redefined success to mean whatever his 
administration says it means. Victory was attained in Afghanistan, 
even though Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leader are still at 
large and anarchy promises to be the Afghan spring's bitterest 
crop. The war on terrorism is being won even though probable 
terrorists in custody can be counted on one hand. Meanwhile the 
Pentagon keeps announcing troop deployments Kyrgyzstan, 
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Pakistan, the Philippines as if 
Asian geography were a game of Risk. The rubble remains of 
Somalia, the Sudan and Yemen are being cobbled into a minor 
league axis of evil. And the president has all but set a television 
schedule for the war against Iraq. (The May sweeps, perhaps.)  

For all this, the Bush administration is demanding a free hand on 
the world stage, wartime allegiance at home, and a blank check on 
military spending, even if most of the coming billions are to be 
spent on weaponry useless in the war on terrorism or any 
foreseeable war. So the response to a few powerful Democrats on 
Thursday who questioned the direction of the war and the 
president's imperial wish list should not be "How dare you," as 
Trent Lott, the Senate minority leader put it, but "What took you so 
long?" And "Why so few questions?"  

It's an election year. Congress is naturally timid to seem critical of 
a president whose approval ratings are still flirting with stardust. 
But the nation's loyalty is turning into groupthink. How else explain 
a president who, playing on the war's most visceral slogan, gets 
away with justifying an obscene corporate tax cut as "economic 
security," a build-up of defense industry stock as "homeland 
security," and an exploitative assault on the nation's most pristine 
lands as "energy security"? How else explain his contempt for 
Congress, his Nixonian fixation on secrecy, his administration's 
junta-like demeanor in Washington since September?  

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle merely asked for "a clearer 
understanding of what the direction" of the war will be hardly a 
criticism, hardly a request for an accounting, hardly the reality 
check so needed at this point. That he was summarily vilified by 
the junta's Lott-like henchmen points to the real front in this alleged 
war on terrorism.  

The danger right now is not terrorism. It isn't even to those "troops 
in the field" Lott is so worried about (not when a minimalist army 
can invade a whole nation and lose only one man in the bargain). 
The danger is here at home, where zealotry is substituting for 
policy-making, where the flag is turning into the administration's fig 
leaf, and where slander is any opposition's reward.  

Without robust dissent democracy might as well pack up and head 
for the hills. So far, Daschle's grumbles included, dissent has been 
non-existent. This is not unity. It's not patriotism. It's stupor.