The Politics of Patriotism
The Politics of Patriotism
“Judge Learned Hand of the U.S. Supreme Court once said that he would like to see these words ‘I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ, think that ye may be mistaken,’ inscribed ‘over the portals of every church, every courthouse and at every crossroads in the nation.’ This is not only a plea for those who disagree with us. It is, profoundly, a plea for us to recognize that our righteousness can lead us into places that are most deeply wrong. At this time, perhaps more than any other time in the history of our wonderful human race, do we need to be in touch with our hearts. We need to be in touch with our humanity. The lesson of Nazi Germany is clear: it is those who dehumanize others who lose their own humanity. We are all artists, poets and intuitives. It is our birthright. As humans, we each have the ability to seek and connect with our most human qualities. Among these are love and compassion. In these lie our divinity, our humanity and our survival.” (Taken from: www.sarvananda.com Newsletter March-May 2003)
“If Fascism came to America it would be on a program of 100 percent Americanism.” —Huey P. Long, U.S. Army Talk, March 24, 1945
I was trying to find the quote from Chief Justice Learned Hand and stumbled upon the quote above and felt it was appropriate to include the entire quote for the purposes of this essay. In fact, I sent this quote to President Clinton when he was in office when I wrote him a letter asking him to pardon Leonard Peltier. I wrote this essay in the hope that it may be of some help if even one person who is contemplating joining the military doesn’t join after reading what I’ve written. To risk being maimed physically and psychologically or being killed because the president & the corporate media tell us it’s our patriotic duty and without knowing the hidden history of America’s wars, is a fool’s errand. I was in the lottery for the Vietnam War in 1971 and my number was something like 69. I wasn’t politically aware back then but when it got close to me being possibly sent to Vietnam, I trusted my gut instinct and kept going AWOL until I got out of the army with an Undesirable Discharge. Receiving this “bad” discharge was morbidly humorous. So I wasn’t worthy of killing and possibly dying for my country? Oh the recruiters are masters of deceit. They’ll promise you the moon to get you to sign that contract. They told me that if I wanted to be a clerk-typist I’d have to sign up for another year. Lie! I didn’t even have to go to the normal advanced training that just about everyone goes through after their basic training in the army. I was a clerk typist as soon as I got to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. Almost everyone I’ve ever known or met that was in the military didn’t have hardly any use for the skills they acquired in the military in the work world when they looked for work after getting out of the military. In other words, their time in the military was dead time just as if they’d been in prison and out of the work force. Hence, wherever they found work, most started at the bottom. “Be All You Can Be,” is a sinister lie the recruiters, the Pentagon, & the presidents perpetuate and perhaps one of their key selling points. Most of the gullible young fall for this tactic and believe when they get out they’ll walk into a challenging job and a good paying career. Sadly, most of us find ourselves pumping gas or flipping burgers.
Just to show you how desperate the army was and probably still is for well-educated or somewhat intelligent recruits or enlistees, when I was in basic training and we’d taken a battery of written tests for the first 3 or 4 days we’d been there, they took me and 4 or 5 other guys out of our company to several meetings with high-ranking officers whose ranks I had trouble figuring out. Anyway, talk about high-pressure salesmanship; this was mind-blowing and ego inflating to the max. They basically told us that we could be stationed wherever we wanted to be in the world and that they would train us in whatever M.O.S. (Military Occupational Specialty) we wanted if we’d re-up (extend our contracted tour of duty’s amount of time) to six years I believe? I couldn’t see myself as being capable of sending men to certain death, which as an officer you might sometime have to do. They wanted to send us to O.C.S. (Officer Candidate School) and I didn’t even want to be a squad leader. As in the military, it’s the same it seems in the corporate business world that dictates everything about who we are, how we’re suppose to behave, talk, think, dress, etc., the less you rock-the-boat and the more incompetent you are and the better you are at ass-kissing, the higher up that so-called ‘ladder of success,’ you’ll go. I saw the army’s wise use of their manpower when I saw guys who had master’s degrees picking up cigarette butts, and not for disciplinary purposes.
Well when orders came down that half of us were going to be sent to Vietnam and the other half would be sent to Germany, I decided it was time to start going AWOL. I had met an older guy who was also trying to get out of the army and he told me that the army didn’t give a damn about how miserable you were or how much you hated it. He counseled me that you have to prove that you’re more trouble than you are worth before they will let you out. And if you keep going AWOL, you will be tied up with going to court martial hearings and they can’t ship you out while you’re going through this process. I went AWOL three or four times but they weren’t taking me seriously because I’d just receive a fine and have to do some extra duties like mop floors so the last time I went AWOL, I stayed gone and after about two months, the F.B.I. busted me at my mom’s house. Yet when Bush Jr. was AWOL for eight months or so, he was never arrested by the F.B.I. and his records disappeared. This is “justice” and “equality” in America.
Next on my list of reasons why you should think long and hard before joining the military is the obvious but maybe not as obvious as most of us are led to believe, risk of serious physical harm. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not a pacifist and I do believe there are times and circumstances when we should put our butts on the line and physically take up arms. I have said for many years that if any nation launched an attack against us on our own shores, I’d be the first son-of-a-bitch down there fighting them but for us to put ourselves in harm’s way just because we are told it is the right thing to do, is dangerously naïve on our part. Look at the millions of mostly poor white boys, Latinos, and Black young men who went to Vietnam and were exposed to the defoliant, Agent Orange, and when they came down with a variety of exotic medical problems and diseases, this ‘honorable’ government of ours at first denied that Agent Orange had even been used. And when the lie could no longer be hidden, the government denied its connection to all the health issues our returning soldiers and their families had to deal with. The Pentagon and the federal government will deny responsibility for Agent Orange, the chemical weapons of the Gulf War, and the present use of depleted uranium until Hell freezes over! Why? Because if they admitted their responsibility it would open them up for a tidal wave of lawsuits and morally cut their legs off in terms of credibility with the general public. It would also seriously demoralize those now in the military service.
