Army on the March

Patriotic Rituals: pk’s hypocrisy for the sake of a little socializing

Yesterday with great excitement, reading Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy, The State, I heard for the first time of Michel Chevalier, as Nock quoted him:

The American people have “the morale of an army on the march.”

That’s so penetrating, vividly phrased.

Three evenings a week I dance at the American Legion. It’s a veterans group. I’m a vet because I was drafted, no one listened to my pacifism, I chose not to go to jail, mistakenly, they put me in jail anyway (but decades later). (Michel Chevalier was censored, jailed too, of course.) Most such evenings the band leads us into a circle, we all hold hands, and the band plays a patriot song, most typically the one that goes:

I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died
to give that right to me,
and I’ll gladly stand up
next to you …

At every “American,” every “stand up,” every “USA!” we raise our held hands: a paper-cut-out ring of Nixon dolls.
We do this in between a bandstand backed by a big US flag on one side and a big mural on the other side showing a tank in flame, sinking battle ships … the rockets’ red glare. [note]

The other night holding hands in the ring with my beloved friend Carole I felt acutely her tremors of sincerity, she was emotionally one with the self-congratulation of the song. She knows what’s been done to me, but she wasn’t squeezing my hand in a sympathy of irony; she was feeling the patriotism she was supposed to feel, the feeling that we’re right, no matter what we do, the feeling we’re trained in by the state from grade school.

In that later context I quote the Kipling comment quoted by Sarah Vowell:

I never got over the wonder of a people who, having extirpated the aboriginals of their continent more completely than any modern race had ever done, honestly believed that they were a godly little New England community, setting examples to brutal mankind.

I am not a patriot. I have never been a patriot (except formerly to the City of God). But I’ve grown dependent on dancing: dancing with my darling Jan, such a beautiful woman, such a good dancer, so nice to hold her and move rhythmically with her, my body having been the essence of rhythm all my life, me being strong, graceful, a show-stopper. I dance with lots and lots of women.

I’m shunned, as I’ve always been, because I’m different, I’m not a patriot, I’m vocal about it, I disapprove of my culture, I think we should try to be Christian, meaning good guys, not bullies, not thieves, not hypocrites, kleptocrats, liars … blowing things up around the world. But I’m also accepted: because I’m a great dancer, a sexy guy … Women, like men, are afraid of me, but the women are also attracted to me.

You see, right here, how I talk. But I don’t say much out loud at the American Legion! Because I want to dance.
I’ve met Jan, I love Jan, so I don’t want to meet any more women; but I do want to dance, and to dance with the women friends I’ve already made dancing. So: I dance with Jan, but I also dance with a dozen widows.

I went to the Highlands Senior Social after getting out of jail in order to meet women. Instantly I was isolated, shunned, by the group: he’s not a patriot, he’s a criminal, a jail bird, while being grabbed by this and that specific woman. The group held its nose, singled me out, but I had woman after woman in my arms. Till I met Jan I changed them every other week.

pk dancing the Cowboy Charleston
pk demonstrating a line dance to his HSC class

The HSC had its own patriotic rituals: we had a flag, sang patriotic songs, got prayed over …

HSC 'Slide
The Electric Slide at HSC
pk, Ahn, Jean, Barbara

To get female companionship I used to just steep myself in the booze, steeping myself in it anyway. Now I dance, and dancing, get a snoot full of patriotism.

earlier draft:
Much of my life I’ve tried to live with integrity, to take the Christianity I was trained to with some seriousness, the philosophies and moralities that were dumped on me with some seriousness: Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t support killing, stealing … I’ve paid a high price for it: been sabotaged, saw my family destroyed, froze helpless in jail … I’d always said, Socrates was up in his seventies before he was executed, Jesus was supposed to have been only thirty or so. I was still writing and talking in my sixties before I was arrested. But my fellow Americans had had me isolated all along. Lots of people hear what I say, but won’t pass in on, won’t repeat it: take what they want, pervert it, credit some other klep …

I still resist but no longer quite 100%: gotta get laid, you see.

I was sixty-eight when I was tackled by the FBI, sixty-nine went they sent me back home again, my business destroyed, my five domains evaporated, my 4,000 text files censored. My woman had been dead a few years, money was at the bottom of the barrel, that’s why I wrote the bald insulting satire that got me handcuffed, cops having no idea what laws mean, just following orders. I got back home, and dammit, I wanted a woman.

Now once upon a time it was easy, all I had to do was go to a bar, drink myself into a stupor, and some woman would comfort me. If I sat still long enough anywhere that would happen, but stupid me, I drank in the meantime. So, when I stopped drinking, I also stopped meeting women! Out of jail I was still happy being sober, didn’t want to get drunk any more, but did want to meet women!

Another draft will improve the order of presentation, initial babble doesn’t always take the best route.

Imagine my thoughts during our patriot circle ritual. “Where at least I know I’m free”! I’m free only because I pay the price whatever the price is! I am not free while I’m in that circle, I was not free when I was arrested, jailed.
Is the guy getting lynched free? Yes: to the extent that he can curse them, tell them to fuck themselves. So long as he’s willing to pay.

But of course if we’ve been paying, been free, the only thing we have left to pay with is our lives. I’ve made it to seventy-four: and am mostly very happy, and proud.
My neighbors don’t dare talk to me, they sure do talk about me, and I smile, and smile.

Army on the march, wow. Now I gotta read up too on Saint Simeon, Chevalier …

2013 08 18 The violent mural described above has been considerably toned down recently. Gee, I wonder if my comment had anything to do with that. The flames, smoke, burning tank are now covered with the American Legion Seal. Now it’s a military plane flying in blue skies: some revision.

Stories by Age by Theme by Others

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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