“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
— Herman Goering, quoted in Nuremberg Diary
So, the lying started at the top. Cheney lied about Iraq. Bush lied about BinLaden. Together, they instituted a regime of fear that we were being attacked, and that led us into two wars, wars that killed more Americans than Bin Laden did. We knew that. We tried to vote them out, but the politicized Supreme Court stole the election.
At home, it was just as bad. TSA, home of incompetence, thieves, and the worst sort of bureaucrats, convinced us that lining up and following orders and removing our clothing and walking into that chamber over there is the patriotic thing to do, because they are patriotically defending Americans. DHS, which translates quite nicely, and chillingly, as Dienst Heimat Sicherheits, trampled on Constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, and convinced us that it was the patriotic thing to do. NSA refused to respond to a direct request from Congress on violations of citizen privacy, giving an excuse that is contemptuosly bogus.
And it’s not just the conservative, neocon, Republicans who are doing this (although it was their program). Lest they be labeled unpatriotic, and asked insightful, probing questions like “Why do you hate America?” the Democratic politicians have gone along with it. After all, no one wants to be accused of lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger. This of course, recalls the words of Edmund Burke, conservative, and contemporary of the man who gave this essay its title: In order for evil to triumph, it is only necessary that good men do nothing.
There are patriots to be celebrated this day. The men and women of the armed forces who patriotically followed their leaders into two quagmires, because they believed in our country and believed that our system only produced wise leaders, and who came home to a 12% unemployment rate, untreated PTSD, and record-level suicide rates. Those are the true patriots. The others, the ones you will hear praising them today, and praising the system that’s been inflicted on us for the last decade, they aren’t patriots. They are scoundrels.