February 21, 2020
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'Ugly Americans: What Is Wrong With Us?'

I think the real problem here may be that Americans don't have the proper facilities to distinguish between fiction and reality anymore. We've been conditioned to disassociate ourselves. Programmed not to care.

'Ugly Americans: What Is Wrong With Us?'

There is something seriously wrong with Americans. Something that was inherent in the Europeans who first came and were able to live and breed here. Those first colonists had to be made of steel, they had to be hard and emotionless or they wouldn't have made it through the first winter. Hell, the ones that weren't solid didn't make it past the first winter.

Americans love war. No, it goes beyond that; we love violence and explosions and big fucking guns, and we love to watch other people suffer in pain and misery. Deprived of our own struggle for survival, we find comfort in watching the desperation of others. Anywhere you look in our culture you see it: violent lyrics in music, action movies and TV shows with explosions and gun fights every five minutes, the ever present war dramas and documentaries, video games, professional wrestling and sports, kidnapped children and murdered parents and a thousand desperate faces vying for time on the network news.

We don't get any happier than when there is a real war to gawk at. Who isn't glued to the TV in this country any time our military machine goes to work (when the corporate media deems it worthy to show) against some impoverished country? We can't get enough of smart bombs and carpet bombs and cluster bombs and bunker buster bombs. I bet your pulse is up just reading this.

We love it so much that in our oafish gape we don't even bother to ask ourselves important questions. Questions like: "Why are we really bombing these people?" and "Isn't there a better way to settle disputes than this?" or how about "When will we go too far, if we have not already?" Not only do we fail to ask these important questions, but we also make up the most absurd arguments to justify killing people.

Take the conversation I had today with my brother-in-law in which he gave me these zingers: "Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, Saddam is trying to build weapons of mass destruction, Saddam won't let weapons inspectors in, and Saddam is a danger to the United States." I won't go into my responses; I'm sure you've all heard the arguments before. I argued with him for half an hour on this subject, and when I proved all his arguments to be faulty, he still maintained that we needed to bomb Saddam.

The same thing happened over and over again when we were bombing Afghanistan, no matter how well I argue, no matter what I say, people just will not open their eyes and see the truth that is slapping them in the face. They just don't want to admit that the only reason they support any war is because they just like to watch people getting bombed for no good reason.

I think the real problem here may be that Americans don't have the proper facilities to distinguish between fiction and reality anymore. We don't understand that those are real people being torn to pieces by our daisy cutters. Those are real people suffering under the wheel of our military machine. We've been conditioned to disassociate ourselves. Programmed not to care.

Movies and television have brainwashed us into believing that our government's intentions in the world are utterly and irrefutably noble; that we're the good guys and they're the bad guys and that everything is black and white, good and evil, us and them. The world does not work like this. Our government's intentions are anything but noble; they fight (or rather, they make us fight) for power, money and influence, nothing more, nothing less.

History proves this. But we don't believe it. Not our government! Not my elected officials! We can't accept that our government is the terrorist force in the world because then we wouldn't have any reason to cheer on the troops. We'd have no reason to hoop and holler when we see the smart bombs fall on the evening news. We'd have no reason to enjoy other people's misery. We will not face that reality. Well, maybe some of us do. After all, you can never get the whole population to agree on any one thing, so maybe some of us can get past this ingrained inability to believe our government incapable of foul play.

Maybe some of us won't look at other people's hardship as entertainment. Maybe some of us can feel. Maybe…

[C. Bryan Lavigne is a starving artist and political activist who may or may not be completely insane. He lives in the United States. This article first appeared in YellowTimes.org]



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