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It said “In Loving Memory of Freedom – July 4, 1776 – Nov. 4, 2008.” I’ve seen it a time or two before but was never quite close enough to make it out. It’s kind of clever in a way. Obviously, it expresses some pretty deep concerns. And it expresses something else. Something I just don’t get.
If I’d been able to sit down with the driver of the truck, male or female, I don’t even know, I’d have asked him/her to – “Tell me five things you could do on Nov. 3, 2008, that you can’t do now.”
I’d be happy with, “Tell me one thing you could do on Nov. 3, 2008, that you can’t do now,” but to make that kind of statement, I would assume there are at least five important things he/she had in mind. Realistically, one wouldn’t come amiss assuming there would be way more than just five.
Hard as I try, I can’t think of anything I could do before Nov. 3, 2008, that I can’t do now, and I try pretty hard. So what freedoms have I lost? What freedoms has that person lost, significant enough to drive around with that sentiment on the back of the truck for all the world to see?
In the same vein, I heard from good sources that a local school principal happened to have a conversation with a faculty member who was quite adamant about the need to “take our country back.” Upon deeper discussion the principal asked for some example of where, how, who, when the country had slipped into the hands of others. The way I heard it, the faculty member couldn’t actually answer any of those questions.
“Who has taken our country?” “How did they do it?” “When did they do it?” “Why did they do it?” all seemed to be unanswerable to the individual, yet the belief that it has happened is unshakable, evidently.
When I heard the story, my first reaction was to shout out facetiously, “Yeah, give it back to Standard Oil and General Motors and U.S. Steel and Big Tobacco and Halliburton and the Carnegies, and all the old, white men, you know, the people who have always owned our country. Give it back to them, and we’ll all be better off – the way we used to be.”
That’s what I would have wanted to say, but not having been there, of course, I couldn’t say it to the person involved in the story. And of course it wouldn’t matter, because that kind of certainty just doesn’t budge, doesn’t respond to logic or reason or even discussion.
“They’ve taken our country, and we have to take it back.”
How would one go about doing that? A heavily armed militia maybe could do it, but what exactly would they do? Whom would they shoot? Whom would they round up? Whom would they imprison? Doesn’t it seem sensible that if, in fact, you think your country has been snatched out from under you, there would be some direct action you would want to take? Somehow waiting until the next election seems kind of wimpy, peaceful but wimpy, and if the situation is so dire, how could you wait until the next election – assuming that it would go in your favor?
“They’ve taken our country, and we have to take it back” is what you’d say if Martians came down and enslaved us next Tuesday. I’d sign up for duty if that happened. I don’t know what help I could be, but I could do something – make sandwiches for the troops or roll bandages or lead sing-alongs to help boost morale. No one would question the notion that “they have taken our country, and we have to take it back.”
My brother the conservative always accuses me of having “drunk too much of the liberals’ Kool-Aid.” And I counter that he has smoked too much of Big Tobacco’s additives. Sometimes we reverse the substance, but we’re always on opposite sides of the issue – whatever it is. He believes “they’ve taken our country, and we have to take it back.” He never quite cites a compelling example of what exactly has been taken, but he believes to his core that “they have taken our country.”
I don’t think they have, actually. I think we’ve pretty much got the same country we’ve always had in the same way we’ve always had it. Like I said, I can’t think of a single thing I can’t do today that I could do on Nov. 3, 2008. Well, there is one exception. I can’t say, “If only George W. Bush and Dick Cheney weren’t in office, our problems would all be solved.” Nope, can’t say that any more.
Chris Daley is a weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat.