No one has written carols for such seasons as colonizing occupations and war, or more accurately, as H.L. Mencken might have observed, the lynching of weaker nations with a concomitant blind, and always enduring, shallow patriotism. Prolific writer and acerbic social critic whose heyday spanned the 1920s, Mencken never minced words, and he was wont to call a spade a spade. He might rightly be called a secular prophet as well.
Mencken's "Reflections on War" is particularly astute (The Chicago Sunday Tribune, September 26, 1926). Our current military-corporate crusade against Iraq finds resonance in America's engagement in WWII, which Mencken described as the then latest "heroic crusade for democracy." Considering the present, it would seem that America would shrivel up and blow away like Mencken's "flivver dust" should it be deprived of its puerile belief in military heroes and crusades.
He writes: "The United States is now so populous and so powerful that no enemy nation, or combination of enemy nations, could hope to tackle it head on. Our next ten or twelve wars will all be fought on foreign soil and in a safe and sanitary manner [safe for those at home, at any rate, and in present time we have mythical precision and smart weapons that surgically fight wars with sanitized collateral damage]. No despot's heel will ever mark these virtuous shores in our time [how right he was]." For a peaceful and pure nation, the U.S. has filled a few lakes with blood the last fifty years.
Most of the major U.S. media continue to appease the administration's actions and afford it the benefit of the doubt for its excursions of insanity. Yet the Bush cabal is not fraught with errors in judgments or in agenda. Their vision is purposeful--they know perfectly well what they are doing. In 1991, Bush the Elder actually voiced it-- New World Order—a catchphrase that can no longer stand up to the charge of being the sole province of wacko conspiratorialists. Hasn't the Bush administration labeled some sixty countries as either rogue or terrorist nations? Who exactly is the evil empire? When you see barbed wire springing up in places like Guantanamo and Iraq, consider how late or soon you'll find it unspooled and staked around your own home (even if only as metaphor for technological spying and containment).
As long as innocent Iraqi families are herded into what are, practically speaking, becoming concentration camps in their own country, I won't be setting out any lights this year--it seems too much of a phony and sick commentary on how darkened a nation we have become. Such external lights simply cannot substitute for what should be an internal blazing light of compassion, goodness and truth.
Sing hallelujahs and hosannas for a truer new world order. Throw all your boots and shoes at the Mouse King and his Kingdom of Sour footmen and poisons. May the Christ Consciousness bless all, and may God forgive the United States.
Michael Arvey is a freelance writer and teaches creative writing through the Univ. of Colorado. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.