Another, ‘insignificant’ little factor that the military recruiters and television ads fail to mention in their sales pitches is the fact that once you sign that Faustian contract for your soul, you are in effect giving the military the right to use you like a lab rat or a guinea pig in whatever experimental programs they dream up. For example, the army thought it’d be interesting to see how soldiers fought when under the influence of powerful hallucinogens. Research for yourself what Timothy Leary had to say on this subject. And for a Hollywood version of it that was pretty horrific, see the movie, Jacob’s Ladder, with Tim Robbins.
Furthermore, our government and military’s total lack of care or concern for our health and welfare is illustrated with the series of atomic blasts they forced our military personnel to expose themselves to so the Pentagon and its Dr. Mengele imitators could study the effects of atomic radiation on humans. Or how about the fact that the Pentagon sent our soldiers into Vietnam with the new M-16 which we dubbed the ‘Mighty Mattel’ because the stock was made by the toy manufacturer and these ‘toy weapons’ jammed up repeatedly and cost many boys their lives. I understand that they eventually worked out the ‘kinks.’
How about the fact that many of our soldiers currently in Iraq complain that they don’t even have flak jackets or have half of one & when their parents started sending them flak jackets, this “compassionate conservative” administration forbid it? And only one in eight of the vehicles our soldiers in Iraq drive around it are armor plated. This is Bush’s idea of “supporting our troops.” How many stories has “60 Minutes” shown regarding the multitude of various weapons systems, aircraft, tanks, etc., that were defective and cost our people their lives? Many soldiers who returned from Iraq after the Gulf War reported that they either didn’t have a gas mask issued to them or else they were defective! And one of the things that really makes me want to go ballistic is when I heard that AWOL chicken-hawk, spoiled, rich brat, George ‘Dubya’ Bush, say how proud he is of our young soldiers in Iraq and how he supports their efforts and their sacrifices but behind the scene he has cut their medical benefits and pay! Moreover, it’s absolutely stunning how shamelessly Bush can stand in front of the television cameras and lie his ass off. I heard recently that soldiers are given a bonus for each additional tour of duty they serve in Iraq but if they get wounded and can’t finish out their tour, Bush wants them to return their bonuses. When this got out in the news, Bush & the Pentagon did some fast backpedaling and they’re now trying some other surreptitious way to screw the soldiers they proclaim to honor. This just highlights the betrayal of our soldiers and of America once again by the greedy elite. And all the defective and grossly over-inflated weapons systems that we, the taxpayers, are forced to pay for but not the rich, is part of what former President Eisenhower warned us of as he was leaving office when he said beware of the military/industrial complex (he was going to include Congress in this complex was talked out of it—a little too revealing would be my guess). In addition to betraying everything America supposedly stands for and what our soldiers are suppose to be fighting for, is the fact that this insane, bottomless pit of manufacturing and buying with our tax dollars ever more weapons, bombs, aircraft, ships, etc., is bankrupting America. And you can be sure these corporate capitalist cockroaches in and out of government know full well what they’re doing because why else would Cheney be investing in the Euro dollar and not the American dollar? Mark my words my friend, they are going to drive America into a total financial collapse and then abandon ship and live overseas on their stolen billions.
Equally important and to further illustrate not only the physical neglect of our soldiers but also the psychological impact of this government’s disregard for our soldiers, I strongly recommend all those contemplating joining the military watch the movies ‘Coming Home,’ and ‘Born on the Fourth of July.’ These movies will show you how well cared for you might be if you are unfortunate enough to be wounded in battle. Many V.A. hospitals are barbaric throwbacks to the Dark Ages and patients are forced to lay in their own feces and urine for hours. I’m drawing a blank on the name of that V.A. hospital that was recently in the news for its disgusting conditions and neglect of our soldiers? But as those movies I mentioned showed, rats and cockroaches often ran the hellholes and the V.A. nursing staff often treated the patients as annoying, sub-humans. Yeah, the government really appreciates your sacrifices! Let’s just hope and pray that the conditions in our V.A. hospitals are no longer as shameful as they were in these movies?
Next in my list of factors you should consider before signing your name on that enlistment contract are the economic or financial aspects that most young guys aren’t aware of when joining the military. The financial lies, distortions, & manipulations are especially egregious because most of those who join the military do so because they can’t find any work except minimum wage jobs with little or no future. Closely linked to young people’s inability to find a decent paying job is the pathetic state of our public education system. I heartily recommend that you read The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto if you want to really know just how extensively the government and the corporate robber barons have screwed us all with the public educational system they designed and made mandatory for us to attend or face the legal consequences. I have dissected this book and I’m using it in a book I am writing because it is a gold mine of utterly unbelievable machinations done by the powerful and the influential (Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan) to deliberately give the vast majority of Americans a “dumbed-down” education so we’d be obedient little workers and consumers. Are you willing to risk and possibly sacrifice your life and limb for an “Establishment” that sees itself as God-like and predetermines your future and condemns you to the life of an automaton on their assembly lines in their factories? A life that causes many of us to turn to alcohol or drugs for temporary escape from this ugly reality!
In the meantime, to give you another example of Bush and his cronies’ “values,” have you noticed how he and Rudi Giuliani take advantage of every opportunity to show the flag-draped coffins of the police and firemen who died on September 11th, in their political ads for their campaigns? Yet Bush won’t allow the flag-draped coffins of our soldiers who die in Iraq to be shown on television? And this is the same commander-in-chief who cut the salaries of New York’s policemen and firemen. Read what they have to say about Georgie & Rudi. This is also the fearless leader of our nation who told the Environmental Protection Agency to falsify their reports on the air quality around Ground Zero so people would return to the area and Wall Street would resume business as usual. And as Michael Moore showed us in his recent film Sicko!, many of the volunteer firemen, emergency workers, etc. who are now coming down with serious pulmonary and other diseases, are being denied medical coverage. It always boils down to money with the power elite yet they appeal to our patriotism to stir us to sacrificing in their wars to enrich themselves and then turn a callous back on our suffering and deny responsibility.
