Friday, June 04, 2004

Do not ask for whom the flag waves. It waves for you 

speakingcorpse writes:

In his new book, "Big Russ and Me," which celebrates the life of his uneducated, complacently stupid, casually cruel, bloodthirsty, reactionary, and pathologically boring father, television wiseman and terrorism advocate Tim Russert remembers how his father's perspective on things helped him to rise above the small-minded controversy over the murder of 4 student protesters at Kent State University during the Vietnam genocide.

Charles Pierce (a regular writer for the Boston Globe and a regular contributor to Eric Alterman's blog) alerts us to this important episode in Big Russ and Me. The spawn of Big Russ remembers protesting the murders of the students, and getting into an argument with counter-protesters, who felt that the murder of the four students was a good thing, and that the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese was a cause for singing and dancing. Little Russ, until this point in the gripping narrative, has thought that by protesting millions of deaths, he is on the side of right; but then he thinks of his fascist, necrophilic father and remembers that there are two sides to every issue. At John Carrol University, where Little Russ is enrolled for an "education," a group of students has lowered the American flag to half-mast in honor of the slain students; another group of students has raised the flag, in the belief that the deaths of the students is not something to be mourned, but to be praised as fulfilling the highest purposes of the United States. Little Russ confronts the students, but then he has a change of heart: "Why," he asks himself, "are we arguing about this flag? It belongs to all of us. Four students lost their lives, and I'm sure the guardsmen who shot them feel awful. They're kids, too. Why are we fighting about this when we should be in the chapel praying for the dead students, the guardsmen, and for our country."

Big Russ's example has taught Little Russ that those who celebrate the murders are in fact Americans, too, and have as valid a perspective as his own. The murdered students deserve prayer, but so do the murderers (because they feel bad; and if they did not kill the students, who would have? Somebody had to do it). The place to be now, Tim realizes, is not in the streets, trying to make a difference, trying to save lives, trying to take a stand on matters of life and death, but in the chapel, praying.

The lesson for today is obvious. We should not protest the deaths of our Iraqi victims, nor should we protest the torture being done in our name. We should pray for our victims, and we should also pray for the torturers, and for Donald Rumsfeld and Stephen Cambone, who, even as I write this, are sodomizing each other with chemical lamps while wearing women's underwear on their heads. And pray for Tim Russert as well. Even if he is guilty of a moral (if not criminal) atrocity every time he opens his mouth, even if he is infinitely more repulsive and guilty and perverted than Charles Graner, Tim is still an American. He and I and all of us share the same flag.

The flag stands for torture, and it stands for us. No amount of protesting will undo this fact.


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