I’m trying to understand love of country. It’s hard hoeing. Maybe some things just ain’t understandable. Or maybe it’s ‘cause I’m from West Virginia and don’t have shoes, ‘cause they ain’t any that fits people with twelve toes. How are you supposed to love a country where you can’t get shoes?
I’m not even sure there’s any such thing as a country. Mostly my country seems to be a bunch of brigands in Washington who send you tax forms to get money so they can kill people in some place that never did anything to you and you probably don’t know where is. When did I ask them to do that?
It looks to me like a country is just a temporary mood ginned up to get everybody hooting and hollering behind the grenade industry with other people’s money. People just naturally like to get together in packs and kill each other, or beat each other full of concussions like in football, or have gangs and zip guns and ball bats and smack hell out of each other. A country’s just a teenage gang with older teenagers and better zip guns, I reckon. All you got to do is get them riled up about something that probably don’t exist. You send the dumb ones to get killed and the smart ones cash the checks at home. That’s what a country is.
Think about it. Isn’t it true? When the gummint wants to go kill folks we mostly never heard of, in Halfghanistan or Eye Rack this week anyway, it acts like the country is one solid thing, a big happy family, and has to think the same things. If the gummint hates Halfghans, or wants their oil or something, we all got to hate them because we ought to love our country. It makes as much sense as lug nuts on a birthday cake.
I can’t see how there’s anything special about a country. It’s just a big herd full of little herds that hate each other and want to swindle each other and pick everybody’s pockets and burgle their houses if they can’t actually steal them. I mean, the blacks hate the whites and beat them lopsided so they can take pictures, and half the whites hate blacks but don’t dare say so, and want to run Messicans out of the country, and the Messicans hate the blacks and the whites that want to run them back to Messico, and everybody hates Moslems, whatever one of those is. Maybe that’s a country. It looks more like a bar fight waiting to happen.
What’s funny is how people talk about how they love their country, but don’t act like it. I mean, there ain’t nothing more patriotic than a businessman who thinks he can make money at it. The newspaper in Charlestown says the gummint spends a trillion dollars on wars every year, either fighting them or getting ready or looking for new ones. I don’t know how much a trillion is. I do know it never sees the inside of a soldier’s pockets.
No. All they get is stumps and blinded and dead. The businessmen don’t want them to win, because then the gummint wouldn’t buy as many helicopters to get shot down and then buy more. But businessmen don’t want the troops to lose either, for exactly the same reason. Nobody in his right mind stops a going concern.
We got two kinds of businessman, and they both love their country the way a bank robber loves a bank. One kind wants to bring the whole country of Messico to America so they can pay them twelve cents an hour under the table and get rich. The other wants to send all America’s factories to China where they can pay twelve cents an hour and get rich. Both kinds drip patriotism like oil from a 1964 Harley. If anyone loved me like businessmen love their country, I’d go into hiding.
Then we’ve got the military that loves its country something crazy. In West Virginia I noticed that ticks love cows. (Why did I think of that, I wonder?) In Washington you’ve got whole packs of colonels strutting around like barnyard roosters, but with less brains, and saying that hippies and reporters need to support the Pentagon’s troops in killing Halfghans. It’s so they can show how much they love their country.
See, colonels think they are the country, and nobody but them gets to decide what the country wants. But what if I think I’m the country as much as some useless tax-sucking colonel with colored gewgaws stuck on his coat jacket like a stamp collection? And what if I don’t want to bomb anybody that I don’t know, just to make money for bomb factories?
I didn’t know that Lockheed-Martin was a country. I do now.
I got my doubts about some other patriots too. Suppose you went up north to Wall Street and asked those Yankee tape worms if they loved their country. Reckon they’d say yes? Of course they would. Why, they love their country like a hog loves cornbread. Of course, the hog don’t care whose cornbread.
Thing is, the tapeworms, along with the other part of the gummint that stays in Washington, just busted the economy and left half of us with no house. If that ain’t patriotism, I don’t know what might be. And they didn’t even say they was sorry, probably because they were too busy hiding the money in off-shore accounts. Somehow, patriotism usually seems to have dollar signs attached.
A famous fraud said, “Ask not what your country can do for you,” but that’s just what everybody does ask. Best I can tell, lots of folk love the United States till their gums bleed, but don’t want to do anything for it except run it broke. Congress takes bribes the way a Las Vegas slot machine eats quarters. Big Pharma swindles the public like a riverboat gambler with three decks of aces in his pockets. The Pentagon ain’t nothing but Section Eight housing with five walls, so’s you can tell whoever built it wasn’t paying attention.
I guess with lots of practice I might learn to love hookworm, or leprosy, or even rap music like they have on the radio out of Wheeling—though that may be stretching it. But I can’t go lower. I got my limits.