Lately I find that my frustration with the level of idiocy on the part of this planet I call home is so great that writing has become an extremely painful task. Here in the belly of the beast, among the zombie-fascist, gun-totin’, flag-wavin’ hordes of fellow Americans I spend my days in fearless loathing. Fearless because after living more two-thirds of a century I have little to fear other than a long painful death, being shot full of lead, or a terminal case of disgust. Truth tellers rarely make friends. The messenger risks life and limb or at least a good tongue lashing, including an invitation to leave this great country. God Bless Amerika.
The Navajo (Dine’) have a saying that goes something like: “It is not possible to awaken those who only pretend to sleep.” This pretty well sums up the vast majority of folks who live in Empire. Emphasis on “vast”.
Fremont, Nebraska…Christmas Eve, 1952: Mother read me “The Night Before Christmas” just before turning off my bedroom light. One of my first memories, and the beginning of my search for the truth. “Now go to sleep so Santa Claus can come. His elves are watching you.” How horrifying. Elves in my bedroom? But aside from the excitement of it all, something was wrong. Even at four years old I was developing some sense of the size, scope, and scheme of things on earth. I knew there were big cities and lots of countries. Thousands, millions of little kids, but the reality was that even our little town of 15,000 or so would be too much for Santa Claus to handle in one night. Even a long winter’s night. Mother was lying. But why?
Lucky for me Mom and Dad leaned strongly toward atheism, so I wasn’t subjected to all the smoke and mirrors of organized religion. And although Dad was drafted into the army in World War II, and was a member of General MacArthur’s Honor Guard in The Pacific, he never ever played the red, white, and blue card. Never talked about the period of his life that he wanted most to forget. Never joined a VFW Post or wore a war-celebrating cap. Never encouraged me to join the military and make him proud. So as I grew into young manhood and left the mandatory parent to child lies behind, I was in a unique position among my friends. I had no new adult lies to replace the childhood ones. I was free to explore and make up my own mind. This was the greatest gift my parents could have given me, and the heaviest burden.
My take on Americans is this: They pretend to sleep. Every time the truth tries to show its ugly head, they close their eyes and begin snoring and drooling. They can even fake rapid eye movement. They have no interest in the truth, for they’re perfectly comfortable living their lies. The Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus have been replaced with adult lies. They live in Fantasyland, The Matrix, The Twilight Zone, and woe be unto him who points out the man behind the curtain.
So when 1970 arrived along with my notice of mandatory induction into the US Army, I’d already decided that the Vietnam War was a misguided and insane party which I would not be attending. Most of my friends bought the snake oil Uncle Sam was peddling and took the ceremonial step forward, joining in The Southeast Asian Holocaust. My plans for the future did not include participation in wars for corporate profit, so I refused induction. The local draft board didn’t seem to get the message and a year later I was forced to once again give Uncle Sam the middle-finger salute. I haven’t found any figures on the subject, but I may be the only American to ever refuse induction into the US Military twice. I’d do it again. The original sentence was 9 months at Lompoc Federal Prison, but my lawyer appealed and I got to spend 2 years doing “alternate duty” in a local hospital.
My take on Americans is this: They pretend to sleep. Every time the truth tries to show its ugly head, they close their eyes and begin snoring and drooling. They can even fake rapid eye movement. They have no interest in the truth, for they’re perfectly comfortable living their lies. The Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus have been replaced with adult lies. They live in Fantasyland, The Matrix, The Twilight Zone, and woe be unto him who points out the man behind the curtain. Their reality is reality television shows, corporate news broadcasts, professional sports. They believe in capitalism with all their hearts, even when they lose their jobs, their kids are in prison, and the banks foreclose on their houses. They believe in American Exceptionalism, even when the rest of the world is calling for death to Americans.
Americans don’t want to know that their founding fathers were slave-owning wealthy businessmen who only broke away from England in order to set up their own scam based on British style piracy. Don’t attempt to tell them that Thomas Jefferson not only owned slaves but was top stud on his own slave breeding farm. Don’t tell them that Abe Lincoln had absolutely no interest in freeing the slaves…that The Civil War was fought because of what the South considered unfair tariffs…and that The Emancipation Proclamation was only issued to encourage the slaves to fight for The Union. Don’t tell them about The Great American Holocaust and the tens of millions of Native Americans who were unceremoniously slaughtered along with the vast bison herds that sustained them.
