One sees more and more of this sort of thing on Facebook:
Wow! Look at all those likes! Look at all those shares! I wonder, do these loyal American Facebook users think someone’s keeping a list? Maybe Mark Zuckerberg? The FBI? Santa? It puts me in mind of this passage from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22:
Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again.
I remember, when I was five or six, my father ranting to my mother about being forced to prove his patriotism — him, a military officer and WWII veteran! It must have been a loyalty oath. This happened when I was five or six, so it would have been 1951 or 52, right at the height of McCarthy’s reign of terror. Like all the best satires, Catch-22 was not that far off the mark.
I am my father’s son, and when I see jingoistic crap like this on Facebook I know exactly how he felt. Bumper sticker patriots, take your loyalty oaths and put ’em where the sun don’t shine!
© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.