- Mom, apple pie and malevolent leaders
- Somebody tell Karl Rove to drop the applause sign. The
minions he manipulates are cheering for an America that does not exist.
That abstract concept of America, and its embodiment of liberties and human
rights, is a fiction. Norman Rockwell's portrayal of America was an idealistic
perversion of a landscape, which for many, has been littered with oppression,
bigotry, greed, torture and even murder. Goya's brutal painting "Duel
with Cudgels" comes closer to capturing the essence of the underlying
mean-spiritedness of that is very much a component of this nation. Bush,
his Neocons, and the obscenely wealthy Oligarchs, who finance Republicans
and Democrats alike, embody the face of America which is seldom portrayed
by our flag-waving mainstream media. Yes, there is a dark, brutish aspect
to this self-proclaimed beacon of freedom and liberty, and I am going to
delve into it. Read on if you dare to take an introspective look at the
darker aspects of our national identity.
- Evil heritage
- As early as 1661, American colonists began engaging in
the slave trade. With the advent of the birth of our nation in the late
18th Century, even our hallowed Constitution legally endorsed the evil
institution of slavery. Abolitionists who rose to oppose slavery, like
John Brown, were executed as terrorists. Even an incredibly bloody Civil
War and three Amendments to the Constitution were not enough to end American
oppression of the black race. The specter of Jim Crow arose in the south
in the 1890's. Its power did not dwindle until courageous leaders like
Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King, Jr. arose in the
mid Twentieth Century. Their tireless efforts forced the federal government
to enforce human rights for the black race. Fear of the growing power of
a minority led to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., a peaceful
proponent of civil rights. One can make a strong case that the US government
facilitated the assassination to stem the spread of King's "radical
ideas". In today's America, racism hides behind a veil of "political
correctness", and those who practice bigotry do so covertly, in a
cowardly attempt to avoid legal consequences.
- The Native Americans have not fared so well in America
either, at least not since the Western Europeans invaded their continent.
In 1830, the US Congress passed the "Indian Removal Act". This
measure eventually enabled the federal government to resolve the problem
of a growing population in the state of Georgia by moving the Cherokee
Nation to the state of Oklahoma. In 1838, on the forced 1,000 mile march,
4,000 Cherokee men, women and children died in what is now known as "The
Trail of Tears".
- Tecumseh, a Shawnee leader who organized opposition to
forced Native American colonization, showed his insight into the ugly aspect
of America when he spoke to the Osage tribe in 1812. In his speech, he
said, "Brothers, the white people are like poisonous serpents: when
chilled, they are feeble and harmless; but invigorate them with warmth,
and they sting their benefactors to death."
- Thanks to Howard Zinn in Voices of a People's History
of the United States for uncovering a telling quote from the Saturday Pioneer,
a newspaper in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Ironically, L. Frank Baum, who also
wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (an "American literary classic"),
was the paper's editor in 1890, when the quote appeared. Shortly after
the massacre at Wounded Knee, and the subsequent murder of Sitting Bull,
Baum's paper wrote, "The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of
civilization, are masters of the American continent....and the best safety
of the frontier settlers will be secured by the total annihilation of the
few remaining Indians." The Saturday Pioneer had just defined the
concept of "Manifest Destiny", the belief that America had the
divine right and destiny to expand its borders across the North American
continent and beyond.
- We take what we want
- Driven by a psychotic hubris, our leaders were convinced
that America had the right and the duty to "civilize" the rest
of our continent with our "superior" Democratic and Protestant
ideals. Sound familiar? America began unleashing its imperialistic impulses
on sovereign nations in 1846. President James Polk annexed Texas, and sent
American troops to help this future state gain its independence from Mexico.
Two years and 38,000 dead combatants later, America brought Mexico to its
knees, and proudly included Texas, New Mexico, and California in its borders.
Robbing the Native Americans of their land was not enough to satiate the
appetites of our imperialist leaders for "White" conquest.
