This, I know, is bound to be an unpopular essay that is likely to incite intense emotions and harsh accusations against me. Yet I feel compelled to express my thoughts on the matter in part because the commercial media does not allow dissenting views to be heard. Also, the majority of my fellow citizens have been drinking the mind altering kool-aide that distorts reality into fabulous forms that bears little resemblance to reality. Added to the formula is the fact that so many of us choose to live in denial rather than face the haunting specter of American history that might prove too disturbing for us to acknowledge.
Far too many Americans are so thoroughly indoctrinated in popular myths and propaganda that they are unable to recognize reality when they see it. They desperately need to cling to the absurd myths conjured by our rulers and deny the most criminal and unethical behavior upon which this nation was founded. Aided by a bogus educational system, we then contort them into virtue. Thus, murderers and robber barons are celebrated as self made industrialists who built America into a world class power. But as Thoreau stated, “Any truth is better than make believe.”
Unlike the majority of my fellow citizens, I do not take pride in the American flag. I do not get choked up when I see ‘old glory’ flapping in the breeze. My understanding of American history does not permit such unfounded patriotic stirrings. Too many atrocities have been committed under the flag for me to see any beauty in it, especially under the Bush regime. Indeed, seeing the flag often flushes me with shame and regret. I refuse to pledge allegiance to any flag. However, I pledge to live by a credo of social justice that does not recognize national borders. We are all one big family.
Historian Howard Zinn wrote, “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” I am inclined to agree.
For most Americans the flag stirs elements of sentimentality and reverence. It is celebrated as a symbol of freedom and democracy, the triumph of justice over injustice; good over evil. But symbols of noble ideals vanish into the mist when one critically examines the historical evidence. Millions of innocent people have died under the flag, including those who have carried it into battle in the belief that they were fighting for something nobler than corporate profits (see USMC General Smedley Butler’s 1933 essay “War is a Racket).”
To me the flag symbolizes much that is wrong with America. The flag is used as another clever marketing ploy against the people to manipulate and to control them, selling them a fictionalized version of history. The flag has been used, like the idea of patriotism, to motivate men to commit horrible crimes against earth and humankind. Rather than conjuring images of freedom and peace in my mind, it portrays the darkest side of human nature such as conquest, invasion and occupation. It reveals a litany of crimes against nature and humanity that I cannot dismiss from memory. Critical thinking demands that one weigh the evidence and draw one’s own conclusions based upon the facts, whether they contradict our preconceived notions or not.
I keep another flag, one that more accurately portrays the truth about America, in the trunk of my car, which I carry at anti-war rallies and demonstrations. Like the American flag, this pennant is red, white and blue. In place of the fifty stars there are corporate symbols that depict the corporate states of America. My flag portrays the reality of what the American flag really stands for. It is all about corporate power, global conquest, death, destruction and oppression. What do these have to do with democracy and freedom? What do they have to do with social justice?
Once again the people were sold a vision that is at odds with reality. The truth is that America is the polar opposite of everything we have been told she is. That is why so much of the world is aligned against us. They see us as we are, not merely as what we pretend to be. Most of the world’s 192 nations have been the recipients of our benevolence in the form of CIA interventions, land mines and carpet bombs.
When I see old glory fluttering in a brisk breeze I hear the lies of an imperialist dictator named George Bush and all the horrors they have wrought for so many echoing across the tides of time. I recall the brazen lies of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, and the entire neocon cabal that has resulted in the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq, Abu Griab, and the inhumane horrors enacted daily at Guantonimo Bay, the massacre of innocent civilians by U.S. marines and the attendant cover up. I see the theft of Iraqi oil by U.S. forces handed over to oil companies and defense contractors on a silver platter. I see the entire civilized world held at gun point, stripped of its dignity and its freedom by the largest crime syndicate the world has ever known. It is hard to get all puffed up and to take pride in that.
I recall the overthrow of democratically elected governments around the world by an imperialist nation, particularly in Latin America; the assassination of populist leaders who refused to be puppets for U.S. corporations. Chile’s Salvador Allende’ provides an example. Visions of Columbian death squads trained at the School of the Americas move like ghosts in my mind. They are not to be ignored. I perceive the threatening overtures directed at true democratic socialist governments in Venezuela and Bolivia that I know will probably result in the eventual assassinations of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. These threats and violent overtures are part of a familiar historical pattern. It is not difficult to imagine what will follow. Democracy is a threat to corrupt power and it must be assassinated. Power in the hands of the people will not be tolerated by the Plutocracy. Under the red, white and blue profits matter more than people. They always have.
The historical evidence demonstrates that populist movements and true democracy are the avowed enemies of the corporate states of America and the ruling Plutocracy. We have a long history of destroying democratic, left wing governments. When has America ever over-thrown an oppressive right wing government? Death squads do not exist to celebrate democracy or to liberate the oppressed.
We have troops stationed at permanent bases all over the world and they are not fostering democracy, they are suppressing it. These acts are committed under the banner of the stars and stripes and given noble explanations in the commercial media. Every day the madmen who are running the government are planning new horrors, an endless litany of death and mayhem to be committed in our name for corporate profits. So forgive me if I do not pledge allegiance to the flag of the corporate states of America. Pardon me if I do not get choked up with pride when I see a bumper sticker that reads, “These colors don’t run.” Most people, it seems to me, have no clue about the atrocities that are being committed by their government. They do not want to know.
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