A Tale of Two Americas: Between the Myth of American Exceptionalism and the Reality of America’s Killing Fields Around the World
Part 1 (of 2): The Myth of American Exceptionalism
By Mohamed Khodr
“”Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty”.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”.
TRUTH has always been the enemy of western civilization and in due time will be its undoing.
No person is comfortable being criticized but criticism and discourse are the sole intellectual paths for human and humane progress in our world. In the end acceptance of any criticism, especially criticism of a nation’s history, can only reflect the broad mind and great heart in both individuals and nations.
Thus I ask your indulgence and patience in my humble critique of the untrue and irrational myth of “American Exceptionaism”. Many powerful rulers, nations, and empires have similarly thought of themselves as “Exceptional” despite their evil oppression and subjugation of other human beings.
The sole surviving nation in the world that monopolizes such a term in its racist religious beliefs (“gentiles are only born to serve Jews”) and military occupation and brutality against another powerless people is the rogue terrorist state of ISRAEL.
What greater “Exceptionalism” is there than to believe you are God’s “Chosen” People”?
It beguiles the rational mind that President Obama joined by the majority of the American people believes in the mythologic construct of American Exceptionalism: It is certainly an affliction of a narcissistic egocentric psyche worthy of a nation in self denial of the reality and actions during its brief history. A nation more guilty than any other in modern history of the most egregious of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocides within its own borders and across the globe.
The history of the myth of uniqueness of America began in earnest after its successful revolution against England and the establishment of a free democratic nation. From its early belief of “Manifest Destiny” to expand westward by violent brutal means against the Native Americans to today’s “American Exceptionalism” that took hold in early 20th Century, America has never ceased to be a militaristic nation, a nation of bomb first and ask questions later. The sad thing is Americans, neither government nor people, ever ask questions and thus the cycle of lies then violence or violence then lies continues into the future.
Today’s headlines give proof to the addiction to bombs and wars. Bombing Syria was immanent followed by another Israeli push to bomb Iran.
The uniqueness of America was often viewed as a gift from God, a divinely inspired nation and people, a new “promise land”, a new “Israel”, destined to spread freedom, democracy, prosperity and liberty around the world.
“The day is not far distant when … the whole (western) hemisphere will be ours by virtue of our race superiority as in fact it already is ours morally”
–President William Howard Taft, From John Pilger’s article in New Statesman & Society (4 Sept 1994)
All western empires to a large extent justified their arrogance and brutality unleashed upon innocent peoples around the world upon Christian beliefs, Biblical passages such as verses that condone slavery, and doing God’s work by spreading Christian “civilization” to the dark heathens.
The Enslaved Blacks and the Exclusion of the Rest:
The “exceptional” uniqueness of American hypocrisy, bigotry, racism, and violence began with the most important documents in American history, the “Declaration of Independence” which lit the torch for freedom and liberty for all; well, here’s the historical truth bout such an exceptional document. The document is “exceptionally” racist and exclusive of all who are not white men who owned property.
Women, Slaves, Native Americans, and all minorities were excluded from the joy, freedoms, liberties, and voting rights so enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
In fact written into the Constitution itself was the Article that counted black slaves as only “Three Fifths” a human being for the purpose of taxation and political representation in the Congress. It was a compromise between the white northerners who did not wish to count the slaves at all and white southerners who wished to count them whole. This is their compromise. It took a civil war to overturn this racist article.
Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner and the third President of the United Stated and the main author of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) wrote these magnificent, beautiful, and powerful words that changed history forever:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
Yet this giant figure in American history wrote this of African Americans in his book “Notes on the State of Virginia”, Query XIV; 1787:
“I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. … This unfortunate difference of color, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people”.
That God created all men and women to emerge from their mother’s womb free with free will only to have one race subjugate, enslave, to be bought and sold in market like animals, to be violently beaten often to death, for families to be sold separately and be torn apart, for women of all ages to be raped at will, to starve them and work them until their lives give out, to house in the most filthy of crowded conditions, to humiliate them by words and deeds, such is only part of the story of slavery in exceptional America.
For those interested in reading about a slavery I highly recommend Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous novel, “Uncle Tome’s Cabin” written in the mid 19th Century.
