I’ll Bet There’s Just the Slightest Hint of Burned Flesh

Before leaving the States (in April), I spotted the following bumper sticker on a big 4×4 (what else?):

“FREEDOM HAS A TASTE THOSE WHO HAVEN’T FOUGHT FOR IT WILL NEVER KNOW.”

I had to guess:

Butterscotch? Chocolate? Banana? (My favorite! Gimme two scoops of freedom, please, with liberal — sorry — lots of sprinkles.)

OK, so maybe the guy knows better, considering his he-man vehicle also sported military insignia and here I was, a lowly peace lover who, really, should have been thankful just to occupy the same world he and his military kin have helped make safe for, you know, virulent anti-Americanism.

Don’t misread me. While I’m not keen on the military, I am on the Constitution, and one thing it says (or said, before it was cut into iddy widdy pieces) is that it was, in part, “ordain[ed] and establish[ed]” to “provide for the common defense…”

Anymore, however, with neo-imperialism all the rape, er, rage, America’s $1.4 trillion military outlay (for fiscal year 2009, per War Resisters League) isn’t about common defense; rather, it’s uncommonly offensive.

Ditto the bumper sticker, with its smug implication that only soldier types truly understand what liberty means, thereby leaving us oblivious civilians to wonder what the fightin’s really all about. The least we can do, then, I suppose, in our wimpy naiveté, is — all together now! — “support the troops.”

Here’s an idea: How about supporting them by not senselessly sending them a-warring to begin with? One couldn’t have found a larger group pleading that very case than we millions who desperately protested the Iraq disaster before it commenced. Every assertion of ours has long been proven true. Yet we’re the ones who don’t get it?

Contrast this up-front awareness with the eighty-five percent of U.S. troops in Iraq who, when polled in February 2006 (Zogby International), still believed Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, and tell me who knows what. Funny how the so-in-tune military, possessing the unique skinny on the flavor of freedom, makes no effort to dissuade its very own from “fighting for it” under utterly false pretenses.

Then again, if I were the self-aggrandizing collective goon for the Halliburtons, Lockheed Martins and Exxons of the world, why would I? What’s prosecuting one gigantic war crime when it means continued bazillions for your own never-ending expansion, especially when all that’s required to placate your corporate masters is to gleefully blow shit up (and murder myriad innocents, too, but: so?) just so they can rebuild it? (Or better yet, get no-bid contracts to not rebuild it?)

And if you can perpetuate the whole lethal deal by belaboring the surefire glorious warrior shtick, well, carry on, pilgrim. Only commies (yawn) would dare denigrate the sacred U.S. military.

Still, for argument’s sake, let’s say the bumper sticker owner and his uniformed buddies are solely qualified to know the taste of freedom. Even so, in light of a mega-bloated military slavishly servile to a coterie of neocon whackjobs obsessed with cementing ever-greater global corporate profits and implementing more anti-constitutional horrors like the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (goodbye, habeas corpus!)1 and the still-pending Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (hello, thought-crime!), I can certainly tell you how the lack of freedom is flavored.

It’s bitter — and extremely hard to swallow.

  1. In a sign that miracles really do exist, the Supreme Court restored the writ of habeas corpus on June 12, 2008, after this article was written. []

Mark Drolette writes in Sacramento, California. He can be reached at: mdrolette@comcast.net. Read other articles by Mark, or visit Mark's website.

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  1. Erroll said on July 12th, 2008 at 12:37pm #

    That bumper sticker is reminiscent of the one that I saw after I returned those many years ago from Vietnam: AMERICA-LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT. In both instances, dissent is not to be tolerated. But I saw the same bumper sticker about a year ago in a different part of the country, apparently giving proof to the adage, plus ca change, plus c’ est la meme chose.

  2. deang said on July 12th, 2008 at 2:18pm #

    It’s so bizarre that even so-called liberals in the US buy the line about our supposed freedom necessitating constant military attacks on other countries. I’ve also noticed that a lot of Americans believe that other countries wouldn’t be “safe” without our dozens of military bases all over the world “protecting” all them foreigners. Why, I bet there are Americans who believe that the world wouldn’t even exist without the US military: “The United States military: Earth Wouldn’t Exist Without Us”.

