Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day, May Day

As if to prove the rule from yesterday’s post, today’s headlines included “U.S. airstrike kills top Qaeda agent in Somalia” and “Car bomb kills at least 9 in Baghdad; U.S. troops kill 18 militants.” How smart our bombs—how intelligent their design!—must be to only kill “militants” and “insurgents” but never a single “civilian” or “freedom fighter.” Or even a single American soldier. (You have to love the grafted-together nature of the second headline, as if to call further attention to the us vs. them nature of the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq.) Yet the dangerous statistics remains: over half of all war fatalities are women and children. Perhaps we need a new math to go along with our new language and new logic. And new extra-judicial killings in the name of justice.

On a more “peaceful” note, the tit-for-tat political posturing between DC and Minsk has escalated: the US has closed its embassy in Minsk and has ordered Belarus to close its embassy and all consulates here. Everyone sing along: There’s no diplomacy like no diplomacy, like the no diplomacy I know.

I wonder how many questions on the standardized (yet altogether lacking standards) TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge & Skills) test this week will deal with such issues. How many will even concern the topic of May Day, a day that commemorates the benefits of labor? One glorious benefit from this less-than-glorious revolution in education: the golden opportunity to read such priceless statements like this from my college-level philosophy course essays: “This makes me wonder what will we enlighten our people on next?” It does make one wonder, no?

I (modestly, of course) propose enlightening “our people” on patriotism:
“What, then, is patriotism? ‘Patriotism, sir is the last resort of scoundrels,’ said Dr. Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our times, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment for the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities of life as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the average workingman.” [from Emma Goldman’s essay “Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty”]

On this note, I bid all working peoples of the world a blessed day of rest. “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” And God bless Saint Emma.

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