No Skateboards For The American Empire
by Seth Sandronsky
October 18, 2003
An escalating spiral of bloodshed in the Mideast is careening out of control. Much of it involves U.S. personnel and weapons. They are paid for partly with the economic surplus created by the American people, themselves under attack in capital’s one-sided class war against them.
Some Americans, like me, oppose the politically connected who represent such wealth. Not in private, but in public. As one of these working folks who were born into (but not practicing) the Jewish faith, I have a choice to make concerning U.S. policy in the Mideast.
I can be mute. I can play it safe. I can conform.
Or I can speak out. I can take a principled stand against U.S.-led war and the human suffering it causes to civilians abroad and in America. I can join with other Americans of all backgrounds to demand that our government reduce its presence in the Mideast.
In that way, we are trying to reverse the rising cycle of violence plaguing the energy-rich region, and turning America into a garrison nation. An unclear number of us think and proceed accordingly. We are still getting our political legs, learning by doing so.
A couple of years ago I penned a piece in a local alternative weekly that criticized U.S. Israel policy. I focused partly on the military inequality between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people living under a harsh occupation. A co-worker quite outside the anti-war choir I am part of gave me some feedback.
“I read your article,” she said.
“What did you think of it?” I replied.
I thanked her. She then continued with negative comments about the Palestinian people. My point?
She and many Americans of all backgrounds are lied to from birth about U.S. foreign policy. It is a propaganda blitzkrieg, a culture of misinformation from school to work. This has bred deception, including the demonization of official American enemies.
Today the enemies are the Palestinians. Tomorrow the foes will be the Syrians. And then or at the same time the Iranians will be evil incarnate.
Deceptive editorializing and reporting on the Mideast, petrol station to the rich nations, has shaped public opinion dramatically in America. Consider the slanted focus on Islamic fundamentalism. In contrast, Judeo-Christian fundamentalism gets a wink and a nod, unless you read Sara Diamond and other radical writers.
My co-worker was not likely a part of the fantastic Feb. 15 pro-peace demonstrations against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But she and millions of others like her could be. And that must be one of our goals.
Such poorly informed working folks, in unions or not, will need to be so engaged around war and peace to continue the historic shift of Americans’ national identity. It is marked, in my view, by an emerging desire to settle national disputes without the maiming and murdering of civilians.
Peace with justice is not just a slogan.
Americans by and large expect federal and state lawmakers to protect them and respond to their wishes. Angry California voters who just helped to elect an action film star to be the new governor in a recall vote are proof of working people’s longing for a “change in government.” What actions Mr. Schwarzenegger does or does not take against striking grocery and transit workers in Los Angeles will show what he means by “change.”
In the meantime, it is becoming more clear with each passing day that the occupation of Iraq and Palestine is an imperial quagmire. Tens of billions of tax dollars from working people in the U.S. are making the Mideast less safe by funding the proxy forces of the Israeli government, the regional bonecrusher. Meanwhile in America, state and local governments are going broke, widening income inequality as social programs are slashed.
This process has left in its wake many hurt and hurting Americans. Some of them are being made redundant by an economy that is recovering without creating new jobs. And those who have jobs are being pressed by their bosses to work harder, creating much stress and tension.
Government spending priorities are not cast in concrete but are up for grabs. On that note, Americans do not have to be skateboards for imperial power. The daily carnage in occupied Iraq and Palestine claiming the lives of the native population and U.S. personnel provides ample examples of what humanity must steer clear of to avoid further chaos and conflagrations.