2.24.2008

Plenty to Be Ashamed of...

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It has come to my attention, time and time again that offering up complaints or criticisms about this country is to be labeled anti-American, spoiled, unpatriotic and so on. This is the problem of revisionist history, something almost anyone who reads my blog knows is a massive irritation to me.

I would like to make some intentions and opinions clear, noted, and as concise as humanly possible. I cannot speak for all people who share my same opinion, but i can speak for myself and for many that I know personally...

The US has a tumultuous history, one that is typically clouded by patriotic visions of heroism, good deeds, and altruism. We are taught from very young ages that all that we have done, and all that we have fought for was right, just, and moral. We are taught to be proud, we are taught to be appreciative of what we have, and we are taught, above all to believe in our country regardless of what we may learn when we grow up.

Let me pose a scenario and a question to my fellow readers however. Lets begin by imagining we are in the seventeen to twenty-something age category, and we have a wonderful life. The full American Dream. Our parents have provided us with food, shelter, love, toys and everything we could possibly want. We are privileged, are we not? Top education, the best medical care, the newest Playstation and the best sneakers money can buy. We have social status, power, and prestige. We have everything, and we owe it all to our parents.

Let's just say that one day you, the privileged child uncovers a truth about your family...and then another, and another and so on until you become critical. Let's just say that your parents have high paying jobs, but you find out that their pay, and their job, targets and abuses the impoverished (here or in other countries), lets say you find out that their job requires them to (knowingly) be bigots, racists, and regularly use child labor to boost profits, and thus their bonuses. Lets say that you find out your parents did not in fact buy you the newest Playstation or best sneakers, but stole them from the poor families in the next town over. lets say you find out that your parents regularly make deals with head drug dealers or Mafia heads, just to gain that new car or house.

Would you still want all of these things they have given you? Would you still want the stolen Playstation, the nice house, the fancy education if you knew, for a fact, that it cost other human beings something dear?

Just how proud would you be of your parents if you found out they were hitmen? How proud would you be if all the wonderful things you have were ill gotten gains? Just how appreciative of your parents would you be if you found out that their intentions were never about you and what's best for you, but rather a nice way to line their own pockets, and take care of you at the same time?

How would you feel if you realized your parents bought your affections?

Would standing up and addressing their unethical lifestyle betray you as a brat? Would refusal to accept ill gotten gains automatically mean you are spoiled, stupid, or unloving of your parents? Does it mean you hate them, or will never be able to work with them in hopes of change and progress?

Of course it wouldn't. It would mean that you are finally standing up for what is right, addressing past mistakes and wrong doings, forcing them to own up to their actions and take responsibility, instilling a bit of humility and over all, changing a bad situation into one of hope and progress. And you do so out of love, not hate.

Well, after rummaging around unrevised history of the US, many of us feel the same way. That sort of betrayal one feels when they realize their parent has lied to them, that discontent one feels when they understand that what they have was stolen from someone else.

Spoiled? Anti-American? Unpatriotic? Not even close.

It's called realism folks, and it is required to initiate any kind of progress worth progressing to. So why don't we all cut to the chase and be honest with ourselves, and force our country to do the same.

There are a lot of actions, policies and behaviors that Americans have to be ashamed of. That doesn't mean it has to stay that way. What that means is that it's time to stand up, and do something that will make you proud.

Tell the truth about our history, and make our country face it's consequences, instead of drowning in a sea of patriotism.

21 comments:

RickB said...

That's a good analogy (although also isn't it a literal description of the Bush family??!?!?). I think it also describes the post imperial mindest which finally dawns on a nation when their colonial plunder comes to an end. It also though continues to be denied by conservatives (such is their mindset) and it would be historic if such clear perception didn't have to be brought about only after/because of imperial collapse (because until it does, like with the British empire, you keep treating so many people like shit until that realisation). And maybe it's something to do with King George's, they always cause trouble.
Although in America because of an idealisitc founding there is some value in the patriotism that seeks not arrogant supremacy over other nations/people but to live up to the ideals of the constitution & bill of rights (corrected for modernity with the racism removed, take that Federalist society numpties!). Patriotism as national chauvinism though I have no time for. Accidents of birth and geography do not impart any qualities upon a person that make them superior to anyone else. Unless you're born on Krypton, then y'know flying and stuff.