Perhaps I sound a bit too harsh in my criticisms of “our” government and their corporate masters? Reflect on this if you will, besides the immorality of our invasion and occupation of Iraq is the pragmatic matter of what our presence there and our open-ended ‘War on Terrorism’ is doing to our economy. Many conservatives were elated with the collapse of Russia and credited Reagan with bringing it about. Well, I disagree and believe that Russia’s economy imploded due to their forty-year competition with us in the insane arms race. Russia’s economy simply fell apart before ours i.e. they couldn’t maintain their infrastructure of housing, health care, education, roads, bridges, etc. because they spent so much in trying to keep up with us in military weaponry. A lot of Americans aren’t aware that we used to be the world’s largest creditor nation but now we are the biggest debtor nation i.e. we owe more money than any other country. In other words, we are in hock up to our eyeballs. I recently found out that it is mostly Asian nations we have borrowed from and China is the nation we are most indebted to.
When I heard this, things suddenly added up that I couldn’t understand previously. For instance, I couldn’t comprehend why we didn’t do something when the Chinese government killed and jailed thousands of Chinese students who protested in Tinnamin Square for democratic reforms and even had a Statue of Liberty as a rallying point? Another betrayal on our part towards the promise of democracy was when we stood by and again did nothing when China invaded Tibet, murdered hundreds of Buddhist monks, destroyed ancient cultural artifacts, and forced the Dalai Llama to go into permanent exile. But then I shouldn’t have been surprised because we’re a “Christian” nation and we don’t give a shit about the world’s other major religions such as Buddhism and Islam. Yet time and time again, our president stands in front of T.V. cameras and proclaims for all the world to hear, “America stands for freedom, democracy, and basic human values.” The rest of the world has seen example after example of Bush’s hypocrisy and they don’t buy his empty rhetoric for one minute. It seems the only people who have fallen for Bush’s B.S., are the American people. I have been to Europe several times and listening to their perspectives on America has been quite an eye-opener for me. When you peel away all the layers of lies and deception that our politicians and corporate spokesmen have wrapped themselves in, at the core is one concern and one concern only i.e. the protection of their wealth and whatever it takes to ensure their pursuit of more wealth.
Let’s return to the issue of our “Defense budget,” and this is a misnomer and a cruel joke because the word ‘budget’ implies a practical balancing of one’s finances i.e. paying for the necessities of food, shelter, medical, insurance, etc. and staying within the limits of how much money you have to spend. I forget the guy’s name but I saw a PBS program with him and he worked in the Pentagon’s accounting department I believe for like 30 years? Well, he’s been telling Congress for decades about the deliberate fraud of ‘Defense’ contractors in purposely underbidding the costs of various weapons programs and once they were awarded the contract, then gouging the taxpayers and charging millions and sometimes billions over what they had originally stated. And don’t forget that many of these multi-million dollar projects turned out to have serious defects or never even worked at all and cost the lives of U.S. servicemen and women!
This truth-teller also pointed out a very significant deception used by all the corrupt politicians, which is the fact that to really conduct an effective war on terror, all these expensive weapons systems are useless. What is needed to wage this war—which itself is an incorrect term because you can’t wage a war against an invisible enemy. What we need to wage should more accurately be referred to as a criminal investigation and we need agents well trained in the languages, customs, geography, religion, etc. of the terrorists we are hunting. But of course this doesn’t require the billions of dollars that our military/industrial/congressional complex wants to continue pouring into their pockets so they keep spreading the fear and the lies with their million dollar public relations firms, advertising agencies, ‘Spin-doctors,’ and hired guns i.e. ex-military officers, journalists, economists, professors, and etc.! (Just watch the FOX network)
Why should you go fight in a war that Bush started with no provocation on the part of the Iraqis and based on false accusations and blatant lies that started with “we have to strip Saddam of his weapons of mass destruction,” which then evolved into “there are definite links between Saddam and Al Qaeda,” to the current line of crap “we’re bringing democracy to Iraq because we’re compassionate and caring defenders and promoters of democracy.” Yeah, Bush and his brother Jeb are real believers in democracy and proof of this was evidenced last year in Miami at the demonstrations against the I.M.F., the World Bank, and the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas). Do you remember that $80 billion or so that Bush requested for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Well the Bush-baby gave $7 million of it to his brother, the governor of Florida—who helped rig his election voting scam to ‘win’ the oval office—to hire cops from dozens of Florida counties and they illegally and brutally shot, beat, gassed, jailed, and ripped off the cameras and etc. of thousands of Americans who went to Miami to exercise their democratic right to protest the policies of their government! And on top of this travesty of justice, there was some scandal regarding their not spending the money granted by Congress for the reasons given in their request? I forget the details but this just shows to me that this wimp in the White House must see himself as back in the wild West where the only law was the gun and they could do as they pleased i.e. run rough-shod over our Bill of Rights and every law including international law and the Geneva Convention i.e. Rumsfeld said the Geneva Convention rules are outdated and the U.S. doesn’t have to observe them. Gee, I wonder where those soldiers who tortured and humiliated and killed so many Iraqi prisoners, got the notion they could do what they pleased with their captives? Or, what about that ‘democratic’ value or assumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law? Our soldiers fight for the honor and principles America stands for but our ‘leaders’ betray and undermine that honor and our principles. And this hypocrisy of claiming to respect law and order and defying international standards like the Geneva Convention which we signed at the end of WWII and which was established to hopefully prevent a repeat of the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis and now violating, won’t leave us a leg to stand on morally speaking when our soldiers are captured and tortured by their captors.
