Last night at dinner with the family, my cousin Billy (Damien's cousin, therefore mine as well) and his new bride Melissa met us and we all spent a little time together afterward. They were taking a break from the rush to pack up their belongings in preparation for their move. Tomorrow, Billy leaves for Kuwait. He's been stationed in Iraq for a minimum of a year, possibly a year and a half, and in two weeks time he will be in Baghdad for the duration of his deployment there. In a little around a week, Melissa will be heading home to her parents house in Kansas City and begin the wait that hopefully ends in her husband coming home to her alive and unharmed. The reality of this war has always been profound for me being that I live in a military town, about 15 minutes from the largest army training base in the country. It is all around me. Seldom can I go anywhere in town and not see several soldiers. This one is different, though. This one is my family.
How many of them have I spoken to in passing that have already been casualties in this war? How many friends have I made and lost touch with that are already dead or wounded and I may never know about it? It felt different when I listened to my friend Charlie, who was one of the first casualties in Iraq, telling me stories about the things happening in and around Baghdad, and how he and another friend were the first casualties interviewed on Good Morning America and getting a heroes' attention "until that Jessica Lynch took it from us, that cockblocker!"
It felt surreal seeing the scar from his bullet wound and thinking to myself that he endured that for me, for us all. I even thanked him for his service, which he shrugged off politely in favor of the home movies he was showing us. Sitting there in the restaurant last night trying to ignore the annoying mariachi band thundering behind our table, I wondered to myself when would be the next time we would be able to do this together again. Would
we be able to ever do this again? Nothing I do right now makes me feel any sense of comfort about it. So I write.
I want to make something perfectly clear. Billy has chosen a job that protects the very freedom I have - that we ALL
have, that enables me to say what I want to say. That allows me to live in a country where I can have a say in democracy and agree or disagree if I choose. I respect and support our armed servicemen and women with a conviction so strong that it damn near wrecks me. The people in charge, however, get no such respect or support.
It is very ironic that I write all of this today
when there are so many things weighing in on both my heart and mind. Fresh on the heels of my experience
with the older black lady on Friday and the ensuing commentary on racism here in the south, I had another experience yesterday that made my blood run cold and my stomach lurch over. I, along with countless others, view the confederate flag as something symbolic of a time in history that embraced and advocated racism. I've lost friends over this issue, I've had countless fights over it, and the only thing all of that served to do was stiffen my resolve. I'm almost glad when a racist wears their ignorance like a gleaming badge of honor
, and yesterday I happened to see such an act. Directly in front of us, displayed on the rear of a car windshield in the form of the most disgusting bumpersticker I've ever seen was a slogan sandwiched between two confederate flags. It read "I RIDE WITH FORREST"
. For those of you that may be unaware of it, Nathan Bedford Forrest
was one of the founding members of the KKK
and ammassed a fortune as a slave trader and plantation owner.
Here I am, the day before MLK Day, a gay white man in the south confronted with something like this. All I can think about is what Dr. King would be like were he not murdered by one of these cowardly fucks. I came home last night and read some of the things he had to say
in his tragically short life and took every word to heart. This morning I read a story in the Marin Independent Journal titled "King family split reflects societal debate over gay marriage"
that completely gave me pause. I cannot imagine Dr. King being in support of the FMA
or of the DOMA
(which, incidentally, was introduced to the house by former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, who now - and someone please explain THIS to me
- is now a speaker and consultant for organizations like the ACLU
). Homo say what the fuck?
I suppose none of this really matters now in light of a new development this morning. This one is good, I can hardly stand it. Bush just fucked over his entire Fundamentalist support base yesterday in an interview
that was published in the Washington Post. Apparently this is being refuted by the White House in the NY Times article
that ran this morning. My personal opinion is that the assholes deserved it for not only being so fucking mean and stupid in the name of God, but for reelecting this weak bastard that has now bent them over and dry fucked them in their collective asses. "Thanks for your vote on this promise, but fuck you now that I got my job back". Nice. The irony here is staggering. I'm almost proud of him.
Back to cousin Billy getting shipped off to fight in this totally unjustifiable
war that has killed
or wounded thousands
of people and divided the world, setting many former American allies against us, to say nothing of the unanswered questions and scandals accompanying this war
that have only made that problem worsen. People who have served before are in a better position to ask these questions, and there are two veteran's groups I reccommend. One is Veterans Against the Iraq War
, the other is Veterans for Common Sense
Something else to consider, the fact that Condoleezza Rice will be sworn in on Inauguration Day as Secretary of State [story: NY Times]
. Beginning tomorrow, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will begin what could stretch to two full days of questioning her about almost every aspect of her past performance and future plans. I'm hoping they hold her feet to the fire to ask her questions like:
- Why did the United States go to war in Iraq based on misleading -- if not false and fraudulent -- evidence?
- Why did we divert valuable resources and intelligence personnel to Iraq, taking them away from Afghanistan and the pursuit of Osama bin Laden?
- Why did you mislead the American people into thinking there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida before September 11th?
For your part, you can sign Senator Barbara Boxer's petition
to hold her accountable for her misleading statements leading up to the Iraq war and beyond before we can even consider promoting her to Secretary of State.