Anok said...

HA! Rick you're killing me...although I did not even remotely mean to imply the current "legacy" in office, or his clan.

Perhaps Freud was right after all...

I agree though, with your entire last paragraph. Even the Krypton bit...

Whoo!

JafaBrit's Art said...

I can't tell you how disgusted I was when I found out men I was brought up to revere, Richard the Lionhearted and Lord Kitchener, were responsible for some of the worst butchery imaginable. Why are people so afraid to accept that there are parts of their culture that is awful? We can still love our country and not like parts of its history or aspects of current culture or policies.

Anok said...

Hey Jafabrit, thanks for stopping by!

The question you ask, is one that nearly no one wants to know the answer to...

I did a post abo0ut it a while back, and I think it illustrates it better than I can right now, as I am out of coffee.

Fear and Loathing

AmmoBob said...

Anok,
You know my thoughts about America, but I'm also not blind to the some of the bad things America has done. America is not perfect and will never be perfect. We will always have issues that are unjust in some people’s eyes. My only hart burn is the constant banging on the bad drum. In your eyes, has America done anything that you would considered good? You said realism is required to initiate any kind of progress. Shouldn’t that realism be a complete analysis of everything America has done, good and bad. Then look at ways to increase the good and correct the bad?

Anok said...

AmmoBob, remind me to be careful what I say around you...you remember it better than my husband does LOL!

I should clarify here for a moment, this post was written specifically to get the point across about why people such as myself have a hard time proclaiming to be "proud" of America. It was designed to be an explanation, rather than just beating the bad drum.

To answer your question, has America done anything good, right, or beneficial? Yes I believe it has. However that bitter taste I get even when talking about the good things still makes it hard to swallow.

In my personal opinion, and relatively speaking the US is a fledgling country. We seem to have entered into our teen years, complete with enough experience to move forward and be powerful, but with the arrogance often accompanied with a certain lack of wisdom. So even the "good" things seem tainted.

Time will heal these wounds, but only if we move forward, admit our wrong doings, make up for what we can, fix what we can, and do away with whatever (policies/actions) we can't.

For me, much like a newly converted person, correcting revisionist history is the most straightforward way to do this. Although it seems like bashing, it's really just forcing people to look at things realistically.

I think once we can get past that part (as a nation) the drum beating will cease.

It's a fine line however, between what I am trying to do, and outright bashing for bashing's sake. So I agree, it can get out of hand, or overdone. But there are still so many people in this country who don't know what the truth really is, and so continue to support bad policies, worse foreign relations and a poorly managed government.

Rafael said...

Well I have dedicated a lot of thought and time to this subject, my latest stab can be found here:

The Ugly American
http://blip.tv/file/681571

I mean one does a great disservice to one own country if you do not inform yourself of its true history. How are you going to learn? Or grow? Or change? If anything the U.S. was born out of the need to reject the "Old World" thoughts and patterns. For America to survive, it must look deep inside itself and confront reality. The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly.

sonia said...

There are a lot of actions, policies and behaviors that Americans have to be ashamed of.

You are absolutely right. And the thing Americans like you should be most ashamed of is in wasting time on this navel-gazing, self-flagellating bullshit while ignoring REAL TORTURE, REAL CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY and REAL OPPRESSION occuring daily in the world and carried out by leftist Third World dictators who are trying to divert attention from their crimes by claiming to be "anti-imperialist".

And yes, I know that many of those leftist dictators are supported by the US government. Which only makes your reluctance to overthrow them all the more inexplicable.

an average patriot said...

Bush has made me distrust our history and why we have done the things we have.
Distrusting what is going on today is the epitomy of Patriotism.
looking for the truth we are labeled conspiracy theorist so the destruction of our America can be accomplished. It is well on it way!
Labeling truth seekers as conspiracy theorists to destroy society and world order is the biggest conspiracy of them all.

