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Est. April 5, 2002
Sept 16, 2021 - Issue 879
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If all of its flaws were minimized and the historical record was suspended for a moment, the U.S. was once a nation that other nations sought to emulate.

It was a democratic republic, that is, res publica, a “thing of the people.” Its citizens could vote for their leaders and, through direct contact with those leaders (think the House of Representatives, the closest body to the people), the citizenry could have an effect on their society. It hasn’t worked out that way, not when you consider the level of poverty, the condition of the housing stock among low-wage workers, the condition of schools in the poorest neighborhoods, the closing of health care facilities in places where they are most needed, and the level of food insecurity and hunger among our poorest citizens. Yet, we are told by the elected “leaders” that things are fine, that the economy is humming along as it should.

Although much of those lies most recently started during the term of the most recent former occupant of the Oval Office, who has proven himself to be one of the most accomplished liars and con-men that America has ever produced. His patter and schtick were slick enough to rope in a sizable proportion of the electorate, such that, even as he has been shown to have been an incompetent and deranged in his operation as president, about a quarter of the American electorate have ignored reality and would follow him over the cliff. Lemmings would not follow such a creature.

Reality is much different than what the leaders tell us it is. The people, especially the most vulnerable, are at the mercy of a system that, because it doesn’t see them, can ignore them and cause them to suffer greatly when that suffering should not be occurring in a just nation. In the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, workers should not be forced into jobs that threaten their very lives. They are taking the pittance of unemployment benefits (when they can get them), supplemented by a not so generous payment from the federal government during the pandemic. The answer from Republicans and other right-wingers? Cut off their benefits and, when they can’t eat, they’ll go back to work under any conditions. Like their favorite ex-president, cruelty is the point.

These problems of the nation have been ignored for so long that they seem normal and, if things are normal, why should anyone change them? All of the problems that go unsolved are happening in this day of a pandemic that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives in the context of a crisis of climate change and global heating, which are causing “natural” disasters like fires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes that are happening with great frequency when they should happen once in a century or at even greater intervals.

That’s just the “natural” part of the disasters that have struck the nation. The other disaster is social, which makes it an economic one, as well. Structural racism. Why is that tolerated when it is clearly shown that it exists and has caused a large percentage of our people to suffer generational deprivation and blocked black Americans from enjoying all of the freedoms that others take for granted? As well, structural racism and all of its attendant handmaidens have deprived the nation and the world of some of the most brilliant minds that could be working to overcome the ills that face humanity, if it were not for the prejudice and hatred that keep them out of our research labs, our universities, and the public sphere.

Another disaster that has struck the U.S. is hubris. Hubris, excessive pride or self-confidence, has caused the elected leadership of the nation to engage with the world as if it were a master of it and not just a small part of a wildly diverse planet. After the fall of the Soviet Union some three decades ago, the U.S. celebrated its position as the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. Powerful in wealth and its military. Powerful in its accomplishments in science and technology. Powerful in its image of itself. All of the people did not share this image of the all-powerful nation, but the enthusiasm of the ruling class dragged along a substantial percentage of the people.

What did these rulers want from the rest of the world? Everything. They wanted the oil and they wanted the minerals and they wanted the sweat of poorer nations to make cheap consumer goods. All of this, they got. To maintain some of it, they had to go to war, and the wars became endless and the substance of the people was poured into the war machine. In other words, they were following in the same path that the Soviet Union took years ago. They, too, were most powerful (still are, to a certain extent), but you can’t starve the people nearly to death to feed a war machine. The U.S. has followed the Soviet plan to great extent and is “hollowing out” its people to feed the war machine. That’s the language that was used by the founders in declaring independence from Great Britain. The king was “hollowing out” the people of the colonies to bring the wealth home to England. Basically, that was the impetus of the start of what was termed the American Revolution.

In the U.S.A., an overwhelming percentage of the federal budget goes to the military and “defense,” a term that is barely able to be described in its detail. And that gaping maw demands more and more every year. That part of the national budget is the most wasteful and the most polluting. Its parts and agencies are not controlled in any way by environmental or common sense regulations. It just wants to be fed more, every year. It is “hollowing out” the people and they are suffering. Worst of all, they believe the flim-flam men and women who tell them lies and feed them propaganda, starting with the con-man who was president, the star of a “reality” television show that was anything but real.

Eyes wide open, the U.S. marched or dropped into Afghanistan after 9/11 to hunt Osama bin Laden, thus starting a 20-year war, apparently oblivious of the Soviet Union’s defeat and retreat from the same battleground. Trillions of dollars were spent and nobody seems to know where the money went. In one of the more sane moments of a chief executive, President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans who worked with the Americans were flown out of Kabul. The chaotic withdrawal was criticized by politicians on both sides of the aisle, but most of them should be thankful for the short memories of the American people, for most of them were responsible for the crime of making war on a nation that did not attack the U.S. They, in effect, engaged in war crimes and are responsible for the trillions of dollars misspent and the lives lost in the tens or hundreds of thousands. They will escape with their hides because no one will charge them with their crimes and they know it. It’s why they can be so bold and loud in condemning the withdrawal from a country that is owed untold reparations for the damage, death, and destruction that came as a result of the U.S. invasion.

No one should wonder that large segments of the population are susceptible to propaganda. And there are so many outlets for the lies and propaganda. Credibility of American institutions is at an all-time low and people are able to pick and choose how they want to be influenced, to the extent that facts do not matter anymore. Science does not matter anymore. Not much matters except the unfounded opinions that someone with a microphone might be spouting. President Biden, like him or not, faces the monumental task of bringing most of the country together, after four years of a president whose daily life thrived on chaos, much of which he created. For him, cruelty is the point.

BlackCommentator.com Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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David A. Love, JD
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