America is the land of freedom. Until a time of national crisis, when patriotism outshines all wrongs. Katie Sierra is a 15 year old high school girl who was suspended last fall because she opposed the war in Afghanistan. She buys clothes at the Salvation Army and scrawls messages on them, like “When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America.” Her freedom of speech was denied because it incites her fellow students and disrupts the educational process. She’s now being home schooled because of fears for her safety.
She’s peace loving and anti-violent, yet her view isn’t accepted. Her fellow students and even strangers calling into talk radio shows don’t understand her lack of patriotism. She’s been threatened and attacked, and this is the ideal we call democracy. Why does patriotism seem to be accompanied with blind stupidity?
Of course Katie is fighting a hard battle. Most people in the U.S. think retribution is acceptable after September 11. The bombs falling in Afghanistan are acceptable, because what else can we do? We must fight back. But such unrestrained judgment isn’t without consequences.
On January 24, 2002 in Uruzgan, Afghanistan U.S. forces stormed two compounds, killing as they went. Cries of “We surrender,” and “For the love of Allah do not kill us,” could be heard as sleeping men were woken and killed. Two slain men were found with their hands tied behind their backs with nylon zip ties. 27 men were taken prisoner and an undisclosed number were killed. A leaflet was left behind with the words “God Bless America.” But perhaps God won’t bless our righteous vengeance, especially when we consider that these raids weren’t conducted against Taliban fighters, but friendly Afghan soldiers, loyal to the new government in Kabul. Apparently mistakes were made.
War isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the red, white, and blue isn’t always tried and true.