"Before the war " every man was free," says one of the attractive young white people who constitute all the heroes and some of the villains in this drama. Instead of race riots, McCarthyism, Vietnam, and the sterilizing and experimenting on the powerless that actually happened, this alternative United States includes the burning of Jews, the disabled, and the terminally ill. The contrast to the imagined pre-Nazi past in which "every man [but not woman?] was free" is stark. One almost wishes to make America great again.
Amazon also shows us Nazis behaving much like the actual United States behaves: torturing and murdering enemies. Rikers Island is a brutal prison in this TV show and in reality. In this fantasy, the symbols of U.S. and Nazi patriotism have been merged seamlessly. In reality, the U.S. military incorporated much Nazi thinking along with the many Nazis it recruited through Operation Paperclip -- another way in which the U.S. actually lost WWII if we imagine victory as democracy defeating the sort of society in which someone like Donald Trump could thrive.
The United States today manages to view refugees from the wars it wages in distant lands as dangerous enemies, as new Nazis, just as leading U.S. politicians refer to foreign leaders as new Hitlers. With U.S. citizens shooting up public places on an almost daily basis, when one such killing is alleged to have been done by a Muslim, especially a Muslim with any sympathy for foreign fighters, well, then that's not just a shooting. That means that the United States has been invaded. And that means that anything it does is "defensive."
Does Venezuela elect leaders the U.S. disapproves of? That's a threat to "national security" -- a somewhat magical threat to invade and occupy the United States and compel it to torture and kill wearing a different flag. This paranoia doesn't come from nowhere. It comes from programs like The Man in the High Castle.
Pearl Harbor mythologizing is not just a field for entertainment. Here's a newspaper article:
"Pearl Harbor and World War II brought us together as a nation. We believed we could not be beaten. And we prevailed. But why is Congress now so intent on destroying our feelings of patriotism and decimating our national defense? Many Congress members want to cut our national defense spending in an effort to compensate for their ineptness, for not fulfilling their responsibilities as our representatives and for catering to other groups and politicians for the sake of their pet (pork) projects and the next election. They forget (or don't know) that their No. 1 priority is the defense of our country, and related to that, the protection of our veterans' benefits. . . .
"Could the fact that America forgot about what happened at Pearl Harbor and let down its guard have helped allow the attacks of 9/11 to happen? And will this forgetfulness and ignorance stoke terrorists' ambitions to expand their attacks? Because Congress' 'supercommittee' failed to meet its deadline last month to identify $1.2 trillion in savings, spending cut triggers are now set to take effect in 2013, including $600 billion for defense. If Congress is allowed to cut the military budget, another attack becomes more likely.
"We must call the president, our congressional leaders, our two state senators and our representatives in the House to tell them to stop their foolishness, renew the military and Veterans Affairs budgets, and even increase them so that we may both strengthen our programs for research and development in order to remain the largest and best-equipped military in the world and to respect and honor our past veteran heroes.
"If we allow them to make defense cuts all in the name of getting out of Iraq, and eventually Afghanistan (which is probably a mistake, but that discussion will be for another day), there will be no more research funds to remain No. 1, no upgrades, no new tanks, planes, ships and drones, neither more nor better body armor and vehicles."
Regardless of whether you believe the legend of Pearl Harbor, it is very difficult to deny that this is a different world. The United States does not just have the most expensive military in the world, but one the size of the rest of the world's put together. The United States has bases or troops in most of the world's other countries. The United States dominates the oceans and outerspace. The United States has sliced the planet up into command zones. Congress is dumping over half of discretionary spending into the military. While they've roughly doubled this spending, both in real dollars and as a percentage of the federal budget since 9-11, the fact is that the nuclear arsenal and the empire of bases and all the endless spending had nothing to do with 9-11 other than serving to provoke it. Your newspaper is asking you to live in a dream world, and to destroy this one in the process.
No new tanks? No new planes? $600 billion sounds big, but over 10 years it's $60 billion out of an annual "security" budget of a trillion -- meaning 6%. All that's required to turn that into an increase instead of a cut is to take it out of a "projected" budget that increases by more than 6%. If any actual cutting happens, you can rest assured our misrepresentatives will do everything in their power to take the money out of non-military areas, or at least to cut troop benefits rather than the sacred and profitable tanks and planes etc., almost none of which has anything to do with "defense."
Countering the Myth
As we read Ulysses on Bloomsday every June 16th (or we should if we don't) I think that every December 7th should not only commemorate the Great Law of 1682 that banned war in Pennsylvania but also mark Pearl Harbor, not by celebrating the state of permawar that has existed for 75 years, but by reading The Golden Age by Gore Vidal and marking with a certain Joycean irony the golden age of anti-isolationist imperial mass-killing that has encompassed the lives of every U.S. citizen under the age of 75.
Golden Age Day should include public readings of Vidal's novel and the glowing endorsements of it by the Washington Post, New York Times Book Review, and every other corporate paper in the year 2000, also known as the year 1 BWT (before the war on terra). Not a single one of those newspapers has ever, to my knowledge, printed a serious straightforward analysis of how President Franklin D. Roosevelt maneuvered the United States into World War II. Yet Vidal's novel -- presented as fiction, yet resting entirely on documented facts -- recounts the story with total honesty, and somehow the genre used or the author's pedigree or his literary skill or the length of the book (too many pages for senior editors to be bothered with) grants him a license to tell the truth.
Sure, some people have read The Golden Age and protested its impropriety, but it remains a respectable high-brow volume. I may be hurting the cause by openly writing about its content. The trick, which I highly recommend to all, is to give or recommend the book to others without telling them what's in it.
Despite a filmmaker being a main character in the book, it's not been made into a film, as far as I know -- but a widespread phenomenon of public readings could conceivably make that happen.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).