SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
When it comes to sacrifice in time of war
The Molly Ivins column in the April 9, 2003 Bangor Daily News contained the following item:
Sen. Ted Stevens suggested last week that New York City's cops and firefighters should work
overtime without pay as a wartime sacrifice. "I really feel strongly that we ought to find some
way to convince the people that there ought to be some volunteerism at home. Those people
overseas in the desert -- they're not getting overtime..."
Stevens, R-Alaska, had just voted for tax cuts that will give those who make a million dollars
a year $92,000 more to spend on polo ponies. Some must sacrifice more than others.
Golly, Ms. Molly! You mean that the very people who stand to profit from the war have a double
standard of what sacrifice means? Wow, what a shock! We ought to tell someone about it. Yes, Ivins
is right; she often is. And it is nothing new. I make no claim to originality for the
observation; the hypocracy of war rhetoric is so old and so obvious that nobody pays the least
attention. A major segment of
our population simply gets its buttons pushed, waves its flags, chants its slogans and salivates at
to go die for the millionaires on the polo ponies -- or, at least, to let someone else do so.
When I first tuned in to the Endless War, it was being fought in Vietnam. I was horrified at how far the reality -- when it
began to emerge -- differed from the rhetoric. Then as now our leaders claimed humanitarian
motives that had nothing to do with the natural resources of southeast Asia or the oil of the mideast.
But if we are so full of humanitarian decency, where were we when the Russian tanks rolled into
Hungary in 1956 or into Czecholsovakia in 1968? When the Rwandan majority tribe murdered nearly
a million of the minority tribe in the late 1980s, where was our moral outrage? And how about
the Pinochet years of murder and tyranny - which we supported? Where were we when thugs in
Central America murdered nuns with out money? For that matter, where were we when Bush senior touched
off a Kurd rebellion and then stood back while the Kurds were slaughtered?
I caught a brief blurb that black Americans were less enthusiastic than their white brothers about
a war in which they are about twice as well represented on the front lines as they are in the general
population. They must think that poor children bleed and cry and die just like rich kids would
if they weren't hiding behind their poppas who keep the Endless War going and reap enormous profits
We have a double standard, not only of sacrifice, but of thievery. "...I've met a lot of funny men;
some rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen," goes the song. We see nothing wrong when
someone uses his financial leverage to manipulate the market, rewrite the law in his favor, hire
lawyers and accountants to cheat even that weakened law, and sends the poor off to die with a slogan
and a lie -- all to feed his polo ponies. Yet on the deadbeat in the street who steals to feed his
family we heap anathema and jail terms. When we weaken the social and legal restraints on
greed, only the unrestrainedly greedy will thrive.
The dollar bill is the weapon of choice of the truly successful thief.
Of course, greedy thugs resent being called greedy thugs. If they are poor greedy thugs, they
can't do a lot about it. If they are rich, they start peddling the slogans and pushing the
buttons. Critics are communists or some other unpatriotic horror. The sight of a corporate
executive (or one of his wholely-owned subsidiaries in Washington) wrapping himself in the flag is a
familiar one. Trouble is, to anyone who is paying attention, the flag he wears looks an
awful lot like a dollar bill. But most people don't pay attention until they get hit over the
head with the truth. If then.
So we have the Endless War, round of 2003. Stay tuned. The administration has assured us it
won't stop here. They can't afford to let it stop. We might notice what they're doing at home. And, of course, there is always the oil.