Progressive Writers Bloc

Freedom?

Uncle Bill Warner

I just received an email having to do with "supporting our troops" and admonishing me that "freedom isn’t free." Both phrases freely translated mean, "Go ye righteous troops and conquer," or, "…quit questioning our President’s bad judgement." They rank right up alongside "Remember the Maine", which allowed us to subjugate Cuba and the Philippines (Spanish-American War, where we took away their freedom), or "Remember the Alamo", which allowed us to steal the whole Southwest from Mexico in the name of freedom (Mexican War).

Anatole France wrote, "The law, in its majesty, forbids both rich and poor from sleeping under bridges." Think about that for a second. "Freedom to work" is another "freedom." Sure, high school grads can get jobs anywhere: McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King… Jobs that pay enough to take care of food and the rent aren’t there, but kids are free to take them if they ever are.

Maybe "freedom" means what the Constitution says it means…freedom of speech, privacy, habeas corpus, no governmental religion, etc. Shouldn’t we be we be fighting against our own government’s curtailment of these rights rather than making war on someone halfway around the world?

Another saying I hear bandied about is, "We have the freedom in this country to do whatever we want to." Oh really? So women should be free to choose an abortion? Same-sex marriages should be allowed? People should be allowed to set up tables to gather signatures on petitions in front of Target? I should be allowed access to the ocean (or the Tule River) if someone owns all the beachfront (or riverfront) land and doesn’t want me going through his driveway to play in the water behind his house? The government should be free to mortgage the future of our great grandchildren, yet unborn, by running up debts that can never be paid off to fight foreign wars? People should be free to say no to the draft? I should be allowed to go 160 MPH on Hwy 99? ...drink beer in public? ...walk naked down Main Street? ...picnic on the sidewalk in front of the Post Office? ...burn an effigy of George Bush in Mooney Grove? ...say the "f---" word on Sesame Street? ...pull off the road in a national forest without having to have a permit? ...refuse an immoral order when in the Army? ...be free to starve or freeze if I can't find a job?

"Freedom isn't free" may have originated with an Indian Chief trying to keep his tribe’s lands free from the White invaders. If you asked any of the guys who rammed the Twin Towers, why they did it, they would tell you that they want to be free from US control of their country (Saudi Arabia). Whether one is a "terrorist" or a "freedom fighter" depends on your point of view.

In the name of "freedom," we supply training and arms to repressive governments which keep their own people from forming labor unions to raise workers in American-owned factories out of poverty. We give ‘em freedom with a bayonet. Dick Gregory’s once commented, "… you don ’t have to force freedom down people’s throats. In my neighborhood, it you have something that is worth something, people will steal it from you." Let’s make sure we have something here in the U.S. worth stealing.

Personally, I like the bumper sticker: "Work to Make Freedom a Reality."

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