Starting the week with a Lewis Lapham column on fascism and ending it with a gun show at the Pima County Fairgrounds could be the ultimate test of one's sense of humor. Or it might be considered tinder for a searing column on the tragicomic woes of our luminous nation. Or, as my brother-in-law likes to say, "It is what it is."
It may be what it is, or in this case what it was, but Veterans Day is upon us, and unless you are among the growing number of vets who chewed on bitterness and suffered disillusion during a tour of Iraq or Vietnam or ... (God, how many wars have there been?), you might wave the flag for dead patriots lost in killing fields and on unknown missions.
Missions we never read of, the ones making it possible for us to buy cheap, yes, cheap gas and McDonald's fatburgers and distract ourselves in front of gargantuan television screens while we suck electronic celebrity tit and who cares anyway: This is America, and we are entitled.
We are entitled to have it our way and do it our way and do our own thing because we are the chosen, the only nation with God's highest approval rating mainlined directly into our national vein. The nation where everyone is a hero, and the panhandling addicts on the street corner earned every night's sleep hallucinating soldiers' nightmares to keep us free from truth and wrapped in the warm embrace of lies.
Let freedom ring in a country where our medical records are private until the government demands them or an insurance company's profits require them, but where it is illegal for doctors to discuss health matters with family members without written consent.
Let freedom ring in a country where a woman's abortion history risks becoming a political tool for the sanctimonious swine trembling but made brave through the blood of young men and women scarred and sacrificed for our daily fix of fictions in these, among our darkest hours.
Let freedom ring in a nation where nothing is venerable, everything is for sale and value is just another word for deal.
Let freedom ring in this nation where "what it's worth" is measured only in dollars and what has worth has long been lost; where love is linked to objects and comes with double rewards and the right credit card.
Let freedom ring in a country where ministers of the obscene share the table with pimps and presidents; where women preen for power and sell their souls for a flash of gold.
Let freedom ring in a nation where words weigh more than deeds and deeds are actions burning countries and swaths of land scraped raw, naked and nearly dead.
Let freedom ring in this, the nation of the fearful and arrogant, the swagger and smirk, where children suckle toxic milk laced with faith-based hate.
Let freedom ring in a nation where women are drugged, cut, painted and starved for notions of beauty contrived in laboratories of deceit; a nation where weakened and angry men struggle to win a measure of pride in a game fixed from the start.
Let freedom ring in a nation where failure hides behinds guns, weakness is hailed as strength, terror is stripped of meaning and fear is praised as prudence.
Let freedom ring in a country of banned books and forbidden thoughts; where dissent is labeled treason and democracy's traitors grow fat on the ignorance of fools.
Oh, sweet land of liberty still-birthed in theft and blood, swaddled in cloaks of deception, buried and near-forgotten in memory's ashes.
Oh, sweet land of liberty where the old are left to die alone, misplaced and forgotten in poverty's grasp.
Oh, sweet land of liberty where the young seek solace in self-destruction fed by cynicism and despair.
Oh, sweet land of secrecy, where what we read is an open book, but what leaders do is labeled, classified, filed in forgotten corners until the dust of distortion settles in layers too thick to blow away.
Oh, sweet, lost land, land of the hopes of our fathers, the dreams of our mothers, of brothers lost and sisters missing.
Oh, sweet, lost land, land of justice denied, of thee I sing.