Certain Americans

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. 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 patronship꿚here 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 dangerous꾿ll 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 Dissident Voice, 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). He can be reached at: waltuhler@aol.com. Read other articles by Walter C., or visit Walter C.'s website.

20 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. JB said on October 1st, 2007 at 5:37am #

    New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison said in 1967, “Fascism will come to America in the name of national security”. Here it comes!

  2. Susan Cook said on October 1st, 2007 at 8:33am #

    He had me up until he began bashing the South. Prejudice against the South is unfair and unsavory.

  3. Eric Patton said on October 1st, 2007 at 9:12am #

    I may be misreading here. It’s early, and I’m still on my first cup of coffee. But this article feels classist. Am I correct in perceiving in Uhler anger and disdain toward blue-collar Americans?

    Would Uhler be willing to clarify a bit? Uhler should read the recent article on DV by Susan Rosenthal, “Machismo at Work: False Consciousness or Self Defense.”

  4. Gary Lapon said on October 1st, 2007 at 10:44am #

    What if the money (taken out of the pockets of the “proles” who work jobs that produce useful goods, unlike the weapons of mass destruction Walter peddled in) Walter helped spend on weapons for the DoD had gone towards funding public education, there wouldn’t be so many illiterate people walking around.

    His attack on Southern whites is particularly ironic, considering their disproportionate representation in the military. He enjoys seeing them taken to account because of their “sorry-ass lives,” but I can think of little that is sorrier than the life of a man who publicly insults the people who risk life and limb wielding the weapons he buys. Perhaps that is how one justifies a life as a lackey for murderous ruling class thugs: by blaming the horrific injustice they mastermind on its domestic victims.

  5. gerald spezio said on October 1st, 2007 at 11:19am #

    Gary, how in the hell did such obvious classist propaganda make to the pages of DV.
    Walter has been pitching and jiving for years.

  6. Chris said on October 1st, 2007 at 12:23pm #

    Wow, Gerald, such a fine mind put into service to save the ignorant masses from themselves. Just some advice: be sure you have a gun when this whole democracy experiment blows up in our faces and you’re left wandering the streets with those folks you like so much. I doubt they’d have much use for you with all your fancy educated ideas and liberal politics.

    And no, Eric, Uhler is not talking about blue-collar-god-bless-‘Mericans. By all means, do get some coffee and actually read the text of the article. Hint: he’s also not talking about the god-bless-‘Merican-soldiers.

  7. gerald spezio said on October 1st, 2007 at 1:04pm #

    Chris, I am just one the stumbling ignorant masses. Known to work with his hands.

    If I were to consider shooting, I would aim high – possibly at some lawyer suit from Hahvid of Yale with every hair in its proper place. Professsional ethics for all tortured souls of all classes.

    A person of stature, intellect, and proper training who dispenses valuable legal rights to the poor and downtrodden.

    Well dressed representation for all before the honorable court for a fee.

    I know that many of the best suits are Italian, and does that bum me out.

  8. gerald spezio said on October 1st, 2007 at 1:13pm #

    Chris, The stupid bastards won’t be wandering in the streets after we get them in the Army or the Corps.

    They can learn Spanish from their fellow grunts and earn college credits for a life of the mind at a later date should they survive.

  9. Eric Patton said on October 1st, 2007 at 9:30pm #

    Even if we grant Uhler every benefit of the doubt, this piece does more harm than good, in my opinion. Let’s consider a few parts of it.

    UHLER: 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.”

    PATTON: If I were working class – and I am – this would scream to me, “Working people are stupid.” I’ve seen this sentiment expressed too often on the left – and too often by the coordinator class wherever I encounter them – to take it any other way. We on the left seem to understand the sensitivity women and blacks feel toward sexism and racism. Classism is no different, except the left doesn’t understand it, at least in my experience. Even though many lefties genuinely do mean well, the left in my experience does not really understand what working class people deal with from the coordinator class. Even if Uhler doesn’t mean “Working people are stupid,” that’s how his words will be received by a working person. Either Uhler needs to confront his classism, or he needs to rephrase.

    UHLER: Many [Southern whites] are poorly educated and possess a stupidity fueled by racism.

    PATTON: While Uhler doesn’t explicitly say “working-class Southern whites” here, by dropping the phrase “poorly educated,” it seems pretty clear he’s talking about working people. (If he’s not, he desperately needs to rephrase.) Yes, many working people – including Southern ones – are racist. But why are they racist? Is it because they’re stupid? Or might there be other reasons? To take it from a different angle: Are the doctors, lawyers, managers, and engineers (and other intellectuals) who comprise the coordinator class classist because they’re stupid, or might there be other reasons? If you can’t even see or understand the existence of the coordinator class, are you stupid? No. Are you ignorant? Yes. Are you classist? You might be. But whether you are or not, you shouldn’t be lecturing working people about their own faults when you have plenty on your own plate.

