A Red Menace in the Mirror

In mid-August of 1948, sweltering summer heat was largely negated by high pressure and the frigid winds of Cold War.  The Second War to End All Wars still smoldered in the recent past, while the witch hunt of McCarthyism loomed on the near horizon.  Of course, I knew nothing of this, having only recently earned a birth certificate and U.S. Citizenship as a reward for successfully negotiating Mom’s birth canal, and taking my first breath in America’s Heartland.

As though the sixty million casualties of World War II weren’t enough, by the time I turned five, the Korean War had begun and ended, leaving yet another trail of blood and dead bodies in its wake.  By then, I’d already heard America’s favorite expression of the day; “Better dead than Red” enough times to understand that there were rival lands full of evil Reds, otherwise known as Communists, somewhere across the sea, which sought the demise of my town, my country, and all those dear to me.  A frightening prospect for a still innocent Nebraska rug rat.  Lucky for me, Superman could be counted upon to keep an x-ray eye on things.

George Reeves, who played Superman on the weekly series Adventures of Superman, was apparently immune from U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy’s inquest, during which those suspected of being Communists were rooted out, shamed, accused of treason, and even imprisoned.  Targets included, but weren’t limited to, those with jobs in the fields of entertainment, government, and education.  Obviously, any heroic good guy “with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men” and who “fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way” was beyond suspicion.

The winds of fate blew me through Kindergarten, 1st Grade, then 1400 miles west by southwest into Phoenix, Arizona.  By that time the Reds in Russia had developed atomic bombs of a caliber matching those which the United States had dropped on Japan during World War II, and now the whole world was in danger of having its ass in a sling.  I’m not certain exactly when “Duck and Cover” drills started at school.  The bells would sound, teachers would yell “duck and cover”, and all of us kids would duck under our little desks, tiny asses toward the plate-glass windows, heads tucked under our arms, trembling in fear until the bells ceased their song of doom.

The innocence of childhood for the American progeny of World War II was to be overshadowed by the Red Menace, which would follow us relentlessly into young adulthood. As though the space race and the arms race weren’t enough, a ragtag group of armed Commies pulled off a revolution right on our doorstep, booting American business interests out of Cuba, and taking over the show.  The commercial exhibits at the Arizona State Fair in 1960 were dominated by all the latest technology in backyard bomb shelters.  I remember wishing Dad had invested wisely and put something more useful in the space occupied by the swimming pool.

We dodged the bullet of The Cuban Missile Crisis, and the first rumblings of The Vietnam War were rocking the country and beginning to roll a few young Americans out of their slumber.  Shots were heard around the world, echoing from Dealey Plaza in Dallas, and a shadow seemed to creep across the land.  America had killed its finest president, but a man with ties to the Reds was blamed, then he too was conveniently eliminated.

The term ‘Domino Theory’, coined by President Eisenhower in 1954, had long been the guiding principle for U.S. foreign policy.  American business interests feared Communism more than death itself, and the theory was that if you let one country fall…well there goes the neighborhood…and all potential future profits.  As it turned out, John Kennedy was killed because he was trying to make peace with Castro and Khrushchev, end the Cold War, and nip the Vietnam War in the bud.  With his death, peace was completely off the table.

Lucky for me, about the time I was out of high school, I fell in with the wrong crowd.  Hippie peace-freak intellectuals who questioned the official stories and began dreaming of a better world.  Not that any of us knew many facts at the time. We were unaware that Kennedy was  killed for insubordination to Wall Street and the Military-Industrial Complex.  We had no idea that Medgar Evers, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy all bit the bullet for the same reason.  We didn’t know that The Gulf of Tonkin incident was a lie designed to streamline the Vietnam War, nor that Ho Chi Minh had penned a document mimicking The Declaration of Independence in an effort to avert war, unite, and bring peace to Vietnam.

In the mid-60s in mainstream U.S.A. “Better dead than Red” was still the favorite expression, and President Ike’s Domino Theory was being used with ever-increasing enthusiasm. From the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba, to the Vietnam War fiasco, to countless incursions, assassinations, high-level bribes, coup d’etats, and bombings across a wide swath of the globe, U.S. Intelligence and military operatives were up to their elbows in blood 24/7. But I never found out about the dirtiest aspects of U.S. history until much later in life. Unfortunately, new information still rears its ugly head with disturbing regularity.

