Yesterday, at the "banner bridge" overpass on I-5 near Dupont, activists rallied
in support of imprisoned soldier, Kevin Benderman who, according to The Olympian:
... was deployed to Iraq from March to September 2003. He filed for conscientious
objector status in late 2004; his application was denied.
Conscientious objectors are morally opposed to war.
Benderman was to leave for Iraq again in January 2005, but he refused. He was charged with desertion and intentionally
missing movement for not boarding the plane for Iraq when his unit left. He was found guilty of the second, lesser charge
and sentenced last summer to 15 months in prison. He is serving that sentence at Fort Lewis.
The activists did not have banner bridge to themselves. Apparently there are others
who believe that since they have utilized the overpass with frequency they own that particular overpass and it should not
At least three people did not share those sentiments and came to the overpass
to hold a counter-rally.
"It's a disgrace," Shelley Weber of Olympia said as she waved a large American flag. "I rally here every Saturday
and, upon arrival, I see these people on the bridge. I decorated this bridge. I bought the yellow ribbons and flowers."
"This is the weekend our troops come in for drill. Their protest demoralizes our troops," added Terry Harder,
whose 23- and 26-year-old sons are in the military. Harder is a member of Operation Support Our Troops.
Who defines patriotism?
Who owns it - or think they do?
Is authority to define and ownership of patriotism based on the psychology of fear,
blind trust and the supposed code of shut-up-and-obey-the-commander-in-chief?
... or perhaps just plain civic laziness and deferral to TV clickers, sports, American
idols, celebrity dancers and those lost in Lost, Survivor and Greys Anatomny?
That old 1960's Democratic Foreign Policy expert, J. William Fulbright, would disagree
with Weber and Harder.
"In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. To criticize one's country is
to do it a service ... Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism - a higher form of patriotism,
I believe, that the familiar rituals and national adulation ... My question is whether America can overcome the fatal arrogance
Yeah, but he was a Democrat in the Kerry generation of the 1960's. Fulbright would
have very little credibility after Flush Limbaugh, Nose Pin O'Reilly, Squawk Hannity and Angregious Coulter got through with
Well then, how about that old "dove", Teddy Roosevelt, whose doviness - in the best
tradition of flag-waving, incident-creating and all around Dubya-like global big-stick swaggering - soiled his doviness when
he personally marched off to war?
"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public
servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his
efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and
this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right.
Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right
or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.
But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
- Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech
What would Mr. "Shut-up!" O-Reilly and all those who use "liberal" or "progressive"
or "democrat" as mere name-calling tools say to that?
Or "Mr. Republican", Robert Taft of Ohio, and the WW II era, just 12 days AFTER
Pearl Harbor? All by himself Taft rebuts and repudiates Republican pretend patriotism in one short declaration:
As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism
in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government ... too many people desire to suppress
criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism. If that
comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance
of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.
About Taft's words, Michael Tomasky of the American Prospect Online wrote:
Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,
perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor, the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, we will
question, we will probe, we will debate.
That's a wonderful cue for lazy patriots: folks who stubbornly accept BushCo lies and
constant fear-mongering. These are folks willing to trade civil liberties and a fissuring of the foundation of the Constitution
for the appearance of "safety".
Political proponents who have never adequately proven the truthfulness of over 95%
of what they've solemnly declared have yet to prove the evidential basis of war-mongering, fear-mongering and curtailing
of constitutional rights.
This circumstance is right out of the political manipulation guru's playbook - and
not intended for public consumption.
One of the principal claimants to ownership of banner bridge was asked by an activist
if she knows who Kevin Benderman is.
"I couldn't care less," Weber said, while another man added, "Kevin's
where he belongs."
These then are the more irresponsible lazy citizen caretakers of American freedoms.
These then are those who blindly believe and trust that if they go to America's Restaurant
and get a meal they can't eat, the fault does not lie with the chef who has never successfully boiled water.
Rather, it's the fault of other diners who know a poor chef when they see one
but are supposed to shut up about the cooking and let the chef poison them with a menu and fare unfit even for livestock.
These are those who believe that if the chef wears a plastic flag on his shirt, he
has more than sufficient cooking skill to out-chef all those who question him.
Here's the real problem - the one that the Bush folks, Republican leadership and national
Republican elected congressional leaders won't own up to:
Their way has failed. The choices and actions of those running the kitchen have not
and are not working out. The food has only gotten worse.
There is in fact a better way but too many are unwilling to look for and take action
on establishing a better way.
Others in the dining room and on the streets can do it better, more effectively and
with a greater eye to everything that has worked before and finding better ways to make things work now.
The current cooking committee waited years to be in charge. They have blown it badly
and in fact have made of America's Restaurant not only a place that harms the locals but also a place with whom residents
in other global communities will not do business (unless they're extorted into doing so).
The current cooking committee has a need for Americans to stay dumb, to go out on banner
bridge and tell those banner-waving thinking Americans to shut the hell up.
If dumbed down Americans don't continue following Republican promptings, our fare at
America's Restaurant might become geniune nourishment rather than fast-food jingo-ized poorly prepared salmonella.
As for those who "own" banner bridge ...
You ought to care more.
If Kevin Benderman is "where he belongs" it's because his being there is part of an
effort to clean up the Constitutional Menu at America's Restaurant. It's an effort that might include firing the chef in order
to stop the poisoning that *hurts our military troops far more than anyone will admit.
Click here for Kevin and Monica Benderman's website: Kevin Benderman Timeline
*You might not be aware of one particularly important issue and the poisoning of
our troops, but the Washington Legislature is - and they're learning more: Depleted Uranium Bill in Ways and Means Committee
Cross-posted to Daily Kos and Military Families Speak Out - Washington State Chapter
© Arthur Ruger 2006