Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Jan. 6, 2014
“Why do you hate America?”
This is a remarkably easy question to provoke. One might, for instance, expose elements of this nation’s brutal foreign policy. Ask a single probing question about, say, U.S. complicity in the overthrow of governments in Guatemala, Iran, or Chile and thin-skinned patriots will come out of the woodwork to defend their country’s honor by accusing you of being “anti-American.”
Of course, this allegation might lead me to ponder how totalitarian a culture must be to even entertain such a concept, but I’d rather employ the vaunted Arundhati Roy Defense™.
As Ms. Roy asks: "What does the term 'anti-American' mean? Does it mean you are anti-jazz or that you're opposed to freedom of speech? That you don't delight in Toni Morrison or John Updike? That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias?”
When pressed about my “hate” for “my” country, I sometimes reply: “I don’t hate America. In fact, I think it’s one of the best countries anyone ever stole.”
One-liners aside, I do have a confession to make: If by “America” you mean the elected/appointed officials and the corporations that fund/own them, well, I do hate that America -- with passion and plenty of justification.
For starters, I hate America for the near-extermination and ongoing oppression of this continent’s indigenous population. I hate it for its role in the African slave trade and for targeting civilians with atomic bombs.
I could go on for pages but I’ll sum up with this: I hate America for being a white supremacist capitalist patriarchal ableist sexist racist ageist homophobic transphobic classist speciesist hypocrisy.
After a declaration like that, you know what comes next: If you hate America so much, why don’t you leave?
Leave America? That would potentially put me on the other end of U.S. foreign policy. No thanks.
I kinda like how Paul Robeson answered a very similar question before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956: "My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I'm going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you. And no fascist-minded people like you will drive me from it. Is that clear?"
However, since none of my people died to build anything, I could instead borrow from historian William Blum, who proclaims, “I’m committed to fighting U.S. foreign policy, the greatest threat to peace and happiness in the world, and being in the United States is the best place for carrying out the battle. This is the belly of the beast, and I try to be an ulcer inside of it.”
Needless to say, none of the above does a thing to placate the yellow ribbon crowd -- you know, the folks who tell you they’re proud to be an American… as if they had anything to do with it.
What offends these flag-wavers most is when someone like me makes use of the freedom they claim to adore.
According to their twisted logic, I am ungrateful for my liberty if I have the audacity to exercise it. For example: If I make the choice to not salute the flag, somehow I’m not worthy of having the freedom to make the choice to not salute the flag.
These so-called patriots not only claim to celebrate freedom while refusing my right to enjoy it, they also conveniently ignore the social movements that fought for and won such freedoms.
I certainly hate their America and, sometimes, having the courage to admit what we hate is the first step towards creating what we can love.
Note: To continue conversations like this, come see Mickey Z. in person on Jan. 11 at Bluestockings Bookstore in NYC.
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on a couple of obscure websites called Facebook and Twitter. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.
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