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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-10-07 11:33 PM
Original message
Wake up America! :Why Americans Need to Acknowledge the Gap between America’s Ideals and its Actions
Edited on Thu May-10-07 11:51 PM by Time for change
As the moderator for the first Republican presidential debates for 2008, blowhard Chris Mathews’ very first question to them was “How do we get back to Ronald Reagan’s morning in America?” The whole purpose of asking that question, of course, was to perpetuate the toxic myth that Ronald Reagan was a great U.S. President. And why was he a great President? Because he made America feel good about itself by “not running it down”, “leading from optimism”, and solving problems “from our strengths, not our weaknesses”, as Rudi Giuliani informed American viewers of the debate in response to Matthews’ question.

Whether Giuliani knew it or not, his answer summed up one of the greatest defects of the American character: such a great need to feel good about ourselves or our country that we would rather bury our heads in the sand and deny the obvious than look reality in the face. As for Reagan’s presidency, forget the fact that the poor got poorer while the rich got richer; forget the ballooning of our national debt; forget his union busting that greatly set back the cause of the working men and women of our country; and forget his financing and fomenting of an illegal war in support of right wing death squads. The important thing is that he made us (at least some of us) feel good about ourselves.

Chris Matthews, Rudy Giuliani and most other Republicans would have us believe that optimism will make our problems go away – or at least hide them from view so we don’t have to feel bad about them. In solving our problems, why think about our weaknesses? All that does is make us feel bad, and our problems certainly don’t have anything to do with our faults. Heaven forbid that we should criticize our government! That would strengthen our enemies.

By saying all this I’m not trying to imply that Americans (of which I am one) are worse than other people. What I am trying to say is that we have a strong element in our culture that discourages introspection and self-doubt to the point of arrogance, that that is not good for us, and that its long term effects could be catastrophic for us, as well as for the rest of the world.


What is special about the United States of America?

Unlike almost all the other countries of the world, the United States of America is not the least bit racially or ethnically homogeneous. So we can’t (or shouldn’t) define ourselves in racial or ethnic terms. Rather, we define ourselves by our IDEALS, which are expressed in the documents which founded our nation, and which we are taught from an early age to revere, as well we should be. Specifically, those ideals are found in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which founded our nation, and in our Constitution, which supposedly provides the legal foundation upon which our nation exists and functions.

Our Declaration of Independence contains two great principles that were at the time (I believe) unique among the founding principles of nations. The first speaks of the unalienable rights of mankind to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the second, and related principle, speaks of the rights of people to cast out their government and form a new one when their current government becomes destructive of their inalienable rights.

The creation of our Constitution was an initial attempt to make the great principles of our Declaration into a living reality. Our initial Constitution contained many safeguards against repression by government, the most important one being the clause which describes how we can remove from office a chief executive who abuses his power. A “Bill of Rights” was added in quick order to provide more substance to the unalienable rights proclaimed in our Declaration. And it took about 90 years and a Civil War for us to add the amendments to our Constitution that began to expand those unalienable rights to our former slaves.


But the ideals that define Americans are lost to many of us

Unfortunately, too many Americans today have either forgotten our ideals, never learned of them, or simply believe that they are disposable.

Consider for example the reaction of Republicans (and some others) to former President Jimmy carter’s emphasis on “human rights” upon his election as President of our country in 1980. Carter’s re-emphasis on human rights as a crucially importing issue for guiding our foreign policy was meant both to express solidarity between Americans and other peoples of the world and at the same time to reclaim some of our lost ideals. An important part of this effort was the ceasing of support by the United States for repressive dictatorships in their efforts to withhold human rights from their own people. Carter put his money where his mouth was when he withdrew support for the repressive Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, thus eventually leading to Somoza’s overthrow.

Yet too many Republicans felt and expressed nothing but contempt for Carter’s emphasis on human rights. They belittled his basing of foreign policy on human rights considerations, claiming that such policies were not “realistic” and that they went against the interests of our nation. But Carter’s emphasis on human rights was nothing less than a valiant attempt to better align our nation with the great ideals upon which it was founded. The attempts to belittle him for that were simply un-American.

