America is the greatest nation on earth.
I’ve heard that sentence repeated over,and over, and over again since I’ve been paying attention to politics. Hell, even Chris Rock said it.But it’s getting old.Statements like that have been repeated so much they ring hollow, much like when my girlfriend asks me to shave my mustache; I’ve heard it so much,it’s lost all meaning.
What troubles me is that it seems as though any time someone criticizesAmerica,they preface it by saying something along the lines of, “Now,don’t get me wrong,I loveAmerica.After all,we are the fairest nation on earth.But…” and then they say something like, “…we did help overthrow the democratically elected presidents ofChile,Argentina andGuatemala only to replace them with brutal corporatist dictators.” Right…
Or maybe you’ve heard this one:The United States is the most free country in the world.
Yeah,especially considering the fact that when President Bush speaks in a public place,protesters are corralled into designated “free speech zones” anywhere from500meters to a mile away from his location,and that the military has developed a giant,Humvee-mountable microwave emitter for dissent dissuasion.I guess the fire hoses,attack dogs,tear-gas,rubber bullets and sandbags fromSeattle weren’t enough.
And sure,we get to vote,but let’s be real,the right to vote doesn’t mean shit if you don’t get the day off work,your district is gerrymandered and your choices on the ballot are Pro-Life Corporate Prick and Pro-Choice Corporate Asshole.
But for my favorite platitude,I turn to Glenn Beck,who is conveniently both a conservative and an idiot. “America took itself from a far-fetched idea to the greatest,most compassionate,most free country the world has ever known.” He later added, “And I would have totally let Ken Lay do me.“
Speaking of Ken Lay (of Enron glory),I don’t buy the whole “natural causes” thing about his “untimely” death.Sure it was a heart attack,but an injection ofsodium bicarbonate between his toesà laMichael Clayton – courtesy of a worried Enron compatriot –would have done the trick.
Anyhow,the “compassionate” part of Beck’s statement attracts my attention.Here’s a compassionate fact:theU.S.provides60percent of the world’s food aid.I’m touched.Except that theU.S.Farm Bill has provisions in it which force nations accepting cash aid to only purchase food produced in theU.S.Additionally,U.S.farm subsidies effectively destroy local farmers by underselling them.The subsidies and the mandate to purchase American food keep those countries entirely dependent onU.S.food aid and stocked with a large,desperately poor unemployed population.
Because they’re unable to produce their own food,the people must instead work to earn money to purchaseU.S.imports.And where do they work? Well,JanSport and Banana Republic (the single most tragically ironic brand name in the history of the world) just opened new sweatshops and a new diamond mine just came online.So with no other options available,they start making backpacks and shitty T-shirts for frat boys and digging up earrings for the rappers they’re trying to look like.
But what troubles me most is not the raw untruth of Mr.Beck’s and others‘ jingoistic ass-kissing; it’s the fact that people feel obligated to do it in the first place.Statements along those lines are basically McCarthy era loyalty oaths.And considering that you’re either with us or with the terrorists,if you don’t constantly reinforce that you’d let John McCain give you a poop-helmet on national TV,you might as well change your name to Muhammad and start taking flight lessons.
People who seek to critically examine theUnited States must first dissuade any notion that they thinkAmerica has ever done anythingbad,and can only suggest thatAmerica domore good.This hampers our national dialogue and prevents open criticism in mass media.
But since this isn’t mass media,fuck it:America is not the most free,the most compassionate,the most equal or the most just nation on earth.We’re certainly not the worst,but we’re really not all that special either.
K.C.CODY thinks the storm over Jeremiah Wright is a perfect example of what happens when someone doesn’t play by the rules.Play by your own rules when you e-mail K.C.firstname.lastname@example.org.