Anti-American

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Anti-American

In my last post The United States of Terrorism , I received some interesting comments, ranging from the complimentary to the critical. That's always nice. Sometimes you just get negative comments. Sometimes you just get kudos. When you hit the trifecta, it feels good. My fellow Blue Voicer, Neil, had some choice words to say about that post. In particular, he felt that it was "anti-American."

Honestly, I've never quite understood what that means. For instance, how is it that condemnation of terrorist acts that suppressed, destroyed, or otherwise undermined democracy anti-American? Does it then logically follow that such acts are American?

Noam Chomsky claims that anti-Americanism is a term usually found in totalitarian systems like the former Soviet Union where anti-Sovietism was a high crime. He points out that if you were to write a book on anti-Italianism Italians would just laugh; it wouldn't make any sense.

I don't know if I agree with that, but it certainly is an odd phrase. Let's say you own a little store and I discover that your top employee–i.e., your most powerful employee–was enlisting your business in some very illegal dealings. If I told you about it, wouldn't that be a good thing? Without that information you would never know what was going on. Similarly, it's apparent that none of the true history of this country ever gets talked about outside a small circle.

How can the average American make an informed opinion about any of these things without historical context? In Kinser's new book Overthrow he details 14 direct military interventions that overthrew governments we didn't like, starting in Hawaii. Authors like Noam Chomsky, William Blum, Howard Zinn, and Michael Parenti have all written extensively on these things.

What I wonder, though, if it's anti-American for me to even discuss, say, Reagan's terrorist war against Nicaragua, what is the good American to do? Should I pretend that we just accidently fell upon the world's most powerful empire? Should I pretend that we didn't overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran for Brittish Petroleum?

Let me make something clear. I don't write about these things to upset anybody other than the terrorist thugs who perpetuate this violence on the world. I write about these things because they are fundamental to understanding the events in the world. With all the talk about terrorist groups in the world the past few years, why isn't the CIA on that list? If Al Quaida and Osama Bin Laden are a horrible group of terrorists–as I think they are–what about the group that trained and funded them? Is that not a reasonable question?

I'll admit that I'm really not sure what is meant when someone says I'm "Anti-American." It baffles me. I believe in freedom and democracy. I believe in self-determination. I believe in the right of workers to organize and form labor unions and agitate for a better deal. Is any of that anti-American? If it is, so be it.

Personally I think it's a cop-out. We like to think we're special. We like to think that we've been blessed with this empire and all the riches that come with it. It makes us uneasy to see the death and destruction we've caused around the world. It hurts us to realize that freedom and democracy aren't things we really believe in as a nation.

I speak truth to power. Call it what you will.

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Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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