- William McKinley came to office in 1896 to preside over
a country that still had a ravenous appetite for expansion. Under McKinley,
the US waged war against Spain in Cuba. America drove the Spaniards out,
leaving a power vacuum that was quickly filled by greedy US corporations.
500,000 Filipinos were killed as America wrested the Philippine Islands
away from Spain. Our government justified their deaths by proclaiming that
the American victory would enable the US to civilize the savages in the
Philippines. McKinley also arranged for the annexation of Hawaii and Puerto
Rico during his unprecedented advance of the cause of Manifest Destiny.
- The price of avarice
- In the early Twentieth Century, Upton Sinclair and his
fellow muckrakers cast bright lights into the shadowy corners of corporate
America. There they exposed ruthless, avarice-driven exploitation and victimization
of American workers and consumers. Sinclair's expose' of the corrupt and
dangerous practices of the meat-packing industry, The Jungle, led to the
passage of The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Prior to the efforts of
Populists and Socialists like Sinclair, America's system of unbridled capitalism,
enabled by laisez-faire economic policy by the federal government, allowed
ruthless corporations to treat their workers like cattle. Greedy profiteers
were also able to market their products to consumers with virtual disregard
for quality and safety. Millions of Americans sustained injuries, worked
in perilous, inhuman conditions, received grossly inadequate wages, or
died as a result of corporate lust for profits. During the so-called Gilded
Age, corporations reigned with an appalling disregard for humanity. However,
pressure from muckrakers, Socialists, unions, and Populists eventually
curtailed the power of the Oligarchs.
- All is fair in love and war.....
- Woodrow Wilson continued to justify American imperialism
under his foreign policy of Wilsonian Democracy. Refining the notion of
Manifest Destiny, Wilson asserted the necessity of America to employ any
means necessary, including force, to install democracies in nations around
the world. In large part, his doctrine rested on Kant's notion that democracies
are less likely to be war-like than dictatorships or monarchies. Wilsonian
Democracy propelled the US into World War I. How ironic that America, the
self-proclaimed model for democracy, engaged in yet another war. Is this
an indication that Kant's notion was inaccurate, or can one conclude that
the US is not truly as democratic as the state-sponsored propaganda would
have the masses believe? During the war, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, and
other war protestors who violated the Sedition Act sacrificed their freedom
for exercising their First Amendment rights. As they sat in prison for
standing up to our imperialist leaders, over 100,000 Americans died in
the "war to end all wars". Our government employed flag-waving
propaganda and mandatory conscription to thrust millions of young men into
the horror of war, yet those who protested in the "land of the free"
- Ask the Japanese citizens during World War II for their
perspective on the "American Dream". After the bombing of Pearl
Harbor, the federal government employed curfews as a means to marshal control
of the "enemy within". Bowing to pressure from business interests
who wanted to eliminate Japanese-American competitors, the US government
eventually made the decision to move 110,000 people of Japanese descent
into ten relocation centers throughout the United States. Stripped of their
homes, businesses, and possessions, they were interned behind barbed wire
for over two years. Their alleged crime was disloyalty to America. Over
2/3 of them were American citizens born on American soil. Disgracefully,
our government imprisoned them without a trial and without charging them
with a crime. Guantanamo Bay is not without precedent. It is frightening
that in a "free nation" like the United States that such a history
could repeat itself without widespread public outcry.
- Appetite for destruction
- American leadership is still drunk with power, arrogance,
and an insatiable appetite for the accumulation of wealth. Based on a statement
of principles drafted in 1997, and a think-tank created to formulate ways
to implement the principles, The Project for the New American Century paved
the way for George Bush and his pack of Neocons to launch the unprovoked
and unsubstantiated invasion of Iraq. Several of the war hungry Neocons,
like Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney, signed the statement
of principles. The events of 9/11 gave them the rationale they needed
to initiate their aggression. Their imperial intentions are clearly outlined
at http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm. Their
concluding paragraph states:
- "Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and
moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the
United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to
ensure our security and our greatness in the next.
