Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Politics 101: Know the Difference between WE and THEY

WE didn't do this. THEY did this.
Apologies for writing something personal, but this is a special anniversary for me.

I was born in 1957, so I was six years old when President Kennedy was assassinated. At the time, I didn't even  know what the word "assassinated" meant, much less understand what it meant that this particular President had been assassinated. But I saw how the news affected my parents, and all the other adults, and I realized I needed to start paying attention to the news -- and especially to politics, which previously had seemed boring. 

In 1968, when Senator Kennedy was assassinated, I was only eleven, but I had been paying close attention for five years. I knew what "assassinated" meant, and I knew what it meant that this particular Senator had been assassinated. To the country, and to the world, it meant that we were destined for a long and horrible war. For me personally, it meant if I didn't get out of the United States in the next seven years, my life would be in danger. 

Not only would I be in danger of being shot and killed, but I would be in danger of being forced to kill other people, innocent people who had never done anything to me or anyone else. And I knew that if anything like this happened, it would destroy my life. So I made a vow -- a silent vow -- a mute promise from an eleven-year-old boy to his future self -- that nothing like this would ever happen.

From that day on, I schemed and plotted (as much as I could at that age) and prayed (very often, and very hard) for a way out -- a way out of the United States, a way out of Vietnam, a way out of the future to which I was apparently doomed.

One thing led to another, and three years later -- miraculously (as far as I was concerned) -- an opportunity presented itself. And I jumped at it.

Fifty years ago this week, I was fourteen years old, and just beginning my studies in a foreign country. Since then I have hardly ever ventured back to the land of my birth. And whenever I have done so, it has been a matter of necessity -- never one of choice.


Occasionally, people who have read my blog have asked how I've managed to form a more or less independent view of American politics. 

And the answer is: I ran away from it -- physically, mentally, and spiritually too. I ran away physically when I was fourteen years old, and I've been running away mentally and spiritually for the last fifty years. 

I feel horrible for the people who are stuck in the USA and I'm glad I'm not one of them. I can't take American politics seriously anymore. I can only make fun of it.

But it didn't take me 50 years to get like this. After just a few of those years, I could see the USA in a way that none of my American friends or family could or can or ever will, because I've been looking at it from the outside and they've been living in it. 

I wish I could say more. Or maybe I wish I could say less. When I look back on the America of the past 50 years, I see horrible tragedies, oppressive propaganda, and outrageous lies -- lies stacked on other lies like firewood -- and not much else. 

September 1971 was a turning point in my life, a blessing beyond compare. John Denver was sitting at the top of the pop charts with "Take Me Home, Country Roads", but I was thinking more along the lines of "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place". 

Fifty years later, it still bothers me when I find smart, dissident writers saying things like, "We dropped tons of Agent Orange on Vietnam," or "We invaded Afghanistan and left it in shambles," or "We destroyed Iraq over weapons they didn't have, and we knew they didn't have them."

Guys: It wasn't "we"! 

I didn't drop any Agent Orange on Vietnam. I didn't invade Afghanistan. I didn't destroy Iraq. I didn't commit any war crimes of any kind. I cried out against them.

I didn't vote for any of the politicians who wanted these things to happen. I didn't support any of the military people who carried them out. 

I despised them. I despised them all. And I still do. 

If nothing else, we need to stop thinking of the criminals who run the warfare state as "we". 

And then -- maybe -- WE can make a little bit of progress against them.