And the same can be said about the way that our country treats its prisoners in its “War on Terror”. We capture thousands of “terrorist suspects” through a variety of means, most commonly by paying bounties for them; we render thousands of them into the custody of tyrannical regimes to be tortured; thousands of others we hold indefinitely in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, or various secret CIA prisons, without even charging them with a crime; we allow them no access to legal counsel or their own families, who aren’t even notified of their disappearances; we torture them repeatedly; and for those who are tried for crimes, we don’t allow them to see the evidence against them or to contest that evidence. According to Stephen Grey, award winning journalist for Excellence in Human Rights Reporting for Amnesty International, in “Ghost Plane – The True Story of the CIA Torture Program”, we have done such things to about 11,000 human beings since September 11, 2001. These abominations against human rights are conducted in the name of our country under policies promulgated by the George W. Bush administration and enacted into law by our Republican Congress in 2006. Yet only a minority of Americans appears to be outraged about these gross and repeated abuses of human rights, and many appear to approve of it.

As with our Declaration, the Republican Party has virtually told us that our Constitution is expendable. The leader of the Republican Party himself described our Constitution as “just a goddamned piece of paper”. And he has proven over and over again that he was dead serious about that.


A brief and partial description of the dark side of American history

The failure of our country to live up to its ideals has been with us from the very beginning of our sovereignty.

Our nation was conceived as a slaveholding nation – or at least large parts of it were. Our push to settle the western lands of the continent showed that many or most Americans cared no more for the human rights of the original natives of our continent, whose population they decimated, than they did for our African slaves. Both groups were frequently treated brutally, and that treatment was rationalized by dehumanizing them. Even after our Civil War, when we formally recognized our former slaves as humans and accordingly began to grant them legal rights, several White racist organizations were formed in coordination with the Southern Democratic Party to withhold those rights by intimidating and murdering politically active Black men and their families, as described in detail by Nicholas Lemann in “Redemption – The Last Battle of the Civil War”.

Beginning in the latter part of the 19th Century we began to expand our imperial reach overseas, thus depriving other human beings of their rights all over the world: In 1893 the American Marines helped to overthrow the Queen of Hawaii for the benefit of a small minority of wealthy White Hawaiian landowners.

In 1898 we went to war against Spain for the stated purpose of “liberating” Cuba. But instead of liberating them we forced a treaty on them which facilitated our occupation of their country and the supporting of U.S. friendly repressive regimes in their country for many decades. We also used the Spanish-American War to justify the landing of U.S. marines in Puerto Rico and consequently making them into an American protectorate. And then we embarked on a vicious guerilla war against the former Spanish colony of the Philippines, which lasted three and a half years and was characterized by widespread torture, rape, and pillage, with the consequent deaths of 36 thousand Filipinos. In 1909 the American military instigated the overthrow of the President of Nicaragua, and in 1911 it assisted in the overthrow of the President of Honduras, all for the benefit of wealthy American businessmen.

With the creation of our Central Intelligence Agency it became common practice to intervene in the affairs of and overthrow democratically elected governments. That happened in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954 and Chile in 1973.

After Vietnam threw off the colonial rule of the French we intervened in that country to prevent a Communist government from being elected, and then we went to war against them, eventually resulting in the deaths of 58 thousand American soldiers and two million Vietnamese.

We also intervened in numerous South and Central American countries in the decades following World War II in order to facilitate changes to regimes that were friendlier to the United States (and in almost all cases less friendly to the indigenous populations of those countries.) For this purpose, our CIA developed the School of the Americas, which was used to train native personnel in the techniques and ideology of insurgency and counter-insurgency, thus resulting in many years of widespread atrocities in Central and South America.

The list goes on and on. But rather than continue with the list, let’s consider the meaning of this history.


The meaning of the above noted historical events

None of the countries involved in the episodes noted above posed the slightest military threat to us. Our meddling resulted in tens of millions of deaths and untold suffering of the populations whose governments we overthrew or invaded. The reasons for those interventions had nothing to do with the defense of American ideals, though some of our leaders who participated in them may very well have believed that they did or made themselves believe so. On the contrary, the actions depicted above represent the very antithesis of American ideals. Many or most were undertaken in support of wealthy American businessmen. Many or most were undertaken in accordance with our ideological war against Communism. Not that most of the involved countries were Communist. Far from it. But most or all of them contained large elements of socialism or were “leftist”, meaning that the governments that we overthrew tried to improve the lives of the poor and the powerless in their country. As such, our government rationalized that they were “susceptible to Communist takeover”, which often provided the excuse for our interventions.

