The American Janus
I am troubled about my carefree life in the USA; I am in a moral quandary
I am a privileged citizen of a country that so far has blessed me with a safe haven from the harassment and harms of religious zealots and oppressive laws of the government of my birth country. The USA also provided me with a heaven on earth. Though my voice and the voice of other likeminded people are made almost inaudible by corporate loudspeakers that dominate the media, I am not harassed here for my liberal and progressive views. I have criticized American presidents and their domestic and foreign policies without auto censorship and I have not been even once interrogated by police for daring to do such. I am also a privileged US citizen financially, since my family’s income has been in six figures; before voluntarily turning my full time job to part time, we earned more than 95 percent of Americans. Like most we are also plagued with the disease called consumerism; we spend almost all what we earn. Somehow we managed to mortgage two houses, own two cars and the newest electronic gadgets.
Like many, you too might wonder: “Then, what is your problem Edip? You should be happy and content.” Or if you are an intellectually handicapped wrong-wing jingoist who has been Limbaughted, Hannetized, Glennized, Palinized, and Pantagonized you could pontificate: “If you do not like America, go back to the country which you came from!”
Before sharing with you my quandary, let me respond those jingoists who pretend to be patriots. If they had not let the propaganda of big corporations/government disable their critical thinking faculties, they would be ashamed of expecting me to “either shut up or get out.” I have few words for those who consider freedom in their incorporated monopoly: The earth belongs to God. Perhaps your ancestors came to America without even asking the permission (now, visa) of the indigent population here. Second, I did not come to this country to earn a living or make more money. To the contrary, I give up the life of luxury and prestige as a best-selling author and a promising political leader —my former comrades are now presidents and prime ministers in Turkey— because of philosophical and ethical issues. I chose this country to live as a free, as a moral person. If my freedom of speaking up against corrupt and oppressive governments is curtailed here too by bigots like you, then I will seek another place on this planet to live as a free man, by God’s will. But, until then, I will continue doing exactly what I expected myself to be doing the day I immigrated here and what the founding fathers of this country too expected me to do: to live as a free man, without fear of the government, of the majority or the church. I have accepted the truth so that the truth will set me free!
As I said, I am happy and content. I am not an atheist yet I do not believe in God. I am a rational monotheist, since I know that there is a compassionate, omniscient and omnipotent God. As a philosopher, I also know the meaning of “knowing,” and its epistemological implications and the rhetorical burden it requires. Thus, I have no worries about this life’s miserable surprises towards entropy, since like the Buzz of Toy Story, I am aiming towards “infinity and beyond.”
Those who meet me in person, observe the child in me with all his innocence and optimism jumping around in his transparent bubble, talking his mind and heart without auto-censorship. Many of those who expect to see a grumpy old man or a serious scholar who might have turned into a paranoid man because of his past and present experience are confused when they meet me. Is this guy really Edip, the internationally known iconoclast, or he is a child imprisoned in a 50+ year-old body?
I am both, and both characters are in peace in the same brain, if not the same body! I have declared in the crowd the nakedness of many kings and holy stooges. No wonder, according to the Turkish proverb I am the resident of the 10th town since “they kick out those who say the truth from nine towns.”
I am content and happy, yet I am ambivalent; I am troubled about my carefree life in the USA. I am in a moral quandary. When I look around what the government of my country has been doing to the rest of the world, I see that the haven I sought refuge, the heaven I enjoy has been created at the cost of destroying other countries, at the cost of killing thousands, millions of people in “foreign” countries, and turning millions of them to widows and orphans… The honey that I am enjoying in my breakfast is made possible by the blood sucked from other people through bloody invasions or puppet regimes! The gas that I am guzzling in my SUV is made cheaper by the oil sucked from other countries filled with “ugly and scary people!”
Yes, I know that I enjoy this heaven because I support the imperialist monster through my tax money and vote. The American Janus gives me a controlled or inconsequential freedom with bonus of a petty share from the spoils of war as a reward for my support, or at least my acquiescence of its crimes, my turning blind eye on what it does to “others.” I am informed and smart enough to know this unspoken and unwritten “deal with the devil,” and I cannot expunge my conscious, my heart. I cannot replace my Homo Sapien brain with the artificial American brain. I cannot brag about the so-called “American exceptionalism,” a code word claiming to be pharaohs on earth, preaching and bullying the rest of the world and not being held responsible for our crimes against humanity. I cannot live in the universe of cognitive dissonance by those who sing love and peace in their churches and vote and pay for more guns, more military and more aggression against “others.” I feel the pain of “others” whom I am expected by warmongers to consider aliens or the enemies of “our way of life.”
