Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Nation in Distress

Does flying the U.S. flag upside down constitute flag desecration? If it does, I fail to see how. Displaying the flag inverted has long been an acceptable and legitimate means of saying, “Help! Help! We’re in some really deep shit, here.” In other words, an upside down flag is recognized as a distress signal, much like SOS or Mayday. That’s a far cry from desecration.

Still, there are “patriots” who insist the only correct way to display the U.S. flag is right side up. On a bumper sticker. On an SUV. It never occurs to them that the country might actually be in trouble, and that they’re part of the problem.

There’s a certain segment of the population that overlooks the really important issues, focusing its attention, instead, on relatively trivial things – non-issues, as it were – while the country, and the rest of the world, goes to hell in a handbasket.

For some, it’s a matter of protecting the American way of life. They haven’t a clue that the American Dream has become a global nightmare. For others, a right to life is all that matters and they remain oblivious to the threat of unintended consequences. They naively subscribe to the false premise that the planet can support an unlimited number of people.

Self-professed Christians take it upon themselves to ensure that someone else’s baby gets born, regardless of whether that baby is the product of rape or incest, or a threat to the mother’s health. You’d think they, having assumed the responsibility to advocate for the unborn, would then step forward to care for a child after its birth. But, nooooo! Once a child is born, it ceases to be their problem.

The logic of blocking on-demand access to safe abortions while simultaneously blocking sex education and access to a full range of birth control products escapes me. Consigning pregnant underage school girls to unwilling motherhood by limiting their options (and, perhaps, condemning some of them to seek out back-alley abortions) makes no more sense to me than does allowing a licensed pharmacist to keep his license after refusing to fill a lawful prescription. That’s the moral equivalent of retaining a firefighter who refuses to fight an arson-caused fire because he’s morally opposed to arson.

How ignorant is it to deny gay people the same rights and protections, under the law, as those afforded to—and enjoyed by—heterosexuals? Denying gay couples the right to marry, the benefit of civil unions or the power to adopt prevents them from providing loving care and a nurturing environment to children who will instead grow up in abusive relationships or as wards of the state.

Keeping Terry Schiavo on life support was more important to some people than getting George Duhbya Bush out of the White House. Overturning medical marijuana laws and blocking medical marijuana legislation were more important to some people than affordable healthcare for all.

To some people, teaching faith is more important than teaching science or other subjects that lead to social and cultural progress. Meanwhile, education—real education—is in a sorry state of affairs that grows worse by the day.

Unfortunately, the religious right, fearful of changes to the status quo, won’t be satisfied by anything less than universal acceptance of its extremely narrow perceptions of reality. They’re shooting themselves and their countrymen in the foot to facilitate a giant step backward into the long-abandoned darkness of a bygone era.

Hey, people! There’s no energy crisis. There’s no healthcare crisis, no global warming, no pollution, no crumbling infrastructure, no unemployment, no war in Iraq, and food insecurity isn’t worth worrying about. Our civil rights and liberties aren’t being threatened, and the sanctity and security of our elections and voting processes are intact. These things, all of them, are delusions, mere figments of your defective imagination.

Does it make sense to export freedom and democracy to other parts of the world if we can’t keep any at home? Respect for the flag? How about showing a little respect for the Constitution and a lot of respect for the Bill of Rights? That accomplished, everything else will fall into place.

The patriotic thing – or, at least, the responsible thing – would be for everyone to fly the flag upside down. That would be a show of solidarity for the idea that this Bushit nonsense has got to stop.

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