Saturday, August 5, 2017

BURN THE FLAG: A poetic lesson in American imperialist boosterism

It is always disheartening to read an appalling, angry nationalist and militarist screed written by an unapologetic defender of American imperialism such as this one from 1989:

Pretty violent and disturbing, eh? From calling those who dodged the draft to avoid having to kill or die in Vietnam cowards, to celebrating the vile American actions there, to expressing hate for anti-war demonstrators, to an almost unbelievably retrograde flag worshiping.

So where was this fine moment in American poetry published? The John Birch Society newsletter perhaps? Maybe in a Republican pamphlet?

Actually, it was published in the December, 1989 Christmas issue of the magazine of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, The Ironworker. An official union publication.

It really embodies those seasonal feelings of "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All Men", etc.

To make sure the point was not lost the magazine editors helpfully said that they felt the poem expressed the feelings of many ironworkers.

Perhaps. But it also serves as a stark reminder that liberals and Democrats, as well as some labour leaders and unions (some of whom even supported Republican presidential candidates at times) in the United States have often been enthusiastic boosters of the American imperialist agenda, virulent anti-communism, and of a truly base version of American nationalism.

This historically played a fundamental, critical role in creating a culture of collaboration with and unthinking acquiescence to American military adventurism and death-dealing from Eisenhower to Nixon, to Reagan and Bush, to Clinton and Obama.

See also: Liberals, social democrats and union leaders have to stop helping to normalize Trump

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