Friday, September 9, 2016

On American Patriotism in Times of War and Times of Peace

On American Patriotism in Times of War and Times of Peace

“Wars and rumors of war” is a phrase from the Greek Testament. It is related to passages that speak of people wanted to predict the future. On in the case of the Christian cult in post-Temple Jerusalem, the need to predict the end of the world is something that fakes and or mimics a sense of control.

Perhaps if you know the end date, you can make arrangements with your personal or financial affairs. Such is the case of men, mostly young who go off to fight in war.

The sense that you can deal with making arrangements, making a last will and testament, or give away treasured personal items to endeared ones, or say deep goodbyes to family and friends are part of that sense of what many people want in terms of dealing with their very real mortality.

Dying suddenly and unpredictably is a pain in the butt so to speak.
Trouble is that in the original passage about knowing about the end of time, is that you do not have much advantage to a sense of control if everybody is going to bite the dust at the same time.

People in general if they know they only had a few hours or few days left would go of their everyday manners and normal behaviors and just go crazy. Try and say goodbye to grandma if she is off to Las Vegas for one last party thing before the big bang at the end of life – all life.

Trouble is that in the sometimes confused logic of the religionist testaments, with one breath it describes man wanting to predict the end, and in the next breath reaffirms that even their divine messiah knows not the time or hour of human demise.

Yet all the telly-vangelist preachers do their cafeteria smorgasbord pick and choose religious calorie gems from the food-spiritual food case in order to market their product, to make their spiel, sell their particular brand of snake oil. Bottom line in business is little different in the religionist god-business.

There has also been something like forty odd years of the Christian religionists preaching the end of the world in the year 2000 C.E.. Sixteen years later, the religionists are still waiting for their Jesus to return. When I say their Jesus, I have my own definition of Jesus and his teachings that I subscribe to as a Cultural Christian.

But without doing any deep discussion about the standard religious stuff, I wish to talk about what I see as the secular level of beliefs, hardly a religion or dogma, but religious like glue none the less to bind the community in a democracy.

In olden days there was a local town square in small town America and a local town square as contained in a larger urban or city environment. One that town square would likely be a church. That church would have been the original church built in all likelihood a farming community. The church was probably would have been along a road, the main road, and over time, that church would likely be positioned at the intersection of two or more roads, the center point of interest in the community.

The one thing that has united the United States since the War of 1812 is the American Flag.

We see that when the Pilgrims came over to New England, these one church towns, on common belief communities would eventually use a very plainly adorned church as a meeting hall where topics of discussion, taxes, reaction to national politics and foreign policy would be discussed. In many ways the local church would turn off its sacred purpose and take on a secular in discussions that dealt not solely with religious dogma but with secular matters at well. 

In the early days of the church, the Romans used their basilicas, great covered protected from the weather buildings to conduct anything from the local market day out of the rain or snow, to court proceedings, lawsuits and criminal trials, with the public being witness to matter in an open public building in the center of a small Roman town or in a regional part of a larger city.

Over time, the secular end of the basilica got closed off in to all but religious matters.

The American experience of a town meeting in the local church evolved into the local town hall which also might be on the old town square.

Add a general store, a newspaper, a jail and a few stores and you had Main Street USA that would have been recognizable until recent times and still exists in some rare existences intact and immune from the modern global world and or new virtual global town square.

Before the War of 1812, the United States had not strong center core of beliefs or civil dogmas. The American Revolution, so-called, was merely a hostile takeover of civil control in American from a foreign power in Britain. That Americans up until the Revolution has identified themselves as British is evident in the one thirds of Americans who saw themselves as British, the one third who saw themselves as American, and the one third “none of the above” neutrals that had no opinion.

That someone like George Washington, surely one of the ten richest men in America in terms of land and slaves, was treated like a second class citizen from merchants in London who shipped inferior bric-a-brac at luxury prices to the “colonials” like George across the ocean. George also could not buy a commission in the British Army even though he could afford it. But he was somehow inferior to what the British saw themselves as at home.