Furthermore on the subject of economic reasons why you should think twice before considering the military as the solution to your problems, you might not be aware of is the fact that part of the reason you can’t find any decent paying or livable wage jobs is because Bush and the other “compassionate conservatives,” give fantastic tax breaks to corporations who shut down their companies here and move them overseas for much cheaper labor costs. Again, why should we risk our lives for “this country” when those who set the economic, social, political, etc. policies of “our country,” show us time after time that they could care less at the humiliation we suffer and the hardships we experience because they have no loyalty to us? I saw an expose on Bill Moyers’ PBS T.V. program on 4/16/04, a pitiful and disrespectful example of yet another way our military and political elite treat our young men and women who risk their lives fighting for this country. The story dealt with the fact that many families whose husbands are over in Iraq and in harm’s way but because the military pays them so little, their wives and children have to go to Food Banks and rely on the charity of their community! We really honor our men and women serving their country don’t we? Our loving and brilliant military and political elite instead spend our billions of tax dollars—of which almost none of the super-rich pay a dollar—to hire mercenaries (Blackwater for example) who were trained in the U.S. military and upon completion of their tours of duty are hired by ‘sub-contractors’ and make something like $100,000 per year. I also read recently in the Oregonian newspaper that many National Guardsmen were either not receiving their full pay or none at all. Yeah, join the army and “Be All That You Can Be!”
Additionally, why should you risk all for a government that deregulated dozens of industries such as the Savings and Loan industry which during Reagan’s reign went bankrupt or defaulted on tens of thousands of senior citizens and wiped out their life savings? Then just a few years ago, Ken Lay of Enron, Bush’s buddy, did the same thing but this time to his employees’ pension plans and stocks. Enron was only one of tens of dozens of corporations who screwed us once again on a grand scale. These kinds of business practices can only flourish in an atmosphere of corruption and with the politicians and regulatory agencies looking the other way. There’s another great book just out called Perfectly Legal and the author points out that something like 60% of our corporations have paid absolutely no taxes for several years by claiming their headquarters are in places like the Bahamas and yet they still enjoy all the rights of our legal system, the protection of our police and military, etc. Does this strike you as fair or egalitarian? Here is the dictionary definition of ‘egalitarian,’ you decide; ‘a belief in human equality especially with respect to social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among men.’
Sorry but I can’t believe in leaders who are trying to eliminate the right to overtime pay for 40 million American workers and at the same time make exceptions for those C.E.O.s who make over $10 million per year to shelter as much as they want in their 401K pension plans while the rest of us are limited to something like $13,000 per year. In fact, believe it or not, I also recently learned that Bush cut the funding for the IRS program delegated to going after corporate tax evaders and at the same time increased the funding for the IRS program delegated to go after individuals evading paying their taxes. No, I can’t believe in such ‘leaders,’ and if I can’t believe in them, I’m sure as hell not going to risk my life because they say it’s my patriotic or moral duty! To these bastards, loyalty is a one-way street i.e. we owe it to them but they have no such obligation to us. They think they are our feudal lords and we are at their mercy, and we’re here to serve them as peasants serve their masters!
Some of the reasons I have already brought up for why you should seriously question the morality of ‘our leaders’ who preach to us about the necessity of noble sacrifice for the United States, have already touched on the subject of betrayal and I want to now go into this subject at length. The power elite, status quo, or however you wish to refer to them, label those of us who dissent from their ideologies, policies, & practices as disloyal, anti-American, betrayers of American principles, or traitors and some of them even have the audacity to call for our incarceration or even our death. But I submit that they are the de facto betrayers of America’s principles and values and our founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves at such arrogance and betrayal of America’s citizens.
Deception is another of the forms of lying that the government and the Pentagon—which is a branch of the government, have become very proficient at. Take the Vietnam War and how the Pentagon (General Westmoreland) inflated the body counts for the North Vietnamese soldiers we killed and deliberately issued false lower numbers of our men who had been killed so as to keep the public in the dark. This clearly was an attempt by the powers that be to manipulate public opinion and keep us on the side of the pro-war hawks. And what strikes me as unbelievably callous and another clear example of the Pentagon and this administration’s attempts to deceive the American people is the fact that they won’t allow the coffins of our returning dead to be shown in the media, Bush hasn’t been to a single funeral of our fallen soldiers, and the military actively discourages the families of the dead servicemen and women from being there at Dover Air Field when their loved ones arrive—usually in the middle of the night under the cover of darkness. And this slime-ball of a person who claims to be “our president,” has the balls to declare ad nauseam that he “supports our troops?” No, Bush is the number one betrayer of America and more and more Americans are beginning to wake up to the truth of this.
You know, sometimes it takes the ‘village idiot’ or a child to state the obvious which seems to escape the rest of us as in that classic fairy tale The Emperor Has No Clothes and in this vein of thought it occurred to me that if our leaders were honorable men and women and this war in Iraq were such a noble cause then why is it necessary for them to lie, distort, & manipulate us into supporting it? These corrupt politicians and military elites can only get away with all their deceptive practices with the assistance or collusion of the mainstream media. The powers that be learned a crucial lesson regarding the power of the media during the Vietnam War debacle. Even though the Pentagon attempted to control what the war correspondents saw and photographed by flying them in to combat zones after the fighting was done and only allowed them access to battle areas where the military had nothing to hide. But, there were a handful of journalists who had integrity and refused to be spoon-fed the public relations propaganda dished out by the Pentagon. These brave souls found their own transportation and went to some of the restricted areas and reported back to us the truth of what they witnessed. This was very damaging to the politicians’ and the Pentagon brass’ images. But what was perhaps most damaging of all was the nightly news broadcasts which showed the steady stream of body bags and flag-draped coffins of our dead.