Before I became a Turkish citizen I was born as a human being, and before I became an American citizen, I had already rejected the artificial walls and animosities created among my brothers and sisters, the children of Adam. I have brothers and sisters everywhere, in China, in Japan, in Australia, Mexico, Indonesia, in Turkey, in Israel, in Iran. I am a Muslim, a peacemaker, a peace activist, and I will only accept two walls: the walls of justice and peace. Those who aspire and struggle to live within the universal principles of justice and peace are my brothers and sisters. I cannot accept division with my human family in the name of manmade religions and manmade ideologies such as nationalism.
A flag is a symbol, and if a flag does not promote peace and justice for all, is a dangerous and toxic piece of fabric. Such a flag is an idol made by devil. Just a cursory look in the last century will reveal that appalling atrocities and devilish crimes have been committed in the name of nationalism. Nationalism is a virus that turns humans into vampires, into cannibals. In the past, Kings and Popes exploited the religious feelings of their populations, now governments and corporations use nationalism to manipulate the same people who abandon their God-given reasoning faculties.
Protesting the nationalism that has given birth to the wild American beast should not lead to support another nationalism that would give birth to a smaller version of the same beast. Instead of siding with one beast against another, I prefer to stand like David, alone against all. Eve if I am a man passed age 50, my role models are the youngster who stood against the pallets of mighty tanks of oppressive government and the child who throw rocks to another tank.
I am expected to be alienated from human race and buy into the nationalistic, jingoistic or religious conflicts. I am expected to distinguish the mass terrorists in uniforms from the gang terrorists and support the first group even if they kill 666 times more and commit horrendous acts, including torture.
Remember: Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and many more? In my recent book, Peacemaker’s Guide to Warmongers, I included a long list of our unending wars, invasions, covert and overt operations in countries where the “bad guys” live. The list is dizzying. We, the Americans, just in last century, have destroyed dozens of countries, killed millions of people and yet we have the audacity to play victim when we loose a few of ours on our land. We carry out bloody atrocities and wars, sometimes two or three at the same time, but we are generally isolated from the suffering.
While the children of poor people in our country are financially forced to “volunteer” for military to “do their job” of slaughtering the children of poor people in other countries, we stampede each other in malls to buy the newest cell-phones or high definition TVs. While we starved millions of children in Iraq and currently starving tens of thousands children in the concentration camp called Gaza, we spend billions of dollars to loose weight we gained from overeating. Our novels and movies tell plenty about our disturbed soul: we enjoy watching violence and atrocities, and our children love reading and watching stupid and repulsive stories of vampires and more vampires. We spend billions of dollars to feed our pets, which are better nourished and groomed than those children who are made orphans by our “heroes” in the countries we “shock and awe” or “teach civilization.” We export democracy through bombs, guns, torture, mercenaries, oil companies, arms deals, and corrupt stooges introduced as politicians. And we will not call it a democracy if the elected officials do not prefer the interest of our corporations to of their people. But if you ask us, we are the best nation in the history of the world!
The USA-Inc uses our “heroes” who were once called by Mark Twain as “uniformed assassins.” To prop up the democratically engineered stooges and to baptize friendly dictators so that our corporations could exploit their natural resources or sell them our discarded jets and military equipment with obscene price tags.
The government we pretend to elect has been supporting dictators and mass murderers around the world, from Latin America to Asia, from Africa to the Middle East. Abacha of Nigeria, Hugo of Bolivia, Batista of Cuba, Botha of South Africa, General Humberto of Brazil, Vinicio of Guatemala, Roberto Cordova of Honduras, Alfredo of El Salvador, Ngo Dihn of Vietnam, General Samuel of Liberia, Duvalier of Haiti, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, General Franco of Spain, Hassan II of Morocco, Ferdinand Marcos of Phillippines, Mobuto of Zaire, General Montt of Guatemala, General Noriega of Panama, Shah Pahlavi of Iran, Papadopoulos of Greece, Chung Hee of South Korea, General Pinochet of Chile, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Salazar of Portugal, Somoza of Nicaragua, Suharto of Indonesia, General Videla of Argentina, General Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan, Mubarak of Egypt — yes, all these and more have been our friendly S.O.Bs.
Yet, we have the audacity to preach the world about democracy and human rights. Incredible it may sound, millions of Americans are so brain-drained and brain-polluted that they suffer from chronic cognitive dissonance. They expect the starving and suffering population of those countries destroyed by our corrupt and oppressive puppets to thank the USA-Inc for its military aids!
The USA-Inc, ruled by a group of wealthy oligarchs and giant corporations, imposes the terms of big corporations on poor countries. The jackals of USA-Inc plan and conduct military coups, covert operations, and assassinations. For instance, it was the same jackals that overthrew the democratically elected Mosaddegh’s government in 1953 and brought back the deposed corrupt and oppressive Shah Reza Pahlavi, leading to the Khomeini’s revolution in 1979. Let me quote a paragraph from Peacemaker’s Guide to Warmongers:
“Muslims had invaded Spain and ruled there for about five hundred years. But, for the most part, Jewish and Christian population found justice and peace in Muslim Spain. Furthermore, when Muslims were forced out from Spain, we know what they left behind: a Christian population, libraries, universities, civilization, seeds of reform and renaissance in Europe. The same with the Ottoman Empire. They invaded south eastern part of Europe for a long period of time, and we know what they left behind. Compare those two great empires, which I am fond of neither, and their evil deeds during the course of 1000 years to the destruction and atrocities of the USA-Inc led by a born-again Christian president overwhelmingly supported by evangelical Christians just in Iraq alone during the course of just 5 years.”
