Saturday, November 27, 2010

Giving Thanks

Thanks. There is no reason to repeat why this is a great holiday, whatever its supposed derivation, or the more accurate and quite understandable basis for it. It is, in the end, a day for us to become one: an entire nation eating roughly the same foods and celebrating together, as best we can.

And yet, nothing works that way. President Lincoln tried hard to bind up the wounds of a divided country but, close to 150 years later, he has not succeeded. This year, again, we saw how the greedy among us see the holiday, but their assault on the rest of us is not new. When President Franklin Roosevelt had the date changed to the second to last Thursday, to accommodate the commercial needs of the Christmas season, the same general people derided the holiday altogether and calling it "Franksgiving."

We are, obviously, not one nation either under God, or not and it is hard to find any but a few isolated moments when we were. The other day, Bob Herbert seemed a bit surprised about the level of ignorance about one of our most inspirational presidents, but the half of the country that considered President Roosevelt a traitor could never accept President Kennedy until his death forced them into silence for awhile followed by years of assaulting his memory.

These two nations, divided de facto roughly the way as the attempt do divide us de jure that was what was at stake when President Lincoln inaugurated Thanksgiving as a national holiday, are unable to look at the same thing and see the same things, nor indeed, do they care about the same things.

A portion of the nation reads about the massacre of over 50 people attending a Catholic church in Baghdad and shudder at how futile the task undertaken in our name was, while the other half natters on about how we "won" a war there.

The massacre, despite its obvious attack on Christianity (usually a best selling issue in this country) gets scant coverage in our country, while the same people who blamed President Obama for not doing enough to prevent attacks on us such as the man who tried to secrete a bomb in his underwear last Christmas, scream, yell, carry on, and suggest creeping Nazism when the government tries to prevent others from doing the same thing. Ah: there's some news to cover incessantly. There will be protests throughout the country as the civilly disobedient shut down air travel near the busy Thanksgiving weekend. Until nothing of the sort takes place. Onto another crisis!

They tell us that we are a Christian nation (which we certainly are not, and for good reason) but the vassal state we think we have created in Iraq certainly is not. To discuss that would be, though, to admit to a grave mistake which, to about half the country, is impossible.

So, yes, being thankful for what we have inherited seems worthwhile. Yet, it remains hard to consider oneself part of the same anything as people who say, in the face of the mounting evidence to the contrary, things such as this on Meet the Press a few weeks ago:

DAVID GREGORY: You were, as I said, in Iraq and Afghanistan. You just heard David Axelrod say any withdrawal will be conditions based. Is that not enough to satisfy you?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): Well, I'd like to see the president say that it's only condition based. According to Mr. Woodward's book, his problem is the political--the left base of the Democrat Party. You don't fight and conduct wars that way. You win and then you leave. And that's what we've done in Iraq.

She will never be elected president, and what's left of the Republican Party leadership can probably keep her from winning the nomination, but were she their nominee, more than forty per cent of your fellow citizens would vote for Sarah Palin to be President of the United States, with or without knowing the difference between North Korea and South Korea or that Africa is a continent and not a country. Barbara Bush can direct Gov Palin back to Alaska with her acid comment, but the same people elected her son (in a manner of speaking, anyhow) twice and not only elected President Reagan twice, but they keep talking about it as if it were a brilliant idea.

This is not an electorate which can be depended on for the future of this nation's well being.

"You win and they you leave. That's what we did in Iraq."


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