- What is perhaps equally disturbing is that a vast majority
of the Democrats have made little tangible effort to challenge the illegal
actions of Bush and the Neocons, making them complicit partners. Short
of a few exceptions, like Bill Moyers, the mainstream media has forsaken
their duty as the Fourth Estate. Rather than informing the American people
of the truth about our corrupt and malevolent government, they bow to the
pressure of their corporate masters and feed us versions of the truth that
withhold details and present criminal act by our government in a benign
manner. A British Member of Parliament recently showed the guts to openly
challenge several of our venal Senators (<>http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4556113.stm).
When will our own elected representatives and members of the press show
that kind of spine? Perchance most of them have simply sold out and become
party to the "Dark Side" of our national identity.
- The Bush administration has demonstrated its commitment
to making the Twenty First Century the "American Century". However,
the reality is that the invasion of a small country like Iraq has stretched
our military to its limits. After two years of US military occupation,
Iraq is still in a state of chaos, and many Iraqis want our military to
withdraw. The sun is setting on the "American Empire" as Bush
and his people desperately struggle to fan the dying embers and rekindle
the flames. There are multiple countries with nuclear capabilities. China
wields a great deal of economic power over the United States as it continues
to parlay its colossal trade surplus into an opportunity to finance a large
portion of the US debt. Terrorist acts, over-dependence on credit, and
weaker nations with nuclear capabilities are proving to be the David to
our Goliath. Redefining the term "debtor nation" with a $7.5
trillion national debt, America is bleeding red ink. The failing effort
in Iraq is costing billions of dollars that this country does not have.
America's dominance is rapidly diminishing.
- Bush has launched a war with no end in sight against
the "evil terrorists", an elusive, shadow target which cannot
be definitively beaten. Perpetual fear and hatred of the "terrorists"
motivate many Americans to support a seemingly endless war, and enable
Karl Rove to manipulate the masses. The Neocons are free to pursue their
policy of military proliferation of American interests to their hearts'
content. However, the waning strength of this nation, coupled with the
rising strength of nations like China, make this model unsustainable. Americans
have been duped into following a ruinous course.
- Hypocrisy and hubris....when do they end?
- In 1997, with the advent of The Project for the New American
Century, America laid out a publicly available plan for global domination.
Historically, Americans have pursued a policy of aggressive global expansionism
under the guise of altruism, the "right of manifest destiny",
or under the pretext of protecting its regional interests. The United
States flaunts its lofty Constitution and Bill of Rights, yet with each
passing day continues to deny basic civil rights to homosexuals (5% of
the US population). It defies the UN and Geneva Convention with alarming
regularity. Americans earn an annual per capita income of $34,000.00 compared
to the world per capita of $7,000.00. We consume 25% of the world's fossil
fuels while 2 billion people in the world have no access to electricity.
In 2000, the Bush regime installed itself to rule our Executive branch
by manipulating the voting process. Had Jeb Bush not been the governor
of Florida, Al Gore would be our president. Grossly abusing their ill-gotten
power, Bush and his Neocons have engaged in a consistent pattern of false
propaganda to manipulate public opinion. Their unilateral decision-making
almost never shows regard for relationships with allies or the United Nations.
Bush has consistently rewarded incompetents, war criminals, and deceitful
individuals with promotions in his regime. America has some serious house-cleaning
to do before we forcefully export our value systems to our neighbors.
- In the spirit of advancing the cause of Protestant superiority,
our Senate is now considering a bill heavily promoted by America's own
religious radicals, the Religious Right. The Constitution Restoration Act
would, for the purposes of judicial review, recognize "God as the
sovereign source of law, liberty, or government." And Bush really
expects critical thinking people to swallow his Newspeak about "spreading
freedom and liberty" around the world? With the virtually silent consent
of the Democratic minority in Congress, Bush and the Neocons continue to
pursue an evolved version of Manifest Destiny as they attempt to brutally
force America's "Christian" and "Democratic" ways upon
the American people, and upon the rest of the world.
