Thursday, February 21, 2008


(From the Archives) April 2006. Caught up on Bush&Co last night and the evidence of deliberate deception is overwhelming.

So here’s my suggestion: There’s a town called Narrowsburg in NY State. Let’s send the 29 percent of Americans who still support Bush there and let them live out their narrow worldviews in this aptly named place while the rest of us try to salvage what’s left of our democratic process and once vibrant system of checks and balances.

The deception started well before Colin Powell’s presentation to the Security Council but, as Howard Zinn notes in “Removing America’s Blinders” (The Progressive, 4.24.06), this speech, broadcast one month before the US invaded Iraq, “may have set a record for the number of falsehoods told in one talk.”

WMD evidence cited by Powell includes “satellite photos, audio records, reports from informants, with precise statistics on how many gallons of this and that existed for chemical warfare.”

And whee didn’t the newspapers and reading public jump on that irrefutable-evidence bandwagon as enterprising young conservatives launched their yellow ribbon magnet movement?

Edna St. Vincent Millay expressed her outrage at the outcome of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial by penning a chilling sonnet that begins
Read history. So learn your place in time, and go to sleep—all this was done before.

We do it better, fouling every shore; we disinfect, we do not probe the crime....

What would Vincent say today, when evidence of “the mendacity of our high officials” is so clearly fouling every shore?

Read history, so learn your place in time. That’s Zinn’s message too.

Zinn’s short list of lies our presidents have told to justify American wars follows:

President Polk and American slave-owners wanted half of Mexico, so Polk declared that Mexico “shed American blood upon American soil” and went to war.

President McKinley announced that America wanted to liberate Cuba from Spanish control, “but the truth is that we really wanted Spain out ... so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations.” Polk, likewise, said that we wanted to “civilize” Filipinos, but we really just wanted “that valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos” in order to get it.

President Wilson declared that we had no choice but to enter WWI in order to “make the world safe for democracy,” but the war was really fought “to make the world safe for the Western imperial powers.”

President Truman “lied when he said [that] the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was ‘a military target.’”

And everyone—Kennedy (US level of involvement), Johnson (Gulf of Tonkin), Nixon (secret Cambodian bombings)—“lied about Vietnam ... all of them claiming it was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really [the US wanted] to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.”

Then [Pez-dispenser] Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada and said that the tiny nation of Grenada was a threat to our nation.

Then Bush the Elder “lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country” and “lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991” [on the day that his son Neil went to trial, thus effectively killing the story]. This invasion was “hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait” but was, really, to “assert US power in the oil-rich Middle East.”

And the lies continue to hemmorhage.

Zinn points out the obvious—that, when leaders throw around the terms such as national interest, national security, national defense, most citizens assume that they are talking about We The People, but they’re actually talking about profits and markets, about protecting big business and increasing its wealth.

Zinn also points out that the WHO ranked the US 37th in overall health performance in 2000.

This rating was based on money our country spent per capita for health care.

And here’s a sobering (if oft-repeated) fact: in the richest nation in the world, one in five children is born into poverty.

(Remember those New Orleans photographs? There are a whole lot more poor people out there, even if the nightly news rarely serves them up for public consumption.)

We’re the most powerful country in the world, yet 40 countries have a better record of infant mortality rates that we do.

Cuba does.

We lead the world in the number of people in prison (yet resist charging our seemingly insane president with treason).

It’s clear our policies consider some people expendable. And it’s clear that Bush&Co are rewarding the megarich at the expense of the rest of us.

Our history of “slaveowner against slave, landlord against tenant, corporation against worker, rich against poor ... [of] ethnic cleansing, in which millions of Indians were driven off their land by means of massacres and forced evacuations ... our long history of slavery, segregation, and racism ... [our] record of imperial conquest in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, our shameful wars against small countries a tenth our size: Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq. And the lingering memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” tell a story that should make us all hang our heads until we summon up the courage to get out there and protest what is being done in our name.

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