Why do I say that those actions represented the antithesis of American ideals? Because they proclaimed to the world that the unalienable rights that our Declaration of Independence speak of do NOT apply to the people of the sovereign countries whose democracies we undermined. We were implicitly saying by our actions that those rights apply only to Americans. But that is not at all what our Declaration says. On the contrary, it says that those rights are universal. If our Declaration of Independence was meant to apply only to the people of a single nation, it wouldn’t be anything special at all – it would merely be a worthless piece of paper. Thus, when our government acted to deprive the people of other nations of their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it was being about as un-American as it could possibly be.


Why this is so important

In a recent DU post, a fellow DUer insinuated that the assassinations of some of our more liberal American leaders (including JFK, RFK, MLK, and some leaders of the Black Panther Party) may have been politically motivated and carried out by highly conservative, organized, wealthy, powerful groups in our country, and he added “I hope I don’t sound like a crackpot”. I found that last statement very telling – not of him but of the state of our nation today. Our government and our corporate news media would (and does) indeed portray anyone making such statements as a crackpot – and that assessment would likely be accepted by many or most Americans. But to me it sounds absolutely absurd that anyone familiar with the history of our country would think of such ideas as being “crackpot”.

As I said before, I am not writing this to “run down America”, as Rudy Giuliani and all the other Republicans would undoubtedly accuse me of if they read this. Most or all nations have a dark side to their history. That is sadly the current state of the human race – evil mixed with good and even with heroism. We cannot change the past. So why forsake the “optimism” espoused by Ronald Reagan, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, and their ilk?

The bottom line is this: Though we cannot change the past, if we have the will to do so we can make the future better than the past. But we cannot do that if we refuse to learn from or to accept the past as it is, rather than as we would like to imagine it. That is, those who cannot learn from the past are doomed to repeat it – over and over again. With today’s modern weaponry that is not something that the world can afford.

The good majority of the American people know little of our dark history. Or to the extent that they do know about it they fail to acknowledge its meaning or they rationalize it to put their country in the best light.

Few Americans, past or present, have directly participated in the dark history summarized above. That history has been waged mostly by and for the benefit of a minority of wealthy and powerful Americans. But by hypocritically spouting “patriotic” slogans to justify their actions, those wealthy and powerful Americans have convinced (maybe “fooled” is a better word) most other Americans to act as passive enablers of their evil actions.


Relationship to the present day

The presidential administration of George W. Bush has taken our dark history to a new level. It is no longer sufficient to merely covertly overthrow the governments of the nations we wish to control. Now we must preemptively invade other nations on the mere suspicion that they may some day pose a threat to us.

As long as Americans are unable to recognize the dark side of their country they will be susceptible to all manner of tyranny.
As long as they adhere, against all evidence to the contrary, to the fairy tale version of their country that they learn about through their corporate news media, they will not recognize a tyrant even when he stares them right in the face.
When a George W. Bush tells them that we must go to war to “defend freedom” or “spread democracy” or whatever, they will readily believe him.
When their tyrant admits that he spies on millions of American citizens without obtaining a warrant as required by our laws and Constitution, but claims he is only doing it to protect them, they will believe him.
When their government strips its prisoners of all their human rights and tortures them, and justifies those actions by claiming that they’re the “worst of the worst”, even though they haven’t even been charged with a crime, Americans won’t see anything wrong with that reasoning.
When Americans go to vote on voting machines that count their votes in secret they won’t care about that because they know that elections cannot be stolen in the “Land of the Free”.

No, Chris Matthews and Rudy Giuliani and all you other Republicans – Ronald Reagan’s presidency was no “Morning in America”. Burying one’s head in the sand so that one can pretend that all is well does not make it morning. It just hastens the onset of tyranny.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-10-07 11:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. Excellent.
:applause:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
12. Thank you -- This has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time
Watching those Republican debates was so sickening -- seeing them fall all over themselves to explain how terrible it is for Americans to "run down" our country by criticizing our government.
:puke:

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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 12:01 AM
Response to Original message
2. Superb. American's pride in what is truly great about America
is best supported by seeing its successes and failures with equally clear comprehension, so that the next step is always the right step.

