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Notes from the Boonies

By Paul Wisovaty

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I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but those of us in the peace movement have been taking a lot of flak from our brother and sister Americans. We are even accused of being un-American. Now, let's take that as a working argument. If we're really what they say we are, the last couple of years should have been the best years of our lives. First of all, this country (almost) elected its first double-digit IQ president. We'd have to love that. Then we have this Iraq thing. The USA took a hundred billion dollars that it could have spent educating its kids, or providing for affordable health care and housing for its working poor, and sent it halfway around the world to blow up castles in the sand. Talk about stupid. We'd really get a kick out of that. Then there's this get-tough-on-terrorists campaign. Junior got his brain trust together, and wound up deposing probably the only leader in the Arab world who has never met Osama bin Laden. Saddam was a secular dictator. Adherence to fundamentalist Islam was never his strong suit. Even the CIA couldn't figure out how to forge documents to show that he was a 9/11 kind of guy. And not only did we get the wrong dictator, we wound up in the process pissing off a couple of hundred million Moslems who might have been otherwise well-disposed toward us, or at least on the fence. As un-Americans, we've got to be hysterical about that screw-up. And here's the kicker. If we really, really hate this country, we get to watch a couple of hundred American soldiers come home in body bags. As un-Americans, that's got to keep us awake laughing all night.

Sue accuses me of having an unhealthy bent toward sick humor. She is obviously correct. But sometimes it hurts so damn much you just have to laugh.

If I have one complaint about this country, it is the following. We have probably the highest literacy rate in the world. We have a free, if somewhat jingoistic press. We have colleges churning out presumably educated young Americans at a mind-numbing rate. And all of the above notwithstanding, we live in a country a majority of whose citizens would probably support a (re-)invasion of Mexico tomorrow if George Bush told us it was a good idea. I mean, sometimes it is really, really, really hard to take this country seriously.

Here's another scary thing. Polls show that Americans in the highest income brackets (presumably the better-educated) support the war far more than those poor bastards making minimum wage. (That's $5.15 an hour, if you missed my last column.) I have guys coming into my probation office, with ten years of education and driving a 1984 Ford Fairlane, who say to me, "What the hell are we doing in Iraq? Saddam never threatened us. Don't we have enough problems in this country to worry about?" If my child molesters and drunks and drug dealers can figure that out, why can't all those Ivy League guys George brings in?

I should say that it is April 15 as I write this. (Jeff and Lisa are hell on deadlines, so I'm really scrambling.) I'm sitting in front of my TV watching "The News Hour," and what am I hearing but Junior announcing that "we have intelligence which shows that Syria has weapons of mass destruction, and is harboring terrorists." And I'm thinking: I'm not hearing this. It can't mean what I think it means. The American people couldn't possibly be stupid enough to countenance another invasion of a foreign country.

Do I really believe anything I just said? How many Old Milwaukees have I had? Am I about to order White Sox World Series tickets too?

Nothing good shall come of this, my friends. Buckle up real tight. As Joan said at Woodstock, "When summer comes rollin'around, we'll be lucky to get out of town."

Paul Wisovaty is a member of VVAW.
He lives in Tuscola, Illinois, where he works as a probation officer.
He was in Vietnam with the US Army 9th Division in 1968.

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