Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet," "Endangered Edens," and the "Time Is Irreverent" series.

The GOP thinks this is patriotic?

So I have to hand it to my local newspaper, the Ravalli Republic. I live in Ravalli County, one of the most conservative counties in Montana. When I saw that the Ravalli Republic’s top story today was “Lt. Col. Allen West to speak at GOP fundraiser,” I was initially a little pissed. The story appeared to be a blatant promotion for a political fundraiser—something that commonly appears deeper inside the newspaper. Then I read two things.

One from a Republican: “Local publisher Gary Carlson said the event will be very patriotic.”

One from Ravalli Republic reporter, Michelle McConnaha: “West retired from the Army in 2003 when it was disclosed that he was involved in a beating and simulated execution of an Iraqi soldier. He was fined for the incident, although hailed in conservative circles as a hero who did what was necessary on the battlefield.”

Well played Ravalli Republic! And gutsy.

And I’d like to add: Just what is patriotic about beating and simulating the execution of an Iraqi policeman (he was actually a policeman, not a soldier)? Not only did Allen West generate more hatred toward the United States, but he also put other American soldiers in danger of having the same thing happen to them, in revenge.

We need to stop letting the Republican Party define what is patriotic. In my mind, people who fight for social justice, fight to protect our lands from environmental destruction, and fight for affordable healthcare or education, are a hell of a lot more patriotic than a lieutenant colonel who has a Iraqi policeman held to the ground and shoots—while the policeman thinks the gun is aimed at his head!

Update: After posting, I realized that I forget to add an important detail: The Ravalli County Republican Central Committee is raffling off two revolvers, engraved with Allen West’s signature. Gun raffles are standard practice at Republican events, but in this case it seems particularly sick—considering that West used a handgun for his simulated execution. Now two lucky Republicans will be able to hold an Allen West gun and let their fantasies run wild!

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