Open Letter to my Cousin in Oklahoma and the “Christians” of the United States

I need to respond to the letter you forwarded to me, the piece, undated, that evidently appeared in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, written by Rich Carroll and entitled “The Jihad Candidate.” It’s one of a number of poison pieces circulating the internet that attempt to bolster the most ignorant, destructive and, without exaggeration, fascist elements of U.S. society in attacking Barak Obama. My earlier responses to you were angry and not, therefore, very productive, for which I apologize. Allow me a little longer response and I’ll do my best not to waste your time, but this will require a bit of writing on my part and perhaps more reading on your part than you’re accustomed to. I also invite you to do your own research to find out if the information here is factually accurate, something Carroll hasn’t done in his piece. Incidentally, because I’m out of the country I may not be able to vote this round, but I probably would not vote for Obama for my own reasons, but I find this attack on him to be so vile and reprehensible that I felt compelled to respond.

First of all, some in our family might ask who am I to address myself to North American “Christians” (which Carroll and people like him claim to be) and why do I put “Christian” in quotes? After all, it’s been years since I used the label “Christian” or wanted to have anything to do with “Christianity.” The first question I can answer quickly: I was, indeed, one of you “Christians” for many years and I have no other basis for addressing myself to you than that and because I remain part of a family that is largely Baptist and Pentecostal Holiness. Why I put “Christians” in quotes is a bit more complicated, but let me have a few minutes of your time and I’ll try to explain or at least, if I don’t explain, maybe you’ll get the idea by the end of this letter.

First, let me deal with the letter from Mr. Carroll. First it needs to be said that the piece is so full of lies, distortions and half-truths that he has in this short missive given evidence that he is no real follower of Jesus nor of the Ten Commandments which exhort us to not “bear false witness against your neighbor.” The premise of the piece is false, making everything that follows simply nonsensical: Obama is no Muslim (though it should be no obstacle to considering a person for the presidency of a nation that professes separation of church and state), and this is the false assumption of the writer, who sees in Obama a “Manchurian candidate” for a presumed Muslim conspiracy which hopes to take over the U.S.. Let me quote just a part of this poisonous piece of propaganda:

“Find a candidate with close Ties to The Nation of Islam and the violent Muslim overthrow in
Africa , a candidate who is educated among white infidel Americans but Hides his bitterness and anger behind a superficial toothy smile. Find a candidate who changes his American name of Barry to the Muslim Name of Barak Hussein Obama, and dares anyone to question his true Ties under the banner of ‘racism’. Nurture this candidate in an Atmosphere of anti-white American teaching and surround him with Islamic teachers. Provide him with a bitter, racist, anti-white,
Anti-American wife, and supply him with Muslim Middle East connections and Islamic monies. Allow him to be clever enough to get away with his Anti-white rhetoric and proclaim he will give $834 billion taxpayer dollars to the Muslim controlled United Nations for use in Africa…” and so on. The writer goes on to attempt character assassination-by-association by stringing together supposed Obama links to Nation of Islam, “socialists and communists” (the latter two labels which, in general terms, would best describe the followers of Jesus from the second chapter of the book of Acts on to the present), Hamas and other red button labels in the U.S. lexicon. The idiotic, baseless, and unsubstantiated charges pour forth all the way to the end (such as that “Islam slaughters non Muslims daily in 44 countries around the globe”). The author goes on to refer to a “terrorism we can see, smell and fear” but exactly WHERE have do we “see, smell” this terrorism? I’m trying to recall a terrorist attack by a Muslim against an innocent citizen of the U.S. in our nation since 911 and for the life of me I can’t think of ONE. Perhaps Mr. Carroll can enlighten us with some examples… Along with this statement (in the same sentence, in fact) Mr. Carroll mentions the “terror invading The United States in the form of Sharia law…” I’m also unaware of Sharia being imposed in any state or even small town in the U.S. Perhaps Mr. Carroll could locate that town, or even farm district, on a map for me. After a reference to “left wing Democrats” (which REALLY is off the wall, if you ask any genuine leftist, like me) Mr. Carroll informs us that the objective of this Islamic conspiracy is “the placement of an anti-American President in our nation’s White House.” He concludes with a rhetorical question, in caps, no less, just should the reader miss the subtlety of his argument, and without the appropriate punctuation: “COULD IT BE THE REASON OUR COUNTRY HAS N OT BEEN UNDER ATTACK SINCE 9-11 BECAUSE THE MUSLIMS HAVE AN AGENDA TO TAKE OVER OUR GOVERNMENT BY PLACING A MUSLIM IN THE PRESIDENCY.”