And this is why they keep such a tight lid on the images of war ever since Vietnam because eventually the sleeping giant of the American public will waken from its long slumber and ask, ‘if we’re doing so well in this war then why are so many of our soldiers coming home dead or severely wounded?’ Unfortunately because we have become so hooked on television in the past half century, images are now much more powerful in shaping people’s opinions than the printed word. And because our public educational system is in such disarray, most Americans lack the critical or analytical skills necessary to defend themselves against the corporate indoctrination assault. The power brokers know that once the majority of American citizens turn against a war, their days of war profiteering are numbered. Personally, I feel it was so outlandish that for our invasion of Iraq, reporters had to be approved of by Pentagon officials and ‘embedded’ in specific military units. The muzzling and shackling of journalists during our times of war and in peace time as well has caused America to much more resemble those totalitarian nations we were always told we were so morally superior to. We have allowed these lying and morally repugnant people we call our ‘leaders,’ to almost totally erode our precious freedoms and the bedrock of those freedoms in contained in the First Amendment to our Constitution, which contains the ‘Freedom of the Press.’ It’s extremely important to recall these words from Thomas Jefferson, ‘Our liberty depends on freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.’ By the way, I just learned from watching Naomi Wolf on the most patriotic and real news program in America i.e. Democracy Now!, that Hitler embedded war correspondents in his divisions, for instance, he had a famous film director go along in the invasion of Poland who later on helped produce some of the Nazis’ most effective war propaganda documentaries.
Now I don’t know about you but I’m a little confused because we are in Iraq and the latest PR rhetoric is that we are there to establish democracy yet while doing so, here in the U.S. the government is subverting our ‘democracy,’ by intimidating, restricting, and deliberately misleading our media? Also related to the silencing of our media whether they are cooperating partners in the subterfuge or whether they have little choice but to go along is the issue of censoring the images and the numbers of Iraqis killed and wounded including the large percentage of innocent women, children, and the elderly! Or, how about our soldiers who signed up for a specific amount of time and are about to return to the U.S. only to learn that the Pentagon has extended their tours of duty and they have no choice in the matter? Wouldn’t this be the same as false advertising by the recruiters or be condemned by community standards as deceptive business practices? After all, it is a contract that you sign to enter the military.
Similarly, the Pentagon has deceived us on another critical issue and I’m in no way excusing the sick and barbaric treatment of the Iraqi prisoners but I am arguing that these young military personnel didn’t invent these methods themselves! Just as in Vietnam in the most notorious case that we were told about i.e. the My Lai Massacre when the Pentagon tried to lay complete responsibility on Lt. William Calley, the Pentagon again is saying it was just a few bad apples. They really think we’re all stupid and have absolutely no memory. By the way, I just learned something amazing the other day i.e. Colin Powell was delegated to investigate the My Lai Massacre by his superiors in the Pentagon and he summed up his ‘investigation’ with “Nothing happened.”
Another example of how the corporate crocodiles in the boardrooms and in Congress have betrayed us, struck me one day while I was reflecting on “All that you can be.” I must admit this is a very clever bit of propaganda. It immediately appeals to that ‘egalitarian’ principle we supposedly all believe in. You know, we all have an equal opportunity to be whatever we choose to if we just knuckle-down and persevere? How can we have an equal opportunity or there be a level playing field if public schooling is so vastly inferior to most of those elite, private academies? I contend that you wouldn’t be so severely limited in your options after graduating high school if you had a truly good quality or top-notch education from your years in the public school system. How many of the rich kids going into those Ivy League colleges, join the military or if they do, how many see real action on the battlefront?
And the masters’ children don’t have to know the horrors of war. Our current bushwhacking president scored one point above the minimum score required to get into the Texas Air National Guard and yet his name was moved to the top of the list of those eligible and there were hundreds of other candidates who scored far higher than ‘Dubya’ and there was only one slot left. Just coincidentally, George Sr. had a friend at the time who placed a call and got junior in the Air Guard and even more amazing, when junior became governor of Texas, he appointed this old friend of dad’s to run the Texas lottery—and he was convicted of corruption and fired from the lottery commission a short time later.
Meanwhile, the betrayal goes on. I have to ask whether we are really still citizens of a democracy? It seems to me that with the passage of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security bill, we have forfeited just about all those rights in the Bill of Rights? The Thought Police can demand that librarians and bookstore owners give them the lists of the books we check out or buy. The secret police can break in and arrest you or I wherever or whenever they want to and we no longer have a right to have a lawyer to represent us, to be told of the charges against us, etc. There is absolutely no such thing as privacy anymore. They can enter your home without a warrant and go through all your things including your computer and you may never even know they were there. They can spy on your e-mail, regular mail, and phone calls, whatever they want.
I borrowed the term, ‘the thought police,’ from George Orwell and his masterpiece 1984. Why do you think the authorities are so interested in what we read? You may recall that in Nazi Germany, the brown shirts had massive public displays of book burnings. In other words, books, which represent knowledge, can be very dangerous to those in power. In fact, I have a paperback titled Books That Changed The World written by Robert B. Downs and I thought it appropriate to bring it up here because we don’t normally think of books or the ideas contained in them as having so much influence. As I like to say, the liberal arts liberate and the humanities humanize. And this isn’t merely clever word play. I believe this sincerely and if you too read deep and wide enough, you may also come to believe this. Are terrorists so stupid that they’d walk up to a librarian or a bookstore clerk and ask, ‘could you please direct me to the section on bomb-building?’ Common sense will tell you that any terrorist wouldn’t give their real name or leave any paper trail that would lead back to them. They’d copy whatever information they found useful or they’d purchase it by mail with a phony address or something. I know I’m going to probably sound like a conspiracy nut or something but as Michael Parenti said, “Conspiracy theories aren’t always theories.” I theorize that the secret police want to know what we read because they believe it will lead them to those of us who could possibly pose a threat to the status quo by spreading dangerous ideas like social justice, democracy, freedom, no special breaks for the rich, etc. etc. etc.
