Revolution #134, June 29, 2008
A July 4th Challenge
In 1890 the U.S. Army massacred 300 Lakota Native American people at Wounded Knee.
In 1945 the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people.
In 1968 U.S. soldiers massacred 400-500 unarmed people in the Vietnamese village of My Lai.
In 2004 U.S. troops laid siege to the Iraqi city of Fallujah, killing several thousand Iraqi civilians.
The very names of these places: WOUNDED KNEE... HIROSHIMA... MY LAI... FALLUJAH.... symbolize for many the long and bloody history of the United States. And there are many, many, MORE dates, places, and death counts... that can be added to this list.
On November 19, 2005, nine-year-old Eman Waleed was at home with her family in the Iraqi village of Haditha when U.S. Marines busted in the door. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying and shot him,” she told the BBC. “They went to my grandmother and killed her too. I heard an explosion. They threw a grenade under my grandfather’s bed.” Only Eman and her little brother were left alive in her family. Next door the Marines killed eight people, including four children. In another house U.S. soldiers dragged four men into a closet and shot them. After five hours of such terror on Haditha, U.S. troops had murdered 24 people.
Such war crimes are not an “aberration” or “isolated incident.” The U.S. war on Iraq was based on blatant lies. This is a war to strengthen U.S. empire and domination. And from the very beginning, it has been all about kicking down doors, murdering people, air strikes on villages, leveling whole cities, and torturing and killing prisoners.
In one country, in only five years, think of all the human carnage and social destruction caused by the United States: More than a million Iraqis dead. Four million driven from their homes.
Think about how the criminal nature of this SYSTEM goes back to its very roots: Founded on exploitation, including the vast wealth stolen from the labor of millions and millions of Africans kidnapped from their homes, packed into slave ships, and forced under the whip to work in America’s plantations. The near-genocide of the Native Americans. The spreading of this country from “sea to shining sea” through a war of aggression that robbed Mexico of huge expanses of territory.
Think about how throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, before Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States invaded, colonized, occupied, plundered, and dominated people and countries all around the world, including: Mexico, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Panama, Korea, Vietnam, Haiti, and Somalia.
Today, the U.S. sits atop a global system of capitalism-imperialism. And the very character and workings of this SYSTEM brings war, death, hunger, brutality, and humiliation for the vast majority of humanity throughout the planet. And there are millions of victims of this system right here in the “belly of the beast”:
The whole planet sees how the U.S. government abandoned the people of New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina and ever since. Look at how immigrants are labeled “criminals,” hunted down and rounded up in Gestapo-style raids at workplaces and neighborhoods. Look at how this system’s police routinely beat and murder people, especially Black youth.
This whole blood-soaked setup is protected by the most powerful, destructive military force ever in history. A military built off the great wealth extracted through exploitation in the “homeland” and all over the world. A military with bases in 130 countries. A military that has brought, and continues to bring, immense death and destruction around the globe. A military with thousands of nuclear weapons that give the U.S. the power to annihilate whole countries, or even the whole world, with the touch of the nuclear button.
This issue of Revolution will be out around the Fourth of July, a time when a lot of people—including a lot of progressive people—will get sentimental about the “promise of America.” Many of them will admit—they will even target and oppose—some of the crimes and horrors that have been carried out by this country and this government, and some of the ways that the profit-driven system of capitalism-imperialism viciously exploits people. They may criticize the daily ongoing repression and suppression in American society, and point to the hypocrisy of politicians of all stripes. But all too many will still return to, even cling to, a sort of bedrock belief that these horrors are somehow anomalies—departures from the real essence of America, departures from its “democratic ideals.”
SO LET US POSE A CHALLENGE: Spin a globe. Take almost any area in Latin America, Africa, Asia, or the Middle East and try to find a place where you could not find a similar—or even worse—record of American brutality, murder, and horror as we have sketched here. From Central Asia to southern Africa; from Central America and the Caribbean to Indonesia; from the Congo to Southeast Asia…and beyond.
Or take U.S. history over the past 100 or so years, and show us a time—just a 10-year stretch even—when the U.S. has NOT been murdering people wholesale, or financially and politically sponsoring such murder (either through puppets or proxies), or carrying out military aggression or occupation, in one or another oppressed nation. We don’t think you can.
If we are right, then can you really tell yourself (or others) that this repeated and pervasive behavior is NOT systemic? Can you tell yourself that each of these mountains of outrages is an exception, a case of a “fundamentally good society” gone astray from its promise and ideals? When atrocities are that repeated and that widespread and, frankly, that unmatched on a world scale—can you tell yourself that there is NOT something at the root of it, at the foundation, that drives the madness forward?
Or must you not instead confront the reality, fully, and set about analyzing the problem…and finding the solution?
Note to Readers: Download and print the poster version of the front page graphic, available online at revcom.us.
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