Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two Americas

Observers have pointed out that there are two Americas. One - an educated, latte-drinking, Prius-driving, NPR listening kind and gentle people. The other - an ignorant, Bud-light drinking, pick-up truck driving, Rush Limbaugh-listening rough and violent people.

My new neighbors moved in a few months ago. My husband was at the fence introducing himself to the male, and I came up to be friendly.

My husband kept asking the man if he was attending the local college, and the man kept ignoring the question, while salivating over our billy goat's well-hung testicles and powerful build, asking unseemly questions about his potency and violent behavior. I felt like interrupting my husband by saying "Of course he doesn't go to college, you unobservant, NPR-listening man! Quit asking!"

Today, my neighbor has been blowing up fireworks for a solid two hours, freaking out my animals, and getting on my last nerve. Where the hell does an unemployed person get the money to buy so many fireworks?

Oh. Wait. I'm an American. My country is broke, but still manages to terrorize people all over the world by dropping explosives onto them. No expense spared, even if we have no money. My neighbor is simply aping his rulers.

When the US first invaded Iraq, they dropped bombs on Baghdad day and night, 24 hours/7days/week. The expressed plan was to break the Iraqis will by psychologically terrorizing them.

It had the desired affect on one family with two teenaged girls. The mother told of the girls shaking, covering their ears and screaming, unable to take the stress anymore.

So the father, mother and the two girls got into their car and headed out of Baghdad, looking for a quieter safer place.

They came up to a checkpoint. The father was an engineer, and had gone to college in America, so he knew English. He got out of the car to explain to the soldier about his terrified teenagers.

The soldier blew him away, and then turned and shot up the car, killing both girls and wounding the mother.

When I heard this story, I realized that the Iraqi had only met nice Americans in his college years. He thought that he could reasonably explain his situation, and the American would listen and respond in a rational manner.

Unfortunately, he met one of the other Americans. Some low-life rough kid, who decided that joining the Army was a morally acceptable way to make money, since his morals were lacking.

I heard the story from the mother's viewpoint.

I wonder about the soldier's. Did he take pictures of his kill and post them online? Or did he realize the horror of what he had done and kill himself when he got home, as so many soldiers have done?

We live in an insane society, where murder is glorified and kindness is ridiculed. It's a tribute to stubborn human values that a small portion of the country resists the constant mantra of death worship we are subjected to, and holds onto decency.

I salute Decent America.


Anonymous said...

I'm an atheist, but I enjoy celebrating Christmas.

I can forgive Jesus (the man or the myth) for talking so much about Hell and just concentrate on the "Sermon on the Mount."

So likewise today, I was planning to focus on the good things about America - again, real(the Bill of Rights) and mythical (Marshal Matt Dillon never fired first.)

But, I'm having a hard time this year. I have the fireworks; I have the hot dogs and the watermelon; I've listened to NPR's reading of the Declaration; this afternoon I'm even going to watch the kind of silly (yet kind of stirring) musical 1776.

I can't get Private Manning out of my mind. Or the drone plans in Pakistan. Or what new war will start next week. Or that Habeas corpus is gone. Or that torture has been renamed.

It's just getting harder and harder to pretend.

Anonymous said...

I am a 51 year old pacifist. However, if I were dropped as a "stranger in a strange land" with bombs going off all around, I might very well have shot anything that moved.

Out of fundamental, primative fear.

We should never had gone there.

wagelaborer said...

I agree with you both.

It's hard to celebrate "freedom" if you're aware of its loss.

The local Green Party usually reads the Bill of Rights on the Fourth of July, and there is always murmuring in the crowd when people realize - Hey! We don't have that anymore!

And putting someone in an atrocity producing situation produces atrocities. This has been recognized for decades.

I do feel sorry for the thousands of young soldiers who kill themselves in remorse over what they did when they were in country.

Anonymous said...

You have to wonder if the Vietnam veteran backlash (i.e. all soldiers are unappreciated heroes aa depicted by Sly Stallone in First Blood - which by the way introduced the fable that the returning soldiers were spit on - Read The Spitting Image) doesn't contribute to the psychic pain of people of conscience who joined the "service" to get an education and came home feeling very non-heroic and unable to decompress when all people want to say over and over is "we thank you for your service".

Independence Day should change its name to Obedience Day because it demands a cult-like following and certainly does not exhalt independent thinking (the worst sin in military life is not following orders). Who was it that said "When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible"?

wagelaborer said...

Yes. If you're already feeling remorseful and guilty, and clueless compatriots tell you you're a hero, I can see that it would make you not want to be around in such company.

And it was Sinclair Lewis who nailed the marketing of fascism we are experiencing.

David G said...

Hopefully, more and more Americans will find it more and more difficult to pretend.

Hopefully, something will stir in the breasts of most Americans, a realization that they are squandering their birthright, their potential, their lives as they pursue imperialism and greed.

America holds the keys to peace or a nuclear holocaust.

I hope it chooses well!

wagelaborer said...

The military was always the hit squad for the capitalist class, as Smedley Butler pointed out decades ago.

But now the capitalist class has globalized. They no longer hold any nationalistic feelings, but they use the nationalism of the yahoo half of the US to enforce their dictums.

The US military is now used as a hit squad for the international ruling class.

Anonymous said...

"When the US first invaded Iraq, they dropped bombs on Baghdad day and night, 24 hours/7days/week. The expressed plan was to break the Iraqis will by psychologically terrorizing them."

Thanks for the reminder. Will any American ever apologize for "Shock and Awe"?