Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dearth of a Nation


These are the words that filled the streets and the airwaves shortly after President Obama announced that former CIA funded Soviet freedom fighter turned 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden had been killed in a middle of the night raid executed by an elite group of U.S. Navy S.E.A.L.S. Credible news outlets such as CNN and Fox News bragged that Bin Laden had been killed with a precision shot above the left eye, effectively combining two of America's favorite past times - graphic imagery and pornographic iconography.

After nearly 3 years of trying to convince a xenophobic wing of the Republican party that he was qualified by birth to hold the nation's highest office, it turned out that President Obama didn't need to produce the long form of his birth certificate afterall, which he did anyway for good measure. All he had to do to fully participate in exclusive club of majority white culture was call for the assassination of an Islamic radical. How many Korans do you have to burn to top that Pastor Jones (no relation to the rapper of the same name, I think).

Americans were rapt by the images of college students in Washington, D.C. assembling in front of the White House in impromptu celebratory keggers to express their jubilation over the death of Saddam Hussein, I mean Johnny Depp....whoever it was. Someone died and there's lots of cameras so let's go live out our personal reality tv dreams, paying special attention to the necessity of cloaking those dreams in the Snuggy of patriotism by waiving American flags and continuously shouting "USA! USA!" until our vocal cords bleed.

For me, the indelible image from the night when the War on Terror kind of sorta ended but not really because the 3rd ranked Al Qaeda leader is somewhere out there living in a hut watching American Idol Rewind are the three young ladies being propped up cheerleader style by their boyfriends (or guys that just wanted to grab some ass) above the crowd for optimal framing within the pantheon of media cameras and other amateur video recording devices. One of the girls, possibly a future "star" on the latest iteration of The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C., on a constant phone conversation with someone back at the dormroom to make sure that they are constantly being framed by the camera shots. As much as I want to, I can't blame the young ladies for taking advantage of this great opportunity to publicize themselves. I stayed up for 3 hours past my bed time because I was so enthralled by these images.

American narcisscism and its ever present and much needed companion voyeurism know no bounds.

As President Obama increases the use of drone attacks, targeted killings, and bombings on sovereign countries that so happen to contain people that we don't like, I am amazed how many of my fellow Americans are unable to draw the link between nearly 100 years of American interventionist foreign policy, the past 20 of which has been centered in the Middle East, and the terrible massacre that occurred on September 11th. Our last 4 presidents with the help of the slavish media has so thoroughly convinced the American public of our country's exceptionalism that the concept of taking human lives in another free country without the expectation of reciprocity or recourse has become earily common place. There is no shortage of idealogues driven to near vomit inducing disgust whenever images of darkies in some third world country burning the Star Spangled Banner are flashed across our airwaves in 8-minute increments for 24 hours. Where is that same level of revulsion when we hear that Americans have ambushed and murdered an unarmed man, no matter how evil and how heinous his crimes may have been.

The fact of the matter is that we only value American lives in this country, and white American lives at that (tell me the last time you saw an African-American soldier's funeral covered by the media?) There was no greater demonstration of this fact than the blood lust public orgy that took place in the streets last week all across this once great, once moral country.

Not to say that people can't change but the fact remains that past actions are the greatest indicator of future behavior. Every great civilization (I use this term loosely) that has ever existed on earth has walked down the road to perdition that our once great nation is now traversing. Once established as an imperial power whose main exports are the products of the military-industrial complex, these nations raided the coffers of their countries to maintain their military might while their infrastructures crumpled to near disrepair, their adults went unemployed, and their children went uneducated. We have entire braches of anthropology, archaeology, and philosophy dedicated to studying the fragments of truth that these ancients have left for us to decipher and study.

We don't need a special legend, key, or Rosetta Stone to read the writing on the walls. The words are written in the holy books, myths, and fables of all peoples. That which you sow, you surely shall reap. If you live by the sword, you will perish by the sword. For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. This is the law of the Universe and of existence itself. No one is exempted from this fact, not even the country that gave the world Dancing With the Stars.