My dear cousin, I admit to having been so angry when I received this forwarded email from you that at first I didn’t bother to read the whole thing. I talked about this piece by Mr. Carroll with my sister, Kathy, who really IS a Christian — and she also fears for her country as I do, but because of so-called Christians like Mr. Carroll, and Mr. Bush and Ms. Palin and Mr. McCain, who all pretend to be Christians, too. She told me, because she’s in that Christian circuit, that she gets three of these kinds of emails a week and she has taken to deleting them without reading them, presumably because, like me, she likes to keep her blood pressure down.

That was the short, and easy, part, the letter from Mr. Carroll. Now comes the harder part, explaining to you why I am so angry at Mr. Carroll and why I put “Christian” in quotes.

I’m writing to you from La Paz, Bolivia where the indigenous people elected an indigenous president a little more than two years ago. I arrived a week ago in the wake of major disturbances which included a massacre of 25 people, the same number of wounded and over a hundred disappeared. No, the government of President Evo Morales wasn’t responsible; this crime was carried out by paramilitary forces, trained, financed and directed by a governor of one of the five states in rebellion against the central government. There are a number of reasons the five of the nine states are in rebellion against the government of President Evo Morales (who recently called a referendum on his government and was re-elected with over 2/3 of the vote — try to imagine that happening in the U.S., Bush calling for a referendum on his government and then getting 2/3 of the vote in favor of him… Not on your life!!). What it comes down to, however, is that these five states don’t like an “Indian” ruling over them; they don’t like the idea of paying taxes on gas (most of the country’s natural gas is found in these regions, and Bolivia has the second largest reserve of natural gas in South America) to support elderly people and give them about $100 or so per month to live on after having worked hard all their lives. And, incidentally, Bolivians work very, very hard to get almost nothing in pay, which is why Morales, who emerged as a leader from utter poverty, has the support of the majority who are poor: he understands what problems they face just trying to survive in this, South America’s poorest country.

Bolivia, South America’s poorest country, possessor of the second largest reserve of natural gas. That is called “irony.”

But there is another reason that these five departments (or states) are rebelling against Morales: The U.S. Ambassador, who was formerly the ambassador in Yugoslavia and helped dismember and destroy that country, has been working with them on this strategy of “divide and conquer.” Let me explain that.

Empires and mini-empires (some as small as a dictatorial workplace such as the capitalist system admire, love, create and perpetuate) long ago realized that if they wanted to control other peoples, other nations, tribes, communities, they had to divide them in order to gain that control. That is, if the people ever got together, they would figure it all out.

Rome did that very effectively, dividing the different countries up and the first great revolutionary in history, the first great anti-imperialist fighter we recognize for his brilliance, clarity and innovation, realized this and responded by inviting everyone into his struggle, making his tribe the entire, oppressed world, and defining his followers only the commitment to love (“this is how they shall know you are my disciples: that you love one another”).

Of course we can’t go into all empires and all history, but this is a basic rule of successful empires, to divide and conquer. The same was true back in 1676, yes, one hundred years before our independence, when the rulers of what would become our country figured this out during Bacon’s rebellion when white and black slaves and serfs and servants got together in a rebellion against their common oppression. The rulers at the time began to privilege one group against the other (whites against blacks) and by doing so divide them.

