It’s Your Right, Just Don’t Exercise it
DCUP here. I want to share with you a post by one of my regular readers and commenters. In his post This Is Why I Worry About Their Future, Spartacus tells a story on the micro-level about how we’re discouraged from dissent in today’s America. Since I know my weekend is going to be consumed by ballet and high culture in the form of proud parenting, I thought it best to share something like this with you. You’re my pals, why punish you with more photos of my brats?
Take it away, Spartacus…..
A few days ago, my little one was given an extra credit assignment in either English or Social Studies class to write a letter to a soldier in Iraq, a scan of which I’ve posted here.
The point of the letter was to provide some words of encouragement and comfort from the home front and to send them needed supplies like toothpaste and foot powder.
Clearly, from the text of this kind note, he’s more concerned about the local sports teams than he is about why the soldiers are there in the first place. Of course, contrarian that I am, I asked him why he thinks the soldiers are there?
Me: Do you think that they should be there?
L1: I dunno Dad! It’s just an extra credit assignment.
Me: Yeah, but why write a letter to them telling them about home when you could write a letter to our congressman, our senators, or President Bush to demand that they bring the soldiers home and experience it for themselves?
L1: Because that’s not what we were asked to write. Mom! Dad’s being a jerk!
Indeed, I was being a jerk and E. laid into me for turning a simple extra credit assignment into an exercise in politics. According to her, this letter was not about expressing an opinion, but expressing empathy and compassion for our brave men and women in uniform. “The ones who are making us safer fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan?” I snarked.
“Yes,” E. says. “Jerk.”
In that moment I realized what’s wrong with this country — we are unable to disagree with some decorum of civility, especially when it comes to politics. I told E., “They don’t need our fucking empathy or supplies, which, by the way, should be paid for from DoD budget. What they all need is to be brought back home.”
I slammed the front door on my way out to take Chester for his evening walk. I was pissed. All I could think about was how people are simply not allowed a voice of dissent anymore.
Tell someone you’re against the war, and you’re branded as a soldier hater.
Tell someone that the United States, by Constitutional decree, may not endorse any one religion over another, and you’ll get shouted down that ours is a “Christian nation.”
Tell someone you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are not good choices for POTUS in 2008, and you are now a misogynistic, race baiter, who hates all things Oprah (yes…Oprah does drive me nuts. Always has. And in the same exact way that Cosmo Kramer goes spastic at the sound of Mary Hart’s voice. It’s that bad.)
It really pains me to think that this is the legacy we’re leaving for our kids. Somehow, some way, it became taboo to speak your mind whenever you disagreed with someone. It is considered offensive and in poor taste to tell someone you’re against the war or any currently popular stance, like (Latino) immigration reform. Never mind, that the basis of our Republic — what is constitutionally guaranteed — is our right to dissent. You just can’t do it.
Allow me to offer a hypothetical question here.
What if my son decided to hand in to his teacher a letter to Hillary Clinton or Chuck Schumer expressing disapproval over the war and the Democrats inability to impeach that imperialist bastard Cheney and his Bush puppet? It’s doubtful he would write such a letter because the little one is only 11. But I also think it’s because he is very much afraid of the repercussions at his school. I could easily see him being sent to the dean’s office for his “misconduct” in not completing the assignment as requested. And E. would be no help in this sense because the other night, she was telling me to shut the fuck up. I have no doubt that the little one — nay, all our kids — got the same message.
But with the latest count on the butcher’s bill now at 3,879 confirmed American soldiers dead, the largest majority coming after it was “Mission Accomplished”, I can’t see myself shutting the fuck up now, because if I do, I fear it will not be long before I’m the one in this photo contemplating my loss at the marble slab marking 13’s and the little one’s final resting place.