:thumbsup:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 08:39 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. Thank you bleever -- I think it would help a great deal if busted up
the monopoly that our corporate media has on so much of our news. I think that should be one of the first orders of business as soon as we get a new president -- or before.
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dave_p Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 12:11 AM
Response to Original message
3. Thank you for emphasizing the international
I'd add that so long as Americans (and Europeans) view foreign policy as a non-issue they can't control their destiny, hold their leaders to account or claim to be performing the full duties of citizenship.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 03:17 PM
Response to Reply #3
13. I agree
Of course, Bush and Cheney's idea of foreign policy is pretty much limited to how to invade and conquer other countries.
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OHdem10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 12:34 AM
Response to Original message
4. Some in the Media have this warped notion that if
that if the Masses like the President that is all
that matters. He can do anything, be as slow
as molasses in the winter, do whatever he darn
pleases and the American People will just
look the other way.

Too many of us saw the Republican Party for what
it was under Regan so we are not easily fooled.
Now that GWB(he was so "likeable") has shown
many many more the danger of voting because a
candidate is likeable--things will change, I hope.


Thanks for your great post. If possible save it
and run it again at later date so many can have
the advantage of having read it.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #4
10. Thank you -- I do believe that the corporate media is highly complicit in this
In some ways it's a self fulfilling prophecy: They used to continually spout off the message that Bush was "likeable" and would be great to have a beer with (especially Chris Matthews), so lots of people believed it, and accordingly they "liked him".

It's great to see Bush's approval ratings around 30 now, but I don't take that as a sure sign that the American people as a whole have smartened up. There are many Americans, for example, who are against the Iraq war because it is unsuccessful, rather than because it is morally wrong. For many Americans it is acceptable to say that a U.S. President is not very competent, but saying that he has bad intentions is something that is virtually taboo in our society, and people get castigated for bringing it up. I think that's a terrible shame because I feel that it is very important to recognize bad intentions when we see it, and I don't believe that there is anything well intentioned about George W. Bush or Dick Cheney.
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 01:18 AM
Response to Original message
5. It isn't America or Americans at all, but something international and much more complicated
Reagan was the beginning of it. Bush was meant to be the end of it ... and us.

The genius of this whole treachery is they somehow made the world hate the villains' #1 victims ... Americans.
They'll all blame us while they are sitting back in their distant hideaways.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 07:40 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Yes, it is very complicated
It is true that Reagan and Bush and their compatriots have done a great deal of damage.

The point that I'm trying to make in my OP is that too many Americans do not object to what is done in their name. They have this rosy picture of their country that they're fed by the media, they accept it unquestionably, and that perpetuates the terrible things that are done in their name.

Our elections are a case in point. Many of us are very upset about the fact that our votes are counted in secret and therefore so susceptable to fraud. But too many don't care. They believe that because we are "the land of the free", our elections are safe, and we need not worry about it. Therefore, complaints about stolen elections are somewhat of a taboo subject, and there isn't enough done to correct the situation. It is an outrage that private corporations get to count our votes in secret. It is an outrage that elections are stolen and Congress will not even consider investigating them -- even a Democratic Congress. Americans need to question their government a lot more than they do.
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. I think they do object
But we object in a way that is in line with our culture, not someone else's. There's
a lot of knee-jerk judging of Americans due to stereotypes based upon ignorance of the
differences in our society and other first world ones.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 04:56 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. I don't understand what you mean by that
Do you think that I used stereotypes of Americans in my discussion in the OP? I tried very hard not to, and I went into detail to explain the things that our country has done that I object to.
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Whenever you say "Americans think ... ", you're generalizing about 300 million people
We're the size and scope of Europe. No one would think of associating the opinions of
France with the ideas of Scotland. The US is filled with 300 million individuals, the
majority of whom are against this President.
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Iris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 05:40 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Just because they are against the President,
doesn't mean the recognize all the things noted in this essay. I'd still bet the majority of Americans either don't notice or don't care about the discrepancies between what we believe to be true of our nation and what actually is true. Or even what we claim to be about vs. what we truly are about.
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. That's the stereotype
You would bet wrongly. There have been a number of ethnological studies done which underscore
that we're just as concerned as anyone else, we just live in our stepfather's house and have learned,
from very young, not to make too much trouble. It's not apathy or complacency or any of the other
stereotypes. It's the natural cultural expression of Americans and it's going to hit this country
economically in a powerful way over the next three years.