Have you seen that in the workplace before, where one group (managers) have privileges in exchange for controlling another group (the lower paid workers). Really, the managers and the employees are in the same situation: a manager as well as the janitor can either be fired by the boss in a moment’s notice and be eating out of the same garbage can tomorrow. But by keeping them divided, the boss keeps them under control and becomes rich.

You could also look at Iraq today where the U.S. has implemented this same strategy to control the country: recall that before the U.S. invaded there had never been problems between the Shi’ite and the Sunni Muslims; there had never been a suicide or a car bomb in the country. But in order to control the country, the U.S. organized death squads for the people privileged by winning the election in 2005. The U.S. implemented a strategy of control as it had implemented in other “colonies,” whether they were called that or not, like El Salvador, Guatemala, and elsewhere in the 1960s-1980s, training local armies in torture techniques, and organizing the army into after-hour death squads (ask Robert White, former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, who left his post denouncing the CIA involvement in torture training and organization of death squads, largely responsible for the 75,000 people killed from 1979-1991). Do you think this ended in the 1980s? Look at Colombia today where we are currently defoliating and poisoning the land, pumping billions of dollars into a narco-government closely connected to paramilitary death squads. Returning to Iraq before returning to Bolivia which is where I am at the moment, it’s clear the U.S. is following this same strategy since it chose to put John Negroponte into action in Iraq as ambassador, making this criminal who got his start in Operation Phoenix (you might find it interesting how the U.S. murdered thousands of Vietnamese in this program to keep them from gaining their independence, also the connections between Operation Phoenix and what is currently going on in Iraq, see this article: and also this one on Negroponte: their choice as to design the divisions to conquer Iraq. Yes, he is a criminal, in addition to being the mastermind of thousands of murders, and he’s currently Deputy Secretary of State under Condoleeza Rice.

Speaking of Ambassadors and the kind of people the U.S. chooses for those roles, former Ambassador Philip Goldberg is “former” ambassador because he was finally kicked out of the country just over a week ago. Mr. Goldberg, it seems, had been working to get all the information he could by recruiting spies, and then working with the opposition governors to try to develop “autonomy” and “independence” from the Morales government. Divide and conquer.

This fits perfectly with the big picture. In this big picture, the U.S. wants to keep South America divided so it can continue to drain it of all its wealth. The myth, my dear cousin, is that we give so much aid to South America. But the fact is that for every dollar we give to Latin America, we take out 12. That was the statistic in the 1980s and I’m sure it has only gotten worse.

This strategy of divide and conquer is the reason that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is so hated by the U.S. government today. And with that I recommend my movie, which I think you can see over at my mother’s house, or you can get it through Netflix, “Venezuela: Revolution from the Inside Out,” if you want to see what good Chavez has been doing and how beloved he is by the poor people of his country (and also the problems in that entire process). Forgive the shameless self-promotion, but it really is one of the few movies available to show what’s going on in Venezuela now, and by extension, other countries in the region that are trying to build the socialism of the 21st century, using the values and teachings of Jesus and other great socialists, as a guide.

Now back to why I am so angry with the majority of my fellow North Americans and why I put “Christian” in quotes. Let me do it in the form of a story: I returned from Nicaragua in 1984 with a number of photos I’d taken of Sandinistas who were working in the coffee harvest. There was one outstanding thing about these particular Sandinistas (I won’t go into who the Sandinistas were in those years, but suffice to say that they were trying to build a country that would help the poor people, after they overthrew an over forty-year-long U.S. backed dictatorship, the brutal and bloody Somoza dynasty in 1979). The thing about the people in my photos, like a majority of the Sandinista supporters of those years, was that they were all Christians. Yes, I’d visited a group of Christian Sandinista coffee pickers and took a roll of photos of them – we didn’t have digital cameras back then.

