Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Palin – Beck, 2012

Last week on the main street of Golden, Colorado, my wife and I saw a 1984 Ford pickup truck with hunting rifle in the back window and a bumper sticker that read, Palin-Beck 2012. My wife asked me if I thought that such a ticket had any chance of becoming a reality. I told her that I would answer that question after the Beck-Palin pep rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, August 28th, and now, after that event last Saturday, I’m convinced that Palin and Beck could well become the future of the Republican political leadership. For white conservatives, it’s hard to disagree with their message of restoring the honor of the United States, which basically is just euphemistic wording for a call to recapture the America of the 1950s when they were freely allowed to trounce on Negros and communists.

There’s one small problem. Anyone who isn’t black-skinned or communist would love to go back to those prosperous and optimistic days before Vietnam and Watergate when everyone could find a well-paying job and immigration wasn’t a dirty word. But those days are gone forever. Somewhere between the 1965 escalation in Vietnam and the criminally unlawful invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States of America lost its virginity. And virginity never can be regained. It’s wishful thinking to look at a drug-addicted, middle-age whore and think that she can go back to her adolescence of sweet innocence.

The Palin-Beck crowd seems to think that flag waving patriotism and ubiquitous Christianity can carry America back to greatness, and with 30% of young Americans lacking a high school education, and about 14% of all Americans unemployed, a gullible and frustrated pool of eager believers is certainly there to receive the Palin-Beck message. Only time will tell if there are enough of these people to win a major election for a populist ticket like Palin-Beck, but at this point I wouldn’t bet against it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This Week’s Timely Lesson from Iraq

“The Christian missionaries came to Papua New Guinea two hundred years ago,” said an anthropologist to my wife and me over cocktails one night in Alotau, Papua New Guinea. “The missionaries had an abundance of bibles, and the local indigenous people had all the land. A century and a half later, the local people had all the bibles and the missionaries had all the land.”

I was reminded of this during the last two days. On Tuesday (August 24th) the last of the American combat troops left Iraq, and the following day the insurgents (or al-Qaeda, or the Taliban, or whatever the hell we call the bad guys this week) unleashed a torrent of terror across Iraq, killing at least 60 people in a dozen or more coordinated locations, just to prove that they still had real power. When the United States unlawfully invaded Iraq seven years ago, Iraq had dysfunctional and internationally distasteful leadership and America had an abundance of deadly munitions. Seven years later, Iraq has an abundance of deadly munitions, and the United States has dysfunctional and internationally distasteful leadership (mostly at the congressional level).

From Vietnam to Cambodia to Somalia to Lebanon to Iraq to Afghanistan, the lesson is the same— when the U.S. comes into your land to bring liberty and democracy, it’s a death sentence for your innocent people.