The power elite hide the facts from us because they know that most of what they’re doing is immoral and would outrage us if it were to be revealed. And speaking of ‘revealing,’ I was dumb-founded awhile back when I heard that Bush was joking around and looked under his desk and said, “no, no weapons of mass destruction under there,” and then he looked behind the curtains in the oval office and said, “nope, no weapons of mass destruction there either,” and then he laughed. My God! What kind of heartless bastard is he? How insensitive and disrespectful can he be to all of our soldiers whom he sent to Iraq under this shroud of lies and by manipulating our emotions by appealing to our sense of patriotism and our fears that terrorists are laying in wait. In my day it was the commies are coming, the commies are coming!
Another topic which I believe shows our leaders for the immoral, belly-crawling reptiles they are is the claim that Nixon and Killer Kissinger promised the communist Vietnamese government after we left Vietnam that they’d pay a ransom for our P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s that were being held and then chose to renege on the deal and left our men there to rot. I can’t substantiate the charge but after so many examples of our government’s treachery, I have no trouble believing it possible of them. And let me be crystal clear, both democrats and republicans are guilty of allowing these immoral and anti-democratic practices to continue to be done in our names. I believe deep down inside that most Americans are good people but as most humans when involved in immoral activities or military actions and etc. are without strong, ethical leadership and are encouraged to commit unethical, perverted, depraved, or savage acts by that same weak leadership can do, they can slip into a being with a Heart of Darkness. This is a book written by Joseph Conrad and was the basis of the movie Apocalypse Now. I purposely chose this book because I know that many of you have probably seen the movie but not read the book and I wanted to give an example of human barbaric acts in the extreme to get your attention. Too far or exaggerated? What about the atrocities at Abu Gharib to name just one glaring example that leaked out? Or what about the stories I have heard of American G.I.s in Vietnam collecting “gook” ears and wearing them as necklaces? Furthermore, I remember a picture a friend of mine showed me years ago of his dad and several of his buddies in WWII with one of the G.I.s holding the severed head of a Japanese soldier proudly displaying it as a trophy?
Again I want to remind you that America has a long and bloody history that we are never told about in our public schools. No doubt I will be written off by some of you as just another paranoid, conspiracy buff and I understand the reflexive thinking that causes most people to dismiss critics like myself with this cop-out of “conspiracy nut.” Okay, then why is it that the textbooks, which are used in our public education system, are so chock full of lies, perversions of the truth, distortions, revisionist versions of our history? It’s no wonder that most kids are so turned-off to history because it has been so watered-down, sanitized, and twisted that it bears little resemblance to reality and students sense its untruthfulness or lifelessness. For instance, check out Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in which he informs us that Christopher Columbus had his men kidnap native women & children and told their husbands if they didn’t come back with gold, they would kill their women and children. What really frightens me is the fact that because of our “educational system and mass media,” as much as a third of the American population doesn’t believe that the holocaust in Nazi Germany even happened! I am scared because if so many people can be in such an extreme state of denial about such a horrific episode in human history, it can indeed happen again and in fact, it is happening in Darfour in the Sudan like it happened in Rwanda and we, America, the champions of freedom and democracy sit by apathetic and more interested in Brittany Spears & Paris Hilton’s lack of underwear, public drunkenness, & other such shattering “news.” Check out Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory by Deborah Lipstadt if you’d like to know more about this phenomenon. You might also care to look up Hidden History: Exploring Our Secret Past by Daniel J. Boorstin, a former Librarian of Congress. It seems unlikely that they’d allow a conspiracy nut to hold such a prestigious position as librarian of Congress? Lastly, you might want to check out Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen.
Now I wish to share with you some examples of our hidden history that anyone thinking about joining the military should know about before making that possibly fatal choice. George W. (WRONG!) Bush is the miscreant (one who behaves criminally or viciously) who calls himself a ‘compassionate conservative’ and declares he is on a holy mission from God to destroy evil. This is the man whose father as president before him, and during the Gulf War urged the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam—after we had withdrawn from Iraq—and when they did, he abandoned them and let them be slaughtered by Saddam. Our government supplied Saddam with the weapons of mass destruction, which he used to murder tens of thousands of his Kurdish & other citizens, and we didn’t raise a voice of protest because Saddam was our man (trained and put in power by the C.I.A.). And now these same hypocritical cowards repeat over and over how heinous a crime that was back then but conveniently don’t tell the public by omission i.e. it’s not allowed to be broadcast in the mainstream media, but is common knowledge in the alternative media.
Something else occurred to me while reflecting on U.S. support for freedom & democracy and that is, why, if we are so morally righteous and just, did we wait so long before we entered both WWI & WWII? As far as I’m concerned, the final nail in the coffin of those who shout that the U.S. has always been the defender of freedom and democracy is the simple list of most of the world’s most brutal and sadistic dictators whom our military, C.I.A., and etc. have given millions of dollars to and have trained their secret police in exotic and unbelievably inhumane techniques of torture. And by the way, our military has been used repeatedly to invade these countries and put down the poor who were revolting against their dictators. These dictators jail, torture, and kill students, teachers, professors, artists, peasants, journalists, musicians, writers, etc. who dare to speak out against the oppression of their fellow citizens.
I know this is not common knowledge because you won’t find this information in textbooks, mainstream T.V., radio, newspapers, or magazines. You will have to put forth significant effort to discover the hidden history and the current activities of “our” government and its agents of repression. Don’t just accept anything I say because you trust me or believe I’m an honest person. Find out for yourself and do your own homework because that’s the only truly worthwhile knowledge there is! I will point you in the direction of some very valuable resources that I have uncovered in my search though. I believe you will find them very enlightening and you will become more and more outraged as your knowledge expands. On the radio or Internet, look up the Pacifica Radio Network especially KPFK in Los Angeles and its Sunday program called Background Briefing with host, Ian Masters. And Robert McChesney does a weekly radio broadcast from Urbana University, which is very worth listening to. On the radio, the Internet, & some public cable access channels is Democracy Now! with host Amy Goodman who is a true heroine and has had her head caved in because she dared to try to report the truth of the slaughter in East Timor. Finally, there is Noam Chomsky who is a one-man revolution and who will rock your world. And Michael Parenti & Gore Vidal are mind-blowing in their analysis of history and politics and definitely worth your time. I almost forgot, here are some excellent magazines who speak for the progressive or liberal political point of view: The Nation, The Progressive, Z magazine, Harper’s magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The Utne Reader, & Mother Jones.