  3. Michael Hureaux said on July 12th, 2008 at 2:31pm #

    No military guy tells me what my freedom tastes like, and I will sadly, if neccessary, take it to the streets to illustrate the point against them if it comes to that. These gung ho guys need to shoot their officers if they want to convince me they’re fighting on my behalf. Aside from that, it’s a bunch of hot air. And that’s coming from somebody who has military veterans all up and down the line on both sides of my family.

  4. Hue Longer said on July 12th, 2008 at 5:32pm #

    deang,

    I had a conversation with a South African doctor in Australia who told me how Australia should be kissing US ass for keeping them safe. I asked from whom and he told me from Indonesia! He told me about all the people there who needed land and were it not for the US, they’d use their large military to take over Oz. Because he was about to remove my toe nail, I didn’t ask him how Indonesia got that military.

  5. hp said on July 12th, 2008 at 9:11pm #

    Freedom has a taste those who haven’t been to jail will never know.
    I said that.

  6. Edwin Pell said on July 13th, 2008 at 6:04pm #

    It is about psychology. There are two different cultures, world views, belief systems. This is not about logic and reason it is about belief. So the question is how much money is being spent to promote each of the competing belief systems.

  7. Brian Koontz said on July 14th, 2008 at 6:39am #

    “So the question is how much money is being spent to promote each of the competing belief systems.”

    Billions are spent to promote corporate and ruling class propaganda. Billions more are spent to “educate” children in ruling class “truths” and values. Millions are spent to promote truth. It’s no wonder that truth itself is under attack and in jeopardy of becoming extinct (at least within American culture, which is a kind of global ruling class culture).

    A Dark Ages of the future will rise when truth becomes extinct within the ruling class.

    Capitalist – “A simple question here – what’s more profitable – truth or propaganda? Don’t my shareholders deserve the best?”

    When truth is seen as “just another ideology” humanity is in great peril. Perhaps it already is.

    Articles like this one from Drolette are unfortunate, because they assume the bumper-stickered military man is ignorant. In truth he’s merely following his own interests – he accepts the imperial propaganda because he’s an imperialist. Truth has nothing to do with it. It’s not the bumper-stickered man who’s ignorant – it’s Drolette who clings to the comforting belief that if only the military man would “see the light” he would change his beliefs.

    This type of ignorance is likewise reflected in Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”. Frank makes a critical error of not recognizing that America is an imperial society. The poor people of America benefit from imperial atrocities committed abroad, and must suffer homeland pains in order to receive imperial benefits. This is precisely why so many black Americans remain in America versus leaving the society that crushed their ancestors under chattel slavery and crushes them under wage slavery. The imperial benefits of living in America, even for the worst off, are enormous.

    Noam Chomsky’s “advances in democracy” leading to a rise of the American middle class in the post-WWII era is only part of the story, and it’s a relatively minor part. The biggest reason for the rise of the middle class in America was America’s imperialism – it’s criminal extortion, exploitation, and utter rape of much of the rest of the world. Rape is profitable, as every warrior in history understands, and this profit can be distributed, and was distributed in America from the rapists (American capitalists) to those who support them (the American people).

    Most of the poor in America want imperialism and whatever necessitates it – including a possible police state at home – in order to continue receiving imperial benefits.

  8. Michael Hureaux said on July 14th, 2008 at 9:24am #

    No argument, and this blindness of the working poor is what lends Mr. Obama much of his present support. The grand comedy of discussion boards overall is that none of these questions will get resolved until it’s all so bloody painful that masses of people will have to learn some home truths about capital. But we’re a long ways from that moment, though the rising price of produce and everything else will facilitate it. A police state celebrated by those who are most victimized by it is a distinct possibility. On the other hand, successful dictatorships have to deliver a lot more than barbed wire and bullets.

  9. Mark Drolette said on July 14th, 2008 at 11:53am #

    “It’s not the bumper-stickered man who’s ignorant – it’s Drolette who clings to the comforting belief that if only the military man would ‘see the light’ he would change his beliefs.”

    Jesus, Brian, where do you get that? I gave up trying to change anyone’s mind a lonnnnng time ago.

    Why the fuck do you think I moved to Costa Rica?

  10. Brian Koontz said on July 14th, 2008 at 7:01pm #

    Moving isn’t a bad idea – stubbornness and ego are keeping more of us here than we’d like to admit.

