Tag Archives: patriotism

Wise Sloth Video List: Freedom And Patriotism In America

This list comes from my essays on American politics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons You Should Not Have Faith In Your Government

You never signed a social contract agreeing to any terms or conditions regarding what authority your government has over you or what you get in return for ceding authority to your government. You were just born into a country at random and told what laws you were expected to follow and how bad the consequences would be if you didn’t follow them.

 

 

1: Your life, liberty, and happiness are bound to the conditions of a contract you didn’t sign.

You may have some freedoms, but you only enjoy those freedoms at the whim and leisure of politicians you didn’t elect. Even if you would have chosen to follow all the rules politicians have decided for you, there’s a very important principle implied by the fact that you didn’t choose them: The laws you’re subject to…subjugate you. You’re an indentured servant to the rulers of the land you were born in.

 

2: Being forced to follow rules you never agreed to is an indignity, even if you embrace them.

The more you celebrate your own subjugation, the more indignity you heap on yourself. Anyone who tells you to celebrate your own degradation is not your friend. Your government doesn’t treat you with respect and dignity. By forcing you to follow rules you never consented to, your government treats you with the disrespect and indignity of a slave, not a free and equal human being. It’s even more degrading to you if you drink the Kool-Aide and celebrate all the rules you never agreed to. The more you celebrate your own subjugation, the more you shame yourself.

Anyone who tells you to celebrate captivity is not your friend. By forcing you to follow rules you never consented to, your government treats you with the disrespect and indignity of a slave, not a free and equal human being.

 

3: Paying taxes you didn’t agree to is extortion.

Not only are you not free to live how you want, you’re not free to keep the money you earn. You never agreed to pay taxes, but you’re not free to refuse to pay. You never agreed to what kind of taxes you’ll pay, how much they are, what they’re spent on, or what the punishment is for not paying them. You were simply told you have to pay an arbitrary amount decided by someone you’ll never meet. Even if you emigrate, American citizens are required to file taxes in America every year or risk going to jail.

Even though you get something in return for your taxes, that doesn’t justify taking any amount of money from you for any reason, especially when you’re punished severely for not paying. Even if your taxes were completely fair and were spent entirely on public works that benefit you, if you’ll go to jail for not paying taxes you never agreed to, then you’re being extorted.

 

 

If there’s any basic human right that everyone deserves, it’s the right to choose how much money you give to your government in return for services of your choosing, but you don’t have that right. You owe your government a lifetime of money the moment you’re born, and since the only way to get money is to work for it that means you owe your government a time debt. That time is infinitely valuable because life is short and irreplaceable; the fact that you have no say in how much of your life is taken from you is infinitely degrading.

Not only are you denied the right to choose what taxes you pay, how much you pay, or what that money is spent on, you don’t have the right to even know what your taxes are spent on. There are thousands of rooms in this world with “Top Secret” signs on the doors that nobody outside is allowed to enter or know the contents of without authorization and a need to know. You don’t have authorization or a need to know…what your taxes are spent on. You never chose to be kept in the dark about what your taxes are spent on, and you have no recourse to rectify the situation. If you don’t continue to fund these mystery projects, you’ll go to jail. This is not a situation you put someone you respect into.

The people who authorized your taxes to be spent on classified projects will tell you that you’re being kept in the dark for your own protection and benefit, but what are you being protected from? You’re being protected from someone overthrowing your existing government and replacing it with one that forces you to follow rules you never agreed to and pay taxes you never agreed to for projects you never asked for and aren’t allowed to know about and will get thrown in jail for not funding.

If you assemble in a group of protesters large enough to have the leverage to influence your political leaders then your political leaders will order the law enforcement agencies (that you fund to protect you) to terrorize you and your fellow citizen/protesters until you disperse. If you need any proof how free or represented you are, just watch footage of the last protest your government shut down. If you need any proof how much dignity your government believes you’re worthy of, watch footage of the last instance of police brutality that went unpunished.

 

 

4: Paying taxes to a country you can’t leave is extortion.