Here is just a partial list of those dictators “we” have supported because they allow “our” corporations to rape, pillage, & plunder their people and their natural resources—these are the ones I’m at least somewhat familiar with: Idi Amin of Uganda; Batista of Cuba; Botha of South Africa; Chiang Kai-Shek of Taiwan; Christiani of El Salvador; Duvallier of Haiti; Kind Faud bin’ Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia; Franco of Spain; Hitler of Germany; Marcos of the Philippines; Mobutu of Zaire; Noriega of Panama; Shah of Iran; Papadopoulos of Greece; Chung Hee Park of South Korea; Pinochet of Chile; Pol Pot of Cambodia; Halie Salassie of Ethiopia; Somoza of Nicaragua; Ian Smith of Rhodesia; Stroessner of Paraguay; Suharto of Indonesia; and Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. Note also that we invaded Nicaragua and Haiti several times in the 20th century to make it safe for corporations like United Fruit which the Bush family had significant investments in. And Bush says we’re bringing democracy to Iraq? Can you see why the people of Iraq may not believe him?
The true agenda of the robber barons is rarely clearly stated but if we pay attention to their actions, not their words, we can make fairly educated guesses as to what their real agenda is and here are some of my guesses. The powerful are some of the most paranoid people you’d never want to meet. I don’t know why they overreact to such an extent? Their gutting of the traditional public school curriculum has been nearly 100% effective in producing a nation of illiterates and functionally literate. They have censored, distorted, and left out so much of the true history of America that we truly have become a Nation of Sheep. Orwell wrote prophetically in 1948 when he published 1984, “those who control the past, control the present and those who control the present, control the future.” Think about it. When they rearrange the facts in our history textbooks aren’t they controlling the present? Therefore it’s a no-brainer i.e. they control our future. Remember how the Pentagon controls the reporters writing about and covering of our military actions around the planet!
I feel this administration is a bunch of bush leaguers and that they are as cowardly as bushwhackers who shoot men in the back because they don’t have the courage to fight out in the open! Some critics have posited what I believe to be a plausible theory that we sent the weapons inspectors into Iraq to make sure as possible that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction before we invaded to try to keep our casualties at a minimum and give the public a quick, clean victory? And this is another reason why the term ‘military intelligence’ is an oxymoron. Our ‘intelligence’ agencies and Condoleeza Rice was supposedly an expert on Russia, didn’t have a clue that Russia was collapsing and Ms. Rice & our “intelligence” agencies were caught completely off guard until after the fact when Russia self-imploded. Believe it or not, I am approaching the end of this rather lengthy essay of mine and if you’re still with me, I want to applaud you for your diligence. I tuned into Democracy Now! last week and was very glad that I did because there was a very lovely guest by the name of Naomi Wolf on and she was discussing her recent book The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. During the course of the interview, Ms. Wolf calmly & eloquently laid out what she calls the blueprint for fascism in 10 steps that she has observed from her study of despots and dictators and which is common in every despot’s attempts to destroy democratic movements or to close down a democratic society. I request that you keep these ten steps to fascism in mind and reflect back on what I have written and then decide for yourself how much ‘truth’ there is to my essay.
1) Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy. As Ms. Wolf points out this can be totally fictitious or true to some extent but grossly overstated or hyped to scare the public into compliance with the fascist agenda. Note our internment of thousands of Japanese Americans during WWII & the confiscation of their land. And also notice that Bush’s “War on Terror,” has no physical location or time limit so he & his cronies can carry on their war against internal & external “enemies” indefinitely. Also interesting is the parallel to the Reichstag fire in Germany to the attacks of Sept. 11th in that they galvanized the people against an invisible enemy.
2) Create a gulag. Remember Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, which detailed the horrific conditions all those unfortunate souls whom Stalin dispatched to Siberia were forced to endure. Of course our most infamous gulag is Guantanamo and next to it is Abu Gharib. But there are perhaps hundreds of other “black sites” at secret locations around the globe. We have over 170 military bases around the globe and we also farm-out some of our torture to friendly dictatorships like Egypt & Syria. Naomi also reminds us of a famous pastor who lived in Nazi Germany, Pastor Martin Niemoler who realized that he, like so many other good Germans never spoke out because they first came for the communists, then the Jews, then the labor union leaders, then the Catholics, etc. but he never said anything because these were people on the fringes of German society and he didn’t identify with them but when the brown shirts came for him, there was no one left to speak out. “Most Americans don’t understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantanamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.”
3) Develop a thug caste. Mussolini had his Blackshirts & Hitler had his Brownshirts and Bush has Blackwater. Not a very original title for a private, paramilitary force on the part of the powers that be when you think about it. If you recall or in case you aren’t aware of it, Blackwater doesn’t just operate as cowboy mercenaries in Iraq and other ‘hot spots’ around the world but have been deployed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to intimidate, beat up, & terrify the black residents of New Orleans so they’d clear out and the rich cats could ‘gentrify’ New Orleans. And in the recent fires in Southern California, Blackwater was dispatched again to ‘help out’ and partnered with McDonalds. Ah, good old capitalism never ceases in its pursuit of profit while the poor are once again kicked in the teeth. Note that the State Dept. has been shielding Blackwater from prosecution for its murder of innocent civilians in Iraq. Equally important, another American ‘hero,’ Oliver North, who was awarded for his betrayal of America with his very own T.V. show, told us of Reagan’s preparations in case there was domestic ‘unrest’ whereby they would round up all dissidents, declare martial law, and lock up all the troublemakers. Can’t happen here?
