After Pat’s Birthday

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“It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.”

– Kevin Tillman, brother of Pat Tillman.

(HT: Truthdig)

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3 thoughts on “After Pat’s Birthday

  1. “Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.”

    With all due respect Bush jr. didn’t create everone in the world who distrusts America and feels its government can be unreasonable… but perhaps he’s done more than anyone to make that stance more reasonable itself.

    I think this is a powerful piece, but I would add a word of caution about taking the views of an individual who has suffered horribly when forming foreign policy, since they will always be heavily prejudiced about the argument, and rightly so. This guy is too close to the negatives to see any potential positives (should some arise) in the big picture of the campaign.

    Clearly one should not disregard the death of anyone, but I feel it is possible to have many people die in order to save many more. Will this happen in Iraq? From where we are I’m v sceptical, but open minded.

    His point about politicians jumping on soldiers bravery and valour is all too common in a world of electioneering, and that I think is one of his best made points in that piece.

    p.s. did my ‘long shot’ thing find its way to you? Sorry for my insolence 😉

  2. During my first year of college I remember a professor saying that to much of the rest of the world, America doesn’t project an image of freedom, but of fear and oppression. He summarised our foreign policy by saying that we bully who we have to bully to protect our own interests.

    This was during the Carter administration and the Iran hostage crisis. Hatred of America goes back a long way, though clearly more people are outspoken about their hatred now than ever before.

    Kevin Tillman certainly earned his right to say what he said, and his words should be taken seriously.

    However, he made one statement that I think is inaccurate. He said, “Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.”

    Actually, I think the longer we’re there, the more Americans that die, the less legitimate the war becomes. Millions now oppose the war who were once in support of it, and the longer it drags on, the more the opposition to it grows.

    I don’t want to sound like the ultimate pessimist, but even if Democrats score big wins in the elections next month, I’m not sure that we’ll see anything change in Iraq anytime soon.

  3. I went to school with Pat, never really talked to him, but he was a year ahead of me in the business school. I always admired him, even back when he was playing football on his way to the NFL he was studying, getting good grades, hell…attending classes! I remember when he cut his hair for job interviews.

    Suffice it to say, he was not Myopic in the least, his decision to leave the cardinals for Afganitan demonstrated that more than anything else could.

    Kevin of course did the same.

    I am not sure how much of what he said I agree with, though it seems more and more each day.

    I hope on election day we actually get people to chose from rather than against…given the current state of the primary system, I am not sure this will actually happen.

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