Absentee Patriotism

It’s no secret that I am very critical of the policies of this administration, and the general direction America has been taking for the past three decades.

As a result, infrequently but uncomfortably too often, I get this remark from some rabid, myopic super-patriot who gets their understanding of our political system from the box that his hot glue gun came in . . .

“You don’t even live here. You have no right to criticize America.”

It’s one of those battle cries from desperately small minds which on the surface offers some common sense logic but with bare minimum scrutiny falls apart like stale Saltines.

Let’s imagine . . .

It’s 1938 and I am a Jew who has been living in Nazi Germany. I am getting increasingly uncomfortable with developments both locally in my village and nationally. So I leave and become an expatriate, a German citizen living in a foreign country.

While living outside the sphere of the Reich and its pervasive propaganda machine, I see that my discomfort was more than justified, that there are horrible things going on in my home country which threaten not only my fellow Jews, but threaten other individuals and the peace and stability of the whole European continent. I learn from other expatriates about the forced labor and concentration camps, and what appears to be a well-planned program being put in place for the extermination of millions of people. I learn of a massive build-up of military machinery which portends provocations of neighboring countries and promises massive military confrontation.

Are the people who question my now living overseas saying I would have had no right to warn people about the developments I had learned about? That I was disqualified by my foreign mailing address from speaking out against the policies of “my country”? That I would not have had the right to at least warn other Jews __ my fellow citizens __ and urge them to escape as soon as possible or face possible extermination?

I would argue that not only would I have the right to be critical of my country, I would have a moral obligation, a duty to do so, openly and aggressively.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”  –  Edmund Burke

Am I making a comparison between today’s U.S. and Nazi Germany?

Yes and no. Of course, anytime anyone wants to provoke a hysterical public outcry on any matter these days, they just yell ‘Nazi’ or ‘Hitler’ or ‘holocaust’ and the knee jerk response is right there for the having. That’s not what I’m doing here. The U.S. is slowly descending into a form of autocracy, a totalitarianism quite unlike Nazi Germany in many respects. But I believe it is potentially as thoroughly and ultimately menacing.

We can fret and argue about whether that’s correct but that’s not the point I’m making.

The simple point here is that, regardless of where I live or choose to travel, I share with every other American citizen the duty to keep a watchful eye on what my government is doing in my name, and to speak out when and where I see objectionable plans, policies, declarations, or provocative acts towards other countries. It is especially incumbent on me __ it is my responsibility as a citizen __ to share from out here what is not available from within U.S. borders, because of what is clearly massive censorship of the news there by the government and main stream media, which have become Siamese Twins joined at the pocketbook.

It is particularly my duty to warn others in America who are not as I am in a position to live elsewhere, of developments which portend the worst and pose threats to them.

We all see the signs. Often we don’t know what to make of them. The incessant puerile prattle of politicians and pundits creates a constant stream of obfuscation and confusion.

But it is the duty of every single American citizen to try to make sense of our increasingly precarious situation, and to share their insights with their fellow citizens. It is our duty to call out the official lies, the gross imbalance of power, the horrific inequality of wealth, the ongoing and systematic efforts by our government to promote and prosecute in our names policies and initiatives, foreign and domestic, which if the public had full knowledge of, it would steadfastly reject.

It takes a lot of courage these days to speak out against the government, especially the current administration, which has done a phenomenal job of PR and spin, and certainly makes no secret of its intent to squash dissent in America.

Yet, despite massive surveillance of citizens by the security agencies, the watch lists, the no-fly lists, the kill lists, the persecution of whistle blowers, the beatings and arrests which the most peaceful demonstrators now endure at the hands of the police, the suspension of habeas corpus, gross abuses of the FISA Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, there are still many courageous individuals and organizations which continue the daunting but necessary battle to expose the deeply entrenched and dangerous corruption which now poisons our system of government.

I make no claims to be on the same level as these exemplary patriots, speaking truth to power under the threat of persecution, an unconstitutional repression of free speech and basic human rights, the whole of which is more and more is beginning to exhibit parallels with some of the more oppressive regimes in history.

Right or wrong, I’m just an ordinary citizen merely doing my duty.

Just like you.

I watch. I listen. I speak out. I vote.

I do what little I can.

I wish it were more.

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