Brian & Ann's European Experience

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Death of America

The election is coming.

It is less than a week away. It dominates every newspaper headline, it is on every newscast of every Dutch, German, and Belgian TV channel that we get. There are more articles about who's leading in the polls than any other topic. Even an ocean away the election for the next President of the United States is the biggest story going. The story is so strong, the passions are so inflamed, that people on both sides of the ocean, believing that their very lives are at stake, have engaged in disgraceful acts that in almost any other era those same people would probably not even be able to contemplate without revulsion.

In the UK a newspaper bought a mailing list of US voter names in a swing state and urged their readers to write them letters and urge them to vote. Ostensibly it was just an effort to promote turnout in the US, but since the overwhelming opinion of Europeans is anti-Bush the "we're just promoting the exercising of democracy" defense doesn't hold spit. That kind of international tampering is reprehensible, and the fact that a media outlet has compromised it's integrity by engaging in such a partisan activity fills me with sadness.

Unlike the right wing media in my own country, which distorts the truth on a daily basis to tens of millions of viewers. That just makes me mad. It enrages me that a propaganda machine like Fox News is allowed to exist in a country who sacrificed 400,000 of its citizens to defeat facist countries whose leaders employed those very same tactics to justify the very same ends.

For some reason, instead of earning the outright contempt of the American public for lying to them, and so blatantly trying to manipulate them, the average middle American is likely to call you un-patriotic, or imply that you don't support the troops, if you disparage Bill O'Rielly or Brit Hume. Unbelievable. Somewhere in Washington a Republican is lighting the incense sticks on his shrine to the right wing media and cackling with glee that they can still somehow seem to portray the media as 'liberal' whenever it suits their needs.

Anger. That's what the outlets for my country's political discourse inspire in me.

And it's not just the media that has this effect on me.

I'm angry that spin is more important than substance. I'm angry that anyone can get in front of a podium and portray the situation in Iraq as "improving" and not have their head explode. I'm angry that over a thousand US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi people, human beings with lives just as valuable as any American's, have been killed in what has to be the biggest fraud that has ever been perpetrated on the American people.

I'm angry that the marketers of the right wing are so adept, and the average intelligence of my countrymen so low, that they aren't demanding that the President be impeached for causing the needless deaths of tens of thousands of people and then getting on TV during a debate and saying he was fighting "the enemy".

0 of 19 hijackers were from Iraq.

There were 0 operational anti-US terrorist camps in Iraq before we went in there and turned the entire country into one.

We are the Muslim extremists wet dream. We created a terrorist training facility the size of California, where even your average run-of-the-mill jihadist, who before the war would likely have never even SEEN an American citizen, now has the opportunity to blow one up wiht an Improvised Explosive Device. We achieved the miracle of uniting the Shiites and the Sunnis: in hatred against us.

I'm angry that I was lied to about weapons of mass destruction, a very real and credible threat that will now never be taken seriously ever again. Here's how I envision the next intelligence briefing on WMD:

Intelligence Chief: "Mr. President, we have satellite photos of Country X putting the nuke on the warhead and programming in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave!"
President: "Oh really. Like in Iraq?"

The sad part is that due to the proliferation of these weapons I'm sure there will come a time when we ARE attacked with some form of WMD, and it will be from some place that we never bothered to shine a light on because there was no chance that there would be a pool of oil there to shine back on us.

I'm angry that I believed Colin Powell's fabulous PowerPoint presentation to the UN. Thank you Colin Powell, for removing the illusion from me that my elected government would never lie to me about something as serious as a threat to our national security.

I believed. Up until the moment I realized that CNN and Fox and all the others were so desperate to capture the footage of the first discovered stockpile of WMDs that they were interrupting regular programming EVERY TIME A SENSOR WENT OFF, only to have to fill the dead air time after time when all that was ever found were some gas masks and one artillery shell with some mustard gas residue. It took until about the second or third false alarm before it really hit me.

There never were any weapons.

It was all a lie.

A lie Saddam told to instill fear, or to impress a girl. Who knows. I don't know why he lied. But Saddam Hussein didn't lie to me. Saddam Hussein didn't take over 100 billion of my country's tax money and spend it on creating the largest terrorist camp the world has ever seen, while smiling and telling me he was making me safer. Saddam Hussein didn't give the order for 135,000 US troops to walk into an Arab country and beg them to hate us.

George W. Bush did that.

And that's why I'm angry. Because the Great Liar (as I have come to call him) has lied so well, and so effectively, that he is now up by 5 points in the latest polls of likely voters.

I am sad. And angry. At America.

Because we believe the emporer when he tells us he has clothes on, even when our eyes are staring at the ugly truth every night on the evening news.

It's like reverse David Copperfied. He pulls the curtain off the Statue of Liberty and it's still there... and we all pretend not to see it. Because for some reason we'd rather believe that terrorists took it away. We'd rather trade what it means to be America for the right to go and blow the shit out of some other country to feel better about getting sucker-punched in the face by Osama bin Laden.

Osama bin Laden: Mastermind behind the deaths of almost 3,000 Americans who were killed on their own soil. We sent 5,000 troops after him and Mullah Omar. Both are still at large.

Saddam Hussein: Never responsible for the death of any American on American soil. We sent 135,000 troops after him and pulled him out of a hole after six months.

Hello, priorities!? Where's the anger! Where's the outrage?

I never had Watergate. I never had Vietnam. I never had those experiences that shake the very trust that is the foundation of any democracy's legitimacy. Until now.

I have Iraq.

I have something now that helps me understand what it does to your soul to find out that your country doesn't mean what you thought it meant. That your President lied to you. And that people, a lot of them, died as a result. Most of them innocent.

I am angry that more people aren't angry. They cannot, or worse, they do not want to see, that their country's very meaning has been corrupted. What used to be the land of freedom and the place where hard working people could achieve success, has revealed itself to be nothing more than one, gigantic, superpower of a con artist.

I have never been one to say that a country should act according to what the rest of the world thinks of it. I am not that "multilateral". But I also do not believe that any country, even the world's only superpower, cannot afford to pretend that it lives in a vacuum where the opinion of the rest of the world has no bearing on our own security.

It's called *International* terrorism for a reason.The terrorists who attacked our country on September 11 operated out of Europe and the Middle east while they were planning their heinous crimes. And now the lesson we have shown the world is that we will not listen to them at all. So why should they?

I'm angry that the real threat, terrorism, has been hijacked. I'm angry that so many Americans link Iraq and September 11th even though the two had nothing to do with each other.

I'm angry that we want to believe the lie. And that we will look at the iceberg in our path and instead tell ourselves that what we are looking at is the promised land of a safe and secure America. Oh, and that must be Lady Liberty there behind it, we've been missing her!

Jesus. Seven more days of this incessant coverage of people saying nothing.

And then, sadly, barring a minor miracle at the polls, four more years of watching the meaning of the word America slowly die until it is a synonym for 'lie'.

It used to be that the American Dream was something to aspire to. Now it means the capability of seeing the bodies of 48 unarmed Iraqi National Guard troops who were executed while they were lying on the ground, and telling the world that the situation is improving.

I guess I am most angry at the fact that America does not mean what I thought it did. Not anymore.


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