If you come to the conclusion your government only cares about you to the extent that it can exploit you for taxes and farm you out to businesses as wage slaves, and no amount of protesting will influence your leaders to treat you with the dignity becoming of a human being, then you might decide to just leave your birth country.

That sounds reasonable in theory, but all the governments of the world (by intent or incident) have effectively colluded to make that option impractical to the majority of the human population. In order to emigrate to pretty much anywhere you need a degree from an accredited university and at least $10,000 in cash. Plus you have to be perfectly healthy. University degrees tend to cost more than $30,000. So unless you have at least $40,000, an able body and a brain smart enough to pass all your university classes then you can’t leave your home country. You’re effectively a prisoner.

I know all the arguments and reasons for why immigration laws exist, but if they sound reasonable and justified then that just means it’s reasonable and justified to imprison human beings in their birth country. Furthermore, it means the poor and stupid don’t have the right to choose where they live or which laws they’re subject to. So by justifying the current immigration laws, you’re justifying denying equal rights to all human beings. You can make that argument, but in doing so you cede the right to claim you believe in freedom, equality or the right to life, liberty, and happiness.

 

5: Serving unaccountable leaders who don’t serve the people is supporting tyranny.

This is how the world works. These are the indignities you’re subjected to. Yet you’ve been told your entire life that if you don’t like it then you can change it by voting. And yet, year in and year out new politicians get elected and appointed to power without changing the system that imprisons, exploits and degrades the poor. How many more impotent politicians do we have to elect before we accept that electing different politicians isn’t changing anything?

And why would you expect electing politicians to change anything when your politicians are in no way held accountable for their actions? They’ve given themselves and their friends’ diplomatic immunities you don’t have. They may as well have painted the words “Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.” On every government building.

 

 

 

That’s not just a line from a dystopian children’s story. That’s reality even in democratic capitalist countries. Politicians don’t get in any trouble for reneging on their campaign promises either. The can even break the law with impunity, because when politicians break the law, it’s legal. If they get really backed into a corner they can just get another politician to absolve their criminal charges. That’s true freedom. Now, why would you expect your politicians to restrain themselves when they have free reign to abuse their powers? Because they represent you? They don’t represent you. Most people have never even met a politician. We only find out who we get to vote for a few months (at most) before it’s time to vote.

You’re not represented in government. You have no say in government. Your vote is meaningless at best and a lie that enables your victimization at worst. You don’t know what your government does or why it does it. If you don’t like it you have no recourse, and if you take matters into your own hands you’ll be punished with severe prejudice. The only thing you can do is run for a government office yourself and dedicate your life to your political career until you have the power to make the changes you want, but everyone can’t do that, and nobody should have to.

 

What can we do?

So what can we do about this? You can’t do anything alone. The only leverage the civilian population has is their numbers. No army can stop a hundred million people acting in unison. A hundred million people literally don’t even have to do anything to effect change. If they all went on strike at the same time or stood in the streets and refused to move then their inaction would have enough leverage to twist the arm of their politicians, but a hundred million people are never going to act in unison until they think in unison.  Nothing will change as long as people have faith in their government and believe the benefit of keeping calm and carrying on outweighs the cost of sticking their neck out.

If you want to make meaningful change in your government the first thing you need to do is explain everything I’ve just said to your fellow citizens, particularly those in law enforcement and the military who will be called on to terrorize anyone who makes any progress in effecting meaningful change. When the majority of the population loses faith in their government then the stage will be set for the people who are capable of organizing nonviolent political change to do so.

If you choose not to help erode public confidence in your corrupt government, then you should build a bunker to protect you and your family from the problems you’re enabling. You might survive that way, but you’re choosing to live without dignity, and you’re condemning your fellow man and future generations to live without dignity. If that’s your choice, then you have no right to pat yourself on the back for anything you ever accomplish for the rest of your life because all of your accomplishments will be tainted with the indignities you’ve accepted for yourself and everyone else.

