This Land

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

When I was a kid, I loved singing those patriotic songs in music class. One, in particular, gave me goose bumps. These Irving Berlin lyrics, with their dramatic arrangement of notes, made me dizzy with pride:

God bless America, Land that I love.
Stand beside her and guide her
through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home.

Ignorance was not only blissful, it was pervasive–in our textbooks and curriculum. History books told happily ever after tales of generosity, goodness, and Manifest Destiny. Our country spread idealism, freedom, and democracy to territories and countries grateful to be recipients of such magnanimity. After all, these places were populated by people incapable of self-government.

We had missions to accomplish, a desire to expand, and there were lands to occupy. Needs had to be met. But it was symbiotic. We required resources; they required leadership and our example of civilized behavior. The political power we attained couldn’t have been a motive; it was simply collateral advantage. Of course.

In high school, my son was required to read the true saga of this country, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. This was in New York City, though. I doubt Zinn’s book is the standard social studies text throughout our country. I wonder if students who’re taught, today, the saccharin-coated stories I learned are blissfully ignorant–like the females recently polled who said they’d much rather be America’s Next Top Model than winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

For all our young who are painfully aware of this country’s obscene acts of aggression, imperialism, support for Zionism, and allegiance to
mega-corporations, I despair. And, now, they probably do, too. For they were misled by candidate Barack Obama who made promises to transform the United States of America. Instead, President Obama is embracing the same exploitive foreign policy of his predecessors, and he answers to Wall Street, not to us.

Obama is sinking his presidency and, along with it, the hope of a new generation of voters–all those galvanized by and desperate for a message of change.

It is a tragic truth that if Obama really had been a candidate who as president would deliver change, the party’s nomination wouldn’t have been his.

I wish I could sing patriotic songs with the childlike pride I once felt. I wish I had reason to. This would require a populist movement, organized and huge, to restore faith in government leadership that has for years failed to represent the people.

And, so, I think of another song, one by Woody Guthrie. Let’s dust it off and remember that only we can bring about change–the kind that doesn’t occur in the voting booth. March. Make noise. And demands. Sing loudly and in solidarity, because:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com

 

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Off-Shore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?