America is a country that needs war to sustain its economy and hate to nourish its pride.
-- Ed Turner, the only black faculty member at UC Davis, April 5, 1968.
Less than three months after George W. Bush was inaugurated in 2001, I lost my job and the only hope I ever had of achieving the so-called American Dream. The past three and a half years have been hard-scrabble, punctuated by periods where I couldn't afford to go to the doctor because I was uninsured, where I have abandoned physical therapy because I couldn't afford it, leading to what may well be a lifelong impairment, where savings that was intended to go for the down payment on a house was instead committed to keeping my family fed and housed, and the one windfall from the Clinton years swallowed up by the very same tax code that gave billons of dollars in tax cuts to people far wealthier than I. Not only am I not better off now than I was four years ago, I very much doubt that I will ever be able to make up the difference. I have gone from being able to support my family of four single-handedly and comfortably to watching all of the adults in my household take $10-or-less jobs in an effort to keep the house over our heads.
I fully expect another four years of this treatment to defeat me utterly -- I quite literally do not expect to survive it. This is not to say that I will not fight, with all of my heart and soul. For my family, my friends, my loved ones, I must do that much -- but I am breaking inside, and I can feel it. I can no longer afford to be ill, but I am pushing my body to the point where it is clearly communicating to me that it will not take much more.
That sound you hear is yet another formerly-middle-class American falling through the cracks. There will be more of me, as the social safety net frays and disintegrates, and sooner or later, long before you expect it, one of them will be you.
This is what happens when you elect people with no conscience, no empathy, no ability to put themselves in another's shoes. You get imperialism and hubris and policies made up of flights of fantasy with no conception of their human costs.
America will remain at war in Iraq to sustain its economy, to enrich the defence contractors and the ruling cabal's cronies. And oh, the pride. Down with the queers! Down with the Muslims! Down with those filthy peace activists! America for Americans! And we will tell you who the real Americans are. And you will hate who we tell you to hate. And you will be proud to hate them.
Ed Turner died in the early 1970's, after a long and tortured struggle with the culture of which he never quite managed to be a part. I do not intend to follow the same path. But I feel, tonight, more than I have ever felt in my life, the truth of the words he spoke on the day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.