Former Nazi leader Herman Goering famously said:
Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Goering’s point, of course, applies to the United States as well. A good example was the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. WMDs! WMDs! We are about to be attacked by Iraqi dictator (and former U.S. ally) Saddam Hussein! Mushroom clouds over American cities! Iraq is about to conquer us! We must invade now, especially since our 11 years of regime-change sanctions have failed to oust Saddam from power and replace him with another U.S. stooge!
And just as Goering indicated, many Americans fell for it, becoming blind, ardent, “patriotic” supporters of the invasion, war of aggression, and long-term occupation of Iraq.
Which raises a point that Goering failed to mention — the intolerance that blind supporters of a war effort have for those who refuse to go along with the deal. A good example of this phenomenon in Nazi Germany involved the White Rose, a group of mostly college students who dared to criticize their own government in the midst of World War II. Other German citizens and German officials viewed them as bad people, even traitors.
It was no different with respect to how blind supporters of the Iraq War treated those Americans who opposed the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Opponents of the war were considered bad people because they failed to blindly come to the support of their government and its troops during time of war.
Two examples that stand out are famed rock and roll star and 10-time Grammy Award winner Linda Ronstadt and the famed country music band out of Texas called the Dixie Chicks, who now known as just the Chicks.
In 2004, Ronstadt appeared at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas for a performance. During the performance, she praised leftist Hollywood producer Michael Moore for making the anti-Iraq War film Fahrenheit 9/11.
That was not the politic thing to do in the blind pro-war “patriotic” fervor of the Iraq War. Half of the audience of 4,500 booed and left. About 100 demanded their money back. The manager of the hotel then proceeded to evict Ronstadt from the premises.
The 13-Grammy Award winning Dixie Chicks, which was composed of three women, Natalie Maines, Martie Erwin Maguire, and Emily Strayers, suffered much the same fate for daring to question the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In the same month the invasion took place — March 2003 — Maines told an audience in London that they were “ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” She was referring, of course, to President George W. Bush, the man who led the WMD hype and ordered his military forces to invade Iraq after 11 years of brutal economic sanctions had failed to achieve regime change within the country.
That British audience cheered but not her fellow country musicians back home. Many of them went ballistic, just like that audience and hotel manager in Vegas did with Ronstadt. Country music stations immediately banned their music and embarked on campaigns to destroy Dixie Chick albums. Other country music stars condemned and berated the Chicks for their lack of “patriotism.”
Never mind that Iraq had never attacked the United States. Never mind that the WMD hype was entirely false. Never mind that there was never a chance of Iraq unleashing mushroom clouds over American cities. Never mind that Bush’s invasion of Iraq violated not only the U.S. Constitution (i.e., no congressional declaration of war) but also the principles against wars of aggression set forth by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal after World War II.
None of that mattered. All that mattered was the notion that citizens of any country have a “patriotic” duty to blindly come to the support of their government and its troops, even when it’s their own government and its troops that are in the wrong.