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Iris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 05:58 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. I don't know where you live,

but in my neck of the woods, I'd win the bet. I can see, however, your comparison about living in a stepfathers house amongst people I know to be progressive and forward-thinking who still adhere (at least outwardly) to the belief that America is the best country in the world.
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. Again, whenever anyone generalizes about a group of people, it's not clearly reasoned out
Edited on Fri May-11-07 07:16 PM by melody
What makes racial prejudice not just morally indefensible but rationally incorrect is the same
standard that makes generalizing about Americans incorrect. If we accept the rational assertion
that you can know the behavior of all by the conduct of a few, then we're playing into the hands
of bigots. This is my point.

Even in your area, you don't know everyone nor do I. While I live in California, my family is from the south.
I'm not about to make the knee-jerk assertion that all Americans are behaving as they should be, but the
reserve assertion is just as irrational.

We're a different culture. We behave differently. This innate belief that all cultures must be measured
beside European standards in order to see if they "measure up" is the same false premise as that of the people who
think Native Americans are "primitive".
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Iris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 05:57 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. dupe
Edited on Fri May-11-07 05:58 PM by Iris
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 06:17 PM
Response to Reply #18
24. I don't believe I ever started a phrase with "Americans think" or "Americans anything"
What I say is "Too many Americans think" or "Many or most Americans...". Phrases like that specifically are NOT meant to apply to all 300 million individuals.
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 07:14 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. I disagree ... I'll outline my reasons
>Wake up America!

Which part of "America" if not all of it?

>:Why Americans

Not "most", not "many", etc. You state universals. This is no more right when we do it than when the far-right
becomes anti-French.

>Need to Acknowledge the Gap between America’s Ideals and its Actions

America's Ideals? Whose ideals? And if you're not speaking of it as a single entity than why the universal?

I don't mean to pick on you, as I know you meant well, but this kind of feel-good post plays well to the members,
but it is infested with unfairness and ignorance regarding our own culture and people.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 11:14 PM
Response to Reply #26
30. The gap between America's ideals and its actions
Edited on Fri May-11-07 11:26 PM by Time for change
I discuss America's ideals as being those that are expressed in our founding documents -- our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. The one is the document by which we declared ourselves a sovereign country, and the other provides the foundation for our laws. Whenever a President or a Congressman takes office they are required to swear an oath to defend our Constitution. I think it's fair to say that those are America's ideals. I also think that few would argue about that.

When I talk about America's actions I'm speaking of the official actions of our government, that are taken in our name. If we invade another country or our military causes a regime change in another country, why is it not fair to speak of that as America's actions?

I think it's clear from my post that I did not mean it to apply to ALL Americans. For example, there are very few DUers who would condone the actions that I criticize in my post, even though most DUers are Americans. I use terms like "many" or "most" throughout the post. The things that I say in the post are obviously not meant to apply to all Americans, only those that condone or support the immoral actions that I describe.

You speak in generalities as you say my post is infested with unfairness and ignorance. All of my criticisms involve specifics -- NOT stereotypes. Can you give me one specific example of something that I say in the post that is unfair or ignorant?

Edited to add that this is definitely NOT a "feel good" post.
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 11:33 PM
Response to Reply #30
33. I have given several specific examples
I understand you intend the best with what you've said. I'd go on, but you seem largely
upset because I dared disagree with you, not because of the content of my post.

To generalize about all Americans is unfair and ignorant. Whenever you speak
of "America's ideals" and equate that with the ideals of the few, you are stereotyping
all Americans. Your assertion seems to be that "America's ideals" are the problem.

As long as you're conscious that not all (or even most) Americans think this, I question
why you would use universals. That's my only point.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 11:43 PM
Response to Reply #33
34. Why would you think I mean my criticisms to apply to ALL Americans?
Edited on Fri May-11-07 11:45 PM by Time for change
These are the specific criticisms that I include in the section of my post titled

"But the ideals that define Americans are lost to many of us"

Unfortunately, too many Americans today have either forgotten our ideals...

Yet too many Republicans felt and expressed nothing but contempt for Carter’s emphasis on human rights...

