"Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations. We freed other nations from dictators." - Mitt Romney (3rd debate)
As an American, how does this quote make you feel? Righteous? Proud? Patriotic? Take ten seconds and really ask yourself that question.
What does it MEAN to love your country? Is it blind love? Does it mean you fixate on it with grand mythological notions of perfection and a fierce resistance to any suggestion that it has ever been wrong? That's the way a toddler loves his mommy. It's 100% passion and 0% reason.
Instead of a toddlers love for mommy, consider the love between a husband and wife on their 50th wedding anniversary. How is that love different from the toddler's?
It's an informed love. It's an intentional love. It's a love wrought from a very real and very accurate understanding of who the other truly is as a person. It's seeing that person's strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, successes and failures - and through it all, coming away with the conclusion that you truly love this person completely and totally; not just because fate dropped you in each other's lap, but because you chose one another and cultivated that love for 50 years.
See the difference?
Now I invite you to do some reading. Google 'Salvador Allende' and 'Augusto Pinochet'. I'm not posing as a professor, but in order for my point to make sense, you have to know more than I can reasonably type in the time I devote to these little blurbs.
When you're done, google 'Somoza dynasty' and 'Contras'.
Want the Cliff note version? If you insist:
Salvador Allende was a Marxist. He was also the elected President of Chile in 1970, following free, open, completely democratic elections. The people of Chile chose him as their President through their own free will. He was ousted by a military coup in 1973, led by General Augusto Pinochet, with funds from U.S. taxpayers and logistic and military support from the CIA.
Pinochet was a dictator, installed by the United States, in defiance of the free will of the Chilean people who lived under his tyrannical rule until 1990.
I repeat: A military dictatorship, installed by the United States, in complete disregard for the sovereignty of the Chilean people and the democratic process.
The Somoza dynasty was a hereditary dictatorship that ruled Nicaragua from 1936 to 1979. They were overthrown by a revolutionary movement named after Augusto Cesar Sandino. He was a guy who fought the early Somoza dictatorship and the U.S. control of Nicaragua (by proxy) back in the 1920s.
The party that was inspired by Sandino (the Sandinistas) took control of Nicaragua by revolution in 1980. Over the next four years, while it struggled to get a functional government together, it dealt with terrorist attacks from a group that came to be known as the 'Contras' (translation of 'contra' = 'against').
Why do I call them terrorists? I've made a few posts recently about the definition of terrorism. The Contras routinely hit civilian targets for the explicit purpose of creating fear. Innocent, non-military targets were blown up and shot up. People were kidnapped, women were sexually mutilated, etc. . . .
Reagan called the Contra's "Freedom Fighters" and used stooges like Ollie North to organize the sale of American weaponry to Iran (our enemy, then and now) in order to raise funds outside the view of your elected legislators, and funnel that money to the terrorists in Nicaragua. The separation of powers installed by our founding fathers in the US Constitution was pissed on. Your voice in the form of your elected representation in the legislature was silenced. Your money was funneled to terrorists without your approval. But I digress . . .
For 4 years the Contras failed to unseat the revolutionary government. In 1984, internationally monitored, free, open and fair elections were held in Nicaragua. The Sandinista party faired well in the elections, though other parties won seats as well. It was a legitimate election.
Despite the irrefutable results of the democratic process, the Contras continued to launch terrorist attacks against the UN recognized government, with U.S. support, until 1989. Once again, the U.S. defied the will of the sovereign people of a foreign land because they elected leadership that did not favor the economic welfare of the ultra-rich in America. They tried, but they failed. Democracy has won in Nicaragua (so far), not because of America, but in spite of it.
That's enough history for now, but please consider reading up on the following terms: 'Banana wars', 'Monroe Doctrine', 'Hawaiian statehood'. See if you can identify any common foreign policy themes in your research.
How does this little trip down foreign policy memory lane make you feel? Disgusted? Ashamed? Violated? Does it make you feel anger towards me for insulting mommy? Am I guilty of treason for not professing unabashed pride in absolutely everything that my country has ever done?
How is it possible, that someone who's view of his country is seemingly so negative, can call himself a patriot? How can I claim to LOVE my country, if I am so willing to speak candidly about it's transgressions?
Well a little more history if I may. The following quote is from Senator Carl Schurz in his remarks to the Senate in 1872:
"My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."
My country is not just flags and songs and baseball and fireworks and apple pie and the Super Bowl and hot dogs. My country is the product of intelligence.
The great philosophers and political thinkers like Locke, Hume, Bacon, Montesqieu and Hobbes, inspired our forefathers. They lit the fire in the minds of men like Thomas Paine, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin. These were thinking men, and they seized the opportunity presented by history to take the wisdom of those philosophers, which was just academic babbling at that point, and work them into the creed of a new nation. A Constitution was formed that reflected radical new ideas like popular sovereignty and a Bill of Rights.
