FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Memorial Day in the Land of the Weak and Wussy

by DAVE LINDORFF

There may have perhaps have been a time when America was a land of at least some brave people. although arguably a nation that celebrates as heroic a history that features lots of people with modern guns and cannons conquering and destroying another people who were living in the stone age and fighting back with bows and arrows,  and that built its economy on the backs of men and women held in chains certainly has a tough case to make. What is clear though is that there is nothing brave about modern-day America.

Whatever we were, we have degenerated  into a nation that finds glory in deploying the most advanced high-tech, high-explosive weaponry against some of the world’s poorest people, that justifies killing women and children, even by the dozens, even if by doing so it manages to kill one alleged “enemy” fighter. A nation that exalts remote-controlled robot drone aircraft that can attack targets in order to avoid risking soldiers’ lives, even though by doing so, it is predictable that many, many innocent people will be killed. A nation that is proud to have developed weapons of mass slaughter, from shells laden with phosphorus that burns to death, indiscriminately, those who are contacted by the splattered chemical to elaborately baroque anti-personnel fragmentation bombs that spread cute little colored objects designed to look like everything from toys to food packages, but which upon contact explode, releasing whirling metal or plastic fleschettes which shred human flesh on contact.

The Marines who battled their way up the hillsides of Iwo Jima, or the soldiers who struggled ashore under withering fire on the beaches of Normandy would be appalled at what passes for heroic behavior in today’s American military. But that’s not the worst of it.

The worst of it is back home in the USA, where millions of citizens who bitch about their taxes and who pay as little attention as possible to the fact that their nation is deeply mired in two wars, routinely refer to those who do their fighting for them as heroes, but then want nothing to do with the consequences of those wars (or for that matter the people who actually fight them).

One particularly telling consequence of those wars is that the US now has several hundred prisoners, mostly at the prison camp on the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, whom the American people don’t want to have moved to their shores. And why won’t we Americans accept the responsibility for incarcerating and trying these captives? Because we are so afraid that their comrades will strike back at us with acts of terrorism if we bring them here.

First of all, a moment of rational thought, please. Does anyone seriously think that the radical Islamic groups and independence fighters who are battling American forces in places like Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan are so symbolically obsessed that they would only attack places in America where their fellows are actually being held? Do people actually think that such people would not attack some place in the continental US right now if they could, in retaliation for people being held at the inaccessible base in Guantanamo?

Please. Let’s get real.

Moving captives from Guantanamo to prisons in the US, pending trial, would merely make the job of agencies like the FBI easier by narrowing the list of likely terrorist targets in the US from thousands to dozens.  But even then, is there any reason to think that a prospective terrorist group would be more likely to bomb Leavenworth  Prison or the town of Leavenworth than the White House or the Pentagon to protest the holding of people at Leavenworth?  Of course not.

The goal of a terrorist action is to cause as much fear and disruption as possible, and bombing some remote commuity where a federal prison is located isn’t going to do that. You want to bomb a transportation or communications hub, or a major population center. So bringing prisoners to the US from Guantanamo doesn’t really do anything to raise the risk for anybody.

But we Americans are irrational, panicky cowards. We worry that the terrorists will come and get us.

My guess is that a lot of this is mass guilt. Whether people admit it or not, I suspect most people know on some subconscious level that we Americans have been living off the rest of the world’s misery. We know we’re stealing oil from the people of nations like Iraq and Nigeria. We know that our toys, our electronics devices and our fancy name-brand running shoes are being made by people who cannot afford to buy them themselves. We know that for decades we have been overthrowing elected governments and propping up fascist dictatorships to keep the exploitation going so that we can buy cheap goods and extract cheap resources (As Marine Medal of Honor hero Smedley Butler long ago admitted, that’s what our “heroes” in uniform are generally doing overseas).

The whole thing is sickening—a kind of nausea-inducing feeling that comes on me whenever  I hear the last screeched line of the “Star-Spangled Banner”—but there is something particularly pathetic about this latest bout of collective wussiness on the part of the American people.

I mean, even if you bought all the tripe about our soldiers having to kill and occasionally die in Iraq and Afghanistan so we can “fight the terrorists there instead of here,” even the charlatans in the White House and the Pentagon are claiming that keeping captives in Guantanamo is generating hatred abroad and putting US troops at greater risk, so you’d think it would be the least that this “home of the brave” could do to close that base and accept some of the added risk—if there even were any—of bringing those prisoners here.

If we can’t even handle that, we’re simply going to have to write a new ending for the national anthem:

“…Oh say may that Star-Spangled Banner yet flap
O’er the land of the weak, and the home of the sap.”

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail