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Zell Hath Mo’ Fury, Part III

Christopher Hayes

For a long time I've been working on an essay about the militarization of American culture. With that in mind, just take a moment to reread this section of Zell Miller's speech from last night: Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home. For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag. No one should dare to even think about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn't believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home. This is the clearest articulation of fascist principles I've ever heard in an American political speech, but it's really only a difference in degree from the rhetoric we've heard from the GOP (and, let's admit it, to a lesser degree from the Dems) in the campaign. When Miller started ticking off the different weapons systems that Kerry had allegedly opposed (some of which he, like Dick Cheney, did oppose, some of which he did not) and gleefully documented the damage they had wrought, the targets they had hit to the roaring crowd, I felt, in the most acute way I've ever felt, that I was no longer in America. Where did my country go? If you had to pick one theme in history, or at least the history of the West, a theme that might best sum everything up is: War Is Glorious -- Oh Shit Wait -- War Is Actually Hell. Bush likes to talk a lot about his "solemn duty" to protect the American people and Laura Bush talked about Bush's "agonizing" decision to go to war with Iraq, but there has been nothing "solemn" or "agonized" about the way the GOP speakers and delegates have talked about war. If you parachuted in from another country, and all you had to go by was the convention and the rabid cheers and lusty boos that accompany any mention of war and violence, you would conclude, I think, that this party is a party of war-mongers. They love war. They think it is noble. They think it is beautiful, that it is righteous. This is lunacy. I'm not a pacificst, I believe there are just wars (Darfur seems to be creeping towards that point, perhaps?), but war is just about the most horrible thing that humans do. This insight, that war is hell, is completely absent from the GOP convention, and it's truly shocking.

Christopher Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. He is an editor at large at the Nation and a former senior editor of In These Times.
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