June 29, 2013 8:39:54 PM
This Fourth of July week is a time when patriotism is high. All over the Golden Triangle American flags are flying from porches, in front of businesses, and even attached, in some way, to cars and trucks. We are proud of our country, and of the many citizens who have risked great danger for everything it stands for.
We give a lot of lip service to our support of the troops. But really, do we have any idea where they are and what they are asked to do?
As I write this, we are involved in wars in 74 different countries, and on all continents. According to "Washington's Blog" (May 11, 2013), "The US Central Command (CENTCOM) is active ... across the Middle Eastern region ... with military training, counterterrorism programs, logistical support and funding. The U.S. has some kind of military presence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E., Uzbekistan and Yemen."
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), according to the paper, "supports military-to-military relationships with 54 African nations." (I will spare you that list.) But those are just the public operations. Covert operations are, well, covert.
Our belief is that we send precious young men and women into extreme danger because they are somehow protecting our freedom. Does anyone understand how they are doing that, and if it is all worth the cost? Fighting in 74 countries? Now that's a lot of current events to absorb.
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court took a giant step backward with the decision that parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act are no longer valid (CNN, June 26).
"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, 'The focus of the Voting Rights Act had properly changed from first-generation barriers to ballot access to second-generation barriers, like racial gerrymandering and laws requiring at-large voting in places with a sizeable black minority.' She said the law had been effective in thwarting such efforts.'
"This decision applies to nine states, including Mississippi, and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states, including Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx." (New York Times, June 25)
In other Supreme Court news, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down in a 5-4 vote. Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the majority, said DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for gay couples.
"By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute violates the Constitution," he said.
This decision is a landmark win for the gay rights movement. It voids a section of the law known as DOMA, which was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in 1996 to deny all benefits and recognition to same-sex couples. (Los Angeles Times, June 26). As of now, 12 states and the District of Columbia authorize same-sex marriages.
This is a time when we wave our flags and sing patriotic songs. I just hope that we can accept all of the people who make America great. It doesn't matter if they fly the stars and stripes, the rainbow flag, or a banner with a bulldog on a maroon background. We are all a part of the same, and need to remember that, because sometimes it seems that we stand alone against the entire world.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.