BY DEBBIE MENON – A version of this article was first published in Khaleej Times
THE events that have unfolded in the past decade, we would never have thought would have occurred 10 years ago. Elements of changes in world power, focus upon the Middle East, battle cries of holy wars, nuclear threats, thousands of innocents taken in a single morning, and the list goes on.
Now, I am battling the impulse to generalize my anger at to “be prejudiced” against all Americans in general.
How can that be? I definitely know that most Americans are decent, good hearted, peaceful people who, while gullible perhaps, do not generally advocate the mass murder of others in the name of war on terror or war on anything. But in my emotions they are and my heart aches and I am angry at “Americans”.
If I, who has not directly suffered the loss of loved ones or the wanton destruction of her homeland, can feel such emotions, what about those closer to the conflict?
I was struck by an interview I watched on the BBC World News. A Lebanese woman was being interviewed, Zeina I think was her name. She described in heart wrenching detail the suffering of the Lebanese during the 2006 conflict with Israel. Nevertheless, when she was asked what she thought about the Israelis, She responded: “How can anyone put more value on one life over another? How can suffering be quantified? Of course, my heart goes out to the Israelis who have loved ones and who are living in fear as I am, and that’s why war is so terrible, because it harms everybody.”
I am not sure I could be so “Christian” if I were in her position. I do know that many Israelis work for peace and see Arabs as humans, etc, and not all Israelis support their government’s behavior. But, it is the US military and financial assistance to Israel that makes this conflict a much “bigger” and destructive act of hatred.
DeTocqueville once described America as a state of mind. I agree. That is the America I and the much of the world grew up believing in and reading about; an idyllic land, built upon ideals of freedom, equality of man, liberty and justice for all, those high and illustrious ideals of The Republic, reflecting the highest hopes and dreams of the glory of man.
But, as I grew older, I found that these were the Emperor’s false robes; that they covered a reality which fell short, far, far short of the ideal, if not exactly the antithesis of those ideals.
I am even more grievously outraged that America may have presented itself to the world as a defender and protector of man, when the richness of its false garments hid the jailor slaver. I now deplore and dislike what I see it has become, or has exposed itself for the “Raincoat Charlie” it has always been.
Might the ideal still be within the realm of achievability? I have my doubts. But, that is the way with ideals. And without them, we have nothing upon which to build hope.
The ugly nudity we see in America’s corpse today, is not the work of George Bush, the Republicans, nor the arrogant Americans, but is the product of its history. Neither is a root cause, they are but the effects of a long history. They are consequences.
As a corpse, the obvious becomes apparent; this thing is not growing or developing; it is corrupting, and the stench is becoming unbearable.
And, the fight they pursue, is it futile? Are they trying to beat life into a dead horse which never actually lived? Trying to beat a dream into reality? By doing so, are they perhaps forging what was a lovely and idyllic dream into a nightmare?
There is something which looks much like a war going on in Afghanistan… at least a lot of, or too many people are dieing in violent ways, and a great many of them have had their homes knocked or blown down. There seem to be a lot of foreigners involved, which probably has something to do with all of this.
How did it happen? How did the leaders of the “free world” become complicit in ethnic cleansing, murder and mayhem?
I have no answers. Robert Parry, investigative reporter and author distinctly elucidates in a nutshell:
“The United States, for generations, has sustained two parallel but opposed states of mind about military atrocities and human rights: one of US benevolence, generally held by the public, and the other of ends-justify-the-means brutality sponsored by counterinsurgency specialists. Normally, the specialists carry out their actions in remote locations with little notice in the national press. That allows the public to sustain its faith in a just America, while hard-nosed security and economic interests are still protected in secret. “
Again, the question is, of course, do their children know the history?
“Mass movements do not usually rise until prevailing order has been discredited. The discrediting is not an automatic result of the blunders and abuses of those in power, but the deliberate work of men of words with a grievance.” – Eric Hoffer, The True Believer.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift a Navy lawyer, recently responded to a question by describing America in the same terms; an America undefined by racial, religious, ethnic or cultural circumstance, by geographic boundary, or cultural identity when he said; “America is a mix of every people in the world. …Our territory is not homogenous. What we are fixed by are our ideals. That’s basically what America is. We are a set of principles. If we lose sight of those principles, then we lose sight of America.”
Debbie Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Her commentary has been published widely in Print and Online publications. She can be reached at: email@example.com. For more go to : My Catbird Seat and visit her page: Hello Debbie.