by Michael K. Smith / November 12th, 2017
If love is blind, patriotism has lost all five senses.
— William Blum
Today is Veterans Day, which used to be called Armistice Day, and differs from Memorial Day who knows exactly how. All we are supposed to know is that military service makes one a national hero, not (as used to be the case) for having demonstrated courage on the battlefield, but merely for signing up. We are well into the era of grade inflation, and as public school officials like to say, “everyone is above average.”
Whatever respect is owed the martial virtues, it is not clear how much longer the human race can survive the era of super-patriotism. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock is set at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, the closest we have been to atomic annihilation since the Reagan administration installed first-strike Pershing missiles in Germany (1982) while babbling about “winnable” nuclear war.
Though it is only by sheer blind luck that military brinksmanship has not terminated the human race, we are still encouraged to believe (especially on Veterans Day) that we should be grateful to the military for defending “our freedoms” around the world. The suggestion juxtaposes itself incongruously to the realities of the “war on terror” era: preventive detention, institutionalized torture, the “right” of the president to kill American citizens without due process of law, universal snooping and data mining by…