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We are the American people
Loving Jesus, church with steeple
Voluptuous cushion of assurance
Unquestioningly righteous, our concurrence

The nationís fear is so infectious
Redemptive bloodlust might protect us
They cannot change so what's in store
If not a never-ending war?

What can we do, who can we blame?
We know inside they're all the same
This national lynch mob cannot stop
Glorious presidential photo-op

Our body counts, so good, so low
Our working class, the ones to go
Their hope is our benign neglect
No need to think, care, or reflect

Weíre strong and nearly unopposed
And they'll be buried, decomposed
There is no risk, no roll of dice
We do it without sacrifice

Be resolute and do not bend
Since they will thank us in the end
For mother, father, sister, son
Dead and buried, freedom won

Islamic, balsamic itís all the same
Oily, murderous, money game
Forced into it, it's not our fault
They deserve our deadliest assault

Labels define us to a "T"
Yellow ribbons on our SUV
I'm for the cause 100%
Regretful though not penitent

We can't be wrong, I'll be explicit
It's all their fault, we're not complicit
They're ignorant of our God-like mission
As we beat them all into submission

Admit to nothing, straddle no fence
Has naught to do with competence
If we can't get the ones who dunnit
Get some others, that's how we'll run it

It's so simple, black and white
Reason fails so we must fight
While we won't give for we are strong
Unlike us they'll break before long

Techno-warfare, missiles in space
Unleashed without even a face
To know in moment of last breath
A reason for the end, ones death

We're good at war, as well you know
Your kids don't even need to go
Forget it starting based on lies
We stay by keeping news sanitized

Oh Lord, sweet Jesus, God of war
Help us smite them we implore
Rain oil down on us from on high
Until our wells have all run dry

And please accept our stated reasons
For more death with each passing season
We'll help them learn Lord, if you're willing
See it our way or see blood-spilling

World opinion matters not
We need no friends to join our plot
When we need help they'll have forgotten
The spoils however misbegotten

Will hope arise, will it fight back
Through mindless stupor, Mac Attack?
Find one good man, a fearless leader
Sans riches, ego, vengeance meter

Who's strong enough to turn a cheek
Holding mighty no higher than meek
Relentless in the quest for peace
No cronies, debts, or palms to grease

Pat Pattillo ©2006
All Rights Reserved

Pat Pattillo

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The following comments are for "The American People"
by ppatt

The American People
Thanks for sharing your impressions. I am severely under-read when it comes to poetry and consequently limited in style though I have written a number of essays. However, I am probably in the right place to expand my horizons a bit by reading the works by you and others.

I suppose the symmetry and it's likeness to things military come from a couple of things. First it is something that has been fermenting, waiting to get out but at the same time it had to be directed, channeled and focused in order to avoid being reduced to whining or venting.

I have listened to the rationale for war from various proponents, trading and retracing their fragmented logic in my mind for a few years. To me their arguments always came up short.

So my goal was a satirical exposition, not of the specific arguments but of what seemed to be unspoken beneath the surface as the arguments were being verbalized.

I typically find myself incredulous listening to some hawkish spiel, thinking point by point how I might reply to each, the inherent underlying assumptions, and the apparent contradiction. I find myself thinking things like "one could only say that if they actually believe all 'those people' are exactly the same".

Hawks and even conservatives often avoid a statement of values and instead hide behind least that has been the observation of political observers and consultants who advise progressive candidates to "talk policy, not feelings". I enjoy flushing out the values that so oten hide behind a layer of obfuscation.

This is all very important to me and my intent was to convince. I hoped to rub my country's national collective nose (those who might read in any event) in the reality of what it is being done.

I am discourage by what is happening and the metaphors of strength and weakness that are being played across our national stage. I wanted to get across the point that hope must fight or be trampled ("Will hope arise, will it fight back...").

Articles and essays abound but poetry seems to have some untapped potential to gain the upper hand in a clash between positions when one is clearly value based and the other is less so.

I wish I had more range but Kipling comes to mind:

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier _of_ the Queen!

In the same way that we can be moved by others in sinister ways by the awareness of our own mortality there might be a (pardon the metaphor) one-two punch afforded by both shining the light on the reality and then attempting to expose the folly of the logic.

( Posted by: ppatt [Member] On: May 1, 2006 )

I got to admit this is put together rather well for an anti-American anti-Christian poem. I don't agree with one word of it. You're entitled to your opinion if this is what you see in America, but I see something entirely different. I'm just so sick of having America and American Christians spat upon like we are all a bunch of ignorant fools. America is not the monster nor the problem. Americans are not stupid and mindless. Christians are not blood thirsty mashers of innocent muslim terrorist dogs! Still its a really good poem. Really whips along with perfect rhythm. You deserve respect for having the ability to write something like this. I wish someone with your skills would write something from my point of view and the point of view of millions of other Americans like me who believe what I believe, and who see what I see. I have to admit I can't articulate as well as you, nor do I have the writing skills to pull it off as well as this. I'm just one of those ignorant American Christian fool redneck military morons who believe in this country and who don't write too good, making it easy for those like you to kick us around on paper.

Have fun.

( Posted by: TINKER [Member] On: May 1, 2006 )

that's curious
because I am American and Christian and I live this country so I must be bashing myself.

The entire point was to examine the values that underly labels. I think that in our pride, our alleigance and even our affectation are sometimes triggeredat levels which barely scratch the surface. Positions often assume, to some degree, assurances of some ideology that might not immediately seek to understand or emanate from a readily definable value system. It begs the question of whether the ideology emanates from the values or the other way around.

