There was one specific New Jersey summer, when I was 16, that I picked up a copy of “On Revolution” – selected writings of Ho Chi Min. The book was 25 cents, and I recognized the name as one of those personalities from history that public school education teaches you was basically evil. Of course I was a skeptical kid, -still am-, so I knew I had to read the words of this alleged tyrant.
Though many of my memories from that year may have faded a bit, I still remember that book and how it captured my mind and my heart. Nevermind if you like him or don’t like him. Nevermind the good or bad he may have done in his life, I’m speaking about the person that came through in that book. To me, those words were filled with passion and dedication to basic principles, about the right of people not to be colonized or enslaved, and also to determine their own collective future. A bigger point that stood out for me, was how he spoke about patriotism. I can’t remember the exact quote, but I think it was that the greatest crimes in the history of the world have been committed in the name of patriotism.
That statement has always stuck with me throughout my life. I had always found all the flag waving and patriotism in the US unsettling. I actually felt a similar odd feeling when I lived in France and observed the patriotism that sometimes shows its face there. And when I look at this so called “WAr on Terrorism” and all the propoganda that comes with it, I can’t help but think of Ho Chi Min’s simple but often ignored conclusion.- The greatest crimes in the history of the world, continue to be commited in the name of patriotism.
By the way I’ve finally gotten back into reading Back To Iraq which is one of the best and first sources of blog journalism in Iraq.