- Sweet little lies.... and crimes against humanity
- Why were Americans surprised at the attack of 9/11? The
Neocons have convinced many Americans that our nation was an innocent victim
of attacks of "evil terrorists". How naive can a person be? America,
in its supreme arrogance and imperialistic endeavors, has been enraging
people in foreign nations for years. If the terrorists did actually carry
out these attacks autonomously, America was far from innocent. Was it tragic?
Yes. Do the perpetrators deserve to be punished severely? Yes. However,
America has been provoking people and nations for many years. Those who
died in the World Trade Center that day were certainly innocent victims,
but America as a nation was not.
- In saying "if the terrorists did actually carry
out" 9/11, I intentionally left the culpability ambiguous. While there
is little doubt that Bush, the Neocons, and other members of the obscenely
wealthy Oligarchy (see <>http://www.dissidentvoice.org/May05/Miller0517.htm)
knew that the strikes were going to occur and chose to allow them to happen,
there is also compelling evidence that they actually orchestrated and perpetrated
9/11. David Ray Griffin advances that theory with clarity in 9/11 and the
American Empire at <>http://www.newtopiamagazine.net/articles/47.
The deaths of 3,000 American civilians in an attack that appeared to be
carried out by terrorist representatives of the Middle East (with its coveted
oil reserves) provided the Neocons and Oligarchs with a golden opportunity
to mobilize the American people to engage in the invasion of Iraq, yet
another scapegoat in this sick scenario. Given much of the world's justifiable
hatred of America, it is unlikely that the terrorists needed much prompting
by our leadership to carry out the attacks. Careful scrutiny of the evidence
presented by Griffin, including the actions of our government before and
after the strike, the nature of the strike on the Pentagon, and the collapse
of the WTC towers, lends significant credibility to the idea that the Neocons
and the Oligarchs were directly involved in the perpetration of the WTC
- Whether one believes the terrorists acted autonomously,
or that the Neocons and Oligarchs sponsored the attacks, Bush, the Neocons
and our other Oligarch leaders bear the responsibility for the deaths of
the 3,000 Americans in the World Trade Center. Foreknowledge of the attacks
and subsequent failure to defend our nation are crimes against the American
people. Direct responsibility for the attacks represents an even more substantial
crime. Both are grounds for impeachment, removal from office, and criminal
- Hope on the horizon
- I still believe in the inherent decency of many of the
people in the United States. Our Constitution is an unparalleled contract
between citizens and government upon which to build a republic that fosters
individual rights and freedom. A capitalistic economic system which includes
government restraints and social welfare programs for the poor has proven
to be beneficial to a majority of the American population in the past.
Despite the ugly stains on our history, Americans made great evolutionary
strides in the 20th Century toward realizing our tremendous potential for
economic and social justice. However, under the Neocons, the Religious
Right, and the Oligarchs, much of that progress is eroding. America is
a nation comprised of millions of people and dynamics, and to expect it
to live up to the idealized notions of truth, justice, and the American
way would be unrealistic. Yet, the fact that the ideal is unattainable
does not give us license to abandon the principles of our Constitution
to the extent that we have. Americans have a choice. If enough people are
willing to take an introspective look into the soul of our nation, and
into our own souls, it is not too late to peaceably end the reign of the
corrupt and restore America to a place of sanity, and dignity. People of
conscience and critical thought need to stand up and say "enough"
to the Oligarchs and Neocons. Together we can reclaim our nation and make
it a true beacon of liberty!
- Jason Miller is a 38 year old free-lance activist writer
with a degree in liberal arts. He is a husband and a father to three boys.
He earns his living as an account representative for a finance company.
His affiliations include the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation
of Church and State. He welcomes responses at <>firstname.lastname@example.org.