So I dutifully spent my Treason Day as every American should: seeing good theatre, drinking good beer, and watching shit blow up.
While I was waiting for my bus on Nicollet Mall, a cadre of naked bikers coasted past, singing The Star-Spangled Banner. Near me, an Old White Dude shook his head in disgust.
OWD: I like bicycles, but there's no excuse for that. That's why I live in the suburbs.
He notices me leaning against a pillar and reading City Pages.
OWD: Excuse me. Move that newspaper.
I do so, hesitantly. Now, note that I'm wearing a T-shirt with an image of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, with the caption "I'm from the government. I'm here to help."
OWD: So, that's Beijing?
ME: Yeah, man, Tiananmen Square.
OWD: China deserves to be fucking crushed.
OWD: I'm going to go get a copy of The Onion.
OWD: Thanks for talking to me.
(pause, then, walks away)
Now, I know I don't look Chinese -- my Hennepin County Jail wristband blandly identifies me as a "WHITE MALE". And it's not as though I disagree with the underlying sentiment. Although I wouldn't necessarily use the word "deserves." Or "crushed." And I might want to add a couple of qualifiers to "China." But "fucking" I'm totally on board with.
This exchange, edifying as it was, did get me to thinking. Even if China's current government could be easily, peaceably dismantled, would that be desirable? It's not even close to addressing the underlying problem of what China is, and has been for longer than any other country. The citizens of every nation are indoctrinated by their respective societies, but the Chinese people have been subjugated to a single monstrous intellect for two and a half thousand years. I'm not referring to Mao Zedong or Karl Marx, both of whom are fairly late comers to the party; I'm referring to Confucius, whose collectivist philosophy perhaps found its ultimate expression in Communist doctrine.
After all, isn't this one of the underlying problems of the occupation of Iraq? We tear down a secular dictatorship, only to find a significant body of people who want to set up a theocracy. Contrary to what The Rascals would like to believe, ask me my opinion, my opinion will be -- people everywhere don't want to be free. Certainly one of the many issues I struggle with within my own faith is the concept of one man dying for another's sins. Is it possible to pay for somebody else's sins? Isn't that something like what we're trying to do? And from whence does the moral authority come to make a sacrifice like that meaningful?
My understanding is that the most rational and moral course available to us is one of non-interventionism. It's certainly possible that that's a mistaken belief, based on a poor education. And it's certainly true that that understanding rejects me from the two major parties, both of whom seem to believe that overseas intervention and entangling alliances are necessary to our continued stability -- a fact making this November's election yet another no-win scenario for me.
But thinking about all of these ideological and geopolitical conflicts leaves me with one clear thought: that our own revolution, two-hundred and thirty-eight years ago, was nothing short of a miracle, in both a military and philosophical sense.
So thanks, Old White Dude. And a happy Treason Day to you, too.