Last month, in her article “Dear World,” Naomi Wolf appealed to the global community to save itself by confronting America. A quote:
“We Americans are either too incapable, or too dysfunctional, to help ourselves right now. Like drug addicts or the mentally ill who refuse treatment, we need our friends to intervene. So remember us as we were in our better moments, and take action to save us — and the world — from ourselves.”
Wimpy-sounding, eh? I thought so, too. And I should know, since I wrote something similar three years ago in a piece called, interestingly enough, “Dear Fellow Citizens of the World…” Addressing our “non-American brothers and sisters,” I said:
“[D]o not enable the U.S., for you know that wantonly destructive alcoholic relative who absolutely refused to get help until everyone in your family finally cut off all avenues of assistance? Well, just try thinking of America that way; you know, sort of like a big version of your drunken, out-of-control Aunt Lurline, except with a few more aircraft carriers and nuclear warheads and a pathological urge to use them every so often.”
This isn’t to point out I scooped the esteemed Wolf (though I guess I just now have). Rather, it’s to assert that the long-cherished self-image we Americans have of being self-sufficient, mega-brave world-savers is dead as a goose (step). Given, especially, our inability/unwillingness to stop the criminal Bush regime, we’ve forfeited all claims to having the right stuff. Sure, we have a lot of right-wing stuff, but that’s kinda not the same.
When did we change? Did we change? Believers in the righteous American typically cite the heroics of U.S. soldiers during World War II. Whether that really was the “good war,” I’ll defer. I do know, however, that when, years ago, I peered up at the bluffs overlooking Normandy’s Omaha Beach and saw remnants of the German guns right there, it was nearly impossible comprehending anyone surviving D-Day. Thousands didn’t, but more kept coming anyway until a beachhead was forged, the beginning of the end for Hitler and the Nazis.
So, yeah, that took some guts.
Contrast that with the video I saw recently of an American troop in Iraq calmly firing on a taxi, apparently after his buddies had just shot up another vehicle. The narrating soldier breathlessly counts at least five “kills,” gloating: “Yeah, that’s how we do things in the sniper world.” A background voice yells, “Fuck you, Haji!” Granted, I don’t know the incident’s specific context, but I certainly know the overall one: the war is illegal. Therefore, regardless the “provocation,” every person in Iraq who has been killed by a U.S. soldier, or died as a result of the occupation/invasion, has been murdered — with the blood squarely traceable to America’s hands.
So now, we just spill guts.
Nonetheless, I’m sure if you look really, really hard, you may find some folks who consider those troops, and tons more like ’em, to be real Americans, cut from the same cloth as the super-patriot archetype so frequently portrayed and firmly established decades ago by John Wayne. I wonder, though, how many of them would know Wayne never served in the military, receiving not one but two deferments during World War II.
In other words, his persona was an illusion. And so, apparently, is the one we Americans have collectively assigned ourselves since childhood, that of liberty’s uncompromising defender who, upon sensing the slightest hint of mortal danger to the Constitution, would, along with a nation full of equally-aroused fellow citizens, do whatever necessary to right the ship.
Don’t look now, but that ship has sunk.
Where were we, the people, as it foundered? Certainly, some fought desperately to save it, but it wasn’t enough as myriad others — paralyzed by fear, anesthetized by American Idol, cowed by a metastasizing police state, divided by media demagogues or busy at the mall — remained immobile. Or, worse, taunted those who wouldn’t.
We Americans can proclaim our toughness all we want, but action speaks louder than, well, inaction. We are inert, impotent. Thus, whether via “targeted government-led sanctions against the U.S. by civilized countries,” as Wolf suggests, or a nation-sized noogie vigorously applied by fed-up lands until Uncle Sam cries uncle, we need assistance reclaiming America from its ruling thugs.
It’s bizarre thinking one need no longer wonder how Hitler could have methodically installed the murderous machinery that fueled his insane fascism while Germans just stood by and watched, a madness that America, and others, finally helped stop.
Now, can the world stop ours?