the twilight years of my life, a euphemism for 'old', I have begun to question the country I have loved and believed in for all these years. Of course I am referring to the U.S.A. I was born in St. Louis, Mo. a long time ago when radio was the source of news for the masses. Every theater had exciting, black and white, news reels before the cartoons, and after which the main feature played. We heard Roosevelt tell us we had nothing to fear but fear itself. We watched in awe as MacArthur waded through knee deep surf to save the Philippines.
In those days America meant square jawed, no nonsense, straightforwardness the likes of which we watched portrayed by Gary Cooper, James Stewart and John Wayne. The Japs were bastards, the Germans even worse and all of them were out to dirty the spotless robes we Americans wore so proudly. I believed it and so did the majority of the country. We were, without a doubt the good guys, the one's in the white hats.
Of course, now, some sixty or seventy years later, with the Internet, Face book and Wikileaks we are seeing ourselves portrayed as somewhat less than square-jawed and straight forward. After Vietnam, Nixon, a president's assasination, the shooting of a couple of others, Enron, Cheney's claim that 'deficits don't matter, Wall Street's exposure as greedy thugs and the Bush Administrations vulgarities we must re-assess who we are. Maybe even, what we are.
Now that we know we, as a nation, are just as furtive, unjust, militaristic and self serving as the world's governments we have been criticizing for the past five decades we can take our place among them and not claim to stand above them.
The U.S. wants to say which countries can have nuclear weapons. Iran no, North Korea no, Israel, Pakistan, India, Russia and China, yes. The difference between these countries is what?
The U.S. attacks Muslim terrorists all over the world except in Saudi Arabia, where, 15 of the 19 people who perpetrated the 9/11 attack, were born. Could it be the oil connection is too good to screw with?
The U.S. wants China to stop the alleged manipulation of their currency so that there is a level playing field for imports and exports. At the same time the U.S. continues, defiantly, selling arms to Taiwan, a very sore point with China. How would the U.S. respond if China were equipping Cuba for war?
We want Russia to sign a nuclear arms reduction pact while the U.S. is supporting a nuclear defense ring around the Eastern Europe countries. If Canada or Mexico suggested a similar strategy of course the U.S. would have no objection, right?
While the U.S. pretends to want what's best for the Palestinians they have joined forces with the Israelis to sabotage the Iranian nuclear development program. I'm sure the Palestinians must feel they have an unbiased ally in the United States.
All of this is what we have become internationally. It says nothing to the failures here at home. Suspension of Habeas Corpus for foreign born prisoners , Guantanamo, contemplation on whether torture is a viable means of maintaining a democracy. The Executive branch of government mincing words to circumvent the intention of the United States Constitution. Wall Street, banks, Black Water, Haliburten, pension funds and graft. Pyramid schemes, land bubbles and outlandish paychecks to CEOs. Murderous rhetoric by fanatics, attacks on any government program which has at its roots help for Americans of lesser means. Loss of jobs, crumbling infrastructure, disrespect for one another, dwindling opportunities and a pistol for every hand.
It's a far cry from those flickering, black and white, news reels I remember showing Marines mounting the American flag on Mount Suribachi and U. S. troops parading through the streets of Paris with thousands of people cheering them on. Times when an American family was proud and grateful to be able to buy an electric refrigerator, to have a back yard for their children to play in and a car in which to take weekend trips to see their country. Families who understood that they could not spend more than they earned. An America where we parked between the lines, swept the sidewalks in front of our homes and spoke respectfully to anyone nearing our grandparents age.
We are now in a different place, one in which none of us are really comfortable.
OK, I'm too tired to go on, but, if I could I would.