- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Khalid Adad
Tuesday, May. 24, 2005 at 10:13 AM
It's far more important for us to criticize ourselves than it is to criticize others. If we want to promote democracy, freedom and peace, we should ensure that our words match our deeds-anything else is complete hypocrisy.
BLINDED BY AMERICA
How nationalism blinds us and why seeing clearly matters
By Khalid Adad
[This essay was published in the Portland State University Vanguard, 5/17/2005. Khalid Adad can be reached at email@example.com.]
The United States is a magnificent entity, true and right, that works for the betterment of all mankind. Democracy! Freedom! Peace! Et cetera! Or that’s what you may think, if you care from the United States.
To many people in the U.S., this is a land of beneficent intentions. We don’t know exactly what the U.S. is doing in the world, but we do know we’re all for it. With every action, we see the same things: good intentions with good results, or good intentions that lead us to commit “mistakes.”
A perceptive, witty, high-profile liberal like Al Franken, who has documented the bullshit lies of the president, looks at the Iraq war, sees a mistake and says “we went over there with the best intentions,” but Bush “ignored all the planning” of the U.S. Army War College, and now our noble goals have gone astray.
That the mistake was not a mistake and the goals not noble, that the war was wrong, not just the “wrong war at the wrong time,” would never occur to him. His nationalist identity supersedes his identity as a “liberal,” so he says: Bush lied, true, but he lied with the best intentions.
People don’t want to see themselves as monsters and want to have a positive self-image. When we apply a label to ourselves, it becomes part of our identity. When others label themselves similarly, we identity with them, even if we’ve never met them. If we call ourselves “Americans,” then “American” will have a positive image, as will terms associated with it. These will keep their image, but lose their meaning.
This is how democracy, the idea that people should have a say in the decisions that affect them, to the extent they are affected, becomes “you will do whatever we tell you to.” Peace becomes war. Freedom becomes “we will rule over you for your benefit.” For us, these terms describe whatever the U.S. happens to be doing, whenever it happens to be doing it.
It’s easier to see why other countries do things than to see why we do. In 1990, Iraq went to war with Kuwait. Why? Saddam Hussein says he “defended Iraq’s honor” from the tiny gulf state, which was about to “reduce Iraqi women to 10-dinar prostitutes.”
We look at that and laugh – he wasn’t defending Iraq, he was attacking Kuwait. He invaded Kuwait to set up a puppet government, to control the oil and increase his own power. Obviously.
When our president, the ultimate symbol of the United States, sends the most incredible military force in the history of the world to Iraq he says it’s to protect people in the U.S. from Iraq. Later, he says his interest was actually to establish democracy. The Iraqis will have elections and, as Colin Powell put it, “the United States and its armed forces will go home, having made yet another friend.”
In this country, no one laughs. We associate this with our nation. The United States is a force for good – end of story.
If, in our efforts to establish a democracy in Iraq, we illegally rewrite Iraq’s laws without Iraqi participation and make democracy meaningless, or we ignore Iraqi opinion and do things our own way, that’s fine, it’s still democracy. How could the U.S. do anything undemocratic? Impossible! Whatever we do is democratic, by definition.
We feel a need to justify the government’s actions taken without our knowledge3 or input, even if we were lied to, even if they were carried out in secret because we wouldn’t have allowed them to be carried out if we had known. Nationalism can be good if it means we care about the people of our country, but nationalism can also prevent us from seeing the reality and judging the morality of what we’re doing.
We don’t assume what Saddam says is true, we look at what he does. When his actions and words don’t agree, his words are good for laughs and nothing else. We should look at ourselves the same way with an initial skepticism.
We shouldn’t assume whatever we happen to be doing is a boon to all the world. If we want to call ourselves Americans, and we want to be honest and moral, we need to look at our actions, not just words of amorphous meaning.
It’s far more important for us to criticize ourselves than it is to criticize others. If we want to promote democracy, freedom, peace and all the other wonderful things we say we do, we should ensure that our words match our deeds – anything else is complete hypocrisy.
Report this post as:
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Change Links September 2018 posted
More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre
Site Outage Friday
Change Links August 2018
Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land
More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke
Change Links 2018 July posted
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California
Change Links June 2018 posted
The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years
Unity Archive Project
Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi
CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police
Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies
California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings)
Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico
Change Links May 2018
Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
More Local News...
Paraphysique de psychosomatique
Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal
Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy
Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales
Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc
Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk
Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement
Creative Destruction Hack Diamonds Windows/iOS/Android - Creative Destruction Generator
The Dictatorship of Corporations
18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting
Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue
Creative Destruction Hack Mod Generator
Shopping du bashing
After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again
“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen
Probabilités de fin d'humanité
Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW
Propagande de virus, virus de propagande
Steer clear of work morality!
Sweatshop Lodge Ceremony Continues in US Fed Prisons Led by Inmates
Paraphysique de l'origami
The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally!
August 2018 Honduras Coup update
Du réussissement putréfié
Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges
Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts
More Breaking News...