The grotesque inhumanity of the institution of Slavery is beyond description of words or sentiments. Yet it must never, ever be forgotten for it is rooted in the fabric of this nation and can go a long way to explaining the educational, economic, cultural, and social differences that still inflict the ugliness of Racism in this land of the free.
To answer those who are want to point out that slavery is a historical and worldwide phenomena and that even Arabs practiced the trade, I concur, but my focus here is on the lie of American Exceptionalism.
Although Europe and the U.S. pay billions of dolars ever year directly or indirectly for reparations for the Holocaust of Jews, Neither have seen fit to pay any reparations to the descendents of slaves who died in far greater millions than the Holocaust victims.
Women did not get the right to vote until 1920. (Switzerland was the last western nation to give women the right to vote in 1971)
The Holocaust and Ethnic Cleansing of Native Americans:
Although there is no exact number on the population of Native Americans prior to the European settlement in the U.S. nor an exact number of those killed or died by disease, many scholars estimate that the population was around 10-12 Million with some saying it was between 50-100 Million
Regardless it’s a fact that millions of Native Americans died as a result of the European colonization of America. Once again the same imperialistic and colonial strategy of mass genocide, ethnic cleansing, and theft of land of the weaker, poor dark races occurred against the Natives of the land.
The U.S. Census Bureau says that the Native Indian population in 2010 was 2.9 Million, even from the conservative low estimates of 10-12 Million.
The British military introduced the first use of biological warfare to decimate the Natives when it gave them blankets deliberately infected with Smallpox, a deadly infectious disease.
In Carl Waldman’s Atlas of the North American Indian , Waldman writes, in reference to a siege of Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) by Chief Pontiac’s forces during the summer of 1763:
Additionally William Trent, Commander of the local militia wrote in his diary on the siege of Fort Pitt on May 24, 1763
“We gave them two Blankets and a Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect”.
The “Trail of Tears” due to the “Indian Removal Act of 1830”.
The white man’s greed for the rich farm land in the southern states, especially in Georgia, owned and controlled by Five Native Indian nations, the largest being the Cherokee tribe, as well as the rush for the recently discovered gold on that land led Congress to pass the “Indian Removal Act” of 1830 which was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson. The Cherokee nation sued to block this law and the Supreme Court agreed with them and declared the law Un-Constitutional.
However President Jackson defied the court and in a savage crime against humanity sent seven thousand federal troops to forcibly evict the Natives from their land and march them westward to an area in what is today the State of Oklahoma. This tragic march that covered over 1200 miles where thousands perished is known as the “Trail of Tears”
Please watch this moving short video on the “Trail of Tears”.
How ironic and tragic that the United States was involved in both the Ethnic Cleansing of Native Americans in 1803 and the Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinian Natives in 1948.
We, the great mass of the people think only of the love we have to our land for…we do love the land where we were brought up. We will never let our hold to this land go…to let it go it will be like throwing away our mother that gave us birth.”
–Cherokee Legislative Council: New Echota July 1830
Mass Murder and Ethnic Cleansing of the Undesirable Peoples has been a constant in western imperialism and colonialism.
In addition to the above “Indian Removal Act” I’ll mention two more examples and how the Persecuted became the Persecutors.
1. Hitler’s Law of Ethnic Cleansing: “Enabling Act”. Hitler’s intention was to make the Reich Judenfrei — free of Jews
2. Israel’s Law of Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians: “The Committee for Transferring Arabs From Place to Place”
American Exceptionalism Abroad:
To a world victimized by perpetual American wars, ethnic cleansing, enslavement, dozens of illegal invasions, occupation, overwhelming genocides, a world where American propped up and supported the most murderous and heinous of dictators who oppressed, killed, and tortured their own people, to America’s support of Apartheid Regimes in Africa and Israel, to the overthrow of many democratically elected governments, assassination of political opponents across the globe, to incessant covert and spying operations, to imprisoning people without charge, to torturing and humiliating prisoners insulting their faith such as urinating and shooting the Holy Quran, urinating on dead combatants and civilians, to the utter joy of its soldiers massacring innocent civilians from Apache helicopters, to soldiers raping women in several countries, to national resources stolen, to the poisoning of land, water, and air around the globe, to the perfection of lies, propaganda, and spin to justify murderous invasions and actions, to flagrant violations of the U.N. Charter, International and Human Rights Laws and the Fourth Geneva Convention, to initiating the most massive spying and surveillance program on its own population and world governments, to a nation that defies its own Constitution, to its use of illegal Chemical weapons on civilians, to its blind support, allegiance, and obedience to a foreign nation – ISRAEL – the most condemned, hated, and despised nation on earth for its murderous theft, ethnic cleansing, mass murder, rape, and illegal occupation of Palestine, to being the first and only nation to drop Two Nuclear Bombs on Japan during World War 2.
