Occupiers not LiberatorsBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
RECENTLY, the Republican convention took center stage after the conclusion of the summer Olympics in Athens.
For four long days, GOPers watched as the superstars from their party paraded into primetime and onto the television screens of hundreds of thousands. From the humble honesty of John McCain to the powerful poignancy of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
All elements were in place to trounce the Democrats this November and bring home another four years for President George W. Bush.
Though the podium was filled with all the big names, critics argued that the bulk of speakers held a moderate inclination and didn’t represent the more conservative stance the White House stands for.
That is … expect for one man, who not only stood out from the rest because of his downright conservatism but also because of what he was not … a Republican.
His name is Zell Miller, the Democratic senator from the state of Georgia.
Called a traitor and a “zellout” by some while someone who has finally seen the light by others, Senator Miller once spoke as the keynote speaker during the 1992 Democratic Convention, nominating Bill Clinton for the top job. Now disgruntled and infuriated by his own party leadership, he broke partisanship ties, speaking out in front of the 2004 Republican Convention, jumping out in favor of policies instituted by President Bush.
Focusing solely on the issue of terrorism, Miller bashed away at Kerry’s policies, considering them too “faint-hearted,” relying too much upon foreign guidance for the deployment of American forces. He contested Kerry’s voting record during his 20-year tenure, vilifying him for opposing the weapons which the military have used for the good of the nation.
He scolded the direction his party was taking believing its rhetoric against the president for partisan reasons has placed the entire nation in grave danger. And he didn’t stop there.
Along with Kerry and his fellow Democrats, he slammed the media who he considered ungrateful for their right of freedom of press which the military had given them. He stuck out at the protesters who have taken siege of the streets surrounding Madison Square Garden, considering them as agitators who have abused their liberty by burning the American flag which American soldiers have worked so valiantly to protect.
In all this satirical bashing in what some media experts considered a speech filled with anger, there was one thing that struck out most about his speech: His argument about how the Democrats have interpreted the use of U.S. military forces during foreign engagements.
He went on about how the Democratic leadership considers the American forces as occupiers, not liberators. He cited examples of how the American forces have always been liberators, freeing one-half of Europe form the satanic empire of the Nazis, freeing the lower half of the Korean Peninsula from its communist enemies from the north and saving the souls of half a billion people in Eastern Europe from the grips of the Red army.
He concluded by saying:
“Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier.”
This statement was geared deliberately for the ears of eager conservatives wanting to be prepped up about America’s good deeds in Iraq but was the accompanying applause of the audience the correct reaction? How valid were such remarks?
During his post-interview, CNN senior analysts prodded Senator Miller over just that, the relevance of the accusations he mentioned during his speech.
They asked him how he could be so harsh on Kerry over being a flip-flopper when he himself had done the same; how could he accuse Kerry of a weak voting record on defense budgets when Dick Cheney was leaning in the same direction during his term as secretary of defense; how could he attack the Democrats about calling the soldiers occupiers when President Bush also has referred to America’s presence as an occupation?
Miller side-stepped much of the questions, claiming he didn’t know whether their facts were true but continued to insist Kerry was wrong.
What about his assertion about Americans being liberators, never occupiers. According to Senator Miller, it seems American soldiers have always sacrificed themselves for the liberty of others and never done otherwise. His examples seem to prove that much.
But tell that to Lito Cortes. In his poem, “English as a Second Language,” Cortes deals with his frustrations of teaching Philippine history to Americans. At first, his students were considerate, even understanding when the focus was about the Spanish and their colonization of the country.
But when faced with the American occupation of the Philippines, the betrayal of the Filipino freedom fighters and then the subsequent ways American soldiers and the government went about to suppress the guerillas for their desired goal of pacification, his students digressed from their considerate position and isolated themselves within what Cortes describe as “a wall of language.”
Cortes found the English language as an effective form of control, a form of power to suppress the Filipino’s cause for freedom while justifying America’s means for colonizing another nation. In a way, their control of English was the perfect way for ghosts of America past to barricade themselves within concepts such as “benevolent assimilation,” to forget about their bloody, blundering with their little brown brothers and assume it was their manifest density to be there.
But Cortes does not heed. If English is the weapon used to keep Filipinos under control then Cortes decided to use English language, through his poetry, as his own weapon of choice. Americans may hide within the abstract concepts of “impregnable verbs and impossible idioms” but Cortes decides to bring the “blood and gores of (his) forebears,” physical and concrete concepts which he could now use to scale their “impregnable” wall of language. Cortes was bent on making Americans confront the ugly part of their past by holding the ghosts of yesterday accountable for their sins.
But many, including Miller, have yet to confront their past. Miller was just like one of Cortes’ students, adhering to the American tradition of hearing using earplugs: taking them out when one wants to hear something and putting them back on to block out all the rest. Howlin’ Jake Smith and General Otis must have been applauding in the coffins during Miller’s speech, obviously thrilled that they’re work now was seen as something which has increased the scope of freedom and liberty throughout the world.
Miller would never heed advice from such a poet as Cortes. According to him, “It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the banner of America the free.” He, along with many other Americans, fully believes America is the champion of freedom and liberty and no beamish such as this would taint that final assessment. They consider American policy like the pope once considered himself– perfectly infallible, and anything contrary to that was to be considered blasphemy.
Miller assumed full control of the English language that night, creating a wonderful smear campaign hitched onto numerous false and misguided premises to justify an end without any means. Even the littlest of assertions about always being liberators, not occupiers may seem so small and perhaps significant only within the political realm but such insensitivity of the truth of the matter perpetrates deeper wounds and deeper sorrows.
For when other American students pick up their American history books and read though the Spanish-American War text, Americans will never see themselves as an occupier, guided by self-serving policies inconsiderate of the harm such policies would do upon a people halfway around the world.
Thanks to Senator Miller, Americans instead would be justified in seeing themselves as liberators of grateful nation, who were happy to exchange their sovereignty from one foreign power to another, who were happy to sacrifice upwards of a million people to leave peacefully under the rule of the stars and stripes. - PDM
See this article,"Occupiers not Liberators" in Philippine News. Click here.