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.
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.
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.
MAIN COVER IMAGE: Gen. Mac Arthur and the author’s dad standing at attention, on the right.