W. S. Burroughs reading A Thanksgiving Prayer

It’s been a while since I’ve posted this. Unfortunately, I find it all too topical these days, thirty years after it was written.

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shat out through wholesome American guts.
Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.
Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.
Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.
Thanks for the American dream, to vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin’ lawmen, feelin’ their notches.
For decent church-goin’ women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.
Thanks for “Kill a Queer for Christ” stickers.
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind their own business.
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the memories — all right, let’s see your arms!
You always were a headache and you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

Important words, from a former President:

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.

— Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, in “Sedition, A Free Press, and Personal Rule”, published May 7, 1918; excerpted from Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star: War-time Editorials, Volume 2

It’s obvious that our current President Elect would disagree with these words, as would many of his supporters…who, ironically, are likely to consider themselves more “patriotic” that someone of my ilk, precisely because of their unquestioning support, even though this hews far closer to nationalism and fascism than it does patriotism.

“My country, right or wrong,” is often quoted. It’s a shame that many who toss that around omit the latter part, and to my estimation, the most important part of Carl Schurz’s quote: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

Propaganda, anyone? This site really got my attention after it was posted over on MetaFilter today. On the one hand, on a conceptual/artistic level, I like most of what I see (though some of the posters really are just plain bad). However, on a more intellectual level, it’s just frightening, due to the strong resemblance to WWII-era Soviet propaganda posters. I was hoping that it may have been more satirical in nature, but apparently this is a real, serious attempt…though at exactly what isn’t entirely clear from the site.

Pro-America does not mean pro-war. Or pro-Bush. Or anti-Afghanistan. Or pro-little-flags-on-SUV-antennas.

It means thinking independently and getting better informed and filtering your news very carefully and realizing that just because one version of the American aggro attitude is currently being ramrodded down society’s throat doesn’t mean you have to swallow.

— Mark Morford

Incidentally, this quote comes originally from this article at the SF Gate. It was then quoted at Killoggs, was then quoted at Underachievers, after which it was quoted by Wil Wheaton in his weblog, where I found it. And yes — the real Wil Wheaton. The Stand By Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation Wil Wheaton. Who just happens to be one of the coolest and funniest guys I’ve read stuff from in a long time. Set aside a few hours, and poke around his website — it’s well worth the time.