I brought those photos back to Oklahoma when I visited my parents and I tried to show them to all the Christians I knew. The reason for that was that the U.S. was already involved in a terrorist war against Nicaragua (the World Court convicted the U.S. in 1987 for “terrorism” against Nicaragua — yes, my dear cousin, you live in a nation that has been convicted of terrorism, a terrorist, not a Christian, nation, in fact and according to the World Court). I thought, naively, I now see, that if U.S. Christians saw their brothers and sisters in Jesus who were in danger of being murdered by terrorists, contracted and trained by the CIA, that they would become so angry they might do something to stop it.

Well, I was naive. No one wanted to see my pictures and I was even told, by members of my family, who shall go unnamed, that I had been brainwashed. They didn’t want to know what was really going on in Nicaragua then, about the 30,000 people who would die, perhaps including some in my photos, as a result of that U.S. terrorism: the women and children who had been killed in health clinics, the unarmed farmers who, like so many in our family, only wanted to be left alone to work the land.

That was when I began to wonder if there were really any Christians in the U.S.. Did anyone read the Bible? If they did, how could they support the slaughter of so many innocent people? Did they forget that Jesus had been killed as an anti-imperialist who claimed power of his own country against the empire of his time? But I’m not talking about history. I’m talking about now, the Christians who don’t want to see that Jesus is now with the Muslims as the “Christian” empire seeks to impose its will and occupy the nations of the followers of the prophet Mohammed. Jesus now is being crucified with the bullets of U.S. backed death squads in Iraq, bombed from a cowardly distance by U.S. and NATO jets or slaughtered here in Bolivia by racists with the tacit backing of the U.S.

This is the meaning, for me, of the resurrection, my dear cousin. Jesus isn’t somewhere in the clouds, but here on earth, still hunted down by empires because he seeks to unite the oppressed who are divided and slaughtered or exploited mercilessly until the last cent is extracted from their land or their blood. Oh, and by the way, that isn’t a poetic image. Our dictator in Nicaragua, Anastacio Somoza, was known to torture to death his opponents, then drain their blood which he sold on the open market. I say “our” dictator referring to the statement of President Roosevelt who said of Somoza that he was “a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

So where does this leave us? It leaves me saying I left the “Christianity” followed in the U.S. initially because it seemed, and still seems, to be the essence of all that Jesus opposed: imperialism, genocide of native peoples, domination, fear, repression of healthy human impulses, and self-righteous Phariseeism of biblical proportions. Now I’m quite aware that many of these “Christians” are good people, as your grandmother, my aunt, was, but that’s beside the point. I suspect you could also find some good “Christians” in the German army under Hitler, or in the U.S. army under virtually every president we’ve had for over two hundred years as it’s perpetrated genocide after slaughter after massacre after invasion after occupation…. But as a whole, you couldn’t exactly call the German army “Christian soldiers” anymore than you can now call the U.S. army “Christian” as they hide away in the green zone and safe on bases after they destroyed the nation of Iraq and created a civil war there, the combination of which has taken over a million mostly innocent lives. But your grandmother and grandfather, the latter having fought in World War Two, to their credit, found all these acts of Bush the work of Satan, so they were probably closer to being real followers of Jesus than most who call themselves “Christian” these days, especially those of the variety of Mr. Carroll.

