Cynthia McKinney wrote recently that we are patriots, and I agree.
The York County (SC) Greens have, for the past couple of years, been allowed to submit a monthly column for YC magazine. YC Magazine is locally produced and distributed. They include columns by the Greens, Libertarians, Democrats and Republicans. The column below was written at the height of the recent Israel-Lebanon war.
The Green Patriot
“I can’t support the Green Party because the Green Party is pacifist.” When I saw those words I knew I had done a poor job of explaining.
It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.
The paragraph above is not mine. It is taken entirely from the party’s Ten Key Values. As you can see, the Green Party is not a pacifist party, but is a party which promotes non-violence. This may be a difference without a distinction for some, but for most Greens it is critical. Just as we would fight to protect our children and families, we understand fighting to protect our nation. As with every party, many Greens are veterans. Those of us who are not veterans give special attention to the words of those who have served not because we think they smarter than the rest of us, but because they have more first hand knowledge than Greens who have not served in the military.
How then are we Greens to respond in what we are told is a “time of war?” We should, and do, respond as patriots.
A patriot has been defined as “A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country, sometimes excessively.” Like everyone else, we Greens can go overboard with out patriotism, but we usually are more even keeled than that. Blind faith in the president or the government is not patriotic to Greens. Quite the opposite. Questioning our leaders as they march our children off to die and kill is our duty as responsible participants in the American Experiment.
When we stand and ask the Pentagon to answer for their abuses of prisoners we do so not to do damage to our country, but to preserve for our children and yours an America worth fighting for. The founders of the nation understood the value of citizen participation and included it directly in the Constitution’s first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, to make it ever clear that the government serves the people and not the other way around. Asking the captains of industry to justify war profiteering is as American as apple pie. Holding military recruiters to the highest standards of honesty is not wrong, but how we protect our children from deceptions which might send an unsuited child to the front. Demanding that the president comply with the Supreme Court and Constitution is not un-American; it is as right as rain.
So, when you think about Israel and the pounding they are inflicting on Lebanon, remember that we Greens believe in self-defense, and in non-violence. When you see American soldiers killed and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan on TV, remember that we Greens believe in defending the defenseless, and in non-violence. When you hear of American soldiers forced to serve long after the end of the term they signed up for, so called “stop loss” orders, remember that we Greens believe in von-violence and justice. The 40,000 American soldiers who have deserted will want to return to society some day. Will we be ready?
The bottom line from our perspective is this: Violence is bad, and should be avoided when possible. The spiriting away of three Israeli military men and the killing of others does not justify the Israeli attacks which have killed untold hundreds of civilians in Lebanon. Israel has violated agreements with the United States. They agreed to not use weapons bought from us to invade another county. They continue, despite constant appeals for peace, to bombard and kill with no apparent end in sight. We Greens have called internationally for the Israeli military to stand down and end this war.
Weak we may be. But we have a spine. That’s more than you can say for either the Democrats or Republicans, who stand always at the ready to support any scheme crafted by pro-military forces in business, academic, or government circles. We hold ourselves to a higher standard. A Patriot’s Standard. A Green Standard. How about you? War in self-defense, or war without end?