Why You Should—and Should NOT—Feel Ashamed of America—and What You Can Do About It

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A lot of people say that the way in which Trump hung the Kurds in Syria out to dry makes them ashamed to be an American. And in fact the way in which America has played the Kurds—and not just this time, but over many decades—is shameful. (See this piece on revcom.us.)

But if you’re ashamed because America “broke its word,” do you think this is something new, or somehow unusual? Then you need to think about America’s whole history with the Native American Indians, in which treaty after treaty after treaty was broken when it suited white America’s interests. 

If you’re ashamed because you somehow think the U.S. is on the side of right in Syria, then no. Forget it. The U.S. "special forces"1 were there as part of America’s imperialist project to dominate the region of the Middle East—and if you think that’s been good for the people of that region, you should look into the history of Palestine, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, and on down the line, where the toll of those killed, wounded, exiled, imprisoned or otherwise destroyed and ground up in the service of one U.S. “effort” or another easily mounts into the tens of millions and beyond. If you identify with this country and want something to be ashamed about? Then be ashamed of the way the U.S. under both Obama and Trump has supported the Saudi Arabian war against Yemen, in which the American ally has used U.S. military and intelligence support to kill thousands of Yemeni children, create the worst cholera epidemic in recent history, and put over a million people on the edge of starvation.

The particular troops removed from Syria were pulled because one faction of your rulers thought that removing them would better serve that project and those imperialist interests, and other very powerful factions did not. Now they’re having a fierce argument over that, and you’re being marshaled on one side of it. Don’t be.

Those crimes in the Middle East are just one part of the towering crimes committed in every corner of the planet by “the shining city on a hill.” And go to the American Crime series which gives some sense of the horrific scope of this. 

But go further. Stop identifying with this country and take the step to identify with humanity. As Bob Avakian has said,

If you can conceive of a world without America—without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world—then you’ve already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression—and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it—a world without division into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, outmoded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything less? (BAsics 1:31)


1. So-called special forces refer to a corps of highly trained killers not subject to the discipline of even ordinary U.S. troops in their freedom to inflict mayhem and horror on anyone in their way, whether soldier or civilian.  [back]

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.


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