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Same old show. More expensive seats.

July 28, 2006

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 431 BCE:

The meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things, but was changed by them as they thought proper. Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness; to know everything was to do nothing. Frantic energy was the true quality of a man. A conspirator who wanted to be safe was a recreant in disguise. The lover of violence was always trusted, and his opponent suspected.

The weapons grow more terrible, the costs more insupportable. But the ugliness and inhumanity of war never change. And the traits of a nation caught up in war fever never change either.

The country’s growing weary of the Iraq war, so the trusted lovers of violence are in the kitchen cooking up the next one, a fresh new shiny one, with its riveting new cast of scary villains. Their eye on fat juicy ratings, the media will once again pick up their trumpets and join the parade. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a little too soon since the last scam. This time, maybe, just maybe, the rest of us won’t fall into lockstep behind them.

I would like to find an old snapshot of the America I grew up in. A country where even the poorest had a roof over their heads. A country that wasn’t afraid of its own shadow; that did not kidnap and disappear people; that did not run secret torture chambers; that did not eavesdrop on all of its citizens’ conversations; that did not wage bloody Blitzkrieg on nations which posed no threat to it. I’d like to put that snapshot on milk cartons all over the land, asking “Have you seen me?”

Maybe some kind soul would find that strong, generous, friendly country, perhaps sleeping in an alley among the bombed-out and homeless, or sheltering between the pages of a forgotten Constitution, gather her up, give her a square meal of unfiltered information and fortified civil liberties. And bring her back to us.

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