Are you a Christian? Are you willing to die in a struggle against empire, as Jesus did, that is, are you willing to “take up your cross and follow him”? Are you willing to “sell all you have and give to the poor and follow him”? Are you willing to live as the first, unadulterated Christians of the book of Acts (which you presumably revere as the “word of God,” when “all that believed had all things in common and sold all their possessions and divided them among them so that none had need.”? You know, don’t you, that the dictionary definition of both “socialism” and “communism” is based on this very passage in the Bible. It is incomprehensible to me that “Christians” who identify themselves by the Pentecost don’t consider that the very next thing those disciples of Jesus did after speaking in tongues was to create a communist society of the most authoritarian variety (those, like Annanias and Saphira, if my memory serves me well – I have no Bible at hand here in Bolivia — refused to communize and were immediately struck dead by the Holy Ghost). Most importantly, are you willing to love your enemies and end the killing of them? In the case of the Muslim Iraqis and Afghanis, they have proven themselves superior to you “Christians” since they never invaded your country, killed your civilians with massive bombings, tortured you in their Abu Ghraibs or Guantanamos, humiliated you with an occupation, divided you among yourselves so you would kill each other off while they fled to the safety that cowards seek on their military bases and Green zones… In short, they never thought of you as enemies and never feared conspiracies in which you would take over their country until, in fact, the butcher George W. Bush, son of the butcher George H.W. Bush, who oversaw the slaughter of the innocents in Nicaragua and organized and oversaw the torture and murder of Salvadorans and Guatemalans and colluded with the dictatorships of South America from whence I write, nations which are only now beginning to recover from those years, but which will be facing more of this strategy of “divide and conquer” organized, facilitated and planned from the safety of embassies. Is this the work of a “Christian” country? If so, then I in fact hope that a Muslim becomes president in place of either a “Christian” McCain or Obama. And if that is heresy, then may I burn in hell with Jesus.

Clifton Ross is a writer and videographer. His book, Translations from Silence won the 2010 Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence from Oakland PEN and has just been published in Spanish by Editorial Perro y Rana, Venezuela. His film, Venezuela: Revolution from the Inside Out was published in 2008 by PM Press. He can be contacted at clifross1(at)yahoo.com. Read other articles by Clifton.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. AHJ said on September 22nd, 2008 at 1:50pm #

    Clifton:

    Bravely done, and well written. The big issue that you are facing, and which this nation is also, is the knotty one of how to get communication to occur when an environment has turned against openness and put up its shields against the discovery of truth. Why would an individual do that–that is, turn his or her back against open dialogue and the exchange of information?

    And how do you penetrate such a cold bias?

    As to the reasons, one could speculate that it would be a natural impulse on the part of a person who themselves had an investment in untruth, because they had unmentionable sins–stealing cookies, masturbating, or perhaps even losing their virginity, Gawd forbid, under cloak of darkness. Again, it could be a natural defense against someone whose commitment to an arbitrary or authoritatrian set of data could only be threatened at the risk of re-awakening great personal confusion that had long been held at bay by the use of such erroneous but “useful” information. There may be other reasons.

    As to the second question, you are manning the barricades with the only solution I can think of which is persisting in rebuttal, additional information, more communication, offered in as kindly a tone as you can muster.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Pato said on September 22nd, 2008 at 7:29pm #

    Dear Clif,

    thanks for your honesty in this article. I found it necessarily to read. perhaps people “Christians” who would read it, will start to open their third eye and become not more meaningless puritans instead real humans with compassion and, a self-willing.

    justice

  3. Brian Koontz said on September 22nd, 2008 at 8:58pm #

    The problem with legitimate Christians in America is that they are so often pacifists – they shrink away from conflict with the “Christians” who degrade their faith and practice. Christians have somehow come to believe that Jesus stands for political correctness, for apologetics, for explaining away and wishing away sin. Hence “Christians” abuse the country and Christians let it happen, under the banner of “pacifism” or it’s secular version – “tolerance”.

    Very few people I talk to understand that Jesus’s whole life was one of conflict and war – against Rome, against hypocrites of religion, against the existing definition of God. He was embattled both externally and internally constantly, ending in a violent death.

    So for Christians to somehow believe that being a wallflower, “accepting others no matter what”, sitting in silence while lies, deceptions, omissions, and monstrosities are used in their presence, is what Jesus would do, is an utterly false atrocity and has severely degraded American culture.

    Jesus was a Warrior of Love.

