Iwish The Universe would send me a statement showing my negative karma balance. I must have been pretty awful in a previous life considering the seeming penance I occasionally still pay in this one.
Despite my best efforts, I somehow ended up spending time recently at the apartment of my sister, Apolitica, and her spouse, Dolton, an unabashed fan of George W. Bush. Previous readers know I deem the enjoyment factor of such an occasion equivalent to, say, getting a bikini wax. Of my nasal hairs.
During the stay, I’d done well by hiding behind a newspaper as I sat in the front room while Dolt and eight-year-old, Dolton, Jr., watched Fox News. (Poor, poor kid.) Having learned from previous visits, I’d already surreptitiously installed earplugs.
Then I screwed up. I spoke.
“I see here thatUkraine and Bulgaria are soon leaving the so-called ‘Coalition of the Willing,’” I absent-mindedly offered. “Wow, I guess that really puts the old dent in Operation Occupy Iraq or whatever it’s called now with the combined loss of their, what, 17 soldiers?” (Twelve hundred fifty, actually.)
“You know, Mark,” Dolt grimly intoned, “that’s exactly the sort of loose talk that inspires the terrorists and puts our troops in danger.”
Whoops, the duel was on. Oh well, I figured, I might as well make the most of it now.
“Really?” I responded. “You don’t think that maybe being invaded for no other purpose than imperialistic gain by a country that has slain and injured well over a hundred thousand innocents and brought one’s nation to the brink of civil war just might have something to do with the fact that American soldiers now constantly sport figurative “Blow Me Up Here” signs on their insufficiently-armored backs?”
“I’m not sure what all you just said,” Dolt answered, “but all I know is, we can’t, and won’t, leave Iraq until our mission is accomplished.”
“Wait a sec,” I protested. “Wasn’t our mission accomplished by May 2003 when Bush landed on that aircraft carrier with the huge banner that read -- oh, golly, just what did that thing say again? -- oh, yeah, that’s right: ‘Mission Accomplished’?”
“Well, uh,” Dolt stammered, “that, um, that musta been a different part of the mission. This mission now is the main mission, obviously.”
“Right. Obviously,” I said. “I guess, really, though, America won’t be in real trouble anyway, until, say, Freedonia pulls out.”
“Where’s that?” Dolt asked. He was serious.
My eyes rolled so hard they popped out of my head and onto the floor.†The plugs shot from my ears, scaring the cat. I dusted off my orbs and put ‘em back in. (I never did find out what happened to Fluffy.)
“From a Marx Brothers movie,” I said, finally.
“Ha! I shoulda known it’d have somethin’ to do with communism,” he snorted.
I stared at him. (Miraculously, my eyeballs stayed put this time.) Surely even my aptly-named brother-in-law wouldn’t really confuse the classic comedic brothers with the father of modern communism, would he?
“If you love their manifesto so much, whyn’t ya marry it?” he continued in a whiny, sing-song voice.
I guess he would. Thankfully, Apolitica saved me from a possible assault charge just then by entering the room. When she left a little later, I’d calmed down enough to press on.
“Dolton, why can’t you see what an immoral, illegal disaster Iraq has been from the beginning?” I pleaded. “Why don’t you understand that as long as the U.S. stays there, the violence will continue unabated?”
“Typical leftist cut-and-run nonsense,” Dolt sneered. “Besides, if we leave now, the sacrifice of all of our brave troops who have already died there will have been pointless.”
“So, then, you’re saying more American soldiers need to die just so that the soldiers who have died so far won’t have died in vain?”
“Bingo!” he exclaimed. “Now, you’re getting it, my naive brother-in-law.”
“We all are. Sans lubrication.”
He ignored me, and went back to watching the tube. Just then, a clip of Dubya flashed across the screen.
“Daddy, look!” my nephew exclaimed. “The monkey man!”
“Junior!” his dad sternly admonished.
Ah, I thought, there’s hope for the little Dolt yet.
After a few seconds of tense silence, my brother-in-law turned to me and said, “You know, Markie Marx, if you want to get the real story, you should watch Fox News.†Listen to some truth for a while instead of all that liberal media crap you always pay attention to.”
“Funny you should mention that,” I replied, “because I did take note of a recent remark by Brit Hume. What do you think of his calling the number of American military deaths in Iraq ‘negligible’”?
“He’s right! ‘Cause if it weren’t for Osama Hussein, I mean, Saddam bin Laden, I mean, well, you know who I mean, anyway, if it weren’t for that evil-doer being negligible, those soldiers would be alive today!”
“Well,” I said, “if your statement clarifies nothing else -- and it doesn’t -- it certainly demonstrates why Dubya is the president for you, even if he’s not. President, I mean.”
“My sediments exactly.” In light of Dolt’s rock-headedness, this comment almost made sense, a sure sign I’d stayed way too long. I wasn’t quite done, though.
“You know, Dolton, I do, amazingly, agree with one thing you said earlier: Whether America should leave Iraq or not -- and we should, immediately -- we won’t, especially since we’re not about to abandon the dozen or so permanent military bases we’ve been constructing there since right after the invasion. Throw in Americans’ natural blood lust, and the slaughter in Iraq is guaranteed to long persist.”