    There’s a conflict within the left on the status of the American people. Some, like Chomsky, believe that the American people are ignorant, duped by the ruling class into acting against their best interests. Others believe that the American people are intentionally ignorant out of complicity with the imperialist state (others, like Hedges, believe that merely a minority of Americans are complicit). Most progressives, such as comprise most of the writers on this website, back Chomsky’s position.

    The majority of progressives argue against such bumper stickers as “FREEDOM HAS A TASTE THOSE WHO HAVEN’T FOUGHT FOR IT WILL NEVER KNOW.” because they believe they stem from ignorance, hence their argument brings knowledge, hence it brings change (in the direction the progressive desires).

    These progressives are unfazed by the reality of almost a complete lack of resistance to the American imperialist state, which has been ongoing for over a century. Much like the Neocons, when they meet reality they don’t like they wish it away.

    It’s a hard truth to swallow that the American people are *not* on our side. The American left is not a populist movement not because they haven’t “reached out successfully to middle America”, as so many on the left claim, but because the American people want imperialism (as long as they are on the stick-wielding end), they want to coerce others if they can, brutalize them if they must, exploit them always. If the American people become convinced that a police state at home is necessary to maintain the imperialist state, they will oblige.

    Chomsky loves to cite public surveys that express the “will of the American people”. But those surveys only express the *public* answers people give to political questions. The private answers, the honest answers, are otherwise. The “public surveys” are the equivalent of “Sundays”, where Americans go to church and profess to believe in God. Reality is something very different.

    A mere look at the history of America shows this. America fought a “revolution for freedom”, the public answer. The private answer is that Americans fought a revolution for power. They then turned around and exterminated an entire people, cited Manifest Destiny, and proceeded to coerce and exploit the world. Americans have never been free – no imperial society is free. The slave must feel the whip and the slavemaster must make him feel the whip.

    Chomsky’s obvious reply is that this is all the work of the American ruling class, and the American people began as complicit native-genociding savages and through “advances in democracy” have become civilized, culminating in the present advanced civilization of America. Nevermind that all this “democracy” amounts to is a distribution of power and wealth from the criminal class to the complicit class. From the mob boss to the mob underlings.

    Take special note of Chomsky’s celebrated period of America, from post-WWII till the early 1970s. This period of time, lauded as “democratic”, featured massive imperialism including a near genocide, internal colonization of all minorities, repression of women, the CIA implementing or fomenting many coups of supposedly sovereign governments, and economic manipulation of the world. What wonderful democracy!

    Americans know they are imperialists, they know they are complicit, they know that 9/11 was their punishment for their crimes, and they know that they will do everything they can to disallow any future punishment, even while their crimes are ongoing. They are unrepentant, insolent, and will continue to support a gigantic military.

    So why bother talking about “FREEDOM HAS A TASTE THOSE WHO HAVEN’T FOUGHT FOR IT WILL NEVER KNOW.”?

    Americans are not our allies. If we truly believe in justice our allies are the people the stick is used on, not the mob underlings. Either the mob underlings join us or they are destroyed alongside the mob boss.

  11. roger said on July 15th, 2008 at 7:59am #

    ” These gung ho guys need to shoot their officers if they want to convince me they’re fighting on my behalf. Aside from that, it’s a bunch of hot air. ”

    and we wonder why there is such animosity between the military and progressives. having shot all of the officers do the enlisted men then become the officers to be shot next time or do you have a better plan. why would main street, small town America bother to listen to you when you spout such acid. or are the rednecks beneath you.

  12. evie said on July 15th, 2008 at 8:41am #

    “Why the fuck do you think I moved to Costa Rica?”

    I have my suspicions.

    Nice little spot – but in the US pocket with billions in aid, and corrupt politics, doing what the US tells them (i.e. formalizing diplomatic ties recently with China, and why not, after the US it’s their biggest trade partner).

    All these self-indulgent wannabee amigos pretend they go into some sort of “self-exile” and think they are making a political statement, while enjoying the benefits of US imperialism whether they know it or not, que lastima.

    Guatemala also has a large “exile” population, Panajachel, aka Gringotenago, as does Honduras, Nica, Mexico, etc. Good marijuana and cheap shrimp. Have the SS, disability, or whatever check direct deposit.

    One can hardly move in CR w/o bumping into a swaggering gringo from the States, Canada, or Europe. Folks like to point out that Costa Rica has no military – that’s right. They have US trained and funded police and security forces, and a Coast Guard to help US fight the war on drugs.

    Dos cervezas mas, por favor.