Back when I was fresh out of high school, I still thought that the folks Tom Brokaw would call “America’s Greatest Generation” had been the force of truth and justice that kicked Hitler’s ass, liberated the concentration camps, soundly thrashed Japan, and won World War II.  This was surely the one bright time in America’s history of which we could all be proud.  Now it appears that an American intelligence operative named Ernst Hanfstaengl befriended, financed, groomed, and was largely responsible for Hitler’s rise to power.  Later Wall Street would make massive investments in Hitler’s Germany to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars by 1941.  The list was long, and included Standard Oil, Ford, General Motors, and numerous American banks.  Adolph had I.B.M. to thank for organizing his death camps.

Adolph Hitler was the darling of Wall Street, was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1939, and was all along being set up to fire up a good war, march into The Soviet Union, and engage in a bloody conflict with Stalin.  The plan was that Germany and Russia would fight to the death, leaving the U.S.A. and Allied Forces to collect the spoils of war.  The obvious prize in the plan was the demise of The Soviet Union and the end of the scourge of Communism.  All the while, a mirror image plan was afoot in Asia, as Axis power Japan was beating Communist China to a bloody pulp.  But even after a combined Soviet and Chinese death toll of around fifty million people, Communism wouldn’t die.

Sadly, and far short of being the hero of World War II, America was the instigator and villian.  Such has been the case in all conflicts of my lifetime, and every war I can think of, going back to the first settlers/invaders of Turtle Island.  Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about the relative advantages of Capitalism versus Communism.  There are as many kinds of Capitalism as there are shades of blue…as many varieties of Communism as there are variations on the color red.  I’m nearly 68 years old now, and don’t have a lifetime left to waste, nor an interest in studying the nuances and differences.

Capitalism is a system in which a small, elite minority hoards a lion’s share of the available resources while the vast wage-slave majority often ends up hungry, cold, homeless, uneducated, overworked, and/or prematurely dead.  Capitalism lies, steals, and mass murders indiscriminately in order to survive.  Capitalism loots and plunders the planet without regard for tomorrow.  In Capitalism, there is a profit motive in every activity — alas, even love and marriage, more often than not, has its basis in cold, hard cash. Capitalism commodifies and places a dollar value on everything from the water we drink to the children we love and nurture.

Communism, according to the definition offered by Oxford Dictionaries, which was front and center when I did a bing search, is:  “a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.”  In a recent Dissident Voice article titled “Why I am a Communist“, Andre Vltchek defines it somewhat differently:  “…a true Communist is a fighter against imperialism, racism, ‘Western exceptionism’, colonialism, and neo-colonialism.  He or she is a determined Internationalist, a person who believes in equality and social justice for all people on this Earth.”

Like all Americans, I’ve been lied to all my life.  By the time I was out of high school, I’d probably said the Pledge of Allegiance to Old Glory at least two thousand times and stood at attention for the rocket and bomb-glorifying Star-Spangled Banner almost that often.  In history classes I learned little or nothing about the Great American Holocaust, in which perhaps two hundred million Native Americans were slaughtered.  Teachers barely paid lip service to the abominations of African slavery, upon which the nation’s vile version of Capitalism was built.  I was taught that my nation was the greatest democracy in the history of earth, and that the U.S.A. was a land of freedom and justice for all.  If only Hunter S. Thompson had shared his 180 Degree Philosophy with me early on.  You know, the one which declares that whenever a U.S. politician or media figure opens his mouth and regurgitates words, the truth is exactly 180 degrees from what we hear.

Once upon a time I bought into the theory that Communism kills all incentives to succeed, and decimates the human spirit.  I’m no longer asleep, and have ceased believing in The American Dream.  I have no idea how the earth should be organized and governed, but the United States of America has failed the test and come up far short of acceptable.  I’ll be going to Cuba soon, to learn to dance.  No, not actual dance lessons.  They have a saying in Communist Cuba.  “Everybody dances, or nobody dances.”  The man I now see in the mirror is a Red Menace.  He now undermines everything I’ve been taught, everything I once believed in.  Somehow, though, he now reminds me of Andy.  You remember Andy (Tim Robbins) from the movie “Shawshank Redemption”.  As Red (Morgan Freeman) described him:  “Andy Dufresne – who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.”

John R. Hall, having finally realized that no human being in possession of normal perception has a snowball's chance in hell of changing the course of earth's ongoing trophic avalanche, now studies sorcery with the naguals don Juan Matus and don Carlos Castaneda in the second attention. If you're patient, you might just catch him at his new email address, but if his assemblage point happens to be displaced, it could take a while. That address is: drachman2358@outlook.com Read other articles by John R..