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"Restless Natives"

     Families of the U.S. military personnel stationed in Iraq
are on the verge of rebellion.  They are protesting in the
streets of towns where military home bases are located, with
placards that say, "Support our troops!  Bring them home, NOW!"
     Mere abject obedience is hard to stick to, when the
commander-in-chief and his high-ranking underlings have been
caught lying, time after time.  Mere abject obedience to
irrational authority doesn't work for long anyway in a democratic
republic.  The questions, "Why?" and "Who says so?" keep coming
up, and when the answer is, "Never mind -- just do what you're
told," it hardly seems to be worth dying for.
     The acting president went back to the U.N., after calling
them "irrelevant" to their faces a few months earlier, and with
his usual display of smug arrogance, challenged the nations of
the world to send troops and money to the U.S. adventure in Iraq.
There was no sense of apology and no sign of awareness that any
kind of error had been committed.  One French newspaper spoke for
most of the rest of the world:  "Why should we send French boys
to bleed and die in Iraq, just to guarantee the re-election of
G.W. Bush?"
     The restless families at home may be just a hint of what is
ahead.  Roman soldiers were expected to obey their superiors
without question, but two mad emperors in a row, Caligula and
Nero, eroded the tradition.  The soldiers themselves finally
rebelled and installed Claudius.
     Meanwhile, the Pentagon is preparing the populace at home
for a massive call-up of additional Reserve Forces and National
Guard troops.  Much of the Guard is already in Iraq, and not
happy about it.  Protest signs have been spotted.  "Two weekends
a month, my ass!"  They don't look proud of what they are doing.
And now this talk of calling up more -- soon the entire Guard
will be in Iraq.
     We who can remember began to dredge up memories of when the
Federal Government calls up the National Guard.  Usually it's to
calm restless natives here at home, but not always.
     [1] Before the onset of World War II, the feds called up the
New Mexico National Guard and sent them to the Philippines.  The
chicanos were a cheap source of Spanish-language expertise, which
perhaps could have helped pacify restless Filipinos.  The extra
language didn't help much against the Japanese, however, and many
a New Mexican spent the war in P.O.W. camps, after enduring the
horrors of Bataan and Corregidor.
     [2] President Eisenhower called up the Arkansas National
Guard to disarm Governor Orval Faubus and his defiance of the
federal order to integrate Central High School in Little Rock.
Soldiers with rifles, with bayonets fixed, escorted scared black
high schoolers to class, while the restless white racists spat
and jeered.
     [3] LBJ called up the Alabama National Guard in order to
disarm Governor George Wallace and his defiance of the black
protest which was demanding voting rights.  I was present for
some of this, participating in the March from Selma to Montgomery
in March of 1965.  Every evening the nationalized guard
surrounded our campsite, with helmets, rifles and that infamous
Stars and Bars insignia everywhere, ostensibly to protect us from
the KKK and other restless crazies.  But we noticed how the guard
consistently faced in toward us -- not out toward the supposed
danger.  We felt like we were being watched and imprisoned
really, not protected.
     [4] Later that same year, LBJ called up the California
National Guard to "keep order" after black Los Angeles rioters
burned down their neighborhood, which was called "Watts."
     [5] During the summer of 1967, Governor David Cargo himself
called out the New Mexico National Guard to protect New Mexico
from the threat of Reyes Tijerina and the Alianza de Mercedes.
The troops trapped the restless land-grant protestors in Echo
Amphitheater near Ghost Ranch.
     [6] In 1970 the Ohio National Guard was called up to quell
unarmed student protestors at Kent State, who were upset and
restless about Nixon's conduct of war in Vietnam and Cambodia.
They shot some students, and get credit for helping shut down
student protest generally throughout the country.
     So, what now?  If the Guard is already called up, and
shipped to the War of Cheney's Oil in Iraq, who will protect us
from restless natives here at home?
     Are there any restless natives around, ready and willing to
take advantage of the government's inability to do much, besides
bleed and die in Iraq?  Maybe.  There has been plenty of
provocation lately.  For example, American citizens are dying for
lack of universal health care.  Millions of Americans have
recently been thrown out of work, and can find none.  Millions of
Americans have had their pension plans stolen.  Millions of
Americans are attending schools which are inadequate, to
understate it.  Attempts to control the pollution of our air and
water have been derailed.  A couple of hundred million Americans
drive across bridges which are no longer safe.
     Some of these natives may yet become restless.  Some may
begin to wonder why all our resources are concentrated on Iraq.

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Copyright © 2003 Harry Willson

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