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TO ROOT AGAINST YOUR COUNTRY

This column by Art Hoppe was published in The Chronicle on March 5, 1971; he said it attracted more letters than any other column he wrote. Hoppe died Feb. 1, 2000.
TO ROOT AGAINST YOUR COUNTRY

Arthur Hoppe

Sunday, April 25, 2004


The radio this morning said the Allied invasion of Laos had bogged down. Without thinking, I nodded and said, "Good."

And having said it, I realized the bitter truth: Now I root against my own country.

This is how far we have come in this hated and endless war. This is the nadir I have reached in this winter of my discontent. This is how close I border on treason:

Now I root against my own country.

How frighteningly sad this is. My generation was raised to love our country and we loved it unthinkingly. We licked Hitler and Tojo and Mussolini. Those were our shining hours. Those were our days of faith.

They were evil; we were good. They told lies; we spoke the truth. Our cause was just, our purposes noble, and in victory we were magnanimous. What a wonderful country we are! I loved it so.

But now, having descended down the torturous, brutalizing years of this bloody war, I have come to the dank and lightless bottom of the well: I have come to root against the country that once I blindly loved.

I can rationalize it. I can say that if the invasion of Laos succeeds, the chimera of victory will dance once again before our eyes -- leading us once again into more years of mindless slaughter. Thus, I can say, I hope the invasion fails.

But it is more than that. It is that I have come to hate my country's role in Vietnam.

I hate the massacres, the body counts, the free fire zones, the napalming of civilians, the poisoning of rice crops. I hate being part of My Lai. I hate the fact that we have now dropped more explosives on these scrawny Asian peasants than we did on all our enemies in World War II.

And I hate my leaders, who, over the years, have conscripted our young men and sent them there to kill or be killed in a senseless cause simply because they can find no honorable way out -- no honorable way out for them.

I don't root for the enemy. I doubt they are any better than we. I don't give a damn anymore who wins the day. But because I hate what my country is doing in Vietnam, I emotionally and often irrationally hope that it fails.

It is a terrible thing to root against your own country. If I were alone, it wouldn't matter. But I don't think I am alone. I think many Americans must feel these same sickening emotions I feel. I think they share my guilt. I think they share my rage.

If this is true, we must end this war now -- in defeat, if necessary. We must end it because all of Southeast Asia is not worth the hatred, shame, guilt and rage that is tearing Americans apart. We must end it not for those among our young who have come to hate America, but for those who somehow manage to love it still.

I doubt that I can ever again love my country in that unthinking way that I did when I was young. Perhaps this is a good thing.

But I would hope the day will come when I can once again believe what my country says and once again approve of what it does. I want to have faith once more in the justness of my country's causes and the nobleness of its ideals.

What I want so very much is to be able once again to root for my own, my native land.

homepage: homepage: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/04/25/PKG3U5L3GC1.DTL
address: address: 2004 San Francisco Chronicle


This is a good article! Back when things made sense... 29.Apr.2004 05:24

lmu

Before evil became the norm with this president, we used to be able to call out evil and have it retreat in fear of being ridiculed or eliminated. Now, with the help of incredibly greater ignorance and selfishness than then, we have been reduced to crying in alternative websites and hoping that we can snatch some of the dumb fucks who have gone to the dark side and are happily killing people while lying to themselves with the president's lies. And the days will come when we can no longer even communicate among our lonely selves; the days when the pseudo-patriotic imbeciles eliminate us and have satan in the white house reign supreme...

I love baby seals too 29.Apr.2004 05:28

steve8714 kingotemps@hotmail.com

This is a real three coil steamer.

Questions 29.Apr.2004 05:53

.....

Did the US government of the Vietnam war era consult the constitution before entering us into that war?
Did the US government defy the will of the governed in sending us to fight this war?
Does this pattern look sickeningly familiar?
Did 9-11 really change anything or did it accelerate this pattern?

Absolutely marvelous article. 29.Apr.2004 07:15

Tony Blair's dog

Many thanks for posting it.

I know the feeling 29.Apr.2004 07:34

gerry

A friend said that in moving to Canada I'm leaving "my people," and I responded that my people are sane, humane human beings wherever they live. National borders are artificial constructs that serve to separate those who can make a difference in the human condition, as well as bringing out the basest characteristics of others. I'm not rooting against my country so much as trying to support flesh and blood human beings that share basic needs. I'm rooting against the corporations--they are not human.

roots 29.Apr.2004 07:56

hopeful

I am rooting for the return of credibility and morality to our once great country. The bush administration has done much to damage our reputation throughout the world, and they are making the american people look like really ignorant cowards. We must return to the roots of our country, our forefathers fought the powers that be to give us the freedom we now give up so easily.

corporations are evil 29.Apr.2004 12:08

Farmer Ted

Hey gerry, wanna go get a soy milkshake together? First let's stop by People's Park, though, so we can roll some bums, er, I mean "homeless".