That George III in Windsor Castle and the Prime Minister at Whitehall saw the Americans as colonials and not British. It is interesting to note that after the Americans kicked the Brits out of the thirteen colonies, they British empire went on the treat the people in the subcontinent of India for another hundred and fifty years the same way they treated the Americans until India kicked them out after WWII.

The big battle in the American Revolution was to gather the best educated and wealthiest of Americans to get behind the idea that Americans could handle their own affairs without dictatorship from England or the demand for taxes. Irony is that when the British started to demand taxes to pay for their war with the French 1756-1763 in North America, the stamp tax levied on all legal paper, deeds, bills of sale, last wills and testaments, the revenue over time would have been substantial. 

The ignored colonies for in some cases a century and a half, the paper trail would have enlightened Whitehall as to how really really the wealth of America’s timber alone built coastal and ocean shipping almost the equal of British shipping at home. That all those taxes and a paper trail of documents would have been in time a great data dump and or a new unofficial Doomsday Book of American Assets.

The big battle in American was in getting the leaders of all those little town squares and churches, town halls at crossroads, was to sell them on the idea of America as America and separate not equal, but superior, to Britain.

The first war was to convince the ruling classes in America on the American idea which more or less succeeded with an army under George Washington. Britain and it aristocracy bankrupted themselves trying to get Washington to quit the field and surrender. Surrender was not option for the handful of elites that created the United States in the 1770s. To quit would have meant a purge of 80 percent of the elites by the British to install their own toadies to keep a thumb on the rich American plumb. 

Washington and Franklin probably would have been spared the hangman’s noose but most of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence would fade into ignominy if not poverty and death.

The malaise that followed the Revolution, the failed Articles of Confederation led to the quickly thrown together Constitution without the Bill of Rights was needed to prevent anarchy and foreign bankers, notably the Dutch from sending in war ships to raid the coastal cities to recover the War Debt.

The Washington Administration was the center of intrigue, of central government and foreign powers trying to dominate American foreign policy.  The government was a mess operating out of the largest city of Philadelphia of sixty to eighty thousand people, of some cobblestone streets and mud streets and brick buildings. The plan long term was to move the national capital to a new city in the swampland on the Potomac River that Washington and or his cronies sold to the government in the District of Columbia.

The unity of the nation depended on a central government in the center of the country and dividing line between slave owning states of the South and the lesser slave-labor orientated North. The fear always was the last British plan of the American Revolution of splitting the slave owning South off and joining up economically with the British economic sugar-slave empire of the Caribbean.

So when the French under Napoleon get at it on the continent of Europe, the Americans are dealing with both sides, but more so with the French who practically gave away the Louisiana Territory to the enemy of their enemy, their new BFF America.

Some clowns in the government, drunk on their own rhetoric and unable to control American shipping interest to play the Neutral Card closer to the vest, wanted a war to grab Canada, a prize they missed and could not obtain in the Revolution. So why not try. Britannia was tied up in Europe. Why not try a hostile takeover. Declaration of War!

So after American burns down a town or two in Canada retreating south again, lol, the British do some of their own burning down, mostly notably the unfinished capital of Washington and it government buildings such as the Capitol building and the White House.  

The Brits then made their way on land to the nearest big city worth plundering, namely Baltimore.  The Brits want to take the city by cannon fire from the Bay before looting the city. The fort in the harbor Fort McHenry took a day long blitz of cannon fire and did not fold. The resulting sighting of the American Flag at dawn by an American Lawyer on one of the British boats, who was there negotiating release of prisoners, wrote the poem The Star Spangled Banner. It gets set to an old British whoring and drinking song melody and one of two American National Anthems is born.

The two unofficial National Anthems of America until 1931 were:
The Star Spangled National Anthem (the War Anthem) and America the Beautiful (the Peace Anthem). In the end, the Republicans under President Herbert Hoover, in fear of the workers, unions, communists etc. adopted the War Anthem as the American Anthem.

The first verse of that Anthem below:

O! say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

With another verse I find amusing:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

It says something about the terms of American Empire and eternal war as a means to gather profits for the corporations. The motto “In God We Trust” was adopted in 1956 by Congress as a Cold war motto, religionist in nature, to replace the bland secular “E Pluribus Unum” as the official motto of the united states. Again a War Motto – In God We Trust to replace a Peacetime Motto – E Pluribus Unum.

