Memorial Day brings up a lot of mixed feelings in me. I love the idea of America. I love her proud heritage of heroes willing to suffer immense privations, injury and death in the noble fight against tyranny. But I can’t let that heritage of honor blind me to the truth that America isn’t always the good guy. Far too often, the opposite is the case. America doesn’t always fight for freedom. In fact, America isn’t even a free nation. Ask the millions of non-violent citizens we’ve locked up at a rate that far exceeds that of any other nation on earth. America’s governmental agencies — FBI, CIA, NSA, DEA, etc. — have a shocking history of cruel and perverted experiments, torture, and murder which no reasonable person could hear of and still maintain that America is always the good guy. And yet…there is so much of good and heroism and freedom-fighting in America’s history. On Memorial Day, I want to honor those Americans who truly were heroic, who truly did sacrifice everything for the sake of freedom. But I don’t want to do so in such a way as to pretend that everything American soldiers do is on the right side or on the side of freedom. Perpetuating that myth won’t do anything to stop the trajectory of tyranny that America has been hurtling down for so long.
So…today, I honor all of our fallen heroes (and there are many of them). I mourn all of her fallen troops who were misled or coerced into fighting an unjust war (and there are many of them). And I remember and honor all of the victims of America’s unjust wars. Innocent families in Afghanistan who were blown into eternity by American drones without ever knowing why. Innocent victims of police brutality and governmental tyranny who were ripped from their families, stripped of their property and left to rot in jail for no crime but peacefully daring to exercise their God-given freedom. Children who needlessly suffer hundreds of seizures a day. Torture victims languishing in Gitmo. American history is full of true heroes, and I take time today to honor them. But at the same time, I mourn the many victims of American evil and tyranny because it is no true patriotism that refuses to acknowledge those deep and shameful bloodstains on her fingers.