11.03.2006

Mr. America . . . Tear Down This Wall!

Imagine that you are a cinderblock. Imagine that all of us Americans are each a cinderblock. And that we are part of a wall. We are stuck in that wall, unable to move, unable to escape.

The mortar binding us all together in this impenetrable wall is an iron-like mixture . . . of lies. We are all bricks in a wall of lies. It's too late to opt out of being a part of the wall - we're already there. In fact, we've become so embedded in the wall, that we're unable to struggle for one tiny nanometer of wiggle room.

We are the wall, impervious, impenetrable. Those of us bricks who do see and hear the truth are unable to act on it. We're stuck.

Be clear . . . it isn't that the wall is between us and the truth. It isn't that the truth is on one side and we're on the other. Truth is, in fact, all around us, on both sides.

We haven't always been the wall. But the wall is, in truth, older than we can remember. It certainly wasn't built by the Bush Administration, although they have contributed steely strength to the mortar of lies. The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang would not have been able to perpetrate such lies if the wall was not already fully in place. Here is just a soundbite from Robert Parry at OpEd, with "All the President's Lies" . . .
Bush . . . appears confident that he can continue to sell a distorted interpretation of the evidence to a gullible U.S. public. Basically, it appears that the President believes that the American people are very stupid.
Many Americans are as dumb as a bag of bricks. Bush knows that the rest of us are frozen.

A sense of how the wall came about is ably described by this quote from a comment on a post ("Fine Passages from Elsewhere") at Andrew Bard Schmookler's See No Evil:
Excerpt [quoting a German university philologist who lived through the WWII Nazi era]:

But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ‘43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ‘33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jew swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed…
This Newsweek piece by Evan Thomas and Andrew Romano in August of this year, "History: How American Myths Are Made", focuses the matter:
The story of workaday men and women rising to greatness is one of America's most cherished myths. As a term, myth is much misunderstood; hearing it, many people take the word to mean "lie," when in fact a myth is a story, a narrative, that explains individual and national realities—how a person or a country came to be, why certain things happen in the course of a life or of history, and what fate may have in store for us. Myths are a peculiar hybrid of truth and falsehood, resentments and ambitions, dreams and dread. We all have personal myths running through our heads, and some chapters would withstand fact checking while others would fail miserably.

Nations are the same way. In America, the underlying faith is that in a truly free and democratic society, every man and woman has the potential to realize greatness, that freedom and openness liberate and ennoble ordinary citizens to do extraordinary things. The Triumph of the Common Man is a myth deeply rooted in American culture, and unlike some popular myths, it is true enough. Tom Hanks may have played a fictional character in "Saving Private Ryan"—the small-town American called to arms—but World War II was won by a million citizen soldiers very much like him.

There is, unfortunately, another, less admirable myth that Americans concoct to explain crises and disasters. It is rooted in the paranoid streak that runs through pop culture, the conspiracy theories that blame some sinister (and usually make-believe) Other for whatever went wrong. In 1950, many frightened Americans wanted to know: how could Russia have gotten the bomb so soon after America won World War II? There must be traitors among us! railed Sen. Joe McCarthy and other conspiracists, as they tore up the country looking for communists under every bed.

One might expect Hollywood's Oliver Stone to drum up a conspiracy theory to explain 9/11. He is, after all, known as the director of a movie, "JFK," that essentially accused Lyndon Johnson, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of killing President Kennedy. That Stone did not go to the dark side to explain the attacks of September 11 tells us something about the American sensibility toward that day. True, Stone was under pressure from the studio not to make the story political or conspiratorial. It is also true, though, that public-opinion surveys show that many Americans (42 percent in a recent Zogby poll) believe the government must be covering up something about 9/11, and many blame Bush for using the attacks to justify invading Iraq. Scaremongers on the Internet and Michael Moore's entertaining but outlandish "Fahrenheit 9/11" have fueled popular suspicions of devious plots. . . .

Myths evolve as circumstances and needs change. The Founders at first portrayed Lexington and Concord as an unprovoked attack on innocents; "Bloody Butchery, by the British," proclaimed a printed broadside of the time, illustrated with 40 small coffins. The propagandists were trying to stir up sympathy for the rebellion and a desire for revenge. Only a later generation of popularizers, who wanted to inspire a young democracy, stressed the bold resistance of the Minutemen who "fired the shot heard round the world." . . .
That is how the wall was built. If you sniff, you can smell the stench of boiled frogs in the hardened mortar . . . and also in your clothes, your hair, your Starbuck's latte.

What are these lies which bind us? Let's enumerate a few, contrasting them with the truth . . .

