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by Peter Moskos

June 8, 2010

Communists Born in the USA and Dire Straits

I was in the hardware store the other day. The one where the business owner is a middle-aged, liberal, dog loving, some'er teeth, former punk kind of guy (only in New York).

Dire Straits "Walk of life" was on the radio and I mentioned how I loved that song when it came out... and how today he sounds more like a Bruce Springsteen wannabe.

Then we started talking about Springsteen. It took me years before I liked Springsteen (till hearing "Nebraska," to be precise). Right about then a very clean-cut older guy came in and overheard our conversation. I noticed, as he interrupted, that his belt holding up his shorts and tucked in shirt was perfectly straight around the circumference of his big belly:

"Springsteen, Born in the USA. You ever hear the lyrics?"

No, and, er, that's not what we were talking about.

"'Put a rifle in my hands/Sent me off to Vietnam/To go and kill the yellow man.' How about that? Yellow man!"

Silence. (though those are interesting lyrics)

"You know what it is about Vietnam?"

No. But I bet you're going to tell me.

"We could have won that war!"


"Yeah, we could have won that war if it weren't for... communists and their sympathizers. Sympathizers born right here in the USA!"

You know, I thought we lost 50,000 men over there because it was a fight we kept fighting even though we couldn't win. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you lose. Especially in another country's civil war.

But what do I know? I was barely alive. Maybe the problem wasn't conditions over there but people over here who were against the war. Maybe we just needed more troops and few more years to really beat those bastards.

Kind of like the war on drugs. Or Iraq. To think that liberal ol' me may be responsible for brave young soldiers running over IEDs and not the draft-dodging politicians who sent them there in the first place. (Don't judge patriotism by service! Judge it by flag pins in the lapel!]

It's always easier to blame others than admit you were wrong.

But I said nothing. This guy was already on mindless autopilot mode. Standing in front of an ACLU sticker shouting about communists and their sympathizers ruining this country.

I took my box of garbage bags and left.


Cleanville Tziabatz said...

I used to be a believer that the Viet Nam war was good until the Iraq War happened, and I realized that the two wars were basically fought for the same bad reasons. Then I moved to Canada to get away from the offensive jingoism of 03-06. Now that the Iraq War has been going on for a long time, the only real difference between the wars is that the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are much safer for US soldiers, which is why the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are being allowed to continue longer.

Others may disagree, but this is my opinion and I think it is correct.

IrishPirate said...

Having served in the glorious US Army as both an enlisted pirate and officer pirate I would hazard a guess that this guy never saw combat.

IF he served in Vietnam I'm picturing him as a cook or maybe a vehicle mechanic.

Few real combat vets would speak like that. Almost certainly not someone who served in the infantry and/or saw ground combat

There's a line in the movie Gettsyburg about fat politicians never "thinking twice about asking a man to die for them".

Somethings are eternal I guess.

PCM said...

But Pirate, back then leaders actually did serve. Elite college kids served. Everybody served!

At least the older politicians understood what it is like to get shot at and know what it is like to have young friends die.

Now what do they know?

Of the entire Bush administration, how many veterans were there? How many senators have served? How many have kids who do?

How many actively avoided serving or "had better things to do" (can you imagine what Republicans would say if Obama had used that line?!) and then wrapped themselves in the flag and questioned the patriotism of those who were against their wars.

(And Obama isn't better in this regard, he's just not the active warmonger Cheney and Bush were.)

Look, we don't have a draft now. I don't want to elect only veterans. But I do think veterans would be less likely to start wars. And if you are old enough to be drafted but actively avoided it, perhaps you should think twice before sending other people to die.

[Or at least listen to the Pogues' "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" a few times before making any war-related decision.]