Tuesday, August 26, 2008

With love, from Denver.

Michelle Obama loves this country. She made that clear last night, as she was obliged to do. Anyone associated with a candidate needs to appear infatuated with the United States, after all; needs to be seen as being of the opinion that no other country on Earth could have offered them what the US has offered them.

A candidate, or a spokesman for a candidate, needs to stay away from the obvious fact that the lives of many people have been limited, ruined or indeed ended by the government in its official capacity or by its tolerance toward those who have institutionalized injustice in the name of "consrvative" philosophies. Criticizing our history or the people who made it can and will be seen as "American bashing" or as "blaming America for everything." That sort of thing has been an effective barrier, keeping truth out of patriotism far better than any tin fence ever kept Mexicans out of New Mexico.

AP tells us this morning about Americans arrested for protesting against China's annexation of Tibet. They weren't treated with a comfy chair, needless to say, but from the moral heights at which we view such things, it's easy to forget how Americans have been treated for the same thing right here -- or at least in Chicago. Pictures of Police throwing citizens off highway overpasses, into bodies of water; pictures of police dragging people from busses by the hair and clubbing them don't often appear in the press any more and only old timers like me remember when others brag about our "Freedoms." I remember the commedian and political commentator Dick Gregory being arrested off the street and thrown in jail for simply walking toward the Democratic convention. I remember a photographer being thrown to the ground and having her camera smashed for photographing the felonies of the police. I remember columns of National Guard coming down State Street simply because there were protests and being afraid to go out of my home for fear of the police. What about the small town mayor and his mother, roughed up, hog tied and thrown face down in a puddle of dog blood by police dedicated to protecting our "freedom." That didn't happen in China.

I could spend all day about the persecution of Americans who once read Marx or who were simply suspected of it. I could lament that Navahos aren't allowed to use the water that runs through what's supposed to be their land. I could spend the rest of my life railing about the Genocidal deportations of the Indians, the enslavement of Africans and the hundred years of persecution that followed their emancipation. I could talk about the hangings in Chicago of people who were present at a rally for an 8 hour work week. I could scream about the abuses of civil rights in our "wars" against pornography and marijuana and even against Islamic literature. I won't. You are either already aware of America's dirty laundry or you refuse to be aware lest it tarnish your patriotism.

But of course acknowledging some of the dark horrors of American history and current events is not the way to get elected. You have to be mindlessly rapturous about the unique and unsullied freedom we pretend to enjoy -- or else. Michelle has to seem wildly greatful for what the country has promised as an inalienable right to everyone and has denied to a great many. She has to pretend that protest is never censured, that people aren't beaten and tortured without the protection of the law and that it's always been that way. She has to pretend not only that she's always been proud of every thing this country has done, but that at all moments she is and has been proud to the maximum level. We've seen the negative consequences of her saying that she was now more proud than before.

All this is far more important than knowledge of trade policies, the capacity for diplomacy and negotiation, the understanding of economic and monitary policy, a true willingness to follow the dictates of law and a renunciation of the thirst for conquest so absent in our current government.
She needs to appear to be grateful to "the man" for what were supposed to be the natural and inalienable rights guaranteed by the constitution and so long thwarted by "conservatives."

I've often been - have usually been in fact, ashamed of one aspect or another of this country for as long as I've been old enough to feel shame. Anyone who hasn't is no kind of patriot, nor is patriotism in itself a virtue. Shame motivates change. Shame is the result of having a sense of morality. Ask anyone who has raised children. Without a sense of shame, and the honesty to acknowledge responsibility for what we have done or allowed to be done, patriotism is just another pagent of dishonesty and self congratulation and the midwife to half the evils of the world.

Is this all a simple minded diatribe? You bet, but I'm talking to America, not to the Princeton philosophy department. I'm talking to a country as dishonest and ignorant about itself as it is about other countries. Dont' get me wrong, Michelle Obama seems to be intelligent, virtuous and open and would be with or without the obligatory blue collar, log cabin background. Indeed she's a huge relief from the slithery, cynical, chip on the shoulder personnas we're used to from other candidates' spouses. What I need to hear from her husband, however, isn't how he just loves, loves, loves America, but about how we've mortgaged our freedom to wage fraudulent wars, about how we've been sold economic policies that have failed every test for the benefit of a quasi-feudal elite; about how we've been sold colonialism, jingoism and fraudulent economic policies, sugar coated with patriotism -- and how he's going to help end this shameful state of affairs without undue concern with the effect on corporate sacred cows. I don't need to hear about the hard time he had in life or the easy one. I wan't to see his ability to inspire us to altruism and to understand a complex world. I don't care about his "faith" or whether he has the flag tattooted on his rump, but I'm betting that no matter how dedicated he may be to improving our nation, this is just what we're going to hear from Denver.

I hope I'm wrong.

2 comments:

ECOPHOTOS said...

This will make you real angry: A new attack ad by the McCain campaign that targets Obama's children. "Cute, but are they ready to lead."
"[W]e had to do something to give the American people some straight talk on those two brats," Sen. McCain said today.

What a low-life scum !!!
Here is a link ...
http://www.borowitzreport.com/

Capt. Fogg said...

You'll also note that neither kid was wearing a flag pin and they both expressed only love for their father, not for god and country. Neither was carrying a bible. It's a disgrace.

Meanwhile, I noticed during the Olympics, about half the Americans didn't have their hands over their left breasts when the anthem was being played. I don't think we should let them back in the country.