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ABC’s of the US Empire

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“A” Is for “Asininity”

That’s a particular kind of stupidity.

All of us can be stupid at times. (Ever see that picture of Einstein with his tongue hanging out like an aardvark’s, clowning—one supposes—for the camera?)

It’s in our genes to be stupid at times. Looking back on the Vietnam War—which ultimately took his own son’s life—Secretary of Defense McNamara attributed his own stupidity to the “fog of war.”

I would rather call it “asininity.”

Asininity is stupidity that is stubborn as a jackass; stupidity hat insists on itself in spite of all contrary evidence.

The US has been guilty of asininity for a couple of centuries now. We insist on telling ourselves and the world that we are a democracy, that “We the People” are running the show. (It’s in our sacred document—our Constitution, consulted about as often as Donald Trump consults his Bible. We pick out phrases like “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” the way Mr. Trump picks out a phrase from “2 Cornthians,” and we insist that we’ve gleaned the whole—all 1291 pages of my Gideon Bible, with all its contradictions, amassed over centuries by men (and probably some women who snuck into the writers’ den) of varying capabilities with often divergent viewpoints.

But, our “leaders” assure us that they know Truth–with all the asinine surety of George W. Bush standing on a pile of rubble after 9/11, proclaiming that “we know who did this,” and Big Sheriff is coming after them!

(But how could that fool know anything, when all that rubble and “forensic evidence” was about to be shipped to China for burial (talk about “outsourcing”!).

With murderous fools like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Madeleine Allbright we went after our former ally, Saddam Hussein, and destroyed what was probably the most progressive country in the Middle East—certainly, in terms of the way women lived and worked there, far better than Saudi Arabia!

A few years down the bombed-out road, and we’re destroying Libya—probably the most progressive nation in Africa—no real threat to us except that Qadaffi wants to institute a new kind of currency throughout Africa, pay for goods with gold, not dollars, and besides that, he has rather outlandish tastes in men’s clothing! Caught between rehearsed speeches during a TV interview, informed that the former leader has just been sodomized with a bayonet, asinine Hillary Clinton chortles, “We came, we saw, he died.”

“B” is for “Belligerence”

For most of my “school years”—from 1st grade through Grad School, I heard that the US was a “peaceful” nation whose “God-fearing” citizens only fought when attacked.

Somehow, Jefferson’s epithet of “savages” for the Original Peoples of this land sailed over my highschool boy’s head. There it is in our Declaration of Independence, a few paragraphs after “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It seems befuddled King George had supported the “savages” when the Colonists tried to expand into their land!

In fact, our Revolution had much to do with our not-so-peaceful “pilgrims” and the newcomers wanting to “migrate” beyond our borders.

Our little cities had become fairly crowded with newcomers/immigrants. Between the end of our “French and Indian War” and the beginning our our Revolution, a scant 13 years or so, the population of the colonies pretty much doubled. There has never been so great a period of growth in North American history! This was pre-Industrial Revolution, of course, so there wasn’t much for all these farmhand-“migrants” to do except look Westward lustfully to the lands of the undeserving “red-skin” savages. The migrants couldn’t subsist on already subsisting farms, increasingly crowded with post-war kids and babies. (Our first “baby boomers!) One way the Revolutionists convinced the “excess feeders” (as asinine Kissinger might have it) to enlist was to promise new land in the West. The fact that this “new land” was already occupied by old tribes really did not matter.

“Four-score and seven years” later, we’re still lusting Westward—especially after the discovery of gold in California and our annexation of Texas from recently independent Mexico! Our Civil War is mostly fought over who would control the new territories gained from Mexico—about 1/2 of their country becoming about 1/3 of our continental land mass! Who would master our expansionism? Would it be the slave-holding plantation barons of the South or the Corporate barons of the Industrialized North?

During the Vietnam War, I heard news anchor David Brinkley wonder that we seemed to have a major war every 20 years. It has actually been much more often than that, and if one considers our racist wars on non-whites, our drug wars, Nixon’s “War on Cancer,” etc. our hotheads have been at war perennially.

“C” is for “Cupidity”

Cupidity rhymes with “stupidity,” but like Asininity, it’s special—a special kind of greed!

You’ll find the word “Cupid” there—the Roman god of Love!

But, this is not soul-love, or hearts-and-flowers-Valentine love.

This is love of things; materialism; love of luchre–billions and billions of dollars.

Donald Trump epitomizes such love, and he has convinced a fair number of the asinine among us (which is a pretty fair number anyway) that more and more will make us “great again.”

It doesn’t matter that we are poisoning our once pristine skies and we’ll all soon be drinking Flint water!

“C” is also for Corporatism—that system of government that replaced our shaky “Republic” about 200 years ago when our less-than-Supreme Court declared that corporations were “persons.” (Okay, they didn’t say that outright.   Crimes, especially corporate and government, crimes are seldom committed in an outright manner. The culprits and plotters hate “conspiracy theories,” but love to conspire! They fashion laws and “amendments” that are “open to interpretation.” “You have a Republic,” wily Ben Franklin told the charwoman—“if you can keep it.”

“C” is also for all-embrasive Culture… and ours is sinking rapidly.

Last weekend, I watched “Saturday Night Live” because I heard Bernie Sanders might appear. I like Sanders almost as much as I liked Rand Paul—Paul for his anti-war/”fiscal responsibility” stance and Sanders for his egalitarianism. (I wish he had called it that from the beginning!) At this point in this belligerent nation’s history, it is probably too much to expect a candidate to be both anti-war and a “democratic Socialist.”

I turned the TV off soon after Larry David’s opening monologue. David said that he used to be a “poor schmuck,” but now he was a “rich prick.” It seemed he liked that vocabulary because he kept repeating himself like a bad can of beans.

No subtlety, no wit, no greater connections. (Oh George Carlin of the “Big Electron”—so sorely missed!)

I thought”: Whatever happened to “Ozzie and Harriet,” or “The Waltons” or even “Saturday Night Live” of the days of Gilda Radner or John Belushi? I thought of the time decades ago, when I was in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and a park-ranger was talking about the bison and some pre-teen kids were climbing trees dangerously and the adults were chattering among themselves until the ranger called loudly: “Who’s watching the kids?” And attention was paid!

What about the kids? Surely there are prepubescent and young kids gorging on this TV junk-food and concluding: anything goes now; you can say anything—it’s on TV and the adults are saying it!

You can say that we can now torture our enemies in IS—never mind “due process,” of course—just as long as you really-really suspect them!

You can be Bill Clinton who accoutered his young and foolish aide with “Presidential knee-pads” in the Oval Office, and now declares that voters who shun his wife must be “sexist”!

You can be a repetitive Rubio-bot or an earnest “Bridgegate” critic like Christie because nobody’s checking the facts, “history” is “an agreed-upon myth” (as Napoleon had it), and “truth” and “beauty” (which Keats equated) are disappearing in our chem-trailed skies.

Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice! Reader, if you seek our monuments—look around!

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Gary Corseri has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library, and his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He has published novels and collections of poetry, has taught in US public schools and prisons and in US and Japanese universities. His work has appeared at CounterPunch, The New York Times, Village Voice and hundreds of publications and websites worldwide. Contact: gary_corseri@comcast.net.

CounterPunch Magazine

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