Americans don’t want to know that all the wars in their country’s history were fought because of greed. That Hitler would never have become so powerful without US banks financing his war machine, without Ford and other US corporations supplying equipment, and without IBM organizing his ‘work camps’. Arbeit Macht Frei, no? That Roosevelt precipitated the attack on Pearl Harbor, knew it was coming, and used it as an excuse to enter the war of which he so desperately wished to be a part. That Truman dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fully understanding that Japan wanted only to surrender. Don’t tell them about the sordid history behind the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Don’t tell them that all those millions of innocent rice farmers and thousands of American kids died for Wall Street. Don’t even mention that Oswald had nothing to do with John Kennedy’s execution, nor that Bobby Kennedy, John Kennedy Jr., MLK, Malcom X, and Paul Wellstone were slaughtered because they refused to cooperate fully with the US war machine. I can hear the snoring already.
Americans don’t want to know that the official government explanation of the attacks of 9-11-01 is perhaps the greatest fairytale since “Alice in Wonderland”. Don’t tell them that Osama bin Laden’s death a couple months after 9-11 was widely reported in Pakistan. Don’t even whisper that the USA is a fascist empire, even though it’s obvious to anyone who’s even half awake that corporations own the government on every level, and that fascism by Mussolini’s own definition is the merger of state and corporate power. Most Americans don’t even realize that their country is an empire. Go and figure.
I’m getting bored with statistics. How many innocent people are gunned down in the streets of America each year? Too many is the answer. How many did Obama snuff at weddings, funerals, and on playgrounds with his beloved drone warfare? How many have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria since the first Bush let the War Genie out of the Mideast Bottle? How many expats from Latin America have died in the Southwest deserts, trying to avoid being captured and jailed for the supreme crime of trying to support their families? Again, too many. How many black and brown men are living in our prisons, working their lives away in our system of neo-slavery. Incarcerated for mostly poverty related crimes, and fattening the bankrolls of American corporations. Crimes that would never have been committed in a just economic system.
When nine black folks were murdered in a South Carolina church, a cry went up from the slumbering masses to remove the Confederate Flag from public places. The flag represents a culture of hate, violence, and racism they said. No argument there, but they continued to fly and pledge allegiance to the Stars and Stripes. They still stand at attention when the National Anthem is played. Tears fill their eyes as the singer glorifies rockets and bombs. The same rockets and bombs the Empire has used since the end of World War II to slaughter forty or fifty million ordinary people who were just trying to pursue happiness. But I don’t really have a body count. The military doesn’t count dead enemies and like I said, I’m bored with statistics anyway. When does murder ascend to mass-murder? And how many dead bodies does it take to constitute a genocide? A holocaust? How about a Holocaust?
I suspect that most of the sleeping Americans will sleep through the imminent demise of capitalism and Empire. Of course nobody knows exactly how and when this end will take place. But it will happen one way or another. Nuclear winter? Simple collapse of the world economy? Global climate disaster? I forgive my Mother for the childhood lies. I told the same ones to my Daughter. If I had it to do over again I would have come clean on Santa Claus. No more lies.
Cheap sanctimonious jingoism is ubiquitous and intrusive in America. The idiocy of having the national anthem at every professional sport events eludes most Americans who rarely question the official dogma. A country whose self-image brags about fierce individualism is actually permeated with sheepish conformity.
About the Author
JOHN R. HALL, Senior Contributing Editor John R. Hall is a street-trained agnotologist with an advanced degree in American Ignorance. Other hats include: photojournalist, novelist, restaurateur, mountaineer, grocer, nurseryman, and janitor. He’s written three novels which have been read by almost nobody: ‘Embracing Darwin’, ‘Last Dance in Lubberland’, and ‘Atlas fumbled’. An untrained writer and college drop-out, he began his short career in journalism writing the ‘Excursion’ column for The Jackson Hole News & Guide. More recently he penned the ‘Left Column’ for The Molokai Island Times; appropriately on the island once known as a leper colony. John currently resides, writes, and protests injustice in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and walks among the spirits of those who once occupied the 79 Disappeared Pueblos. Read more John Halls’s articles.
MAIN COVER IMAGE: Gen. Mac Arthur and the author’s dad standing at attention, on the right.
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