These abominations against human rights are conducted in the name of our country under policies promulgated by the George W. Bush administration...

Yet only a minority of Americans appears to be outraged about these gross and repeated abuses of human rights, and many appear to approve of it.

As with our Declaration, the Republican Party has virtually told us that our Constitution is expendable...


I just don't get it. Do you consider anything here to represent a universal criticism of all 300 million Americans, as opposed to a criticism of selected Americans?
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melody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-12-07 01:06 AM
Response to Reply #34
35. Let's just agree to disagree
I've already outlined my objections to your comments in those instances I disagreed with them.
Only you know what you intended.
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some guy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 01:54 AM
Response to Original message
6. very nice post.
One quibble - Carter's presidency began in 1976, not 1980.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. Thank you for pointing that out
I guess I was engaging in a little subconscious wishful thinking.
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entanglement Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 11:52 AM
Response to Original message
11. Why do you hate America?
Sorry, just kidding :P

:hug: and K & R for a great post
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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 03:38 PM
Response to Original message
14. great essay, but I would call it the gap between Bush Republicans
and American ideals.

"If America's record is better than that of most countries — and it is — it's because of our system: our tradition of openness, and checks and balances.

Yet Mr. Bush, despite all his talk of good and evil, doesn't believe in that system." Paul Krugman

Also, I question your insertion of Vietnam into a history of American imperialism. First, because Kennedy started our involvment in Vietnam and second, because it was similar to Korea, and perhaps WWI. You might say Germany was a threat to us, even though a large plurality of our nation has German ancestry, but we made it a threat by being allies with the British - our former enemies. We entered WWI in part because the Germans sunk the Lusitania and got in the way of the war profits American businesses were making selling arms to England.

Because of our involvement in Korea, today tens of millions of Koreans do not live under the rule of Kim Jong. Was North Vietnam never as bad as North Korea? Would South Vietnamese have been better off if there was still a South Vietnam today?

Anyway, to talk so much about our imperialistic history tends to make the Bush junta look like less of an abberation, when really it is the imperialism and Bush which could be seen as the abberations, when the government of the people gets turned into the government of the rich. Bush's base - the haves and the have-mores.

Plus, Carter was elected in 1976, not 1980.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 05:32 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. Well, I think those are all pretty good points -- yet I have some disagreements
Edited on Fri May-11-07 05:33 PM by Time for change
First, the most important thing you bring up IMO is that to talk so much about our imperialistic history tends to make the Bush junta look like less of an abberation. I didn't mean to make the Bush junta look like less of an aberration, and I DID say that he has taken our dark history to a new level -- and I meant that. Yet, at the same time I think that we would do well to recognize that our country has been involved in some very immoral actions from its inception. We shouldn't believe that it all started with George W. Bush. These things ar not black and white, of course. We've done much bad and much good. George W. Bush and his collaborators have done only bad. Paul Krugman was certainly right that George Bush doesn't believe in our system. I believe that the good majority of our Presidents did believe in it. Yet, many of them succumbed to powerful interests who did not.

Kennedy increased our involvement in Vietnam (He didn't start it, Eisenhower did by preventing the reunification of Vietnam through fair elections), but the degree of involvement under him was minimal compared to what it became. I do feel that it was very wrong to prevent the reunification of Vietnam through election, though I also believe that Eisenhower and Kennedy were good men who thought they were doing the right thing. But they were infected with the arrogant idea that the U.S. has the right to determine the governments of other nations. Kennedy made a mistake with Vietnam, as he did with his invasion of Cuba. Yet, towards the end of his presidency he matured tremendously. He was in the process of establishing peaceful relationships with the USSR, and many believe that he would have pulled out of Vietnam had he not been assassinated. I believe, as many do, that that's perhaps the main reason he was assassinated.

As far as South Vietnam being better off if there was still a South Vietnam today, I have to say that our involvement in Vietnam was terribly destructive. There COULD NOT be a South Vietnam because the people of Vietnam did not want one. Everyone knew that when the elections took place (agreed to in the Geneva Conference agreements when they threw off French rule) they would elect a Communist government. South Vietnam was purely a creation of the U.S. You could say, and many do, that the Vietnam war was not a civil war, rather it was Vietnam vs. the U.S. That's one reason why we massacred so many South Vietnamese. We knew that so many of them were highly sympathetic to the "enemy" that we were fighting.

