Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pirates, violence, and the pledge of allegiance

The recent saga in which Somali pirates attempted (and failed) to hijack a cargo ship with a U.S. crew, and then took the captain hostage, and then got killed by U.S. navy snipers *almost* brings me back to the days when I proudly said the pledge of allegiance, hand over heart, and bought into my father's heartfelt solution for solving international crises: "Nuke 'em 'til they glow."

  Almost, but not quite.  Alas.  Today I went with my 7 year old daughter to her school assembly, wherein a few hundred kindergardeners through 6th graders all stood, put their hands over their hearts, faced the U.S. flag, and recited these old words:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

I just can't do it.  say the words, I mean.  I stood to be polite.  But ... I just can't do it.

The United States is largely still convinced that violence solves things.  The Somali pirate episode seems to bear this deeply held belief out.  But the strange juxtaposition of the most violent nation in the history of nations being composed, in such large majority, of people who claim to follow such a purveyor of non-violence as Jesus Christ just tweaks me.  Our ongoing inability to figure this thing out, after Korea, and Vietnam, and the war on drugs, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the hundreds of other ultimately unsuccesful (well, depending on how you define success, I guess) military operations over the last 200+ years should, I suppose, amaze me more than it does.  Are cynicism and numbness related?  I just can't do the "Hurrah, fucked those bastards" thing today.  Try me again tomorrow.


Joe said...

On the other hand, protecting yourself and/or your property from pirates seems to me to be one of the few forms of justifiable violence. Given that five days went by, this is perhaps an example of considerable restraint from the military.

Of course, there are also questions about how come these pirates need to take this course of action, about poverty and corruption in that part of Africa and the kind of world where expensive goods are shipped around the world, past millions/billions who might actually benefit most from them.

With reference to the pledge, of course we don't have an equivalent (nor a written constitution, but hey never mind). I have noticed a considerable reduction in enthusiasm for our national anthem at local sports events, however.

But that might just be because it is such a dirge.

Fishpimp said...

It's easy to criticize, but what is the solution? I have no idea, so if you do please share!