Why should you have dogmatic faith in your government anyway? Your government exists to serve you. Why would you be expected to have unquestioning loyalty to your servant? Your servant should have unquestioning loyalty to you. When you subjugate yourself to your servant you make your servant your master and place your dignity under your master’s feet. You’re better than that, and you deserve more than that not just because you’re a human being but because your government is a product that you paid for with your blood, sweat, and tears. You deserve to get the highest quality product for your tax dollar. If you’re not going to demand to get what you deserve, I guess you didn’t deserve it in the first place after all.

 

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4 Reasons All Troops Aren’t Automatically Heroes

Note: I served in the U.S. Air Force from 2000-2007. My AFSC was 3C0X1 (Communications computer systems operator). My highest rank was E-5 (Staff Sergeant), and I received an honorable discharge.

 

"Heroes don't wear capes. They wear dog tags."

 

“Hero” is a strong word. The label of “hero” comes with a prestigious amount of respect and privilege. It’s only fair that anyone who claims hero-status should have to give full account of why they deserve to hold the title of hero not just to the civilians they expect to be praised by but to the true heroes who can give full account of their hero status lest any false heroes minimize their sacrifices and accomplishments.

The current culture in America has indiscriminately lumped every member of its military into the hero category with no consideration for achievement or distinction for degrees. This is unfair to the civilian population and all true military heroes for several reasons.

 

1: Not every troop enlists out of patriotism.

Yes, there are many individuals who enlisted because they genuinely wanted to serve their country, be all they can be and selflessly sacrifice themselves for their fellow man. These individuals’ noble intentions put them in the running for hero status, and it’s not fair to give mercenaries equal standing as them.

There are troops who joined the military because they were enticed by an early retirement, free education, travel opportunities, partying, a lucrative and secure pay check, socialized health care for them and their family and all the other practical benefits that come along with being in the military. Some troops even joined as an alternative to prison. Anyone who joined the military for what they could get out of it is a mercenary by degrees.

Granted, they knew there was a chance of death in the line of duty, but every trucker accepts that same risk in their job to deliver goods to consumers across the nation. The big difference between a regular trucker and a mercenary is the mercenary accepts the certainty that they’ll be responsible for killing other human beings (directly or indirectly). If you’d join Murder Incorporated for what you can get out of it, you’ve got a big task ahead of you to explain how that doesn’t make you the opposite of a hero.

 

Definition of the word, "mercenary:" a person primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics.

 

2: Not every troop sees combat.

Regardless of why you joined the military, let’s suppose you spend 20 years processing administrative paperwork in a cubicle at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Let’s suppose the closest you come to a combat zone is Ali Al Salem Air Force Base in Kuwait, where you gained 10 pounds from eating stake, lobster, and ice cream bars and returned home with an extra $5000 in separation and hazardous duty pay even though the closest you came to combat was playing paintball in downtown Kuwait City. Would you really tell a Marine (who has done 5 tours in Iraq and lost half his friends in combat) that you’re a hero on the same level as them? No. Hell, no.

Well, if you wouldn’t tell a combat infantry Marine you’re just as much of a hero as them, then don’t tell civilians you’re a combat infantry Marine-level hero, because by my calculations processing paperwork in San Antonio for 20 years doesn’t make you any more of a hero than the taxpayers who paid that Marine’s paycheck.

 

3: Doing something you’re forced to isn’t brave

Regardless of how close you came to the battlefield, what would happen if you refused to support the mission? Technically, the UCMJ gives the military the right to execute its own troops for going AWOL during a time of war. Granted, in this day and age the negative press that would generate almost guarantees that won’t happen. What will happen though is you’ll go to jail for a few months and then get kicked out of the military with no benefits… but you will get a dishonorable discharge that’s designed to almost guarantee you’ll never be able to earn a living wage again for the rest of your life. This means every soldier is constantly faced with two choices: Support the mission and possibly die on the battlefield or don’t support the mission and face certain destitution by your own leaders.