From its founding days there have always been Two Americas either at home or abroad.
Two incredibly courageous and brilliant Americans sough to enlighten and warn the American people of the existence of Two Americas, a theme that continues to this day.
One was the most esteemed honorable late Senator J. William Fulbright (D-AR) who was the longest serving Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the other is Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Civil Rights Leader the late Dr. Martin Luther King. (Incidentally, Senator Fulbright was opposed to the blind and blank check support of Israel, thus AIPAC campaigned against his reelection and defeated him)
Senator J. William Fulbright: On the Two America in Foreign Policy.
From his book, “The Arrogance of Power” titled; “The Two Americas.
“THERE ARE TWO AMERICAS. One is the America of Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson; the other is the America of Teddy Roosevelt and the modern super patriots. One is generous and humane, the other narrowly egotistical; one is self-critical, the other self-righteous; one is sensible, the other romantic; one is good-humored, the other solemn; one is inquiring, the other pontificating; one is moderate, the other filled with passionate intensity; one is judicious and the other arrogant in the use of great power….The inconstancy of American foreign policy is not an accident but an expression of two distinct sides of the American character. …The United States must decide which of the two sides of its national character is to predominate-the humanism of Lincoln or the arrogance of those who would make America the world’s policeman…The current tendency is toward a more strident and aggressive American foreign policy”,
Dr. Martin Luther King: On Two Americas at Home
From his speech at Stanford University 1967.
“There are literally two Americas. One America is beautiful for situation. And in a sense this America is overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity. This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies, and culture and education for their minds; and freedom and dignity for their spirits…
“Tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in rat-infected vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”
Please watch this insightful satire done the late comedian George Carlin titled: “The American Dream” on the reality and benefits of the of America’s democracy for the far majority of the American people
Has anything changed since this speech in 1967? Or for that matter has much changed since 1776 when wealthy white men ruled and created the rules for the nation.
In fact the income and inequality gap between the top one percent of Americans and the remaining 99% has been rapidly iincreasing. While the rich are getting richer the income of Americans adjusted for inflation has actually been decreasing.
To better understand the extent and depth of income inequality in the U.S., which ranks as the worst income inequality among the developed world, please view the vital graphs in this article in Mother Jones: “It’s the Inequality, Stupid”
Income Inequality is the real ticking bomb in the country that can lead to serious political, economic, cultural degradation and sever social unrest and violence.
In Capitalistic societies wealth trumps truth, facts, morality, and justice.
“To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day”.
–President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 Platform of the Progressive Party
The Pledge of Allegiance should in reality read:
“One Percent Nation Under God with One Percent Truth and Justice for All”.
Will the tens of millions of Americans unemployed, faced or facing home foreclosures, loss of income, health care, subsisting on Government or Charity programs, the elderly who have too chose between medicines or food, the millions of hungry uninsured children, the crumbling schools, the disaster in the educational system, the epidemic of violence and mass shootings, a dysfunctional government that is constantly jumping from economic crisis to another, the debt, the budget deficits, the sequestration, and so much more of a large and stressful burden on the lives of the 99% of Americans — Would they say that in their current situations America is an Exceptional Nation?
Which of the Two Americas will emerge in the future, a reformed humanist nation at home and abroad or a nation of international militarism that acts like a bull in a China shop with a passion for perpetual wars to indulge Corporate America and Israel?
Only an enlightened well informed active and engaged citizenry can answer this question. In either case the American people will reap what they sow and they have no one, no foreign threat, to blame but themselves.
Which will you choose for your family and nation?