Saturday, August 28, 2010

Waking up to Sarah Palin

I caught just a bit of Sarah Palin’s speech from the Lincoln Memorial this morning while I was trying to wake up to NPR news. I heard her claim that the way to return America to greatness was to honor our military personnel. I admit to being only partially awake, but such a statement was enough to wake me. Now, I admit I am not a fan of Sarah Palin. At the same time I am not willing to bash her because she is a woman. But whoever writes her copy missed the boat on this one.

I am of the generation that watched the Vietnam War divide a nation and cripple our self esteem. I had high school classmate killed there, childhood playmates changed by that war and worked with a generation of clergy many of whom dodged the draft by going to seminary. I never once in all those years thought less of those who fought for my country. I have honored them even when I thought the wars that they were fighting were wrong.

 The Vietnam War began the sobering wake-up call to the US that perhaps we were not as righteous a nation that we thought it was. For me, it was a putting away of childish post-WWII triumphalism in regards to our nation’s place in the world. But the Boomer generation often took out its disappointment with Vietnam on those who served there rather than on those who sent them.

I have always honored those who serve in the military. I respect the desire of young people who want to serve their country by putting their lives on the line so I can worship and speak freely. What I do not honor are those who use our youth as cannon fodder for the military-industrial complex or for questionable “American assets.”

 After spending almost 10 years as rector of a parish in the DC area in which 75% of the parish were either military or veterans, I know the good that our military personnel can do and be in society. But to honor them as a way to address the real and present problems in American society is mere foolishness. And I am angry at the men who wrote Sarah Palin’s copy. That kind of American pie rhetoric which is often served up as patriotism pales in her hands. It makes her look like an idiot and I don’t believe she really is.

The financial crisis that Obama is supposed to have straightened out in less than two years in office was the result of decades of financial deregulated mismanagement. It won’t work out in a mere 18 months. And an American populace that cannot understand that cannot understand the real significance of our young people who are serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a significant number of Americans who somehow believe that this nation is above the normal ebb and flow of history—that we don’t deserve to feel the consequences of mismanagement, or poor leadership. We can have rallies on the Mall and make it better rather than buckling down and doing the hard work of figuring out where we have failed in being good neighbors to one another and the world, where we have thrown money at problems that have never ceased, and where we have mocked the US Constitution by claiming that property is more important than our people.

Waking up to Sarah Palin is enough to set my day awry. Now I need to spend some time with Coffee, not tea, and God to get my soul centered.

1 comment:

Mompriest said...

Thank you. So well said. I really appreciate this.