Friday, November 17, 2006

Capture the Flag

Now that progressives have retaken the legislature, can I have my country back?

O'say does that Star-spangled banner
yet wave o'er Fort McHenry
Five years ago I was late leaving for work, the TV was on. My girlfriend at the time came running down the hall screaming, she knew friends in New York. I was living in Delaware, which many of you may not be aware is the financial back office for most of Manhattan's banks. I had many friends working in DC, a couple in defense agencies. I'm not that old. The cold war was scary, but I'd never seen my country attacked.

In the end, no one I knew directly died in the attacks, but I had friends and co-workers who lost family members and friends.

I can't describe the feeling. I'm not especially nationalistic... but for about a month I seriously considered signing up for one of the government intelligence agencies (with my skills in GIS and remote sensing it is where I'd do the most good). We had the world's good will behind us. And then I watched as the neo-cons took all that political capital and burned it and all our nation stood for... they might as well have burned the flag. Oh, the irony.

When I was young, America was the beacon of hope, democracy and justice in the world. It was where oppressed citizens of corrupt governments around the world dreamed of going. I am only a generation or two removed from immigration. My grandparents were filled with pride to be Americans. When I was tracing my ancestry, I remember hitting a brick wall with my great-grandfather who would only provide, "If I liked it so much I wouldn't have left."

He was proud to be an American. And so was I. I want that back.

I wouldn't hesitate to die for the ideals of this nation... if only we still stood for them.

A few years ago when I went abroad I concealed the fact that I was American. Outrageously, I've heard some Americans even sewed Canadian flags to their packs. When asked, I'd clearly state I was an American, but I'd follow it up with "I'm sorry my President is an idiot, I didn't vote for him." That same sentence I had a on a business card in four languages. Amazingly, I was welcomed. Universally I was told, "I love Americans, I just despise your leader. Are Americans really that stupid to vote for him? Or where your elections just hijacked." Oddly, Europeans are better informed on US election fraud than Americans.

In the land of "freedom fries" are we smart enough to make the distinction between a country's leader and policy and their citizens?

We aren't exporting democracy to Iraq. To quote GW, "We're exporting war." And we're exporting capitalism. Don't confuse capitalism with democracy. A free market does not necessarily bring justice and liberty.

We have a window, I'd even argue progressives have a mandate.

I want my country back. Let's capture the flag.