Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Greetings, freedom fighters! Happy Fourth of July! This is the day we commemorate the Declaration of Independence, the great document that contains the words, “All men are created equal,” and which expounds the ideas, based on the European Enlightenment, of the ability of humans to govern their political and personal lives. Alas, recently I passed by Independence Hall, the place where those great words were proclaimed-and I saw the foundations of the slave quarters where George Washington’s slaves lived. The “Founding Fathers” of this country, the white affluent men who signed the Declaration and the Constitution in 1787, were sensitive to this terrible reality, slavery in a nation which prides itself on liberty; but they did not, unfortunately, free any slaves. It is this that the Tea-Party "movement"- a collection of unconscious racists, gun junkies, religious fundamentalists, and self-centered "libertarians," subsidized by the Koch brothers and other corporations-refer to, the myth of the American Revolution overthrowing tyranny. It's as if the following 236 years did not take place, during which time we had the Civil war and the abolition of slavery; the movements for the liberation of workers, women, African-Americans, LGBT people, Hispanic-descended people, Asian-descended people, and the disabled; radical ideas as national health insurance, Social Security, pensions, day care centers-this is the start. The Tea Party-ites invoke the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who were indeed great and brave men; but they were also affluent white men, who lived in an era when social hierarchy, a society of superiors and inferiors, was the norm. Is that what we're headed to, something we're supposed to have rebelled against? I rejoice at the Supreme Court-under Chief Justice John Roberts, of ALL people!- has upheld the Obama health care plan-which is far short of what I hope for, a single-payer system like in Europe and Canada. It accommodates the private insurance companies, to make it palatable to corporations and their political lackeys. But it’s ONE step in the right direction. The Republicans are in such a state that nothing the President does works for them; they want to bring him down, the public welfare be damned. One thing bandied about by the Mitt Romney campaign is the phrase "American Exceptionalism," the idea, espoused both by liberals and conservatives, that the United States of America is special and unique among the nations of the earth, because of our supposed “democracy.” John Kennedy said, “More than any other people on Earth, we bear burdens and accept risks unprecedented in their size and their duration, not for ourselves alone but for all who wish to be free." Romney has used that phrase as if Obama, the current President of the United States, does not believe that about the nation he presides over. Kennedy’s statement sums up the worse traits of “American Exceptionalism” in a nutshell; it brings up images of Kipling’s ”White Man’s Burden,” as if the US of A is especially commissioned (by who? God) to bring democracy and civilization to the poor nations of the world, as if We know what’s best for them. Alas, it didn’t work out that way; during the Cold War after the Second World War, our government allied itself with the most reprehensible dictatorships-Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Batista in Cuba, Marcos in the Philippines, Somoza in Nicaragua, the murderous juntas in Guatemala and El Salvador, the Shah of Iran, and the apartheid regime in South Africa. Under the cover of “Exceptionalism,” our government, paid for with OUR taxes, supported these regimes, and our nation lost the respect of its people after the regimes were finally overthrown-not by any Soviet-Cuban conspiracy, but by the efforts of activists risking their lives for the betterment of their peoples. This self-centered, egotistical attitude is not good for America; it only benefits politicians who are embedded with corporations that want to break unions and their representation of workers and to cancel environmental laws, health and safety laws, and civil rights because they cut into the profit margin. It would also, if Romney (Lord, no!) got elected, put back into office the George W. Bush foreign policy team, the same geniuses that got us into war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist, but was a way to remake a portion of the world into an uncontrolled “free market” image, which damn sure isn’t working in this country, with plants closing and corporate CEOs, such as Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, who lost $2 billion of the company’s money, but kept his job and received a pay increase; he was rewarded for a two billion dollar blunder! THAT’S the model we’re exporting throughout the world? My fellow Americans, the true patriot wants the BEST for his/her country, to cause it to do the right thing, for its own people and for the rest of the world. Let us break out (like I did) our copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and actually read them, and cause our country to truly put them into practice. Let us discuss these things as we enjoy our beers and hot dogs. Bye!