Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Some reasons to “love” this country

There are plenty of reasons to “love” this country, as people like former New York City prosecutor and mayor Rudolph Giuliani would tell us, although it is precisely people like him that cause some of us to wonder why. Giuliani has nothing better to do these days but be a well-paid TV ad pitchman and spokesperson for the extreme right; odd how just because a terrible catastrophe  occurs on someone’s watch (9-11) and allowed his city’s  police department (which already had a long history of corruption and civil rights abuses) to be set free from their accountability leash, he allegedly has “credibility” on what it means to “love” this country.  

Giuliani recently told an audience receptive to his increasingly far-right ignorance that the president does not “love” this country. His “insight” into Obama’s thought processes (possibly divined from an Ouija board, but more likely from his own hate) mean absolutely nothing beyond his own “opinion”—meaning that it is essentially worthless. Remember, this is the same man who told us that  police officers “save” black lives by killing unarmed black men who are selling untaxed cigarettes on sidewalks—and I’m sure he isn’t talking about by lung cancer. Most blacks are killed by fellow “gangstas,” and police seem loath to tangle with them; the unarmed and vulnerable are more typical “game.”

Thus not without cause has there been speculation on the Internet that Giuliani might be going “senile.” One of the symptoms of senility is a person losing self-control in thought and speech, revealing out loud what exists in the dark recesses of a paranoid, (and in the case of Giuliani) racist mind. Of course, Rudy does have his legion of defenders, playing on his supposed “heroic” public persona in the wake of 9 -11, but when one bigoted blowhard (Rush Limbaugh) goes to bat for another, the credibility level tends to add up to zero. 

The reality is that Giuliani’s credibility among the mainstream population was shot long ago, and he has no hope for further public office. The only way for him to make a living these days is having a reputation as a loose cannon in front of a right-wing audience willing to pay to be “entertained” by his antics. It is unfortunate that a few racists of Italian-American heritage (Giuliani, Rick Santorum, Tom Tancredo, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, etc.) tend to be far more vocal publicly than those of more “progressive” opinion—thus seen to be “speaking” for the community—but so it is.  On the other hand, like any group that has seen itself as stereotyped negatively, there is a need for many to act out their frustration of being unfairly “oppressed” on groups they see themselves as “superior” to, mainly racial minority groups. The same is true of people from India who are dark-skinned—usually denoting a lower “caste” in that country. Those like Dinesh “Rational Racist” D’Sousa and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal are examples of those who act out the “I’m not one of them” syndrome. And they call themselves “Americans”? Hating other groups to make yourself feel “better” about yourself is what it means to be “American”?

Let’s be frank: To hate the hater is not “un-American.” To hate other groups because of their race or religion is not “American.” Giuliani absurdly claims that Obama is a “communist” and a “terrorist lover.” His defenders applaud him for “speaking his mind.” I say he has lost his mind. Hey, didn’t 9-11 occur on his and George Bush’s watch, even though the Bush administration did have prior intelligence that an aircraft-based terrorist attack was in the works? Didn’t Ronald Reagan cut-and-run after the Beirut barracks bombing—rather than “stand tall” against Islamic extremists (for that matter, didn’t the Reagan administration tacitly support the Saddam Hussein regime)? Who “hated” America then?

In over six years, how many terrorist attacks have occurred on U.S. soil or against its overseas holdings during the Obama administration? None? Under whose watch was Osama bin-Laden eliminated, after more than seven years at large during the Bush administration? As Big Daddy  would say, “Mendacity, mendacity—always mendacity” from Obama’s detractors. Yes, it is true that Iraq is in a shambles, but whose fault is that? When did the U.S. muck-up its hands in a country it apparently it had no intelligent “intelligence” in regard to the violent sectarian reality on the ground? Oh yes, when we were told about those “weapons of mass destruction” and Al-Qaeda links that never existed. The bottom is that the right-wing warchickens were the ones who opened that Pandora’s Box of extremist violence, and they are too cowardly to “own” it once everything has gone wrong. 

Let’s just say that some of us don’t “hate” America—just some of the people in it. For many of us, bigoted hypocrites like Giuliani are one of those people.