This means it would require as much of a sacrifice, if not more, to conscientiously object to the mission as it would to support the mission. This means it’s theoretically possible to continue to support a mission you disagree with out of cowardice. This doesn’t mean all troops are cowards. It just illustrates how important it is to make the distinction that not all troops are automatically heroes so as not to lump the hypocritical cowards in with the troops who do genuinely continue to serve out of courage and selflessness.

It also raises an uncomfortable point. The mere existence of the dishonorable discharge will always cast a shadow of doubt on the heroism of any soldier. I don’t say that to be spiteful, at least, not to the troops. I say that to encourage discussion about whether or not the dishonorable discharge should exist at all. Is it just that the military expects civilians to embrace every troop as selfless heroes, but the military itself holds a gun to every troop’s head and orders them to dance or die? Is it mentally healthy to be comfortable with this?

 

4: Nobody who fights for an oppressive government is a hero

Some troops do willingly fight on the battlefield selflessly and die in the line of combat. Some even willingly and consciously sacrifice their lives in order to save the lives of their fellow soldiers. As taboo as it is to question the heroism of these martyrs, it’s imperative to do so in order to fully validate their heroism.

Consider this. Soldiers died selflessly fighting for Hitler, Ho Chi Mihn, Stalin and Pol Pot. If we made it a rule that any soldier who dies in the line of duty is automatically a hero then we owe every fallen Nazi and kamikaze pilot full hero honors on par with every American soldier who died in the Korean War, the Vietnam War or the Iraq War.

If that doesn’t sound reasonable then we have to ask ourselves if reason ever played a role in our decision to call our soldiers heroes or are we really just saying that any time one of our troops dies they become a hero and anytime anyone else’s troops die, they’re just the bad guy getting what they deserve? If that’s what we’re doing then the only determining factor in who becomes a hero is who wins the war, and that cheapens every hero’s death everywhere.

Even if a man dies in battle, he still needs to pass 2 more tests before he’s granted full hero status. The first question we have to ask is how their unit behaved. Did they maim or kill any civilians? Did they harass and bully civilians? Did they engage their enemy with unnecessary cruelty? Did they torture? Did they kill for sport? Did they use their victims’ skulls as ashtrays? Did they commit any war crimes? Did they break the Geneva Convention?

 

Picture of two old people talking next to Nazi troops marching down the street. "Well, I don't agree with Hitler's policies, but I still believe that we should support the troops."

 

There is an American War Crimes Museum in Vietnam. It contains pictures of American soldiers committing war crimes. Some of those Americans in those pictures died in the line of combat and received medals. Why should they get a free pass to the hall of heroes? They wouldn’t if they had Nazi flags on their shoulders instead of American flags. But the Nazis killed 6 million Jews and invaded other countries though. Well, America is responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis and has sent troops to as many, if not more countries than Germany. I’m not saying America is the same as Nazi Germany. I’m saying we need to have a measured conversation about America’s military actions without whitewashing over every uncomfortable fact with euphoric propaganda.

This brings me to the second question we have to ask about our fallen soldiers before we write them into the history books as divine heroes, and that is the righteousness of the wars they fight. No matter how valiantly and selflessly any Nazi soldier fought and died, they won’t be remembered as heroes by most of the world because the war they supported was unjust. The American government tells its civilians and soldiers that every war it fights is just, but every single government that has ever gone to war has always told everyone that their actions were just.  Therefore, you can never take any government’s reasons for going to war at face value. When a government gives you the reasons why they’re going to war, that’s your cue to question those reasons relentlessly….and that takes courage.

Look at the war in Iraq. Many Americans have lost their lives there. The surviving soldiers spit venom at any civilian who questions the Iraq war, but is it really the civilians who deserve to have their integrity questioned? Any American soldier who expects to be regarded as a hero or at least expects to be exempt from criticism needs to objectively analyze for themselves why America invaded Iraq.