  4. Marc said on September 23rd, 2008 at 6:14am #

    Thanks, Clif, for your insightful and provocative words. In upside-down America, the land of reversible cups that refuses intercultural learning and prophetic criticism, justice is redefined as “rewarding achievers” and solidarity seems a foreign word. America is surely a terrorist nation, not a Christian nation. America is an insular nation that accepts the false securities of double standards and intimidation. Let us hope that America will finally accept the new realities of sharing power and interdependence and stop forcing myths of trickle-down hocus-pocus on the world.
    Several ideas from German history could help us become interdependent and less triumphalistic. Martin Heidegger said, in a thought-provoking time we’ve lost the ability to think. Dietrich Bonhoeffer distinguished penultimate and ultimate and said one act of obedience was more important than a thousand sermons. Karl Barth emphasized the difference between civil righteousness (driving on the right side of the road etc) and Christian righteousness (following the Samaritan’s example and helping the distressed).
    Jesus’ parables like zen koans have the power to turn the world upside down. Losing and forgetting self is the Christian secret. The “other” is the incognito of God. Wonder and fulfillment come when we see life as a gift, not a possession, and discover the stories in ourselves and others and don’t simply gaze at the stories of office buildings. Maybe First Nations peoples are right in seeing the present as borrowed from the future.
    In “Feast of Fools,” Harvey Cox says the consumer society is without memory and hope, festivity and fantasy. We’ve lost the sense of play and wonder, the child’s enthrallment in the moment. In dying to the “laws” of profit and accumulation, we can live the real laws of compassion, sharing and solidarity. As Microsoft stock dropped to a 22-year low, the signs on the wall can’t be ignored.

  5. Jonathan said on September 23rd, 2008 at 2:23pm #

    Brian, ‘Jesus was a warrior of love’ that’s quite a phrase, thanks for that.

  6. Annie said on September 24th, 2008 at 6:13pm #

    I love it when someone preaches the truth!!!Hallelujah!….Amen!…Brother Ross!!!

  7. Danny Ray said on September 25th, 2008 at 5:47am #

    Good Morning Everyone ;

    I’ve read this article and the responses with a great deal of interest . I’ll make it a habit to read this post each day , I find it gives me a great deal of insite, and it makes me think . I never cease to be amazed at the attitudes many on the left propose . Before I begin this let me clearly state that your beliefs are your beliefs . I am a Christian and whether you are Hindu, Muslim, or mud worshiper , I’m proud to say that I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you to defend your right to believe how ever you choose to believe . I also must state that do not write this note to change in the one’s perspective . I merely have to write to say what I feel .

    That being said I have to take exception and point out the double standard in the above article . Many many times in hundreds of articles here on the dissident voice I have heard we cannot condemn all Muslims for the acts of a few . Islam is a religion of peace , only a few have hijacked this religion for their own purposes . That to condemn all Muslims for the act of a few is blatant bigotry .

    And yet the above article and the comments posted after condemns all Christians with the same brush . There are many, many fine Christians who love all men and consider all men their brothers . They are many Christians who believe in the socialism of Christianity . To condemn all Christians and Christianity for the acts of a few or even a large percentage, depending on your take , I firmly believe is an act of racism or bigotry at the very least . In the sake of honesty I must tell you I’m not one of the above Christians , I consider myself a Christian warrior, and I’ll probably will be one of the first to march out on the crusade . But that’s another argument and use a tired old phrase we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it .

  8. Danny Ray said on September 25th, 2008 at 5:50am #

    Bryan , I apologize I meant to point out your excellent attitudes and my last post , but got caught up and submitted it before I thought about you forgive me.
    Danny

  9. Jonathan said on September 25th, 2008 at 7:59am #

    Danny
    Is it perhaps possible that you read ‘double standard’ into the article because you missed the fact that the author uses quotation marks to emphasise exactly the fact that: you can not paint all Christians with the same brush?
    Cheers

  10. Clifton said on September 25th, 2008 at 11:46am #

    Thanks, Jonathan. Yes, that’s exactly what I was going for. By the way, I have many Christian friends who truly follow Jesus (as they understand him) and I have the utmost respect for them. Thanks all for your comments.

  11. Danny Ray said on September 25th, 2008 at 5:06pm #

    Sorry Clifton,

    I have reread this twice and I still see this as bias againced all Christians, Suppose I wrote all “Muslems” are murdeous cowards. I know all Muslems are not but would my readers?