U.S. of Amnesia

For Your Consideration

Peter CavanaughMay 24, 2012 

"I'm not familiar, precisely, with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was." -- Willard "Mitt" Romney, May 17, 2012.

What Republican presidential candidate Romney couldn't recall were words spoken only weeks ago on Sean Hannity's radio show when Mitt proclaimed that President Obama wants to make America "a less Christian nation."

But total recall is not one of Gov. Romney's strongest suits. When recently confronted with uncontested allegations by five former school mates from Cranbrook, an elite Michigan prep school, that he had personally led a vicious bullying attack on another classmate found guilty of "being different," Romney blurted, "I don't remember." And as far as that "being different" deal is concerned? Mitt just had to chuckle. "I certainly don't believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s."


As a proud graduate and president of the student council at Cathedral Academy in Syracuse, New York, back in 1959, I must emphatically observe this is outrageous nonsense. Although boastful of Irish ascent, I went out of my way to avoid "wearing green on Thursdays" (other than March 17) since that might signal I was "queer." Back then, "queer" meant a bit as "gay" does now, but in a much meaner, more slashing fashion.

"Queer" defined the dangerously deranged, particularly in Catholic school. That added the eternally damning label of "Mortal Sin" to the unholy mix -- never mind what went on in the Rectory.

But Mitt's not alone with his memory challenges.

In 2004, American author/historian Gore Vidal (quintessentially "queer" and mighty proud of it) wrote his brilliant "Imperial America: The United States of Amnesia," the primary point being that, as a people, we tend to forget what we should most remember. Oops. Not good.

Next Tuesday is Memorial Day 2012, a day set aside to honor our fallen heroes, recalling those who have given their all, offering themselves in ultimate individual sacrifice for our collective American freedom. It is most fitting and proper that we do. I suggest it may be of even greater value that we seriously reflect upon our own responsibilities in the waging of American wars. It is a debt owed by the living to our consecrated dead.

We're getting there.

Public opinion against our continuing military efforts in Afghanistan now equals opposition to the Vietnam conflict at its highest point in the early 70s. But the same mind set which brought us Vietnam, Iraq and a full decade in Afghanistan now regards Iran as another golden opportunity worth more billions every profit-laden week -- a mind set which blames our current federal deficit on a president who inherited an unmitigated disaster in progress when he assumed office in January 2009 -- a mind set now stunningly unmindful of "George the Conqueror."

George W. Bush will be, according to all Republican sources, not remotely involved in this year's campaign, nor will he be asked to contribute anything more meaningful than his complete absence from this year's Republican Convention in Tampa Bay. Out of sight -- out of mind.

As soon as "W" pronounced his support of "Mitt" last week to a group of reporters hounding for a quick sound bite, he immediately disappeared behind a suddenly closed elevator door, leaving all to wonder if the darn thing was even going up or down.

Wealthy whispers are reaching a roar. "He was never a real Conservative." "He was dumber than we hoped." "His brother would have known better."

Poor George -- doing as told -- now there to scold.

Try to find friends who remain staunch supporters of Barack Obama's predecessor's policies or openly remember if they ever were.

Ask how they felt about heading into Iraq in the first place -- guided by what is now universally recognized as intentionally altered information as we witness 4,408 American dead, 33,184 American injured, two trillion American dollars squandered and 100,000 Iraqis killed since the initiation of "Shock and Awe" in March 2003. Do they recognize that along with Afghanistan adventures through 2008 and billions upon billions in tax cuts primarily for those already rich, none of it was paid for?

Inquire as to the whereabouts of "George the Invisible" and relentlessly ponder the undeniable suppression of traditional American conscience. For without such questions, there can be no answers -- In these United States of Amnesia.

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