  • With all our faults, we're still "the greatest country in the world." The evidence against this myth is overwhelming. Let's look at some statistics provided by Infoplease:
    * The US ia not among the top ten countries with lowest infant mortality rates;
    * Nor is it a top tenner in life expectancy;
    * The US does't make the top 30 list of countries with the least disparity of income between rich and poor;
    * We are only 10th on the list of most livable countries;
    * We are 14th in the world in per capita foreign aid spent;
    * . . . "on any given day more than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States, and that over the course of a year, 13.5 million spend time in prison or jail. African Americans are imprisoned at a rate roughly seven times higher than whites, and Hispanics at a rate three times higher than whites . . ."
    * We are the 17th (of 159 countries studied) most corrupt country on the planet;
    * The US is responsible for 48% of the world's military expenditures and has the highest per capita expenditure military expenditure ($1,604).

  • Through democracy, we will prevail. It has worked in the past, it will get us through again. The system works. The system may "work", but it works only for a few very rich and powerful people and cabals. By committing to "representative democracy" the framers ensured an extremely limited participation by the people. With their vast resources, some of them virtually invisible from the outside, these "insiders" have managed to nullify the only avenue - voting. We can now vote all we want, but we vote for lies, then our votes are stolen.

    Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States exposes and catalogues the truth here.

  • We are strong, with the best, the mightiest, military in the world. The truth: we may indeed possess the most advanced technology, but we just haven't "won" any wars for a very long time. It is a myth that we won either world war. We certainly haven't won the Korean War. We didn't win in VietNam. We didn't win "The Cold War". We are not winning the "War on Terror", nor will we.

  • Our government system is derived from the will of the people; it is "of, by, and for the people". See above. We are not a democracy. Even with the Democratic Party in power, we are an oligarchy and a police state. The government has always either operated independently of the people's wishes and/or has manufactured consent with lies.

    In "The U.S. fear of losing power which it doesn’t have", at RINF, Abid Ullah Jan says:
    Many analysts believe that the United State has failed in Iraq. In fact, it has not.

    Analysts, who measure the American success by the yard stick of Bush and Blair’s rhetoric for democracy and liberation, and the noble causes for invasion promoted by the “mainstream” media, are right in their conclusion. But the problem is that achieving those noble causes was never the objective of war on Iraq and Afghanistan . . .

    In a contest between foreign power and native resistance, foreign power — however much material and military strength it can wield — will always lose regardless of staying in the Urban center or outside in the deserts and mountains. Even in an era when a sense of racial superiority and colonial entitlement led Western nations to have few qualms about subjugating others, eventually native power based on native knowledge and determined resistance would reassert itself. Nowadays the reclamation of power asserts itself much more quickly but it always rises out of the same awareness: this is our land, not yours; it is our life and we must live our way of life.

    The tragedy is that American leadership, both democrat and republican, does not seem to be in a position to understand and recognize that vis-à-vis the world suffering under its de facto colonization, the United States does not now possess the power that it fears losing. This denial of the reality will keep pushing it into more wars regardless of who is in power in Washington. That will ensure the actual failure of the United States and total destruction in the rest of the world it is trying to conquer completely . . .

  • At our core, we all want peace. Our military forces are engaged in a fight for freedom and peace for our people and the people of the whole world. We always have been of the most belligerent countries in the world. Yes, many Americans want peace, but more easily justify aggression after aggression. The list of our wars is easy to find. They have been waged to produce power, not peace. Our wars generate wealth, not peace. Our wars result in hate, creating more wars. Our current wars are stimulating more "terror". That so many of us believe that we must win peace by waging war is even more proof that we've bought the lie, the whole lie, and nothing but the lie.

  • Our economy is strong. We provide many valuable products and services to the people of the world. The truth is that we're in big trouble. As a country and as individuals, we are drowning in debt. It's not just Iraq, although that's an alarming part of it. We just don't own us anymore. We're an economy built on debt and spec. And our currency - "the Almighty Dollar" - is not so almighty. In fact:
    The U.S. Dollar is kaput. Confidence in the currency is eroding by the day.

    A report in The Sydney Morning Herald stated, "Australia's Treasurer Peter Costello has called on East Asia's central bankers to 'telegraph' their intentions to diversify out of American investments and ensure an 'orderly adjustment'....Central banks in China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong have channeled immense foreign reserves into American government bonds, helping to prop up the US dollar and hold down interest rates,' said Costello, but 'the strategy has changed.'"

    Indeed, the strategy has changed. The world has come to its senses and is moving away from the green slip of paper that is currently mired in $8.3 trillion of debt.

    The central banks now want to reduce their USD reserves while trying to do as little damage to their own economies as possible. That'll be difficult. If a sell-off ensues, it will start a stampede for the exits.