    UHLER: 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.

    PATTON: I might think this is satire, until I see…

    UHLER: 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.”

    PATTON: This is horrible. Is Uhler serious? If this is satire, I confess to not being able to see it. Ignoring the fact that this “distended beer gut” man might actually be a good father to his children, does Uhler even have the slightest idea how capitalism works? Is Uhler not aware that, in a capitalist economy, you are guaranteed to have many losers (by which I mean economic ones)? If a woman gets raped, do we blame her for it? So when do we start blaming poor people for their condition? Again, this is how capitalism operates. The reason Bill Gates and others have lots is because many many many more have next to nothing. It’s how capitalist economies operate. How can any one purporting to be a lefty in nearly 2008 not understand this? On the other hand, if Uhler doesn’t mean what he says the way it reads, then he BADLY needs to rephrase.

    P.S.: Gerald, my advice to you is to buy and read Michael Albert’s “Parecon: Life After Capitalism” (Verso Press, 2003). Then read every other book by Albert you can get your hands on. It’ll help take the bad taste out of your mouth. No one is in the corner of the working class like Albert is, and Albert’s mind is insanely powerful.

  10. Eric Patton said on October 2nd, 2007 at 7:36am #

    No, Michael wasn’t hung over. He always looks like that. He always acts like that too. He’s not a people person. I’d like to know what you said to him, because if he said to you, “It’s guys like you who keep the revolution from happening,” then something you said precipitated it — but you don’t say. So say. Tell me what you said.

    I can understand someone not liking this Uhler piece. But if you also don’t like Albert, then I don’t have any clue what it is you do like. I’m crusty, cynical, and jaded, but I feel positive about parecon. What makes you feel positive? “Great books?” Like what? You mean literature, like “The Grapes of Wrath” or something? I like literature quite a bit.

    But saying to people, “Let’s look here in the Great Books, students,” doesn’t feel much different to me than what Uhler is doing. I thought you were a working-class stiff who wandered in here and Uhler’s piece made you angry. Now I think you’re an English professor who’s angry about something else.

  11. Gary Lapon said on October 2nd, 2007 at 7:52am #

    Eric, I agree, many on the left are blind to the realities of class, which I feel is a major reason for the sorry state the left has been in for the past few decades. This blindness breeds a lack of understanding of the weight of various social forces (classes), to the point of trying to locate the sources of oppression within the least influential proponents of it. And then concluding that those folks, who have little control over their lives and communities, are the enemy that must be opposed in order to fight said oppression. After all, racism, sexism, islamophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and homophobia are all a part of the “dominant culture,” and who has the plurality in that culture but working-class whites?

    The whole idea that racism is a “poor Southern white” problem is absurd. Many poor/working class Southern whites are racist, and the left should struggle against such racism at every turn, but to view them as the root of the problem is disastrous for anyone who wants to end racism. Frederick Douglass, no stranger to the horrors of slavery and racism and the struggle against them, wrote that:

    “The slaveholders…by encouraging the enmity of the poor, laboring white man against the Blacks, succeeded in making the said white man almost as much a slave as the Black himself…Both are plundered, and by the same plunderers.”

    The 17th century United States saw poor whites, indentured servants, and black slaves unite against the ruling class in the South. Being too small to hold power through sheer force, the planters used their control of the law, the preachers and the papers to divide their class enemy, the toiling masses. Slavery was not a result of racism; racism was a result of the ruling class need for slaves.

    Today, it’s difficult to turn on the television or radio, go to the movies, read a magazine, go online, or even look out the window without seeing leaders in positions of legal, political, and cultural authority spouting vile racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. This is the dominant tone of the mainstream media, but it is not this way because of the demand created by working-class bigots (in fact, people are beginning to stand up to it, considering the Don Imus storm). The mainstream media is owned by a small number of unfathomably rich people whose interests are aligned with the rest of the ruling class that would much rather see working class people fighting one another across lines of race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation than uniting to fight for their class interests by turning their anger on the people at the top.

    Karl Marx wrote that “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.” They wouldn’t be the ruling class if they did not have control over the central organs of society, including systems of education and media distribution. This is the primary source of bigotry among working class people, which can and must be overcome in order for the working class to win its emancipation. The working class is the vast majority; the bulk of any group that is a victim of oppression will be found within it. So in order to liberate the targets of oppression, one must seek to liberate the working class.