Anok said...

Sonia, that is an interesting response, considering the nature of my post. It's as if this one post, a specific explanation of a specific sentiment of a specific country automatically means that all of my concerns exclude everything in the world but this one topic. As if I am neglecting the wrongs in the rest of the world entirely...

That isn't how you took it, is it?

And yes, I know that many of those leftist dictators are supported by the US government. Which only makes your reluctance to overthrow them all the more inexplicable.

Whose reluctance? About which countries? And if you admit that US government supports the very dictators you loathe so much, why would that fact change my overall outlook or opinion about the US? Or yours, for that matter? You do understand that the citizens of the US have lost much control over what our government does, don't you?

First, a word or two about "overthrowing" a government. As an Anarchist I believe in the abolishment of government, not overthrowing one. The vital difference is that overthrowing implies that another government will take its place, and typically the government of the victor at that. That smacks of imperialisation, and that's something many people, Anarchist or not, can agree upon. Which would answer your question about why citizens are reluctant to support an "overthrow" of any country.

However, your point neglects to address the fact that there was public outcry, domestically and globally about our lack of intervention of atrocities in places like Darfur, Kenya, Burma, and even Pakistan. The citizens were not reluctant, but our government was reluctant, and outright defiant at times. Of course, we didn't want to overthrow, only intervene to stop the atrocities.

Our government has always shown reluctance to help other countries, or stop "lefty dictators' as you put it, unless it benefits the US. So how then, can we, the people, convince our government to actually step in when it IS appropriate (rather than when it is profitable), without first making citizens aware of that very fact in the first place?

How can we help anyone, if our own citizens are blind to the truth?

Anok said...

Rafeal, well said, and I will be by to look at that post!

Jim, you are dead on, as usual ;)

The Blogger Exposed said...

Not necessarily congruent with the other comments, but somewhat along the lines of your post...just earlier tonight when I was putting my 9-year old to bed (the little activist), we somehow got onto the discussion of WWII. Being as vague as possible (not wanting to give her sensitive soul nightmares), I was basically explaining who the Axis & Allies were. She said, "so Japan was one of the bad guys?" And my initial reaction was to say, "yes." Then I quickly corrected myself and explained that we fought against them, but that it isn't right to call them the "bad guys." To think of it on the other hand, parents in Japan likely often tell their children that we were the bad guys. In either case, it only serves to trickle the prejudice to additional generations. I told her that Japan instigated us by bombing Pearl Harbor, but that the U.S. retaliated by killing a great deal of innocent civilians. Really, when it comes to war, there is no "good guy," regardless of what our president says.

sonia said...

Anok,

if I am neglecting the wrongs in the rest of the world entirely

You are not "neglecting" them. You are simply assigning blame for them in the wrong places.

Whose reluctance? About which countries?

Every single country painted "red" on this map...

Have you ever called for the overthrow of the governments of those countries ? Marched in a demonstration calling for an invasion of those countries ?

if you admit that US government supports the very dictators you loathe so much, why would that fact change my overall outlook or opinion about the US?

I don't expect you to change you mind about the US. But I would expect you to change your mind about the necessity to overthrow an oppressive government, ESPECIALLY if it is supported by the United States. But you never support it.

You do understand that the citizens of the US have lost much control over what our government does, don't you?

No, I don't. But it is a great excuse for inaction.

As an Anarchist I believe in the abolishment of government, not overthrowing one.

That's an even better excuse, especially since it makes no distinction between unelected totalitarian governments, and democratic ones. Since you hate them all, you are not focusing your wrath on the oppressive governments, you are wasting your wrath equally among all 193 governments.

we didn't want to overthrow, only intervene to stop the atrocities.

If you do that, the killing will resume as soon as UN peacekeepers are out (or maybe even before that, like in Rwanda).

So how then, can we, the people, convince our government to actually step in when it IS appropriate (rather than when it is profitable) ?

