Posted on Salon, Tuesday, March 25, 2008.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright Isn't the Problem
The hysteria over Obama's former pastor's attacks on America shows we're still in thrall to knee-jerk patriotism.
by Gary Kamiya
Maybe we really are doomed to elect John McCain, remain in Iraq forever and nuke Iran. Nations that forget history may not be doomed to repeat it, but those that never even recognize reality in the first place definitely are. Last week's ridiculous uproar over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons proves yet again that America has still not come to terms with the most rudimentary facts about race, 9/11 -- or itself.
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We are now five years into a war that may outrank Vietnam as the most pointless and disastrous one in our history. George W. Bush and his neoconservative brain trust conceived that war, but they were only able to push it through because the American people, their political leaders and the mainstream media signed off on it. And they did so because they were in the grip of the fearful, vengeful, patriotic frenzy that swept the nation after 9/11. Without 9/11 and America's fateful reaction to it, there would be no Iraq war. Every day that the war drags on is yet another indictment of that self-righteous, unthinking "patriotism."
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In fact, the same all-American flag-wavers who called loudest for war against Iraq are now denouncing Wright as a hate-monger and a traitor, and attacking Michelle Obama for saying that only recently has she had reason to feel proud of her country. They insist that anyone who is not permanently proud of the United States, whose patriotism isn't plastered on his or her face like the frozen smile of a beauty queen waving from a Fourth of July float, is beyond the pale. Never mind that the glorious results of their debased version of patriotism -- 4,000 American troops dead, a wrecked Iraq, and a greatly trengthened terrorist enemy -- are plain for all to see.
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