The critical moment in Iron Jawed Angels comes with war.
Alice Paul and a league of women stand in front of the White House daily, compelling President Woodrow Wilson to recognize that it is long past time for women’s suffrage. They stand, protesting with the president’s own words, extolling eloquently on human dignity. So that he’ll hear them anew and not merely as describing men’s freedom.
The crucible comes when the U.S. goes to war and they are forced to decide whether to continue the protests.
They do. And with good reason.
The right thing is the right thing, even in war-time.
And again Alice Paul uses the president’s words about democracy and freedom in her protest. Words freshly used to enter into World War I. Paul uses them to describe the women of Wilson’s own country.
And as she burns the pages they’re printed on, people gather. You can imagine pitchforks in their hands. Off-duty soldiers come at these women, knocking them down, dragging them in the street.
These great warriors of freedom can’t handle a woman’s exercise of her freedom.
Of course, the police lock up the women. Not the men, the soldiers, who attacked them.
Good defenders of liberty, they are.
Colin Kaepernick is a scapegoat.
Funny how Rose and I would be watching that as so many who love their freedom would attack a quarterback for exercising his.
Jim Wright shared in a Facebook post this weekend that many people were asking him about Colin Kaepernick. They wanted his response as a veteran. Here’s part:
You might force this man into the illusion of respect. You might. Would you be satisfied then? Would that make you happy? Would that make you respect your nation, the one which forced a man into the illusion of respect, a nation of little clockwork patriots all pretending satisfaction and respect? Is that what you want? If THAT’s what matters to you, the illusion of respect, then you’re not talking about freedom or liberty. You’re not talking about the United States of America. Instead you’re talking about every dictatorship from the Nazis to North Korea where people are lined up and MADE to salute with the muzzle of a gun pressed to the back of their necks.
I’ve always wondered why we think standing up, placing a hand over one’s heart, and singing the national anthem is the same as loving one’s country. Or a sign of patriotism. Always wondered why that was such a precious symbol.
And why so many jump to the conclusion that this is about military service.
Just like I’ve wondered why each holiday: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Armistace Day: have become a regular patriot litmus test. Why days meant to deal with the most trying times in our history have become days which neither honor the dead nor recognize the complexity of liberty. No, merely to celebrate war and glorify military service. Another chance to divide and find out who the “real” patriots are.
Little support for the fights at home. Fights for respect and dignity. Of workers, minorities, women. Struggles for peace and equality garner little of that same gusto.
The Christmas Truce
It makes me think of the Christmas Truce. That Christmas Day, 1914. Men came out of their trenches, exchanged gifts with one another in no man’s land. They laughed and joked. Standing there in the middle of hell, in the place where millions would soon be slaughtered, they made peace.
They celebrated Christmas, not as enemies, but as friends.
It was their governments which brought an end to the peace, brokered on the ground. Generals and rulers which couldn’t put up with such nonsense as respecting one’s neighbor.
Just as it was the press which pushed the countries to remain at war in 1915. The soldiers knew the war was without purpose. That it was the slaughtering of a generation. Officers trying to persuade their superiors. The war might have ended then. Except…
Their sacrifice has to mean something, the press argued. The people back home. The ones not stuck in the trenches. Or getting slaughtered by the hundreds, thousands. So they kept fighting a war with no winners. A war with no purpose. Except to destroy neighbors. No love in war. Nor freedom there, either.
What is freedom when it isn’t equal?
Why should Kaepernick respect a song, a flag, a tradition, when bodies are breaking and children are shot?
Are these things us?
Christians, above all else, should sit with Kaepernick in support. In lifting the brutalized above one’s nation of origin. The health of people matter more than the health of any nation.
For we serve no Caesars, no emperors, nor earthly lords. We please no presidents, no generals, nor prime ministers. And there may be no pledge of allegiance to an object for all these are idols.
Sing or don’t sing. Love your country or ignore it. But the most chilling abuse comes from patriots. The greatest agents of silence have been the enforcers.
It doesn’t surprise me that so many would rather silence a black man sitting down at his lunch counter than hear his critique.
That not all of us are truly free.
Besides, you’ve read about that third verse, haven’t you? That beautiful song with its most difficult of range. The song extolling the valor of battle and a moment of survival. But not that third verse we never sing. It is, of course, the sound of blessed unity through slavery and white supremacy.
And the killing of slaves who were fighting for their freedom.