You've hit the nail on the head. I will tell you how. By organizing and attending demonstrations calling for international intervention in Darfur and every other country where there is no democracy or freedom.

Such demonstrations were organized all over the world in 2003 to keep Saddam Hussein in power.

But the very same people who were willing to scream their lung off to allow Saddam to continue to kill Kurds, are unwilling to scream to stop white Muslims from killing black Muslims in Sudan.

And if they don't care, why should Bush ?

Anok said...

You are not "neglecting" them. You are simply assigning blame for them in the wrong places.

Not true. What I am doing, in this post is addressing specific problems, with regards to specific opinions, about this specific country. Of course, if a government is advocating acts of atrocities, I do not neglect to hold them accountable for their actions. I also do not neglect to hold the US accountable for its actions, as specified in this post.

Every single country painted "red" on this map...

OK, but whose reluctance are we talking about here? US citizens? US government? Other countries? Me specifically?

Have you ever called for the overthrow of the governments of those countries ? Marched in a demonstration calling for an invasion of those countries ?

Actually, Many people, myself included have worked and organized, marched, rallied, petitioned etc to have the US intervene on behalf of the humanitarian crisis' in many of those countries. Of course, these things often don't get televised, because our media apparently doesn't find it worthy of attention.

I don't expect you to change you mind about the US. But I would expect you to change your mind about the necessity to overthrow an oppressive government, ESPECIALLY if it is supported by the United States. But you never support it.

So answered, above. I don't support the war in Iraq, or the movement to imperialise the Middle East, for the financial and political gain that the US is vying for. That however doesn't mean that I wouldn't or don't support intervention on behalf of countries who need it. Again though, this has very little to do with my actual post.

No, I don't. But it is a great excuse for inaction.

What inaction? We are using what little leverage we have left, and it aint working. The US government has all but done exactly the opposite of what its citizens are crying out for, domestically and internationally. Thats a loss of control.

That's an even better excuse, especially since it makes no distinction between unelected totalitarian governments, and democratic ones. Since you hate them all, you are not focusing your wrath on the oppressive governments, you are wasting your wrath equally among all 193 governments.

So, I'm not allowed to work towards my ideals, because you feel it's a waste of my time?

If you do that, the killing will resume as soon as UN peacekeepers are out (or maybe even before that, like in Rwanda).

We will have to agree to disagree on that one. I feel that if an intervention is done properly, which most have not, than a resurgence of violence won't occur. Then again, since i also believe that all power is corruptible, then the abolishment of it would solve the problem nicely.

You've hit the nail on the head. I will tell you how. By organizing and attending demonstrations calling for international intervention in Darfur and every other country where there is no democracy or freedom.

There have been, you've simply missed them. I can't walk down the street without seeing signs to save Darfur, or help Burma etc...There are weekly meetings here about humanitarian needs, refugee crisis' and so on. Fund raisers abound, rallies, etc. people are organized, groups are there, rallies occur. Our government isn't listening.

Such demonstrations were organized all over the world in 2003 to keep Saddam Hussein in power.

Not to keep Hussein in power, but to keep the US from waging an illegal war. Big difference.

But the very same people who were willing to scream their lung off to allow Saddam to continue to kill Kurds, are unwilling to scream to stop white Muslims from killing black Muslims in Sudan.

False, just plain false. And disingenuous to boot. Again, our government isn't listening.

And if they don't care, why should Bush ?

We do care, thats the point. Furthermore, that is the point of my post, in a more specific realm. Many of us Americans are sick and tired of our government supporting the "bad guys" when it profits or benefits the US, and the waging wars for profit and power when there are more serious problems to be dealt with, when the world is crying out for our help....

That is, in a nutshell, my entire point.

One question Sonia, how many rallies have you attended, how many benefits, fund raisers or even awareness groups have you worked with for these countries in need? How loudly have you cried to your government to intervene?

Why isn't your country doing anything?

I've made the effort to contact every single Senator and Congressman in the US, to ask them why the support certain acts, why they haven't done certain things - domestically and internationally - and I got absolutely zip for a response.