If you look past the propaganda and look at the hard facts you’ll find…nothing. George Bush claimed America had to invade Iraq because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction even though America knew Saddam didn’t have nuclear capability, and the only chemical weapons Saddam had were the ones America sold him. America knew Saddam had used those weapons on civilians years before America used those war crimes as justification to hang him. When it came to light that Saddam didn’t have the weapons of mass destruction General Colin Powell claimed, then George Bush changed his story and said America went into Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people. Years later, the Iraqi people still have their roads blockaded by American troops. So which reason did America go to war? Journalists, Nobel Prize winners, politicians, soldiers, and citizens have been arguing for years about why America went to war in Iraq because there’s no clear answer.

 

 

100,000 people dead require a clear cut answer, which the American government has yet to produce. I can’t yield unquestioning trust to a government that can’t give a solid account for why it’s killed so many people and spent so much of its taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Nor can I endorse hero status on soldiers who are killing for a cause with no clear justification. Nor can I exempt soldiers from criticism if I can’t determine with certainty that the cause they serve is just. Nor should you, nor should the troops themselves.

I can’t support the troops if the troops cannot give me a full account of what they’re fighting for.  This isn’t disrespectful, arrogant, impudent or ungrateful. This is completely reasonable and justified. In response to everything said here I know that many troops (as well as family members, friends, and supporters of the troops) will respond by saying, “The troops protect your freedoms….” as if that fact justifies everything they’ve done and exempts them from all criticism.

To this I would say, what about the Iraqi’s freedom to travel? What about their freedom from search and seizure? What about their freedom from torture? America backs the Palestinian holocaust, which the rest of the world would step in and end, was it not for America’s military. Even back in America, civilians don’t have the freedom to marry whomever they want. Americans don’t have the freedom of privacy. Our phones are wiretapped. Our genitals are groped at airports. You can’t buy certain books without your name appearing on a CIA or FBI blacklist. Peace activists are put on the TSA terrorist list and lose the freedom to fly. The American government has given itself the right to take anyone in the world to secret prisons to be tortured and denied the right to a fair, public trial. Americans don’t have the freedom to buy alcohol except in limited times and places. Americans don’t have the right to grow medical marijuana.

The troops claim they protect Americans’ freedoms yet America has more people in prison than any other country in the world. Americans don’t have the freedom to choose how their taxes or spent. Americans don’t have the freedom to dispose of a president with a 30% approval rating or a Congress with a 12% approval rating. Americans aren’t protected from predatory financial practices. American women don’t even have the same freedom to take off their shirt that American men have. How can you the American military supports and guarantees Americans’ freedom when it’s illegal for half the population to take their shirt off?

To this you might say, life is better in America than in a lot of third world countries. So Americans should be grateful and not complain. You know why life is cheap and bountiful in America? Because America actively and consistently represses the freedoms, rights, and opportunities of other people so they can be used as cheap slave labor for American companies that have moved their sweatshops overseas. That’s the freedom our precious military martyrs are dying for, and if you’re angry at me for saying that you’re directing your indignation in the wrong direction.

 

 

You can even bring the issue closer to home. The enlisted troops of the military themselves are literally slaves who are exploited and subjugated by the military caste system. The troops are made up of American civilians. Therefore the American government is enslaving civilians and justifying it by using the UCMJ as a loophole around the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If the American government can enslave 1% of its population and systematically and brazenly brainwash those slaves to belligerently defend their own subjugation then why should I feel safe in America? The American government reserves the right to draft able-bodied men into slavery at any time as long as it claims there’s a need for it, and we’ve seen how reliable its reasons for going to war are.

I’m not impressed by a soldier’s ability to follow orders without questioning them. I’m not impressed by a soldiers’ willingness to die for a cause they don’t understand. I’m not impressed by the freedoms soldiers willingly surrender to men with a track record of authorizing human rights abuses and lying about it. I’m not impressed by how belligerently you tell me I’m ungrateful. I’m impressed by people who question their answers. I’m impressed by people who stand up to injustice in their own house. I’m impressed by troops who refuse to serve politicians who torture whistleblowers.

 

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