Great Post 29.Apr.2004 12:40

Mee too

Thanks for the post. This article hit home with me.

Bush got my vote in 2000. I agreed at the time with Fidel that both candidates were boring. Thought OK, let's give the other side a chance here. I was an idiot.

At the time, most of my news came through corporate channels, although once a discussion on KBOO got my attention, talking about Cheney and his other friends and their background. Hmm, maybe this is not such a good idea. Should have paid attention to that.

After 911, Afghanistan happened, and thought well this is pretty ugly and we can't seem to catch the bad guy and did not seem like we were really trying. So many strange things were happening -- Guantanamo, the damn Patriot act, they told us to be careful what we say.

It was the Axis of Evil nonsense that did it for me. And following that all the questions that were raised about the WMD. I watched the stories of the tubes and the yellowcake come to light and get shot down. The little RC airplanes that were going to attack New York. Heard lots of unanswered questions. Little by little, my confidence in our leaders and my pride in America was crumbling. My awareness of the media expanded, found alternative outlets (mainly the web) and alternative points of view.

And the day the attack on Iraq began, I turned to my wife and said, "You know, I do not feel proud to be an American. I really hate to say this but hope we lose". That was a terrible thing for me, or anyone, to feel and think and to say. In all those cowboy movies, the good guy *never* draws first. That's a cowardly act. But here we are invading a sovereign nation with a defense budget of $1.3 billion in 2000. Compare that to our budget -- that's like attacking a kid with a slingshot with a gattling gun.

So yeah, this article hit home with me, captured exactly the way I feel.

To: Mee Too and Farmer Ted 29.Apr.2004 15:08

gerry

Mee Too: it's stories like yours that make me think there's a glimmer of hope in this country. I remember being in your shoes a few years back, but thankfully me eyes were opened as well. Keep spreading the word, at the very least about alternative media.

And Farmer Ted...are you a Dittohead troll? No matter. Just remember that while I'm a proud Leftist, soy milkshake type (who uses patchouli soap), I was dumb enough in my former life to enlist in the Marines and could probably kick your ass up and down the block. How about you? Are you another chickenhawk like your hero El Rushbo?

Please read your constitution 29.Apr.2004 15:46

SA

Interesting "Questions".....

You may actually wish to read the Constitution. There is a reason why the President is called the "Commander in Cheif". Because he commands the US military. Oh, I guess you want to throw in the "War Powers Act". Ok. Well this forces the President to inform congress of any military action over specified period of time. Up until that time period, the President does not have to inform congress of jack. So let's go through your truly ignorant questions:

1. Yes. Lyndon Johnson with the approval of congress increased our military presence to help the South Vietnamese fight the communist North, which was initiated by JFK. By the way, no where in the constituion does it require any formal act prior to engaging in a conflict. It does grant the executive branch leader control over the military.

2. No. Although a minority of brainwahsed students and young peopl protested the war, they voted these idiots into office. Since these bozos are elected officials, they represent the people. Only after much agitation by a minority of the US populace did Richard Nixon relent and pull us out of the conflict. So, the voice of the 'people' was heard. Since the voice was minor, it took time for that voice to generate action.

3. What pattern is it you are talking of? Your assumption is that these conflicts were conducted illegally by the U.S. government, a representative elected body of the people. Nothing illegal took place, so there is no pattern to repeat.

4. Once again there is no pattern. But, 911 did wake government officials to the worldwide dangers that are present to the US. So the first strike was against a government that harbored the people responsible for the attack against this country. It did not happen the next day. In fact, the President gave them a deadline to hand over the criminals. Even afte that passed, he gave them more time. Then we dropped leaflets all over the country informing innocent civillians to seek shelter before we started bombing. The attack on that country was probbably the second most telegrphed punch in military history. The most teleraphed punch in military history ocurred in Iraq. We gave them a twelve year heads up and then increased our warnings of attack almost a year prior to actually attacking. This was after the president gained the approval of Congress and after a UN resolution was signed to justify the attack. Only after teh criminal nations in bed with Iraq would not act did we enforce the resolution.

So maybe the pattern you are talking about is actually about is the willingness of the US governemnt to exhaust every logical actions before striking it's enemies. Do you think the USSR would have done the same? No actually they invaded Afghanistan on Christmas without any UN warning. Do you think the Chinese convers with the UN about how they invaded Tibet and killed millions of people? Doubt it very much.

