TO ROOT AGAINST YOUR COUNTRY
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.