I had a fight with a friend yesterday, not a fight actually, more of a one sided shouting match with me doing the shouting. It wasn’t my proudest moment.
He was seated a few barstools away from me in our mutual watering hole and talking to someone else when I heard him say, “We need to fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here.”
I saw red. “There is no “we” involved here, you and little George and all the rest of the chickenhawk pukes that keep repeating that stupid and completely wrong bullshit should be taken out and shot for repeating it.” “And you can take George Bush and stick him up your ass,” I said calmly, at the top of my lungs. Again, it wasn’t my proudest moment, although I thought the argument sound, on it’s face.
Now, I have known this guy for several years and he’s a very decent guy, hard working, fun to be around, I like him in spite of the fact that he thinks he’s a Republican. (That Reagan thing again.) He gets this crap from talk radio. (Bill Cunningham, in his case,)
He drives a monster front loader all day and listens to these blithering idiots spout the usual Hannity/Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, neo-con, authoritarian, lame assed party line on the radio and I think he believes that he is hearing the voice of America, maybe even that of the Lord. He is not alone in this nasty habit, there are many, many others glued to their radios, daily, listening to the same libelous litany of lies and misinformation, a poisonous pablum fed by the corporate world to the mind of working class America. It is, after all, a free country, sort of.
Normally we joke around and rib each other about politics and it’s all in fun and enjoyable but yesterday I was writing a piece on the National Intelligence Estimate and the crypto Nazi language contained therein. I had been worrying over it all day and by beer thirty I was thoroughly pissed at the State of the Union and, I guess, emotionally locked and loaded.
I take this war, this criminal fiasco, very personally. I did a tour in Vietnam as a young Marine many years ago and it feels as if, with every headline, with every story of the deaths of our Kids, every rotten bit of news that comes out of Iraq that I am losing a younger brother or sister. These people are family to me.
It’s a daily dose of trauma, listening to the news of the war. Speaking and writing against it, against this criminal war, against the stubborn, dishonest, greedy people who have fraudulently promoted it, hurts, and the pain is liberally seasoned with a large measure of insult and humiliation, piled on by spineless, arrogant and uncaring policy makers, and a national press that does little but bang the drumbeat of it’s masters.
I’m told that I shouldn’t take it personally but I just don’t know any other way. This is My country that these criminals are wrecking, my Children and Grandchildren that they are destroying. I see the faces of the people they are killing, the faces of the families they are destroying, I can hear the shrieks of grief and pain and rage that emanate from thousands of American homes, from tens of thousands of Iraqi homes and it makes me nearly insane with rage.
I had another friend, Jim Thill. Jim died a couple of years ago, tall rangy, a crusty old curmudgeon with a bright sparkle in his eyes who fought his way from the southern tip of Korea all the way to what is now the DMZ. He was only 22 when he came home, 22 when he came home from his war. We served on an honor guard together for a few years, folding flags and firing rifles at veteran’s funerals. Hundreds of them. Many times while standing at attention saluting the colors as the bugle sounded taps I would see the tears well up in Jim’s eyes, through the tears in my own, and see the involuntary spasm of his body as he fought to keep from sobbing.
Jim knew war, He knew. A few days after Bush invaded Iraq we were sharing a few beers at the local VFW, the mood was tense and somewhat somber, all the TV’s were tuned to the war and the old men watched as our kids began the incredible task of fighting their way from Basra to Baghdad, as they began their war.
Jim looked at me and asked me what I thought and I told him that I was worried, I was afraid that we were going to suffer heavy losses and inflict the same on thousands of innocent Iraqi’s. “A lot of people are gonna get hurt in this mess,” I said. I asked him, in turn what he thought. He sipped his beer and wiped his mouth with the back of an ancient hand and said, “I think George Bush just let his mouth overload “Our” ass.” “I’ll see you tomorrow,” Marylyn’s got dinner waitin’.
Jim’s gone now, a victim of time, one of many who saw war, who knew it intimately, who was, as are all who serve and survive war a living victim, one who spoke against it when he knew it to be wrong. He lived nearly six decades behind those tears, fighting off long buried sobs of grief, living in his own personal knowledge of war.
I’m growing old at an accelerating rate and can’t afford to lose the friends that remain, those still among the living, who haven’t fallen to war or disease, or simple boredom or the horrible ravages and indignities of time. So I guess I’ll stop in at the old saloon tomorrow and apologize for my heated words and my rude behavior.
I suppose that when the man who calls himself President and all those around him, when half the congress and a great chunk of the press repeat the same lame ass statements that pour from said “President’s” mouth to overload “Our” ass, it’s probably too much to expect that they won’t be parroted by half of the average citizens. After all, It’s a free country, sort of.
I guess I’ll just have to start wearing earplugs, I’ve become much too sensitive and I don’t want to do anything drastic like give up drinking in crummy saloons with my few friends.