Certain Americans chose a president no smarter than themselves, an illiterate who, in the seventh year of his presidency, still mangles the English language with such sentences as "Childrens do learn." Far worse, however, certain Americans chose a president who then lied to them about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, in order to send their sons and daughters (along with our sons and daughters) to kill Iraqis and, perhaps, die in an illegal, immoral invasion - now considered the worst strategic disaster in US history.
Even so, certain Americans either shrugged their shoulders or rationalized away the evil behavior of their president when, for example, on the eve of announcing the invasion of Iraq, he "pumped his fist as though instead of initiating a war he had kicked a winning field goal or hit a home run. 'Feels good,' he said." [Paul Waldman, Fraud, p. 8]
Certain Americans cheered him when he proclaimed "Mission Accomplished," more than four years and thousands of lives ago. Certain Americans basked in his phony bravado, when, from the safety of his White House, their coward-in-chief said "Bring 'em on" to the Iraqis just beginning to develop their deadly insurgency. And certain Americans raised few questions when, in 2007, their president falsely told Australia's deputy prime minister that "We're kicking ass" in Iraq.
We know roughly who these certain Americans are.
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Many are Southern whites, "62 percent of whom voted Republican in House races." [Paul Krugman, "Politics in Black and White," New York Times, Sept. 24, 2007] Many are poorly educated and possess a stupidity fueled by racism. And that explains why the main G.O.P. candidates for president have refused to participate in "a long-scheduled, national debate focusing on issues important to minorities." [Bob Herbert, The Ugly Side of the GOP, New York Times, Sept. 25, 2007] They can't get themselves elected without the electoral support of certain stupid racist white Southern Americans.
Certain Americans love Bill O'Reilly and don't understand the outrage sparked by his observations about dining at Sylvia's in Harlem. O'Reilly reported that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship…There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' "
Certain Americans seem incapable of understanding how ridiculous Rush Limbaugh sounded when he asserted that service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are "phony soldiers." They never thought to ask: "How could he possibly know? He's never served in the US military."
Certain Americans found themselves more outraged by MoveOn.org's ad about General Betray Us than by the illegal, immoral, murderous war that renders our country less secure and earns all Americans the well-deserved hatred of much of the world. Unfortunately, feckless congressional Democrats - put into office, in order to end the war - have found it easier to pander to the moral turpitude of certain Americans than achieve the goal for which they were elected. Moreover, when it comes to dealing thoughtfully with Iran, these feckless Democrats proved themselves no more judicious than certain xenophobic Americans.
I saw certain Americans during my jury duty two days ago. It wasn't pretty. Yet, I took great delight in listening to Judge Defino call them to account for their sorry-ass lives.
While the District Attorney and Defense Attorney reviewed the paperwork submitted by prospective jurors, Judge Defino decried those who would attempt to shirk jury duty by providing false and outrageous answers to questions found on the questionnaire. He reminded the prospective jurors in his courtroom that serving on a jury was an honor. And he provided them with a crash course on the American Revolution and the Constitution's separation of powers so wisely demanded by our Founding Fathers.
But, Judge Defino went further. He recalled a time in America's history, when an imperial president subverted the Constitution and a judge, John J. Sirica, helped to reestablish the rule of law in the United States. Judge Defino than added his belief that the judicial branch would soon be called upon, again, to rein in another reckless and overreaching president. Yet, having observed certain Americans in Defino's courtroom, I believe it's fair to say that few understood the points he was attempting to make.
Thus, we had the spectacle of an Admissions Officer at a prominent liberal arts college, who asserted that she'd be more inclined to believe the testimony of a police officer than a civilian eyewitness. Which prompted Judge Defino to ask: "But, what if the officer was a block away from the crime and the civilian eyewitness just ten feet away?"
When an exasperated Defino asked one prospective juror, "Do you really believe that you are incapable of rendering an independent judgment about the guilt or innocence of the defendant?" she meekly responded, "I'm easily swayed." Judge Defino told her to leave the courtroom.
Worst of all was the questionnaire submitted by a middle-aged white male, whose distended beer gut threatened to explode from his faded Iron Maiden t-shirt. After scanning the questionnaire, Judge Defino said, "I don't have the time to waste on you. Get out of my courtroom. And think seriously about trying to get your life in order."
Certain Americans remind me of the "proles" described by George Orwell in his novel, 1984. "Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they reverted to a style of life that appeared natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern. They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming-period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of minds. To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous…All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary…" Consequently, "The larger evils invariably escaped their notice." And, "as the Party slogan put it: 'Proles and animals are free.'"
Meanwhile Oceania's war without end raged on. So, too, in George W. Bush's United States of America.
Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).
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