    There's little hope of an "orderly adjustment" as Costello opines; that's just false optimism. When the greenback begins listing; things will turn helter-skelter quickly.

    In September, we saw early signs that the dollar was in trouble. The trade deficit registered at $70 billion but the Net Foreign Security Purchases (NFSP) came in at a paltry $33 billion. That means that our main trading partners are no longer buying back our debt which puts downward pressure on the greenback. The Fed had two choices; either raise interest rates substantially or let the currency fall. Given the tenuous condition of the housing bubble and the proximity of the midterm elections, the Fed did neither.

    A month later, in October, the trade deficit hit $69.9 billion but, then, without warning, a miracle occurred. The Net Foreign Security Purchases skyrocketed to a "historic high" of $116.8 billion; covering both months' shortfalls almost to the penny.

    Coincidence?

    Not likely. Either the skittish central banks decided to "stock up" on their dollar-denominated investments or the Federal Reserve (and their banking-buddies) is buying back its own debt to float us through the elections.

    This is exactly the kind of hanky-panky that people expected when Greenspan stopped publishing the M-3 last March keeping the rest of us in the dark about what was really going on with the money supply.

    Are we supposed to believe that the skeptical central banks suddenly doubled up on their T-Bills while they're (publicly) moaning about the dollar's weakness and threatening to diversify?

    That's a stretch.

    According to the Wall Street Journal the Chinese Central-bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan stated unequivocally that "We think we've got enough." The Chinese presently have nearly $1 trillion in USD and US Treasuries.

    "Enough"?

    The United States runs a $200 billion per year trade deficit with China. If they've "got enough" we're dead-ducks. After all, it doesn't take a sell-off to kill the dollar, just unwillingness on the part of the main players to stop purchasing at the same rate.

    Of course, everyone in Washington already knew that doomsday was approaching. That's the way the system was designed from the very beginning. It's all part of the madcap scheme to "starve the beast" and transfer the nation's wealth to a handful of western plutocrats. That's explains why the Fed and the White House whirred along like two spokes on the same wheel; every policy calculated to thrust the country headlong toward disaster. . . .
    That was a clip from "The Dollar's Full System Meltdown" by Mike Whitney at OpEd News.

  • The Bush Administration is an anomaly, a fluke. When it is gone, we will be back to normal. Oh, God no! 'Though this administration might be the most transparent, it is not the first nor will it be the last to act as it does. The most recent predecessor was just as duplicitous and just the latest in a continuing architecture of deceit and deception.

    It is time to redefine "normal" as "same old same old".

  • The USA is the best-educated country in the world. We're the smartest. Oh? Read this:
    U.S. falls in education rank compared to other countries
    Story posted: 10-04-2005 07:07 by Elaine Wu, U-Wire

    The United States is falling when it comes to international education rankings, as recent studies show that other nations in the developed world have more effective education systems.

    In a 2003 study conducted by UNICEF that took the averages from five different international education studies, the researchers ranked the United States No. 18 out of 24 nations in terms of the relative effectiveness of its educational system.

    Another prominent 2003 study, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, shows a steady decline in the performance of American students from grades 4 to 12 in comparison to their peers in other countries.

    In both studies, Finland, Australia, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands and the United Kingdom beat the United States, while the Asian nations of South Korea, Japan and Singapore ranked first through third, respectively . . .

  • America is devoted to bringing freedom and democracy to all peoples. No. Period. We try to export capitalism, not democracy. Our history of supporting repressive dictatorships and engineering coups against democratic governments is long and disgusting.

  • America and its values are under attack and in serious danger from "terrorists". Our current military and overt and covert foreign and domestic intelligence activities and curtailment of our rights are necessary to protect us. Our military, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, is fighting not for the freedom of US citizens. As they fight, our own government is assaulting those rights and freedoms. Our military is fighting for multinational corporations and their profits. The longer they fight, the more the world hates us. The longer they fight, the higher the risk of terrorist attacks.


For further reading, try The Freeware Hall of Fame's "American Myths - and their realities" by Rey Barry. At the end of the piece, he lists "ten false myths most Americans believe", each linked to an explanation:

  • "The US separates church and state"

  • "Justice will triumph"

  • "We have self-government"

  • "You cannot be forced to incriminate yourself"

  • "Americans have free speech"

  • "Americans have free radio and TV"

  • "No man is above the law"

  • "Corporate political contributions aren't bribery"

  • "The best is yet to come"

  • "Abner Doubleday originated baseball"


I don't think we're going to tear down The Wall of Lies. We have built it because it's comfortable. The sacrifice required at the personal and national level is not appealing. Neither is the attention, participation, and patience that will be needed.

It is possible that at some point, the wall will come down, but not by our hand.