So if you have gotten this far in my writing, and I seriuosly doubt you got past the firs couple of sentences, you may whish to think before you ask an ignorant question. The world is not black and white, and despite what faults we have, this is still the best place in the world for free individuals to live. Bet Canada won't let you have a differing opinion. Heck they banned Fox fromt he airwaves in that country because to much of what is said on their shows go against the government consensus. So please move to Canada if you wish or Mexico also. That will be just one less person I have to compete against in the job market.

'SA' 29.Apr.2004 16:22

Please read your constitution.

"You may actually wish to read the Constitution. There is a reason why the President is called the "Commander in Cheif[sic]". Because he commands the US military. Oh, I guess you want to throw in the "War Powers Act". Ok. Well this forces the President to inform congress of any military action over specified period of time. Up until that time period, the President does not have to inform congress of jack."

--the President is accountable to the People and the Constitution. US military force in Iraq is not "protecting" our people from anything, and if anything right now is whipping up more resistance to us around the globe.

"So let's go through your truly ignorant questions: 1. Yes. Lyndon Johnson with the approval of congress increased our military presence to help the South Vietnamese fight the communist North, which was initiated by JFK. By the way, no where in the constituion does it require any formal act prior to engaging in a conflict. It does grant the executive branch leader control over the military."

--Tonkin Gulf was a fabricated provocation. War was never declared by U.S. in Vietnam

"2. No. Although a minority of brainwahsed [sic] students and young peopl [sic] protested the war, they voted these idiots into office. Since these bozos are elected officials, they represent the people. Only after much agitation by a minority of the US populace did Richard Nixon relent and pull us out of the conflict. So, the voice of the 'people' was heard. Since the voice was minor, it took time for that voice to generate action."

--The people wrote and phoned their Congressional representatives 10 to 1 AGAINST the Iraq war resolution. But did the representatives listen? no. Did they listen to the Tens of Millions of people in American and global streets (largest demonstrations in the History of Planet Earth), against the illegal and pre-emptive U.S. invasion of Iraq? no.

"3. What pattern is it you are talking of? Your assumption is that these conflicts were conducted illegally by the U.S. government, a representative elected body of the people. Nothing illegal took place, so there is no pattern to repeat."

--The U.S. illegally and pre-emptively invaded and militarily occupies Iraq and Afghanistan, external to U.N. constraints. Pattern, you ask? here is a partial list of illegal and covert U.S. genocide since WW II:  http://kosovo99.tripod.com/us2.htm

"4. Once again there is no pattern. But, 911 did wake government officials to the worldwide dangers that are present to the US. So the first strike was against a government that harbored the people responsible for the attack against this country. It did not happen the next day. In fact, the President gave them a deadline to hand over the criminals. Even afte [sic] that passed, he gave them more time. Then we dropped leaflets all over the country informing innocent civillians to seek shelter before we started bombing. The attack on that country was probbably [sic] the second most telegrphed punch in military history. The most teleraphed [sic] punch in military history ocurred in Iraq. We gave them a twelve year heads up and then increased our warnings of attack almost a year prior to actually attacking. This was after the president gained the approval of Congress and after a UN resolution was signed to justify the attack. Only after teh [sic]criminal nations in bed with Iraq would not act did we enforce the resolution."

--the U.S. was in bed with Iraq ever since the CIA assisted Saddam Hussein during the 1950s and 1960s. He continued to be a US agent during the 1970s and 1980s, when Donald Rumsfeld attempted to get him to sign an oil pipeline deal for Bechtel, all while ignoring the WMDs supplied to him by the U.S., because he was fighting the Islamic Republic of Iran on our behalf.

the U.S. also deliberately destroyed Iraq's water supply  http://www.progressive.org/0801issue/nagy0901.html and killed 500,000 innocent civilians.

"So maybe the pattern you are talking about is actually about is the willingness of the US governemnt to exhaust every logical actions before striking it's enemies. Do you think the USSR would have done the same? No actually they invaded Afghanistan on Christmas without any UN warning. Do you think the Chinese convers [sic] with the UN about how they invaded Tibet and killed millions of people? Doubt it very much."

--are you comparing the US to China now, or attempting to justify what they do? The US government is run by corporate oil executives. Don't think for a minute that little Disinformationalist Shills such as you 'SA' mean anything to them: you're just a pawn and will not make as much money in your lifetime as they make in one month.

"So if you have gotten this far in my writing, and I seriuosly [sic] doubt you got past the firs [sic] couple of sentences, you may whish [sic] to think before you ask an ignorant question. The world is not black and white, and despite what faults we have, this is still the best place in the world for free individuals to live. Bet Canada won't let you have a differing opinion. Heck they banned Fox fromt [sic] he airwaves in that country because to much of what is said on their shows go against the government consensus. So please move to Canada if you wish or Mexico also. That will be just one less person I have to compete against in the job market."