    Those on the left who seek to eliminate oppression and bigotry should struggle against it whenever possible, but at the end of the day the focus should be on the true source of this filth: the ruling class. They will never be won to ideas of equality because their very existence depends on the opposite. Working class people can be won away from prejudiced ideas, because it is necessary to overcome them in order to achieve the unity that is required to struggle for a better life. You won’t get very far by ridiculing them for their “sorry lives.”

  12. Qnunc said on October 2nd, 2007 at 8:27am #

    You Southern guys in the military – do you realize you are serving in a country that hates your guts? GET OUT! How many times have you been told to learn and celebrate everyone else’s culture? You’ve actually been ordered to, and celebrate diversity! Whatever that means. Can we then celebrate Robert E. Lee’s birthday as we must celebrate Martin Luther King’s? No! How dare you utter such hate speech! That is the only banned culture, soo if you’re in the military, don’t re-up. You are not expendable to the government, (the others are too, but it’s their country.)

    I came to this site (I think it was this one) to check on an anti-war rally and the first thing I saw was “Certain People,” and of course, I knew what it was about, because it’s about the 7th such article I’ve read today.

    Mr. Uhler wrote an article “Blaming all Americans for Debacle in Iraq?” He was offended; he nursed his hurt feelings, and told how many times he had “gone on record. . .” but not once did James Dobbins call him cattle: “humans, especially when viewed contemptuously in a mob.” One little article and the only thing Mr. Uhler could find insulting to him was that he was lumped in with other Americans. Mr. Uhler couldn’t use the work “cattle” then, because, well, because it involved other Americans. So he has to write an article about cattle.

    Mr. Uhler, you seem not to have much experience at this. I’m a woman, but I believe in this department, I’m more of a man than you, because I hear this all day long. Like this, for instance: “self-righteous, gun-totin’, military-lovin’, sister-marryin’, abortion-hatin’, gay-loathin’, foreigner-despisin’, non-passport-ownin’ rednecks.” The only thing I was puzzled at was the non-passport-ownin’. Is that an insult? Yes and no.

    Believe it or not, that’s like a measure of their “virtue,” I guess. Another article had Dubya whining “I may not not where [some country] is, but I know what I believe.” It was said about Dubya’s father that he worked like a common laborer with men who didn’t know where Connecticut was.

    Can you believe what little things they use to, I guess, prove their superiority to each other? Places on a map and what’s on their passport. Wow! These are huge big things. I believe I’ll just graze in taller grass.

    How do you know when a person feels himself inferior? When he constantly has to assert his “equality.” How does a man make himself feel superior? He calls other people names thinking he is demonizing them, and so he is , but not to them. But it has to be The Certain People, because anyone else would kick his ass. We don’t care. The entire election map of the country is red, but he dare not call anyone but the South cattle. We are his inferiors. Ho-hum.

    So what do I know about Mr. Uhler without having met him? Well, he’s better than cattle. (And he sort of whines when he gets “offended.”)

    In another article, he says he hardly talks about the South at all. (Ahem) That’s just about all he talks about, ignorant rednecks. And, I see this a lot, something about maps and passports. Ah, the true measure of a man.

    So he uses the word “South” 815 times, “Christian” 567 times, and “racist” 96 times. Why are you so obsessed with us? We are only cattle. And don’t you think that having not gotten much of a response, (I know you try to provoke with your elitism.)

    The first thing you’ve got to do when you want to illegally attack a country is dehumanize and demonize the people there. What worries me is that the neo-cons have found a country, and they are bloodthirsty. Victor Davis Hanson said take ’em all, men, women and children. What if the Iran deal falls through, and you’ve got a nation out for blood? Well, you’ve got a section of the country that you have demonized and made less than human. (Not just you, but everyone who seems so obsessed with us. I don’t get it, because I don’t think of Yankees at all.)

    Remember after the 2004 election when someone cried havoc! and let slip the dogs of war, and the hatred and viciousness toward the South lasted for days. It got worse and worse, and I thought this kind of hatred will turn into violence. And like I said, you went after just the South, even though clearly the map was red from sea to shining sea. But – we are the demonized enemy. You can’t treat other people like that, it would be unthinkable. Is that what you are doing? Because the viciousness seems to have gotten worse. Is this your plan?

    It it is, you are only hurting yourself. I know we don’t deserve to live, although we have bothered no one, but, well, we do, and maybe this time there will be violence. If something happened to us, what would you think about all day? What would you write about? Who could you insult with such abandon to make you feel superior? No one. So, why not knock it off just until the neocons have had time to get the bloodlust out of their system, then get back to writing about us day after day? (I was kind of flattered, but then I thought: he admits he is nothing more than cattle.)

