An open letter to the signatories of the NY Times ad "Is This America?"

YES, This IS the United States of America—We Need to Move Beyond That in the Interests of Humanity

December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On December 10, a full-page ad appeared in the New York Times under the headline, “IS THIS AMERICA?” with a large image of an American flag at half-mast in the background. The ad calls out:


Much of what is in the ad are good sentiments and a lot of what motivates the signers is positive. But this message comes wrapped—graphically and ideologically—in “America” and the American flag, a package that is not only not good but will lead you away from actually overcoming these forms of hatred and violence.

After all, what is “America” (the United States)?

This country and the “American way of life” are built on land stolen through genocide and on the backs of slaves kidnapped from Africa. It survives off vicious exploitation. It is enforced with a massive army that wreaks havoc and mayhem in places that you’ve heard about and places you probably haven’t.

In BAsics, Bob Avakian speaks to what this country is built on:

BOB AVAKIAN    The Vision, the Works, the Leadership for a New Stage of Communist Revolution    GET INTO BA!

Now, of course, slavery was not the only factor that played a significant part in the emergence of the U.S. as a world power, whose economic strength underlies its massive military force. A major historical factor in all this was the theft of land, on a massive scale, from Mexico as well as from native peoples. But, in turn, much of that conquest of land was, for a long period of time up until the Civil War, largely to expand the slave system. “Remember the Alamo,” we are always reminded. Well, many of the “heroes” of the Alamo were slave traders and slave chasers....And expanding the slave system was a major aim of the overall war with Mexico, although that war also led to the westward expansion of the developing capitalist system centered in the northern United States. (BAsics 1:2)

The rulers of this country run a society in which terrible and dehumanizing violence has been the rule against Black and other people of color and women—since the founding, right up to today, changing only in its form, not its essence. And their “domestic tranquility” is enforced by the most massive, militarized police forces in the world and a prison system the likes of which history has never seen. Its heroes are genocidal Indian killers, slave owners, and war criminals. Is it any wonder that baked deep into the psyche of “the American people” are ideas and values that reflect that privilege and parasitism and that this repeatedly assumes violent forms?

The appeal of the ruling class to people to identify with them and their interests as “Americans” is based on lies about what the United States brings to the world. They say they bring democracy and freedom to the world but they bring sweatshops, slums, drones, and brutal regimes that enforce the whole setup.

And the appeal to identify with “America” is also based on the bribes and privileges doled out to sections of people in this country—a higher standard of living, and the right to post complaints on Facebook or for some sections of society to hold legal protests... sometimes. Even as all that is under assault, the idea that Americans are entitled to the perks that come from living in a country that sits at the top of a world of exploitation permeates large sections of society. But what’s so “exceptional” about all that? Nothing—at least nothing good! And what’s so great about living in a dog-eat-dog society of savage inequalities, where everything and everyone is measured as a commodity? It is both true and an essential moral stand to say American lives are not more important than other people’s lives.

Today it is definitely true that ugly, violent intolerance is being orchestrated by the rulers of the U.S. They do that as they confront challenges from reactionary rivals and forces around the world, and profound social contradictions, conflicts, and potential conflicts in their “homeland.” And they do it with the most disgusting appeals to patriotism. But why should anyone with a sense of what this country does to people here and around the world, and who can tell right from wrong, identify with “America” in any way, shape or form?

If you really DO want to see real change, don’t be getting into the Democratic Party, which basically sponsored this ad through its arm MOVEON, and which right down to today has carried out its “share” and more of the “hatred, violence, and suspicion” deplored by the ad. Their candidates, including both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, will tell you they stand for "USA Number One." The rulers of this country and all their politicians and propaganda machinery spread the lie that this country’s wars of empire are about “keeping Americans safe.” And they say nothing about, and cover up, how the United States terrorizes much of the planet with bombs, drones, and torturers.

Here’s a sobering truth:

If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are. (BAsics 3:12)

The way out of this madness is a revolution that will bring into being a whole different kind of state, one that will renounce—on day one—wars of empire; one that will bring into being a society where people learn to identify as citizens of the world instead of aspiring to lord it over the world. Where immediate steps will be taken to end the oppression of people who have been persecuted under this system—starting with an immediate end to terror and murder by police. This will be a society where immigrants will be welcomed as human beings and women will have a right, and as a priority greatly increased access, to safe legal abortion and birth control. And most of all, it will be about getting to a world free of exploitation and oppression of any kind.

There’s a basis for this revolution in the world today. But making an actual revolution, and having a revolution worth making in a country like the United States, is an extremely difficult challenge. It takes leadership with courage, determination, and science. That’s why it is so crucial that we have the leadership of Bob Avakian, and the Party he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party. As we say at our website: “Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.”

Everyone with a conscience does need to stand up to the ugly, dangerous tide of hatred, violence, and suspicion that is rising in this country. And continue to dig into why America REQUIRES intolerance and hatred for its functioning—and confront honestly what must really be done to root this out. And as a basic starting point: Stop thinking like Americans and start thinking about humanity!


Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta
The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need