Disloyal — a short story

Posted on 2015 November 1

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%22disloyal%22 police-brutality

In war-time, the word patriotism means suppression of truth. — Siegfried Sassoon

“This place has great draft beer.”

“You got that right.”

“Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. All these wars! It seems like we’re fighting everyone.”

“The price of freedom.”

“What, to barge in and push other countries around? Why can’t they settle their own affairs?”

“Because they’re maniacs who want to conquer the world.”

“They haven’t tried to conquer us.”

“So you slept through Nine-Eleven.”

“That was a sucker punch delivered by people who were pissed because we kept shooting at their countries!”

“Sure, right. You don’t think they’re trying to conquer everyone?”

“I dunno, maybe some of them want to. But how far can they get? We’re halfway around the world.”

“Nine-eleven.”

“Sucker punch.”

“If we know they plan to attack us, we have the right to invade first.”

“But we don’t know. Maybe they’d like to attack, but we have half the military might on the planet. They could scratch us, but we’d skewer them. There’s no need to fight other nations just because they might wish they could come over here and do what we’ve been doing to them for decades.”

“I’m talking about the radical groups, the militants. They don’t care if they die or everyone dies, as long as they can blow stuff up over here.”

“Our defenses are ready.”

“We need to attack, not just wait. That’s why we’re in there, swinging.”

“Lotta good it’s done.”

“We have to stay the course. And I’m sorry I gotta say this, but once we’re at war, people like you who disagree are flirting with treason.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I’m not. We’ve made the choice to go in there—”

“I didn’t make that choice.”

“Your government, duly elected, made the choice. We’re at war. Debate is over. Disagreers are disloyal.”

“You’re not kidding.”

“Nope.”

“So basically, if we get into a military fight with another country, then free speech is suspended?”

“Yep.”

“That’s crazy. Show me in the Constitution where it says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting freedom of speech, except in time of war.’”

“It says the president can round up dissidents.”

“No, it doesn’t! You’re nuts.”

“I’ll show you. Got your phone? Here, give it to me. I’ll look it up online. Hold on… Here it is. Article One, Section Nine. ‘The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.’ There you go.”

“Nobody’s rebelling or invading.”

“Sure they are. When they disagree with the direction of the war, they’re fomenting rebellion.”

“It’s not a rebellion, it’s a debate. In a democracy, the people have to discuss everything so they can decide how to vote. We hold elections during wartime, you know.”

“When you bitch and moan about military actions, you divert attention and resources away from prosecuting the war. The president’s people have to stamp out political brush fires started by dissidents, instead of focusing on winning the battles.”

“The government has more than enough people to do all of that.”

“But dissidents can cause the nation to doubt itself, which can cause it to lose the war.”

“Maybe the war is a bad idea, and that’s what needs to be discussed.”

“Nope. Once we start, naysayers are treasonous. It’s obvious. War is an emergency.”

“Wait a minute. The poor must receive their food stamps or they’ll starve. The environment must be protected or we’ll all boil away during climate change or drown in our own sewage. Criminals must be caught or there’ll be chaos in the streets.”

“Those aren’t emergencies. A real emergency is when you have to use guns to protect your interests.”

“You think the government doesn’t use guns to protect its domestic policies? Just disobey any law in public and see how long it takes for the cops to start pounding on your door. And if you refuse to let them in, they can knock down the door and flash-bang you into submission. And if you still resist, they can shoot you dead. So, which is more important, using force to protect policies right here at home, or fighting a faraway military action that might or might not prevent some distant future problem?”

“War is the most important. It’s the life or death of the country.”

“Okay, fine. Let’s say you’re right. And let’s remember that you and I talk a lot about politics and how you hate most of the president’s domestic policies. And you get pretty loud about it. And you’ve posted stuff online that’s nasty-critical of the prez. And there are millions of others like you. Don’t you think the president’s people have to fight a rear-guard action to quell the noise of your protests? Doesn’t that distract the president from fighting the war? So aren’t you forcing the government to waste resources on you and your fellow dissidents instead of focusing on the war effort? Aren’t you just as much a traitor as me?”

“…Uh, wait—”

“Here, give me my phone back, you disloyal citizen. Wave to the bartender, I’ll buy us more beers. And we’ll sit here and yammer like the two traitors we really are.”

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Posted in: Fiction, Politics