Flowers: Put a hold on politics, focus on Putin

Published 11:56 am Friday, March 4, 2022

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I’m writing this as Vladimir Putin is eating up Ukraine. Did we fall asleep and wake up in 1938 to hear that Hitler had taken the Sudetenland? Who knew this could happen, in 2022?

Actually, we knew. Putin told us he was going to do it with every public statement that avoided a direct “no,” with every troop movement at the border, with every invocation of the sovereignty of the pro-Russian separatist regions. There are no surprises when it comes to Putin’s desire to reconstruct the Soviet Union. It’s not a matter of “if.” It’s always been a matter of “when.”

As I watch this invasion unfold, switching between networks and social media sites, I’ve come to the conclusion that we are no longer the breed of American who parachuted onto the shores of Normandy. That sacrificed lives in a bloody grave in the waters of Pearl Harbor, marched with the Fighting 69th to battle Germany a generation before them, and battled in the heat of deserts to avenge the murder of 3,000 fellow citizens.

We are now tribes, divided by loyalties and political expedience. It’s not a surprise, given what we’ve seen unfold over the past 20 to 30 years, but it’s a devastating commentary on where we’re headed as a nation.

I spent a good part of the last few days unfriending those who blamed Biden for weakness and those who blamed Trump for loving Putin. I don’t need their alternative viewpoints, and won’t be enriched by their separate “takes” on the crisis at hand. I’m done with dissent.

That’s because whatever you might think of the wisdom of putting boots on the ground in a country located thousands upon thousands of miles away, you cannot simply throw up your hands, offer “thoughts and prayers,” and believe that you’ve done your duty as an American when a dictators swallows up a sovereign nation.

You are also derelict if you try and compare what’s happening in Ukraine to our southern border, blaming liberals for caring more about a foreign nation than about our own security and national integrity. That’s comparing apples and bloody bodies, or bananas and those standing in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square.

We are obligated to care about our legacy in the world, which has been battered and bruised by many different, flawed men and women. Obama was one. Trump was another. Biden, the failed bureaucrat of Afghanistan, is most definitely and glaringly a third.

But those leaders are not “America.” We the people are, and when we start backing off and saying things like “Well, I don’t want my nephew or my son or my grandson or my whatever putting boots on anyone else’s territory.” I despair of ever again being proud of this nation and its history. And if that makes me sound like Michelle Obama, so be it.

On the other hand, you have liberals who are so damn obsessed with what happened on Jan. 6 — something that was regrettable but did not destroy our essential character — they ignore the absolute failure of their own tribe and reach back to blame Trump. To be clear, this invasion happened on their leader’s watch, not under the guidance of the man they despise. And yet, if they are calling for engagement, they are making penance for the repellent anti-Americanism they have exhibited in vilifying conservatives over the past years, and decades.

I am devastated to be in this middle place, because I am no moderate. I actually hate that word, because it communicates a lukewarm, tasteless, insubstantial broth. A person without values, in other words. That will anger moderates who believe that they stand on high moral ground. But only those who are willing to make a choice, a decision in moments of crisis occupy that summit. And those who try and see “both” sides are often those who see no side clearly.

Any American who takes more pleasure in attacking her political rival than in seeking comfort and protection for the threatened, or who excuses evil if it advances their own partisan goals, is someone I renounce, and excommunicate, from my life. Effective immediately.

But if you are still reading, and you are still listening, hear this: As someone who cannot shoot a rifle but who has worked with war refugees, please contact me at the below email address if you know of someone in need of assistance in Ukraine. I will try and direct you to someone who can help.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at