So too the wartime, cold war, insert of “under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance to the American Flag, something recited daily in all American schools, in 1954. 

The movement to religionize the Pledge of Allegiance was spearheaded by the Catholic Knights of Columbus, a tax-free fraternal insurance for a profit organization and the arm of the Vatican in American Politics as in the Reagan nominations of Scalia and Bork coordinated by the Present Grand Knight of the order Carl Anderson who then had an office in the Reagan White House.

For a quick change of topic back to the national anthem the lyrics of the old Peacetime American Anthem of America the Beautiful:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Now the current topic of conversation on the talking heads cable networks is about how an American football player named Colin Kaepernick, who sat down during the playing of the National Anthem recently before football game to protest the way that African Americans are subject more than most to police brutality and death being unarmed at time of their deaths at the hands of the police in general in America.

The Social Media, cameras, video has captured bits and pieces and wholes of what seems outrageous and unjust treatment of a portion of the American public by the police.

Part of the change of the police in recent years towards the communities they are supposed to protect and serve, the police forces have been funded and militarized by the funding to dress, think and act as in war zones from across the planet and within the context of Main Street America. That armored tanks with machine guns and cannons and police in bulletproof gear and face masks have become in some instances the anonymous mask which from behind bad cops can do great harm in the community.

That as far as I can see in research, the National Anthem began being played before sporting events during WWII.

That the practice continues to this day with most major sports teams. Though I would not know it, watching the Mets baseball team on the cable channel. The only time I see the National Anthem is when there is an all-star baseball game or the World Series. The reason of the gap is I think that the cable network does not show the anthem because it is more profitable to show commercials than broadcast what they the network might consider “dead air time” and or “no selling of commercial time” in pursuit of the Anthem most associated with Patriotism.

So it is a mixed bag of things this patriotism thing. I believe that in a secular society and with separation of church and state a little bit of patriotic glue is what binds us as a community or it used to be.

In the old real American Town Square, you saw your neighbors and looked them in the eye. You did not make too much fuss about the commonality of manners that bound a community together. So carrying an American Flag in a parade on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July or Labor Day is what spoke of the common bottom line of secular togetherness, that and our laws under the Constitution.

In the modern virtual Global Town Square of the new global culture supported by social media, you don’t know your neighbor and don’t look them in the eye. And talking to your neighbor as Anonymous1-2-3 through the Internet is not exactly your whole neighbor of yesterday or your father’s town square.

Colin Kaepernick is half white or half black as you may see it. He was raised by adoptive white parents. For Colin to discover and identify with one of the cultures that make up his being is nothing wrong with it. His sitting down during the national anthem is a right as protest as protected by the first amendment right of free speech.

That he had the means in terms of money to do this is something he has decided to do. Being a target to be pummeled in not in my opinion an ideal situation for him. But that is his right as an American citizen.

But I have mixed feelings about the National Anthem still being broadcast at every public sports event. Are we at war? Was it laziness not to discontinue the national anthem after WWII? Was it wise to continue it under the cold war? The end of the cold war? The eternal war on global terrorism and or regime change in countries of great petroleum reserves?

I write this after seeing a noon time discussion on the FOX (Fear) NEWS still talking about Colin Kaepernick in coded racial hate words and scenarios when discussion could be had on the public airwaves and the Roger Ailes talking head “news” Angels in their short skirts and folded legs implying no panties could use the time better in the public discourse in this election year.

A lot of confused grandfathering in the public discourse in these days of emerging global culture.

I also write this after seeing all the pictures of flags in Philadelphia Newspapers with the outbreak of WWI and the massive display of flags everywhere to show that “Yes we approve of war and are going to be team players.” Whatever.

Rumor has reached me that the NFL is going to put the language of new football contracts to suspend future protests from players like Kaepernick.  Sounds regressive and a waste of time to try and make everyone conform at the same time all the time in terms of old-obsolete fashioned patriotism.

Patriotism should be voluntary and straight from the heart.


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