    And I take it the thundering herds of cattle are not welcome at your march? Because unlike you, I don’t go where I’m not wanted, or force others to. (The real reason is, well, calling people animals is so rude.)

    And Bob Herbert talking about states rights! Does he not know that they were talking about states rights while writing the Constitution and long after? It was to be a check on the power of the federal government. Believe it or not, it had nothing to do with you. A lot of things don’t!

    I can’t believe the size of your ego! To think we sit around and plot and plan and scheme all day long with our states rights and all – if he only knew he could be at peace! We (Southern white folks) think of you, well, never. But you have an obsession. You’re special, you’re grieved. Oh, well. I believe you were last year and the year before that and the year before that. Try to rein in that ego and you and your little white man friend have some fun. Repeat after me: White folks don’t think of me as much as I thought they did. Well, never.

    If anyone feels like saying the magic word “slavery!”, we got over that a long time ago, and if you’d like to read what Abe really thought about it, read his first inaugural address. Sit down. Be strong! http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres31.html

  13. Qnunc said on October 2nd, 2007 at 8:42am #

    Oh, guys, I meant you ARE expendable to the government. Don’t fight their phony little fake “wars” for them.

    I admit I got a little offended when someone said “stupidity fueled by racism.” How do you know my stupidity isn’t fueled by bigotry? Can you read minds? If you were Americans, you wouldn’t have separate “issues.” You would mind your own business and I would mind my own business. But I think you mean by “issues,” you want somebody else’s money.

    Vote for Ron Paul.

  14. Eric Patton said on October 2nd, 2007 at 9:41am #

    If he was alienating the audience, it’s probably because his audience was a group of coordinator class folks who, like most coordinators, don’t like to see their privileged status within the economy. Michael doesn’t go places to be liked. He goes to tell people what they need to hear.

    I’m guessing you are cool to parecon and hate the idea of balanced job complexes.

  15. Eric Patton said on October 2nd, 2007 at 9:55am #

    Gary, I agree that the left needs to not trash the working class, but that’s not enough. The left must also get serious about dealing with its own internal classism. The left must acknowledge the existence of the coordinator class and address it through structural changes.

  16. gerald spezio said on October 2nd, 2007 at 9:56am #

    Eric, as far as I could discern, there wasn’t a hostile person in the audience.
    The tiny elderly lady above was incredulous at the little pissant’s response.
    I went because I liked and respected him. I learned.

  17. Eric Patton said on October 2nd, 2007 at 9:59am #

    I wasn’t there, Gerald, and I don’t actually care about what happened. What would interest me, however, is knowing how you feel about parecon and balanced job complexes.

  18. Gary Lapon said on October 2nd, 2007 at 2:03pm #

    Eric,

    What is the difference between the marxist conception of the petty bourgeoisie (small business owners and professionals who do not exercise independent control over the means of production) and the idea of a coordinator class?

  19. Dean said on October 2nd, 2007 at 7:22pm #

    I would be careful about assuming most US right-wingers (I assume that’s who you’re skewering here) are pot-bellied slobs from the South who need to “get their lives in order.” There are many, many right-wingers who are imposing-looking athletes living lives of rigid, narrow discipline. You may have noticed that there seem to be more bodybuilders and other physique athletes among right-wingers than among other groups. Exaggerations of male gender stereotypes are very appealing to many right-wingers, and slobbishness has no place in such people’s lives. Scarier, they’d like to impose their militaristic discipline on all of us.

    And anti-black racism dominates in white communities throughout the US, not just in the South. Indeed, white people throughout the world tend to be quite racist.

  20. Ceri Cat said on October 3rd, 2007 at 8:06am #

    Oi! It’s not just whites, racism dominates most people regardless of their race. Whenever there is something different we attack it, despite the fact we’re attacking our relatives. Race is an artificial construct, skin colour, eye shape, nose shape, etc are all eventually down to environmental adaptation, it’s not something that is there to set us apart. It fills me with dread the day we first meet another species if they exist and are foolish enough to encounter us, my money is on huamsn exterminating them because they’re different, not for any other reason. Our attitudes towards each other are getting worse instead of better with time.

    You know though I’ll never get how groups use the bible to justify their racist attitudes. Moses’ wife was from what is now Ethiopia and was black, when Aaron’s wife made comments about the colour of her skin God gave her leprosy, methinks the old boy needs to get back to work. I think he made it pretty plain with that how he felt about our infighting. So where does the justification come from? *mutters*