--the jobs themselves are already IN Canada and Mexico, we have much better employment prospects there than here. How exactly did Fox get "banned" again?

'SA' the Traitor to America is destroying our Constitution.

that was a pretty good rebuttal 29.Apr.2004 17:21

and I'd like to add to it

Iraq had next to nothing to do with 9/11. SA, if you can show how Iraq is responsible for 9/11 and provide sources for your data, then I will sit back, not do anything, and let the rest of Indymedia's readership tear you a new one. You must not read the news very closely if you think Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. Have a nice day.

You really should read the whole thing before attacking me ... 03.May.2004 14:58

SA

Well since you can not read I will elaborate some more:
1. I never said that the Iraq war was a direct result of the 9/11 bombings. You said that. I will say that the Iraq war is in direct response to a Dictator not abiding by the rules of the 1st Gulf Ware Treaty and many security resolutions afterwards.

2. I would agree that there is as yet no evidence that Iraq contributed 'directly' to the 9/11 bombings. I wish the world was that black and white, but it is not. The war on terror is not isolated to Al Quaeda. It is a war on "Terror". Saddam offerred millions to homicide bombers in the Gaza and much moe for those who would attack the US or Israel. This is NOT a direct link to 9/11, but it leaves him open for attack as an enemy o fthe country and a dictator that wishes to harbor and proliferate terrorists.

3. I like the socialist propaganda site you use to back your claims. So the first gulf war did not have UN support? So Clinton went ahead and bombed Kosovo without UN support? Crack really does kill you know. I'll agree with you that our foreign policies in the past have led to some problems we currently have to fix, but you can't fix anything if all your going to do is cry about the past and point fingers. So, I guess since we help Saddam into power we should have left him there? Even though he violated treaty agreements for 12 years. Even though the US Congress and the UN passed resolution permitting his removal from power. You calim that Americans phoned their representatives "10 to 1 AGAINST". Where is your evidence. You can make all the claims you wish, but you must back them up with facts. If people called their Reps. "10 to 1 AGAINST", I would suspect we would see a major change in the political structure of DC. NOT. This is a representative governement. If the people were so against this they would vote these bozos out, which was part of my original claim.

4. I don't ever remember claiming the "Vietnam War", as it was called, was ever a war. It was a conflict in which we withdrew. It was a conflict in which Lyndon Johnson escalated and Richard Nixon withdrew us from. I really do not want to make this a Dems versus Repubs conversation because I can't stand either party.

5. Check it out, FOX is not allowed in the Canada because the governemnt controls the media and dictates what is allowed to be broadcasted. Of course corporate press here in America is not much better.

6. Finally, I would once again remind you that the Constitution does not prevent the President from sending troops to war. The War Powers Act, which came about because of what occured in Laos does put some limitations on what the President can do after a period of time. So everything on the list from you "war crimes" site that occured after Laos, occurred with the US congress aware of what was going on. Once again, this a representative governement. If you do not like what is being one, vote. Don't sit there and whine about things. It's easy to sit back and point your finger, but you must vote to change things. If you do not vote, then the corporations WILL control your governemnt.

As far as how much I make, I'm no CEO, but I make enough to survive, probably more than you.

And let me say this once more: I never said that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. I do agree witht he actions in the middle east because it is the logical solution to changing beleifs in the area. For too many years we turned a cheek to the hatred these muslims propagated without intervening. In the Gaza, these people teach their kids in school books to hate Jews and Americans. Wait I switched theaters of conflict, that may confuse you into thinking I'm trying to make a link between palestinians and Iraq. (outside of the one Sadaam made when he offered millions to homicide bombers) Anyways, do not question my patriotism. I love my country. Although, Iraq may not be a direct threat, they are a long term threat to the stability of the area and we will need to stop any government that harbors terrorists or proliferates terrorists acts against the free world. You can disagree with that philosophy all you wish, but you will never be able to blame the President for not following the constitution because absolutely nothing he has done in these actions has been illegal with our laws or the mandates of the UN.

If you wish to call me names again I would be more than happy to stick that "Traitor to America" label up your @$$.

P.S. 03.May.2004 15:05

SA

Please forgive my horrendous typing. I can not type.
:)

SA THE MAN!!! 04.May.2004 17:00

JODYBODY!!

Man, SA, you really tore that freak a new one! Bet he doesn't have anthing else to say! Maybe next time he will quote something from moveon.org--another non-biased political website---HAAAA!! It is amazing to me to hear people glorifying an article that borders on treason and then accuse you of the crime! AMAZING!!
I do disagree with you on one note--REPUBLICANS ROCK!! GO GEORGE!!!