The US government isn't listening, and thats the whole problem!

Anok said...

BloggerExposed - thanks for stopping by! I left you that comment on your blog, and I'll say it again here, you are doing a good job!

And yes, I agree.

AmmoBob said...

I know America has not been the best it could be and maybe you nailed it when you said,

“In my personal opinion, and relatively speaking the US is a fledgling country. We seem to have entered into our teen years, complete with enough experience to move forward and be powerful, but with the arrogance often accompanied with a certain lack of wisdom.”

I think America is a lot like the “poor little rich kid”. In our short 200 + years, we have had some hard times; however, I don’t think any of those events come close to what most other countries have had endure over hundreds and hundreds of years of history.

As I mentioned in our first few exchanges, I have lived and traveled through a lot of different countries and saw first hand how a country can distort it’s own history. America is not the only one, trust me.

Seeing people living in grass huts hundreds of miles from any civilization makes you wonder why we are so hung up on the mortgage crisis. Watching crippled children crawling on the street with a piece cardboard under their ass so they can slide along asking if they could shin your shows makes you wonder why the man or women who are healthy can complain about cuts in welfare. Seeing teenage girls train their younger sister how to be a good first time prostitute (cherry girl) right under the governments eyes and in most cases with their governments endorsement, makes you sick. We complain about corporate greed and a corrupt government, but we have no clue what that really is.

Ok, I guess I’m just rampling…

Anok said...

There will be no rambling here! Unless I'm doing it ;)

I do agree AmmoBob, to an extent. With regards to the poor little rich kid syndrome. On the other hand, for a first world country, we really, really shouldn't have the kind of problems and lack of compassion for our own citizens and for other countries that we do.

Since we do have power, why are we not setting a better example? Why aren't being helpful to other countries? Where is our generosity, our compassion? Greed has taken over, and unfortunately much of what you have described - such as child prostitution, bed ridden children with no medical care in sight, crippled vets begging for a living.... the mentally handicapped trying to make whatever they can to make ends meet...the homeless sleeping, and dying on the street - that happens here too and considering our position, it shouldn't happen, at all.

That said, I think I have a bigger problem with our foreign policy, and heavily sugar coated history more so than the average middle class family's problem with their mortgage. I have along standing problem with consumerism, and I feel that this is a big problem in America - and I'll tread carefully here - because it doesn't mean that I don't care about the class struggle here, by the middle class and the poor - but there does come a point where I just want to shake some people who won't...stop...buying!

Then I go back and forth with the idea of indoctrination of the American Dream which is really consumerism wrapped in the flag and blah blah blah...

Oh, back to my point, what was I saying? Because we are a young country, because we have not gone through really terrible times yet, because we have not experienced some of the revolutions that other countries have lived through...I feel that many people, like myself, are in a way fighting to prevent that from happening.

In a way. I would much rather continue to fight domestically to keep and preserve inherent and constitutional rights rather than fight to get them back.

But, these are my thoughts for tonight. Take them for what they're worth.

AmmoBob said...

First, why doesn’t my avatar show up op your recent blogcatalog viewers? Lol…

Well, I guess you’re view of how America should be or could be is higher than mine. Our life’s experiences, education and lessons learned drive our different views, so I’m not sure we would ever agree on how good or bad America really is. I guess I look at from the perspective that it could be a hell of a lot worse. To me, your view seems to be it should be a hell of a lot better. My guess is the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Now, you’re probably going hammer me for the rest of this post, but a nations foreign policy is driven by a number of things and is really very complex. In our case, we have too many freaken politicians attempting to “make” policy on their own and not working together for the good of the country.

Some of our biggest failures are a perfect example of why some parents have brats for kids. Whenever kids see they can play one parent against the other, chaos is usually the result, so you get what we have today. We cannot present a united position on anything. When a decision is made concerning foreign policy, there is always someone (typically with an agenda) who disagrees with it and has to go all over the word voicing his or her opinion about how screwed up the policy is in America.