Unfortunately, Obama did not change anything; he stayed on the course of imperialistic polices. Our “audacity of hope” proved to be the “audacity of exploiting hope.” He rejected any suggestion for trying Bush, Dick and Rumsfeld for lying to Americans and committing war crimes. He continued the same economic and foreign policies. He continued transferring billions from the future of our children to bail the banks that rob the working Americans and transfer their hard-earned money to the few fat pigs.
Though Obama received a premature Nobel Peace prize, perhaps as a bribe hoping that he would live up to it, he continued the same imperial aggression. Not only he continued the same policies, he accelerated the level of its atrocious disregard for human life. Obama’s government increased the number of drone terrorism against civilian population in Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan and Yemen.
Drones so far killed hundreds of children and massacred many families attending wedding receptions. Perhaps, we may never understand the terror and fear experienced by “other people” unless drones from other countries evaporate us randomly from space, while we are having BBQ parties or watching football. Here is another excerpt from Peacemaker’s Guide:
“Why the USA-Inc is addicted with wars? The answer was given in 1961 by Eisenhower in a prophetic warning against MIC. With the addition of Zionist and Crusader hormones, the coalition for perpetual wars and atrocities has reached its most potent level… The so-called mainstream media and Hollywood use the most sophisticated propaganda to promote violence, torture, state terrorism, racism and jingoism. Video games, TV programs, films have already desensitized Americans to great extent, and they are the best recruiting tools for military.”
The USA-Inc has a magic word to hypnotize us: “Terrorists!” So that our tax dollars could be transferred to war profiteers, the military industrial complex and its allies! Knowing the number and the size of bloody lies produced by the propaganda machine of the American government and Pentagon in the past, I will not be surprised that some or perhaps most of those so-called terrorist acts are staged and deliberately designed to scare us out of our wits. I also know that the gang terrorism is the side effect or “blow back” of state terrorism and atrocities committed during wars. And no wonder, there were Muslims around the world before 1967 but there was not a single attack against the United States by Muslims.
We have become cowards and we have justified torture and war crimes. Though we pretend to appreciate the words of a president who warned us against the diabolic nature of fear by saying, “we have nothing to fear, except fear itself!” we have become cowards. We have justified the death of more than a million Iraqi people who had nothing to do with us. We have justified our drones killing children and massacring people in wedding parties. We have lost our dignity in airports, and we have lost our privacy to the American government and corporations, which are in the same bed.
We fool ourselves if we think that we really have the “government of people, by people, for people,” while in reality we have the “government of corporations, by corporations and for corporations.” The media and the government, both are hijacked by big corporations and through their two identical twins they provide us with the illusion of democracy. As my friend Chomsky well-put, the media is in the business of “manufacturing consent,” and as Ralph Nader well-described, the name of the game is Duopoly.
While millions of American people are jobless, millions are losing their homes, and millions of American children suffer from hunger and malnutrition, we are spending about to a trillion dollars for the business of destruction and creating more enemies so that the business of destruction will become even more needed and lucrative. While the so-called “elected officials” in our Federal and state governments are seriously debating of cutting vital social programs such as education and health care, they never talk about cutting the mushrooming military budget, which is more than the military budget of top 20 countries, combined.
Democrats and Republicans may disagree on many issues and question almost anything, but they are all in cahoots regarding favoring the Wall Street, military expenditures, and supporting of a rouge state. These three sacred cows, (big corporations, the military industrial complex, and Israel) can shit over the entire USA and sell it to public as providing them with free manure, yet these politicians will not even raise their finger to pull their tails.
So far, during my seventeen years of citizenship, I followed the mantra of “the better of two evils” and I voted for Democrats. Therefore, I have contributed to their deadly game that will certainly is going to destroy the future of my country. But, starting this year, I will vote only for those who promote justice, peace and progressive policies, even if my vote will be the only vote.
I am not a jingoist, I am an American patriot. What about you?
Edip Yuksel, J.D. is a Kurdish/Turkish/American author of numerous books on Religion, Politics, Philosophy, such as Peacemaker’s Guide to Warmongers, Manifesto for Islamic Reform, NINETEEN: God’s Signature in Nature and Scripture, and the co-translator of Quran: a Reformist Translation. He is the founder of Islamic Reform and co-founder of Muslims for Peace, Justice and Progress. Edip can be reached at [email protected]