Patriotism since 9/11

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so.
How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.

— Julius Caesar

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

— Isaac Asimov

Loyalty and patriotism are interesting concepts.

Since September 11th, I’ve received patriotic emails like this one:

“Hey, yeah our government sucks and they want to put us in prison, but I’m an American first and a pot smoker second. I don’t appreciate your liberal rantings about Bush. Your magazine is supposed to be about pot, not politics. And besides, with our country under attack, I am going to side with Bush, even if he does want to put me in jail for pot, I can overlook it. He’s my president, and just because he is wrong about herb, that doesn’t make him wrong about everything.”

I wrote back to the emailer, who lived in the American Midwest, and said that his attitude was hard to understand – that it would be like Jewish Germans in Germany under Hitler deciding to overlook the Nazi death camps, because their country was being attacked by Allied forces.

There have been other emails with similar messages, chiding Cannabis Culture for reporting news critical of the United States, and accusing me of being unpatriotic, “a traitor.”

One member of the American marijuana reform movement told me that on almost every issue except marijuana, he was “a conservative.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with globalization, capitalism, Republicans, gunners’ rights, school prayer, and going to war against whoever we choose to,” he said. “This is the greatest country in the world, even with the drug war. When you make it look like marijuana smokers are all a bunch of left wing Democrat wackos, you are scaring away citizens who might support us on marijuana but who don’t like the anti-American hippie element that they think is always part of the marijuana sub-culture.”

I understand my correspondents’ sentiments, and I’ve tried to figure out how I could adequately report about the war on marijuana without writing critically about politicians, politics, and governments. I love America, and that’s why I want it to be a peaceful, intelligent, free country. The drug war breaks my heart, because it shows me that my country is not living up to its Constitution, or the ideals that it was founded upon.

It seems like an impenetrable enigma, until I remember my friend Doug Valentine – author, journalist, researcher – and I find a bit of courage and enlightenment.

Valentine is featured in the current issue of Cannabis Culture (issue 39) as part of our Project Truth series. He’s a soft-spoken but determined investigator who has taken on the CIA and other scary agencies, writing books and articles that boldly expose and challenge the “shadow government” that operates behind the theatrical fiction of democracy posited through institutions and the mainstream media.

The Project Truth article contains wide-ranging facts and revelations about US wars around the world and at home, and it also discusses Valentine’s newest book, which contains an investigation of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which was the precursor agency for the DEA.

But Valentine is paying close attention to the current US government, and in an amazingly bold article written for www.counterpunch.org, he publicly challenges a career military and spy agency operative who now holds a frighteningly powerful position with the newly-created Office of Homeland Security.

The article outlines how the operative played a roll in Operation Phoenix, a military-CIA program that can best be described as a massive US terror campaign in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

Valentine then shows how the operative, and the Homeland Security agency, could already be involved in setting up a quasi-military police state in the US that will be used to oppress and punish dissenters who oppose the Bush administration’s emphasis on war, oil, prohibition, unilateralism, and secrecy.

Noting that the operative’s official biographies cleverly fail to mention that the operative joined the CIA in 1967 and continued to work for CIA for years after that, Valentine pulls together a variety of facts that support his suspicion that the CIA and other clandestine individuals and agencies are secretly acting domestically and abroad without adequate Congressional oversight, at the sole whim of the President, to subvert the constitution and punish those who question Bush.

Valentine is fearless: his article contains a set of questions that bluntly ask the operative if he is still working for the CIA!

Responding to those who call him unpatriotic or soft, Valentine says: “Like most Americans, those of us who oppose the Bush Regime’s fascist policies are willing to participate in our own defense, if there is in fact a [terrorist]threat, and if in fact the CIA didn’t manufacture the threat. We just want honest forthright leaders whose first responsibility is to defend the liberties we cherish, and not to subvert them under the aegis of Homeland Security.”

Of course, some people will ask, “What does this have to do with marijuana?”

Read Project Truth in issue 39 of Cannabis Culture, and find out.

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