Christians? In practice, that word itself cuts a very wide swath, from the most intolerant, war-mongering and prejudiced all the way to the most selfless, caring, and giving. The proper question to ask is "Which was he talking about?"

I think it was really clear that the poem was about the former and not the latter. Religion was just one facet anyway. The point was not to liken all Christians to all those qualities but rather to take a look at the facets of our society that, at times, exhibit unquestioning certitude to the extent that humility and benign neglect of others becomes the rule rather than the exception.

I know Christians who readily admit they do not have all the answers, hold just a few simple basic tenets to heart, actually do turn the other cheek with remarkable effect and power in doing so, practice their faith at a very personal level, love the sinner not the sin (my sentiments regarding our president), and demonstrate their values consistently in their dealings with all people and groups...which compels them to make tremendous efforts not to base their actions to an entire group based on the actions of a monority sub-group even to the point of, once again, turning the other cheek.

What do you think of Jim Wallis, evangelical theologian who says that if you took a bible and removed all the references to charity and the poor that you would have a hollowed out book with enough room for Rush Limbaugh to smuggle his drugs through airport security? Is he "slamming all Christians" or might he just be taking a more literal interpretation of the bible that even some prominent fundamnetalists somehow manage to avoid.

I tried really hard to open up a few cans of worms and ask some tough questions but I suppose it creates less dissonance to oversimplify this whole thing into something akin the assumption that it is black and white and a direct insult to an entire group.

I invite you to do something more than say "Who, moi?" or deduce that you or a group that you identify with was somehow slammed but to actually dissect the points and ask whether you know someone wo embodies the logic that is satirized (ok, mocked) there and more importantly ask whether the logic is faulty or not. However, I think that any perceptions about demonizing America or mocking the Christian faith are at face value, ludicrous. I would respectfully submit that just maybe there are some difficult, even unpalatable questions posed and that maybe hair-trigger insult is a way of avoiding them. I know several Christians who at this very moment are consumed by angst over these issues so suggest that even Christians themselve are not vaied in opinion sort of assumes a monopoly on Christianity as an icon in our society.

Are there people who think "they're all the same"? Are there people who believe that the fallacious stated reasons for starting a way do not matter? How strenuous must a Christian's efforts be to avoid war (i.e. killing other humans) be and just what is the appropriate amount of restraint? Why wouldn't these questions be worthy of examination. If you don't lump all Christians together into a single convenient group then these would be very important questions to wrestle with. Even Jesus struggled at times, well-documented in the bible, so why, with all these obvious challenges to the preachings of the bible in practice and theory, should things be such a slam-dunk and reduced to the level of "your either for us or against us"?

It's not even a subtlety, but rather the entire point that values and contradictions be examined before jumping on any ideological bandwagon.

I was only successful to the degree that even those who disagree would walk away just a little disturbed and even think more about a few points rather than walk away with a diffuse sense that aspersions had somehow been cast on an indivisible raft of ideology.

Have you ever seen someone who was angry, didn't want to talk about it, and refused to consider any difficult question on a topic? I'm not saying that is you since I don't even know you but I am saying that fear is always the source of anger (that's not even debated by psychiatrists) and that we humans are much more fluffy and less close to God than we might think. Unless our morals are kept in check (hopefully by societal norms, religion or ethics) we tend to drift in directions for no other reason than reducing our own cognitive dissonance resulting from the stress involved in sorting out things which can also be connected to our emotions. The shortcut that makes it all easier is reducing things to black and white.

When complex ethical and moral questions are reduced to ideology it is somewhat like building a house that is dependent upon a foundation upon which framing and plumbing etc. are placed. It is very disturbing to hear some difficult questions being asked about the foundation after the framing is in place. But that's what happens if great care is not taken to avoid poorly constructed assumptions or if pre-digested conclusions are accepted without sufficient scrutiny.

I read an article once about a soldier in Gulf War I (the prequel) about a soldier who was faced with an Iraqi with a gun and the thoughts that went through his head...and what he did. He struggled and that was the entire point of the article. We should sstruggle with these things rather than quickly hustling by them as we would some wino laying in the gutter.

That brings me to the other intent of the poem which was to be provocative in a way that might break up the mental constipation, logjam of ideas, oversimplified equilibrium that typifies the arrival at some palatable position of convenience and comfort. If the poem did that for even just a few people, even for just a brief instant, then I achieved my goal.

I suppose I am belaboring the obvious but I also regret that at times, our leaders who themselves lack the experience of war, might be finding the sending of others to their death just a little to easy. Sure, I hear it being said that "I had no choice" but that only leads to yet another unpalatable question of "How hard should one try to avoid it?" Surely that one is worth asking or sooming in on in some details, isn't it? Or should we accept without questioning?

I take it that you are saying, if you would refrain from dwelling on the egregious insult for just a moment, that it did not do that for you. Am I right?

By the way, I readily admit that I am not the be-all/end-all...that I do not speak for some absolutist version of my faith or country. I realize that there are others with differing opinions and I speak with them civilly all the time. However, our discussions do not hinge around the question of their insult but rather the things we each struggle with. I just can't tell what you are struggling with and my guess is that you think that is what is wrong--that it is insulting to be struggling with any of these questions.

( Posted by: ppatt [Member] On: May 1, 2006 )

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