4) Set up an internal surveillance system. “In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about ‘national security’; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.” The “Patriot Act” which should more rightly be called The War on Freedom Act has effectively taken away our right to privacy. And the masters have been hiding behind the term “National Security” for decades in order to cover all their crimes against American citizens and their covert activities around the world such as assassinating foreign leaders not ‘friendly’ towards American corporations who are exploiting sovereign nations’ resources and people. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, I invite you to check out another PBS Frontline program called Spying on the Home Front that first aired in May of 2007. In fact, I just went to the website and tried to access a side story on what the N.S.A. may be up to and got a message saying “Access Forbidden.” Home of the Free? Under the cloak of “protecting us from possible terrorist attacks,” the wicked wizards of wanton greed are actually tightening a noose around our necks and especially the necks of all of us who dare to dissent. Note that you can’t attend a public speech by Bush without signing a loyalty oath and if you’re wearing a t-shirt with anything remotely critical on it, you will get the bum’s rush escort and possibly a tazer tune-up? Mussolini, Hitler, Communist China, Communist East Germany, etc. have all employed internal spy networks in order to intimidate their citizens into silence. And it works remarkably well because people become more and more fearful that their neighbors or strangers might report them if they say the wrong thing. Keep on watching Jerry Springer, ‘reality T.V., and all the other mindless crap & don’t trouble yourself with these minor inconveniences or infringements and one day you’ll wake up and wonder where you are because America will have become one giant gulag. “Don’t Worry Be Happy!” (Stupid song from about 15 years ago)
5) Harass citizens’ groups. As Senator Frank Church from Idaho, warned us around 1975 when he held the Church Committee Hearings to investigate the government’s COINTELPRO activities, our secret police infiltrated dozens of peace groups, anti-nuclear groups, the Black Panthers, etc. and sometimes marked charismatic leaders of these groups for death by other agencies, and used agent provocateurs to foment violence which then gave the fascists the pretext to cave-in people’s heads and haul them off to prison. I was at a demonstration once in L.A. outside a fancy hotel which was holding a $500 a plate dinner for Ronald Reagan and I got scared because a black man struck up a conversation with me and I felt that he was trying to suck me into suggesting we take some sort of violent action so he could arrest me. They are very subtle and clever in their tactics and you’d better be very careful about what you say and to whom if you don’t want to end up in prison. Anyway, our secret police had to cool it for a while but not for long because when Reagan took office, the gloves came off again in terms of spying on us. The bastards even go after pastors & preachers who dare to criticize their brutal and callous methods. But if you’re a fellow hatemonger like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who even called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, you have nothing to fear. They use the IRS to intimidate church leaders into silence by threatening to revoke their tax-exempt status. Michael Moore also highlighted this harassment of citizens’ groups in his film Fahrenheit 9/11
6) Engage in arbitrary detention and release. People, like myself, who have marched in peaceful demonstrations, signed petitions, written letters of dissent to editors, blogs, etc. have been put on a Terrorist Watch list. I don’t know yet if I’m on the list or not but will find out the next time I try to fly. The point is that if you dare to dissent in America under the Bush regime, you are likened to a terrorist. Of course this completely turns on its head what our founding fathers and framers of our Constitution established with our freedom of speech, right to assemble, right to privacy, etc.
7) Target key individuals. You may recall that during the turbulent 1960s, virtually every leader of the organizations critical of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panthers, etc. Leaders were either jailed or killed. Consider the fate of Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary, Tom Hayden, Stokely Carmichael, etc. Also reflect on the fact that in almost every coup d’etat, one of the first things the new dictator does is shut down the newspapers, T.V. stations, universities, etc. Why? Because they know that if they can keep the public in the dark and only allow the people to hear their propaganda, it’s much easier to control & shape their opinions and hence manipulate the people to go along with their hidden agendas. To illustrate, I remember my shock when I was attending California State University in the early 1980s and learned of an organization by right-wing “Christian” fundamentalists called “Accuracy in Academia.” Yeah, ‘accuracy!’ Not! It was clearly an attempt to silence ‘liberal’ professors and intimidate them into perpetuation of the right-wing ideological perspective.
8) Control the press. Unfortunately, the death knell for the ‘free press’ in America has long ago been sounded. For an excellent, detailed analysis of this woeful state of affairs, I warmly recommend that you check out Noam Chomsky & Edward S. Herman’s classic Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. “The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of U.S. journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened ‘critical infrastructure’ when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration. Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C. Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy—a form of retaliation that ended her career.” Yeah, here’s an example of true betrayal or treason but of course when the White House hoodlums do it, they get away with it. Scooter Libby was finally convicted of this crime and even though the blow-heart Bush who swore that when he discovered who outed Valerie Plame, they’d be punished to the full letter of the law. It was just another lie in a tidal wave of deceptions perpetrated by this junta of jackals. Bush pardoned Libby before he saw a single day in jail. And let’s not forget the once venerable New York Times the ‘paper of record,’ that sets the standard for the rest of the newspapers in America. They beat the war drums for the rush to war along with the FOX “News” channel. “You won’t have a shutdown of news in modern America—it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it’s not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can’t tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.
9) Dissent equals treason. “Cast dissent as ‘treason’ and criticism as ‘espionage.’ Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalize certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of ‘spy’ and ‘traitor.’” I’m sure that a lot of what I have said in this essay could be construed as ‘treason’ by these perverters of the truth and I’ve heard that they are either thinking of or have already started confiscating people who dissent’s property. Yep, land of the free and home of the brave. “And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realize that since September of last year—when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006—the president has the power to call any U.S. citizen an ‘enemy combatant.’ He has the power to define what ‘enemy combatant’ means. …he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin’s gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantanamo’s, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantanamo, is all isolation cells. We U.S. citizens will get a trial eventually—for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even U.S. citizens fair trials. ‘Enemy combatant’ is a status offence—it is not even something you have to have done. ‘We have absolutely moved ove
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