Which Part Makes Us the Good Guys?

Published by marco on

Warning: semi-inchoate and stream-of-consciousness rant lies ahead. YMMV.

It’s time to reëxamine our myth, to reëvaluate the stories with which we allow ourselves to be lulled into a complacency about who we really are. Or rather and more precisely, what it is that America really is when the scales have fallen from our eyes, when the rose-colored glasses are put away, when we stop turning a blind eye to the horror that our lifestyles engender the world over just so we can continue living said lives with pangs of guilt that remain satisfyingly nascent.

Killing Off Dissenters

Bradley Manning, a private in the U.S. military, stands accused of having revealed information in a manner highly treasonous and the Obama administration is reportedly not considering the death penalty—implying that they could, were they not so benevolent. By revealing crimes committed by the government, the State Department and the Pentagon, Manning was not only doing that which common decency behooved but that which was also prescribed as the course of action by his military.

If you see something, say something is actually part of the U.S. military codex instead of just a Big-Brother-esque poster slapped up in subways.[1]

But the news flash is that a member of the military accused of treason—a.k.a. disagreeing with the government—may face a punishment of death. Granted, he will likely not be stoned in a football stadium—we have rule-of-law here, you know. The law under which he will likely be prosecuted—the only feasible one, in fact—comes from the 1920s and is probably unconstitutional anyway. But, it’s on the books, so we can use it.

Class Warfare

The important thing is to maintain the semblance of law and order so that the plebes don’t rise up.

The ongoing economic collapse has many such instances of wrongdoing that is not actually illegal only because the perpetrators first took the time to make that which they would like to do legal before they did it.

It’s a neat trick if you can afford it.

We blame the poor instead of those who are either to blame or who could fix many of our problems by barely lifting a finger. It takes a special kind of greed to try to keep all of your billions while others are starving. It’s the kind of greed we’re told is the exclusive bailiwick of banana republics, but we have a lot of it in America too.

Under what social/moral/philosophical system is it defensible to let millions starve and suffer while others have millions of times more than they need or could ever even use? Why do we agree to keep playing the game by these rules? Why do we not flip the board over, scatter the pieces and call the system what it is: cruel and insane?

It doesn’t really matter what we call it, but the system we have now only works for very few people. It will be an embarrassing footnote in history but it’s hurting millions right now.

The problem is the same it has ever been: the only way to stop it, to wrest control, is revolution. Almost nothing else has ever worked. And then, after that revolution, the slow rot begins again; the “haves” work to get more and maintain their gains and use convincing arguments to convince those that they use to continue to let them do so.

The difference today is that the media is a constant drip into each and every brain, convincing it of the rightness of the system, of the wrongness of any social reforms. The media is also mostly part of the moneyed class and defends it with all its might. The few good ones are like gnat bites on a giant.

Hating the Poor/Teachers/Unions

Or you have teachers the country over finally drawing a line in the sand and balking at their treatment. Class sizes have increased, funds have drastically decreased, children have grown more insufferable, the moneyed class has long since removed their children to private schools and withdrawn as much of their tax support as they could by spending their money on lobbies that wrote or bought legislation to keep their tax dollars away from the children of the poor.

That they could have invested in decent public education, sent their brats there instead and ended up spending less overall doesn’t really enter into it for them. It’s the principle of the thing: do not subsidize the laziness of the poor for not having lucked into or inherited wealth.

And now the teachers are being called welfare queens when no one’s actually ever met a wealthy or even well-off public school teacher in quite some time.

There is, naturally, the myth of their short workdays and long summer vacations to bandy about. Even in bygone times, most teachers had to work all summer in order to make ends meet—usually in glorious jobs like house-painting and other such intellectually stimulating work that prepared them for their jobs in the fall teaching our children. They get three months off in the summer—maybe—but they’re not getting paid, you idiot. It’s like being laid off for one-quarter of the year. It’s probably not as much fun as it sounds.

So the teachers feel they’ve given enough ground. While the people overwhelmingly agree in poll after poll, the U.S. media blares the opinion of the moneyed class and does their best to make it sound like teachers—and other be-unioned ilk—are solely responsible for the decline and fall of America.

