If only logic took fewer bytes than lies; if only truth could be destilled into 30 second sound bites; if only life were black and white.
The other day I received in my email a political chain letter. Perhaps you've seen it, or a similar one. You know the kind: “this President doesn’t salute correctly”, or “the soldiers don’t smile when saluting this President”. The letter was signed by a Harold B. Estes, so I think it safe to conclude that Harold B. Estes wrote it. The letter even had a link to Snopes.com, so it must be authentic. Harold, if I may be so bold as to use his first name, describes himself as a 95 year old survivor of Pearl Harbor. The letter included a photo of an old man surrounded by four men wearing U.S. Navy uniforms. Harold is concerned because President Obama hasn't been acting like one of “us”. I’m guessing Harold is a U.S. citizen – though by the tone of his letter, Harold would not include me in his definition of “us”. Which is okay because I’m not a big fan of “us”. “Us” inevitably leads to “them, which in turn leads to “Us versus Them”, and that, in my view, is bad. If one must be against someone, I’d hope it was against a more precise group than “them”.
Anyway, back to Harold’s letter. Harold, it seems, has had enough of President Obama and has written the President to tell him just that. Harold “can’t figure out what country [Obama is] the president of”. Harold is upset because the President has said America is no longer a Christian nation and America is arrogant. I don’t remember the president ever saying those things specifically, but Harold is a navy vet and old, so he must be telling the truth. Harold questions why “after 9/11 you (I guess he means then Senatorial Candidate Obama, but maybe Harold is confused and means President Bush) said, “‘America hasn’t lived up to her ideals.’” Harold then writes about the 11,000 Americans who died during America’s War for Independence for the “notion of personal liberty” (way to go Crispus Attucks), and the 500,000 Americans who died during the Civil War for “the ideal that no man should be a slave (he includes the 258,000 Southern dead in that figure – little did they know) and the 470,000 American dead in WWII “because we stand for freedom.” I guess Harold thinks the guys and gals killed in Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan stood for something else. For the record: 36, 516 GI’s died in Korea, 58,209 in Viet Nam, 258 in the Gulf War, 4484 (as of Feb 2012) in Iraq, and 2,967 (as of 19 April) in Afghanistan.
Harold skips altogether the approximately 20,000 American soldiers who died in War of 1812; the 36 killed in the 1st Seminole War, the 1,535 in the 2nd Seminole War, and the 26 killed in the 3rd Seminole War. Harold missed the 13,283 American's killed in the Mexican-American War; the 314 killed in the Great Sioux War; the 2,446 US servicemen killed in the Spanish-American War, 4,196 in the Philippine-American War, and the 131 killed during the Boxer Rebellion (Yes, the United States invaded China). Harold makes no mention of the 35 American servicemen killed when America invaded Mexico during the Mexican Revolution; nor does he mention the 148 who died during the Haiti Occupation 1915-1934 (Which doesn’t really count as an invasion because we were “invited”). Harold left out the 116,516 American dead of World War I, the 424 of the Northern Russia Campaign of 1918-1920 (this counts as an invasion because the White Army wasn’t in charge when they invited us in), and the 328 American soldiers who died during the the Siberian Expedition of 1918 (ditto). He omits the 48 killed during the the Nicaragua Occupation 1927-1933. Harold doen't mention El Salvador, Beirut, Grenada, Somalia, Bosnia, nor Yugoslavia. That's a lot of military action from a Christian nation; it’s a good thing that Russians, Germans, and the British are white or else a case could be made that America doesn’t like people of color.
Harold doesn't seem to like people of color, because he plays the race-card:
"I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped get you elected." (italics added)
"And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn the Muslim (sic) major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts, who was putting up a fight." (italics added)
Harold then offers the suggestion that the President – the elected civilian Commander-in-Chief – cow-tow to a “battle-hardened” field general because the general has more insight than does someone who never served in the military and thus never “had to defend your country with your life”. Harold says that if the President – the elected civilian Commander-in-Chief – isn't prepared to do what the general wants, the the President should “get out”.
At first I wondered what to make of Harold. The person who sent me the email called Harold “gutsy” and a “hero”. Well, I'm not so sure. If Harold did serve his country, I salute him, as I salute all who have served and do serve. But to call Harold “gutsy” for writing this letter? To call him a “hero” because he espouses hatred and racism? Not a chance.