Independence Day 2007

Independence. Derivative of Independent, which, according to my American Heritage Dictionary, is defined as: "Not governed by a foreign power; self-governing. 2. Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant. etc."

Based on that definition, I cannot help but wonder how many people in the United States consider themselves to be "independent"?

While our brave men and women, the best of us all, the elite of our social order, are over in a foreign land, bleeding and dying (to bring an independence to another country that they will no longer enjoy themselves, once and if they get home), I cannot help but wonder how embarrassed I will feel when I have to look any of them in the eye?

Did we, the ones who love them the most, do all we could to keep them alive? Did we allow a tyrannical presidency to murder them without putting up at least 10% of the fight they are currently engaged in? It is no secret that this is King Bush's war — and come hell or high water or the "independent" thinking of his constituents, he was going to have his war. Did we all raise our collective voices soon enough? Did we at least try to impeach this coward?

Coward. In 1968 I had already been to Vietnam and back, twice. They put me on recruiting duty because my wounds would not allow me to return to combat duty for a while. And as I learned the ropes about recruiting duty, I found out that those who did not want to go to Vietnam could either stay in school, exile themselves to Canada or another country, or if they had a lot of political clout, they could go into the National Guard. It was extremely difficult to get in the Guard during Vietnam, because their ranks were full to capacity, and they had a very long waiting list. So how ironic that King Bush got in the Guard to avoid war, and yet when he started his own war, some of the first people he sent to die in it were National Guard troops. These "Citizen Soldiers" were here for the protection of the homeland, hence their designation as "National" "Guard."

These beautiful men and women are giving up their independence under the guise of fighting for a righteous cause, which by now most all Americans agree is a farce. It is as I said, a fight started by a coward. A small man who allows others to do the dying for his cause.

I am thinking that in Texas and perhaps in Yale they did not have history on their curriculum, because if they did, Bush sure as hell did not study it. He is repeating historical mistakes of the gravest consequence for others.

What must the rest of the world think of us on this Fourth of July when we celebrate our Independence? What must we, if we are honest with ourselves, think of it?

Independence is defiant by nature, but it is not, nor should it ever be, arrogant. A small group of people fought and died so that we could celebrate this freedom, and according to Bush, we must now fight and die for others' independence all over the world. By that standard, we will be fighting forever, as we truly become the cops of the world.

The arrogance came when Bush declared that the reason for war, once no weapons of mass destruction were found, is that "the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein." That should have been a determination best left to the God that Bush professes to believe in, and not to his "pick and choose" attitude. Our country would have been better off without Bush. Look what he has done to us. It will take a hundred years to recover from his misadventures. Then, we may never really recover, because through his doing, we have created a million more enemies.

We now live in a country that has more prisons and prisoners than any other country in the world. Those of us in these cement and steel warehouses appreciate the meaning of independence better than anyone else in the world.

As the years go by and prisons regress, we are treated like Orwell's citizens in Oceania. Punished for thoughtspeak and punished for being physically or mentally ill. Oh, we know the true meaning of independence alright. We know more than any American citizen outside the razor-wired walls and fences could ever imagine.

People outside the walls are imprisoned as well. They are monitored daily on camera wherever they go. Their phones can be listened in on and their mail read . . . just for the hell of it . . . just because They can. This is the independence of the future, and as fascists go, as in prisons across this land, it will get worse long before it gets better. Once you allow a man to slap you, and he sees that he can get away with it, he will then ball up his fist. If he gets away with that, out comes the clubs, then the guns, and after its too late to rebel, more prisons are built for these tardy rebels, questioning where their independence went.

I do not want to sound crude, but allow a metaphor (perhaps): if a visitor came to our shores and wanted to see documents of our independence, all they would find of them are Thomas Jefferson's ink stains on George Bush's asshole.

For those of you who read these words and still believe in the great George Bush and take offense to my writing them? Too bad! I'm getting in my independent speech while I still can.

Joe Labriola


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