Pick your battles

“You’ll take my gun from my cold, dead hands.”

A friend of mine said that used to be a bumper sticker on her dad’s vehicle. It’s a powerful statement. And, if you’re of a certain age, you might associate Charlton Heston saying those words in that intense, menacing voice of his, with such utter conviction that there can be no doubt what will happen. That is powerful stuff. Every time I hear those words, I hear them in his voice, that conviction and threat in every syllable. Shivers down the spine every time, I love that line. It means something. In my mind, that’s got to be one of the most singular lines in defense of a given freedom since, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

It’s such a damn shame those words are usually only applied to the second half of one Amendment. I promise, you’ll never hear “Well regulated” and “Endorsed by the NRA” in the same sentence! Not even close.

But what about peaceable assembly or the freedom of the press? When’s the last time you heard somebody say the same thing about the right of citizens to vote? Or against unreasonable search and/or seizure? The right to due process?

Not so much, yeah? 9/11 comes along and suddenly we’re all about full body searches, listening in on your phone calls and emails, tracking everything you do with your money and operating secret courts nobody is allowed to talk about upon penalty of imprisonment…Protesters assemble to complain about Wall Street erasing the wealth of all but the richest of Americans while their tax dollars go towards corporate bonuses and they’re called the criminals. People of color protest a history of biased treatment by law enforcement and they’re the ones that need to be put down and locked up. Women of all ages protest generations of institutional sexism and abuse, but they’re the ones that are lying… A president doesn’t like what’s being printed about him, doesn’t like the fact checks, the criticism and the resistance to his leadership and the press becomes the, “Enemy of the people”. To say nothing of the obvious gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics playing out across our nation.

Where’s the, “Cold, dead hands.” now?

If you’re thinking this is a conservative/liberal thing, or a rant against Republicans by yet another tree hugging commie socialist, well, you haven’t been paying attention.

I said it’s a damn shame those words are only used regarding one half of one Amendment, and not even the First one, at that.

Only one Senator voted against the Patriot Act in 2001. 98 Republicans and Democrats said, “Yes”. Only 66 members of the House voted, “No”.

The US Freedom Act, the successor to the Patriot Act, was passed 338-88 in the House and 67-32 in the Senate.

There’s been no bill passed to fix the issues of corporate money in politics after the decision by the Supreme Court regarding Citizens United.

There’s been no practical action by our government regarding the meddling of our 2016 elections by foreign governments. Forget about President Trump for a second and concentrate on the fact that millions of Americans were fed false information by foreign governments for the purpose of skewing our elections.

The only action by more recent sessions of Congress to prevent the loan crises of 1980’s, the bubbles of the 90’s and 00’s, the housing bust and the Great Recession has been to make it easier for banks and Wall Street to ignore oversight and regulation and thereby repeat the very behaviors and practices that lead to those things in the first place.  Repeal but not replace.

Where’s the defense of your basic liberty now? Certainly not with the Republicans or Democrats, those Conservatives or Liberals, the defenders of American Freedom.  Their hands are lukewarm, and are, dare I say, just a tad moist.

And the precious half of that 2nd Amendment, the one all my patriot friends go googly eyed for?  Well, it turns out you’ll sell your freedoms down the river without ever firing a shot providing it isn’t the one that lets you go, “Bang!”

But don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of company from my vegan friends.  Their “allies” in Congress will surely throw them a sympathetic bone or two while signing off on the latest legislation allowing us to waterboard anyone we deem an enemy of the State.  It seems marching for equality for all at $15 an hour is a great way to ignore some “inconvenient truths” of their own.

“Cold, dead hands.”

Yeah.

*****

This little piece today was brought to you by D Day, a day where freedom and patriotism abound, dressed in green and wrapped in the flag.  Today I’ve seen so many damn articles, posts and cute little comments telling me who to thank, how free we are and all the things those soldiers fought for.  Well, War is Hell.   Many of them didn’t want to be there, and certainly didn’t want to subject themselves to horrors we shouldn’t have to see in this day and age.  Those soldiers died fighting for ideals that our country had certainly imperfectly kept, for an imperfect people in an imperfect Union, but they fought for them anyway. 

Well dammit, I don’t have a beach to storm.  No hail of bullets to dodge, no artillery fire to avoid.  There’s no place to point to and say, “See that hill?  Take it!”.  It’s our spirit that is hurting, our ideals that have become injured and our morality that we have misplaced.  Our Union was outsourced in order to “maximize shareholder value” and the profits went straight to the people behind the curtain.  We are beguiled into thinking that the root cause of our problems is the person across the street, the man across the aisle, the country across the border.  It’s easier to believe that, to pull each other down, than it is to fight for our freedoms in our own country- in our own hearts and minds.

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About Dan Granot

I chose the Shorter Whitman because of his work, "Song of Myself" and because of my self-deprecating sense of humor. I am under no illusion that I can write successful essays or poetry, but I have been known to write them anyway.

2 Responses to Pick your battles

  1. DelphiMT says:

    “What is our biggest threat at this moment?”
    “We don’t have any just now. Russia is a Regional power. The only country which can hurt us is ourselves. Our economy is doing well. No inflation. 3.%5 unemployment -”
    “Don’t you think it would be useful to have a biggest threat just now?”

    • Dan Granot says:

      Russia is a regional power in the style of conventional warfare, true, but ours is no longer a theater bound by conventional tactics. Russia and Iran have actively inserted themselves into the national conversation on firearms, among other things.

      You’re right that we don’t have a singular enemy to fight right now, which is no doubt part of the reason President Trump has been particularly successful in his anti immigration/foreigner stance, but what people are overlooking is that we have governments other than our own quietly nudging American Citizens one way or the other in a fight with themselves.

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