This was revolutionary shit and it was FUCKING BRILLIANT!!!!!
The Republic that emerged from the rubble of the revolution and confederation was, and still is, the most remarkable piece of collective reason in modern history. This is what my country is, and I love it.
I am not a toddler.
Just as the old couple of 50 years is fully aware of one another's flaws, so too am I aware of my country's flaws. Just as that old couple knows that at many times over their marriage they have argued and done things they are not proud of, so too I am fully cognizant of the fact that my country has, on many occasions, done things I am not proud of.
And yet, as you look at that couple sitting there at that anniversary party, surrounded by children and grandchildren, they smile and hold each others hand. Each sees in the other a whole and honest composition, complete with beauty and flaws all rolled together to form one thing - a person that they love deeply and completely.
This is how I love my country. This is why I hold no punches when describing the horrible things it has done. This is why I am passionate about describing how it's power has been abused by deceptive charlatans who wave flags and thump Bibles to lull my countrymen into misguided fervor and utter complacency.
" . . . if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."
I want my countrymen to be informed. I want them to know all the dirty little details. I want to strip away the red, white and blue veneer so we can see what's rotten underneath. This is the process of seeing what's 'wrong', so that we can proceed on to 'set right'.
This is truly elevated patriotism, and it's foundation is one of deep, meaningful love.
Now let's get back to Governor Romney's quote. Here it is again:
"Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations. We freed other nations from dictators."
I have tried, in these few paragraphs, to give you all a few examples of American foreign policy in action over the latter half of the 20th century. I have invited you to do your own research. I've given some key phrases that you can look up without any specific links to biased sources, so you can reach your own conclusions on the topic in the privacy of your own mind, without my overbearing voice demanding that you admit anything.
Based on the information I've shared (which again, I encourage you to scrutinize) is Governor Romney's statement true?
If it is not, why is he saying it?
Does he not know? Has no one ever told him? How can he suggest himself for the office of the President if he does not know these things?
Well friends, the truth is, he knows damn well that what he said is not true. He knows damn well that we install dictators and exert the will of the economic aristocracy all over the world. He knows damn well that American taxpayers have been kept ignorant, while their tax dollars fund illegal wars. He knows damn well that our volunteer military has been confiscated by the wealthy and sent off to obscure little countries to risk their lives and limbs for commerce, all under the guise of 'freedom'.
He knows this because he IS the aristocracy. They are his investments, and the investments of his echelon, that are threatened by popular uprisings and free, fair elections in places like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Egypt. He wants to perpetuate the lie that our presence abroad is all about 'freedom and democracy' because he knows how those words make you feel.
Proud. Righteous. Patriotic. Willing to fight!
He is lying to appeal to the toddler. He does not want you to have the love of the old couple, because that is a love that sometimes puts it's foot down and says, "No!" That is a love that acknowledges what's 'wrong' and endeavors to 'set right'.
Friends, guys like Mitt Romney can't get anything done in THAT America.
He needs toddler patriots who love mommy just because it's mommy. He needs people who get teary eyed when they think of flags and songs and baseball and fireworks and apple pie and the Super Bowl and hot dogs - but otherwise don't know a damn thing about what their country does or why it does it.
He needs to know that if a leader is elected in Peru or Namibia that threatens his investments, he can start telling you tall tales about 'terror' and 'threats to our freedom', and you'll line right up to go fight! This is why he spouts this mockery of true patriotism. This is why he told you something that this evidence and much, much more, shows to be a bold lie. (please keep researching! don't take my word for it!)
I am asking you now, not to be a toddler patriot. Do not allow yourself to think of America as a beacon of righteousness that is beyond reproach. It may seem virtuous at first but it absolutely is not.
I am asking you to know the truth about how your country, which possesses all of the necessary qualities to be amazingly good, has been set wrong by those who are abusing it's will in the pursuit of money and monopolized power. You need to know these things because your willingness to address those flaws is absolutely necessary.
I am asking you to see not just the lie itself, but the ultimate motive behind the lie. See the whole construct. Think of it in historical perspective.
I am asking you to reject those who seek to keep you in the dark, and who try to dress up that ignorance as if it's something to be proud of. They do not respect you. They do not care about you. They see you as capital, over which they seek control. Fuck them.
I respect you enough to think that you SHOULD KNOW the truth, so that we can all make active, meaningful contributions to the process of setting right, that which has been made wrong.
We ARE this great American Republic. We have an obligation to ourselves, our posterity and the rest of the world, to faithfully embody everything that we truly stand for. This is patriotism and this is what I plant my flag in.
I hope you see the virtue in that, and I hope you do the same.