“What’re ya talkin’ about, ‘blood lust’? We’re a peaceful people,” he said, repeating yet another Great American Myth I swore if I heard one more time, I’d throw up.
“Peaceful?” I cried, somehow managing to check my gag reflex.
“That’s right. Everyone knows we Americans, by nature, hate war. If we fight, it’s only because we have to, so we can, ya know, spread freedom and democracy around the world. If it weren’t for us, everybody’d be speaking German and Japanese and, uh, lots of other languages.”
“You mean, like they do now in Germany and Japan and, uh, lots of other places?”
“Dang! I always mess that one up,” he muttered to himself.
“Well,” I said, “I hate to burst your presidential-like bubble, but perhaps a brief rundown of U.S. wars and military actions might give you a little perspective on just how non-violent we Americans really are. In addition to the interminable ‘Indian Wars’ which Native Americans -- the surviving ones, that is -- might more accurately term the Near-Genocide, and the decades-long history of deadly U.S. destabilization throughout Latin America, allow me to regale you with but a mere fraction of military engagements we innately docile Americans have either instigated or participated in” (I took a very deep breath and began):
“We have: The Undeclared War with France from 1798 to 1800; the Barbary Wars of 1801 to 1805 and again in 1815; the War of 1812 from, oddly enough, 1812 to 1815; the assault on Sumatra in 1832; the Mexican-American War; the Civil War; the first Korean War in 1871; the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893; the Spanish-American War; the U.S.-Philippine War from 1899 to 1902; the Boxer Rebellion; the American-Moro Wars from 1902 to 1913; the Tampico Affair and occupation of Veracruz, Mexico in 1914; the 1915 invasion of Haiti and subsequent 19-year occupation there; Pershing’s Punitive Expedition into Mexico from 1916 to 1917; World War I; the Siberian Expedition of 1918 to 1920; World War II; the second Korean War from 1950 to 1953; the Bay of Pigs in 1961; the Vietnam War; the Dominican Republic intervention of 1965; the 1983 Grenada invasion; air strikes on Libya in 1986; the 1989 invasion of Panama; the Persian Gulf War; air strikes in Bosnia in 1995 and again in Kosovo in 1999; the war in Afghanistan and, of course,” I gasped, “the Mother of All Immoral Wars: Iraq.”
Grateful I hadn’t passed out from lack of oxygen, I looked at Dolt for his reaction.†He’d dozed off.
“Hey, wake up!” I yelled.
“Huh? Um, OK, so…what were you saying?”
“Never mind. Suffice it to say that as of 1993, according to the Library of Congress as researched by Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy Ellen C. Collier*, there had been at least ‘234 instances in which the United States [had] used its armed forces abroad in situations of conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes.’ Two hundred thirty-four!”
I smelled smoke as the lone, rusted gear inside Dolt's mind ground slowly, picking through the irrelevant clichés jammed into that tiny locked space and eventually singling out the most predictable of the shopworn lot. After receiving final clearance from RBC (reptilian brain central), he at long last blurted: “Yeah, well, so? We’re -- we’re still the greatest country in the world!”
“Uh-huh. And you’ve been outside the U.S. just how many times, exactly, to personally test this theory?”
He frowned. “Well, um, none,” he said, and then suddenly brightened.†“But I was in San Diego once where I saw a whole buncha Mexicans, and that was enough for me! Which reminds me: I don’t see how you’re gonna be able to stand being around ‘em all when you move to Costa Rica” -- Apolitica had obviously apprised him of my plans to leave the country -- “but then, I’m sure all you commies will get along just fine together.†Don’t let the border hit you in the ass on your way out!” he cackled.
“Well, Dolt, I know this is bizarre,” I sighed, “but Mexicans come from Mexico and Costa Ricans come from Costa Rica, and very few of them are communists. And yes, I am having a house built soon in lovely, army-less Costa Rica and plan to be residing there for keeps in about a year or so.”
“Good riddance!” he crowed.
“Y a usted tambien,” I responded. “It’s clear: I can no longer live amongst you and your ilk and suffer the senseless, wanton destruction of my native country you have all so willingly enabled, a nation that, despite its myriad flaws, at least tried for two centuries-plus, no matter how haltingly, to hold aloft and put forth noble ideals for others in the world to follow, but which now is nothing more than a rogue state firmly controlled by murderers and looters gleefully annihilating constitutional liberties and exporting untold misery worldwide, all the while supported, again, by millions of witless Americans who firmly believe that independent thinking is something to avoid and disparage at all costs. This land birthed with great hope from the Age of Reason has slipped ignominiously and irreversibly into a superstitious, spirit-crushing Age of Endarkenment.”
Dolt fell silent; he was contemplating something, I could tell. Maybe, just maybe, after all of our acrimonious arguments and his complete unwillingness to look at his country crumbling about him and the very real part he and others like him have played in its undeniable distress, this little speech had finally helped pry open his atrophied mind and I had -- at long last -- been able to get through to him!
After a few seconds, he said, “What’s an ilk? Is that like a large deer?”
Oh, my. I wonder if can put a rush on that casa.
Mark Droletteis a political satirist/commentator who, for the time being at least, lives in Sacramento, California. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Thanks to GlobalSecurity.org.
Mark Drolette is a political satirist/commentator who lives in Sacramento, California. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
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