Our forefathers had a vision of man who was willing to do anything in his power to fight for freedom against tyranny. Their motto was one of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, and if you ask any American, this is still strongly believed.
Unfortunately, much like many religions and philosophies of today, there are only a handful of “true believers” who are willing to practice their belief in everyday life and take a stand against tyranny. Their expectation when crafting the Constitution was that every man is able and willing to take up arms in times of need and defend this philosophy. The crisis we experience now is what happens when the majority decides that it is too much of a hassle to defend these rights and cannot be bothered to be free men anymore.
I recently had a conversation with my dad concerning politics and world conflict and our roles in them. Let me go ahead and give you some background on my dad, he’s a Vietnam veteran who voluntarily joined the Army before Vietnam was really brewing. He can attest that his unit was in Cambodia more than they were in Vietnam (even though we were technically not in Cambodia). He simply says “That’s where the enemy was, so we followed them”. He took great pride in being in the Army (and still does) and has a very pro-American viewpoint on whatever we do around the world. Well, he came back from Vietnam and I’m positive it changed his outlook on life forever. He returned to a country torn apart by Jane Fonda and the Black Panthers. Hippies were espousing the virtues of Communism and Socialism, the very things he was supposedly fighting against in Vietnam, and he was labeled a baby-killer and a murderer by his peers. Veterans were a small outcast minority in a blizzard of social unrest and violence. This was hardly the hero’s welcome he had probably envisioned. He had been promised he would have his old position at the Georgia-Pacific paper mill and was turned away. Instead he turned to the local police and became a cop. He began to go to school with the intentions of becoming a detective, spending long arduous hours working and even longer hours studying and writing reports for college professors who refused to acknowledge any representation of history that did not agree with the popular views at the time: capitalism and free enterprise was something to be feared and regarded with a tendency for corruption, there was no such thing as a slave who willingly got on a boat in order to just get to America, Vietnam was all about killing civilians and suppressing the local population through fear and terror.
As you can guess he didn’t get along well with many of his professors and colleagues. If I were in the same position, I would be pretty bitter that I had gone off to fight what I thought was “The Good Fight” and have to come home to hear a bunch of whiny hippies complain about it in order to secure their freedoms. I would suspect this people were ungrateful and that I had been a sucker for going over and doing what my country had asked of me while they got to stay here in the US, hold their little peace rallies and practice free love. He enjoyed the sweltering jungles and mosquitoes and these long haired bastards ran around fucking like rabbits and singing Kumbaya then ran off to Canada when their draft number was picked. I’m sure he must have felt really patriotic to be serving his country at that time, when everyone else told him he was a sucker. I could have gotten better when the war finally ended and everyone started acting sane again, but Gerald Ford decided to pardon all the draft dodgers and validate his looming fear: he was a sucker.
We talked about politics for a while and sometimes I really get into it, and many times we really go at it debating (if you want to call it that), the pros and cons of having a pre-emptive strike policy. My viewpoint is that we should not be attacking countries based on how we view them as a threat, that there cannot be any grey areas when it comes to war, it should be in retaliation only to an actual attack that cannot be refuted. His argument was that he didn’t care, we should go to war. I told him that North Korea is only becoming a threat to us because of the threat they perceive we will pose to them after we annihilate Saddam Hussein and God knows how many of his population. His argument was that he didn’t care, Pyongyang is a bad guy, and we should go to war. I told him with there is no evidence linking Iraq to Al Qaeda and none had ever been given. His argument was that Saddam had gassed the Kurds during the Iran-Iraq war and that we should go to war to avenge them.
I breathed deeply and looked up at the TV where he was watching CNN Headline News.
I said that there are two things screwed up with Saddam gassing the Kurds. One is that the even though the town was Kurdish, it had been overrun by the Iranian Army and even though it was a bad political move, it was not a simple mater of “gassing the Kurds”. And secondly, I said that Saddam did not just magically get or make his chemical weapons, someone had to be providing weapons to him and that person or entity was the United States. Ironically, the US was also arming Iran in the same war, playing both sides against each other in a nefarious game of intellectual chess. He shrugged and said that they were both evil countries and we should go to war.
I sighed and looked back at the TV; there was a video of Venezuelan oil workers in the streets chanting and waving banners.
I turned to him again and asked him how Saddam could possibly prove he did not have nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction or even sharpened sticks with which to jab at our soldiers when we eventually invaded. I went on and asked him how Saddam could prove he is not a raving loon who is bent on opening the gates of hell and unleashing Armageddon. His gaze moved from the story on TV about the Venezuelans and met mine. He looked me cold in the eye, a tinge of anger growing as his face turned into a snarl. “I don’t care, but we need to go to war” He yelled. “And why do you hate America?”
I looked at him, threw up my hands and yelled back “Oh, I guess America is never wrong, we can just whatever we feel like so far as no one actually dares to stand up and say the truth and is willing to fight for what they believe in?” “I guess you’re either with us or against us, you’re with the terrorists or you’re with America, because after all the terrorists were trying to destroy our FREEDOM on 9/11 weren’t they?”
“If you don’t agree with it, then don’t live here”
I couldn’t take any more of his logic; I went out side to have a smoke. I thought about what he had said and tried to understand what kind of argument he could possibly try and defend. I stood out in the cold for a while, dragging on the cigarette, wondering how he could possibly have such an ignorant viewpoint, even when faced with overwhelming evidence would make any rational person gasp and wonder why we were being lied to.
Then it hit me, maybe because it was such a brilliant argument he had waged against me, or maybe the cold had sent a shiver right up my spine. His argument was that one way or another, no one cares. Only while there are the minority to uphold the truth and fight for what is right and try to swing to moral compass of society towards the center will the ignorance prevail. If everyone else believed Iraq was bad and had to be destroyed, well wasn’t that good enough for him too? What good is waving to the blind or yelling at the deaf when they choose to be that way? Why liberate a slave who willingly sold himself into slavery?
It was at that point that I realized what the ignorance was that Ayn Rand described in Atlas Shrugged. It is not the ignorance of not seeing the truth, but seeing the truth and believing the lie. And then I realized that the answer is not to save us from ourselves, but to speed up the process so it is not as painful for as long a time as it would be if the minority continued to try and stop the philosophy of ignorance.
What is worth fighting for? Certainly not this country. Let our philosophies fall flat on their face, let people realize that this is not going to work. Then help them rebuild it when it all falls apart and they come crawling back to those who cherished freedom when they sold themselves into slavery.