Freedom … Freedom to Oppress

I don’t often post on this blog anymore; it seems to be a repository for my Twitter tweets. But sometimes, you just gotta. Tonight, as the Fourth of July (Independence Day here in the United States) slips into the fifth, I want to talk about what being American means to me and also to share an interesting article written by one of my favorite writers, UT-Austin Journalism Professor Robert Jensen.

Flag-waving Americans might not like what he has to say, and those same Americans might not like my sentiments either. If you have to categorize me, I guess you could call me “Anti-Imperialistic.” Why? Just look at what the United States has done to people in other nations over the years. This is not recent, I’m not talking about Afghanistan or Iraq specifically, although those countries do come to mind. I’m not even just reaching back 10 years to the Balkan conflicts that we helped orchestrate. American imperialism has been hard at work all over the globe since early in the last century. In other words, for well over 100 years.

You shouldn’t love the American people, you should hate us — we’re the enemy.

~~ Robert Jensen, Professor of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin.

While those words may seem harsh, especially on this holiday, they are true. That was taken from an article Jensen wrote at TomPaine.com, entitled Few are Guilty, But All are Responsible, dated August 6, 2008 (also reprinted in the Austin-American Statesman under the title “We should hold ourselves responsible for our government’s crimes around the world“). In the article, Jensen explores the countless ways that the United States has used its considerable economic and military power to inflict economic sanctions and hardships, to destroy entire nations and cause countless deaths to citizens of other nations all across the globe. He draws parallels to the Bible that cannot be ignored. The article is a great read and fodder for some contemplation.

As for me, I am grateful for the liberties that I DO have by my simple accident of birth. I can sit in air-conditioned comfort in my non-foreclosed upon home, safe from government scrutiny, and express opinions contrary to public sentiment without fear of reprisal. If I don’t want to, I don’t have to think about other people elsewhere who don’t enjoy those freedoms, who are punished — nay, even risk being killed by their governments — for speaking out. Or people who by their own misfortune of being born in the “wrong place” suffer harm at the hands of the U.S. No, I don’t have to think about that at all. I have the freedom to stick my head in the sand. Hey, if that action is good enough for our government, it’s good enough for me, right? Right?

Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam. Now please pull your head out of your ass.

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Wake up, folks.

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