By Kevin Foley
One of the far right mantras you’ll be hearing in the weeks and months ahead is “liberals hate America.” Conservative luminaries like Ann Coulter casually throw this diss around implying the far right has cornered the market on patriotism.
When I hear it or similar words, I invite the person saying them to visit Arlington National Cemetery and walk among the honored dead there to identify those graves bearing liberals and the ones containing conservatives.
Of course it can’t be done at Arlington or at American graves in a hundred other military cemeteries around the world because those interred in these hallowed places sacrificed their lives for an ideal far nobler than cheap political demagoguery.
But since conservatives brought it up, real America haters can be found in our history books - and they weren’t liberals. I’m talking about people who detested the Constitution of the United States and the democratic principles American soldiers, sailors and airmen died to protect.
Shortly after he was elected president, a group of wealthy industrialists and powerful Wall Street financiers plotted the overthrow of Franklin D. Roosevelt. They simply didn’t like the result of the 1932 election so they sought to subvert it.
They asked retired Marine Major General Smedley Butler to command a coup, their goal to establish a “Secretary of General Affairs” to run America the way they saw fit. Butler was popular among veterans so the industrialists reasoned he was the right man to lead a half million men into Washington to depose FDR.
They were wrong. Butler, the most decorated Marine in history and a Republican, was an American first. He went straight to Congress to reveal the treasonous scheme and name names. The titans of industry and finance Butler implicated denied his allegations, of course. And while the committee agreed his charges were credible, it failed to investigate.
“The big shots weren't even called to testify,” Smedley said later. “They were all mentioned in the testimony. Why was all mention of these names suppressed from the testimony?”
I think we know the answer, General, because things haven’t changed much in the 80 years since. The big shots are still getting away with murder and their marionettes in Congress are still looking the other way.
Butler later published a booklet about his career with the prescient title “War is a Racket”. In it he denounced the military-industrial complex and profit motives for war.
It’s worth a read, especially in light of the last decade of American military adventurism.
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service,” wrote Butler, “and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.”
Again, we find things aren’t much different, at least according the Iraq Veterans Against the War. They learned firsthand what General Butler was talking about.
“From privately contracted soldiers and linguists to no-bid reconstruction contracts and multinational oil negotiations,” says the IVAW web site, “those who benefit the most in this conflict are those who suffer the least.”
So, as we honor those who gave the last full measure, here are some questions we must also ask our elected officials this Memorial Day:
Why are our troops dying in Afghanistan right this very minute? What does “victory” look like? And, most important, who benefits most and suffers the least with young Americans in harm’s way there?
We owe our courageous men and women nothing less.
Foley is president of KEF
Media Associates, an Atlanta-based producer and distributor
of sponsored news content to television and radio media.