America, Love It or Leave It

I find people that cry ‘fascism’ at the slightest erosion of their fundamental American rights just as irritating as the next guy. The next guy happens to be Heinrich Himmler, but you know what I mean. It takes a lot to get me riled. After all, just because the government is spending our tax dollars to get access to every citizen’s phone records for nefarious purposes known only to a bunch of paranoiacs in the NSA, is that something to get upset about? At least we have phones. People in Shakespeare’s time didn’t have phones. Back then, if the government wanted to spy on somebody, it had to hire a couple of guys in slouch hats to follow them around all day. If you look on the bright side of things, if you see the ass as half-full instead of half-empty, you realize we’ve never had it so good. America is still the greatest country in the world, and if you don’t like it, you are free to move somewhere else. This may change.

Somewhere else includes Sweden, where the citizens enjoy free health care, a guaranteed minimum standard of living, 12 months of paid childcare leave, universal accident insurance, comprehensive public transportation, the most sexually liberated society in the world, and tall blonde women with immense knockers. Or Norway, which has the highest standard of living in the world and is right next to Sweden, with similar women. Canada is also somewhere else; if you don’t mind the total absence of palm trees, you can live pretty well in Canada. In fact Canada has the third-highest standard of living in the world, according to most major surveys; if you must have palm trees, the United States is in 6th place for quality of life worldwide. So you can do better, but you can do worse. Now I irrationally dislike the Swiss as much as anybody, but if you want a good life, Zurich is the place. It’s the world’s top-rated city.

Are any of these countries engaging in surveillance of their entire population? Not as such, but you can get some pretty dirty looks in certain areas of Oslo. So okay, the USA is having little fascisty moments, but let’s not go nuts. Many countries torture their prisoners, we’re not exactly trailblazers in that area. And who doesn’t imprison people without charges or trial? I mean besides the rest of the developed world. Part of the problem might be that most of the really comfy countries don’t spend very much on weapons and war, which I’ve always thought was one of America’s more endearing traits. And why would anybody spend money on their own military industrial complex when they can use ours? I’d like to hear a word of gratitude from Europe, where America has troops of one sort or another in Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden (no wonder they can afford dental care), Switzerland (bastards), Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the United Kingdom, and a couple of boys at the Vatican City.

Or how about all you heathen devils across the Pacific? I’d start showing a flash of totalitarianism myself if I had a military presence in Australia, Burma, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan (we give you soldiers, you give us Puffy Amiyumi), also South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore (Asia’s top rated city to live in is Singapore), Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, and a sizeable fleet in the watery bits thereabouts. But heck, we have military in other places, too, so why should everybody get upset just because our government plans to militarize the border with Mexico for shamelessly political reasons having nothing to do with illegal immigration? Try North Africa and the Middle East, we have lots of O.D. Green stuff there: Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Diego Garcia (this isn’t a guy like I thought, it’s a place; thank heavens we didn’t station troops on some Spaniard’s chest), Egypt, India, Iraq (we still have troops there, apparently), Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, the good old United Arab Emirates, and Yemen But why stop there? We also have troops getting hella suntans in Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, St. Helena, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These are places in Africa, for all you high school seniors that recently got tested on geography and muffed it.

I know what you’re thinking: what about the Western Hemisphere? Because if we had troops there, you could almost understand why maybe we picked up some bad habits. After all, we send Latin American soldiers to our ‘School of the Americas’ to learn how to torture people, then we mingle our troops with their troops, some of our boys and girls are bound to find out about waterboarding. In countries like Antigua, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Canada (did we invade them or did our troops just end up there by mistake?), and some others like Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba (we have a nice little outpost at Guantanamo), the Dominican Republic (thanks for all the cigars), Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela, and a couple of shrimp boats.

I think that pretty much explains why we’re having a little case of police-stateitis here in the US, and I’d appreciate it if all you peaceniks would just back off and go exercise your human rights somewhere else. Wherever that is, there will probably be a few American tanks and some bombers and things, but at least you won’t be keeping the rest of us awake with your shrill cries over phantoms of lost liberty. There may be other countries with higher standards of living, with better governments more responsive to the wishes of their electorate. Sure, there may be countries where freedom and human rights are more than just catchphrases to be tossed out the window the minute it’s inconvenient, such as I admit does happen in the United States now and then (especially now). Indeed, with poverty, racism, inequality, a disintegrating infrastructure, corporate control of the government, and the spiraling degradation of the environment, some crybabies could claim that America is no longer the greatest nation in the world. But don’t. Because America probably has troops in your immediate area, and we will not hesitate to kick your ass.

BEN TRIPP, author of Square in the Nuts, is a hack in many mediums. He may be reached at



Ben Tripp is America’s leading pseudo-intellectual. His most recent book is The Fifth House of the Heart.