FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

In Praise of Unspeakable Things

by John Chuckman

When I turn to the opinion pages of a major newspaper in the muscular, brawling Midwestern city where I grew up, it’s an unpleasantly fascinating experience, a little like what I imagine a victim of child abuse might feel, smiling at a family gathering, still painfully hoping to sense some normal affection from someone who has done unspeakable things.

The newspaper’s opinion pages recently have overflowed like a plugged toilet with unappetizing sludge you might call Franklin Graham patriotism. This a lethal mix of baton-twirling Christianity and “Let’s nuke ’em” – all delivered in the heartwarming drawl of speakers at a Jesse Helms testimonial dinner.

The poisonous sludge fairly bubbles with sentiments along the lines of: “Like Mom was telling me the time I was on leave from ‘Nam and we first met Mickey Mouse at Disney World.”

Letters praising people for flying little flags on their car antennas. Letters upbraiding people who let their little car-antenna flags fall on the street. A letter telling us how the writer stopped three times in one day to pick up fallen antenna-flags off the street. A letter from someone plaintively whining over a flag swiped from his lawn at night and pleading for its quiet return. I suspect this last one was from a newcomer to Chicago, because when I was growing up, everyone knew anything left outside would disappear.

Letters and editorials crow over the new show of patriotism, as though a lost art had been re-kindled, or a great idea re-discovered. An exciting renaissance of jingoism. It’s as though the Baby-Boom generation had pulled their SUVs en masse up to a revival-tent meeting and come forward to speak in tongues and roll on the floor. Gratifying, indeed.

It’s no use asking why that’s a good thing, although one suspects it’s so they’ll cheerfully pay the cost of a bountiful Christmas this year, and of many to come, for the those fine patriots in the defense industry. Likely too, it’s so they’ll meekly embrace the serious loss of freedom Mr. Bush has thoughtfully shepherded into law.

But the letter that meant the most to me was the one commenting on a front-page picture of a Special Forces soldier. The writer went into paroxysms of admiration for this shining, clean-living model for America’s youth, obviously unaware that this was the bunch of thugs that unquestioningly assassinated at least 20,000 civilian village leaders in Project Phoenix during the Viet Nam War. Ah yes, I thought, might this letter not easily, with a few names changed, be that of a middle-aged German in, say, 1940 praising the pressed uniform and smart attitude of a young SS officer as an example to all German youth.

Plus ?a change, plus c’est la m?me chose.

John Chuckman lives in Canada.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail