Arguing with the gatekeepers

I´ve been reading Mark Hertsgaard´s The Eagle´s Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World and what follows is a combination of his thoughts alongside my own.

It is always difficult to argue with the right or conservatives of America.

It is often difficult to debate or discuss with many an “average” American.

Americans, for the most part, see themselves as decent, hardworking people who wish the rest of the world well and do more than their share to help it.

They are proud of their “freedom” and “prosperous” way of life and they feel that others want the same.

Many of them sincerely believe that they live in the greatest country in the world.

Many believe that foreigners are just embittered fanatics, jealous of American wealth, resentful of American power.

America receives a disproportionate amount of coverage from news media around the world, while many Americans still don´t know much about the rest of the world or care about the rest of the world unless American lives are directly affected.

Americans need to realize that the prevention of further attacks in the future will not be achieved by unleashing the miltary or tightening domestic security.

If Americans want a healthy relationship with the six billion people they share the planet with, they need to understand who those people are, how they live, what they think and why.

How, foreigners ask, can America be so powerful yet so naive?

How can America be so ignorant of foreign nations, peoples and languages yet be so certain it knows what´s best for everyone?

How can the average American be so open and generous yet its foreign policy be so often domineering?

Why does America ally itself with sharia law countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that openly support and train terrorists, yet see no contradiction accusing Syrian refugees fleeing this law as potential terrorists?

How does America not see what its government does in its name as prejudical against Americans as a group, while simultaneously categorize the horrendous deeds of a few as justification to condemn whole groups?

This land of freedom finds many Americans willing to give up some freedoms in an endless war on terrorism.

Some even support increased government power to detain even legal immigrants, favour identification cards for Arab (or “Arab-looking”) Americans and some even go so far as to think that Arab Americans should be detained in camps.

In a land whose Constitution states that “all men are created equal” not all men are considered equal.

To the eyes of many foreigners, America feels no obligation to obey international law, pushing other countries around, forcing on them policies and sometimes leaders that serve only American interests, and, should they resist too much, bomb them into submission, yet Americans view themselves as even-handed champions of democracy and freedom.

America claims not to be an empire, yet it possesses scores of military bases, the world´s highest volume of arms sales, massive nuclear overkill and has throughout its history, starting with its own native populations, repeatedly used force to expand and protect its territory, whether economic or geographic.

It would almost be comic, if it were not so tragic, that the very land that feels so threatened by the rest of the world is viewed by much of the world as the world´s biggest threat.

Americans are justifiably worried about civilian casualities, yet how many civilian casualities are its military and intelligence forces responsible for?

Do Americans know?

Do Americans care?

I believe more of them would care if more of them knew, for I sincerely believe that the average American is good and decent and generous, but ill-served by media that only sells the news rather than tells the news.

The world doesn´t hate the American people.

It hates American government, American military and American corporations.

Americans who love their country should criticize the powers that be and fight for a world where there is truly liberty and justice for all, within and outside the United States, a planet of opportunity for all in pursuit of happiness.

Americans give their government power with their votes, finance the government/the military/the corporations with their taxes and their incomes, bolster the government/military/corporations with silent passive acquiescence.

All of us, American or not, need to do a better job informing ourselves about what is going on in the world and our roles in the world.

We need to soberly and competently study the problems and possibilities confronting us, rather than hiding behind our gates in fear and paranoia.

We need to discuss and debate, amongst ourselves and with others, what to do about them.

We live in a world of so much information that it is remiss of us to blindly accept what one source tells us without examining for ourselves opposing views and different perspectives.

We need to act in ways we ourselves wish to be treated and refuse to act/react when others do not treat us accordingly, for we are responsible for our own actions and reactions.

We cannot claim to be decent worthy people if we do not act decently and worthy of decency.

We also can no longer afford to remain passive when those to whom we have given economic/military/political power act irresponsibly.

We should not let fear keep us from doing what is right, caring for others both locally and globally.

Innocent, hard-working folks, be they in New York, London, Madrid, Paris, Nigeria or Mali, should not have to die or be crippled and injured because those with power cannot act responsibly, whether that power is in the hands of fundamentalists, dictators, democrats or fanatics, whether that power is wielded in the name of religion, profits, nationalism or democracy.

“We share the same biology, regardless of ideology.”(Sting)


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