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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Obama's "Sister Souljah"

Back in January, Barack Obama had this to say, revealing not only the "depth" (or rather, the lack of it) of his opposition to the invasion of Iraq, but also his feelings about the anti-Vietnam war movement:
"I didn't come of age in the battles of the 60s. I'm not as invested in them...Even when you discuss war, the frame of reference is all Vietnam. Well, that's not my reference. My frame of reference is 'what works.' Even when I first opposed the war in Iraq, my first line was, 'I don't oppose all wars,' specifically to make clear that this was not just an anti-military, 70s love-in kind of approach, rather, that I thought strategically it was a mistake for us to go in."
As I wrote then, his claim that the movement against the war in Vietnam was "anti-military" or a "love-in" and not the "opposition to imperialist wars of aggression and occupation" that it actually was is telling.

Today he explored that "theme" further:

"Some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself - by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day."
Obama is clearly alluding to the thoroughly discredited right-wing lie that returning soldiers were spat upon by antiwar activists, and, just for good measure, dredges up the old "flag-burners" image as well, as if flag burning was more than the most infinitesimal part of the antiwar movement. This picture stands reality on its head - as the movie Sir, No Sir! made clear, it was the antiwar movement which honored soldiers by placing them front and center in the movement. If there is any one symbol which should represent the antiwar movement of the time, it's the antiwar soldiers, not the flag-burners.

Sister Souljah, move over, antiwar activists have taken your place as the whipping boy of the 2008 election. The only "approved" antiwar stance is evidently that which says that we think the war was a bad idea, and we do need to get out, really we do, but we don't want to do so rashly, and until it seems the time is right we'll just have to keep voting more money to "support the troops." If you think the war and occupation represent something deeper, like American imperialism or even just its simple thirst for oil, you're in Obama's sights as one of those "extremists" who is attacking "the very idea of America itself."

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