I didn't include Korea or WW II in this, for the reasons you mention (though I also left out many things that should have been included).
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Truthseeker013 Donating Member (93 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 05:43 PM
Response to Original message
20. Wake up America! :Why Americans Need to Acknowledge the Gap between America's Ideals and Its Actions
(applause)
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bluestateboomer Donating Member (313 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 10:16 PM
Response to Original message
27. I have felt the same way.
Whenever anyone speaks of the wrongs our country has committed, one is accused of "blaming America first". I always think that the operative phrase should be "blame America as well". Our country was conceived by human beings and as such, no matter how lofty our ideals, we must always strive to match those ideals. I think liberal progressive people realize this and because of this our responses to the world are more ambiguous than conservatives who want or need that clearcut delineation of thought. Our problem is showing people how we hold ourselves as essentially good people while also working to change those dark episodes of our nature and history. Religion is supposed to help us with this, but religion also appears to have been been captured by the dogmatic ideologies of conservatism. I don't know the answer to this dilemma, but I think it must come from within all of us. Your article is a good start at defining the problem.

Thanks. :applause:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 11:20 PM
Response to Reply #27
32. Thank you bluestate -- and very well said
I think that one other good reason to "blame America first" when appropriate is that self examination is almost always more productive when aimed at onself that at one's opponents or enemies. We (rightfully) have some say over how our own country behaves, but not over how other countries or people behave.
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Wiley50 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 10:25 PM
Response to Original message
28. Not The Gap! They sell really hip clothes
Now I'll go back and read whatever your essay was really about

But, surely you expected this

Do you hear me, Shirley?
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Vilis Veritas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 10:54 PM
Response to Original message
29. Lots of hard work there...
Good writing...you have great talent and a penchant for detail.

I live in the United States of America.

I do not live in AMERICA. I am not a part of US, the geo-political entity. I do not condone the ACTIONS of IT or US.

My hope is that a lot of people will realize that the Corporate Oligarchy and the complicit corporately controlled media machine fully controls the ACTIONS of IT and US, but it does not control the actions of we the people, unless we give it permission.

America is IT, but WE THE PEOPLE are not in control of it.




My apologies, this probably did not come out the way it plays in my head. But, then, I am not a writer, like yourself...


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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-12-07 12:02 PM
Response to Reply #29
36. Thank you -- A lot of people, including myself, feel much like much of what you express here
Specifically, we neither condone nor give permission to our Corporate Oligarchy (and selected pResident) for many of its actions.

But too many people DO condone its actions. How many I can't say, but it is enough to give George W. Bush (with a great assist from our corporate news media) just enough political cover to invade Iraq, give away billions to his cronies, and otherwise screw the American people every chance he gets.
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Kelly Rupert Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-11-07 11:15 PM
Response to Original message
31. K&R'd. A good read.
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dogday Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-12-07 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
37. Excellent Read
It is all about feeling good about ourselves, and how we are perceived as opposed to the reality of what we are... Thanks :hi:
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pingzing58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-12-07 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #37
38. Thank you for keeping
I am pleased that this forum has given you (Time for Change)
the opportunity to share with us a perspective on our
national history that belongs to our national memory.  As the
spanish born american philosopher George Santayana said:
"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat
it."  Presidents and their administrations of recent
memory who useing the technique of "willfull
ignorance" have tried to keep the American public in the
dark concerning all the reasons for going to war by invoking
the "I can't tell you why for reasons of national
security" and  (tongue in cheek) "you can't handle
the truth" to "I'm, The Decider."  We need
more honest keepers of the memory such as you.  
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-13-07 08:32 AM
Response to Reply #38
41. Welcome to DU, Pingzing!
:toast:
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porphyrian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-12-07 01:12 PM
Response to Original message
39. Self esteem is bullshit. We need self respect.
If we can respect who we are and what we do, self esteem will follow. We should never have focused on self esteem first.
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blondie58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-13-07 05:28 AM
Response to Original message
40. wow. great essay, Time for change
thank you.
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Cerridwen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-13-07 08:52 AM
Response to Original message
42. Brilliant!
I read this too late to recommend but I can kick it like crazy!

Thank you. You've done an excellent job of "connecting the dots" of our history.

Great work!

:yourock:

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