Ten Years After

     On Dec. 7, 1951, The New York Times did not run any stories “commemorating” the 10th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
     Nor did the Times make a big deal about the 10th anniversary of VE Day – the end of World War II in Europe – on May 7, 1955.
     Nor did the Times commemorate the 10th anniversary of VJ Day – the end of World War II – on Aug. 15, 1955.
     On June 25, 1886, neither the Times nor anyone else ran a special section lamenting the cruel fate that had befallen General Custer 10 years ago.
     So far as I know, the King of Spain did not commemorate the defeat of the Armada, in any way, in July 1598, 10 years after the English Navy sank his boats.
     Nor did England commemorate it.
     I had this column ready a week ago but I held it.
     I am not being unpatriotic by saying this, one week after Sept. 11.
     I am simply asking when, and why, did the United States begin making big, weeklong, hand-wringing, breast-beating woe-is-us deals out of the past?
     Have all 300 million of us become like the drunks you see slumped on barstools at bars whose Happy Hours are from 8 to 10 a.m.?
     They mutter to themselves in the dark, and they never forget anything and they never learn anything.
     On every day of the year, throughout history, massacres have been perpetrated around the world. Very few countries commemmorate them, year after year, and why should they?
     I love my country.
     The United States, and my parents and schools, educated me, fed me, raised me from a tot.
     I’ve traveled through 48 states, worked for a living and paid taxes in eight of them.
     I think this is the greatest country in the world. I cannot imagine a place more beautiful than Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons, or a state more beautiful than Oregon, or Arizona, or more reasonable than my home in Vermont.
     I love the shale formations of Tennessee, the swamps of Louisiana where my grandpa came from, the blue shale of New Mexico, the endless corn of Nebraska, the hard dust of the Dakotas, the Appalachian Mountains, the five Great Lakes and the Great Salt Lake. I even love New York.
     Because of all of this, and because of our proud national history of nearly four centuries, I cannot understand the national pity party to which we were just subjected.
     Get over it, America.
     Since Sept. 11, 2001, we have inflicted tens of thousands more deaths upon the world than we suffered that day.
     We have killed far more civilians, in lands far away, than were killed in our country on that ugly day.
     We have made the world an uglier place since then.
     Our own country has become far more ugly.
     We are living in an empire of lies.
     One of our major political parties has offered us a string of vile, ignorant mediocrities as our next president.
     The president of the United States – a conservative Democrat – has been reviled as a terrorist sympathizer, a socialist, an “anti-colonial con man,” a Muslim – as though that were an insult – but never – no no! – as black.
     Because we live in a “post-racial society.”
     Give me a break.
     The only glimmer of hope in this dysfunctional republic is that Rick Perry is scaring the hell out of the money men in the Republican Party, because he reveals them for what they are: ugly, dangerous, and willfully ignorant.
     It’s a sad thing that Barack Obama’s hope for re-election rests with the money men of the Republican Party. But that’s how it is.
     Next week the Palestinian people will ask the United Nations for a little bit of respect.
     They won’t get it from the United States.
     So the Palestinian people, and the people of Israel, and the rest of the people over there, whose governments are no better than our own, will have to figure out what to do next.
     They’ll figure out something. They have better – and worse – things to do than the stuff we do in Washington.

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