The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

What Merle Haggard understands about world affairs

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Remember Merle Haggard? If you’ve been around long enough to remember the Vietnam war—regardless where you came down on it—you remember Okie from Muskogee. I remember the chorus as “When you’re runnin’ down my country, boy, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side o’ me.”

Haggard, it turns out, is having second thoughts about the Right. Enjoyable writing by Joe Klein at Time documents the journey:

Merle Haggard“I supported George W. I’m not exactly a liberal. But I know how that Texas thing works, who those oil folks are and what they wanted in Iraq… I’m a born-again Christian too, but the longer I live, the more afraid I get of some of these religious groups that have so much influence on the Republicans and want to tell us how to live our lives.”

But Haggard’s greatest complaint is a matter of pride—and pride, in his hardscrabble past and his country, has always been his favorite song. “The thing that gets under my skin most about George W. is his intention to install fear in people,” he said, after walking me down a hallway lined with gold and platinum records. “This is America. We’re proud. We’re not afraid of a bunch of terrorists. But this government is all about terror alerts and scaring us at airports. We’re changing the Constitution out of fear. We spend all our time looking up each other’s dresses. Fear’s the only issue the Republican Party has. Vote for them, or the terrorists will win. That’s not what Reagan was about. I hate to think about our soldiers over in Iraq fighting for a country that’s slipping away.”

How ironic is this? Think of it: Terrorists bomb the towers. Politicians, appearing defiant, persuade America to sacrifice 4,000 of their own, to spend billions, to kill perhaps a million, to restrict Constitutional rights, to violate the Geneva Conventions, to trash America’s reputation around the world, and to make thousands ripe for Islamist recruitment. How? By preaching a “clash of civilizations.” By exciting those evangelicals deluded by pop theology’s love/hate dreams of Armageddon. By suggesting “the shadow of a nuclear holocaust” loomed up from every petty dictator.

By fear.

Terrorists don’t fight wars to win them; their goal is to force political change through fear. American leaders took terrorism’s bait—hook, line, and sinker—opening the door for devastating losses to America’s own character, reputation, freedoms, and people. Osama bin Laden duped America into destroying a part of itself.

And who would have thought the Right, oblivious to terrorism’s weapon, would become the means of its success?

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Written by Monte

October 13, 2007 at 1:04 pm

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