"Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of scoundrels." --Dr. Johnson
And I cannot help but notice how well-populated that resort is these days. Opportunists in all lines of government, but especially the unelected Federal Chief Executive and his administration, have seized upon the people's fear and horror in order to spurn the Constitution, to move us towards a police state, to proclaim and prosecute an infinite war, and to deride and harass anyone who remarks the Emperor's attire. Flag pins on lapels don't cover up naked corruption and tyranny.
If we had a Congress worth the name, they'd impeach Bush, for crying out loud. He was arbitrarily handed his election by five members of the Supreme Court, including two who should have recused themselves on conflict-of-interest grounds. His main electoral opponent got a majority of the vote nationally, as well as a majority of the votes cast in Florida, although Bush won through being awarded that state. His biggest single campaign contributor was Enron crook Kenneth Lay, and his administration is riddled with other big business malefactors, from the Vice-President on down. Bush has issued executive orders in flagrant violation of the Constitution, particularly the one calling for unaccountable military tribunals with domestic jurisdiction. (The Constitution assigns Congress the power of constituting "tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.") He has arrogated to himself the power to void U.S. treaties by fiat, although such treaties that are properly "the law of the land" and can only be altered by the legislature. He has illegally buried the public records of his own gubenatorial administration in Texas, as well as his father's Reagan-era Vice Presidential activities. His administration presses for more government secrecy, at the same time that it works to eliminate privacy protections for Americans at large.
But Congress inspires no hope, with their passage of a draconian "USA/PATRIOT Act" which few of them even bothered to read. Civil liberties which had been increasingly fragile are now entirely shattered. Guarantees of due process and freedom from arbitrary search and seizure are just a couple of the protections that we are expected to forfeit because of our fear of "evildoers." Republicans insist that patriotism lies in "stimulus" measures designed to enrich private corporate interests at taxpayer expense. All three branches of the Federal government show alarming levels of corruption, along with a willingness to concentrate power in the executive. This last item seems to be a feature of any war, even undeclared wars against "terra."
Since October, the U.S. military has been used as an instrument in the deaths of many more innocent Afghani civilians than there were fatalities in the World Trade Center incident. Are innocents in New York more valuable than innocents in central Asia? Does our flag give them that value? Given the way that it has been used by politicians and the media, I can only think that the more we wave the flag, the more that policy makers will see that as approval for such military campaigns.
The Taliban is deposed. The whereabouts of officially-declared supervillains Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar are unknown, yet the American attacks continue in Afghanistan. Has national or international security been increased by the removal of the Taliban and the bombardment of Afghans? It seems to be rather the reverse; every hotly-justified act of imperial bravado from the U.S. inspires more resentment and antagonism. Disparate countries seem to be discovering a common cause in a resistance to U.S. military presence. Allies to support American military aggression are in short and dwindling supply, and it's not because they're "jealous of our freedoms."
"We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens. ...Our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is...the most powerful nation on the earth, ... [with] her iron foot on the necks of all other nations. Such is the logic of patriotism." --Emma Goldman
Essays and Propaganda
The Exposed Adytum