Americans have to get over the lie of American exceptionalism in order to confront the evils that are done in our name
Who are Americans? An “exceptional people” or just human beings? Where did we come from, and how did we gain our identities? Why do we perceive things as we do? Let’s strip it down to basics and build up from there.
The process of evolution provided us with adaptions we needed for our survival, some of which are still necessary, many of which are not. But some of these adaptions are now liabilities. This includes our violent hostility toward anyone perceived as different. Conversely that also includes blind loyalty to those that we perceive as being like ourselves.
We think we have a strong sense of right and wrong, even though much of this moral compass is determined by who we like and who we don’t like. If someone we like, or follow, says something is right or wrong, we generally agree. Anyone questioning “why” is generally shut down.
The alpha male holds power and to question him is to be considered his enemy, and therefore the enemy of your group. When there are more than one alpha male, our world is riven with division and conflict.
When there are times of crisis, it is nearly impossible for us to publicly question our leader. To do so would endanger our connection to our family and friends, our social standing and position, and even our very lives. So we override any moral qualms.
This explains our enormous capacity for self-deception. Without this, we could never maintain our communal bonds to those in our group, let alone our leader.
While we are capable of seeing and understanding that what our group is doing is ethically wrong, we can’t ever correct our course until horrors have already unfolded. Should an alpha male’s reign end in economic and ethical quagmires, as it did under Bush/Cheney, we are slow to react. We cannot bring ourselves to even believe the facts in front of our faces, let alone punish those responsible.
Because to punish those responsible means we would have to take responsibility for our part in atrocities. We elected Bush. We then invaded Iraq. The blood of innocents is not only on the hands of the Bush administration, it’s on the hands of all Americans who got caught up in the childish revenge fantasy constructed for them.
This is not limited to the horrors of wartime action. We let financial institutions sink the economy, and not only do we not punish them, we bail them out. Oh sure, we slapped restrictions on them, but that was only a little time out, we just gave them license via the CRomnibus to do it all over again.
And whatever happened to those who turned out to be right in the first place? Remember Phil Donahue? He strenuously opposed invading Iraq. It ended his career. He was right, but where is he now? Why do we stigmatize those who tell the truth?
We aren’t any better or any worse than most other people. “American Exceptionalism” is a sad joke. The truth is simply that we are very standard issue when it comes to societies, both in the present, and reaching back throughout history.
Americans are not sadists, we’re just easily fooled. We didn’t invade Iraq to expand an oil empire, we were “bringing Democracy abroad!” No, we didn’t institute the torture camps. We just watched.
Those who don’t want to change from this, progress from this, are deceptive or ignorant. As always, the answer is to follow the money. That will tell everyone whose agenda is getting met, and whether it’s good or bad for America and the world. To give away that ending: it’s very bad.
This is what happens in an oligarchy. Decisions about your nation’s direction are made by the elite, the super-rich. Those so far removed from humanity, from associating with everyday people, that the rest of us are nothing to them but playthings. They see themselves as our masters, and we let them think that.
These next two years will bring about a great many difficulties to the nation. We have elected, or more accurately, chosen to abstain from electing, the current majority in Congress. A majority who has learned that obstruction works.
Those who say we need to “go back” are advocating regression. Regression for women. For the LGBT community. For ethnic minorities. For Immigrants. For America.
Who are Americans? Wealth-worshipping, former slave-owning torturers. Weapons salesmen, undermining democratically elected governments. Slanderers of foreign cultures. Champions of capital punishment. Exporters of poverty. Importers of poverty, for that matter. That is who Americans are, and where they’ve come from.
It is past time for Americans to re-define who they are. It is time to break the cycle of falling back under the sway of the same old charlatans, just when we were making progress.
Who are Americans? That is up to all of us to decide, not a chosen few. But that is how we are seen the world over now. It’s long past time to re-invent our identity.