Other reasons to “love” America:

The Seattle Weekly film critics waxed thoughtful last week about the recognition of the gay life style (or not enough of it) by the Oscar nomination a couple of actors, but completely ignored the controversy about the fact that none of the 20 acting nominees were non-whites—and plenty of those who were nominated were Brits, that is not American. You “love” this country by giving away a quintessentially American honor to non-Americans? After all, they don’t give Americans the British version of the award (BAFTA).  It is kind of a joke, because there are plenty of “foreign” performances every year just as good or better than that given by the British (but give them credit: they can sell any dumb American a sack of dog doo with that “accent”). There is of course a “foreign language” category, but that has nothing to do with performers.  I say British films with British actors should go in a “foreign films” category, to be honest about it; it is unfair not just to other American actors, but to the rest of the world. As far as I’m concerned, the arrogant, elitist British pose is more foreign to American cultural “ideology” than that of other countries (except maybe that of the French).

More reasons:

Alabama congressman Mo Brooks, who has a history of virulent anti-immigrant views, and  who has suggested that Obama be “impeached” for his handling of immigration, recently blamed the outbreak of measles and other diseases on illegal immigrant children, rather than the well-publicized fact of paranoia of many “native” parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated because of “concerns” about possible infection. “It might be the enterovirus that has a heavy presence in Central and South America that has caused deaths of American children over the past 6 to 9 months.” There is no evidence that there is any truth to this, but then again, Lou Dobbs didn’t need the help of facts either when he was making similar claims on CNN.  Of course, one reason Brooks might believe this is because he is ignorant of the fact that children in Latin America actually have a higher vaccination rate than American children.

I’ve mentioned this story before, but I was the target of such ignorance when I worked at the airport. During the so-called swine flu “epidemic” a few years ago, a flight attendant asked me in all seriousness if I had the “flu,” even though I did not appear “ill” and was not. She clearly was reacting to my assumed “ethnicity” and the stereotypes thereof.  I just glared at her, to which she backtracked somewhat, claiming that she was only “joking.” 

Where else is the “love” to be found? The Stranger has informed us of its ongoing efforts to educate the public concerning a husky-voiced, high-testosterone and racist white female Seattle police officer named Cynthia Whitlach, who apparently accosted an elderly black male last year who was using a golf putter as a walker. Despite having no reason to do so save her own dark demons, she harassed and then arrested him for being “uncooperative.” Interestingly, Whitlach wrote on her Facebook page about “black people’s paranoia that white people are out to get them,” and she couldn’t have proved it any more thoroughly by her own actions. For some reason, this incident was never reported to the Office of Police Accountability despite the ongoing Justice Department oversight of SPD “reform”; however, some pestering and prodding by outside agitators has forced the people to whom it may concern to at least acknowledge the episode. Still, it demonstrates the fact that nothing has changed in the SPD’s culture. 

And then there is the story about how the police in the rural town of Pasco, where the majority of the population are Hispanic farm laborers, views the citizenry as their own private shooting gallery. In the past six months, police their have shot and killed four people—more, we are told, than all the people killed by police in Germany (and Britain) in the past three years. The latest shooting of an orchard worker, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, is alleged to have occurred when he started throwing rocks at police, reason unknown. Is that the best story the police could come up with? A video of the incident apparently shows police firing five shots at a fleeing Montes, then shows him stopping and facing them—presumably in compliance with their demand to stop so that they would stop shooting at him—but police simply fired three more shots, killing him. 

In this case like many others across the nation, we see police clearly going beyond necessary force. It is also likely that they instigated an incident with a man they had a “history” of run-ins with. What were they hoping to accomplish by harassing a man who didn’t like police because of prior experience with them? Why can’t they just leave people alone just because they don’t like the way they look, or they have an “attitude” that needs to be “addressed” by intimidation? Montes’ actions were far less egregious and his shooting less justifiable than that of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO; yet that case not only was headlines around the country, but front page news in the Seattle Times. Yet the Times has mostly just ignored the Pasco shootings. One suspects that it is a matter of internal politics, especially since this “equal opportunity” employer employs not one “real” Latino in its newsroom, and has its own history of dispersing anti-immigrant propaganda. But then again, what does it matter? In the other three shooting incidents, Pasco police were “cleared” of any wrongdoing. 

And these are things we are supposed to “love” about our country.

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