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The American Dream Drives a Tank Down Pennsylvania Ave.

Photograph Source: Udo Keppler – Public Domain

Andrew Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and James C. Calhoun are flying fighter planes over the Union’s celebration of itself this Fourth of July. Jeremiah Jackson and General Custer are going after the Indians they didn’t kill before. PT Barnum and the Amway company are celebrating that sucker born every minute with a huckster, cheat and liar named Donald Trump. He’s a man with more power than all the money in the world can buy and his kids want to rent you a room in the family-owned hotel. The American dream is tearing up your neighborhood, taking over your television, installing viruses on your cellphone and promising you the moon. At least thirty-five million Americans are lining up on Main Street or sitting on their asses in some kind of air-conditioned comfort ready to be screwed in the name of freedom. Lee freaking Greenwood is shouting dime store patriotism from every speaker in America’s hometown and even Uncle Sam wonders why God should bless the USA. What god would bless this unholy mess? What god would want to claim it as its own? Perhaps a dark lord from the depths of the eighth circle of hell? Lust, greed and gluttony define this American life. Its celebrated “freedoms” seem to revolve around guaranteeing these behaviors. Its current president has enshrined them in its house of whiteness. There is no shame.

Frat boys, yahoos from Mayberry towns, and rich men filled with hate and puffed up with empty egos push their agenda of white is right even though its wrong. The only stripes that really matter in the flag flown from Iwo Jima to Baghdad are the white ones. Black, brown and red-toned people have known this since the day they opened their eyes. The white-skinned folks who aren’t celebrating this basic fact want to think it isn’t so. Yet every time the line is drawn and they must choose where to stand, most of them white folks choose the side with the people wearing sheets and swinging axes like Lester Maddox. Old times there they aren’t forgotten. Way down upon the Swannee river and all that. Look away, Dixieland. The legacy of the slavers informs this country more than any other legacy around. Let me tell you, it’s great being white on Independence Day. A Klan member told me this so many years ago before my buddy told him to fuck off. Have a Budweiser and God bless the USA. Hell, have a bunch of Budweisers. And a shot of bourbon too.

Corporate America makes a killing. Corporate America is a killer. From the ICE raids in your hometown to the SEAL raids in Afghanistan and beyond using all the latest equipment manufactured and sold by everyone from Amazon to Apple, Wayfair to Lockheed, Raytheon to General Dynamics, corporate America kills and goes home to thousand-dollar bottles of Scotch and meals prepared by undocumented immigrants. Corporate America is America. Wall Street is controlled by small men with big egos and appetites for destruction. It is populated by smaller men and women willing to work for such men. Morality is defined by the ability to make a profit. Sociopathy is the name of the game. Human life is just a small part of their equation. Holocausts and genocide are how they do business. If I had a rocket launcher….

What to the slave is the Fourth of July? Slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass asked so many decades ago. “The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me.” Today, that sunlight remains a faint light to the humans in the concentration camps set up by the immigration police, to the descendants of those enslaved in this country, to the indigenous peoples whose lands continue to be stolen and to the poor. What to them is the Fourth of July? A reminder that this country is not for them; a reminder that this country only wants their blood, their sweat, their money and, in times of war, their children. Freedom, my ass.

Tanks driving up Pennsylvania Avenue is not the definition of freedom. Overpriced death planes doing tricks in the sky above the Reflecting Pool is not justice for all. Donald Trump talking trash on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is not the Gettysburg Address. However, it is this nation’s bottom line, its ugly truth. Its history of genocide and greed, war and lynching, slavery and racism. The trumpists have exposed what really makes this country unique—its unadulterated greed, its arrogant lies and brutal treatment of those in the way of its greedy pursuit of gold. The trumpists have also exposed the myth of a liberal opposition—an opposition defined by Pelosis, Clintons and Schumers who know their interests lie with the trumpists and their legions of hate much more than with their pledges to justice for all.

America, go fuck yourself with your fireworks.

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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