Why I Do It
by Karen Kwiatkowski
Brian Wilson thoughtfully questions why people write or speak out against the impervious gigantean state. He wonders why people take pains to share a bit of the obvious in a global sitting room of likeminded people. It's nice, he says, but what's the point?
Rothbard's answer is perfect, of course. But I have been thinking about what inspires and motivates me, as just one person among millions, to curmudgeonly stir the pot of American foreign policy and neoconservative claptrap at home and abroad.
Brian suggests several possible reasons, including boredom, ego, paycheck, idealism, patriotism, even the fulfillment of an Orwellian prophesy.
I'll admit to most of them. I have been known to write to entertain myself. I remember once, I wrote a parody of a Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom episode. It was something only suitable for myself and my younger brother. We were the only witnesses, and we laughed so hard it hurt. As a member of the TV generation, laughing insanely at the kindly authorities on the boob tube — Wild Kingdom on the practices of lions, I believe — was worth the time in crafting the little article.
I lost what I wrote decades ago, and it might not be funny anymore. But my brother and I both remember the moment and laugh again to this day.
Ego — sure, I have one. It's nice to be able to get email or letters from people who like what you have written or said. But the ego-boost is frittered away by the nagging guilt I feel most of the time for not answering most of those emails and letters.
Paycheck? Ha! I am often accused of making money. I hold out the hope that this means that some day, some people might actually pay for my undeniably iridescent brilliance enhanced only by my humility. Until then, I can only suggest that my opinions — as yours — are priceless, and therefore money need not change hands on my account. Send it to LewRockwell.com instead!
Idealism? I used to think I was idealistic, but later I realized I was just a stubborn contrarian. There is perfection in the world, but men and women don't create it and aren't responsible for it. Most don't even recognize it when they bump into it in their mad search for something better.
Patriotism might motivate me, but the word means little. If Sean Hannity is a great American, then I'm probably not. I became acquainted with government styles and tendencies firsthand in my twenty years of government service. Sean was spared this initiation. I now criticize the government, while Sean adoringly pampers Washington with praise and soft kisses. He gets paid a lot of money, and gets to voiceover Lumber Liquidator ads. I don't think I am patriotic like that.
An email I received just today may help explain why I do it. A retired Army Colonel, named Ed Smith, sent me an email entitled "What Tripe!" It goes like this:
Was that the Soviet Air Force you retired from you communist ass?
It would be nice if you would get just a few of your facts right, and then write your story. You are, simply stated, an idiot who gets paid to try to turn other Americans into idiots.
I have written to DOD inquiring about your use of your military rank while bashing your CIC. I do believe it violates your oath and the officer corps code of ethics. Did I just say code of ethics while talking about you? My God, what was I thinking?
It is emails like this one that help me understand why I do it. Here is an older gentleman who has worn a military uniform for many years. He read something I wrote for MilitaryWeek.com, where I focus on security and political issues.
He thinks I get paid! I love that, because it means he is afraid I might actually be getting paid, and that others might actually be reading what I write. In the capitalism of the Internet — payment takes many forms, and Old Ed certainly made my efforts worthwhile today.
He is concerned about my facts, and I am too, so I try to link to sources when possible. He doesn't like the facts I use. This is heartwarming in so many ways. Something I wrote or worse, linked to, disturbed him, challenged his reality, frustrated him.
Lastly, Colonel Smith has taken action to resolve something that angers him. He has written to DoD (or at least I hope so) because he believes I am wrongly bashing my Commander in Chief. More power to him — the man is taking action. It is OK that his action is taken to preserve his false sense of governmental rightness and justness. What counts is that he is doing something.
Now, it may just be Ed just had a fight with his wife, and tragically does not own a dog to either kick or with whom to commiserate. But more likely, he is — like all of us — waking up to life in these United States. What he sees makes him angry.
Ed and I have a lot in common. We are both alive and kicking. That's why I write, and it is probably why Ed wrote to me, and to the Pentagon. Ed and I are proving a point. We are out here. We are pains in the ass, professional-grade. Watch out for Ed and me.
Bryan Wilson mentioned Orwell, so I'll point to another Orwellian quote, "Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible."
Statist angst at those who dare to state the obvious and criticize the state tells me one thing. To this 21st century American empire that fully intends to create its "own reality," we must seem invincible.
And we are. Join us!
March 3, 2005
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.
Copyright © 2005 LewRockwell.com