A Dose Of Patriotic Apathy

What were your thoughts back in 2003 when Natalie Maines stood on the stage of the Shepherds Bush Empire in London and told the audience, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”?

Last week the Dixie Chicks carried off five Grammy awards, a sure indication that America – whatever its feelings following that night back in 2003 – has forgiven this all-girl country and western band for its anti-war, unpatriotic comments to a foreign audience.

That’s hardly the end of the matter, though – is it?

Let’s be bluntly honest. While 75% of Americans now consider George W Bush wrong to invade Iraq, that figure was much, much lower in 2003. I wonder just how many of you reading this can truthfully – with hand on heart – state you were completely and utterly against such action at the time Natalie Maines broadcast her feelings to the world?

Remember the first night of the conflict? The “shock and awe” pictures on CNN? Wasn’t it truly a moment to flutter the heartstrings as your country swung its military might into action against a defiant dictator?

Perhaps that was truly not the case for you – but it was for the vast majority of American citizens glued to their TV’s throughout those weeks when US troops advanced on Baghdad, and a victorious president landed on the flightdeck of the “Abraham Lincoln” and announced, “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”.

Had that indeed been the end of conflict in Iraq George W Bush may well have been vaunted as the greatest American president ever. America, beguiled by its love affair with violence; it’s desire for military victories, coupled with the satisfaction of proving itself the greatest nation on earth, builds heroes as easily as it manufactures enemies. The American people will follow a victor as surely as the Roman patriarchs lauded Julius Caesar. Defeat, or even the stalemate of Iraq, will just as easily condemn that leader forever.

It’s no way to live though, is it?

Those assuaging your lust for blood and victory are human beings just the same as you. Husbands, wives, children, all slaughtered needlessly to maintain the viewing figures on CNN. And you supported it. At least, most of you did. Was it any different, knowing real people were dying as you watched? Or, does Hollywood actually produce more realism – a bit more blood and gore, perhaps?

Of course, CNN still has much to learn from Hollywood. Next time it will do better. Maybe, if we had a war a week, they could put Hollywood out of business altogether.

Or is that expecting too much, even of the American people?

It didn’t have to happen. You could have said “No”. If enough of you had stood up and said “No”, George W Bush could not have invaded Iraq. But you didn’t. Instead, you sat in your comfortable air-conditioned homes with your Budweisers and your big flat-screen TV’s – and you watched CNN.

You watched people die.

In May 2006, Natalie Maines of the all-girl country and western band, Dixie Chicks, told an interviewer:

“”The entire country may disagree with me, but I don’t understand the necessity for patriotism. About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don’t see why people care about patriotism.”

The whole country certainly does not agree with her. But I do.

The American people sat back in their comfortable air-conditioned homes with their Budweisers and their big flat-screen TV’s, and did nothing to stop their democratically elected leaders slaughtering innocents for their pleasure.

And you know what?

If it happened all over again, they’d do exactly the same thing. That’s the price of being the greatest nation on earth with its comfortable air-conditioned houses, Budweisers, and big flat screen TV’s.

It’s called apathy.

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