Monday, May 16, 2005

The Scourge of Nationalism (talkback)

.....cannot get out of my mind the recent news photos of ordinary Americans sitting on chairs, guns on laps, standing unofficial guard on the Arizona border, to make sure no Mexicans cross over into the United States. There was something horrifying in the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call "civilization," we have carved up what we claim is one world into 200 artificially created entities we call "nations" and armed to apprehend or kill anyone who crosses a boundary....yeah, freakin' scary.

Honestly thought we were better than this. But then came 9/11 and everything did change, just as Junior and his minions said, at the time.

To me, more changed the day Bobby Kennedy died, than on 9/11: took me awhile to get it, really.....

What the hell had changed; for the nation, I mean? Yes, entire lives had changed (thousands of them, from 61 nations, but that was clearly not what Junior was talking about. He was not talking about the orphans, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and friends, whose lives truly were changed that day. Junior was talking about our national life...and that kind of talk sent chills up and down my spine!

Terrorism is nothing new; the Europeans had been dealing with it for decades and still do a better job than we do; nevertheless, it is now the excuse for every manner of evil doings by so-called civilized nations.

Is not nationalism--that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder--one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking--cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on--have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

...and it is time that we all re-educate ourselves, no matter how painful the process...we must face the whole, entire truth about our nation and about ourselves.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica, and many more). But in a nation like ours--huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction--what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

AMEN!

Does anyone have a list of those countires, that can afford a little national pride...that do not have such huge military budgets and are not commiting war crimes, that are actually soverign nations, independent of the U.S.?

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy. That self-deception started early. When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible.

Oh God, don't get me started!

The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession.

Sick, eh.?....kinda like today...such hateful words to quote from any scripture.

When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women, and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day; It was our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence," an American journalist declared on the eve of the Mexican War.

Mather was an idiot, not unlike Robertson, Foulwell and Dobson....

After the invasion of Mexico began, the New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country. It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.

What a bunch of crap!

We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people. As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our Secretary of War, was saying: "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happinessNationalism is given a special virulence when it is blessed by Providence.

The American soldier is different from no other human being on Earth.....he/she can be brainwashed, especially by his/her superiors. The American soldier, as we have seen over the years, is capable of atrocities of which Hitler or Stalin would be proud....or, even, Saddam.

However, there are also citizen-soldiers who are far more decent than the civilian leadership accounts for, and so, eventually, the "truth outs!" The Pentagon hates when that happens.....

Today we have a President, invading two countries in four years, who believes he gets messages from God. Our culture is permeated by a Christian fundamentalism as poisonous as that of Cotton Mather. It permits the mass murder of "the other" with the same confidence as it accepts the death penalty for individuals convicted of crimes. A Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, told an audience at the University of Chicago Divinity School, speaking of capital punishment: "For the believing Christian, death is no big deal."

Murder of the other....messages from God that instruct the chosen preznit to wage war on half the earth.....with confidence, as the irresponsible, whacko-Right supports the death penalty for those convicted of a crime, even though we have seen in the last decade that there are quite a few people on Death-row, who are falsely convicted....?

My God, what have we allowed to happen?

Death is no big deal to the believing Christian? Really?

We believe that only one's own life can be no big deal to the believing Christian...not that of others.

I agree with Scalia: Death is no big deal....but killing is; even when 12 people conspire with the state to kill or for Congress to agree, for that matter.

How many times have we heard Bush and Rumsfeld talk to the troops in Iraq, victims themselves, but also perpetrators of the deaths of thousands of Iraqis, telling them that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for "liberty," for "democracy?"

Excuse me, but Bull-shit!

Nationalist super-patriotism is not confined to Republicans.

Here we go....this will not be pleasant, but it is something that needs to be faced squarely and with courage.

When Richard Hofstadter analyzed American presidents in his book, The American Political Tradition, he found that Democratic leaders as well as Republicans, liberals as well as conservatives, invaded other countries, sought to expand U.S. power across the globe.

Yeah, we know!