This is the same media that blamed the financial crisis on the poor homeowners for the last two years instead of on the wildly criminal financiers who were actually responsible.

And enough people will continue to swallow this pap and will continue to blame themselves and listen to millionaires and billionaires tell them how they can save themselves and their country by funneling more money in the direction of the already obscenely rich.

So that they can create more jobs with it.

When it came time to extend the Bush tax cuts, incurring a $700 billion deficit over the next several years, our dear representatives fought like bears for it. A few dozens of millions for teacher’s pensions and salaries that don’t really sound like king’s ransoms finds these same representatives on the other side, calling teachers “greedy”.

Union members are deemed greedy because they cling to the last shreds of that which every worker has a right to expect in any other civilized country: a pension, health insurance and a decent salary. Providing a pension in most countries in Europe is not a privilege but a requirement on the part of any company.

But people in the private sector no longer have these privileges, goes the reasoning. The clear answer is that those who do are “spoiled”, that they are suckling at the teat of the public coffers and living the high life. These accusations fly from commentators and representatives who are all millionaires and most of whom suckled at the self-same teat all of their careers.

Perhaps they’re just defending their turf.

Why the animosity toward our own? Why do we put up with this hateful mean-spiritedness? How much farther backward are we willing to go before we push back?

Insufficiently Gung-ho

And if it’s not enough to get berated by the moneyed class that we are to blame for our inability to provide in this tough economy, we have a military berating us for not supporting them enough in our wars. It matters not that a majority of people do not want wars anymore, that many of them only wanted war because they’re small-minded, short-sighted ignoramuses who accept the pinhole view of the world that their media provides and that their diminished rational capacity and sparse knowledge of history allows.

What matters is that we are at war and the members of the military are worried that only they are suffering—that complacent Americans are not sufficiently aware of what they sacrifice. That is in many cases quite true, but what of these military? Some have no other choice but to join up, squeezed into their suicidal duty by an economy and a racist, classist system that herds them like cattle into the armed forces. But there are others (like the family in Lt. Gen. John Kelly, who lost son to war, says U.S. largely unaware of sacrifice by Greg Jaffe (Washington Post)), who still consider it a noble duty to serve.

They who are closest to the mayhem and death our military causes around the world shed real tears over their own dead while callously talking of “killing dozens of Taliban fighters” without a thought for how the families of those Taliban must feel. They don’t give two thoughts about what they’re fighting for and instead exhort for more Americans to support them. And if you don’t, you’re “slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation”.

Instead of asking themselves whether what they are dying for is worth it, they continue to believe in the basic nobility of military service—and continue to believe their millionaire civilian leaders who lull them with stories of fighting for their shining city on the hill. Without soldiers—or with fewer soldiers—the military could no longer put soldiers in harm’s way for specious or wholly self-interested reasons.

For example, when a lucrative kickback for a fat military contract presents itself.

But instead, we again have a media wholly unquestioning and simply accepting that once a war has been started, it is up to the citizenry and the media to “support our troops”. The subject of the article above said that,

“[…] he is opposed to indifference, not dissent. “I just think if you are against the war, you should somehow try to change it,” he said. “Fight to bring us home.””

Great. He’s actively helping continue the military machine that is U.S. foreign policy, that is the single largest problem in America today but berating the rest of us for not doing enough to stop him.

American Jihad

The whole news article is laced with references to the strong religious beliefs of all involved. They’re praying all over the place—“We are doing a Novena a minute down here”. What makes these holy warriors—who are so willing to serve their country and cause and die for it even though not one of them can explain what exactly that is—so different from the supposed holy warriors that we are fighting? How is the religious fervor of our purported enemies any worse than ours?

In the same way that we accept the rich calling teachers greedy, we also easily accept that it is our enemy that is waging religious war whereas we are simply defending ourselves.

It’s truly mind-boggling.

[1] Never fear; we have them here in Switzerland as well. They are also mostly intended to apply to foreigners, preferably swarthy ones.