Of course I’m saying that Kerry was a hero. A double hero. First, during his service under fire. Second, for his outspoken service in VVAW. As we are about to find out once again, it takes genuine guts to openly oppose an oppressive government. At this moment, the FBI is VISITING — not just investigating but VISITING THE HOMES of those they expect to turn up in NYC to protest the Republican Convention and questioning them. One person I’ve seen on TV who was “interviewed” by the FBI was a nice old guy whose neighbors were pissed off and turned him in because he has anti-Bush posters in his window! Now, that’s like Nazi Germany or the worst days of the Soviet Union. Neighbors turning in neighbors — and the government acting on it, instead of telling them to mind their own business. Things are getting pretty bad, folks. We’re going to need our heroes, and we’re going to have to examine our own supply of courage and how willing we are to personally take risks. The Bush crowd has made it very clear that they’re a nasty, vindictive bunch. Get out of line, say anything that angers them, and they’re going to get you. The shocker is that this isn’t just at the higher political levels. It’s starting to reach into ordinary people’s homes and lives.
By now we’ve pretty much forgotten how much courage it took to join VVAW. Or any of the other groups opposing the draft and the war. I had friends who escaped to Canada after being mauled by police dogs. Some are still there. Yeah, things sometimes really got that bad back then. I saw plenty of heads being cracked, too, and I’m afraid I’m going to see lots more of that during the Convention.
At the same time, it is not a sin to be willing to serve your country. There were those who believed then, and those who sincerely believe now, that the government is doing the right thing. This is America, folks, and they have a right to believe that. That’s not the problem. The problem is that feelings on both sides are running very high, and those feelings are being exploited in the most cynical ways possible by people like Rove for political gain. This should be a dialog, not overwhelming hatred for each other. That’s what has happened to the Swift Boat crowd. Whether they’re right or wrong in their feeling that Kerry betrayed them is ultimately beside the point; they do feel that way, and that feeling comes from 30 and more years of emotional pain. I’m not a bleeding-heart liberal saying we have to forgive them. They’re acting like a bunch of jackasses and allowing themselves to be exploited. What I’m trying to say is that things are rarely as simple or one-dimensional as they look on the surface and we’re ALL being manipulated. To the extent we’re aware of this, we can fight back. There’s really no reason for well-meaning Americans to be at each other’s throats — we’ve been manipulated into it.
As for the soldiers now fighting in Iraq, that isn’t all that one-dimensional, either. We already know they’re not going to be treated very well — by the Bush administration. Yeah, we have a volunteer army. Yeah, some will have enlisted because they’re maniacal killers at heart, but these things go on a sliding scale. What about those who enlisted for economic reasons? There just aren’t that many good jobs out there, and many have enlisted, during peace time, for the traditional reasons of learning a trade and maybe “seeing the world”. And how about the reserves and the National Guard? Nobody expected to be fighting a war in Iraq. The cold war had ended, remember, and we were at peace. Undoubtedly, some even enlisted because of patriotic feelings of being of service to their country. If we dispose of values like honor, patriotism, and service, because that cynical crowd in the Bush administration has turned these into dirty words, what will we have become? We can’t let these robbers destroy us.