I’m not saying our politicians should tow the party line or not voice their disagreement, but I’m just saying there is a proper time and place for those types of debates. When countries see our internal bickering and backstabbing, they see a country that is weak and will attempt to exploit those differences for their benefit. Mixed signals and constant changes in our policy will always cause problems. We have lost the core values that once guided this nation.

As for our history, it is what it is. The problem I see, is we have is so many lies documented along with the actual truths and half-truths. Therefore, it’s hard to know what to believe. Anything wrote from a patriotic point of view is seen now as just propaganda wrapped in the flag. Negative history is often viewed as being written by someone with an agenda. To re-write history to correct factual inaccuracies is fine, rewriting history to make it more politically correct with the current disgust of America is just as wrong.

Now I’m sure stoneman would have an opinion on my next thought. I think it is important to judge our history within the context that it happened. We need to look beyond the specific action, and try to understand why it happened and what the moral thought of that day was. Only then can we begin to judge those actions.

Ok, that is too much thinking and writing for one night.

sonia said...

Anok,

There have been, you've simply missed them.

That must be it! Btw, on you own sidebar, there are 30 plus videos of ANTI-IRAQ WAR marches, and not a single one from a march against genocide in Burma, Darfur or any other place. So you missed those marches too.

Anok said...

Sonia - I had totally forgotten about those links LOL. I put those up for a very specific reason, and it had everything to do with that particular march, on that date. Feel free to e mail me for the details of that...There are a few reasons I don't have videos of any meetings, actions, or rallies about other international crisis though...

1)If I have been to it personally I wouldn't post that video up on the internet, as it reveals personally identifiable information about myself, or others who may not want to be on the web.
2) Although the marches against the Iraq war seem to have a solidified campaign, in fact the protesters involved are a multifaceted network of groups supporting different causes. You may even be able to see it in those videos, but there are groups there representing places and crisis' like Darfur within the Iraq/impeach rallies.
3) I don't blog about it because quite frankly, I just don't know how. It's one of those things where I am simply at a loss for words, and am very much affected by it, and I can't deal...

And thats the truth.

By the way, thanks for reminding me to stop neglecting my sidebar - I've noticed not only dead links but absent links and useless stuff!

And yeah, I'm adding you to my blogroll ;) LOL

Anok said...

Now, you’re probably going hammer me for the rest of this post, but a nations foreign policy is driven by a number of things and is really very complex. In our case, we have too many freaken politicians attempting to “make” policy on their own and not working together for the good of the country.

No hammering from me on that point - I totally agree it's gotten too personal, and too profitable and too political. Our country's future isn't a game...you know?

I’m not saying our politicians should tow the party line or not voice their disagreement, but I’m just saying there is a proper time and place for those types of debates.

I agree with the parental comparison, and showing a united front...however I do think that there should be HEALTHY debate going on behind the "closed" doors of our country. (Not the government closing doors to US citizens, just maybe not to internationally tabloid-esque). Then again, for any real change to occur, I personally think we will have to redo the system, get the good old boys out of office, get some fresh, ethical non profit folks in office, and get down to the nitty gritty. I won't hold my breath though.

As for our history, it is what it is. The problem I see, is we have is so many lies documented along with the actual truths and half-truths.

I actually agree with much of what you are saying here. We can't change what was done in the past, you're right. For me, personally I think of it however, as an ethical guideline for discerning current political models. If you think of it like a series of track records - when someone has failed time and time again (or succeeded, or lied, or been honest anything really) you start to see current events through those filters. I am always suspicious of US intentions now that I understand that what I was taught in school was a crock...

I think it is important to judge our history within the context that it happened. We need to look beyond the specific action, and try to understand why it happened and what the moral thought of that day was. Only then can we begin to judge those actions.

Yes, we do - but at the same time I don't think that humanitarian needs or ethics have actually changed, IE were different then from what they are now. Slavery, although condoned, was just as wrong then - no matter how you slice and dice it. I have a hard time believing that people honestly didn't know that they were doing something unethical - or that the government thought it was OK to support dictators while they were torturing people etc...No matter the context, in my eyes.