How The Enemy Thinketh..........
blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Sun May 22 22:11:47 MDT 2005
© 2003 Rich Martin
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Last time I checked, no one was killed. But don't you wonder where
Foxe's 3rd world people get the $1,500 (the going rate) to pay the
cayotes? Certainly, they aren't paying cash.
Editor, Slick eZine
On Tue, 17 May 2005 06:42:09 -0700 Dan Clore
<clore at columbia-center.org> writes:
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
June 2005 issue
The Scourge of Nationalism
by Howard Zinn
I 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.
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.
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
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. 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."
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. 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. 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 happiness."
Nationalism is given a special virulence when it is blessed
by Providence. 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."
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"?
Nationalist super-patriotism is not confined to Republicans.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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. The killing of 3,000 people on
September 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of
thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.
What makes our nation immune from the normal standards of
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
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.
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
You really haven't been a virgin for so long
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 . . .
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.
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."
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."
Howard Zinn's latest work (with Anthony Arnove) is "Voices
of a People's History of the United States."
Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in
any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in
itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or
tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never
entered into any war, or act of hostility against any
Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no
pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce
an interruption of the harmony existing between the two
countries. -- The Treaty of Tripoli, entered into by the USA
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