I grew up in rural Canada during the 60s. The Civil Rights movement of that era was just a distant rumble that didn’t penetrate in the consciousness of a young boy on a farm outside of Schomberg, Ontario. I think I heard when Martin Luther King was killed, but I had no idea who he was or why that was important.
So learning about it later, I have always wondered if I had been in the thick of it, would I have been on the right side. Maybe not marching to Selma, but at least not bad mouthing the people fighting for justice and freedom. And maybe, just maybe, offering them praise, monetary support, votes and doing whatever slactivism I could muster up. I mean, it seems to obvious now which side was the right side, but would it have seemed that way then?
And so I find myself looking at the current fight that’s going on by an oppressed minority, demanding the rights that they should have had from the beginning, and I think of it as “our” civil rights campaign, even though it’s not my civil rights I’m fighting for. It’s a chance to do something, so that in ages hence, I can say “yes, I did the right thing”. And so I am. Thanks to the New York Senate for finally passing this marriage equality bill. Thanks to Messiah Lutheran Church for becoming a “Reconciled” congregation. Thanks to the many ways, small and large that we’re winning this battle. We got to keep chiseling chunks out of the stone of ignorance.
I’m a Canadian, (Ok, I’m technically a triple citizen of Canada, the UK and the US, but in my heart I’m a Canadian.) I served in the Canadian military (Lorne Scots, Peel Dufferin and Halton Regiment, protecting downtown Brampton from the perfidious hordes of the The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (ASH CANs) and the Toronto Scottish Regiment (TORSCOTS)). It wasn’t much, but I feel like I can claim some small kinship with the men and women that this day, Memorial Day, is supposed to honour. Remembrance Day (11 November) means more to me, but this is the US and they do things differently here.
So keeping in mind I think of this as the US version of Remembrance Day, please remember this: more important than your day off work, more important than watching all the Memorial Day specials on tv, more important than the fireworks and parades, even more important than thanking the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen you know individually and personally, you owe them one thing above all others. And that’s to demand that their political leaders do not waste their lives. They stand willing to give their lives to defend you and your way of life, and when their commanders order them to do so, they will not stop and ask questions, they will do what they are ordered and pay whatever price comes from it. So it is us who must stop and ask the questions. Not to ask why they did what they were ordered, because that is what a soldier must do, but why the person giving the orders did so, and did they do the right thing by doing so?
So while US and Canadian (and other NATO) soldiers are dying in Afghanistan, while US tries to extricate itself from Iraq, and while some are beating drums about Iran or worrying about North Korea’s latest batshit insane move, we have to ask “did our leaders do the right thing getting us into these wars” and “can we finish what we started out to do there, or get out of them while accomplishing enough to make it worth while” and “if we get into the next one, what will be the result and what will be the cost”? Remember those questions, and not just on Memorial Day.
I got a phone call from the NRA. They’ve been persistent about it – evidently they called a couple of times and asked for me when I wasn’t there, so somehow I got on their list as a gun owner, even though I haven’t owned a gun since long before I moved to this country. They made me listen to a recorded message from the president of the NRA with a bunch of bullshit about how Barack Obama wants to team up with Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton to steal your guns. Then they asked me a couple of questions:
The first one was “Are you a proud gun owner” – I said yes, even though I’m not, just to see where they were going with this (as if I didn’t know).
The second one was an incredibly leading question about Obama, something about being worried about his “anti-gun ownership agenda”, and when I said “Absolutely not”, the questioner was utterly flat footed, like she’d never heard anybody answer the wrong way before. She thanked me for my time and hung up.
Don’t forget, that because of massive overcrowding last time, Democrats vote next Tuesday, and Republicans vote on Wednesday.
Just doing my part.
Bush cements his legacy: Bush quietly seeks to make war powers permanent, by declaring indefinite state of war
I don’t know about you, but I’m scared. And the thing I’m most scared about is if Feisty McGeezer gets elected, he’ll stack with Supreme Court with more Scalitos who will be happy to rubber stamp more outrages.
Someday we’ll look back at 2001 as the year the US stopped marching forwards towards greater and greater civil liberties, and started a permanent slide into despotism.