Liberal imperialists have been among the most fervent of expansionists, more effective in their claim to moral rectitude precisely because they are liberal on issues other than foreign policy. Theodore Roosevelt, a lover of war, and an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Spain and the conquest of the Philippines, is still seen as a Progressive because he supported certain domestic reforms and was concerned with the national environment. Indeed, he ran as President on the Progressive ticket in 1912.

Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, was the epitome of the liberal apologist for violent actions abroad. In April of 1914, he ordered the bombardment of the Mexican coast, and the occupation of the city of Vera Cruz, in retaliation for the arrest of several U.S. sailors. He sent Marines into Haiti in 1915, killing thousands of Haitians who resisted, beginning a long military occupation of that tiny country. He sent Marines to occupy the Dominican Republic in 1916. And, after running in 1916 on a platform of peace, he brought the nation into the slaughter that was taking place in Europe in World War I, saying it was a war to "make the world safe for democracy."

....and that wound up in WWII.....

In our time, it was the liberal Bill Clinton who sent bombers over Baghdad as soon as he came into office, who first raised the specter of "weapons of mass destruction" as a justification for a series of bombing attacks on Iraq.

That was about an assassination attempt on Poppy, as I recall. Bit of an over-reaction, I would say. The latter air-raids had more to do with Clinton's obsession with Osama or the Rethug. vast-conspiracy to impeach him for lies that killed no one.

Liberals today criticize George Bush's unilateralism. But it was Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who told the United Nations Security Council that the U.S. would act "multilaterally when we can, unilaterally when we must."

I don't personally like the language, but I think, maybe Albright meant it; BushCo never did. They intended to go into Iraq long before they were selected by the Supremes.

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Oh, but it saved thousands of lives, both American and Japanese, right?

We dropped not one, but two of those hellish devices on cities; on civilians. It was the worst crime of the 20th century, next to those of the nazis.

The killing of 3,000 people on September 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To us it is not a justification for the taking of one innocent life. The people of Iraq had nothing...REPEAT.... NOTHING, to do with 9/11!

The victims of 9/11 wanted no more blood shed in the Arab world. They only asked that the blood of their loved-ones be explained. That, to this day, has not been done by any official body.

What makes our nation immune from the normal standards of human decency? Surely, we must renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Nothing makes us immune....no one is immune from karma....and we have atomic karma....that is why visions of "Mushroom Clouds," rising over American cities, make us crazy....we know, somewhere deep in our collective, national soul, that it is coming, sooner or later...the big blow-back....long in coming, but coming as surely as the sun rises in the east.. ...and Junior, and his happy band if sociopaths, have made it more likely than ever...and sooner

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation. We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

Did that a long time ago...

The poets and artists among us seem to have a clearer understanding of the limits of nationalism. Langston Hughes (no wonder he was called before the Committee on Un-American Activities) addressed his country as follows: You really haven't been a virgin for so long, and it's ludicrous to keep up the pretext . . . You've slept with all the big powers; In military uniforms.....And you've taken the sweet life.......Of all the little brown fellows . . .

The Poets and Artists; the creative ones...always know before anyone else...

Being one of the world's big vampires; Why don't you come out and say so......Like Japan, and England, and France......And all the other nymphomaniacs of power?

Admit it? When Pigs fly......

Henry David Thoreau, provoked by the war in Mexico and the nationalist fervor it produced, wrote: "Nations! What are nations? . . . Like insects, they swarm. The historian strives in vain to make them memorable."

In our time, Kurt Vonnegut (Cat's Cradle); places nations among those unnatural abstractions he calls granfalloons, which he defines as "a proud and meaningless association of human beings."

......say like the Klan, maybe... or the Nazis?

There have always been men and women in this country who have insisted that universal standards of decent human conduct apply to our nation as to others. That insistence continues today and reaches out to people all over the world. It lets them know, like the balloons sent over the countryside by the Paris Commune in 1871, that "our interests are the same."

Perhaps that is what we need to do...launch a massive armada of hot air balloons all over the planet...with Peace Symbols painted on them, and the word, PEACE, in every language...and put healers and peacemakers on every border, of every nation...and call the companies of the compassionate and the loving to march on Iraq and Palestine, un-armed, vulnerable, understanding and willing to give of themselves to make things right...or as right as we can make them, wth Divine Help.

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