You know, nations commit sins just as individuals do. Sometimes there is a marriage between individuals and nations that sin as one. This is the case of my dear country, the place of my birth and actually the only country I ever lived in. Being a baby boomer that is a lot of decades to sample the sins of empire… and there are many!
No need for me to go any further back than a bit over one hundred years ago, when those who ran this empire propagandized us into WW1. This was a European war between competing imperialist countries, for what? The right to hold onto the colonial empires they all ran? So, our sinners here at home pushed our sea of working stiffs into believing that the Hun was evil and the Brits, French and Russians et all were victims of that Austria- Hungary, German and Ottoman aggression. Does anyone remember that Edward Bernays, future ‘Father of advertising’, honed his skills during WW1 by being part of our country’s Committee of Public Information? Does anyone realize that Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels used Bernays’ ideas as the guide for his directives?
During WW2 the Soviet Union lost over 25 million of its people, with about half of those killed (13+ million) being military personnel. We lost 295,000, the Brits 452,000, the French 250,000, China 3.5 million, Germany and Japan together at 4.9 million. So, who took the brunt of the horror? Yet, not even a year after WW2 ended, the sin of my country was the creation of the Cold War against the USSR. If Henry Wallace had not been stopped, by his own party (Democrats), from succeeding FDR, the whole ‘ball of wax’ may never have transpired. Instead, thanks to those same evil ones who ran this empire then, and still do, what Eisenhower warned us of in his 1961 Farewell Address, the Military Industrial Complex, grew as a bitter fruit. Needed funds for a secure safety net for our citizens was diverted into the rabbit hole of increased militarization. Baby boomers should well remember fallout shelters and ‘Duck and Cover’ air raid drills in elementary and secondary schools. The necessary Fear Card was continually played throughout the 50s and 60s.
As Mick Jagger stated so eloquently in the Rolling Stones’ hit song Sympathy for the Devil: “I shouted out who killed the Kennedys when after all it was you and me!” Another sin of empire was committed each time great American leaders like JFK, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X were murdered during the 1960s. The US participation in the (so-called) Vietnam War, which was in reality a civil war between the Vietnamese people, was predicated on the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident which produced the resolution of the same name. This ‘Sin of Empire’ was responsible for over 50,000 U.S. military deaths and perhaps millions of dead Vietnamese. It divided our nation just as divisively as we are now. Politically, by the 1970s this Two Party/One Party system saw the Republicans moving further to the right, and the Democrats following their lead into the center/right. Bottom line: Any sort of progressive movement was DOA (Dead On Arrival)… as the two Bernie Sanders campaigns of 2016 and 2020 can attest. This in itself becomes one of the most heinous ‘Sins of Empire’ during that time frame. Only to be surpassed by 9/11 and its Bastard Child AKA The Iraq War. Anyone who still believes that Saddam Hussein had WMDs ready to use against us, there is a bridge in Brooklyn I have for sale. Thus, to paraphrase FDR, March 19th, 2003 should be remembered as the 2nd ‘Day of Infamy’, when we illegally and immorally bombed the **** out of Iraq before we invaded and occupied it. Yet, today’s Amerika has idiots like Ellen DeGeneres treating war criminal W Bush like some sweet old pal. How soon they do forget. Sad.
The most recent sin against the citizens of Amerika is this Trump presidency. It is as if all the Neo Fascists have come out of the woodwork, and are now running things. It is not just the sin of white cops killing unarmed blacks. That is but the tip of the iceberg. It is this mindset, this ‘White Supremacist’ way of seeing things that is so dangerous. Factor that with how this administration totally mishandled (on purpose?) the pandemic. If adults were in charge we would have seen a gung ho approach to the virus in December and January. Imagine if a real responsible government had begun to manufacture hundreds of millions of good quality facemasks (Isn’t that what having a military our size is for?), along with ventilators and hand sanitizers to send to our hospitals and caregivers. Imagine if, instead of once more bailing out big banks and large corporations, Uncle Sam sent the trillions of dollars to small business AND to we citizen by way of a Universal Basic Income (anywhere from $1000 to $2000 a month, tax free). This economy would be stimulated to the Nth degree. Instead, we had asshole right wing governors opening up their states to allow more of the virus into our bodies.
As the late and great activist leader, Walt DeYoung put it so eloquently “Nuff Said” !!